The Bliss

In Hinduism, encountering God often involves deep feelings of rapture and bliss. The Brhadaranyaka Upanishad tells us that "he whose world is Brahman becomes an ocean, the one seer, free from duality.... This is his highest bliss."21 In other Upanishads we find that this "supreme bliss" is held very dear by Yogins.22 Brahman is "the all-illuminating, the bliss greater than the great, the form of eternal bliss... the supreme nectary essence." He is also "the great one of the nature of bliss, that which illuminates all illuminaries."23 The Yogin who comes to realize Brahman "becomes immersed in an ocean of bliss." That "brightness which is indescribable" is also "the nature of unrivalled bliss."24

Whoever reaches this "all-pervading" and "ever resplendent" source of all light also enjoys "supreme bliss by his attaining the state of Brahma."25 The "wise who perceive Him" come to realize that "'this is it'." Thus "they recognize the highest, indescribable happiness."26 The "blissful Immortal that gleams forth" can be seen by the wise.27 Once one is capable of "seeing the real bliss-form through Yoga," then "even in the burial ground, life is in the garden of bliss."28

Hindu scriptures other than the Upanishads agree on this point. The Vedanta Sutra states quite plainly that "God is All-Bliss."29 The Yoga Sutras claim that this highest realization is "the acquisition of extreme happiness."30 According to the Bhagavad-Gita, knowledge of the Divine leads the devotee to "supreme peace."31 The Hindu sage Ramanuja, commenting on the Upanishads, agrees that Brahman possesses "infinite bliss."32

The Upanishads go on to claim that light and bliss are essential components of the human soul. This "soul (Atman) is obtainable by truth.... Within the body, consisting of Light, true is He...."33 Similarly, "the light of man is the soul."34 Atma (or Atman) is "the nature of the jyotis (light)... illuminating all."35 This Atma is "golden or effulgent Light into which all the universe is absorbed."36 The "Self-Light alone" is "immaculate,"37 and Atman "shines by Its own light...."38 Knowledge of the Self (which is Atman) leads to moksha (liberation), which is "the entire removal of all kinds of pain and the attainment of Supreme Bliss."39 For the true seeker of Divine knowledge, "the self alone becomes his light."40 The Atma is "the nature of happiness, which is Supreme Bliss."41 The same point is made poetically in the Kundika Upanishad:

Stirred by the wind of Illusion
the waves of the whole universe
Repeatedly rise and fall
within me, the ocean of bliss.42

The Upanishads say that God and the human soul both have characteristics of light and bliss because Brahman and Atman are essentially the same. In a famous commentary on the nature of truth, the Chandogya Upanishad relates the following:

That which is the finest essence --
this whole world has that as its soul.
That is Atman. That art thou, Svetaketu.43

This point is made even more explicitly in the Maitreya Upanishad:

I am free from space and time.
Mine is the joy of the unclad...
My form consists of total light;
The light of pure consciousness am I.44

The same Upanishad goes on to say that "the light which shines higher than this heaven... is the same as this light which is here within a person."45 The Taittiriya Upanishad spells out that "the knower of the unity of the human person with the Universal Being attains unhampered desire."46 The latter Upanishad goes on to make the same point in verse:

Oh Wonderful! Oh Wonderful! Oh Wonderful!
... I am the first-born of the world order;
Earlier than the gods,
in the navel of immortality!

Who gives me away,
he indeed has aided me!
I, who am food,
eat the eater of food!
I have overcome the whole world!47

Other Upanishads tell us that "this shining immortal person who exists as a human being -- he is just this Soul, this Immortal, this Brahma, this All."48 That which "disappears in Indra becomes Indra only... that which disappears in bliss becomes bliss only."49 Another inquires, "May I behold that light which is thy loveliest form! He who is that Purusha, he I am!"50 The Brhadaranyaka Upanishad makes the same point quite explicitly:

This self is like honey to all creatures.
All creatures are like honey to this self.
And that Person in this self,
who consists of light,
who consists of immortality,
that indeed is he who is that self.
This is the immortal.
This is Brahman.
This is the All.51

Similarly, the Maitreya Upanishad makes very clear identification of the soul with God, in several verses:

I am Siva...
I am the Seer of all...
I am the emancipated One...
I am the Light...

There is no doubt that he who has realized himself
thus, is Myself.
Whoever hears (this) once becomes himself Brahman,
yea, he becomes himself Brahman.
Thus is the Upanishad.52

The Supreme Being, who is eternal,
pure, enlightened, free, true,
subtle, all-pervading, unique,
and an ocean of bliss,
-- I am He, the inner essence.
Of this I have no doubt.53


Among the most compelling statements to this effect are found in the Bhagavad-Gita:

Also this is said to be

the light of lights
That is beyond darkness;
It is knowledge,
the object of knowledge
and that which is to be
attained through knowledge.

It is seated in the hearts of all...
For I am the foundation of Brahman,
Of the Immortal and the Imperishable,
And of everlasting virtue,
And of absolute bliss.54


Divine Encounters

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"Divine Encounters"
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