This remarkable handmade sculpture of Nataraja is the depiction of a form of
Lord Shiva (the destroyer of material world) as the cosmic dancer. The Sanskrit
word Nataraja is a blend of two words i.e., ‘Nata’ meaning act or drama, and
‘Raja’ meaning King. Therefore, Nataraja is regarded as the King of dance. The
divine dance that he performs is called ‘Ananda Tandava’ (the dance of bliss) in
which the destruction of the entire universe takes place in order to create the
Lord Shiva is shown here having four arms and energetically dancing in great ecstasy. He is standing on a pedestal and is surrounded by a ring of fire called ‘Prabha mandala’, which symbolizes the unreal and temporary nature of the material world to be only circling around the endless cycle of birth and death. His left leg is raised above, while the right leg is placed on a dwarf demon known as ‘Apasmara Purusha’, who personifies the false ego or ignorance within the conditioned souls.
This represents that Lord Shiva performs this transcendental dance to liberate the living entities from the clutches of Maya by destroying the greatest demon within them; the false ego. Both the legs are slightly bent that describes the wilderness of the dance. His long-matted hair is shown to be loosening into thin strands, spreading and forming a fan behind his head as he performs the Tandava. In his upper right hand, He holds a ‘Dumroo’, while the left hand carries Agni, which suggests the energetical vibrations of the dance. A serpent around the lower right forearm seems to uncoil itself, while the hand shows the protective Abhaya Mudra. Finally, his lower left arm takes the shape of ‘Gajahasta’ and the hand bends towards the lifted leg.
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