Bhagavad-gita-rahasya (or Karma-yoga Shastra)

by Bhalchandra Sitaram Sukthankar | 1935 | 327,828 words

The English translation of the Bhagavad-Gita Rahasya, also known as the Karma-yoga Shastra or “Science of Right Action”, composed in Marathi by Bal Gangadhar Tilak in 1915. This first volume represents an esoteric exposition of the Bhagavadgita and interprets the verses from a Mimamsa philosophical standpoint. The work contains 15 chapters, Sanskri...

Chapter 5 - The Consideration of Happiness and Unhappiness

[Full title: The Consideration of Happiness and Unhappiness (sukha-duhkha-viveka)]

sukham ātyantikaṃ yat tat buddhigrāhyam atīndriyam |
  —Gītā. (6.21)

"That happiness is the most beatific happiness which being obtainable only by means of Reason (buddhi). is independent of the organs (indriyam)."

Our philosophers have accepted the position that every human being in this world is continually struggling in order to obtain happiness, or to increase the amount of happiness which he has obtained, or to obviate or reduce his unhappiness. In the Śāntiparva, Bhṛgu says the Bhāradvāja (Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 190. 9) that:-"iha khalu amumiṃś ca loke vastupravṛttayaḥ sukhartham abhidhīyante I na hy ataḥparaṃ trivargaphalaṃ viśiṣṭataram asti I ", i.e., "in this world or elsewhere, all activity is for obtaining happiness, there is no other goal except this for dharma, artha, or kāma" But, our philosophers say, though a man is suddenly seized by the hand of death, while he is grabbing a false coin in the belief that it is true because he does not understand in what true happiness lies, or while he is spending his life in the hope that happiness will come sometime or other, his neighbour does, not become any the wiser on that account, and follows the same mode of life; and the cycle of life goes on in this way, nobody troubling to think in what true and permanent happiness lies. There is a great deal of difference between the opinions of Eastern and Western philosophers as to whether life consists only of unhappiness, or is principally happy or principally unhappy. Nevertheless, there is no difference of opinion about the fact that whichever position is accepted, the advantage of a man lies in obtaining the highest measure of happiness by preventing unhappiness to the greatest possible extent.

The words 'hitam' (advantage), or 'śreyas' (merit), or 'kalyāṇam' (benefit) are ordinarily more often used than the word 'sukham' (happiness); and I shall later on explain what the difference between them is. Yet, if one takes for granted that the word 'happiness' includes all kinds of benefits, then the proposition that ordinarily every human being strives to obtain happiness may be said to be generally accepted. But, on that account, the definitions of pain and happiness given in the Parāśaragītā included in the Mahābhārata, (Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 295.27) namely:

yad iṣṭaṃ tat sukhaṃ prāhuḥ dveṣyaṃ duḥkhaṃ iheṣyate,

I.e., "that which is desired by us is happiness, and that which we dislike, or which we do not desire is unhappiness",

Do not become entirely faultless from the philosophical point of view. Because, the word 'iṣṭa' in this definition can also be interpreted to mean 'a desirable thing or object'; and if that meaning is accepted, one will have to refer to a desirable object as 'happiness'. For example, although we might desire water when we are thirsty, yet water, which is an external object, cannot be called 'happiness'. If that were so, one will have to say that a person who is frowned in the waters of a river, has been drowned in happiness! That organic satisfaction which results from the drinking of water is happiness. It is true that men desire this satisfaction of the organs or this happiness, but we cannot, on that account, lay down the broad proposition, that all that is desirable must be happiness.

Therefore, the Nyāya school has given the two definitions: "anukūlavedanīyaṃ sukham", i.e., "desirable suffering is "happiness", and "pratikūlavedanīyaṃ duḥkham", i.e., "undesirable suffering is unhappiness", and it has treated both pain and "happiness as some kind of suffering. As these sufferings are fundamental, that is to say, as they start from the moment of birth, and as they can be realised only by experience, it is not possible to give better definitions of pain or happiness than these given by the Nyāya school. It is not that these sufferings in the shape of pain and happiness result only from human activity; but, sometimes the anger of deities gives rise to intractable diseases, and men have to suffer the resulting unhappiness; therefore, in treatises on Vedānta, this pain and "happiness is usually divided into 'ādhidaivika' (godgiven), 'ādhibhautika' (physical), and ' ādhyātmika' (metaphysical). Out of these, that pain or happiness which we suffer as a result of the blessings or the anger of deities is known as 'ādhidaivika', and that pain or happiness, in the shape of warmth or cold, which results from the contact of the human organs with the external objects in the world composed of the five primordial elements (such as the earth etc.), is called ' ādhibhautika'; and all pain and happiness which arises without any such external contact, is called 'ādhyātmika'. When this classification of pain and happiness is accepted, pain, like fever etc., when it results from the disturbance of the internal ratio of wind, bile etc. in the body, and the peaceful health, which results from that internal ratio being correct, fall into the category of Metaphysical (ādhyātmika,) pain and happiness. Because, although this pain and happiness is bodily, that is to say, although it pertains to the gross body made up of the five primordial elements, yet, we cannot always say that it is due to the contact of the body with external objects. And therefore, even Metaphysical pain and happiness have, according to Vedānta philosophy, to be further sub-divided into bodilymetaphysical, and mental-metaphysical pain and happiness.

But, if pain and happiness is, in this way further divided into bodily and mental divisions, it is no more necessary to recognise the ādhidaivika pain and happiness as a distinct class. Because, as is clear, the pain or happiness which arises as a result of the blessings or the anger of deities, has ultimately to be borne by man through his body or through his mind. I have, therefore, not followed the three-fold division of pain and happiness made in Vedānta terminology, but have adopted only the two divisions, external or bodily (bāhya or śārīr), and internal or mental (abhyantara or mānasika); and I have in this book called all bodily pain and happiness 'ādhibhautika' (physical) and all mental pain and happiness 'ādhyātmika' (Metaphysical). I have not made a third division of ādhidaivika (god-given) pain and happiness, as has been done in books on Vedānta philosophy, because, in my opinion, this two-fold classification is more convenient for dealing scientifically with the question of pain and happiness; and this difference between the Vedānta terminology and my terminology must be continually borne in mind in reading the following pages.

Whether we look upon pain and happiness as of two kinds or of three kinds, nobody wants pain; therefore, it is stated both in the Vedānta and the Sāṃkhya philosophies (Sāṃkhya Kārikā 1: Bhagavadgītā 6.21, 22), that preventing every kind of pain to the greatest possible extent, and obtaining the uttermast and the permanent happiness is the highest goal of man. When in this way, the uttermost happiness has become to highest goal of man, we have naturally to consider the questions: what is to be called the uttermost, the real, and the permanent happiness, whether or not it is possible to obtain it, and if so, when and how it can be obtained etc.; and when you begin to consider these questions, the nest question which arises is, whether pain and happiness are two independent and different kinds of sufferings, experiences, or things, as defined by the Nyāya School, or whether the. absence of the one can be referred to as the other, on the principle that 'that which is not light, is darkness'. After saying that: "When our mouth becomes dry on account of thirst, we drink sweet water in order to remove that unhappiness; when we suffer on account of hunger, we eat nice food in order to alleviate that suffering; and, when the sexual desire is roused and becomes unbearable, we satisfy it by sexual intercourse with a woman";

Bhartṛhari in the last line of the stanza says:–pratīkāro vyādheḥ sukham iti viparyasyati janaḥ । that is, "when any disease or unhappiness has befallen you, the removal of it is, by confusion of thought, referred to as 'happiness'"! There is no such independent thing as happiness which goes beyond the removal of unhappiness. It is not that this rule applies only to the selfish activities of men. I have in the last chapter referred to the opinion of Ānandagiri, that even in the matter of doing good to others, the feeling of pity invoked in our hearts on seeing the un- happiness of another becomes unbearable to us, and we do- the good to others only in order to remove this our suffering in the shape of our being unable to bear it.

If we accept this position, we will have to accept as correct the definitions of pain and happiness given in Mahābhārata in one place, namely:–

tṛṣṇārtiprabhavaṃ duḥkhaṃ duḥkhārtiprabhavaṃ sukham |
  (Śān. 25. 22; 174. 19).

That is, "some Thirst first comes into existence; on account of the suffering caused by that Thirst, unhappiness comes into existence; and from the suffering caused by that unhappiness, happiness subsequently follows".

In short, according to these philosophers, when some Hope, Desire, or, Thirst has first entered the human mind, man thereby begins to suffer pain, and the removal of that pain is called happiness,; happiness is not some independent thing. Nay, this school has even gone further and drawn further inferences that all, the tendencies of human life are Desire-impelled or Thirst-prompted; that Thirst cannot be entirely uprooted, unless all the activities of worldly life are abandoned; and that, unless Thirst is entirely uprooted, true and permanent happiness, cannot be obtained. This path has been advocated as an alternative path in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 4.4.22; Vedānta-Sūtras 3.4.15); and in the Jābāla, Saṃnyāsa and other Upaniṣads, it has been advocated as the principal path. This idea has also been adopted in the Aṣṭāvakragītā (9.8; 10.3–8) and in the Avadhūtagītā (3.46). The ultimate doctrine of this school is that the man who desires to obtain the highest happiness or Release, must give up worldly life as early as possible, and follow the path of Renunciation (saṃnyāsa)' and the path of the Abandonment of the Actions which have been prescribed by the Śrutis and the Smṛtis (śrauta-smārta-karma-saṃnyāsa), described in the Smṛti treatises, and which was established in the Kali era by Śrī Śaṃkarācārya is based on this principle.

