The Five Sheaths of Our Self-VII-M.S.Srinivasan

The Anandamaya Kosha: The Bliss-Self

We are now moving to the last part of this series, the Anandamaya  kosha  or  the Self of Bliss.    The Vignanamaya and Anandamaya kosha belongs to our causal body which is a part of the  eternal,  transcendent  and  timeless  ground  of  our  being.   Taithria Upanishad describes the Anandamaya kosha as:

“Now there is yet a second and inner self which is other than this  which is  of Vignana and it is fashioned out of Bliss.  And the Self of Bliss  fills the self of Vignana.  Now the Bliss Self is made in the image of a man.   Love is  the head of him; Joy is his right side; great Joy is his left side;  Bliss is  his  spirit  which is the self of him; the Eternal  is  his  lower  member wherein he rests abidingly” (Taithria Upanishad, Brahmananda Valli, Chapter-5)

The Eternal Delight

The Upanishadic thought posits an eternal Delight as the very nature  and the ground of our being.  Taithria Upanishad describes this eternal delight as “from  Bliss alone are these creatures born and being born they live by  Bliss and to Bliss they go hence and return” and asks ” Who could labour to draw  in the  breath? Who would have strength to breath it out, if there were not that Bliss in the heaven of  his  heart, the  ether  within  his  being”.   And the entire  creation  is  viewed  as  a manifestation of the eternal Delight of the Self.  “Lo  this (creation) that is well and beautifully made, verily, it is  no other than the Delight behind existence”.

But this supreme Delight which Upanishad speaks of is not the pleasure of the senses; it is not also the subtler mental, aesthetic or emotional joy  of the  heart  and mind.  All forms of joy we experience are  expression  of  the eternal  Bliss  of  the Spirit.   But they are the  limited,  deformed  and  warped expression of the eternal Delight of Being.

What  are  the yogic implications of this Upanishadic  intuition  of  the Bliss-self  ? To answer this question, we must have some understanding of  the difference  between the psychological nature of the mortal pleasure thrown  by Nature and the immortal Delight of the Spirit.  Once we know this then we  can think  about the psychological discipline by which we can move from the  lower to the higher joy.

The Human Pleasure and the Divine Rapture

What  is  the difference between the ordinary joy we experience  and  the Delight  of the spirit? The joy we experience is dependent on  some  external object;  The ancient Indian thought made a clear distinction between Enjoyment, Kama and Delight of the spirit, Ananda.  Mahabharatha defines kama as “The  joy that  arises from the five senses, the intellect and heart being  directed  to the  object  proper  to each”.  Thus the ordinary joy  we  experience  is  the enjoyment  resulting  from  the  contact  of  body,  senses,  mind  with   the corresponding  physical,  sensuous,  emotional  and  mental  objects;  it   is dependent  on  the  contact or possession of the object.  But  the  Ananda  or Delight  of  the  spirit  is the eternal self-existent joy inherent in the very essence of our being;  it  is  joy  of  sheer existence, the BEness or ISness of all that is, whatever may be their  outward appearance,  good,  bad or the ugly, which flows beneath  all  experiences, pleasurable, painful or indifferent, as the rasa, the essential delightful sap, taste or relish of the experience.

The  enjoyment of kama is the result of the force of desire activated  by an attraction or attachment to an object, and possessing it mostly after  much effort.   Here  the enjoyment is the result of possessing an object  which  is outside  or  other than the self and the force which brings enjoyment  is  the limited  and  struggling  force of desire of the conditioned ego;  it  is  the temporary  joy  of  a small, limited and deficient consciousness  of  the  ego trying  to fill its deficiency by trying to possess and enjoy  objects  other than or external to itself.

But  the  nature of the Ananda of the spirit is exactly opposite  to  the pleasure  derived  from kama.  The Ananda of the spirit is the result  of  the infinite self-possessing Fullness of the spirit.  The eternal spirit in things is an  infinite, unconditioned  and limitless One without a second.  There is no limitation  or deficiency  in  its being.  It possesses everything within Itself as  Its  own self because there is nothing other than or outside to Itself.  It is infinite Freedom  because  it is free from the bondage of ego and desire.  It  is  this infinite  and  unconditioned  Fullness and Freedom of Being is  the  state  of Ananda.   Now we can see what a vast difference is there between  the  limited and puny pleasure of kama and the infinite Joy of Being, Ananda.

The Joy of Fullness

The  word  used by the Upanishad to denote  the  infinite  self-contained Fullness  of  the  spirit is Bhuma.  The word gives  the  sense  of  Vastness, Fullness  and Wholeness.  This state of Bhuma is contrasted with the state  of Alpa  which  is a state of smallness, narrowness, deficiency  and  limitation.  The joy which is gained by kama comes from Alpa and perpetuates the state of Alpa.  The Bliss of Bhuma proceeds from the Bliss of Bhuma can  be realised only by Prema, Love.  But this English word “Love” is such  a horribly  misunderstood and misused word; which mode a great English poet  cry “I can give you not what men call love”.  For what men call Love is not  Prema but  a  form of Kama.  This so-called “Love” is made of vital  attraction  and attachment for a person and the urge to possess dominate and enjoy the person.  But,  true love, Prema, is an expansive and unconditional self-giving.  A  Narada Bhakthi  Suthra  points out “This supreme Love is not of the  nature  of  kama because  it  is a form of nyasa self-giving” Indian Bakthi Yoga, the  path  of divine  love  is the inner discipline by which one can  realise  this  eternal Delight of Being through Love.  We will be discussing in detail  the psychological principles of this path in our subsequent articles.

We must remember here that this Upanishadic concept of Bliss is not  just a  philosophical speculation but the result of spiritual experience  which  is constantly repeated, tested and verified by many yogis, sages and saints of the spiritual tradition of India.

If this idea of Bliss as the inherent nature of the true and  highest self  of man and the source of all life is made the foundation of all  thought and practice, it can give a positive and optimistic orientation to  philosophy and psychology.

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