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Significance of Shiva Tandava

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Ananda Tandava or Cosmic Dance

Shiva Tandava is the eternal dance of creation and destruction pervading the entire cosmos. The Shiva Tandava is the Dance of Bliss within the consciousness. This Dance of Lord Shiva is called Ananda Tandava that he performed in Chidambaram in the divine presence of saint Patanjali and Maharishi Vyaghrapada.

The Dance is an expression of cosmic creation or shrishti and its destruction or pralaya in a rhythmic manner. Shiva Tandava is the essence of both matter and energy. In his Divine Dance, there is absolute stillness in motion.

Shiva Tandava

Shiva is also known by another name called, MahaKala or Timeless Reality. His Dance is an infinite eternal or timeless expression of cosmic consciousness, his Absolute or indestructible self which creates maya or illusion of creation.

Dance postures manifesting eternal life

  • Shiva`s Tandava explains the divine process of creation taking place in a continuous manner. He dances within a circle of flame surrounding him.
  • The vast sky is his body and his hands point to eight different directions.
  • His two eyes symbolize the Sun and the Moon and his third eye stands for fire -destruction of evil.
  • River Ganga, who purifies everything that she comes into contact with, flows from his matted locks. His face is seen tranquil, radiant in the midst of all activity.
  • In his upper right hand is the drum or damru. From the damru in his hand, the sound of OM is resonated all through the cosmos and this is followed by light from the fire in his hand. Matter forms into energy and energy is transformed into matter. Life evolves with Shiva breathing life into matter with the sound of `OM`.
  • On his upper left hand is seen Agni or fire and this stands for destruction of material and non material existence.
  • His front right hand gesture is seen in abhaya mudra and this stands for his divine protection in life. His front left hand mudra or hand gesture stands for liberation or moksha.
  • His right foot is placed on the demon called Muyalakan,and this signifies destruction of ignorance and overcoming illusion that leads one to cycle of births and deaths. The left foot is seen raised in the dancing posture as a gesture to grant eternal bliss to those who surrender to him.
  • Shiva dances within the surrounding circle or prabhavalli. This means the cycle of maya. When he touches the circle with his feet, hands and head, then it means purifying maya.

Cosmic Will of Shiva in Play and Dance

Shiva`s Dance is an eternal one. Matter is manifest in the form of subatomic particles and in these particles are seen the mystical Dance of Shiva. In every subatomic particle is seen the dance of Shiva, says modern physics. There is a ceaseless flow of energy taking infinite forms and then melting away with an uninterrupted constant dance of energy.

Matter at first is devoid of prana and Shiva infuses prana in all forms through his cosmic dance. Thus the process of life is set in motion and then brought to destruction in an eternal manner.

The Lord`s Dance or Tandava is to release the souls from the cycle of births and deaths and grant them immortal life.

Saivaite saints like Tirumoolar and Manikavasakar, say that it is the Shiva`s lila or pastime to play this sport of creation and destruction in a perpetual manner. Through his grace, bonded souls get liberation from this illusion of maya.


Every human heart is Chidambaram , where the Lord performs the dance. When one chants the mantra, `Om Namah Shivaya` the energy around the person changes positively and it is the best way to attract his blessings.

Modern Physicist like Fritzof Capra mentions in his book, `Tao of Physics`, that the fundamental sub atomic particle found in the universe is a dance of Lord Shiva.