What is Apasmara?


Apasmara, AKA Muyalaka, is the demon crushed under Shiva's foot in his form as Nataraja the king of dance. He is a dwarf who symbolizes ignorance and/or evil, and Shiva is portrayed as crushing him:

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Now as far as I'm aware, the story of Nataraja isn't described in Hindu scripture, but here is how it's described in South Indian folklore:

Followers of the orthodox Brahmin school of Mimamsa tried to destroy Shiva by successively creating a fierce tiger, a serpent, and an elephant whom Shiva killed. Finally they sent the embodiment of evil in the form of a dwarf, Muyalaka, the Apasmara purusha to overthrow Shiva - but Shiva began his cosmic-dance (tandava), subduing the dwarf and thereby liberating the world.

I'm not sure why followers of Purva Mimamsa (whixh I discuss here) are portrayed as bad guys here; perhaps this version of the story was written by Advaitins or other opponents of Mimamsa. In any case, as you can see there is no mention of Parvati here, so I think that is just creative license on the part of the TV show writers. I think their intent was to show that even Parvati herself turned Shiva to crush her ignorance, making it all the more imperative for ordinary humans to do likewise.

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