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Anandavada In Hinduism

In Hinduism, Anandavada is a philosophical theory that propounds the attainment of supreme bliss as the summum bonum of life. Anandavada is believed to have originated as an off-shoot of the Shaiva Darshana, particularly of the Kashmir School whose most prominent exponent was Abhinavagupta (10th century CE). This school was non-dualistic and held whatever appears to the senses or in the intellect, everything is real as everything is partial or full manifestation of the same real substratum. For this school, liberation comes through atma jnana (enlightenment).

Samkhya philosophy says that there are two cosmic entities from the conjunction of which the whole universe and its beings come into existence. One is purusha (spirit) and the other is prakriti (matter). Purusha is the principle of Chaitanya (consciousness) and prakriti is the principle of jada (insentient materiality). These two metaphysical entities are symbolically referred to as the male and the female principle respectively. By the combination of purusha and prakriti, the whole universe and its beings are produced at all levels. Thus prakriti is regarded as primal energy (Adyashakti or Gouri) while purusha is regarded as supreme consciousness or Mahesha (Shiva). When they meet in total harmony or amarasata, supreme bliss is realized, which is the ultimate destination of the anandavadis.

Although Mahesha needs no proof of existence, the self, under the influence of maya (constructs) creates difference. The theory of Anandavada holds that total harmony leads to the coalescence of the fundamental entities of purusha and prakriti, which is the only way to realize supreme bliss.

Anandavada seeks bliss, not pleasure. For pleasure is a comparative term while bliss is a state of absolute beatitude.

As a theory, Anandavada has been interpreted variously. But in Kamayani of Jaishankar Prasad, the most celebrated epic of modern Hindi poetry, it finds an excellent interpretation. Manu, the progenitor of mankind, is the leading character in this epic, symbolizing man with all his inborn failings. Ultimately, he realizes that if hedonism is not guided by faith developing with the longing for samarata (harmony), bliss cannot be achieved. When one sees one light permeating all creation, one achieves the summum bonum of life.