Programme Head: Sangeetha Menon
Efforts to start discussions on consciousness studies at National Institute of Advanced Studies commenced with Dr R.L. Kapur and Prof. B.V. Sreekantan joining NIAS in the initial years of its inception. While Dr Kapur spearheaded meetings and papers on human health, behavior and creativity, Prof Sreekantan initiated research in scientific and philosophical studies on consciousness. Subsequently, Dr.Sangeetha Menon and Dr Anindya Sinha joined NIAS who focused on Indian philosophical contributions and animal cognition respectively. A larger group with other members was formed later and came to be called as ‘Culture, Cognition and Consciousness’ unit, which over a period of time extended its interests from science and philosophy to culture.
Currently, Sangeetha Menon works on the place of ‘Self’ in consciousness and brain studies, from a broader context of Indian psychology and philosophy. BV Sreekantan is interested in larger questions of philosophy of science, and Anindya Sinha on social cognition in non-human primates.
Several landmark national and international conferences were organized by this group at NIAS such as “Scientific and Philosophical Studies in Consciousness” (1998, NIAS). This meeting was the first conference in India bringing together scientists, philosophers, artists, et.al. to seek answers for fundamental questions on consciousness and human identity. Other major conferences co-organised are “Science and Metaphysics: Consciousness and Genetics” (2002, NIAS); “Science and Beyond” (2003, NIAS); “Consciousness, Experience and Ways of Knowing” (2006, NIAS). Major scientific and philosophical institutions in India, United States and Europe sponsored these conferences.
The latest conference and fifth in the series was organized during 5-7 January 2012, on “Looking Within: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Consciousness”. “Looking Within: Interdisciplinary approaches to Consciousness” was inspired by our mandate to bring to timely discussion the challenging questions in the broad areas of consciousness covering neurophysics, animal cognition and the self. The Conference focused on three Themes and dedicated one day each for the three Focal Themes. These Focus Themes were:
Neurophysics, Quantum Mechanics, Artificial Intelligence
Animal Consciousness and Cognitive Neuroscience
Self in Neuropsychiatry, Neurophenemenology and Neurophilosophy
Over 175 registered participants and students attended the Conference. This included teachers, academicians, students, researchers, engineers, technologists and the public. The registered participants and students represented 70 institutions and 9 countries such as Canada, France, Finland, Germany, India, Japan, New Zealand, UK and USA. . As in the past, for this Conference too, we were keen that the delegates of the Conference benefit as much as possible from interactions and discussions that will ensue during the three days. Towards fulfilling this goal a pre-Conference Reader with exhaustive information and academic material was printed. This document with a collection of information pertaining to the Conference such as focal theme notes, lecture abstracts, poster abstracts, addresses, etc. facilitated the participants with the work and profile of fellow participants and speakers in advance.
» To download a free copy of the Reader Click here.
The Conference was co-organised by the Mani Bhaumik Foundation, Calcutta and co-sponsored by Department of Science and Technology, GoI, New Delhi, Indo-US Science & Technology Forum, New Delhi, Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences (BRNS), Mumbai, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi, Defence Research & Development Organisation and Department of Biotechnology.
Video Webcasts of International Conference, 5-7 January 2012 | Looking Within: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Consciousness
B. V. Sreekantan
Professor and Dean
Visiting Professor, Senior Homi Bhabha Fellow
VK Deepa Nambiar
Post Doctoral Associate
Sacred Geometry and Design in Nature: An Interplay of Art, Science, & Philosophy
25-26 October, 2017
Central University of Buddhist Studies, Sarnath
Collaboration & Venue: Sarnath
Prof. Sisir Roy, Prof. Geshe Ngawang Samten Prof. Madhu Khanna
T.V.Raman Pai Visiting Vice-Chancellor, Central University Tagore National Fellow
Chair Professor, National of Buddhist Studies, Sarnath
Institute of Advanced
The symposium proposes to bring together ideas governing the aesthetic structure of the cosmos as seen through the lens of science and the wisdom oriented religious traditions of the world. Sacred geometry is concerned with the primal root forms of the envisioned cosmos, “the form that lies beneath the divine order of creation and the Reality”. Modern sciences have also begun to confirm that geometric order, harmony and proportionate structures form the matrix of creation. We have only to look at the intertwining threads of our DNA composition, the circular perfection of the cornea of our eyes, the shape of flower petals, the branching of trees, the rhythms of the atom, rhytmicity in the brain and the formation of the galaxies as examples of this.
