Nandi The path to God starts and ends with devotion. There is nothing more powerful in this world than being devoted to something. Devotion means you completely surrender yourself to that person or cause or community. Devotion to God or the Supreme Lord is the way to our liberation. With devotion one can conquer the biggest of mountains. Nandi is an example of devotion for Hindu folks. He is the biggest devotee of Lord Shiva and is the epitome of selfless love and devotion for him. Nothing in this world can take Nandi away from Shiva. Nandi had completely surrendered to Lord Shiva. Shiva was everything he had and he wanted. In Bhagwat Geeta our souls are known as Jiva or Jivatma. The Supreme soul is known as Paramatma. The goal or purpose of the Jivatma is to surrender itself completely to the Paramatma. Only with complete surrender and devotion, one will be able to reach the Lord. Nandi is the personification of that Jiva. He shows humankind that only with selfless devotion one can attain the Supreme soul which is Shiva. Nandi was the son of sage Shilada. Sage Shilada was childless and desired for a son to carry his lineage ahead. He did a strict penance to please Lord Shiva. After many years Shiva was pleased and he appeared before Shilada. Shilada as expected wished for a virtuous son. Shiva granted the boon the left. The next day Shilada found a beautiful baby in the nearby fields. He realized his wish was granted. This boy was Nandi. Shilada took good care and brought the child with utmost devotion. However he got to know that Nandi was not meant to live long from other sages. He was grief-stricken and didn’t want to lose his son. Nandi was unhappy to see his father in such pain. This is when he decided to invoke Shiva by strict penance. He meditated on Shiva for many years. Finally Shiva appeared before him and asked him to open his eyes. Nandi opened his eyes and after that he simply couldn’t stop staring at Shiva. He had not seen anyone more beautiful and divine than Shiva. He was lost in his grace and tears poured down. When Shiva asked what he does want, Nandi forgot everything. He said all he wanted was to be with Shiva forever. Shiva was amazed as no one had asked something like his. A lot of people did penance to gain something for themselves. For the first time someone only wanted to accompany Shiva and desired nothing else. Shiva granted his wish. He told him that he shall live in Kailasa from now and be the guardian gatekeeper for his abode. Shiva also said that Nandi shall be his mount or vehicle in the form of a bull when need be. Elated Nandi left Earth and moved to Kailasa to stay with his Lord. Shiva also made him the chief of his Ganas (tribe). Nandi selflessly served Shiva and Parvati all his life. He played multiple roles of being a friend, a companion, a gatekeeper, a servant, chief of Shiva’s Gana, etc. He also received the knowledge of the Cosmos from Goddess Parvati and Shiva himself. There are several stories about him in the Puranas. Let us discuss a few of them’ Nandi meets Ravana – Once Ravana happened to meet Nandi and made fun of him calling him a monkey. This is when Nandi cursed Ravana and told him that his empire will be destroyed by one such monkey (alias Lord Hanuman) In another tale, Nandi is shown being cursed by Parvati. This is when Parvati defeats Shiva in a game of dice. However Nandi took Shiva’s side stating that Shiva had won the game. Parvati gets furious and cursed him to fall sick with an irrecoverable disease. Nandi tried to pacify the Goddess and this is when she asks to him meditate on Ganesha. Nandi does strict penance and was relieved from his curse. In another tale Nandi incarnates as a whale – When Parvati was being taught by Shiva about the Vedas, she lost her focus for a while and her mind wandered. This resulted in her being born as a human to pay for this misconduct. She was born to a fisherman’s family. The fisherman stayed near the banks of a river that was inhabited by a whale. He announced that whoever will kill that whale shall marry his daughter. This is when Nandi took the form of that whale and Shiva became another fisherman. Shiva killed that whale and hence reunited with his wife Parvati again. Nandi was married Suyasa, the daughter of Maruts. The idol of Nandi is always shown looking at the Shiva Lingam. Nandi in his bull form sits there admiring his Lord. It is believed that if a Shiva devotee tells his or her desire to Nandi, It is sure to reach Shiva. That is why devotees first speak in the ears of Nandi before worshipping the Lingam. Nandi’s love and devotion to Mahadeva is a symbol of purity and selfless love and devotion. He is also the chief guru of the eight disciples of Nandinatha Sampradaya. These eight were the ones who went in different directions to spread the knowledge of Shaivism.
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