|sri Nataraja templee, Chidambaram. Alamy|
Shiva in Chidambaram represents akasha (aether) and delightfully dances in the sky-Chidambaram in the golden dancing hall called "Kanakasabha". He is the lord of the sabha, hence kanaka sabha pathy. His dance is the dance of bliss, Ananandatandava. It is of interest to note here that there is a hall beyond, all empty, to suggest a vast expanse of space, Akasa. When the screen is pulled to one side, an empty space emerges without any image or any stone figure, suggesting nothingness-purportedly the sky.
The removal of the screen/veil between us and the empty space is tantamount to the removal of ignorance. Beyond the veil is the truth Sat Sit Ananda, representing Nataraja form of Lord Shiva in all his glory and splendor. This representation of space or emptiness or void is often referred to as Chidambara Rakashya or simply mystery. It is here Sages Patancurjali and Vyaghrapada saw the dance of Nataraja in the chit sabha. The legend has it that once king Simhavarman I or II (reigned in the 5th-6th century CE; Pallava Dynasty) on a hunting trip to Thillaivana bathed in the pond and became golden hued and was cured of leprosy. It is believed, because of this incidence, he was called Himayavarman. The golden tiled roof for the Chit Ambalam (the vimanam) with a golden tiled roof, records point out, was laid by the Chola King Parantaka I(907-950 CE). Hence he was given the title in Tamil Thillaiyambalathhukku pon koorai veiynthevan meaning the one who laid the golden roof). Later Chola rulers Rajaraja Chola I (reign 985-1014 A.D.) and Kulothunga Chola I (1070-1120 A.D.) made valuable donations to the temple. Rajaraja Chola's daughter Kundavai II made big donations in gold, etc., while Chola king Vikrama Chola (1118-1135 A.D.) made endowments for the conduct of the daily puja, temple rituals, etc, Niryasabha hall in this temple is adorned with dance figures that are gracefully carved with minute details and it is quite spell-binding. This hall has the look of a ratha - chariot with wheels and galloping horses. Thanks to the munificence of the Chola rulers.
|Sri Nataraja temple, Chidambaram, TN , Flickr|
|Gold-tiled roof (golden hall),Nataraja temple. tamilnadu.com|
|Nataraja with Sivagami. saintsVyaghrapada (right)& Patanjali (left),Alamy|