It is said that man danced before he spoke. He certainly danced
before he painted and sculpted reliefs on his walls. All cultures
of the world have given dance a ritual status before any formal
ritual or liturgy was codified in texts, or recreated through
relief or paint.
Yoga, like dance, is much more than a mere physical exercise. It
is a holistic way of relating to the body that involves an
increasing awareness on all levels: the physical, the mental, and
the spiritual. Yoga unites the functions of each of these aspects
of our personality. This is true for dance also. Certainly any
successful dance performance is characterized by a balanced
harmony between the body and spirit. What is suggested here is
that dance, like yoga, is a conscious attempt at integrating all
the tiers of our existence. It does not negate but on the
contrary affirms the sensual nature of our objective physical
being, and treats it as fundamental to any attempt at spiritual
awareness as our subjective intangible soul.
Lord Shiva in Ecstatic Dance
He is the god of destruction, his dance too is thus essentially
of a similar nature. A ring of flames encircles him.
These are the cremation fires which are ultimately going to
consume our mortal bodies. But on the other hand dance is also an
act of creation. It brings about a new situation and transforms
the perpetrator into a higher realm of reality and personality.
Thus the forces gathered and projected in his frantic,
ever-enduring gyration are both of creation and annihilation.
Shiva's tresses are long and flowing, and dark as the night is.
Supra-normal energy, amounting to the power of magic, resides in
such a wildness of hair untouched by the scissors. The celebrated
strength of Samson, who with naked hands tore asunder the jaws of
a lion and shook down the roof of a pagan temple, was similarly
said to reside in his uncut hair.
Shiva rides on the bull. Only those who are masters of their own
impulses can ride on the bull. As Mahayogi, the god is master of
the bull. This is true even when he is with his shakti, and his
images therefore often represent him sitting upon its back,
poised gracefully and fully in control.
Large Size Nandi, Lord Shiva’s Mount
"Among those who have mastered the bull you are the bull keeper.
O Lord! Riding on the bull, you protect the worlds."
The metabolic energy called Kundalini is symbolized as Parvati.
She is conceived as the serpent power which lies coiled in the
lowest chambers of the human body. Kundalini when properly
quickened, unfolds her vibrating hoods and by an upward sweep
enters the spinal cord and then the brain, and finally unites
above the head with Shiva. In mythology, Shiva's wedding with
Parvati is the entrance of this serpent power into the Higher
Mind which is compared to the snowy mountains of Kailash. Kailash
is the symbol of the highest mind and Shiva has his abode on this
mountain where silence reigns eternally.
Lord Shiva Taking his Bride Parvati Home with His Baraat
The analogy is between a human wedding which releases the highest
ecstasies of the flesh, and the wedding of Kundalini with Shiva,
which is a symbol of the highest bliss attainable by an
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