Like many before him, Lalit Parimoo swears by the idea that theatre and films have a greater role beyond entertainment and can be deployed as powerful tools to educate and create awareness. “They have the potential to play on the subconscious mind, so I persevere to stage plays that carry radical and instructive ideas,” declares the film and television actor, who is the director of three Hindi plays that will be staged in the city this weekend, strung together as An Evening of Three Short Stories.
Two of the plays — Mutripuja Adhamadhama and Main Manushya Hun — with allegorical constructs have been adapted for the stage from short stories penned by Parimoo himself. The third — Bade Bhai Sahab — is an adaptation of a short story by the doyen of Hindi literature — Munshi Premchand. The three plays are proponents of three distinct thoughts.
Mutripuja Adhamadhama rejects the idea of idol worship and instead recommends ‘dhyaan’ or meditation to search for God within oneself. Drawing on the learnings from Katha Upanishad and other scriptures, a ‘sadhak’ (pontiff) works to convince idol worshipers of the futility of their practice of noisy rituals that only pollute. “The sadhak transforms people, propounding that only inner exploration can take one closer to God. His efforts pay off as people take to seeking God in a rational and scientific way,” explains Parimoo, whose claim to fame includes the television series — Shaktiman (1997) and films such as Agent Vinod (2012) and Haider (2014).
His second play — Main Manushya Hun — works on the power of words to transform negative energy into positive strength, and is constructed around the eight ashtapasa (bondages such as hate, fear and doubt among others, that bind the soul to worldly illusion) and six, shadripu (enemies such as lust, anger, greed, etc that keep man from salvation). The sutradhar’s (narrator) monologue runs the audience through these elements of enslavement and adversaries. The power of words or abhinay yoga is presented in the form of monologues, incantation of Sanskrit mantras and body movement. “We have both positive and negative energies within us. Techniques such as meditation work better if the positive forces dominate. Abhinay, or expression of words, can help transform the negative into positive energy,” Parimoo vouches.
Bade Bhai Saheb — the story Munshi Premchand wrote in 1910 — is being staged as a mono act by Vicky Ahuja, who has been seen in films such as Veer Zara(2004) and A Wednesday (2008). The story is of two brothers — a nine-year-old and a 14-year old — the elder brother is sincere to his academic commitments, while the younger is given more to fun and frolic. However, while the younger one shines academically, the other brother’s labour is in vain, as he keeps failing. Eventually, the two brothers find themselves in the same class. “I’ve deployed body language and expressive mores to distinguish between the two boys. Children are burdened with books and are caught up in their academic rat race, when what they need more are real-life lessons to help them in life beyond school. But, of course, the story is open to interpretation. I’ve tried to stay true to the author’s intention,” Ahuja elaborates. For his part, Parimoo brought the story into the line-up to draw attention to our education system that is more skewed towards rote learning.
The three performances are woven around Parimoo’s faith in abhinay yog and the power of words to heal people. “I’ve found certain similarities between acting and yoga, which helped me evolve this concept of healing through abhinaya. It relies on the power of emotions, expressions and words to identify negative emotions and transform them into positive energy through techniques of abhinaya and meditation.”
Ordinary acting has a direct connection with Narcissism. You all must be well aware that psychologists have talked a great deal about the Narcissistic tendencies prevalent in a human being. What exactly is this tendency? How is a Narcissist different from others? What guides and forces a Narcissist to behave in a way which is different from a normal human behaviour? How does the craft of acting help a Narcissist? Are generally all actors fundamentally Narcissist? What is the co-relation between social behaviour of successful actors and the inherent narcissistic tendencies within? How does ABHINAYA YOG claim to go beyond the feeling of Narcissism?
In this chapter we shall try to answer and explain the above queries. In plain and simple words the desire to be liked, loved, appreciated, pampered, admired to the extent of being worshiped is primarily a narcissistic tendency. At seed level it exists within everyone but different education, environment, upbringing and the pressure of circumstances make one more narcissistic and the other less. Outwardly, behaviour of a narcissist in a group can be easily distinguished by his/her constant effort to seek attention and admiration from others, to keep the conversation revolve around his/her issues and problems, to fish for compliments again and again, to create such an impression that others are compelled to talk about him/her.
If not in a group, a narcissist would like to find different ways of self admiration like looking in a mirror and saying “I’m the best”, wearing new clothes, watching one’s photographs again and again, day dreaming and creating a world in his/her own imagination where he/she has been liked and appreciated by all. In brief narcissist is obsessed with oneself and the desire to get appreciated from all sides by all people becomes his/her food. He/she will feel like a fish without water, if in one day he/she doesn’t receive a required quota of admiration, appreciation and compliments.
Deep down the person actually is miserable, unhappy and suffers from a feeling of being unloved and unnoticed. In most of the cases perhaps during childhood one has felt unloved. Maybe the parents were more loving towards the other child or they had a bad marriage and their constant quarrelling and fighting created a feeling of insecurity in child’s mind, thus depriving him/her of love, care and attention required for the normal growth, development and upbringing of a child. When this feeling continues with the child for a long time, the unhappiness and misery becomes his/her second nature and when one becomes an adult one tries to compensate what one has lacked by trying to grab more and more of admiration. So, if a child is unable to receive proper emotional nourishment from his/her parents and other near and dear ones he/she tries to compensate it by artificial means and this continues till old age.
