We know about Vishnu's animal forms (Matsya, Kurma and etc.) and Shiva's animal forms (Vrishabha and Sharabha). But does any other deities incarnated in the form of animals like Vishnu and Shiva?

  • Can't say about being incarnated, but Ramayana Uttarakanda narrates about the Indra, Yama, Varuna & Kuvera assuming the forms of animals out of fear of Ravana. Since they were able to avoid further humiliation at the hands of Ravana through their disguises, the Devas blessed the animals of whose appearances they took. Indra blessed the peacock with their trademark mesmerizing feathers. Yama blessed the crow with a powerful immunity & to intercede between hungry dead & their living relatives. Varuna blessed the swan with beauty & white feathers. Kuvera blessed the lizard with golden colour.
    – অনু
    Aug 22, 2023 at 16:16

4 Answers 4


Radhe Radhe

In Mahabharat, even Yamraj has become an animal by being a dog and accompanying Maharaj Yudishtra above the mountain to heaven.

"Vaishampayana continued: "Hearing these words of king Yudhishthira the just, (the dog became transformed into) the deity of Righteousness, who, well pleased, said these words unto him in a sweet voice fraught with praise" - Mahabharata Mahaprasthanika Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly


Though not incarnations. Many devās took forms of animals, birds, insects, etc etc.

For example.:

Valmiki Ramayana.:

putraH kila sa shakrasya vaayasaH patataam varaH || 5-38-28 dharaa antara caraH shiighram pavanasya gatau samaH |

"That crow, the best among birds, seems to be the son of Indra the Lord of celestials (Jayanta), staying in mountains and moving with a peed equal to the wind."

Mahabharata Karna Parva Section 42.:

On that occasion, O Salya, the chief of the gods (Indra), wishing to benefit Phalguna, caused an obstacle, by approaching my (Karna's) thigh and piercing it, having assumed the dire form of a worm. When my preceptor slept, having laid his head thereon, that worm, approaching my thigh, began to pierce it through. In consequence of the piercing of my thigh.

And So on.

I hope this helps.


Brahma assumed the Kurma Matsya and Varaha (tortoise, fish and boar) forms which were later appropriated to Vishnu in the itihasa-puranas:

Kurma (tortoise) Is Sri Kurma an avatar of Lord BrahmA (Prajapati)?

Matsya (fish) Was matsya of Lord brahma transferred to Lord vishnu?

Varaha(boar) http://valmikiramayan.net/utf8/ayodhya/sarga110/ayodhya_110_frame.htm

सर्वम् सलिलम् एव आसीत् पृथिवी यत्र निर्मिता | ततः समभवद् ब्रह्मा स्वयम्भूर् दैवतैः सह || २-११०-३

"All was water only in the beginning" from which element the earth was formed. After that, the self-existent Brahma with all the gods came into existence."

स वराहः ततो भूत्वा प्रोज्जहार वसुंधराम् | असृजच् च जगत् सर्वम् सह पुत्रैः कृत आत्मभिः || २-११०-४

"Thereafter, that Brahma, assuming the form of boar, caused the earth to rise from water and with his sons of pure soul, created the entire world."

Hamsa (swan) https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/shiva-purana-english/d/doc225552.html 16-18.

Thsi happens when vishnu and brahma seek the bottom and top of the infinite Linga form of siva:

“Nothing will turn up if we are together”. Saying this, Viṣṇu assumed the form of a Boar and went in search of the root. Brahmā in the form of a swan went up in search of the top. Piercing through the netherworlds and going very far below, Viṣṇu could not see the root of the fiery column. Utterly exhausted, Viṣṇu in the form of a Boar returned to the former battle-ground.

  • So, only trimurtis assumed form of animals.
    – Boovanaes
    Aug 23, 2023 at 6:38

There is Varahi Devi. She is in the form of wild boar. Goddess Bagalamukhi is often depicted with the Crane like appearance. Pratyangira is like Narasimha. Half Lion. and Vinayaki is like Ganesha.

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