The word Vishranti or rest has a number of meanings. At its simplest, it means a sense of physical rest after a state of exertion or fatigue. However, in its philosophic and most exalted sense, it refers to the state of the mind which is in a state of Chitta Vritti Nirodha.This is the definition of yoga in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. In the Patanjali system, one reaches this state of Vishranti through Ashtanga Yoga or meditation. An image which is also a beautiful expression of Vishranti is that of the Seshasayi Vishnu, where Vishnu rests on the milky ocean after aeons of activity. The aesthetic interpretation of this image of Vishnu rests on two main points: the first is the fact that Vishnu is recumbent or resting, and the second is that he rests on the milky ocean and is canopied by the cosmic serpent, Adisesha. The ocean is the repository of the primal waters and is a metaphor of universal consciousness or mind, in which reside a variety of treasures. One thought of Vishnu is considered equivalent to several aeons of Samsara.
And it is during that single thought of Vishnu that samsara functions, grows and evolves.Vishnu having totally involved himself in the welfare of samsara and in the well-being of everyone in that one single thought,brings himself to rest at the end of that thought. This rest of Vishnu’s thought is reminiscent of the ‘chitta vritti nirodha’ of Patanjali and, therefore, makes this rest an expression of Vishnu’s yoga. It is this stillness of Vishnu’s thought that becomes the defining feature of Vishnu’s being,for it is during this stillness that He connects with the primal waters upon which He rests. At this point in Vishnu’s rest, He is one with the waters. His consciousness and the universal consciousness – as represented by the waters – are one continuum, as one reflects the other; there is no fragmentation of one from the other, it is a holistic state of being without a becoming, a state of pure and radiant subjectivity, of the effulgent Purusha in all its majesty, a state of serene and blissful inwardness, a state of knowing and not of seeking.
It is a grand state of purnatva or fullness. However, there is yet another way of experiencing vishranti and that is through aesthetic experience.When one contemplates on what is beautiful, the mind, in its initial stages, is excited and tremulous, as it explores the many layers of what is beautiful. This involves decoding metaphors and understanding the deeper and suggested meanings, reacting to the many artistic motifs, taking in the surface and sensual attributes of the beautiful object, such as colour and form, texture and ornamentation.
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