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Is the vahana (mount) of Lord Ganesha a shrew or a mouse?

The internet is ambiguous about this. Some sources say that mooshika is a shrew 1 while others say that it is a mouse 2; both of which are very different animals.

2 Answers 2

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Ganesha in scripture rides on the mouse, the word 'shrew' is never mentioned in that context.

I won't quote every instance of it being mentioned, but here are two:

Śacī said :-- “Indra has got for his vehicles the horse Uccaiśravā, the Airāvata elephant and the chariot; Vāsudeva has got vehicle Garuḍa; Yama has got his buffalo; Śaṅkara his Bull; Brahmā his Swan; Kartika has got his peacock and Ganeśa has got his mouse.


[Devi Bhagavata Purana]

and

  1. Then Śumbha and Gaṇeśa seated respectively in a chariot and on a mouse fought each other with volleys of arrows.

  2. Gaṇeśa hit Śumbha in his chest with an arrow and felled his charioteer with three arrows on the ground.

  3. Then the infuriated Śumbha covered Gaṇeśa with a shower of arrows. Hitting the mouse with three arrows he roared like thunder.

  4. The mouse pierced by the arrows, shook with acute pain. Gaṇeśa was thrown off (his vehicle) and he became a foot soldier (as it were).

  5. Then Gaṇeśa hit Śumbha in his chest with his axe and felled him to the ground. Thereafter he mounted his mouse again.


[Shiva Purana]

atha śuṃbho gaṇeśaśca rathamūṣaka vāhanau | yudhyamānau śaravrātaiḥ parasparamavidhyatām || 13 ||

tato lambodaraśśuṃbhaṃ hatvā paraśunā hṛdi |
apātayattadā bhūmau mūṣakaṃ cāruroha saḥ || 17 ||

As we see, the original Sanskrit version of the Shiva Purana does indeed use the word 'mūṣaka', which, as a Sanskrit dictionary will tell you, means 'mouse.'

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    In Tamil folklore his vahana is the மூஞ்சுறு or Mole Rat. folklore also says that is why cats don't eat them although they are very slow @cdr
    – S K
    Jun 2, 2023 at 17:02
  • @SK - interesting, though I guess it can't be added here because it's unlikely to be written in scripture.
    – CDR
    Jun 2, 2023 at 17:39
  • Added some citations to texts that cause the confusion.
    – proteus
    Jun 3, 2023 at 0:59
  • What is the term that is used in scripture to describe the vaahana? It is possible that over the time, the meaning has been lost and since a mouse is more common than a shrew, the accepted translation may have become different.
    – proteus
    Jun 5, 2023 at 21:35
  • @proteus - I added some information that addresses your comment; the original term is, in fact, 'mūṣaka'.
    – CDR
    Jun 5, 2023 at 22:36
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The meaning of Mushaka can be search in Sanskrit to English dictionary or in Google Translator respectively.

It's mostly translated as Mouse or Rat.

I hope this clarifies your queries.

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  • Added some citations to texts that cause the confusion.
    – proteus
    Jun 3, 2023 at 0:59
  • See it was translated by someone who didn't know which meaning to use. On Sanskrit varaha means both bull and boar. Yes shrew looks like a mouse only, but its smaller than a mouse with pointed nose n small eyes. Jun 3, 2023 at 3:27

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