Lord Nataraja, The Meaning of Siva's Dance

Path to Siva, Lesson 15


Initially we're looking at the world. By Siva's revealing grace, anugraha, ultimately we turn toward God. The soul matures, fulfilling dharmas. We reach a point where we see that Siva is the doer, guiding us, adjusting our angle toward Himself. "Sarvam Sivan seyal." Siva is doing it all. We're flowing with the dance of Siva.

Path to Siva, Lesson 15

Dancing with Siva, Lesson 97,

The Master Course Trilogy, Introduction

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone.

Reading this morning from Path to Siva, Lesson 15.

"Lord Nataraja is an inspired portrayal of Siva in action as the Divine Dancer in His Ananda Tandava dance. This is His dance of creation, preservation and dissolution, a performance constantly taking place within each of us and within every atom of the universe at every moment in time. The Nataraja form has dozens of meaningful symbols. The most important represents His five powers. Creation (shrishti) is symbolized by His back right hand. It holds the small rattle drum, damaru, whose sound signals the start of creation. Preservation (sthiti) is symbolized by His front right hand, held in the gesture abhaya 'fear not.' His back left hand holds a blazing flame. This is the Fire God, Agni, symbol of dissolution (samhara). His right foot rests on a small person representing the ego and known as Apasmara, 'forgetful' or 'heedless.' This represents concealing grace (tirodhana), the power by which the soul sees itself separate from God. Siva's front left hand is held in 'elephant trunk pose,' pointing toward His raised left foot, symbol of revealing grace (anugraha), the power by which the soul comes to know its oneness with God. On His forehead is the third eye, which sees everything, past present and future. While the dance is incredibly powerful, indicated by the strands of hair flailing out in all directions, Siva remains poised and peaceful. The ring of flames, tiruvasi, symbolizes universal consciousness, the 'hall' in which Siva dances. Siva's left earring is feminine; the right earring is masculine. These remind us that God embraces both male and female. At the top of the tiruvasi is Mahakala, 'Great Time,' another form of God Siva, who creates, transcends and devours time. The snake adorning Siva's body symbolizes kundalini, the spiritual force within the spine."

There's a quote I remembered from the Upanishads from Dancing with Siva, Lesson 97.

"The Lord, God, all pervading and omnipresent, dwells in the heart of all beings. Full of grace, He ultimately gives liberation to all creatures by turning their faces toward Himself."

That's the idea of the raised foot, anugraha. Ultimately, we turn toward God. Initially, we're looking at the world. And eventually we turn toward God. That's what it's symbolizing, His feet. Another way of saying that is we need to have a certain amount of experience in the world. Gurudeva describes it in definition of moksha as fulfilled all dharmas. So we have to do a lot of different things if we're going to fulfill all dharmas. Seems we do different types of activities through different births and fulfill all the different kind of dharmas and by doing that we mature the soul. So experience matures the soul by taking the world seriously, taking ourselves seriously as an individual, accomplish things and we mature the soul and then we reach a certain point where Siva adjusts our angle, turns us more toward Himself. And then we start doing purely religious practices when with that state of consciousness.

One of the places Gurudeva describes the dance of Siva is in the introduction into each of the Trilogy and a section on the Master Course.

"Having the Self as a point of reality reference and not the material things, with the life force constantly flooding through these nerve currents, (meaning you) you are actually seeing what you are doing as a part of the cosmic dance of Siva, as the energy of Siva flows in and through you."

Then I took the quote from Yogaswami, he has a mahavakya: "Sarvam Sivan seyal." Siva is doing it all.

So that's a certain type of surrender. It comes through karma yoga or selfless service. And eventually reach the point where we see Siva's the doer. It's His dance working through me. It's not me; I'm only doing this because Siva's dancing. If Siva's not dancing I couldn't do anything. So because Siva's dancing, creating movement, I am moving. Therefore, my movement is Siva's moving kind of surrender.

And it points out the opposite which is a worldly position of willfulness. When we're trying to get what we want from the world, to make us happy, quite often doesn't work out. And what happens when it doesn't work out? Are we happy? No! There's every catch to it working out. So it doesn't work out and depending on the nature. Are you frustrated? If we have a more fire nature we'll get angry. Different reactions and our personal will doesn't work out.

Whereas, if we blend with the dance of Siva, (Gurudeva points out in the paragraph) then we look at it differently. We realize that everything we want won't happen. And Gurudeva gives two reasons, one he says is our own karma can block it. It's just not in our karma for that to manifest at this time in our life; it's just not possible.

And instead of being mad at the world, if we're flowing with the dance of Siva then we see it as what's natural for our life at this time. The other idea was an unnatural or an untimely concept. And then the other point Gurudeva makes is Siva may be turning us in a slightly different direction which reminds me of the quote, you know, turning your, turning toward God. Specifically, be turning our life a little bit and therefore what we wanted to happen isn't happening because Siva's guiding us another way. As ultimately we want the anugraha to be strong and religious practices to be strong.

Thank you very much. Have a nice day.

Aum Namah Sivaya.

Photo of  Gurudeva
Bribery corrupts the giver, the taker and the nation. To participate in bribery is to go into a deceptive, illegal partnership between the briber and the bribed.
—Gurudeva