Goat - The First Vahana of Lord Muruga

If the Gen-Z and the Alpha generations were asked what the word - GOAT meant, they would undoubtedly and unanimously say - GOAT = Greatest Of All times. But, ask the same question to their great-grandparents and their ancestors, they would respond that the goat was the First Vahanam of Lord Muruga.

A Vahanam / Vahana is a Sanskrit word that denotes an animal which serves as a mount /vehicle for a particular deity. In Bharat, the Gods and Goddesses are depicted often sitting/riding or serenely standing near their vahanas.

Lord Muruga/ Karthikeya is a divine being with matchless valour, unmatched beauty and supreme intelligence. He is a warrior who always carries a Vel ( spere) in one of his hands. He is depicted regularly with his mount - a peacock called Paravani along with his divine consorts, Deivanai and Valli. Most people know the circumstances of how the peacock became the mount of Lord Muruga. But, only a few know about the first Vahan of Lord Murugan - The Goat.

Bharat is a land with a rich tradition and culture. The country always had an interesting way of passing its culture along generations through its rich tapestry of ancient texts, scriptures and architecture. Stories were always the means to pass the messages of our texts down generations. One of the often narrated stories (to children) is of the Goat becoming the Vahan of Lord Muruga.

How the Goat Became the Vahan of Lord Muruga

Once upon a time, the great Sage Narada decided to perform a yagna for the welfare of the universe. He invited many priests well-versed in Vedas to perform and aid the Yagna. But as fate would have it, some priests chanted the mantras wrongly. As a result, a big raging goat came out of the Yagna fire. This goat was wrathful and began thrashing and attacking everyone who stood in its way. The priests were shocked and scared of the goat and stopped the yagna halfway and took refuge in Lord Muruga.

Lord Muruga assured all his devotees that he would protect them. He approached the raging goat. At the sight of Lord Muruga, the goat began to calm down. Goat finally bowed down to Lord Muruga. Lord Muruga thus tamed the goat and even mounted it and rode the goat around the world. Thus, Goat became the first Vahana of Lord Muruga.

Many pass off these stories as a grandmother's story (Paati kadai) or a bedtime story. These grandmother stories are veritable until they realise that these narrations and accounts are present in our great Puranic texts, songs and architecture in our stunning temples (Occasionally, there might be some variance in the Puranic stories due to the oral transmissions of the itihasa and the subsequent invasions which have caused a gap in exact transmission with passage of time. However, the crux remains the same)


The Shiva Purana is one of the ancient Sanskrit texts. It eulogises Lord Shiva and gives detailed descriptions of Lord Shiva, his consort - Goddess Parvathi and their children. The Shiva Purana ( Section 2.4 - Rudra Samhita: Kumara Khanda - Chapter 6 - the miraculous feat of Karttikeya) talks about how Lord Muruga rode around the world on a goat.

In this chapter, Lord Brahma narrated that a Brahmin was distressed and sought refuge in Lord Muruga. He began a goat sacrifice (called Ajamedha). But, the goat ( meant for the sacrifice) loosened, strayed and disappeared. The Brahmin was worried his prayers would be incomplete without the sacrificial goat. He pleaded to Lord Muruga and heaped praises on him to help him in this dire situation.

Lord Muruga always helped the devotees who surrendered to him. Lord Muruga sent his faithful attendant - Virabahu, on a mission to find the missing goat. Virabahu bowed down to the Lord and set off. He searched the whole universe but in vain. Finally, Virabahu visited the Vaikunta, where he saw a strapping goat with a sacrificial thread around his neck. He was creating havoc. Virabahu caught the goat by its horns and dragged him to Lord Muruga. The goat became angry and bleated loudly. At the sight of Lord Muruga, the Goat calmed down and surrendered. Lord Muruga rode on the goat around the universe.

The chapter ends with Lord Muruga explaining that the Vedas do not prescribe/support any animal sacrifice. The word Aja - in the Ajamedha Yagna, stands for Goat. It also means - that which is not born, meaning rice. In the Ajamedha yagna, boiled rice can be offered to the fire to complete the Yagna. Lord Muruga blessed the Brahmin ( to complete the Yagna without any sacrificial killing of a goat).

The great Tamil poet - Sage Arunagirinathar composed the Thiruppugazh / Thiruppukal. It is devoted to praising the divine glory of Lord Muruga. Sage Arunagirinathar praises Lord Muruga in one of his songs as the “tamer of a wild goat". He describes him as riding a Goat as a vehicle.

Thiruppukal song 942 says :

   அவசியமுன் வேண்டிப் ...... பலகாலும்

அறிவினுணர்ந் தாண்டுக் ...... கொருநாளில்

தவசெபமுந் தீண்டிக் ...... கனிவாகிச்

சரணமதும் பூண்டற் ...... கருள்வாயே

சவதமொடுந் தாண்டித் ...... தகரூர்வாய்

சடுசமயங் காண்டற் ...... கரியானே

சிவகுமரன் பீண்டிற் ...... பெயரானே

திருமுருகன் பூண்டிப் ...... பெருமாளே.

  Meaning of this song:

For a long time, I have been praying to you

I have realised you at least once in a year

following all the discipline, I meditate with a mellowing mind

by keeping your feet on my mind

you have fulfilled your vow of taming a wild goat and mounted it as your vehicle

you are a rare one among the six samayam

oh son of Shiva, your loving devotees you never desert

you have your divine abode at Thirumurugapudi!

Apart from the scriptures and the texts, Lord Muruga and his vahanas were sculpted in various temples across the country.

One of the well-known temples of Lord Muruga is Thiruparankundram. Here, one can see the carved Lord Muruga in a seated pose along with Rishi and Deivayanai. One can also spot Surya and Chandra on the top. Carved at the bottom, are the Shiva Ganas, along with Vahanas - the Elephant and Goat.

Vaishnavi Gurusankar is a passionate educator, a wife and a mother. She has over a decade of experience as an educator and has been closely working with teachers and children of all ages. She is also an active parenting blogger and founder of Magical Unicorn, an exclusive parenting blog founded on Indian ethos, values and stories at its core. She has also authored the book "Bharatyam : Science behind Hindu Practices & Way of Life"

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