by Swami Krishnananda
We will continue the subject of the Taittiriya Upanishad. We observed that our individuality is constituted of different layers, and these layers are called koshas in Sanskrit. There are primarily five such koshas, or sheaths, in which our consciousness is enveloped. These sheaths are nothing but the forces of objectivity that pull the consciousness outwardly in terms of space and time. Thus it becomes clear that these sheaths are not substances or material objects like five walls that may be built round a person sitting inside a room. They are mere urges of consciousness to move outward in greater and greater density, and with more and more of impetuosity towards externality of experience.
Our unhappiness consists only in this muchthat in order to come in contact with anything outside, we have first of all to forget ourselves. The more we cling to the objects of sense outside, the more is the forgetfulness of our own consciousness. There is atma-nasha, or destruction of selfhood, as it were, in a very significant manner so that, in every clinging to an object, there is a transference of ourselves to the particular object in which we are interested, or towards which our consciousness is moving.
Every kind of love, every type of attachment is a transference of oneself to another. If a mother loves the child, the mother has gone; only the child is there. The consciousness of the mother has identified itself with the childs body in such an intense manner that she does not exist any more. The child alone exists for her, and anything that happens to the child appears to happen to the mother. If the child is happy, the mother is happy; otherwise, the mother is not. If the child goes away from this world, it looks as if the mother herself is dead. This is the case with every kind of transference of consciousness to objects. Every attachment, positive or negative in the form of love or hatred, has this characteristic in it. So all our sorrows in life can be attributed to this peculiar trait in our consciousness to go outwardlyeither positively as love, or negatively as hatredin respect of certain things.
All this activity is undertaken through these peculiar apertures of personality called the sheaths, by means of which the consciousness limits itself by a kind of focusing its attention upon limited groups of objects of sense. This is what is called samsara in Sanskrit, which means earthly existence, or the life of bondage. It is bondage because the consciousness clings to what is not really there. It is moving towards a phantom under the impression that the Self is there. One of the characteristics of selfhood is non-externality. You can never become another; and by you what is intended or meant is the deepest consciousness or intelligence in you.
The body or the sheaths are not us. When we isolate the experiences of the sheaths, for instance as in deep sleep, we will find that we can exist independent of the function of the sheaths. And how did we exist in sleep? As a pure centre of awareness. There was no externality or corporeality. This consciousness which we really are is the selfhood of ours. To repeat, by selfhood what we mean is, we have some status in us which cannot be externalised or transferred to something else. Now the transference which takes place between the Self which we are and the object outside is a false one. All loves, therefore, are false. There is no such thing as true love in the world. It is false because the Self artificially transfers itself to something, while such a transference is not permissible under the very characteristic of the Self. Hence, every person who loves a thing shall also reap sorrow afterwards. No one can be happy eternally with external loves of any kind.
Now comes the question of love and happiness. How are we happy? And how is it that when there is love for a particular object, happiness seems to manifest itself from within? This is a very interesting philosophical as well as psychological feature in us. This is mentioned in a few words (perhaps only three or four words) towards the end of the Taittiriya Upanishad when it discusses the nature of the innermost sheath in us, called the anandamaya kosha. The causal sheath, the most subtle and pervasive and the innermost of sheaths in us, in our personality, is called the anandamaya kosha. It is called anandamaya because it is characterised by blissfulness or happiness. Ananda means happiness; maya means filled with. It is filled with and constituted of happiness only, warp and woof.
How we become happy is a subject of psychological analysis. What makes us happy? When we come to the proximity of a loved object, we seem to be happy in our mind: The object that I love is near me. The nearer we come to it, the greater is the happiness we feel inside. The happiness that one feels at the proximity of the loved object is called the priya. It is not the apex of happiness, because we have not possessed the object. As yet, we have only seen it; we are near it and it is near us. But happiness increases when it is under our possession. Merely seeing it from a distance is not of sufficient satisfaction to us, though that also brings satisfaction. Whatever is to our liking, we wish to see it with our eyes directly, for as long as possible or perpetually.
