A Portrayal of Lord Shiva Paintings in the Nataraja form
The universe is endless and so are the mysteries floating in it. For several years, whenever I used to see the representationof the Nataraja, I could not help but wonder “Was Shiva really a dancer?”
I mean, I could not relate Shiva, the Adi yogi, the destroyer, the first saint, and the protector with an illustration like Nataraja. I am sure all of you must have witnessed this form of Shiva, right? It is a representation of Shiva showing his dancing posture with one leg held high above in the cross position and several hands holding different material with specific meanings.
Later on, when I actually studied and inquired about the relevance of the Nataraja form of Shiva, I came to know it had a much broader and deeper meaning than I could ever think.
Typically, the dance form of Shiva depicted in the Nataraja form represents the cosmic dance that further denotes an unremitting change. The dance itself is categorised into two major forms namely Tandavam or Nadanta.
The Tandavam or the Tandava is related to the destruction of the universe, while the other state named Nadanta or Lasya represents the creation of the world. Each form of cosmic dance has its own relevance and the holistic depiction of Nataraja signifiesthe endless cycle of theuniverse that goes on the usual stage of formation and then annihilation.
Shiva is not a deity but a holy system that forms and creates the universe. Shiva is omnipresent and is not a human nor a God. Still, artists of every era representShiva in the physical form to express their devotion.
Do not get misjudged by thesemanifestations that Shiva can beunderstood in a physical figure.
Having said that, we will first dig deeper into the manifestationof the Nataraja form of Shiva to see how the representation showcases the Adiyogi. Let’s start:
Decoding Nataraja style representation of Shiva
The well-known pose of Shiva in the Nataraja form is known as Natya Shastra. In this posture, Lord Shiva can be seen possessing fire (Agni) in his left back hand.
The other back hand of Shiva can be seen holding ‘Damru’, which is known to give the sound of the creation of the universe. It is intriguing to witness the front left hand of the Shiva that can be seen in the gajahasta or the dandahasta mudra.
The right hand of Shiva can be seen wrapped around with a snake and is in Abhaya mudra, which is known to signify a fearless posture.
If you have ever seen Lord Shiva paintings in Nataraja form, you may have noticed that in this posture, the Mahadev is surrounded by a ring of flames. These flames are known to exhibit the holistic universe.
Also, Shiva can be seen standing on a lotus pedestal. This is a clear representation of the center of our heart. Artists across the centuries have been trying to understand the varied meaning of Nataraja form of Shiva and then carve an exquisite artwork of the same.
The interpretation of Lord Shiva paintings in Nataraja pose
Nataraja shows the cosmic dance or the dance of bliss which Shiva does during which the entire universe is created, sustained and then crumbled to nothing.
The flames around which Lord Shiva performs his dance is known as‘Prabha Mandala’. These flames are known to depict the cosmic fire that is mentioned in Hindu cosmology and is related to the consumption of everything.
The bent legs of Shiva show the highly energetic dance and the locks of his hair that can be seen in the artwork as flying around wildly represents the ecstasy and ferociousnessof the dance.
In addition, one can also note the flowing of holy river Ganga through one of the hair strands near his forehead. This signifies that Shiva calmed down the agitated and dangerous flow of Ganga to save human life from the extinction.
The Agni or the fire in Shiva’s hand represents the strong force that enabled both the creation and the destruction of the universe.
The other left hand of the Shiva in the Nataraja form is pointed towards the leg that is raised. This posture tells us to be active and joyful despite any adverse situation. The posture also signifies liberation and elevation.
Another intriguing aspect is that Shiva is seen smiling in the portrayal. This showcases the strong calmness held by Shiva despite being involved in conflicting forces of the universe.
There are numerous Shiva paintings and styles present for the art lovers today but the most eye-catching and rational of all is the one with Nataraja style of representation.
The essence of this posture is so deep and enticing that it is almost impossible to cover every aspect in such a short time and limited words.
I hope I am able to put forward a bit of clarity for the readers. If you have any question or confusion, reach us in the comment section. Thanks!