Elephant in Hindu Mythology
See also Animals
Elephants represent sensuality as well as strength across Asia. In olden days, in India, people use to measure their strength in elephant's power, as people of today measure the power by horse - horsepower. Bheem one of the Paandav, Keechak who misbehaved with Draupadee in Viraat Nagar, Jaraasandh, Dwivid (monkey, the helper of Raam), Pradyumn (Krishn's son) and Paurav who was killed by Arjun in MBH war - all had 10,000 elephants' power.
Elephant also represents Jupiter in Hindu astrology (Jupiter being the
planet for all kinds of expandability)
(1) Indra's Elephant Airaavat
Little wonder then that Indra, King of the Gods and God of the Sky, is visualized as riding an elephant. Not the ordinary elephant, but an elephant with white skin, six trunks and six pairs of tusks called Airaavat. Indra rides atop Airaavat into battle and hurls his thunderbolt at dark rain-bearing monsoon clouds, visualized as a herd of dark elephants, forcing them to release rain so that the red earth can turn green.
Amongst Airaavat's many titles are names such as 'the wandering cloud' 'the brother of Sun' leaving no doubt that Indra's white elephant is symbolized as the white clouds that embellish the sky when the rain clouds have passed.
(2) Elephants Did Abhishek of Lakshmee Jee
(3) Shiv and Elephant Skin
(5) Four Gajapati
On the top of Lokaalok mountain are the four Gaja-pati, the best of elephants, which were established in the four directions by Brahmaa Jee, the supreme spiritual master of the entire universe. The names of those elephants are Rishabh, Pushkaraachood, Vaaman and Aparaajit. They are responsible for maintaining the planetary systems of the universe.
Lokaalok is situated one billion miles from the edge of the universe. Naaraayan, expanding His opulence, resides upon this mountain.
In Tibetan Buddhist art, one often comes across images of Mahaakaal (another name of Shiv) standing upon an elephant-headed demon. Some believe that he is Gajaasur, the demon of materialism; while others say that the elephant-headed demon represents proto-Ganesh; because long before Ganesh became the much-loved god who removes obstacles, he was a much-feared god who created obstacles. This tradition still exists in remote Tibet where the elephant-headed deity is feared and needs to be trampled by the Lord of Time, Mahaakaal.
But as Hinduism evolved in India, the elephant-headed demon destroyed by the Lord of Time became the elephant-headed son created by Shiv. Why did Shiv use an elephant's head to resurrect the son autonomously created by his consort, the goddess Shakti?
The instruction given to his attendants was: "Go to North and fetch the head of the first living thing you come across." North is the direction of growth in Vaastu and according to Brahm Vaivart Puraan, the creature first seen by Shiv's attendants was the white Airaavat, the mount of Indra.
Clearly, the killer of elephants is creating his son using the ultimate symbol of material splendor. After creating the elephant-headed Ganesh, Shiv stops being the world-renouncing hermit and transforms into Shankar, the world-affirming householder. Thus the elephant brings with it life and growth, wherever it goes.
If elephants represent wealth and power and material grandeur, then they should not matter to ascetics. And they don't. Shiv, the supreme ascetic, is called Gajaantak (Gaj + Ant), he who killed an elephant, flayed it alive and used its thick skin (the Gaja Charm) as a cloak.
(8) Food for Garud Jee
(9) Elephants in Mahaabhaarat
(2) There was one very famous elephant in MBH war too. He was with Bhagadatt. Bhagadatt's elephant's name was Supratikaa. He was a special elephant. Neither Bhagadatt, nor his elephant could be hurt in battle. In fact he had an armor on his body. Only Arjun or Krishn could break it. He was killed by Arjun by Vaishnav Astra in Mahaabhaarat war on 12th day, when Arjun was taken away from the battlefield in pursuit of capturing Yudhishthir. Bhagadatt got this armor from Narakaasur, the son of Prithvi. He used it to kill Arjun but Krishn took it on His chest, saved Arjun, and made Bhagadatt and his elephant ordinary.
(3) Another mention of an elephant comes in on the 15th day of the MBH war, when Drone became difficult to be killed. And if he was not killed he would have killed Paandav's lots of army. Krishn suggested that if somebody spreads the rumor of the death of Ashwatthaamaa, Drone's son, he would not put down his weapons and would not fight. All Paandav said - "But Ashwatthaamaa is immortal, how we can spread the rumor of his death and why should he believe on this news?" Krishn suggested - "If Yudhishthir will say this, he will believe it." But both Yudhishthir and Arjun did not approve this advice. Yudhishthir was made agreed with great difficulty. Then Bheem killed his own elephant of Indravarmaa of Maalavaa Region and shouted - "I have killed Ashwatthaamaa, I have killed Ashwatthaamaa." Indeed Drone did not believe this news until he had confirmed it from Yudhishthir.
General Mention of Elephants in Indian Scripture
Elephants and Horses - Measure of Power
Both animals were used in war also.
In temples, one often finds images of lions subduing elephants. The lions are the symbols of the king, and the elephant represents the earth that the king rules over. She is rich, fertile and submissive.
In erotic literature, elephants are symbols of unrestrained raw sexual power.
According to the Kaam Sootra, an elephant-woman or Hastinee is the lustiest
of women, crude and vulgar in her carriage. Buddha and Elephant Elephant In Japan
Buddha and Elephant Elephant In Japan
Elephant In Japan
Created by Sushma Gupta on 5/9/09
Updated on 10/03/13