‘We must discard each mask, one after another, until finally nothing remains.’

For Hindus, Shiva’s dance creates the universe. There’s something here for all of us, says Tony D’Souza

A statue of Shiva. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

In the figurative sacred arts of the western world nothing comes close. Aldous Huxley said of it: ‘We have nothing in the west that approaches the symbolism of this work of art, which is both cosmic and psychological.’ Perhaps the crucifix comes closest, depicting the intersection of the divine and mundane in a way that is at once beautiful, pure and simple. But the dance of Shiva (or Nataraja) is more complex and beautifully depicts the most profound mystical truths. These are the truths which came to the ancient Rishis (solitary ascetics) in the forests of India over five thousand years ago and remain as true and as relevant today.

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