We are all in search of that something special in our lives that would give us the ultimate feeling of happiness. All that we do, all that we see, hear and think is to attain that special blissful feeling inside us. The search is on for something that we want. What it is that we are looking for? We may not know but the search goes on and this search has continued since infinite lifetimes.
The Vedic philosophy says, that this search is not confined to just one lifetime. The Vedas tell us that, “What you seek is inside you.”
What you are endeavouring to find is already with you. The supreme Lord is seated in your heart. He is perpetually and eternally with you. ‘God is perpetually with us.’ Why? because he is all pervading in this Universe.
eko devaḥ sarvabhūteṣhu gūḍhaḥ sarvavyāpī
(Shvetashvatar Upanishad 6.11)
prabhu vyāpaka sarvatra samānā (Ramayan)
mayā tatam idaṁ sarvaṁ
na chāhaṁ teṣhv avasthitaḥ
(Bhagavad Gita 9.4)
Ask a child, “Do you believe there is a God? It would normally say “Yes.” Where? “Everywhere.” Now these are words we all accept intuitively, realize that God is everywhere. That means wherever we go God is present. So we are perpetually united with him. You cannot leave him even for a moment. Can you find a spot where He is not present?
In Tretā-yug, Lord Shri Ram on His 14-year exile in the forest, came to the ashram of the Saint Valmiki. Valmiki had already by his divine vision and written the epic, Ramayan – the pastimes that the Lord will perform and was waiting for His arrival. When Shri Ram came, as a matter of social etiquette, offered His respect to the Great Maharshi and Valmiki offered his respect to His worshipable God. Lord Ram asked Valmiki “Maharshi! where should i reside in this forest?” Valmikiji gave an answer that silenced the Lord Himself !
pūñchhehu mohi ki rahauñ kahañ maiṅ pūñchhat sakuchāuñ
jahañ na hohu tahañ dehu kahi tumhahi dekhāvaūñ ṭhāuñ (Ramayan)
He said “My Lord, you have questioned me where should I reside in this forest. I will answer it, before that I have a question for you. Tell me one place in this forest where you do not reside? One place! and then I will tell you to spend your 14 years out there!”
In other words, the Lord is everywhere, so wherever we go He is present. He is perpetually with us and is eternally with us because he is seated in our hearts.
nityo nityānāṁ chetanaśh chetanānām
eko bahūnāṁ yo vidadhāti kāmān (Katha Upanishad 2.2.13)
This mantra figures in the Kathopanishad, it is also there in the Mundakopanishad and the Shvetashwataropanishad. It states that our soul is sentient not by its own power but because the supremely sentient God is seated inside the soul. The soul is eternal but not by itself but because God has made it eternal. If the God was to leave us even for a tiny fraction of a second our personality would seize to exist without him.
The Lord cannot be separated with us for a moment. He is perpetually and eternally with us. Yet we are looking for Him – isn’t that very strange? and yet we have not found him. What is the reason? There is one reason and that is Agyan (Ignorance).
ajñānamevāsya hi mūlakāraṇaṁ
Vedvyas ji Says in the Adhyatma Ramayan, the only thing separating the soul from God is ignorance. If that ignorance could be dispelled, God would be found.
We need to dispel that ignorance with the light of divine knowledge. Let us first decide what is it that we are looking for. If it was said that we are looking for something and then we jump to the conclusion that we are looking for God, one can question, ‘That is illogical. How do you assume that we are looking for God?’ We don’t want God. May be some of us do, but there are so many in the world who don’t want Him. There are many people who declare I am an atheist, a communist, a fascist and so on. There are so many theories going around in the world today and it is essential to understand our basic nature and what we seek.
The Vedas tell us, ‘ Nobody in this world is atheist.’
loke nahi sa vidyeta yo na rāmamanuvrataḥ
There is no soul in this world who is not devoted to the Lord Ram. Everyone is surrendered to the Lord. And if you may think that Valmiki committed an error, Tulsidas who wrote Hindi Ramayan confirms,
asa ko jīva jaṁtu jaga māhīṅ jehī raghunātha prānapriya nāhīṅ
He included all the living entities – the birds, the bees, the fish, etc. – they are also devotees of Lord Ram. But how is that so? It does not seems quite obvious because there is always duality in the world. There is religion – irreligiosity, God – Maya, Truth – Untruthfulness. In the same way there is believer – the devotee, and there must be an atheist. How does the Vedas say that there is nobody in this world who is an atheist?
Let us try and figure out what is our motivation in life. Ask a youngster ‘what do you want?’ He says, ‘I wish to pass my final exam in school.’ He has got his goal set. Why do you wish to clear the final exam? ‘So that I can get promotion into the next grade.’ Why do you want promotion into the next grade? ‘So that in I will become a post graduate.’ Oh! why do you want to be a post graduate? ‘As I need to get a job. I wish to be successful. If i get a good job, I can earn money.’ Yes! That’s more like it. You want money. ‘Yes’. But why do you want money? ‘With money I can get the things of this material world.’ What are the things that you want? ‘ Things to see, touch, smell and hear.’
