The worship of Nandi with Lord Shiva can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization, where the well-known Pashupati seals have been unearthed with their carvings. Many such seals have been found in Harappa and Mohenjo daro excavations, proving Shiva and Nandi’s devotion thousands of years ago. Some call Nandi an avatar of Shivji. However, as Shivji is considered ajanma or the unborn, Nandi can be considered to be an ansh of Shivji.
The Story of Nandi – Shivji’s Bull
Nandi is said to be the son of sage Shilada. Sage Shilada worshipped Lord Shiva with a son who will remain immortal. Nandi was born from the yagna performed by the sage as his devotion to Shivji. It is said that when Nandi was born, he was clothed in armor made of diamonds. Nandi grew up to be a great follower of Shivji. He worshipped Lord Shiva for years, and so the Lord granted him the duty of his doorkeeper. Nandi protects all the temples of Lord Shivji. He is also the gatekeeper of Mount Kailash that is said to be the abode of Shivji.
Nandi learned the knowledge of Agamic and Tantric vidya from Lord Shiva and Shakti. He is said to have passed on this knowledge to his eight disciples to form Nandinatha Sampradaya. The eight Ganas (disciples), namely Sanaka, Sanatana, Sanandana, Sanatkumara, Tirumular, Vyagrapada, Patanjali, and Sivayoga Muni, were then sent to 8 different directions to spread this wisdom in the universe. The Vietnamese Hindus believe that when they die, Nandi carries their souls to the Holy land of Bharat (India).
Nandi – As a Shivji’s Supporter
In Tamil Thiruvilaiyadal Puranam, there is an interesting story about Nandi. Once Shivji was explaining the knowledge of Vedas to Parvatiji. The lessons continued for years together. As a result, Parvatiji lost her concentration for a moment. Shivji was enraged at her and cursed her that she will be born as a fisherwoman on earth. As soon as the curse came out of his mouth, Parvatiji disappeared from Kailash. Shivji regretted his words the moment they came out. He lost his wife in a moment of anger.
Parvatiji appeared under a tree as a baby girl. The head of the fisherman community saw the baby and took her home. He cared for her and raised her as his own daughter. He named her Parvati. She was a courageous child with a free spirit. As she grew up, she helped the fisherman in fishing. She became an expert in rowing the boat and fishing in her youth.
Meanwhile, Shivji missed his wife and became melancholy without her. Nandi saw his master getting sadder day by day. He felt he had to do something to reunite Shivji with Parvatiji. He gathered some courage and asked Shivji why didn’t he just call her back. Shivji replied that, as she was born a human, she had to follow her destiny. Even Shivji cannot interfere with her destiny. She was destined to be married to a fisherman.
Nandi took the form of a large whale and dipped in the sea near Parvatiji’s village. Due to the fear of the whale, none of the fishermen could fish there anymore. They held a meeting and complained their head (Parvati’s father). He declared that if anyone caught the whale, he would allow him to marry his daughter. Many fishermen tried to capture the whale to win Parvati’s hand in marriage. Parvati was not only courageous but also beautiful. None of the suitors could catch the whale. Days passed, and the fishermen became desperate without employment.
Parvati’s father prayed to Lord Shivji to help his community. Lord Shiva took the form of a handsome fisherman. He was strong and powerful. He came to the fisherman’s chief and said he would help them and then marry his daughter. The chief was very happy with the offer. When the whale saw his master appear, he gave up the fight. Lord Shiva captured the whale and married Parvatiji. Thus, Nandi united them.
The meaning of Nandi in the Sanskrit language is happiness, joy, and satisfaction. The white color represents purity and justice. Nandi faces Lord Shiva in all the temples around the world. This symbolically means that a human or jiv should always have his mind and heart facing the Lord. He is depicted as a bull because a jiv should have one mind determination for the Iswar. If a human being wants to unite with his Ishwar, he should be like Nandi – pure, impartial, and determined. Every act he does should be for Ishwar.
Final Words on Nandi – The Shivji’s Bull
Nandi is said to be the loyal servant of Shivji and follows him everywhere. If you want to pass on a message to Shivji, you can talk in Nandi’s ears, and Shivji would hear it. Moreover, Nandi represents the devotion to Shivji that we all should replicate because, after all, Shivji is the ultimate tattva in all of us. Har Har Mahadev.