For such people, who have felt wounded in their childhood because of lack of proper love and care, and also for those people, who have been pampered a lot during their childhood, ACTING becomes an area of escape for them. How does acting help these people? It is well understood that the work of an actor is such which makes him/her a centre of attraction and generally actors are complimented, thus brings some kind of happiness to the inwardly suffering minds.
Childhood is the period where our emotional world is built and the interrelationship within the structure of our family which mostly includes parents and siblings, lays the firm foundation of these emotions which remain with us till our adult and matured life. A boy who has not received a full quota of love from his mother, due to various socio-psychological reasons, will always have a love hate relation with women. Because he could not have a smooth relation with his mother, he will face difficulties in having smooth relationship with the women who come in his life. On one hand he would love to have an amicable relationship with a girl, but the wounds which exist inside due to his own mother will always create difficulties and misery. Hence by becoming an actor, by playing a part of a lover who wins a woman and is happy, one tries to compensate for what one lacks.
Also the craft of acting brings some amount of appreciation which is another form of happiness and thus helps an individual to forget the misery caused by the wounds experienced during the childhood. In this matter, it would be added, those people who are not able to get happiness by becoming an actor themselves, they seek refuge in the works of other artists which can include short stories, novels, drama, TV shows ,films or even books. This is the reason why many people become fans or admire so called heroes and heroines of films or a novel, drama, short story, because their own inabilities and weaknesses get covered up by the victories of the ideal fictional character. A wounded mind cannot remain wounded for a long time as the nature of mind is to find equilibrium. If the emotion of hate is predominant because of the lack of love either from father or mother, it is natural for such a mind to look for love by surrogate means. Acting also is one such surrogate method, which takes an individual into an imaginary world thus takes him/her away from the harsh realities and gives a feeling of doing something creative, which also is a form of happiness. After the successful performance of living life of an imaginary character the compliments received and the admiration for the creative skill is what makes an unhappy and a wounded person happy.
So, it can be clearly stated that a narcissist deep down is a very unhappy and emotionally weak person. In his/her own eyes he/she has not received love properly; hence the adult period demands more and more attention. As the craft of acting fulfils this criterion to a very large extent, a narcissist naturally finds solace in it. Many of his/her problems get solved in this journey.
The modern world has created several psychological problems and complexes and narcissism is one of those. In the past 300-400 years, society has moved drastically towards hedonism. The scientific inventions, technological revolutions along with so many modern ideas have forced one to live in such a way that chasing wealth and material comforts has become a necessity. There has been a slow deterioration in family values and the socio spiritual structure in all the countries, has been shaken.
The mad race for success, power and money has created a situation where the family has been neglected and children grow in an atmosphere or environment which is devoid of love and full of strife and conflict. This is not the case only with the poor or middle class families, even the rich people suffer from the same problems in a different way. Parents who are indulged in earning money for the family have no time for their children who are looked after by maid servants and again are deprived of the parental love which was their natural right for their growth and development. The middle class parents live in a condition where they crib and grumble for their inability to earn sufficient money for the care of children, hence they at times feel unwanted.
In brief Narcissism as a complex phenomenon is the result or outcome of the modern civilisation which has turned a man into a money earning machine whose happiness and achievements revolve around the material comforts and objects. As most of the people are not able to get what they want, the result is a crisis where there is a huge gap between man’s inner world and his outer achievements. Not only there is a gap in the economic sphere but also in the emotional world.
A narcissist desperately tries to achieve something great in the external world forgetting his/her inner turmoil which he/she thinks can be balanced by big external achievements but in the course of his/her journey he/she realizes the harsh truth that the lack of emotional warmth cannot be balanced by physical comforts. It is a well known statement that one can buy sex, not love. One can amass huge properties, but cannot buy a loving home. One can buy people as workers, but can’t buy friends.
The craft of ACTING attracts lot of narcissist with a very simple reason that it gives an opportunity to compensate for the emotional diseases from which one suffers since childhood. The rosy picture which one builds in the mind where one imagines to live a successful life of a successful actor, who plays so many different powerful characters, is loved by so many people, is adored by the opposite sex, has big money, big success, is the heavenly abode of such narcissists. To live in future and forget the difficulties of present time, is one of the fundamental characteristics of human nature. So it happens with narcissist that they live in future imagining “heavenly abode” and try to forget their present worries and inabilities. Their “heavenly abode” keeps on supplying the inspiration for some time, but later on a crisis happens and this imaginary “heavenly abode” crumbles like a pack of cards. The gap between the dream world and the reality widens, thus creating a split within the human mind. This situation is further dangerous as this split mind gives rise to further complicated psychological diseases like schizophrenia, hypocrisy, acute depression, chronic anxiety etc.
To avoid all the above said psychological complexes, one should follow the system of ABHINAYA YOG. The philosophy of ABHINAYA YOG will help not only an actor but a non actor too, to face the insurmountable obstacles in one’s path.
