Choosing the name SHIVA for the band
arose from our fascination with the legends of the Hindu god Shiva.
No disrespect was or is intended by the use of His name or image.
"The God Shiva or Lord Shiva is one of the great
figures in the modern Hindu pantheon. In contrast to the regal attributes
of Vishnu, Shiva is a figure of renunciation. A favorite image portrays
him as an ascetic, performing meditation alone in the fastness of the Himalayas.
There he sits on a tiger skin, clad only in a loincloth, covered with sacred ash
that gives his skin a grey colour. His trident is stuck into the ground
next to him. Around his neck is a snake. From his matted hair, tied
in a topknot, the river Ganga (Ganges) descends to the earth. His neck is
blue, a reminder of the time he drank the poison that emerged while gods and
demons competed to churn the milk ocean. Shiva often appears in this image
as an antisocial being, who once burned up Kama, the god of love, with a glance.
But behind this image is the cosmic lord who, through the very power of his
meditating consciousness, expands the entire universe and all beings in it.
Although he appears to be hard to attain, in reality Shiva is a loving deity who
saves those devotees who are wholeheartedly dedicated to him.
The bhakti literature of South India, where Shiva has long been important, describes the numerous instances of pure-hearted devotion to the beautiful lord and the final revelation of himself as Shiva after testing his devotees. Shiva often appears on earth in disguise, perhaps as a wandering Brahman priest, to challenge the charity or belief of a suffering servant, only to appear eventually in his true nature. Many of these divine plays are connected directly with specific people and specific sites, and almost every ancient Shiva temple can claim a famous poem or a famous miracle in its history. The hundreds of medieval temples in Tamil Nadu, almost all dedicated to Shiva, contain sculptured panels depicting the god in a variety of guises: Bhikshatana, the begging lord; Bhairava, a horrible, destructive image; or Nataraja, the lord of the dance, beating a drum that keeps time while he manifests the universe."
The original artwork shown here was commissioned for
Firedance and painted by Seng-gye.
It is an accurate representation of Shiva as Nataraja, Lord of the Dance, but shows Him emerging in person from within a statue of the dance.
Notes on various motifs in the Nataraj from Ask Asia (see also the Indian Temples Portal)
|"Dance represents the symbolic of the movement of the universe. Dance is an
important aspect in Indian life. The Dance of life is the dance of
Two-sided drum held by the first right hand is a symbol of creation. It is beating the pulse of the universe. The drum also provides the music that accompanies Shiva's dance. The drum represents sound as the first element in an unfolding universe. Sound is a vehicle of speech, conveyer of revelation and Truth. Hourglass drum also can represent male and female, two triangles as they penetrate each other to form a hexagon.. When parted, the universe dissolves.
Fire held in the first left hand represents destruction which leads to creation, over and over again. Fire also cleanses the impurity of the soul. Both upper arms show balance of creation and destruction.
Flame halo (Circle of fire ) represents samsara (reincarnation), the endless cycle of birth and death. Life comes as a result of heat (passion). Life ends in the fires of destruction. And then life comes over and over again.
Mudra (hand gesture) of lower right hand means "Do not be afraid." Mudra of lower left hand means "There is a way out." This gesture promises salvation or release from the world of forms and rebirth. This hand points to the way out.
Upraised left foot symbolizes release from rebirth and the promise of moksha-nirvana;
Dwarf being crushed by the right foot symbolizes not evil but rather ignorance of moksha which Nataraj is overcoming. Dwarf can also symbolize forgetfulness, heedlessness, blindness. Two feet together symbolize interplay of insight and forgetfulness.
Shiva's matted hair flowing out as he dances reminds viewer he was an ascetic.
|Image of Ganges River in Shiva's hair. Reminds viewer that Shiva can control
(tame) nature. Ganga had returned to the Himalaya mountains but the people on
the plain needed water. A sage performed extraordinary feats of devotion and
Ganga agreed to come back to the parched earth. Shiva feared the force of the
river would crush life on the plane so He allowed the Ganges River to flow from
the Himalayas through his hair and then flow gently onto the Gangetic plain.
River Ganges also purifies all things.
Expression on Shiva's face is calm, aloof, unaffected by the display of his own energy, the flow and change of time.
Snake ornaments also symbolize his control over the powers of nature. Snake may also symbolize egotism which one must overcome in order to realize moksha. Snake also symbolizes cycle of life and death. The raised foot is out of the plane of the rest of the image as the raised foot takes the viewer out of the world of forms into the formless reality of moksha.
Image rests on a lotus, the Indian symbol of the creative force of the universe.
Crescent moon in crown of his matted hair represents highest principle of consciousness or illumination.
Two different ear-rings Shiva wears symbolizes that he embodies both masculine and feminine aspects of existence. One worn by men is a combination of a fish and a crocodile, the other worn by women is a simple spiral.
Third eye in his forehead symbolizes his all-seeing ability. Also symbolic of insight or enlightenment.
Skull of Death as a crown symbolizes Shiva conquers death."
SHIVA HOME PAGE
© Shiva/Andy Skuse, 2004