Review of 'The Aniconic Cosmic Dancer' (Verses of the Divine) by Shakuntala Kanakagiri
* Nataraja the Divine Force
Deepti Menon's elucidation of the dynamics of 'Shiva', as 'Nataraja', or the 'Cosmic Dancer', is vivid and expressive in its purview.
As Nataraja strides across in raw anguish and ire, the earth below shakes, and humanity trembles.
The frenzied dance of the divine, rolls and rumbles like thunder, in a swirling sea of flame, with drumbeats reverberating, Ganges aflow, serpents coiled, the dance of fury and wrath symbolising destruction and creation. As the raised mighty leg slowly comes down, the Cosmos holds its breath in sudden silence, as Shiva the ascetic sits in stillness and concentration, contemplating and meditating on his absolute self.
*Altar Of Chidambaram
Nandita De brings out a beautiful imagery of the 'Altar of Chidambaram', 'Mount Kailash', or 'Meru Parvat', where Shiva sits in meditation on the holy peaks, with His transcendent aspects of Consciousness and Absolute reality, the very source of our Cosmos or creation.
She's captivated by the resplendent yogic pose in the divine settings of truth, peace, clarity and compassion, where the mind and soul merge into a supreme consciousness through meditation. Shiva to her is a perpetual enigma, with His unique qualities and mysteries.
She revels in 'His' subtle attributes of stillness, concentration, virtuosity and abstinence, 'His' physical manifestations as a 'Lingam', the lord of fertility, 'Natraja', the 'Cosmic Dancer', 'Mahadev’, the meditator, 'Neelkanth', the saviour and 'Ardhanarishwar', a union of energies of Shakti and Shiva as divine powers in action, for creation, destruction and preservation of the Cosmic Cycles.
Shiva to Nandita De is also a metaphor for dynamics of sub-atomic particles and super natural mythological forces where His Aniconic and Anthropomorphic images are revered and deified.
* Shiva The Saviour
Swapna Das calls upon Lord 'Shiva, The Saviour' with infinite attributes to bless her with true devotion and reverence. She cries out to Lord 'Shiva', to extricate her from all Maya or illusion and bondage.
She implores Him to fill her heart with the primordial sound of 'AUM', reverberating through every cell of her being. She is the 'Cosmic Dust', wandering in search of her origins, seeking solace for her restless soul.
She aspires for shelter from 'Shiva the Saviour', The 'Ascetic’, and 'Mendicant', to uplift her from the woes of false pride and steer her to attain salvation.
* Praise The Cosmic Entity
Pooja Sinha's elaboration on 'Praise the Cosmic Entity', is an attempt to reflect on the myriad facets and attributes of Lord Shiva as the 'Cosmic Entity', 'The Auspicious One' for the countless roles He personifies to maintain the equilibrium of the cosmic collaborations.
Praising the Lord or hailing Him is also a form of worship to glorify, honour and adore Him in His multiple manifestations as creator, destroyer, and sustainer.
She believes every form of the Lord is symbolic, metaphoric and allegoric.
'HE' is an embodiment of auspiciousness, whether in the phallic state, as 'Cosmic Dancer', Rudra, or Veerabhadra in all His varied attributes and symbols. She praises the Lord for His beatific, seraphic and saintly traits, that remove all illusions and delusions.
Shrishtee Singh's metaphorical reference to Lord Shiva's presence is felt everywhere in this cosmos. She believes Shiva is but a 'consciousness', or an 'awareness', who resides in every human being diffusing into the powerful mantra, 'Shivoham', or 'I am that', 'I am Shiva'.
For her, the aniconic form of Shiva does not let the virulence all around stray deep into His heart as He meditates.
The mystic river flowing from the head is knowledge purifying one and all. He resides in stillness, in the hour of silence. He is the breath in and out. According to her, all His attributes resonate in our own life and living...in our breaths, in our minds and in our own bodies.
* Eternal Lord Mahadeva
Jyoti Nair’s perception of Lord Shiva explores a gamut of manifestations, from the dreadful to the sublime.
The Lord of Kailash is a personification of bliss in one moment or of fury in the next instant. His divine aura leaves all in a state of trance. She hails the Lord’s Ananda tandava and Rudra tandava of bliss and fury making Him the Lord of Lords.
