Friday, June 11, 2021

Ananda Tandava Of Nataraja - 9

How Scientists view the Image of Naṭarāja

 Recent times have witnessed a surge of scientific interest in the image of Naṭarāja. The starting point perhaps was Fritjof Capra (b. 1939; an Austrian-born American physicist, systems theorist and deep ecologist; and famous author of The Tao of Physics, The Web of Life etc.)) who remarked that the dance of Śiva is 'the dancing universe, the ceaseless flow of energy going through an infinite variety of patterns that melt into one another.' (Refer F. Capra, The Tao of Physics, Suffolk: Fontana Collins, 1979, p.258.)

More impressive, in fact, is the statement of Carl Sagan (1934-1996; an American astronomer, planetary scientist, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, and science communicator): 

"If the universe is expanding as per the Big Bang model of Fred Hoyle and Abbel Maitre, then what happens to the stars that expand, explode and die? If as another school of astronomy says that the universe is contracting and that stars and galaxies are being pulled back to a centre of creation, where do they all go? The answer lies in Hindu Cosmology … [showing Naṭarāja's drum on the one hand] this symbolises creation of the universe, stars, galaxies and human beings ; [showing the fire on Naṭarāja's other hand] this symbolises destruction of what has been created."

 (Refer C. Sagan, Cosmos, New York: Ballantine Books, 1980, p.214).

Yet more telling is the comment of Ilya Prigogine (1917-2003; physical chemist and Nobel laureate) and Isabelle Stengers (b. 1949; Belgian philosopher who has worked on the philosophy of science):

"Each great period of science has led to some model of nature. For classical science it was the clock; for nineteenth century science, the period of the Industrial Revolution, it was an engine running down. What will be the symbol for us? What we have in mind may perhaps be expressed by a reference to sculpture, from Indian … art to our time. In some of the most beautiful manifestations of sculpture of … the dancing Shiva … there appears very clearly … a junction between stillness and motion, time arrested and time passing. We believe that this confrontation will give our period its uniqueness." 

(I. Prigogine & I. Stengers, Order Out of Chaos, New York: Bantam, 1984, pp.22-23).