Write a note as to how is Shiva characterized in "The Dance of Shiva" as explained by Ananda Coomaraswamy.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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For Coomaraswamy, Shiva is the embodiment of merging opposites.  The dance of Shiva is one that fuses opposites in a blindingly powerful reality.  There is beauty in Shiva's dance, while there is also an intense fear of being in the presence of such magnitude.  The opening lines of the essay brings this out:

Amongst the greatest of the names of Shiva is Nataraja, Lord of Dancers, or King of Actors. The cosmos is His theatre, there are many different steps in His repertory, He Himself is actor and audience.

In characterizing Shiva as both "actor" and "audience," Coomaraswamy ends up bringing out the fusing of opposites, and merging of competing realities.  This is something that he had sought between Western rationalism and Eastern mystic expressions.  His expression of metaphysical reality is one presented in the article as a state of being where Shiva and the worship of him can bring resolution to the warring oppositions that plague individuals in the modern setting.  Towards the end of the article, this is seen when he describes Shiva as being totalizing in both "the heart" and in "reality," helping to fuse together the expression of the subjective and the objective.


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