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Nataraja Nataraja is the Cosmic Dancer.

Natana means 'role playing' - that is the Cosmic role played by Him, for the manifestation and maintenance of the entire universe, and it is called Tandava Nrityam. [Tandava Cosmic; Nrityam = dance] Natana actually means 'to be doing something' - that is not being static, but being dynamic. This dynamism is the manifestation of the entire universe. The iconographic description of Nataraja is as per Indian Philosophy of Creation, Maintenance and Dissolution. This is one among the twenty five types of iconographic representations of Lord Shiva. The dance personification is for eternal dynamism. This dance is arranged into five categories viz. (1)ADBHUTA TANDAVA meaning that it is a wonderful dance (2)ANANDA TANDAVA meaning that it is blissful dance (3)ANAVARATA TANDAVA, incessant dance (4)SAMHAARA TANDAVA, destructive dance (5)PRALAYA TANDAVA, Dissolution dance The number FIVE is associated with Lord Shiva. His name is five lettered (panchakshari) The five syllables are Na, mah,si,va,ya and recited as 'Om NamahSsivaayah', and this is indicative of the five divine functions, (panchakriyashakti) namely, creation [sristi], sthithi [maintenance], samhaara [destruction], tirobhava [illusive] and anugraha [blessing]. The five elements of creation are also denoted by this five lettered recitation, viz. solidity, liquidity, fire, ether, air, which are the essential elements for formation of any being, either living or material. Cosmic Circle Nataraja is encircled by the ever glowing, and flaming Cosmic Circle, which is termed as Jwala Mala Prabha Mandala. [ Jwala = flickers of flames ; Mala = garland [of flames]; Prabha = Illuminating ; Mandala = encircled ] Nataraja is the embodiment of the resplendence of ever burning, flickering, glowing Cosmic flames like a garland around the deity. This whole universe is filled by Him. The entire aspect is to be visualised as dynamism, radiance and glow of the Cosmic Fire, which is present ever and anon. Nataraja need not be taken iconographically as a dancing god or a god who is designated for destruction. The Cosmic Being, Nataraja, is garlanded by the clusters of galaxies that glow and flicker like heavenly flowers. His abode is a luminous [Prabha] circular [Mandala] Cosmos, this Cosmic Entity is depicted by the arch around Nataraja, with icons of flames studded there in. This glowing galactic circular arch around Nataraja is deciphered as, OM the sonic source of all the uttered words, to be used later by the living beings for communicating their pains and pleasures. Ganga Nataraja's head is adorned with tufts of hair locks, which locked the ferocious, fleeting river Ganga. Though locked up, Ganga is allowed an ordinary flow like any other river, thus she gave pasture lands to the peasantry. Ganga, in the hair locks of Nataraja represents Sampat Samvruddhi. [Sampat = wealth;

Samvruddhi = abundance] Thus Ganga is an ever growing phenomena of according abundant wealth and material prosperity. Even today Ganga, being a perennial river from the Himalaya mountains, is flowing across the country. Because Ganga is enriching the natural resources of the country, she is revered like a goddess. Crescent Moon There is a Crescent Moon in these tufts of Nataraja. This moon is in the rising order to a full moon, This Chandra Rekha [Chandra = moon ; Rekha = crescent] is there for anugraha [= to bestow] to bestow the material pleasures. The Moon is also the deity of Time, thus Nataraja is designated as the presiding deity of Time, Kala [= the time]. He is also called Maha Kala and Tri Kala because the immeasurable time was created by Him and He is regarded as a God who controls the time factor of living beings. Three Eyes are Surya [= Sun], Chandra [= moon], are of the usual right left sequence, while the third eye, Jnana Netra [ = wisdom eye or the third eye], is in the centre of the forehead. Here is where the Hindus apply a decorative vermilion color spot, kumkum or Tilak, lest the wise eye might see unwise things in the life. Draw an imaginary line from here through to the centre of the brain. The pituitary is there. It does the same function as that of the wise eye. The Sun and Moon eye attributes symbolizes light and dark, good and bad, greed and content and any pairs of opposites. But the wise eye shall pre-process this material before passing it to the central processor, the decision making Manas ( conscience). While these three are just the attributes to the Cosmic Being, the real living beings do have these three eyes, physically and psychologically. Right Earring On the Right ear lobe of Nataraja, hangs an ear ring called Makara Kundala [ Makara = crocodile; kundala = ear hanging] which, a golden crocodile design ear hanging, is for the males. On the Left earlobe, hangs an ear ring which usually is for the females, called, Tatanka. [ ear hanging] The ear rings of ladies are not the status showing items but have beauty and decorative values. Hence Tatanka on left earlobe is that of a divine feminine beauty. The Makara Kundala on the right ear denotes that He is the Supreme GURU. During the bygone centuries the pundits were awarded with the certain ornaments to let others recognise them as pundits of some order. The then universities of traditional education used to award Kashmiri shawls of a particular color, say green to one level and red to higher level and gold or silver embroidered shawls to highest level of pundits, and also bracelets called simhatalata [ golden bracelet with Lion's head crafted on it ] or anklets called Gandapendera, were the ornaments of the day, to indicate their social status of well read pundits. These were like a golden tassel worn on a nobleman's cap in the British universities of yester years, to show a person's social consequence. The face being the index of the mind, the ear ring is the subscript of that mind's IQ. These ear rings were also graded as per their Diamond , Emerald and Ruby studding to indicate their educational grade. But here Nataraja has a Makara Kundala. This is the supreme symbol in education. By this single notification, he is declared as the Supreme GURU. While elucidating the GURU attributes, the scripts call him Dakshina Murthy . In sculptor's visualisation, he is seen seated under a big banyan tree called Aswatha Vriksha, on a high platform, imparting divine wisdom to four of his

