By: Bhanumathi Narasimhan
The nature of the Self is described as Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram: Truth, Tranquillity and Innocence, and Beauty. Spirituality is a journey from the outer world of names and forms to the subtle world of energies, to the innermost core of our being, the Self.
Satyam or Truth is multidimensional, unchanging in time and space. It is the substratum, the basis of entire creation. Shivam is the embodiment of calmness and tranquillity, innocence and benevolence. Shiva is always mentioned along with Shakti. Shakti is the primordial energy responsible for entire creation. Energy is the feminine aspect and is addressed as Mother Divine, the Devi. Like the sea and the waves, though seemingly separate, they are essentially the same. Like the light and the lamp, dancer and the dance, Shiva and Shakti, the creation and the creative impulse are inseparable. Sundaram is beauty. We move from recognising beauty outside to beauty within. Adi Shankaracharya in his composition Saundarya Lahiri (Waves of Beauty), glorifies the incomparable beauty of the Divine Mother. Here he speaks of Apangat or Kama, the god of love, an archer with a bow and five flower arrows. When Apangat hits you with his arrow of flowers, a wave of beauty is created inside you.
The five flowers represent the five senses through which you experience something that is beyond the senses. You experience a wave of beauty rising deep inside you; you have dissolved into the formless. Rather, you are formless. You have come back to your nature.
When you look at beautiful scenery, your eyes shut and you sink into that ocean of beauty. When you smell a fragrant flower, the flower remains outside, the fragrance disappears in a void, and you drop into being. That is beauty. When you hear beautiful music, you become fully immersed in it and you no longer know what is being played. You are lost in the formless divinity within.
In this way, Adi Shankara has described the beautiful journey from the gross to the subtle, the outer to the inner, the form to the formless, and the limited to the infinite, non-dual consciousness.
Established in such a state, you start appreciating everything from a thorn to a snail and a sea urchin. Dispassion to one's Self, dedication to society and devotion to God is the secret of undying beauty. Without dispassion, beauty is short-lived.Possessiveness turns beauty into a mirage. Devotion and wonderment is simply appreciating beauty without possessiveness. You see a beautiful painting and you want to own it, you want to take it home with you, but then you hang it on your wall and after a while you don't even look at it. Adi Shankaracharya was an embodiment of dispassion. He could fully cognise and experience beauty in entire creation.
Beauty creates a thrill; it wakes up the sleeping consciousness. Beauty can also bring ecstasy and draw you into deep meditation. Meditation is complete relaxation, like a cool shower for the mind. It is the act of getting in touch with your own divinity, getting back to your nature. Your nature is truth, innocence and beauty.
To be able to perceive truth or beauty in creation, calmness is essential. An agitated mind can neither see the truth nor appreciate beauty. That's why Satyam, Shivam and Sundaram always go together. The whole of Creation is nothing but 'Waves of Beauty'.
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