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Wednesday, July 4, 2012


By GP.Srinivasan

The statue of Nataraja, the Cosmic Dancer, Dr. Aymar, DG of CERN, Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary to the Government of India

(CERN: European Center for Nuclear Research)
"The Wave Structure of Matter Explains the Atomic Structure of Matter. The 'Particle' as the Wave-Center of a Spherical Standing Wave in Space" explains the cosmic dance of Nataraja."
"Modern physics has shown that the rhythm of creation and destruction is not only manifest in the turn of the seasons and in the birth and death of all living creatures, but is also the very essence of inorganic matter," and that "For
the modern physicists, then, Shiva's dance is the dance of subatomic matter."
-Fritjof Capra in “The Tao of Physics”, 1975
Shiva's Cosmic Dance at CERN: On June 18, 2004, an unusual new landmark was unveiled at CERN, the European Center for Research in Particle Physics in Geneva -- a 2m tall statue of the Indian deity Shiva Nataraja- the Lord of Dance. The statue, symbolizing Shiva's cosmic dance of creation and destruction, was given to CERN by the Indian government to celebrate the research center's long association with India.
In choosing the image of Shiva Nataraja, the Indian government acknowledged the profound significance of the metaphor of Shiva's dance for the cosmic dance of subatomic particles, which is observed and analyzed by CERN's physicists. The parallel between Shiva's dance and thedance of subatomic particles was first discussed by Fritjof Capra in an article titled "The Dance of Shiva: The Hindu
View of Matter in the Light of Modern Physics," published in Main Currents in Modern Thought in 1972. Shiva's cosmic dance then became a central metaphor in Capra's international bestseller The Tao of Physics, first published in 1975 and still in print with over 40 editions and still going strong..
A special plaque next to the Shiva statue at CERN explains the significance of the metaphor of Shiva's cosmic dance with several quotations from The Tao of Physics. Here is the text of the plaque:
Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy, seeing beyond the unsurpassed rhythm, beauty, power and grace of the Nataraja, once wrote of it "It is the clearest image of the activity of God which any art or religion can boast of."
More recently, Fritjof Capra explained that "Modern physics has shown that the rhythm of creation and destruction is not only manifest in the turn of the seasons and in the birth and death of all living creatures, but is also the very essence of inorganic matter," and "for the modern physicists, then, Shiva's dance is the dance of subatomic matter."
It is indeed as Capra concluded: "Hundreds of years ago, Indian artists created visual images of dancing Shiva's in a beautiful series of bronzes. In our time, physicists have used the most advanced technology to portray the patterns of the cosmic dance. The metaphor of the cosmic dance thus unifies ancient mythology, religious art and modern physics."
Fritjof Capra explained that "Modern physics has shown that the rhythm of creation and destruction is not only manifest in the turn of the seasons and in the birth and death of all living creatures, but is also the very essence of inorganic matter," and that "For the modern physicists, then, Shiva's dance is the dance of subatomic matter."
I bought a copy of "Tao of Physics" written by Fritjof Capra which I purchased when I was about 18 years old in 1976.This was an expensive book at that time by any standard and for a student to get a copy in those days was difficult thing.. Buying it was one thing, and to see Yoga and Hindu Philosophy getting a Scientific Interpretation, in leading research laboratories, in the west made it even more attractive. It was a thrilling experience to practice yoga, and to compare Yoga Philosophy with Physics with my friend Anton was challenging. We discussed about mind and matter and Yoga. To this day this Tao of Physics remains one of best books of its kind. Of course there were other books written by authors of "Dancing Wei Lui Masters", and "Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Repair" etc.
In his Introduction Capra had narrated his experience while gazing at the Pacific Ocean. His entire field of vision disappeared and replaced by Cosmic Consciousness, which he could identify and was later able to relate to Advaitha of Hindu Philosophy of gaining cosmic vision.The book carried on the Cover a Dancing Nataraja's photo, which became a international hit. The particles of subatomic matter moving in a gas chamber, and a photograph tracing their movements superimposed on the image of Nataraja’s became the most celebrated photo.(1)
For the first time this made history for the philosophy of yoga and principles of quantum physics were merged into seamless realism.
"The Eastern mystics see the universe as an inseparable web, whose interconnections are dynamic and not static. The cosmic web is alive; it moves and grows and changes continually. Modern physics, too, has come to conceive of the universe as such a web of relations and, like Eastern mysticism, has recognized that this web is intrinsically dynamic. The dynamic aspect of matter arises in quantum theory as a consequence of the wave-nature of subatomic particles, and is even more essential in relativity theory, where the unification of space and time implies that the being of matter cannot be separated from its activity. The properties of subatomic particles can therefore only be understood in a dynamic context; in terms of movement, interaction and transformation. "Fritjof Capra " The Tao of Physics".
