The Dance of Shiva

Once, several heretic sages, to the tune of ten thousand refused to believe in the gods and in the Triad. Shiva decided to visit them in their forest home and teach them the truth.

He was received by the sages or rishis, with violent and venomous curses. As these curses had no effect, they released a ferocious tiger. Shiva ripped the skin off the tiger and wore it around the lower part of his body like a sarong. The rishis then brought forth a hideous snake. Shiva seized it and put it around his neck. The rishis then set a fierce black dwarf demon, armed with a club, on Shiva. Shiva felled him to the ground, put his foot on the back of the demon, and began to dance. The rhythm was marvellous, and as he danced, beating his drum, he glowed with a dazzling splendour. The gods came down from heaven and worshipped him as Nataraja, the king of dance. The heretic rishis were awed by Shiva's splendour and fell on their knees before him.

Shiva Nataraja destroys creation by his Tandava Dance, or Dance of Eternity. As he dances, everything disintegrates, apparently into nothingness. Then, out of the thin vapours, matter and life are re-created again.

The Dance of Shiva and Other Tales From India
by Oroon Ghosh
pub: Signet Classics, 1965