Painting by Dayanand KamakarEvery year during Shardiya Navaratri, I speculate about glorious victory of Sri Durga over the demon-bull and symbolic meaning of this story. Many various versions are in Kill Bull-1, 2, 3 and 4.
But that ancient symbolism is not so simply to understand logically because of its ancient, or even eternal, greatness and transcendency. Anyway, now I often observe the symbols of the bull in the places marked by a certain atmosphere. For example, in an interesting Italian city - Turin. Its symbol and coat of arms is the rampant bull. The city is full of hidden esoteric symbols which divide clearly the dark and light sides of reality. And it is filled with all kinds of bulls. But all exists in balance. And there an another powerful force is present, which counterbalances all of these signs and does the city a harmonious as black and white in our lives.
Torino's bullThere is nothing surprising in the interest of the Italians to the bulls. The ancient Roman religion known was the Mithraic mysteries, which maintained strict secrecy about its teachings and practices, revealing them only to initiates. This scene in underground Mithraic temple shows Mithras in the act of killing a bull, "from the death which he had caused was born a new life more rich and more fecund than the old." So, here we see the sacrifice for the purpose of life development.
In the Roman Empire of the 2nd to 4th centuries, taurobolium referred to practices involving the sacrifice of a bull, which after mid-2nd century became connected with the worship of the Great Mother of the Gods (!); though not previously limited to her cultus, after 159 CE all private taurobolia inscriptions mention Magna Mater. Here sacrifice even more symbolical where the priest is literally washed by blood of a bull.
And in either case, it was a very important rite of sacrifice, which survived even today, in some cultures. And it's possible, the Spanish bullfight is a modern adaptation of ancient ritual slaughter supposedly imported by Roman soldiers who worshiped Mithras. In general, the bull is the most "noble" animals to be offered as sacrifice. For example, in Christian Bible, in the Old Testament, the Lord said to Moses in Exodus 29:10 to sacrifice the bull as a sin offering.
In Hinduism, as already mentioned, the bull is very multiple-valued sacred animal. Hymns in the Rig Veda describe heaven and earth as a closely united pair, one a prolific bull, the other a multi-coloured cow. Brahma created Viraj, the mythical primeval being, as the cow. This cow is the symbol of creative nature, while the bull is the spirit which vivifies nature.
Rsabha, the mythical vedic bull, mentioned in epic and Puranic literature, offered by the brahmanas in a sacrifice. Diferent dieties preside over different parts of his body. Thus the sacrificial Bull become a deity. As mentioned previously, in hinduism, the bull is associated with Indra, Agni, Prajapati and many other prominent gods. And certainly, Nandi the Bull who represents the sublimated vital powers sacrificed to the fiery centre of spiritual sight filling the great Lord's Third Eye.
OM nandikeshAya namaHaIn Jainism, Ṛṣabhanātha or Lord Ṛṣabha (transl.-"bull) is the first of the 24 Jinas of the present cycle of time. Ṛṣabha’s symbolic colour is gold and his emblem the ox or bull.
"Mahishasura" by Tyeb Mehta.And simultaneously, it is an aspiration to be sacrificed and be freed from wordly existence. But the process of sacrifice can be made only by perfect Superior Power. That force which can resist and destroy negative tendencies in the world and in each of us. Interestingly that in many cultures, often the opposite force is represented by a lion (like Durga's lion!).
All these symbolic images are very complex and difficult to interpret. However, there can hardly be any doubt that all these bull's sacrifices, found the world over, indeed originated from a common source, in the dawn of times. It is the universal fight at all times. But for each person it is always in the present tense. The earthly forces of the Bull need not be dispersed but may be contained, ruminated and sacrificed. To overcome this, we appeal to the Higher for Durga's strength.
Perhaps, in our times, the physical sacrifice of the bull became unnecessary. But the believer now has the responsibility for offering acceptable spiritual sacrifices. This holiday, wish you the grace of the Goddess Durga to help all us in our personal battle. May the Light Side of the Force be with you!