Ānanda (Hindu philosophy)

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Ānanda (Sanskrit: आनन्द) literally means bliss or happiness. In the Hindu Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad gita, ānanda signifies eternal bliss which accompanies the ending of the rebirth cycle. Those who renounce the fruits of their actions and submit themselves completely to the divine will, arrive at the final termination of the cyclical life process (saṃsāra) to enjoy eternal bliss (ānanda) in perfect union with the godhead. The tradition of seeking union with God through loving commitment is referred to as bhakti, or devotion.[1]

Different meanings of happiness in Hindu philosophy[edit]

Swami Vivekananda[edit]

Swami Vivekananda has claimed that the reason different meanings of ānanda and different ways of achieving it are present in Hindu philosophy is that humans differ from each other, and each chooses the most appropriate path to ānanda for him or herself.[2]

Sri Aurobindo[edit]

According to Sri Aurobindo, happiness is the natural state of humanity, as he mentions in his book The Life Divine he informs about it as delight of existence. However, mankind develops dualities of pain and pleasure. Aurobindo goes on to say that the concepts of pain and suffering are due to habits developed over time by the mind, which treats success, honour and victory as pleasant things and defeat, failure, misfortune as unpleasant things.[3]

Advaita vedanta[edit]

According to the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy, ananda is that state of sublime delight when the jiva becomes free from all sins, all doubts, all desires, all actions, all pains, all sufferings and also from all physical and mental ordinary pleasures. Having become established in Brahman it becomes jivanmukta (a being free from the cycle of rebirth).[4] The Upanishads repeatedly use the word Ānanda to denote Brahman, the innermost Self, the Blissful One, which, unlike the individual self, has no real attachments.

Dvaita vedanta[edit]

Based on a reading of the Bhagavad Gita, Dvaita vedanta interprets ananda as happiness derived via good thoughts and good deeds that depend on the state and on the control of the mind. Through evenness of temper and mind, the state of supreme bliss is reached in all aspects of one’s life.[5]

Vishishtadvaita vedanta[edit]

According to the Vishishtadvaita vedanta school which was proposed by Ramanujacharya, true happiness can be only through divine grace, which can be only achieved by surrender of one's ego to the Divine.[citation needed]

Sri Ramana Maharshi[edit]

According to Ramana Maharshi, happiness is within and can be known only through discovering one's true self. He proposes that ananda can be attained by inner enquiry, using the thought "Who am I?"[6]

Ways of achieving ānanda[edit]

Within the various schools of Hindu thought, there are different paths and ways of achieving Happiness. The main four paths are Bhakti yoga, Jnana yoga, Karma Yoga and Raja Yoga.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. J. Bruce Long; Laurie Louise Patton (2005), "LIFE", Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. 8 (2nd ed.), Thomson Gale, pp. 5447–5448
  2. Pathways to Joy: The Master Vivekananda on the Four Yoga Paths to God 2006 , Swami Vivekananda
  3. The Life divine 2005,and he calls his way of yoga as Integral yoga p. 98-108
  4. Vedanta-sara of Sadananda. Translated and commented by Swami Nikhalananda. Published by Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata. Verse VI.217 p.117 http://www.estudantedavedanta.net/Vedantasara-Nikhilananda.pdf
  5. Dvaita Vedānta 1975, T. P. Ramachandran
  6. Talks With Ramana Maharshi: On Realizing Abiding Peace and Happiness 2000, Ramana Maharshi
  7. Pathways to Joy: The Master Vivekananda on the Four Yoga Paths to God 2006 , Swami Vivekananda