If there is no such real thing as happiness, and, if whatever is, is unhappiness, and that too based on Thirst, then it is clear, that all the bother of self-interest or other's-interest will be obviated and the fundamental equable frame of mind (śānti) will be the only thing to remain, when these diseases in the shape of Thirst etc. are in the first place entirely uprooted; and for this reason, it is stated in the Piṅgalagītā in the Śāntiparva of the Mahābhārata, as also in the Mankigītā, that.–

yac ca kāmasukhaṃ loke yac ca divyaṃ mahat sukham |
tṛṣṇākṣayasukhasyaite nārhataḥ ṣodaśīṃ kalām ||
  (Śān. 174.48; 177.49)

I.e., "that happiness which is experienced in this world, by the satisfaction of desires (kāma), as also the greater happiness which is to be found in heaven, are neither worth even one- sixteenth of the happiness which results from the destruction of Thirst".

The Jain and the Buddhistic religions have later on copied the Vedic path of Renunciation; and therefore. in the religious treatises of both these religions, the evil effects and discardability of Thirst have been described as above, or possibly in even more forcible terms. (For example, see the Tṛṣṇāvagga in the Dhammapada). In the treatises of the Buddhistic religion to be found in Tibet, it is even stated that the above-mentioned stanza from the Mahābhārata was uttered by Gautama Buddha when he attained the Buddhahood.[1]

It is not that the above-mentioned evil effects of Thirst have not been acknowledged by the Bhagavadgītā. But, as the doctrine of the Gītā is that the total abandonment of Action is not the proper course for obviating those evil effects, it is necessary to consider here somewhat minutely the above explanation of the nature of pain and happiness. We cannot, in the first place, accept as totally correct the dictum of the Saṃnyāsa school, that all happiness arises from the preventing of pain, such as Thirst etc. Wishing to experience again something, which one has once experienced (seen, heard, etc.) is known as Desire (kāma, vāsanā, or icchā). When this desire becomes stronger as a result of the pain due to one's not obtaining soon enough the desired object, or when the obtained happiness being felt to be insufficient, one wants more and more of it, this desire becomes a Thirst (tṛṣṇā). But if Desire is satisfied before it has grown into Thirst, we cannot say that the resulting happiness arises from the removal of the unhappiness of Thirst. For instance, if we take the case of the food which we get every day at a stated time, it is not our experience that we feel unhappiness every day before taking food. If we do not get food at the proper time, we will suffer unhappiness as a result of hunger, but not otherwise. But even if we do not in this way distinguish between Thirst and Desire, and say that both are synonymous, the doctrine that the root of all happiness is Thirst is seen to be incorrect. For instance, if we suddenly put a piece of sugar-candy into the mouth of a child, the happiness which it experiences cannot be said to have resulted from the destruction of a previous Thirst. Similarly, if while walking along the road, one comes across a beautiful garden and hears the melodious notes of a cuckoo, or coming across a temple on the way, one sees in it the beautiful image of the deity, one thereby experiences happiness, though there had been no previous desire of obtaining those particular objects. If we think over these illustrations, we have to- abandon the above-mentioned definition of happiness of the Saṃnyāsa school, and say that our organs have an inherent, capacity for feeding on good or bad objects, and that when they are in that way carrying on their various activities, they come into contact sometimes with a desirable and sometimes, an undesirable object, and we, thereupon, experience either pain or happiness, without having had any previous Desire or Thirst for it. With this purport in mind, it is stated in the Gītā (Bhagavadgītā 2. 14), that pain and happiness arise as a result of 'mātrāsparśa', that is, of contact with cold or warm objects etc. The external objects in the world are technically known as 'mātrā', and the above statement in the Gītā means- that the contact (sparśa), i.e., the union of these external objects with our organs results in the suffering (vedanā) of pain or happiness. That is also the doctrine of the science of Karma-Yoga. Nobody can satisfactorily explain why a harsh sound is undesirable to the ear, or why a sweet drink is pleasurable to the tongue, or why the light of the full moon is pleasing to the eyes. All that we know is that when the tongue gets a sweet liquid to taste, it is satisfied. As Material Happiness is, by its very nature, wholly dependent on the organs, happiness is very often experienced by merely carrying on the particular activities of the organs, whatever the ultimate result of our doing so may be. For instance, the words which sometimes naturally escape oar lips when some idea enters our mind, are not uttered by us with the idea of acquainting someone else with our thoughts. On the other hand, there is sometimes even a risk of some hidden design or scheme in our minds being divulged by these automatic activities of the organs, and of our being thereby harmed. When little children first learn to walk, they aimlessly walk about the whole day, because they then experience happiness by the mere act of walking. Therefore, the Blessed Lord, instead of saying that all happiness consists of the absence of unhappiness, says that–"indriyasyendriyasyārthe rāgadveṣau vyavasthitau" (Bhagavadgītā 3.34), i.e., the attraction and repulsion which exists between the organs of the sense on the one hand, and their relative objects, such as, sound, touch, etc., on the other hand, are both 'vyavasthita', i.e., fundamentally self-existing; and His advice is that all that we have to see is how these activities will become beneficial or can be made by us beneficial to our Ātman; and that therefore, instead of attempting to destroy the natural impulses of the mind, or of the organs, we should keep our mind and organs under control in order that those impulses should be beneficial to us, and not let the impulses get out of control. This advice, and saying that one should destroy Thirst and along with Thirst all other mental impulses, are two diametrically opposite things. The message of the Gītā is not that one should do away with all activity or prowess in the world; but, on the other hand, it is stated in the 18th Chapter of the Gītā (18.26) that the doer must, side by side with equability of mind, possess the qualities of perseverance and enthusiasm. But we will deal with this matter in greater detail later on. All that we have to see for the present is whether pain and happiness are two independent states of mind or whether one of them is merely the absence of the other; and what the opinion of the Bhagavadgītā on this matter is will be easily understood by my readers from what has been stated above. Not only have 'sukham' (happiness) and 'duḥkham' (pain) been independently dealt with in describing what the 'kṣetra' (field) is (Bhagavadgītā 13.6), but (Bhagavadgītā 14.6,7), Happiness is said to be the sign of sattvam (purity) and Thirst of rajas (passion), and sattvam and rajas are considered two independent qualities. From this also it is clear, that pain and happiness have, in the Bhagavadgītā, been considered as two mutually opposite and distinct frames of mind. The fact that the Gītā looks upon rājasa-tyāga (abandonment based on passion) as inferior, as is shown by the words: "One does not derive the result of Abandonment by abandoning some Action on the ground that it leads to unhappiness; for such an abandonment is rājasa " (Bhagavadgītā 18.1), also refutes the doctrine that all happiness is based on the destruction of Thirst.

Even if we believe that happiness does not consist of the destruction of Thirst or of the absence of unhappiness, and that happiness and unhappiness are two independent things yet, in as much as both these sufferings are mutually opposite or contrary to each other, we are next faced with the question whether it is possible for a man to experience the pleasure of happiness, if he has never suffered unhappiness. Some philosophers say that unless unhappiness has in the first instance been experienced, it is impossible to realise the pleasure of happiness. Others, on the other hand, pointing at the perpetual happiness enjoyed by deities in heaven, say that previous experience of unhappiness is not at all necessary for realising the pleasure of happiness. One can experience the sweetness of honey, jaugery, sugar, the mango-fruit or the plantain before having previously tasted any saltish object. In the same way, since happiness also is of various kinds, one can, without any previous experience of unhappiness, experience perpetual happiness without getting tired of it, by enjoying in succession diverse kinds of happiness, e. g., by moving from a mattress of cotton on to a mattress of feathers, or from a fixed palanquin to the more comfortable swinging palanquin. But, if one considers the ordinary course of life in this world, it will be seen that all this argument is useless. As the Purāṇas show cases of even gods coming into difficulties, and as even heavenly happiness comes to an end after one's acquired merit has been exhausted in due course of time, the illustration of heavenly happiness is not appropriate; and even if it were appropriate, what use is the illustration of heavenly happiness to us?

Although we may believe that: "nityam eva sukhaṃ svarge", i.e., "in heaven there is permanent happiness", yet, it is stated immediately afterwards that:–

sukhaṃ duḥkham ihobhayam
  (Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 190. 14),

I.e., "in this world, pain is mixed with happiness";

And consistently with that position even Rāmdāsa Svāmi has described his own personal experience as follows: "Who is there in this world who is wholly happy? Consult your mind, search and see".

