Lord Nataraj

Indian culture is the abode of brilliant amalgam of art and culture, festivals, routine rituals, events and worship of different gods at different states. Festivals are the best way to represent the richness of one's state or place through celebration.

Indian culture is the abode of brilliant amalgam of art and culture, festivals, routine rituals, events and worship of different gods at different states. Festivals are the best way to represent the richness of one's state or place through celebration.

There are many Hindu gods who establish an amazing relationship with dance. Krishna as Natwar, Maa Durga also performs a violent dance in the form of Goddess Kali and Lord Shiva as Nataraj.

Lord Shiva as Nataraj

Lord Shiva performs a cosmic dance form which represents the cycle of birth and death. It relates the 'Tandava' form of Lord Shiva with creation, destruction and preservation. The form in which Lord Shiva dances represents all the three roles in one.

'Tandava' is also presented into two different forms. One is happiness and the other is an angry version of Lord Shiva which is performed because of spiritual ignorance.

Reason of Nataraj Avatar

According to the Hindu texts there are stories that explain the reason for the avatar of Nataraj taken by Lord Shiva. The statue of Nataraj is seen standing in one of the Natya Shastra poses from the ‘Tandava’ dance form. There are two popular stories that explain the reason for Tandava performed by Lord Shiva.

Vintage Nataraja Idol
Nataraj Avatar due to Anand Tandava

The first one is the blissful Tandava which happened due to the pleasant conversation between Lord Shiva and Ma Parvati. Once Lord Shiva expressed his strong desire of dancing infront of all gods. Listening to this Ma Kali invited all the gods on Kailash and herself played the role of host of this program. Brahma, Vishnu, Indra, Maa Saraswati and other gods participated as musicians and audience.

Then Lord Shiva started performing dance on the beats and music given by other gods. It was such an astounding dance performed by Lord Shiva which was never seen before. In this way Anand Tandava originated which gave the ‘Nataraj mudra’ as one of the stills from the dance.

This dance thrilled the hearts of others and made Ma Kaali so happy that she insisted Lord Shiva to ask for a boon. On which Lord Shiva asked that this dance should also make the entire world happy, forgetting their sorrows in the similar way which happened today. This act was to remove unhappiness, sorrow and all forms of worries from the surroundings and the life of people.

Nataraj Avatar due to Rudra Tandava

Another famous story is about Rudra Tandava which happened due to spiritual ignorance and negligence. Rudra means anger which represented the igneous form of Lord Shiva which existed to conquer the dwarf devil Apasmara.

Once there was a dwarf devil who was very proud of his powers, strength and possessions. He was the head of negligence, spiritual ignorance, epilepsy, other diseases and had power to make a person lose his consciousness. Due to which he started ruling the minds of the people and troubling them.

Few sages and monks who acquired various accomplishments due to penance were proud of their power and knowledge. One day they assembled and started performing sacred rituals with their wives. Only then Lord Shiva along with Maa Parvati came there in the form of beggars. Looking at them all the wives left the sacred rituals and stood up to greet them, on which all the sages became very angry. They left snakes on them which were controlled by Lord Shiva. Then sages ordered the devil Apasmara to attack Lord Shiva and Maa Parvati.

Devil Apasmara ran towards them and attacked Ma Parvati due to which she lost her consciousness. This angered Lord Shiva who became violent and began performing Rudra Tandava. He conquered Apasmara by pressing him under one leg and performed Tandava with the other leg in the air. This fiery form happened to control the spiritual ignorance, negligence, freedom from epilepsy and other diseases.

Statue of ‘Nataraj’

The statue is enclosed within the fiery circle that represents the flames of fire denoting the cycle of birth and death. It is the standing statue of Lord Shiva with one leg conquering the devil Apasmara beneath its foot and the other leg in the air.

The statue has four arms with a Damru denoting the first sound of creation in the upper right hand and Agni in the upper left hand denoting destruction. The lower left hand is in the form of Gajahastha coming across the chest in front and the other lower right hand is the Abhay Mudra which denotes the blessings of Lord Shiva.