Shiv Thandav - the God of Dance


One of the best ways of releasing stress and expressing heartfelt joy is through dancing. After dancing the relief that we get is of total refreshment and internalization of the senses. Beside us, even the Gods, particularly Lord Shiva loves to express all his emotions of joy, sorrow, anger, and love through a dance form popularly known as Tandava. It is an inseparable, sacred movement of the various limbs of the body in accordance with the inner divine Bhava. Nritya is considered to be a divine science. The Adi gurus for this celestial Nritya were Lord Shiva and Shakti. In Nritya, there is a cluster of six Bhavas which include Srishti, Samhara, Vidya, Avidya, Gati, and Agati.

Shiva, the lord of the Lingam is also known as 'Nataraj' meaning, the God of Dance. Shiva's Tandava is described as extremely thrilling and charming, exquisitely graceful in poise and rhythm that is the source of the cycle of creation, preservation, and dissolution. Some scholars believe that there are seven different types of Tandava. The Tandava performed with joy is called Ananda Tandava and that which is performed while Lord Shiva is enraged is called Rudra Tandava. The other types are identified as Tripura Tandava, Sandhya Tandava, Samara Tandava, Kaali Tandava, Uma Tandava and Gauri Tandava. Lord Shiva as Nataraja is considered the supreme lord of dance with full grace and dedication to it. According to the Puranas, Shiva performs a wild and vigorous dance in the cremation grounds at night but a soft and graceful one called Lasya, in the tranquillity of the twilight.

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Shiv Thandav - the God of DanceThe Hindu scriptures narrate various occasions when Shiva performed the Tandava . It is believed that Goddess Kali was very proud of her dancing ability. So Shiva started to dance, in his ten-armed form to quell her pride. He danced with incredible grace in an exceptionally artistic form that Kali had to put her face down in shame. When Sati jumped into the Agni Kunda and gave up her life, Shiva is said to have performed the Rudra Tandava expressing his grief and anger. When he performs the Sandhya Tandava, the other Gods like Brahma, Vishnu, Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Indra play musical instruments and sing Shiva's praises.

The dance performed by Shiva's wife Parvati in response to Shiva's Tandava is known as Lasya, in which the movements are gentle, graceful and sometimes erotic. Some scholars consider Lasya to be the feminine version of Tandava. Lasya has two kinds, JaritaLasya and YauvakaLasya. The dance of Lord Shiva is  for the welfare of the world. The main reason behind his dance is to free the souls from the fetters of Moh-Maya. He is not the destroyer, but "the regenerator". He is the Mangala Data and Ananda Data, giver of auspiciousness and bliss to the humanity.

The devotee of Shiva can honour this awesome figure with a fire ritual to invoke and please him. With intense chanting of Shiva’s 1000 names during the Rudrashahastranaam Hawan, one can actually feel his presence while performing the Shiva Puja. With Shiva’s blessings, one can attain the strength to win over one’s enemies, defeat ill health and ensure a long life.

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