In January, in Jaipur, India there has been for many years now an amazing Literature Festival. The Jaipur Literature Festival presents many authors of numerous genres in a variety of forums. I have always wanted to be in attendance but being a Professor in a New York college requires me to be present as we begin the semester at this time. Thank goodness for the internet and more so, YouTube, as I can watch almost all the hours of the 4 or 5 days long Festival. So I take my time listening and listing all the authors and their titles that are new and interesting. Presented are authors who write in English, and a variety of languages, a majority of the authors are from or writing about the southeast asian experience. However, there are many authors from different countries, who are invited and involved in panels wherein they explore similar and different approaches to ideas which is so fascinating. I know just one author Mridula Garg, who has attended often and presented as well, sometimes we touch base and she fills me in about what I have missed. Today I listened to this video and was quite blown away by Devdutt Pattanaik, he is a master of many intellectual and scientific disciplines. His presentation and perspective is quite direct, powerful, inclusive and so much more, I intend to listen to as many of his videos….but this short one about two minutes is such an excellent explanation of this iconic sculpture The Dance of Shiva, Nataraja. We learn and practice the asana Natarajasana in hatha yoga, the image is plastered on yoga tee shirts, yoga bags, posters and more here in western yoga studios, but how much do we really understand about the significance. Studying classical Indian hatha yoga and staying connected to authentic Indian Yogic organizations that support and protect the ancient teachings is very important to me as a yoga practitioner and teacher. I think this is what differentiates my practice from commercial American yoga, I know just from the experience of the sadhana/practice, that it is not really about the physical body. In the classical tradition the body is useful to a small degree to activate the experience to higher realms of awareness so that I begin to understand how small and insignificant I am, it helps me to tame my ego….as Mr. Pattanaik states…..”our minds forget the fundamentals of life that nature is spectacular,”….Also, I learn through experience in my yoga that I am a part of nature and it is limitless the restrictions are just in my little insignificant mind, but yes this mind is useful to learn, to teach, to write this to you, but in the scope of the universe….not so important….in the solitude and quietness of my practice I feel settled calming my crazy mind to be okay with this all and to feel the pulse of my breath as an echo of the universe and that is spectacular!
And, yes there are many different interpretations, different stories about Shiva as Nataraj, this is just one, but very well stated by Mr. Pattanaik. (When I visited the Temple at Chidambaram, in Tamil Nadu, India, (with Vinodhini and the Late Radha Kant Jha, I was told that all the images carved on the temple pillars were the thousands of asanas that Shiva assumed when he was upset with his Consort, (Parvati or also known as Shakti – the Supreme Goddess), so instead of verbally lashing out or physically lashing her he used his anger and upset to create a dance or choreography of the upset experiences…..compassion at its best? What could she say to that!….what an Art form….Yogasanas the Art of Living Well. And we all have benefitted from the energy of the misunderstanding in just one “time” during this relationship, superb creativity dances for thoughts, excellent documentation temple pillars that have stood for thousands of years. Thanks be to Parvati for motivating Shiva to respond with such creativity and to Mr. Devdutt Pattanaik for sharing his knowledge with us all. Thanks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City for allowing visitors like me to take pictures of a Nataraj sculpture.
Please do yourself a favor and click the link just under the picture to have a listen….do share this with others….stay open and receptive to ideas…..Namaskaram…..OM