This article studies the political and symbolic importance of elephants for medieval Muslim kingship in South Asia. Specifically, the incorporation of the elephant by the Ghaznavid dynasty led to a crisis of sovereignty for early Muslim kings of South Asia. This was because while the elephant stood for divinity and sovereignty among Hindus, it represented satanic pride among Muslims. The famous Koranic chapter of “the elephant”, tells the story of a king Abraha who had tried to destroy the House of God in Arabia (the Ka‘ba) with elephants, but it was said that God pelted his army to death by small pebbles thrown by birds. This meant that any Indo-Muslim ruler that posed as an elephant-master could appear as the destroyer of the house of God in the eyes of his Muslim subjects. In order to compensate for this crisis, early Indo-Muslim rulers employed a number of tactics, which included trying to present themselves as the opposite, i.e. destroyer of pagan temples for which they are infamous today. But perhaps more significantly, the continued symbolic (and not just practical) use of the elephant, in spite of its problematic association, shows that what is often today understood as an alien institution imposed upon a majority non-Muslim population, was actually the opposite: that is, it was mainly a project equally pitched to non-Muslim South Asians with a compensatory nudge toward Muslims.