This symposium attempts to explore the underlying interplay of cosmological art, science and philosophy and ground breaking insights from research in quantum physics, cosmology and theories of the creation of the universe. The advancement of quantum theory and modern cosmology indicate the existence of a substratum called “Quantum vacuum” where the fluctuation produces enormous energy so that the physical universe emerges. Essentially the universe is supposed to be produced from a point or “bindu” due to fluctuation of quantum vacuum. This fluctuation is due to the ubiquous presence of quantum principle. The geometric patterns are created in this process of creation of the physical universe. The field functions of quantum fields in this vacuum have some geometric forms or patterns as the primordial forms or “seed forms” which give rise to the various forms or symmetries in the physical universe. In the biological domain the various geometric patterns are formed from the community of tiny organisms like bacteria at the primitive level of evolution. The form and functions are two important aspects of any biological system. The formation of various patterns in the biological domain or morphogenesis is one of the fascinating areas in modern science.
Interdisciplinary and cross-cultural, the symposium proposes to bring together philosophers, scientists, art-historians, practitioners and students of all faiths, to reflect upon the parallels that can be drawn between the grand designs of nature and the ways in which human creativity has represented the same from the deepest layers of human consciousness in their creative representations in art, science and philosophical theories.
In the world’s ancient civilizations-China, Egypt, India and Greece and pre-modern Europe-all forms of creativity was based on the axiom that primal shapes such as the, bindu, or the dimensionless point, circle, square and triangle have a symbolic or spiritual meaning. These symbols have a mystical meaning and are the building blocks of creation itself.
Sacred geometry in all the world’s religions has been concerned as a study of special order governed by number, ratio, succession of proportional relationships of formal elements. These ideas were greatly strengthened in the west by the theory of the Golden Ratio, Fibonacci sequences and Fractals in Mathematics. In India the theoretical and mathematical formulations formed a part of Vastu Vidya the knowledge, system of texts in India.
The ancient Silpa-sastra, in India developed its own indigenous methods of measures and proportions, called Talamana, a system based on the palm of hand from the tip of the middle finger to the wrist. This method which appears to be simple, is complex in its application, and played a major role in the creation of the magnificent Hindu temples and Buddhist stupas, throughout the subcontinent. The symmetry design of the archetypal temple with its countless variations spread to Aisa and to South-east Asia. Splendid embodiments of the principles of sacred geometry are found in the sacred art and architecture of the world’s religions, Hindu, Buddhist, Islam and Christianity; where the principles of scared geometry are applied in monumental architecture, sculptures, in form icons of the gods and goddesses and in all forms of sacred geometrical abstract mandalas and yantras.
The most universal and admired ritual image of Buddhism is the sacred mandala (literally, the container of Essence of the World). Based on the mathematical perfection of the square and circle, the mandala for worship are traced by monks who have undergone a long period of technical artistic training and memorization of tracing iconic symbols of the pantheon of the gods, alongwith their colour codes and related metaphysical concepts.
The cognate of the Buddhist mandala is the Hindu Sri cakra composed of nine interlacing triangles. A masterpiece of abstraction, of Hindu Shakta Tantras, the symbol of goddess Tripurasundari, its construction is based on strict laws of sacred geometry. So is the case of hundreds of sacred ritual diagrams used in Vedic rituals, Agamic and Tantric meditative practices in Hindu Tantra, Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. These sacred icons have survived because of their inherent perfection of beauty and symmetry.
Similarly, interlaced circles, and square, multisided polygons, the ubiquitous star patterns form the basis of the quintessential buildings of Islam - the mosque, masjid, a place of prayer, study and reflection. The perfection of Islamic dome have emerged from the perfection of the subdivision of the circular grids, are simplicity inspired from the unity of the one God, and the centre, the sacred site of Mecca, toward which all muslims orient their prayer. Whether in Abrahmic monotheistic religions or in polytheistic Hindu and Buddhist religions, mathematics, and sacred geometry featured greatly in all forms of their artistic manifestations. The inspiration for sacred geometry came from the notion that the incomprehensible unity of the macrocosm needs to be embodied in visual representations, and perfection of formal elements, that resonate the highest ideals of aesthetic beauty.
The representations of sacred art increasingly support the dynamic interplay of energy forces and interconnection of all elements including humans, whose physical and psychic make up is analogically homologised with the whole of creation. The works of sacred art are pictorial representations of transcendent reality, as web of energy templates within which humans form but one system.
This symposium is based on the conviction that all nature and its various forms of human creativity at its most refined level speak the same language – one that is governed by order, symmetry and beauty.
1. Geometry and Forces of Nature
2. Vibration and Pattern
4. Biological Form
5. Geometry in Sacred Arts (architecture; Iconography; Icronometry of Yantras and Mandalas; Rituals and Performances).
6. Cosmology Genesis and Evolution.
7. Natural Ecology and the Ecocosm.
8. Form and Emptiness.
9. Parallels between Art, Science and Philosophy.
Prof. Sisir Roy, NIAS