Indian Poetics — Theorizing the Creative Principle

A. K. Awasthi,
Professor of English & Chair,
Dr. Hari Singh Gour Central University, Sagar (MP)


When wise men affirm that spirituality is an experience, they assume that they are dealing with the abstract and metaphysical. They claim that mental activity is only a condition. They also distinguish spirituality from materiality. But what intrigues the rational judgment is that any experience, realization, attainment or becoming happens only in the mind, never outside of it. But mind is a material reality and anything taking place there will carry its property along. However, any production of the mind may contain any degree of fineness but it would be born of material entity nevertheless. Mind is only an enclosure in the material body. The mind feels anything in the form of ideas (dhyan). This is what mental activity is. The question arises, what is that phenomenon, which fills in the mind just to make mental activity possible? What is its nature?

Following the analogy of cosmic existence, the Saiva will call it manifestation of Siva-Sakti principle, idea being the identity of energy and activity (prakas and vimars), self-luminous, self-conscious and free. The sabda in the idea in association with ability to grow and expand becomes the ideal reflection of the physical principle (sphota-dhvani) that energy and mass cannot be separated. In fact no unit can be separated from its basic nature like fire cannot be separated from its essential nature of heat.

In the Rig-Veda (from mandal10. sukta125. mantra1 to 8), Nirukta (13, 16) and Vakyapadiyam (sloka 1- anadinidhanam…) there is description of a vaktattva- pratibha and they call it akas (space), which is in our experience and it is a material reality. That is to say, nothing is beyond space. The principle of Sphota and dhvani also prove that each individual experiences this sphota in the mind and pratibha flows continuously. It implies that mind is the hub of all activity and idea is the reflection of what various principles claim. Following the theory of convergence in Mathematics the idea can be taken as the Bindu (as explained in Saundaryalahari, sloka, 101) to explain the cosmic as well as the activity-specific principle. The sphota occurs with sound and movement and expansion begins in circular or periodic manner. The Bindu is transformed into innumerable shapes and activities, which flow from it and converge because all other units are always less than the whole. It is thus the idea (dhyan) is realized. Sphota occurs because of contraction and expansion because of heat. Both of these are only two forms of activities in the Bindu. Expansion converges into contraction into an unimaginable dense having immense gravitational pull as is believed to be in a black hole. Thus it is a journey from Bindu to Bindu and in the Bindu itself. So is the process of idea in poetic creation- a superfine material activity, which has nothing to do with imaginary imposition of spirituality around it. Idea is all material comprising properties of ether and is similar to what is defined as Sivatattva, or Vaktattva.


The viewpoint presented in this paper has derived its fundamentals from the Saiva philosophy and aesthetics and it tries to combine with other rational and scientific approaches.


The Order of Nature

The reference to Siva is not related to the concept of Siva as God as worshipped by Hindus. It is rather the principle of energy (light or prakas) which is in perpetual unity with activity (Uma or activity or vimars). The dance of Siva is referred to as the dance of activity throughout the universe along with the underlying principle of energy. Fritjof Capra in his book The Tao of Physics mentions this as the “dance of subatomic matter”. The bubble-chamber photographs of rhythm of creation and destruction in the universe are visual images of the dance of Siva. Other physicist like Kenneth Ford and Heinrich Zimmer (The Tao of Physics, p.82) also speak about ‘energy dance’ or ‘dance of creation and destruction’ that leads to acknowledge the fundamental principle of balance in all forms of nature. The String theory of physics is claimed to be a theory of everything that resolves the incompatibility of quantum mechanics and relativity and states “that matter and force are simply different aspects of the same fundamental entity and are thus unified…All particles arise as different vibrations of the same elementary string” Similarly, the Trika darshan holds the triad principle as fundamental—Siva, Sakti and identity of both.

The Panckriya (five-fold activities) principle is derived from the same fundamental, that describes five eternal activities attributed to Siva who is in the state of eternal dance, and therefore is manifest in the form of cosmic activities that can be described as the dance of Nature and wisdom of soul in gross terms. As panckriya is universal in nature, it can be well applied to any limited activity in order to explain and evaluate such proposition.