The ten moral principles of yog will work as the guiding light for all aspiring actors and human beings. These ten principles are
Any aspiring actor who learns the craft of acting while following the above said moral principles will certainly be able to manage the ever widening gap between his/her inner and outer world. Let’s talk in detail about the above said ten moral principles:-
SATYA- It is well understood that the entire world keeps on changing. There is nothing permanent. Change is the only constant factor. What was yesterday is not today and what is not today exists in the future. The apparent reality is ever changing but isn’t there something which is permanent? That something permanent can be called as SATYA. As all things exist in time, place and person and hence are ever changing, but that which is beyond this trinity is SATYA. Thus to keep this satya as one’s goal, most cherished object should be the topmost priority of any human being. If one takes the vow of moving on the path of the satya, one easily conquers hypocrisy, pride, vanity, worries etc.
AHIMSA- Not to harm or inflict injury in thought, word or deed to anyone is the underlying spirit of AHIMSA. Sometimes one doesn’t realise how one has inflicted injury upon other by negative remarks and thinking, but if one keeps the principle of AHIMSA in mind, automatically such thoughts can be checked. But AHIMSA at the same time does not mean not to fight back or retaliate to safeguard oneself in the times of danger or attack. If a dangerous animal or a ferocious man or a group of invaders are about to harm you, your family or your community, then to fight as a matter of self defence is also a part of AHIMSA. Only a courageous man can truly follow the principle of AHIMSA.
ASTEYA- In simple worlds it means non-stealing. Everyone has to pickup an occupation to maintain oneself and the family people. This occupation should be such where no stealing is involved. To earn one’s livelihood by honest and upright means is the fundamental thought and idea of ASTEYA. Sometimes this stealing happens mentally, so one has to maintain strictly the mental purity also. The person who follows the principle of ASTEYA will have the moral strength, which shall help him/her to face the ups and downs in his/her work life.
APARIGRAH- This principle is one of the most difficult to follow as it runs contrary to the modern materialistic lifestyle. Not to accumulate more than what is required for the minimum sustenance of life is the underlying spirit of APARIGRAH. For example if our requirement is of 6 pairs of dresses than one should not hoard more. By following this principle strictly one controls greed. Not to eat more than what is sufficient for one’s health, not to have money more than one is required for minimum requirement, not to collect hoard or accumulate physical objects for the sake of mental satisfaction are the hallmarks of APARIGRAH…how can one keep a cheque on the growing demands of modern life-style where one is forced to buy things, objects ,new gadgets etc.? this is the burning question with every spiritual aspirant .Many are ready to live a simple life but the social pressure is such that if you do not move with the main social flow you will not be accepted by others and one will have to face new kinds of difficulties like communication etc.The guideline regarding this should be that one should make efforts to buy those things and objects which are absolutely essential for everyday work and social life. The approach has to be of utility and not of impressing others or showing it off only for the sake of creating an image ..This should be strictly avoided.
BRAHMCARYA- This is the most controversial principle and needs to be explained rationally. Many people have confused general masses that this principle has something to do with sexual abstinence but the truth is, the root words of BRAHMCARYA are BRAHM and CARYA which have nothing to do with sexual abstinence. The word BRAHM means “That which is great” and CARYA means “ to move”. Thus the whole word means to move in that which is great or in simple words to think always of the supreme lord. This moral principle helps one to have a different world view. Every philosophy or ideology or culture and civilisation creates a world-view. Here the world-view is that “Every thing is an expression of the supreme being”. So, one has to make efforts to keep on ideating on the Supreme Being. This approach helps an individual not to get entangled in the worldly affairs to such an extent that they keep you away from the Supreme Being.
SHOACA- To maintain cleanliness in all aspects, at all places is the underlying spirit of SHOACA. Not only one has to make efforts to remain physically clean, keep the surroundings clean but at the same time one should thrive for the mental cleanliness. It is easy to practice external cleanliness but to keep the mind pure and clean requires more mental efforts and discipline.
SANTOSHA- Again this principle is difficult to practice in today’s world as the entire economic growth takes place due to the inherent economic dissatisfaction and this principle teaches one to remain contended with what one has got. This point needs to be explained further. It is well understood that one cannot grow if one is not dissatisfied with the present circumstances. For example a person earning rupees 10000 a month will have to be dissatisfied with his/her income so that he/she makes effort to earn rupees 15000 in a month. So if discontentment is necessary for any growth, how can one practice SANTOSHA ? The answer is it can be practiced. After struggling for any growth or improvement, one needs to surrender everything to the Supreme Being, and this surrender brings a positive attribute named SANTOSHA which means whatever one has got or achieved, one accepts it as HIS/HER wish. A pure egoistic and ambitious mind cannot follow this principle. To remain contended with what one has got is the hallmark of a surrendered mind whose goal is the Supreme Being and to understand very well without HIS/HER wish one cannot achieve anything.
TAPAH- In simple words TAPAH means hard work and determination required to attain the desired goal. This principle inspires one to fight against lethargy and laziness. During the struggle of existence one is naturally bound to face difficulties and sometimes one gets discouraged and looses the zest for achievement but by remembering this moral principle one can inspire oneself again and again and prepare to work hard. As it is well said that hard work has no substitute, so one should not spare oneself and very soon at an early age one must get into the habit of working hard. This principle also helps an individual to not to get acclimatised to a comfortable lifestyle. The more one lives in difficult conditions, more the chances of working hard.
