Sacred Animals of India
Animals are worshipped in India in many ways: as deities—the elephant-god Ganesha and the monkey-god Hanuman; as avatars—like Vishnu’s fish, tortoise and boar forms; and as vahanas—the swan, bull, lion and tiger were all vehicles of major deities and are thus sacred by association. Some animals, like the snake, are worshipped out of fear. Birds such as the crow are associated with the abode of the dead, or the souls of ancestors, while the cow’s sanctity may derive from its economic value. There are also hero-animals, such as the vanaras, and animals which were totemic symbols of tribes that were assimilated into Vedic Hinduism. Sacred Animals of India draws on the ancient religious traditions of India—Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism—to explore the customs and practices that engendered the veneration of animals in India. This book also examines the traditions that gave animals in India protection, and is a reminder of the role of animal species in the earth’s biodiversity.
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ahimsa Airavata ancient Ashoka associated believed Bengal bird Bishnoi blackbuck boar body Brahma Buddha Buddhist buffalo bull cattle churning cobra crocodile Current Status death deer deity demon depicted devas devotee dharma Distribution divine domesticated Durga eagle earth eating Ecological Role elephant emblem festival fish forest Ganesha Garuda goddess gods grey langur Hanuman head Hindi Hindu horse human hunting incarnation of Vishnu Indra JAINISM Jambavan Jataka Karnataka Kashyapa killed king Krishna Lakshmi langur Lanka later Linn Common Names lion live Lord Mahabharata Maharashtra Mahisha male Manasa meat milk monkey mother Nagas Nandi numbers ocean one’s Parvati peacock Pradesh protected Purana Rama Rama’s Ramayana Ravana represented Rig Veda ritual Role and Current Sacred Animals sage Sanskrit Scientific Name Shiva slaughter snake species story Sugriva symbol Tamil Nadu temple Throughout India tiger Tirthankara tortoise tree tribe Vali Vanara Varaha Vedic vegetarianism vehicle Vishnu vulture wildlife worshipped