Nanthi Devar

June 17, 2012 Vel Info StoryNandiShiva

Nandi, with his head held high up in pride, walked towards Shiva, slowly and majestically. Then, to everyone’s great surprise, with one agile leap, Shiva planted himself on Nandi’s head. Nandi was of course, the most surprised. He tried to throw off the additional burden, but Shiva’s tender lotus like feet had already started moving in rhythm to Nandi’s dismounting attempts. Every time Nandi attempted to throw him off, Shiva leapt gracefully into the air. The Devas and Devatas gathered around to see this wondrous sight, their faces all inclined upwards to behold the dancing Lord.
Then, with Vishnu blowing the Panchajanya, Indra handling the Mridangam, Vani stringing the Veena, Lakshmi clanging the cymbals, Brahma clicking the nattuvangam and Gauri herself singing, Nataraja, sounding his Damaru all by himself, danced gracefully over the head of Nandi, between the two horns, to show to the world that he was just as normal as before and that there was no reason to fear. The whole world watched this divine dance with absolute raptness. They had seen nothing as beautiful as this before. For the next one and a half hours leading to sunset, Shiva performed the Sandhya Tandava, his lotus feet hitting on Nandi’s head, driving out his insanity. And the Devas stood there, immobilized by the dance, their mouths all agape, trying to take it all in, for they may never have a chance again.
These one and a half hours, spanning from 4:30 PM to 6 PM in normal human hours, over which the Devas were spell-bound with Shiva’s celestial dance, form the period of Pradosha every day. In the Hindu calendar, the pre-dawn period, when night meets day is presided over by Usha, the first wife of Surya. Hence it is referred to as the Ushat Kaala. Similarly, at the opposite end of the day, the twilight period is presided over by Pratyusha, the other wife of Surya and hence is named Pratyushat Kaala. Over time, this pronunciation underwent changes and we now refer to that period of day as Pradosha Kaala.
Even though Pradosha occurs every day, the period of Pradosha that occurs on the thithi of Thrayodasi is considered to be of high sanctity, for it was on a Thrayodasi that the first Shiva-Pradosha occurred. In essence, there are five types of Pradoshas known. They are: Nithya Pradosha (which occurs daily), Paksha Pradosha (observed every Thrayodasi), Maasa Pradosha (which is observed on the Thrayodasi of Krishna Paksha), Maha Pradosha (when Paksha Pradosha falls on a Saturday) and Pralaya Pradosha (At the end of all times, when all creation will recede into Shakthi and Shakthi herself will recede into Shiva). To observe a Vratha on any of these Pradoshas in a consistent manner is considered to be one of the best ways to please Maheshwara.
The rites and rituals of Pradosha Vratha are described in great detail in the Shiva Purana. The Vratha was first preached by Sandilya Maharishi to a Brahmin woman, her son Suchivratha and an orphaned prince Dharmaguptha. It is said that after 8 consecutive Pradoshas, Suchivratha got to drink the Amrutha, which is meant for the Devadhi Devas alone. Dharmagupta, on the other hand, fell in love with a celestial princess and went on to marry her. Finally, with the help of his powerful father-in-law, Dharmagupta was able to regain vanquish his enemies and regain his long lost kingdom. Such is the ease and the fruit-bearing capability of the Pradosha Vratha as is praised in the Pradosha Mahima Canto of the Shiva Purana.

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