This happiness deepens when the object concerned comes under our possession and we have a feeling that it is ours. We are not merely seeing it, but it is ours; it is not somebody elses. Take, for example, money. We can see a lot of money that does not belong to us. Well, even if we see money that does not belong to us, we will have a sort of happiness. That happiness is a peculiar connection that the mind has with the value called money. It may not be ours, but we feel a sense of agitation if we see millions of rupees in front of us. But if it is ours, we can imagine how happy we will be. The happiness becomes most intense when we enjoy the object, and not merely possess it. These three states or conditions or degrees of happiness of perception, possession and enjoyment are called priya, moda and pramoda. This is to give an external analysis of the nature of happiness born of love for things outside.
But now comes the psychological feature. How is it that happiness arises at all? What do we mean by happiness? Can we define it? Is it a substance? Is it a thing? Is it an object? Is it material or non-material? Is it outside us or inside us? Or, is it midway between the two? Where is it situated? It is not very easy to answer these questions because we are so much concerned with the object, and so much overwhelmed by a contact with the object, that there is no time for us, nor even interest in us, to analyse the structure of the experience of happiness. But ignorance is bliss, as they usually say. We know nothing of the nature of this happiness and, therefore, we are blissful, in an utter ignorance of the character of the process that is taking place in the experience of this happiness.
An analysis would make it clear that happiness is not in the object. If a particular object which attracts our attention is the source of happiness, then happiness should be really inside it, as a part of its nature. Then, as the sun is shining for all equally and not merely for one person, the object concerned also should be a source of happiness to everyone in the world, if happiness is the real character of that object. But we will see on observation that this is not true. The object of our love may not also be the object of other peoples love. On the other hand, that object may evoke hatred, the contrary emotion, in certain other persons for different reasons altogether. So, it is not true that the object is the source of happiness. The happiness has not come from the object, and whoever imagines that it is located in the object is an ignoramus of the first water.
But how then happiness comes, is a question. If it is not in the object, it should be somewhere! From where does the happiness come? Now we have to remember the observations we made earlier about the nature of Reality or Perfection. In our study of the Aitareya Upanishad, we noted that the Atman alone was; nothing else existed in the beginning. Atma va idam agre asit; na anyat kinchana mishat. It was Perfection Complete. It was omnipresence; nothing else existed. There is the selfhood in us, which is another name for the deepest non-externalisable consciousness. That alone existed, says the Aitareya Upanishad. What existed then? The Self alone existed; and what is the Self? Anything that cannot be externalised is the Self.
Then, what is the meaning of that non-externalisable Reality, if the universe is an external something? Well, we know very well the universe is an external object. But the Upanishad says that only the non-external was there. It means to say, somehow or other the universe was experienced in that state in a non-externalised fashion. The universe was the Self, which means to say that there was a Universal Self, and not the particular self of mine or yours, which conditions itself into a bodily embodiment and then regards the world or universe as something outside. So, what is Reality, the Ultimate Truth? The non-externalised Atman is the Reality, by which what is meant is that the Universal Selfhood alone was there; nothing else was.
What we call Truth or Reality is non-externalisable consciousness, which is the Atman. It is the Atman; it is the Self. It is non-externalisable and, therefore, it is universal. Because it is universal, it should be present everywhere. That is the very meaning of universality. Therefore, it is in you, it is in me, and it is in everyone. How does it exist in you, in me and in others? In the nature of a Self. You must rack your brain a little bit to understand what this implication means. The Universal is not the vast spread-out physical object we call nature in the form of sky, air, trees, mountains, etc., because that is externalised. The Self is a non-externalised something, and it is also consciousness; and that was there. That existed, and nothing else existed.
