Seven dogs sleep in my room at night. The blind and deaf albino Great Dane, Gudiya, who was dumped in a gutter sleeps on the bed. The blind Labrador, Karan, abandoned in a market sleeps on his mat. Arjun who is half wolf and was abandoned because he howls instead of barking has his mat. Jairam who had a collar put on him when he was born and was abandoned when the collar ate into his adult neck and filled his body with pus, goes in and out. Devi and Bahadur who were brought in hairless with pneumonia and broken legs sleep under the bed. Bahadur is a mix between an Alsatian and a Lhasa Apso. Shankar was abandoned because he has no upper palate so all the food he ate came out through his nose as he sneezed. He curls up in a corner.
Bahadur’s hair has grown out a deep thick brown. He spent the whole of last week going round and round on his bottom trying to reach the base of his tail. I thought he was suffering from the trauma of beatings, broken legs and abandonment. He turned out to have fleas and when I parted his hair I saw cuts where he had scratched himself and little black eggs.
This morning I saw a large grey-black oval shaped pea sized creature climbing the wall. This is the mother tick who will give 4000 babies high in a crevice on the ceiling and then they will crawl down again and into dogs.
So know I know the season of fleas and ticks has officially arrived. Every dog in my shelter (we have 450+) has been given a flea bath and it will bring them relief for a few days. We have called in a fumigator next week to deal with the ticks.
Every animal is affected by fleas and they turn every animal crazy with irritation – the same as lice in your head make you insane. Fleas are small, black insects about 2mm in length. They live in the bedding and coats of dogs and cats and feed on their blood. The first sign is the scratching at the base of the tail. Close examination of your dog will reveal these small, black insects moving rapidly through your dogs’ coat. If there are few fleas present, only flea dirt may be evident which will appear as small, black specks. This is actually flea faeces, which is passed through the insect after sucking blood from your dog.
Some dogs may tolerate fleas well, with only very slight scratching. Others can show a severe allergic reaction to both flea bites and flea saliva. This can result in intense scratching and chewing of neck, ears, thighs and base of the tail. Your dog may also spin around quickly to chew itself when the flea bites. In extreme cases, your dog’s skin may start to scale and discolour. Hair loss and secondary bacterial infections may also occur.
Adult fleas lay their eggs on the dog within a few daysl. These eggs will drop off onto carpets and bedding. From here, the eggs will hatch to produce larvae that feed on organic matter found in the environment. The larvae dislike light and tend to live deep in the carpets and in soil. The adult flea is attracted by body heat, vibrations such as a dog walking by or by exhaled breath (carbon dioxide).Once this host is found, the life cycle will start over again.
To control fleas, you must treat all your animals on the same day. There are many treatments for your dog on the market,I use Bayticol Pour-On. It is meant for cows (has a picture of a cow on it) and is made by Bayer. You take it out with a syringe and put two drops on the base of the back of the neck and middle of the body on the spine and on the base of the tail. It is effective for 15 days
Ticks are small, light grey, rounded insects which feed on blood . They can be found anywhere on the dog’s body so look between the toes and inside the ear flap as well as the armpits. Peak activity is between the months of March to June and from August to November. Most of their life cycle is spent outside in grass but they can also survive in cracks and crevices in the walls and floors of kennels. The male has legs, the female does not. Detick your dog twice a day because they can cause allergies, anemia and tick fever which causes death. When a tick is removed from your dog’s body, it is important that its mouthparts do not remain embedded in your dogs skin or this may result in irritation, infection and abscess. 
There are insecticides viz., Ridd liquid and shampoos (Notix Scrub Liquid) available in the market that will kill ticks and if you use these regularly, they can help prevent infestation. (Notix forte powder) I hate recommending insecticides because then you have to wash your hands when you touch the animal. But all my “gentle solutions” of boiling orange peel and putting the mush on the dog for hours and then bathing it have failed in the face of numbers : I have 24 at home and hundreds in the shelter. 
To remove an attached tick, use tweezers You need to remove the tick without squeezing its body. 1. Grab the tick by the head or mouth parts right where they enter the skin. Do not grasp the tick by the body. Pull firmly and steadily directly outward. Do not twist the tick as your are pulling. Do not do stupid things like applying petroleum jelly, a hot match, or alcohol. These irritants may cause the tick to deposit more disease-carrying saliva in the wound. NOT squash the tick with your fingers.. Kill it by stamping on it or put it in a jar of spirit or kerosenet. Ticks are NOT killed by flushing them and it is cruel to burn them as they can’t help being ticks ( Please God , don’t make me a tick in my next life as punishment for all the ticks I have killed) . Wash your hands thoroughly.
You can get a tick/flea collar but they hardly work. I am waiting for Dr Batra to bring out a homeopathic remedy or ointment. In fact I am waiting for a homeopathic company to bring out a veterinary section for diseases that allopathy surrenders to: distemper, parvo, for instance.
This is what my hospital’s medical director, Dr Baruah says:
Treatment of flea and tick infestation
•Deltamethrine/Cypermethrin/Permethrin-75 ppm - application on the body & in the premises 
•Ivermectine @ 200 ug/Kg - s/c or oral administration 
•Spot on Fipronil/ Imidacloprid/ combination of Fipronil & Imidocloprid 
•Fipronil spray 
•Nitenpyram (oral)/ Selamectine 
•Lefeneuron - orally - treatment of next generation of fleas 
•Tick/Flea collar - cleaning of collar with brush 
Common tips for control of fleas and ticks
•These are present on the body of the host as well as in the premises. Ectoparasiticidal formulations must be used simultaneously at both places for effective control. For treatment of the infestations in young pups and cats, the premises should be treated more frequently to cut down the infestation. 
•After every outdoor activity the body should be combed thoroughly at least for 5-7 minutes before entering into the premises to dislodge loosely attached ticks and fleas. 
•The body coat should be examined daily. 
•Soaps and shampoos containing insecticides should not be used indiscriminately as the insects become immune to them. 
•Eucalyptus oil in the pocha is good and perhaps one drop in the shampoo when you bathe the dog> Safe for the kids and the environment. Borax is great for fleas. It is not toxic and you can sprinkle it on your carpet. Let it sit for a few days and then vacuum or dust it up. You can sprinkle it around the garden. Vacuum and pay special attention to corners, cracks in the floor, under furniture and dark areas. Vacuuming will not only eliminate fleas from your floor, but it will also get rid of any eggs, larvae and pupae making a home in your flooring. If you don’t have a vacuum, I would recommend very hot water. It is important to use a once-a-month preventative like Advantage or Frontline, which will both kill what’s on your pet, along with preventing future infestation. 

