Sunday, May 13, 2007

Today's Quote: The Dance of Shiva

Dancing is an ancient form of magic. The dancer becomes amplified into a being endowed with supra-normal powers. His personality is transformed. Like yoga, the dance induces trance, ecstasy, the experience of the divine, the realization of one's own secret nature, and, finally, mergence into the divine essence. In India consequently the dance has flourished side by side with the terrific austerities of the meditation grove--fasting, breathing exercises, absolute introversion. To work magic, to put enchantments upon others, one has first to put enchantments on oneself. And this is effected as well by dance as by prayer, fasting and meditation. Shiva, therefore, the arch-yogi of the gods, is necessarily also the master of the dance.

Pantomimic dance is intended to transmute the dancer into whatever demon, god, or earthly existence he impersonates. The war dance, for example, converts the men who execute it into warriors; it arouses their warlike virtues and turns them into fearless heros. And the hunting-party dance-pantomime, which magically anticipates and assures the successes of the hunting party, makes of the participants unerring huntsmen. To summon from dormancy the nature-powers attendant upon fruitfulness, dancers mimic the gods of vegetation, sexuality and rain.

The dance is an act of creation. It brings about a new situation and summons into the dancer a new and higher personality. It has a cosmogonic function, in that it arouses dormant energies which then may shape the world. On a universal scale, Shiva is the Cosmic Dancer; in his "Dancing Manifestation"...he embodies in himself and simultaneously gives manifestation to Eternal Energy. The forces gathered and projected in his frantic, ever-enduring gyration, are the powers of the evolution, maintenance, and dissolution of the world. Nature and all its creatures are the effects of his eternal dance.

From Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization by Heinrich Zimmer

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