In our Sanatana Dharma, all our Gods and Goddesses are seen with certain attributes special to them and which signify their importance in human life. To this genre belong their vehicles on which they ride or be seated. These vehicles which are mostly the animals and the birds symbolises their relation with the deity and also close are they connected with each other.
Bhagwan Vishnu has the mighty Eagle Garud as his vehicle, which symbolises power. Garud pleases Bhagwan Vishnu with his mighty strength and Bhagwan Vishnu himself requests Garud to become his vehicle. Bhagwan Shiv’s vehicle is the Nandi, or the bull. Nandi is the foremost Gana and the disciple of Bhgawan Shiv who has mastered the art of dance and music under Shiv Ji too. He represents the cosmic force of Bhgawan Shiv and also the guard of Bhagwan Shiv at his entrance. Brahma Ji rides a swan which is an icon of wisdom. The swan represents Brahma Ji’s wisdom as the creator of the Universe.
The Goddess of knowledge Saraswathi too, rides a swan. Bhagwathi Lakshmi is always represented as seated on a lotus. The lotus represents wealth and an elephants at the sides which are icons of purity and prosperity. Goddess Parvathi is seen on the lion as the Durga Mata. Riding the fearless lion, Goddess Parvathi is the representation of the bravery a woman should possess. The nine forms Godddess Paravthi have nine different Vahanas on which she rides and depicts an individual attribute, which is especially worshipped during the Navaratri festival.
Bhagwan Ganesh, who is the remover of Obstacles rides on a mouse. In his previous birth, the mouse was a demon named Mooshik who was subdued by Bhagwan Ganesh and the compassionate god made him his vehicle. The mouse signifies arrogance crushed under Ganesha’s feet. Skanda, the younger brother of Bhagwan Ganesh rides a peacock, which is the king of the birds. Known for its beauty, the peacock represents swiftness through which Bhagwan Kartikeya destroys the evil forces.
The king of the celestials, Devraj Indr rides the Irivat, the white elephant obtained during the churning of the Milky Ocean. The elephant represents royal splendour of Dev Raj’s Indr as the King of the heavens. Yama, the god of death rides a black bull representing the life cycle of birth and death. The prime source of energy, the Sun god rides seven horses with great speed while balancing the day and night of the universe. The Chandr, the moon god rides an antelope.
The wind God, Vayu is the life giver. He rides white and purple coloured horses which symbolise the purity and sustenance as he is the breath giver of life. The Rain god, Varun rides a crocodile signifying the importance of life sustained by water. Agni dev rides a Ram which symbolises the wind needed to light the fire. Kuber is the God of wealth and he mounts a human, as wealth is the greatest weakness of human portraying how wealth controls mankind.
By giving the great animals and birds such an important significance of being the vehicle of the Almighty, it is simply depicted that how important it is to co-exist with all creation and how each and every life has an important role in play in survival of mankind. This also depicts the unending respect our Dharma have our great animals and birds and hence revere them as equal to the Almighty.