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Elephant in Hinduism – Reason For Holiness of Elephant in Hindu Religion

Elephant in Hinduism is today mainly associated with Ganesha. The reason for holiness of elephant in Hindu religion can be traced back to the Vedas. It was believed that a special breed of elephants called samaja was born during the recitation of the Sama Veda.

Origin of Elephant in Hinduism as per Satapatha Brahmana

As per Satapatha Brahmana, when the seven sons of Aditi, the divine mother, discarded the excess flesh of the deformed eighth son, Martanda, it became the first elephant.

As per another scripture, the diggajas, or the elephants that protects the cardinal points, fell to the earth after being cursed by a sage. They were the first ancestors of the elephants on earth.

Holiness of Elephant in Hindu Religion

It is believed that various gods and goddesses in Hindu pantheon inhabit the various body parts of an elephant.
  • Brahma is in the head,
  • Kartikeya, Muruga, or Kartik is in the forehead,
  • The sun and the moon are the eyes,
  • Ganesha is in the trunk
  • Lakshmi is in the face
  • Viralakshmi is in the tusks
Airavata, the white elephant of Indra, constantly appears in all Puranas and the epics. He plays important roles in crucial juncture – like his throwing of the flower garland resulted in a curse by Sage Durvasa and it finally led to the Samdura Manthan.

Elephant is widely mentioned in the Mahabharata but the Ramayan does not talk much about the elephants.