SVADHYAYA- Literally it means understanding oneself. The ultimate journey of a man is to know thyself and this principle is a reminder to it. The study of self also involves the study of scriptures which help one to understand that the aim and purpose of this human life is to go beyond the mundane achievements and reach the transcendental state of “SELF”.
ISHVAR-PRANIDHAN- The movement towards Supreme Being by any methodology like prayer, dharna, dhyan, is ISHVAR-PRANIDHAN. ISHVAR, the lord and controller of all things is the goal of human existence. Human beings are mind-predominant. The movement of this mind towards ISHVAR is ISHVAR-PRANIDHAN. This principle not only reminds you of the supreme goal but also wants you to take some active steps in that direction. One can’t say that the goal of my life is to know God and not do anything about it. It is an inward movement and is purely a subjective journey where dissipating energy of mind is channelized and merged into the ocean of pure consciousness. According to ABHINAYA YOG this ISHVAR-PRANIDHAN has been incorporated in a different way. As we all are the actors on the world stage with our different roles and different stages, we need to know the Supreme Director within. If we are acquainted with the Supreme Director within, we can play all the roles assigned to us harmoniously and satisfactorily.
Thus the narcissistic tendency within every human being which forces one to crave for more and more admiration, resulting in the desire of becoming a famous person can be checked by the above-said ten moral principles which shall help as a guide to every one. Those who are artists by birth and have a genuine desire to express and exhibit their talents will be highly benefited by the moral principles and can create more sublime piece of art which shall be of educational value to the viewers.
ACTING ,today for the most of the youngsters is a short cut method to become rich and famous and many are only interested to impress their relatives and neighbours and try to prove that they are successful and popular..
Today the entire civilization has reached a point where the only aim of existence for most of the humanity is to make a quick fortune and the success of very few actors and actresses gives an illusory hope to many that they too can make it big .
But unfortunately the resources of earth are such that all cannot become rich and famous so most of the actors are moving on the wrong path and are misled by the illusion created by glitter and glamour of name and fame. If one tries to follow the path of Abhinaya yog with a purpose of reaching the depths of one’s being there shall be a dramatic change in the thought-waves of most of the people, actors ,aspirants and viewers that peace shall be attained here and now.
ABHINAYA YOG wants to bring a fresh change in the thinking patterns of the entire humanity by broadcasting this age-old wisdom that the aim of human life is to reach the divinity within and the entire social structure should be such that all should get an opportunity to reach the prescribed goal.
The modern civilization at present is topsy –turvy and due to the impact of centrefugal force ,humanity is moving away from the centre which is the abode of PURE CONSCIOUSNESS and for this inward march the mad chase for wealth and comfort is a big hurdle. The reason why most of the people are unhappy and miserable lies in the fact that the entire human society has become materialistic and all our small pleasures and comforts have become directly connected with the physical objects and sensual gratifications. One of the greatest treasure and achievement of human civilization has been the family structure which once upon a time was an improved form of the tribal structure where people lived in groups or gotras but today due to the pressure of living in a materialist society most of our psychic problems and emotional turmoils are due to the dilapidated condition of our families which was and still is the root of our emotional wellness. As it is well understood that our emotional world has lost its requisite equilibrium due to the imbalance within the family structure. By the time one has reached the age of 17 or 18 all major conflicts and complexes have already creeped in and then to restore the lost balance the only effort which one tries to do is to become a successful person in the external world by choosing a career which can give name fame and wealth in a short span of time. The lack of love which one has felt during childhood, may be, due to the over-busy lifestyle of parents can never be compensated by wealth or fame. Girls and boys who have been brought up in a broken family where one of the spouses has borne the brunt of bringing up children remain unloved throughout their lives and try to compensate it by aspiring and chasing big dreams and goals which makes them feel that reaching top will cure the illness within their mental world. But in reality this doesn’t happen and all big goals when attained create the same vacuum and once again remind of the inner emptiness and disgruntlement.The remedy lies in the practice of moral principles prescribed as yama and niyama.
The short term goals can be in terms of a house and a car or a better job but the chief aim of a human being is to know the consciousness within ,which requires a certain discipline and code of conduct without which all talks will remain bookish and impractical. To bring back family values and strictly follow the moral principles should be the top most concern of every educated and sensible person.
ABHINAY YOG reminds to all the actors of the world stage that do not forget the chief aim so that one may not repent during the last days of one’s life that the entire life was a colossal waste.
Lot of thinkers and philosophers have believed that acting is a psycho spiritual activity. Many spiritual masters have said and given messages to their disciples that one should live on this earth as an actor. They had understood the potential power of acting and were keen to utilize it on the path of spirituality.
Before we go into the details of this process it needs to be understood and explained that what we mean by a psycho spiritual activity. Human activities can be classified under four categories
Any activity which needs more physical energy with a bit of mentality comes under the first category. There is nothing as pure physical activity. Without the involvement of mind there cannot be any physical activity. It is well known that even the smallest unit of our body, called as cell has got its own mind.
