Throughout India’s rich history animals are revered and depicted in god forms. The Hindu sacred belief of animals is a dominant aspect of Indian culture. This art gallery reflects just a small sampling of fauna reverence in the spiritual world of India and Pakistan during the Chola and Chandela dynasties and the blending architecture styles of the Vijayanagara Empire.
In Hindu, many of the deities as shown with specific vehicles or medium, referred to as vahana. These vahana are in the form of animals. Deities are also shown in the animal form. Ganesha is depicted as an elephant with a large rat being its vahana. The six-headed Hindu god of war, Skanda, is often shown seated on a peacock while holding a spear. Other gods take many forms. For Vishnu, with his great Garuda bird as his vahana, is also shown transformed into a boar-like figure. He is also shown in reclining pose under a serpent.
Durga, the Slayer is shown on or with her lion as she destroys the powerful buffalo demon, Mahishasura. Nandi, the sacred bull is not only the devoted companion and guardian of the great Shiva and Parvati but an object of worship in his own right, especially in communities where dairy farming and herding are important.
Yali, vahana of Navagraha Budh, has the body of a lion with the head and trunk of an elephant, and tail of a serpent. This body combination denotes ferociousness and strength. Yali were sculptured on the entrances and pillars of South Indian temples to keep away evil.
Also temple pillars often have engravings of charging horses or hippogryphs (another form of Yali) — horses standing on hind legs with their fore legs lifted and riders on their backs. The horses on some pillars stand seven to eight feet tall. On the other side of the pillar are usually carvings from Hindu mythology. The Vijayanagara davida-style palaces in India that were built on raised granite platforms with multiple tiers of mouldings decorated with carved friezes. The Pattavirama and Chandikesvara temples in Hampi with its carved balustrades depicts hippogriffs and elephants.
This gallery presents examples of the aforementioned gods, goddesses, and their vahana forms:
GANESHA, THE ELEPHANT GOD, 13th Century, Mysore region. Chloride schist. Freer and Sackler Galleries.
GODDESS DURGA SLAYING THE BUFFALO DEMON [DURGA MAHISASURAMARDINI], 12th-13th century, stone, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
THE SIX-HEADED SKANDA [KARTTIKEYA], 12th century, basalt, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
VISHNU AS VARAHA, 10th-12th centuries, Candella Dynasty, sandstone, University of Michigan Museum of Art.
THE HINDU GOD VISHNU ON HIS MOUNT GARUDA, 14th century, stone, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
ANANTHA SAYANA VISHNU, 1101-1199 AD, stone, Salar Jung Museum.
THE SACRED BULL NANDI, VEHICLE OF SHIVA, 11th-12th centuries, granite, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
PARVATI, 10th century, Kashmir, Copper alloy with silver inlay, Rubin Museum of Art.
THRONE LEG WITH AN ELEPHANT-HEADED LION (GAJASIMHA VYALA), Odisha, c. Mid- 13th century, ivory, Philadelphia Museum of Art
PATTAVIRAMA (PATTABHIRAMA) TEMPLE, 1529-1546 AD, Vijayanagara Empire, Hampi (Balari District), Archeological Survey of India
::: "Pattabhirama Temple, Hampi." Ed. Madur. 7 Nov. 2014. Web. <http: / /www.karnataka.com /hampi /pattabhirama-temple>
::: Maxwell, Robyn. “Artonview”. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010. Web. Issue 59.
::: “Yali – Animal with Lion’s Body and Elephant Trunk - The Vahana or Vehicle of Budh or Mercury”. Abhilash Rajendran. 5 Mar. 2015. Web. <http: / /www.hindu-blog.com /2010 /11 /yali-animal-with-lions-body-and.html>.
::: Yali Pillared Entrance to Mantapa at Pattabhirama Temple in Hampi.JPG. 2012. Hampi. Web. <https: / /commons.wikimedia.org /wiki /file:yali_pillared_entrance_to_mantapa_at_pattabhirama_temple_in_hampi.jpg>.
::: Vishnu. Web. <https: / /en.wikipedia.org /wiki /vishnu>
::: Garuda. Web. <https: / /en.wikipedia.org /wiki /garuda>
::: “Why does Lord Vishnu rest on a snake?”. 2015. Web <http: / /blog.onlineprasad.com /why-does-lord-vishnu-rest-on-a-snake /#sthash.1wpqqitr.dpuf>