There is an unidentified order in the universe. In Trika darshan it is described as Siva’s nature, swabhavajaha-(self-willed). One may call it natural order or reason. All forms–animate and inanimate–are only charged particles of natural reason. The five activities are only states/ aspects intrinsic to everything in nature including man, who also indulges in creation. So, states of panckriya are the process of creation, whether it is poetic sensibility or enunciation of critical principles- the process begins with the sudden flash of idea in the mind, which moves along evolution of sensibility. The five states are:

1. Creation (srishti) — will or inspiration to create;

2. Preservation/ sustenance (stithi) —to uphold and follow the course of thought;

3. Transformation/ destruction (samhar)— to dismiss or disintegrate all that is not in consonance with the natural order (i.e. Siva), to purify thought and/ or transform and take a new form;

4. Diffusion of illusion (tirobhava) — identification with the approach and vision of reality; and

5. Attaining Grace (anugraha) — identity with the subject (Aham) and object (idam), sublimated thought or truth revealed.

Nothing is outside these five states in the universe.

The Poetic Process

In the poetic/ artistic creation similar activities are evident. As in the cosmos, so in a work of art, Nature or poet (Siva) wills it to happen, which is the natural rationale, so the activity (sakti) gets started. It is a free movement in any direction. Eternal consciousness is known as bliss in gross terms, which in the most comprehensive sense is known as will, which again in wider application becomes knowledge (jnana). It is this knowledge that results in the grossest form of consciousness, that is, in the state of activity in Siva or any artist who in turn automatically activates the panckriya principle and the process of artistic activity starts. It continues until the objective has been gained. It is this process that takes place in the mind of the poet before any actual activity gets a form, direction, colour, etc.

A critic therefore has to understand first the mental processing (significance) of the ‘object’ of inspiration as it is received and gradually starts evolving in the mind of the poet (but it would be better to call it “subject” of inspiration for the inspiration takes place only within). Simultaneously, the critic’s mind also coordinates with different aspects of creativity almost involuntarily – like the poetic process, creative process, interactive process, reader’s response process leading to actual artistic production. He can do so by getting to know the (near) totality of the environment, the poet has lived in. Quality in the work will descend on its own spontaneously through Panckriyas.

The Lord of the Universe is dancing the cycle of grace in the form of perfect balance—Ardhanarishwara (identity of male-female principles) which is known as the balance of Nature, so does the poet. Any one who gains this balance in any sphere of activity attains the vision as a state of evolution/ realization, which is qualified by solemn, serene and sublime feel of the cosmic reality that is expressed in words pregnant with truth, its extent, intensity and feeling—THE BALANCE OF ALL.

Here a question arises- who is this poet or artist or critic? Who is able to gain this balance? Here Matthew Arnold’s observation is of great help that ‘poetry is the criticism of life’. It implies a necessary unity of poetic and critical aspects (as well as processes), that is to say, they are not different, they are essentially one and same in quality; however, they appear to be different. And the difference lies in the manner of expression- a spirited critical discussion in prose reads no less than poetry, which appeals to heart and mind, overpowers and even moves the reader. A critic’s identity is not limited to evolving or practising a critical theory applicable to fine arts or literature. Basically he is a critic of life; he examines, justifies or finds fault with a view, which fails to contribute to life in any form (justifying Siva’s principle of preservation or transformation/ regeneration). Similar is the objective of the poet. Criticism is not independent of creative faculty for it generates through creativity of a different shade. The twentieth century western view differentiates between the poetic and critical processes; of course, there may be operational difference but there is little qualitative difference between the two; both are creative at the genesis. Moreover, both are interdependent processes, both feed on ideas of creation but work with different tools. The ancient Indian tradition vindicates it well. In the modern times Anand K. Coomaraswamy, the celebrated Curator of Boston Museum represents the same tradition.

The poet as well as the critic displays reason as a tool that does all the analyzing and evaluation. The method of assessment of quality follows the rule of consonance of abilities between the poet and the reader/ critic and diffusion of infirmities (attachment-drains) in the work of art. These are five in all. If the poet has been conscious of art, knowledge, attachment, time and destiny (i.e. kala, vidya, rag, kaal, and niyati), his work is bound to have the tendency of backward pull, that, no doubt, leads to ambiguity of meaning and interpretations. For the upward scale, the following table displays the process of creating perfect art:

Evolution from–

Limited skill–to—all skill

Little knowledge–to—all knowledge

Desire or awareness to achieve—to—fulfilment

Specific time —to—timelessness

Limited sphere activity—to—widespread activity

In other words, a perfect artistic activity exhibits an ascending order: art leads to realization of truth; knowledge is replaced by enlightenment; life of attachment gives way to emergence of will and subjectivity to time changes into universal appeal and belief in destiny is transformed as total activity. This is what the poet becomes in the mind. The Trika darshan mentions these as (five mouths) five modes of expression of Siva, the Lord of the universe. In the poet these are known to be the qualities of an unpolluted mind—free and content, willing (to create), enlightened and prone to activity. Only a mind possessing these qualities can be said to be the most appropriate ground for creating a work of art. In the poet the triad principle is represented as a process: (1) drive to realize truth or discover (Siva) followed by (2) ensuing activity (sakti) (3) to attain the contentment of the soul (the identity of both). In the critic too a similar process is represented with only a slight modification- the first two states remain the same but in the third domain whereas the poet strives for the contentment of the soul or identity of Siva and Shakti, the critic on the contrary looks for the process of identification how far the poet has succeeded in achieving the ultimate.

