Sri Sri Ravi Shankar - Celebrating Life with Silence
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar lovingly called as Guruji, the founder of Art of Living Foundation through which He relieves the stress at individual levels, thus reducing violence, sufferings and conflicts and spreading the love, harmony, peace throughout the world in various societies.
It is a natural tendency of every human being to want to be free. Freedom is not luxury, it is a necessity. Not just human beings, but even animals want freedom.
Babies want freedom. If you tie a scarf on the neck of a baby, it just wants to remove it. You put a chain on a baby’s neck and the baby will want to pull it out. It is the adults who put jewelry around their neck, but children want freedom, they don’t want any restriction. That is why they throw their hands up and down… free! Wanting freedom is innate to human beings as well as animals. Every life wants freedom, and liberation or moksha is nothing but freedom.
Freedom is a natural desire in every human being but when the mind gets so muddled up in unnecessary day to day things, it forgets that it wants freedom. It is as good as someone who wants to sleep but has forgotten how to sleep.
Freedom is not running away from situations and circumstance. Sometimes a situation is stifling or unpleasant, and we run away from it and think this is what freedom is, but that is not so. Freedom means:
Being unphased by circumstances, situations and the people around you
Being free from your own emotional garbage
Being free from the jungle of your thoughts that bother you
Being free from all the entanglement that you harbor in your head
Being free from fear and anxiety
Anything that stifles you and makes you feel small, being free from that is what freedom is.
How to move towards freedom?
Let go of cravings and aversions Whether you accept it or not, watch it or not, life is an act of letting go. It started the moment you were born. You let go of the womb and came into this world. As soon as you came here, you started breathing in and breathing out and you are taking food in and letting it out. It is a constant exchange. You cannot hold on to anything here. As a child you were holding onto many toys, and as you grew up, you let go of all those toys. Are you still holding on to your little toys and bells? No! As you grow older, you obviously let go of many things. Similarly, let go of cravings and aversion. When you feel free from all the cravings and aversions, that is freedom.
Meditate Meditation is food for the soul, it nurtures the core of your existence. It keeps you physically fit, healthy and mentally focused. Intellectually, it brings you sharpness, keenness of attention, awareness and observation. Emotionally, you feel lighter, softer and purer and you feel able to let go of the past garbage. It creates positive vibrations around you, influencing your behavior with others, and others behavior towards you. There is nothing better than meditation to bring calmness to the mind!
Reduce your wants If you want freedom, your wants should be minimum. Minimum wants will give you more freedom. If the wants are too many, they go on and on and on. Now, when the wants arise in you, what do you do? You can't keep on wanting things. This is where wisdom comes to help. See life with a bigger context.
Develop a sense of contentment When the mind is not stuck in desires of either respect, money, position, and the mind goes beyond these things, then you can say you are free. Before you let go of the body, if a point comes when you are so fulfilled, and you are ready to let go of everything – that is the infinite freedom that you experience. You need not even physically let go of things. It may not be possible practically to let go of everything but at least in the mind if you let go of everything, you will find there is enormous freedom, and lots of happiness and connectivity towards everything will come.
Have Faith One very important thing we need is the faith that only the right thing will happen! There is a great power in the universe that has maintained this universe from billions of years. Have faith in that power. It will take care.
There is another story associated with Lord Nataraja. As the Lord was dancing merrily, one of his earrings became loose and fell on the ground. Then it is said that the Lord lifted that small earring by the toes of his foot. What is the meaning behind this? There is a great secret behind this. That is why this is also called as Chidambaram-rahasyam (the secret of the infinity). In South India, if someone tries to keep a secret, then others can ask him saying, “My dear! What are you trying to hide? Is it some sort of Chidambaram-rahasyam? ” People jokingly ask this to one another in the South. As the story goes, when the Lord effortlessly lifted the small earring merely by the toe of His foot, the entire creation was struck with wonder and amazement. Here, what it means is that we grow accustomed to whatever we are listening to around us. We do not find anything amazing or unique in that. It does not astonish us; it does not create a sense of wonder in us. But when that trivial small earring was lifted off the ground by the Lord, then one suddenly gets a glimpse of the subtle, the invisible infinity. Here, it shows that this mysterious creation does not operate the way you think it does. There is a deeper, hidden, miraculous Divine power at work behind everything. You must make space in your life for that miracle of the Divine to manifest. This is the deep meaning of the story. Otherwise, we usually go through life by our own limited understanding. We tend to think we understand how everything in creation operates, but it is not really so.
