Friday, 26 May 2017

Gita on Happiness

Happiness is a feeling in our mind. The happiness we normally experience is happiness derived from objects, relationships and incidents and they are temporary.  The mind is composed of thoughts. The ever-present Athma, whose nature is pure happiness, Aananda, illumines the mind.  In the instant a desire is fulfilled the mind relaxes, and Athma’s reflection in the calm mind is experienced as happiness.  This is only a momentary pleasure lasting until the mind is calm and peaceful. For the next instant when another thought or desire arises, reflected Aananda of the Athma is replaced.  Rather than recognizing the Athma as the actual source of happiness, the source of happiness is projected out onto the changing world of objects, and we try to gain happiness from them, an activity the scriptures compare to trying to drink water from a mirage.

Duration of happiness and intensity of happiness may vary but they are not permanent and all these are classified as Vishayananda.  Pure happiness, Aananda, is not a property of the mind, nor is it an ingredient of any other object, but it is the Swarupa of Brahman, who enlivens all living beings as Athma and this pure happiness is called Athmananda to differentiate it from Vishayananda.  Acquiring Self-knowledge, one discovers that his Real self is Brahman and established in this knowledge, is in a state of perennial Bliss as a Jivan Muktha.  This happiness that comes from Self-knowledge, Lord Krishna classifies as Satvic happiness, contrasting it with other types of happiness that are classified into Rajasic and Tamasic happiness.  Satvic happiness is defined as ( Gita 18-37):
यत्तदग्रे विषमिव परिणामेऽमृतोपमम्। (Yattadagre vishamiva parinaame’mritopamam)
तत्सुखं सात्त्विकं प्रोक्तमात्मबुद्धिप्रसादजम्।। (Tatsukham satvikam proktam athmabuddhiprasaadajam)              
Satvic happiness is said to be that which is like poison in the beginning, and is like nectar in the end, and which is born out of the tranquillity of mind as a result of Athma Jnanam (Self-knowledge).

Acquiring Self-knowledge is an arduous process and the spiritual path for acquiring Self-knowledge involves various Sadhanas; i.e. purifying mind through KarmaYoga, attaining single-pointed concentration through Upasana Yoga, rendering the mind subtle through Sadhana Chathushtaya Sampathi and gaining Jnanam through Jnana Yoga.  As it involves lot of self-discipline to pursue the path one tends to avoid it like poison.  So Lord Krishna terms it is like poison in the beginning. But when one pursues and gains Athma Jnanam, the mind becomes calm and peaceful at all times and in this tranquil mind Athma’s reflection is ever present as permanent bliss and he enjoys this inner bliss like nectar, whatever be the external conditions and personal circumstances.  So Lord Krishna describes it as nectar in the end.  Describing such a happy person Lord Krishna says (5-21):
बाह्यस्पर्शेष्वसक्तात्मा विन्दत्यात्मनि यत्सुखम्। (Baahyasparsheshwasaktaatmaa vindatyaatmani yat sukham)
स ब्रह्मयोगयुक्तात्मा सुखमक्षयमश्नुते।। (Sa brahma yoga yuktaatmaa sukham akshayam ashnute)
With his heart unattached to external objects, he gets the bliss that is in the Self. With his heart absorbed in meditation on Brahman, he acquires permanent Bliss.  

Athma Jnani is one with no attachment to the objects and happenings of the external world, and is internally absorbed with Brahman in all circumstances, adverse and favourable. So the internal bliss he enjoys is not affected by external circumstances or internal inconveniences.  The happiness that arises out of contact of senses with sense-objects in the external world is described as Rajasic happiness by Lord in verse (18-38):
विषयेन्द्रियसंयोगाद्यत्तदग्रेऽमृतोपमम्। (Vishayendriya samyogaad yattadagre’mritopamam)
परिणामे विषमिव तत्सुखं राजसं स्मृतम्।। (Parinaame vishamiva tatsukham raajasam smritam)
Rajasic happiness is said to be that which is like nectar in the beginning, but is like the poison in the end, and which is born out of the contact between sense-objects and sense organs.

