Friday, August 27, 2021

Ananda Tandava Of Nataraja - 20

Respond to (


The Interpretation of Zvelebil (Continued)

Thus the two feet denote the 'continuous circulation of consciousness into and out of the condition of inertness and ignorance.' (ibid., p.41). Coming finally now to the figure below the foot, he compares Apasmāra or Mūyalaka to Kahlil Gibran's 'shapeless pygmy that walks asleep in the mist searching for its own awakening'. (ibid., p.41).

For Zvelebil, the ashes falling from Śiva's body during the dance are 'the lines of a master-plan to shape the world.' (ibid., p.41). For him, the interpretation that dancing on Apasmāra signifies the eradication of ignorance resulting in the birth of knowledge is 'the late, sophisticated, philosophical interpretation of the Cosmic Dancer.' (ibid., p.42). The cobra on the head emits deadly poison that results in death, he says, and the moon emits rays of ambrosia which assure immortality. The laughing skull laughs at those who consider the world and themselves eternal. The crescent moon is the symbol of growth and eternity; the Gaṅgā the symbol of the sustenance of life; and the snake, symbol of transmigration of the eternal soul from one body to another. The prabhāvali or tiruvāsi (= the "flaming aureole") 'represents the "dance" of nature (Prakṛti) within which the dance of the Prime Mover is an eternal event'. (ibid., p.42).The whole form may be read too as the mystic mantra Om, he says, and refers to the reputed Pañcakṛtya interpretation.

           Towards the end of his book, Zvelebil says: 'As to the meaning of Ānanda-tāṇḍava, it remains enigmatic. However, we may interpret it, possibly, as a dance expressive of the polarity of opposites, of the conjunction of opposites and the resolution of contradictions (which is usually the objective of most Hindu myths): ānanda "peaceful bliss"; tāṇḍava "vigorous, awesome, fearsome dance"'. (ibid., p.73). In the final analysis, Zvelebil feels, this dance of Naṭarāja is to an analytical, discursive mind, a mystery; he avers 'it is so, inevitably; that it must remain so; for I do believe, with Frederick Franck, that "symbol and myth are not to be analysed, but to be responded to."' (ibid., p.73).