If that was the reality, nothing else can be the reality today. That which is real is real in the past, in the present and in the future. So even today, that law persists. When we say that the Atman alone existed, it does not mean that it existed only many years back and that today it does not exist. It is only a way of explaining things to temporal minds which cannot understand, except in a chronological or historical fashion, any narrative that is given. So, even today it is of the same nature. Thus, the Atman in us, the Self in us, even today is non-externalisable.
So the consciousness in us which is moving towards the object outside is really a non-externalisable something. Even today it is universal in nature. Our consciousness even just now is universal; it is not that it was universal only many, many aeons back. So remember this point: even just now, at this very moment, our consciousness is universal, because that is part of Reality. So when we move towards an object of sense in affection, in attraction or in love, what happens is that there is a channelisation of this universality of consciousness in a very limited manner through the avenues of the sense organs. It may be through the eyes, it may be through the ears, or it may be through the touch, etc. This channelisation of this Universal is the limitation of this Universal for the purpose of conceiving this object as something outside.
All that I told you is a kind of introduction to this main point of how happiness arises. How do we feel happy when an object comes into our possession or when we enjoy it? What happens is that the so-called externality characterising the mind at the time of its movement towards the object ceases when we possess the object. Why does the mind move towards the object outside? Because it is not ours. We are not always thinking of our own body so much as we think of another persons body or other things, or a substance which is not yet in our possession. Love ceases when it is possessed. It enhances itself when it is not possessed. A person who has confidence that he has enough of wealth is not so much thinking of it as the one who does not have it.
So is the case with every kind of affection. Our love for a thing is intense when it is not possessed by us. But when it is already under our control, the love diminishes for the reason that love is not any more necessary under the condition of the possession of the object. The love that we feel is nothing but a movement of the mind towards the object for the purpose of grabbing it. But when we have already got it, where is the point in the mind moving towards it once again? So, the mind withdraws itself.
Now, what is the meaning of withdrawal of the mind? It means the non-externalisation of the mind. The externalisation of the mind outside was for the purpose of grabbing the object of sense. But, when the purpose is servedwhen the object has come near us and we have got itthe mind need not think of it. The externalisation of the mind ceases, and a miracle takes place. This miracle is an essential, psychological nature of happiness.
When the externalising force of the mind ceases on account of the satisfaction felt by the possession of the object, there is, for a fraction of a moment, a flash of the universality of our consciousness. It may be for a split second, or perhaps less than that. We cannot know how quickly it comes like a flash of lightning. The mind ceases to think of the object because of having had the satisfaction of possessing it, and the cessation of the mind is the cessation of externality of consciousness. The moment this cessation takes place, the non-externalised Self within us bursts out; and happiness is nothing but the experience of non-externalised consciousness. Thus, the happiness has come from us; it has not come from outside. So we are happy on account of a condition that has arisen in us, for which the object outside has become an agent of action. It has only worked as a spade to dig out the happiness from within us. The spade itself is not the cause of happiness. It is an instrument to dig out the treasure.
The treasure was inside us and not outside, but this point is always missed by the mind on account of the quickness of the duration of this experience of happiness. If it had lasted for half an hour, or one or two hours, we would have had time enough to think as to what is happening. But it is a miracle indeed, and it does not last for more than a second. All happiness is miraculous, instantaneous, fractional. We cannot be happy for days together. That is not possible. It is not given to us in this mortal world.
The moment the happiness flashes forth, we feel an ecstasy which is beyond description in language, and at that time we are under the misconception that this happiness has come from the object because we think, When the object was far away from me, I was not happy; it has come near me and, therefore, I am happy. So naturally we argue logically, as it were, but falsely, that the happiness has come from the object. It has not come from the object. It has come from a condition of perfection that has been aroused in our consciousness by the proximity of the object which has acted merely as an external agent.
