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Siva Tandava and Lasya

Lord Siva is also known as Nataraj, the Dancing God. This divine art form is performed by Lord Siva and his divine consort Goddess Parvati. The dance performed by Lord Siva is known as Tandava. Siva’s Tandava is a vigorous dance that is the source of the cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution. Tandava depicts his violent nature as the destroyer of the universe.

According to scholars, ‘Characteristics of the Tandava Dance’ have been described in the fourth chapter of Bharat Muni’s Nata Shastra. It says that Siva’s Tandava is embellished with 108 karanas and the 32 anghaharas – the composite parts of the dance.

It is believed that there are seven different types of Tandava. The tandava performed with joy is called Ananda Tandava and that which is performed in violent mood is called Rudra Tandava. The other types of tandava identified are Tripura Tandava, Sandhya Tandava, Kaali Tandava, Uma Tandava and Gauri Tandava.

Significance of Siva’s Tandava Nritya

According to religious scholars, the cosmic dance of Siva, called ‘Anandatandava,’ meaning, ‘the Dance of Bliss’ symbolizes the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction, as well as the daily rhythm of birth and death. The dance is a pictorial allegory of the five principle manifestations of eternal energy – creation, destruction, preservation, salvation, and illusion.

The dance of Siva also represents his five activities namely,

  • ‘Shrishti’ – creation, evolution
  • ‘Sthiti’ – preservation, support
  • ‘Samhara’ – destruction, evolution
  • ‘Tirobhava’ – illusion
  • ‘Anugraha’ – release, emancipation, grace

The overall temper of the image is paradoxical, uniting the inner tranquility, and outside activity of Siva.

Lasya – The dance performed by Goddess Parvati is known as Lasya. In Lasya, the movements are gentle, graceful and sometimes erotic. Some scholars call Lasya, the feminine version of Tandava. Lasya is of two kinds – Jarita Lasya and Yauvaka Lasya. According to the Puranas, Siva dances a wild and vigorous tandava at night but dances a soft and graceful lasya in the tranquility of the twilight.