12.08.2008

Lord Shiva Nataraja, the rhythm of life

The sun shines bright every morning
It never fails to kill the darkness

The clouds burst open into rain
They never fail to bring life giving water

The heart beats on in silent resonance
It never stops to rest a while

Lord Nataraja dances his natya
The world moves on brimming with life

We toil day in and out
In a constant earthly rhythm of karma

I breath my last only to come back
A rhythm of rebirth I cannot escape.

Rhythm, in the silent drumbeat of Lord Shiva, is the silent energy that comes alive to create various events in our lives. There is Shiva everywhere. In the rhythm of the day, in the rhythm of waking up, in that of toil, of worship, of our heart beat, of our regular breath, of an active mind, of action, of result... this is the rhythm of existence, this is the rhythm of creation. This is the sound of the living, this is the moment awoken, this is the presence of life force Shiva.

Rhythm, is sound, is character, that every heart beat pronounces, reminding us that we live on. This sound, the nature of this beat, is the core of the self in the subtle world. If this rhythm stops we cease to exist, we cease to live, we are just matter then... there is no life. This rhythm within the heart needs to bloom into hrudaya kamalam resonating with the very syllables of Lord Shiva.

Rhythm is in the breath, the breath of living that is constant, cool and refreshing, so subtle that we lack the consciousness to be aware of it. This is the rhythm of life, the pulse of living that we are so unaware of. It is this pulse that give the beat to the dance of the Lord Nataraja, the dance of creation, of existence, of live. The force of fresh air as it goes through the ida and the pingala merging them into one as one evolves.

Rhythm in worship is this subtle reality that grows within us. It pronounces the Lord's presence within the peaceful mind. In the rhythm of mantra comes the heart beat of a new life. In the rhythm of this mantra lies supreme concentration. In this rhythm all time stands still. In this rhythm Lord Shiva bless us all. In this rhythm, one can feel the growing presence of the Natya Raja. In this rhythm, he moves and awakens the soul, in this rhythm does one hear the eternal vibrations of OM. In this rhythm does the world of the Gods come alive. In this rhythm does one surrender to the Lord.

Rhythm is in dance, rhythm is in creation, rhythm is in karma, rhythm is in the presence of Lord Shiva as Shiva Nataraja in Abhaya, as he stands on apasmara and crushes ignorance, raising the subtle mind to the pranava mantra OM. The Nataraja Himself takes on this form, raising Himself to make us realize the beauty of this form, as the crescent moon dances on his head, tossing among the gentle locks on his jatamukuta.

The working of this world, the life in every creature, the prosperity of the thriving human race, the immortality of the souls through constant rebirth... this is the pulse of Shiva, the maker, the preserver, the destroyer, this is the rhythm of the universe that finally rests within Him.

Lord Nataraja is the personification of this rhythm, of the pulse, of the element, of the essence Om Na Ma Shi Va Ya.

Related posts:
Mano Laya with Lord Shiva
A Magical dance with Chidambaram Nataraja
A reflection on Lord Shiva
Expression in Abhinaya, the art of Bharata

With the Lord of Chidambaram, I dance

19 comments:

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JC said...

Due perhaps to the lesser evolved 'west' brainwashing the eventually most evolved 'east' in teh remote past, (and hence the significance of apsmara purush under Shiva the Nataraja's right foot), that 'we' in Kaliyuga aren't able to recall our past, that is the history of the Creator, the formless Shiva...

JC said...

Kavitha, It is difficult for 'us', the original human beings, as models of the Creator that reflect the most imperfect state of evolution to start with after end of the last night of Brahma (the Trimurty), at the start of a new day some 4.6 billion years ago...

Kavitha said...

Joshi uncle,

I came to realize after a lot of hunting that our past is not half as lost as we assume it to be. In fact we may not know where to look and the knowledge/wisdom is so scattered around, that it takes a life time to collect all of it and then start making sense of it.

While the musician doesnt care for architecture or the dancer doesnt care for scriptures, it is unfortunate that there is no one soul who can look at all of these in entirety.

The wisdom quite honestly is all around us but Maya is so strong that we fail to see through it. If only i could stop my mind from thinking and dwelling on other people around me would i start making time for the Lord, for the Mother and the world they belong to. Once this process starts, well it is pretty simple to get going on understanding what this whole mystery is all about.

It is very difficult of a person to connect the sculpture on the temple to the scripture that praises Him/Her in poetry to abhinaya of this deity in dance to the strict ambiance that surrounds these deities described in the songs of various saints.

Only persistence can push one to wanting to know. There is no other way I can explain it but all i can say is that the wisdom is NOT lost and very much around us, we just need to want to open our eyes and find it.

