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Cinisello Balsamo, yoga


Starting from the sixth century. dc Shiva, one of the most important and venerated deities of the pantheon of Hinduism, is associated with dance and depicted in dancing attitudes; it is the beginning of one of the most fortunate and significant iconographies of all Indian art that will definitively assert itself in the Tamil area around the 10th century. This is Shiva Nataraja "king of dance" engaged in anandatandava, the dance of bliss.
The image represents the god with four arms inside a circle of fire, immortalized with interesting symbolic elements. The most expressive artistic translation is represented by bronzes of refined workmanship while in the yoga field this image, and above all the rich symbolism hidden in it,
  one of the most elegant and spectacular balance postures of hatha yoga is inspired: natarajasana . 
Anadatandava is traditionally located in the city of Chidambaram, in southern India; it is here that for the first time Shiva, animated by the primordial sound OM, unleashes his dance that involves and shakes the entire universe. The city becomes from the tenth century. the very symbol of dance in all its declinations, so much so that on the walls of the east portal of the imposing Shivaite temple around which the life of the city gravitates, the 108 positions in which classical Indian dance ( bharatanatyam) is encoded are sculpted; among the suggestive positions dedicated to classical dance, yoga practitioners can easily distinguish two beautiful yogic postures: a festive urdhva danurasana and an elegant padangustha danurasana.
Given the large pantheon of Hinduism, one can ask why
  Shiva himself and not some other divinity has been elected as cosmic dancer and why the dance of bliss implies, as we shall see, terrible and violent notes apparently antithetical to the common idea of bliss. The reasons are to be found in some characteristic traits that Shiva inherits from his Vedic ancestors and that we find in the iconography in question: the elements that inspire concern and fear are the legacy of Rudra, literally the Screamer, the god of the storm, of the hunt, of the nature and the wind, recognized as the direct progenitor of Shiva, while Agni, god of fire, is responsible for the ardor of asceticism, burning passion, eroticism and destructive capacity. Two arms of the divinity are in contact with the universe: the right hand holds the drum which symbolizes the primordial sound, the act with which creation begins, while the left hand holds the flame of the destruction of the ego and the illusion of being an entity separated from an original absolute principle; the other two arms are instead intended for communication with the faithful: the right hand is in abhayamudra, the "gesture of not being afraid" and the left hand, in indicating the raised foot, urges the faithful to take refuge in him ensuring protection. 
Under Shiva's foot is Oblivion,
  the demon who makes man forget his spiritual nature; trampling on it is synonymous with commitment to the search for truth and acceptance of the laws that govern existence. The pedestal on which the god stands is shaped like a lotus flower which symbolizes purity, perfection and spiritual tension.
The image is both static and dynamic, animated by naturally moving elements such as the long hair that floats in the air and symbolizes the impetuosity of dance and generative power, the cobra twisted in the hair, the flames that frame the god and the act of dancing itself. But the face of the god, impassive and detached, perfectly expresses the immutability and inexorability of the eternal law of destruction and regeneration in which the whole universe, including man, is involved. Cosmic dance therefore, or according to a more modern and scientific vision, unstoppable movement of electrons, protons and neutrons that can not help but dance giving rise to all the spectacular manifestations of the universe.
Fridjof Capra also refers to this significant image of Shiva as a cosmic dancer in his The Tao of physics when, dealing with symbols and images created by man in his mystical research, he describes Shiva as "the god of creation and destruction who with his dance sustains the endless rhythm of the universe ". Contrary to Visnu, another important divinity of Hinduism to whom the conservation of the universe is attributed, Shiva guarantees its perpetual becoming, dynamic unity. Without the eternal dance of all the particles that make up the universe, the universe simply would not exist. Even physics agrees that it is movement, dynamism (... read dance), that allows the universe to be what it is: "the particle cannot be seen as an isolated entity but must be understood as an integrated part completely dynamic "(Fridjof Capra, The tao of physics, Ed. Adephi).
In the anandatandava the idea of death and destruction is intertwined with the idea of bliss, or the idea of
a perfect condition that arises from the principle of dissolution that allows regeneration, and the awareness of sharing the same relationship with the universe. who have the stars,  flowers, mountains, animals and all other manifest forms; awareness of being part of a whole, of being infinite as expressions of a dynamic and infinite reality. 
It is to this richness of symbols, and above all to the circle of fire that burns ego and illusion that the practitioner tries to recreate with his own body, that we refer to when we perform natarajasana;
  so long as  this, like every other position, from the simplest to the most complex, represents a privileged gateway to profound reflections that spring from the intimate, exquisitely human need to understand the relationship with the divine.

by Rossana Dall'Armellina

photo:  Enea Pieraccini



André Van Lysebeth Tantra. The other look at life and sex Ed. Mursia
Giuliano Boccali, Cinzia Pieruccini Hinduism Ed. Electa
Fritjof Capra The Tao of physics Ed. Adelphi
Wendi Doniger Siva The erotic ascetic Ed. Adelphi
Handout on the History of Art of India by Cinzia Pieruccini, Professor of Indology and History of Art at the State University of Milan

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