Karma Yoga Sastra -Tilak
THE CONSIDERATION OF HAPPINESS AND UNHAPPINESS
If worldly life does not consist only of happiness, but is always a mixture of pain and happiness, the third question which naturally arises in due course is, whether there is more of happiness or of unhappiness in life. Many Western philosophers, who look upon Material Happiness as the highest, goal of life say, that if there were more of pain than of happiness in life, many, if not all, persons would not have troubled to live worldly life, but would have committed suicide. But, in as much as man does not seem to be tired of living, he must be experiencing more of happiness than of unhappiness- in life, and therefore, happiness must be looked upon as the highest goal of man, and the question of morality and immorality must also be solved by that standard. But, making suicide depend in this way on worldly happiness in not, really speaking, correct. It is true that sometimes a man, getting tired of life, commits suicide; but people look upon him as an exception, that is, as a lunatic.
From this it is seen that ordinarily people do not connect committing or not committing suicide with worldly happiness, but look upon it as an independent thing by itself ; and, the same inference follows if one considers the life of an aboriginy, which would be looked upon as extremely arduous by civilised persons. The well- known biologist Charles Darwin, while describing in his Travels the aboriginies he came across in the extreme south of South America says, that these aboriginies, men and women, remain without clothes all the year round, even in their extremely cold country ; and, as they do not store food, they have for days together to remain without food; yet, their numbers are continually increasing But, from the fact that these aboriginies do not commit suicide, no one draws the inference that their mode of life is full of happiness. It is true that they do not commit suicide ; but if one minutely considers why that is so, one will see that each one of these persons is filled with extreme happiness by the idea that "_I_am a hum an being and not a beast " ; and he considers the happiness of being a human being so much greater than all other happiness, that he is never prepared to lose this superior happines of being a man, however arduous his life may be. Not only does man not commit suicide, but even birds or beasts do not do so.
But can one, on that account, say that their life is full of happiness ? Therefore, our philosophers say, that instead of drawing the mistaken inference that the life of a man or of a bird or beast is full of happiness from the fact that they do not commit suicide, the only true inference which can be drawn from that fact is that: what- ever the nature of a man's life, he does not set much store by it, but believes that an incomparable happiness lies in having become a living being (sacetana) from a lifeless being (acetana), and more than anything else, in having become a man. It is on that basis that the following rising grades have been described in the Sastras : —
bhutanam pramnah sresthah pramnam buddhijivinah I buddhimatsu narah srestha naresu brahmanah smrtah II
brahmanesu ca vidvamsah vidvatsu krtabuddhayah I krtabuddhisu kartarah kartrsu brahmavadinah II
References And Context
- Darwin's Naturalist's Voyage round the World, Chap. X.
- (Manu. 1. 96. 97; Ma. Bha. Udyo. 5. 1 and 2).