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.
All that you see, all that is in your mind, all that you have experienced, all that which breathes within you, exists only because you are.
The inevitable change assures gently that illusion is reality and the rest a seeming.
The carousel of life goes on; from the darkest night to the brightest morning, from black and white to the rich spectrum, you pass by. Humming a single note, you pass by.
The end, the beginning. Remember?
You created the rainbow as you saw it, you replied to the mountain when you echoed, you walked ahead to make it happen, you looked behind to say goodbye, you stopped to realise and what was beyond came to you with an epiphany.
Illusion is a friend. Fathomable, it is the reality.
Certain things are meant to be, but while we are living a moment, we rarely understand this beautiful phenomenon.
I am calling it a beautiful phenomenon because sooner or later we are able to gauge its magnanimity and purity. Everything simply falls into place.
Early last year, I bought a book from a second hand street bookshop. The cover page captured my attention and reading a few lines here and there, I told myself that I am in for a treat. And happily, I wasn’t wrong.
‘The last time I saw Tibet’ took me to the land of the gods, to an eternal pilgrimage, to witness the serene beauty of the pious land and gave me a humbling experience.
Yes, the book is magical. There were times when a mere description of the icy winds blowing in a small village, Thokchen, at a height of almost 15,700 feet, made me quiver and a few lines about the picturesque valley that the author gazed upon left me in a trance.
His visits to the ancient and grand monasteries – Drepung, Sera and Ganden, to the fabulous Jokhang temple in Lhasa, to the royal palaces – Potala and Norbulingka – of His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and especially his journey to the Kailashnath and Mansarovar offered me a spiritual spectacle, a chance to feel the presence of the Supreme One.
This fabulous travelogue by Bimal Dey along with presenting the reader with the wonderful scenic beauty of Tibet talks about its rich culture, about the mystical Lamas, about the simple, poor but happy people of Tibet.
What makes his journey to Tibet an immensely special tale is the fact that he traveled in the year 1956, when he was only 16, along with a group of lamas and theirs was the last group of pilgrims to do so until the dawn of the 21st century.
The glory of Tibet, the land that accepted Buddhism wholly and spread its enlightening knowledge everywhere in the world, is now a tale of the past. With the Revered Dalai Lama living a life of a refugee in India since 1959 and the maximum number of Tibetan lamas either living in India or abroad, the spirit of Tibet has weakened.
Tibet, under the rule of China, is not what it was. Can development now seen in Tibet be acknowledged when the soul of the land is quietly being crushed every day?
The number of monasteries destroyed in the past, the so called Cultural Revolution that took place in Tibet, the bloodshed of countless monks and nuns, the sudden disappearances of the religious leaders, the number of Tibetans who have given into self-immolation will shock you, it will dishearten you.
I was aware about the plight of the Tibetans before I read this book. Reading about their on-going fight troubled me as I felt helpless. But slowly something brought a change, my efforts to understand Buddhism through whatever means possible, made me realize that Buddhahood is present in everyone, it cannot be conquered, it cannot be oppressed.
Rather, if one starts recognizing it, such a person can achieve complete freedom. And I concluded and told myself that Tibet is free.
‘The last time I saw Tibet’ was meant to be read by me because after finishing this book I again felt that Tibet is free. How lovely this feeling is, how empowering! Such is the positivity with which this book has been written.
All the facts will defy this statement at the moment, but Tibet, its culture and its religion is not about facts, it is about the spiritual connection with the Ultimate One, with the Lord Buddha, the enlightened one, whose blessings are always there with every free mind.
Caught in the political drama some may not be able to understand this, Tibet –the roof of the world, where gods reside- is, was and will remain free.
Time, no matter years or decades, will seal this thought with grandeur that the peaceful land of Tibet deserves.
I believe in the waves. Everything in the universe is in the form of waves. The connection never breaks. Reverberation happens. Do you also feel it? It is amazing, but most of the times beyond our understanding, often leaving us frustrated.
Like when something is in front of us, we know that it is but we can’t find it.
I saw something that caught my attention, I saw some creepers climbing high and meeting the trees’ branches. The light green coloured creepers united with the brown coloured branches and the contrast between these colours and the dark green coloured tree-leaves looked so perfect, as if the scene was painted.
I don’t know if the union was meant to be or not. It was just wonderful, the creepers slowly crept on to the big trees; first the trunk and then the branches and then making a green velvety blanket with the leaves, like a slow wave.
The clouds move beautifully you know. They dance. They don’t stay at one place. We should also learn it. I mean we should keep in mind the fact that nothing is permanent, everything shifts from being to non-being. The clouds allow the sun rays to pass through it, only sometimes the sun rays decide to stay back and be with the clouds. The clouds change in colour when they are about to rain.
What a grand way to leave, to change into droplets and become a seed and come alive and then to meet the sun rays once again.
When a dancer performs and a singer sings and a musician plays and a painter paints and an architect builds, and a scientist thinks and a mother smiles – it is in a wave form. Like the velvety green wave we see in the forest, when the creepers meet the trees.
A roguish year, 2020, I believe was a twist in our LIVE story. Terrible, oh, terrible things happened. Let us nurture hope, let us learn from our mistakes, let us help each other and contribute honestly to this change.
Let the old charm of stories work, let stories heal your tired heart.
This colossal twist proves that the great writer is planning to finish a chapter, but the story is far from over. Dawn is about to break, the sun rays will fall on a new beginning soon.
Come to Chiming Stories, pocket old and new posts and watch, along with me, the horizon.
Gabbeh, the 1996 film, is a simple tale of a gipsy girl, her clan and the way their life goes on. Unfolding beautifully just like an artist painting a canvas, Gabbeh quietly touches the grand questions.
Arthdal Chronicles is a South Korean fantasy drama TV series that takes us back to the Bronze Age in a mythical land named Arth, where different human species and tribes struggle to be on the top of the power pyramid.
Yes fly! For walking on the second track is dull and usual, but dreaming high, high, high requires tools. Tools like the right pair of shoes, a chirpy, gritty soul that eats butter-jam dreams, a soul that drinks milky-milky creams.