Swami Nirviseshananda Tirtha starts this session by telling us about how sukha (happiness) is the most important, if not the only, pursuit of life. Everything that one does is with a view to have happiness. But if the sukha depends on our sense organs (Indriya sukha), it would be a very temporary joy and will only last till the object and the senses are in contact with each other. It will never be permanent.
Explaining it with an example Swamiji says, “Let us suppose you like eating ice-cream. You may eat a maximum of three servings. But if you are forced to eat 20 servings, what will happen? You will, most likely, not enjoy that experience. The Indriya sukha is needed to a certain extent but if you overdo it, it will cause duhkha or misery.
Because of our lower tendencies, we crave Indriya sukhas and eventually become slaves to them. The bondage is so much that we become agitated if they are not available.
Sukha becomes more permanent when we proceed inward. Swamiji tells us about the sukha one gets when one wins over the lower tendencies. It is much more pervasive or long lasting than Indriya sukha.
In this context, Swamiji narrates the story of a boy who loved ice-cream. He was used to having ice-cream every afternoon whilst taking a walk with his father. His father once suggested that he give his entire ice-cream cup to a poor boy who was seen licking the empty cups that were thrown away. So, he gave his ice cream cup to the poor boy. Seeing the poor boy relishing and enjoying the full cup of ice cream gave the boy a joy that he had never experienced before. He was further surprised to see the poor boy share the rare cup of ice cream with a monkey that was around. On seeing this compassionate behaviour, the boy experienced even greater joy.
This can be termed as sāttvika happiness, a permanent happiness. Sāttvika happiness has its origin in oneself and is totally independent of the external sensory objects of the world. This joy will not make us slaves to our senses but will make us the masters of the world!
So, whenever we win over our lower tendencies what we experience is an inward joy that is always fulfilling and long lasting.
सुखं त्विदानीं त्रिविधं श्रृणु मे भरतर्षभ ।
अभ्यासाद्रमते यत्र दुःखान्तं च निगच्छति ।।
यत्तदग्रे विषमिव परिणामेऽमृतोपमम् ।
तत्सुखं सात्त्विकं प्रोक्तमात्मबुद्धिप्रसादजम् ।।
sukham tvidānīm tri-vidham śṛṇu me bharatarṣabha |
abhyāsād-ramate yatra du:khāntam ca nigacchati ||
yat-tad-agre viṣamiva pariṇāme’mṛtopamam |
tat-sukham sāttvikam proktam-ātmabuddhi-prasādajam ||
(Bhagavad Gita 18.36,37)
O chief of Bharatas (Arjuna), listen from me now the three kinds of happiness (Sukha).
That happiness (Sukha) is considered Sāttvika, wherein one rejoices through spiritual practice and begets end of misery, which is like poison to start with, but like nectar in the end, which is born from the placidity of Self-knowledge.
Swamiji further describes Sāttvika Sukha with help of the above śloka. To win over the lower tendencies you need some discipline and practice. When you have undergone the discipline, you will enjoy long lasting freedom and joy eventually.
A musician will revel in the creation of music only when he has undergone the requisite discipline or training. A sportsperson will not be able to play well without having undergone rigorous practice for years. A young boy would find it very hard to sit and study everyday but the same person would find great freedom and joy in the world of literature after he has mastered the language. Practice and discipline, although arduous at first, will lead you to long lasting Sukha.
Sāttvika Sukha may feel like poison initially but will be nectarine eventually, as we end up winning over our bondage and overcoming obstacles.
Sāttvika Sukha is not generated by our senses but it is generated from our anchorage in our Soul dimension.