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(6,796 words)

Author(s): Anna L. Dallapiccola
The word vāhana means “that which carries, that which pulls, vehicle, bearer.” This term is primarily used by historians of Indian art and religions to refer to the animals that regularly appear alongside the image of the deities “and/or to creatures invariably imagined in company of specific divinities during dhyana-meditations” (Smith, 1981, 12). According to H. Zimmer, this concept did not originate in India but was imported early on from Mesopotamia. The vāhana  "represents and embodies, on an inferior plane, the energies of the anthropomorphic god and serves as…