In the religious traditions of India, elephants symbolize royalty, majesty, strength, divinity, abundance, fertility, intelligence, keenness, destructive power, and grasping power. The souls in elephants are said to be highly evolved and ripe for evolution.
In the Vedic tradition, horses symbolize speed, beauty, purity, the expansive power of Brahman, freedom, grace, and strength. The Asvins, who symbolize the divinity of horses, are extolled in the Vedas as the gods who rescue people when they are caught in accessible places or lost in wilderness.
The cow symbolizes wealth, compassion, motherliness, righteousness (dharma), motherhood, divinity, sattvic nature, sacrifice, service, purity, and auspiciousness. In ancient India, a person’s social and economic status depended upon the number of cattle he possessed.
Images of bulls were found in several Indus Valley seals. They suggest that since the earliest times bulls had a socio-religious significance in ancient India. In the Vedic world, the bull represented masculinity, virility, strength, aggression, and fighting power.
Monkeys do not have that much ritual or spiritual importance in Hinduism as cows, bulls, tigers, horses, or elephants have, but they do enjoy a prominent place in public perception because of their association with lord Rama and their mischievous antics.
India is home to some of the deadliest snakes in the world. Hindus, therefore, have an ambivalent attitude towards them. They fear them and at the same time worship them. However, unlike in other traditions, they do not consider them evil, but divine. In Hinduism, serpents represent both death and infinity.
Dogs are worshipped in Nepal, and parts of India as the guardians of ancestors during the five-day festival of lights called Tihar.
The rat is a symbol of destruction, timidity, nervousness, ignorance, fear, and confusion. They can overcome obstacles in their search for food and remain underground in tunnels and crevices. In ancient India, next to elephants, rats posed a major threat to crops, vegetables, and orchards.
Lioins and tigers enjoy an exalted status in Hinduism as symbols of royalty, strength, and ferocity. However, because of the large size of their population and their wider geographical presence, tigers receive more attention and religious importance than lions.