They don't seem to be since India exports buffalo-meat. But Mahisa has many positive connotations: 'f. a buffalo-cow, (grāmya-mahiṣī, a tame buffalo-cow); ‘powerfull woman,’ any woman of high rank, especially the first or properly conse- crated wife of a king, a queen consort, any queen, also means "great".'


2 Answers 2


See the following Mantra from the Rig Veda (RV):

brahmA devanAm padavih kavinAm (1)
rshir viprAnAm mahisho mrgAnAm (2)
shyeno grdhrAnAm svadhitir (3)
vanAnAm somah pavitramatyeti rebhan (4)

BrahmA among the Gods, the leader among seers (1), Rishi among the Vipras (can mean "the wise" or "a BrAhmin"), buffalo among all animals (2), hawk amidst the vultures, self-law among the delights (3), Soma goes singing over the purifiers (4).

RV 9.96.6

Thus, the Mahisha or buffalo is given an elevated status among all the animals. Just like BrahmA enjoys an exalted position among all the Gods, the Rishis among the Vipras, similarly does the Mahisha among all animals.

  • I didn't think brahma of the trimurti occurs in Rig Veda. This doesn't say "sacred" just says it is the best among animals. @rickross
    – S K
    Apr 18, 2018 at 12:48
  • Brahma does appear in Rig Veda at many places.. for e.g in Rig Vedokta Devi Sukta there's a mention of the God Brahma. "This doesn't say "sacred" just says it is the best among animals" Yes I know, that's why before posting the answer i asked under ur Q whether it's ok or not to answer with a mantra that is simply describing the Mahisha as the best among all animals @SK
    – Rickross
    Apr 18, 2018 at 14:30
  • Sorry, I must have misunderstood your original question. Please note that this image reoccurs in BG when krishna says I am Himalaya among mountains, Ganga among rivers and so forth @rickross
    – S K
    Apr 18, 2018 at 14:49
  • I think sacredness is also implied when it is stated as the best among it's kind.. like when they say "Just like Ganga among rivers, swan among birds.." it only says that Ganges and the swan are best among their respective types but it is also implying their sacredness or purity.. Ganges is most definitely the most sacred river, swan, which is Brahma's mount, is also sacred.. Yama's mount is the Mahisha. So, it is sacred for that reason too. @SK
    – Rickross
    Apr 18, 2018 at 15:01

Yes they are considered sacred. In the Rig Veda the bovine species, whether as buffalo or bull, lends its glamor to the evocation of the gods, Agni, Indra, Soma, and Varuna, the principal Vedic gods, are invoked as buffaloes. Much less frequently are they invoked as bulls. Indra is once praised as a buffalo great in "bull powers":


4 Even as he mounted up they all adorned him: self-luminous he travels clothed in splendour. That is the Bull's, the Asura's mighty figure: he, omniform, hath reached the eternal waters. 5 First the more ancient Bull engendered offspring; these are his many draughts that lent him vigour. From days of old ye Kings, two Sons of Heaven, by hymns of sacrifice have won dominion.


2 Wonderful, rich in nourishment, he dwells in food; next, in the seven auspicious Mothers is his home. Thirdly, that they might drain the treasures of the Bull, the maidens brought forth him for whom the ten provide.


  1. OF thee, the Bull, the Warrior, Sovran Ruler, joyous and fierce, ancient and ever youthful, The undecaying One who wields the thunder, renowned and great, great are the exploits, Indra.

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