Monthly Archives: April 2016

The Dance of Bliss and Fritjof Capra

Nataraja, the King of Dancers, is the Hindu God Shiva performing the Dance of Bliss.  It is a multilayer metaphor for the fire of life, the rhythm of birth and death, the destruction of ignorance and creation of enlightenment. Talk about intriguing!

I first became aware of Nataraja when I read about a similar statue given to CERN by the government of India in 2004 in celebration of India’s participation in the research center.  I understand why it is of value to India; but, I think it’s so interesting that physicists and engineers working on the Large Hadron Collider would embrace it as representative of their work.

All of the elements of this sculpture are symbolic.  Each arm and its position, the hair, the skull, the cobra, the eternal fire of the universe with all it’s illusion, all balanced atop the dwarf demon of ignorance,  conjures thoughts about the freedom of the soul and how it’s achieved.

I wonder about the setting in which the traditions of the Nataraja were passed.  Was it in the home?  Did mothers and fathers teach their children about the cosmic dance, the vibration of subatomic matter? Or was it in a sacred environment in which the tribal leader or religious head taught initiates? How much detail was known and shared?  Did it include the rhythms of the earth and all of its life forms as well as inorganic matter?  Have the original meanings been preserved or have they changed over time as each generation follows the last and the earth’s cultures evolve?  Fascinating!


A special plaque placed next to the statue explains the significance of the metaphor of this dance with quotations from Fritjof Capra, Ph.D., Theoretical Physicist:

“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.”  

I’m constantly amazed at this world.  It’s evolving faster than a 250 mph bullet train. It’s so exciting to see things I’ve never seen before and read about things I’ve only imagined. There’s always more.  And… I know where to look when my curiosity is piqued.  More often than not it’s right in the palm of my hand.