Monday, August 07, 2006

There is no happiness in the trivial

I have been distracted with other things, especially Gopala Tapani, but now I have branched off into the Vṛndāvana-rasa-tattva-samīkṣā, also by Bhagiratha Jha. I enjoy this stuff tremendously. It seems a great shame that I am not able to make my living at it.

Bhagiratha is steeped in the Upanishads and Vedanta, so he is the perfect source of understanding for these foundations of Gopāla-tāpanī. But in the Vṛndāvana-rasa-tattva-samīkṣā, he concentrates more on topics of rasa, citing the customary sources in that area, like Bharata Muni. Nevertheless, he continues to emphasize the Upanishadic basis of things.

This book begins at the same place the Prīti-sandarbha does: with the famous Chāndogya passage (7.22ff) that inquires into happiness. The prayojana, or goal of life and all our activities, is to find happiness. Anyone who gives another reason is being disingenuous. The debate lies in where one can find it. In free Western societies, it was decided a few centuries ago that one should be allowed to find out for oneself what makes one happy and that no one should attempt to force their own version of happiness on anyone. Of course, this is never altogether true, all societies try to impose their values on individuals--recreational drugs, for instance, are illegal even in most liberal democracies. Wisdom means that some limits must be placed on experimentation.

Nevertheless, the search for happiness is very much an individual process. This is the intent of the Upanishadic insistance on calling God "the Self" (ātmā). Happiness comes from connectedness to the Self, with a capital "S", the larger self.

The Chandogya says bhūmaiva sukham, alpe sukhaṁ nasti "The Infinite is the source of happiness. There is no happiness in the trivial." (7.23) There are some who would debate this point and say that this is not true; that on the contrary, one must learn to find joy in the trivial, everyday events and circumstances of life. If one is always seeking out the grandiose, how will they ever find happiness? The secret, it seems to me, is making the connection to the Infinite. Making that connection is what I call rasa.

For the record, here is Muller's translation:
22. 'WHEN ONE obtains bliss (in oneself), then one performs duties. One who does not obtain bliss, does not perform duties. Only he who obtains bliss, performs duties. This bliss, however, we must desire to understand.'
23. 'THE INFINITE (bhuman) is bliss. There is no bliss in anything finite. Infinity only is bliss. This Infinity, however, we must desire to understand.'
24. 'WHERE one sees nothing else, hears nothing else, understands nothing else, that is the Infinite. Where one sees something -else, hears something else, understands something else, that is the finite. The Infinite is immortal, the finite is mortal.'
'Sir, in what does the Infinite rest?'
'In its own greatness-or not even in greatness.
In the world they call cows and horses, elephants and gold, slaves, wives, fields and houses greatness. I do not mean this,' thus he spoke; 'for in that case one being (the possessor) rests in something else (but the Infinite cannot rest in something different from itself).

25. 'THE INFINITE is below, above, behind, before, right and left--it is indeed all this.

'Now follows the explanation of the Infinite as the I: I am below, I am above, I am behind, before, right and left--I am all this.

'Next follows the explanation of the Infinite as the Self: Self is below, above, behind, before, right and left--Self is all this. He who sees, perceives, and understands this, loves the Self, delights in the Self, revels in the Self, rejoices in the Self-he becomes a Svarat, (an autocrat or self-ruler); he is lord and master in all the worlds. But those who think differently from this, live in perishable worlds, and have other beings for their rulers.

26. 'TO HIM who sees, perceives, and understands this, the spirit (prana) springs from the Self, hope springs from the Self, memory springs from the Self; so do ether, fire, water, appearance and disappearance, food, power, understanding, reflection, consideration, will, mind, speech, names, sacred hymns, and sacrifices - aye, all this springs from the Self. There is this verse, "He who sees this, does not see death, nor illness, nor pain; he who sees this, sees everything, and obtains everything everywhere. He is one (before creation), he becomes three (fire, water, earth), he becomes five, he becomes seven, he becomes nine; then again he is called the eleventh, and hundred and ten and one thousand and twenty."

When the intellectual aliment has been purified, the whole nature becomes purified. When the whole nature has been purified, the memory becomes firm. And when the memory (of the Highest Self) remains firm, then all the ties (which bind us to a belief in anything but the Self are loosened.
I will revise this translation better to my own liking eventually.

Here, the Upanishad argues that joy comes from the Self, and that when we seek joy in other things it comes from a disjointed view of the Self. God is joy. The secret of God's joy is found in rasa. The qualification for experiencing rasa is bhakti.

This another passage in the Brihad-aranyaka (2.4.5) that is particularly relevant:
Truly, it is not due to the love of a husband
that a husband becomes dear,
but due to the love of God
that a husband becomes dear.

Truly, it is not due to the love of a wife
that a wife becomes dear,
but due to the love of God
that a wife becomes dear.

Truly, it is not due to the love of all things
that all things become dear,
but due to the love of God
that all things become dear.
The Sanskrit for this is: na vā are patyuḥ kāmāya patiḥ priyo bhavaty ātmanas tu kāmāya patiḥ priyo bhavati na vā are jāyāyai kāmāya jāyā priyā bhavaty ātmanas tu kāmāya jāyā priyā bhavati ... na vā are sarvasya kāmāya sarvaṁ priyaṁ bhavaty ātmanas tu kāmāya sarvaṁ priyaṁ bhavati ātmā vā are draṣṭavyaḥ śrotavyo mantavyo nididhyāsitavyo maitreyy ātmano vā are darśanena śravaṇena matyā vijñānenedaṁ sarvaṁ viditam.

