General - The largest of the land animals with large ears and a long trunk. (1) In China, the elephant (chia yen) is a sacred animal and one of the Seven Treasures of Buddhism. It is often regarded as a previous incarnation of the Buddha, it is sometimes said that a white elephant announced the Buddha's birth. The elephant Hsiang is said to carry the sacred jewel of the law, and the rat, Hua-hu Tiao, when released from Mi-lo Shou's bag, became a flying elephant. (2) In Hindu tradition, this beast is the vehicle of Indra. In the Mahabharata, the elephant was the eleventh thing to be produced at the Churning of the Ocean. Other versions of its origins say that the elephant was created from the shavings removed on a lathe from the body of Surya, by Vishvakarma, to reduce the sungod's overpowering brightness. Yet another version says that Brahma sang over the two halves of an eggshell and Airavata, an elephant used by Indra as transport, emerged from the half-shell in the god's right hand, followed by seven more, all males. Next came eight female elephants from the other half-shell. These sixteen elephants, which support the world at cardinal and intermediate points, were the ancestors of all elephants. In the early days, they had wings and could fly but they lost this special ability when they disturbed the teaching of an ascetic who cursed them. In some accounts, an elephant standing on the back of a tortoise supports the earth. Sometimes identified as elephant.

Nearby Myths