MANTRALAURA at DELPHI.COM
MANTRALAURA at DELPHI.COM
Mon Oct 20 23:06:19 CDT 1997
I thought you might be interested in the
following which I posted last month on the
Sanskrit List (and I'm sending a copy to
the Adviata-L List for anyone who might be
The ardhanaarii-naTeshvara (Shiva, Lord of
Dancers) statue depicts the most famous of the
nine modes of dancing, also called the naaTaraaja
aspect. Shiva is in the posture of dancing,
with the left foot raised and the right foot
resting on the demon, apasmaara-puruSha. Lord
Shiva has four hands: the upper right hand holds
the Damaru (drum) and fire is in the upper left
hand; the lower right hand is in abhayamudraa
(post of protection) and the lower left hand
is pointing towards the uplifted left foot.
The lower right and left hands indicate
that the ones who take refuge at the feet of
the Lord will have nothing to fear. The
apasmaara-puruSha symbolizes ignorance
(apasmaara = forgetfulness, loss of memory;
epilepsy, falling sickness) which makes us
lose our balance and consciousness. He is
trampled upon by the Lord for the good of
the devotees who take refuge.
The Damaru held in the upper right hand
represents the principle of shabda (sound)
from which the entire creation has preceded,
and is responsible for further creation or
evolution. Fire, which is in the upper left
hand, represents pralayaagni, the fire that
destroys the world at the time of dissolution
of the world and, therefore, symbolizes the
process of destruction.
Lord Shiva is a great master of dance. It
is said that he dances every evening in order
to relieve the sufferings of creatures. His
dance indicates a continuous process of
creation, preservation and destruction and
the Damaru and fire symbolize this process.
Since Lord Shiva is associated more with
the process of destruction and annihilation,
we need to look at the types of destruction.
Besides destroying the world at pralaya,
there is another current continuous cycle of
destruction, that of ignorance. Lord Shiva
is snow-white in color, white representing
the light that dispels darkness, knowledge
that dispels ignorance. The third eye of Shiva
indicates the eye of knowledge and wisdom. He
is the personification of cosmic consciousness.
His hair is the flowing water of the Ganges
River, also representing j~naana, knowledge.
He holds the Damaru while he dances.
The Damaru is a small hourglass-shaped drum
which is played by twisting it so that the knotted
ends of a cord tied around its waist will strike
the skins alternately. It is said that when Shiva
was dancing in one of the modes of dance (the
taaNDavartya), he sounded his Damaru 14 times.
When the Damaru is twisted in one revolution,
it often makes the sounds of three successive
tones. The sounds that Lord Shiva made with His
Damaru were a-i-un, r-lR^i-k, etc. These sounds
are know as the maaheshvarasuutras.These 14 basic
formulae contain all the alphabets arranged in
ways to facilitate various grammatical processes.
Therefore, the Damaru represents the alphabets,
grammar, and language itself. It represents all
words, spoken or written; all arts and sciences,
sacred and secular. It represents knowledge,
both sacred and secular.
Lord Shiva tramples on apasmaara-puruSha for
the good of His devotees so that the darkness
of ignorance is dispelled and the light of
knowledge is manifested by the symbolism depicted
by the sounds of the Damaru.
References: Hindu Gods and Goddesses by
Music Cultures of the Pacific, the Near East,
and Asia by William P. Malm
The Practical Sanskrit-English Dictionary by
Vaman Shivram Apte
A Sanskrit-English Dictionary by M. Monier
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