Happiness, which is everlasting and has supreme quality, is called Anand (Bliss). Since most people do not know how to attain Anand (Bliss), each one tries to acquire atleast temporary happiness through the five senses, mind and intellect. However, Anand (Bliss) is present within us only. When we perform sadhana (Spiritual practice), we experience Anand. When the waves of Anand are generated in the body, Anand is experienced throughout the body. After experiencing the Anand within, we experience Anand in every creation of God. Anand is the basic nature of the individual and the universe. Hence, the inclination of an individual is to move towards its basic nature, that is, to obtain Anand and after reaching its basic nature retain that state of Anand.
1. What is Bliss (Anand)
Ānand is the favourable experience beyond the five senses, mind and intellect experienced by the Jīvātmā (Embodied soul undertaking spiritual practice) in the Shivadashā (The state of being one with Shiv [God Principle]) or by Shivātmā (God-realised soul).
यस्मिन्स्थितोनदुःखेनगुरुणाप्यविचाल्यते । – Shrīmadbhagwadgītā, Adhyāya 6, Shloka 22
Meaning : When the mind does not get disturbed even by intense sorrows and remains in Ānand, this itself is the state of Ātmānand (Ānand obtained due to self-realisation).
यं लब्ध्वाचापरं लाभंमन्यतेनाधिकंततः ।। – Shrīmadbhagwadgītā, Adhyāya 6, Shloka 21, 22
Meaning : After acquiring that happiness, where one does not desire to obtain any other kind of happiness is known as Ātmānand.
When satisfaction is experienced in the chitta (Subconscious mind), the trait which arises in the chitta easily is termed as Ānand. When sāttviktā is filled in the chitta, the chitta does not deviate from the state of sāttviktā due to manifestation of Raja-Tama components. Ānand is constantly reflected in this state of chitta. However, the person has to remember here that true Ānand lies beyond sāttviktā.
2. Difference between happiness and Ānand
Happiness is a pleasant sensation experienced by the individual through the five senses, mind and/or intellect; whereas, Ānand is a favourable spiritual experience of the Jīvātmā or the Shivātmā when the functions of the five senses, mind and intellect have ceased.
Each of us has experienced happiness at sometimes or the other. Since the experience is obtained through the medium of the five senses, mind and intellect, we can comprehend its definition. Contrary to this, since most of us have not experienced Ānand and since many are not even aware that there may be something to experience beyond the five senses, mind and intellect, most people find it difficult to understand the definition of Ānand. Just as one blind since birth will find it difficult to accept the fact that the world is visible or a child will not be able to understand the meaning of sexuality, no matter how hard one tries to explain it, so also it is difficult to explain the meaning of Ānand. It cannot be expressed in words but has to be experienced.
However, for the purpose of explaining the meaning of happiness and Ānand, let us use a gold bracelet as an example. The pleasant sensation that one gets from an object without form, that is, the gold used for making a bracelet, in this case is termed as Ānand; while that obtained from an object with form, that is, the bracelet, is called happiness. In reality, we get only happiness from gold, but since we could not find a better example to explain this concept, we have used this example.
Comparison of Happiness and Anand (Bliss)
|1. Fraction of unhappiness||Present||Absent: fraction of happiness is also absent|
|2. Duration||Short||A. Depends on Nirbij samādhi
B. As per kal (Time)
D. Even in the next birth for a long time (Moksha)
|4. Propertion||Limited||Unlimited (if there is happiness even in ignorance. imagine how great Ānand in spiritual knowledge will be!)|
|5. Boredom||Not just boredom, but the one experiencing happiness may also develop detachment for it or may feel dejected||There is no boredom, because Ānand is the nature of soul; example – sugar never tires of its sweetness|
|6. Contentment||Temporary||Depends on the duration|
Ānand is not the neutral point between happiness and unhappiness, but lies beyond them. Ānand begins where expectation of happiness ends.
3. How to obtain Anand (Bliss)?
That which is infinite and eternal is the true source of Ānand. It bestows eternal Ānand (Bliss) and liberates us from the bondage of unhappiness permanently. We try to obtain Ānand (Bliss) from transient objects. Since transient objects are ever changing and have limitations, they cannot impart everlasting happiness. Without understanding the eternal Principle within us if we try to gain happiness or peace from transient objects it will prove to be futile. Our Ānand is within us. Hence, we should not have expectations that someone else will impart happiness to us. If we understand the value of that which is eternal, then we will be able to obtain Ānand (Bliss) even from transient objects.
Following methods will help us understand the value of that which is eternal.
Abiding by Dharma (Righteousness)
सुखंचनविनाधर्मात्तस्माद्धर्मपरोभवेत् ।। – Vāgbhatkrut Ashṭānghrudaya, Sūtrasthān, Adhyāya 2, Shloka 19
Meaning : The tendency of all living beings is to attain happiness (in this context the word happiness is used synonymously with Ānand), but they cannot expect to get it without following the ethics of Dharma. Hence, the ethics should be followed. A person, who abides by Dharma, whether he is knowledgeable or ignorant, will certainly experience happiness.
