Sacred Animals of India
Animals in India are worshipped in myriad ways: as deities, like the elephant (god Ganesha) and the monkey (god Hanuman); as avatars, like Vishnu's fish, tortoise and boar forms; and as vahanas, or vehicles, of major deities-the swan, bull, lion and tiger. While some animals, like the snake, are worshipped out of fear, some birds, such as the crow, are associated with the abode of the dead, or the souls of ancestors, and the cow's sanctity perhaps derives from its economic value. There are also hero-animals, such as the vanaras, and the totemic symbols of tribes later assimilated into Vedic Hinduism.
Sacred Animals of India draws on India's ancient religions-Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism-to explore the customs and practices that led to the worship and protection of animals. This book is also a necessary reminder of the role animals play in earth's biodiversity.
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