The Vahana Adventure
Vāhana (वाहन, skt. that which carries, that which pulls)denotes the being, typically an animal or mythical entity, a particular deva is said to use as a vehicle. The vahana and deity to which they support are in a reciprocal relationship. Vahana serve and are served in turn by those who engage them. Many vahana may also have divine powers or a divine history of their own. In Hindu iconography, positive aspects of the vehicle are often emblematic of the deity that it carries. Nandi the bull, vehicle of Shiva, represents strength and virility. Parvani the peacock, vehicle of Skanda, represents splendor and majesty. The hamsa, vehicle of Saraswati, represents wisdom, grace and beauty. However, the vehicle animal also symbolizes the evil forces over which the deity dominates. Mounted on Parvani, Skanda reins in the peacock’s vanity. Seated on Mushika, Ganesh crushes useless thoughts, which multiply like rats in the dark. Shani, protector of property, has a vulture, raven or crow in which he represses thieving tendencies. Under Shani’s influence, the vahana can “make even malevolent events bring hope.”

We have been dreaming of this day for a long time now. In 48 hours we will fly out of San Francisco to New Delhi via Dubai to begin our exploration by bike, train and bus for 35 days. Neither of us have been to Asia before. Trying to prepare feels somewhat useless. We are grateful, honored, thoughtful, happy, anxious, meditative, prepared then anxious again. Overall we are moving enthusiastically yet gently and humbly.