Tandava is the dance performed by Lord Shiva. It is the source of the cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution. There are two types of tandavas. The first is Rudra tandava that depicts Shiva’s violent nature as the destroyer of the universe. The second tandava is the ananda tandava, the dance of bliss, which depicts him enjoying the dance.
According to legend Sati’s father Daksha organized a yagna but did not invite Sati and Shiva. Daksha considered Shiva unworthy of the honour. Sati was determined to go because she missed her home and her parents. When she reached the place where the yagna was taking place, unable to control his disdain for Shiva, Daksha insulted his daughter and her husband. Sati felt humiliated and was struck with grief. She called upon her cosmic energies and immolated herself.
Shiva was extremely furious when he heard the news of his wife’s death. Carrying the body of Sati, Shiva began to perform the Rudra Tandava or the dance of destruction and wiped out the kingdom of Daksha. Daksha was beheaded. But on the insistence of Vishnu, Brahma and Daksha’s wife Prasuti, Daksha was brought back to life. His head was replaced with that of a goat. When Daksha came back to his senses, he was devoid of all his ego and arrogance. Thus, Shiva liberated him.
According to Hindu mythology, Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the preserver and Shiva is the destroyer. One of the ideologies behind Shiva is that he is the destroyer of all the impurities of one’s soul. In a way if there is no destruction, there is no chance for a new beginning. Thus Shiva is both the destroyer and creator. In the story above Sati’s father Daksha symbolizes arrogance and egotism. All the establishments of Daksha were a mirror image of him. The cutting of Daksha’s head and the destruction of his kingdom represents the destructive nature of Shiva. Restoring Daksha shows the creative nature of Shiva. Daksha was given a new life with all his impurities destroyed.
The dance of Lord Shiva is for the welfare of the world. The objective of this dance is to free the souls from the three bonds of Anana, Karma and Maya.The dance is a pictorial allegory of the five principal manifestations of eternal energy. They are creation, preservation, destruction, salvation and illusion. The tandava symbolizes the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction as well as the daily rhythm of birth and death.