Naagendrahaaraaya trilochanaaya, Bhasmaangaraagaaya mahesvaraaaya
'Salutations to Lord Siva who exists in the sound 'Na'. He wears snakes as garland,
is three-eyed, his body is smeared with ash, he is pure, wears the sky as his attire'
Sri Nataraja, Lord of Dancers, is another form of Siva. The Cosmos is his theater
and His dance personifies the manifestation of primal rhythmic energy. Of the various
dances of Siva, the dance of Nataraja before the assembly in the golden hall of
Chidamabaram (Akasakshetra) or Thillai in Tamil Nadu is said to have been first
revealed to gods and rishis after the submission of the latter in the forest of
In the forest of Taragam dwelt multitudes of heretical rishis. Siva, accompanied by Vishnu as a beautiful woman and Adi Seshan, the Serpent King, proceeded there to confuse them. The rishis were at first led to violent dispute among themselves, but their anger was soon directed against Siva and they tried to destroy Him by incantations. A fierce tiger was created in sacrificial fires, and rushed upon Him; but smiling gently, He seized it and, with the nail of his little finger, stripped off its skin, and wrapped it about Himself. The sages then produced a monster serpent, which however, Siva seized and wreathed about His neck like a garland. Then He began to dance, but there rushed upon Him a last monster in the shape of a malignant dwarf, Muyalaka. Upon him the god pressed the tip of His foot, and broke the creature's back; and with His last foe prostrate, Siva resumed the dance that made the Universe tremble. Then Adi Seshan worshiped Siva and prayed for the boon to behold this mystic dance; where upon Siva promised that He should behold this dance again in sacred Thillai.