Sunday, September 01, 2013

Happiness & Context

People will fundamentally agree that happiness is one of the chief things they seek from life. There is a upanishadic ultra short story on how a person meets and experiences the state of happiness.

A hunter after a long day's chase decides to spend the night under the tree. Upon waking up in the morning he hears the roar of a lion. He quickly climbs up a tree and sits on a branch. In a few moments he notices that a poisonous snake is approaching him from the bark of the tree and as he slowly recedes away from the snake he is pushed to the edge of the branch. One more step and he falls down. Right below the edge of the branch is a pond with an alligator waiting to devour him. He can swing and fall on the ground beside the pond. But the lion awaits him there. As the snake slowly slithers towards him and he is considering all his no-win choices, drops of honey from a leaking bee nest above falls on his face and mouth. He licks that and feels the sweet taste of honey. He experiences happiness. [1]

This was meant to illustrate in a 'there is no day without night' kind of way on the context in life in which happiness can be felt. The story is a metaphor and could represent the kiss of a small child when you are in great sorrow or a 2 hour gettogether with old friends in a marriage when you are going through a lot of stress. It could be a metaphor for why people read and reminisce olden day epics, ithihasas and puranas. On why Sri Thyagaraja or Sri Krishna Premi melt in tears when they talk about Rama or Krishna. People reminisce about epics, gods, saviours and puranas because these stories are like a drop of honey sweetening their mind when it is full of tials, tribulations and challenges. Recursively the epics and puranas themselves were not without the snakes, lions and the alligators. They were anything but nostalgic utopia  filled with happiness, clear blue skies, peace and joyous dancing. Those epics were about how in moments of great trials and tribulations man was touched by a moment of happiness. Those stories may have been about other things. But in all of them there was certainly an inspiring story about how it was darkest before dawn. That is why people read them and reminisce about them

[1] from an oft repeated anecdote in Velukudi Krishnan's lectures