Regards
Kavitha

JC said...

Kavitha, The Hindu belief of creation of infinite physical universe with Brahmnad, 'Om" [imagining 'o' as a symbol formed by the shape of lips for pronouncing the letter 'O' that also conveys the numeral '0' related with the formless] indicates breaking, or dividing, of 'zero' physical form (heterogenous in nature) to its own infinite parts that appear different from each other and thus result in apparent illusion of heirarchy...just as 'I' believe each tissue in 'my' body to have gone into the making of my different appearing vital organs...

All inhabitants were therefore realised by the ancient wise to form the family of earth (Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam)...

Thus primarily 'we' have to accept our ancients as wise and then re-read the mythological stories - between lines, for Truth was realised to remain unaffected by passage of apparent time...

JC said...

The ancient wise Hindus realised planet earth as 'life', one of the members of the immortal solar system, and was symbolicaly represented in human form by Nataraj Shiva the 'all knowing' perfect being. While the average forgetful (imperfect) man was depicted by apsmara purush, shown under the right foot of Shiva the Nataraja...which could also be imagined as indicating the total energy to remain at the mooladhar in the average human being...and needing to be activated and rise into the head, the sahasrara...through 'churning of the mind'...

Kavitha said...

Interestingly while i was reading about the iconographical representation of the apasmara purusha it has the following character.

Holds a snake or has a hand in sarpa mudra
Head is lifted upwards
Red haired!!
Dwarf like, with demon teeth
Squatting position under Lord Shiva's feet!

JC said...

Serpents - called 'Vishdhar' or the one that holds poison, and Shiva also is called thus as one of His innumerable names, having poison held in His throat turning it blue in colour and consequently Shiva also called as Neelkantha. Serpents, interestingly, are reportedly not found in Antarctica, the 'mooladhar' or base of earth at its South Pole. And, interestingly Antarctica appears to have a shape of a turtle, and Hindus depict the tortoise or Koormavatar as the second re-incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who 'held on its hard back the earth when it was likely to sink at a certain stage (on one of the doom's day, or pralaya)...

And, the 'red coloured head' thus could represent low energy level, while white sunlight conveys high intensity of heat energy...

JC said...

We have elsewhere earlier also seen how blue colour is associated with Kartikeya. And, it is also related with poison that apprently emerged when churning was just started at the beginning of (original) Kaliyuga that repeats over 1000 times in a day in the unending life of Brahma the Creator...Blue is indicated related with planet Saturn, and also indirectly related with 'Saturn's friend', planet Venus or Shukra the guru of demons or rakshashas whose essence is believed to be housed in human throat...

JC said...

With a view to reaching our past, history of mankind traces the origin of man in the caves, the abode or origin of the 'wild animals' too. Whereas the Hindu philosophy conveys 'zero' (Nadbindu, represented by 'Om' teh seed or beej-mantra of the universe) as the original abode of all physical forms (and that of Shiva at Kashi, Varanasi, 'India', while the deity in temples is ritually placed in cave-like garbha-griha)...and the ancient astronmers indicated earth (or its centre) as the centre of the universe, ie., the formless origin...

Kavitha said...

Joshi uncle

The earth being the center is a concept if literally taken would mean the sun revolves round the earth which is not the case.

The earth being the center is probably associated with a larger scheme of things, where there are more elements to talk about than the ones we know.

The scriptures have often mentioned 3 worlds, and there does exist devaloka, mrityuloka, patala and other such worlds which to the naked eye need not necessarily result in a planet of sorts but might have meant something else.

The idea of antarctic being hte shape of a tortoise is interesting and completely transforms the picture of earth, but then, how do we explain the rest of the elements.

This is on a mega scale. I would like to think even on a small scale, the presence of swayambhu lingas, the concept of ganges, the idea of Vaikunta and Kailasa... the seriousness of a bana linga... all these are very important yet i cant place it yet in this logic. These are energy centers, over centuries, this didnt ever change. So what key to truth do they hold that is so evident yet not visible to us?

Lastly the question comes back - my blog explains at large the various elements of Shiva, but who is He or what is this force... am yet to figure out!

Strange, after 4 year + 12 i still dont have a substantial answer to give.

Regards
Kavitha

JC said...

Kavitha, 'We', some of the images that reflect the beginning stage or Kaliyuga the era of mass ignorance (planning stage for Shiva the Formless), have to first of all be convinced ourselves that 'we' are things of the past of a Formless Being, seeing ourselves through 'His', the original being's, eyes...who is the real spectator of History...

