Definition - What does Nataraja mean?

Nataraja is a dancing form of the Hindu god, Shiva. Derived from Sanskrit, nata means "dance" and raja means "king." Hence, Nataraja means "king of dance." The popular belief that Shiva is the creator, preserver and destroyer is symbolized in the form of Nataraja.

Nataraja, representing the union of nature and Divine, is considered the most powerful Hindu god. The cosmic dance performed by Nataraja is called the ananda tandava, meaning the "dance of bliss."

Yogapedia explains Nataraja

The aim of the cosmic dance is liberation. The cosmic dance symbolizes the creation and destruction cycles. It represents the five principles of eternal energy: creation, preservation, destruction, illusion and liberation.

Nataraja is surrounded by a ring of fire, which represents the cosmic fire. It also represents the universe. Nataraja takes on a form with four hands: the upper right hand holds damaru, the lower right hand blesses his devotees, the upper left hand has a flame and the lower left hand points to his feet. The damaru in the upper right hand denotes creation and passing of time, the flame represents destruction, the lower right hand asserts those who follow the path of righteousness to be fearless, and the lower left hand that points to the feet symbolizes liberation.

According to yoga philosophy, the true nature of man is Shiva, which means "pure consciousness." Natarajasana is an asana that represents the union of the individual soul with cosmic Soul.

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