Nataraja – The Greatest Philosophical Message of Tamil Saivaites


மகாபாரதத்தில் யக்ஷ பர்வத்தில் யுதிஷ்டிரன் உலகில் மிகவும் விசித்திரமான விஷயம் எது என்பதற்கு மனிதன், தான் நிலையற்றவன் என்பது தெரிந்திருந்தும், நிலையானவன் போல நடந்து கொள்கிறானே அதுதான் என்றான்.


Yaksha: What is the greatest wonder?

Yudhistra: The most amazing thing in the world is that even though every day one sees countless living entities dying, he still acts and thinks as if he will live forever.

This ignorance and this ego is the root cause of all evils. The moment we realize the inevitability of time (and death), we will start behaving as better human beings.

The statue of Nataraja teaches us the same thing. It is a visual interpretation of ParaBrahman.


The upper right hand holds a drum (உடுக்கை in Tamil). It symbolizes sound (vibration) originating creation. Modern science accept that vibration is the root of the entire universe.

The upper left hand contains Agni or fire, which signifies destruction. Every physical thing created has to be destroyed.

The second right hand shows the Abhaya mudra, bestowing protection from ignorance (some wrongly interpret it as evil) to those who follow the dharma. In Shaiva siddanta, there is no good or evil, but only knowledge and ignorance. The root of every act that is considered as evil is ignorance.

The dwarf on which Nataraja dances is the demon Apasmara (முயலகன், as known in Tamil), which symbolises victory over ignorance.

The circular band around Nataraja signifies the continuous cycle of birth and death. The second left hand points towards the raised foot called as kunchithapaadam (குஞ்சிதபாதம்  in Tamil) which signifies upliftment and liberation from the cycle of birth and death (mukthi) once you conquer the ignorance and ahamkara.

The stoic face of Shiva represents his neutrality (nirguna).

It doesn’t matter if you follow a religion or not, you can transcend a great barrier in personal development if you overcome ahamkara – going being ‘I’ and ‘Me’. There is no ‘I’ or ‘Me’, what you consider as ‘you’ is nothing but an amalgamation of two cells from your parents, some soil, water and air. Once you strip that of, the remaining is identical for everyone. Overcoming this ahamkara is the purpose of yoga as well.