The possibility of the miracles that are hidden in every moment is what is represented by the Lord lifting off the small earring from the ground and effortlessly placing it back on his ear.
Who knows and who can really say? Anything can happen at any time! When we realize this, an altogether different dimension of possibilities opens before us. The possibility of the miracles that is hidden in every moment – is what is represented by the Lord lifting off the small earring from the ground by His toes and effortlessly placing it back on His ear.
It is said that whatever you read in the Vedas, the Puranas and the Upanishads is not superficial or shallow. It is literally the Truth and you can see and experience it all in this vast Creation, and in this very lifetime. This story is mentioned to illustrate and assure this fact.
There is consciousness present within our whole body, and it is divided in the upper and lower halves of the body. This divine force or consciousness is called as the Kundalini Shakti. The other meaning from this story is to elevate and raise this Kundalini Shakti from the lower centres to the higher centres of the being (From the Sanskrit word ‘Kundala’ literally meaning an earring). When this Kundalini Shakti is awakened and rises within us, then our entire life becomes a dance of joy and bliss. Then nothing in the world can trouble us, and the entire world becomes amazed in wonder when the power of consciousness gets awakened and enlivened within you. When the Lord Shiva seated deep within you rises and dances in absolute bliss, then the entire Creation is struck with amazement and wonder. This is what happened when Lord Nataraja lifted off the fallen earring from the ground even as He was engrossed in blissful dance. All the gods and goddesses were amazed to see this. It is said at that moment, huge waves of infinite love and bliss swept over the whole of creation and everyone was steeped in joy and happiness, even the gods themselves. And then, in that same state of wonder and bliss, each started dancing in joy. This is what it means.
When you awaken from within, you perceive this entire creation dancing with such joy and total bliss. Everywhere you go, you find the nectar of the Divine pouring. Even when a bird chirps, you find it so beautiful and divine. When the Sky takes on different colours in the day, then that scene also exhilarates you from within. It is that same kind of amazement and happiness that you feel when you meet your beloved. That inner experience brings forth a glimpse of beauty and deep love within you. You find sweetness in everything everywhere. Everything appears new, and fresh. If a baby is crying, then also you find sweetness behind it. If you see a man or a lady walking, or an animal – then such trivial things too fill you with sweetness and adoration. Every particle in this Creation then appears to shine with a different and unique Light; there is uniqueness in everything. You experience the real beauty of creation and this becomes revealed through Lord Shiva’s Tandava as Nataraja. This is the essence behind the story.
When you awaken from within, you perceive this entire creation dancing with such joy and total bliss. Everywhere you go, you find the nectar of the Divine pouring.
So, when you awaken from within, with knowledge and awareness – then you experience the cosmic dance happening every moment within you, and you are the very Lord of that dance. The soul within you, the Shiva Tattva within you unfolds and manifests. Here during Satsang anyway everyone is dancing happily. But usually it is the outside World that makes you dance (through desires or feverishness). The entire creation is the cosmic dance of Purusha and Prakriti. Every person in the world today is dancing to the tunes of one thing or another. So, at first it is Prakriti or the Mother Divine who makes you dance – to the tunes of anger, desire, lust, greed, egotism etc. What all kinds of actions people do when they are caught in this dance. Is it not a dance? Under the influence of these, people engage in all sorts of activities and drama. There is no dearth of such actions. Wherever you look, you will find people dancing to the tunes of anger, desire, etc. But when the spirit within you strives against these influences of Prakriti, then it rises above these lower urges born of desire and ignorance, and gets engrossed in a dance of bliss and joy – the Ananda Tandava. At that moment, Prakruti is struck with amazement and becomes enamoured to behold this divine dance. The Devi was not able to fathom and match what Lord Shiva was able to do. We often say that a strong and one-pointed mind can support a feeble body, but if the mind is weak and stuck in negativity, then even if the body is physically strong, it cannot support or take that body forward in life.
