Swami Harshananda on the Symbolic meaning of Nandi – the bull in front of Shiva Temples



Nandi, the happy one, – the bull on which Lord Shiva rides – represents virility and strength, the animal in man. In Shiva temples, there is always a reclining bull placed in front of the chief shrine or just outside it, with the head turned away from the deity but the gaze fixed on it. It is interpreted as the Jivatman, the individual soul, with its animal nature pulling it away from God, but His grace pulling it back to him.

Swami Harshananda

(Source: Principal Symbols of World Religion by Swami Harshananda)