Friday, April 23, 2021

Ananda Tandava Of Nataraja-2

Dr. K S Kannan,
SRSJM Chair Professor,
IIT-Madras, Chennai.
Respond to (

Focus of this Study

Remarking about this image of Tiruvālaṅgāḍu in particular, Calambur Sivaramamurti (1909-1983), a well-known authority on Indian art and sculpture in general, and of Naṭarāja in particular, says that it is 'the best known image of its kind in any public museum of the world.' (And who does not know that, thanks to the British, and subsequently with the divine negligence (if not open and brazen connivance) of the political parties that reigned in our country, hundreds of masterpieces of Naṭarāja were routinely bought and sold in the "art markets" and antiquarian shops of the West, and for fancy prices? And this has not stopped or subsided even today.)

There can of course be numerous approaches to the study of Naṭarāja: artistic, historical, theological, philosophical, scientific, archaeological and so on. The focus of the present study, however, is the symbolism enshrined in the image, with special reference to the yogic ideas it embodies - an approach conceived of by none of the interpreters in respect of its depth and details, else than Sriranga Mahaguru. It cannot be missed, however, that Coomaraswamy had already noted how the processes of the creation of a true work of art in general as indeed its enjoyment had their yogic parallels and involvement.

It may be desirable to study how Indian art was handled by the West prior to, and subsequent to, Coomaraswamy, reputed as a "scholar colossus". Prior to the pioneering work of Coomaraswamy, general adverse criticism - goaded by rank prejudice and general contempt - ruled the field of art estimate with respect to Indian art; no place for Indian art would be accorded, or even acknowledged, by the essentially Euro-centric historians, chroniclers, and critics of the 19th and earlier centuries.