This I Believe

Elizabeth - Boulder, Colorado
Entered on July 5, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in Nandi. My devotion to this mythological milk-white bull ~ Shiva’s mount, symbol of purity & justice, strength & virility ~ is truly infinite. I could go on for eons, describing his excellent qualities … Qualities I’ve come to appreciate as they’ve been demonstrated by so many of my (famous and/or “hidden”) Teachers ~ Thanks to each and every one of you!

I believe in Nandi. Not Yama, the powerful lord of death; not Kubera, the god of wealth; not Krishna, proponent of the religion of Love; not even Dattatreya, incarnation of the Divine Trinity. Only Nandi, the joyful: humble servant and foremost disciple of the Lord of Yogis. To some Nandi represents “animal tendencies” tamed and made docile by the Lord’s mastery over them. But for me it mostly has to do with how I feel when I look deeply into Nandi’s eyes, when I meet that gentle, clear bovine gaze … impossible to describe the rapture that arises, the pastoral bliss, the sense of absolute comfort & ease, of being supported, unconditionally.

Of all of Nandi’s great deeds, his numerous accomplishments, the most inspirational to me is his selfless service to the Lord during the “swallowing of the hala-hala” event (arguably the pinnacle of Shiva’s career). It was at this time, of course, that Lord Shiva (the Hindu God responsible for change both in the form of death & destruction as well as in the positive sense of shedding old habits) was called upon to deal with the sticky poison (human karma) being produced by a vigorous churning (yogic practice) of the Milky Ocean (the human bodymind). There was a lot of it! ~ too much even for Shiva’s divinely-proportioned mouth & throat. There was an overflow, some of the hala-hala brimming and then oozing over the edge of Shiva’s mountainous lips, cascading downward like so much molten lava. This was a dangerous situation, to be sure … and something clearly had to be done.

In that precarious moment, it was my hero Nandi who came to his Master’s rescue, who from miles below caught in his own soft muzzle that toxic overflow, those drops of samskaric sludge. It was simply a reflex ~ a natural & unpremeditated expression of his boundless devotion, of his love & trust in his beloved Shiva. Those who witnessed this event were at first quite concerned. “What will become of Nandi?” they wondered. (Images of the holocaust, Viet Nam, the “killing fields” of Cambodia, troubling their minds.) And to them Lord Shiva said, assuredly: “Nandi has surrendered into me so completely that he has all my powers and my protection … so no need to worry!”

And it is this capacity ~ demonstrated so beautifully by Nandi ~ to offer simple (or cosmic) service, to Gods & mortals alike; to remain joyful in the midst of difficulty; to demonstrate gentleness with strength; and to surrender completely to (the radiant reflection of) his own Divinity, that I believe in.