Earth as the Centre of orignal universe doesn't necessatrily mean that in the most evolved state, earth, after having vested its authority/ power to other heavenly bodies, remains physically central body of a system that has minimum three elements (Trimurty) that are necessary for stable existence...earth eventually is the neutral element*, whereas Sun (in humans the solar plexus) and Venus (like 'bottle-neck'), supported by other secondary elements, form the bright (positive) and dark (negative) sides of the Trimurty...The universe is the virat or enlarged form of Shiva/ Vishnu...with solar system as its essence (model)...
_______________

*In human life, the phenomenon can be observed in a father, and/ or mother after 'retirement' might become dependent on their offsprings...and yet they (or their children) recall their own relatively much advanced past...

In the stories, Ganesha (Mars) is indicated as the 'spiritual', favourite son of Parvati, while Kartikeya (Venus) is indicated as the controller of material world and a favourite of Shiva...

JC said...

Perhaps it's not needed, however, it might be pointed out that a table cannot stand only on two legs - minimum three numbers of legs are required for it to remain stable on the floor...'inferior' animals, however, generally require four legs for movement on earth, although as an evolved animal the modern man learnt to stand on his own two feet...and learnt to create machine for rapider movement on earth and also in space even (being the believable model of God)...

JC said...

Shiva is believed as the Lord of all the three worlds: Land, underground and sky...Those who use, or have used theodolites/ cameras know how a tripod is a must for land surveys/ shooting films, and so on...and the HIndu mythology also indicates the Trinetra (three eyes), Trishool (trident), etc of Shiva the Trimurty ther thrtee-in-one God who is associated with the three aspects of creation (hence the mention of 'lingas/ yonis' of Shiva and Parvati); sustenance of variety of forms for certain durations which might vary from one form to another and also between the same form even; destruction, that is, transformation from one form to another in eternal cycles...from satyuga to kaliyuga - day after day in the life of the unending Brahma the three-in-one creator as the true image of the Formless Supreme Being...the Nataraja...

JC said...

The confusing variety and heirarchy among the imperfect images of Shiva is explained to occur due to lack of overall knowledge in humans in any Yuga, except at the end of Satyuga when Formless Shiva/ Vishnu believably remains alone once again. And, it alone thus possesses complete knowledge once again as the Absolute Truth - in the words of the wise ancients...

YOSEE said...

Lovely musings about rhythm, Kavitha. Just last evening, was watching the telecast of Karthigai utsavam at Thiruvannamalai. The utsava murthi of Siva, when carried in procession was given a rhythmic swing. I learnt from an elder that this rhythmic movement symbolises the lord's Ajapa Natanam i.e. the sivam residing in the Sustainer's heart moving rhythmically to His hearbeats. The heartbeat is the expression of life in all its myriad aspects of birth, change and dissolution. And , like fractals,this rhythm is repeated at the cellular and nanosecond levels as well as in worldly and cosmic levels. And the dancing sivam pervades all.

JC said...

Yogis described human system, as model of universe, made up of eight chakras...And, in the present day terms perhaps we can imagine universe as an individual, virat or enlarged form of Shiva the Formless, having innumerable chakras or galaxies that go into its formation - animation or movement as a symbol of 'life'...It is the Anahat Chakra that is believed located at the chest level, above the solar plexus that represnts sun the supplier of energy to planets, which include ultraviolet rays (at chest level), and infrared the pure heat (at the navel level, indicated as the location of the lotus flower that evolved from Vishnu's belly, and acted as Brahma's seat)...

JC said...

The belly is believed to have fire which is rekindled with food that acts as fuel and keeps the body ticking like a clock with solar energy received directly from air supplementing it and keeping blood circulation continued over the life span by the muscle pump, called heart...The ancients related white light, represented by pearl, with blood as one of the essences that form the body, while green colour was associated with muscles...

JC said...

The concept of unified action in any working system in 'Nature', including animal forms, is reflected in the white sunlight (associated with Saraswati the goddess of knowledge to the ancient Hindus) containing all other colours as seen in the visible part of the spectrum...Interaction of colours, neutral green that lies at the middle of the spectrum, and white the overall energy form gets reflected in the animation of blood in each human form...

The ancients correlated blue colour with nerves, and its essence housed in the throat/ neck...which finds ultraviolet close to it in the heart/ lung, inthe chest region...while green (combination of blue and yellow) is indicated related with eyes, and the guru, the yellow colour, with the brain and fat - the top most location given to it in the human form...and so on...

The ancients therefore appear to have gone much deeper in search of the truth and related position of man in 'Nature' as the model of God...which, in the present, indicates lot more remaining to be achieved by the present day man. However, the low achievement was indicated to be on account of Time, the present believably reflecting the nerly remotest past of the Creator...