There are a lot of cruel and deadly methods used throughout history. Execution by elephant was used by Indian rulers as well as Asian and Indian Emperors in South, Southeast Asia. mostly in the Mughal era.


It’s a common method of capital punishment also known as execution by an elephant. Indian elephants also known as Asian elephants were trained to make them able to kill as well as slowly torture their victims. They were commonly employed by the royalties of the nations irrespective of their cultural Indian background.

This elephant is crushing its victim

Victims of execution by elephants

Elephants are considered to be one of the smartest animals which exist on earth. They are easily trainable. They Can be trained to protect as well as to kill Still they went on to train to torture the accused person. Accused may have done something like

  • Tax evasion
  • Theft
  • rebellion

Out of the numbers of existing wild animals. this is the only animal they choose because of its intelligent and trainable nature. This beast slowly comes to its victim grab one of the limbs by the trunk. then starts to separate the limbs one by one. It is a painful and deadly way to go for any person. The accused also bears the front weight of the elephant.

Under the feet of elephants.

The mughals used elephants and soon it became a common mode of execution by the passing years. During mughal era in “1727” captain Alexander Hamilton described that. Shah Jahan ordered an offending military commander that he shall be taken to the elephant garden.The commander’s skull was crushed by elephant thier.

mughal era
mughal emperors commanding the elephant

There are many examples of when the Mughal era emperors give orders to the army to crush them with an elephant. Just by saying the term “under the elephant”. Sometimes also called to the feet of the elephant. Mughal era rulers were listed while giving such orders. The”sultan of Delhi” turned the execution of Mongolians into public entertainment by having them crushed by elephants in front of the public in 1305.” Jahangir” the fourth Mughal king is said to give orders to crush a huge amount of offenders by elephants for his entertainment. Mughal emperor humayun ordered the crushing. He was an imam he mistakenly believed that he is critical for his reign.

Execution by Elephants in other countries

except for Indian emperors there are a lot of countries where “under the elephant” happened:

  • Sri lanka

An english sailor“Robert Knox” witnessed this execution in 1681 while being held captive in Sri lanka. Knox said the elephant he witnessed has its tusk filled with “sharp iron with a socket and three edges”.After impaling victims body with its tusk the elephant tear it for a limb for limb.

  • South east Asia

Elephants were widely used for execution in southeast Asia. Existing in Burma and Malaysia from the earliest times. Elephants were trained to throw the criminal in the air before trampling them to death in “Slam”.

  • West Asia

West Asian imperial powers started using execution by an elephant in the medieval period including the Byzantine, Sassanid, Seljuq and Timurid empires. When Naaman refused to give his daughter a permit to join the harem of Sassanid “king khosrow II”.

Gold coin of khosrow II

king who already had 3000 wives and 12000 female slaves . He ordered to give the na’aman under the elephant execution because of the refusal.

The Extinction of

“Under the elephant”

The use of elephant in such a power become more than just a royal dispense of life and death. the account of an elephant killing a person both horrified and attracted western crowd. The interest of European travelers was recorded on numerous occasions throughout history.This practice was eventually surpassed by the European Emperors. They colonised the regions in 18th and 19th centuries. Still, the practice continued and occasionally used in Ancient Rome and Carthage while being confined in Asia.

My take on this method

The “execution by the elephant “ was a deadly practice. Which attracted many visitors by just serving its main purpose. Punishing and killing the accused. This method was used by many empires and regions, some were quite famous while others were not. The main reason they choose an elephant for this method. It was not only that they were smart and intelligent. Just because elephants reflect some kind of royalty and only a few could afford it at that time. It takes a lot to take care of an elephant. To control such a beast that throws away 10 men just by the swing of its trunk. this method is as cruel as gut strings.

Made the emperor’s superior in their own mind and gave them a sense of narcissistic nature. moreover these executions were public and people could see the accused getting killed. This practise grew a fear among the public. That to do the king wrong you will get trampled by a beast in front of everyone while that animal tear your limbs apart. Still, it is not a good use for an animal like that. to sum it up it is a good thing that this was abolished but it’s sadder that this type of method exists in the first place.



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