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Nataraja: The Hindu Dance Lord
By Deepak Bhattacharya


In the domain of vastra (dress) B N & E N have angavastras. Similar angavastra (body dress) is seen on the body of a male exponent, possibly a nritya guru (dance teacher) which is a rare depiction fig 9 [ note – vii ]. The B N, E N and C N are well dressed, P N is ulanga (naked), with a very prominent urdha-linga (erect phallus) yet abhusita (ornamented) as do dancers. Jata is of low profile, tight, well set, back brushed with fine finish. Forehead has a ornamented band, which appears to tight-hold the hairdo. The band may be termed as a proto tiara [ note – viii ]. Apart ornamented kundala (ear ring), patra-kundala (leafy ear ring), hara (necklace), keyura (arm band), kankana (bracelets), mekhala (decorative hip wear ), rudrakshya make items are also worn by PN. Bengapatia which is worn as decorative west band cum ‘ dress press ’ by exponent of oddisi is not noted, however nritya-guru fig 9 wears a heavy band of interlocking rectangular grids around his waist as if a additional decorant or a status indicator cum dhoti (lion cloth) tightner. This could be proto bengapatia. Identical bands are worn by Umma & Nataraja. Abhusana in the art of P N comparatively is less than B N, E N & C N.

Urdha-linga marks the bindu of Nataraja&rsquos sarira (trunk) & of the golakara, when measured from any point of the arc fig 1. Urdha-linga stands out in bold contrast, is the apex signature of the series of fine tuned nidarsanas harvested within & around the golakara. Nritya with urdha-linga represents a philosophy, series members are products.

Figure 9
fig – 9

In the domain of anga-partyanga nidarsana ( body parts-biparts presentation) B N is sodsabhuja (16 arms) E N is astabhuja (8 arm ) P N is dasabhuja (10 arm) C N is chaturbhuja (4 arm). Anga-partyanga of co-linear members appear flexible and present mudras. Alike B N, E N & C N, each arm & leg of P N describes a angle of the arc of the golakara and as well a oddisi mudra. Notable being, vyala hasta, birodha, pataka, ardha pataka, lolita hasta, danda hasta & pasa hasta in birodha, etc.. B N, E N & P N demonstrate lolita hasta \ danda hasta wherein a arm is flung across the sarira. C N does so with one arm & one feet from opposite side of the sarira it counters the lines of thrusts enabling poise & balance as the sarira gets into druta nritya tala (fast dance cadence), this is a later evolutionary refinement. Sarira in B N & EN have sidereal swerve while P N has a forward bend at waist which indicates ardha chauka (half quadrant) pose which is so innate to oddisi. Feet describes dwi-mukha kumbha pada, which is a component of tandava. Eyes & countenance presents tamas bhava (severe expression) which is sudha abhinaya (pure act ) the hall mark of tandava.

B N & E N are cave members, C N & P N adore deula. B N, E N & P N are samuchita drishya (composite views). C N is kevala murti (only icon), is of brass \ alloy make datable to late medieval to modern period.

P N is nidarsana via chaiti vitika rudrakshya mandita golakar samuchita drishya [ indication via arch inscribed aleocarpus genitrus garlanded composite theme in medallion format ], others not, fig 2. Among other possibilities, linga-kalinga-deula-nritya-nataraja coalesce into one, may be the message, sought to be impressed upon the beholder via chitra bhasa.

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