So ananda or happiness, which is in the anandamaya kosha, is a limited expression of the universal ananda, which is the essential nature of the Atman. As I mentioned to you, this Atman is also called Brahman, because it is everywhere. The selfhood of Brahman in every particular is defined by the term Atman, and the universality of the same Atman is defined by the term Brahman. So they mean one and the same thing, like the space all-pervading and the space inside a vessel. They do not make any distinction essentially or characteristically. This is the Ananda Mimamsathe analysis of the nature of happiness and love, etc.
We are happy very rarely in life, on account of there being very few occasions when the mind comes back to its own source with the satisfaction of having possessed the things that we need. Always we are in search of things, but we do not get those things; and so the search continues throughout our life. As long as the search continues, the mind is outside; it is focused elsewhere. Therefore, we are not of ourselves; we have transferred ourselves to objects outside which have not been possessed by us. So perpetually we are unhappy. From morning to night there is only sorrow; there is no joy.
But by chance, by some miracle of nature or wonder, if the object comes into our possession, at that moment we are happy. But, how long can the object be under our possession? Nobody can possess anything permanently, for the law of nature is such. Nothing belongs to us, and we belong to nobody. Everything belongs to one single whole, and so the consideration on the part of any individual that one can grab a thing, possess it and enjoy it eternally is again a false notion. So, there must be bereavement or separation of the object from oneself under the very law of nature.
The coming together of two objects is also a miracle. The coming into contact of the subject with the so-called object of affection is due to the working of some karma. When the wind blows in a particular direction on the surface of the ocean, logs of wood that are floating there come together, and they appear to meet. When the wind blows in another direction, the logs get separated. So the logs may think, if they have consciousness, that they are friendsthey are coming together, and talking to each other, and liking each other. We like each other due to the wind that blows; if the wind blows in a different direction, we will be thrown off in some other direction.
The law of nature, the law of universality, or we may call it the law of karma in a particular way, has brought about the union of one thing with another thing under certain given conditions, and that seems to be the source of our happiness. The bereavement that we think of, or the loss of objects that takes place, is due to the contrary action of the very same law under the dispensation of its own constitution. Transfer of things from place to place is done according to the law of the universe, and not according to the law of our personal wish. Personal wish has to be subordinated to the universal will of the Supreme, if we are to be happy. So this is a very unfortunate conclusion that we come to when we actually analyse how we love things, why we love things, how happiness arises in us, etc. We seem to be utterly mistaken in all our attempts at possession of things for the purpose of personal satisfaction.
This anandamaya kosha, or the sheath of bliss, is the subtlest layer, the most initial movement of consciousness outwardly. Then it becomes grosser as intellect, further grosser as mind, and then as the senses, prana, and the physical body, and then as its relationship with the other physical objects. This is called the world of bondage, relationships, externality, contact, separation, sorrow and so on. So here we have in quintessence the meaning of the way in which the five sheaths work in the individual due to the isolation of consciousness from the Total.
This was the subject of the Aitareya Upanishadhow the individual was isolated, segregated, cut off from the Universal Whole, and how it wriggles forth to come in contact with the Universal by means of external contact which is called affection, love, etc. All this is a drama which is inscrutable to the ordinary limited, bound mind. To disentangle from this mire of bondage is the purpose of the analysis of the Upanishad.
The Taittiriya Upanishad goes on further. The Universal Absolute is like a non-existence for us. What exists for us is the world only. If we think that only the world exists, and the Absolute does not exist merely because we cannot see it with our eyes, we are going to be miserable indeed. We will also be negated completely from the selfhood of our experience on account of the wrong impression that we entertain that the Absolute does not exist. Asanneva sa bhavati, asat brahmeti veda chet. Asti brahmeti chet veda, santamenam tato viduriti. Whoever denies God denies himself, because our own self is nothing but the replica of God. The denial of the Absolute is the denial of ones own selfhood of character because, as we have already seen, we are constituted of the very substance of the Absolute. The Absolute, or the Universal, is That outside which there can be nothing, including ourselves. So in denying God or the Absolute, we deny ourselves, which is absurd.
