CERN and Lord Nataraja

Nataraja - The Lord of Dance

Nataraja – The Lord of Dance

“It is the clearest image of the activity of God which any art or religion can boast of.”

Statue of Nataraja at CERN

Statue of Nataraja at CERN

In June 2004, an unusual new landmark was unveiled at CERN, the European Center for Research in Particle Physics in Geneva — a 2m tall statue of Lord Shiva in his Nataraja form. The statue, symbolizing Shiva’s cosmic dance of creation and destruction 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 man who started the discussion of the parallel between Shiva’s dance and the dance of subatomic particles was Fritjof Capra, an Austrian-born American physicist and the founding director of the Center for Ecoliteracy in Berkeley, California. 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.

The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capara

The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capara

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 in over 40 editions around the world.

“Fritjof Capra, in The Tao of Physics , seeks . . . an integration of the mathematical world view of modern physics and the mystical visions of Buddha and Krishna. Where others have failed miserably in trying to unite these seemingly different world views, Capra, a high-energy theorist, has succeeded admirably. I strongly recommend the book to both layman and scientist.”

In the words of Mr. Capra –

Nataraj “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.”

“Hundreds of years ago, Indian artists created visual images of dancing Shivas 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.”

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