Nataraja

The Hindu god Shiva in his form as the cosmic dancer.

The most common images show him with four arms and flying locks, dancing on a dwarf (a symbol of human ignorance) and encircled by a ring of flames. The Nataraja sculpture shows Shiva as the source of all movement within the cosmos, represented by the loop of flames. The dance's purpose is to release humans from illusion; the place where the god performs the dance is believed to lie both at the centre of the universe and within the human heart.

Naṭarāja, dancing Śiva, Indian bronze image, 12th–13th century AD; in ...

By courtesy of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

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▪ Hindu mythology
Sanskrit“Lord of the Dance”
 the Hindu (Hinduism) god Shiva in his form as the cosmic dancer, represented in metal or stone in most Shaiva (Shaivism) temples of South India.

      In the most common type of image, Shiva is shown with four arms and flying locks dancing on the figure of a dwarf, Apasmara (a symbol of human ignorance; apasmara means “forgetfulness,” or “heedlessness”). Shiva's back right hand holds the damaru (hourglass-shaped drum); the front right hand is in the abhaya mudra (the “fear-not” gesture, made by holding the palm outward with fingers pointing up); the back left hand carries Agni (fire) in a vessel or in the palm of the hand; and the front left hand is held across his chest in the gajahasta (elephant-trunk) pose, with wrist limp and fingers pointed downward toward the uplifted left foot. The locks of Shiva's hair stand out in several strands interspersed with the figures of Ganga (the Ganges River personified as a goddess), flowers, a skull, and the crescent moon. His figure is encircled by a ring of flames, the prabhamandala. In classic Sanskrit treatises on dance, this form, the most common representation of Nataraja, is called the bhujamgatrasa (“trembling of the snake”).

 In the Nataraja sculpture, Shiva is shown as the source of all movement within the cosmos, represented by the arch of flames. The purpose of the dance is to release humans from illusion, and the place where it is said to have been performed, Chidambaram (an important Shaiva centre in South India), called the centre of the universe, is in reality within the heart. The gestures of the dance represent Shiva's five activities (pancakritya): creation (symbolized by the drum), protection (by the “fear-not” pose of the hand), destruction (by the fire), embodiment (by the foot planted on the ground), and release (by the foot held aloft).

      Other dances of Shiva seen in sculpture and painting are the wild tandava, which he performs on cremation grounds in the company of his consort Devi, and the evening dance performed on Mount Kailasa before the assembly of gods, some of whom accompany him on various instruments.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Nataraja —    Nataraja, or Lord of the Dance (nata, dance; raja, king or lord), is one of the most popular iconic forms of SHIVA (the most common is the LINGAM). In his cosmic dance he creates, sustains, and even tually destroys the universe. When Shiva’s… …   Encyclopedia of Hinduism

  • nataraja — (izg. natarȁdža) ž DEFINICIJA 1. starodrevni indijski ritualni ples 2. brončana ili kamena skulptura boga Šive predstavljenog u plesnom pokretu ETIMOLOGIJA skr. nātarāja : kralj plesa …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • Nataraja — Nataraj redirects here. For other uses, see Nataraj (disambiguation). Nataraja, Lord Shiva as the Cosmic Dancer representing the rhythmic movement of the entire cosmos. Nataraja or Nataraj (Hindustani: [nət̪əˈraːdʒ]), The Lord (or King) of… …   Wikipedia

  • Nataraja — Shiva als Nataraja. Bronze aus der Chola Zeit, Tamil Nadu, 11. Jahrhundert. Musée Guimet, Paris. Nataraja (Sanskrit: नटराज Naṭarāja [nʌʈʌˈrɑːdʒʌ] „König des Tanzes“) ist eine Erscheinungsform des …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Nataraja — El dios hindú Shiva en su forma de danzante cósmico. Las imágenes más comunes lo muestran con cuatro brazos y cabellera al viento, danzando sobre un enano (símbolo de la ignorancia humana) y envuelto en una aureola de llamas. La escultura… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Nataraja — noun The dancing posture of the Hindu god Shiva, who performs his divine dance as a part of his activities of creation and destruction …   Wiktionary

  • Nataraja — …   Useful english dictionary

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