A static symbol of the dynamic universe, an illusion, Maya, moving rhythmically, revealing in an instant the unfathomable divine, the perfect balance that creates, preserves, destroys, incarnates and liberates, the Nataraja, performing the ultimate dance, is a magnificent work of art that reflects the cosmos – the beginning and the end of the cosmos, the music of the cosmos and the soul of the cosmos.
The Nataraja sculpture represents all – the destined journey, the tragic fall, the glorious victory, the dance in time and timelessness, the poise and elegance, overwhelming stillness, reverberating brightness, brilliance, power and enlightenment. In a single spectacle, it shows what was, what is and what will be.
Shiva Nataraja, the King of Dance, dances on Apasmara, a dwarf, crushing not him, but his ignorance, forgetfulness and limited vision of self, hence freeing his soul from bondage. Four armed – with Agni (flame) to demolish in one, with Damru (drum) playing the tune of time in second, making the Abhaya Mudra (the sign of fearlessness) in the third, thus bestowing power to be without fear, and the fourth in the Gahahasta (elephant trunk) Mudra signifying supremacy over ignorance – Nataraja is the embodiment of all the vigorous flux in the outer world and the serenity in the inner world as he dances the dance of bliss, Ananda Tandava, continuing the harmony of life and death in the cosmos.
Prahabhamandala, the arch of flames within which Nataraja dances, is the manifest universe, making the cycle of birth and death, burning with sufferings and illusions, apparent.
Also, a ring of consciousness that is in agony as it’s blinded by temporary ideas, unaware about the permanent dance of bliss. Oblivious of the Kundalini Shakti (the cosmic power) – that the cobra around Nataraja’s waist represents and is believed to reside in all – the unconscious mind walks cyclically.
Lotus flower, representing the creative power of the universe, forms the pedestal on which the Nataraja dances, celebrating in full zest the dance of true freedom.
Omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, the Nataraja does a dance that occurs ceaselessly in every atom, sending waves in the cosmos, waking everyone from the dream world to witness reality and truth, destroying the phantom world full of phantom pains.
Neutrality and peace on Nataraja’s face – the One dancing in frenzy – mirrors the magic of the master who dances within the universe of illusion, but stays beyond that universe. In a palpable language, the Nataraja declares the way the soul can rise from its bonded life and with equality seeping within, can see and participate in the cosmic dance.
This marvellous sculpture amalgamates supreme power and action with absolute bliss and beauty, radiates the delicate balance of the cosmos and magnifies the close connection between the One and the many. Nataraja, Mahakala (the Lord of Time), with continuity and change flowing throughout becomes an opportunity to understand the sublimity of Maya and work a way out to reach the immutable Presence.
The Nataraja is excellence. Meditating on it is achieving its essence. Its essence is pure excellence.
Hundreds of years ago, Indian artists created visual images of dancing Shivas in a beautiful series of bronzes. In our time, physicists have used the most advanced technology to portray the patterns of the cosmic dance. The metaphor of the cosmic dance thus unifies ancient mythology, religious art and modern physics.
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