Triveni Journal

1927 | 11,233,916 words

Triveni is a journal dedicated to ancient Indian culture, history, philosophy, art, spirituality, music and all sorts of literature. Triveni was founded at Madras in 1927 and since that time various authors have donated their creativity in the form of articles, covering many aspects of public life....

Vision of the Sacred Dance

C. Kamalaiah

(Tiru-k-kuuttu-t taricanam)

From Tirumular’s Tirumantiram

Translated from the original in Tamil by

[For a proper understanding of the Nataraja Theme a study of the 82 verses of Tirumantiramby Tirumular is a must. Ananda K. Coomaraswamy has quoted a number of verses from the Vision of the Sacred Dance in his Dance of Siva. This is the first installment of the verses, and two more would follow.         - Editor]

Everywhere is the Holy Frame, everywhere is Siva Sakti.
Everywhere is Chidambaram and everywhere is the Sacred Dance.
Everywhere as Sivam pervades it is a play for Sivan
And He exists anywhere, everywhere and bestows His Grace. This                   (1)

Effulgent Light of Wisdom; this Siva Ananda Dancer,
The end of the Word, this Dancer of Beauty,
This Dancer of the Golden City, this Dancer of Golden Tillai,
This Marvellous Dancer - who can know Him?                                                 (2)

Siva’s Dance of Delight

See ye the lofty Dance of Delight, sweet as honey,
O’er the Sakti of everlasting bliss, endless!
To the Dancing Lord transcending wisdom,
It is the dance stage for the Dance of Delight.                                                    (3)

The dancing stage is bliss, the songs are delightful,
The many instruments and organs give tunes delightful.
The movables and the motionless are in delight.
It is delight to the lord taking to the Dance of Delight.                                         (4)

Sivakami is an amalgam of the Supreme Radiant and Perennial Being.
To the faithful, the Supreme imparts eternal joy.
The destination of Siva’s Dance of Delight
It the Heart as the Lord’s habitat. And the mind gets pure.                                 (5)

The dances are five. The Formless Dancer
Taking a Form with the five vocations in view,
Merciful in all His actions, carries on the five activities.
The Partner of the Damsel of Honey’d Word dances the Sacred Dance.            (6)       

The world of five elements and others different,
The one of enjoyment, the one of Yoga,
The one embracing all these, the one of salvation
And the one of yearning for it, the bodily world
And the one of thirst – all these go to make
The vast universe united to the Feet of the Lord
Who in his five vocations rules over it.                                                               (7)

The Vedas are chanted, the lofty Agamas are followed;
The psalms are sung; the seven universes are moving;
The elements dance, the satellites all vibrate,
With the Lord dancing to rhythm the Dance of Delight and Wisdom.                  (8)       

The Lord He is the Siddha dancing in collusion
With the five elements, organs and senses,
With the Five Vedas and Agamas in plenty,
With the practising arts, Time, Eternity, Universe and Knowledge.                     (9)

The gods and the demons, the humans, the supernals,
The Vidyadhars, the Three and the ancient Thirty-three,
The ascetics, the Sattars, the religious, the Still and the Unstill,
All throb to life with our Lord dancing.                                                              (10)

The Dance of Beauty

Beyond and far beyond the seven worlds is a power
Enthroned at the pinnacle of the ever auspicious,
Where the Lord with a black throat, the very Grace personified,
Took to dancing witnessed by Uma.                                                                  (11)

The Monarch of the reputed forest of Tillai,
The Heavenly Tree with deep roots,
Seeks for dancing besides Kodukotti, Pandarangam and Kodu,
The Dance of Destruction, the eight dances
And also the Five and Six.                                                                                (12)

In the universe far beyond rest the feet of Parasakti.
On the universe far beyond fall the luminous rays of the lord.
Far beyond the universe spread the sound waves.
In the universe far beyond the Sovereign Lord dances.                                       (13)

Of branches of knowledge, Faith is the leaping hook.
To the rhythmic time beats of thom-theem,
Sankara dances His eternal dance at a vitat spot,
Permeating the innermost recesses, ceaselessly.                                                 (14)

My Lord dances acts of vocation and also the nine modes.
He dances in the crematorium and in the heart too.
He dances at the central point, concluding
His dance recital, dancing in endless wisdom.                                                    (15)

In the five Saktis and the five forms of Siva,
In the eight deliverances and the foremost eight positions,
In the eight siddhis, the eight destinations,
And in the eight suttis, the Lord dances the ancient dance.                                 (17)

