In Hindu lore, Shiva appears in many guises. He is the dancer and the ascetic. He is the terrible and the tranquil. But whichever role he steps into, Shiva always leads with love. His is a supremely divine love that sustains everything in the world even as it strips his devotees of their illusions and raises them to the heights of bliss.
In his most celebrated form, Shiva is Nataraja, the graceful King of Dancers. On a cosmic level, his dance represents the dynamic, rhythmically moving universe. He is energy in constant flux, creating and preserving life and then destroying the illusory world of maya at the end of each age. "When the Creator dances," says one Hindu text, "the worlds he created dance." .