ta The Nectar of Thiruppugazh: Why Shiva Danced At Thillai

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Why Shiva Danced At Thillai

Long ago, the sages in Daruka forest had become arrogant, having acquired immense powers by performing severe penances. The rishis followed the school of purva-mimasa of the Vedas. They denied that there was any principle except Karma and believed in the assured efficacy of rituals. They rejected the existence of a Supreme Being and deluded themselves into believing that they were the architects of their own destiny. Their wives were conceited about their ostensible chastity and loyalty to their husbands. Vainly thinking that God can be controlled by rituals and 'mantras', they began creating havoc on earth.

Lord Shiva, with the help of Lord Vishnu, made a plan to put an end to this misery. They went to Daruka Vana, Shiva appearing as a naked mendicant (bhikshatana) and Vishnu, as His enchanting wife.

The wives of the rishis and the rishis themselves were enchanted by the handsome mendicant and his consort. But finding their womenfolk go berserk with desire for the mendicant, the rishis got enraged and began performing yagnas to destroy Him. Within moments, an angry tiger leapt out of the fire and pounced on Shiva. Shiva merely grabbed the tiger and crushed it effortlessly. He ripped off the tiger’s skin and placed it around his waist.

Next the sages brought forth serpents from the fire. The mendicant donned them as ornaments on his matted locks, neck and waist. Thoroughly frustrated, the rishis gathered all their spiritual strength and invoked a powerful demon Muyalakan or Apasmara.

Apasmāra was a dwarf who represented ignorance and arrogance. In order to preserve knowledge in the world, Apasmāra could not be killed, as doing so would throw out the balance of knowledge and ignorance. It would mean attaining knowledge without effort, dedication and hard work and ultimately devalue all forms of knowledge. In order to subdue Apasmāra, Lord Śiva adopted the form of Srī Naṭarāja - the Lord of Dance and performed the cosmic dance of Tandava and suppressed Apasmāra by crushing him with his right foot.

Lord Shiva's enthralling performance pacified the sages, and the world stopped to watch him dance. The beat of his damru became the heartbeat of the world, the celestial water flowing from his tresses illuminated his body and his body engulfed the whole cosmos.

Adisesa prayed for having a glimpse of His majestic dance. For his sake, the Lord danced once again at Tillai, the centre of the Universe, while Vyaghrapada and Patanjali witnessed the divine dance. We will narrate the story of Vyagh rapatha and Patanjali in a later post.

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Transliteration in Tamil available. தமிழில் டைப் செய்யவும், மொழி மாற்றத்திற்க்கும் CTRL+g உபயோகிக்கவும்.