Metaphysics in Natya History & Culture

Love — another dimension of beauty

Kodungolur Bhagavathy temple Door – Image of the Goddess , Metal covering on the door

Kodungolur Bhagavathy temple Door – Image of the Goddess , Metal covering on the door  

It should fill one with joy, which is serene

The aesthetic experience of poetry is comparable to the joy derived from appreciating beauty. Authors vouch that such experience of poetic beauty lifts one to the state of Brahmam Aswada or the highest bliss. This bliss, however, is a Sahodara or brother of mystical experience that is derived from religious and spiritual absorption.

Abhinavagupta holds his thesis based on Kashmir Saivism while others like Jaganatha Pandita resort to the doctrine of pure Advaita. The latter holds Brahman to be self-contained Jagat or world as Mithya or illusory while the former attributes a degree of reality to the world’s manifestation — Siva Shakti in union. These great minds although differing on creation of the world, agree on the ultimate experience of truth in liberation.

Although we do live amidst Nature, it is only when these get portrayed in poetry or drama that we actually realise that they offer us a sense of wonder and delight. Rhetoricians all through the years have expressed the view that to experience beauty is to come face to face with god. The term Satyam-Sivam-Sundaram means truth-goodness-beautiful, underlining the idea that beauty is part of the supreme Consciousness or Sivam.

Bharata in Natyasastra handles the subject of beauty with a marvellous understanding of the physical, emotional and spiritual realms that shape up the various roles adopted by the actors. Connecting beauty to the science of love and the art of expressing the sentiment of love is but natural. Here, an important qualifying clause for beauty is that it should completely fill one with joy, a joy which is also serene. Persons experiencing beauty are simultaneously touched by an enchanting sweetness. It is obvious that there is no room for fear, sorrow, anger or obscenity while such a mood soaked in beauty prevails.

Bharata treats the ‘beautiful’ aspect with sensitivity and sensibility alike. One can appreciate the beautiful looks of living beings only when they exude charm, friendliness and sociability. There is an urge to take a second look if he or she is a picture of personification of love. The beauty itself may not adhere to the standards associated. Hence in the dramatics too like in ordinary life, it is often the expression of love that is transformed into beauty.

The prefix ‘su’ means good as well as beautiful. When added to Bhagya, it forms Saubhagya which means extremely auspicious. Both Sivam and Subham mean the good and point towards the highest good, which is love.

In the poem of Adi Sankara, Devi is extolled as the epitome of beauty and love. The goddess Tripura Sundari personifies the epitome of irresistible beauty, love and every kind of universal well-being. The inner sanctum of compassionate grace evolves into the magnificent grandeur and magnanimous presence of the queen of the worldly drama — Sri Rajarajeswari.

In order to relish this beauty in poem or drama, it is important that certain matters must be unsaid or suggested alone to the reader and spectator. Only then will the Sravaka or Rasika be tuned into the subtle layers within, leading to higher and higher levels of aesthetic transcendence. It is as if a sweet fruit is brought close for the taste to be realised within the recipient. Thus, a beautiful poem or drama must be succulent — Saaravat — discarding the unwanted and allowing us to extract the essence. It is then that it yields Rasanubhava.

An artistic piece must be composed in such a manner that true understanding is brought about by both the implicit and the explicit. It then qualifies to be called a masterpiece.

The author is a Bharatanatyam exponent and researcher

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Printable version | Jun 26, 2020 7:47:38 PM |

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