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Varnams: How they help with Manodharma or Improvization

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December Article:

An Interesting Anecdote about Nandhi, the Bull & Mridangam.

by Mridangam Vidwan Sri Umayalpuram Mali

Mridangam, the king of percussion instruments is associated with ‘Nandhikeswarar’. Let us see the place associated with him. ‘Nand’ in Sanskrit means joy. Nandhikeswarar or Nandhi always gives joy or happiness. In all Shiva temples, one can always find Nandhi in front of the Shiva sannidhi,

Mahanandhi near Nandyal in Andhra Pradesh, South India is the place where lord Shiva blessed Nandhikeswarar.

Ages back, a sage called ‘Silaadh’ was living in his ashram in a forest. Though leading a contended life by serving God, he had no children. Hence, he pleaded with the Almighty with his sincere prayers to bless him with a child. God also blessed him with not one but with two children.

Silaadh Maharishi named them ‘Mallikarjun’ and ‘Nandhanan’. Nandhanan prayed and requested with the Lord that he live with him all the time and be at his service always. The lord also blessed him with the same. And so this place got its name after Nandhanan. Now this is adored upon by everyone as Nandhi’s place. The spot where he did penance is worshipped in the form of Lingam by everyone as ‘Mahanandhiswarar’.

In the Kaliyuga, a king named ‘Nandha’ ruled this region. He had a lot of cows in his palace and they used to be sent for roaming inside the forests. One day he flowed a particular cow to the forest which had stopped giving milk for several days.

The cow, after roaming went to a spot and released its milk for the lord in that place to drink. The Lord was in the form of a small boy in that place which was like sand houses made by snakes.

On seeing this the king was astonished and exclaimed ‘Maheswara’….in utter devotion. Disturbed by the sudden sound, the cow lost its balance and placed its legs on the sand houses. Realizing his mistake, the king pleaded with the Lord to pardon him.

Blessing the king, the Almighty said that the spot disturbed by the cow’s legs was the place where ‘Nandanan’ did penance and was visible in the form of Lingam and that he would be there in that form. The king Nandha’s joy knew no bound and he immediately made arrangements to build a temple in that place.

Later the Chalukya dynasty, Nandha dynasty, Vijayanagar dynasty and even Mughal dynasty kings have adored this temple.