As contrasted with Satvic happiness that is derived from internal contact with Athma, Rajasic happiness arises from external contact with anathma.   Anathma being impermanent the happiness derived from this contact is also not permanent.  This happiness arises out of contact and contact involves senses and sense-objects.  The sense-objects are not under one’s control and that may cause pain.  Further the sense objects are liable to change causing one sorrow when they change. Again as the happiness arises from the activities of sense-organs, there is more and more sorrow and less and less happiness from these contacts as the sense organs decay with age. Also the joy arising from first contact diminishes with subsequent contacts with the same object, as in the case of second and third helpings of ice-cream.  Really this happiness also is not from the external object but only from one’s inner Self mistakenly attributed to the external object.  Vedanta texts give the example of a dog with the bone to illustrate this.  A dog chewing a hard bone hurts its jaw and the blood oozing from it, the dog mistakes as coming from the bone and chews still harder and hurts itself more.  In the same way the happiness we think as coming from external object is only the internal happiness that is felt in a mind that has become temporarily calm with satisfaction and this happiness lasts only as long as the calmness of the mind lasts. So though initially these contacts of sense-organs with sense objects give happiness like nectar, they turn painful like poison in the long run because they are temporary, diminish with age, not as satisfying with repetition and are not fully under one’s control.

Tamasic happiness is defined as (18-39):
यदग्रे चानुबन्धे च सुखं मोहनमात्मनः। (Yadagre chaanubandhe cha sukham mohanamaatmanah)
निद्रालस्यप्रमादोत्थं तत्तामसमुदाहृतम्।। (Nidraalasyapramaadottham tattaamasamudaahrita)
That happiness which in the beginning and in the end is self-deluding and born of sleep, laziness and indifference is called Tamasic happiness.
No doubt sleep gives one happiness but one cannot experience that happiness at that time, being asleep. One only remembers on waking up that he was happily asleep.  In laziness where there is a physical inertia to act and in indifference where there is inertia of intellect to focus attention, the supposed happiness is only a temporary happiness that arises from the postponement of pain or hardship, which may come to affect with a vengeance later.  So this happiness is a self-deluding one and it is the happiness of the dull-witted, weak-willed one.

If one cannot attain Satvic happiness, one can indulge in Rajasic happiness taking the sting out of it by cultivating detachment and equanimity, while discouraging Tamasic happiness and keeping Satvic happiness as the goal.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Gita and Jijnasu Bhaktha

Jijnasu means desire for the knowledge of God.  A Jijnasu Bhaktha is one who is interested in Iswara Aaradhanam as well as Iswara Jnanam.  In the early stages of Bhakthi, a Jijnasu Bhaktha adopts Ishta Devata Bhakthi, Eka Rupa Bhakthi.  Here he chooses to offer worship to one of the many forms of manifestation of God, including the form of an Avatar like Sri Rama, Sri Krishna etc., as his Ishta Devata.   At this stage Bhaktha’s knowledge of God is as creator, sustainer and destroyer of world; srishti, sthithi, laya kartha.  As Bhakthi matures and knowledge of God also grows, he sees the world itself as a manifestation of God only.  This stage of Bhakthi is called Viswa Rupa Bhakthi. When Jijnasu Bhaktha blossoms into a Jnani Bhaktha, he sees not only God in himself, but he realises God as himself, his very Athma. All the three stages, Lord Krishna presents in his teaching to Arjuna in Kurukshetra. Let us see some instances of those teachings in Gita.

Eka Rupa Bhakthi

In the beginning of Chapter 4, we find Arjuna doubting Lord Krishna’s words that he taught Karma Yoga to Vivaswan. Arjuna openly expressed his doubt how Lord  Krishna, who was only a few years senior to him in age and who was his childhood playmate, could possibly teach this yoga to Vivaswan whose origin was much much earlier. Then Lord Krishna reveals to Arjuna, the secret behind His Avatar and also of various forms of God. In 3-6, we find Lord stating how avatar occurs.

अजोऽपि सन्नव्ययात्मा भूतानामीश्वरोऽपि सन्। (Ajo’pi sannavyayaatmaa bhootaanaam eeshwaro’pi san)
प्रकृतिं स्वामधिष्ठाय संभवाम्यात्ममायया।।4.6।। (Prakritim swaam adhishthaaya sambhavaamyaatmamaayayaa)
Though I am birthless and deathless, and the Lord of all beings, (still) by keeping My Prakriti under my control, I take birth by means of My own Maya.

Though an Avatar looks the same as any ordinary living being, the big difference is that all other living beings are under the spell of Maya while Maya has no influence over an Avatar and even Prakrithi is Avatar’s slave. And as Arjuna wonders why at all an Avatar should occur, Lord explains the reason also in the next sloka (4-7):
यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत। (Yadaa yadaa hi dharmasya glaanir bhavati bharata)  
अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदाऽऽत्मानं सृजाम्यहम्।। (Abhyutthaanam adharmasya tadaatmaanam srijaamyaham) 
O Arjuna, Whenever there is a decline of Dharama and rise of Adharma, then I manifest Myself!

