Here is my eighth entry for BettyLouise’s, IdahoBlueBird50 Mysteries Blog, Animal of the Day (AOTD) challenge. Here is the link to BettyLouise’s blog https://idahobluebird50.com/2019/09/22/aotd-antelope-september-22-2019/
Airavata is a white elephant who carries the Hindu god Indra. It is also called ‘abhra-Matanga’, meaning “elephant of the clouds”; ‘Naga-malla’, meaning “the fighting elephant”; and ‘Arkasodara’, meaning “brother of the sun”. Abhramu’ is the elephant wife of Airaavatha. Airaavatha has ten tusks and five trunks and is spotless white. Airaavatha is also the third son of Kashyap and Kadru.
Airavata in Hindu Tradition
According to the Ramayana, the elephant’s mother was Iravati. According to the Matangalila, Airaavatha was born when Brahma sang sacred hymns over the halves of the egg shell from which Garuda hatched, followed by seven more male and eight female elephants. Prithu made Airaavatha king of all elephants. One of his names means “the one who knits or binds the clouds” since myth has it that these elephants are capable of producing clouds. The connection of elephants with water and rain is emphasized in the mythology of Indra, who rides the elephant Airaavatha when he defeats Vritra. This mighty elephant reaches down his trunk into the watery underworld, sucks up its water, and then sprays it into the clouds, which Indra then causes to rain forth cool water, thereby linking the waters of the sky with those of the underworld.
As per another legend, Airavatha is believed to have come out of churning the ocean of milk and it is believed that the elephant guards one of the points of compass. Airaavatha also stands at the entrance to Svarga, Indra’s palace. In addition, the eight guardian deities who preside over the points of the compass each sit on an elephant. Each of these deities has an elephant that takes part in the defense and protection of its respective quarter. Chief among them is Airaavatha of Indra. There is a reference to Airaavatha in the Bhagavad Gita:
“Of horses, know Me to be the nectar-born Uchchaihshravas; of lordly elephants, Airaavatha and of men, the monarch.”
In Jain tradition, when a Tirthankara is born, Indra descends with his consort, Shachi, riding their mount, the great elephant Airaavatha, to celebrate the event.