Search of Real Happiness – Three Modes of Nature

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Well, we all are after happiness. Certainly that’s true.

Be a small school going child he finds happiness when he gets a sweet to eat, or when his teacher appreciates him in the school.

Or working employee, he finds happiness if he gets some bonus or when his boss praises.

But we find that even though we all are after happiness, not all of us happy.

Frankly, happiness is something that everyone is searching for, whether under communist or capitalist systems or even among animals. However, the problem is that people do not know how to be truly happy. Famous Prahalad Maharaj the devotee child, said that people do not know how to find true happiness.

On the contrary at times we find that the person who has a lot of opulence (money) he is not that happy, he has a lots of tensions! And a person who may not have enough resources he may be a lot more peaceful and satisfied that the rich man. How come that be?

Also, the happiness that a man gets does not always last the same, some persons are happy only occasionally and others stay joyful always. How come that be?

This reveals to us not all happiness of the same type, there are multiple types of happiness.

Types of Happiness

In our today’s discussion we discuss about different types of happiness as taught by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.

Krishna teaches that there are three different types of happiness in this material world and there is actually a fourth that will be discussed later.

sukhaṁ tv idānīṁ tri-vidhaṁ
śṛṇu me bharatarṣabha
abhyāsād ramate yatra
duḥkhāntaṁ ca nigacchati
O best of the Bhāratas, now please hear from Me about the three kinds of happiness by which the conditioned soul enjoys, and by which he sometimes comes to the end of all distress.

****~ Gita 18.36

Cause of varieties of Happiness.

Krishna explains that when a living entity enters the material world, it becomes contaminated by what is known as "Maya."

Krishna explains that the living entity is originally pure, meaning that it is engaged in its constitutional position of service to the Lord in the spiritual world. When we leave the spiritual world and come to the material world, we become impure and there is nothing but misery, making it difficult to find true happiness.

Just like rain waterer rain water is originally pure but the moment rain water hits the Earth it becomes mixed with mud. If you capture the rain water before it hits the Earth you can even drink it but the moment it hits the Earth you can't drink it so the living entity is originally pure originally pure but after we come in contact with the material world we become contaminated.

When a living entity comes in contact of material world, he becomes influenced by the three modes of Sattva, Rajas and tamas.

The three types of happiness that a living entity can experience include happiness in the mode of goodness, happiness in the mode of passion, and happiness in the mode of ignorance. Each of these types of happiness has its own specific characteristics and consequences.

1. Happiness in the Mode of Goodness (Sattva Guna)

Happiness are Krishna explains that happiness in the mode of goodness is that which in the beginning may be bitter like poison but in the end it becomes nectar.

yat tad agre viṣam iva
pariṇāme ’mṛtopamam
tat sukhaṁ sāttvikaṁ proktam
That which in the beginning may be just like poison but at the end is just like nectar and which awakens one to self-realization is said to be happiness in the mode of goodness.

~ Gita 18.37

Some examples of happiness under this category include but not limited to :

  1. Happiness of reducing our body’s fat.

    One who is fat and he wants to get a fit body he has to daily do rigorous exercise, he has to give up over eating as well.

    After months of continuous practise he is able to get a proper fit body.

    But is this process easy ? Everyday the exercise one did was not pleasing at all, that was like the poison.

    But once he becomes fit, he will becomes diseased a less number of times, he will then enjoy nectar.

  2. Cricket Player

    He does not become experienced player in the day one, experience and quality of one’s bating is result of many years of practise.

    Everyday the practise one does, the running that one does, the sweat that one loses that is like a poison

    But with practise one gets the fruit, one then enjoys the nectar he becomes experienced player, and one can score a large number of sixes.

Even more happiness in the mode of goodness is characterised by its potential for spiritual transformation.

The spiritual instructions in the beginning may appear like poison, may appear to be very troublesome, but with a continous practise one starts to get higher understandings. He starts to experience spiritual happiness.

Just like a sick patient, he's taken to the hospital and when he has to follow the diet of the hospital naturally he feels restricted. Nobody likes being put under restriction but the doctor puts the patient in restriction because unless there's some restriction the patient will not recover.

So similarly when we get exposed to spiritual life when you come in contact with the saintly personality you have to follow some rules and regulations. And when you have to follow these rules and regulations in the beginning they are painful.

Just like the child that is told by the mother you can't suck the thumb in the mouth naturally the child that is used to sucking the thumb in the mouth protest when the mother tries to stop this habit.

So similarly when one is told give up bad habits, non vegetarian food stuff such as meat, fish and eggs, asked to give up intoxication give up illicit relations with opposite gender, give up gambling and accept meditation on the names of Lord Krishna, one protests.