That, panckriya is a holistic principle and it supplies not only the fundamentals of creative process but also tools of evaluation of work of art, will be vindicated in further discussion.

In Line with Indian Aesthetic Tradition

The Indian esthetical (aesthetic) standard as enunciated by Abhinavgupta and elaborated by Anand Coomaraswamy under the DANCE OF SHIVA prescribes the fundamentals of literary criticism/ evaluation which are in complete harmony with the natural principle, and are derived from a holistic principle known as triad under the TRIKA DARSAN—prakasa (light), vimarsa (self-consciousness), and their union also known as spand (vibration). Other parallels are Siva, Uma and their identity-in-difference; substratum of psychic images or buddhi (intellect), the distinctive power as self-consciousness, i.e. will, knowledge or action and the manifested or manifestable; the individual, knowledge and the known; buddhi, application of buddhi and manifestation.

The Cosmic Activity is the central motif of the Dance, which is eternal and universal. It implies that the Lord of the Universe is the ‘Dancer who like fire latent in firewood, diffuses this power in mind and matter and makes them dance in their turn’ (The Dance of Shiva, p. 89). His body being akash (space), He dances with other four elements. The all-pervading Sakti is all delight, which is united and identified with Uma’s body arising in so-called time. The union of all time (better call extended space for time is only a measure for man’s convenience or a condition of space; time has no independent existence) is Siva’s dance, which is ‘becoming’ and goes on in individual bodies as the congregation of all elements. Its deepest significance is felt when it is realized that it takes place in the heart and the self. “Everywhere is the Creator-Destroyer, everywhere is the heart,” writes Coomaraswamy (p.93). He dances His cycle of grace to create all to destroy all and thus, the cycle goes on. The whole activity transubstantiates into bliss. The Supreme Intelligence dances in the human soul through the conflict of opposites to accomplish the perfect union—a vision of the self and matter in complete harmony. But He doesn’t dance like a human who has a purpose, however, the reason of His dance is His own nature for His gestures are own ‘nature-born’ (swabhavajaha). Thus, Siva’s dance can be understood as the yoga (union) of the dance of nature and the wisdom of soul. As the dance is manifest in the universe in five activities called Panckriyas (as explained earlier) viz. Srishti, stithi, samhar, tirobhava, and anugraha, so in literary domain too a parallel activity paradigm is significant:

1. idea + inspiration = creation (srishti) is self-explanatory of the level of creation;

2. perception/ observation = preservation (stithi) – as inspiration catches on the poet/critic who maintains the level without any conscious effort, he being self-driven by the initial idea;

3. fancy+ imagination = transformation (samhara) – the intensity of thought mixed with fancy and imagination ‘dissolves, dissipates in order to recreate’, i.e. destruction of the negative followed by reconstructive process;

– S.T. Coleridge describes their role – primary and secondary imagination- in articulating the poetic sensibility and regarding critical sensibility I A Richards speaks about contemplation of meaning, “harmony” or balance of competing psychological impulses and “a proper meaning superstition”, which exemplify a complex synthesizing activity, an almost automotive process of the mind.

4. intuitive level= diffusion of illusion (tirobhava), after the reconstructive process sets in, a condition producing new doubts and confusion emerges especially in view of man’s hitherto worldly experience and his psychological state, which is ultimately diffused and intuitive faculty is aroused leading the poet/critic to regain the original inspiration;

5. identity with the subject= grace (anugraha), two separate entities –subject and object- are identified with each other (Coleridge’s esemplastic imagination), siva and sakti gain an identity-in-difference. Similarly, the critic discovers the poet’s original unified intuition flashed to the poet as idea and the same rediscovered by the critic.

