Showing posts with label NATRAJ. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NATRAJ. Show all posts

Sunday, May 10, 2015


AMSTERDAM: Prestigious Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam recently X-rayed its thousand years old monumental Shiva-Nataraja statue as a part of research and was surprised to know that it was cast in solid bronze.Hollow sculptures have reportedly been a common practice in Europe since the Greek Antiquity. Museum discovered after X-ray that even the aureole and the demon under Shiva’s feet were also solid.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed has applauded Rijksmuseum for its interest in Hindu artifacts.This Dancing Shiva statue was X-rayed using high-energy digital radiation, along with the lorry transporting it, in the most powerful X-ray tunnel for containers of the Rotterdam customs authority, normally used to scan sea containers for suspicious contents. It is said to be the first research of its kind on a museological masterpiece.
At 153 cm x 114.5 cm, this 300 kilograms Shiva statue is claimed to be the largest known bronze statue from the Chola Dynasty kept in a museological collection outside of India. “This solid bronze Shiva is evidence of a high level of mastery of bronze casting”, a Museum release says.Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada (USA) Monday, urged the major museums of world to acquire more Hindu sculpture and art; dedicate permanent space to Hindu artifacts; and organize more exhibitions of Hindu art, sculptures, and architecture to make aware the present and future generations about their richness.
Rajan Zed argued that because of their richness and other factors, Hindu artifacts were becoming favorite of museums in America and the West. Many prestigious museums already owned Hindu sculptures and other artifacts and many were planning to acquire.Even some formations in world famous Grand Canyon National Park of USA were named as Shiva Temple, Krishna Shrine, Vishnu Temple, Rama Shrine, Brahma Temple (7851 feet), and Hindu Amphitheater, Zed pointed out.
According to Rajan Zed, various renowned museums in USA which have acquired statues and other artifacts of Hindu deities include Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California; Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, California; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond; Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California; Museum of Art and Archaeology in University of Missouri-Columbia, Missouri; Mingei International Museum in San Diego, California; American Museum of Natural History, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art in Pennsylvania; Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland; Dallas Museum of Art, Texas; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri;  etc.
Zed further says that other prestigious world museums, which possess statues of Hindu deities, include British Museum in London, United Kingdom; Musée Guimet in Paris, France; Museum für Asiatische Kunst in Berlin, Germany; Te Papa Museum in Wellington, New Zealand; Beijing World Art Museum, China; National Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada; Victoria and Albert Museum in London, United Kingdom; etc. Thailand reportedly has a private Ganesha Museum.
Rajan Zed asked foremost art museums of the world, including Musee du Louvre and Musee d’Orsay of Paris, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Los Angeles Getty Center, Uffizi Gallery of Florence (Italy), Art Institute of Chicago, Tate Modern of London, Prado Museum of Madrid (Spain), National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, etc., to frequently organize Hindu art focused exhibitions, thus sharing the rich Hindu art heritage with the rest of the world.
The Rijksmuseum is the national museum of the Netherlands, whose collection comprises 1.1 million objects dating from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Its history goes back to 1800 and it attracts about 900,000 visitors each year. A. Ruys is Chair while Anna Ślączka is curator of South Asian Art of this Museum which contains many stone and bronze sculptures from India.Zed said that art had a long and rich tradition in Hinduism and ancient Sanskrit literature talked about religious paintings of deities on wood or cloth. Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Natraj Dance & Modern Physics