disciples. If we see this sculpture on any temple wall or pillar, we have to smile at it. Smiling at God's sculpture? Yes, the tradition allows it. Because the teacher Dakshinamurty is a young person of thirty years, teaching silver bearded centurions. Supreme intellect is always young and imparts wisdom untiringly which is to be received properly. Left Earring On the Left earlobe, hangs an ear ring which usually is for the females, calledTatanka, [ ear hanging]. The ear rings of ladies are not status showing items but have beauty and decorative values. Hence Tatanka on left earlobe is that of a divine feminine beauty. He is both male and female, Arthanareeswara. [Artha = Half; Nari = female; Eswara = Supreme Being] This "halfness " is not attributable to Eswara, if done so, he will become half God. As Supreme Being is not described thus, but a female is his part. Again He is not a Being made up of parts, but he created parts from himself. Thus the Supreme Being who is the whole macrocosm also accommodates a feminine attribute. Modern science validates this through X-Y chromosome theory. The female-hood is given a place of equivalence with the Supreme. In another scripture a rendering is like this : Matru Devo Bhava, Pitru Devo Bhava Aacharya Devo Bhava. It is not just saluting the three, the Mother, Father and the Tutor. These three are the essential entities for any one to come into being. Mother be god like , father be god like and Tutor be god like. [ Matru = Mother; Devo = godlike; Bhava = be;] These three features of a father, mother and tutor, put together, are available in the Cosmic Being, Nataraja. He is Pitru, the father in his nave being, and a Tutor when he assumes the role of Guru or Dakshinamurty and now he is also the Matru, the mother also called Prakriti, Lalitha, Parvati etc. Due to the Arthanareeswara attribute, this aspect of Motherhood of Supreme being will be termed as prakriti, [the mother Nature] Thus, the two kinds of ear hangings of Nataraja emphasise that the whole of the created universe has its base in one Being. Cobra There is a cobra creeping around his neck, upper arms, or chest. This snake is called Kundalini . The serpent represents a coiling power, Kundalini Shakti, [ Kundalini = coiling; Shakti = power;] the innate power of any being. Physiologically this serpent is identified with the sympathetic and para sympathetic nervous systems creeping along the vertebral column. The insignia of allopathic medicine may be remembered wherein one can see two serpents entwined to a trident like spear. This innate power is the one that keeps the system working by its coiling and uncoiling powers. Yoga, a physio-psychological system of yet another branch of Indian philosophies, has vastly enriched this Kundalini Shakti and brought into real life many of the hidden practices of good and great living. Yoga teaches how to live energetically and happily. Holy Thread A Holy thread hangs from the left shoulder to the underneath of right arm, called Yagjnopaveetam symbolising the Purity of Being. This thread is the basic requirement to perform a Yajna, a Holy Vedic ritual, performed for the purification of inner self as well as the society at large. Any person without this thread is not eligible to perform certain rituals. Thus the Supreme Being is attributed with the right to perform Universal Rituals, may it be creation and dissolution or maintenance of the Universe, He has the authority to perform them.