All our voluntary and involuntary actions where the bodily activity is predominant ,like walking ,running ,our daily physical routine which involves actions like sleep ,clearing bowels ,eating ,drinking etc. come under this category….even the involuntary actions like breathing, digestion of food ,circulation of blood and lot of work which goes on inside human body without we being aware of it fall under this category..
Psycho-physical activities are those ones where more of mind is required, with of course the support of its physical body. Here the body is less active and mind works more feverishly. Take an example of a man trying to catch a train at a particular time or driving a car to reach a particular destination or simply buying groceries from a mall keeping in mind the requirements of his family or consciously doing exercises for his physical fitness. In all the above said activities the body or physical activity is very important as without which action can not take place but at the same time the role of mind is more important…It is the mind which is giving directions to the human body and is goading and guiding it towards a particular aim or a well planned goal.
Thus in psycho-physical activities the mind is the master and controller and in the physico-psychic activities the body is the controlling agency and both are to a very large extent mechanical in nature
Pure psychic activities are those ones where body is mostly at rest or less active and mind is completely engrossed and engaged. Here the flight of mental world is such that one may even forget the presence of body. One can actually feel that one is more mind and less matter. Lot of examples can be cited like writing a letter or mail, reading books, understanding and solving problems, all kinds of brain-storming sessions and all sorts of sentiments and emotions arising in the mental world and all our day-dreaming and imaginations fall under this category. In most of the above said activities one can observe that the physical activity becomes minimum and one soars and moves in the mental arena only, but the physical presence is a must.
Pure intellectual work of a writer, a poet or a research scholar also comes under this category and this sort of work requires stability of the physical body because the pure mental work needs a smooth and uniform flow of breath which can happen if the body is at rest. The interrelation of breath and activity shall be discussed later.
Psycho spiritual activity is the movement of mind towards its source which is the consciousness or the witnessing entity within .It is this movement which is the real inward movement, where one is able to cross the boundaries of duality and dissolve the mind and thereby reach the transcendental state of non dual world, which can be termed as pure spiritual domain or spiritual terminus. Thus this pure spiritual state can not be practiced but it can be attained by psycho-spiritual efforts ,mostly consciously ,so it can not be called as an activity ,rather is the result and outcome of one’s psycho spiritual activity.
There are many ways of this psycho-spiritual activity and during past five thousand years we have seen various kinds, forms, derivations and methods of this activity which also can be termed as path of dharma…All religious or spiritual schools have one way or other but the end result is the same –peace or bliss or whatever name one would like to use.
In many systems only the method of prayer is used, some follow the way of keen observation and others use the incantation of mantras and many believe that by imagining that state of pure bliss one can reach there…whatever may be the differences in the methodologies ,the fact can not be ignored that the common link amongst all the seemingly different systems is that the physical energy needs to be transformed into psychic energy which gets transformed further into spiritual consciousness resulting into a kind of peace or bliss. This peace or bliss has several stages or layers and according to the capacity of the aspirant the results are achieved.
This psycho spiritual activity in Sanskrit language is called as Dharma which is derived from the root verb ‘dhr” Which means that which holds. Our body mind is held by the soul or Atman. Hence the movement of mind towards this soul or Atman is Dharma. Let us analyse a very simple form of Dharmic activity which is “prayer”. In this process one has to sit in a particular position or stand in a particular posture with some Mudra, which means either hands folded or knees bend. Thus the aim being stillness of body. The first work is to keep the body still and then one utters certain words or hymns or sutras, which carry a deep meaning where some attribute of the Supreme Being is mentioned or a simple request like giving strength, peace, education or any other help is sought. So, mind is constantly repeating certain words which carry deep meaning and if spoken with a lot of concentration, it can lead to some kind of momentary peace.
In Japkriya a mantra which carries the ideation of Supreme Being is also another method where an aspirant makes efforts to concentrate and lead the mind from dual world to non dual world.
Again the main work is done with the help of mind and while keeping the body still, the mind is first withdrawn from the external world, and then with the help of mantra the mind is goaded towards the inner world, where if intense concentration happens mind comes in touch with pure consciousness and loses its existence, resulting in an experience of bliss. When an aspirant comes back from this experience, he remembers it for a very long time and craves for it more and more.
There are masters who can easily move into this blissful world, rejuvenate themselves and come back to this transitory world and guide others for their spiritual upliftment.
In this psycho spiritual activity or dharma there are lots and lots of difficulties and obstacles which an aspirant has to face and overcome. Our ordinary mind is composed of primarily good and bad thoughts, desires, aspirations, longings, feeling and emotions. When one follows dharma or psycho spiritual activity, with the help of concentration, good desires and feelings get focused. And hence the bad and negative thoughts and feelings also get concentrated. This creates a condition of polarization of mind where the positive forces get clubbed on one side and the negative forces on the other side. Thus a war begins between the two opposite and belligerent forces. All spiritual books and scriptures have talked about this war between two diametrically opposite tendencies prevalent in human mind. Take the example of Bhagwat Geeta, which mentions the war between Pandavas and Kauravas. For a spiritual aspirant the external war has less meaning and the internal battle and struggle is of more value. For example, if in the inner world a Kaurav tendency called hate is overcome by a pandav tendency called compassion, the victory is of Dharma. And if the opposite happens Adharma is established. Thus during the war between positive and negative forces it cannot be said with certainty that which side will win. It is said that it depends upon the cosmic design which means when the cosmos is controlled by Avidya forces, then Adharma is victorious. And when it is controlled by Vidya forces then Dharma is the winner.