And, as is actually experienced by us in this life, we have also to admit the correctness of the following advice given by Draupadī to Satyabhāmā, namely:–

sukhaṃ sukheneha na jātu labhyaṃ duḥkhena sādhvī labhate sukhāṃ |
  (Śriman Mahābhārata Vana. 233.4)

That is, "happiness never comes out of happiness; in order that a saintly woman should experience happiness, she must suffer unhappiness or trouble".

Because, though a fruit may be placed on your lips, you have still to take the trouble of pushing it into the mouth, and if it falls into your mouth, you have still to take the trouble of chewing it. At any rate, this much is unquestionable, that there is a world of difference between the sweetness of the happiness which comes after unhappiness, and the sweetness of the happiness which is experienced by a man who is always engrossed in the enjoyment of the objects of pleasure.

Because, by continually enjoying happiness, the keenness of the appreciative power of the organs which enjoy the happiness is dulled, and as is wellknown:–

prāyeṇa śrīmatāṃ loke bhoktuṃ śaktir na vidyate |
kāṣṭhāny api hi jīryante daridrāṇāṃ ca sarvaśaḥ ||
  (Ma. Bhā.. Śān. 28.59)

That is, "rich people do very often not have even the power of enjoying tasteful food, and poor people can appreciate and digest even uncooked wood".

Therefore, in considering worldly life, it is useless to consider further whether it is possible to enjoy continual happiness without unhappiness,

sukhasyānantaraṃ duḥkhaṃ duḥkhasyānantaraṃ sukham
  (Vana, 260.40; Śān. 25.23),

I.e., "unhappiness follows on the steps of happiness, and similarly happiness comes in the wake of unhappiness",

Or as has been described by Kālidāsa in the Meghadūta:–

kasyaikāntaṃ sukham upanataṃ duḥkham ekānato vā |
nīcair gacchaty upari ca daśā cakranemikrameṇa ||

That is, "no one experiences continual happiness or continual unhappiness; pain and happiness always move alternately up- and down like the points on the circumference of a wheel".

Such is the case, whether because this unhappiness has been created in order to increase the sweetness of happiness or because it has some other purpose in the scheme of activity of Matter (prakṛti). It may not be quite impossible to continually obtain one object of pleasure after another, without getting tired of enjoyment; but it is absolutely impossible, at any rate in this karma-bhūmi, i.e., world of Action (destiny?) to- totally abolish unhappiness and continually experience nothing but happiness.

If worldly life does not consist only of happiness, but is always a mixture of pain and happiness, the third question which naturally arises in due course is, whether there is more of happiness or of unhappiness in life. Many Western philosophers, who look upon Material Happiness as the highest, goal of life say, that if there were more of pain than of happiness in life, many, if not all, persons would not have troubled to live worldly life, but would have committed suicide. But, in as much as man does not seem to be tired of living, he must be experiencing more of happiness than of unhappiness- in life, and therefore, happiness must be looked upon as the highest goal of man, and the question of morality and immorality must also be solved by that standard. But, making suicide depend in this way on worldly happiness in not, really speaking, correct. It is true that sometimes a man, getting tired of life, commits suicide; but people look upon him as an exception, that is, as a lunatic. From this it is seen that ordinarily people do not connect committing or not committing suicide with worldly happiness, but look upon it as an independent thing by itself; and, the same inference follows if one considers the life of an aborginy, which would be looked upon as extremely arduous by civilised persons. The well-known biologist Charles Darwin, while describing in his "Travels the aboriginies he came across in the extreme south of South America says, that these aboriginies, men and women, remain without clothes all the year round, even in their extremely cold country; and, as they do not store food, they have for days together to remain without food; yet, their numbers are continually increasing.[2] But, from the fact that these aboriginies do not commit suicide, no one draws the inference that their mode of life is full of happiness. It is true that they do not commit suicide; but if one minutely considers why that is so, one will see that each one of these persons is filled with extreme happiness by the idea that "I am a human being and not a beast"; and he considers the happiness of being a human being so much greater than all other happiness, that he is never prepared to lose this superior happiness of being a man, however arduous his life may be. Not only does man not commit suicide, but even birds or.beasts do not do so. But can one, on that account, say that their life is full of happiness? Therefore, our philosophers say, that instead of drawing the mistaken inference that the life of a man or of a bird or beast is full of happiness from the fact that they do not commit suicide, the only true inference which can be drawn from that fact is that: what- ever the nature of a man's life, he does not set much store by it, but believes that an incomparable happiness lies in having become a living being (sacetana) from a lifeless being (acetana), and more than anything else, in having become.a man.

It is on that basis that the following rising grades have been described in the Śāstras:–

bhūtanāṃ prāṇinaḥ śreṣṭhāḥ prāṇinām buddhijīvinaḥ |
buddhimatsu narāḥ śreṣṭhā nareṣu brāhmaṇāh smṛtāḥ ||
brāhmaṇeṣu ca vidvāṃsaḥ vidvatsu kṛtabuddhayaḥ |
kṛtabuddhiṣu kartāraḥ kartṛṣu brahmavādinaḥ ||
  (Manu-Smṛti 1. 96. 97; Śriman Mahābhārata Udyo. 5.1 and 2).

That is, "the living being is superior to the dead; the intelligent are superior among the living; men are superior among the intelligent; Brahmins, among men; learned Brahmins among Brahmins; doers, among the enlightened-minded, and brahmavādin (those who belong to the cult of the Brahman),, among the doers ";

And on the same basis, it is stated in vernacular treatises, that out of the 84 lakhs of forms of life (yoni), the human life is the most superior; that among men, he who desires Release (mumukṣu) is most superior; and, that among mumukṣus, the perfect (siddha) is the most superior. That is also the purport of the proverb "life is dearer than anything, else", (sabase jīva pyāra); and for this very reason, if someone commits suicide, finding life full of unhappiness, people look upon him as insane, and the religious treatises count him as a sinner (Śriman Mahābhārata Karṇa. 70.28); and an attempt to commit, suicide is looked upon as a crime by law. When in this way it has been proved that one cannot, from the fact that a man does not commit suicide, properly draw the conclusion that, life is full of happiness, we must, in deciding the question, whether life is full of happiness or unhappiness, keep aside for the time being the natural blessing of having been born a human being on account of previous destiny, and consider only the events of the post-natal worldly life. The fact that- man does not commit suicide or continues to live is accounted: for by the Energistic principle of life; it is not any proof of the preponderance of happiness in worldly life as stated by Materialistic philosophers. Or, saying the same thing in other words, we must say that the desire not to commit suicide is a natural desire; that this desire does not arise as a result of the weighing of the happiness and unhappiness in life; and that therefore, one cannot from that fact draw the conclusion that life is full of happiness.

When in this way we do not, by confusion of thought, mix up the blessing of being born a human being with the nature of his subsequent life, and recognise 'being a human being' and 'the ordinary life or the usual activities of men' as two distinct things, there remain no other means for deciding, the question whether there is more of happiness or of unhappiness in worldly life for the being which has taken the superior human form, than considering low many of the 'present' desires of every man are satisfied and how many disappointed. The reason for saying 'present' desires is that, those things which have become available to all persons in civilised life, become every-day happenings, and we forget the happiness they produce; and we decide the question of the happiness or unhappiness of worldly life by considering only how many of the things, which have newly become necessities, are obtained by us. There is a world of difference between (i) comparing the means of happiness which are available to us to-day with how many of them were available to us a hundred years ago, and (ii) considering whether or not I am happy to-day. For instance, anybody will admit that the present-day travelling by train is much more comfortable than travelling "by bullock-cart, which was in vogue a hundred years ago. But we have now forgotten this happiness of train-travel, and we are unhappy only if someday a train gets late, and we receive our mail late. And therefore, the 'present' happiness or unhappiness of man is usually considered by thinking of his present needs and disregarding all the means of happiness which have already become available; and, if we try to consider what these needs are, we see that there is no end of them. If one desire is satisfied to-day, another new desire takes its place to-morrow, and we want to satisfy this new desire; and as human desire is thus always one step ahead of life, man is never free from unhappiness. In this place, we must bear carefully in mind the difference between the two positions that 'all happiness is the destruction of desire' and that 'however much of happiness is obtained, man is still un- satisfied'. Saying that 'all happiness is not the absence of unhappiness, but pain and happiness are two independent kinds of organic sufferings' is one thing, and that 'one is dissatisfied, because new kinds of happiness are wanted, without taking into account the happiness which may at any time already be part of one's life', is another thing. The first of these two dicta deals with the actual nature of happiness; and the second, with whether or not a man is fully satisfied by the happiness he has obtained. As the desire for objects of pleasure is a continually increasing desire, a man wants to enjoy over and over again the same happiness which he has already enjoyed, though he may not get new kinds of happiness every day, and thus human desire is never controlled. There is a story told of a Roman Emperor named Vitalius that in order to experience over and over again the pleasure of eating tasteful food, he used to take medicines for vomiting the food which he had already eaten, and dine several times every day. But the story of,the repentant king Yayāti is even more instructive than this. After the king Yayāti had become old as a result of the curse of Śukrācārya, the latter, by a pang of kindness, gave him the option of giving his old age to another person and taking in exchange his youth.

