Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Natraj


At a music school, we eyed a statue of Shiva in a dance pose.  Saadia explained:

Shiva engaged in the divine Dance of Bliss to destroy the weary universe.  He assumed the Natraj pose, and began his chant.  When his chant is finished, the world will end and destruction will begin.

Without destruction, you cannot have creation.

And I got chills.

I had awoken that morning from my slumber in the darkness, with the words nitraji echoing through my head.  It was related to a different world, a Brazilian public diplomacy adventure where I was suffering from a stye.  The cure for such ailments in silver nitrate.  And I could hear the Cultural Affairs Officer repeating as we went from pharmacy to pharmacy the Portuguese pronunciation nitraji.

I brought this story up with my friend Anschul in Delhi, as we discussed iconoclasm in our respective travels and work.

Then it became clear to me: public diplomacy is natraja. If we can destroy the pre-conceived notions held in the mind of the other, it is then that we can begin to create.

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