Tirumular: “Atbudha Dance”

(ca. 400–700)

The Tamil poem “Atbudha Dance” extols the wonder and awe of the Cosmic Dance of the King of the Dance. It is excerpted from an ancient South Indian Tamil devotional poem or hymn called “Tirumantiram” (Sacred Mantra or Prayer), composed by the legendary Tamil sage Tirumular. The dates most commonly given for the Tirumantiram and the “Atbudha Dance” are between 400 and 700 CE. Tirumular, its author, is an almost-mythical figure in the Tamil Shaivite (Shiva worshipper) tradition. Many fundamental concepts of this tradition were first found in his innovative text. One such example is the work’s emphasis on worship of the Hindu god Shiva (or Siva) as the Cosmic Dancer, Shiva Nataraja. The Tirumantiram consists of some three thousand verses and is one of the four central texts of the main book for the Tamil sect of the Hindu god Shiva as Nataraja, Shaiva Siddhanta (Doctrine of Shiva); this main book is called Tirumarai (Sacred Book).

Shaiva Siddhanta is a Hindu school of Shiva...

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Shiva Nataraja (Yale University Art Gallery)

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