We have a reader question from Ashok
Why are Owls considered Auspicious or Inauspicious according to Hindu Myths? Why it is believed that the association with an Owl makes someone wealthy or poor, depending on the concerned myth? It is also interesting to note that Owl is the Vahana of Laxmi, what is the logic behind this association with Owls?
An Owl possesses some unique characteristics which makes it a symbol of wealth and Wisdom in Hindu mythology and ancient scriptures. Sometimes people associate Owls with misfortune and bad luck as well, and there are logics around that association.
But before I tell you why Owls are considered a symbol of wealth and wisdom and why it is associated with Goddess Laxmi, let’s get some interesting facts about Owls.
- Owls are excellent defenders. Owls are the only bird which an take off vertically in any direction while standing. It helps them defend against other predators who attack Owls from high altitude.
Almost all birds are vulnerable to predators who launch dive attacks. For example, an eagle can spot its prey and launch a dive attack from half a kilometer away. The prey cannot defend against the attack because it cannot attack the eagle back. However, Owls can easily defend themselves because of their ability to take off vertically in any direction when they are grounded and not in flight. This makes the Owl an excellent defender from sudden predator attacks and it also makes it difficult for other birds to hunt an owl.
2. An Owl is the best “Stealth” attacker. It’s absolutely Quiet and Makes no Sound at all while attacking. Owls are not known for their heroic hunting rampages like Eagles are known. Eagles, Falcons and other birds “chase” their prey from a distance and use “Speed” as the weapon. They work hard.
Owls work “Smart”. Owls use “Stealth” as their weapon.
Owls do not make sounds even when they are flying. Owls are the only bird which can attack their prey without making any sound, so it’s extremely “Sneaky” and can attack it’s prey slowly without letting the prey know that he is under attack.
So the Owl does not have to work as hard as a Falcon or an Eagle has to. It works smart and sneaks a prey through intelligent measures.
4. Owls are the only bird which can hunt a prey even when it is out of Sight. This is because Owls have extremely superior listening skills. It can detect the movement of an underground rat and hunt it down without even it is out of sight. “Flying blind”, allows the Owl to hunt a prey which others cant.
5. An Owl is a “Strategic” Animal which operates when others are “Sleeping”. Owls hunt at night. They rest during the day. The reason is simple – Owls are strategic creatures. They have superior night vision which allows them to hunt in total darkness, when the prey is more vulnerable because the prey cannot defend itself properly during night.
An owl can not only detect a prey at a long distance, but it can also look clearly in total darkness, thanks to it’s in-built night vision. Those large eyes are like night vision goggles or Binoculars which is an invincible weapon which allows them to hunt in extreme conditions.
6. Owls are the only animals who have a complete view of their Periphery. An owl can rotate its head 270 degrees in the horizontal axis and 180 degrees in the vertical axis. This unique attribute allows the Owl to instantly look in any direction, even during flight.
So if an owl is attacking a prey, it can directly look backward and decide the next course of its action. This is a deadly feature which allows the owl to have a full view of it’s surrounding
This 360-degree head movement allows the Owl to prevent attacks from other birds since it exactly knows what is happening in every corner without having to move itself.
7. Owls prefer solitude and don’t follow “Herd mentality”. Almost all birds flock together in a herd. But not Owls. They prefer staying alone or in pairs but don’t create herds or community around them. They love staying independent and don’t like mixing together in a “Herd”.
Why Owl is a Symbol of Wealth And Fortune
It is because of these attributes an Owl is considered a symbol of wealth, prosperity, wisdom, good luck and Fortune. This is the reason why Owl is seen with Godden Lakshmi, who is also the goddess the fortune, wealth and prosperity. The Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth in the Hindu mythology, is known to have a White Barn Owl as her vehicle. As a result, in Bengali households, one never drives away an owl, especially the White Barn Owl, as it symbolizes good fortune and wealth. The White Barn Owl is also considered as a Brahmin (an upper caste amongst the Hindus) and is worshipped as the Vahan or the vehicle of Goddess Lakshmi.
The reasons are quite simple and straightforward.
