What's a Vahana?
It’s hard to choose a name for a business. But when I heard about Vahana I knew I’d found a concept that rang true for me. Vahana are the animals (real and imagined) that the Hindu gods use to travel from one place to another.
The Elephant God, Ganesha, remover of obstacles, rides a (rather large!) mouse. The little mouse is so adept at gnawing its way through the world that s/he is an appropriate companion for Ganesha. Shiva, “the destroyer” rides a bull, and Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune and wealth rides an owl. There are many others. I find it so interesting that it’s acknowledged that in life we are dependent on others. No being can survive in isolation - all beings are dependent on others to live their lives. Even the little mouse, shunned by so many as a pest, is an integral part of our ecosystems, helping to spread seeds and providing important food for larger predators. Thich Nhat Hanh speaks of the notion of ‘inter-being’. Some Native Americans speak of the web of life. Hindus speak of Indra’s Net in which there is a three-dimensional intersection of all life forms. I believe deeply in this notion that everything and everyone in life is connected. My health is dependent on healthy food, in turn dependent on healthy soil and the farmer living nearby using organic fertilizer so as not to poison the water. My happiness is dependent on yours. Your pain and tears bring me sorrow. I believe that in order to work towards a sustainable future, a life of prosperity and peace for all, we must recognize even the smallest links in our inter-dependent chain and support them all to our fullest extent possible.
Of course, it’s also relevant that the gods need a vehicle on which to travel, because in a more literal sense, we can’t go anywhere without a mode of transportation. Whether a plane, a train, a bicycle, our feet, or the mythical Garuda - the half man, half eagle that Vishnu ‘the preserver’ rides – we are all dependent on some thing to get to where we want to go, be it a yoga retreat, work or a family gathering.
And we can extend that metaphor beyond transport. What tools do we need to travel through our journey of life? Is it a solid yoga practice, a good friend, job skills, patience and determination? Perhaps these can be construed as our Vahanas as well.
In addition, Vahana refers to the vibrations that carry the sounds in our life, especially the seed mantras that are used in yoga meditation practices.
I look forward to jumping on a Vahana with you! Perhaps a yoga mat, perhaps a carpool or a jet plane, maybe an elephant or a horse! – so that we can work together to expand our bodies and minds and align ourselves for the good of the planet and all beings.
Lokah Samastah Sukino Bahvantu – May all Beings Everywhere be Happy and Free