According to ABHINAYA YOG this cosmic design can be named as ABHINAYA LEELA where a drama is taking place and sometimes Avidya wins and at times Vidya. This eternal battle of drama keeps going on, thus maintaining the balance of entire cosmos. Due to various factors we human beings are assigned, various roles in various lifetimes and according to our various Virtues and Vices, we participate in this Abhinaya leela and fulfil the aim of the cosmic drama. It’s very difficult to say who will get which role? The role which is assigned to you has to be played in such a way that is fulfils the purpose of the cosmic drama. Even if one has to play a negative role or a role where one is mean minded, cruel and selfish but if it is played with this awareness that a higher purpose is fulfilled, then even playing of a negative role is justified.
So, in the practice of Dharma or psycho spiritual activity, the polarization of mind is a necessity and the struggle between the two is a must. The more one struggles the more chances of growth. One may fall also because the path is like that of a razor’s edge and is very difficult to maintain the connection and harmony with the positive tendencies of mind. But those spiritual warriors who keep on struggling and fighting against their lower nature, one day find themselves established on the path of Dharma.
Let us try to analyse and examine the process of Abhinaya or Acting. How does an actor prepare a role? What are the tools with which he/she works? What is the journey of getting into the skin of a character written by someone else? An Actor uses three very important tools which are (1) Body (2) Voice (3) Feelings/Emotions.
For an actor body is of utmost importance. Not only the fitness of body is required, but at the same time one has to learn how to communicate with the help of body. As in real life body expresses all our major feelings, thought waves, attitudes, mental state etc. and hence an actor has to learn the ability to reproduce all these major physical expressions of the mental states. This means his mind should control his body and body should follow the instructions of mind easily, spontaneously and without any opposition or hurdles, it should be able to transform from one physical expression to another. It takes years and years of hard work for an actor to understand his body and bring the entire bodily movements and expressions under his control. That is why the need to learn Yogasans, Dance Movements, Mudras etc. To bring body under one’s control also develops another major quality or trait, which is observation. An actor has to be a keen observer and notice each and every small bodily function, gesture, posture, movement etc. and re-enact it with precision and perfection whenever it is required. For example, if an actor has to play a role of Servant, he must know the body language and mannerism of a servant. If in the same story the servant becomes the master, then an actor need to transform his body language from a servant to the master, which can happen only if the body of that particular actor is well tuned, flexible and has the ability to transform quickly. Also after many years of constant practice an actor’s body learns to concentrate. This means that all the parts of body from head to toe, including the arms and the legs, the chest and the stomach and all other parts are vibrating with the same wave length as required within the parameters of the character and the story.
An actor’s body when fully concentrated, during the playing of a character or a scene of a play or film, is a treat to watch. What an actor learns through lot of hard work happens automatically or naturally in real life. If one sees, in real life, a man in anger or a woman crying or a boy happily dancing, one may notice the concentration of body. In the expression of all the major emotions body becomes concentrated, which means all the cells within the body and their minds are moving in one direction only. This is a big achievement of an actor which can be termed as a part of spiritual practice where the entire physical energy, moving in different directions is brought under control and is forced to move in one direction only.
The second most important tool of an actor is his/her voice. To exhibit and display all colours or a character an actor needs to train his/her voice. In real life too voice is important form of communication and whatever we say or hear has its impact on our mind. During the training, an actor learns to keep his/her voice loud and clear, to articulate, pronounce well and be expressive. If an actor is not able to pronounce well or speak clearly the words written by the writer, he/she will not be able to create any impact on the minds of the listeners or the viewers. In real life we listen to so many voices and our world of thoughts and feelings get affected. The voices of our near and dear one’s, of actors and news readers and commentators, of singers and leaders and spiritual masters, all have it’s desire effect on our minds. An ordinary phone call which is nothing but a voice, can change a person’s mood and an ordinary remark may bring either happiness or misery. All people are able to distinguish different voices with it’s various tones, inflections, moods, timbre that conveys wide range of feelings, which creates either a friend or a foe. Once again an actor has to work hard in order to first improve his/her voice and then bring it under his/her own control, so that he/she is able to express different feelings of different characters in different circumstances. Training of voice involves training of breath or re-educating one’s breathing pattern which comes under the scope of PRANAYAM. Breath is the source of voice and hence to bring breath under one’s control is the first step of vocal training. The breath has to be deep and the exhalation needs to be prolonged. What a spiritual aspirant learns through YOGIC practice, an actor learns it during his/her professional training. A well trained voice with sufficient volume and clarity, and ability to express varied feelings easily, will certainly have a deep impact on the mind of a listener. The voice of a sports commentator, a political leader, spiritual master, a singer, an actor, a news reader do affect the daily lives of most of the people and better the voice deeper the effect.
