Compiled by London swaminathan


Date: 3 JULY 2018


Time uploaded in London –   18-52 (British Summer Time)


Post No. 5177


Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Wikipedia, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks. Pictures may be subject to copyright laws.

NATARAJA is the cosmic dancer. Shiva is represented in dancing form. He is four armed and has flowery braided locks ending in tight curls and whirling in the dance.


On the proper right side, In the flying hair, is a figure of Ganga represented as a ‘nagini’, on the left a cobra and the crescent moon. The head dress contains a skull and terminates in a fan of cassia leaves.; a pearl fillet encircles the forehead. a man’s earring is worn on the proper side and a woman’s on the left.


Of the four hands the rear right holds a drum (udukkai), the rear left a flame in a dish. The front right is in ‘Abaya mudra’ (do not fear gesture), the front left hand points to the lifted foot. Amongst the many ornaments are small bells tied round the calf of the leg. The whole figure is enclosed in a fiery arch (tiruvaasi), arising from the mouths of a pair of addorsed makaras, established on a lotus pedestal (padmasna).


“A legend is told in explanation of this dance (in the Tamil Peria Puranam) as follows:

In the forest of Taaragam there dwelt multitudes of heretical rishis, followers of the Mimaamsa. Siva proceeded there to confute them, accompanied by Vishnu disguised as a beautiful woman, and by Vishnu’s servant Aati Sesan, the naga Ananta.


The sages were at first led to dispute amongst themselves, but their anger was soon directed against Lord Siva, and they endeavoured to destroy Him by incantations
A fierce tiger was produced in the magic fires, and rushed upon Him. But he seized it in his hand stripped off its skin with the nail of his little finger, and wrapped it himself about as a garment.


The sages renewed their offerings , and produced a monstrous serpent , which Siva took in His hands and wreathed about his neck like a garland. Then he began to dance, but there rushed upon Him a last monster in the shape of a malignant dwarf, Muyalaka. Upon him the god pressed his the tip of his foot, and broke the creatures back, so that it writhed upon the ground, then he resumed the dance, beheld of God’s and Rishis.
On this occasion. Ati sesan obtained the boon to behold the dance again in Tillai, sacred Chidambaram, the centre of the universe.”
Symbolic Representation

More significant than the details of this legend, are the interpretations constantly referred to in the Saiva hymns. The dance called ‘Naadaanta’, represents the movement of energy within the universe. It is Siva’s Five Activities, ‘Creation, Preservation, Destruction, Embodiment and Release’. The drum is for Creation, through sound which for Hindus has always a moulding force on the material environment, the flame for Destruction by fire. The dwarf is Illusion, Plural Perception , the fetters of Time, Space and Casuality, the sense of Egoity, in general ‘Avidya’.


–Ananda Coomaswamy about the Museum pieces in Colombo Museum, Year 1914.



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