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.