Hayagiva is a Sanskrit word for the depiction of Vishnu God.  In the ancient Sanatanic texts like Shruti, Smriti and Puranas, the reference of Hayagriva is available. Hayagriva is the form of an idol selected by the devotees for worshipping the divine energy and motivating God as per the freedom of the believers and to have a better life of blessings. In all the branches of the Sanatanic beliefs, worshipping of Hayagriva is found.

Which idol is worshipped as Hayagriva in India?

Hayagriva idol has human body up to the neck and the head portion along with the face resembles that of a horse. Haya means horse. Various Sanskrit names are in use sensing the synonym of horse faced idol of God. Some idols are found with a decorated crown also. Like God Vishnu, Hayagriva in his four hands holds Shankha, Chakra, Gadha and Padma.  Some idols may vary in dress codes having yellow or white in colour. All other displaying of the idol is similar to Vishnu. In India, generally, Vishnu Chaitanya (energy) is worshipped in the idol form of Hayagriva, made of gold, silver, or alloys.    

Lord Hayagriva sitting under a tree
Hayagriva sitting under a tree
How many types of Hayagriva are found in Puranas? 

In Puranas, mainly two types of references to Hayagriva are found. In one type of its story, Hayagriva is a demon and he had stolen Vedas and hidden them in Patala, or in the hell. This demon bandit was using a wheel of iron called Chakra as his strong weapon. So Vishnu, assuming the fish form called as Matsya Avatara, killed the demon and brought back the Vedas again into this world. Then his wheel was abandoned. In the Dwapara Yuga, Krishna got the wheel but he named it as Sudarshana Chakra being made of gold and he used it to behead the Shankhasura and got the Pachajanya conch.

In another form of story, Hayagriva had got his head in a different situation. After eliminating the demons, God Vishnu was very much tired and desired to go for a Yoga Nidra, his normal rest. He had used a celestial bow and arrows. The bow was very big and the string was very narrow but very strong enough, had great tensile strength and later Vishnu used it as a pillow for his rest. After many years, the Devas and Danavas were living like brothers and everywhere peace was prevailing on the entire Earth.

One day, Devendra required the help of Vishnu, so he wished to awaken him. Goddess Lakshmi had just shaken his legs but due to long asleep he could not get awakened. Then Devendra became impatient and started disturbing the string of the bow. In order to awaken him quickly, he tried by pressing and leaving the string. The string was so strong, had a sharp cutting edge and cut his throat like a wire cut brick into two pieces. Suddenly, Lakshmi realised the mistake but then the head portion was getting cold and the below body part was still under the normal warmth condition, showing Vishnu was still alive.

Finally, the mother Goddess, Adishakti suggested to bring a head immediately. At the order of Devendra, all the Angels had started searching immediately, and since the head of a horse was then available, brought it and suitably joined.  Vishnu then became alright. Thereafter, Vishnu was called as Hayaanana, Hayavadana or Hayagriva. However, God Vishnu had become alright. So Vishnu got the head and face of a horse.

How food systems are related with Hayagriva?

The food system of a horse is purely vegetarian. Bengal gram is boiled, mixed with jaggery and coconut milk and offered to Hayagriva. Other grains boiled could also be offered. But fish, meat or flesh products are prohibited for offering. Fruits and flowers are also offered to Hayagriva.   

How Sanskrit language and Hayagriva is linked?

Sanskrit language is directly linked to the idol worship of Hayagriva. In Buddhism and Jainism also, Hayagriva is honoured due to the importance of support of non-violence principles. The language and explanations are more aligned towards Sanskrit. 

Are there any restrictions to worship of Hayagriva?

Particularly, there is no restriction to the worship of Hayagriva. The morning offering is called as Kadale maddi (feed) and usually all true living horses also like to eat it. The offering to Hayagriva should be done first and later the balance of the food could be accepted as holy Prasada by human beings.  

With which Veda Hayagriva Upanishad attached?

With Atharva Veda, Hayagriva Upanishad is attached. Non- violence is the main principle in worshipping Hayagriva. Horse is the most intelligent animal and most friendly with human beings. A horse can sleep in standing phase. In idle condition, horse stands on three legs. It can view all the directions around it and remember its location of stable if it goes away to any large distance. Horse is referred in almost all Vedas. Motorable road is not mandatory for riding a horse and with the rhythmic steps, horse can pass even in mountainous area.  

Which Upakhyana was propagated by Hayagriva Rishi?

Lalitopakhyana was propagated by Hayagriva Rishi. It is available in the Brahmanda Purana. The prima facie purpose of Lalitopakhyana  is to preserve Sanskrit literature and devotion of universal soul is the next principle. During the Kaliyuga, Shree Chakra Upasana is prescribed by Hayagriva Rishi. Wealth accumulation is the general result. Silver Shree Chakra is an optional item for the sincere devotees to daily worship as Upasana. The secrets are described in the Lalitha Sahasranama and Thrishati Sanskrit shlokas.

Who was the disciple of Hayagriva Rishi?

Agastya Rishi was the disciple of Hayagriva Rishi and Agastya Rishi was awarded star position. After the month of August, Agastya star could be seen on the Southern horizon exactly opposite to the North pole star ( Dhruva Nakshatra) at North. The wife of Agastya had put a condition to him before his marriage as to have wealth, and he had married her only after the accumulation of satisfactory wealth. Agastya was a successful Rishi of Shree Vidya and Shree Chakra Upasana in his life.

How Vadiraja Tirtha Swamiji worshipped Hayagriva?

