The CONCEPT OF HAPPINESS in the Bhagavad-Gita: similarities and contrasts withe the hegemonic paradigm in the west

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The CONCEPT OF HAPPINESS in the Bhagavad-Gita: similarities and contrasts withe the hegemonic PARADIGM in the WEST
Dr. Thiago Pelúcio Moreira
Universidade Federal da Paraíba

Abstract: The Bhagavad-Gita is a classical epic of Indian Literature, philosophy and religiosity which combines the poetic license of a Ancient scripture with the clarity and applicability required by an universalist philosophical-religious treatise. Due to the historical context associated with it, which involves existential conflicts much alike the ones we face nowadays, its teachings and values are a rich source for such questions like “Why are we alive in this world?”. The purpose of this work is to discuss the concept of happiness behind the Bhagavad-Gita, and compare it with the notion of happiness dominant in our society nowadays. The closest notion in the Bhagavad-Gita To what we call happiness the one expressed by the Sanscrit Word Sukha. According to the Gita, the experience of happiness takes place in different degrees; And these degrees are strongly related to the involvement of the individual with the Gunas, or the archetypal of thought and Behavior Which predominates in him or her. We hope with this work to contribute to a better understanding of the concept of happiness in the Bhagavad-Gita And how it might be applied in our modern society.

Key-Words: Happiness, Hinduism, Bhagavad-Gita

The Idea of happiness can be associated with many concepts, making the goal of specifying it a very laborious task of being carried out (Corbi and Menezes-Filho, 2006). Happiness is Naturally a perception predominantly subjective, being subordinate more to traits of temperament and posture before life Of That To externally determined factors (Ferraz, Tavares and Zilberman, 2007).
Today, happiness is elevated to the constitutional degree in several legal systems. In this context it is important to cite the Kingdom of Bhutan, a small country in the Himalayas region, which establishes as a social indicator a national index of gross happiness (Infb), measured according to indicators that involve WellBeing, culture, education, ecology, standard of living and quality of government. (Rubin, 2010).
Gross Internal happiness (Fib) is a concept that was born in 1972, elaborated by the Bhutanese king Jigme Singya, Yaya Wangchuck. Since then, the Kingdom of Bhutan, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has begun to put this concept into practice, and has attracted the attention of the rest of the world with its new formula to measure the progress of a community or nation. Thus, the calculation of “wealth” should consider other Aspects In addition to economic development, such as the conservation of the environment and the quality of life of people. (Lustosa and Melo, 2012). As an example of the relevance of happiness in contemporaneity one can observe the Gallup survey conducted by Forbes magazine in 155 countries, made from interviews conducted between 2005 and 2009, in which Brazil figures as the 12th Happiest country in the World (Rubin, 2010).
As it will be clear later in the elaboration of the theoretical framework, the current Western civilization is immersed in a search for happiness in an ephemeral and superficial way, which tends to lead the vast majority of people who are interested in this proposal to dive into Constant oscillations of frustration and depression. Hence the importance of seeking other references, such as various forms of spirituality, as a more harmonious resource to lead to a search for pleasure far beyond the Perception External.
Another factor that is associated with higher rates of happiness is commitment to faith, either through religiosity or through spirituality (Ferraz, Tavares and Zilberman, 2007). While religiosity presupposes an organized system of ritualistic beliefs and practices, spirituality consists in a search for the meaning of life and the establishment of a relationship with the sacred and the transcendental, without Necessarily Spend Development of religious practices or participation in a community. People who describe themselves as religious or spiritualists tend to report higher indices of happiness and satisfaction with life. In addition, such individuals seem to deal better with adverse events occurring in the course of their lives, such as unemployment, illness or mourning. It is believed that there are at least two reasons that would explain this association. First, spirituality provides a sense and purpose for people’s lives, answering a series of existential questions that commonly lead to anguish and unhappiness. The second reason is that, by participating in rites in which there is a congregation of believers, the religious tend to feel less lonely, and perhaps therefore happier.
The wisdom and spirituality that come from the Orient can be an important framework for assisting a review of the concept of hegemonic happiness in the west. It stands out from this area all the spring that can be explored in the various traditions and scriptures of India, in particular the Bhagavad-Gita (BG).
The Bg is a treatise on yoga, presenting it in all its potentialities for the sacred connection of the human with the divine. It derives from tradition Vaishnava. It became famous outside of India especially after the second half of the twentieth century, after the widespread dissemination by the preceptor Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (Samorano, 2007).
The aim of the present study is to discuss the concept of happiness that permeates Bhagavad-gita by comparing it with the hegemonic happiness referential in today’s society. Having as a backdrop the relevance and theoretical referential above, this article has as its structure the following topics: The paradigm of happiness in the West; Happiness in Bhagavad-Gita (Questionings of Arjuna; External happiness; Inner happiness; Relationship between happiness and gunas; Discussion and Conclusion.

