Nataraja idol

Nataraja idol

Nataraja idol

#GS-01 Art and Culture

For Prelims


  • Nataraja (Lord of the Dance), is the cosmic dancer form of the Hindu god Shiva and is represented in bronze or stone in many Shaivite temples, particularly in South India.
  • This form came to prominence during the Chola dynasty
  • The artwork and pose is denoted and described in many ancient texts such as the Anshumadbhed agama and Uttarakamika agama.
  • Nataraja’s four hands are believed to be representing the four cardinal directions, North, South, East, and West.
  • These cardinal directions are central to Vaastu Shastra the traditional Indian system of architecture.

The Pose and symbolism:

  • His left leg is in Bhujangatrasita stance, depicting kicking away tirobhava or illusion from the devotee’s mind.
  • The foot of the right leg is suppressing the apasmarae., the demon of forgetfulness or ignorance.
  • The four arms of the Nataraja are shown outstretched.
  • Main right hand is in Abhayahasta
  • Upper right-hand holds his favourite musical instrument i.e., the Damaru (a percussion instrument) to keep rhythm.
  • Main left hand is in Dolahasta mudra and connects with the right hand’s Abhayahasta.
  • Upper left-hand carries a flame symbolising creation and destruction.
  • Entire dancing figure is surrounded by the jvala mala or the garland of flames symbolising the cosmic fire.
  • The arch of fire emerges from two makara on each end, which are water creatures and part of Hindu mythologies.
  • Shiva’s locks fly on either side touching the jvala mala because of the wildness and ecstasy of the dance.
  • The matted and flowing locks of Shiva represent the flow of river Ganges.
  • The dance is a pictorial allegory of the five principal manifestations of eternal energy viz., creation, destruction, preservation, salvation, and illusion.
  • Shiva is shown as the source of all movement within the cosmos and as the god whose doomsday dance, accompanies the dissolution of the universe at the end of an eon.

Source “T.N. stops auction of stolen Nataraja idol in France