It is significant that certain words have no exact opposites. One of them is Ananda or Bliss. We have unhappiness for happiness or hate for love but there is nothing, exclusively opposed to Bliss. Similar is Moksha or liberation, also a state of bliss. If there is any term opposed to them, then it has to be an amalgam of both happiness and misery. Those who have been blissful, may never be able to articulate the state, well enough or as it is. Only the one who tastes it, will know it, making it Anirvachaneeya or indescribable. There are two variations of bliss — one that is positive, dynamic and creative and the other that is negative, passive and dissolving. The former represents the fullness and the latter the void.
There are also three broad means to acquire Ananda, according to Sastras — Kamananda, that arises out of the enjoyment of all that is desired and achieved, Dharmananda, out of performance of noble deeds giving tremendous satisfaction and finally Mokshananda. The last one is the baffling truth that, bliss AS IT IS, is within ONESELF. It permeates EVERYWHERE from this point. This Aananda does not necessitate any action whatsoever, in search of bliss but rests in essence, in the eternal Being that pulsates within. Constantly meditating upon ‘Satchidananda’ — Bliss I AM — gets reflected in every necessary will, thought and action. The grace simply flows out of such a Being.
This throws light upon a similar but special and incomparable experience, that of RASA. In drama, the Vibhavas, Anubhavas, Vyabhicahari and Sattvika Bhavas purposefully evoke the predominant Sthayi Bhavas, leading to Rasa, contemporaneous with every worldy aspect and corresponding moral lessons, that is being dealt with. This means that Kamananda and Dharmananda are both present, rather ‘represented’ while Mokshananda, is also within the grasp.
The five-fold stages as enumerated by commentators are physical, mental, emotional, imaginative and transcendental, that lead to the absorption into the ONE ‘CIT-EKARASA.’ This is called Samvit Vishranti/beatitude, by Trika Shaivas. It is considered nothing short of Brahma-Aswada — Sahodara, a brother of the divine experience of super consciousness. The symbiosis of consciousness with aesthetics predates Abhinava Gupta in the Vijñāna Bhairava, Siva Sūtras, Tirumandiram and others that variously assimilate the broad philosophical rationalisation of the esoteric science of energy — Tantra. Trika stands for accepting divine existence as Bheda, Bhedabheda and Abheda — dual, dual and non-dual and non-dual or ONE.
Natya believes that the form and formless are part of one unified reality, exemplifying the conception of the supreme personality of God, as the Universal Self, beyond Purusha and Prakriti — the WHOLE. Every manifestation that mirrors this is equally true, albeit relatively from the ultimate view. It is Yogaja Marga that integrates the supreme and the worldly as against an aloof Vivekamarga that segregates the illusive Maya from the transcendental Brahman. With the force of art, comes the discovery that this Jiva is Siva-Sakti. An egoistic ‘I’ can re-unite with ‘I’ the Brahman.
Pratyabhijna, the philosophy maintained by Bharata, a Trikasutrakara, when applied to Rasa, is a recollection of the blissful self that you are but has been forgotten by you. It is a vibrating self-recognition of the ONE REAL subject, brought about by reduction in identity with THE MANY objective realities. The catalyst in this is another person or event (the actor/drama before you in this case) that brings you face to face with THIS I AM.
Enacting several roles, the artiste travels from third person to second, then to first person and finally, NO PERSON. Like the self-realised yogin, one experiences oneself as a sheer actor in the drama of life, in various roles of outer being but remaining absolutely detached from the entire play. Iccha, Gnana and Kriya Shaktis are the pathways to open the door to Siva who blissfully rests with his Swatantrya Shakti. Spanda is the term for this Aananda which set in motion, the universe. It is called Anahata, unstruck, uncaused, ceaseless and spontaneous. This undifferentiated throb is symbolised as the primordial mother and father, dancing inseparably united.
It is the one Varna in the form of Nada (sound vibration) in which lie all Varnas (letters) latent, in undivided form. A revelation of such mystical experience through the world drama — one moment in LAYA, is unique, whereby both the phenomenal and the noumenon are known. In a nutshell, the dancer and spectator participate in Siva’s Bliss of Sakti.
The author is a Bharatanatyam exponent and researcher