The paradigm of happiness in the West
Human well-being is composed of two basic dimensions: the objective and the subjective dimension. The objective dimension is that which is publicly determined, observed and measured externally, which is reflected in the living conditions recorded by indicators of nutrition, health, housing, crime, etc. The subjective dimension consists of the internal experience of each individual, that is, everything that passes in your mind spontaneously from the Perception of reality to its surroundings. We also note a reciprocal dependence between both of them from the observation of extreme situations: if the objective side of welfare does not fill Requirements (food, housing, health), well-being is very difficult to achieve. On the other hand, the reverse is also true. For someone terribly depressed, even surrounded by luxury and comfort, living becomes a great heartbreak. Happiness is something that is in a field of intersection between these two dimensions of welfare.
Other researchers have already credited happiness with a totally internal dimension, albeit influenced by external factors. Hence, it is common to use today the denomination of subjective well-being, which would be what the laity call happiness, pleasure or satisfaction with life. (Costa and Pereira, 2007).
Happiness in contemporaneity, in this age of hyper-consumption, provides worship to the immediate sensations, the pleasures of the body and the senses, the Schnozzle of this. This translates into a deepening attempt to be happy exploring the reality selfishly (Scorsolini- Comin, 2009).
Doubtless, we live in a time in which the promise of happiness, now separated from its connotations with the sacred, would be at the end of the path of a behavior we would call a hedonist. Hedonism is not a modern invention. And it may have had several versions throughout history.
In generic terms, it can be said that hedonism Noticeable Currently proposes to extract from individual freedom the maximum of available pleasure, which would be the equivalent to be happy. The available term signals the possibility of consumption of all the offerings that technological progress makes at disposal. The more we can consume, the more we will be happy. This is the promise built into the belief propagated by the means of production. (Franco-Filho, 2009). That thought has some assumptions.
The first one points not only that one can be happy, but that one must be happy. This posture implies a radical change in psychic structures, a condemnation to the guilt of not being happy. As a consequence, the burden of unhappiness is lived. And the price of such thought is paid with suffering (Franco-Filho, 2009). Happiness has become an imperative, a mixture between duty and right that slaughts people (Challque, 2011).
The second highlights the trails and attitudes that all people must adopt to achieve happiness. What is implied (or hidden) in the proposal is the contradiction in it: that individual freedom in the choice of pleasures is foolished, when not denied, by the fact that they care for the standard people of achievement of Pleasure. (Franco-Filho, 2009).
The third premise concerns the notion of pleasure to which it is directed. This pleasure does not derive from the exercise of virtues, but of the ability to have pleasurable sensations. This implies the primacy of sensory pleasure, the one provided by the senses that the body houses (Franco-Filho, 2009).

Throughout history, the notion that was about happiness differed greatly from the present. For the ancient Greeks, happiness was a gift of the gods, not on the merits of people, but by chance or fate. There would be no human interference in the encounter with this good, which would therefore be beyond the control of man. In classical Greece, the question becomes different. Happiness is taken from the territory of the gods and placed in the hands of men, although there was no illusion that it was easy to reach it. This position seems to be contained in the ideas of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. These authors saw happiness as a compilation of many lived qualities, among them, virtue. The virtuous man could be happy, but this condition could only be assessed after his death. At this point, the rational factor in the possession of happiness is inserted. Virtue would organize lives according to a pre-established order and, by this rational correspondence, happiness would arise (Franco-Filho, 2009).
For Aristotle, happiness is not reduced to obtaining pleasures or honors, but it consists of a certain activity of the soul in conformity with virtue, which is in harmony with the affirmation that the goods of the soul are goods in a higher and complete sense than the goods And the goods of the body (Rubin, 2010).
From the Illuminism to Design World in the west begins to revolve around the belief that every human being has the right to attain happiness. In the same line, the idea of the French Revolution establishes that the goal of society must be to obtain the happiness of its citizens (Ferraz, Tavares and Zilberman, 2007).
From the above we can reflect: are people happier today than in the past, with all the material and technological advances we have? The incredible increase in life expectancy that assures us that we can live more years than our ancestors increments our happiness?
There are researches that have attempted to quantify, in some countries, the welfare dose afforded by the socio-economic situation of people. The result pointed out that, to a certain level of economic prosperity and organization of social systems, self-declared welfare indices seem to increase. But only to a certain level. From there, growing prosperity, does not grow the feeling of well-being. Everything indicates that there is a lower return in terms of happiness (Franco-Filho, 2009).
There may be many different reasons to explain why an increase in income does not directly translate into an increase in happiness. Certainly, one of the most important is the fact that individuals Compare themselves Among themselves. Thus, the level of absolute income is in the background, having a greater importance the position of the individual relative to the others. (Corbi and Menezes-Filho, 2006).