Thereupon, he took the youth of his son Puru in exchange for his own oldness, and, "having enjoyed all objects of pleasure for a thousand years, he found by experience that all the objects in the world were incapable of satisfying the desire for happiness of even one human being; and Vyāsa has stated in the Ādiparva of the Mahābhārata that Yayāti then said:–

na jātu kāmaḥ kāmānām upabhogena śāmyati |
haviṣā kṛṣṇavartmeva bhūya evāblduardhate ||
  (Ma. Bhā. Ā. 75.49)

That is, "by enjoying objects of pleasure, the desire for the objects of pleasure is not satisfied, but on the other hand this desire grows more and more, just as fire burns more and more by sacrificial offerings being thrown into it";

And the same stanza is to be found in the Manu-Smṛti (Manu-Smṛti 2.94). The inner reason for this is that, notwithstanding the abundance of means of pleasure, the desire for happiness is never quenched only by enjoying happiness, in as much as the hunger of the organs is always on a rising scale, and it has to be restrained in some other way; and this principle has been fully accepted by our religious writers who have in the first place prescribed that everyone must put a restraint on the enjoyment of pleasure. If those who say that enjoyment of objects of pleasure is the highest goal in this world apply their mind to this doctrine which is based on experience, they will easily raalise the absurdity of their beliefs.

This doctrine of the Vedic religion has also been accepted in the Buddhistic religion and there is a statement in the Buddhistic treatises that the following words came out of the mouth of the king named Māndhātā mentioned in the Purāṇas (instead of Yayāti) at the moment of his death:–

na kahāpaṇavassena titti kāmesu vijjati |
api dibbesu kāmesu ratiṃ so nādhigacchati ||
  (Dhammapada, 186–187).

That is, "although coins called 'kārṣāpaṇa' fall as a shower of rain, there is no satisfaction (titti means tṛpti) of Desire, and the desires of a desirer are not satisfied even by getting the happiness of heaven ".

As it is thus impossible that the happiness of enjoying objects of pleasure can ever be considered sufficient, every man thinks that 'I am unhappy', and when this mental frame of mankind is taken into account, then, as stated in the Mahābhārata:–

sukhād bahutaraṃ duḥkhaṃ jīvite nāsti saṃśayaḥ |
  (Śān. 305.6; 330.16).

That is, "in this life (saṃsāra), unhappiness is more than happiness";

Or as stated by the Saint Tukārāma: "if you consider happiness, it is as small as a grain; and if you consider unhappiness, it is as big as a mountain” (Tukārāma’s Gāthā 2986).

The same is the doctrine laid down by the writers of the Upaniṣads (Maitryu 1.2–4), and it is stated also in the Gītā that the life of man is inconstant and the 'home of unhappiness',. and that life in the world is not lasting and is ' devoid of happiness ' (Bhagavadgītā 8.15 and 9.3). The same is the opinion of the German philosopher Schopenhauer, and he has made use of a very curious illustration for proving it. He says that we measure the happiness of a man by considering how many of his desires for happiness, out of the total possible desires for happiness, are satisfied; and if the enjoyment of happiness falls short of the desire for happiness, we say that the man is to that extent unhappy.

If this ratio is to be explained mathematically we have to divide the enjoyment of happiness by the desire for happiness and show it in the form of a fraction, thus:

enjoymentof happiness
  desirefor happiness

But this is such a queer fraction that its denominator, namely, the desire for happiness, is always increasing in a greater measure than its 'numerator, namely, the enjoyment of happiness; so that,' if this fraction is in the beginning 1/2 it becomes later on 3/10, that is to say, if the numerator increases three times, the denominator increases, five times, and the fraction becomes more and more incomplete. Thus, it is futile to entertain the hope of a man becoming fully happy. In considering how much there was of happiness in ancient times, we consider only the numerator of this fraction by itself and do not pay any attention to the fact that the denominator has now increased much more than the numerator. But when we have to consider only whether a human being is happy or unhappy without reference to time, we must consider both the numerator and the denominator; and we see that this fraction will never become complete. That is the sum and substance of the words of Manu: "na jātu kāmaḥ kāmānām" etc. (2.94). As there is no definite instrument like a thermometer for measuring happiness and unhappiness, this mathematical exposition of the mutual ratio of pain and happiness might not be acceptable to some; but if this argument is rejected, there remains no measure for proving that there is a preponderance of happiness in life for man. Therefore, this objection, which applies as much to the question of happiness as of unhappiness, leaves un- touched the general proposition in the above discussion, namely, the theorem proved by the uncontrollable growth of the desire for happiness beyond the actual enjoyment of happiness. It is stated in Mahomedan history, that during the Mahomedan rule in Spain, a just and powerful ruler named Abdul Rahiman the third[3] had kept a diary of how he spent his days and from that diary he ultimately found that in a rule of 50 years he had experienced unalloyed happiness only for 14 days; and another writer[4] has stated that if one compares the opinions of ancient and modern philosophers in the world and especially in Europe, the number of those who say that life is full of happiness is seen to be about the same as of those who say that life is full of unhappiness. If to these numbers we add the numbers of the Indian philosophers, I need not say which way the scale will turn.

Reading the exposition made above regarding the happiness and unhappiness of worldly life, some follower of the Saṃnyāsa school will retaliate:

"Although you do not accept the doctrine that there can be no peace unless one gives up all Thirst-prompted Actions on the ground that happiness is not some actual entity, yet, if even according to yourselves, dissatisfaction arises from Thirst and unhappiness later on springs from dissatisfaction, why do you not say that man should give up Thirst and, along with Thirst, all worldly Actions–whether those Actions are for his own good or for the.good of others–at any rate for removing this dissatisfaction, and then remain perpetually satisfied?".

In the Mahābhārata itself, we find statements like:

asaṃtoṣasya nāsty antas tuṣṭis tu paramaṃ sukham,

I.e., "there is no end to dissatisfaction, and contentment is the soul of bliss." (Śriman Mahābhārata Vana, 215.22);.

And both the Jain and Buddhistic religions are based on the same foundation; and in the Western countries, Schopenhauer has maintained[5] the same opinion. But on the other hand, one may ask whether one should cut off the tongue altogether because it sometimes utters obscene words, and whether people have discontinued the use of fire and given up cooking food on the ground that houses sometimes catch fire. If we make use of electricity, to say nothing of fire, in daily life, by keeping them Tinder proper control, it is not impossible for us to dispose of Thirst or dissatisfaction in the same way. It would be a different matter, if this dissatisfaction was wholly and on all occasions disadvantageous; but on proper consideration we see that such is not the case. Dissatisfaction does not mean merely craving or weak-kneedness. Such a kind of dissatisfaction has been discountenanced even by philosophers. But the dissatisfaction which is at the root of the desire not to remain stagnant in the position which has fallen to one's lot, but to bring it to as excellent a condition as possible by gradually improving it more and more, with as peaceable and equable a frame of mind as possible, is not a dissatisfaction which ought to be discountenanced. It need not be said that a society divided into four castes will soon go to rack and ruin if the Brahmins give up the desire for knowledge, the Kṣatriyas for worldly prosperity, and the Vaiśyas for property.

With this purport in view, Vyāsa has said to Yudhiṣṭhira:–

yajño vidyā samuttānam asaṃtoṣaḥ śriyaṃ prati
  (Śān. 23. 9),

I.e., "sacrifice, learning, effort, and dissatisfaction in the matter of worldly acquisitions",

Are virtues in the case of Kṣatriyas. In the same way, Vidulā in advising her son says:

saṃtoṣo vai śriyaṃ hanti
  (Śriman Mahābhārata U. 132.33),

I.e., "by contentment, worldly prosperity is destroyed";

And there is also a statement on another occasion that:

asaṃtoṣaḥ śriyo mūlaṃ
  (Śriman Mahābhārata Sabhā. 55.11)[6]

I.e., "dissatisfaction is the root of prosperity".

Although contentment is referred to as a virtue in the case of Brahmins, it only means contentment with reference to wealth or worldly prosperity, according to the four-caste arrangement. If a Brahmin says that the knowledge which he has acquired is enough for him, he will bring about his own undoing, and the same will be the case with the Vaiśyas or the Śūdras, if they always remain satisfied with what they have acquired according to their own status in life. In short, discontent is the seed of all future prosperity, effort, opulence and even of Release; and, it must always be borne in mind by everybody, that if this discontent is totally annihilated, we will be nowhere, whether in this world or in the next.

In the Bhagavadgītā itself, in listening to the advice of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Arjuna has said:–

bhūyaḥ kathaya tṛptir hi śṛṇvato nāsti me 'mṛtam
  (Bhagavadgītā 10.18),

I.e., "I am not satisfied with what I have heard of your nectar like speech, therefore, describe to me more and more of your manifestations";

And then the Blessed Lord has again started enumerating his manifestations. He did not say to him: "restrain your desire, dissatisfaction or discontent is improper".

