The Essence of Dharma-20.


Spoken on February 11th, 1973)

Yesterday we had a musical performance. The music was so beautiful; all were thrilled. While listening to that exquisite music, I was thinking of the levels of happiness explained in the Taittiriya Upanishad. The lowest happiness is of food and sex. That is human happiness. This is one unit of human happiness, says the Taittiriya Upanishad. We have got plenty of it, and so we regard it as a unit of happiness. Higher than that is the happiness of music and dance. That is Gandharva-loka. The Taittiriya Upanishad tells us that Gandarva-loka is higher than the human world. We will not think of food and sex when we are in the ecstasy of music and dance. Even a king will not think of it.

But higher than that is the realm of pure thought. That is Pitri-loka. The beauty of literature, for example, is higher than the beauty of music. When we read Shakespeare we will be simply transported. We will not like to hear music at that time because the mind is in a still higher realm. Or read some passages from the classics of Tamil scholars. I am not a Tamil scholar, but I have heard of the greatness of their masterpieces. Only those who know Tamil will appreciate it. Wonders are revealed in treasures of Tamil literature. Literature is higher than music, while music is higher than the pleasure of physical contact.

Higher than the pleasure of pure thought and literary beauty is the pleasure or the delight of knowledge, Brihaspati-loka. Higher than that is the pleasure or delight of spirituality. That is divinity, godliness. So ultimately the Upanishad tells us that spirituality is the highest happiness. Lower than that is knowledge. Lower than that is literature and learning. Lower than that is music and art. Lower than that is the happiness of physical contact.

So dharma is connected with this tremendous mystery of the gradation of happiness and reality. Gradation of happiness is gradation of reality; the higher the reality, the greater is the happiness. Reality is bliss, sat is ananda. Such being the case, dharma is an inward growth into the nature of reality. It is not performance of an external action. Dharma is, therefore, an awakening of oneself into the consciousness of a more intimate contact with being.

To be continued ...

Swami Krishnananda


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