7 August 2013

Pradosham August 4, 2013

There are a number of posting on Arunachala Grace relating to the significance of the twice monthly Pradosham celebrated at Arunachaleswarar Temple. In these postings there is also information about Nandi who is the mount (vahana) of Lord Siva and also gatekeeper to Siva and Parvarti. 

Stone images of Nandi (the word “Nandi” is believed to be derived from the ancient Tamil “Pandi” meaning bull), generally face the main Siva shrine in all temples dedicated to Lord Siva.

Pradosham, Arunachaleswarar Temple August 4, 2013

Aarti to Nanhi  Flagpost Arunachaleswarar Temple

“In the temple of Shiva, you find Nandi, the bull in front of the deity. The truth is that just as the Lingam is the symbol of the Lord, Nandi (the bull) is the symbol of the Jeeva (individual soul). Therefore just like Nandi, man should turn away from Prakruthi and direct all his attention towards God only. 

There are some more meanings for the symbolism. For instance, it is said that no one should stand between Eeshwara and Nandi. One should have the vision of Eeshwara by looking through the space in between the two ears of Nandi. 

The underlying idea is that through the sadhana of using the ears to listen about Eeshwara alone, the animal nature in the bull becomes transformed into Divinity and because of its merger with Ishwara it is called Nandeeshwara (Bull-God). 

Thus the lesson of the symbolism is that man should also try to merge with God, by following the example of Nandi.” 
[Source: Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. XXV; P. 169] 

Nandi anthropomorphic form c.1820 

There are five major Nandi statues at Arunachaleswarar Temple: they are; Pradosham Nandi, in the Moolastanam, Ratha Vilaku Nandi in the Second Prakaram, Kodi Kampathu Nandi in the Third Prakaram, Chinna Nandi in the fourth prakaram and the Periyar Nandi that stands in front of the Vallala Gopuram in the Fifth Prakaram. 

The below legend of the Churning of the Ocean, which appears in a number of Puranas, symbolises the protection of the Lord to the devotee who surrenders completely to him.

Lord Shiva drinking poison, Nandhi nearby

“When the positive forces, the Devas, and the negative forces, the Asuras, joined together on a rare occasion to churn the ocean with a mountain to obtain the nectar of immortality they utilized Vasuki, the serpent, as the rope. The Devas pulled from one end and the Asuras from the other. Lots of precious herbs and gems were produced during the churning and one of them was Halahala poison which became human karma. 

This "poison" was so dangerous that none of the Devas or Asuras wanted to go near it. It was extremely sticky and coming into contact with this poison, i.e., human karma, would drag the divinity down to the realms of human suffering and ego. As everyone else ran away, Lord Siva, followed by Nandi, came forward to help as he was the only one who could counteract this deadly poison.
Siva took the poison into his hand and drank it, the descent of the poison was in turn stopped at His throat, by His divine consort. One of Lord Siva’s name is thus Nilakantha (the blue-throated one). Nandi saw some of the poison spill out of Siva's mouth and immediately drank if off the ground. The Devas and Asuras watching were shocked and wondered aloud what would happen to Nandi. Lord Siva calmed their fears saying, "Nandi has surrendered into me so completely that he has all my powers and my protection".” 


Divya said...

I bought a little Nandi when I visited Tiruvannamalai in 1985 and it has been facing my main alter pic ever since, in the countless places I've lived and traveled! In fact I think only my Nandi and my Ganesha are the only things that have survived since then, thanks to my minimalist purging tendencies. :-/

Itinerant Yogi said...

Wow. This is a new aspect to the Kumbh Mela story I have just come to know. Didn't know that Nandi also drank some of the poison. Nice mataphor about Nandi's surrender. The Nasik Kumbh Mela celebration is coming up around August 2015.