Happiness, the Ultimate Objective in life
Every conscious being desires pleasure, peace and bliss. Transmigration of a soul leads to a wide spectrum of pleasure and pain through different births and rebirths, which are on account of its different karma, positive and negative both.
The result is that the soul must transmigrate from one life to another to receive the reward of its pleasure and pain. This being the case, the human life is truly karma-based. Other life forms (animals, birds, insects, etc.) primarily to go through the rewards of the past karma.
The soul occupying the human form obtains the knowledge of all kinds of things and then may get detached therefrom leading to the possibility of acquiring the pure bliss through the realization of self and God. Unless we acquire the true knowledge of the material things, we cannot achieve self realization. God realization is still a long step ahead. Without self realization, we cannot be happy in a total sense.
All the worldly experiences come with the dual shades of pleasure and pain. What is pleasant today may become painful tomorrow. Mother-father, husband-wife, brother-sister, and other similar close and sweet relations may get sour and sometimes it is seen that they even turn into enemies. In this context, Bṛhad-āraṇyakopaniṣad (2.4) says: “Maharṣi Yājñavalkya had two wives – Kātyāyanī and Maitreyī . At one point he decided to renounce the life of the householder and enter into monkhood. Then he called both the wives and said to both of them, that before entering into monkhood, he would like to distribute his wealth between two of them, so that there is no dispute later on. Then Maitreyī asked: “if I get the entire wealth of the earth then will I attain immortality”. Yājñavalkya replied, no. He further explained: “Your life will be as that of a wealthy person. The absolute bliss is not obtainable by the material wealth”. The following reply by Maitreyī is a lesson for all those who are dedicated to the material wealth. She said, what doesn’t bring me the absolute pleasure of immortality is of no value to me.”
Thereafter,Yājñavalkya shared his insights about the close worldly relationships. He said: “A husband is not dear because he is a husband. But this is so because he is a means to obtain several pleasures. So, he is dear. Likewise, a wife is not a darling because she is my wife. This is so because she is the source of several pleasures. Children are not dear to us because they are our sons and daughters. They are dear to us because they satisfy our desires. Money is not dear to us because it is wealth. It is dear to us because it is a means to fulfil our desires. In the same manner, all living beings and material goods are dear to us until the point that they fulfil our desires”. It is seen in the world that there are several mother-father, husband-wife, sons-daughters, brother-sister, friends, relatives, etc. who are not interested in seeing or talking to each other. After death, nobody wants to keep a dead body of even the most beloved person and they gradually emerge out of the associated grief, too. If there is a fire in the house then nobody takes the risk to save gold, silver, diamond and other precious stones by jumping into the flames. Thus, it is clear that one loves a living being or a material thing as long as that meets the desires. If it goes against our will then the friends become foes.
Therefore, it is evident that the worldly relations and things are mixtures of pleasure and pain. The permanent joy can never be obtained from them and that is possible through self-realization only. That was the parting ward of Yājñavalkya to Maitreyī, “O Lady! This is the inner spirit that is worthy of seeing, hearing, and contemplation and the soul is the one that we should be focused to. Hey Maitreyī ! Once we have seen, heard and known the inner soul then all mysteries disappear.” Self-realization leads to the true knowledge pertaining to the matter and material things. Once such a true knowledge is obtained, then the undue attachment towards them loosen their anchors. After self-realization, an individual neither becomes happier when an object of pleasure is received and nor does he become sad when they are taken away. It is an indescribable state of a human being, just as a dumb person can taste the sweet taste of honey but is unable to express it. Such is the state of the person who has succeeded in self-realization.
The soul experiences pleasure and pain with the help of the senses and the body domain. As long as the soul is connected to the sense organs, it is bound to experience pleasure mixed with pain. Chāndogya Upaniṣad (8.12.1) states, “The gross body will definitely face death whereas the soul is undying and immortal. As long as the soul resides in the body it can never get away from pain along with pleasures of life. On the other hand, the soul that is free from the bondages of the body experiences pure bliss forever and is untouched by the worldly pleasures and pains.” Likewise, Gītā says, “Hey Arjun! The soul doesn’t experience heat and cold and other diversities because they are absorbed basically by the sense organs. Only when the soul resides in the body, does it feel the pleasure and pain.”