The third most important tool is the ability to re-produce all major emotions. This is the most difficult part and takes more time. The job of an actor requires to master all emotions, like Anger, Love, Romance, Hate, Surprise, Sacrifice, Pity, Fear, Jealousy, Greed, Lust, Pride, Possessiveness, Ego, Compassion, Peace, Humour, Happiness, Irritation, Sadness, Courage etc. A non actor is under the control of all these emotions and he/she has to function according to the dictates of most of the emotions. Difference between two people can be easily mentioned by their different emotional worlds. Ordinarily people are very sensitive about their emotional world. Very few people would like to talk about their anger, fear, hate, pain etc. because it makes one vulnerable. Emotions in real life arise irrespective of our like or dislike and are a source of surprise and delight. Most of us treasure these emotions, cling to it, identify with it and are not able to go beyond them
An actor works with his emotions and learns to display them at his will. This becomes a sensitive work because an actor exposes his world of emotions to other people and at the same time receives either appreciation or criticism.
Because an actor works with his/her body, voice and emotions, he/she gives everything to his/her work, which is playing of a character within the parameter of a script. During the training as an actor the most difficult part is to master these emotions. It is not easy to capture the truth of an emotion. In the real life these emotions come because of various reasons and factors which an actor has to imagine, re-create and then bring them out. It’s easy for an actor to re-produce those emotions easily, which he experiences often and regularly. But those emotions, of which he/she has less experience, become a cause of worry and one needs to apply different techniques to bring them out. Hence it is said, for a person to be an actor, one should be more and more expressive, so that all the latent or hidden emotions come out and become a field of study.
But these emotions are dangerous. An actor who expresses the negative emotions very regularly for his/her work will surely get affected by them. For example, if one has to cry a lot or enact a tragic scene, it is bound to affect the emotional health of that particular actor. In order to come out from the world of sadness and misery, most of the actors then take the help of intoxicants, which may give them some temporary relief but in the long run is hazardous.
How does an actor train these wild emotions? Initially most of the actors are shy and their inhibitions stop them from displaying their emotions. The feeling of shyness has to overcome first in order to express emotions shamelessly. Ordinarily one thinks “What will the others say?”, and this thought creates a block. The moment one stops bothering about others and starts giving vent without sense of shame, he/she starts getting good results and develops control in the exhibition and display of one’s emotions. Also when one starts to express one’s feelings in the real life honestly, then one can develop the habit of remembering these emotions and then later on applying them in one’s work.
During his/her training, an actor realises that the words or dialogues written by a writer are of great importance in his/her work. These lines or dialogues convey the entire meaning of the story and the way a character has to perform. The emotions hidden behind these lines motivate an actor to decode them and then play it with truth and honesty. The written words create an image and a world in which the actor has to live and make the viewers believe what he/she is doing. Thus the words become his/her world. Through these words an actor plays a scene with his/her fellow actors or speaks a monologue where he/she talks about his/her mental condition. In this process he/she learns to go back into that world which the writer has created, then tries to live those moments honestly and then express them with the words though written by the writer but spoken by him now. Good actor speaks the lines with his/her conviction and is able to re-create the world, which a writer has imagined. During his/her work, an actor lives in a new world, makes the other people believe in what he/she is portraying but at the same time there is an entity within, which watches him/her doing all the performances.
When an actor works on a passage or a scene, he/she is involved in a process which can be called as Psycho Spiritual Activity. The moment he/she has to play a character written by a writer and then he/she reads the lines written for him, the Psycho Spiritual Activity begins. Whatever information he gets, he/she imagines the life and world of that particular character, transforms himself/herself into the another world by withdrawing himself/herself from the immediate Psycho Physical world. This process in the psycho spiritual activity is termed as PRATYAHAAR. This requires a lot of hard work and power of imagination. The world which he/she has created in the mind needs to be expressed in words. So, his/her next step is to memorise the lines which convey the inner import of the character’s mental world. This in many spiritual scriptures is a six-fold step. Para, Pashayanti, Madhyama, Dhyotmana, Shrutigochara and Vaikhari. Para is that stage where, there is a faint picture of the world imagined. This means one is able to see something not clear but an indescribable visual does exist. In the second stage called Pashayanti, this visual becomes more clear and one can see it in the mind’s eye, but one can’t hear anything. In the third stage of Madhyama, the visual becomes more strong and clear and at the same time one hears faint sounds. During the Dhyotmana stage, the sound becomes more audible but disordered. In the Shrutigochara stage, one listens to the words clearly in his/her own mind. At this stage visual is clear and so is the sound. In the last stage the words get released from the mouth and one expresses what one feels. The words come out because of the inner compulsion and necessity
The work of an actor is the movement from Para to Vaikhari. He/she imagines the world faintly, initially, then strengthens it by his/her imagination, brings the words and struggles with it, memorises it and further strengthens it and then finally in the last stage utters it. This whole process of work of an actor is a Psycho Spiritual Activity. Though it is done unknowingly and unconsciously by most of the actors, the pleasure experienced comes under the scope of Psycho Spiritual Happiness. This happiness or pleasure is subtler than most of the ordinary pleasures and remains with the actor for a longer time. The work of an actor generally receives admiration from the audience or the people who are watching, but the pleasure of compliments received is nothing compared to the pleasure he/she experiences during the process of his/her Psycho Spiritual journey.
