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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Vāhan

A Hindi word (Sk. vahana) meaning, among other things, “vehicle.” In early theosophical literature the word is used to refer to the bodies in the septenary human constitution. It is used in a somewhat different sense from UPADHI, which means “limitation” or “substitute” and indicates a “base” or “basis” through which something acts. Thus, buddhiis a vahan or vahana of atman, but is not its upadhi.

In Hindu mythology, “vahan” also refers to the vehicle of a deity, such as a bull for Siva, Garuda for Visnu or a peacock for Sarasvati. The vahan is considered to be symbolic of certain principles used by that deity. Garuda, the bird with a man’s head, symbolizes a great time cycle. Sometimes the swan — in Sanskrit hamsa — the vahan of Brahma, is said to represent one’s spiritual identity with ultimate Reality by revolving the Sanskrit word into ham sa (i.e., aham sa), “I am That” (see also SD I:79-81).

In human evolution, The Secret Doctrine also speaks of the Third Root Race as the vahan of the Lords of Wisdom (Cf., e.g., SD I:181).

See Upadhi; HUMAN CONSTITUTION; Kosas.

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