This is one of the depictions brought out from this story. The Devi or Prakriti danced and put forward a question to Lord Shiva to unravel. Through Her movements, the Devi says, “O Lord! I dance before you through the eightfold aspects of My divine nature. Would you be able to match my steps and dance along with Me?” That means, your body (as Prakriti) is asking the Soul (Lord Shiva), “Can You be one with me?” So, when the soul awakens, it rises in a blissful dance and proclaims, “O Devi! O Prakriti! You are mine and a part of me only. I am the Supreme Lord of all creation”. By way of this divine dance of bliss, the Shiva Tattva dwelling deep within us all establishes its sole lordship and presence as the Master of all Creation – being endowed with all divinity and beauty.
Have you noticed that there is a ring of fire all around Lord Nataraja? It means that this divine dance is not something that takes place at the gross material level of the World. It happens in the subtle world, which is the world permeated by Shakti, by the Divine primordial energy. This divine dance is a scene set within the subtle invisible realms of creation, and is happening at all times ceaselessly. There is a ring or large halo of flames around Lord Nataraja’s dance to show its inseparable and underlying connection with the Shakti or the primordial Energy.
What is the relation of this dance with Mahashivratri? On the occasion of Mahashivratri, when the entire atmosphere becomes so filled with positivity, when all the planets are favourably placed and aligned, then you are able to go deep into meditation very effortlessly, and are able to experience the blissful Shiva Tattva. You are able to connect with the Shiva Tattva and also feel the omnipresence of the primordial Energy (Shakti). This is the importance of Mahashivratri.
Gurudev, why do I have to take on so many responsibilities. I have the responsibility of my happiness, my husband’s happiness, family’s happiness, etc. Why all this when ultimately I have to die?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Well, that is because you are born! When you are born you have to take care of all this.
There are two ways of looking at life:
1. Either you take it as a burden and a drag and make your whole life a long drawn misery, or 2. You take it with enthusiasm, thinking, 'I have all these responsibilities and challenges, and I can do it'. And you move on with celebration.
When you are tired that is when you feel that all this is too much for you to handle. When this happens, I would say, sit back and relax. Think that you have no responsibility whatsoever. Find the deepest of the rest within you, and then you will get the strength you need to move on.
Just say one thing to yourself, 'I want nothing!' This wanting nothing gives you the deepest of the rests.
Rest is not just physically lying in bed, it is the mode of the mind which says, 'I am satisfied, I am content'. Its only contentment which can give you rest and this contentment is not going to come to you by doing something or by engaging in any activity. It will come to you only through knowledge. And the knowledge is:
1. Everything is impermanent
2. I am satisfied
3. I want nothing
This is the essence of the knowledge.
Often when you ask children what do they want, they will say, 'Nothing'.
The seed of wanting nothing is there in every child. They only don’t know that everything is impermanent because they have not fully caught on to anything around them.
Even for a few moments every day, if you say, 'Everything is impermanent, I want nothing', and you sit and take that deep rest, then you come up with the energy and enthusiasm with which you can take up a million jobs in the world, and you can make a million people happy. Then no work appears to be significant or insignificant.
This is the language of the Upanishad: it is neither significant nor insignificant.
You can’t call even small things as insignificant, nor do you have to give so much importance to something very significant. Instead, you can keep doing any work, any action, anywhere, and each and every one of them will be beneficial to the world.
Gurudev, when you see all this crowd that worships you, don’t you have the temptation to become a living God? How do you manage to keep a balance?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
The way people greet each other in India is different from the way people greet each other in the West, and in the Far East. In India and the Far East we bow down, we touch the feet. This is the normal way of greeting.
When we were kids we were supposed to bow down and touch our mother’s feet every day. We were all tuned to do it. If our grandmother came home or any elderly person came, all the children were asked to prostrate in front of them. This is a cultural thing. Don’t think that everyone has to do it. In fact, many times it’s a botheration! People come and fall at your feet, and while one is bending down the other bends over him and falls. It becomes difficult to manage a crowd.
Many times when I’m walking I get into different postures. I keep one foot behind because somebody is pulling it, wanting to touch my leg. It’s a tradition in the country and a way of showing reverence, what to do!
People praise, give adulation, but it is all going to that One source. Do you see what I’m saying? If someone says this painting is so beautiful, to whom does the credit go to? To the one who painted it, isn't it?
This is what we train our teachers for. It is not just me, all our teachers, wherever they are teaching, they get so much adulation and praise, yet they are all centered, it doesn’t disturb them.