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One of the standard questions asked of me is who my role models are. Any creative person who has reached the top of their ability and is comfortable with doing good fits into my list.
At the moment my role model is Marianne Thieme. She makes me aware of how little I have done. Today I am going to write her story and beliefs in the hope that one day someone better than me will emulate her shining example.
Marianne Thieme is a Dutch politician and animal activist.
She is the chairperson and founder of the first animal rights party in history that is represented in a national parliament. Her Party for the Animals has won two seats in the Dutch National Parliament, nine seats in the Dutch Provincial Governments and one seat in the Dutch Senate.
This is, mind you, in a country that only eats meat and cheese. A country whose people are regarded as dour and without imagination. This is not India where 50% of people, and all the most influential people including the Minister for Environment, the Prime Minister and leaders of opposition are all vegetarians. This is not India where animal rights is enshrined in the Constitution and there are hundreds of animal welfare groups. This is not India where even the Dalai Lama has tutned vegetarian and banned chicken/meat shops in Dharamsala.
This is the heart of Europe 
She is not the odd person in Parliament : someone who is treated as a guest artist and provides the comedy. Thieme has been voted Political Talent of the Year by the Dutch parliamentary press and Most Influential Woman for Farmer’s Incomes by the leading Dutch magazine on agriculture. She writes in all the Dutch national and regional newspapers on factory farming, hunting, animal testing, bird flu, ritual slaughtering, fur, fisheries and vegetarianism. Here is what she has to say:
Q: How did the Party for the Animals get started? What contributed to the formation of the party?
A: On November 22 2006 a historical breakthrough was achieved in the struggle for animal rights. For the first time voters elected members of a Party for the Animals to a national parliament.With two seats, we achieved a victory acclaimed by champions for animal rights across the globe. Similar animal parties are being set up in other countries.
We are on the threshold of an unstoppable march towards giving animals a voice and a place in our legal system. This march is the result of a like-mindedness, which transcends status, political preference and religious belief, and allows everyone to contribute to the ending of this moral blind spot that has dominated our society for decades.
In the Netherlands , animal suffering is often hidden from view, or we simply do not want to acknowledge it. Each year in this country, millions of factory farmed animals are sent to slaughter after living short and miserable lives, and millions of minks are killed for their fur. More than a hundred thousand dogs and cats are dumped in shelters, and €500 million is spent on animal experimentation every year.
Q: What were your immediate goals and expectations as you formed the party?
A: During the mid-1990s, a favorable political climate for animals emerged. For the first time in history, there was a more or less animal-friendly majority in parliament. This came about as more progressive parties won power from the conservatives.
The Socialist Party, Green Left, the Labour Party D66 and the Christian Union formed an animal-friendly parliamentary majority. But the so-called animal friendly parties made it clear that not too much should be expected of them. The protection of animal rights featured in their party manifestos, but clearly was not a priority. Other parties managed to reverse and dismantle animal welfare policies in parliament. Animals became objects once again to eat and serve the economic purposes of people.
This is why a plan to set up a Party for the Animals was made in 2002. It was set up initially as a reminder to the parliamentary parties about the many good intentions set down in their manifestos and to speed up their implementation. We hoped that breathing down the necks of the existing parties would finally lead to justice being done for animals. This was essential at a time when the political and social agenda was dominated by issues such as security and integration, and standing up for animal rights was contemptuously regarded as a subversive activity that showed weakness rather than strength.
That the strategy worked became immediately evident when the plans for the party were launched and we were able to participate in the elections.
Overnight, Green Left set out its new top ten election priorities, which suddenly included animal welfare, while previously animal welfare did not even make it into the top 50. Other parties also jumped on the bandwagon after we established the Party for the Animals. They realized that animal welfare was becoming an increasingly important issue for the electorate. One party even wrote words into its election song letting people know that animals were more than just meat!
