With the Lord of Chidambaram, I dance

An open truth
for the world to know
the Lord brings out
from the world of Dhyana
Sprinkling the syllables
potent letters of life
for us to learn
for us to evolve

Simple potent letters
yet so deep are their meaning
seemingly complex
profoundly divine
we sing them out loud,
in all the noise
no sweetness left to see
no divine charm to feel

The Lord is reduced
a speck in a myth
one you want and don't know
whether to believe
A grand temple was made
to secure this faith
to relive this essence
to relive this life

Within a golden hall of flames
a golden hall of life
lies that world unknown
so enchanting and close
the blackness surrounds
but when the bells ring
the black veil falls
reveals the Lord within

Space and silence - a Void
in the fire reveals
rain of letters covers Him
hanging down among golden leaf
syllables of life
untouched and potent
my life breath
my Lord Divine

The dancing flames
form a ring of light
within the deep silence
I hear the sound of His feet
In shimmering moon light
On his brow dances a crescent moon
grace that sways the world
rhythm that makes the heart beat.

Such love I feel
to witness thy divine Self
Such a rain of bliss
to see your dancing step
Fresh life in the air
New life at your feet
Oh wake my soul
Throw away this veil of black

The divine Mother rises
my heart pounds anew
A red hue of life
descends onto me
the path to the Lord
Oh Mother show me the way
Bathe me in your grace
In those letters of life

Fire that burns my heart
Music that makes me move
Rhythm that is my breath
The Lord my only goal
The world ceases to exist
His golden feet I touch
The Lord's feet my home
The Lord's feet my home

Based on the feeling of Divinity, when the Lord dances in the light of the Arti flames that cover His chamber within a ring of light. Flames of Gold bathe His form, a blessing for those who witness His presence.


Arti at Chidambaram Nataraja Temple

When you walk into the Chidambaram Nataraja temple as a non entity, the feeling of divinity doesn't cover you half as strongly, as much as when you are guided into the temple by someone who knows the life in every stone in the wall.

Chidambaram temple might be a different world to the average devotee who comes there, but when you are guided into the temple, by one of the most passionate human beings, who sings nothing but the praise of the Lord, this temple has a different tune to play.

I am really blessed to have finally had the opportinity to meet this very passionate soul, a very learned man to whome Lord Shiva Nataraja is sublime poetry, music to the ears and rhythm to the feet. In his words one can hear the music of the ancients, the potency of the divine and the superiority of Hindiusm as a science. Every sanskrit verse he sang out were like a new pearl of wisdom, one that you connect with or want to keep listening to.

He walked us though the temple, circling at every shrine with adoration, through each prakara that we could access explaining each sculptural panel, defining each mural and giving me the freedom to click away. It was close to a dream come true. We sailed through the temple, breathed its calm fresh air, free from present day turmoil and corruption.

We entered the zone of the main sanctum, where the temple stood so grand, even in all the hussling crowd, one could hear the ghunguru sounds of the Lord as he danced in the central chamber. I was guided to ascend the steps to view the Lord up close, decked in flower and jewellery with the twinkling moon on his brow. The Lord danced gracefully at His seat in the Universe, the land of ether, within a ring of fire that glowed and brought His dance to life. This is where the Ananda Tandava can be felt, as the flames rise with the 6.00p.m. puja arti.

The drums resound, the bells ring and the sound of OM can be heard in every hit of the gong, the Universe awakens and the churn starts, the air reverberates and the flames of Arti rise in adoration. Fire, an element of purity, that burns out our egos, and merges us to this divine form, as the Lord swirls in Anandam.

As Raja Deekshithar describes it, when one reaches the sublime state of poetry, of beauty and bliss, of devotion... when nothing in the world matters anymore, you can feel the Lord dance, you can hear His divine feet in rhythm, you can see the grace in the ring of flames that cover Him, and then, history doesn't matter, living doesn't matter, its just beauty from within. Waves of grace, a veil of sound and music brings the Lord alive, its an experience to witness this through Chidambaram Nataraja.

Video courtesy: Raja Deekshithar


Pradosham - The twilight hour

It was during the hour of twilight that the Devas and the Asuras began to churn the ocean of life to bring out the promised Amrit(elixir of living) which they had promised to share equally among themselves. With Mount Mandara pivoted on Vishnu's back in the Kurma Avatar (Turtle) the churn rhythmically continued till the deadly Halahala began to emerge out on the waves of the ocean. So strong was its potency, so strong its poison that all the life forms began to die not withstanding it element, almost bringing the world to its doom.

The Devas worshipped Lord Shiva to save them from this ordeal. Lord Shiva came down from Kailasa and swallowed the poison to save the world and hence is called Shiva Neelakantha(or the blue throated Shiva). This particular auspicious hour when the Lord saved all humanity is attributed to Pradosham, a special moment in the day, twice a month when Shiva is specifically worshipped by all devotees and all their wishes are believed to be granted.

This very same concept is brought alive architecturally at the Kailashnatha temple at Kanchipuram, in an unusual way. The path of circum-ambulation around the main sanctum is peculiar in this temple as it promises every aspirant an exit from the cycle of birth and death into eternal bliss. It presents them with the elixir of "life", where life is not meant to be taken in its literal sense. The dark passage hosts no light through the path of circum-ambulation, is entered by a flight of 7 steps, each signifying a birth lived. The entrance itself is small and needs to be crawled through. This leaves a void in the mind of the aspirant. It’s the churning of the ocean in the mind of the aspirant as he makes his way around the Great Shiva Linga housed within this temple.

In the literary aspect of the same mythology, the Mrityunjaya mantra is most profound as it praises the Lord in the form of Rudra and Shiva Neelakantha as the Lord who overpowers death (as we know it) and gains complete victory over it, ultimately feeling bliss. The mantra can be interpreted in the following way:

It is through the sincere worship of the forms of Rudra and Shiva Neelakantha, that there is a possibility to attain salvation from the cycle of birth and death, the churning of one’s ocean in this world of the living. The second part of the mantra explains that it is the elixir of living that we need to understand, and realize within ourselves that will elevate us to perfection, perfection that is in the same standing as the Devas possibly.

Mrityunjaya rudraya neelakanthaya sambhave |
Amriteshaya sarvaya mahadevayadhe namaha ||

In the devotional sense, it’s about invoking the presence of Lord Shiva into every living moment, every living breathe that fills the senses with His presence. To have Him in the mind constantly, a vision so strong with the mantra ringing in the mind, can reduce the mind's trauma towards the day's problems though the world around doesn't ever change. Isn't that state the first steps towards self realization, bliss and stress free existence, that even with the given world around us, the mind continues to remain calm and blissful within itself!

Peace! Silence! Lord Shiva Mrityunjaya! Neelakantha! A churn complete!