Nataraja is none other than the dancing Lord Siva (One of the Trinity Gods as per Hinduism). The name is derived from the Sanskrit words Natya meaning dance and raja meaning king and hence the name describes Himselves as the king or lord of dance.The Sanskrit word Natya itself is derived from Dravidian word Nadei which means to walk. It is a depiction of Lord Siva as a cosmic dancerwho performs his divine dance to destroy the weary universe and make preparation to restart the process of creation.
The header image of this blog is the idol of nataraja which shows one of the dance postures. It is a visual image of dancing Siva created by Indian artists and sculptures hundreds of years ago in a beautiful series of bronze.You can view a beautiful and stunning idol of Nataraja while you visit the Thousand Pillar Hall in the Meenakshi Amman Temple in TamilNadu. If you look at the image you can find the following:
• There are four hands for the dancing Siva. The upper right hand holds a Damaru (drum) which symbolizes the sound originating creation, a new awakening. The upper left hand holds Agni (fire), representing the destruction. Thus the hand holding the drum and the one holding the fire balance the force of creation and destruction.His other right hand shows Abhaya mudra bestowing protection from both evil and ignorance to those who follow the path of dharma (justice). The other left hand is pointed towards the raised left foot which has crushed demon Muyalak who represesents liberation from ignorance.
• The dwarf over which Lord Siva dances is the demon Apasmara which symbolizes the victory over ignorance.
• The surrounding flames represent the Universe
• The snake that is swirling around his waist is the Kundalini the divine force thought to be residing in every being in the Universe
• The half moon shown on the head is the symbolization of protection of the moon by Lord Siva because the fall of the moon causes cosmic destruction and that means the destruction of entire life.
• Surrounding the Siva is shown many aureole flames emanating from him depicting the value of wisdom and truth.
• As the Lord of dance, Nataraja performs the dance during when the Universe is created, maintained and destroyed. Siva’s long knotted hair usually piled up in a knot loosen during the dance and crash into heavenly bodies knocking them off and at times destrying them
The divine dance performed by Lord Siva is called the Tandavam which is considered as the source of cycle of creation, preservation and destruction. He does it with bliss as well as violence, the former being Ananda (blissful) Tandavam and the latter is called Rudra (Violent) Tandavam. When Sati (Lord Siva’s first wife jumped into the Agni Kunda (sacrificial fire) while her father Daksha’s Yagna, Lord Siva is said to have performed the Rudra Tandavam expressing his deep grief and anger.
Tandavam takes its name from the name of Lord Siva’s attendant, Tandu who instructed sage Bharata (author of Natyasastra) about the use of Angaharas and Karanas. There are 32 Angaharas and 108 Karanas described in the fourth chapter of Natyasastra.Karana is a combination of hand gestures with feet movement and ending up in a posture. Seven or more Karanas makes one Angahara.
Bharatanatyam has established seven types of Tandavam:
• Ananda Tandavam
• Tripura Tandavam
• Sandhya Tandavam
• Samhara Tandavam
• Kaali Tandavam
• Uma Tandavam
• Gauri Tandavam
To be continued….