The Chidambaram Nataraja-Orion Correlation

The Orion Constellation is one of the most recognizable star patterns in the night sky. For the ancient Egyptians it was Osiris, Lord of Resurrection and regeneration. For the people of India today he is the Nataraja, the Dancing Shiva, dispelling Death and offering salvation and liberation from Illusion.


Star Lore
Orion with star names
The Orion constellation with the star names. Credit: Anirban Nandi

The stars have shown humanity the way for as long as we remember. Now we have almost forgotten this. But before the days of pollution and greed, it were the stars that directed us how to stay on the right path, not loose our way, or slip. They showed the way through space, and through time.

To ancient human wisdom and inspiration the stars are divine powers, Gods and Goddesses, that protect and support us. And also challenge us and show us the right direction. Where we have to go, where we should travel, and aspire to.

All branches of humanity have their own Star Lore. The strange thing is that, behind the superficial differences of geography, climate and culture, there are strong connections and similarities between the various traditions.

The main pathway across the heavens is the course of the Sun, Moon and planets. This path is called the ecliptic. It forms the well known ring of the zodiac of twelve signs or constellations.

A second powerful heavenly path, crossing the first at a right angle, is the Milky Way. This is the band of stars that belong to the galaxy our solar system is part of.


In Egypt is Orion Sah, the Heavenly Osiris
Osiris offering Regeneration and Resurrection. Photo: Patricia Awyan
The Orion and Osiris

At the crossing between the Milky Way and the ecliptic a powerful constellation tells us several significant stories. This is the Orion. This constellation marked the Spring Equinox some 6000 years ago.

The Orion has been at the center of attention since the publication of The Orion Mystery by Robert Bauval in 1994. Bauval proposes the three Great Pyramids of Giza correspond with the position of the three stars of the Belt of Orion in some ten thousand years ago. And that Orion is the heavenly representation of the god Osiris of the Egyptian pantheon. Osiris represented regeneration, resurrection, rebirth, fertility and new life to the ancient Egyptians. A concept that included sprouting vegetation and the fertility resulting from the flooding of the Nile.

Astronomy as a sacred science was of great significance to the ancient Egyptians. Somewhat further East, in what is now India, astronomy was also of prime importance to the ancient Seers who inspired the Vedic and Hindu civilization. In India, then and now, astronomy regulates all activities for ritual, festivities, daily life even. And here we find Orion as the heavenly image of the dancing Shiva, the Nataraja, as the emblematic embodiment of the concept of the Divine.


The Orion Correlation in Chidambaram: Nataraja dancing in the night sky
Shiva Nataraja, also dancing in the heavens as Orion
Orion as Nataraja

In a grand and ancient temple deep in the South of India, in the land of the Tamils, once a year, the Cosmic Dancer, He who is the presiding deity of this temple, is carried by his devotees to the great chariot waiting for him at the Eastern side of his temple. This chariot festival is celebrated when the moon is almost full in the lunar mansion Mrigasirsha, the head of Orion. That day is a great festival. Thousands come to pull the chariot around the four Car streets that form the centre of the city. After returning in the evening once again the Nataraja and His consort are carried to the great Hall of a Thousand Pillars, symbolising the Crown Chakra.

That night the full moon resides in the lunar mansion called Ardra, which is the star Betelgeuse. The name means green as a plant, fresh, moist, warm. It belongs to Rudra, the Vedic aspect of the Shiva Nataraja, the Cosmic Dancer. Betelgeuse is the left shoulder of the Orion in the Greek star lore. Here, in Southern India, Orion is the Nataraja, the Dancing Shiva, performing His Dance of Bliss in the sky at night. As He dances for the liberation of humanity in the Hall of a Thousand Pillars on the night of Ardra (Arudra) Darshanam.

The Nataraja dances the Dance of Bliss. He expels Death as He faces South and gestures ‘Fear Not’ with His right hand. He is forever youthful and gentle. He offers liberation to all. The Refuge we attain through His lifted left foot.



The Chidambaram Orion Correlation

In the month of Margazhi (December-January), Thiruvadirai (Moon full in Ardra), when Lord Nataraja dances in the Hall with the Thousand Pillars, He also dances in the zenith of the night sky, as the constellation Orion. It is Arudra Darshanam. Seeing His Cosmic Dance when the full moon resides in Ardra Nakshatra which is Betelgeuse. The next Arudra Darshanam falls on the 11th of January 2017.


The Orion correlation in Chidambaram, India. The Nataraja dances in the heavens as Orion
Clockwise: Orion-Nataraja, Chit Sabha, the great chariot on the festival day, hoising of the temple flag


We will be exploring and experiencing the Orion and other star lore connections between the ancient civilisations of India, Egypt, Australia, and others, in our Journey to the Center of your Self in January 22nd to 31st 2017. When we will visit the Five Element Temples of southern India. Journeying from Earth to Aether we will stand opposite the Dancing Shiva and experience His Cosmic Dance, and also see the Orion-Nataraja dance right at the zenith in the sky above His temple. Ancient wisdom made visible for all to experience.

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