Thus, it is these panckriyas that become the standard of judgement. Accordingly, the poet overlooks creation and evolution, which support his wisdom to preserve Reality so he destroys and dismantles all that is unnatural. It is followed by diffusion of illusion that engulfs the mind. Confusion prevails. Further a condition descends giving rest to the same activity because only as much cosmic energy (in the form of thought) is released as can be borne by those who receive it. Thereafter is felt the state of release from the restlessness of mind. It leads to attaining the grace of salvation and enjoyment of the heart—the bliss of soul. It is significant to note that having gained His purpose the poet (Siva) ceases his cosmic activity or dance. It happened in the case of Shakespeare, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Goethe, Valmiki, Kalidas, Kabir, etc. As it is on the physical and the material plane so is it on the mental and still higher or subtler planes that Siva (Nature) is dancing in an apparent non-system, which He alone understands. So is the instinct of the poet. I.K. Tamini, remarks, “In the human form consciousness has unfolded to the highest degree so far. The human individual is a microcosm in which all the powers, functions and faculties which are manifesting in the universe on a macrocosmic scale are present in a potential form or have been made partially active.”

In matters of interpretation of thought, character or any other phenomenon, panckriya theory of criticism regards subjectivity portrayed objectively principle as basic. It does not negate anything. It does not begin with presumption or preconditioning of mind. It upholds the spirit of freedom in order to accept anything through reason in a state of diathesis—the most natural state of Nature itself. The process of evaluation follows rhythmic motion leading to evolution of thought and character in interrelated harmony expressing itself in spontaneous manner with a purposeless purpose to remove the snares of illusion from the mind and finally, arriving at circumstantial happiness condition and ultimately giving the feel of content (pure happiness) to one and all.


(Idea- Dhyan)

The modern terminology requires explication of technique how the poetic/ critical/ aesthetic process works. The technique lies at the level of idea-in expression. It is not like any other specified material /physical tool; it is too difficult to acquire as a skill but it can be explained as a process of expression as anyone would explain a thought. However, if one possesses the quality of involution, which, in fact, is a natural disposition suitable for poetic/ critical sensibility, the technique would automatically descend upon him/her. It starts functioning as the idea flashes or the poet/critic is in a state of dhyan= point of thought / reflection= growth of extrasensory faculty to envision the flash of ideas; in this state as if time halts and germination process begins; the poet/ critic undergoes a superb tension, that is both highly enjoyable and satisfying capable of relieving all worldly affliction, pain, sorrow and what not.

As said earlier, the technique is explainable but not easily attainable, however, available to the naturally disposed person, who may evolve his/ her mind in the way Abhinavgupta reflects upon the subject. He explains how the panckriyas have their role to play as regards poetic activity. He says that Panckriya is only a process of churning, managing, organizing purifying and realizing the point of inspiration in the mind whose subject matter is idea. Therefore idea (dhyan) has to be probed in order to arrive at a logical viewpoint. An examination and analysis can be attempted following Abhinavgupta’s principles as follow:

* All knowledge is conceptual

* Universals are knowable through reason

* Thought and being are identical

* Objective and subjective are identical

* World reasons and individual reasons are identical

* The reality is distinct from appearance which is dependent on the former

* All knowledge is mere configuration of the universals

All that is in the universe, known or unknown is within the cosmic body as well as any material body in the micro forms. By knowing the body one knows the universe. There is no going beyond. All discovery, technology, philosophy and knowledge so far is first an idea, then a manifestation in form, size or effect. So all is happening in the mind only. Founding of the city of New York or launching the French Revolution, the image of Jesus Christ as the son of God or Lord Krishna as the saviour of humankind, terrorism or artistic display or any thing starts in the first instance as an idea, a chain of ideas or a compendium of ideas like the Dark Energy; in other words, the beginning of a city, a movement or man is initiation of the idea; the becoming and culmination of the same are virtually maturing of the same idea. How and why this happens, we just fail to explain.

The Nature and Function of Idea

Following Saiva, if we say that idea is the property of Siva’s body, i.e. (akash) ether; it is produced as sound, the circle is complete, i.e. prakas, vimars and their identity. Energy plus activity and their identity is the reflection.

The idea expands as ether does. As is the cosmic so is the individual activity. The phenomenon of ether and sound identified follows the cycle of expansion and density as per the theory of Big Bang and the theory of Convergence- Divergence (in cyclic way). They say that the expansion of ether is unidentifiable, unexplainable and incomprehensible and moving towards the dark energy composed of grey matter which also comprises properties of Black Holes as found in all galaxies. The Dark Energy may be the phenomenon where are occurring constant explosions (Big Bangs) or sphota-dhvani wherefrom space and sound identified are moving forward with a variety of forms and shapes, which converge into an unimaginable Bindu ( as implied in the sloka 101 of Saundaryalahari) because of contraction. It is in the Bindu that both unimaginable density and expansion are contained. The Bindu is regarded as “anahata-vyoma” (ether), the basis of para or pasyanti according to Saiva and Bhartrhari and with which is identified the sound (Naada) and the cause of the material world. The cycle may follow a circular or periodic motion. It is for this reason that ether seems to be ever expanding with new forms and shapes emerging from no-where.

