Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Vedanta - Part 31

VEDĀNTA the solution to our fundamental problem
D. Venugopal

D. Venugopal is a student of Swami Paramarthananda and a direct disciple of Pujya Swami Dayananda. He has successfully completed the long-term residential course in Vedanta and Sanskrit conducted from May 2002 to July 2005 at the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Anaikatti.




Buy from Amazon US

Buy from Amazon UK
. Available from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan centers at London, New York and Sydney.

. Also through the IBH Books & Magazines Distributors Pvt. Ltd. - contact In case of difficulty, can be contacted.


Publisher: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
ISBN: 978-81-7276-457-9
Format : Paperback
Pages: 324
List Price: US$7.00

Where to Buy


Go to Part 30

III - Anantam is Änanda

We may now go into the subject of anantam. Anantam is limitless in terms of all factors that cause limitation, namely, time, space and object. In other words, it is fullness or pürëatvam in every sense. Çruti often uses the word änanda in the place of ananta [209] since what is ananta is änanda. Chändogya Upaniñad says: “That is änanda which indeed is the infinite. There is no änanda in the finite. The infinite alone is änanda” [210]. The reasoning is simple. Where there is infinite, there can be no want, and where there is no want, there can be no unhappiness.


It is relevant to note in this context as to how Sage Yäjïavalkya explains to his wife the need for the true recognition of ätmä. He says that we are fond of only that which gives us pleasure [211]. Whatever we love is not for the sake of the object, but for the sake of what is dear to us. And, “This self is dearer than a son, dearer than wealth, dearer than everything else” [212]. When we say, “I love you”, we really mean, “You please me now”. It is as though we love our pleased self. The position that emerges through his reasoning is:

• We do not love anything for its own sake;

• We love only that which pleases us;

• We love ourselves the most;

• The self is, therefore, our primary pleasure;

• Therefore, it is the self that should be recognized by us in its true nature.

As for the objects in all lokas and the body-mind-sense-complex, they are limited and cannot be änanda, since only that which is complete in all respects (pürëah) is änanda. We, however, think that we derive happiness from the desired persons, objects and situations since we are happy when our sense organs are in contact with them. But this does not stand scrutiny as, if any person, object or situation were the source of happiness to us, they should give joy to all of us, at all times. But, this is not the case, as none of them is the source of constant happiness to anyone. In fact, we enjoy the sleep while not experiencing any object at that time. Money and comfort also do not mean happiness, as many are unhappy even though they have them and some are happy even though they do not have them. We are like the dog that considers the bone that it bites to be the source of its pleasure even when what makes it happy is the taste of its own blood that oozes when it bites the bone. All persons, objects and situations, like the bone, play only an incidental role, as we shall now see.


Çästra reveals that we are happy when ananta called, in this context, as brahmänanda or ätmänanda is manifest in our mind in the form of våtti. The våtti is comparable to the reflected face in the mirror when the mind is the mirror and ätmänanda is the face. In this context, ätmänanda is called bimbänanda and änanda experienced in the mind is called pratibimbänanda [213].  The doubt that naturally arises is as to why we are not permanently happy when ätmä is itself änanda. The explanation lies in the fact that even though ätmä is änanda-svarüpa, änanda can be experienced by the mind only when it is in a state that does not oppose the limitlessness of ätmä. The mind does not vitiate limitlessness only when it stops projecting or when it is resolved. The mind is non-projecting when it is not assuming, not desiring [214], not willing and not seeking or rejecting anything outside or inside. This happens when we experience something that makes us non-judgemental and non-demanding. As for the resolution of the mind, it takes place during sleep and in the state of absorption during meditation [215]. During these occasions of non-projection and resolution of the mind, the unobstructed completeness is experienced as happiness through the våttis in the mind. Its duration and degree are dependent respectively, on how long and how far our mind does not obstruct it. The våttis that are experienced are of three levels of happiness called

. priya, which is like the pleasure that we have while seeing a desired object,

. moda, which is less inhibited than priya and is comparable to the pleasure that we have while possessing the desired object and

. pramoda, which is less inhibited than moda and is similar to the pleasure that we have while enjoying the desired object.

Any state of experiential happiness is because of the presence of these våttis in the mind.


Another question that arises is as to how the opposite of happiness, which is sorrow is in us when ätmä is änanda. Similar questions can also be raised as to how cit, which is knowledge, accommodates ignorance and how sat which is existence, sustains unsubstantial appearances. All distinctions of happiness, sorrow, misery, ignorance, misapprehension, form, characteristics and other limitations are due to the upädhi of the body-mind-sense-complex, which imposes its nature on ätmä. Änanda will be in its full natural state in us when we drop the identification of ätmä with the limited body-mind-complex through ätmajïäna. This änanda is not experienced in the mind as a våtti but is intrinsic änanda, which is our true nature and which is self-existing. As such, it is not conditioned in any way. It is not subject either to arrival or departure. It is also not graded in its intensity. It is therefore sensible to seek ätmajïäna rather than persons, objects and situations that are conducive for experiencing temporary and limited änanda, which is but a semblance of ätmänanda. [216]


209. vijñänamänandaà brahma (Båhadäraëyka Upaniñad,, änanda ätmä (Taittiréya Upaniñad, 2.5.1.), änandaà brahmaëo vidvän (Taittiréya Upaniñad, 2.9.1.), änando brahmeti vyajänät­ (Taittiréya Upaniñad, 3.6.1.)
210. Yo vai bhümä tatsukhaà nälpe sukhamasti bhümaiva sukham| 7.23.1.
211. Ätmanastu kämäya sarvaà priyaà bhavati| All is dear not for the sake of all, but for one’s own sake. (Båhadäraëyaka Upaniñad, 2.4.5.).
212. Båhadäraëyaka Upaniñad, 1.4.8.
213. This is also called koçänanda.
214. Taittiréya Upaniñad (Brahmänandavalli, 8.) and Båhdäraëyaka Upaniñad (4.3.33.), which present a comparative picture of the happiness enjoyed in this world and in the higher worlds, make it clear that we have to be free from desire (akämahataù) to enjoy happiness.
215. This state attained during the meditation is called samädhi.
216. Etasyaivänandasyänyäni bhütäni mäträmupajévanti | On a very particle (or semblance) of this änanda, other beings (ajïänés) live. (Båhdäraëyaka Upaniñad, 4.3.32.).

Go to Part 32


Page last updated: 04-Aug-2016