Just like oil and water, religion and science have been loggerheads since their inception. However, with time both have taken baby steps towards harmony and sometimes even resolved their differences in unique ways. One of them is arguably the Nataraj Statue in Conseil Européen Pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN).
The Nataraj Statue depicts Lord Shiva in one of his iconic dance poses that symbolizes the ‘life force’. Today on the occasion of Maha Shivratri, let us explore why the premier Swiss lab owning the largest Particle Hadron Collider needed to place a Hindu deity within its premises.
CERN and Shiva: What is the Connection?
The two-meter-tall Shiva statue was a gift from the Government of India to CERN and was unveiled on June 18, 2004. A plaque next to statue bears a quote from renowned physicist Fritjof Capra, that explains the significance of the statue and God in terms of science.
“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,” says Capra
Capra Explains the ‘Dance of Shiva’ in His Book ‘The Tao of Physics’
Capra in his book ‘The Tao of Physics’ further explained that the Dance of Shiva is a symbol of the basis of our existence and the Lord through his dance reminds us that the many forms of world and living that we are aware and unaware of are not fundamental but constantly changing and can be thus considered an illusion.
He further implored that the process of destruction and creation does not only manifests itself during the change of season or during the death and birth of living creatures. It is there in “the very essence of organic matter.”
Capra, in his book, says, that per the quantum field theory, the dance of destruction and creation is the basis of the existence of matter. He further says that each and every subatomic particle not only engages in an energy dance but is also an energy dance by itself. So, to all modern physicists, the Dance of Shiva can be equalled to the dance of subatomic particles, that are the basis of the existence of everything and all-natural phenomena that take place.
Shiv Tandav – The 5 Forms of the Cosmic Statue
The Statue of Shiva captures the Lord performing his Tandava dance that is believed to be the origin of the process of creation, preservation, and destruction. There are five forms in this dance that shows the cycle from creation to destruction.
“Srishti” represents creation and evolution. Next comes “Sthiti” which represents preservation and support of life. The third stage is “Samhara” that is destruction. The last two are “Tirobhava” and “Anugraha” that stand for illusion and release, respectively.