Living with gods: Shiva lord of the dance


Light, water, and fire are essential to human life everywhere and everywhere people use their constantly changing forms as symbols for other worlds for beliefs. for as means of reaching and connecting with supernatural forces.

A figure that wonderfully brings together all of these elements is the image of Shiva Nataraja one of the great symbols of the Hindu traditions Shiva here is shown dancing, bringing the world into creation he’s surrounded by a ring of fire, which has so many practical and important uses but also is destructive,

in his right hand he holds up the drum of creation around another of his right arms he has a cobra, ready to spit and poison but his hand is up saying don’t be afraid, under his feet there is a figure being trampled down that is Ignorance. His hair is flying out to the side reminiscent of the sacred waters of the Ganges but Shiva can also destroy and this constant energy,

this constant dancing which brings the world into existence, which keeps it going, which cuts it down is a wonderful, wonderful symbol which is so evocative of the energies of all life that it’s used the CERN nuclear physics Centre in Switzerland as a symbol for the how science is trying to understand the subatomic particles that are the very basis of matter and so outside CERN there is a wonderful sculpture of Shiva Nataraja the shadow of which at night is cast over the entire building because this is the energy of the particles the dance of the particles that make matter and life possible.

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