From this it follows that even the Blessed Lord Himself considered it proper that One should entertain discontent about a good or beneficial matter, and there is a stanza of Bhartṛhari that: "yaśasi cābhirucir vyāsanaṃ śrutau" etc., i.e., "there ought to be liking or desire, but that should be for success; and one must also have a vice, but that should be of learning; that vice is not prohibited". Still, we must control discontent, in the same way as Desire, Anger etc., because if it becomes uncontrolled, it will clearly end in our undoing; and therefore, the endowment (saṃpatti) of those persons who continually run after worldly happiness piling thirst on thirst, and hope on hope with the sole object of enjoying objects of pleasure is referred to as "ungodly endowment" (āsara saṃpat) in the 16th Chapter of the Gītā. Not only are the pure (sāttvika) tendencies in the human mind destroyed by such greediness and the man undone, but, in as much as it is impossible that Thirst should ever be quenched, the desire for enjoyment of objects of pleasure grows continually, and man's life is ended in the greed. But on the other hand, giving up all kinds of Thirst, and with it, all Actions, in order to escape this evil effect of Thirst or discontent is also not the pure (sāttvika) path. As has been stated above, Thirst or discontent is the seed of future prosperity: and therefore, instead of attempting to kill an innocent man out of fear for a thief, one has to carefully consider what Thirst or discontent causes unhappiness, and adopt the skillful middle path of giving up only that particular hope, thirst or discontent which produces unhappiness, and it is not necessary for that purpose to give up all kinds of Action whatsoever. This device or skill (kauśalaṃ) of giving up only that hope which causes unhappiness and performing one's duties according to one's status in life is known as Yoga or Karma-yoga (Bhagavadgītā 2.50.); and, as that is the Yoga which has been principally dealt with in the Gītā, I shall consider here in a little more detail what kind of hope has been looked upon by the Gītā as productive of unhappiness.

In describing above the, actual nature, of human pain and unhappiness, I have stated that a man hears by his ears, feels by bis skin, sees by his eyes, tastes by his tongue, and smells by his nose; and that a man is happy or unhappy according as these activities of his organs are consistent with their natural tendencies. But, the question of pain and happiness is not completely exhausted by making this definition.

Although it is necessary that the organs should, in the first instance, come into contact with external objects in order that Material pain or happiness should arise, yet, if one considers in what way this pain or happiness is subsequently experienced by man, it will be seen that a man has ultimately to perform the function of realising, that is, of taking on himself, this pain or happiness, which results from the activities of the organs, by means of his Mind (manas).

cakṣuḥ paśyati rupāṇi manasā na tu cakṣuṣā,

I.e., "the function of seeing is not performed solely by the eyes: the assistance of the mind is absolutely necessary for it" (Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 311.17);

And it is stated in the Mahābhārata that if that mind is in pain, then even having seen is as if you have not seen, and even in the Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad, there are such statements as:

anyatramanā abhūvaṃ nādarśam,

I.e., "my mind was elsewhere, and therefore, I did not see",


anyatramanā abhūvaṃ nāśrauṣam,

I.e., "my mind was elsewhere, and therefore, I did not hear" (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 1.5.3).

From this it becomes clear, that in order to experience Material pain or happiness, the organs are not sufficient by themselves, but require the assistance of the Mind; and as regards Metaphysical pain or happiness, it is purely mental. It, therefore, follows that all experience of pain or happiness ultimately depends on the Mind; and if this is true, it naturally follows that it is not impossible to control the experience of pain or happiness if one controls the mind.

With regard to these facts, Manu has described the characteristics of pain and happiness in a different way than the Nyāya school. He says:

sarvaṃ paravaśaṃ duḥkhaṃ sarvaṃ ātmavaśaṃ sukhaṃ |
etad vidyāt samāsena lakṣaṇaṃ sukhaduḥkhayoḥ ||
  (Manu-Smṛti 4.160).

That is, "all that which is subject to the control of others (external objects) is unhappiness, and all that which is subject to the control of oneself (of one's mind) is happiness; these are in brief the characteristic features of pain and happiness".

The word 'suffering' (vedanā) used in the connotation of pain and happiness given by the Nyāya school, includes both physical and mental suffering, and it also shows the actual external nature of pain and happiness; and when one bears in mind that Manu is referring principally to the internal experience of pain and happiness, there remains no inconsistency between these two definitions.

When in this way, we do not make the experience of pain or happiness depend on the organs:–

bhaiṣajyam etad duḥkhasya yad etan nānucintayet |

That is, "not brooding on one's unhappiness, becomes the most potent medicine for doing away with unhappiness" (Ma, Bhā. Śān. 205.2);

And we find numerous illustrations in history, of people having hardened their minds, and willingly sacrificed their lives for the sake of their Religion or of Truth. There- fore, says the Gītā, when one does what one has to do with- perfect mental control and after giving up the DESIRE FOR THE RESULT (phalāśā) and with a frame of mind which k equal towards pain and happiness, there remains no fear or possibility of experiencing the unhappiness of Actions, and it does not become necessary to give them up. Giving up the desire for the result does not mean giving up the resulting benefit, if it has been acquired, nor entertaining a desire that no one should ever get that benefit. In the same way, there is a world for difference between the desire for the result and the Desire, Hope, or Motive for performing Action, or employing a particular means for obtaining a particular result. There is a difference between merely desiring to move one's hands and feet and desiring to move one's hands for catching or one 's feet for kicking someone else. The first desire extends merely to the doing of the act and there is no other motive behind it; and if we give up this desire, all Action will come to an end. Besides having this desire, a man must also have the knowledge that every act is sure to have some result or consequence; and not only must he have that knowledge, but he must entertain the desire of doing a. particular act with the intention of thereby producing some particular result; otherwise, all his Actions will be as pointless as those of a madman. All of these desires, motives, or arrangements do not ultimately produce pain; nor does the Gītā ask you to give them up. But if one goes much further than that, and allows his mind to be afflicted by the ATTACHMENT (āsakti), ambition, pride, self-identification, or insistence of MINE-NESS (mamatva), which exists in the mind of the doer with reference to the result of the Action in the shape of the feeling that: "whatever action is performed by ME is performed by ME with the intention that ' I ' should: necessarily get a particular benefit from a particular act of MINE "; and if thereafter there is any obstruction in the- matter of getting the desired result or benefit, the chain of misery starts. If this obstruction is inevitable and is an act of Pate, man only suffers from despair; but, if it is the handiwork of another person, it gives rise later on to anger or even- hate, and this hate leads to evil action, and evil action leads to- selfdestruction. This attachment, in the shape of MINE- NESS, for the result of the Action, is also known as 'phalāśā' (hope of benefit), 'saṃga' (fondness), 'ahaṃkāra-buddhi' (egoism), and 'kāma' (desire); and in order to show that the- chain of unhappiness in life really starts at this point, it is: stated in the second chapter of the Gītā, that Desire springs, from Attachment for objects of pleasure, Anger (krodha) from Desire, Mental Confusion (moha) from Anger, and ultimately,, the man himself is destroyed (Bhagavadgītā 2.62, 63). When I have thus established that Actions in the gross material world, which are lifeless in themselves, are not themselves the root of unhappiness, but that the true root of unhappiness is the Hope for result, Desire, or Attachment with which man performs those Actions,, it naturally follows that in order to prevent this unhappiness, it is quite enough if a person, by controlling his mind, gives up. the Attachment, Desire or Hope of result entertained by him towards the objects of pleasure; and it follows logically that it is not necessary to give up all objects of pleasure, or Actions, or Desires as prescribed by the Saṃnyāsa school. Therefore, it is next stated in the Gītā (Bhagavadgītā 2.64), that that man who partakes of the objects of pleasure he comes across in the world, with a desireless and unattached frame of mind, without entertaining any hope of result, is the true 'sthitaprajña' (steady-in-mind). The activity of Action in the world never comes to an end. Even if man ceases to exist in this world. Matter (prakṛti) will carry on its activities according to its constituent qualities (guṇa-dharma). Gross Matter would not in any way be happy or unhappy on that account. Man arrogates to himself an undue importance, and becomes attached to the activities of Matter, and in that way suffers pain and happiness. But if he gives up this attachment, and performs all his Actions in the belief that 'guṇā guṇeṣu vartante', i.e., "all activities are going on according to the constituent qualities of Matter" (Bhagavadgītā 3.38), there will remain no unhappiness in the shape of discontent.

Therefore, Vyāsa has advised Yudhiṣṭhira that instead of lamenting that worldly life is principally unhappy, and attempting to give up such life, one should believe that Matter is carrying on its own activities, and that–

sukhaṃ vā yadi vā duḥkhaṃ priyaṃ vā yadi vāpriyam | 
prāptaṃ prāptam upāsīta hṛdayenāparājitaḥ ||
  (Ma, Bhā. Śān. 25.26).

That is, "one should put up with whatever takes place, whenever it takes place, without being disheartened, (that is to say, without becoming dejected, and giving up one's duty), whether it causes happiness or unhappiness, and whether it is pleasurable or unpleasant."

The full importance of this advice will be appreciated when one bears in mind that one has to perform some duties in life, even suffering the pain which they cause.