The Absolute appears to be non-existent from the point of view of the senses, not from its own point of view. It is non-existent to the senses because the senses can perceive only what is in space and in time. But the Absolute Brahman is not in space and in time; it is the Self. Again we come to the point that we cannot see the Self, just as we cannot see our own eyes. The Self is the seeing consciousness. That is called the Atman; that is called Brahman or the Absolute. How can we see it? Who can see the Seer?
We cannot see the Seer because the Seer is the seer of things. The Atman cannot be beheld in the way we behold a building outside or people in the world externally, because the beholding outside is done through the senses. But the senses function on account of the light of the Atman. The deepest Self within us cannot be experienced by any activity of the senses. And if we try to contact the Absolute with the help of the senses or through a test tube in a laboratory in a scientific manner, as they call it today, then we will be a failure. The Absolute is the selfhood in things and it can be known only by self-restraint, by self-control, by tapas.
Now we come to the importance of tapas, whereby Varuna is supposed to have taught his son Bhrigu the knowledge of the Atman. Bhrigu approached his father and said to him: Master, Father, Sir, teach me Brahman. The father gave the following definition of Brahman and asked him to contemplate on it. Yato va imani bhutani jayante; yena jatani jivanti; yat prayantyabhisamvisanti; tad vijijnasasva; tat brahma: That from which everything has come, That in which everything abides, and That to which everything must return one day is Brahman, the Absolute. This is a very difficult definition; we cannot make any sense out of it, and he was asked to meditate on this.
He went on meditating. He could not catch the full import at all. So he realised that the whole material universe is Brahman. Annam brahmeti vyajanat. Due to the intensity of concentration, there was a realisation of the togetherness of all the physical things in the world. This is what we will experience in meditation. If we concentrate intensely on any object, we will find the inter-connectedness of the things in this universe in a physical manner at the initial outset. This was what Bhrigu realised. He realised anna, food, matter, the physical universe itself is Brahman. Then he went to the father and submitted, This is how I realised. Please tell me about Brahman. Is it true? Tapasa brahma vijijnasasva, tapo brahmeti: You contemplate further; you will know what it is. He did not give any answer. The father never initiated him into any further mysteries. He simply said, Tapas taptva: Restrain your mind more and more, concentrate more and more, meditate more and more, and you will realise what Brahman is.
The universal material is not the Ultimate Reality. This was what Bhrigu realised by deep meditation. He entered further inside into the substance behind the physical universe and came to experience that subtle vital energy permeating the whole cosmos as Reality. It is called prana. Prano brahmeti vyajanat.
Earlier we studied the five sheaths in an individualistic fashion, which are experienced in a cosmical fashion by deep meditation. The individual is a cross section of the universal. Whatever is in the universal we will find in the individual, but in a minute, microscopic manner. The five sheaths are individual as well as cosmic. When we regard ourselves as this physical body alone, then we will have a notion only of the individual five sheaths. These are the annamaya, pranamaya, manomaya, vijnanamaya and anandamaya koshas mentioned.
But in real meditation, we concentrate our mind on the absoluteness of this object. That is the meaning of meditation, incidentally. Meditation is the fixing of the attention of our mind on any object exclusively, as if it is the total reality and nothing else exists outside it. This sort of intense fixing of the attention of the mind on any given object bursts the bubble of individuality, or the limitation of the mind. Then we are made to enter into the ocean, with which this particularity of the object and our own body are all connected.
So likewise, meditation was practised by Bhrigu. From the universal physical he went to the universal vital that is prana, universal prana. And he went to the father and said: This is what I experienced. Please teach me further. The father did not give any answer. He said, Tapasa brahma vijijnasasva: Meditate further and realise for yourself. He was a very good Guru. He would not tell anything. He simply said, Meditate further. Perhaps he was the best Guru. It is no use simply superimposing some ideas on the mind of the disciple by saying something which the mind cannot grasp. So he said, Concentrate more, practise more, sit more and more for meditation, and see what comes out.
