The Art of Acting

Whenever you act, you have to disidentify with your own personality. If you play the role of a father, then you have to forget that you are Mr So-and-so, and identify yourself totally with the father. When you play the role of a lover in love with a girl, you have to identify with her so much that you feel she is really your beloved. You do not think that you are acting at that time. This is the best actor. Then there are pitfalls, which are also part of the drama.

The different roles which an actor plays should not influence his real identity. That art you have to learn. Janaka, the father of Sita, was a great king, a learned man and disciple of Sage Yajnavalkya. King Janaka was said to be a videhamukta, a liberated person. When Rama came to Mithila, Janaka was moved. He said, "I am losing my personal identity, nothing belongs to me, I am not the body, not the mind, not the senses. I am the absolute Self." When he saw Rama, he forgot everything. He fell in love with him.

By looking at the sweet and lovely Rama,
King Janaka lost his body consciousness.
Identification and disidentification

I have corrected many people in the film industry, because they think that when they go into films, they commit a sin. There are many pitfalls in the film line, because one cannot be a good actor or hero unless one identifies totally with the role. You have to forget who you are and only remember that you are a lover, embracing your sweetheart who is everything to you. You do not just sing a love song, you have to feel it. And this is the pitfall.

When the scene is complete, there must be total disidentification. That art can only be practiced when you do not have a guilt complex. If you suffer from guilt, you can never come out of it, because the very concept of sin is disastrous for the human personality. When you identify totally with what is happening around you and cannot disidentify yourself, then you are a sinner. What is right and what is wrong? Where did you get your notions about dharma and adharma? From vedic grammar, Islam, Christianity or from the modern social system? Who has defined what is right and what is wrong? What you dislike is adharma and what you like is dharma! There is no absolute concept.

Nothing can touch me

You do not want to act because you think of the pitfalls. No! Rama acted, Krishna acted. How Rama acted when Sita was kidnapped by Ravana! He was asking every tree, every creeper, every animal, "Where is my Sita? Have you seen which way she went? Who has taken her?" Lakshman said, "Brother, you were so wise. You used to give us upadesh, instructions, and balance our minds. What has happened to you?"

Alas Sita, the daughter of King Janaka,
The fountain head of all virtues,
You are pure in form, nature,
Resolution and conduct.

Lakshman consoled him in many ways,
But he went on asking the creepers
And the leaves of the trees:
O birds, O animals, O group of black bees,
Have you seen Sita who has eyes like a doe?

When Rama sent a message to Sita through Hanuman, the message was so poignant: "Since you have gone, the rain that falls is boiling, the birds that sing prick my heart."

Rama said, 'O Sita, your separation
Has turned everything against me.

The new leaves of the trees
Have become like glowing fire to me.

The night is like death,
The moon has become the burning sun.

The collection of lotus flowers has become a jungle of darts
And the clouds are pouring boiling oil.

All that was pleasant earlier has become painful now.

The cool, fragrant and slow breeze is blowing
Like serpent's breath.'

If you believe in the thought, "I am pure consciousness, blemishless and nothing can touch me," then when something touches you, it only touches the external body, not the mind or soul. If you embrace a woman, what happens? You are only embracing skin, creating some emotions for a short time, and entertaining these fools, that is all.

—Rikhiapeeth, 1994, published in Bhakti Yoga Sagar, Volume 1