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        ing all senses, neither attached, neither free nor captive’, thereby highlighting the transcendent, fundamental essence of Shiva.
In Sri Adi Sankaracharya’s concep- tion of Shiva, it is not as much the noth- ingness that comes from the absence of any entities, but rather something more fundamental. Since this conception con- nects the idea of Shiva with that of Brah- man (in Vedanta), this nothingness is the transcendent void beyond existence and non-existence.
The idea that Shiva is Mrityunjay — ‘victor of death’ — arises from the idea that the spiritual aspect of the Universe transcends and is beyond the constructs of mortality or physicality. That which underlies the layer of reality involving creation and destruction is indestructible, endless, beginning-less, truly immortal. The elements adorning the person of Lord Shiva also have transcendental and metaphysical import. Shiva is shown as having a third eye, which means that his perception is beyond the dualities, bi- naries and multiplicities of life. While the physical eyes can see the physical and the relative, the third eye is said to be able to transcend these and see be- yond. Shiva’s acolyte Nandi is a symbol of eternal waiting, patience and medita- tive introspection. Nandi, while sitting, is not anticipating or expecting anything but just waiting. This is the quality that is
Soma also being the term for an intoxi- cating drink.
One of the most important facets of Shiva is expressed in the Shiva Purana. One cannot identify Shiva in terms of any binaries, multiplicities or dualities. One cannot identify Shiva with relative constructs or relations. He is everything and he is nothing. He is the most beauti- ful and the ugliest. He is the best and he is the worst. He is the most disciplined and yet the most intoxicated (in spiritual realisation). He is the most realised and yet very gullible (as Bholenath). As para- doxical as these descriptions, this is what makes Shiva, and similarly Brahman in Vedanta, the most fundamental layer of
become irrelevant at the fundamental layer of reality. This is also expected to be the case in unified physics, when the four fundamental forces of nature are hypothesised to converge to one over- arching unified force. At this stage, the various associated degrees of freedom are hypothesised to reduce to potentially one or a few parameters that can describe all phenomena, and going one further, this parameter or degree of freedom may itself be a perturbation/excitation in a more fundamental void.
Shiva is shown as the destroyer be- cause it is in the destruction of the mate- rial, the worldly and the immanent that transcendental realisation and union with the fundamental reality of the Uni- verse comes to be. In the parlance of modern science, it is with greater sym- metries and unification of various forces that we can reach this reality. It is with the spirit of inquiry and impartial seeking of truth, be it by spirituality or science, that we must orient ourselves, without recourse to biases, and this is the mes- sage of Shiva over and above all else — alignment and union with the truth and fundamental reality of the Universe.
* The writer is a postdoctoral fellow at Tata Institute of Funda- mental Research, and an associate of Nobel Laureate in Physics, Prof. Brian Josephson, at Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, working on Unification Physics. He is also a science communicator.
   One cannot identify Shiva in terms of any binaries, multiplicities or dualities. One cannot identify Shiva with relative constructs or relations. He is everything and he is nothing. He is the best and he is the worst.
highlighted as the essence of receptivity and the prerequisite to be able to tran- scend the worldly.
Meditation means one is willing to ‘listen’ to existence, to the ultimate real- ity of the Universe. Shiva uses the moon as a decoration on his head because he is a great yogi who is intoxicated with transcendental realisation all the time, but also as one who sits in great alertness in the worldly. The moon represents this since it is called Soma in Sanskrit (Shiva is called Somasundara as well), with
reality and the Universe. This is why, in Hindu mythology, he is regarded as the deity whom gods, demons and all kinds of creatures worship and also end up get- ting boons from. He best reflects the un- derlying non-duality of the fundamental layer of the Universe.
Entirely contradictory aspects of life are built into the personality of Shiva, and such a complex amalgamation of all the qualities of existence have been put into Shiva to trivialise the absolute value of these qualities, which all dissolve and
 26 SCIENCE INDIA APRIL, 2021
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