Vedic Lion around the World!

Lion Throne at Louvre Museum, France.

Research paper written by London Swaminathan
Research article No.1401; Dated 9th November 2014.

The Story of Lion King is found in the Vedas (RV 10-28-4 and 7-18-17)!!.Lion maintains a prominent place in the Vedic literature. No other literature has so many references to the lion. We find the origin of Panchatantra stories in the Rig Veda. Aesop and other fable writers are indebted to Rig Veda and Panchatantra.

Sanskrit words for LION are used all over the world. Kings who ruled India had lion as suffix or surnames. Even Roman kings had this Sanskrit title. The Lion throne concept was borrowed from India.

Kesari is the Sanskrit word for lion which was used by all the Roman kings with the title Caesar.


Yali in Hindu temples. English word Leo is derived from Yali.

Ariel = Ari
Hari is a Sanskrit word for lion. Hebrew and Tamil use this word as Ari. In Tamil Ja, Ha, Sha, SH, S sounds don’t exist. So they are Tamilized. Ari is used in Sangam literature (Ainkuru Nuru 265, 268) and Hebrew literature as ‘Ariel’ etc.

Muslim Kings had names such as Babar, Haidar, Asad and Sher which meant lion. These are NOT cognates of Sanskrit. But the idea of having it as a title was borrowed from India.

Sing = Simha (R.V.1-64-8; 1-95-5; 3- 2-11; 3-9-4; 3-26-5; 4-16-14; 5-83-3)
Simha is the most common Sanskrit word for the lion. This occurs more times than any other animal name. All Punjabi Sikhs have it as surname after their last and Tenth Guru, Guru Govinda Sing, made it a surname.
This comes from the word Simha.

Sri Lankans had it from Sixth Century BCE from their forefather Simhabahu. Sinhalese and many more words are derived from this. Iran had it on its flag before the Islamic revolution.
iran flag
Old Flag of Iran


Words such as leo, leander, learnando, lion etc. came for the lion like animal Vyala. In Tamil it is called ‘Yali’ and Leo may be the mirror image of the Tamil word or derivative of Vyala. (Vyala=Yali=Liya=Leo)
Concept of Lion Throne (Simha + Asana= Simhasana) also spread to various parts of the world from India. It is found in most of the Sanskrit books. Lion as the king of the forest is in Panchatantra stories, for which Aesop is indebted. Sanskrit proverbs such as Swayameva Mrigendratha and Vikramaditya Simasana also praise the lion. In all religious hymns god is said to have seated on the Lion Throne. So this is not an imported concept.

Lion seems to be symbol of Pallava Dynasty

Pallavas had lion as their emblem

Lion in the Vedas & Origin of Fables

Rig Veda, the oldest book in the world, has got more than fifteen references to the lion. It is used in beautiful similes which show that it’s a well known animal. Since almost all the Mandalas use lion, it must have lived in the Sarasvati, Sindhu, Gangetic plains of India for long. Now it is found only in Gujarat. Atharva Veda also has got many references.
The roaring of the lion and the
Thundering noise of lion are described in the Vedas.

In Tamil Sangam literature lot of references to drum sound has the word lion (Ari in Tamil) before it. But for want of evidence the commentators left it as drum sound. It must be actually roaring sound like a lion which is in the Rig Veda and Atharva Veda.

Lion hunting and the courage of lioness are also described in the Vedas.
Rudra is compared to a lion
Agni is compared to a lion

That a jackal should defeat the lion is spoken of as a marvel. Here we see the origin of fables. Fables had its origin in India.

The aid given to Sudas by Indra against the vast host of enemies is compared to the defeat of a lioness by a ram. Here we see the origin of animal fables.

Apart from the references already given under Simha, following are other references to the lions:
R.V.1-54-2; 10-160-2; 2-33-11; 3-9-4; 10-28-4; 1-174-3; 10-28-10; 5-74-4; 5-15-3; 7-18-7
Yajuveda and Brahmana literature have many more references.
It is a mystery that Indus valley had no seals with cow or horse or lion!Hundreds of seals with bull are available, but no cow!!!

srilankan coins
Sri Lankan coins with lion.

Sanskrit literature described heroes as Bull, Lion or Tiger. But among the wild animals, lion gets more references than tiger. The reason being tiger kills any animal that it sees. Lion kills only for its food when necessary. A lot of stories in ancient literature show that lions are attached to humans and become harmless. King Bharata who gave the name Bharata to India was said to have played with animals as a young boy. So he was called Sarva damanan.

Amarakosa , the oldest dictionary, dated to fifth century CE, gives the following Sanskrit words for lion:
Simha, Mrgendra (King of Animals), Panchasyo, Kesari, Hari, Haryaksha, Mrgaripu, Kandiravo, Mrgadrushti, Mrgasanah.

India and Sri Lanka have lion in its national emblem and flag. Hindus worship Nara Simha (man-lion form) avatar of Vishnu. There are famous temples in South India for Narasimha who killed the demon king Hiranyakasipu just to save the demon’s son.
nahapana newwwww
Nahapana coins.


Leave a comment


  1. R Nanjappa

     /  November 10, 2014

    This is excellent material.Some Hindu-bashing ‘historians’ floated a theory that India did not have lions! This is an effective answer.

  2. Thanks, Nanjappa.
    Encyclopedias like Wikipedia say they don’t know the origin of the word Caesar.
    It is very simple: Kesa+ Ari= Haired animal (lion with mane)
    By learning Sanskrit and Tamil, one can understand anything and everything in the world.
    Look at the Ari in Hebrew Ariel!!
    Keep reading.

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