In the Bhagavadgītā itself, the characteristic features of the sthitapraña are described in the words:

yaḥ sarvatrānabhsnehas tat tat prāpya śuhhāśubham

I.e., "that man who, when anything favourable or unfavourable happens, always remains unattached, and neither welcomes it nor dislikes it, is the true sthitapraña ";

And in the fifth chapter it is stated that,

na prahṛṣyet priyaṃ prāpya nodvijet prāpya cāpriyam

I.e., "when you experience happiness, you should not on that account become excited; and when you experience unhappiness, you should also not on that account become dejected ";

And it is stated in the second chapter, that this pain and happiness must be borne with a desireless frame of mind (2.14, 15); and the same advice has been repeatedly given in various other places (Bhagavadgītā 5.9; 13.9). In the terminology of Vedānta Philosophy, doing this is called 'dedicating all Actions to the Brahman' (Brahārpaṇa), and in the Path of Devotion, the word 'Kṛṣṇārpaṇa' (dedication to Kṛṣṇa) is used instead of 'Brahārpaṇa' (dedication to the Brahman); and this is the sum and substance of the whole of the preaching of the Gītā.

Whatever the nature of the Action, when one does not give up the Desire to do it, nor also one's activity, but goes on performing whatever one wants to do, being equally prepared "for the resulting pain or happiness, with an aloof frame of mind, and without entertaining the hope for the result, not only does one escape the evil effects due to non-control of Thirst or discontent, but also the danger of the world becoming a result of Action being destroyed in the attempt to destroy Thirst; and all our mental impulses remain pure and become beneficial to all created beings. It is clear beyond doubt that, in order in this way to be able to give up the hope for the result, one must obtain perfect control over the mind and over the organs by means of Apathy (vairāgya). But, there is a world of difference between (i) keeping one's organs under control and allowing them to perform their various activities, not for a selfish purpose, but apathetically and desirelessly and for the welfare of others, on the one hand, and (ii) deliberately destroying all Actions, that is to say, all the activities of the various organs in order to kill Thirst, as prescribed by the Path of Renunciation, on the other hand.

The Apathy and Control, of the organs prescribed by the Gītā is of the first kind and not of the second kind; and in the same way, in the conversation between Janaka and the Brahmin in the Anugītā (Śriman Mahābhārata Aśva. 32, 17–23) the king Janaka says to Dharma, who had appeared to him in the form of a Brahmin that:

ṣṛṇu buddhiṃ ca yāṃ jñātvā sarvatra viṣayo mama ||
nāham ātmārtham icchāmi gāndhān ghrāṇagatān api | 
nāham ātmārtham icchāmi mano nityaṃ manontare |
mano me nirjitaṃ tasmād vaśe tiṣṭhati sarvadā ||

That is, "I will describe to you that apathetic frame of mind (vairāgya) with which I enjoy all objects of pleasure. I do not 'for myself' smell any scent, nor do I not 'for myself see anything with my eyes etc.; and I do not also put to use my mini for my Self (atmārtha), that is, for my own benefit; therefore,. I have conquered my nose (eyes etc.) and my mind, and they are all under my control ".

This is what is meant by the' statement in the Gītā (Bhagavadgītā 3.6, 7) that he who merely chokes up the impulses of the organs but contemplates objects of pleasure by his mind is a hypocrite, and he who conquers the desiring frame of mind by means of mental control, and allows all his mental impulses to carry on their various activities for the benefit of the world is the real superman. The external world, or the activities of the organs are not something which- we have brought into existence, but they are self-created; and however self-controlled a saṃnyāsī may be, yet, when his hunger becomes uncontrollable, he goes out to beg for food (Bhagavadgītā 3.33); or when he has sat for a considerable length of time in one place, he gets up and stands for some time. If we see that however much there is of mental control, one cannot, escape the inherent activities of the organs, then the wisest course is seen to be not to perversely attempt to destroy the- impulses of the organs, and at the same time all Actions and all kinds of Desire or Discontent (Bhagavadgītā 2.47; 18.59), but to give up the hope for the result by controlling the mind, and to loot upon pain and happiness as alike (Bhagavadgītā 2.38), and to perform all Actions desirelessly and for the benefit of the world as prescribed by the Śāstras.

Therefore, the Blessed Lord first tells Arjuna in the following stanza:

karmaṇy evādhikāras te mā phaleṣu kadācana |
mā karmaphalahetur bhūr mā te saṅgostv akarmaṇi ||
  (Bhagavadgītā 2.47).

That, in as much as you have been born in this world of Action, therefore, "your authority extends only to the performance of Actions"; but bear in mind that this your authority extends only to the performance of Action which ought to be performed (that is, to kartavya). The word 'eva' which means 'only', clearly shows that the authority of man does not extend to anything other than karma, that is, to the result of the karma. But the Blessed Lord does not leave this important matter to be understood merely by inference, and He again, and in perfectly clear words, says in the second quarter of the stanza, that, "your authority never extends to the result of the Action", because, getting or not getting the result of the Action is not a. matter which is within your control, hut is always in the gift. of the Parameśvara or is dependent on the entire Effect of Causes (karma-vipāka) in the world. Hoping that a particular- thing which is not within one's control should take place in a particular way, is a sign of madness. But the Blessed Lord has not left even this third thing for inference, and has in the. third quarter of the stanza said:–"therefore, do not perform any Action, keeping in mind the hope for the result of the Action"; whatever may be the result of your Action according to the- general law of Cause and Effect, will be its effect; it is not possible that such result should be more or less, or take place earlier or later, according to your desires, and by entertaining any such, desire, it is only you who suffer unnecessary pain and trouble. But here some persons–especially those who follow the Path of Renunciation–will object: " Is it not better to give up Action (karma) altogether rather than engaging in the useless procedure, of performing Actions and giving up the hope of the result?" And therefore, the Blessed Lord has in the last quarter of the. stanza made the definite statement that "do not insist upon not performing Action," but perform Action according to the- authority which you possess, though without entertaining any hope for the result. These doctrines are so important from the. point of view of Karma-Yoga, that the four quarters of the above stanza may be said to be the four aphorisms (catuḥ-sūtrī) of the science of Karma-Yoga or of the Gītā religion.

