The Creator. The Preserver. The Destroyer.
The cosmic ecstatic dancer Natraj, represents the Hindu Lord Shiva in this triple avatar, highlighting the Hindu conception of the never-ending cycle of time. Mahadev Natraj Avatar is very fascinating. In his dancing guise as Natraj, Shiva gives out the message that ignorance can only be overcome by knowledge, music, and dance and hence his ‘Dance of Bliss’ is considered as an act of divinity.
Here are 10 fascinating facts about Mahadev Natraj Avatar:
1) Natraj means the ‘King of Dance’ in Sanskrit and the dance Shiva smilingly performs is called Tandava.
2) All his various dance postures symbolize the creation, preservation, and destruction of the universe.
3) Shiva’s dance is set within a flaming halo. This symbolises the cosmic fire or cycle of life and represents the evils, dangers, heat, warmth, light, and joys of daily life.
4) Shiva’s locks contain a skull and a crescent moon, representing his omnipresence.
5) With the symbol of river Ganga in them, his matted long, flying tresses and bent legs represent the wildness and ecstasy of his cosmic dance which both creates and destroys the universe.
6) Shiva’s upper right hand holds the hourglass shaped damaru, the first sound of creation and upper left hand he holds agni, the divine fire, which can destroy the universe.
7) His lower right arm makes the abhaya mudra gesture of blessing which calms all fears and his lower left arm points towards his raised foot gesturing ‘gaja hasta’, the symbol of salvation and liberation.
8) Shiva’s right foot is shown stamping on Apasmara Purusha, who holds a cobra. Representing the death of illusion and ignorance that leads humanity away from truth.
9) Shiva’s two eyes represent the sun, the moon and the third on the forehead represents the inner eye of knowledge and wisdom. The three eyes alternatively symbolize an equilibrium of three guṇas- Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.
10) The place of the dance, Chidambaram, portrayed as the center of the universe, actually indicates the heart.
The dancing figure of Shiva first appeared in Indian stone temple sculpture in the 5th and 6th century CE. And its present, world-famous form evolved under the rule of the Cholas.
The essence of Natraj was to release the souls of all men from the snare of illusion and so dancing, in Indian culture is seen as a way to unite with the creator- Shiva Natraj, the lord of the dance himself!