However it was only on the election night itself that people suddenly stopped laughing off our attempt to make a stand for animals. During the broadcast of the election results, to everyone's surprise it became clear that Party for the Animals had scored high! 
Our ambition to put animals on the agenda was achieved, but we had to go further. We knew that if the animal protectionists in the existing parliamentary parties could transform themselves into a group that was even half as fanatical and tenacious as the politicians that the factory farmers use to defend the interests of intensive farming, then it would not take long for the advantage to be decided in the favor of the animals. The Party for the Animal's role will be to continually stir things up in an intelligent and determined way. Until the time that animals are widely respected, we must continue to do everything in our power to ensure that we keep animal welfare at the top of the political agenda.
I assure you that standing up for animals does not mean that we are blind to other issues. In our manifesto we made 220 proposals for people, healthcare, the economy and housing aimed at achieving a better society. We want to work towards a society where animals and people get a better life. We are a new political movement based on compassion, durability and respect to man, animals, nature and environment. It is a fantastic experience to be part of a new movement that is not hindered by the existing political priorities, but instead consciously breaks through the framework. 
What has been her experience in the parliament been so far? Is she fighting for legitimacy? “ In the last debate on agriculture, 80% of the time was spent on animal welfare and animal rights for the first time in history. Does that answer your question? People from all backgrounds, including Christianity, are supporting the party. Which is the fastest-growing political party of the Netherlands . We are a secular party, so there is no religious approach in our message.” 
One of the achievements of the party is that the Netherlands may soon pass a law banning halal killing of animals – where the animal is killed by slashing its neck while conscious – something that is routine in India where the trade is run by Muslims. The bill is expected to go to a parliamentary vote this month. Most Dutch favor a ban.If the Netherlands does outlaw this procedure, it will be the first country outside New Zealand to do so in recent years and willjoin the Scandinavian, Baltic countries and Switzerland .
What I want to see in India is a party that stands for compassion towards all people, animals and environment. That promises the only things that matter: water for all without making rubbishy large useless dams, electricity for all using alternative energy, good health and good education by making it relevant. And no corruption. What a wonderful country this could be. While lots of decent people would love to make such a party, the problem is – are you ready to vote for your own wellbeing and freedom?  
Maneka Gandhi
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Few people distress me more than Jairam Ramesh, the Minister for Environment and Forests. For two years I and every animal/environment group have supported him because we believed him. Now we all realize that everything he says is a lie. He speaks very well, and is publicity crazy, so it is easy to fall for his “green” language – but his track record is much worse than the last two ministers – Raja and Baalu. Mining licences are given easily, forest clearances have been given, “no go zones” have been made into mining zones, the nuclear plant which is going to destroy so much of land has been cleared, the Mumbai airport which will kill two rivers, one mountain and all the mangroves has been cleared, the last breeding site of vultures in Gujarat has been allowed to be destroyed for a tourist ropeway, Posco and Vedanta were “threatened” and then mysteriously cleared, Mrs Indira Gandhi’s law on no construction on beaches which resulted in the Coastal Zone Regulation Act has been repealed, 85 tigers died last year and the new tiger count showing their increase is very suspicious – I am on the Project Tiger committee from Parliament and not one suggestion made by anyone on the committee has been done in two years, no action has been taken on the railways after dozens of elephant deaths. The Environment Tribunal, is a weak, anti environment, pro-business legislation which I opposed in Parliament. Jairam has a unique way of keeping NGOs quiet – he makes a committee out of them, tells them to draft some rules, look into some Act, come up with proposals…. everybody works for months with great hope, then he does nothing or just the opposite. The Wildlife Act amendments that were worked on for months have been discarded. 
It is a rare day in which Jairam does not make up some story. Industry should be and is thrilled with him, but anyone wanting to save any part of India is frightened to death. He has a typical modus operandi. Every time he wants to make some NGO quiet, he pretends to agree with them and to show his great commitment he has a press conference and puts the proposal made by the NGO on his Ministry website. This is supposed to be done only when some action – a law, a notification etc is being done in the next month. However, the proposal lies on the site for over a year and is withdrawn. But till then the hopeful NGO does not criticize him and the press keeps waiting for the legislation. This is what has happened with the pet shop laws. 
