Stories You Need To Know # 2
Nandi, which means “giving delight” or “giving joy,” is the sacred bull of the Hindu god Shiva, one of the most important Hindu gods. When the world becomes evil, Shiva destroys it to make way for beneficial change. Nandi is Shiva’s animal form, his means of transportation, and his most ardent worshiper.
Nandi also known as Nandikeshwara or Nandideva is the bull vahana of the Hindu god Shiva. He is also the guardian deity of Kailash, the abode of Shiva. Almost all Shiva temples display stone images of a seated Nandi, generally facing the main shrine.
According to Saivite Siddhanta tradition, he is considered as the chief guru of eight disciples of Nandinatha Sampradaya, namely, Sanaka, Sanatana, Sanandana, Sanatkumara, Tirumular, Vyagrapada, Patanjali, and Sivayoga Muni, who were sent in eight different directions, to spread the wisdom. The Cham Hindus of Vietnam believe that when they die, the Nandi will come and take their soul to the holy land of India from Vietnam.
The Sanskrit word Nandi has the meaning of happiness, joy, and satisfaction, the properties of the divine guardian of Shiva- Nandi.
The worship of Shiva and Nandi can even be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization time period. The famous ‘Pasupati Seal‘ depicts a seated figure, which is usually identified as Shiva, and there were many bull-seals found in Mohenjo Daro and Harappa, which led to the conclusion of the researchers, that Nandi worship has been a long-standing tradition for many thousands of years.
Nandi is described as the son of the sage Shilada. Shilada underwent severe penance to have a boon– a child with immortality and blessings of Lord Shiva and received Nandi as his son. Legends say that Nandi was born from a Yajna performed by the Shilada. Nandi grew as an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva and he performed severe penance to become his gatekeeper, as well as his mount, on the banks of river Narmada, near Tripur Tirth Kshetra in present-day Nandikeshwar Temple, in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh.
Nandi got the divine knowledge of Agamic and Tantric wisdom taught by Shiva, from the goddess Parvati. He could teach that divine knowledge to his eight disciples, who are identified as the progenitors of Nandinatha Sampradaya, namely, Sanaka, Sanatana, Sanandana, Sanatkumara, Tirumular, Vyagrapada, Patanjali, and Sivayoga Muni.
These eight disciples were sent in eight different directions of the world by Nandi, to spread this knowledge.
To be continued…