From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Nrttamurti literally means ‘icon in the dancing posture’.

Some deities of the pantheon are sometimes shown in the posture of dancing.[1] They are hence called ‘nṛttamurtis’. The deities thus represented are:

  1. Śiva
  2. Gaṇapati
  3. Kṛṣṇa
  4. Apsaras[2]

Occasionally we come across some stories in the purāṇas describing the reasons for such dancing. They are:

  • Śiva danced the tānḍava dance to please the gods who had assembled in Kailāsa and had requested him to exhibit it to them.
  • Gaṇapati was immensely pleased and started dancing when the four-faced Brahmā, the creator, bowed down low before him in great reverence.
  • Kṛṣṇa’s dancing is connected with his subjugating the terrible serpent Kāliya who was residing in the river Yamunā making it's water highly poisonous.
  • For the apsaras like Rambhā and Urvaśī, dancing is a part of their professional discipline.


  1. Nṛtta means dancing.
  2. Apsaras means celestial nymphs.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

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