Love. Love has no synonyms in the English language. There are a few synonyms that the google thesaurus throws up, but none are even close to the original word’s meaning. It is surprising how one of the most used words in the most widely spoken language has no perfect synonyms. On the other hand, Sanksrit has ninety-six words that express love. In Sanskrit, the love of a mother for her daughter is expressed through a word which is different from the word used to express love for a friend. Neither am I a scholar in Sanskrit, nor do I wear a saffron band over my chest. All I am trying to convey here is that there may not always be an exact word for a feeling in a single language.
One such feeling which does not have an uncompromising exact word in English is the feeling of Ananda. Needless to mention, Ananda is not an English word. It is a Sanskrit word. Ananda is often translated as bliss. But bliss is Ananda’s closest incapable cousin in the English dictionary. A few more words along with bliss may explain Ananda. Ananda is everlasting bliss that is not dependent on time, place, circumstances, possessions,
or anything else.
When I was in college, I won a business competition. The winning prize was a trip to Thailand. This is when I got on my first ever flight, for my first ever journey outside of India. Living those moments of first (and free!) travel made me feel ecstatic. When I got through a B-school in my late 20s, I studied sincerely for the first time (and the only time). At the end of 2 years, I got the gold medal. The sense of achieving what I worked for made me feel ecstatic. Like many my age, I like traveling. Especially driving cross country, outside of my own country (India). On every such travel till now, zipping through the green countryside, I have been ecstatic. Between and beyond, in my short lifespan, there have been several such moments of joy, bliss, and happiness.
Lucky to have had them, these moments of happiness are different from Ananda. These moments were dependent on circumstances, time, place, fulfillment of desire etc. Had it not been my first flight, I would not have been that ecstatic. Had I not got the Gold Medal, I would not have been ecstatic. If I would have not been able to drive, in my kind of setting, then I would not have been ecstatic. Unlike this kind of condition dependent happiness, Ananda is the joy which is not dependent on circumstances, time, place, desire, or any other condition. Ananda is unconditional. It is happiness with no apparent reason. However, it must not be mistaken for absence of distress, for it exists even in situations of distress.
Lofty as it may sound, Ananda exists. I say so because I am experiencing it. I am certainly not illusioned, because I see many on the same path who are experiencing much more of this kind of bliss than I do. My conversations with them confirm that we feel the same way, but the intensity varies. Of course, we are not feeling the way we feel because of free flights, gold medals, road trips or international settings. Our sense of bliss is just there, without any precondition. This happiness is deep in the heart, yet palpable on the face and in actions.
I am a regular Joe. I have never had dreams of God, or a hair-on-end mystical encounters. But I am getting to feel a way which is not ordinary.
Every day is stressful, but I am not stressed.
Chaos is all around me, but I still feel blessed.
The usual ups and the unforgiving downs,
do not bother the joy that knows no bounds.
Ananda is not part of a nomenclature for collective imagination of folks on my path. Nor is it the result of some occult magic. Rather, it is the stated result of a scientific and joyful process (pratyaksavagamam dharmyam su-sukham kartum avyayam) called Bhakti Yoga. The science of Bhakti Yoga is detailed in the Srimad Bhagavatam
– the summum bonum of the Vedic theology. This science states that the foundational cause of Ananda or unconditional joy is Love. Love for God. Love for God is not a subjective sentiment but objective unmotivated service in action to a person God. The Srimad Bhagavatam also details God more than any other book of theology. It tells who God is, where he lives, what he does, how he does what he does, what is our relationship with him and much more.
In this age where happiness is dependent on and is mistaken for the thrill of acquisition, The Srimad Bhagavatam is liberally, without any discrimination or secrecy distributing Ananda – happiness with no strings attached
Author Name – Anunay Arora