In the last ten years, thousands of pet shops have spread through India. They smuggle animals and birds in from other countries or poach them from the forests and sell them in black without a licence. Two years ago, the laws to control them were made and passed by the Animal Welfare Board. They were sent to the Ministry. Nothing happened. Then the Minister wanted my endorsement for some nonsense and in return for my keeping quiet he would pass the notification on the pet shop laws. To show his sincerity he would put them on the Environment Ministry website. I fell for this trick!! This was last April. The notification was put and taken off and put and taken off and put again. This will happen for as long as Jairam is Minister because, as he told me privately, he has no intention of doing anything. 
In sheer despair, in December 2010 I wrote to the Revenue department, the Central Board of Direct Taxes and the Minister of Finance. The letters are self explanatory: “I am not sure the Ministry of Finance and the CBDT is aware of the sudden and huge spread of “pet shops” across the country. These shops are technically given licences to sell animal food and accessories. But they sell the animals and birds themselves. Every market in Delhi for instance has a pet shop selling birds, dogs, fish (aquarium) etc. Many of them have illegal species in them like turtles, monkeys, snakes etc. which they produce on order. Most of their birds which they claim to be “exotic” are artificially coloured Indian ones poached from the jungles. Even the ones that they claim to have imported – none of them have import licences. 
Dogs are coming in illegally by the thousands every week through airlines like Uzbeki Airlines because of an order given four years ago by the then Commerce Minister that 2 dogs could be brought in by anyone coming to India. These are brought by tourists, sold to breeders (ordered in advance by breeders, these tourists are simply professional couriers of dogs). They are not put on the passport and not taken out again. There is no quarantine and many are diseased. There are now hundreds of illegal breeders of dogs selling animals without paying any taxes. The entire sale is in black money with no receipts being given or taken. On an average, business of over 2 crores happens every week in Delhi alone. 
Lately, Nepal has also started smuggling dogs to India. A consignment of 50 dogs meant for India was caught a few days ago. Breeders abound on the Net selling dogs. They rarely give correct addresses and many have just phone numbers. Once you pay online, the animal is delivered to your door. It is a different matter that it usually dies in a week. Thousands of people had written to the Ministry of Environment and Forests to make rules regarding the breeding and sale of animals/birds/fish. These rules were even put on the Ministry site in April/May 2010 but were withdrawn as the Minister was “approached” by 22 groups of sellers, all of which are proven smugglers and have spent time in jail for selling wild animals and their parts – and continue to do so even though they are out on bail. 
The other group opposing any rules is the Kennel Club of India which is a collection of dog breeders and sellers who earns lakhs of rupees from illegal sales and pay no taxes. I am enclosing a single day’s perusal of the advertisements on the Net. If you would ask someone to list the pet shops in Delhi, it would be more than 500. I have personally had more than 100 raided and caught puppies that came from either the slums of Shadipur or the Uzbekis. You will find the same in any city in India.  
I would be grateful if: a. the CBDT would ask the MOEF to make the rules immediately so that this sale could be taxed and rules made. b. if you could issue notices to all these tax evaders and have them arrested if possible. I am sure that they keep private books and several raids would show you the extent of the trade. 
With regards Thank God someone listens!!! In March I read in the papers that the Income Tax Department has issued a directive to all its regional offices to visit breeders and pet sellers “The Rs. 500-crore pet business has come under the scanner of the Income Tax department. According to the I-T directive it has been noticed in recent years that pet shops have spread rampantly across cities. These shops are technically licensed to sell animal food and accessories, but they also deal in canines and exotic birds illegally. The order stated that it is suspected that a majority of these transactions are outside the tax net so appropriate action should be taken against them. According to a modest estimate there are an estimated 20,000 or more such breeders across the country. 
“Do you want to do something for animal welfare? If you come across any pet shop, send me the name, address and owner’s name and I will forward it to the Income tax department. Jairam can go on playacting. Let us solve this environmental problem ourselves.  

