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Adhikāra Nandi

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Every Śiva temple has an image of Nandi, the reclining bull. Nandi or Nandikeśvara is depicted in two forms:

  1. vṛṣabha or reclining bull and the other as
  2. Adhikāra Nandi, an image resembling that of Śiva.

Adhikāra Nandi's two back hands hold the paraśu (battle axe) and the mṛga (antelope) and the two front hands are folded on the chest in the añjali (obeisance) pose. In all other respects, the characteristics of the image are identical with those of Śiva.

Since he is the chief of the gaṇas (retinues) of Śiva, exercising his authority (adhikāra) over them, he is christened as ‘Adhikāra Nandi.’ He is also called Nandīśvara or Nandikeśvara.

As regards to the origin of this deity, there are three different accounts currently available:

  1. Desirous of a son, a sage named Sālaṅkāyana, propitiated Viṣṇu, who granted his wish by producing a boy exactly resembling Śiva, from the right side of his body. He was named Nandikeśvara.
  2. According to another account, a sage called Nandi obtained the status of a deva and the headship of the gaṇas of Śiva by propitiating him.
  3. A third account depicts him as emerging from the yāgaśālā (sacrificial shed) of the blind sage Śilāda, in the form of a young lad resembling to Śiva, thus bringing ‘nandi’ or joy to him. Śilāda adopted him as his son.

Adhikāra Nandi took a prominent part in the destruction of Dakṣa’s sacrifice. He is more often represented as a bull and also described as the vāhana (mount/vehicle) of Śiva.


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

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