Natraj Dance & Modern Physics
Nataraja or Nataraj, the dancing form of Lord Shiva, is a symbolic synthesis of the most important aspects of Hinduism, and the summary of the central tenets of this Vedic religion. The term ‘Nataraj’ means ‘King of Dancers’ (Sanskrit nata = dance; raja = king). In the words of Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, Nataraj is the “clearest image of the activity of God which any art or religion can boast of…A more fluid and energetic representation of a moving figure than the dancing figure of Shiva can scarcely be found anywhere,” (The Dance of Shiva)
The Origin of the Nataraj Form:
An extraordinary iconographic representation of the rich and diverse cultural heritage of India, it was developed in southern India by 9th and 10th century artists during the Chola period (880-1279 CE) in a series of beautiful bronze sculptures. By the 12th century AD, it achieved canonical stature and soon the Chola Nataraja became the supreme statement of Hindu art.
The Vital Form & Symbolism:
In a marvelously unified and dynamic composition expressing the rhythm and harmony of life, Nataraj is shown with four hands represent the cardinal directions. He is dancing, with his left foot elegantly raised and the right foot on a prostrate figure — ‘Apasmara Purusha’, the personification of illusion and ignorance over whom Shiva triumphs. The upper left hand holds a flame, the lower left hand points down to the dwarf, who is shown holding a cobra. The upper right hand holds an hourglass drum or ‘dumroo’ that stands for the male-female vital principle, the lower shows the gesture of assertion: “Be without fear.”
Snakes that stand for egotism, are seen uncoiling from his arms, legs, and hair, which is braided and bejeweled. His matted locks are whirling as he dances within an arch of flames representing the endless cycle of birth and death. On his head is a skull, which symbolizes his conquest over death. Goddess Ganga, the epitome of the holy river Ganges, also sits on his hairdo. His third eye is symbolic of his omniscience, insight, and enlightenment. The whole idol rests on a lotus pedestal, the symbol of the creative forces of the universe.
The Significance of Shiva’s Dance:
This cosmic dance of Shiva is called ‘Anandatandava,’ meaning the Dance of Bliss, and symbolizes the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction, as well as the daily rhythm of birth and death. The dance is a pictorial allegory of the five principle manifestations of eternal energy — creation, destruction, preservation, salvation, and illusion. According to Coomerswamy, the dance of Shiva also represents his five activities: ‘Shrishti’ (creation, evolution); ‘Sthiti’ (preservation, support); ‘Samhara’ (destruction, evolution); ‘Tirobhava’ (illusion); and ‘Anugraha’ (release, emancipation, grace).
The overall temper of the image is paradoxical, uniting the inner tranquility, and outside activity of Shiva.
A Scientific Metaphor:
Fritzof Capra in his article “The Dance of Shiva: The Hindu View of Matter in the Light of Modern Physics,” and later in the The Tao of Physics beautifully relates Nataraj’s dance with modern physics. He says that “every subatomic particle not only performs an energy dance, but also is an energy dance; a pulsating process of creation and destruction…without end…For the modern physicists, then Shiva’s dance is the dance of subatomic matter. As in Hindu scriptures, it is a continual dance of creation and destruction involving the whole cosmos; the basis of all existence and of all natural phenomena.”
The Nataraj Statue at CERN, Geneva:
In 2004, a 2m statue of the dancing Shiva was unveiled at CERN, the European Center for Research in Particle Physics in Geneva. A special plaque next to the Shiva statue explains the significance of the metaphor of Shiva’s cosmic dance with quotations from Capra: “Hundreds of years ago, Indian artists created visual images of dancing Shivas in a beautiful series of bronzes. In our time, physicists have used the most advanced technology to portray the patterns of the cosmic dance. The metaphor of the cosmic dance thus unifies ancient mythology, religious art and modern physics.”
To sum up, here’s an excerpt from a beautiful poem by Ruth Peel:
“The source of all movement,
Shiva’s dance,
Gives rhythm to the universe.
He dances in evil places,
In sacred,
He creates and preserves,
Destroys and releases.
We are part of this dance
This eternal rhythm,
And woe to us if, blinded
By illusions,
We detach ourselves
From the dancing cosmos,
This universal harmony…”
Source -

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


 Indian classical dance is an expression of life, involving the body as well as the emotions. Indian Dance is based on texts from Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language – also thought to be the mother of not only Indian languages but also modern European languages. Indian classical dance is one of the oldest dance traditions associated with any of the world’s major religions. It has evolved with the concepts of self and world.
According to Hindu mythology, the Taandav (the frenzied dance performed by Lord Shiva, in grief after his consort Sati’s tragic demise) symbolize the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction, birth and death. His dance is therefore the dance of the Universe, the throb of eternal life. An interesting parallel may be seen in modern physics, which depicts that the cycle of creation and destruction is not only reflected in the turn of seasons and in the birth and death of living creatures but also in the life cycle of inorganic matter.

