I often hear that keeping a Nataraja statue at home causes misunderstandings within the family, bouts of aggression and negative energy that ceases to exist only after removing the figure from the premises. I have also heard that numerous temples have donations of statues, some a year old, whereas others look almost brand new. So what is it about this cosmic dancer that scares people into finding him a home far away from their own?
Then again, why is the Lord venerated by classical dancers all over the world? And why does the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN) or European Council for Nuclear Research have a permanent place for the Hindu deity between buildings 39 and 40?
Physicist Fritjof Capra explains in The Tao of Physics, “The Dance of Shiva symbolises the basis of all existence. At the same time, Shiva reminds us that the manifold forms in the world are not fundamental, but illusory and ever-changing. Modern physics has shown that the rhythm of creation and destruction is not only manifest in the turn of the seasons and in the birth and death of all living creatures, but is also the very essence of inorganic matter.”
You see, there are two sides to the same coin. A wonderful amalgamation of science, art and spirituality. Wonderful, is it not?
The Elements of Nataraja, The Cosmic Dancer
To this day, the image that follows Lord Nataraja is much like that of a coin- one entity with two facets. While he is respected and adored for his divine dance form, he is also worshipped to calm the force of destruction that arises from it. Lord Nataraja is often depicted in a fierce form performing the Tandav, a cosmic dance performed in either a pleasing state or unstoppable wrath.
Nataraja is one of the few divine interpretations that has not changed very much through the years. The many interpretations of the Lord’s symbolism are based mainly on numerous texts such as The Unmai Vilakkam, Mummani Kovai, Tirukuttu Darshana and Tiruvatavurar Puranam.
- The Nataraja is seen at the centre of a closed circle of flames called the Prabha Mandala. This circle represents the eternally flaming cosmic fire that creates as well as consumes everything that exists. The ring of fire rises from two Makaras on each end.
- The bent legs of the Lord capture his energetic dance, and his long tresses fan out behind his head.
- The right side of the Lord’s forehead shows matted locks that hold the divine Ganges, pouring out to nurture the life around her waters.
- His crown shows a human skull that depicts mortality, a crescent moon and the Datura flower.
- Most interpretations of the Lord show him in his four-armed glory; others depict him with ten arms.
- His upper right hand shows him holding the Damaru, a divine instrument associated with rhythm and time and shaken during his dance.
- He holds Agni, the fire of creation and destruction, in his upper left hand.
- A cobra slithers from his lower right hand, and his palm shows the Abhaya mudra associated with fearlessness in the face of evil.
- The Lord’s face is defined with two eyes and a third on the forehead. One eye represents the sun, the second represents the moon, and the third eye symbolises knowledge that one finds when seeking inner wisdom and self-realisation.
- The Lord is seen dancing on Apasmara, a dwarf demon that symbolises evil and ignorance and that the cosmic dance gives victory over. Apasmara is never to be killed, only subdued as his existence keeps the balance between spiritual knowledge and ignorance. His death would mean easy attainment of knowledge in all forms and hence devalue it.
Is It Okay To Keep Nataraja Statues At Home?
As mentioned earlier, the Lord performs his cosmic dance, the Tandav, in either sheer joy or extreme wrath. The easiest and most reliable way to discern this is by taking a look at the facial features of the Lord. Does he smile in joy? Is there visible happiness in his upturned lips and deep-set eyes? If so, there’s absolutely no issue in keeping the Nataraja statue at home.
However, if you see features that show evident anger, wrath or disappointment, it wouldn’t be wise to keep the statue at home.
Where Must The Statue be Placed?
Lord Nataraja is an avatar of Lord Shiva and hence can be placed in the Northeast quadrant of your home, aptly named the Ishanya. Ensure that you keep single Nataraja statues and do not set them with other deities such as lord Ganesha or another Shiva figurine.
Did You Know?
The Nataraja in the Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple stands on his left foot instead of his right. It is said that the Pandya king Rajasekhara was a great devotee of Shiva. The Lord’s permanent stance where he balanced on his right foot caused immense concern to the devotee. Upon learning of His devotee’s concerns, the Lord obliged by shifting onto the other foot.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can we keep Nataraja statue in home?
The Lord performs his cosmic dance, the Tandav, in either sheer joy or extreme wrath. The easiest and most reliable way to discern this is by taking a look at the facial features of the Lord. If he is joy or wrath and decide accordingly
Where should Nataraja statue be kept at home?
Nataraja Statue can be placed in the Northeast quadrant of your home, aptly named the Ishanya.
Is it OK to keep Shiva statue at home?
Yes, as long as Lord Shiva is in Happy and smiling posture, the shiva statue can be placed at home.