Tuesday, July 12, 2005


The Christian trinity of Truth, Beauty, Good is translated into the western discourse as the threefold human enquiry into Knowledge, Ethics and Aesthetics. Of course, the implicit assumtion is that knowledge seeks 'truth' through reason, ethics is geared towards finding the 'good', and aesthetics concerns the enchantment with 'beauty'-- pure and sublime. For a long while, infact, the mind was perceived to have specialised activities of three different kinds. The tale goes at least as far back as Plato who postulates the tri-partite division of the soul, viz. wisdom, passion or appetite and temperance.

Such neat, isolated, sovereign divisions, of course, might have appealed to some at the dawn of modern Enlightenment. But the fact that it necessarily must be so is soon questioned seriously.

In fact to take a look at the Indian, more specifically the Vedic, conception, while there appears a striking semblance in its formulation of the Sat-Cit-Ananda, one must note the inherent relationship between all three concepts, roughly rendered as Being/Truth-Force-Bliss. The very idea of one existing without the other is absurd. Moreover, it is really as ananda that the reality is manifest, in its completeness. Two of the most riveting visualizations of such a blissful world are perhaps: one, the image of Vishnu lying in absolute serenity in the Ocean of Milk, and two, the idea of Rasa Lila of Krishna with the gopis, offering a cosmic glimpse of ananda as in divine symphony. The 'aesthetic' then, seems to be an instrument of knowledge proper in some sense. It can reach out to being as well.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


A View of Greece
'The Athenians numbered only 70,000, but their philosophy, architecture and mathematics continue to influence Western Society today. '

Asian Age
The surf breaks over
The looming cliff
dive through white misty air
laden with a salty softness
Sepia tinted pictures
of brightly painted clay toys
Of ancient coins of copper
tucked away somewhere
Of the champa tree
A whiff of cream yellow scent
runs in hurriedly
Eliot carves the Wasteland
Vladimir with his friend waits for Godot
The absurd beomes the normal
Cogito Ergo Sum.
But the fairy tale only invents what is not the case: it does not talk 'nonsense'.

Philosophical Investigations

Friday, July 01, 2005

Heraclitus of the Pre-Socratic Greece is best known for his famous 'paradoxical' quip: 'You can't step into the same river twice'. For Heraclitus the most real was a 'being' that was ceaselessly 'becoming'. The only thing, real and true, was change itself. Nothing was static, nothing remained stagnant. The cosmos was compared to a strung lyre or a stretched bow, constantly in a state of opposed forces, of dynamism, motion and war. For him, it was power, force or energy that overarched the true order of things, not simply matter.
There is a similar interesting paradox in the poetry of Basho, the Japanese Zen Buddhist of 17th century. He wrote Haiku poetry, of the evocative 3-line, 17 syllable form that resonates in the ear with dramatic rhythm. Following is an example:
An ancient temple pond: jump of a frog; the sound of water.
A solitary crow on a bare bough; evening in autumn.
Wild seas tonight; past Sado island stretches; The River of Heaven.
Basho's poetry too reflects that being or reality, calm and eternal, can contain things that are ephemeral, isolated and many. It is the interesting interplay of what appears as tranquil and permanent, and what jumps, of a sudden, at one - as the unexpected, ushering what is the unpredictably novel .