Happiness in Bhagavad-Gita
The plot of the BG It is conducted amid a fratricide battle, where the mighty warrior Arjuna is perplexed at the pesto situation of fighting his own relatives and preceptors. In this situation he resortes to the instructions of Krishna, his relative and friend, who later was recognized by himself as the Supreme (Prabhupada, 1972).
The BG is an excerpt from the Mahabharata, the greatest epic in the history of civilizations. There is no need for the exact date of when it was written, but it is estimated to reassemble the 5000 years (Duarte, 1999). For didactic reasons BG was divided into 18 chapters. The texts presented here come with their numbering preceded by the chapter.
For a better understanding of how the notion of happiness permeates the BG, the texts below are ordered in the following groupings: Arjuna’s Questions; Happiness captured by the senses (outside); Happiness Experienced by the spirit (interior); Relation of happiness with the gunas, or archetypes of behavior.
It is noteworthy that the word happiness was captured in the BG Through the original Sanskrit Sukha or related terms (Sukham, Sukhi Etc). In some texts it was not translated as happiness, but similar terminologies, such as pleasure etc. We used the translation of the texts by Winthrop Sargeant (2009). Although we use a single term in Sanskrit (Sukha) This was not always translated by the word happiness, assuming other similar meanings, such as pleasure (Es), Beatitude and pleasant.

Questions of Arjuna
As already emphasized in some previous paragraphs, the inquiries of Arjuna are resulting from his discomfort to fight on the opposite side to his masters and familiars. The four verses listed below summarize the confusing situation by which the warrior passed:

1.32. I do not wish victory, Krishna, nor kingdom nor pleasures. What is a kingdom to us, Krishna? What is happiness, and even life?
1.33. Those on the grounds of whom we desire, kingdom, happiness and pleasures, they are here enqueued on the battlefield abandoning their lives and riches.
1.37. Therefore, we have no justification for killing the children of Dhrtarastra, our own relatives. How, having killed our own people, could we be happy, Krishna?
1.45. Ah! We are determined to commit a great sin, preparing to kill our own relatives for greed for the pleasures of royalty.

In the verses above Arjuna does not define or approach some conclusive meaning for happiness, but indirectly relates it to material aspects  such as kingdom, pleasures, riches, etc. The opposition between life (bliss) and death (unhappiness) also appears implicit.
In this way, the Idea if happiness that treats this section has close relationship with sensory happiness, captured externally, in this work defined as exterior. The next section will clarify the characteristics of the outward happiness manifested in BG.

External Happiness/Bliss
This type of happiness, originating primarily from the Perception Sensory, is clearly present in the dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna especially in some verses of Chapter 2, where the notion of equanimity is revealed, that is, the need to perceive the seemingly antagonistic eternal events, such as the cold and heat, as at the same level, the temporary and material, and therefore indignity of great importance. Note below the five verses in which we highlight the Idea of equanimity:

2.14. Truly, Arjuna, Perceptions Sensory that cause cold, heat, pleasure or pain come and go and are impermanent. Then strive to tolerate them, Arjuna.
2.15. In fact, the man who does not let himself be afflict by the Perception Sensory, O Arjuna, who is wise, for whom happiness and sadness are the same, is ready for immortality.
2.38. Considering pleasure and pain the same, as well as gain and loss, victory and defeat, then enter the battle! That way you won’t incur sin.
2.56. He whose mind is not stirred in misfortune, whose desire for pleasures disappeared, whose passion, fear and Wrath departed, and whose meditation is stable, is said to be a sage.
6.32. He who sees equality in all, in the image of his own self, Arjuna, whether in pleasure or in pain, is said to be the Yogi Supreme.
6.7. The supreme self of the one who conquered his own I is peaceful and determined both in cold and in warmth, both in pleasure as in pain, both in honor as in dishonor
The above-mentioned information in the verses reveals that the one who is wise (2.15), who is the Yogi Supreme (6.32) or who conquered his own self (6.7), is not affected by the apparent impermanent dualities (2.15). According to the 2.14, These dualities should be tolerated with voluntary effort. The following two verses emphasize why happiness when not fetched through the above-exposed determination has its range of :
4.40. It is destroyed the man who is ignorant and has no faith, whose nature is of doubt. Neither this world nor the beyond nor happiness is for the one who doubts.
16.23. He who acts under the impulse of desire, leaving aside the injunctions of Scripture, does not attain perfection, neither happiness, nor the highest goal.
The doubt about the real identity of the being (4.40) blocks the reach of happiness in any dimension. When confused and without Resolution To keep equanimity the I act Influenced by desires and also fails in a true experience of happiness (16.23). One of the verses that best serves to define the nature of the foreign happiness mentioned in the BG is the 5.22 (pleasures born of the senses, in fact, are sources of pain, since they have a beginning and an end, Arjuna. The sage does not delight with them).

Inner Happiness/Bliss
As previously emphasized, inner happiness is that attested internally, regardless of the experience of the senses. In the two verses below it is clear how the range of this profound Experience of happiness depends on discipline, of resolute interest to achieve it:
2.66. There is no wisdom in that which is uncontrolled, just as there is no concentration in that which is uncontrolled, and there is no peace in that which does not concentrate. How can there be happiness for the one who is not peaceful?
5.13. Rending all actions within the mind, the bodied being is happy, as ruler in the city of nine gates, not acting in any way, nor causing action.

The explicit attitude in the verses above brings as a consequence, inner happiness, also observed in other terminologies such as bliss, endless happiness, etc. The verses below individually emphasize both attitudes necessary to achieve inner happiness as differentiated qualifications of this happiness:”
5.21. The one whose “I” is detached from the outward sensations, which finds happiness in the I, whose I is United with the Brahman Through yoga, achieves imperishable happiness.
6.21. He knows the infinite happiness that is attained by the intellect, transcends the senses and, thus established, does not turn from the truth.
6.27. The Yogi whose mind is pacified, whose passions have calmed down, which is free from sin and has become united with the Brahman, it achieves higher bliss.
6.28. So disciplining himself constantly, the yogi, free from sin, easily finds the Brahman, and achieves endless happiness.
That is, the one who is detached from external sensations (5.21), transcended the senses (6.21), whose mind is pacified, the passions calmed down and is free from sin (6.27) and that discipline itself Self-free of sin (6.28) achieves imperishable happiness (5.21), infinite happiness (6.21), higher bliss (6.27) and endless happiness (6.28).
Below are three other verses that relate inner happiness with transcendental energies, such as the Brahman and Krishna himself in the dialogue with Arjuna:
5.24. He who finds his happiness in the interior, his delight in the interior and his light in the interior, this Yogi Reaches the Beatitude Of Brahman, becoming Brahman.
9.2. This is the king of Knowledge, the King of Secrets, the supreme scrubber, fully comprehensible, of virtuous morality, pleasing to practice and imperishable.
14.27. I am the refuge of the Brahman, of the immortal and the imperishable, of eternal virtue and of absolute bliss.

Relationship between happiness and Gunas
The verses below were extracted from chapters 14 and 18 of the BG and describe how happiness is according to the Gunas, which in the context of human action correspond to the archetypes of behavior, with peculiar characteristics for each of them:
14.6. These Sattva, free of impurities, illuminating and disease-free, conditions by attachment to happiness, and by attachment to knowledge, Arjuna.
14.9. Sattva Cause attachment to happiness, rajas to action, Arjuna; Tamas, obscuring knowledge, causes attachment to neglect.
18.36. And now hear from me, Arjuna, the three kinds of happiness that you enjoy in practice, and for which you reach the end of suffering.
18.37. That which at first seems Poison But that in the end is like nectar; This happiness, born of the tranquility of Own mind is known as that of Sattva.
18.38. The one that, in the beginning, by the contact between the senses and its objects, is like nectar, and that in the end it seems poison, is known as that of Rajas.
18.39. The happiness that from the beginning to the end elude the self, born of sleep, indolence and neglect, is known as that of Tamas.
From the foregoing, it can be observed that the happiness of Sattva  holds a relationship with tolerance and austerity in the face of dual and impermanent situations. For those who overcome this seemingly insipid phase, it then sprouts true happiness. Those influenced by Rajas and Tamas, in turn related respectively to action and neglect, are also materially conditioned as in Sattva, but they lack the spirit of key self-denial for the necessary mental control for the conquest of inner happiness.