Similar is the nature and function of idea. It is the reflection of the identified sound-space in all living things. Biology also proves such centres in different bodies. As the Big Bang occurs because of contraction, so does occur sphota in manas, affirms Oscar Brunlar. Energy and mass being identical are pressed inward unimaginably in the state of convergence in the Bindu, which has no outside. The same happens in the mind that every phenomenon or state or feeling is first an idea—from idea to idea and in idea itself. Further, similar to the principle of the String Theory there is a strong thread of connectivity that runs through the entire universe cutting across the astonishing variety in creation. The truth is that it is in the very midst of the universe and also inseparable from it; yet we are unable to feel connected to it as the only essential state. Rather we consider it a mechanical activity. Even if we think it to be so for a moment, we can possess no control on it. The Upanishadic essence as expressed in the Bhagvad Gita emphasizes that knowing about this is difficult as it is in the realm beyond the senses and the intellect, yet the wonderful thing about idea is that it is ever self-revealing. It allows itself to be revealed ultimately if only it explores itself not as object but as in-subject activity for the knowledge can take place in the subject only. Knowing through the object leads to infinity, incomprehensibility. The in-subject process is self-revealing and is within the experience of man as in the state of transcendence during which man lives in a multiverse.

Idea is self-willed (swabhavajaha), self-luminous, and self-conscious as Siva is described. Nothing is outside the mind or it has no outside including the spiritual or the divine feel, for that too, is experienced in the mind only. All is within the material enclosure of the mind. Here we feel the identity of mass and energy as we do in the state of emotion or thought. It is here that we feel the Ardhanarishwara (half male- half female principle). As the world is real and the world reason is identified with individual reason, the idea (dhyan) is the Bindu at the individual level, which is self-willed and self-luminous, automotive and self-conscious ever existing in the state of sphurattva (sprouting) identical with Naad and Kalaa. All activity takes place in Siva, so all is true, however, as manifestation in the worldly form, the Saiva call it leela of Siva (real in appearance only, not in fact). Hence, the idea being the swabhava (the nature) of Siva is incomprehensible in itself but it is known to the world only as leela, which is not untrue, in fact..

It also shrinks and goes inward to impart spiritual type strength to the mind. It so happens when one pronounces OM (AUM), the essential sound, its wave and rhythm resonates the inward flow (“assuming the form of pranava, the embodied form of Naad, etc assuming the stages para, pasyanti,etc, wherefrom originate the swara-s, varna-s, pada-s, and vakyas galore”—Saundaryalahari, sloka 1).

Thus idea is a material product, the subtlest form of matter ever experienced by man. Mental activity and idea are identical. A mind cannot think without idea which is a condition of thinking but which is only a process. As anything can function only in space so in nature nothing happens except an idea. All forms are but manifestations. All diseases are only ideas, not physical things. They only appear as forms. This is also in human experience. In the state of meditation, when one acquires perfect concentration, one can experience space flowing in, as if mind is sucking in space. This is only a process of spiritualizing the mental energy. Spiritualization therefore is not independent of mental experience.

In the state of idea gathering mass, it keeps on till it has acquired a shape and size or effect. Genes are only material forms of ideated compounds which organize and regulate birth in any natural body. Transcendental experiences belong to this category similarly fulfillment of desires or wishes are other things. Efforts are made to realize the idea of happiness and often these are realized. Thus ideas are forces. But they are formless as space is. Marx’s communist revolution was only an idea before it gathered mass, i.e. it attracted several minds whose combined energy activated the mass gathering process and it resulted in an enhanced activity. Similar rule applies to Hitler’s idea to rule the world and the ensuing World War II. The first engine made by James Watt started as an idea and was transformed into a material thing later. But every idea is not potential enough to gather mass. However, any idea does possess the expanding quality.

Thus, if idea (dhyan) has the property of space, then there can be no other reality but space, not even time – past or future. Einstein would also say that Time and Space are just one not two realities, however, in experience they are joined by the principle of relativity. In fact, a person is only a great compound of ideas; all his actions are only expressions, which make his body expand so vast in subtlety, though the material unit remains confined to its limits. Thus all interactions, travel, speech etc. make only spatial expansion, which is not visible but all combined make one big whole in which all is stored somewhere and going by this principle time-travel can be a possibility. Memory is one example that proves that all is in continuum not in disjointed or disconnected streams, so no past can exist. Only the present may exist as a variant of space. Had it not been so, memory would not narrate or navigate the past as present? All literature or art therefore try to relive the so called past as possession to retain the experience. Similarly we make a journey (on the ground, sea or in the air) in space not in time. Can we ever do so? The past as such does not exist. All is just one combined space; from any beginning to this it has only expanded. Imagination of time is only an attempted miscarriage of spatial properties just for convenience.

