Ananda is the Nature of Brahman, not an attribute!

gurudev (2)

अहमेव सुखं नान्यदन्यच्चेन्नैव तत्सुखम् |
अमदर्थ न हि प्रेयो मदर्थ न स्वतः प्रियम् ||

 Ahameva sukam nanyadanyaccnnaiva tatsukham
Amadartham na hi preyo madartham na svatah priyam

 अहं एव = I alone, सुखम् = (am) happiness, wholeness, न अन्यत् = (and) not different, अन्यत् चेत् = (if happiness is) different, तत् = that, न एव = not at all, सुखम् = (is) happiness; अमदर्थम्  = (if it is) not meant for me (then); न हि = (it is) not;  प्रेय = dear;  मदर्थम्  = (if it is) meant for me (then); न = not; स्वतः = by itself;  प्रियम् = dear

I am of the nature of happiness and not different (having happiness as my attribute). If it (happiness) is different, it is not bliss at all, for, it would not be clear if it is not meant for me, and, if it is meant for me, it is not dear by itself (whereas, the self is dear by itself). (Advaita Makranda – 24)

अहमेव सुखं Aham eva sukham, I alone am happiness, आनन्द ananda. न अन्यत् Na anyat, I am not different from this ananda. सुखं  Sukham is my nature and not an attribute or quality. It is not that आत्मा atma is asukha, unhappy by nature, and happiness is a quality it possesses from time to time.

How do you know that ananda is your nature and not your attribute? In answer to that question, we have this to say: If sukham or happiness is a quality or an attribute of atma, then it should be different from atma, because, according to the Naiyayikas, a quality or गुण gun and its locus, the गुणि  guni, are different from each other. If happiness is a guna of atma and atma is the guni, they should be different from each other.

Now, whatever is different from atma can fall under one of two categories: either it is conducive or favorable to atma, or the opposite. There is a third category of things that are neither favorable nor unfavorable, which will be referred to later on. If happiness is something different from atma and not conducive to atma, then it cannot be happiness, because whatever is not conducive cannot be dear to mm: This is what the author means when he says, अमदर्थ न हि प्रेयो amadartham na hi preyah; if it is not meant for me, not conducive to me, it cannot be dear to me.

Happiness is always dear tome, and, therefore, it cannot be something that is not conducive to me. We know that Whatever is not conducive, such as a snake etc., is not held dear. What if happiness is different from me, but also conducive to me? Then it would be dear to you and be a cause or reason for happiness; it would not be happiness itself.

The author says, मदर्थ न स्वतः प्रियम् madartham na svatah priyam; if it is conducive to me, it is dear alright, but it still is not dear for its own sake. For instance, certain objects, one’s spouse or progeny etc, are dear to us, but not for their own sakes. They are dear because they give happiness and, in such instances, it is possible that they may not remain dear if they cease to be a source of happiness.

The idea is that the love for things and beings that are clear is conditional. They are dear only as long as they continue to be favorable, useful, and conducive. But happiness is not like that. We love happiness for its own sake, meaning that the love for happiness is unconditional. We love happiness at all times, at all places, and under all conditions. Therefore, anything that is conducive, but different from us cannot be happiness. It can be a cause or reason for happiness, but not happiness itself. ‘

Whatever is not conducive to me or is a source of unhappiness cannot be happiness, and whatever is merely a cause or reason for happiness also cannot be happiness, because the cause or reason for happiness is loved conditionally, whereas happiness is loved unconditionally.

In fact, as the Pancadasi says, all the things and beings of the world can be divided into four categories: one ’s own self, those that one likes, those that one dislikes, and those to whom one is indifferent. Happiness is not disliked, like a tiger or snake may be, because everyone desires happiness. Neither is one indifferent to happiness, such as to a stone on the roadside, again because happiness is desired by everyone. We cannot call happiness as something that is simply dear, because spouse, children etc., which are sources of happiness, are also dear. Thus, by the rule of elimination, happiness is the self.

But would it not be true that the self is dear because it is a means to happiness? After all, the self does not have to be happiness itself to be dear; it can be dear even if it is a means of happiness. To this, we have to ask whether or not a means to happiness, such as an object of pleasure, is seen to serve the purpose of the self. If the self is a means to happiness, whose purpose will it serve?

It is argued that the self serves the purpose of the self; however, then, it has to be visualized as both the subject and object simultaneously, which is illogical. Therefore, we have to conclude that self is dear, not because it is a means of happiness, but because it is happiness itself.

Common experience is that happiness is born and it dies, that it arises and subsides, but you claim that the self is always there. In that case, how can happiness, which is impermanent, be the self? The answer is that what arises and subsides is the thought, which manifests as happiness. Indeed like the sun, which always shines in the sky, happiness always shines as the self, because it is the same as the consciousness that is self-shining.

However, just as clouds create the disappearance of the sun, so also, रजस rajas and तमस tamas create the disappearance of happiness. When the thought becomes सात्विक satvika, being transparent, the happiness becomes manifest. Happiness that is the self always is It is not created. It only needs to manifest and that happens when the mind becomes satvika or pure.

Thus, with the help of reasoning, on the strength of the experience of wise, as well as many statements of, the scriptures, it is made clear that happiness is not a quality or an attribute of the self, but the nature of the self.

Swami Viditatmananda Saraswati

Excerpts from Advaita Makranda of Sri Lakshmidhara Kavi

Link to Swamiji’s Discourses

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