If one wants to attract wealth, good fortune, prosperity and well being – working hard is not sufficient. One has to work smart and be strategic in its actions. One has to think and act like an “Owl” to attract Lakshmi.
- It is a known fact that one cannot bring lifelong prosperity by being in a “Job” where you work for someone else. You have to “start your own thing” to attract wealth and prosperity. You have to go “Solo” like an Owl and leave the “Herd”.
- To succeed in business, you have to be strategic and possess secrets which others don’t know. You must have tools of an Owl, which your competitors don’t have. The owl has amazing listening skills, it can operate in total darkness and it does not make any sound while hunting. Furthermore, it can rotate it’s head 360 degrees. These qualities enable the Owl to leisurely beat “Competition”. If you want to be successful in your business, you have to use strategic measures to beat the competition.
- The owl hunts at night when there is little or no competition. It makes the task easy and there is a lot of food available because of “Monopoly” over darkness. To succeed in business, one has to operate in a zone which is profitable and also where others are not able to reach. This makes the task easier since you are able to create a state of monopoly and dominate that zone.
- Business is all about Long-term vision and not making unnecessary noise when the time is not right. Owls have long-term term vision coupled with silence. It can see it’s prey from a very long distance and stay quiet. When the right opportunity comes, the owl silently sneaks towards its prey, without letting anyone else know that it is going for the kill.
- Prosperity is not only about money but also about wisdom. To be prosperous in life, one has to acquire wealth as well as wisdom. The Owl is a symbol of Wisdom since it is the most intelligent bird which knows when to look for food and when to rest. It is very efficient. It does not roam about without a purpose. The owl knows the correct time of work and the correct time of resting and it manages it’s time well. It does not exhaust itself unnecessarily.
- Another very important thing to learn from Owls is that it does not follow the “herd” mentality. “I will do what everyone else is doing” – the Owl rejects this idea and stays alone, away from the flock. To succeed in business or in your own work, you have to move out of the flock, out of the “common” zone where everyone else operates. You have to create your own “Niche” and dominate it with unique skills which others don’t have.
These are some the reasons why an Owl is considered to be a symbol of Wealth, good luck and fortune. Sometimes, people associate Owls with Misfortune as well, the reason being – the kill rate of an Owl is insane. It is almost impossible to escape from the radar of an Owl because the Owl is so stealth in its approach.
Due to it’s high kill rate and efficiency, people have associated the attribute of “Misfortune” with owls. If an Owl sits near your home, something wrong is going to happen – this is a myth. This myth has been associated because an Owl makes little to no Mistakes so if it is sitting on top of your house, you are under attack and bad thing is going to happen for sure. The owl may attack you or someone in your family – and misfortune is going to land very soon – that is how the myth originated.
Also, note that in previous periods Owls very very large and scary creatures, as big as a vulture or a Golden Eagle. So people in previous Yugas were fearful of Owl attacks and hence, they sometimes associated it with Misfortune.
This whole “Misfortune” label has been given recently but the scriptures always consider “Owls” as a symbol of “Good luck”, “Wealth”, “Prosperity” and “Gains”. The Owl is respected in equal terms of a “Brahmin”. Crow and vultures are considered the “Shudra” among birds, while “Rajhans” and “Owls” are considered “Brahmins” among birds.
Not only in Indian scriptures but also in Greek and western scriptures, the Owl is associated with Wisdom because their nocturnal vigilance is associated with that of the studious scholar or wise elder. Ironically, people in India associate the word “Ulloo” with being “Stupid”. This is completely a misnomer since if someone calls you a “Ulloo”, you should be proud of it. Because Owls are wise creatures. ( See the Owl of Athena )
Owls can survive extreme conditions because they can “Hear” their prey which others cannot. So when everyone else is “Out of Food”, the Owl can survive. It is wise, efficient, intelligent and knows lots of things which others don’t. True prosperity can only be gained when you can operate in a zone of total darkness and attain mastery of situations where others fail, so the Owl is a suited “Vahana” of the goddess of Fortune – Lakshmi.