Though his ideas were revolutionary. I never thought that nearly 30 years down the line I would be writing about him for a paper what I have learnt about him To understand the Hindu Concept of Cosmic Nataraja we have to understand the Hindu Concept of dance itself. When it comes to natya the greatest inimitable exponent, Balasaraswathy had stated that Bharatnatyam is nothing but "Natya yoga". Bharat Natya originated with Tapas and Nataraja himself is the supreme teacher of Natya and codified by Bharatha Muni in his Natya Sastra. Bharat Natya is the Supreme cultural Symbol of Perfection in dance form. When the most revered cultural symbol of Sikhs was threatened as happened some months ago when the blue attire of their most revered Guru Govind Singh was copied by Dera Sacha Sauda founder Baba Ram Rahim, the entire sikh community of Punjab and Haryana were outraged . They came to streets, and the two states came to a stand still. it was a war like situation. This incident was an eye-opener, as to what the consequences will be if religious sacred religious symbols and traditions of one section of the population are misappropriated illegitimately. I had sent this article to some friends for their comments:
Prof Chakrapani from Maryland, USA, "I am back in India.... The article on "Quantum physics and the dance of Nataraja" and the Shiva on CERN was a classic article. Many of us had been to CERN you have exposed our ignorance and indifference also by that article. Imagine if Jesus on Cross-had been depicted in the reception of CERN, how much the Christian Missionaries would take advantage of it? He quipped why Hindus are blind to their own culture & Heritage?
Whenever we hear the name 'Golden Temple', we tend to think of the beautiful Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar. There is another Golden Temple in South India - the great Nataraja temple at Chidambaram in Tamilnadu that is associated with the cosmic dance of Nataraja. These are sacred cultural and religious symbols of Bharat and of great importance and immense sacrifices have been made both Sikhs and Hindus respectively to save and protect their holy symbols and
sacred places.
Definition Bharata Natyam (Noun): A Dance form from Southern India, usually performed by one Dancer, and based on Hindu mythology, in which the movements of the hands and arms have an elaborate and stylized meanings. Sanskrit Bharatanatya, Dance of Bharatha, reputed author of a famous manual of drama and dance. (Encarta dictionary)
What Nataraja Symbolizes? "Nataraja" is a manifestation of Shiva, assumed the Lord of Dance (Bharatanatyam) . The Koil (temple) of Saivaites and the Head quarters of dancers is the famous temple with the presence of Nataraja is in Chidambaram Tamilnadu, India, where the lord himself danced at the golden hall on the request of the sages Vyagrapaada and Pataanjali. (Incidentally whose Samadhis have been located in Thirupattur and renovated by my friend lawyer Chandramouli) .
What Nataraja signifies? His body represents the sky. His hands entreat the eight directions. His three eyes symbolise the sun, moon and the eight directions. His smile acts as the distraction of evil. His hair embodies wisdom. His crescent moon shows enlightenment. His sacred thread indicates philosophy. His garments are the Vedas. His damaru is the creation of sound. His Abhayam (blessing hand literally without fear) Signifies protection. His varada is for liberation. His tiger skin acts to control anger. His anklets direct to a good path. His serpent controls jealousy. The deer signifies compassion. The body of dwarf apasmara-purusha (the man of forgetfulness) who embodies indifference, ignorance and sloth.
Dance in India is a form of Spiritual practice, with strict austerities such as fasting, and meditation on Shiva and above all Guru Bhakthi, which is still widely prevalent. Shiva is the Supreme Yogi of the Gods, is the Lord of the dance. Here Dancing is not seen as an art in the western sense for one's own enjoyment and pleasure, but the Dancer seeks to create oneness with the Lord of the Universe. The same thought to evoke the oneness with the Cosmos as Fritjof Capra Capra when he said in introduction to Tao of Physics. "He (Nataraja) brought out the parallels in our understanding of the Universe as a dynamic interconnected unity". The word Brahman is derived from the Sanskrit root brih - to grow- and thus suggests a reality, which is dynamic and alive. The Upanishads refer to Brahman as 'this unformed, immortal, moving', thus associating it with motion even though it transcends all forms.
The Rig Veda uses another term to express the dynamic character of the universe, the term Rita. This word comes from the root ri - to move. In its phenomenal aspect, the cosmic One is thus intrinsically dynamic, and the apprehension of its dynamic nature is basic to all schools of Eastern mysticism. They all emphasize that the universe has to be grasped dynamically, as it moves, vibrates and dances. Hence Fritjof Capra, on the cover of his book had reproduced the photomontage of dancing Nataraja super imposed on subatomic particles photographed in a chamber. (In the present day editions this has been replaced with a Yin and Yang symbol)
"Fritjof Capra is correct that matter can not be separated from motion; the error of modern physics has been in the conception of Motion as the motion of Matter ('subatomic particles') rather than the wave motion of Space. Western Physics (with its 'particles' and 'forces / fields' in 'Space Time') has never correctly understood the Eastern worldview. It is also important to understand that the ancient Indian philosophers did actually know how the universe was a dynamic unity, what matter was, how the One Thing / Brahman caused and connected the many things. Thus Eastern philosophical knowledge is ultimately founded on mysticism and intuition. Recent discoveries on the properties of Space and the Wave Structure of Matter (Wolff, Haselhurst) confirm that we can understand Reality and the interconnection of all things from a logical/scientific foundation."


Chandrakanta Rasiklal Davay said...

Thank you Sir, for the scholarly exposition of cosmic dance in relation to atomic/sub-atomic physics. Such scholarly articles should be published in more Indian Languages.
We Hindus have to learn from great Scientists like Frtitzof Capra about the hidden scientific revelations and vedic truths in the Masterpiece Idol of Nataraja. Hats off to the Sculptor/Artist/ Rishi for conceptualizing such profound truth.

Nidhi Sharma said...

Great article..!

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