In fact I say, if you have to praise someone, praise a fool. Then it is more useful. An intelligent person does his job, whether you praise them or not. But if you praise a fool it is of more value, as he may do something! Got it?
Gurudev, your Prime Minister has a reputation of being a Hindu ultra nationalist in France. What does it mean?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Newspapers say many things. One thing I know is, there is a right wing, left wing and the centre in politics. But what is important is that – once a person occupies a seat of responsibility, he has to care for everybody.
As far as I know the Prime Minister is a nice person. From being a tea seller he rose to the top most post of this country and he is for the development of the country. Let’s see and hope he does a good job; he seems to be taking things in the right direction.
As far as I know, he is not one of those right wing extremist type of person. He is very sensible and a dynamic person which he has proved by his administrative abilities for 15 years. He has shown to the world how he can take people away from poverty. So we hope he does a good job for the whole country and he contributes to the international community in a very positive way.
Gurudev, there are many inequalities in this world, one of them is between women and men. Women are suffering from different types of discrimination. Why is it so and what do you suggest for the countries both in the East and West? What do we do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Three things: women empowerment, women empowerment and women empowerment! Women should feel empowered, they should never feel like a victim. When you feel like a victim, you lose energy, you lose enthusiasm and you lose power. The spiritual path is where you get rid of both, victim consciousness and culprit consciousness.
As a victim you remain in the small mind and you can never reach the self. As a culprit also the same thing happens, you come into doership and you can’t reach the self. So stop blaming yourself and start praising because praising is a divine quality. So stop being a victim. Don’t think that you being a lady are being discriminated against. Nobody can do anything if you stand up! You have all the power to stand up and ascertain your rights. Of course we need to bring a lot of change in the society. But you can do that without having to feel that you are a victim.
Gurudev, I am a Muslim lady and I come from very far to listen to knowledge from you. The Koran is the base of our religion but I cannot identify myself with the Islam of today. But your words go deep into my being. Why?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Our soul always looks for the truth and wherever it finds the truth, it resonates. When something feels right in your heart just listen to that, and go with that.
All other conditioning of the mind, of philosophy, of religion and customs, keep on one side. They have their value; I won’t say you should discard them. They all have their place, but the spirit in you longs for the truth and that resonates wherever there is truth. Accept it without any feeling or any guilt.
Sometimes you feel you are not being loyal to your religion or loyal to your teacher. This sort of conflict you should do away with because no religion wants you to suffer.
Every Master, every paigambar (prophet), every saint who has walked this planet has always wished good, they have always wished elevation of the student, of the people, of mankind. When you are finding the truth, you are finding that spiritual elevation, that spiritual enrichment, so know that you have the blessings of everyone. All the prophets, all the Gurus, all the Masters are giving you their heartfelt blessings. You should know this for sure.
Teachers do say, 'Stay on one path, don’t waver, don’t go for spiritual shopping'. I agree with them. At one point of time when your mind is just being too greedy for experience, it tries to shop. It doesn't want to stay in one place and totally be there and absorb; the mind has a tendency to shop. When you go with that tendency of shopping, of acquiring little bit from here and there, then you are again self-focused, self-centered. You are not coming to the being. So the teachers in the past said, 'When you are here, be here'. If you are in one boat you have to be in that boat only.
This is for an entrant or sadhak (practitioner) who has just gotten onto the path. But at some point of time when there is stagnation, the teacher himself or herself will guide you, the light itself will guide you to only the right place. So that is okay, it is fine. When you are here, be here 100% and you are! So it’s perfect don’t worry about it.ave
This is my first time in India and I am sometimes shocked by the poverty and dirtiness. It is a paradox how this country has so much knowledge and is still like that. Why?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Yes, India has a lot to learn from the West, and the West has to learn a lot from the East. We need to exchange whatever we are good at, because we are one global family.
Definitely you are correct, that’s why the first thing our Prime Minister took up is the 'Clean India Campaign'. Of course we in The Art Of Living have been doing this (Cleanliness campaigns) from a long time.
In the urban areas, you will find a lot of littering which you don’t find in Europe or in America. But see, the population here is much more, and the people need an orientation so that it can learn cleanliness, hygiene, punctuality, and all that from the West. So when you are here, if you want to walk around in India and teach the people, you are most welcome to do so. You have both the responsibilities - not only learning but also teaching.
