Shiva< Lord of the Dance


Om Namah Shivaya ! Shivaya Namah Om !


Lord of the Dance

At the end of the kali-yuga, the great destroyer of the worlds, God manifested as the destructive principle Shiva, does a dance called the Tandava.

He appears, blue-bodied with ten arms, with lightning and fire appearing from every pore in his skin, and does a dance in which the universe is finally destroyed.

The moment of cosmic death is the waking up of Brahma, the Creator, for as Shiva turns round and walks off the stage, seen from behind, he is Brahma.

Vishnu is the preserver the whole state of the Unity of the Godhead being manifested as many, many faces.

Shiva and Shakti are one and the same.

There is no place that He is not.

There is no place that She is not.

They are one and the same.

She is in every thing.

He is in every word.

She is all there is.

See Him in all things.

Hear Her in all sounds.

Know Him in all thoughts.

Feel Her in all feelings.

He is all there is.

She is the one in the three worlds.

Shiva and Shakti are one and the same.

That is the secret.

Kundalini Yoga: Awakening the Shakti Within

"Breathe deeply," said Vijaya, "note the smell of incense.

Pay your whole attention to it; know it for what it is - an ineffable fact.

Know it in the raw.

Know it as a mystery.

Perfume, women and prayer.

These three things Muhammad ibn 'Abdullāh loved above all others.

The inexplicablity of incense, the mystery of mysteries, the One in plurality.

Suchness totally present in every appearance, at every point and instant.

So breathe," he repeated, " breathe," and in a final whisper, "breathe ."

"Shivayanama," murmured the old mystic ecstatically.

Together they moved forward, climbed and, ¾ of the way up the altar stair sat down side by side in the penumbra between darkness and the lamplight.

Quietly Robert began to talk about Shiva-Nataraja, the Lord of the Dance.

"Look at his image," he said. "Look at it with moksha-medicine eyes.

See how it breathes and pulses, glowing in brightness ever more intense.

Dancing through time and out of time, dancing everlastingly in the now.

Dancing and dancing in all the worlds at once. Look at him."

Lips quiver in awe on the brink of ecstasy or terror.

"Look closely," Robert insisted. "Look still more closely."

After a long minute of silence, "Dancing in all the worlds at once."

"In all the worlds. And first of all in the world of matter.

Look at the great round halo, fringed with the symbols of fire.

It stands for Nature, for the world of mass and energy.

Shiva-Nataraja dances the dance of endless becoming and passing away.

It's his cosmic play. Playing for the sake of playing, like a child.

But this child is the Order of Things.

His toys are galaxies; his playground, infinite space of millions light-years.

Look at him there on the altar.

The image is man-made, a little contraption of copper only four feet high.

But Shiva-Nataraja fills the universe, is The Universe.

Shut your eyes and see him towering into the night.

The boundless stretch of those arms and the wild hair infinitely flying."

"Nataraja at play among the stars and in the atoms.

At play within every living thing, every sentient creature.

Play for play's sake.

But now the playground is conscious, the dance floor is capable of suffering.

To us, this play without purpose seems a kind of insult.

What we would really like is a God who never destroys what he has forged.

If there must be pain, let it be meted out by a God of righteousness, who will punish the wicked and reward the good with everlasting happiness.

But in fact the good get hurt, the innocent suffer.

Then let there be a God who sympathizes and brings comfort.

But Nataraja only dances.

His play is impartial to death and life, of all evils as well as of all goods.

"We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.
We should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh."

Friedrich Nietzsche

In the uppermost of his right hands he holds the drum that summons being.

Look at the uppermost of his left hands.

Brandishing fire by which all that has been forged is forthwith destroyed.

He dances this way - what happiness, the awe, the epiphany !

Dances that way - and oh, the hideous fear, the terror, the isolation!

Then hop, skip and jump.

Hop into perfect health.

Skip into cancer and senility.

Jump out of material life into dissolution, out of dissolution again into life.

For Nataraja play is an end in itself, everlastingly purposeless.

