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Pancha Kriya – Five Divine Activities of Shiva in Nataraja Form

The Nataraja dancing form of Shiva illustrates Pancha Kriya or five activities of Shiva.

The five divine activities are
  1. Creation
  2. Maintenance
  3. Destruction and evolution
  4. Removal and concealment
  5. Liberation
The first four activities in pancha kriya namely, Srishti, Sthithi, Samhara and Tirobhava are associated with the evolution of the world. The fifth, Anugraha, is associated with moksha or liberation.

The circle of fire around the Nataraja dancing form symbolically represents the cosmos.

The four hands of Nataraja – upper right hand holds hourglass drum and the lower right hand makes the gesture of protection. The upper left hand holds ball of fire and the lower left hand points to his raised dancing foot, which represents liberation from bondage. The crushing of dwarf is taming of ignorance that sees the impermanent as permanent.