From the desk of the Spiritual Explorer
“Because You love the Burning ground, I have made a Burning ground of my heart That You, Dark One, hunter of the Burning ground, May dance Your eternal dance.”
~ Bengali Hymn ~
Brass Nataraj Statue
Walking into Ma’s India the other day, I noticed this wonderful statue (murti) of Shiva, that great god of contemplation and detachment, shown with his foot held aloft. This aspect of Shiva is known as the dancing Shiva, or Nataraj.
In Hindu mythology, Shiva is believed to be the source of all movement within the universe. When He dances, his gestures represent Shiva’s five activities: creation, symbolized by the drum; protection by the “fear not” hand gesture or mudra; destruction, by the ring of fire surrounding him; embodiment by one foot implanted on the ground; and finally, release by the other foot above the ground. Nataraj is also seen as dancing upon the back of the “ego,” crushing it with the knowledge gained through his third eye, the seat of wisdom.
I know that as one of the triune forces of the universe, along with Brahma, God of Creation and Vishnu,the Preserver, Shiva is known as the God of Destruction. As Nataraj he represents both apocalypse and creation as he dances away the illusory world of Maya, transforming it into power and enlightenment.
Shiva, Lord of the Dance
I have usually seen murtis of Shiva with his eyes closed in rapturous bliss and contemplation. This stunning representation of him as Dancing Nataraj is a very powerful form, combining creation, destruction and again, re-creation. As in Christianity and other major religions, we note the same common theme, once again proving the universality of religion.
As Nataraj dances his eternal dance, this Spiritual Explorer was reminded that as the forces of destruction and creation co-exist, so does the endless round of death and rebirth. You can learn more about him in the book, Shiva Lord of the Dance, a small book replete with colorful illustrations of Shiva in his many manifestations. More importantly, as we surrender to the eternal truth of death following life, it is our hope, however, that in our lives we too may dance the Dance of Nataraj with grace, aware of the inevitability of our mortality.
Om Namah Shiva, Om Namah Nataraj!