Unlike Vishnu and Kali, the other divine dancers and 'Adigurus' of dance, who danced to a form and theme, Shiva danced, as here, beyond them. Vishnu danced to subdue Bali or serpent Kaliya, and Kali to destroy demons specific objectives accomplished by confining to specific forms. In his 'anandatandava', as also in 'lasya', Shiva danced for bliss and delight, and in the process effected dissolution and creation aiming neither of them. Creation is Shiva's ultimate bliss, and dissolution, the essential condition of creation, a festival, and he accomplishes both in dance. Thus, his dance to dissolve is the dance of absolute bliss the 'anandatandava'. This statue is a superb manifestation of the totality of his dance. In his 'anandatandava', he usually has four arms, and in 'lasya' mode, just two. Here his form has been conceived with six arms, four of the 'anandatandava' and two of the 'lasya'.
The figure of Apasmarapurusha enertness, as also forgetfulness, personified, under his feet, the upper right hand imparting 'abhaya' and the left gesturing dissolution release and liberation, are attributes of 'anandatandava'. The locks of his hair unfurl like flames of fire, though the actual flames required to emit from his head, symbolising ultimate energy and dynamism the other characteristic feature of 'anandatandava', are missing. His 'damaru' small drum, which he carried in one of his hands during 'anandatandava', is also absent. It is by the sound of his drum that the dissolution is announced, and it is by the flames of fire that the cosmic energy is recycled to create. Absence of snakes, decapitated human heads and over-all boisterousness, and contrarily, the beauty of form, gentle moves, eleganly wore apparel and sublimity on face, are elements of 'lasya'.
Different from 'anandatandava', where the Great Lord has, rising from two of his four hands, flames of fire, symbolising final conflagration, or different even from 'lasya', this form of Shiva upholds his bull Nandi as his standard, as also the deer erring one, arrested but not punished. He also carries his trident, the instrument to punish with, and the goad, to keep the erring ones to the right path. In this statue, Shiva is not in Ardhanarishvara form, but to better reveal his tenderer aspects, an essential thing for 'lasya', the artist has discovered his feminineness in his left 'karnaphoola' ear-ring, heavier left hip, broader left breast and thicker hair on left side. An emotionally charged face, with sharp nose, meditative eyes, small cute lips, and a forehead adorned with 'tripunda' mark, and a balanced anatomy define this excellent piece of art.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.