The Nataraja Shiva carries a drum in the upper left hand. This connotes sound, the vehicle of speech. The upper right hand of Nataraja bears on its palm a tongue of flames. At the end of the Kali Age, fire will consume creation. While the drum is symbolic of the act of creation, the flame of fire is suggestive of destruction. The second left hand of Shiva is in the protection attitude. Shiva dances on the prostrate body of the dwarf Apasmara Purusha who symbolizes ignorance or darkness. The darkness of ignorance can be destroyed by the attainment of knowledge, which releases man from the bondage of existence.
In most images, the figure of Nataraja is encompassed by a ring of flame, but in this bronze sculpture, the sculptor chose to do away with it. As a result there is clarity in each movement and shape without being clouded by the prominent ring of flames. It also adds a certain starkness to the composition, appropriate to Lord Shiva’s ascetic nature.