Becoming the Dancer: Dissolving the Boundaries between Ritual, Cognition, and Theatrical Performance in Non-dual Śaivism




cognitive ritual, performance, dancing Śiva, non-dual Śaivism, pañcakṛtya


This paper explores the connection between cognitive ritual and theatrical performance in non-dual Śaivism based on the textual study of the Mahārthamañjarī written by Maheśvarānanda (13th–14th centuries) and related texts. The Mahārthamañjarī incorporates the image of the dancing Śiva of Chidambaram to expound certain ideas of non-dual Śaiva doctrine and practice. One of the most important issues discussed by Maheśvarānanda was the meaning of Śiva’s dance and the possibility for a man or a human agent to become Śiva-the Dancer by performing the Five Acts (pañcakṛtya). Surveying the different meanings of pañcakṛtya that have developed over time, this paper explores how Maheśvarānanda’s project of discovery one’s own status as Śiva-the Dancer is essentially a discovery of being an agent of the Five Acts.

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How to Cite

Wenta, Aleksandra. 2018. “Becoming the Dancer: Dissolving the Boundaries Between Ritual, Cognition, and Theatrical Performance in Non-Dual Śaivism”. Cracow Indological Studies 20 (1):259-95.