Nataraja

According to Hindu tradition, Shiva is the god of destruction who is identified with many roles among them; Yogi of the highest order (the greatest ascetic), the master of medicine and poison, the master of fertility and so on.

When Shiva is referred to as the creator, what it actually means is that He destroys his devotees’ accumulation of past experiences and memories that no longer serve them in attaining their highest good in their journey of being one with the divine. Personally, I can totally relate to this aspect of totally doing away with the rotten aspects of your past in order to step into the new. As a student of psychology, part of training is going through therapy sessions in order to heal from past traumatic experiences which might hinder a psychologist from effectively discharging their duties.

Brahma, according to the Hindu tradition is the creator who is considered the first god in the Hindu trimurti which consists of three gods; Brahma, the creator of life, Vishnu, the preserver of life, and Shiva, the destroyer.

Back to our narrative, Brahma created the world with everything else in it. Shiva in his observation noticed that the world was so full of miseries, people suffering from a lot of calamities which brought about grief and sorrow. But Brahma was so proud and content of his creation that he decided to reward himself. To do this, he created an extra head on top of his head, and then added another, and then another until they were five. Shiva was filled with rage, how could Brahma be happy with what he created yet the world he created was so full of misery, to make it worse he was rewarding himself to a point that it almost seemed as if he were gloating.

When Shiva could not take it anymore, he attacked Brahma and plucked out one of the several heads he had piled up on himself. Brahma screamed in pain and asked Shiva “Why are you attacking me?” Shiva said, “Aren’t you ashamed of this creation you have made, everyone is suffering, people are going through all kinds, of struggles, and pain, and agony, aren’t you ashamed of this?” But then Brahma replied, “I have not created anyone with pain, neither did I create anyone with joy, I just made it, it is up to the human being to decide which none of the two they want to associate themselves with, it is in their mind.” But then Shiva asked, “Who created the mind, isn’t that also you?” To which Brahma replied “The mind has no attributes of its own, it is just there, people can make misery out of it, or people can make joy out of it; it is up to them.”

So Shiva sat down in a motionless state and closed his eyes so that he could practically experience what Brahma had just said. After being in this state for a considerable amount of time, he came to an absolute sense of realization where he realized that the human being is totally capable of adjusting his mind to align to the kind of experiences that he wanted; either joyful experiences or sad experiences, the mind did not have any attribute of its own, it simply became what the human being wanted it to be. When Shiva realized this, he became ecstatic, he became soo ecstatic that he jumped up and began dancing into a frenzy out of his joy and ecstasy. This ecstatic cosmic dance by Shiva is normally depicted by the ‘Nataraja sculpture.’

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