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Shiva’s Moon The Dance of India by Marisa MogliaGo Back to Table of Contents
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Shiva’s moon is a thin crescent: as white and translucent as a clipped baby’s nail. It rests on his head in association with his consort: the silver river Ganges. His body is the universe-his voice all sound-his embellishments the moon and stars. It is Shiva who becomes the form of Nataraja, the Lord of Dance, who reveals his dance to humankind in ashes-dancing on the burning ground-destroying the ego and all worldly illusions-releasing countless souls from the snares of material existence.

According to Coomaraswamy in The Dance of Shiva, “The reason of his dance lies in his own nature, all his gestures are. . .spontaneous and purposeless, for his realm is beyond the realm of purposes.” Thus the dance expresses ultimately divine nature. Brahma, the creator, revealed the secrets of the interpretive arts to the sage Gharata Muni, who then compiled a detailed text entitled ‘Naya Sastra’ (The Second Century). This treatise remains to this day the manual for every form of dance in India. The display of dance is to demonstrate the perfect harmony that exists in the cosmic order. In the art of dance, all fields of knowledge and forms of art are united in both vision and expression and dance is considered an art created by God so that human beings might adore the divine in both body and soul.

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