Who is Nataraja?

Nataraja is a form of Lord Shiva. He’s a primary deity in Sanatana Dharma, widely known as the Hindu religion. Lord Shiva here appears as a Cosmic Dancer. This dance of Shiva is called Tandava. Typically, it is associated with the destructive aspect of creation. However, the dance of Shiva simultaneously ends one cycle of the cosmos and lays the seed for the creation of a new one.


  • The Circle of Fire (Prabha Mandala), a closed arch of fire, denotes the cycle of life, which consumes and creates everything.
    While the Tandava is of destruction, Shiva is calm and smiling. His supreme tranquility amidst continuous creation and destruction is to maintain universal equilibrium.
  • His three eyes symbolize the three Gunas: Satva, Rajas and Tamas.
  • His upper right hand holds a Damru — a drum shaped like an hourglass. It symbolizes rhythm or time.
  • The upper left arm holds a fire which symbolizes the force or energy.
  • Cobra (snakes) coils down from the right lower arm while the palm is in Abhaya Mudra (meaning refuge or the removal of fear in Sanskrit). It symbolizes fearlessness towards negative or evil energies.
  • The front left hand is across the chest in the Gaja Hasta (elephant trunk) pose, with the wrist limp and the fingers pointed downward toward the uplifted foot.
  • His uplifted left foot grants eternal bliss to those who approach him. The other foot treads firmly upon the dwarf of ignorance, allowing the birth of knowledge.
  • He dances above the body of the dwarf demon, Apasmara, whom he keeps in check but has not killed. Apasmara indicates some of our negativities that can’t be removed entirely but can only be kept in check with mindfulness. For example, lust is a biological need, so we can’t remove it entirely, but we can keep it in check.
  • Apasmara also indicates that nothing is right or wrong, and it all depends on how we use something. Hence, he represents that all teachings of right and wrong are also “ignorance” in some form.
  • Shiva is also called Natesa, which means the God of Dance in this role. Traditionally, dancers and all other creative artists pray to this form before starting any of their creativity.

The artwork

I’ve created the artwork in digital medium based on the above facts showing Lord Shiva dancing inside the circle of fire of the cosmos. The fire and smoke in the background symbolize destruction. The colors denote all the five elements that create the material world. The destruction is the seed of creation in the continuous cycle of creation and destruction.

Wikipedia, few websites and various images of Nataraja on the internet.

This post is dedicated to revered Om Swami and Sri Devi Om and the whole os.me family.

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