Then he realised that the cosmic mind is the Supreme Reality. Mano brahmeti vyajanat. This is still subtler. The cosmic mind which vibrates everywhere in the form of prana, or the vital energy in the cosmos, was realised by him in his direct experience. Again he went to the father and said, This is what I experienced; teach me further. The father replied, Tapasa brahma vijijnasasva: Meditate further and know for yourself. Then he realised the cosmic understanding, the intellect or intelligencemahat tattva as it is sometimes calledas Brahman: Vijnanam brahmeti vyajanat.
Now in all these realisations, there was a little bit of externality. Whatever be the expanse of this experience in its cosmic manifestation, there is still a sort of externality in it. That externality should also go completely into universal subjectivity. That had not taken place yet. So, after the realisation of the cosmic understanding, mahat tattva, again he went to the father and said, Teach me Brahman. The father said, Meditate further and realise for yourself. Then he realised anandam brahmeti vyajanat: Bliss is Brahman. The constitutive essence of Reality is happiness. It is not objectivity; it is not an attribute, and it is not a thing.
So now we come to the essential point of the Upanishad and the essential aim of life itself. We are in search of happiness, and not in search of objects. If we are under the wrong notion that we want bungalows, lands, gardens, property, airplanes, friends and relationships, we are fools of the first water. These are not what we want. All these are tools that we use for the purpose of evoking that universal happiness within us. That happiness is the real substance. Whatever may be our earthly possession, if we are not happy at the core of our heart, what is the use of that possession? If possession alone is sufficient and nothing else is wanted by us, then we can strive for such possessions. There are many in this world who have a lot of possessions, but they are miserable at the core. Unhappy is man. He is born with unhappiness, he lives in unhappiness, and dies in unhappiness. He lives merely in search of happiness, but he does not find it at all. It cannot be found, because it is inside him. How will he find it? He cannot search for himself outside in space and time!
So, by deep meditation Bhrigu realised the universality of happiness. Now we are to understand another important feature of this happiness. We, as students of psychology, in the Western sense especially, are likely to characterise happiness as a quality of an object, like greenness, blueness and whiteness, etc., and think that happiness also is a character. I have happiness. I am happy. Such statements are likely to lead to a misconstruction of the very meaning of happiness. We are not happy in the sense that the flower is blue or the wall is white, etc. It is not an adjective of ourself. Happiness is not an attribute, in an external sense.
Again we are coming to externality, which has to be abolished from the mind completely. There cannot be an attribute or quality unless there is space and time. Now we have gone beyond space and time; so, where comes the question of attribute? So, it is not that we are happy in an adjectival fashion. But we have come into possession of our true nature by the withdrawal of sense activities, and we have merged our consciousness in our own Self which is the true substance of things, and not merely a quality. This substance is the existence of things, and it is the happiness of things. This existence itself is happiness. Raso vai sah. It is called rasa, the quintessence of things. It is the quintessence because it is the innermost substantiality of all objects.
Inside the physical objects we have molecules; inside the molecules we have atoms; inside the atoms there are the electrons, neutrons, protons and what not. Then we have the universal continuum of electric energy. That is the substance of all these little things that we see as bricks and trees and mountains, etc. The variety of things that we see in this world is nothing but the configuration or formation of this continuum of energy which is universally spread out everywhere in creation as the only substance existing.
Likewise, there is one substance continuously permeating throughout the cosmosnot merely permeating, but existing as everything in the cosmos; that is the substance of things. That substance is itself aware of its own being. That is called chit or Consciousness. In Sanskrit we call the continuum of existence as sat or satta. Sat is Pure Being that is universally existent as a continuum, undifferentiated, as the substance of all things. It is aware that it exists in this fashion. So it is sat and chit, and its experience is ananda. The consciousness of our being the universal continuum of substance in the universe is called happiness.
