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In mythology, the negative tendency of a man is symbolized with the animal nature. Gods in Indian mythology are symbolized as living a positive behavior. Every God has been given a vehicle or Wahan. Both God and the Wahan symbolized how to live a positive life and how to control the animal tendencies. Following are a few examples.
- Lord Ganesha rides a Mouse. Mouse in mythology is symbolized with greed and Ganesha as the one who removes obstacles. The spiritual meaning behind both is – one should learn to control greed to tackle obstacles in life.
- Lord Shiva rides Nandi. The bull symbolizes uncontrolled sexual desires and the duo signifies that to learn meditation, one needs to control sexual desires first.
- Saraswati (the Goddess of knowledge) sitting on a swan symbolizes that to acquire knowledge one must learn to control the power of discrimination or vivek. A swan can drink milk and leave water from a mixture of milk and water.
- Indra (the one who has a complete control over the intellect) riding on the elephant Airavat symbolizes that for its development the intellect (Indra) requires control over masti and madness (elephant).
- Durga (the perfect woman) riding a lion symbolizes that to become a perfect woman, she must learn to control agitation or aggression (lion).
- Lakshmi (wealth) riding an owl symbolizes that to earn righteously, one must learn to control owl-like properties within us, which is not to get befooled.
- Lord Vishnu (the doer) riding the eagle or Garuda (Eagles are opportunistic predators which means they eat almost anything they can find) means controlling your desires to eat an unbalanced diet.
- Krishna riding five horses means one need to control our five senses.
- Kartikeya riding a peacock symbolizes that one should learn to control one’s pride (vanity) or ego.
- The vehicle of Goddess Kali is a black goat. Agni rides Mesha, a ram. Kubera, the god of wealth, also has a ram as his vehicle. A ram is an uncastrated adult male sheep. Goat also signifies uncontrolled sexual desires but lesser than the bull.
- Yamraj rides a buffalo, which is known for its rampant destruction. Lord Yama or Yamraja is referred to as the God of death, twin brother, lord of justice, Dharma Raja. One can do justice only if one has a control over anger and aggressive behavior.
In mythology, apart from Wahans, animals are also shown to be sacrificed, which means to kill the animal tendency within ourselves. In Kali Pooja, a buffalo is sacrificed, which again means that in extreme situations, you may need to kill your ego or anger.
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).