God has given us human being five senses and we hanker for the objects of this senses. The whole world is a subject of our 5 senses and that is why we want the objects of the world for these five senses.’ Why do you want this five kind of things? ‘ Well that will give me happiness, peace, bliss, etc. Ok you want happiness. ‘That’s right.’
Let us ask another question. Why do you want happiness? ‘That I don’t know.’ We all want happiness. Why do we want happiness? We don’t know. Ask anybody in Mexico, Argentina, South Africa, Bangladesh, India, or any country. Ask anyone, ‘What do you want?’ Whatever he says, ask him why do you want it and whatever he says, ask again, What is that you want?’
Where will this chain end? In happiness. In other words we all want happiness. That is the universal goal for all of us.
Where does happiness lie? Everybody has their own decisions.
Every person’s intellect is different. No two leaves of a tree are alike. Everyone has their own personal opinion about what will give them happiness. One person thinks that if India defeats Pakistan in the final of a cricket match, it will give him happiness. The other thinks if Brazil defeats Argentina in the world cup finals, it will give him happiness. Each person has his own personal opinion, but the goal is one. So we all want happiness and it is for that happiness that we want all the other things.
Aristotle had stumbled upon this truth without access to Vedic knowledge 2,500 years ago when he said we seek honour, wealth and prestige because they bring us happiness but we seek happiness for itself and never with a view for anything further. So the primary question was – why do we want happiness? That we don’t know. We know we want happiness, why do we want it? – we don’t know.
Do we see anyone in this world who wants suffering instead of happiness? There is nobody like that, not even an insane person in a mad house. Why is that so? There is so much of variety in this world. There is variety in every aspect. Why isn’t there someone who seeks sadness instead of bliss? Everybody’s facial appearances are different, that is why you can recognise people. If everybody was moulded alike, then you would you be able to differentiate one from the other? Even our voices are different. Even the finger prints of people are different. There are 7 billion people on planet Earth, all of them have different finger prints. People’s bodily aroma is different.
But in this case, all of us have just one slogan ‘Happiness Happiness’. Did somebody teach us ‘Seek only happiness.’ We learnt everything else from our parents and teachers, “My son! always speak the truth. My child! never steal anything.” Did somebody teach us, “My child! desire only happiness. It should not come about that you start striving for misery.” This instruction was never given to us.
We never learnt anything without being taught. We were taught to recognise our mother when we were born as we had no sense of recognition. In other words, even the slightest bit of knowledge didn’t come to us naturally. Whether it was the letters of the alphabet or numerals, without being taught, we did not have any knowledge. But this big piece of knowledge, that we are only supposed to desire happiness and not misery, how did this come to us without being taught?
There definitely must be some deep secret behind this and throughout the day, all the activities that we do are also for the sake of happiness. This desire for happiness was expressed by us the very moment we were born. What is the first thing we did? we cried. Why did we cry? Because at birth we experienced distress, so by crying we revealed our nature – ‘I have not come in this world for miseries, I have come for happiness’ and since that point till today, everything we did 24 hours a day was for the sake of happiness.
Why then is this desire within us? This is the fundamental question of spirituality and our spiritual journey begins with this question. A great part of the answer to that question can be found if we can find out the nature of God.
In the Taittariyopanishad – the Bhrigu Valli, a discussion takes place between Bhrigu and Varun. Bhrigu was a great sage in Indian history. He desired to attain divine knowledge and decided to ask his father Varun, a great Brahmagyani and make him his Guru. So Bhrigu went to Varun and said,
adhīhi bhagavo brahmeti” (Taittiriya Upanishad 3.1)
Oh Sage! today I have come not as your son but as a student. I wish to know that supreme entity whom somebody calls Bhagavan, and some Paramatma. Others call him Brahm or God. Who is that?
yato vā imāni bhūtāni jāyante yena jātāni jīvanti
yatprayantyabhisaṁviśhanti (Taittiriya Upanishad 3.1)
God is He from whom all living beings have emanated, God is He within whom all living beings are seated, God is He into whom all living beings will merge finally. Have you understood? Bhrigu drew a blank face and Varun realized that God is not a matter to be explained in words.
tad brahmeti (Taittiriya Upanishad 3.1)
“Go and practice austerities and you will realize Him from experience.” Bhrigu followed suit.
sa tapo’ tapyata
sa tapastaptvā (Taittiriya Upanishad 3.1)
He went and performed severe austerities and he experienced deeper and deeper realizations that is described in the Bhrigu Valli. Finally he realized,
ānando brahmeti vyajānāt
ānandādhdayeva khalvimāni bhūtāni jāyante
ānandena jātāni jīvanti
ānandaṁ prayantyabhisaṁviśhantīti (Taittiriya Upanishad 3.6)
He said God is bliss or ‘Anand.’ All of us souls have emanated from that bliss, we are situated in that bliss, we shell merge into that bliss. When Bhrigu said that, Varun said ‘Very good my son! you have understood the nature of God.’
In other words God is Anand or Bliss in nature. That is why the word for God in Sanskrit is Satchitānanda.