So, what is happiness? It is experience of Godhood. When God reveals Himself within us, we are happy, not otherwise. And even when we take a cup of tea, if we feel a little exhilaration and joy, it is because God has revealed Himself there. Such a simple thing as taking a cup of tea, or cold water in hot summer, makes us feel happy! It is God coming. It is not the water or tea that has given us the happiness. They have acted as instruments outside, to rouse the universality within us for a fraction of a second; and this universality is Godhood. So God is revealing Himself every moment of time in our daily life. But we miss His presence on account of attachment and the misconception that arises on account of sense activities that objects are outside.
So the Taittiriya Upanishad reveals to us a very great truth that bliss is the nature of Reality. It is not merely an adjective; it is the substance of Reality, and we are non-differentiated from that. It is the Self and, therefore, we cannot be outside it; and because we are also the Self, it cannot be outside us. Neither we are outside it, nor is it outside us. There is one totality of Being which is characterised by Selfhood. That is Atman, that is ananda, that is Blissnot a quality, but a substance. So what is within is also without. Sa yaschayam purushe yaschasavaditye, sa ekah: What is shining there as a lustrous sun in the distant skies, and what is within us twinkling as the Atman, they are identical. The macrocosmic and microcosmic are one.
The universe is not bifurcated into the object and the subject, as we imagine. It is one total Being, and one who knows this in direct realisation is the liberated being. Such a person crosses the bondage of the five sheaths. Sa ya evam vid: He knows, who knows this in actual experience and realisation by deep meditation. Etam annamayam atmanam upasankramya, etam pranamayam atmanam upasankramya, etam manomayam atmanam upasankramya, etam vijnanamayam atmanam upasankramya, etam anandamayam atmanam upasankramya, etat sama gayannaste. He is in the universal bliss and ecstasy of exclamation and cannot find words to explain what he feels at that time. It is as if the whole ocean has entered him and is inundating him from all sides, and he has become one with the oceannot the ocean of waters, but the ocean of happiness. This is the great conclusion, to the immense glorification and satisfaction of all of us.
This is what the Upanishad presents before us as the great legacy of our culture, to contemplate which we have to find adequate time every day. If we cannot find time to meditate on this truth, what else is the objective of life? So we have to think deeply on this matter and put forth the greatest effort possible for cogitating along these lines, and realise the aim of our life within our own Self as the emblem of universality which God is.
The Taittiriya Upanishad tells something more about this theme of happiness called Ananda Mimamsaan investigation into the character of happiness. We noted earlier in our analysis that at the time of our coming in contact with a desired object, there is a temporary forgetfulness of both the subjective and the objective sides of experience and there flashes forth, for the fraction of a moment, as it were, a sense of perfection, a feeling of completeness which is the indication of the descent of the Absolute into our consciousness. This is the reason for our being happy when we come in contact with, possess or enjoy an object of our desire.
Now this analysis may also lead to a misconstruction or a misapprehensionnamely, that qualitatively at least, though not quantitatively, this little fractional experience of happiness is the same as the bliss of the Absolute. When we have an immense ecstatic experience of happiness at the time of enjoyment of a desired object, are we qualitativelythough not quantitatively, of coursehaving the same happiness as the one that is the essence of the Absolute?
The Upanishad refutes this notion. Even qualitatively it is not the same, notwithstanding the fact that it is the Absolute that is revealing itself in the form of that happiness. Quantitatively, of course, it is far smaller because it is manifest through a little aperture of our own little mind. So it is like a drop in the terrible ocean of existence. Thus, from the point of view of quantity, it is nothing. Even from the point of view of quality is it nothing, says the Upanishad, so that we need not be under a misconstrued complacency that perhaps there is a little jot of divine experience at the time of sensory contact. It is not so. This is the subject of Ananda Mimamsa in the Taittiriya Upanishad.