If worldly activity is not to be given up, although happiness and unhappiness always befall you alternatively in life, and although it is an established fact that the sum total of unhappiness is greater than that of happiness, then some persons- are likely to think, that all human efforts towards the total elimination of unhappiness and the acquisition of total happiness- are futile; and if one considers only Material Happiness, that, is to say, happiness in the shape of the enjoyment of external objects of pleasure through the medium of the organs, this- their objection will have to be admitted to be substantial. Just as the Moon never comes within the grasp of the little children who spread out their little hands towards the heavens in order to catch hold of it, so also those persons, who run after Material Happiness in the hope of reaching the highest form of happiness, will in any case And it very difficult to reach the highest form of happiness. But as Material Happiness is not the only kind of happiness, it is possible to find out the way of acquiring the highest and the constant form of happiness, even in this difficult position. As has been stated above, when happiness is divided into the two divisions of physical and mental happiness, one has to attach a higher importance to the activities of the mind than to the activities of the body or of the organs. Even the well-known Materialist philosopher Mill has admitted in his book on Utilitarianism,[7] that the theorem that the merit of Mental happiness is higher than that of bodily (i.e., Material) happiness, which has been laid down by scients (jñānin), is not made by them as a result of any arrogance about their own knowledge but because the true greatness or appropriateness of the superior human birth consists in Knowledge. Dogs, pigs, oxen etc. also like the happiness of the organs in the same way as human beings; and if the human race was of the opinion that enjoyment of objects of pleasure is the only true happiness in the world, then man would be ready to become a beast. But in as much ag nobody is willing to become a beast, notwithstanding that he can thereby obtain all the physical happiness which can be got by beasts, it is clear that there is something more in a human being than in a beast. When one begins to consider what this something is, one has to investigate into the nature of that Ātman which acquires the knowledge of one's Self and of the external world by means of the Mind and of the Reason (buddhi); and when one has once begun to think of this matter, one naturally comes to the conclusion that, that happiness. which is to be found in the extremely noble activities and in the purest state of the Mind and of the Reason is the highest, or the most ideal happiness of mankind, as compared with the happiness of the enjoyment of objects of pleasure, which is common to man and beast. This kind of happiness is self- controlled, that is, it can be acquired without depending on external objects, and without reducing the happiness of others, and by one's own exertions; and as a man becomes better and better, the nature of this happiness becomes more and more pure and unalloyed. Bhartṛhari has said that "manasi ca parituṣṭe ko 'rthavān ko daridraḥ", i.e., "when the mind is satisfied, the beggar is the same as the rich man", and the well-known Greek philosopher Plato has maintained that Mental Happiness is superior to bodily (that is, external or Material) happiness, and that, that happiness which can be realised only by means of the Reason, (which is the highest Metaphysical Happiness), is superior even to' Mental Happiness.[8] Therefore, even if we for the time being keep aside the question of Release, the fact that that Reason, alone can obtain the highest happiness, which is engrossed in the contemplation of the Ātman, is definitely proved; and therefore, after happiness has been divided in the Bhagavadgītā into the three divisions of sāttvika, rājasa and tāmasa, it is first stated that "tat sukhaṃ sāttvikaṃ proktaṃ ātmabuddhi-prasādajaṃ", i.e., "that Metaphysical Happiness which is the result of the contentedness of the Self-engrossed Reason (that is, of the Reason which having realised the true nature of the Ātman, namely, that there is only one Ātman in all created beings, is engrossed in that idea) is the sāttvika (placid), that is, the most superior kind of happiness (Bhagavadgītā 18.37) and the Gītā goes on to say that the Material Happiness arising from the organs and the objects of the organs is of a lower grade, that is, is rājasa (Bhagavadgītā 18.38); and that the happiness which arises from sleep, or idleness or which confuses the mind is the most inferior form, that is, is tāmasa. That is the meaning which is conveyed by the stanza from the Gītā which has been quoted at the commencement of this chapter and the Gītā itself says (Bhagavadgītā 6.25) that when a man has once experienced this beatific happiness, he is not shaken from this peaceful mental frame, whatever the magnitude of the misfortune which subsequently befalls him. This beatific happiness is not to be found even in the enjoyment of heavenly objects of pleasure, and the Reason of a man has in the first instance to become absolutely contented before he can experience it. He who is always engrossed in the enjoyment of the objects of pleasure, without seeing how he can keep his frame of mind contented, experiences happiness, which is temporary and inconstant Because, that organic happiness which exists to-day, ceases to exist tomorrow; and what is more, that thing which our organs look upon as productive of happiness today, becomes for some reason or other, productive. of unhappiness tomorrow. For instance, the same cold water which is desirable in summer, becomes undesirable in winter;.and even if one acquires the happiness, the desire for happiness, as has been mentioned above, is never fully quenched. Therefore, although the world 'happiness' can be applied comprehensively to all kinds of happiness, yet, one has to differentiate between happiness and happiness. In ordinary practice, the word ' happiness ' means principally ' organic happiness'. But when it becomes necessary to differentiate between the happiness of the enjoyment of objects of pleasure from that happiness which is beyond the organs, that is, which is beyond organic happiness, and which can be realised only by the self- engrossed Reason, the Material Happiness which consists of the enjoyment of objects of pleasure, is called simply 'happiness' (sukham or preyas), and the Metaphysical Happiness which is born of Self Realisation (ātma-buddhi-prasādaja) is called 'beatific happiness' (śreyas), blessing (kalyāṇam), amelioration (hitam), beatitude (ānanda), or peace (śānti). The distinction made between 'preyas' and ' śreyas' by Naciketā in the sentence from the Kaṭhopaniṣad quoted at the end of the last chapter, has been made on this basis. Mṛtyu (Death) had already in the beginning explained to him the esoteric secrets of Fire (agni). But, when after having acquired that happiness, Naciketā asked for the blessing of being explained what was meant by the Knowledge or Realisation of the Ātman (ātmajñāna), Mṛtyu tempted him with many other kinds of worldly happiness instead. But Naciketā was not tempted by these transient Material kinds of happiness, or things which appeared pleasing (preyas) on the face of them, and extending his vision, he insisted on having, and ultimately succeeded in acquiring, that philosophy of the, Ātman which led to the blessing (śreyas) of his Ātman (Self) and was ultimately beneficial. In short, our philosophers have been looking upon that Reason-born happiness or

Metaphysical beatitude, which results from the Realisation of the Ātman, as the most superior happiness and their advice is that this happiness is such as can be obtained by everybody, in as much as it is self-controlled, and that everybody should try to acquire it. That wonderful and special happiness which belongs to mankind in addition to its beastly qualities is this happiness; and this happiness of the Ātman (ātmānanda) is the most constant, the most independent and the most excellent of all happiness, in as much as it is independent of external circumstances. This peace is called in the Gītā (Bhagavadgītā 6.15) by the name of the Peace (śānti) of Emancipation (nirvāṇa); and it is also the climax of happiness which pertains to the Brahmi state of the sthitaprajña (steady-in-mind) described in the Gītā (Bhagavadgītā 2.71; 6.28; 12.12; 18.62).

In this way, we have proved that the peace or happiness of the Ātman is the most excellent of all happiness, and it is self-controlled, it is such as can be acquired by everybody. But by proving that gold is the most valuable of all metals, iron and other metals do not cease to be useful; and though sugar is sweet, one cannot do without salt; and the same is the case with the happiness of the Ātman or of Peace (śānti). At any rate, it cannot be disputed that Material objects are necessary for the protection of the body, along with this Peace; and therefore, in the phrases used for blessing, one does not say simply: "śāntirastu," (May there be śānti, i.e., Peace), but say: "śāntiḥ puṣṭis tuṣṭiś cāstu", that is, 'May there also be puṣṭi (Material Happiness), and tuṣṭi (contentedness) along with śānti (peace). If our philosophers had been of the opinion that one ought to acquire contentedness (tuṣṭi) by having merely Peace (śānti), there would have been no occasion to add to this phrase, the word 'puṣṭi. Nevertheless, it is also not proper to have an inordinate desire for increase of Material Happiness (that is, puṣṭi). Therefore, this phrase means: "May you have Peace, Material happiness and also Contentedness in proper proportions, and that you must obtain them". The same is the moral of the Kaṭhopaniṣad. The only matter which has been described in detail in this Upaniṣad is that after Naciketā had gone to the sphere of Yama, that is, of Death, Yama asked him to ask for three blessings, and that. Yama accordingly gave him the three blessings which he had asked for. But after Mṛtyu had asked Naciketā to ask for blessings, Naciketā did not in the first place ask for the blessing of Brahman-Realisation (Brahmajñāna), but first said:–"My father has got angry with me; may he become propitious to me"; and then, "teach me the science of Fire (agni), that is, of all sacrificial ritual which will give me material opulence"; and, when he had acquired these blessings, he asked for the third blessing saying: "teach me the Knowledge of the Ātman". But when Mṛtyu began to say to him that he would give him! (Naciketā) additional happiness instead of this third blessing, Naciketā has insisted: "now explain to me that Brahmajñāna which will lead to śreyas", instead of aspiring for possessing more of the knowledge of sacrificial ritual than was necessary for obtaining preyas. In short, as stated in the last mantra of this Upaniṣad, Naciketā obtained both the 'Brahma-vidyā' (knowledge of the Brahman), and "yoga-vidhi" (sacrificial ritual), and he was emancipated (Katha 6. 8). From this it follows, that the combination of jñāna and karma is the summary of the preaching of this Upaniṣad. There is also a similar story about Indra. Not only had Indra himself acquired fully the Knowledge of the Brahman, (Brahmajñāna) but he had taught the science of the Ātman (ātmavidyā) to. Pratardana, as has been stated in the Kauṣītakyupaniṣad. Yet, after Indra had lost his kingdom and Prahlāda had become the king of the three spheres, Indra went to Bṛhaspati, the preceptor of the gods, and asked him to explain to him in what śreyas lay. Then Bṛhaspati taught the dethroned Indra the Brahmavidyā, that is, the Knowledge of the Ātman, (ātmajñāna) and said to him that that was all which was śreyas (etāvac chreya iti). But 'Indra was not satisfied and again asked the question: "ko viśeṣo bhavet?", i.e., "Is there anything more?"; thereupon Bṛhaspati sent him to Śukrācārya. There, there was a repetition of the same process, and Śukrācārya said to him: "That something more is known to Prahlāda." Then at last Indra went to Prahlāda in the form of a Brahmin and became his disciple, and after same time had passed, Prahlāda explained to him that 'śīlam', (the habit of behaving consistently with Truth and Morality) was the master-key for gaining the kingdom of the three spheres, and that that was also known as śreyas. Then, when Prahlāda said to him: "I am very much pleased by your service, I shall give you whatever blessing you may ask", Indra, in the form of the Brahmin, said to him: "Give me your 'śīlam' ". When Prahlāda consented, the deity 'śīlam', and after it Morality (dharmam), Veracity (satyam), good conduct (vṛtta), and ultimately opulence (śrī) and other deities left the body of Prahlāda and entered the body of Indra, and in this way Indra regained his kingdom: such is the ancient story which has been told by Bhīṣma to

Yudhiṣṭhira in the Śāntiparva (Śān. 124). Although the Knowledge of the Brahman by itself may be worth more than prosperity (aiśvaryam) by itself, yet, in as much as whoever has to live in this world is under the obligation and has also the moral right to acquire material prosperity for himself or for his own country in the same way as it is possessed by others or by other countries, the highest ideal of man in this world, as is apparent from this beautiful story, is seen to be the combination of Peace (śānti), and Material Happiness (puṣṭi), or of desired things (preyas) and true and lasting benefit (śreyas), or of Knowledge (jñānam) and prosperity (aiśvaryam), according to our Karma-Yoga science. Has that Bhagavān than Whom there is) none higher in this world, and Whose path is followed by others (Bhagavadgītā 3.33), Himself given up prosperity and wealth?

The word 'bhaga' has been defined in the Śāstras as:

aiśvaryasya samagrasya dharmasya yaśasaḥ śriyaḥ |
jñānavairāgyayoś caiva ṣaṇṇāṃ bhaga itīraṇā ||
  (Viṣṇu-Purāṇa 6.5.74).

