Salil Gewali on the significance of Lord Shiva in Geneva science lab CERN
A SCIENCE student is likely to know about CERN, more so after scientists there announced the existence of particles (Neutrinos) that travel faster than light. The entire science fraternity had swirled in the whirlpool of confusion then, as that would have dealt a big blow to a long-held assumption and challenged the theories of greats like Albert Einstein. But the claim was later refuted by the same bunch of scientists.
Higgs Boson was another bombshell this lab dropped amid skepticism from religious leaders.
The Geneva-based CERN stands for European Organization for Nuclear Research. The world’s largest physics lab, it boasts of having been run by 2,400 full-time employees and 7,931 scientists and engineers representing 608 universities and research facilities and 113 nationalities. Nobel laureate and co-founder of quantum physics Werner Heisenberg was also a co-founder of this particle research centre.
Believe it or not, this awesome international science centre houses a huge statue of Nataraja, the symbolic depiction of Lord Shiva who performs his cosmic dance to destroy the decrepit universe making way for Lord Brahma to re-start the new creation. The statue was presented by the Indian government in 2004.
How did a Hindu god find a place in this science centre, a seat of rationalism and reasoning? Atheists may fume at the idea. They have proclivities to shrug aside religious symbols and rituals as a load of superstitions, irritant hurdles in the way to progression and liberalism in the free thinking world. But men of letters and intellect are now turning towards the wisdom of India, striving to dig deeper into the ancient archives.
In 1975, eminent American physicist Fritjof Capra came up with the epoch-making book The Tao of Physics, published in 23 languages across the world. In this book, Capra scientifically connects the rhythmic pulsation of subatomic particle with the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva. He asserts “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, Shiva’s dance is the dance 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 adds: “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.”
The most astounding aspect of the book is that it corroborates the East’s interconnection of the entire objects in the universe, animate or inanimate and the rest. Capra writes: “The Eastern mystics see the universe as an inseparable web, whose interconnections are dynamic and not static. The cosmic web is alive; it moves and grows and changes continually. Modern physics, too, has come to conceive of the universe as such a web of relations and, like Eastern mysticism, has recognized that this web is intrinsically dynamic.’
Yes, scientists today are beginning to think in the same line what Rishis in India did and put down in the series of Upanishads ages ago. So the glorification of Nataraj by the nuclear scientists in the CERN is never impertinent. Rather inspirational, providing fuel for further exploration.
Science now agrees that the seers of Indian sub-continent had seen the higher truths, the science of higher dimension and subtleties. These very subtleties which the Nobel laureate – whose Schrödinger equation is considered to be one of the greatest achievements of 20th century – had long taken the refuge in. His deep love for Upanishads are evident in his world famous work “What is life?” which was later credited by Francis Crick for his key insight leading to the revolutionary discovery of DNA code. Erwin Schrödinger was so convinced about the wealth of wisdom in Indian literature he made a fervent proclamation: “In all world, there is no kind of framework within which we can find consciousness in the plural; this is simply something we construct because of the temporal plurality of individuals, but it is a false construction. The only solution to this conflict in so far as any is available to us at all lies in the ancient wisdom of the Upanishad.”
Schrödinger was not alone. David Bohm, Eugene Wigner, Oppenheimer, David Josephson, Carl Sagan, John Archibald Wheeler, Charles Townes, Jack Sarfatti, John Hagelin, John Bells had already made attempts to plunge headlong into the cosmic sea of Upanishadic Consciousness – after the pulsating vibration, as the ultimate answer. Wheeler, the man behind Black Hole and Worm Hole, became so awestruck with the knowledge of the East that he remarked: “One has the feeling that the thinkers of the East knew it all, and if we could only translate their answers into our language we would have the answers to all our questions.”
Finally, here comes the boldest prediction by Robert Julius Oppenheimer: “What we shall find in modern physics is an exemplification, an encouragement and a refinement of old Hindu wisdom.”
The thing may sound quite staggering to the skeptical but science has long been kneeling down before the Eastern wisdom. Atheists beware, science is returning to Hinduism. Not the religion, but all pervasive divinity.