Collaring The Demon Of Ignorance

Read Time: 2 mins 23 secs

Hello beautiful souls! I have an interesting Indian mythological story to share, which I never knew until my dance teacher taught me a dance piece about it. I learn Bharatanatyam which is a storytelling dance where the stories are from Hindu epics and mythology. So this particular dance piece was about ‘Shiva’, one of the most important gods in the Hindu pantheon, dancing on ‘Apasmara’ a demon. 

Apasmara is a demon who represents ignorance, laziness, and nonsensical speech. This demon is a dwarf but he is immensely destructive. The name ‘Apasmara’ (meaning the one who makes us forget important things in life) is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Smaranam’ which translates to ‘memory’. So this demon used to cast spells on humans and gods which made them forget important things like, our days on earth are numbered and the skills and knowledge they have acquired, etc. In other words this demon plagues beings with ignorance. 

One day, this demon went up to Shiva’s consort, Parvati (Hindu goddess of fertility, love, and divine strength), and cast some spells on her which instantly made Parvati forget all her superpowers. This act of Apasmara made Shiva furious and god Shiva wanted to put an end to him, but he realized that if he kills this demon the universe would lose the important balance between ignorance and knowledge, and to keep that in place Apasmara should continue to exist! 

So Shiva decided to suppress Apasmara by creating another form of himself, which would be an embodiment of knowledge, music, dance, and other art forms. He became Nataraja, this Avtar (form) gives the world the message that one can overcome ignorance by indulging in arts and other forms of knowledge. Nataraja planted his right foot on Apasmara and started dancing on him, he subdued the demon and liberated the world from illusion. It is believed that Nataraja tramples upon Apasmara for all eternity.

We all have our demons, insecurities, doubts, etc. and we can crush them the Nataraja way, ignorance cannot be wiped out completely but we can subdue it by the light of knowledge! The more we educate ourselves about life, in general, the better we will be at keeping the demons at bay and managing the challenges life throws our way! 

When I see people disregarding human and animal lives, spreading hate and violence, I look for reasons, and I am convinced that people do it out of sheer ignorance! It seems that the demon, Apasmara, has escaped Nataraja’s hold and is spreading ignorance among humans. Now, I don’t know if Nataraja is coming after this demon again or not! But we shouldn't just sit around and wait for him to get hold of this demon! Let us all nab this demon of ignorance and trample on it with knowledge and humanity!

Let’s pray to the universe
असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय ।
(Lead us from the unreal to the real 
Lead us from darkness to light
Lead us from death to immortality)

Author: Annapoorna Nair | Publisher: Kosha Life



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