The bull is an image that has frequently appeared in Indian art over the centuries, most often as the venerated Nandi. For Husain, the bull plays a dual role. On the one hand, he celebrates it as a vahana - the animal vehicle associated with Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati. Symbols were very important to Husain and were often used for their "associative power... They have the character of true metaphors, bridging elisions and making connections in the mind of the viewer." (Shiv S. Kapur, Husain, New York, 1986, p. 48.) Here, he has placed an open palm on the bull in abhaya mudra, the 'fear-removing' gesture.
Secondly, the bull is closely tied to farming and therefore a potent symbol of millions of Indians whose existence is linked to the land. Husain has always been drawn to images that capture the essence of Indian life, be it in urban or rural settings. He "has been unique in his ability to forge a pictorial language which is indisputably of the contemporary Indian situation, but surcharged with all the energies, the rhythms of his art heritage." (E. Alkazi, M. F. Husain, New Delhi, Art Heritage, p. 3.)