Nataraja, Shiva as the Cosmic Dancer
“The perfect embodiment of rhythmic movement.”
- Auguste Rodin, The Dance of Shiva - A Study on The Tiruvalangadu Nataraja at Madras Museum
His dance is the dance of the cosmos, the eternal rhythm of the universe. Encircled in flames representing the cyclical nature of creation and destruction, Shiva is the center of it all. The artist ingeniously combines the two seemingly antithetical elements of Shiva’s dance, the tremendous frenzied activity of the universe with his calmness, the complete tranquility of his facial expression shows supreme bliss and a wonderful poise, his raised leg giving him a beautiful sense balance and grace. Shiva himself representing your own fundamental consciousness, the center of all this activity.
The drum in his right hand, a Damaru, represents the rhythm of creation and in his left hand a flame represents destruction, balancing each other out perfectly. He points at his foot, bent slightly giving him a further sense of balance, and the little, hideous dwarf being crushed beneath. This dwarf represents ignorance, or illusion, Maya; the small and selfishly absorbed parts of yourself which blind you from perceiving the true nature of our world. That you are not separate from all the gyrations of atoms and molecules which make up the universe, that you are the great dance of Shiva. You are not aloof, you are and are made of the cosmos. When you crush the illusion of separateness, see through it, you will be released from bondage and achieve Yoga, Union with Shiva. Know Thyself.
(Adapted from V.S. Ramachandran’s Neurology and the Passion for Art lecture)
ॐ नमः शिवाय
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