April 19, 2011 on 10:00 am
Dear Spiritual Explorer: I’m a visitor who went into Ma’s India last night and was overwhelmed by the Nataraj Sequin Cloth Print on display there. Who is this Nataraj and why is he so powerfully depicted? Jan B., Haverford, CT
Nataraj Sequin Cloth
Dear Jan: I know exactly what you mean. First I’d like to remark that this God Nataraj has around him the same golden nimbus that is seen around divine figures such as Jesus, Ramana Maharshi, Buddha, etc., thus equating him as a divine teacher. With his four arms, representing the cardinal directions, Nataraj is shown against a brilliant red background indicating his fiery nature. Nataraj is also seen standing upon and thus asserting dominance on the back of a demon, which symbolizes ego and ignorance.
Snakes that stand for egoism are seen uncoiling from the arms, legs and hair of Nataraj. Nataraj’s matted locks whirl as Nataraj dances within an arch of flames representing the endless cycle of birth and death. On the head of Nataraj is a skull, symbolizing his conquest over death.
Nataraj is known as the Dancing Shiva. In fact, translated, the term Nataraj means “king of Dancers.” (Nata meaning dancer; raja meaning king) But don’t take this as a mere prancing around the universe. Oh, no, when this Shiva Nataraj puts his foot down, we are off again into another cycle of destruction of the universe. But it is not similar to the old Biblical stories of the Hebrew God punishing evil by destroying the universe. The story is told as a cyclical metaphor and as a natural evolving sequence of events. The Dance of Bliss of Nataraj symbolizes the cycles of creation, destruction, as well s the daily rhythm of birth and death. Nataraj’s dance also reflects the Hindu principles of the primal energy of the cosmos: creation, preservation, destruction, salvation and illusion.
Here in this graceful poem by a lady named Ruth Peel is this dance of Nataraj expressed:
“The source of all movement,
Gives rhythm to the universe.
He dances in evil places,
He creates and preserves,
Destroys and releases.
We are part of this dance
This eternal rhythm,
And woe to us if, blinded
We detach ourselves; From the dancing cosmos,
This universal harmony…”
I’m glad you enjoyed this wonderful and artful print. Spiritual Explorer
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