By Swami Harshananda
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.
As regards to the origin of this deity, there are three different accounts currently available:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore