These are part of Siva's Retinue. The most important of
them are Nandi, Bhringi, Virabhadra and Chandesvara.
Nandi, the Bull, is Siva's vehicle. Nandi is invariably
found sitting right infront of the sanctum sanctorum in every
siva temple facing the image and looking at him all the time.
In fact no one is supposed to see the chief deity in a siva
temple without paying homage first to the seated Nandi and
looking at Siva from a far through the space between the ears and
the top of his head.
There are some temples in India which are exclusively built
for Nandi like the famous Nandiswara temple in Karnataka.
Nandiswara in his anthromorphic form appears just like Siva, with
three eyes and four hands of which two are permanently dedicated
to the veneration of Siva while the other two carry his
Symbolically Nandi represents the passion and love of Siva for
beings. Nandi is well versed in all scriptural knowledge. Nandi
is the first disciple of Lord Siva and he imparted the teachings
of Siva to this world. He is the Guru of the great saint
Thirumular and he imported the knowledge of devotion to Hanuman.
It is a tradition in many parts of rural India to let a Bull roam
free in each village as a mark of respect to Nandi and to
inseminate the cows in the village.
He was originally a demon named Andhaka, who was transformed
by Siva into a humble devotee and admitted into his force as a
commander of his armies.
Bhringisa was so loyal to Siva that in his state of devotion
he would not offer his worship to any one including Parvathi. It
is said that when he saw once Siva in his Ardhanariswara form, he
tried to bore through the middle of the body in the form of a bee
to complete his obeisance to only the Siva side of the form, much
to the annoyance of Parvathi. Bhringi who got his name thus was
made to realize his mistake and change his behavior by Lord
He is Siva in his ferocious mood. Siva manifested himself as
Virabhadra, when Daksha, his father in law, ill treated and
insulted his wife Sati, Daksha's own daughter, infront of a
Unable to cope with the insult, Sati immolated herself. This
angered Siva so much, that he descended upon the place of Daksha
with his large army and beheaded Daksha's.
The images of Virabhadra depict the anger and ferocity of Siva
in that destructive mood, wearing a garland of skulls, and with
four arms holding four different kinds of weapons.
Virabhadra is a warrior god who was worshipped during wars in
ancient and medieval periods. He is also the principal deity of
Virasaiva movement and still worshipped by many in the Karnataka
region of India.
He is an aspect of Chandi in human form later elevated to the
status of divinity, to signify the connection between Siva and
Chandi, or Durga.
Chandesvara is a ferocious god, holding weapons of war and
ready to do battle for a divine cause. His images are generally
found in a corner in all the Siva temples.
As in case of Nandi, devotees usually visit him and pay their
respectsat the worship of the Sivalingam in the sanctum