The holy pose which Shiva upholds tonight, not for the faint of heart, not for the spiritually blind. He raises his leg up and stomps the ground and sky at once.
He is the shining nataraja, the keeper of the sacred dance. The shaker to the hypnotic drums. His matted hair glistens like the sun and his third eye opens possibilities beyond our comprehension;
Yes Yes he is in the fervent mood tonight. Dancing and laughing and forgiving our trespasses like a million times before…. through towards eternity.
He resides inside the Akasha-Lingam at chidambaram. The akasha is ether, the subtle formation of the gross phenomenon which our senses perceive as the world and everything in it. There is no linga at chidambaram. There is only the mirage of the real deal. The linga is nothing, representing the subtle element of consciousness. The akasha is the prana in most refined form. Prana coming down and showing infinity.
And as we stare at the empty nothing- which is where the akasha linga stands as it has for timeless years before. I understand that my brain shall never comprehend. The extent and impact that the ether has had on my personal self. The prana which has moulded me as a vile human being is the same prana which is now bowing down before the infinite self in front above and beneath!
My father and his family have spent long periods of time in chidambaram and ever since I remember, my father has sung praises of the size and grandeur of the temple located in the blessed city. Where there has been homage paid to dance and art since time immemorial. (it has remained a centre for art and learning since its inception)
Its not just another temple but a huge, grand town in itself, and I kid you not. The temple is fortified(with huge walls that tower) and is humongous. There are huge parapet walls which enclose almost an entire city within itself. Yes the only difference remains that the city does not host any humans, Its the refuge of the gods who have come since eons to see the holy and powerful nataraja take form and dance the world away to creation and dissolution. The sanctum is unique to the chola architecture that it towers like a vimana/craft/alien rocket to the sky…. something that every temple in this region can boast of.
The sincerity of the devout and the ascetic can be seen here. The temple hosts people from all over the world who have come to give themselves up to the grace of the eternal all powerful dance (many foreigners come here too over the entire year to learn dance and also spend time meditating on the ether linga).
This dance is perfect, this dance is unique. Its the dance that only a master can indulge in. Its the dance absolutely not for the weak. Yes I mean it. The dance which the master like you and I too once shall indulge in; is what creates and sustains this world; and in its peak.. most aesthetic moment- it shall destroy- implode everything of any value back into nothing. This is shiva ananda murti present in this holy ground. Shiva dancing back to ash and void this entire play of ignorance~
Shiva here is in bliss and the tandav/cosmic dance he plays is ananda/blissful to say the least. The one who comes here in search for the soul, in desperate need for the feet of shiva consciousness, will not go back disappointed. He has seen you and everyone else who has entered the holy sanctum. He has begun the never ending dance and will sustain us in balance through terrible/ghora nights like these.
I spent time looking at the architecture on the walls and the sanctums, massive effort to build a city within a city. The tamil saivite kings doing a marvellous job as usual to build something out of this world, the number of structures to the various deities apart from the central dome itself is incomprehensible; even to an experienced temple tripper like myself.
The master here is worshipped not in his linga form (the akasha linga is not a linga at all, its emptiness which is generally covered by a metal linga to denote the ether element present here. The central deity is the bronze glistening statue of the most awesome dancer of the world. The euphoria which I felt looking at the deity first time was beyond words. The nataraja is full of consciousness and power. This translates into freedom for those who have come to give themselves up and rest at Shankara’s feet.
I am not religious, the temple is the same to me as a place of commerce or a place of death. Because that is what nataraja is projecting in the first place, a dance so blissful that nothing remains in a web of illusion. one can and does have the right to dance free, and dance over the oh so many real maya/illusions one experiences or seems to experience.
There are many vishnu and shiva worshippers who sit and contemplate for years together, though I was afraid of the seeming commercialized vibes of the place, nothing to put my spirits down ever happened during my visit. The people who I saw there had genuinely come to pray, come to sell the trinkets of the masters outside and sincerely do worship for the lord of the universe. There is a sort of calm and repugnance towards the mundane and material world when one enters a shiva temple… no matter where it may be; the presence of the linga (and in this case… absolute nothing of a linga) calms the world into submission at the ascetic feet of the maha-deva~
I was immersed for sometime in peaceful being as I saw the afternoon arthi and worshipping coming to a close, The sincere smile on nataraja’s face was more than enough to convince me of the love that this place exuded. Its just a feeling, many can feel it. many wont and would discard it as some placebo of the brain, but for me its just being… being which exists in bliss looking at the ananda tandava of the greatest dancer of this cosmos.
Chidambaram is where true dancers come to get inspired. This is where saints and rishis for long have sat looking and gazing at empty yet completely filled ether; the soul and undercurrent of this creation. This is where this same consciousness comes alive and to the fore with power and grace. This is where the dancer merges with the beat of the drum and the melody of music. The dreamer and dream becomes one and none. This is the holy land of chidambaram.
I am devotee to the dance and the dancing master. I love to dance, love to lose myself within the beats and tune and also in the infinite silence between the beats. I know that dance is everything worth anything its salt in this creation. If you don’t know of dance, or don’t like to dance then you have missed the entire point of bliss. The pointless and all prevalent bliss which none of us in our daily rut and mundane chores ever seem to care about or even acknowledge.
But the dance is addictive, its sensual and its complete. Its the union of the male to the female. Its the entire creation experiencing and expressing without judgement or face. Its what has been or is irrespective of dimensions, labels or any other fact.
Visit chidambaram and get invigorated once again to dance without care. Yea; Dance like no one’s watching! Cause no one is!