Shiva Dances the Eternal Cosmic Dance at CERN
On June 18, 2004, an unusual new landmark was unveiled at CERN, the European Center for Research in Particle Physics in Geneva — a 2m tall statue of the Indian deity Shiva Nataraja, the Lord of Dance. The statue, symbolizing Shiva's cosmic dance of creation and destruction, was given to CERN by the Indian government to celebrate the research center's long association with India.
The plaque begins "Nithyaya" – O The One Who is Eternal.
Nithyaya trigunatmane purajithe kathyayani sreyase
Sathyaadhi kudumbhine munimana pratyaksha chinmuthaye
Mayasrushta jagantrayaya sakalamnayantha sancharine
Sayam thandava sambramaya jatine seyam nathissambhave.
O The one who is Eternal
Who has the three qualities of Inertness, Expansion and Returning to the Source
Who is the Truth
Who is the original source of entanglement
Who appears in the inner space of the sages
Who created all the three worlds from his illusion
Who is dances the cosmic dance,
O Shambu – I Salute Thee!
Source: Verse No. 56, Sivanandalahari by Sri Adi Sankara)
Known as the Nataraja, this particular form of the Dancing Shiva is one of the greatest gifts to the world of art. Shiva symbolises "Shakti" or life force, in the Hindu Trinity. He is the Creator, the Sustainer, and the Destroyer. Beyond the Nataraja's artistic form lies a profound meaning to be comprehended at many levels. The Nataraja in Ananda Tandava shows Him dancing the universe into existence, sustaining it with His rhythm and dancing it to extinction. Creation is sparked by the vibration of the drum in the right hand; protection of sustenance by the open palm of the front right arm, a gesture of assurance that grants freedom from fear. The fire in the left arm dissolves the Universe while the front left arm points downward to the lifted left leg, the solace of the worlds. The dwarf representing ignorance is trampled under the right leg. The aureole represents the cosmos, the sun, moon and stars revolving in perpetual and fiery motion.