The journey of an actor, when working on a scene or monologue, is an inward movement. The written words become alive and the more one goes deep into the meaning of it, the more clear the imaginary world becomes to him/her. With the help of one’s imagination, an actor visualises fresh and new thoughts about the character and the scene written. If the imagination is stirred properly, he/she can touch the realm of PARASHAKTI which is the root and seed of the manifested world. Take for example simple lines like this, “ Main ek swastha Abhineta hoon. Vishvabrahamand ke is Prithvi grah par main 100 varshon ke liye aaya hoon or mujhe_____________ ki bhoomika mili hai. Main apni bhoomika nibhane me purn roop se safal hoou, iske liye main mann or pran se prayatnsheel rahunga. Mujhme apni bhoomika samajhne ki shakti paida ho, or mann, vachan or karma se main apna manushya jeevan saarthak bana sakoon, iski main main kaamna karta hoon”. Now when an actor concentrates on the very first line, “Main ek swasth abhineta hoon”, with the help of his/her imagination, in his/her mental world he/she should see a picture of himself/herself, who is healthy in all the three strata of life, physical, mental and spiritual. If the concentration level is mild, he/she will be able to see only a faint picture of himself/herself, but if the concentration is deep, he/she can clearly see the physical body, a healthy physical body, healthy physical organs and all systems functioning properly within. If he/she goes little more deep, he/she can see his/her mind full of varied thoughts, ideas, feeling and emotions. If he/she continues his/her journey further, he/she will be able to see only his/her picture without any other thought wave or idea. This picture of his/her will slowly transform into a mesh of light waves and if he/she is able to hold this visual for a long time, he/she can attain bliss or peace.
Mind functions with the help of light waves and sound waves, and when it is filled with so many ideas and thoughts, there are innumerable light waves and sound waves crisscrossing each others. The moment mind has to do a particular task, it has to withdraw it from useless thoughts and bring it to the required task without which, mind cannot carry on its ordinary daily work. Even a small activity like walking, requires a particular level of concentration which means nothing but few thoughts getting organized, in order to complete an action.
So, in the process of acting, we see a higher level of concentration required. All the lines or dialogues written are a collection of vowels and consonants. The sixteen matras as vowels and thirty four Vyanjans as consonants are the original expression or the acoustic expressions of the unmanifested world. Thus any sentence contains within itself the potential to reach its original source or abode. This is the reverse journey which is called as the psycho spiritual journey.
Coming back to the above said passage, let us see the meaning of the second line “vishvabrahamand ke is prithvi grah par main 100 varshon ke liye aaya hoon”. Again while pondering hard on this sentence, one should be able to visualise the entire universe consisting of various galaxies, nebulaes, stars, sun, earth, moon, planets etc. and at the same time try to see one’s 100 years which means his/her entire life span. Initially it will be difficult to concentrate but slowly and regularly one can go deep and reach a zone which can be called as no mind or no thought zone. While concentrating on entire life span, one has to take the help of the past and the present life of oneself which shall help in giving some knowledge to know the future. Similarly while concentrating on the entire universe one needs to focus on the immediate planetary world and then keep on imagining the distant stars and galaxies. In this way one needs to visualise all the lines and touch the PARASHAKTI as said earlier
An actor has to memorise the lines. So, the memory power has to improve. Again, one says few lines after remembering them; it becomes an act of concentration. Lines uttered with clarity, correct pronunciation, meaning and ideation have not only a deep impact on the listener but on the speaker too. The memorised lines spoken with correct meaning and pronunciation, supported by the correct visual creates completely new world which in YOGIG PRACTICE can be called as DHAARNA. During this period or activity mind is focused and moves in a required direction only and there is no scope for other disturbing or alien thoughts. This concentrated mind, which is a part of good actors work, will give supra-aesthetic pleasure to him/her. It may last for few minutes only, but the taste of it will remain for a long time. Actually the real craving of all human beings is to touch the perennial source of bliss, because we have come and originated from that bliss only. Hence, the movement is to go back home, to go back from where we have come, to take permanent shelter.
Other forms of art also give this supra-aesthetic pleasure to artists like, during a dance performance a dancer gets merged into the dance completely or a painter engrossed in his work so deeply that the subject and the object become one. In other words one can say, the dissipated mind which moves in 100 different directions is brought under control and made one pointed, and this one pointed mind can easily touch or reach its original source.
After preparing a role the job of an actor demands performance either in front of the audience or in front of the camera. He/she has learnt his/her lines, movement, has got into skin of the character, knows when to express a particular feeling and he/she does it efficiently and at the same time he/she is naturally aware of himself/herself, which means that there is someone within, who knows the entire enactment of drama. It is because of this inner watchman that an actor remembers even after the performance, the mistakes he/she committed, or the good work which he/she did. Also during the performance this inner watchman reminds him/her that whatever he/she is doing is just a play, the character which he/she is playing is not real, and the emotion portrayed is only to create an impact within the parameter of the script.
If this awareness of the inner watchman is applied for 24 hours by anyone, he/she can be an actor on the world-stage. Only for such a person the whole world becomes a stage, all actions and events playful, all desires, all relationships and the emotions connected with them, become a part of the bigger drama enacted by the cosmic mind. One makes efforts to know and identify clearly one’s role in the cosmic drama and tries to play it according to the wishes of the supreme director