Chapter 3During the next several days, I felt as though that sadhu was trailing me everywhere. Every time he passed me at various places, he reminded me, with the same stern look, to meet him at Chithira Sabhai. ‘Why are you ignoring me?’ he seemed to be asking me.
Somehow, I was not sure whether I should go to Chithira Sabhai.The sadhu had bulging eyes, bore a menacing look and appeared to be in trance all the time. I was scared of him; but I was also apprehensive of leaving Courtallam. The voice in the temple had already stopped me from leaving Courtallam. For how long do I need to stay on here? I knew no one in the town and could consult none. The one rupee coin that I had when I reached this place was still there safely in my pocket. I idled my days and avoided going to Chithira Sabhai.
I learnt subsequently that Chithira Sabhai (Hall of Artistic Work and Painting) was one of the five important abodes of Lord Nataraja – The Lord of Dancing or the Cosmic Dancer, the dancing form of Lord Siva; the other abodes were Kanaga Sabhai (Hall of Gold) at Chidambaram, Rajatha Sabhai (Hall of Silver) at Madurai, Tamira Sabhai (Hall of Copper) at Tirunelveli and Rathna Sabhai (Hall of Ruby) at Tiruvalangadu.
I also learnt that the cosmic dance was known as Dance of Bliss – Anandha Thandavam. Lord Siva performs five most important functions – creation, protection, destruction, embodiment and saving with grace - to keep the world alive and Lord Nataraja’s cosmic dance pose represents all these functions.
The hourglass shaped drum held by the Lord in his upper right hand represents ‘creation’; the second right hand gesture symbolizes ‘protection’; the fire held in the upper left hand represents ‘destruction’; the second left hand points towards raised foot signifies liberation from successive birth; the foot planted on the earth represents Lord’s ‘embodiment’ function; and finally the foot held aloft also symbolizes the ‘grace’. The dwarf demon lies at the bottom of the planted foot signifies ignorance. The flames surrounding the lord represent the universe. The snake found around the Lord’s waist signifies yogic energy (kundalini or prana-sakthi). The cosmic dance form of Lord Nataraja represents the continuous cycle of creation, protection, destruction, embodiment and liberation of the soul from successive births. Lord Nataraja dances with his consort Devi Sivakami. The annual dance festival takes place in these five important places on the day marked for Aarudra Star during the Tamil Margazhi month.
People also told me that Chithira Sabhai is a beautiful small temple above a small hillock nearby Kutralanadar temple and one got a better view of the temple, the waterfalls and the surroundings from the higher elevation there. Everyone I met, encouraged me to visit the place.*****