Gurudev, I have done courses and do my sadhana (spiritual practices) almost every day but I still don’t feel love for myself. What should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Who said you don’t feel love for yourself. Don’t be hard, don’t pity yourself. You ARE love, my dear! You are made up of this stuff called love. Like our body is made up of amino acid, carbohydrate, protein, your spirit is made up of love, light and joy. This is in your nature. So just wake up.
Gurudev, I am Christian and I don’t believe in reincarnation but is it possible that we were Indians in another life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Now you are negating your own statement! You say you don’t believe in reincarnation and then ask if you had a birth in this country!
Possible! I know for sure I have been here many times. And even you have been, but whether you were an Indian or not, I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.
The interpretation, religion and belief system all varies with time.
Once upon a time, the church did not believe the earth is round. They believed the earth is flat. So many scientists were persecuted because they were saying things which were against the religion, but then the church started adopting it.
They said they don’t believe in the Darwin theory, but now the Pope is saying it is acceptable. When science says something, you agree.
Similarly, the psychologist, psychiatrist, parapsychologist, scientist say there have been many lives, many mansions (bodies) that you have been in. When the scientists say you have been here, that your consciousness is imperishable, then you will have to agree.
Q: Gurudev, can you please tell us about the Nataraja form of Lord Shiva? (Referring to the form of Lord Shiva engaged in Cosmic Dance of Creation)
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: In the history of Mankind, the most beautiful Tattva (a fundamental underlying element or principle) that has been conceived or discovered is the Shiva Tattva, and in that too, in particular is the form of Lord Shiva as Nataraja – the Lord of Dance.
The essence behind Nataraja is in itself so unique and beautiful. Our life is composed of different stages or levels. Life is not experienced at just one level alone.
Scientists today say that our brain is a frequency analyser. For example, if you set your television to a particular channel, then you get to see and hear only that channel. Isn’t it so? When we change the channel, then we see and experience another different channel. Our brain works in the same way like the TV and its channels. There is a multitude of channels across the whole world today, but we are tuned into and living in one particular channel – and that channel is this World, this Creation. When we change the channel, then an altogether different world, a different realm gets revealed to us – and that is the subtle world. In this subtle world, there is a constant dance of consciousness.
This world before us, and whatever we are going through and experiencing (at the level of the gross material world) are actually the effects or results of this cosmic dance at the subtle level. When Nataraja’s dance comes to an end, the entire creation too will come to an end.
Nataraja's dance is eternal, and has been constantly in motion in this creation.
It is not that the Divine performed this cosmic dance some 10,000 or 20,000 years ago. It cannot be dated back in time. People have a wrong notion about this and say that this dance happened on a particular day, at a certain time. No, it is not so. Nataraja’s dance is eternal, and has been constantly in motion in this Creation. The Purush Tattva, or God (the Cosmic Being as the substratum and most fundamental principle of Existence) is that which pervades and permeates every particle of this Creation – and that is whom we call as Nataraja.
In the idol representation, you will see that Lord Nataraja is standing with one foot on top of an asura (demon). That demon is called Apasmara. Do you know what Apasmara means? Apasmara refers to the disease of Epilepsy. It also represents ignorance and inertia. When one overcomes the inertia and negativity, then one dances in pure bliss – and that is called Ananda Tandava. The demon here represents that inertia which is beyond one’s control. It is inertia that comes when the mind depends on external or outward sources for happiness, and strays outwards through the senses. When the mind overcomes this inertia and turns inwards to repose in the Self; when it returns to the real source of all joy, then it is a sign of being established in the Shiva Tattva.
How is Lord Nataraja depicted in idols and pictures? He is shown dancing in absolute bliss and has four arms. In the palm of one hand, he holds Agni or fire element. Here, the fire element represents Shakti - the totality of the Energy of this Creation. This Energy is upheld and supported by the Shiva Tattva, the Divine consciousness. In the other hand, he wields a Damaru (a small two-sided musical instrument). The Damaru represents infinity. You must have seen in Mathematics also, that when one writes the symbol for infinity, it is written in the form of a Damaru. The Damaru represents both the Space element, and the Air element.
The quality associated with the Space element is Shabda or sound. It is said that when the Damaru plays, then from its sounds was born the science of language, grammar and phonetics.
When Nataraja’s dance comes to an end, the entire creation too will come to an end.
