Nataraja: Shiva as the cosmic dancer

Nataraja: Shiva as the cosmic dancer

“Nataraja is Shiva’s representation and symbol of cosmic energy and the ‘Tandav Mudra’ is a cosmic cycle of creativity, preservation and destruction,” said Sachchidanand Joshi, a member and secretary of IGNCA, at the symposium on Natraja.

The G20 Summit, which ended earlier this month in Delhi, is still making headlines for a number of reasons. While there were many things about the summit and its location that caught everyone’s attention, the Nataraja statue that was resting in the middle of it all added a whole new flavour to the occasion.

The traditional ‘Sthapatis’ of Swamimalai created the 27-foot statue using the old ‘lost-wax’ casting technique from the Chola era, which weighs about 18 tons. A section of the Cauvery river that passes near Swamimalai provided the clay for the statue. The Nataraja stands for the fervour of creation, the dance of creation that emerged from the unchanging quiet. As the sculpture gained popularity in the art world, reviewers hailed it as a cutting-edge marvel and a steadfast emblem of artistic brilliance.

Delegates from all over the world came to see Sthapathy’s artwork in person because they wanted to feel the beauty and enlightening energy that flowed from this renowned work of art. The ‘Bharatiya’ understanding of the dynamic cycle, representing time, is expressed by the symbol Nataraja, which unites Shiva’s roles as the universe’s creator, preserver and destroyer into a single figure.

The installation of the Nataraja monument at the Bharat Mandapam, the site of the G20 Summit, involved the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA). Padma Subrahmanyam talked at length about the concept of Nataraja. She discussed the realm of consciousness. “This is the mixing of matter and energy, according to science. This is the ‘yantra’, a line diagram that is ritually venerated. ‘Rupa’ worship (worship of form) and ‘Arupa’ worship (worship of the formless element of space), both located in the Sanctum of ‘Nataraja’ shrine at Chidambaram, are combined in this practice.”

The symposium’s guests and speakers included Padma Subrahmanyam, Sonal Mansingh (MP, Rajya Sabha), Rambahadur Rai, President of the IGNCA Trust, Gobind Mohan, Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Biman Bihari Das, Chairman of AIFACS and Professor Sanjeev Kumar Sharma, Principal of the College of Art.

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