Metaphysics in Natya History & Culture

Life here is not totally false

Drama, as Life on earth is referred to, has Ultimate Reality as its nucleus

The world of Nama–Rupa (names/characters and sculptures/forms), Gita-Vadya (vocal singing and instruments), Bhava–Tala (expressions and rhythmic movement) and Sahitya-Kavita (prose and poetry) poses a question: Is Natya partially/completely false or is it actually true?

This is an important point in present times, especially when changes keep happening to the Arts. If we consider drama in the framework, then the world is not absolutely false. If the world were false, with the liberation of the first human being, the world would have been annihilated. However, the world continues to exist even if a human attains liberation. Natya has stood through ages and hence there is truth in it. Natya consolidates the position of good and righteousness as supreme and so it has to be also true.

On the other hand, one could study the impact of the ‘great sentences’ — Advaitic Mahavakyas, which are four in number with their variations as found in the Upanishads, on the above question. These sentences state the position of ultimate reality:

Prajnanam brahma (Brahman is Consciousness) - Aitareya Upanishad, Rig Veda

Aham Brahmasmi (I am Brahman) Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Yajur Veda

Tattvamasi (That thou art) - Chhāndogya Upanishad, Sama Veda

Ayamātmā brahma (This Atman is Brahman) - Mandukya Upanishad, Atharva Veda

One also dreams when one is awake. The world is compared to this conscious dream. Natya spins a magical dream, depicting characters, sentiments and music and dancing, created for the purpose of aesthetic joy. How can a dream be considered as the truth?

Since the world is created and destroyed, it is not true. Truth is the thing which does not change. Since the world is changing, it is not true. Whatever is independent of space and time is true, and whatever has space and time in itself is untrue. Natya, as per its very definition, represents actions in this changing world. Thus, with the above argument, it would become false!

Can we brush off any great endeavour of man as a mere eyewash, especially when it is directed towards the highest realm of God? What would then happen to the experience of Brahman consciousness that has stood the test of time? Well, the magic, that is realised as the relish of aesthetic joy gives the didactic scope to annul any preposterous definition of drama. In fact, Rasa, the experience is itself that which is found above in all the ‘great sentences.’ Life in this world is like reflection (Pratibimbha) of Brahman or Supreme Self. Hence the representation of life in the world cannot be totally false. Drama which represents the relative reality of the world, aims to elevate to the absolute Truth, which is Brahman, which is Rasa! We can thus understand that drama is world related, materially unreal and projected as real but essentially has the firmament of Ultimate Reality. Natya magnifies the existence of the supreme, whose grace can be the only liberating force — Mukti. With this perception of world and truth, we have to integrate devotion and worship.

The scripture known as the Narada Bhakti Sutra, propounds eleven forms of Bhakti based on the different relationship to God that the devotee can assume. Prahlada, in Srimad Bhagavatam, enunciates nine expressions of Bhakti, which are Sravanam, Keertanam, Padasevanam, Smaranam, Archanam, Vandanam, Dasyam, Sakhyam and Atmanivedanam. These respectively mean, listening to the praise of the Lord, singing His glory, serving at the lotus feet, remembering Him all the time, offering oblations, propitiating with salutations, serving like an attendant, being a friend and surrendering Self completely.

Adi Sankara, in verse 61 of his Sivanandalahari lists five analogies of Bhakti as well. One can discover the many personalities in oneself and identify with each as one’s own expression. Gradually with fervent devotion, the difference between the worshipper and the worshipped gets removed!

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 9:23:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/life-here-is-not-totally-false/article30869432.ece

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