As I lean forward to softly hum my wishes in His ears, I feel myself detaching from the chaos of the world outside. It is like stepping into a quiet room – filled with peace, pin drop silence. Like Meditation or chanting a mantra. When your mind loses sight of itself and begins to transcend, gradually tapping the core zone of fanatical happiness. It’s in those silent moments, I feel His power… and a connection is established - me with the divine, me with myself…
And, me with the Nandi!
Who is Nandi?
Nandi is the divine bull, the vehicle of His Master, Lord Shiva and His primary devotee. He reveres His Master, and He adores Him. So much that the two are inseparable. His appearance is full of charm, His demeanor – authoritative. Oh well, He is a God in His own right! Like a security sentinel, He guards the entry gate to the abode of Shiva - devotees always seek His blessings before proceeding to Shiva.
Like one drop in a huge ocean, I have merged with a swarm of devotees gathered at the local Shiva temple to seek His blessings. In spite of the crowd, I can feel Lord Shiva’s presence around during this point in time. He is on a journey, from His abode in the Himalayas to mine, the earth.
I walk a small distance, barefoot, to join the queue of the faithful, brimming with devotion and joy. The queue moves in an unhurried manner. And, so do I. Restless, with bilwa patra in my hands and a prayer on my lips, waiting for my meeting with the Lord.
In this holy month of Shraavan, I am on my road to The Shiva and as always, it shall pass through The Nandi.
|Bilwa patra, leaves offered to the Lord|
You don’t really find Him. He is simply there, everywhere. Like a swirling orb of shadow clinging to the sun’s light. Like a celestial star dancing in the twinkle of the night. Ardently following His master - Shiva.
|Shiva temples in my travels: Can you find Nandi?|
Attributes like size and color can vary though. Take for example, The Bull temple in Bangalore – one really has to go to this temple to see how the giganticity of the deity of Nandi breathes life in the mythical stories that do the rounds there.
Here, He is life-like, one of the largest in the world, born out of a single granite monolith measuring 4.5 m in height and 6.5 m in length and black in color. The temple tallies as one of the oldest in the country drawing a large number of believers all round the year. The Nandi Bull of Chamunda Hills in Mysore is another such example.
|Nandi Bull in Bangalore: Isn't He HUGE?|
(image courtesy: Clara Arnold @ thesoulandeye.wordpress.com)
Finally, somewhere along the line, I meet Him – The Nandi.
He is sitting facing the main shrine venerating Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, in a regal manner. I notice His leg, right one, raised slightly. I remember someone telling me, this signifies the value of Dharma in today’s era (Kaliyuga). I follow his gaze - it is fixated firmly on His master - one snap of His Master’s finger and He is alert enough to get up and get moving. I stand in awe and admiration of His principles and faithfulness. I place a bilwa patra in His feet, and bow my head in devotion.
Standing upright again, I cup my lips with one of my palms and lean forward this time. I whisper a wish. I try to pour my heart. For I know, depending on my sincerity, the wish shall be carried it to the Lord.
Nandi in the Puranas
Besides the temples, one can find Nandi in various Hindu Puranas and Sacred Hindu Texts as well. One of my favorite stories revolving around Nandi takes us back to a dice game between Shiva and Parvati. Parvati had won the game but following a disagreement, Nandi was asked to intervene. Surprisingly, He declared Shiva as the winner. This unfair judgement infuriated Parvati and she cursed him to suffer from a deadly disease.
Nandi apologized and confessed to His doing along with a justification that He could not bear declaring His Master as a looser. It was against loyalty.
This explanation warmed Parvati’s heart and she decided to lift the curse off Nandi. She asked Him to offer something that was most dear to him to His son Ganesha, next Chaturdashi as a way out of the curse. Nandi did as suggested. On the next Chaturdashi, He offered green grass (the staple of a bull) to Ganesha and was relieved of his disease. The practice of offering durva (green grass) to please Lord Ganesha continues till this date.
No matter where you find Him... in lesser known temples or the more celebrated ones or even the puranas, all you need to do is take cover in His shadow and He holds an assurance to enlighten you in a certain way. Let go of your worldly desires, confess your sins and appreciate the lessons he holds – of uprightness and purity, of loyalty and wisdom, of tamed desires and resulting unrestrictive joys – and you realize how these are the very keys to getting close to Shiva, His Master, the consciousness, the eternal creator. ‘The Lord of Joy’, He inspires us to embrace a path that promises liberation from the material world.
As I speak in His ears… the concentric vibrations of my whisper and echo that emanates, can be felt, almost seen filling the directions all around with an animated power. It is as if He has released an acknowledgement of pushing forward my case with a desired purpose. It happens each and every time I whisper in His ears. Each and every time we connect.
|Whispering in the ear of the Nandi|
What do you wish for, Arti? … they ask,
… What all have you achieved?
Nothing. I shrug.
Infact, I have lost a bit of everything –
... annoyance, frustration, apprehensions and impatience.
And for that, I thank The Nandi.
"Om Mahakalyam Mahaveeryam,
Shiva Vahanam Outatmama
Gananamtwa pratham vande
~ Nandi Shloka
Related links and Other Lord Shiva temples covered in My Yatra diary -