(Large Size) Shiva, The Nataraja in Ananda Tandava
34.5 inch X 26 inch X 9 inch
This moderately sized brass statue represents Shiva as engaged inecstatic dance known in the Shaivite iconographical tradition asAnanda-tandava, the dance of dissolution, his ultimate cosmic act hedelights in performing. It is around Shiva that the traditionperceives the entire cosmic cycle rotating : the lifeless matter –‘prakriti’, he – the ‘purusha’, breathed life into, the chaotic ‘nada’– sound that stormed space by its deafening noise, arrested into his‘damaru’ – double drum, and released structured revealing diction andlinguistic discipline, phonetic forms, and ‘meaning’, and the unrulypace arrested into his legs to reveal regulated into the form of dancegenerating energy to annihilate and dissolve, and the beauty, todelight.Thus, it is in dance that Shiva discovered his ultimate instrument tocreate, dissolve and delight : the source of ultimate energy andentire beauty, attributing to him the epithets like Natesh andNataraja, both meaning ‘the king of stage-performers’ or the supremeperformer of dance, the apex of stage-craft. Shiva – the ‘Purusha’ orthe ‘enlivening self’, danced to delight Parvati – ‘Prakriti’,infusing life into lifeless matter whereby the ‘unmanifest’ manifestsand the creation evolves. The tradition classified this form of danceas ‘lasya’ – the dance manifesting aesthetic beauty. Shiva danced toannihilate and destroy as for destroying Tripura – the three cities ofdemons, and the three demon brothers ruling them. As against this onetime act of annihilation his dance to dissolve is incessant. If a newshoot infused with life and beauty manifests Shiva’s ‘lasya’, the fallof the pale leaf manifests dissolution, his dance to dissolve, an evercontinuing process in which he delights and hence while his dance toannihilate is the outcome of his ‘raudra’ – wrathful form, his act todissolve is ‘Ananda’ – the ultimate ecstatic delight.While a form of Shiva’s wrathful dance performed to annihilate aparticular evil has not been specifically classified and named, oreach form is known by a different name, as his Three Cities destroyingform as Tripurantaka – Shiva who destroyed three cities, his dance todissolve is universally acknowledged as ‘Ananda Tandava’, and theimagery representing this form has been almost completely rigidified.Alike, the term ‘Nataraja’, otherwise a common epithet denotative ofhis status as the king of performers to include dancers has alsorigidified to represent his Ananda-tandava form. This powerful imageof Lord Shiva, passionately engaged in dance with his left leg fixedon the pedestal, not on the figure of Apasamarapurusha, a subordinateicon symbolising inertia or forgetfulness usually appearing inNataraja iconography, and the right, turned backwards, almost tohundred eighty degree, has been installed inside a fire-arch risingfrom a pedestal consisting of moulded base and is topped by aShri-mukha motif representing good and auspiciousness. InAnanda-tandava statues Apasamarapurusha denotes the state afterdissolution has completed its task. It usually carries a lotus in itshands indicative of the creative process to commence in future. Thisstatue comprises instead a pedestal consisting as of buildingcomponents decorated with floral designs, all indicative of creativeprocess.Except the non-inclusion of the figure of Apasamarapurusha icon, thisbrass-cast almost completely adheres to the Shiva’s Ananda-tandavaiconography. It is the usual four-armed image holding in upper ones adouble drum and flames of fire – the essence of Ananda-tandavaiconography, further emphasized by the flames’ multiple repeatsappearing on the outer edge of the fire-arch. The normal right andleft hands have been cast as denoting dissolution. The pace ofmovement is the essence of Ananda-tandava and the flames of fire thatfast friction creates, its manifestation. These flames symboliseexplosion of ultimate cosmic energy and its dynamics, whichAnanda-tandava generates. There enshrines on figure’s face a divinebearing and in its form – locks of hair scattered over shoulders,blown up muscles, contained belly, glowing face …, the ecstasy ofdance. With excellent anatomical proportions, well-defined features,elaborate ornamentation : a gorgeous crown alternating the usual‘jata-mukuta’, the modeling and iconographic perfection of the Shiva’sfigure is absolute. The three-tiered fire-arch consists of an innerlotus ring, a centre with floral course and an outer circle consistingof flame-motifs.This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.