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Human Pleasure And Infinite Bliss – Teachings From Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (I-4, 2, 5, 6, 8; 1-5, 16-17; II-4-5, IV 5-6) has many statements regarding human pleasure and infinite bliss.

Prajapati, the first born among living beings and with no other living being besides him at the time of creation, was frightened by his utter loneliness. He desired to have another companion with him. So, he split himself into two, the man and the woman. Then he not only overcame the fear of loneliness but had the pleasure of having a wife. To acquire a desired object is indeed a matter of joy. The idea seems to be that pleasure is largely a matter of interpersonal relationship, whether it is gods or men or even animals. Indeed, this interpersonal relationship between the first man and the first woman marked the beginning of al creation.

Yajnavalkya in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad tells Maiterayi, his wife, that when one is the supreme sovereign of the entire world, one may enjoy the world’s joys but mot the supernal beatitude and felicity of absolute freedom. This immortal bliss cannot be won by wealth.

Yajnavalkya expounds the seat and source of joy as one’s own self. Everyone without exception desires pleasure through the acquisition of desired objects which is identical with the true self of one’s own. A thing becomes desirable only because of this self. So if one intends to seek immortal joy, he should strive to know the self by listening to its exposition, by thinking about it rationally and by steadily contemplating it (that is, by sravana, manana, and nididhyasana).

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (IV-3.21), while explaining why one does not know his blissful state in deep sleep, says that bliss is like that of lovers embracing each other, unaware of anything around them, external or internal. The reality does not have anything like inside or outside.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad further says that in this bliss in sleep, there is no relationship – like father or mother, gods and goddesses, or even with Veda. There are no castes, neither evil nor good (IV-3.22). Just like transparent water, the self is in its natural state of being a witness of the blissful state of the sleep. This is the Supreme Bliss. All the people of the world thrive by a particle of this pure bliss (IV-3.32). Vyasa says in the Mahabharata – ‘The sense pleasures of this world and the great joys of heaven are not equal to one-sixteenth of the bliss that results from the abandonment of desires’. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (IV-3.33) analyses the Brahman bliss just as Taittiriya Upanishad does.

Upanishads, which are Vedanta, are thus unanimous in declaring that moksha (liberation) is to realize the reality which is the very form of bliss. Hence, bliss is the summum bonum of all endeavors, the supreme goals of life.