We have to understand this new type of analysis very carefully. It is difficult to explain transcendent things in empirical terms. But we have to do that. We have no other alternative. So empirical expressions, comparisons, analogies are resorted to for the purpose of driving home to our minds the nature of the transcendent reality.
What is our notion of happiness? It is the largest amount of possession, freedom from disease, freedom from fear from others, the possession of everything that is existent anywhere to the largest extent possible, a very healthy constitution. We do not want to be children or old people; we must be youths with the capacity to enjoy things to the fullest extent. Also, we should not be idiots; we must be very well educated, learned, cultured, well qualified. All wealth must be ours; all powers should be ours, and there is nothing that we lack. If such a person can exist in this world, that is the least kind of happiness which we can count as the unit for our computation of the gradation of happiness.
Suppose there is a king of the whole world who is of this nature. Such a king does not exist, has never existed, and perhaps will never exist, but for the purpose of theoretical concept at least, we can imagine the possibility of such a ruler or emperor of the whole world. The whole earth is his, very healthy is this young man, and he has the greatest power conceivable. There is nothing he lacks. He is very learned and educated. His happiness is incalculable. Now, this is the lowest unitnumber one for the purpose of our conception. The little joys that we have in our life naturally are nothing compared to the conceptual happiness of this imaginary person. But this is what we call earthly happiness. The emperors happiness is earthly happiness, though it is entrammelled by opposition from others on account of his being in possession of everything in the world. The Upanishad says that qualitatively one hundred times the happiness of such an imagined emperor is the happiness of the higher region of the Gandharvas, which is internal to the physical world.
The more internal we go into realms of being, the subtler becomes the happiness; the greater is the proximity to Reality, the more intensive is the happiness, qualitatively. There are various realms of being, one inside the other. These realms are subtler and subtler, more and more pervasive expanses of reality, tending nearer and nearer to the Absolute. So the point that is made out here is that the nearer we go to the Absolute, the greater is the quality of the happiness. Nearness does not mean spacially coming closer. There is no space in the Absolute. Nearness means qualitatively ascending. The degree of happiness increases in comparison with the degree of the intensity of the subtlety of experience, which is what is meant by nearness to the Absolute.
The realm of the Gandharvas, the celestial ministrels, is supposed to be superior to the earthly plane. Higher than the realm of the Gandharvas is the realm of the forefathers, the Pitrusthe realm where our ancestors who are virtuous in their nature are supposed to go and reside in a state of joy. Higher than this is the realm of the Devas, celestials or gods, the angelsparadise, as it is called. Higher than that is the sway which Indra, the king of the celestials, has. Indra is not a man; he is a celestial, capable of exercising any kind of power due to the superior knowledge that he has and the immense subtlety that he enjoys in that realm of paradise. Higher than that is the realm of his own Guru called Brihaspati. Higher than Brihaspati is Prajapati, the Creator himself. Then comes the Absolute.
These are the levels through which we have to ascend. As we go higher and higher, the greater is the happiness; and the Upanishad tells us that each higher realm is constituted of an experience which is tantamount to one hundred times greater happiness than the earlier one. One hundred times the happiness of this imaginary king of this world is the happiness of the Gandharva. One hundred times the happiness of the Gandharva is the happiness of the Pitru. One hundred times the happiness of the Pitru is the happiness of the celestial. One hundred times the happiness of the celestial is the happiness of Indra. One hundred times the happiness of Indra is the happiness of Brihaspati. One hundred times the happiness of Brihaspati is the happiness of Prajapati, the Creator. One hundred times the happiness of Prajapati is the Absolute Happiness.
So our happiness is nothing. It has no meaning at all. We need not be too complacent that we are also having a jot of divine happiness; it is not so. We are far, far removed from the Absolute in quantity and quality. Wretched is our condition. This is a very important point that is brought home to our minds by the Upanishad.