This sacred thread reminds those that wear it, to live a purified life and undertake a holy attitude towards his own living and that of others. Divine Drum Nataraja is depicted with four arms. It is the sculptor's way of showing this multi dexterous personification. He is not a person nor a created being. He is no effect of any cause, but a cause in Himself. Thus His four arms are to be visualised for multitude of works performed for the creation, maintenance and dissolution of the Universe. It is not like watching an octopus or a centipede, but a Being that can perform omnifarious deeds. In the upper right hand there is a drumming instrument called Dhakka or Damaruka. It is a double sided drumming instrument which gives out sonorous rhythm too devastating to contain. Nataraja sounded it for fourteen times resulting in creation of roaring and thundering sonic boom of the skies, which in turn created the Universe. This drum is the symbol for the entire creation and perhaps the much discussed Big Bang might have emanated from this drum beat. It is called Dhwani, and root sounds like Aa, Ee, Vu etc. have emerged, where from the first letter Aa of Sanskrit is taken by mankind. Thus Nataraja is called NAADA BRAHMA. This letter is common across universal languages, say Alpha of Greek or A of English or Aleef of Arabic or any other first letter. It is from this Dhwani, [ the sonic boom ] the Vedas etc., have emerged. Thus Natataja's hand still bears that drum lest the uttered word is not dead. Cosmic Fire The Left upper hand holds Cosmic Fire. This is the dissolution factor. Verily this also signifies the Eternal Fire by which everything transforms, either biological bodies to ashes or sea water to rainy cloud, every transformation is attributable to the Cosmic Fire factor. This is called Pancha Agni Vidya, [ The Five Fire Factors]. This is the eternal fire that keeps the Universe on its wheel. Blessing Hand The Right arm is called Abhaya Hasta, [the blessing hand ] symbolises the Stithi, [ the existence]. The creation shall exist till its sojourn is complete, which is blessed by this right hand. Bestowing Hand The Left hand is Dola Hasta,[ a munificent hand ]. Benefits of living are bestowed as well as the benefit of dying, i.e. Moksha, [ the liberation from the cycle of birth and death] is also accorded to the correct Knower of Truth. Hinduism does not strictly believe in fanatic belief in its religion. Hinduism itself is not an ardent religion, but it is a Dharma [ Way of Living ]. That is why a correct knower of the truth is required rather than a fanatic follower. Bhagavat Gita[ the Divine Song ] also says this, (for that matter every script iterates this) "just KNOW me, you are absolved of the birth-death cycle." So an honest seeker will get all he wants, not material gains, but spiritual upliftment, from this Dola Hasta and thus is said in scripts "Brahma vid Brahma eva bhavati." [The knower of Brahman, the Supreme Being, becomes Brahman, the Supreme Being. ] Firm Foot

The right leg is called Sthita Padam,[ firm foot] firmly staying on its ground, meaning that the Supreme being is Omnipresent. There is a dying demon underneath this firm foot. He is a dwarf demon representing Rug, Jwara, Marana ; [ rugmata, roga = disease; Jwara = fever, illnesses ; Marana = death, decay] which are natural to the living beings, but most cruel at the same time. To get rid of these evils, the demon is to be suppressed by the Supreme Being who created them along with the living beings. Living itself is a disease. Notice that the demon is not dead under the thumping right foot of that powerful Supreme Being. That demon is suppressed, because living without these evils will tantamount living in Heaven, which is promised only to the correct Knower, but not to all. This may be called the Spiritual Realism. Dancing Foot The left leg is raised from the ground, as a dance posture, and the foot is termed as Anugarha pada or Moksha pada.[ bestowing foot ] In Indian culture saluting to the feet of elders or teachers is a symbolic representation of utter submission to elders. It is not like the kneeling posture of subjects at a throne or a monarch. Nataraja's raised left foot is made available to the seekers for salutation in order to obtain knowledge of the Supreme Being and thereby to get Moksha. [the salvation] Dress and Jingle Bells Nataraja will be shown dressed in a tiger's skin or an elephant's skin. This depiction is, Veerata chihna. [Symbols of Omnipotence] He has chains of small ringing bells decorated at His ankles, thighs, waist, wrists etc. which dancers wear for their performance. These bells produce lilting sounds which later became all the performing arts, music, and dance etc. His Cosmic Dance in its totality is called Pancha Kriya Shakti [Pancha=five; Kriya=functions ; Shakti = power] i.e. the absolute power of the five sensory functions of Cosmic nature, which also inhabit the living beings in microcosm. Unlike dialectical materialism, Spiritualism needs some spiritual power as " a priori ", which does all the creation, maintenance and dissolution of the Universe. Hence the Pancha Kriya Shakti is vested with Nataraja.