Metaphysics in Natya Dance

Where science and spirituality meet

In Indian perspective, there is no better formula for appraising a magnum opus like Natya Sastra or Sangeeta Ratnakara within the framework of commentaries than as a practitioner. Structural training and scientific methodology being the hallmarks of our tradition, one evolves with a panoramic perspective. The multitudinous facets of the format incorporate a strong foothold to explore the infinite nature of time and space. Study of scientific laws of kinetics, kinematics, calisthenics and iconography give a periscopic vision. Science is embedded within the canvas of the art. One gives definitions while the other describes the same, both form and content.

Advaita, the non-dual monistic philosophy propounded by Adi Sankara, may very well be a place where the scientific world meets that of the cultural, artistic and spiritual. This Darsana or philosophy points to the relationship between mass, frequency, wave and energy that modern physics has established, with the Advaitic ‘Unity of the Universe’ as common ground. These relationships, formalised as equations by scientists like Max Plank and Albert Einstein, suggest that the whole mesh of the Universe blends into ‘One,’ which exhibits itself as many.

This follows Advaita’s view that everything is but the manifestation of ‘One’ — The Dancing Nataraja. This manifests itself as the world! Einstein remarked that the most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the most mystical. It is the source of all true art and science, he thought. It is proven in science, that while moving, particles of elements disappear in our vision because mass times the square of the speed of light is being converted into energy. This could be the turning point that brings together science and spirituality.

The meaning of scientific terms take on different dimensions that merge into space and time, when physics comes out with new discoveries and theories. For the Indian Vedantin, , the terms space-less and time-less describe the dancing Ardhanariswara again and again. From the higher point of the changeless Absolute-Siva, everything is in constant change — Sakti, hence, is relative. Tala is absorption and Laya is dissolution and this is significant indeed. Here lies the foundation for the emergence of Prajapati, the creative spirit. This is also the combined diagram of Sri Chakra.

The Sri Chakra with its pinnacle, Mahameru, the tip of the iceberg, is the One Parabrahman, eternal, indescribable, attributeless — Nirguna — reflected as the world of Maya, moving, filled with attributes — Saguna. A cosmic creative vibration called Sphota or explosion arises between Siva and Sakti, called Nada and this gets consolidated into Shabda Brahman, differentiated sound energy also called, the universal cosmic resonance. This resonance is symbolised by Aum. From this arises Cosmic Intelligence, which is responsible for all existence to become manifestations.

Scientists such as Erwin Schrodinger and Robert Oppenheimer were also Vedantins. Fritjof Capra became well known for his investigation between quantum physics and the core philosophies of various Eastern religions. He is mesmerised by the beauty and mystery of Nataraja, and the close connection between the dance of vibrations in the quantum theory and the dance of Nataraja. In the world of science, after research into the atom, it is stated that there is no matter per se! It is given to believe that there is a conscious, intelligent spirit behind the force, which perhaps can be called the basic principle of all matter. This is associated with the Universal Consciousness, rather it is the ‘force’ of a ‘conscious intelligent spirit.’

Thus, by proper control and channelising of this force or one’s Prana through the disciplined classical arts, man could expand his consciousness and evolve into exalted states of being. The intensive study of electric energy, quantum physics and so on, has revealed this wonderful connection between the truths propounded in the ancient Upanishads, including Natyopanishad, and modern scientific theories

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Printable version | Jan 10, 2021 12:40:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/where-science-and-spirituality-meet/article27220881.ece

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