The Self of Bliss

Sri Aurobindo translates Taittiriya Upanishad, Brahmanandavalli, Chapter 5 (part 2):  “Now there is yet a second and inner self which is other than this which is of Knowledge and it is fashioned out of Bliss.  And the Self of Bliss filleth the Self of Knowledge.  Now the Bliss-Self is made in the image of a man; according as is the human image of the other, so is it made in the image of the man.  Love is the head of Him, Joy is His right side, pleasure is His left side; Bliss is His spirit which is the self of Him; the Eternal is His lower member wherein He resteth abidingly.  Whereof this is the Scripture.”

In order to appreciate the sense of this chapter, it may be useful to reframe the paradigm slightly.  Body, Life and Mind are the primary constituents of what we know of as the human being and his life in the world.  The Knowledge-Self, Vijnanamaya Purusha, is the immediate cause at a more subtle and powerful level, of this mind-life-body manifestation.  This Self retains the consciousness of Oneness that is the characteristic of the Brahman, while creating all the myriad forms and interactions that occur with the creation of the mental, vital and physical worlds and the interactions that occur at that level.  This Knowledge-Self therefore is in direct relation with the consciousness of the Brahman, which consists of Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, united and unblemished, called also Sat-Chit-Ananda.  Thus, when the Upanishad refers to the Being consisting of Bliss, it is directly referencing Sat-Chit-Ananda as the ultimate causal factor and the subtlest and most powerful level of existence.

Sri M. P. Pandit observes:  “It is this Bliss or Anandamaya Purusha who makes possible the existence of all the other Purushas.  Ananda, bliss, is the very nature of Brahman from whom all is derived; and it is from the fountain-spring of Ananda in its supreme ebullience that all creation issues forth, is motivated and maintained.  The Self of Ananda is not supported by any other Self like the previous selves, but it is based, indeed arises directly out of Brahman of which it is the very nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, in On Yoga, as cited by Sri M. P. Pandit notes:  “Ananda, a supreme Bliss eternal, far other and higher in its character than the highest human joy or pleasure is the essential and original nature of the spirit.  In Ananda our spirit will find its true self, in Ananda its essential consciousness, in Ananda the absolute power of its existence.  The embodied soul’s entry into this highest absolute, unlimited, unconditional bliss of the spirit is the infinite liberation and the infinite perfection.”

Ananda, when it manifests in the world through mind-life-body, takes on the forms we designate as Love, Joy, Pleasure.  These are, naturally, limited terms in the limited creation, reflecting imperfectly the absolute Bliss of the Divine.  They are limited because they are conditioned by the limitations of the Self of Matter, the Self of Life-Force and the Self of Mind, and thus, we tend to experience the absence or weakness of these forces in our human lives.  At the Divine level, however, the Brahman does not suffer and has infinite Existence, absolute Consciousness and unconditioned Bliss.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads,  Taittiriya Upanishad, Brahmanandavalli, pp.265-274, M. P. Pandit, Upanishads: Gateways of Knowledge, pp. 109-182