Nataraja, Shiva Nataraja, Lord of Dance, Dance of Destruction
In the deodar forest lived sages who had spent their lives
studying the cosmos, seeking the supreme truth. As time passed the
sages deluded themselves with self-importance and their heads
swelled with pride. They claimed they had renounced the world but
secretly they sought all the pleasures of a life of luxury. They
preached renunciation but practiced every from of sensual
To teach the sages a lesson
Shiva arrived in the form of a
handsome young hermit. Seduced by his beauty the sages and their
wives ran after him. The sages held Shiva responsible for their own
lack of restraint. They decided to destroy this temptation. With
their magic powers they created a tiger, a serpent and a goblin and
set them upon Shiva. Shiva skinned the tiger alive, wore the
serpent around his neck and laughing, jumped on the goblin and began
dancing on his back. This stunned the sages. He continued to dance
wildly issuing tremors throughout the world, shaking the heavens and
splitting the mountains. The gods abandoned the heavens to see the
dance. As Shiva danced the sages realized that Shiva had flayed the
tiger of their ambition, tamed the serpent of their passion and
crushed the goblin of their ego. His dance captured the rhythm of
life, the cosmic cycle of generation, organization and destruction.
It encapsulated the essence of cosmic truth or santana dharma.
In his hands Shiva as Lord Nataraja holds a drum or
dhamru that makes the final sound of death as well as the
primeval vibrations of life. In his left hand Nataraja holds Agni,
a fire that burns and destroys yet also illuminates and energizes.
Around him is a fiery prahabhamandala, which is the great wheel of
samsara filled with the infinite cycle of births and rebirths.
The sages looked at Shiva in awe.
He came be known as Shiva Nataraja the lord of