Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Nadanta Mean?

Nadanta is a Sanskrit and Pali word that means “cry loudly,” “roaring” or “making a noise.” In the context of Hinduism, it refers to the cosmic dance of Nataraja, an incarnation of Shiva and the god of dramatic arts. According to Hindu mythology, Nataraja performs the nadanta as creator, sustainer and destroyer of the universe. The dance is said to stop the noise of the universe at its destruction.

Nadanta is also the name of a nonprofit organization based in Michigan whose mission is to promote the culture of India in North American and throughout the world through dance.


Yogapedia Explains Nadanta

As depicted in art and sculpture, Nataraja is one of the most familiar versions of Shiva. He is usually shown in the midst of the nadanta encircled by fire, which represents samsara (the recurring cycle of death and rebirth) and the cosmic fire that creates and consumes.

The symbolism of the nadanta is evident in the positioning of Nataraja’s arms and legs. He holds a drum, representing the sound of creation, in one hand, while another hand holds the fire of destruction. One foot crushes a creature that represents illusion. Fearlessness is shown in a third hand that forms abhaya mudra, while the fourth hand pointing to a raised leg symbolizes refuge. Nataraja dances to release humans from the trap of illusion. The nadanta, therefore, represents the forces of nature and the universe.

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