Rasa: A Tāntric Journey


The human body is certainly one piece of classic engineering designed to enable positive physical, emotional and above all spiritual enhancement. It is well upon the individual to understand,utilize and then usher in great sense of fulfillment.
The Lord Supreme has gifted us this wonderful Yantra -our body. In dance, one delves deep into the macrocosm and into the micro orbits of forces. The physical entity, the body form is never negated but it rather used as a Vāhana – a vehicle that promotes to spiritual awakening.
Rasa, the aesthetic enjoyment is realized when the life forces and dramatic stories are first appropriated within and then transmitted across to the world around -the Rasikās, Bhaktās as and others, in creative, ecstatic and emancipatory ways. The epitomic personage Abhinavagupta calls Rasāyana [the science of art, of the rasās, or of vegetables juices, etc.) , more or less the Indian equivalent of alchemy, an esoteric science.
But as in any other field, a lot depends ultimately on the dedicated ‘Sadhana’ and devotional temperament. Nātya, a kind of
meditation is intended to establish a link with the HIGHER CONSCIOUSNESS. With self-surrender, the Nātya Sādhaka transports himself and others to the ecstatic reign of the supreme consciousness.
Divine experience and aesthetic experience are one and the same experience, a flash, a glimpse and taste of ECSTASY.
Even if we insist on being rational, divine experience is not going to change according to our logic; rather our logic must interpret this to understand true existence. “Traditional western science practices what Skolimowski calls a “yoga of objectivity” in which scientists are trained for many years to view the world in an objective, analytical, and detached way. In contrast to this yoga of objectivity, in which the scientist separates himself from what is being observed, the yoga of participation would have a scientist learn by identifying with what he observes”.
How can dance experience be a communication with the eternal, beyond or beneath the ephemeral, truly mystical in nature?
When the Ahārya is donned, there is a pan- avatārhood – a ‘descent’ from the top into the body and psyche of the dramatist /dancer. The actors get transformed in appearance and their consciousness expands.
Simultaneously, the audience is on an ‘ascent’ towards the same realm and gradually both actor and audience meet ‘there’. We need not be of any particular religion to appreciate a Bharatanātyam dance or to enjoy Sufi music and so on. The meeting ground of the performer and the spectator/audience is a world of its own; a pure universal realm of the spirit, bereft of caste, creed or religion.
The flow between the two levels is the energy of Rasā and their union is Ānanda. For this state of uninterrupted and untainted Rasā, the foreground certainly would have to be a competent, intense and soulful performer and a Sahrudaya Prekshaka, a spectator who has a heart that receives without bias, prejudice or conditions. It is not an a exaggeration to
suggest that be it dance or music, the shoot off to the astral world is a plunge into the axis of eternity itself, impossible to fathom the depth, width or even identity. The ambivalent nature, of existence in both celestial and terrestrial leads to the division in presentation, emphasizing the superiority of spirit over matter and knowledge over sensuality.