Parrots recite the Vedas.
Dog follows Yudhistra to heaven.
Squirrel helps to build Rama Setu.
Gajendra, the elephant called on Vishnu for help.
Dogs inspire Adi Shankaracharya.
Four dogs come as four Vedas to Somasi Nayanar Yagna.
In Madurai pigs, swallow and heron were given moksha by Lord Shiva.
Cows bathed Shiva lingas with milk in several Indian towns.
Recently in Ratlam (Madhya Pradesh) monkeys listened to Ramayana.
Very recently In Tamil Nadu snakes and goats did Puja to statues of gods.

What are all these? Are these Panchatantra stories or Aesop fables? or
Are Walt Disney’s films on nature? If you read more you can judge it yourself.

Indian Tamil and Sanskrit literature are full of animal stories. They say that if a just king rules the country deer and tiger will drink water from the same river without showing enmity. They go one step forward and say that animals when pregnant get more affection even from their natural enemies. Snakes open their hoods to protect pregnant frogs from scorching sun. Such is the love and affection they show one toward another.

Western newspapers don’t lag behind in such stories. Within the last quarter of 2011 three such stories about parrots appeared in London publications. A pet parrot alerted its owner when his pet dog gave birth prematurely. But for the timely intervention of the bird many of the cubs would have died. Another parrot betrayed its owner during illicit intimacy by calling his wife’s name. A third parrot helped to catch a burglar, because even after it was stolen it was repeating its original owner’s name and identified him in the pet shop.

But Indian literature goes well beyond these anecdotes in time. We have the great Bhagavatham story of Elephant Gajendra calling Lord Vishnu to rescue it from the near fatal grip of a crocodile. This was beautifully sculpted 1500 years ago in the Deogarh temple. (My article about mysterious messengers talks about a cobra giving shelter to a frog).

Look at the pictures now:

Animal Worship
Monkey blessing Rama katha exponents in Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh, India

Elephant Gajendra calling Vishnu, 5th century AD (1500 old statue).

When the intellectual giant and the greatest Indian philosopher Adi Shankaracharya at a tender age went to challenge the mightiest figure of his days Mandanamishra on the banks of the river Narmada, he was laughed at and ridiculed by the women of the village who came to get water from the river. When they heard from a youth like Shankara that he came to discuss philosophical subjects with Mandanamishra and wanted to know where his house was, they giggled. But they were so intelligent that they replied to him in Sanskrit poetry. They asked him to go to a house where the parrots were reciting the Vedas and discussing Upanishad philosophy. The story takes very interesting turns at every stage. But I will stop with the parrots (those who wanted to read the story in English must go to Osho’s website, and those who wanted to read it in Tamil must go to Kanchi Shankaracharya’s Tamil lectures).

Animal Worship
Thepperumanallur, Tamil Nadu, India- snake worships Lord Shiva

On 16th January 2010 there was a solar eclipse. When the priest of Thepperumanallur in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu opened the temple, he saw a snake on top of the Shivalingam statue. It slowly went to the holy Bilva tree and brought the bilva leaves and put them on the head of Lord Shiva. It did it three times. Hundreds of villagers and photographers rushed to the temple and quietly watched the wonderful ceremony. The priest explained that solar eclipse is a holy occasion and people who do puja at that time get more punya.

Animal Worship
Erode, Tamil Nadu, India - Goat worships Nagadeva statue with Tulsi (basil Leaves)

On 17th November 2011 when the Ayyappa devotees started their 40 day fasting (vrata) they all wore garlands and did Puja. A goat also took the holy basil leaves and did puja to the Nagadeva statues. Hundreds of devotees watched this with great reverence and curiosity.

People who have read Ramayana and Mahabharata knew about the little animals (read my story -Two Little Animals) When Adi Shankara was walking along a narrow street, a person of low caste came in the opposite direction. When Shankara, with all arrogance, asked him to move out of his path he asked a great philosophical question whether the body or soul should move out of his path. This opened Shankara’s eyes and awakened a greater fire in him. He realised that the man who came as an ugly uneducated person was nothing but God and the four dogs that accompanied him were four Vedas.

The same thing happened in the Soma yagna conducted by a great Tamil devotee called Somasimara Nayanar. When an untouchable came in drunken state with four dogs looking for his lost animals, all the Brahmins chased him away. But the great Nayanar realised that it was nothing but Shiva who came with four Vedas as dogs. Shiva showed him his real form and blessed him. It happened in the eighth century. The story appears in great detail in Periya Puranam in Tamil. Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh has translated it in to English.

Madurai Meenakshi Temple (Please go to The Wonder that is Meenakshi Temple) is full of animal stories. People were all reborn as animals and blessed by Lord Shiva. All these stories were given in greater details in the Tiruvilaiyadal Purana which is available in Sanskrit and English.

A lot of holy places and temples in India claim that the places were discovered when cows spontaneously showered milk in those spots.

Tamil Nadu (South India) is full of legends about temples. Most of the towns are associated with animals in one way or another. Just to mention a few Tiruanaika near Trichy in Tamil Nadu became famous because a spider and an elephant worshipped Shiva there. According to the local legend the spider was reborn as a famous Chola king and built many temples for Shiva. Tiruverumbur (ants worshipped), Tirukkazuku Kundram (eagles worshipped) and Vaitheeswaran Koil (Eagles Jatayu and Sampati worshipped).

So many places in India are associated with animals worshipping God and it is a good topic for further research.