Ideas transform into innumerable shapes, activities including multiplicity and diversity and then having gained the purpose converge into the Bindu. This is how the poet realizes his purpose and feels content. The idea appears to be an individual unit but it is only dependent on space which is indivisible. Therefore it is capable of expanding (sphota-dhvani) the individual. The poet’s mind also functions in the same way. Here is a journey from infinite to finite to infinite as we are within conceptual infinity.

So it is prakastattva (light element), vaktattva (expression element) or any such. It is the only free existence known to man. As space-sound exist in themselves so is dhyan-Bindu (idea). This may be compared with Bhartrhari’s sabdatattva (sound element) with which soul is interdependent and in ever identified state. Expression is movement therefore language is spatial. Vak emerges from the space-sound identity. That is proved by Siva’s drum (Saundaryalahri, sloka 1). The critic has to assess, therefore how the idea sprouts in the poet. Only those, who have divinity in them can make such ideas function. Having gone through details, analysis, expansion the poet finally closes it with the initial idea wherefrom he had begun. This is true about all the great poets all over the world like

Valmiki, Kalidas, Goswami Tulsidas, Bhartrhari, Shakespeare, Dante, Goethe, Wordsworth, Coleridge, etc.

The analysis and expansion include positive as well as negative elements. The theme revolves round just to complete the circle. But the wonder is that only such elements get automatically highlighted as are essential for the world. They may be categorized good or bad, negative or positive according to man’s limited understanding but they are in harmony with the totality.

This is true about all sorts of creative processes. Modern scholars especially those under the influence of Western aesthetic/literary/critical movement distinguish between the creative and critical processes considering them to different faculties. However, the faculty is only one and the material on which the faculty feeds is idea or ‘thought’, which is compendium of ideas and idea has its own seat in the mind. Thus, the faculty that creates a poem also lays down standards of evaluation and judgement. The difference lies in aspects of creativity like poetic or critical creativity. T S Eliot’s creative might is reflected in at least two ways- as a poet and as a critic. Is it possible to distinguish between aspects of his creativity? Aren’t they product of one and the same faculty? An evaluation of Eliot’s poetry is not possible to be done exclusively without mention of the critical principles and vice versa; both are intermixed, it will necessarily include the other. Similarly, I A Richards’ creative genius is reflected in enunciation of tools of critical evaluation. Could it have been possible for him to evolve such tools if he did not possess the creative faculty, did not understand the poetic sensibility? The truth is that segregation of aspects of creativity as products of different faculties may be a convenience but not a fact as both are products of creative faculty of the mind. Similarly all, that is reflection of man’s creative might whether it is thought, science, technology, philosophy, artistic expression, are born of one and the same creative faculty of the mind rather than born of different faculties and they can be called different aspects of creativity. Dimensions, tools, nature and description of such aspects can vary but all are products of the same creative faculty as explained under panckriya in the preceding pages.

The Indian viewpoint explains further the role of the critic.

He is called the rasika,i.e. a critic or Guru (teacher) or connoisseur. Accordingly the artist does not aim to create beauty, nor can he succeed in doing so but he creates beauty when his mind attaches itself to an object of choice and devotion. Neither effort nor renunciation helps him to achieve this aim. So it is the job of the rasika, who defines:

1. the quality of aesthetic intuition (the initial idea) on the part of the original artist;

2. the state of internal expression of the same- creation and vision of beauty– bindu-> para- pasyanti- naad – siva;

3. indication of the same by external means- activity and communication- vibhava, anubhava, bhava, sancaribhava, etc.;

4. resulting stimulation of the rasika to the reproduction of the original intuition- dhyan-bindu; these tools become the basis of evaluation and judgement based on the same creative process as it is with the poet under panckriya.

