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| Last Updated:: 24/08/2023











Scientific name


Elephas maximus indicus


Common name


Indian Elephant












Western Ghats and the trans-Himalayan zones of India


Religious association















In Hinudism, the Creator, Brihaspati, rides an elephant. Airavata the divine white elephant is the vehicle of Lord Indra – the king of heaven.















Lord Ganesha is the anthropomorphic form of the Asian (or Indian) elephant, the remover of all obstacles in one’s path. Every Hindu ritual commences with an invocation to Ganesha.







Chaddanta Jataka









Elephants are also sacred to the Buddhists. Since they are among the seven royal gems, the animal is the first to be carried in a procession before the Buddha. It is believed that the Buddha, in the incarnation preceding his birth as Siddhartha, was Chaddanta, the legendary white elephant with six tusks. The vehicle of Akshobhya, the primordial Buddha associated with consciousness (vijnana) is the elephant, as is the vehicle of Balabhadra, brother of Krishna, who presides over agriculture and holds the halayudha (plough) as his weapon.


















The second Jain Tirthankara Ajitanatha is represented by the elephant which is carved on the base of his statues. Beside him stands his attendant Mahayaksha, whose vehicle is also the elephant.
















 Source: “Sacred Animals Of India” by  Nanditha Krishna,  ( Penguin Book India, 2010)