True Happiness

The following part is translated from Shanti Parva Chapter of Mahabharata by U. Mahesh Prabhu


Whatever you devote yourself to, that object, and nothing else, will appear to you as if the highest of acquisitions fraught with the greatest of blessings. When you reflect properly, through purity of heart and its reflection, you realize that all things in this world are as valueless as a straw. Without doubt, you are then freed from attachment. When the world which is full of defects, is so constituted, as a man of intelligence strive for liberating yourself from all petty concepts, factions and ideas. Greatness, then, will ultimately be yours.

When your wealth, spouse, son or sire is dead, you will certainly declare ‘Alas, this is my greatest sorrow!’. But remember: the more you lament the more you will stoop into a pit of agony. Therefore, seek the aid of reflection and you’ll verily be able to kill that sorrow.

All the beings – the superior, the middling and the inferior – owing to the results of their respective actions, are entangled in grief. When you do not regard even your own self to be yours and, over that, regard the whole world as yours, grief cannot approach you in consequence of this thought.

Remember it isn’t wise to yield to either joy or grief. Just like two pieces of wood floating on the ocean come together at one time only to be separated, is the union of living creatures in this world. Sons, grandsons, kinsmen, relatives, are all of this kind. One should never feel blind affection for them, for separation with them is certain.

Grief arises from a disease constituted by desire. True happiness results when the disease of desire is cured. From joy also comes sorrow. The joys and sorrows of human beings are revolving on a wheel. After happiness comes sorrow and so on and so forth. No one suffers sorrow or happiness forever. The body is the refuge of both sorrow and happiness. Whatever acts an embodied creature commits with the aid of his body, the consequence thereof he has to suffer in that body.

Life spring when body comes into existence. The two (life and body) exist together, and the two perish together. Men of indecent conscience, wedded to greed through various bonds meet with destruction like efforts of sand in water. Woes of diverse kinds, born of ignorance, act like pressure of oil-seeds, for assailing all creatures in consequence of their attachments. Man, for the sake of his family, commits numerous evil acts, but suffers singly diverse kinds of misery in this world.

All men, attached to children, wives, kinsmen and relatives, sink in the miry sea of grief like wild elephants, when destitute of strength, sinking in miry slough. Indeed, upon loss of wealth, son, kinsmen, relatives, man suffers great distress, which resembles as regards its power of burning, a forest conflagration. All this, viz. joy and grief, existence and non-existence, is depended upon destiny. One having friends as one destitute of friends, one having foe as one destitute of foe, one having wisdom destitute of wisdom, each and every one among these, obtain happiness through destiny.

Friends are not causes of one’s happiness. Foes are not causes of one’s misery. Wisdom is not competent to bring an accession of wealth; nor wealth competent to bring an accession of happiness. Intelligence is not the cause of wealth, nor is stupidity the cause of extreme poverty. He only who is possessed of wisdom, and none else, understands the order of the world. Among the intelligent, the heroic, the foolish, the cowardly, the idiotic, the learned, the weak or the strong, happiness comes to him for whom it is ordained.

Among the cowherd and the thief, the cow indeed belongs to him who drinks her milk. They whose understanding is absolutely dormant, and have attained to that state of the mind which lies beyond the sphere of the intellect, succeed in enjoying happiness. Only they, who are between the two classes, suffer misery. They who are possessed of wisdom delight in the two extremes but not in the states that are intermediate. The sages have said that the attainment of any of these two extremes constitutes happiness.

They who have succeeded in attaining to real happiness, and who have become free from the pleasures and pains of this world, and who are destitute of envy, are never agitated by either the accession of wealth or its loss. They who have not succeeded in acquiring intelligence which leads to real happiness, but who have overcome ignorance by the help of a knowledge, give way to excessive joy and excessive misery. Men bereft of all notions of right and wrong, lacking pride and with success, enjoy bliss like the gods in heaven.

Happiness must end in misery. Idleness is misery; while cleverness is the cause of happiness. Affluence and prosperity dwell in one who is clever, but not in him who is idle. Be it happiness or misery, be it agreeable or disagreeable, what comes to one should be enjoyed or endured with an unconquered heart.

Every day a thousand occasion for sorrow and hundred occasion for fear assail the man of ignorance and folly but not the man who is possessed of wisdom. Sorrow can never touch the man who is possessed of true intelligence, who has acquired wisdom, who is mindful of listening to the instructions of his betters, who is destitute of envy, and who is self-restrained.

Whatever objects that are desired, when cast off become sources of happiness. The man who pursues objects of desire meets with destruction in course of the pursuit. Neither the happiness that is derived from a gratification of the senses nor that great happiness which one may enjoy in heaven, approaches to even sixteenth part of the happiness which arises from destruction of all desires.

The acts of a former life, right or wrong, visit, in their consequence. It is even thus that joy and sorrow, the aggregable and the disagreeable, continually revolves among living creatures. Relying upon such understanding, the man of intelligence and wisdom lives at ease.

A person should disregard all his desires, and never allow his wrath to get the better of him. This wrath springs in all the heart and grows there into vigour and luxuriance. This wrath that dwell in the hoodies of men and is inborn in their minds, is spoken by the wise as Death. When a person succeeds in withdrawing all his desires like a tortoise withdrawing all its limbs, then his soul, which is self-luminous, succeeds in looking into itself. That object, whatever it may be, in respect of which ‘the idea of that which is mine’ is cherished, becomes a source of grief and heart-burning.

When a person himself feels no fear and is feared by no one, when he cherishes no desire and no aversion, he is then said to attain to the state of Brahman. Casting off both the truth and falsehood, grief and joy, fear and courage, the agreeable and the disagreeable, you may become a tranquil soul. When a person abstains from doing anything wrong to any creature, in thought, word or deed, he is then said to attain to a state of Brahma. True happiness is his who can cast of that thirst which is incapable of being cast off by the misguided, which does not decay with decrepitude, and which is regarded as a fatal disease.

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