New Light On Dancing Shiva Symbol

This is a review written by my father which was published in The National Herald on 08/06/1996.

[Dancing Shiva in the Ecological Age: By Henryk Skolimowski, Publisher: Dr. Henryk Skolimowski, International Center for Eco-Philosophy and Indian Institute of Ecology & Environment New Delhi. Paperback. Pages: 214, 1995, Price: Not Written]

The collection of articles by the learned author who is a Professor of Philosophy in the Programme in Humanities, College of Engineering, University of Michigan, USA, is an attempt at giving a new meaning to the dancing Shiva symbol so commonly available in the Hindu temples, Hindu households, museums of arts etc. Although in the Hindu religious mythology, Shiva is one of the Trinity responsible for destruction preceding a rejuvenation, the author tries to cull out the basic essence of Hindu philosophy in which destruction is never final and creation is never complete in the sense that they are all part of the same cycle in which there is no beginning or end.

2. The author has quoted profusely not only from Upanishads, Buddhist literature, Christian theology but also from the present day savants such as Andre Malaraux and T.S. Eliot. The vastness of the range and the depth of the author’s learning is also evident in his mastery of language and ability to use the words as instruments of revelation.

3. Although the volume contains 15 articles each of which can be read independently yet there is a common theme running through all of them. The theme is that man’s relationship with nature should be that of reverence, love, devotion and not otherwise. According to the author, participation at the deepest level is the true essence of life.  there is an interesting article on structures, symbols and evolution. The author describes in some detail what the dancing Shiva symbol of Hinduism means to him.

It is a symbol of continuous metamorphosis, a ceaseless beginning of life, a symbol of fluidity and essentially undefinable character of life. There is something fascinating and mysterious in the conception of universe conceived in the image of dancing Shiva. It is this conception that some of the Western thinkers (such as F.Capre) have evoked to replace the petrified conception of the universe in the image of the Neutonian clock.

4. an abstruse book which could be understood only by a person having reasonable proficiency in philosophy and metaphysics, it seeks to emphasise the wholeness of the universe and oneness of life manifest in plants, animals and human beings.

The author seems to be a votary of Hindu view of life which underplays differences and divisions and accentuates oneness and wholeness. The author feels that the dancing Shiva symbol enjoins upon mankind to feel responsible for the nature and the universe, the responsibility of which will result in the rehabilitation and protection of everything that is good in the world and in turning good of whatever is not.

One could disagree with the author but one can not help feeling moved by the sense of urgency that drips from every paragraph of the book. The author feels that we had better get together our acts including our pursuits of ‘scientific knowledge’ otherwise it will be too late.

– Shashi Bhushan

 

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The Academy

Today, sitting in a tightly packed Auto-rickshaw which was shared among seven other people, I witnessed myself sitting in what a discourse between Plato and Socrates would have been like in the modern era. I was shocked how much I was like them in my undergrad years and how most of those common visions and beliefs I had shared were now replaced by something more realistic but impure and vulgar. In twenty seven minutes I carefully heard their views on poetry and writing, drama societies in the city and their culture, politics, media and newspapers, men losing their brilliance after marriage, college privatisation and their extortion tactics, cellphone technology and surveillance, revolutionaries and finally it came to the descriptive praises of the breasts of their newly married college senior’s wife. No one had been paying any attention until the last topic was mentioned and now it held the attention of each and every man in that vehicle. You don’t really need to clear the SAT to appreciate that one. This was exactly when both these young philosophers had reached their destinations and gotten off. It was a pity that the others couldn’t follow the brilliant discussion now and had to stay but the pain of missing out on this last piece of immense knowledge was evident on everyone’s faces. I could now see what the world was all about. The Internet cooed into my ears with the slightly cool but pleasant September wind, familiar words and the answer to it all – “Tits or GTFO!”