shiva's curse

In early times, people were looking for guidance on how best to lead their lives and decided to seek the advice of none other than Lord Shiva in the matter. Consequently, a delegation was sent to Lord Shiva and they arrived to seek his help. Shiva was however very busy at that time and hence sent his mount Nandi, the bull, to answer the delegation. ‘Tell the people,’ says Shiva to Nandi, ‘Din mein ek baar khao, teen baar nahao’ (Eat once and bathe thrice daily).

Following his master’s instructions, Nandi proceeds towards the delegation. Afraid he will forget, he keeps repeating the instructions to himself, chanting them like a mantra.

Din mein, Ek Baar Khao, Teen Baar Nahao’ he repeats loudly.

‘Ek Baar Khao, Teen Baar Nahao’ he mutters as he trudges along. ‘Ek Baar Khao, Teen Baar Nahao, Ek Baar …, Teen Baar …,’ he goes on till he reaches the delegation, not realizing he has muddled up the crucial part of the instruction. ‘Listen Very Carefully Everybody!’ Nandi says to the people gathered. ‘Shiva has asked me to give you these instructions so you may lead a proper life!’ Nandi announces. ‘Din mein Ek Baar Nhao, Teen Baar Khao’ (Bathe once and eat thrice daily) he proclaims with contentment before sending the delegation off.

Delighted at having received instructions from Lord Shiva, the delegation returns home and dutifully follows the advice. Gradually, others adopt this way of living as they believe it had the divine sanction of the lord. People begin eating thrice a day and bathing once daily. This became a routine for people living everywhere. Eventually, due to this lifestyle, there is a severe shortage of food. Another delegation then visits Lord Shiva to ask him how to resolve the new problem they were facing. This time, Shiva listens to them patiently and realizes that Nandi was the cause of the problem.

‘You are responsible for this!’ Shiva admonishes Nandi. ‘Therefore, you will go and help these people grow the food they need!’ he curses the Bull. And from that time on, the Bull has been helping people grow their food. Domesticated for the purpose of agriculture, the Bull pays an eternal price for Nandi muddling things up!

Story told by: Dhiraj Vyas, current resident of Vile Parle in Mumbai. Mr Vyas is from Keshod in Junagad district of Saurashtra, Gujarat and says he has heard this story as a child.

Story collected by: Mallika Iyer

Location: Gujarat

Image source and credit: Trustees of British Museum