Nataraja

related topics
{god, call, give}
{@card@, make, design}
{day, year, event}
{theory, work, human}
{line, north, south}

Nataraja or Nataraj (Hindustani: [nət̪əˈraːdʒ], The Lord (or King) of Dance; Tamil: கூத்தன் (Kooththan)) is a depiction of the Hindu god Shiva as the cosmic dancer who performs his divine dance to destroy a weary universe and make preparations for god Brahma to start the process of creation. Nataraja is most often depicted through a statue. The dance of Shiva in Tillai, the traditional name for Chidambaram, forms the motif for all the depictions of Shiva as Nataraja. He is also known as "Sabesan" which splits as "Sabayil aadum eesan" in Tamil which means "The Lord who dances on the dais".The form is present in most Shiva temples in South India, and is the main deity in the famous temple at Chidambaram.[1]

The sculpture is usually made in bronze, with Shiva dancing in an aureole of flames, lifting his left leg (and in rare cases, the right leg) and balancing over a demon or dwarf (Apasmara) who symbolizes ignorance. It is a well known sculptural symbol in India and popularly used as a symbol of Indian culture.[2]

The two most common forms of Shiva's dance are the Lasya (the gentle form of dance), associated with the creation of the world, and the Tandava (the violent and dangerous dance), associated with the destruction of weary worldviews - weary perspectives & lifestyles. In essence, the Lasya and the Tandava are just two aspects of Shiva's nature; for he destroys in order to create, tearing down to build again[3].

Contents

Etymology

Nataraja is derived from tamil word Nadanam (dance) and Raja (Lord or King) or, more correctly, /Nāṭa-rāja/ is a corrupt form of /Narta-rājan/ 'lord of-dance', from the classical Samskṛta verb /nar-/ 'to dance'. (Changing of /rt/ to /ṭ/ is a characteristic of late medieval corruption of the Samskṛta phonology).

Characteristics

  • A cobra uncoils from his lower right forearm, and the crescent moon and a skull are on his crest. He dances within an arch of flames. This dance is called the Dance of Bliss, ananda tandava.
  • The upper right hand holds a small drum shaped like an hourglass that is called a ḍamaru in Sanskrit.[4][5][6]. A specific hand gesture (mudra) called ḍamaru-hasta (Sanskrit for "ḍamaru-hand") is used to hold the drum.[7] It symbolizes sound originating creation.
  • The upper left hand contains Agni or fire, which signifies destruction. The opposing concepts in the upper hands show the counterpoise of creation and destruction.
  • The second right hand shows the Abhaya mudra (meaning fearlessness in Sanskrit), bestowing protection from both evil and ignorance to those who follow the righteousness of dharma.
  • The second left hand points towards the raised foot which signifies upliftment and liberation.
  • The dwarf on which Nataraja dances is the demon Apasmara, which symbolises Shiva's victory over ignorance(ego).
  • As the Lord of Dance, Nataraja, Shiva performs the tandava, the dance in which the universe is created, maintained, and dissolved. Shiva's long, matted tresses, usually piled up in a knot, loosen during the dance and crash into the heavenly bodies, knocking them off course or destroying them utterly.
  • The surrounding flames represent the manifest Universe.Also, the circle of fire/flames symbolizes the cycle of transmigration/suffering the ego goes through(endless births and rebirths, before attaining salvation).
  • The snake swirling around his waist is kundalini, the Shakti or divine force thought to reside within everything.
  • The stoic face of Shiva represents his neutrality, thus being in balance.

Full article ▸

related documents
Ogoun
Durga
Samson
Faunus
Moirae
Tethys (mythology)
Python (mythology)
Titanomachy
Hermóðr
Agdistis
Eärendil
Paean
Amphitrite
Typhon
Potiphar
Aker (god)
Dhumavati
Vanth
Erymanthian Boar
Caeneus
Pluto (mythology)
Aradia (goddess)
Pyramus and Thisbe
Echo (mythology)
Warg
Cupid
Khnum
Lupercalia
Lernaean Hydra
Ino (Greek mythology)