('Hymn of Jesus', Acts of St John.)
When the mind inquires into the existence of the world, it answers itself in terms of; causality, quoting a primary cause. The myths of man speak of the creation of the world as the dance of God. Shiva Nataraja, Lord of the Dance, sends pulsating waves of awakening sound through matter, thereby seducing it to life from lethargy. And matter dances, appearing round about him as an aureole of fiery emanations. Dancing, he creates and sustains the manifold phenomena of the universe; dancing he destroys by fire all forms and names and gives new rest:
His form is everywhere, all pervading. ...
Everywhere is Shiva's gracious dance made manifest.....
He dances with Water , Fire, Wind and Ether.
Thus our Lord dances ever in the court.
Dance, as an expression of man being moved by the transcendent power is the earliest art form; before man experiences his experience of life through materials he does so with his own body, Early man dances on every occasion: for joy, grief, love, fear; of his experience. In his dancing, the imitation of sound and movement observed around him, and especially the involuntary expression of motion through sound and gestures, precedes any consciously articulated sound and dance formation. Before the dance develops into a deliberate religious rite, it is a rhythmic release of energy, an ecstatic act. Only very gradually, under the influence of established cults, is the dance transformed from a spontaneous expression of movement to a fixed pattern of steps, gestures and poses. Yet, in whatever form the dance presents itself, it always aims at approaching the god. As an act of sacrifice, as man giving himself to his god, the dance is total surrender.
The creator is seen as the 'unmoved mover' behind events in the cosmos, the still point round which everything must turn, simply because it holds its peace, encompassing both movement and perfect immobility. Rhythmic sound, in cosmogonic myths, is at the root of all creation; and the gods are -or God is -the formulated power through which the life-force manifests itself. Truth, being beyond sound and rhythm, is the invisible divine center round which all creation dances.
Radiating with fiery energy, Shiva is surrounded by a circle of flames that burn in the heavens, mid-air, and earth. His flower-ladened locks hold the river goddess Ganga, who fell from heaven through his hair, and a small crescent moon. Because it waxes and wanes, the moon symbolizes the passage of time and, therefore, death; but at the same time, according to Hindu myth, it is also the source of the elixir of life (amrita) and immortality. A woman's earring appears in one of his ears, for Shiva is both male and female. Equally as ambiguous are the serpents wrapped around his body-their bite brings death, but their phallic shape suggests procreation and life.
In his upper right hand, the Great God holds a drum-the symbol of sound, the first of the five elements that signal creation and the beginning of time. In the palm of his upper left hand, he reveals the flickering flame -symbol of the conflagration that will engulf the universe at the end of time. His other right hand is raised.in the gesture of reassurance; the other left hand points to his upraised left foot, which symbolizes release. His right foot tramples Apasmarapurusha, the demon of ignorant forgetfulness: if the devotee overcomes ignorance by realizing the meaning of ultimate reality as revealed in Shiva's form and dance, he will be delivered from fear and attain final release from this finite world forever. As S. Kramrisch has written: "Siva, Lord of Dancers, dances the world into and out of existence. Dancing, he veils ultimate, reality and unveils it for his devotee who recognizes the paramatman, ultimate reality, within his heart."
Dye III, Joseph M. The Arts of India: New Delhi, 2001.
Wosien, Maria, Gabriele. Sacred Dance: New York, 1974.