He dances and the dancing is his maha-sukha, his infinite and eternal bliss."

"Eternal bliss," Robert repeated but questioningly, "Eternal bliss?"

"The unenlightened hold a sense of moral outrage at the thought pain mixed with pleasure is an integral part of Nataraja's dance."

"Suffering and sickness," Robert resumed at last.

"Old age, decrepitude, death. I show you sorrow. But that wasn't the only thing the Buddha showed us. He also showed us the ending of sorrow."

"Shivayanamar" the old mystic cried triumphantly.

"Open your eyes again and look at Nataraja up there on the altar.

In his upper right hand, as you've already seen, he holds the drum that calls the world into existence and in his upper left hand he carries destroying fire.

Life and death, order and disintegration, impartially.

But now look at Shiva's other pair of hands.

The lower right hand is raised and the palm is turned outwards.

What does that gesture signify?

It signifies 'Don't be afraid; it is LIFE ! '

How can anyone in his senses fail to be afraid?

How can anyone pretend that evil and suffering and death are acceptible!

Nataraja has the answer. Look now at his lower left hand.

He's using it to point down at his feet. And what are his feet doing?

Look closely and you'll see that the right foot is planted squarely on a horrible little subhuman creature - the demon, Muyalaka.

A dwarf, but immensely powerful in his malignity, Muyalaka is the embodiment of ignorance, the manifestation of greedy, possessive selfhood.

Stamp on him, break his back! And that is precisely what Nataraja is doing.

Trampling the little monster down under his right foot.

Notice it isn't at this trampling right foot that he points his finger; it's at the left foot, the foot, as he dances, in the act of raising from the ground.

And why does he point at it?

That lifted foot, that dancing defiance of the force of gravity - it's the symbol of release, of moksha, of liberation. Nataraja dances in all the worlds at once.

"And now," Robert went on after a moment of silence, "I want you to look at the other statue the image of Shiva and the Goddess.

Look at them there in their little cave of light.

And now shut your eyes and see them again - shining, alive, glorified.

How beautiful! And in their tenderness what depths of meaning!

What wisdom in the sensual experience of spiritual fusion and atonement!

Eternity and compassion joined in marriage to the many.

The relative made absolute by its union with the One.

Nirvana identifies samsara; manifestation of Buddha conscious in time."


The old priest lighted another stick of incense and softly, in a succession of long-drawn melismata, began to chant something in Sanskrit.

On the young faces Will could read the marks of a listening serenity, ecstatic smile that welcomes a sudden insight, a revelation of truth and beauty.

"Liberation," Robert began again, "the ending of sorrow, ceasing to be what you ignorantly think you are and becoming what you are in fact.

For a little while, thanks to the moksha-medicine, you will know what it's like to be what in fact you are, what in fact you always have been.

What a timeless bliss!

But, like everything else, timelessness is transient.

Like everything else, it will pass.

And when it has passed, what will you do with this experience?

What will you do with all the other similar experiences that the mokhsha-medicine will bring you in the years to come?

Will you merely enjoy them as an evening at the puppet show?

Will you then go back to business as usual?

Back to behaving like the silly delinquents you imagine yourselves to be?

Or, having glimpsed the breadth and depth of your being, will you devote your lives to the business, not at all usual, of being what you are in fact?

All elders can do is guide you with storytelling; all Utopia can do for you with social arrangements is provide you with techniques and opportunities.

And all that the moksha-medrcine can do is to give you a succession of beatific glimpses, an hour or two, every now and then, of liberating grace.

It remains for you to decide whether you'll co-operate with grace and take those opportunities on the Road to the Redemption of your Eternal Soul.

Here and now, all you have to do is to follow the crow's advice:


Pay attention and you'll find yourselves, gradually or suddenly, becoming aware of the great primordial facts behind these symbols on the altar."


The old priest waved his stick of incense.

At the foot of the altar steps the boys and girls sat motionless as statues.

- adapted from Aldous Huxley, Island

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