She urges with honesty to the souls to find their real awakening for 'cosmic synergy'. She perceives in Him a range of manifestations as an enchanter, ascetic and an iconic dancer.
Dr Paromita Mukherjee
Dr Paromita Mukherjee's 'Synchronization' untangles the profound features and forces of Lord Shiva's aspects of 'Cosmic Duality', 'Cosmic Energy' and 'Cosmic Rhythm'.
She dwells on the Cosmic Duality aspect of Shiva as Ishwar and Ardhanarishwar, Rudra and Shakti, Pashupati and Parvati, Preserver and Destroyer.
She entreats Mahadeva to let the primal energy bless all creation in its heavenly sojourn.
She calls on the Cosmic Dancer to continue His dance of creation and destruction to transport all from the pall of doom and let life bloom once again through death and devastation with His Tandava dance or the Genesis-Of-Life.
She pleads to Shiva to rekindle man's sanctity from chaos and incoherence to establish Cosmic Synergy.
She salutes the Harbinger of Apocalypse and Nurturer of Creation to save His children from the path of abomination to propitiation.
* He - The Love of Sati
Dr. Shweta Mathur Lall
Dr. Shweta Mathur Lall's poem portrays the anguish, love,
agony and reverence for Sati or Parvati, towards her husband 'Shiva'.
Shiva destroyed the world for the love of His consort who immolated herself in the holy sacrificial fire or 'Yajna', to protect the honour of her husband. He bore the pain like the venom He drank.
The poet's pain is evident in her verses as the Lord carried the mortal remains of Sati and cried in angst and distress. For her, God has no expectations, albeit is ever ready to please His devotees. He is innocent, guileless, a simpleton or simply her beloved Bholenath.
She propitiates the Lord with great respect and her love for the Yogi, Pashupatinath or Girijanath is evident in her expressions.
Paromita beseeches the Lord to let her into His loving heart again and remain as 'Parvati Parmeswar', to acclaim their bonds of love forever as 'ArdhaNarishwar'.
* Maestro of arts and cognition
Indrani Chatterjee illuminates the varied qualities and aesthetics of Shiva's creation, destruction and sustenance forces through the 'Cosmic Dance', where the Cosmic eruditions are beyond time and space.
An Adiyogi, originator of primordial knowledge and the 'Procreator', she revels in the artistic splendour of the tender moments of 'Lasya' of the divine couple and also reflects on the fiery aspect of the shattering 'Tandava-Dance', establishing the principles of evolution, destruction and illusion. For Indrani, the 'Yogi', the 'Mendicant' or the 'Naked Ascetic', the 'Aniconic Dancer', is an aesthetic representation of Cosmic manifestations or the 'Maestro of Art and Cognition'.
* My prayers to thee
Gowri Bhargav earnestly appeals to Lord Shiva, to lead her and guide her towards enlightenment. She hails the myriad forms and attributes of Shiva as Gangadhara, Trayambaka, symbolising all inner dimensions and perspectives beyond perception.
She ardently implores Neelakantha, representing the alluring vast blue skies and Nageswara symbolising the ego, to bless her with a sense of discretion, direction and rationale.
She pleads to the masculine and feminine energies of 'Ardhanarishwara, the root and womb', of all creations for strength and stability. She prays to Nataraja and Mahadeva, the dynamic manifestations of the universe, seeking their blessings and benedictions to steer her, in her journey towards consciousness and awareness. She offers her humble prayers to the Lord to steer her away from the impurities of her mind and lead her to the path of enlightenment.
* The Self Manifested
Daisy Bala's 'The Self Manifested' poem explicates the supreme powers of the Omniscient. She perceives Lord Shiva, the Aniconic dancer, as an incorrigible, ecstatic and benevolent entity. As and when the Cosmic rhythms go astray, Shiva rises from His deep meditative slumber. She believes His moods reflect His state of being ecstatic, peaceful, energetic or graceful. He dances in ecstacy when in a state of utter bliss. The drum or 'Damaru' is a thumping rhythm of life, dancing away in rapture or outrage as the Aniconic Dancer, 'Nataraja', the symbolic pose of destruction and recreation of the cosmic flow.