How the Poet functions:

I. Srishti: Creation of a bhava (feeling of basic idea –dhyan) begins as the mind suddenly becomes conscious of the idea. He feels the jerk and instantly it starts growing overpowering the mind almost similar to the feeling that one feels during romantic love. The physical and emotional ecstasy strike a perfect harmony with the idea. The physical effect is measurable though, however, the pleasure derived during the fulfillment of the idea is unbounded and ekrasa (identification of the subject with the object) is felt. All the five categories of idea- sabda, roop, rasa, gandha, bhavana (sound, form, taste, smell and feeling) synchronize with any one or more human emotions, instincts or psycho-physical states categorized as Determinants (vibhava- two kinds), Consequents (anubhava- three kinds), Moods or Emotional State (bhava-49 in number), Transitory State ( sancaribhava-33 in number ), Temperamental State (sattvabhava- 08 in number). The Dominant State (sthayin-08 in number) remains as the impregnable phenomenon like a Black Hole in which all convergence –divergence takes place. Further the idea is felt by all the senses alike; the total being feels it – the tune resonates as sight, the smell resonates as taste and vice-versa and the like. It happens as the poet realizes the idea, when it becomes infinite and ultmate.

(Details of different states/categories can be found in Bharata’s Natyashastra.)

II. Stithi: At the preservation level all possible negative aspects are unfurled; conflict and confusion also ensue, which destroy the clarity of vision still the sprouting and growth continue along with the feeling. Karuna (pathos) being the focus of the Ramayana– (considered the greatest and most vibrant mark of Indian culture) flows through it despite dealing with a variety of tastes but through all cantos runs the undercurrent of karuna only. It begins with karuna and also ends in karuna. It began with the arousal of pathos at the cruel separation of two falcons (male and female) by an arrow of a shooter, as a result of which the female screeched with the greatest of pain, loss and immeasurable suffering arousing karuna in Valmiki’s heart. Words sprouted from him automatively (Ma Nishad…..). Similarly, as with the birds so in the story of Rama the emotion finally ends in permanent separation of man and wife causing greatest pain and suffering to both. This is preservation of the basic emotion, aesthetic emotion- the rasa. In case of Tulsidas it is bhakti bhava, (devotional feeling unto god) that runs supreme all through Ramcaritmans – the most popular Hindi epic of India, which celebrates Ram as symbol of universal and eternal consciousness.

III. Samhar: Then comes up the level of destruction/transformation, in which a new mould takes shape destroying all the negative forces (in terms of idea that sprouted) and upholding the basic emotion. In the Ramayan it is in terms of “Ram as man of greatest propriety par excellence” (maryada purushottam) but in Ramcaritmanas it is bhakti (devotion). The clouds of doubt, uncertainty, disbelief and the like that overcast the mind are dispelled and regeneration of the centric belief sets in.

IV Then comes Tirobhava (obscuration) or diffusion of illusion. The powers of knowledge and action which were so far obscured, do not remain so and do not revert to the initial cycle of creation, preservation, transformation but acquire a new ascendance towards gaining liberation and peace. All other bhavas (feelings) are submerged, the illogical and doubts are dismissed or annihilated, all illusions or confusions are diffused and one belief emerges. The mind is moulded to a firm setting.

V. Anugraha: Finally, grace is felt as a phenomenon. This is the state of contentment, the realization of the idea when bhakti (devotion) or maryada puroshottam (proprietiated personality) is achievable- the same idea with which all had begun. That is very well evident in Tulsi’s Ramcaritmanas that it is a journey from Rama to Rama. Similar is the experience in the Ramayana or in Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey…, Coleridge’s Kubla Khan. One has to understand that the poet realizes such experience only once in his lifetime, never twice. This has to be understood in holistic terms, which are better explained through Indian aesthetic approach.

Indian aesthetic conception presupposes a unified field of organic components— mind, body and soul. The art of concentration, visualization or the clear understanding of the psychology of the imagination are learnt from life and the artist after learning them conceives art as yoga as Valmiki does in the Ramayana and achieves ‘self-identification’ with the object of the work (Cf. Coleridge) as well as the vividness of the image. What is known as universal and eternal in all art is the impassioned vision based on understanding, correlated with cloudless thought and devoid of sentimentality. Whenever such art is produced, it arouses the aesthetic emotion known as Rasa, the absolute beauty with which are identified the three absolutes- Beauty, Love and Truth- the embodiment of which can be no other but the Absolute Reality.

