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Installation of ‘Shiva – Nataraja’ at ITPO भारत मंडपम्

New Delhi, September 05, 2023

विश्व की पहली अष्टधातु की नटराज मूर्ति गणपति स्थापति के पुत्र राधाकृष्ण स्थापति ने तैयार की है जो भारत मंडपम् के बाहर लगाई गई है यह विश्व की पहली मूर्ति है।

27 फीट और 18 टन की यह विराट विग्रह 7 महीने में लगभग 100 कारीगर ने मिल कर तैयार की है इसकी परिकल्पना डॉ सचिदानंद जोशी विशेष सचिव इंदिरा गाँधी राष्ट्रीय कला केंद्र ने की थी।

Installation of ‘Shiva – Nataraja’ at ITPO

A 27ft Nataraja figure weighing around 20 tons is being manufactured in traditional casting methods made of Ashta-dhatu. The Nataraja is created by the traditional Sthapatis of Swamimalai in the traditional lost wax casting process following canons and measurements as mentioned in Silpa Shastra, which have followed in the making of Nataraja since the Chola period, i.e., 9th century AD onwards.

Technical specifications;

• Height: Idol – 27ft

• Weight: Approx. 18-20 tons maximum


Ashta-dhatu (eight metals) Bronze, composition is

1. Copper–87%

2. Zinc -10%

3. Lead-3%

4. Tin-trace quantity

5. Silver-trace quantity

6. Gold-trace quantity

7. Mercury-trace quantity

8. Iron as support

Processes involved:

1. Making of base clay armature figure for a support structure

2. Application of wax layer on top of clay armature.

3. Adding details and attributes

4. Wet clay plaster once the wax figure is complete and ready

5. Drying of clay plaster

6. Use of iron support to lift the plaster

7. Heating of clay plaster/ Dewaxing

8. Heating the hollow clay plaster till the appearance of blue flames

9. Casting of metal inside the hollow plaster

10. Cooling of plaster/ Drying

11. Breaking of clay plaster to reveal the figure

12. Finishing, polishing, detailing

13. Packing and set up for transportation

14. Installation

Approximate Man hours: 3.25 lakh manhours

Detailed process of Wax modelling:

a. Beeswax and black dammar resin are traditionally mixed with a little oil to be kneaded into the wax model. The sthapati uses his hands to obtain the initial shape of the parts such as the icon’s torso, limbs, head and other accessories such as pedestals.

b. For the mould, a mix of fine alluvial soil and water is applied over the wax model to pick up fine details. Following coatings become progressively coarser and thicker.

c. The mould containing the wax model is dried under the sun and then heated gradually to remove wax from the inside.

d. The technique is hollow lost wax casting.

e. The nails hold the inner clay core and the outer clay mould in place during and after the wax has flown out of the mould.

Philosophical and Symbolic details of the Nataraja:

The 27 feet Shiva Nataraja, the Lord of dance, installed in front of Bharat Mandapam, at the time of G20 Presidency, is the tallest bronze icon as of now. This Cosmic dance symbolizes the Omnipresent Infinite permeating the sub atom too. This form of the Lord is a synthesis of Religion, Philosophy, Art, Craft and Science. The book, ‘Dance of Shiva’, by Ananda Coomaraswamy created ripples of thought in the world of atomic physics. The well-known book ‘The Tao of Physics’, by Fritjof Capra, has a whole chapter on the dance of Shiva as Nataraja. This icon of the dancing Lord is full of symbolism. It is also a challenge for the sculptor to follow the elaborate rules of symmetry and proportion as laid down in the relevant Shastra texts.

Symbolism: The figure of Nataraja has four hands artistically construed with a specific purpose.

1) The arch around the figure represents His Cosmic theatre.

2) The little drum in His raised right hand symbolises creation, as it causes vibration. Scientifically it includes theories of particle and vibration. Moreover, the sound of this little drum is said to have emanated fourteen Phonetic phrases which is said to be the mother of all languages. In fact, there is the philosophy of Nada (sound) & Brahman (Infinite God), i.e. the Eternal ultrasound of Om, which is the music for the Cosmic activity. The Lord’s dance is called ‘Nadanta Natanam’.

3) The lower right-hand shows signs of protection (Abhaya hasta) and assurance of well-being.

4) The raised left hand holds fire symbolising dissolution (and not destruction). It also relates to the Hindu principle of the laws of Karma (action) and the laws of Janma (reincarnations). In other words, it denotes the cycle of birth and death.

