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         SCIENCE & SPIRITUALISM
Concept of Shiva: The Fundamental Non-duality of Universe
 The Quantum Vacuum may be one step short of the conception of the cosmic void in the Shaiva discourse
unexcited, compose a quantum vacuum. Unlike our idea of vacuum in day-to-day life, this (quantum) vacuum is a teeming, frothing sea of particles and anti-particles zooming into existence and popping back into an un-manifested state, within the vacuum. Thus, most of physics, from that described by electromagnetism to the weak interaction and strong interac- tion (quantum chromodynamics), can be conceptualised in terms of everything manifested coming out of an apparent nothingness and going back to it after a while.
There is a quantum vacuum asso- ciated with the different kinds of fields (such as a QCD vacuum for Quantum Chromodynamics). These vacua may potentially arise from one true unified field quantum vacuum — the universal void, if the unification programme of contemporary physics succeeds.
It is in this void that I believe was thought of as Shiva in yore, albeit spiri- tually and metaphorically rather than empirically or scientifically, given that seers posited that everything comes from Shiva and goes back into Shiva, as per the Shaiva Agamas, Pancabrahma Upanishad and Ganapati Atharvashirsa. Nirvakam Shatakam by Sri Adi Sanka- racharya speaks of Shiva as being ‘devoid of duality, existing everywhere, pervad-
 n Dr Mrittunjoy Guha Majumdar
What is our universe made of? What are its building blocks and fundamental reality? Greek philosopher Democritus came up with the idea of atoms being funda- mental in 400 BC. Over the succeeding millennia, one went from Hasan Ibn al- Haytham’s idea of light being composed of particles as promulgated in his work Kitab al-Manazir in the 11th century and Sir Isaac Newton’s corpuscular the- ory expounded in his work Opticks to the work of pioneers like Robert Hooke, Christiaan Huygens and Augustin-Jean Fresnel on the wave-like nature of light. Going into the 20th century, with the advent of quantum physics, and the work of luminaries such as Max Planck, Al- bert Einstein, Louis de Broglie, Arthur Compton, Niels Bohr and others, the whole conflict of whether entities were
fundamentally wave-like or corpuscular went from the domain of light to matter, thereby encompassing all entities in the Universe, at its most fundamental.
The resolution of the same was put forth as the renowned Wave-Particle Duality, which saw one of its first ma- jor milestones in Louis de Broglie’s note Ondes et quanta, presented at a meet- ing of the Paris Academy of Sciences on September 10, 1923, which extended the wave considerations to any massive particles.
While quantum mechanics was good at explaining a number of phenomena, when one reconciled quantum mechan- ics (physics at the most miniscule) with special relativity (particularly phys- ics at extremely fast velocities), one got a more natural coming-together of the wave-like and particulate nature of enti- ties in the idea of fields. Quantum field theories provide us with one of the most comprehensive conceptual frameworks to describe physics across scales today. According to this theory, nature is made of fields and the Universe is pervaded by universal quantum fields. What we know as particles are just stable excita- tions in these fields. These fields, when
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