The clouds seven and the seven islands of the vast sea,
The bodies seven and the seven rays of Sivabhaskaran,
The tastes seven and the seven Santis
All these subsist under the feet of the Lord.                                                        (18)

The Dance of the Golden City

In the south and the north, the east, the west and the top
In each one of the marvellous five faces,
In the unequalled celestial delight,
The One, the Absolute executes the only dance.                                                (19)

Devotees are those who had the vision of joy ofHaran’s Feet;
Devotees are those who have been the beneficiaries of the Lord’s Grace;
Devotees are those who journeyed to the Feet of the Lord;
Devotees are those who had a vision of the Sacred Dance in the Hall ofGold. (20)

Repressing the irrepressible ‘I’ in me,
He places His Feet on my head,
Taking me to the Tower of Bliss, the eternal abode,
Dances Nandi the Dancer, from whom knowledge springs,                               
The Omniscient, who in me too lies deposited.                                                   (21)

The Dancer among the gods, the Foremost of dancers,
The knightly Dancer in the lofty golden theatre,
The Dancer among the souls, the Supreme Dancer
Him I seek with joy and worship with love.                                                        (22)

Who can describe Him – This Dancer gem of purest serene,
This Dancer with matted locks of hair on the bedecked stage,
This Bright Blaze of Light, this Siva Ananda Dancer,
This Dancer of unalloyed gold of the purest variety?                                           (23)

They breathe long, feel restive and stumble;
The body gets tired. They are not themselves.
Such are those who bestow their affection.
On the tender Flower-like Foot,
In dance on the Sacred Stage, the best and flawless­.                                          (23)

The mind wanders not, perplexes not;
The body rids itself of tiresomeness.
The breath is held; the inner self drives away desires
The yearning for blissful union gets goaded within­–
All to witness the Dance Drama.                                                                       (24)

The Lord dances with Kali and on the Mount of Gold;
He dances with the devil and over the world,
In the vast sheet of water, fire, wind and endless ether,
Day in and day out in the open theatre.                                                              (25)

Midway between the left and the right lines,
Runs the central line touching Meru,
Signs of which Lanka exhibits.
The land between the Tillai Forest and Malayam,
Is the Land of Siva in the central region.                                                            (26)

The Meru Mountain in the north,
And the Deccanam in the far away south,
Between the two is the Sacred Stage in the Centre of the universe,
Where the Lord donning the crescent moon dances.                                          (27)
(to be continued)


(1) Siva Sakti – Siva’s Energy. cf. Tirumular’s another Tirumantiram Verse: “He is the One. The other part of Him is His Sweet Grace.”

(2) Siva Ananda Dancer – Siva who dances the Dance of Delight.

(5) Sivakami: The Beloved of Siva. The Lord is Hermaphrodite. The masculine and feminine parts of Siva have been sculptured in plenty in the form of Ardhanarisvara.

(6) The Supreme who is formless takes a form. The five acts of God are: (1) Creation, (2) Sustenance, (3) Destruction, (4) Illusion and (5) Grace. They form the theme of the Sacred Dance.

(9) The five elements are: (1) Ether, (2) Fire, (3) Water, (4) Air and (5) Earth.

The five organs are: (1) Body, (2) Mouth, (3) Eye, (4) Nose and (5) Ear.
The five senses are: 1) Touch, 2) Taste, 3) Sight, 4) Smell and 5) Hearing.

(10) The thirty-three are: Adityas 12, Rudras 11, Vacus 8 and Maruts, 2.

(12) Kodukotti: Dance. Terrible is the Dance of Destruction during the performance of which the Lord dances clapping His hands joyously in victory.

Pandarankam: After destroying the three cities – muppuram, besmearing His body with the burnt ashes of the cities, the Lord dances.

Kodu: The Lord dancing with the skull of Brahma in His hand.

The Eight Dances are: Besides the dances relating to His five acts, three more dances, viz., Kali Dance, Muni Dance and the Dance of Delight.

(15) Nine modes are four with forms, four formless and one form­ cum-formless.

(16) Parai, Adi, Ichcha, Kriya and Naanamare the five Saktis Brahma, Hari, Haran, Isan and Form-cum-formless Sadasivan.

(25) Dancing with Kali: But for the Lord vanquishing Kali in dance competition, the world would have been devoured by the latter. cf. Manikkavacakar’s TiruvacakamVerse: The Lord of Tillai’s Court a Mystic Dance performs, What is that, my dear?
But for the Lord dancing, it would have been a prey for Kali, Blood thirsty, holding a spear in hand.

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