The Nataraja, significantly carved with extra arms, in exaggerated and humanly impossible attitudes is symbolic, tending to show more of the power and strength over other than the marvels of a dancing feat.
Shiva dances, surrounded by fire which destroys ignorance while evoking creation with the sound of his double-sided drum. He crushes underfoot the dwarf demon Apasmara, the symbol of ignorance, while simultaneously showing mercy by raising his palm, a calming gesture, and pointing with his foot to indicate where the worshipper may take refuge. Lord Shiva expresses not just the movement of the dance but reveals the five elements: earth, wind, fire, water and space. The lotus at the pedestal is a symbol of water and of earth; the wind catches Shiva's sash and hair; fire is expressed by the flaming disc, symbolic of the sun, which surrounds the dancing figure and water is expressed by the river Ganga which flows through his matted hair.