5) The lower left hand is stretched across the chest towards the right side (technically called ‘Kari hasta’ – like the trunk of an elephant), with the fingers pointing to the raised left foot on the right side.

6) This raised foot is the ultimate home of the tired souls who are released from earthly bondage. In other words, it is the final refuge (Moksha).

7) The right foot is seen crushing a demonic dwarf, who symbolises human depravity caused by ignorance leading to ego. As mentioned earlier the arch around the dancing Lord indicates the entire creation which is His theatre, wherein He is dancing in the form of every sub-atom, which magnifies as the five elements.

His dance also symbolises His five activities – Creation (Shrishti), Protection (Sthiti), Illusion (Tirobhava), Dissolution (Samhara) and Liberation (Anugraha). Nataraja’s idol also has 2 invisible triangles interlocked representing both Shiva and Shakti. Scientifically this is the mingling of matter and energy. This is the yantra (line diagram worshipped ritually). The shrine at Chidambaram has Nataraja as well as the unseen Yantra. It is a combination of rupa worship (worship of form) and arupa worship (worship of the formless element of space), both housed in the Sanctum of Nataraja shrine at Chidambaram. Chidambaram means ‘the space of consciousness’. The making of the Idol With these profound metaphysical and philosophical concepts, the making of this form of dancing Shiiva, is an elaborate process with strict adherence to rules of proportion and symmetry.

A brief note on the rules as found in the Tamil textbook, Śirpa Sennūl’ (Shirpa Sennul) by Ganapati Sthapati, former Principal of the School of Temple Architecture and Sculpture, Mahabalipuram, is given under. The basic measurement (Tala) is according to the size of the face of the painting or idol. This measurement is from the chin to forehead. (It is interesting to note that the term Tala is common, for measuring both time and space). The number of Talas depends on each Deity to be sculpted. When the standing figure is upright, as a single vertical line, caused by a hanging Sutra or thread, the entire measurement will be a little more than ten Talas for the making of Shiva and Vishnu.

Depending on the deflections in the main line, the figure is sculpted as slightly bent or bent as two or three deflections. The figure of Nataraja is sculpted in what is technically termed as Abhasa Bhanga, with multiple lines in the body contour. A thread is dropped from the head to the foot as the guiding yardstick. This is called the ‘Purva sutra’. The loss of height is calculated as ten or eleven or twelve ‘viral’. Viral literally means edge of a finger. This viral measurement depends on the height of the idol. Nataraja is sculpted as Uttama (ideal), Madhyama (second quality) dasha taḷa proportions. The purva sutra must fall thus: Head, left corner of the right eye, right nostril, right side of the chin, centre of the navel, centre of the lifted thigh and the ankle of the right foot. Moreover, the sutra should hang through the middle of the chest and centre of the stomach. It should hang behind the lifted thigh and in front of the right ankle. There are many more rules with minutest details, which are to be followed in creating the Creator’s Idol.

While scientists are searching for the ‘God Particle’, the realisation of the Cosmic Dance of Shiva gives a mind-boggling truth of the Micro and Macro Dance activity, galvanising the entire creation. The atom that was considered beyond splitting, was later discovered that it can be split as sub-atom. However, this has already been mentioned in our Vedic literature as ‘Anu’ (atom) and ‘Paramanu’ (sub atom).

Hindu metaphysics recognises this micro-object as God and its movement as Shiva’s dance. Shaiva Siddhanta of the Tamil tradition has many religious texts apart from the numerous Tevarams (Shaivite hymns) which have come down to us from the 7th century. There are numerous references in these hymns to the dancing Lord, in His various forms. The Agama Shastras of South India have a very close relationship with the Shaiva Siddhanta as well. Shiva Nataraja who causes activity in creation is an abstract meta-physical concept. The intangible world of sub-atoms is crystallised as the tangible form of the Nataraja idol. The specially created tallest Nataraja proclaims the living tradition of this metaphysical concept in art, thought and science in India. It proves the synthesis of time – past, present and future – as a symbol of co-existence of centuries.

डॉ सच्चिदानंद जोशी, सदस्य सचिव इंदिरा गाँधी राष्ट्रीय कला केंद्र और राधा कृष्ण स्थापति संबोधित करते हुए

Virendra Mishra: Delhi Bureau

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