About the Book
The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) is an autonomous Trust set up by the Government of India under Ministry of Culture. IGNCA is visualized as a centre encompassing the study-and experience of all the arts - each form with its own integrity, yet within a dimension of mutual interdependence, interrelated with nature-, social structure and cosmology.
This view of the arts, integrated with, and essential to the larger matrix of human culture, is an integral quality of person, at home- with himself and society. It partakes of the holistic worldview so powerfully articulated throughout Indian_ tradition, and emphasized by modern Indian leaders from Mahatma Gandhi to Rabindranath Tagore.
The arts are here understood to comprise the fieldS of creative and critical literature, written and oral; the visual arts; ranging from architecture, sculpture, painting and graphics to general material culture, photography and film; the performing arts of music, dance and theatre in their broadest connotation; and all else in fairs, festivals and lifestyle that has an artistic dimension. The Centre focused its attention on India at the first and initial stage; it has further started expanding its horizons to other civilizations and cultures. Through diverse programmes of research, publication, training, creative activities and performance, the IGNCA seeks to place the arts within the context of the natural and human environment The fundamental approach of the Centre in all its work is both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary.
The nature of the work of IGNCA as per its mandate is interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary. It has brought together at one platform physicists, astronomers, philosophers and scholars of comparative religion, art, architecture, literature, music and dance to discuss through a stimulating dialogue the parallels and close affinities between ancient speculation and modern science. The proceedings of these discussions have been published by IGNCA in a few volumes viz. Concept of Time, Concept of Space, Dhvani: Nature and Culture of Sound, Prakrti: The Integral Vision etc.
The day of 18'h June is very significant in our recent history for it was on this day in the year 2004 that a two metre tall bronze statue of Natarata - a gift from the Government of India was unveiled at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva. While celebrating this event is undoubtedly significant but along with that is also very important bringing forth the essence of this unique confluence. For achieving this purpose IGNCA invited Dr Vijay Bhatkar to deliver a talk on "Cosmology and Nataraja" to mark the occasion. Interestingly, among his varied research areas, Dr. Vijay Bhatkar's researches also include the areas like 'Brain Mind Consciousness', Synthesis of Science and Spirituality', etc. I am personally grateful to Dr. Vijay Bhatkar for sparing his time and making the celebration fruitful.
In Saivagamas and the Puranas, Siva has been depicted -as having assumed different forms to perform various acts and all his acts are revolving through the three phases of creation, maintenance and dissolution in an unending, uninterrupted and ever renewed dynamic sequence. It is on the same plane that the concept of Nataraja, the cosmic dancer sums up in itself the totality of the cosmic process and thus the interpretation: "Creation arises from the drum; protection proceeds from the hand of hope; from the fire proceeds destruction; the foot held aloft gives release." Also that "Dancing, He sustains its manifold phenomena. In the fullness of time , still dancing, he destroys all forms and names by fire and gives new rest. This is poetry; but nonetheless, science." These quotations taken from the essay written by one of the genius minds of the twentieth century Dr. Ananda K. Coomaraswamy on The Dance of Shiva. For making this concept more clear to our readers IGNCA brings out the complete essay in this small booklet in the hope that they get benefitted by reading this beautiful and enlightening essay. Included in the booklet are also two erudite articles on Cosmic Dance and Nataraja and Cosmic Space: Nature and Culture Inter twining in the Early Tamil Tradition by Prof. Sharada Srinivasan. She has made pioneering contributions to the study of archaeology and history of art from the perspective of exploring engineering applications in these disciplines, i.e. archaeometry, archaeometallurgy and archaeological sciences.
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