Carl Sagan, Fritjof Capra on "The Dance that Reveals the Mysteries of Universe" – Part II
Dr Fritjof Capra, PhD (Austrian born American physicist) was born on 1st February 1939 in Vienna, Austria. He earned a Ph D in theoretical physics from the University of Vienna in 1966. He has done research on particle physics and systems theory and has written popular books including the famous book The Tao of Physics.
The book was published in 1975 by a small publisher initially; the book became an underground bestseller by word of mouth before it was picked up by a major American Publishing house. This has been published in 43 editions in 23 languages so far. Millions have read the book.
He has explained about Shiva Nataraja thus:
“In contrast to the mechanistic view of classical Western science, the Eastern view could be called an organic, holistic, or ecological view.
“To eastern Mystics, objects have a fluid and ever-changing character. Change and transformation, flow and movement, play an essential role in their world view. The cosmos is seen as one inseparable reality, forever in motion. It is alive, organic, spiritual and material at the same time. A very similar view is now emerging from modern physics.”
One has to read Capra’s book in order to understand the cosmic dance of Shiva Nataraja which reveals the mysteries of the Universe.
He explains Shiva Nataraja’s dance: “Modern physics pictures matter, not as passive and inert, but as continuously dancing and vibrating. This is very much like the Eastern mystics description of the world. Both emphasize that the universe has to be grasped dynamically. It structures are not static, rigid ones, but should be seen in terms of dynamic equilibrium.
“Physicists speak of the continuous dance of sub-atomic matter which goes on all the time. They have actually used the words ‘dance of creation and destruction’ or ‘energy dance’. This naturally comes to mind when you see some of the pictures of particles taken by physicists in their bubble chambers.
“Of course, physicists are not the only one talking about this cosmic dance. Perhaps the most beautiful example of this metaphor exists in Hinduism – the idea of the dancing Lord Siva. Siva is the personification of the cosmic dance. According to Indian tradition, all life is a rhythmic interplay of death and birth, of creation and destruction.
“Indian artists have created beautiful pictures and statues of dancing Lord Siva. These statues are visual images of the cosmic dance, and so are the bubble chamber tracks photographed by modern physicists. They are a modern version of the dance of Siva obtained by using the most modern and advanced of our Western technological instruments. To me, the effect is as beautiful and as profound as the magnificent Hindu statues. In both cases, we are picturing an eternal dance of creation and destruction, which is the basis of all natural phenomena, the basis of all existence. Therefore, I have put the two together – here you have the ‘Dance of Siva’ merging the 12th and 20th century versions. You can see that this image of the cosmic dance unifies, in a very beautiful way, ancient mythology, religious art, mystical insight and modern science.”
Above are some excerpts from his keynote address at the Los Angels
Symposium on Physics and Meta physics on October 29, 1977.
The figure Dr Capra shows is an astonishing one. The dance of Nataraja and the dance of atomic particles are identical. One has to see it to believe.
Not only Carl Sagan and Dr Fritjof Capra, there are other eminent scholars who admire Shiva Nataraja. We will see their views in our next article.