Nandi – Lord Shiva’s Vahana

Nandi also known as Nandikeshwara or Nandideva is the sacred bull, gatekeeper, and vehicle (vahana) of Lord Shiva. According to Hindu mythology, Nandi is Shiva’s animal form and his most ardent devotee.

Lord Shiva’s Incarnation

While entering in a Shiva temple we usually catch sight of a sculpture of a bull. We know him as Nandi. He is Lord Shiva’s Vahana (vehicle). But many of us do not know that Nandi himself is the incarnation of Lord Shiva.

Lord Shiva

Gatekeeper of Shivalaya

According to the Shiva Purana, Nandi, Lord Shiva’s Vahana (vehicle), is the gatekeeper of the Shivalaya (the abode of Lord Shiva) in Kailash. Occasionally Nandi is depicted in sculpture as a bull-headed dwarf figure. He is also known in a wholly anthropomorphic  form, called variously Nandikeshvara or Adhikaranandin. Shaivites or Shiva devotees believe that Nandi is still present in a Shiva temple as the gatekeeper of the temple. He is the flag bearer of various Shaivite communities. His sculptures in human form are found at the entrance doors of many Shaivite temples in South India. It is mentionable that the Nandishwar temple in Karnataka is dedicated to Nandi itself.

Guru of the Nandinath Community

According to the Shaivite tradition, he is the guru of the eight chief men of the Nandinath community. Mahamuni (Great sage) Patanjali, a proponent of yoga is one of them. It is believed that these eight proponents preached Shaivite philosophy in eight directions.

Symbol of the Sun

Nandi is imagined as a bull. There is a long tradition behind this legend. The philosopher Devi Prasad Chattopadhyay in his book ‘Lokayata Darshan’ spoke about the worship of bulls as totem since the time of Indus civilization. The bull was worshiped in many civilizations as a symbol of the sun and valor. Later it became a part of Shaivism. And it is continuing still today.

Spiritual Son of Shilad Muni

According to the Puranas, Nandi is the son of Shilad Muni. Shilad wanted an immortal child from Shiva. Chiranjeev Nandi was born in Shiva’s Prasad. Nandi is not the fetus of any woman. He is ionized, his origin is from the fire of sacrifice.

Wise Teacher

In the tradition of Agam and Tantra sects of Hinduism, Nandi, Lord Shiva’s Vahana (vehicle), is considered to be very wise. This knowledge he got from Shiva himself. Again this knowledge he gave to his eight disciples. These eight are: Sanak, Sanatan, Sanandan, Sanatkumar, Tirumula, Byagrapada, Patanjali and Shivayoga.

Symbol of Valiance

It is known from various myths that Nandi, Lord Shiva’s Vahana (vehicle), faced many mighty heroes several times. He was the one who cursed Ravana that a monkey would burn his golden Lanka. He is the symbol of valiance.

Om Namah Shivay

By Krishna Das

[Last Updated on 22 March, 2022]


Krishna Das is an experienced article writer. He writes about Hinduism in his spare time.

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