The most famous form of Shiva is the Lord of the Dance, ‘Nataraja’, the form in which all other forms of Shiva are included. In one sublime pose, in one movement, one dance, is described the whole process of life and death, of ignorance and understanding. Ananda Coomaraswamy remarks: “Whatever the origins of Shiva’s dance, it became in time the clearest image of the activity of God which any art or religion can boast of. … Its deepest significance is felt when it is realized that it takes place within the heart and the self.” This is Shiva’s secret, buried in what is our most intimate and well known experience: consciousness. It is said that this dance encompasses all of our human experience and the spiritual processes at work on the path to realising our true nature. Indian ancient scriptures divide them in five, namely creation, preservation, destruction, veiling, and grace. I have gathered here many quotes and pointers from various spiritual teachers and poets, that remind us of the eternal truth behind Shiva’s main appearances. Let’s have a taste of it or, in more Indian terms, feel the significance and rasa of Shiva’s eternal dance:
“O my Lord, Thy hand holding the sacred drum
has made and ordered the heavens and earth
and other worlds and innumerable souls.
Thy lifted hand protects both the conscious and unconscious order of thy creation.
All these worlds are transformed by Thy hand bearing fire.
Thy sacred foot, plated on the ground,
gives an abode to the tired soul
struggling in the toils of causality.
It is Thy lifted foot that grants eternal bliss
to those that approach Thee.
These Five-Actions are indeed Thy Handiwork.”
~ Chidambara Mummani Kovai
“When the Actor beateth the drum,
Everybody cometh to see the show;
When the Actor collecteth the stage properties
He abideth alone in His happiness.”
~ Manikkavacakar (9th-century Tamil poet)
‘Shiva, the Great Yogi’:
“When we say ‘Shiva’, there are two fundamental aspects that we are referring to. The word ‘Shiva’ means literally, ‘that which is not’. Today, modern science is proving to us that everything comes from nothing and goes back to nothing. The basis of existence and the fundamental quality of the cosmos is vast nothingness. The galaxies are just a small happening – a sprinkling. The rest is all vast empty space, which is referred to as Shiva. That is the womb from which everything is born, and that is the oblivion into which everything is sucked back. Everything comes from Shiva and goes back to Shiva.”
“The reason for removing or letting go of all objective experience, all thoughts, images, feelings, sensations and perceptions is to reveal that aspect of the mind that cannot be removed from itself, that cannot be let go of, that is to reveal the essential, irreducible essence of mind. That essential, irreducible essence of mind is inherently free of all objective qualities.”
~ Rupert Spira