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.

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