But we know that patient who follows the doctor's prescription eventually recovers even though in the beginning he may be opposing the prescription similarly one who abstains from sinful activities and follows the Lord's teachings eventually that happiness which in the beginning was bitter becomes sweet.

Check here for more steps on how we can develop Sattva Guna.

2. Happiness in the mode of Passion (Rajo Guna)

Happiness in the mode of passion is driven by unlimited desires, increasing in nature, and constantly leading to a struggle for satisfaction. This type of happiness leads to dissatisfaction and an inability to focus on the goal of life.

विषयेन्द्रियसंयोगाद्यत्तदग्रेऽमृतोपमम् ।
परिणामे विषमिव तत्सुखं राजसं स्मृतम् ॥ ३८ ॥

yat tad agre ’mṛtopamam
pariṇāme viṣam iva
tat sukhaṁ rājasaṁ smṛtam

That happiness which is derived from contact of the senses with their objects and which appears like nectar at first but poison at the end is said to be of the nature of passion.

~ Bhagawad Gita 18.38

We have multiple types of senses : information gathering senses (eyes, tongue, nose, ears, skin) and action performing senses (hands, legs, mouth (voice), genitals and rectum).

Krishna says that happiness which is derived from contact of the senses with their objects in the happiness in mode of passion.

Just like the eyes want to see, in the cheapest form persons satisfy the eyes by seeing something vulgar , in this they're very happy.

Then taste, when the tongue can eat food without discrimination then they're very happy that is taste.

Smell, the nose is always anxious to smell something nice that is why people use fragrances. Some of these fragrances so expensive they equal to two months of a person’s salary in the Western countries. In fact when you go into a big department store the first Department that is there in every store is a fragrance department because the sense nose wants to smell something so they use fragrances so person buys more and more.

But for this happiness obtained from contact of the senses with the objects in the beginning there's some instant pleasure but later on that pleasure becomes bitter just like when you take chewing gum or bubble gum in the beginning it is very sweet for few minutes within few minutes the sugar coating goes away and then it becomes bitter and then you throw it out.

So that is exactly what material life is in the beginning it makes it look very attractive just like people are smoking and drinking now when they smoke and drink in the beginning they may get a little high, they may feel a little joyful but what is the final result of this, one becomes frustrated, one ends up becoming drug addict.

We do not understand that our immediate pleasure tendency may make us happy today but in future this returns immense pain.

For example, today we may eat a lot of sweets, but months later our teeth will have cavity!

Today a person may take cigarette and become happy, but years later his lungs will be damaged!

3. Happiness in the mode of Ignorance (Tamo Guna)

Happiness in the mode of ignorance represents a state of laziness and idleness, where one is unaware of the purpose of life and spends most of their time sleeping.

यदग्रे चानुबन्धे च सुखं मोहनमात्मन: ।
निद्रालस्यप्रमादोत्थं तत्तामसमुदाहृतम् ॥ ३९ ॥

yad agre cānubandhe ca
sukhaṁ mohanam ātmanaḥ
tat tāmasam udāhṛtam

And that happiness which is blind to self-realization, which is delusion from beginning to end and which arises from sleep, laziness and illusion is said to be of the nature of ignorance.

~ Bhagavad Gita 18.39

For a person in the mode of a ignorance, from beginning to end there nothing but distress they just sleep all day.

When i was in college, on my hostel bed it was written “there lived a person who slept for more than 24 hours”

Most of my college friends do not see the morning, they only wake up when its 12 pm.

On Sunday’s they do no do anything but sleep. For such a person he will not be able to attain anything substantial in his life, he only wastes his life he is not contributing to the world.

But there is a fourth type of happiness as well.

When one becomes free from the three modes of material nature, he situates himself Pure Goodness (Suddha Sattva), which means liberation, then the happiness obtained is never ending.

Ultimate Happiness in Suddha Sattva

This is only possible when one engages all of his senses in the service of the Lord. As Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita,

सर्वधर्मान्परित्यज्य मामेकं शरणं व्रज ।

अहं त्वां सर्वपापेभ्यो मोक्षयिष्यामि मा श‍ुच: ॥ ६६ ॥

sarva-dharmān parityajya
mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo
mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ

Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.

~ BG 18.66

When one surrenders fully to the instructions to Krishna, then he will obtain unlimited happiness. Because he will be protected by God.


Finally, happiness in the mode of goodness is equated with the passage of spiritual life, where one gains an understanding of the importance of following divine teachings and ultimately transcends worldly limitations.

In Passion and ignorance, one may feel a sense of happiness but that will only result in misery in the future, one must endeavour a lot to keep himself in the Sattva Guna so that one can at least get happiness in Goodness.

Together, these types of happiness represent the journey of a living entity towards spiritual enlightenment.

And ultimately one should try to raise himself to the standard of Suddha Sattva.

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