Ānanda – our Svarūpam

When I went to a school, I asked the Children what are they in the school for? Someone said “to study”. I asked “Study for what?” “So that we can pass the examination with good marks” pat came the reply. “Why should you score good marks in the exams?” “So that we can get a good job?” “Why do we need a good job?” “So that we can earn a lot.” “Why do we need to earn a lot?” “So that we can buy things that we want.” “Why do we need to buy things that we want?” “So that I can be happy.”

What if you are Happiness here and now? What if Happiness is your Svarūpam? Please pause to think about the profundity of this possibility…..

Svarūpam, the word means one’s intrinsic nature. Like even heat and light are the intrinsic nature of fire.

Ānanda – it is a nuetral state; it is neither Happiness nor Sadness. It is neither bliss, for ignorance can be bliss. Ānanda is a state of equilibrium when one is at peace with oneself and the world.

We can logically arrive at Ānanda as our Svarūpam. How? Let’s analyze.

Firstly, Sadness is not our nature, since it cannot be retained, no matter how deep the hurt is. We have been through many a saddening situations such as death of near one’s etc., and yet we seem to recover from it in a few days time; hence, Sadness is not my nature.

Secondly, One does not need a desire to be fulfilled in order to be happy – when we look at a child’s face, when we see a beautiful flower, when we see snow capped mountains, when we see river gushing in all its glory, when we see the Ocean with the waves constantly striving to reach the shore, we feel happy. There is no desire that was fulfilled at these moments, and yet we feel happy.

Thirdly, Happiness is not in objects and hence cannot be gained from it – if this was true, everyone at all times and at all places should be happy with a given object. There was a King, who was not happy despite all his comforts and wealth. He renounced his kingdom and all his belongings, save for a small bag and went to seek advise from a Sanyasi who was claimed to be a jñāni by the country men. The King told his story to the Sanyasi and asked him for help. Not even in his dreams did the King suspected what happened next. The Sanyasi, who was slim and fit like a fiddle, grabbed the King’s only possession, the small bag, and gathered pace even before the King could realize. The startled King took a moment to react, but was soon in pursuit. When the King saw the Sanyasi sitting under a tree some few hundred meters away, the King heaved a sigh of relief, and pounced on his Bag which the Sanyasi had placed in front. The King was obviously happy that he had gained back his only possession; the Sanyasi asked the King, “Are you happy now?”. The purplexed King answered in the affirmative, while the Sanyasi went on to explain his rather spurious conduct. “When you came to me, you had the bag with you and yet unhappy; now you seem to have gained the same bag and happy? Did the happiness come from the bag or was the situation a mere catalyst in making your nature which is happiness, to become latent?”. The wise King understood.

Lastly, no one complains when one is happy J Everyone is happy to be happy, and sad to be sad. It is only in one’s own natural state, will one find peace; hence our nature has to be Happiness.

Ānanda is my svarūpam. It is my intrinsic nature. We have wrongly concluded that money, objects, power, position, social status, relations, friends, parents, children, comforts, security, wealth, etc. are the source of happiness. They are not the source, but they create an ambience that brings out my Ānanda Svarūpam. All I need to do is to own up my intrinsic nature; at all times and at all places.

Point to ponder – if my nature is Ānanda, can I ever be angry? Filler with hatred? Be hurt? Experience Guilt? Think…

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About Śuka

Śuka, 48, has been a student of Vedanta since 1980 and has learnt traditional Vedānta from Arsha Vidya Gurukula Teachers. As a Certified Public Accountant, he worked in India, Africa and the Middle East. Later he pursued a successful business career in Software and BPO industries. He has since retired from active business, and back to studying Vedānta full time. Having completed Masters in Sanskrit, he is currently pursuing a research programme in Advaita Vedānta...

One thought on “Ānanda – our Svarūpam

  1. Ananda – Bliss

    Ananda is the bliss that is integral with the consciousness that oneself is everything and everything is oneself. Ananda is probably derived from the Sanskrit root ‘nand’ to rejoice. Nanda means: joy, delight, happiness. However, advaitic literature and advaitic jnanis appear to vary considerably in their views on bliss.

    In Advaita, ananda is not regarded as exactly the same as the bliss or ecstasy associated with intense emotional movement, accompanied by the release of powerful hormones into the blood, as experienced in ordinary human relationships, which are usually time limited and thus impermanent. Ananda is often said to be the bliss of the Self which is an unchanging and permanent attribute, and completely integral to the Self. It is commonly said that ananda is Brahman’s svarupa. Sva means ‘own’ or ‘one’s own’ and rupa means ‘form’. In Advaita, however, the Parabrahman has no form and owns nothing, having nothing of its own. Form indicates presence in space and time whereas ownership indicates possession by a self distinguished from others. The Parabrahman is not in time and space nor is it distinguished, therefore the belief that ananda is Brahman’s svarupa is essentially a description of Saguna Brahman and not of the Parabrahman. Saguna Brahman, it should be realized, is part of the trick, the clever illusion, the cause of which, if traced back, is Shakti-Maya.