The Vedic Rishis unlocked the secret of the mechanism that could lead to a state in which the soul remains unbounded from a body and yet can enjoy the eternal bliss of the ultimate reality, God, for several billion years. During this great length of time period, soul is not only without a material body and experiences the nectar of pure bliss but, can traverse in the universe at its free will. Such a state bears the name of emancipation or salvation (Mokṣa). Rishis identified the practices of Yoga that eventually lead us to Mokṣa. Practice of meditation eventually can enable a person to know one’s true self, the true nature of matter and also that of the universal spirit of God while remaining within the boundaries of the present gross body. This is only possible through a life of proper code of conduct, that is Yama and Niyama and progressive deeper meditation leading to the state of Dhyan and Samadhi. When that is achieved, one can taste the nectar of pure bliss.
 सा होवाच मैत्रेयी यन्नु म इयं भगो सर्वा पृथिवी वित्तेन पूर्णा स्यात् कथं तेन अमृता स्याम ?
Sā hovāca Maitreyī Yannu ma iyaṁ bhago sarvā pṛthivī vittena pūrṇā syāt Kathaṁ tena amṛtā syāma ?
 यथैव उपकरणवतां जीवितं तथैव ते जीवितं स्यात् अमृतत्वस्य तु न-आशा-अस्ति वित्तेन।
Yathaiva upakaraṇavatāṁ jīvitaṁ tathaiva te jīvitaṁ syāt amṛtattvasya tu na-āśā-asti vittena.
 येन अहं न अमृता स्यां किम् अहं तेन कुर्याम्। Yena ahaṁ na amṛtā syāṁ kim ahaṁ tena kuryām.
 न वा अरे पत्युः कामाय पति प्रियो भवति। आत्मनस्तु कामाय पतिः प्रियो भवति।।
Na vā are patyuḥ kāmāya pati priyo bhavati. Ātmanastu kāmāya patiḥ priyo bhavati.
 न वा अरे जायायै कामाय जाया प्रिया भवति। आत्मनस्तु कामाय जाया प्रिया भवति।।
Na vā are jāyāyai kāmāya jāyā priyā bhavati. Ātmanastu kāmāya jāyā priyā bhavati.
 न वा अरे पुत्राणां कामाय पुत्राः प्रिया भवन्ति। आत्मनस्तु कामाय पुत्राः प्रिया भवन्ति।।
Na vā are putrāṇām kāmāya putrāḥ priyā bhavanti. Ātmanastu kāmāya putrāḥ priyā bhavanti.
 न वा अरे वित्तस्य कामाय वित्तं प्रियं भवति। आत्मनस्तु कामाय वित्तं प्रियं भवति।। आदि…
Na vā are vittasya kāmāya vittaṁ priyaṁ bhavati. Ātmanastu kāmāya vittaṁ priyaṁ bhavati. Ādi…..
 आत्मा वा अरे द्रष्टव्यः श्रोतव्यो मन्तव्यो निदिध्यासितव्यः। Ātmā vā are draṣṭavyaḥ śrotavyo mantavyo nidi-dhyāsi-tavyaḥ.
 मैत्रेयी- आत्मनो वा अरे दर्शनेन श्रवणेन-मत्या विज्ञानेन-इदं सर्वं विदितम्। (बृहदारण्यकोपनिषद् 2.4.5)
Maitreyī – “Ātmano vā are darśanena śravaṇena-matyā vijñānena-idaṁ sarvaṁ viditam.” (Bṛhad-āraṇyakopaniṣad 2.4.5)
 मघवन्मर्त्यं वा इदं शरीरमात्तं मृत्युना…. आत्तो वै सशरीरः प्रियाप्रियाभ्यां न वै सशरीरस्य सतः प्रियाप्रिययोर् अपहतिर् अस्त्यशरीरं वाव सन्तं न प्रियाप्रिये स्पृशत। (छान्दोग्योपनिषद् प्रपाठक 8, खण्ड 12 )
Maghavan-mrtyaṁ vā idaṁ śrīram-āttaṁ mṛtyunā……… Ātto vai saśarīraḥ priyāpriyābhyāṁ na vai saśrīrasya sataḥ priyāpriyayor apahatir astyaśarīraṁ vāva santaṁ na priyāpriye spṛśata. (Chāndogya Upaniṣad prapāṭhaka. 8, Khaṇda 12 )
 मात्रा स्पर्शास्तु कौन्तेय शीतोष्ण सुख-दुःखदाः। (गीता 2.14) Mātrā sparśāstu Kaunteya śītoṣṇa sukha-duḥkhadāḥ.” (Gītā 2.14)