Wisdom has an inexplicable and a 'difficult to explore' place in human understanding and living. Yet scholars, poets and creative artistes have found their own way of enjoying and the same time expressing it to others, the common folk too, in innumerable methods.
All the fine arts, not to speak of the sacred scriptural texts, are a clear illustration to this humane act. The manifestation of the ‘worlds’ is at the grace and flow of the forces from the Absolute, who is an embodiment of Truth, Wisdom and Infinitude. These three are not the qualities or attributes of the Absolute, as some would like to have them, but they are the inherent, inseparable and ever-out-flowing forces. We must note, in all sincerity, that Wisdom occupies the central place of the three, which must also mean it is pivotal in its nature. The manifestation naturally rests, sustains and enlarges on that. The ever-expanding faculty of the Absolute is equally available to all the three aspects of it.
In human understanding and clearer expression, Wisdom is personified and put in a form (anthropomorphism) in all mythologies. The Hindu thought has such forms, prominent among them being Saraswati (the consort of anthropomorphic Brahma). Celestial being or Goddess Saraswati is the Adhistanadevatha (presiding Deity) for Wisdom. The outflow of the rays of Wisdom is, symbolically, from her eyes. Eye is the physical organ through which the consciousness tends to function into the outer world. Eyes are therefore the doorways of the consciousness.
The two eyes of Saraswati are the centers for the Wisdom and her “Karunaa Katakha Veekshanam” (merciful and compassionate seeing) is sought by the aspirants for spiritual Wisdom; also by the seekers/learners of fine arts of mundane character. Fine art, in the fact of its nature, is a lower expression of the spiritual Wisdom. This is not a ‘philosophical’ statement but a ‘point-of-view in common-sense.’
Wisdom, in its abstract form, is portrayed through two ‘visible’ channels, symbolically - as we said earlier -, the two eyes of Saraswati. These two channels are Literature and Music. (Sahitya and Sangita). Wisdom, in its higher sense, is the storehouse and fountainhead of all philosophic ideas. The purpose of Literature is to portray the philosophic ideas (Bhagavat darsanam) to lay-readers. Similarly, the purpose of music is ‘Bhagavat-gunakeertanam.’ Chanting to the glory and magnificence of the divine aspects of manifestation is what is expressed by Music.
Literature and Music, thus, become two channels of communication of Divinity to Humanity. Both have meter, prastara and similar traits. Both are ‘different’ ways of expressing the “Word,” which is again another term for God or Divinity. Word is the Naada or Sabda. Naada Brahma and Sabda Brahma are terms in vogue. ‘Vac’ or the ‘Word’ is again four-fold: Para, Pasyanti. Madhyama and Vaikhari. These are in correspondence to the states of consciousness or awareness. We do not enter into seep details on that at the present moment. The Word is with Him, it emanates from Him and He is that.
Dance as an art-form is the conjoint venture, an admixture of Literature and Music. Cosmic Dance of Purusha (Shiva) is popularly spoken of as the source of emanation of the Cosmos and the Worlds, including the planes of Nature. Packs of energy get transmitted and the Waves take care of the formation of the different planes of Nature.
Humanity needs this knowledge - its source, working process and ultimate - to live well and emancipate in the ultimate. Acquirement of Wisdom and its employment in the right tones becomes inevitable for this reason. Wisdom is generally concealed in all its forms. This does not mean it can not be revealed. Literature and music, the dance-form in particular, help the work in revealing the innate qualities of nature. All this goes by a term such as ‘experiential knowledge.’ Many times, experiential knowledge is considered to be the opening of human consciousness and its blooming into a new awakening.
The dance form which is full of ‘mudra’ and ‘angika vinyasa’ is helpful in opening the force-centers in the subtle bodies of the practitioners, while the onlooker by mere absorbed ‘looking’ obtains a taste of the same result. That is how the fine-arts pave way for the finer material getting into the denser and subtler bodies, incidentally and unconsciously, transforming the being of the person. Initially, the onlooker need not have a deeper or even a preliminary understanding of the ‘sciences of music, dance or literature’.
A conscious involvement will perhaps speed up the transformation. This is one of the reasons why performing arts are taken to the masses. Mere entertainment value is not the concern. Entertainment coupled by experiential involvement enhances the utility. This acquisition of knowledge is ever open, never ending and is of continuous nature. Knowledge leads, when practiced in the right way and tone, to Wisdom. It brings in civility, refinement and grandeur. One becomes ‘humble’ on acquiring Wisdom, while ‘humility’ is needed for obtaining that. All this results in increased ‘humane-ness’ and eventual ‘perfectibility.’
The expressive ways of Wisdom enhance the human dignity. Culture is thus of fundamental importance in the learning process for humanity and the fine-arts have a decidedly significant role in that. Be it literature or Music or any other amalgamated form of these, it shall necessarily advance the stature of men and women of the world and make them ‘complete.’ It is essential to understand Wisdom in this particular manner.
Dr N C Ramanujachary