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Krishna’s relationship with cows is the ultimate relationship between man and animal. They are not his “pets”. They are not to be used and discarded. He does not love them because they are beautiful, pedigreed, give milk. He does not even attribute human characteristics to them while loving them : that they are gentle, wise, loving, generous, patient, noble and sinless.
He loves them because they are him and Radha and his 16,000 wives and gopis in another form. He is non judgmental with his love. The ultimate lover sees neither the qualities of his beloved nor even her species, shape or personality. He loves because that is his nature. I do not love dogs and cats and horses and ants and eagles and mango trees. I love because all of them are me and it is the ultimate self love to see myself in every blade of grass and therefore to be respectful of it. How many times has a human been reborn ? How many lives have I spent as a donkey or a mouse or a cockroach or a sunflower ? My soul is the same, how many different bodies has it occupied ? Therefore how can I love just my current species – and that too , only a few people in it – when I have been all species.
But why the bond between Krishna and the cow ? It is not by accident that he has been made a cowherd in the epics. Or that he spent his formative years in Gokula (meaning herd of cows), the area on the banks of the Jamuna now in Mathura. 
The Srimad Bhagavatam says that Krishna knew the name of each cow of Vrindavana. If any cow was missing Krishna would immediately call her by name. The cows were divided into herds by color, black, white, red, or yellow. In each colour there were 25 further divisions. There were also eight herds of cows that were spotted or speckled or had heads shaped like a mridanga or that had tilak marks on their foreheads. Each of the 108 herds had a herd leader.”Thus when Krishna calls out, ‘Hey Dhavali’ (the name of a white cow) white cows comes forward, and when Krishna calls ‘Hamsi, Chandani, Ganga , Mukta’ and so on, the other groups of white cows come. The reddish cows are called ‘Aruni, Kunkuma, Sarasvati, etc., the blackish ones ‘Shyamala, Dhumala, Yamuna, etc., and the yellowish ones are Pita, Pingala, Haritaki, etc. “
The Krishna Bhaktas trivialize the reasons for Krishna ’s love for cows. Because they are beneficial to humans. They give milk ( They do not give milk to humans . They produce it for their own children and we take it from them). They allow him to secretly meet Radha and the girls who take the cows into the forests (this is equally mad) Their lives are always for others ( again rubbish. If left alone , they care for their own families as we do). They have no lust ( have they never seen a bull on heat ?) If we worship the cow simply because it is of economic benefit then the scriptures should be equally ecstatic about horses, goats, pigs, businessmen, gold. The worship of the cow goes much deeper than that. 
The word Gau or Go itself means fair, light,white, golden, beautiful. When my son Varun was getting married in Varanasi , the first ritual of the marriage was for the priests to ask him his Gotra (Dattatreya). The gotra which means lineage also means herd of cows. Gaurav , meaning the sound of a cow, also means glory and prestige. Another name for Jupiter, the moon , Seshanaga ,Sage Chaitanya and Siva is Gauranga or cow coloured. Gauri or cow coloured is another name for the Earth and Parvati . Daybreak is Gaushra: the time of cattle grazing. Gautama, the name of the Buddha comes from Gau Uttama meaning the ultimate cow, remover of darkness, the ultimately fair , wise and beautiful. Gautami is another name for the rivers Gomati ( with the wisdom of the cow) , Godavari ( giving prosperity) and Durga. Krishna is known as Gopala, Godharin, Gomateshwar, Gopa, Govardhana, Govinda,Gosvami. Gopati is another name for Vishnu, Siva and Varuna. The ultimate paradise is Goloka meaning cows world - the paradise of Krishna situated on Mount Meru on which dwells Surabhi the mother of all cows
I have met many enlightened souls. I know now is that nothing they say is meaningless or pointless or even metaphorical. Even when they say things that sound general like ‘be happy’ or “drive safely”you discover later that there was a specific applicable meaning. Why has the cow been chosen ? In all the religious texts there are three animals that are repeated again and again as important and to be revered : the snake, the monkey and the cow. The snake is associated with energy, the monkey with intelligence, innovation, bhakti and humility and the cow as the ultimate and best in everything
I do not believe that these are metaphors or chosen at random. Reading the scriptures and listening to the experiences of all those who have attempted enlightenment , I realize that these animals that are being referred to are the actual animals and they actually are what they are supposed to represent. As we kill the snakes the earth loses its energy, our constant war with monkeys depletes the intelligence of the human race and its ability to think its way out of the mess we are sinking into and our ceaseless killing of cows by Hindus who sell them and Muslims who kill them and the government which boast of killing the largest number of cows in the world ( our leather export is Rs 27,000 crores which is only of cowskin. If each skin is Rs 300 , how many cows is that ?) , our tolerance of them being smuggled to Bangladesh , our acceptance of thousands of illegal abbatoirs –we have lost our desire to strive for the best. Which of us is now the best at anything or even wants to be the best ? A weariness of the spirit , an acceptance of mediocrity, corruption, bad education, third rate lives, bad health, criminal governments , wars, endless destruction, has settled on us. 
The protector of cows, Krishna Gopala is the greatest mind, both for civil administration and war. The highest devotees are the Gopis or cowherdesses. Goloka is the highest destination . As described in the Brahma Samhita Lord Krishna on His planet, Goloka Vrindavana, engages in tending the surabhi cows.” Could it be that the cow is the ultimate deity ? That god has chosen to test us by putting our 33,000 gods in our midst and then he watches to see what we do to them ? If cows are the deities for Lord Krishna this has to be the highest form of worship . 
Krishna is not a cowherder only because he was sent to be raised by Nanda and Yashoda of Braj village who owned cows. He was sent to them Because they owned cows. He is still herding cows in His eternal abode Goloka. Why do the saints from Vyasa onwards say that the cow is to be worshipped? Why are our idols bathed in milk and cow urine – the panchgavya. Why does the Skanda Purana say “Offering respect to the Cows will help the devotee to diminish the reactions to his past sinful activities” Could it be that people who serve Krishna’s cows and see them as Gods are the most fortunate and achieve results in the simplest manner . There must be a reason why the wish granting of the universe is put into Kamadhenu , the wish fulfilling cow.  
Vedic philosophy teaches there are 7 mothers: 1) the birth mother, 2) the nurse, 3) the wife of the father (if she is not the birth mother), 4) the wife of the king, 5) the wife of the spiritual master, 6) the earth, and 7) the cow. 

