Shiva Nataraja is the god of change and fervor who dances through
the universe. Be inspired by his story and let Lord Shiva’s dance move you too!
Shiva Nataraja figures show the swinging joyful side of the Hindu god Shiva, one of the most important gods in Hinduism. These popular figurines not only show his superpowers, but also make you want to get moving yourself! Read all about the meaning of the Cosmic Dancer here and use the tips to find your own groove.
In Indian mythology as well as in the Hindu religion Shiva, god of destruction, together with Vishnu the protector, and Brahma the creator, form an important triad that maintains the world with their powers. While Brahma creates and Vishnu preserves, Shiva carries significance as the bringer of change through destruction. According to most Hindus, he does this by destroying what is no longer necessary. It may sound unkind, but it is done to promote the greater well-being of all living beings. Namely, because Shiva knows the cycle of life in the universe, he would have the supreme knowledge and wisdom to know what needed to be changed. His Third Eye, the spiritual point of insight and intuition, is exceptionally well developed and guides his decisions.
Shiva Nataraja, or the Cosmic Dancer, is a version of Shiva dancing in a circle of flames. Hair flies in all directions. Shiva’s left leg is lifted, while his right foot tramples the demon Apasmara. His four arms each express something different. For example, in the upper left hand he holds a symbolic fire. The arm below it crosses over Shiva’s chest and ends in a gesture to the earth. In his upper right hand you see the damaru, a small drum in the shape of an hourglass, and by lifting his last palm up and forward, Shiva makes the abhaya mudra, a sign of reassurance.
According to Hindus, the Nataraja shows how Shiva lends a helping hand to the cosmic forces by moving them. Since this is rather difficult to explain, these images are bursting with symbolism. If you want to understand all the details and references, it will take you a while. There are entire books on the subject! Therefore, we’ve picked out three themes of the Nataraja that you will find in most images:
- Fire and Change
- Time and Eternity
- Knowledge and Truth
The burning ring around Shiva symbolizes eternal change according to many people. Fire in Hinduism stands for transformation, while the circle, just like a Mandala, refers to eternity. The flame that Shiva is holding also shows that he has mastered his powers. Try holding fire in your hand – not a good idea for mortals!
In mythological images, the damaru or sacred drum usually represents the beginning of time. According to Hindu sacred texts, the god Brahma made the universe from one primordial sound, the Ohm, which comes from the damaru. Subsequently, Shiva ensured that life continued to grow happily. His role of the destroyer is important in this: everything dies so that new life can arise. He creates the cycle of eternity!
Since Shiva knows the secrets of life and the universe, he is very wise. He therefore inspires Hindus and yogis to search for deeper truths.They find inspiration in his dance to disregard illusions and to search for the cosmic truth, just as Shiva waltzes over the demon Apasmara. This ‘dwarf of ignorance’ needs to be defeated in order to make progress towards enlightenment. Shiva also points downwards, a sign that you must learn to deal with earthly desires. Of course, this is quite difficult, but Shiva reassures you with his abhaya mudra: you can do it.
Shiva dances to get you moving, because movement creates change! Getting in sync with his cosmic rhythm not only moves you forward in life, it reveals deeper truths, and connects you to the cosmic beat maker himself. If you feel like dancing with this god of knowledge and change, here are ten tips:
- Stare at a Nataraja for a while and see what it does to you
- Do the Natarajasana, a yoga pose inspired by Shiva
- Immerse yourself in the Solar Plexus Meaning, the chakra of fire and transformation
- Practice your intuition or Third Eye with a Glass Ball, Tarot, or Pendulum
- Use matching Chakra Colors to support you
- Do a Mantra Meditation with the classic Om Nama Shivaya, ‘I bow to Shiva’
- Sing a festive version of Shiva Shambho, a song to make you energized
- Make music, art or something else beautiful to celebrate life
- Warm yourself with a fire or burn something you want to let go
- Dance on your own or visit one of the many ecstatic dances or Nataraj parties
If you want to buy Shiva Statues the Nataraja is very common and easy to find. Yet there are also other versions of this well-known deity, for example quietly meditating. Ganesha is also a popular Hindu God that is fond of dancing. This Elephant-Headed God is the son of Shiva and Parvati and, according to Hindus, is the embodiment of kindness itself.
Who inspires you?