Lord Shiva’s Damru is basically a small drum that is often seen tied to his trishul. It is in tune to the this instrument that Lord Shiva indulges in his cosmic dances of creation and destruction. Unlike the larger drums, Shiva’s Damru can actually be played by the Lord even as he dances without having to break steps. In other words it is an instrument that compliments the art form of dance. Why though is this symbol of such importance one may wonder!
The secret to its importance lay in the realm of metaphors. Shiva’s Damru manages to create cosmic rhythm. As such, it influences the movement of energy in the universe. the balance established thereof is responsible for the proper functioning of the universe. Away from the religious interpretation, if one were to look at the point being made through the metaphor of Shiva’s Damru, the message would come out fairly simply:
Human beings are capable of creation and of destruction. Most things we create using our ability to either improve upon things that exist in nature or those we derive purely from our imagination, we act in the way of Gods. Art then lends to human beings the stature and power of Gods. This power must be used with temperance and balance lest we allow ourselves to live in chaos. Such chaos comes into being when we use the power of science for destructive purposes by making weapons and armaments. The very same potential for creation also allows man to inent cures of difficult diseases and build machines and programs that can not only help us achieve superhuman feats but also inspires the lives of the future generations to outperform the previous.
Here the concept of art must be understood as being akin to that of science insofar as both are literal manifestation of the human ability to create, therefore the importance on maintaining the crucial balance and control.
Shiva’s Damru also serves the purpose of evoking action. The booming of a drum is facilitated by the mechanics of echo. The sound “boum” or the word”bamm” is often used as a prefix to Shiva’s name as “Bhola”. “Bamm Bholey!” then is a common address for Lord Shiva. In Sanskrit the word “Bamm” also refers to space or the fifth element that constitutes creation after air, earth, fire and water. The playing of Damru represents his mastery over the art of creation and that of negation because space is simultaneously symbolic of everything and of the void from which all things are said to have been created. It is little wonder therefore that the vedas fail to describe Lord Shiva and have to end up calling him “neti- neti” (or not this – not this)
We can see therefore that Lord Shiva’s Damru is an instrument that encompasses within it many of the principles that are implicitly associated with Lord Shiva and his position of power and influence not only in the world of religion but also in that of the secular world where his example may be seen in terms of a complex metaphor that places a lot of importance on the human potential for creativity and the subsequent responsibility of temperance.