Moment and space ( seat ) of rasa:

As rasa – the vision of beauty – is an experience, it has to occur somewhere and some one must also feel it some time. But it is found neither in the poem, nor in the poet, nor in the images, nor can it be even aimed at; it is rather discovered in the permanent motif, which is energized by (rasika’s) own capacity—sublime imaginative faculty, the source of supreme delight, which reveals deeper significance than that of the literal sense. In minor poetry it is the play of sense and in inferior poetry, it is ornamentation that are known as respective qualities. It is for this reason that descriptive or narrative poetry hardly touches precincts of rasa. Coomaraswamy quotes from Sahitya Darpan (Vishvanatha), “ It is pure, indivisible, self-manifested, compounded equally of joy and consciousness, free of admixture with any other perception, the very twin brother of mystic experience (Brahmasvadana Sahodarah), and the very life of it is supersensuous (lokottara) wonder (admiration/ enjoyment). Further, it is enjoyed by those who are competent thereto in identity, just as the form of God is itself the joy with which it is recognized.” (The Dance of Shiva…p. 58) It cannot be an object of knowledge since its perception is indivisible from its very existence; it is super sensuous, hyperphysical (alaukika). And experience is the only proof of its reality. Here religion, art and philosophy stand for the one and the same experience— ‘an intuition of reality and of identity’. A similar view is also held by Kant, Goethe, Blake, Schopenhauer, Schiller, etc. All things blend into one-another and recreate a composite unity—the experience of the rhythm of life wherein we feel the beauty, peace and happiness of life. This can be described as the rarest of the rare vision of the incomprehensible leaving behind a superb feeling of celestial joy lingering in memory- the comprehensible- ever after.

The poet realizes such experience as the essence of whole life, which comes to him rarely and as only one. He gains the purpose of life and remains in constant enjoyment all the time ever since and expresses it as exclusive experience in poetic sensibility- fulfillment. The external expression of the super sensuous experience felt in the innermost of Self is incomprehensible and inexpressible, for it is beyond the normal senses to perceive, however, it is fully enjoyable and memorable. But it is not the same that is expressed externally, of course, it is the nearest to his experience and exquisite too. There is no second chance when it will be repeated, because he always remains in the super sensuous state of spiritual contentment. Any external expression after such experience is made only once in all exuberance, all further expressions are elaborations of such experience, which would also leave him too happy and content to think anew or see a new facet of life, which, despite any claim to the contrary, in all probability, would be mundane and also prove that the poet did not really gain the ‘intuition of reality and of identity’- a hyperphysical experience. Therefore it is apt to say that the poet speaks only once- the ‘self’ realized for the first time and expressed; all second reflections are only repetitions of the initial idea. We all know that it is only one among many pieces of creative expression of any author/poet (poem, text, play, etc.), which is specially identified with the poet- one which contains the ‘soul’ of the poet.

This is so because his mind dwells in comprehensibility so that he is able to envision the reality. Those who begin with the incomprehensible in the mind land in abstractions and confusions, as it is the case with Hegel. Moreover, it’s ironical to try to comprehend that which is incomprehensible. The Reality being one cannot help simulate a binary approach unto itself. The human experience always tells us that the reality is ever conscious to realize itself as is reflected in the assertion of any entity- animate or inanimate, which is all part of the material world. The incomprehensible idea originates in the incomprehensible itself (it being self-willed) but is manifest only as leela- material reality- the domain of all possible worldly activity.

Thus, the creative process is a material activity beginning with idea followed by expansion and realization of the same idea itself leading to contentment and grace. It is not an object that is gained. It is a process as well as a gain in itself; nothing is outside of it. The idea is the only reality that happens and it is the only phenomenon that can link the material with the unknowable spiritual reality.


1. Capra. Fritjof. The Tao of Physics. London. Flemings. 1991

2. Coomaraswamy. Anand K. The Dance of Shiva, Bombay (Mumbai). Asia Publishing House. 1948.

3. Cowell and Gough. Sarva-Darshan-Sangraha of Madhavacarya. Trans. Eng. By K L Joshi. Ed. Delhi: Parimal, 1986.

4. Kushwaha. M.S. Ed. Indian Poetics and Western Thought. Lucknow. Agro Publishing House. 1988.

5. Sastri, Pandit S. Subrahmanya, and Ayyangar, T R Srinivasa, eds. Saundarya Lahari. Trans. Eng. Madras: Adyar, The Theosophical Publishing House, 1948.

6. Poddar, Hanuman Prasad, ed. Yogavashistha. Gorakhpur, India. Gita Press. 196Poddar. Hanuman Prasad. ed. Patanjalyogapradeep. Gorakhpur. Gita Press. 1987

7. Pandey. K.C. Comparative Aesthetics Vol.I. Varanasi. Chowkhamba. 1959

8. Ibid. Vol. II . Varanasi. Chowkhamba. 1959

9. Ratna Ma Navaratnam. The Vision of Shiva in Pariapuranam. Pune. Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan. 1987

10. Taimini. I. K. Hindu Symbolism. Adya, Madras. The Theosophical Publishing House. 1980. p. 56).

11. “Lectures on String Theory”, D. Lust and S. Theisen, Springer-Verlag, 1989 (Lecture Notes in Physics, 346).


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