Tuesday, March 5, 2019
Maha Shivaratri: The concept of Creation in the Dance of Nataraja.
The dance of Shiva on the night of Maha Shivaratri is perhaps the best concived idea of the ancient Vedic wisdom of how the comsos moves. Our exitence just being part of the smallest of the smallest fraction of the entire cosmos hypothesised by modern science, the scientists know how difficult it is to aquire a bird’s eye view of the entire cosmos. Interestingly that is what Vedic sages have achieved and immortalised into the Dance of Shiva, popularly understood in the form of Nataraja. They have even identified a day, rather a night for that dance – that is the 14th night before a complete black out of the Moon. That night is Shivaratri coming month after month but the one coming in the month of Maagha is celebrated as Maha Shivaratri – a time marked for universal dissolution.
Skeptics may dismiss this as an untenable tenet of a religious myth thriving on fear psychosis of hapless mortals, but what is hidden behind the posture of Nataraja leaves much for contemplation, leading to self realisation of why we are here and when we will get releif and release from the imposing cosmos enveloping all around us. The perfect setting for this is a night before complete black out – that is perhaps why the 14th night before No-Moon is chosen. Among the months, none other than Maagha is suitable as the new month starting after No-Moon is Phalguna that heralds the start of spring with the return of Kaama (Holi festival) and marriage of Gods.
Having chosen a perfect day, our seers have laid out certain axioms that describe the nature of cosmos. The oft repeated ones are
· There are infinte number of worlds.
· There is no beginning and end to the creation of worlds.
· The three stages of creation, sustenace and destruction are going on continuously in all the worlds.
· All these are being borne by the Cosmic womb called Hiranya Garbha.
The crux of all these is that the infinte number of worlds are all happening within the ‘womb’ of that Being whom one may call by any name but what is implicit is that the Being Himself / Itslef is unfathomable for the very fact we are talking only about the womb that is home for the cosmos. The entire of body of the Being can never be known.
A more specific axiom comes from the 3rd and 4th verses of Purusha Sukta giving an idea of proportion of created worlds. These verses say that only one fourth of this Being is manifest as created worlds while three fourths are always unmanifest.
Combining all these together, we can conceive only a circular formation capable of fulfilling all these axioms. This is also conceptualised as ‘Brahma Chakra’ in Shvetasvatara Upanishad. Such a model will have infinite number of universes revolving in different layers of in circular orbits, stretching vertically one above the other and laterally one beyond the other. Only in this kind of formation, the worlds can be truly infinite and endless.No one can say where the beginning point of this lies or where this will end.
Within this chakra, life thrives and even gets trapped. It is in the event of a realisation that one is getting trapped in this chakra, Vedic wisdom comes to our rescue to undertsand where we stand, what we are and what to do escape from this chakra. This is what a person is expected to ponder on the occasion of Shivaratri. Such pondering inevitbly leads us to think of the Universe – the stage where creation and disssolution are happening relentlessly. And the Dance of Nataraja presents a wholesome idea of how the Universe exists.
But Vedic concept views this dance at macro level, not at sub-atomic level. This dance posture follows the combined force of Shiva and Shakti as seen in Shiva- Shakti Yantra having two equilateral triangles placed one on the other in opposite directions and inscribed inside a circle.
The contours of this formation decide the posture of Nataraja. This is the basic structure guiding the sculptors and dancers who wish to enact the posture of Nataraja. CERN Nataraja inscribed within this formation is shown below.
The macro cosmic feature in Nataraja is seen in the top two hands, the right hand beating the drum (Damaru), symbolising the birth of sounds giving rise to birth of worlds and the left hand holding Agni (fire). Modern science postulates birth of worlds from Big bang, but Nataraja concept indicates sound as the causative or an indication of creation.The distance between the hands fulfil the major axiom of Purusha sukta of 1:3 division of the cosmos. In the picture below this distance covers one fourth of the circle ...continue reading here