* Veerabhadra The Crusader
Pragya Bajpai annotates the insane fury and aggression of Shiva as Veerabhadra, a mythological tale centuries ago in the distant Himalayas when Shiva danced in indignation and anguish. Shiva's beloved, Sati, immolates herself in the holy sacrificial fire or 'yajna', to protect the honour of her husband. Upon learning of the demise of Sati, Shiva's wrath manifests itself in the thunderous dance of fury and rage, wandering around with her lifeless body in the universe. When His wrath was spent He was the epitome of compassion and bliss, who melted like wax in His own gracious serene self meditating on the icy peaks of mount Kailash.
* The Master Dancer
Lakshmi Venkatachalam explicates on the 'Master Dancer', straddling the Universe with His primordial sounds and rhythmic beats of Creation, Culmination and Sustenance, waltzing in the glacial mountains with His consort.
Shiva is the most easily pleased household deity who is ever ready to alleviate His devotees' distress, averting disasters.
Lakshmi V reveres Him as a sensual lover, a family man and a bestower of boons. For her, Shiva is fierce, tender and a compassionate entity. When His wrath is spent, 'HE', is His serene self, an ascetic in a meditating state or in a state of 'lasya', or 'ananda,' enjoying the bliss of domestic grace. Shiva, she says, is dichotomy blended letting the universe pulsate in cyclic waves
* The Cosmic Enigmatic Dancer
Arundhati Mukherjee’s salutations to the ubiquitous, fathomless, all pervading entity, the 'Summum Bonum', of all creations, is the one and only entity 'SHIVA'. It is from Him that all cosmic forces arise, sustain and dissolve. She believes that even when nothing existed, Shiva as Adiyogi existed. And from this nothingness, the Cosmic rhythms manifested.
She believes that to attain Shiva or Consciousness, one has to surrender oneself completely and be hollow and empty from inside to understand the 'naad' (sound) and taal (rhythm) cycles of cosmic reverberations and resonations.
* The Cosmic Dance
Vasudha Pansare correlates Religious Art, Mythology and Modern Physics to divine activity which is in constant motion or the cosmic tango with a rhythm, beauty, power and grace of the cosmic dancer Nataraja.
She relates to this Cosmic Dance as a metaphor for the rearrangement of sub-atomic particles. Every aspect of creation, organic or inorganic, is a part of the celestial dance. Birth and death, seasonal changes, star explosions etc are all a part of the rhythm of creation and destruction.
She explores the realms of the Cosmic Dancer through her analytical perceptions. For her everything is Stardust and we too are made up of the same star material swirling, and twirling in this Cosmic Dance of life.
* Naad-The Cosmic Sound of Creation
Neha Pant's 'Cosmic Sound of Creation', or 'Naad' is the fulcrum of all cosmic activities of existence - that which is seen and that which is unseen, vibrating to a sound or rhythm. This Cosmic Sound is eternal, present in every breath, heartbeats, cymbals, damaru and every other aspect of life and existence. Everything around us vibrates to form a perfect Cosmic System.
She infers that, as long as the cosmic sounds reverberate, life indeed is an eternal Cosmic Dance. She believes that every aspect of Cosmic manifestation, however insignificant or important, is the primordial sound 'OM' or 'NAAD' that keeps the universe in a state of flux and fusion.
For Neha Pant, 'Naad', is a dance of Cosmic vibrations arousing mysticism and romanticism. The day This Cosmic Sound ends, life too ceases to exist.
* The Reclining Rudra
Narayani Manapadam ponders over the churning of the mighty ocean that spewed poison, a macabre manifestation that loomed over the three realms. To preserve the universe, Lord Shiva the beatific entity stepped in to swallow the obnoxious poison for the benefit of the universe without any pretence or guile, thus attaining the sobriquet 'Neelkanth', 'The Blue Throated One'.
After the magnanimous act of saving the universe, He returns to His Kailash abode where He lies down in a supine position in the lap of Parvati or Gowri, in bliss as a 'Preserver' of this cosmos. Narayani states that in the present times of unrest, unhappiness, bigotry and hatred, the Aniconic Lord whispers His mantra of treating every obstacle as a stepping stone to peace and happiness to all.
* Look For Me
Nitika Sawhney's reflections on everything that happens around in this Cosmic cauldron is because of the Moon Headed SHIVA, the Maker and the Destroyer.
'Look For Me' draws the attention of us mortals, cautioning us that nothing is in our hands for 'HE' is the creator and Destroyer, beyond time and beyond light. Sometimes 'HE' is the caretaker, benevolent, loving and giving and sometimes the fire spewing Lord, destroying everything to ashes, to restore the cosmic balance and belligerence.