Only when the impressions of desires and instincts, likes and dislikes, personality defects etc. are wiped from the subconscious mind, that is, only when Avidyā (Ignorance) is destroyed, only then we can experience Ānand (Bliss) lying dormant within ourselves. This method of destroying impressions and Avidyā is called ‘sādhanā’. Nāmasmaraṇ (Chanting), satsang (Company of the God Principle), satsēvā (Service unto the Absolute Truth, that is, God Principle), tyāg (Sacrifice unto the Absolute Truth) and Prīti (Spiritual love devoid of expectations) are the main aspects of vyashṭi sādhanā (Individual spiritual practice that benefits only the seeker undertaking it). Sādhanā wipes the impressions on the subconscious mind. Apart from this, the sanchit karma (Accumulated account) decreases and the ability to withstand suffering due to destiny increases. Besides, by performing sādhanā we can avoid mistakes taking place due to kriyāmaṇ-karma (Wilful actions), since decisions taken are more appropriate due to an increase in sāttviktā.
Company of Saints
‘The Ānand that an ordinary man experiences in the company of a woman is constantly experienced by one who is Jīvanmukta (One who is liberated from the cycle of birth and death); hence, he does not have sexual desire.’ – Saint Ēknāth Mahārāj
‘The lesser the desire in a person, the more is the Ānand experienced in his company. Despite the desires being present in a subtle form in children, we like them. Then, ‘Being in the company of one whose desires have been completely destroyed (due to God’s grace) is blissful – why should you be surprised by this?’ Saints emit waves of Ānand. Every seeker experiences them once he is able to perceive the subtle dimension, which is beyond the comprehension of the five senses, mind and intellect.
In the company of an evildoer, a person begins to consider unhappiness, for instance stealing, drinking alcohol etc. as happiness. In the company of a Saint however, happiness appears to be like unhappiness. This is true vairāgya (Detachment). Saints destroy the very desire for happiness. Similarly, in the company of a Saint, as we acquire the strength to endure unhappiness, even unhappiness appears like happiness. Hence, we do not feel unhappy in the presence of Saints, only Ānand is experienced. Saint Tukārām Mahārāj says ‘Surrender unto Saints and hold their feet tight before the unhappiness reaches the mind’.
Just as cancer cells are destroyed with certain radiations, so also dissolution of the mind and intellect occurs due to the waves emitted by a Saint when a person remains in a Saints company for a long time. In other words, the sūkshma-dēha (Subtle body), kāraṇ- dēha (Causal body) and avidyā are destroyed and the person experiences inner Ānand.
Sacrifice of happiness
The more we sacrifice the material happiness, lesser is the unhappiness experienced and more is the experience of Ānand. Hence, it is said – प्रापणात्सर्वभोगानाम्परित्यागोविशिष्यते ।, meaning sacrificing material happiness has been given special importance since one experiences temporary happiness in materialism; whereas, in sacrifice, initially one experiences unhappiness, but later only Ānand is experienced in it.
Avoiding loss of energy
That pure energy which is utilized in wishing for happiness is itself blissful in nature. Once this is realized, desires will not be generated at all.
Our culture teaches us that a person’s happiness and unhappiness depend on his karma. All can never get the same amount of happiness. Although happiness and unhappiness are dependent on action, love is independent of it. Hence, we can express sympathy towards one who is suffering. This augments the individual psychological strength and we are able to tolerate the sufferings. This itself is the special feature of our Dharma. Due to such a loving tendency, man’s attitude becomes sāttvik and he learns to make greater sacrifices. Thus, his requirements go on reducing and gradually he is able to reach a state of self-realisation.
Ānand means forgetting the self. ‘Dharma states that when oneness with Brahman is achieved, we experience eternal happiness. If this is true, then from a person’s perspective, attaining Moksha (that is, blending of the Ātma [Soul] with Paramātmā [God Principle]) itself is the supreme goal. We should certainly leave this body, but should also destroy the awareness of ‘I’-ness. Dharma states that, even thereafter we will experience happiness. If the one experiencing happiness himself does not exist, then happiness will be of consequence to him, so strange is this concept (reality). (When ‘I’-ness ends only Brahman exists and since its nature is Sat-Chit-Ānand, we get the spiritual experience of Ānand. At that time, there is non-duality between the one experiencing it and the experience itself.)
If Brāhmaṇs follow Dharma, then samashṭi (for the society) happiness and Ānand is experienced
The world’s happiness depends on the Brāhmaṇs (One who belongs to the first of the four classes, studies scriptures and imparts knowledge to the society) being righteous, and unhappiness lies in their being unrighteous. Ādi Shankarāchārya in the commentary on Bhāgwadgītā has said, ब्राह्मणस्यहिरक्षणेनरक्षितोवेदधर्मः ।, which means that, only if Brāhmaṇs observe Brāhmaṇ-Dharma meticulously, only then Vēda-Dharma will be protected. When no one behaves unrighteously there is a lot of love among all varṇās (Classes) and castes, and consequently, the world becomes happy. Thus, happiness and unhappiness of the world depends on Brāhmaṇs alone.
Reference: Sanstha’s Holy Text on ‘Introduction to Spirituality‘ and ‘Spirituality‘