Chidambaram Lord Nataraja Temple - The Ananda Thandavam

Lord Nataraja Ananda Thandavam

Lord Nataraja Ananda Thandavam

Nataraja with Vyaghrapada and Patanjali (left) and his consort Parvati (right)Ananda Thandavam


The Ananda Tandava posture of Lord Shiva is one of the famous postures recognized around the world by many (even people belonging to other religions have likened it to Hinduism). This celestial dancing posture tells us how a Bharathanatium Dancer should dance.


  • The demon under Nataraja's feet signifies that ignorance is under his feet

  • The Fire in this hand (power of destruction) means destroyer of evil

  • The raised hand signifies that he is the savior of all life.

  • The Ring at the back signifies the cosmos.

  • The drum in his hand signifies the origin of Life.

These are the main things that the Natarajar murti and the celestial dance posture depict. A rare type of thandava posture is seemed in Melakadambur temple near by 32 km from here.In this Karakoil, Nataraja dancing on a bull and deva's rounds the structure it's an pala art being kept in this shrine.


Adhisesha, the serpent who serves as a bed for the Lord in his manifestation as Vishnu, hears about the Änanda thaandava and yearns to see and enjoy it. The Lord blesses him, beckons him to assume the saintly form of 'Patanjali' and sends him to the Thillai forest, informing him that he will display the dance in due course.


Patanjali who meditated in the Himalayas during krita age joins another saint, Vyaghrapada/Vyagrapathar / Pulikaalmuni (Vyagra / Puli meaning "Tiger" and patha / kaal meaning "feet" – referring to the story of how he sought and got the feet and eyesight of a tiger to help climb trees well before dawn to pick flowers for the Lord before the bees visit them). The story of sage Patanjali as well as his great student sage Upamanyu is narrated in both Vishnu Puranam as well as Siva Puranam. They move into the Thillai forest and worship Lord Shiva in the form of Shivalinga, a deity worshipped today as Thirumoolataneswarar (Thiru - sri, Moolatanam - primordial or in the nature of a foundation, Eswarar- the Lord). Legends say that Lord Shiva displayed his dance of bliss (the Aananda Thaandavam) - as Nataraja to these two saints on the day of the poosam star in the Tamil month of Thai (Jan – Feb).


Pancha Bootha Sthalas



Chidambaram is one of the Panchabootha Sthalas, where the Lord is worshipped in his manifestation as sky or Aagayam ("pancha" – meaning five, bootha – meaning the elements: earth, water, fire, wind and space and "sthala" meaning location).


The others are:

  • The Ekambareswarar temple at Kanchipuram, where the Lord is worshipped in his manifestation as Earth

  • The Jambukeswarar temple at Thiruvanaikaval, in Tiruchirapalli, where the Lord is worshipped in his manifestation as Water

  • The Annamalaiyar Temple at Tiruvannamalai, where the Lord is worshipped in his manifestation as Fire

  • The Kalahasti temple at Srikalahasthi, where the Lord is worshipped in his manifestation as air/wind.

Chidambaram also is one of the five places where Lord Shiva is said to have displayed his dance and all these places have stages/ sabhais . Apart from Chidambaram which has the Por sabhai, the others are the Rathina sabhai at Thiruvaalangadu (rathinam – ruby / red) , the Chitra sabhai at Courtallam (chitra – painting), the Rajatha sabhai or the Velli ambalam at Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple (rajatha / velli – silver) and the Thaamira sabhai at Nellaiappar Temple, Tirunelveli (thaamiram – copper).


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