Thanks to Shri BN Mama for a wonderful drawings on this special day and Shri Venkatesan for this great article on narrating on Periyava’s visit to Chidambaram.
CONCEPT OF NATARAJA explained by MAHAPERIYAVA
(Below is the gist of Swamigal’s speech at Chennai on 20-10-1932 on Nataraja’s cosmic dance:)
“Nataraja is another name of Parameswara. Amongst Natan, Vitan and
Kayan, Natan is the dancer. The king of all the Natans is Nataraja. It means that nobody can dance better than him. He is also called Mahanatan. In the Tamil language, he is also called “Ambala Koothaduvan”.
Nataraja is a very big actor. He is playing the act that we all should have taken upon us. The hair in the Nataraja idol appears to be stretched out. These days, when a photo is shot, a snap shot is taken. It is a sudden capture of an object in motion. When Nataraja is dancing fast and stops for a second, his hair is stretched out.
The sculpture had taken a snap shot of this image and created the idol. He has an udukkai also known as damarugam or dakka in one of his hands. The beat of the damarugam will match the beat of the feet. There are three types of instruments – Sarma vadyam (Instruments made with skin), Thanthri vadyam (string instruments) and Vayurendra Vadyam ( instruments with holes). The Sarma vadyam are played using sticks of hands and when the beat stops is the indication for begin of a new cycle (Chappu). The chappu in Nataraja’s damarugam appears when there is a pause in the dance.
Nataraja is dancing while Sanakar, Patanjali, Vyagrapadhar and other rishis are standing around him. As they were saints, they were able to comprehend the cosmic dance via their Gnana Eyes. There is something called lens in our eyes. Our sight depends on the power of the lens.
The older we grow, we are unable to see that clearly and substitute with another lens. Hence, what we see is not the real sight. Sanakadhis witnessed the dance with their real eyes. Vishnu played the mathalam while Brahma put the beat for the music. During the end of the dance, there arose fourteen different sounds from the damarugam in line with the fourteen different types of arts. The sounds seemed to be enjoying the Siva swaroopam.
Nandikeswarer considered the sounds to be Siva Bhakthi Stotram and wrote Bhashyam for them. Amongst those gathered to witness the cosmic dance was Panini who wrote the Panini Vyakaran Suktam starting with ‘A’ and ending with ‘I’.
All languages have their alphabets starting with Akaram. ( Middle eastern language has Alif as the first letter, while Greek language has Alpha as the first letter). Both the letters came from the sound ‘al’ and so is the word ‘Alphabet’ start with the letter ‘al’. The basis of the Vyakaranam is the Mahesa Sutrams that came from Parameswara’s damarugam. Patanjali and Vyagrapadar are next to Nataraja and their idols can be seen behind Nataraj’s idol.
Patanjali wrote Bhashyam for Panini Vyakarana Sutram that was generated from Parameswara’s damarugam. Patanjali is also considered to be incarnation of Adi Sesha who also is found under the feet of Parameswara. From this, it can be surmised that Parameswara is the main author of Vyakarana Shastra.”
On the night of Swamigal’s visit to Chidambaram, he asked the young man who does Vastra Kaingaryam ( washes and maintains Swamigal’s clothes) to come to the Sivaganga Thatagai / tank in the Nataraja temple early next morning before 5 am with his new clothes and without anyone’s knowledge. Swamigal went to the holy tank early in the morning with that young man, took a bath, completed his morning prayers and was there in front of the sanctum sanctorum before the doors were opened. The priest who had the morning duty there turned around and was shocked to see our Swamigal standing there reciting slokas.
He did not expect to see our Swamigal there unannounced and immediately sent word through the security guard to all the Dikshithars about Swamigal’s presence in the temple. Within minutes the word spread and hundreds of people hurried towards the temple. The Dikshithars prostrated before Swamigal and said they had made lots of arrangements to welcome Swamigal in an appropriate way and they were upset
because he was there all by himself, unannounced. Swamigal replied that he was eager to have ‘Viswaroopa darshan (the first puja done in the morning) of Nataraja and also that he would be visiting the temple many times every day during his stay here.
The Dikshithars took Swamigal back to his camp with all the Devasthanam honors. They requested Swamigal to stay in the temple for few days and conduct Sri Chandramouleswarer puja in the thousand pillared mandap. Welcome speech was given in Sanksrit by Upanyasa Ratnakaram C.S.Sivakamasundara Dikshithar and in Tamil by his son C.S.Sachidananda Dikshithar, on behalf of their entire community.
Swamigal stayed in the temple for about fifteen days and conducted the puja there. It is said that Adi Sankara brought back five lingams from Kailasa and of those, the Moksha lingam is said to be in Chidambaram. The Yoga Lingam is being worshipped by Adi Sankara and all the Kamakoti Acharyas. Thousands of people witnessed the puja and heard Swamigal’s upanyasams in the evenings. Members of all communities offered Bikshavandanam and pada puja.
Swamigal had darshan of Nataraja and Govindaraja every day of his stay. He arranged for special abhishekams of Chitra annam as well as Bakshana pavadai for Nataraja. Every year, special decorations are made to Nataraja and he is brought in a procession around the four Ratha streets, twice in the month of Ani for Ani Thirumanjana celebrations as well as in the month of Margazhi for Arudra darshanam. It would take the priests three days to complete the decorations.
The Dikshithars brought our Swamigal down the Panchakshara steps to the sanctum sanctorum of Sri Nataraja to have the darshan of the Lord decorated thus for the procession. Sri Swamigal had darshan of Ratnasabapathi, Moksha Chandramouleswarer lingam, Chitsabesan, Sivakamasundari and the famous Secret of Chidamabaram. His Holiness stayed in Chidambaram for a month. Before leaving the city, Sri Swamigal donated crescent moon made in gold and with diamonds embedded on the top, for Nataraja.
(Source: Pujya Sri Mahaswamy Divya Charitram)