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Yali – Animal with Lion’s Body and Elephant Trunk - The Vahana or Vehicle of Budh or Mercury

Yali is a mythical animal which has the body of a lion but with a trunk of an elephant.  In this form Yali is the vehicle or Vahana of Navagraha Budh or Mercury. As per Vaishnava tradition, Yali is a combination of elephant, lion and snake. It has the head and body of lion but with an elephant trunk and has the tail of a serpent.

It must be noted that modern paintings show Budha riding on a lion. The trunk part is avoided.

Yali sculptures are widely used on the walls and pillars of South Indian temples.
When Yali is a combination of elephant, lion and snake it is mainly noted for its ferociousness and strength. Yali thus has the strength of an elephant, ferociousness and speed of a lion and the fear factor associated with a snake.

This type of Yali is sculpted at the entrance of temples and homes to keep away evil.

One of the popular story of Narasimha states that Yali was subdued by Narasimha Avatar of Vishnu. Therefore the utsava murti of Narasimha in some temples ride on Yali Vahanam during Brahmotsavam festival in some Vishnu temples.