Minor Deities associated with Shiva
Minor Deities associated with Shiva
There can be no Siva temple without Nandi, the recumbent bull placed in front of the shrine. Nandi or Nandikesvara may be depicted exactly like Siva-with three eyes and two hands holding the Parasu (battle axe) and Mrga (the antelope). But the other two hands are joined together in the Anjali pose (obeisance). More commonly he is shown as a bull-faced human being or just as a bull.

  • The Puranas describe him as born out of the right side of Visnu resembling Siva exactly and given as a son to the sage Salankayana who had practised severe austerities. Other versions describe him as the son of the sage Silada who got him by the grace of Siva.
  • Nandikdvara, also known as Adhikaranandi, is the head of the Ganas of Siva and also his Vabana (carrier vehicle).
  • Symbolically, the bull represents the animal intincts, especially the sex, and Siva's riding on it reflects his absolute mastery over it. 
  • Then comes Bhrngi, the sage, who was singularly devoted to Lord Siva, and was elevated to the retinue of Siva's abode. The sage was so fanatical in his devotion to Siva that he did not care even for Parvati, his consort! When Parvati merged herself into the body of Siva and Siva thus became Ardhanarisvara, Bhrnga was still so bigoted that he became a Bhrnga (=bee) and bored through the centre of the Ardhanarisvara form to complete his circumambulation! Hence the name Bhrngi. Siva, of course, made him realise his mistake.
  • Virabhadra is another deity associated with Siva. He is the personification of Siva's anger manifested during Daksa's sacrifice because of the contemptuous treatment meted out to him. Siva is said to have created him out of a hair plucked out from his head. Virabhadra successfully destroyed Daksa's sacrifice and humiliated all the gods who had assembled there. He is usually shown with three eyes and four arms holding bow, arrow, sword and mace. He wears a garland of skulls. The face is terrific. Bhadrakali, his counterpart created by Parvati, is sometimes shown by his side. Siva temples may have a small shrine dedicated to him, located usually in the south-east.

Next comes Candesvara, a human devotee raised to the status of a deity, by Lord Siva because of his intense devotion. He is a fierce deity holding weapons of war and destruction like the bow, arrow, trident, chisel, noose and so on. Though independent shrines dedicated to him are not uncommon, he is usually installed in every Siva temple in the north-eastern comer, facing south. Devotees believe that he can act as a messenger and mediator interceding with the Lord on behalf of the devotees. Hence supplication before him is a duty of every devotee visiting the Siva temples.

Other attendants of Siva are the Ganas, also known as Pramathaganas or Bhutaganas (demigods or malignant spirits). If they are not propitiated, they can do harm.

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