Characteristics of Shiva Nataraj

By The Spiritual Explorer | Published 28 August, 2013

Dear Spiritual Explorer: I love the Shiva Nataraja statue that is made of aluminum. Can you tell me some of the symbolism connected with this wonderful Shiva? Marilyn A., Billings, MT


Shiva Nataraj – 23″

Dear Marilyn: I too love this particular Shiva Nataraj statue; it is particularly striking since most statues are cast in bronze. However, let me tell you some of the most interesting facts about Shiva Nataraj.

Nataraj means Lord of Dance, and Shiva performs the tandava, the dance in which the universe is created, maintained and dissolved. Shiva’s long, matted hair, usually piled up in a knot, loosens during the dance and crashes into the heavenly bodies, knocking them off course or destroying them utterly. Shiva is usually described as being contemplative in the midst of chaos and confusion, and so this description of his hair loosening as he performs his duties is quite unique and exciting.

A cobra uncoils from his lower right forearm and the crescent moon and skull are on his crest. He dances within an arch of flames. His right hand holds a small drum called a damaru in Sanskrit. This symbolizes the sound of originating creation. The second left hand points towards his raised foot, which signifies upliftment and liberation.

A snake swirls around his waist representing kundalini, the divine force thought to reside within everything.

In the midst of everything, Shiva wears a stoic face representing balance and neutrality. Devotees of Shiva recite his name in an attempt to maintain composure or stillness either during trying times or during their meditation with their third eyes focused on the Shiva mantra: Om Namah Shivaya.


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