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Symbolic Nataraj at CERN

Nataraja (Dancing siva) made famous in western part of world by Austrian Physicist Fritzof Capra (one of my favorite) in his book The Tao of Physics- beautifully relates Nataraj's dance with modern physics(Physics studying particle at speed of light). He says that "Every subatomic particle not only performs an energy dance, but also is an energy dance; a pulsating process of creation and destruction without end.For the modern physicists, then Shiva's dance is the dance or motion of subatomic matter.

As in Hindu mythology, it is a continual dance of creation and destruction involving the whole cosmos; the basis of all existence and of all natural phenomena." Capra described the interactions of subatomic particles as “a dynamic interplay in which particles are created and destroyed without end in a continual variation of energy patterns.” Capra emphasized like in the Hindu belief of the universe being created and destroyed in a cyclic manner without beginning or end, death and rebirth being an integral part of this process. (Which I find absurd because scientist are after how the universe created and it is happening at CERN,I think Capra got a bit Emotional !!)
Symbolism of Nataraj:
The term 'Nataraj' means 'King of Dancers' (Sanskrit nata = dance; raja = king). Nataraj is the most popular avatar of Shiva, one of the Hindu Trinity(Bramha,Binshnu and Mahesh,Mahesh is another name of Shiva,this guys have plenty of names:I hate that).Shiva represents apocalypse and creation as he dances away the illusory world of Maya transforming it into power and enlightenment.
The symbolism of Siva Nataraja is amalgamation of religion, art and science as one. In Nataraj's endless dance of creation, preservation, destruction and paired graces is hidden a deep understanding of our universe. Bhashya Nataraja, the King of Dance, has four arms:- upper right hand holds the drum from which creation issues forth. The lower right hand is raised in blessing, betokening preservation. The upper left hand holds a flame, which is destruction, the dissolution of form. The right leg, representing obscuring grace, stands upon Apasmarapurusha(illusion), a soul temporarily earth-bound by its own sloth, confusion and forgetfulness. The uplifted left leg is revealing grace, which releases the mature soul from bondage. The lower left hand gestures toward that holy foot in assurance that Siva's grace is the refuge for everyone, the way to liberation. The circle of fire represents the cosmos and especially consciousness. The all-devouring form looming above is Mahakala, "Great Time." The cobra around Nataraja's waist is kundalini shakti, the soul-impelling cosmic power resident within all. Nataraja's dance is not just a symbol. It is taking place within each of us, at the atomic level, this very moment. The Agamas proclaim, "The birth of the world, its maintenance, its destruction, the soul's obscuration and liberation are the five acts of His dance." ►Which is totally misleading?????

The Nataraja dances within the universe of illusion. The locks of his hair stand out in many strands as he whirls around in his dancing frenzy. His locks are decked with a crescent moon, a skull, and are interspersed with the sacred river Ganges.
Shiva's unkempt hair, a symbol of a rejection of society, shows him to be an ascetic. This contrasts with his role as a grhastha, or householder, with his wife and family. (Yay that's the spirit )

The fiery ring surrounding Shiva, prahabhamandala, represents the universe with all its illusion, suffering and pain. The outer edge is fire the inner edge the waters of the oceans. Many Nataraja statues have multiple levels of fire and water.

The goddess of the Ganges is here shown nesting in Shiva's dreadlocks. The river Ganges that flows in Nataraja's hair originally flowed in heaven. When the heavenly Ganges was needed on earth, she was unwilling to fall to earth because she realized that her fall from heaven would be too much for the earth to withstand. Shiva as Nataraja agreed to break the violent power of the sacred Ganga's fall by catching her in his tangled hair, breaking the fall with his hair on its way to the Himalayas and Northern India.

The crescent moon in his matted hair keeps Kama or sex, the god of nightly love, alive. Through the waxing and the waning of the moon Shiva creates different seasons and rejuvenates life

Nataraja wears a snake coiled around his upper arms and neck symbolizing the power he has over the most deadly of creatures. Snakes are also used to symbolize the Hindu dogma of reincarnation. Their natural process of molting or shedding their skin is symbolic of the human souls transmigration of bodies from one life to another

In the back right hand Shiva often holds an hour glass shaped drum(Damaru). The drum represents the rhythmic sound to which Nataraja dances and ceaselessly recreates the universe, it is misinterpreted by westerners as ticking of time.

The front right hand is in the Abhaya-mudra (non-fearing gesture, made by holding the palm outward with fingers pointing up).

The back left hand carries agni (fire) in a vessel or in his hand. The flames represent the destructive energy with which Nataraja dances at the end of each cosmic age, cleansing sins and removing illusion.

The front left hand is across the chest in the Gahahasta (elephant trunk) pose, with the wrist limp and the fingers pointed downward toward the uplifted foot.

His uplifted left foot, grants eternal bliss to those who approach him. The other foot treads firmly upon the dwarf of ignorance, allowing the birth of knowledge.

Nataraja dances above the body of the demon, Apasmara, whom he has killed; in this role he is called Natesa. Apasmara, the dwarf demon, represents the ignorance of teaching that all opposites (for example good and evil) are false.

Meaning of Shiva's Dance or Cosmic dance
This cosmic dance of Shiva is called 'Anandatandava,' meaning the Dance of Bliss, and symbolizes the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction, as well as the daily rhythm of birth and death. The dance is a pictorial allegory of the five principle manifestations of eternal energy — creation, destruction, preservation, salvation, and illusion.The dance of Shiva also represents his five activities: Shrishti (creation, evolution); Sthiti(preservation, support); Samhara (destruction, evolution); Tirobhava (illusion); and Anugraha (release, emancipation, grace).

The overall temper of the image is paradoxical, uniting the inner tranquility, and outside activity of Shiva.

The Nataraj Statue At CERN:
The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) has been in the forefront of particle physics research since the late 1950s. About 8,000 scientists representing 500 universities and 80 countries are working for CERN.

CERN has 2m tall statue of Nataraj(surely influenced by Capra) is situated. A special plaque(inscribed metal or stone)next to the Shiva statue explains the significance of the metaphor of Shiva's cosmic dance with quotations from Capra: "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."

Excerpt from a beautiful poem by Ruth Peel about Nataraj:
"The source of all movement,
Shiva's dance,
Gives rhythm to the universe.
He dances in evil places,
In sacred,
He creates and preserves,
Destroys and releases.
We are part of this dance
This eternal rhythm,
And woe to us if, blinded
By illusions,
We detach ourselves
From the dancing cosmos,
This universal harmony…".

Fianlly, I don't support the use of word "God" for Nataraj it is one masterpiece of art filled with symbolism and metaphorisn which should not be limited to a particulat religion and geographical boundry.Nataraj is a perfect piece of Art!!!I feel,symbolism and metaphorism of the fine art Nataraj is a best way to understand life and make it useful for everyone in this universe :)



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