Etymology of Tandava
Tandava dance has derived its name from the word ‘tandu’ who was the attendant of Lord Shiva.
Origin of Tandava
The religious scholars are of the opinion that Tandava is the celestial dance by Lord Shiva. The Hindu scriptures have said that Lord Shiva has performed the tandava dance on various occasions. For instance, it is believed that Lord Shiva had performed the Rudra Tandava when Sati had jumped into fire at the yajna ceremony of Daksha. This form of dance was performed by the Lord to express his grief and anger. Some scholars believe that the feminine form of the tandava dance is the lasya which is performed by Goddess Parvati. Lasya involves graceful movements of the body parts. The body movements in this form of dance are sometimes erotic and sometimes are gentle in nature.
Types of Tandava
According to some scholars, there are around seven types of tandava which are performed by the Lord which he performs in different moods. Following are the different types of Tandava:
Tripura Tandava: It was performed by Lord Shiva after he killed three demons who were as a group known as ‘Tripurasura’. They were the demon Tarakusara’s sons and were named ‘Vidyunmali’, ‘Tarakaksha’ and ‘Viryavana’. This dance represents Lord Shiva’s antagonism and audacity.
Gauri Tandava: It represents the vicious form of Lord Shiva, in which he dances aggressively in the form of ‘Bhairava’ or ‘Veerabhadra’ along with Gauri at a rites ground in the existence of spirit assistants.
Ananda Tandava: It is his happy form which means the dance of heaven, and symbolises absolute happiness and delight. It is performed by him when he killed ‘Tripurasura’ and finished performing the ‘Tripura Tandava’, when Goddess Uma performed the ‘lasya’ dance to compose him. Her dance satisfied him so significantly that his joy was uttered in the appearance of the ‘ananda tandava’. All the mudras of Ananda Tandava are associated with the rhythmic beat of creation, ensuring the play of the wind with the waves and the tides, the cosmic swirl of the galaxies and the frolic of ethereal beings. In Ananda Tandava, his hands are directed in four different ways denoting four principal directions. The "damru" that refers to the male female vital principle, is on the upper right hand. The lower right hand shows the gesture of assertion. The snakes which are uncoiling from all parts of his body, denotes egotism. The skull is on his head defining his conquest over death and Goddess Ganges is placed on his hairdo. The third eye represents his omnipresence, omnipotence and insight. The sound of "damaru" originates the pristine sound of ‘Om’ (the first syllable of the ancient Sanskrit language).
The "Ananda tandava" of Lord Shiva signifies wholeness. The "damaru" is symbolic of the continuity of creation, the open hand indicates preservation and the hand which is kept pointing downwards is indicative of the destruction of the Universe. His foot which is stamping the dwarf form connotes the Universe under the concealment of darkness and another foot which is uplifted shows the act of demanding God's grace, "anugraha".
Sandhya Tandava: It is a serene dance performed by Lord Shiva in the evening. Lord Indra plays musical instruments to develop the beauty and richness of the dance.
Samara Tandava: It means devastation. It is one of Lord Shiva’s brutal dances when the entire universe is demolished by it.
Uma Tandava: It is equal as ‘Gauri tandava’. The only distinction lies in the detail that here, it is Uma and not Gauri who is his wife.
Kali Tandava: It is also one of his vicious dance forms, in which he takes the form of ‘Bhairava’.
Performance of Tandava
Tandava is a pictorial metaphor of the five principle expressions of eternal energy:
Tandava is performed as the sanctified dance-drama of southern India which has strong, brisk movements. Performed in an aggressive mood, the dance is called ‘Rudra Tandava’.