Do Not treat the cow as an animal, to be used and discarded. Treat her well and your wishes might come true.
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The Devi Mahatmya of the Markandeya Purana refers to three principal forms of the female force: Mahalakshmi, Mahakali and Mahasarasvati. Every woman would like to be a combination of all three : the Goddess Lakshmi of her house, feared like the Goddess Kali and eternally wise and virtuous like the beautiful Sarasvati. If I had to choose one form , it would be Kali, the one freed of having to look beautiful, the problem solver, destroyer of injustice and divinely energetic.

Each goddess has a Vahana , an animal companion without whom she is incomplete. As the assistant of a deity, the vahana serves the function of doubling his or her powers. Durga the warrior could not have destroyed the demon Mahishasura without the aid of her mount, Manashthala the lion.

Lakshmi represents the beautiful and bountiful aspect of nature. As Bhoodevi, the earth-goddess, she nurtures life; Lakshmi bestows power, pleasure and prosperity on those who deserve her grace, dispensing both material and spiritual riches from her mount, Uluka the owl. One of her names is Ulkavahini: One who rides an owl. One full moon in autumn, the brightest night of the year, it is believed that she showers wealth and takes away the darkness of poverty, stagnation, anger and laziness from our lives. Her owl represents penetrating sight and intelligence..

