Shiva Nataraj

Shiva is one of the primary figures in Hinduism. He is often shown as Shiva Nataraj, or “Shiva, King of Dancers.” Everything in this image has a meaning. Shiva is shown with four arms, one for each of the cardinal directions. He dances with his left foot raised. His right food rests on a figure that represents illusion and ignorance. In his upper right hand he holds a drum that stands for the male-female principle. His lower right hand makes a gesture that means, “Be without fear.” Snakes, which stand for the ego, are seen uncoiling from his arms, legs, and hair. The skull on his head stands for his conquest over death. He is placed within an arch of flames; these stand for the endless cycle of birth and death.

Shiva’s right food is on illusion and ignorance. What is the symbolism of this pose?