By comparative analysis of the texts of the BG, Arjuna’s doubts are also included in the same category of those texts of foreign happiness. The key text to conceptuate the notion of foreign happiness is the 5.22 (pleasures born of the senses, in fact, are sources of pain, since they have a beginning and an end, Arjuna. The sage does not delight with them.)
The inner happiness, in turn, has as key text the 5.21 (the one whose I is detached from the outward sensations, which finds happiness in the I, whose i is united with the Brahman through yoga, achieves imperishable happiness). This full happiness can be achieved more easily by approaching attitudes related to the mode of the nature of Sattva, as follows in the text 18.37 (that which at the beginning seems Poison But that in the end is like nectar; This happiness, Born of the tranquility of her own mind is known as that of Sattva).
The happiness of Sattva Is born of the tranquility of the mind itself, as well as in other three verses, the pacification of the mind is also referred to as very important, which suggests that the state of Sattva is important for the attainment of inner happiness.
5.13. Rending all actions within the mind, the bodied being is happy, as ruler in the city of nine gates, not acting in any way, nor causing action.
6.27. The yogi whose mind is pacified, whose passions have calmed down, which is free from sin and has become united with the Brahman, it achieves higher bliss.
2.56. He whose mind is not stirred in misfortune, whose desire for pleasures disappeared, whose passion, fear and Wrath departed, and whose meditation is stable, is said to be a sage.
On the other hand, happiness linked to Rajas and Tamas has three other verses that clarify its main characteristics as more linked to the notion of foreign happiness:
5.22. Pleasures born of the senses, in fact, are sources of pain, since they have a beginning and an end, Arjuna. The sage does not delight with them.
4.40. It is destroyed the man who is ignorant and has no faith, whose nature is of doubt. Neither this world nor the beyond nor happiness is for the one who doubts.
16.23. He who acts under the impulse of desire, leaving aside the injunctions of Scripture, does not attain perfection, neither happiness, nor the highest goal.
Observing from an academic standpoint, some researchers of happiness observed that the happiest people reported higher frequency of positive affections, but no greater intensity. Thus, seeking feelings of ecstasy related to new events (for example: in career or in loving relationships) leads much more to the disappointment than for happiness (Ferraz, Tavares and Zilberman, 2007). As it puts the text 18.38, the interest in euphoria is characteristic of Rajas, where contact with the objects of the senses promotes immediate sensation of happiness, which ultimately leads to frustration.
Some authors discuss the so-called “tyranny of Freedom”, that is, the dangers of excessive autonomy, considering that the emphasis placed on self-determination became exaggerated, and may lead to dissatisfaction and depression. It is an important task to correct this distortion, seeking values that can lead to satisfaction and the attribution of a positive meaning to existence. (Ferraz, Tavares and Zilberman, 2007).
The overall assessment of life is based on two sources of information: how well the individual feels and how it compares to several patterns of success. People with a high level of subjective well-being would be satisfied and happy, thus possessing the well-being a cognitive component (satisfaction) and another Emotional. (Costa and Pereira, 2007).
Comparing happiness in BG and the hegemonic nowadays, we can infer that even the most basic and preliminary understanding of happiness present in BG, the exterior, for suggesting the importance of equanimity, is inconceivably superior to the concept experienced and desired in the West. In BG The senses are not mentioned as the source of pleasure, but as an instrument perceptive which must be harmonized with the interest of the true Self (6.7). In this way, as the 2.38 points out, one can be in the battle of life with much more chance of victory.

1.The hegemonic notion of happiness in the West is, according to the authors surveyed, centered on an individualistic and Hedonistic vision, predominantly fetched externally.
2.The BG Mentions external happiness in several of its verses, but strongly recommends that it should be sought internally for it to be effective and lasting.
3.The relationship between happiness and Gunas suggests that the way Sattva is more appropriate as a benchmark for seeking inner happiness.

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About the Author:
Adjunct Professor at Universidade Federal da Paraíba.

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