Nandi, Nandin or Nendi (in khmer) ( Sanskrit: नन्दी, Tamil: நந்தி), is now universally supposed to be the name for the bull which serves as the mount (Sanskrit: Vahana) of the god Shiva and as the gate keeper of Shiva andParvati, and in Hindu mythology. He is the chief guru of eighteen masters(18 siddhas) including Patanjali and Thirumular.[1] Temples venerating Shiva display stone images of a seated Nandi, generally facing the main shrine. There are also a number of temples dedicated solely to Nandi.
The application of the name Nandi to the bull (Sanskrit: vṛṣabha) is in fact a development of recent centuries, as Gouriswar Bhattacharya has documented in an illustrated article entitled "Nandin and Vṛṣabha".[2] The name Nandi was earlier widely used instead for an anthropomorphic deity who was one of Shiva’s two door-keepers, the other being Mahākāla. The doorways of pre-tenth-century North Indian temples are frequently flanked by images of Mahākāla and Nandi, and it is in this role of Shiva’s watchman that Nandi figures in Kālidāsa’s poem the Kumārasambhava.

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In Hinduism

Bulls appear on the Indus Valley seals, including the 'Pasupati Seal' that depicts a seated figure, which according to some scholars, is similar to Shiva. However, most scholars agree that the horned bull on the Indus Valley seals is not identical to Nandi.[3]
The various descriptions on Nandi in the Hindu mythological texts include:

  • Some Puranas describe Nandi or Nandikeshvara as bull faced with a human body that resembles that of Shiva- in proportion and aspect, although with four hands, two hands holding the Parasu (the axe) and Mruga (the antelope) and the other two hands joined together in the Anjali(obeisance). Brahma Vaivarta Purana mentions Krishna himself to have taken the form of a bull as no one else in the Universe can bear Shiva.


  • Vehicle of Shiva: The bull Nandi is Shiva's primary vehicle and is the principal gana (follower) of Shiva.


  • Gate keeper of Shiva's abode: The close association of Shiva and Nandi explains the presence of a statue of Nandi at the gate of many temples dedicated to Shiva. It also explains why the word "nandi" in the Kannada, Telugu and Tamil languages 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.


  • Chief in Shiva's army: Some Puranas mention that Nandi lead the Shiva Ganas, Shiva's attendants.


  • A Guru of Saivism: In addition to being his mount, Nandi is Shiva's foremost disciple. In the Natha/Siddhar tradition, Nandi is one of the primal gurus. He was the guru to Siddhar Thirumulanathar, Patanjalinathar and others.


  • From the yogic perspective, Nandi/Nandhi/ Nandikeshvara is the mind dedicated to Lord Siva, the Absolute. In other words, to understand and absorb Light, the 'experience and the wisdom' is Nandi which is the Guru within.
  • Shiva and his spouse seated upon Nandi. Cambodian, between 1100 and 1150.[4] The Walters Art Museum.
  • According to some puranas, Nandi was born out of the right side of Shiva resembling Shiva exactly and given as a son to the sage Salankayana. Some puranas mention him as the son of the sage Silada who got him by the grace of Shiva.
  • 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 a poison (halāhala) 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. Siva is therefore also known as Nīlakaṇṭha (the blue-throated one) and Viṣakaṇṭha (the poison-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".
  • Largest Nandis in India
    1. Lepakshi, Andhra Pradesh
    2. Brahadishwara Temple, Tamil Nadu
    3. Chamundi Hills, Mysore, Karnataka
    4. Bull Temple, Bangalore, Karnataka
    5. Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu
    6. Hoysaleswara Temple, Halebidu, Karnataka
    7. Shanthaleswara Temple, Halebidu, Karnataka
    8. Vadakkunnathan Temple, Thrissur, Kerala
    9. Hampi Bazar, Hampi, Karnataka
    10. Nandi Temple, Western Group of Temples, Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh
    11. Kedareshvara temple at Balligavi (Karnataka)