That is, "the word 'bhaga' includes the followings six things, namely, complete Yogic prosperity, righteousness, success, property, knowledge, and apathy".

The word 'aiśvaryam' in this stanza is usually taken to mean ' Yogaiśvaryam' (Yogic prosperity), because the word 'śrī', that is, wealth, appears later on. But as ordinarily, the word 'aiśvaryam' is used to mean and include authority, success, and wealth, and the word 'jñānam' includes apathy and righteousness, we may say that in ordinary parlance, the entire meaning conveyed by the above stanza is included in the two words 'jñānam' and 'aiśvaryam', and in as much as the Blessed Lord has Himself accepted the combination of jñānam and aiśvaryam, other persons should consider that as proper and act accordingly (Bhagavadgītā 3.21; Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 341.25). The doctrine that the knowledge of the Ātman is the only ideal of man in this world is a doctrine of the school of Renunciation, which says that, as worldly life is full of unhappiness, it should be given up; it is not a doctrine of the Karma-Yoga science, and it is not proper to mix up these doctrines of different schools of thought and pervert the meaning of the Gītā. And as the Gītā itself says that mere prosperity without Knowledge is a godless prosperity (āsura saṃpatti), it follows that we must always maintain the union of jñānam with aiśvaryam, or of aiśvaryam with jñānam, or of śānti with puṣṭi. When it is admitted that aiśvaryam is necessary, though along with jñānam, it necessarily follows that Action must be performed. Manu has said that: "karmāṇy ārabhamāṇaṃ hi puruṣaṃ śrīr niṣevate " (Manu-Smṛti 9.300), i.e., "in this world, only those persons who perform Action, acquire śrī (prosperity)". The same thing is established by our personal experience, and the same is the advice given in the Gītā to Arjuna (Gi, 3.8). Some persons take the objection to this position that in as much as Action is not necessary for Release, all Action must be given up ultimately, that is, after the acquisition of Knowledge. But, as I am at present considering the question only of pain and happiness, and also as I have not yet gone into the examination of the natures of Action (karma) and Release (mokṣa), I shall not here answer that exception. I shall explain in detail in the ninth and tenth chapters what Metaphysics, and the Theory of Cause and Effect are, and then in the eleventh chapter, I will prove that even this objection is groundless.

I have so far shown that pain and happiness are two independent and different sufferings; that, as it is impossible to satisfy the desire for happiness by the enjoyment of happiness, we find that in ordinary life the sum total of unhappiness is always greater; that, in order to escape this unhappiness, the most meritorious thing to do is not to totally destroy Thirst or Discontent and at the same time Action itself, but to continue the performance of all Actions without entertaining any hope for the result; that, the happiness of enjoying objects of pleasure is in itself a happiness, which is always insufficient, inconstant, and beastly, and that the true ideal of man, who is endowed with Reason, must be higher than such happiness; "that, this true ideal is the happiness of the peace (śānti) which results from Self-Realisation; but that, although Metaphysical Happiness is, in this way, superior to Material Happiness, yet, one must possess with it also a proper quantity of worldly objects; and that therefore, we must also make Effort, that is, perform Action, desirelessly. When these conclusions have been firmly established by the Karma-Yoga science, I need not further say that it is wrong to decide questions of Morality by the consideration of the external effects of Actions in the shape of pain and happiness on the basis that Material Happiness is the highest ideal of man–even looking at the question from the point of view of Happiness merely. Because, looking upon a thing which can never by itself reach the state of perfection, as the 'highest' ideal, is misusing the word 'highest' (parama), and is as unreasonable as believing that water exists, where there is only a mirage. If one 's highest ideal is itself inconstant and incomplete, then, what else, except something inconstant can one acquire, by keeping that ideal before one's eyes? This is what is meant by the words: "dharmo nityaḥ sukhaduḥkhe tv anitye", i.e., "morality is immutable; pain and happiness are mutable". There is much difference of opinion among Materialistic philosophers themselves as to how the word 'happiness', in the phrase 'the greatest happiness of the greatest number', is to be understood. Some of these philosophers are of opinion that, in as much as man is very often willing to sacrifice his life for the sake of Veracity, or of his Religion, casting aside all Material Happiness, it is not proper to say that his desire is always to acquire Material Happiness; and they have, therefore, maintained that we must use the word 'benefit' (hitam), or the word 'good' (kalyāṇam) instead of the word 'happiness' (sukham), and change the phrase 'greatest happiness of the greatest number' into the phrase 'greatest good or benefit of the greatest number'. But, even doing so, the objection that the Reason (buddhi) of the doer has not been taken into account, as also several other objections apply to this point of view. If one says that Mental Happiness must be taken into account, along with Material Happiness, then, the fundamental theorem that the morality of any particular Action must be decided by its external effects, is falsified, and one, to a certain extent, accepts the Metaphysical aspect of the matter. But, if in this way, you cannot escape accepting the Metaphysical aspect of the matter, then where is the sense of accepting it only halfway? Therefore, our philosophy of KarmaYoga has ultimately come to the conclusion that the doctrines of 'the benefit of everybody', or 'the greatest happiness of the greatest number', or the highest development of humanness' or other such external tests or Materialistic methods of determining questions of Morality are inferior tests, and that what is Right Action, and what Wrong Action or Non-Action must be determined by the Metaphysical tests of beatific happiness in the shape of Self-Realisation, and the attendant Pure Reason of the doer. The case is different, of course, of those persons who have sworn not to enter into the philosophy of things beyond the external world, under any circumstances. Otherwise, it only logically follows that one has got to go beyond Mind and Reason, and look upon the permanent benefit of the permanent Ātman as the most predominant factor, even in the Karma-Yoga science. The belief of some persons that when one enters into Vedānta, everything becomes Brahmised (Brahma-maya), and the necessity of worldly life' cannot satisfactorily be accounted for, is wrong. As the various works on Vedānta, which can ordinarily be read now-a-days have been written principally by followers of the Path of Renunciation, and as in the Path of Renunciation, worldly life in the shape of Thirst is looked upon as totally insipid, it is true that the science of Karma-Yoga has not been properly expounded in their works. Nay, these writers, who are intolerant of rival cults, have foisted the arguments of the Path of Renunciation on the Karma-Yoga, and attempted to create

the belief that Saṃnyāsa (Renunciation) and Karma- Yoga, are not two independent paths for obtaining Release (mokṣa), but that Saṃnyāsa is the only correct Path according to the Śāstras. But such a view is incorrect. The Path of Karma-Yoga has- been independently followed from times immemorial, side by side with the Path of Renunciation, according to the Vedic religion; and the promulgators of this path have very.satisfactorily expounded the science of Karma-Yoga, without departing from the elementary principles of Vedānta. The Bhagavadgītā is a work pertaining to this Path of KarmaYoga. But, leaving aside the Gītā for the moment, it will be seen that the system of expounding the science of the doable and the not-doable from the Metaphysical point of view was started, even in England itself, by writers like Green,[9] and long before him, in Germany. However much one may consider the visible world, so long as one has not properly understood who is the HE who sees this visible world, or who performs these Actions, the consideration of the highest duty of man in this world will always remain incomplete from the philosophical point of view. Therefore, the advice of Yājñavalkya: "ātmā vā are draṣṭavyaḥ śrotavyo mantavyo nididhyāsitavyaḥ", is literally applicable to the present case. If even after the examination of the external world, one ultimately comes to basic principles like philanthropy, then, "we must say that by such examination, the importance of the science of the Highest Self (adhyātma) is not in any way belittled, but that this is one more proof of there being only one Ātman in all created things. If Materialistic philosophers cannot transcend the limitations which they have placed on themselves, there is no help for it. Our philosophers have extended their sight far beyond that, and have fully justified the science of Karma-Yoga on the basis of Metaphysics. But, in as much as it is necessary to consider another contrary view (pūrva-pakṣa), which deals with the subject of Right Action and Wrong Action or Non-Action, I shall deal with that view before explaining how that justification has been made.


Footnotes and references:


See Rockhill's Life of Buddha, p. 33. This stanza has appeared in the Pali book called Udāna (2.2); but, it is rot stated there that it was uttered by Buddha when he attained the 'Buddha-hood', from which it can be clearly seen that these stanza could not have been originally uttered by Buddha.


Darwin's Naturalist's Voyage round the World, Chap. X.


Moors in Spain p. 128 (Story of the Nations series).


Macmillan's Promotion of Happiness p. 26.


Schopenhauer's World as Will and Representation Vol. II Chap. 46. The description given by him of the unhappiness of worldly life is excellent. The original work is in the German language, and it has been translated into English.


cf: "Unhappiness is the cause of progress." Dr. Paul Carus in The Ethical Problem p. 251 (2nd Ed.)


"It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, is of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question". Utilitarianism p. 14 (Longman's, 1907).


Republic (Book IX).


Prolegomena to Ethics, Book I; and Kant's Metaphysics of Morals (trans, by Abbott, in Kant's Theory of Ethics).

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