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Story behind Shiva’s tandava

Shiva is the third god in the Hindu triumvirate. The triumvirate consists of three gods who are responsible for the creation, upkeep and destruction of the world. The other two gods are Brahma and Vishnu. ... Shiva's role is to destroy the universe in order to re-create it.

There are many legends associated with tandava, one of which says, the demon Apasmara challenged Shiva. Shiva took the form of Nataraja to suppress Apasmara – the symbol of ignorance. He accepted the challenge and took the form of Nataraja to perform tandava. During the performance, Shiva crushed Apasmara under his right foot. Since Apasmara cannot die to maintain the balance between knowledge and ignorance, Shiva remained in his Nataraja form. This avatar of Shiva gives the message that ignorance can be overcome by knowledge, music and dance.

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