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Three Types Of Happiness And Three Gunas In Hindu Religion

The pursuit of happiness is a basic teleological urge motivating all human behavior. The reveller in the streets, the scientist involved in cutting-edge research, the connoisseur of art and the meditation adept, each derives immediate or prospective pleasure from his or her specific engagement – physical, intellectual, emotional or spiritual. But that pleasure is never unmixed. In its classificatory scheme of happiness (sukha) based on the three gunas, the Bhagavad Gita tells us that sattvika sukha is a result of prolonged, repeated and taxing effort that matures into a psychophysical state of joyous equanimity (abhyasad ramate yatra duekhantao ca nigacchati). All higher forms of pleasure are defined by this category.

Sensual pleasure, on the other hand, is rajasika and is characterized by an immediate sense of gratification. This satisfaction is not only transient but ends up in misery for various reasons. The third category of tamasika sukha is delusion of happiness (sukhao mohanam atmanae). The lazy and the callous, whose only source of happiness lies in sleeping it off, comprise this category of tamasika people, and their number is by no means insubstantial.

The bottom line of this categorization is the fact that unalloyed joy in the phenomenal world is a chimera. This realization had dawned on humanity as an inescapable fact early in its civilizational march. On the one hand, it impelled people into the struggle for material betterment, and on the other, it turned them to that introspective reflection which blossomed into the religious impulse, a defining characteristic of humanity.

Sourceexcerpts from Prabuddha Bharata editorial October 2005 Issue