Swami Paramarthananda Ji - General Talk Transcript Series - "What gives happiness " ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sometime ago, I just read an article in a book written by one of the Shankaracharyās of the Sringeri peetam, Abhinava Bharathi Swamiji had written an article, I just enjoyed reading that article, I thought I could share some thoughts based on that article, it is an analysis of the 4 purusharthās dharma, artha, kāma, mokṣa. It is a new approach which I enjoyed reading, based on that, I would like to say few words here. All human beings, without exception seek only one primary goal, and that is ānandā or sukam. But that main problem we face is, we do not know what will give us happiness. We assume certain things can give happiness, but when we analyze and just see our experiences we find that, whatever we think is the cause of happiness is not really the cause of happiness. The general misconception is the money and possessions can give happiness. But if, we rigorously look at the statement that "Money and possession is the cause and the happiness is the effect" if we take this particular statement, we find that it is not logically true. Because, 2 things should have a cause and effect relationship, then it should fulfil certain conditions. When a particular seed is the cause of a particular tree, we are able to prove the cause-effect relationship by showing that in the presence of the seed the tree comes, in the absence of the seed, the tree can never come. So this condition is called anvaya vyatireka condition. Yeth sathve, yeth sathvam, yedh abhāvē, yedh abhāvahā, tatu tasya kāranam, in the presence of the seed, the tree comes, in the absence of the seed, the tree cannot come. Therefore, the seed is the cause of the tree. Even when we want to find out, what is the cause of an allergy in a particular body, If a particular thing causes some reaction in the body and the absence of that thing, those reactions are not there, we say, that is the allergy, that is the cause of problem. To establish cause-effect relationship, it should fulfil 2 conditions, 1) anvaya 2) vyatireka. Anvaya means in its presence the result should come, in its absence the result should not happen. If we rigorously apply this particular law, we will find that, money, possession and the happiness cannot have cause-effect relationship at all. Because we find anvaya vyatireka conditions are not fulfilled. We can see this from our experience itself, if money and possession are cause of happiness, the anvaya should be every human being who has got money and possession must be uniformly and invariably happy without even a single exception. But we find that, there are many people who have got money and the possessions and they are so miserable and they even think of committing suicide. We should be clear that money and the possessions may be the cause of comfort, but money and the possessions can never be taken as the cause of happiness. We always make a difference between comfort and happiness. Comfort is a physical condition, happiness is a mental condition. So, providing comfort is not providing happiness. Because, there are many people who are comfortably unhappy. They have air-conditioned worries, they spend sleepless nights in-spite of possessing all things. If comfort and happiness are synonymous, 100 years before, when the science was not advanced at all, when fans were not there, when foam beds were not there, all our forefathers should be miserable, and since, now we can offer better comfort, we all should be uniformly happier. But we find that, comfort and happiness are not synonymous and therefore money and possessions may provide comfort we are not questioning, but there is no anvaya, there is an invariable co-existence between money, possessions and happiness. Similarly, vyathireka also we have to see, if there is a cause-effect relationship between money, possessions, and happiness. The vyathireka conditions should be fulfilled, wherever money, possessions are not there, they all must be uniformly unhappy. This law also is not good, there are so many people who do not have so many possessions at all, and they are extremely happy. Mōlantarō kevala ashrayantaha, panidvye bokthu mamatrayantaha, kantamivasri mapikutsayanthaha, koupinavantah kalu bahyavantahā. There are so many enlightened people who are happy without anything. There is no cause-effect relationship between money, possessions and happiness. If happiness is not caused by all these things, then what is the cause of happiness ? You find that, a human being is not able to exactly know the cause of happiness, in-fact, that has been our struggle, we have been experimenting one thing or the other, buy something, feel miserable and sell that, but another thing, be miserable and sell that. Go on changing houses, companies, hair-styles, some people change wives also constantly, now we are still in the experimental stage, we do not exactly know what is the cause of happiness. Therefore, in the tradition, we say, the cause of happiness we do not know really, when we do not know, better go to śastra. śastra alone can help us to know what is the cause of happiness. What does the śastra say, "There is only one thing, that is the cause of happiness, and that one thing is puṇya or dharmaha" Between, puṇya and ānanda alone there is cause-effect relationship, wherever, puṇya is there which is otherwise called adrshtam, which is otherwise people call as luck, this puṇya alone is the cause of happiness. Where puṇya is there, even if money not there, there is joy. Where puṇya is not there, even when the money is there, in fact the very money becomes the cause of sorrow. Therefore, it is the puṇya that is responsible for happiness. We say, both the relative worldly happiness is also caused by puṇya, ultimately the absolute happiness called mokṣa, that is also caused by puṇya alone, puṇya is responsible for gyanam, and through gyanam, puṇya is the cause of ultimate pleasure also. Therefore, if we are interested in happiness, we have to produce the cause of happiness. Now, the next question is, How can I produce puṇya? Is it available for purchasing ? Unfortunately, puṇya can be generated only in a particular way, which also we come to know only through the scriptures. puṇya can be produced only in one way which also we can know only through the scriptures, what is that way ? A dharmic way of life alone can produce puṇya. So, a dharmic way of life can only produce punyam, which alone can produce happiness with comfort or without comfort. Dharmic life produces puṇya, and the puṇya produces happiness, whether you have comforts doesn't matter. Now the next question is, What is dharmic life ? It is a very big topic, which has been discussed in the entire dharma śastra. I will give you a gist of dharmic way of living. Dharmic life consists of 2 things. One is noble actions and noble attitude or values, noble actions + noble attitudes put together is dharmic way of life. Now the question is, How do you decide what is noble action ? Who is to determine that ? Here also, śastra elaborately discusses, what is nishidham, pañca maha yājyaha, details are there. Vyasacharya has summed up the noble actions in half a sloka, "slokarthena pravakshyaami, yedhuktham grantakodibhihi." I will tell you in half-a-sloka, what is the essence of all the dharma śastras or dharmic actions, what is that ? "Paropakaraf puṇyaya, papaya parapitanam", All those actions which are beneficial to others, including yourself, the more the merrier are called noble actions. All those actions which directly or indirectly hurt others, harm others, they all come under papa karmani.