“Shrila Rupa Gosvami has analyzed the different sources of happiness. He has divided happiness into three categories, which are: 1) happiness derived from material enjoyment, 2) happiness derived by identifying oneself with the Supreme Brahman and 3) happiness derived from Krishna consciousness.” (The Nectar Of Devotion, Ch 1)
So many miseries with which to contend on a daily basis. There is the allergy season in the spring. There is the bitter cold of winter. In the summer it can be difficult to get as much sleep, as it is so hot inside the house.
Then there are worries over the future. What will happen to the job that you’ve been working at for over fifteen years? The boss recently tried to cut your salary in half, to which you immediately laughed. The battle has only begun. Though you survived this time, he will surely try something again in the future. How will you handle the stress, considering that you have a family to support now?
“One who is not in transcendental consciousness can have neither a controlled mind nor steady intelligence, without which there is no possibility of peace. And how can there be any happiness without peace?” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.66)
Due to the temporary nature of things, it is very difficult to find peace. As Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, without peace how can there be happiness? Should the point ever be reached where happiness is a possibility, the acharya known as Rupa Gosvami has done an analysis of the possible sources.
1. Material enjoyment
This is known as bhoga in Sanskrit. It is the standard mentality, meaning that nothing special has to be done in order to acquire it. It is the guiding instinct in the animal kingdom to search for material enjoyment. The same is there with the human birth, except that the potential for intelligence is greater.
This means that so much is tried, repeatedly. Children desire to play throughout the day, choosing preyas over shreyas. The wise adult looks more to the future, knowing that drinking and partying tonight could have a negative impact later on.
The height of material enjoyment is sex life, and from this there is very little happiness. Even when available without effort, without restriction, it is seen that people are always fighting, bickering, and becoming envious. The person who has tremendous wealth isn’t happy, either, as they don’t know what to do with their time and money.
2. Associating oneself with the Supreme Brahman
The beginning of this pursuit is known as tyaga in Sanskrit. It is the path of renunciation. When you are sick of bhoga, turn in the other direction, giving up things. Bhoga and tyaga can run in cycles, even in short periods. One day I am excited to join a gym for exercise, and the next day I can’t wait to cancel my membership.
The height of tyaga is renouncing material attachment and identifying with the full collection of the spiritual energy. This is known as Brahman realization, and it is the source of tremendous happiness, technically known as brahmananda.
“One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.54)
Shri Krishna says that on this Brahman platform there is no more hankering or lamenting. The person is ensured liberation since they are not tied to the temporary material body. They derive happiness from not feverishly pursuing temporary enjoyment and not wishing to get rid of this thing or that.
3. Derived from Krishna consciousness
The happiness here transcends both bhoga and tyaga. Even if a person is fully renounced and merged into the Brahman understanding, there is still a higher level to which they can reach.
An example is always helpful in illustrating a difficult to understand concept. For this we can turn to the famous King Janaka of Mithila. Though he was a king, he was not attached to the body; hence one of his names was Videha. He was expert at yoga, and from his advanced position he performed his duties with detachment.
“The king went and received blessings and then paid so much honor and respect after that. When he saw Rama, he experienced a happiness one hundred times that of Brahman realization.” (Janaki Mangala, Chand 5.2)
Though he previously experienced brahmananda, when he met the Supreme Personality of Godhead in person the joy increased almost exponentially. This was happiness derived from Krishna consciousness, as there was the devotional spirit inside of Janaka. The form of God he saw was Rama, accompanied by the younger brother Lakshmana. The term “Krishna consciousness” extends to other incarnations of Bhagavan [Krishna], as well.
A face to face meeting isn’t required to experience this happiness. Something basic like the chanting of the holy names can suffice: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The idea is that connecting with God is what we are meant to do. It not only is good for us in terms of future benefit, bringing the elusive peace, but it also brings more happiness than anything else.
Bhoga at the start,
In tyaga to depart.
No more on cycle spinning,
Peace of Brahmananda winning.
Higher taste still sweet,
Like Janaka with Rama to meet.
Happiness beyond understanding ours,
Something not that time devours.
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