Then He goes on to explain the purpose of the Avatar is to establish Dharma on a strong footing by the destruction of the evil people and for the protection of virtuous people.  Later He explains that though He, as Brahman, is one only, why there are so many forms for worship (7-21).
यो यां यां तनुं भक्तः श्रद्धयार्चितुमिच्छति।(Yo yo yaam yaam tanum bhaktah shraddhayaarchitum icchati)
तस्य तस्याचलां श्रद्धां तामेव विदधाम्यहम्।।(Tasya tasyaachalaam shraddhaam taameva vidadhaamyaham)
Whichever form (of a deity) any devotee wants to worship with faith, that very firm faith of his I strengthen.

So He is essentially formless but only for Bhaktha’s convenience to relate to Him, He manifests in many forms. He further explains that He strengthens Bhaktha’s faith in that form of worship by granting him his desire through that form.  The way they seek, the same way He also reaches them.

Viswarupa Bhakthi
After hearing Lord’s Vibuthis, narrated in chapter 10, Arjuna begs of Lord that he may be favoured with the Darsan of His divine form, if He feels Arjuna is worthy of it. Lord blesses Arjuna with a divine eye and reveals to Arjuna His cosmic form, which Arjuna describes as follows (11-16):
अनेकबाहूदरवक्त्रनेत्रं  पश्यामि त्वां सर्वतोऽनन्तरूपम्।( Anekabaahoodaravaktranetram Pashyaami twaam sarvato’nantaroopam)
नान्तं न मध्यं न पुनस्तवादिं  पश्यामि विश्वेश्वर विश्वरूप।।( Naantam na madhyam na punastavaadim Pashyaami vishweshwara vishwaroopa)
I see You as possessed of numerous arms, bellies, mouths and eyes; as having infinite forms all around. O Lord of the Universe, O Cosmic Person, I see not Your limit nor the middle, nor again the beginning!

Arjuna sees the entire universe as His manifestation and in that process he sees the one single Reality as infinite manifestations. But he makes a mistake. He considers himself  separate from Cosmic form that envelops entire creation and this evokes fear in him and so he pleads with Lord to go back to the divine form he has known and is familiar with.

Aikya Jnana Bhakthi
In the beginning of chapter 10, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that even Devas  and Rishis do not know His origin and He is birthless, beginningless, Lord of the Universe and from Him everything evolves, Then Arjuna addressing Him as supreme Brahman pleads with Him to reveal in detail His glories, stating His words are like nectar to him and can never satisfy Arjuna’s desire to hear more. Then Lord Krishna starts narrating a few only of His prominent divine attributes as there is no limit to His glories. First one he narrates is (10-20): 

अहमात्मा गुडाकेश  सर्वभूताशयस्थितः। (Ahamaatmaa gudaakesha sarvabhootaashayasthitah)
अहमादिश्च मध्यं च भूतानामन्त एव च।।(Ahamaadishcha madhyam cha bhootaanaamanta eva cha)

O Arjuna, I am the Athma residing in the hearts of all beings, and I am the beginning, the middle and also the end of all beings.

Lord Krishna here talks about His Vibhuthi as Nirguṇa Brahman, which is the subtlest and the highest order of reality. And that is Chaitanyam, that makes every living being sentient as Pure Consciousness. Its prescence makes the body mind complex throb with life which is beautifully pictured in Kenopanishad (1-2) by description of Brahman as “Eye of the eye, Ear of the ear, Speech of the speech, Mind of the mind and Life of the life”   Brahman is described as of ‘Sat-Chit-Anantha’ Swarupam in Taittreya Upanishad. Through Cosmic form, Lord Krishna revealed the Anantha swarupam. By revealing Himself as Chaitanyam, Chit Swarupam is revealed. As He comes to the end of enumeration of His divine glories, Lord Krishna reveals the Sat Swarupam  as well through the statement (11-39):
यच्चापि सर्वभूतानां बीजं तदहमर्जुन।( Yachchaapi sarvabhootaanaam beejam tadahamarjuna)
न तदस्ति विना यत्स्यान्मया भूतं चराचरम्।।( Na tadasti vinaa yatsyaanmayaa bhootam charaacharam)
And whatever is the seed of all beings, that also am I, O Arjuna! There is no being, whether moving or unmoving, that can exist without Me.

Through this statement Lord Krishna reveals His Sat Swarupam as Brahman by telling “Whatever is, the ‘isness’ of the thing is Me.”