Durga is the unconquerable form of the female goddess.She contains within her the power of all the gods combined and destroys evil. Durga’s vahana is a lion which represents heroism. In her gentlest form she is Parvati, the consort of Shiva. But Parvati has a lion as a vahana too which since Shiva has the bull, makes a statement. The imagery is slowly changing from lion to tiger as the word sher stands for both . But both animals are symbols of power and truth over lies.

Sarasvati the goddess of art, music and learning, is the river of consciousness. To realize her one must go beyond the pleasures of the senses and rejoice in the serenity of the spirit. Sarasvati’s vahana is a peacock or Hams the swan. The swan is a symbol of spiritual purity, and those who have transcended the material nature are sometimes called supreme swans, or "paramahamsa".

The seven mothers (Matrikas) who are all forms of the goddess(Devi) :

BRAHMANI: This goddess has four faces and a body bright as gold.. She is seated upon a red Lotus and has the Hamsa as her Vahana as also the emblem of her banner.

VAISHNAVI: She has a lovely face is of dark complexion. She wears a yellow garment and all the ornaments generally worn by Vishnu. The emblem of her banner as well as her vahana is Garuda the eagle.

INDRANI: Indrani has three eyes and four arms; The colour of goddess is red. Her vahana and the emblem of her banner is the elephant.

CHAMUNDA: The Goddess Chamunda has four arms and three eyes and is red in colour. Her hair is abundant and thick and bristles upwards. Her Vahana is an Owl and the emblem of her banner an Eagle. She is surrounded by jackals.

MAHESVARI. Mahesvari has four arms. Her Vahana and banner is the Bull.

KUMARI: She is the feminine of Subrahmanya who is known as Kumara. Her Vahana and emblem is the Peacock.

VARAHI. Varahi has the face of a boar and the colour of the storm-cloud. Her Vahana as well as the emblem on her banner is the elephant.

While every village goddess has her own animal companion spirit, other important Devis are the tiger-riding Jagaddhatri and the snake-goddess Manasa. Shashthi is the goddess of fertility and her vahana is the cat. All three are important deities of Bengal .

The goddess Ganga, the personified river Ganges has a makara or crocodile, riding on a makara which is half elephant or crocodile or deer with a fish tail .I think it should be a full crocodile who really does take care of the rivers Yamuna, the personification of the river Jamuna, has a tortoise (not turtle) as her vahana.

The donkey is the Vahana of Goddess Kalaratri and of Goddess Shitala. Goddess Kalaratri is one among the nine goddesses worshipped during Navratri. Shitala is the goddess of fever and small pox.

Kama’s consort, Rati’s companion is a parrot who stands for love

In Bengal Gauri’s emblem is the Monitor Lizard or what is now known as Sita’s Lizard (Sitana ponticerinaor) or chameleon. The name of the Vahana is Godhika

Many of the vahanas have a divine history of their own. For instance, According to the Kanda Puranam, the Tamil version of the Sanskrit Skanda Purana, Shiva’s son, Murugan, (Kartikeya) defeated the demon Simhamukhan. On his defeat, Simhamukhan begged forgiveness so Murugan blessed him to turn into a lion and serve as the vehicle of Durga.

The peacock, representing splendor and majesty. This apparently incongruous relationship has been traced to the bird’s formidable ability to destroy snakes. The hansa or goose/swan represents the arts, the power of discrimination and peace. The Hamsa is said to have the quality of separating milk and water meaning the quality of separating good and bad.Lakshmi’s owl is a warning against distrust and isolationism and selfishness.

If you respect and worship the goddess then you must respect their vahanas, many of whom represent divine attributes, as well. Not eat them or hurt them or think of them as lesser beings.

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