Vadiraja Tirtha Swamiji was worshipping in Sode Vadiraja Mutt. God Vishnu was worshipped in the idol form, with a horse face and head. Everyday morning, Vadiraja swamiji offered Kadale maddi (feed) made of Bengal gram to the divine God Hayagriva. Later he would sit on the open verandah holding the offerings on a wide vessel over his head. A real white horse would come from his back and put its front two legs on his shoulders. Then the horse would be eating the divine offerings comfortably. Vadiraja Tirtha Swamiji would accept the Prasadam.

How Vadiraja Tirtha benefitted by regularly worshipping Hayavadana?

Vadiraja Swamiji was regularly worshipping God Hayagriva and he was daily offering Kadale maddi (feed) to the horse. He was eating the balance as Prasadam. One day, Swamiji found no Prasadam was left as balance on the vessel after the horse had eaten all the offered Naivedyam. Later Swamiji had come to know that something went wrong during the mixing of that Prasadam and so he was saved without any sufferings. Hence God had saved him, and he benefitted and lived a long life, completing one hundred and twenty years of his age.

How Vadiraja Swamiji got his white horse?

There was a white horse in the Mutt of Sode Vadiraja Swamiji. But there could not be enough proof for these old stories. The stories are told by very old people of Madhva Sampradaya followers. 

One day, Vadiraja Swamiji was praying on one of the banks of Yamuna River. He was alone there. He possessed good physical outlook wearing minimum dresses. Then the ruler king was the Mughal Sultan, Humayun. His son, Prince Akbar, was not well on that day. He called one of his servants to bring some medicines for his ailing child. Vadiraja Swamiji finished his morning prayers and after seeing that servant, followed to the palace of Humayun as per his request. The Sultan told him his desire for medicines.

To the surprise of the Sultan king, Vadiraja Swamiji had cured the illness of the son of the Sultan king. Humayun, the Sultan king, pleased to offer many precious gifts to the Swamiji.  But he politely rejected all his precious gifts. He accepted a white horse due to royal obliging and the same was sent to Sode Mutt for the purpose of Swamiji’s use. Later Vadiraja Swamiji was allowed to move freely anywhere as he desired and he had crossed many rivers and reached back to his Sode Mutt.

There, the horse was waiting for his arrival with the royal security. Later he sent back that security person and looked after the horse for the sake of the pleasure of God Vishnu in the form of Hayagriva.  

What happened to the horse gram cultivator at Pandarapura?

While Vadiraja Swamiji was travelling towards north, when he had reached Pandarapura, a cultivator of horse gram had visited him and told him, his yielding was insufficient for his livelihood. Then Swamiji had advised him to cultivate Bengal gram instead of horse gram. A few years later, when the Swamiji was returning back from north, on reaching at Pandarapura, the same cultivator had again met him with reverence. The cultivator was very happy to offer a few bags of Bengal gram to him. Then Swamiji advised him to send the bags to Sode Mutt for the offerings to the God. Later Swamiji was offering Kadale maddi (feed) daily to Hayagriva. These stories could not be proved. But the old incidences were beyond doubt.

What is the main reason to worship Hayagriva in Sanatana Dharma?

Hayagriva idol is the depiction of God Vishnu in Sanatana Dharma. Hayagriva worshipper is considered as a vegetarian. The devotee gets a soft approach to view the Hayagriva idol, being Satvik or domestic in nature. In olden days, the Rishis had already understood the highest resistance, enduring capacity of the horse species. Only specific devotees are worshipping Hayagriva and this system could not be generalized. It is the main message of observing non-violence in the society. 

What are the similarities between Ganesha and Hayagriva idols?

Ganesha and Hayagriva idols are similar in their head portions to possess animal faces but below neck have human forms with four hands. Both Elephant and Horse eat vegetarian food. Both are human friendly. All Sanatana believers think the Angels are the servants of a Single God but different Angels have their own various assigned tasks of protecting the sincere devotees.  

What are the differences between Ganesha and Hayagriva idols?

There are many different aspects in the idols of Ganesha and Hayagriva. Ganesha has a big head, that of an elephant. Hayagriva has the smart head like that of a horse. Doorva grass is the pleasing stuff for Ganesha. Kadale maddi (Bengal gram boiled with coconut milk) is the pleasing stuff for Hayagriva. God Shiva is the father of Ganapathi. Hayagriva is the form of incarnation of God Vishnu. Ganesha should be worshipped by all, with preference and priority, to start up any auspicious or big work, like marriage, building construction or assuming any new project works. His blessings are required to overcome any obstacles. Worshipping of Hayagriva is purely an optional desire to the particular devotee.  

What is the common idea within Ganesha and Hayagriva idols?

Offering grains and encouraging devotion in duty are the common ideas in the worship of Ganesha and Hayagriva idols. Animal sacrifice is to be discouraged and neatness is to be maintained. An elephant can lift higher weights, and a Ganesha worshipper can achieve higher responsibilities. A horse can ride fast, protecting the believer’s life, and lead on any kind of path to the higher orders and a Hayagriva worshipper would lead a life of Sanatana Dharma and get rich in wealth also.

What are the benefits of reading these Ganesha or Hayagriva articles?

Ganapathi and Hayagriva are separate articles in this website. There are two words, Karya and Karana. Karya means serious work, Karana means reasons. By reading about Ganesha, human beings would not face any obstacles in their path towards achieving success. By reading about Hayagriva, human beings would not feel disappointment in the middle of their path achieving towards success. Prosperity is the result. Vishnu Sahasranama japa means chanting of thousand names of Vishnu, also a virtuous work in human’s life, equivalent to worshipping Hayagriva. Devotion to God is considered as a good character of human beings. Let us pray these holy Gods always shower blessings upon us.

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