Shiva as Natraj

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  • Updated  20 Sep 2019
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Shiva as Natraj

In Hindu mythology, Brahma is recognized as the creator, Vishnu as preserver and Shiva as the destroyer. However, as Natraj, Shiva is delineated as the creator, preserver and destroyer all in one form. Shiva dances, surrounded by blazing aureole depicting time. It is circular-and  indicating at its cyclic and infinite nature. 

His dance form is called tandava or Nadanta ( depending on the context of dance). This is a cosmic dance that is mighty enough to create or destroy the entire universe. The unmatched energy and ferocity of dance are apprehended by the exorbitant spread of his hair or jatas  and his angavastram. He has a skull hanging from his jatas, along with a dhatura blossom and a crescent moon to-convey a message that visible or not, but he is always present. Ganga resides in his hair is the epitome of purity. In his upper right hand he is swinging his dumruh his favorite instrument, which is the first instrument to create sound and introduce the idea of music. This beat of the drum is known to have given birth to the beating of the heart. Conversely, in his upper left hand, he holds fire that is an instrument of destruction. Shiva’s lower right arm is held in abhaye mudra, the gesture of blessing that calms all fears symbolized by a hanging snake, and his lower left arm cross over his torso pointing towards his left toe, making gaja hasta mudra symbolizing salvation and liberation. 

His face has two eyes interpreted as sun and moon. A slightly opened third eye signifying the inner eye or the source of eternal knowledge, thereby representing the triune of shiva. 

His right foot on the dwarf, depicts a victory over fiendish evil and ignorance. 

His rhythmic dance is the source of the beautiful eternal choreographed movements of the universe. 

Shiva danced tandava when his beloved wife offered herself to the holy fire, because she couldn’t tolerate her husband’s insults. His vigorous dance almost brought the world to an end, when he was calmed by lord Vishnu. 

Another time lord shiva danced with parvati to recreate the beauty and love. 

I see this dance as a dance of extremism. Either it is extreme love, which leads to creation of love and hope, or it implies acute pain and disaster. When I study this phenomenon closely I see the circle of life, destruction of that what is created by love and again recreating that which is destroyed by hatred. 

I can see the beauty of destruction. It’s rhythmic course leads to nothingness that is absorbed into shiva himself. Out of this nothingness,  comes a flair of creation, endowment of beauty, which is incomparably to anything that pre existed. This dance of eternity is the derivation of the cosmic domain, the universal truth.

 

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