Nataraja (literally the king of dancers) or Lord Shiva in a graceful dancing pose is worshiped all over India, by classical dancers, and also a collector’s item for connoisseurs of art.
Nataraja – the divine dancer
The origin of Indian dance can be traced back to Bharata Muni (a learned saint) who lived between the 1st and 2nd century and composed a magnum opus on dance, which is known to the world as Natya Shastra. In ancient times, dance was not merely a form of entertainment. On the contrary it was considered a medium of instruction of morality, good values, and scriptures and the expression of reality.
Natya Shastra serves as a common text for all the varieties of Indian classical dance forms. It contains elaborate details on various types of postures, mudras or hand movements depicting different meanings, besides the construction of a stage, the art of make-up and lastly the orchestra. All dance forms make ample use of the nine basic rasas or emotions – hasya (joy and happiness), krodha (anger), bibhatsa (disgust), bhaya (fear), vira (courage), karuna (compassion), adbhuta (wonder) and shanta (serenity).

Natya Shastra further divides classical dance into nritta- the rhythmic elements, nritya- the combination of rhythm and expression, and finally, natya – comprising the dramatic elements embedded in the dance recital. To appreciate natya or dance drama, an individual needs to possess sound knowledge, understanding and appreciation of Indian legends and mythology and folklore. Hindu deities like Vishnu, Krishna, Shiva and Lakshmi, Rama and Sita are commonly depicted in these dances. Each dance form also draws inspiration from stories depicting the life and traditional beliefs of the Indians.

Ancient Indian history reveals that several centuries before Christ, India's art forms of dance, music and theatre were fairly well-advanced. The performing arts, i.e. dance and music reached the acme of their glory, during the reign of the Chola dynasty in Southern India.
Dance forms were nurtured with a purpose in the sacred premises of temples. Temple dancing was imbued with the idea of taking art to the people, and conveying a message to the masses. The temple rituals necessitated the physical presence of mortal women (instead of the ornate, carved figures of heavenly damsels, apsaras) to propitiate the gods. The allegorical view of dance, used for the purpose of the pleasing the devas, was gradually transformed into a regular, service (with deep religious connotations) in the temples of the medieval times.
This was possibly the reason behind the origin of Devadasis (literally: servants of the deity), the earliest performers of the classical Indian dances. They were supposed to pursue the dance forms devotedly and excel in them. At the outset, Devadasis were respectable women and highly talented artists hailing from the highest strata of the society. They lived and danced only in the temple premises – their vocation enjoying great religious prestige. It was only much later that the devadasis condescended to perform in royal courts, in the presence of the elite and the nobility.
A devadasi not only performed on all festive occasions, but also had to be present for the daily rituals, connected with the deity. She was paid from temple funds; moreover the temple supplied the food grains for her and her family. To render a realistic touch a devadasi was ceremonially wedded to the deity. She was consecrated to her lord and thus out of bounds for mortals.
During those bygone times the temples vied with one another for pressing the best dancers and musicians into their services. Temple dancing was institutionalised and the dancing girls were liberally patronised by the kings, elites and mahajans (money-lenders). They were paid lifetime tributes by means of inscriptions engraved in the temples of those times. For instance, the famous temple of Belur ( in modern Karnataka) has several epithets glorifying the Hoysala queen Shantala who was an accomplished dancer and a musician herself. The walls of these temples are also adorned with images of this queen and her spouse, king Vishnuvardhan.

The ancient and medieval temples of Khajuraho, Bhubaneswar and Puri echoed with the famous lyrics of poet Jayadeva, (the 12th century poet who belonged to Kenduli village in Bengal, but eventually settled down in Puri, Orissa).The earliest historical illustrations of Nataraja preaching Natyagama (the fundamentals of dance) in its pure form originates in the Chalukyan temple carvings at Badami and Aihole (both in present Karnataka) in the middle of the 6th century A.D. The devadasi system in these temples flourished well and was a living tradition almost till recent times. Unfortunately, decay set in silently. Owing to several socio-political factors like economic constraints, predominance of tantric practices and licentiousness of the siddhas (saints), jangamas ( Devotees of Lord Shiva, holy men of the Lingayat sect, founded by Saint Basavanna) charanas (bards), patrons (mainly royalty and aristocracy) and priests, the devadasis were sexually exploited and degraded to the level of prostitutes. Shockingly enough, the term devadasi (which had a divine connotation) was replaced by the term Bhogastree (literally = women for enjoying); their knowledge of classical dance and music were treated merely as assets useful for attracting clients.
The British government in India, in order to ameliorate the condition of women, impart to them enlightenment and education and, above all, to protect them from social evils, abolished the Devadasi system during the early 1900s.