Since the very dawn of civilization, the bull has
held an important place in the rituals of men.
Sacred bull images have been found in the
palaces and temples of Crete, Turkey and Persia.
The Egyptians worshiped the Apis bull and the
animal figured prominently in the cult of the god
Mithra. In Hindu belief, the bull Nandi is the
sacred vehicle of Shiva, and is sometimes
considered the incarnation of the god in his
This splendid statue depicts a magnificent
kneeling bull adorned with necklaces and a bell.
We would never mistake this for an ordinary
animal. Something in his dignified and regal air
makes his divine status immediately apparent.
This can be traced back to the Indus Valley
Civilization, where dairy farming was the most
important occupation, thus explaining the
appearance of various artefacts indicating a deity
much like Shiva.
The close association of Shiva and Nandi
explains the presence of a statue of Nandi at the
gate of the Garbha Griha (sanctum sanctorum) of
every Mandir (Hindu temple) dedicated to Shiva.
It also explains why the word "nandi" in the Tamil
language is used as a metaphor for a person
blocking the way. In Sanskrit, a bull is called
"vrisha", which has another connotation - that of
righteousness or Dharma. It is important to seek
the blessings of Nandi before proceeding to
worship Lord Shiva.