Animals have always been a crucial part of any mythology. The imaginative and hybrid characters have been associated with power, beauty, greed, humility, wisdom, cruelty and lot other things. Many of the mythological animals are quite famous and have been used in modern literature., dragons and unicorns are the best examples. Below are some of the lesser known creatures from Hindu mythology:
It is portrayed as part lion, part elephant and part horse, and in similar shapes. Yali sculptures are widely used on the walls and pillars of South Indian temples. It is said to have the strength, ferociousness and speed of a lion. The legends say that Yali roamed about in jungles and feared none. Hence it is sculpted at the entrance of temples and homes to keep away evil. One of the popular story of states that Yali was subdued by Narasimha Avatar of Lord Vishnu, one of the holy trinity.
See also; 10 Hybridized Humanoids Types in Mythology.
It literally means one produced from water. Airavat represents an elephant with 4 trunks, is pure white in color and has wings. It came out of the water when gods churned the oceans according to Hindu mythology. It is vehicle of Indra, the god of rain. The eight directions of compass have eight guardian deities in the myth. Each of them has elephant as their vehicle. Airavta is the chief among all the elephants.
Makara is a Sanskrit word which means “sea dragon” or “water-monster”. It is vehicle of god Varuna, the god of water. Makara has been depicted as half mammal and half fish. It is also shown in some scriptures with head and jaws of a crocodile, an elephant trunk with scales of fish and a peacock tail. It has a place in twelve zodiac symbols. Capricorn, the twelfth zodiac symbol is Makara.
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Gandaberunda is an imaginary bird in the Hindu mythology. This two-headed bird is said to possess magical strength and can be seen sculpted in many temples across the country. It was first recorded in mythology that when Lord Vishnu assumed the Narasimha avatar to kill a demon, Hiranyakashpu. Narsimha became so powerful that the other gods feared overall destruction. Then lord Shiva, one of holy trinity, assumed form of a creature called Sharabha to control Narsimha. To face Sharabha, Narsimha assumed the form of Gandaberunda. It thus became sign of immense power. The rulers of Vijayanagar kingdom adopted the emblem of this majestic bird which has been carried on over the centuries. It is now a part of official emblem of the state government of Karnataka, one of the states in India.
It has the head of a rooster, the neck of a peacock, the waist of a lion, the hump of a bull, the tail of a serpent, the leg of an elephant, another leg of a tiger, yet another leg of an antelope and a human hand holding a lotus. Navagunjara is manifestation of god Krishna (conscience) in Hindu myth. It was used by Krishna to preach lesson of diversity to Arjuna, a warrior in Hindu myth.
It is a red partridge in Hindu mythology which feeds on moonbeams. He feeds whole night and therefore happy but starves in the day. It is said to be devotee and is obsessed with moon. The association of moon and Chakora is used in many romantic folklore in northern parts of the country.
Ahi also known as Vritra or Vitra, is a huge dragon in Hindu mythology. It is a drought-dragon and a bringer of misfortune. According to the legends, once Ahi drank all the water on earth and curled itself to sleep around a mountain. The ancient god Trita, which was later replaced by Indra, killed this demon while it was sleeping using the thunderbolt. Thus, water was released and fertility and life was restored.
Kamadhenu is a cow and described in Hindu mythology as the mother of all cows. She is miraculous and provides whatever is desired by the owner. Kamadhenu is often portrayed as the mother of other cattle. She is generally depicted as white in color containing various deities within her body. All cows are looked upon as the earthly embodiment of the Kamadhenu in Hinduism.
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Garuda literally means eagle. It has head and wings of an eagle and rest of body of a man. It is known a king of birds. Garuda has references in several well-known scriptures like Ramayana. It is vehicle of lord Vishnu, one of the holy trinity. The bird is not independently worshiped but with lord Vishnu. In pictures, he is depicted carrying lord Vishnu back to the skies.
In Sanskrit, ‘timi’ is whale and ‘gila’ means swallow. Timingila is a gigantic sea serpent from Hindu mythology. It is said to be so big that it could easily swallow a whale. It has been mentioned in both Ramayana and Mahabharata.
List Created By; Rhucha.