Tirumular: “Atbudha Dance”

(ca. 400–700)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

The “Atbudha Dance” is a devotional poem excerpted from the last chapter of Tirumular’s Tirumantiram. This poem reflects the outpourings of the heart of the legendary yogi Tirumular as he witnesses Nataraja performing the Cosmic Dance of Creation and Destruction. Each verse conveys with emotional intensity the awe, wonder, and ecstasy experienced in the presence of the great Cosmic Dancer. The theology of Shaiva Siddhanta is poignantly couched in the devotional lines of the poetry. Nataraja is the eternal, enlightened guru who dances within the heart of the devotee in the temple of the body. His blissful formless form transcends the dualities of male and female, destruction and creation. Through his blessings, his wondrous dance, revealed in the heart of the devotee, confers ultimate wisdom, truth, and liberation.

The first stanza, called the “Dance of the Form-Formless,” declares Nataraja the supreme guru, or spiritual teacher. His...

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Shiva Nataraja (Yale University Art Gallery)

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