An Ancient Guide To Elephants

An Ancient Guide To Elephants


In ancient cultures around the world, the elephant is one of the most revered animals.

“Gentleness and harmlessness are his front legs; simplicity and celibacy are the hind legs. Faith is his trunk, equanimity his white tusks, mindfulness his neck, his head is careful consideration, Dharma is his belly and solitude his tail. Meditating, focusing on his breath and utterly composed, this mighty elephant walks, stands and sits with composure, he is perfectly trained and accomplished in all ways.” -Buddha

The ancient Buddhists revered elephants for their strength and mental preciseness. Buddha, and other enlightened individuals of that time, are frequently compared to the qualities of an elephant in the scriptures. And the Buddha himself had a particular fondness for these giant creatures and their thoughtful expressions.

The ancient Eastern religion of Hinduism holds sacred symbolism for elephants. In Sanskrit, the word for elephant is Gaja. Gaja can actually be seen as Lord Ganesh, the popular elephant-headed God who is said to embody “perfect wisdom.” Ganesh is known as Lord of Good Fortune and Success. Followers of this religion believe that Ganesh holds qualities of royalty, power, wisdom and longevity to learn from. Lord Ganesh is also associated with the first Chakra (chakras were seen as the energy wheels present in the body along the spinal cord). This chakra represents survival, material well-being and conservation.

In traditions of Feng Shui, elephant symbols that are positioned in or near the bedroom are considered lucky for childbirth and since the elephant is also seen as related to mental strength, it is considered very auspicious when they are displayed in or near a building’s library or in a study area.

In Medieval History, elephants were greatly admired by war leaders.  “Whatever they wrap their trunks around, they break,” says an ancient English manuscript called Aberdeen Bestiary.

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