by Jayaram V
Each god and goddess in Hinduism has a vehicle of his or her
own. Ordinay Hindus may consider these vehicles as mere animals
or means of transportation. But they have a far deeper symbolism.
Some of the vehicles of various gods and goddesses are described
||Thousands of horses
||Garuda, the eagle and Adi Shesha, the
||Hamsa when sitting or Seven swans
||Nandi, the Bull
||Hamsa or swan or sometimes peacock.
||Lotus flower and the owl
These vehicles actually represent symbolically the various energies
that exist in the universe as well as in human beings. Each god
or goddess is in-charge of a particular energy which he or she rides
and controls at his or her will.
These energies are present in man also, mostly as wild animal
energies and they need to be controlled and channeled properly in
order to transform the lower self and establish divine consciousness
For this he has to propitiate different gods who if satisfied
with his supplication arise or descend into his consciousness and
help him master them. We present below a few example in support
of this belief.
Brahma's vehicle is Hamsa which stands for the buddhi and for
the creative and discretionary energies in man. The word " Hamsa"
is a combination of two words, "aham"+ "sa" , which mean "I am He".
This awareness that one is God exists only in enlightened persons.
Rightly Brahma is the friend and philosopher of all the enlightened
beings in the world and he has the power to give us this knowledge
about our true nature.
The bird hamsa is also very beautiful, peaceful and graceful.
It is suggestive of the fact that Brahma is the master of all the
beauty and grace in the world, and He can help us in our effort
to acquire these qualities.
It is also believed that the bird has the capacity to separate
milk from water. This symbolically means that Brahma can help us
to transform our intelligence, or the buddhi, or our ability to
discriminate the right from the wrong so that we can select the
correct path to achieve salvation.
The bird moves in waters, especially lake waters that are placid.
The water symbolically stands for our consciousness and the lake
itself for a limited consciousness such as ours. Brahma moves in
our consciousness on his vehicle hamsa and purifies it with his
touch and grace.
Shri Saraswathi, the consort of Brahma is shown riding either
hamsa or the peacock. The peacock is a graceful and beautiful bird
and is known for its dance before the rain. This denotes that Shri
Saraswathi can immensely help those who want to pursue art and dance.
The peacock also eats snakes, which symbolically means that she
can help those who are accustomed to eating desires or for a better
expression pursuing desires, by providing them with the divine knowledge
and learning for which she is famous.
Lord Vishnu is seated on Adi Shesha, the primal serpent god,
who represents the desire consciousness in us. Lord Vishnu can help
us either to fulfill these desires or control them. When He travels,
Lord Vishnu rides on Garuda, the giant bird. The bird represents
the human thoughts which can fly in all directions at incredible
speed. Lord Vishnu can help us to control our thoughts.
Shri MahaLakshmi rides on an owl called Uluka. The owl is a solitary
creature, that remains awake in darkness and asleep during the day
time. It rarely trust human beings and seldom seen in the company
of any other bird. It in fact stays away from people as if it has
no interest in the humanity.
Those who pursue riches should be aware of these negative qualities
and pray to Shri Mahalakshmi so that she would inculcate in them
the qualities of trust, generosity and social responsibility and
would make them popular among people.
She would also help them come out of the darkness of ignorance,
avarice and selfishness, which are generally associated with the
pursuit of materialism. The owl is also regarded as an inauspicious
image by the Hindus, who believe that if an owl visits a house in
which people live, it is an ill omen.
Shri Mahalakshmi with her grace can remove all negative, inauspicious
and adverse influences from our lives. If some one is suffering
from adversity, they should pray to her because she, who controls
all ill-omens and adversities can ward them off and bring them prosperity.
Thus She has rightly been shown as using a rare bird like an owl
as her vehicle.
Lord Siva rides the Bull, Nandi, which stands for the bullying,
aggressive, blind and brute power in man. It also stands for unbridled
sexual energy, kama. Only Lord Siva can help us control these and
His consort Shri Parvathi, variously called Uma, Chandi, Durga
or Kali uses lion as her vehicle. Lion stands for cruelty, mercilessness,
anger, violence and hostility towards other beings. Pravathi with
her grace can help man to control all these qualities in him and
become an enlightened being like Lord Siva.
Ganapathi uses as his carrier a very small mouse, which represents
the fear and nervousness in man, the feeling of doubt and weakness
that overwhelm us before we start a venture. By praying to Ganapathi,
his devotees can overcome such feelings from their minds and go
about their task confidently, with the assured feeling that Vignaraja
(Lord of obstacles) alone can remove obstacles from our minds.
Thus we can see that the vehicles of the gods have great symbolic
significance and are actually the energies on which they have absolute
control. By praying to them we can also learn to control these energies
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