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Sculptures > Hindu > Divinity Of Nataraja's Tandava
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Divinity Of Nataraja's Tandava

Divinity Of Nataraja's Tandava

Divinity Of Nataraja's Tandava -

The first impression gleaned from a cursory glance at the Nataraja is one of dynamic energy. In stark contrast to the Mahayogin image of Shiva wherein His divine energies are seemingly drawn inward, Nataraja exudes His force in all eight directions. His presence pervades all spaces, across all quanta of time. His limbs are in natyasthana: the right foot crushes the pulverises the apasmara that is the very picture of tamas, while the left foot is raised mid-air to the right of His torso. This pose has been described in great detail in the classical Indian natyashastras. While the right foot symbolically overpowers the devotee's ignorance, the left foot signifies one's ascension to the higher realms of consciousness. The damru in His right posterior arm beats to the rythm of time itself; the fire He holds in His left posterior arm stands for His destructive prowess; and together with the highly characteristic abhaya mudra of His anterior hands, His stance captures with perfection the wondrous flow of the detiy's energies.

The classic Nataraja iconography has an interesting story behind it. It is said that Shiva decided one day to grace the kanakasabha (golden assembly) at Chidambram. The deities and sages gathered there told Him of the heresies of the Mimansaka sages inhabiting the surrounding woods. In keeping with His dharmic greatness, Shiva confronted them in the clearing where burnt their sacrificial fire. A blazing tiger emerged from the flames and attacked Shiva, but He overpowered it in a flash and made its skin His loincloth. Then a superlatively venomous snake rose from the firepit, but Shiva overpowered it and made its kind His adornment such that they sit with great docility on His limbs and tresses. Finally, the apasmara was born from the fire of the heretics, whose back was snapped against the weight of His powerful physique motioning in tandava.

The most unusual aspect of Shiva-Nataraja are His madly flowing locks that flank His handsome countenance. It indicates that the deity's power is five-fold. He projects the entirety of existence as we know it (srishti), preserves it (sthiti), causes its cyclical destruction (samhara), withdraws His energies inward (tirobhava), and reveals Himself to His devotees in all His grace (anugraha). It is this panchakritya (five functions) that the Nataraja embodies. The inverted-lotus pedestal He is placed on in all His shringar, in complementary colours in case of each finish, is typical of the murtis of Indian deities.

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14.5 inch x 8.5 inch x 4 inch
3.4 kg
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