Our Sanatana Dharma teaches us the way to evolve and live with nature. Just as Brahma Ji created man, he created animals too with a specific object of making man understand that he has to live in harmony with them. He accorded them a spiritual importance and thus one can find many things to learn from the natural characteristics of the animals. Our Sanatana Dharma is the Dharma where animal abuse is not encouraged and mankind is taught to live honouring and worshipping them. Animals are accorded a special status along with the celestials and worshipped for good spiritual health.
The Elephant – We worship the elephant as the symbol of wisdom. The elephant headed god Ganesh is the remover of all obstacles and one starts any deed only after taking his name. The elephant’s ears are a symbol of attentiveness and the trunk signifies the firm grasp of knowledge. Bhagwathi Lakshmi is flanked by two elephants carrying lotuses in their trunks symbolising prosperity by their presence. Even today, the processions of the elephants in royal splendour are one of the main rituals in the temples of India, symbolising the temples are the centres of worship and wisdom.
The Lion – Being the vehicle of Mata Durga, the lion is a symbol of courage, strength and power. While enjoying the status of the King of the jungle, It represents that when evil exalts to the peak, the Almighty takes his most ferocious form and punishes the wrong doers just like Bhagwan Narasimha saved Prahlad.
The Bull – It’s just not a bull, but it is a representation of Nandi, the vehicle of Bhagwan Shiv. The Bull is the symbol for knowledge, devotion, obedience, swiftness and strength. There is no Shiva temple which does not carry the image of Nandi seated opposite to the main deity which itself mentions the importance of the Bull in our Santana Dharma.
The Monkey – As the representations of Shri Ram’s strength, the monkeys are worshipped with all adoration. Shri Hanuman, the favourite of all represents knowledge and power and with immense grace of humility and devotion makes the monkey special to mankind. The Vanar army including Sugriv were not just mere monkeys, but the special beings highly adept in knowledge and warfare and helped Shri Ram achieve victory over Ravan. The monkey is given a place of worship in our Dharma, as we cannot see them harmed and abused, but only adored and worshipped.
The Horse – Bhagwan Vishnu has taken the incarnation of Haygreeva (Horse head) and is worshipped as the preceptor of learning. Hence, the horse is worshipped as a symbol of learning. The horse known for its swiftness and quickness is an indication of quick grasping of knowledge.
The Crow – The crow is the vehicle of Shani Dev, but it has a lot of importance in our Santana Dharma. The crow is taken as a representation of our ancestors and hence when oblations are given to our ancestors, we pray to the crow to come and accept them and it is considered as the ancestors have accepted our prayers and bless us.
The animals through their nature have not helped mankind, but also teach us many of their traits which can make us make life a better one and useful to one another.