There are, of course, many more things besides wives and husbands that are dear because of the Self within them. Only three have been given here. The passage concludes--"Therefore hear about this Self, think on It, and fix your mind on It. When you hear, think on, and fix your mind on the Self, and when you understand It fully, then all this will be understood."

This is a really fabulous passage, and Graham Schweig's approach to it is interesting, and though not literal, perhaps correct. He has obviously based his rendition on that of Mascaro, who writes: "In truth, it is not due to the love of a husband that a husband is dear, but for the love of the Soul in the husband that the husband becomes dear." etc. The difference is the interpretation of the word ātmā.

Shankara glosses kāmāya as prayojanāya, or need. "It is not out of a need for the husband that the husband is dear, but out of a need for the Self that he is dear." These are technical differences that may ultimately amount to the same thing, but which give us new depths of understanding. Their juxtaposition reveals a powerful contrast of psychological and religious truth, however. We really seek ourselves in the Other, and thus the satisfaction we find in others is complete only to the degree that we find ourselves. Not knowing our true selves, we look for our selves in others who are equally ignorant of who and what they are in essence. Occasionally, we find common ground in a mutually shared illusion, but that is always tenuous.

We can truly love others when we recognize the Divine Truth in them. So therefore, in the Brahma-mohana lila, we have the following beautiful series of verses:

sarveṣām api bhūtānāṁ nṛpa svātmaiva vallabhaḥ
itare’patya-vittādyās tad-vallabhatayaiva hi
tad rājendra yathā snehaḥ sva-svakātmani dehinām
na tathā mamatālambi-putra-vitta-gṛhādiṣu
dehātma-vādināṁ puṁsām api rājanya-sattama
deho’pi mamatā-bhāk cet tarhy asau nātmavat priyaḥ
yathā dehaḥ priyatamas tathā na hy anu ye ca tam
yaj jīryaty api dehe’smin jīvitāśā balīyasī
tasmāt priyatamaḥ svātmā sarveṣām eva dehinām
tad-artham eva sakalaṁ jagac caitac carācaram
In all beings, O King, it is one's own self alone that one finds dear. All other things, whether children or property, are dear only because of the love one has for oneself. Therefore, O king, embodied beings never have as much affection for those like their children, wealth or homes, who are merely connected to them, as they do for the body, with which they identify themselves.

O greatest of kings! Those who identify with the body, still have more affection for the soul than for the body, to which they are so attached. Thus, when the body grows old and becomes useless, they still continue to desire life. Therefore, one’s own self is the most dear thing to every living being. It is for the self that this world exists, whether moving or unmoving. (10.14.50-57)
kṛṣṇam enam avehi tvam ātmānam akhilātmanām
jagad-dhitāya so’py atra dehīvābhāti māyayā
vastuto jānatām atra kṛṣṇaṁ sthāsnu cariṣṇu ca
bhagavad-rūpam akhilaṁ nānyad vastv iha kiñcana
sarveṣām api vastūnāṁ bhāvārtho bhavati sthitaḥ
tasyāpi bhagavān kṛṣṇaḥ kim atad vastu rūpyatām
Know this : This Krishna is the Self of all selves. For the benefit of the world, he has appeared here by his illusory potency, as though an embodied being. Those who know things in their truth see Krishna in all conscious and unconscious manifestations. They see everything as the form of the Lord and do not see any substance other than him. There is a meaningful essence present in all things, but the essence of that essence is the Lord Krishna. Please tell me if you can identify anything that is not him.

Certainly, it is necessary to understand the rasa lila in this light also. The search for loving relationships in this world is the most intensely projected search for self in the other that we know of. This search can only be fulfilled in Krishna.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A beautiful translation, my person loves reading your work (one of the better things you have written); yes, you are right in your comment - "The secret, it seems to me, is making the connection to the Infinite. Making that connection is what I call rasa."

Even though my person has not seen the original source text for verse 26 (which is not necessary), one can clearly see this translation needs a little more work on the 'etymology', especially on the word "hope", page 919 of Monier-Williams will help (see "vap" and "vāpa").

26. 'TO HIM who sees, perceives, and understands this, the spirit (prana) springs from the Self, hope springs from the Self, memory springs from the Self; so do ether, fire, water, appearance and disappearance, food, power, understanding, reflection, consideration, will, mind, speech, names, sacred hymns, and sacrifices - aye, all this springs from the Self. There is this verse, "He who sees this, does not see death, nor illness, nor pain; he who sees this, sees everything, and obtains everything everywhere. He is one (before creation), he becomes three (fire, water, earth), he becomes five, he becomes seven, he becomes nine; then again he is called the eleventh, and hundred and ten and one thousand and twenty."

Notes

"Hope" from Proto-Indo-European kub, kēwb, kwēb, kwab, variant of Proto-Indo-European kup, kēwp, kwēp, kwap:

“to smoke, fume, boil, well up, surge, flow”

Source: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Reconstruction:Proto-Germanic/hup%C5%8Dn%C4%85

vapë, either from Proto-Indo-European *u̯ēp, *u̯ǝp 'to blow; to soar' (compare Latin vapour ‎[“steam”], Sanskrit वापयति ‎[vāpayati, “makes blow”]) or from Proto-Indo-European *kēwp-, *kwēp- ‎(“to smoke, boil”)

Source: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/vap%C3%AB

N.B.* See "vap" and "vāpa" on page 919 of Monier-Williams.

http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/monier1/webtc/serveimg.php?file=/scans/MWScan/MWScanjpg/mw0919-vanezaya.jpg