    Happiness is being oneself. There is no other happiness than being oneself, or more precisely, One Self. When someone who is happy is observed carefully it becomes apparent that happiness is ‘in-turned being’, or the presence of the sattvic quality of Being momentarily illuminated by an inward looking consciousness. Often ananda is translated as happiness, but it is probably useful to differentiate three levels of happiness: (1) Happiness is the mild state of enjoyment of self known to and even frequently, although briefly, experienced by humanity in the gross material or mundane world, (2) Joy is the intermediate state of enjoyment of self which manifests upon contact with the spiritual dimension of oneself and could be described as an aspect of the subtle world, (3) Bliss is the most intense state of self enjoyment because it appears to be integral with the divine or cosmic level of Self, ie integral with the state of being one with all and everything. Such bliss is not the exclusive property of mankind, nor of spirits, nor even of the gods, because it is seen in everything as the sublime state of Self-harmony, even in levels of being as low as minerals. For example: Jnanis state that nothing in the universe is dead and in certain mystical states it is possible to observe the primitive atoms of metal dancing ecstatically within the structure of anything made of steel…. clearly they are in a state of bliss. Their bliss would appear to be no different from one’s own experience of bliss and may even exceed it in intensity.

    Some advaitic teachers, such as Maharishi Mahesh, have suggested that bliss is accompanied by consciousness, and therefore describe ananda as bliss-consciousness. This gives the clue that bliss is conveyed into the arena of the mind by consciousness. Consciousness is therefore more fundamental than bliss, which is in fact dependent upon consciousness. It must be doubtful whether ecstatic dancing atoms are fully conscious and their bliss may be relatively mechanical and related to movements of the gunas in combination with the five subtle elements, ie Prakriti, or Primordial Nature, of which they are a part? The manifestation of unmanifest Prakriti is the illusion. Shakti-Maya is quite capable of magically conjuring the illusion of bliss and even presenting bliss to the observing awareness of Self, as well as inducing the belief that it is one’s own.

    Sankara says that worldly bliss attains its excellence due to a concurrence of external and internal means, whereas the bliss of Brahman is approached by an intellect free from objective thought. However, even worldly bliss is a particle of the bliss that is Brahman. Worldly bliss is impermanent, due to knowledge being covered up by ignorance. Only when the division of subject and object is eliminated by enlightenment, is there the all-pervading and intrinsic bliss that is ‘one without a second’. Other advaitins say that the bliss of the individual and the bliss of the gods become unified in Hiranyagarbha (the original man who sacrificed himself into myriad pieces, which became the multitude of beings in the universe). Other discerning advaitins state that the bliss of Brahman is said to be perceivable upon the perfection of desirelessness. It is a particle of the bliss of Brahman that forms the bliss in the individual. In fact, it is on a particle of the bliss of Brahman that all other beings live.

    Some advaitins appear to contradict the thesis that the essence of Brahman is bliss, by their indication that the Absolute Self is impersonal awareness, which austere view of the Self may preclude the manifestation of bliss, and such a thesis appears to confirm the view of yet other advaitins who state firmly that the Absolute Self, the Parabrahman, is without attributes of any kind, including any attribution of ananda, or bliss. Although it would appear to be superficially true to state that the Self is unchanging, and consequently if the Self is bliss then it must be unchanging bliss, nevertheless the attribution of unchangeable bliss to the self contradicts the principle of non-attribution. Even the description of the Absolute as ‘unchanging’ seems to contradict the principle of non-attribution? Consequently, in Advaita, bliss or bliss-consciousness may be a state that can be attained but is subsequently transcended?

    Anandamayakosha – The illusory sheath of bliss that surrounds Brahman

    There are said to be five khosas or sheaths that surround and veil Brahman preventing its realization. They are called: annamayakhosa (the food which is transformed into the physical body), pranamayakhosa (the touch of the subtle element air that induces life), manomayakhosa (the mind which reflects consciousness as the world), vijnamayakhosa (knowledge, which surprisingly obscures the Self, and is to be given up, because the Absolute is beyond the duality of the knower and the known. It is only possible to know what you are not, since it is not possible to know what you are, because the Absolute is not an object of knowledge), and finally anandamayakhosa (the sheath of bliss of Brahman, that oneself is everything and everything is oneself). Because Maya is involved, all five khosas are illusory. Ananda, or bliss, is the final illusory veil to be transcended.

    The thesis of the khosas first appears in the Taittiriya Upanishad,

    Paradoxically, the nature of the Self, Brahman, is frequently described as sat-chit-ananda (being-knowledge/consciousness-bliss), which initially appears to contradict the khosa thesis that ananda, bliss, is an aspect of Maya. The contradiction is resolved if Saguna Brahman, whose essence is sat-chit-ananda, characteristics which can be known, is differentiated from the transcendental Parabrahman, which has no internal and no external characteristics and therefore cannot be known. Therefore Self Realization is characterized by the realization that one has no exterior and no interior characteristics. Logically someone with no interior or exterior characteristics can have no svarupa, no form, no form of its own.

    Best wishes


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