Every child since its birth is a born Yogi. Does anyone teach the baby how to hold its thumb in Adi Mudra; or how to fold the fingers in Chhinna Mudra? When a baby is born, its fingers are clasped in Adi Mudravery naturally. Babies and young children are effortlessly able to perform the Bhujangasana or the Cobra Pose; Pavanamuktasana pose; Hasta-padasana etc. Every child at that tender young age is able to do these Asanas very easily and naturally. Has anyone taught them these at that age? The Shiva Tattva that pervades in every particle of this Creation – this knowledge comes from that very Shiva Tattva. Who has taught the birds how to chirp? Who showed the birds how to build nests? When you think about these aspects, then a deep sense of wonder dawns within you. You then realize that there is one Supreme underlying Intelligence which has all the knowledge and Lord Shiva is the personification and representation of that Divine knowledge.
Lord Shiva is said to have three eyes. The Third Eye represents knowledge that is beyond the reach of the senses. One kind of knowledge is that which we receive through our sense organs. The other kind of knowledge is that which is beyond the limited comprehension of the senses – which is represented by Lord Shiva.
One of Lord Nataraja’s hands is placed in Abhaya Mudra (the pose dispelling fear and giving blessing and protection). It means to convey, “My dear one! There is nothing to fear. Be free of worries, be happy. Have patience and total faith”. This is what is represented by the Abhaya Mura. The other hand is swayed across and slightly bent downwards, pointing to the feet. What does that mean? It means to say, “Dance! Rejoice and celebrate! Be humble in life, but also walk confidently with your head held high.” One who is arrogant is not necessarily free from fear. Here, it means to be free from fear and yet not stiff with ego. It means to be simple, to be natural. It means to become a Sharanagati – to be totally surrendered to the Divine. You have everything with you that you need – this is what is meant by the position of the other hand. This is the deeper meaning behind the representation of Lord Shiva in Ananda Tandava.
Life itself is a dance – we have to take the material and the spiritual aspects of life together, hand in hand.
There is a snake around Lord Shiva’s neck. What is the meaning behind that? The snake represents awareness, alertness. It means to be free from inertia and ignorance. What is the meaning behind Mother Ganga flowing from the matted locks of Lord Shiva? Ganga here does not indicate a certain lady, or the waters of the divine river. Ganga represents knowledge. There is a deep inseparable connection between knowledge and the River Ganga; just like the connection between River Yamuna and Love. Countless immortal tales of love have taken place at the banks of the River Yamuna. All the sacred congregations and gatherings for spiritual knowledge have taken place on the banks of the River Ganga.
Here in India, we have since time immemorial believed in the inseparable connection between Love and Knowledge. It means that both the Buddhi (intellect) and Bhava (feelings or emotions) have their place in Life. This is why Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, “When you unite and become so totally one with Me, then not only shall your intellect become sharp and endowed with knowledge, you shall also not have any lack of intense love and emotion”. In the absence of feelings and emotions, you cannot experience peace.
There is a verse in the Gita which says, “Nasti buddhir ayuktasya na cha-yuktasya bhavana. Na cha-bhavayatah shantir' ashantasya kutah sukham”. (2.66)
Lord Krishna says, “One who does not surrender and unite totally cannot experience the intense feeling of love, devotion and bliss. Such a person becomes so dry and emotionless, as if a living corpse. Yet, he who becomes one with Me, experiences intense feelings of love and joy; his eyes shine and radiate love; his intellect becomes sharp and one-pointed”.
Lord Krishna has spoken about all the signs one experiences when one surrenders to the Divine. When feelings of love arise from within, and at the same time the intellect becomes sharp - only then can one experience deep rest and peace.
Life itself is a dance – we have to take the material and the spiritual aspects of life together, hand in hand. Let one foot rest upon the Earth, and let the other foot rise upwards into the Heavens – then that is when a dance happens spontaneously. If both feet get firmly planted on the ground, then you cannot dance at all. And if one takes both feet up in the air – meaning that if one is not steady and well-grounded; when a person only talks or acts superficially without depth, then also dance cannot happen. For dance to happen, one foot should lightly be in touch with the ground, while the other should be raised upwards off the ground. Having a very slight contact with the Earth (material world), while simultaneously elevating the rest of the body skywards to the Heavens such that it sways and rejoices in the subtle, invisible ethereal Space – this is the deep meaning of Nataraja’s dance.