She sees Shiva in a million shades all around her, 'HIS' voice beckoning her to look for Him not only everywhere but also within, for He is the symbol of 'Nothingness' and Existence.
* A Father's Dilemma
Khushboo Shah's narrative poem on Shiva, Uma and Ganesha is a very thought provoking and insightful story.
Shiva, after conquering the demons of the wild returns home, only to be restrained by a child. For the annihilator that HE is, the child is slain by His trident. At Uma's wrath, He revives the child and lets Ganesha be the 'God of All Beginnings'. So 'Vighnaharta', the remover of all obstacles, was thus born and to this day, He remains to be the first recipient of all prayers and worship.
Khusboo Shah captures the mood and mind of Lord Shiva. The fury of the third eye, the dance of destruction or Tandava, His rage, temper, guilt and pain. At the same time, His simplicity and magnanimity that transforms and renews all situations to their normal status, for Shiva is…The Creator, Destroyer and Sustainer.
* Sparkling Churner ; A Gift from the Three Eyed
Mani Saxena beseeches Lord 'Trilochan' to show the power that resides in her as she wanders to explore the cycles of her past and the new future in her cosmic sojourn. She implores her Lord to help her find 'HIM' through her prayers.
In her contemplation, she believes that the Lord gifted her a sparkling churner that would eventually help her seek the eternal truth that she has been looking for.
* The Aniconic Cosmic Dancer
Monalisa Joshi's 'Aniconic Cosmic Dancer' sits in meditation, eyes closed and in trance for ages. 'HIS' peace and calm were disturbed, seeing Mother Earth in distress. Monalisa Joshi portrays with an emotional fervour the anguish and agony of Shiva as 'Mother Earth' is ravaged and rummaged by the brutalities thrust on her mercilessly from time to time. His creation was going berserk with the atrocities committed by the eidolons.
Furious and enraged upon hearing His beloved Sati's sad demise in the holy sacrificial fire surrendering to 'Swaha', Shiva turns into 'Rudra, The Divine', restless, lovelorn and broken, unleashing a cosmic tempest till He is spent. Shiva's wrath knew no bounds and outraged that His creation was taking a drubbing, 'The Aniconic Dancer' started His dance of death and devastation. The Creator was now on the move to reverse His creation. Seeing his 'Dance of Death', 'Goddess of Death' Kali herself came to the rescue of Shiva, whose love was like a balm to the agonised heart.
*Review of Shakuntala Kanakagiri’s Poem, The Eternal Dancer
By Monalisa Joshi
Shakuntala Kanakagiri has portrayed the entire creation of the universe by the triumvirate of Gods where Shiva stands as the spearhead depicted through His various avatars. He is the creator, destroyer, omnipotent and omnipresent. The mother earth is going through a flux of being annihilated by its inmates and Shiva in his Mahesha avatar mounts on his 'vahan' Nandi all set to destroy the 'asuras' and the mortals who had brought upon cruel atrocities over earth. His anomaly can be seen defined profoundly by the poet expressing the supremacy of each form precisely. He is not only the Supreme but becomes a beggar, a vagabond, a homeless person reflecting the truth that He is us, can be among us and everywhere. He can live with ease in extreme situations and His 'tandava' is more like a veneration towards his love, or at times it can be the echoes of destruction and His wrath. Her poem, ‘The Eternal Truth’, is fundamentally a mythological explanation of the entire process of creation from the beginning to its end about the cycle of life created by the Lord himself.
The book has been brilliantly edited by Senior Editor Nandita De nee Chatterjee.
You can grab a copy from the link shared below...
Shakuntala Kanakagiri is a post graduate in sociology (MA), a graduate in Home Science (BSc) and Education (BEd). She has served as a teacher and a part time lecturer. She has published two volumes of devotional songs named 'KuntalaManasaRamam' and 'KuntalaManasaVaani' in Telugu. In more recent times she has been featuring in a number of Facebook blogging portals in English, for Let’s Make Stories, Asian Literary Society, Momspresso, Women’s Web, Poetry Planet, Chrysanthemum Chronicles, Penmancy, Poetry Parlour, Story Mirror, My Words: A Renaissance… etc.
She has also won several contests on various blogging platforms and her writings have also been featured in several national and international anthologies.