24 – Tattva Bodha: What is Ananda in Existence-Consciousness? (Satchitananda Definition)


Discourse 24 answers word ananda when used along with sat-cit. Is it bliss or limitlessness?

Source: Tattva Bodha


  • Sat:
    • TIME: Truth of time, and truth of every object within time.
    • SPACE: Also truth of space. Easiest way to understand space is distance between two objects, which can be reduced to smaller units. Can’t find final unit of space. But entire measurement (from big to smallest measurement) enjoys existence. So existence is the substratum because of which concept of space is, and not that it exists in space.
    • OBJECTS: Each level of object, from the particle to the functional organ/tree/water/etc depends on “IS”. Water-IS. Liver-IS. Atom-IS. 
  • Cit:
    • Sat is not inert. It’s cit (consciousness). Usual way of understanding consciousness is that it’s confined to individual knower. However it obtains in and is the content of:
      1. Pramata (knower): The knower is a function in the Subtle-Body, called ahamkara (I-sense / ego) that assumes status of a conscious knower when pervaded by cit. The relationship between knower and Consciousness is like between pot and clay. The pot is constantly shifting-and-shaping, indicative of one's various moods and opinions about oneself all life long. But no matter what size and shape the pot assumes, it's always clay. The clay is equated to Consciousness — the content that makes up the Knower (Subject).
      2. Prameya (objects): It's easy to say sentient beings (with subtle body) enjoy consciousness.  However with inert objects, you need to bring in an intervening factor (all-knowledge), which arranges particles at every level to create a complex form or cell. And this very all-knowledge has no reality apart from consciousness. 
        • In Chandogya Upanishad, CH6 — the father uses metaphor of salt dissolved in water to describe how knowledge (the salt) permeates consciousness (the water). Just as the salt cannot be seen but is present throughout the water, knowledge (maya) is throughout consciousness and cannot exist separately from it.
      3. Pramana (means of knowledge): For any knowledge to take place, need a mind. When thought occurs in mind and corresponds to empirical-object, then knowledge takes place. Content of the mind’s thought is also consciousness.
    • Content of the 3 above is consciousness that remains equally true in 3 periods of time (past/present/future).

Verse: What is Wholeness/Fullness (ānanda)?

ānandaḥ kaḥ? sukhasvarūpaḥ
What is ānanda? It’s in form of fullness.

  • In tradition, ānanda is to be understood as anantam (limitless); which is the real meaning of ananda when it's used along side sat-cit.
  • Limitless means: There is no two. If sat-cit was one thing, and time-space was another, then both limit each other.
    • But if there’s no two things, how come I see many? Because of ignorance of satya-mithya relationship.
      • Satya: enjoys independent existence.
      • Mithya: Because it depends on something else for it’s existence, can’t say it’s really there (sat). Also can’t say it’s non-existent (asat/tuccham), because it’s empirically true.  Mithya enjoys an in-between existence.
    • How to appreciate existence of mithya?
      • I say it’s cup. You say it’s glass. Who is more right (since cup/glass are not synonyms)? The glass is more right. If say cup is more right, then if you take away glass, cup is gone. Cup is not besides the glass, it’s nothing but glass. So cup becomes mithya (it’s useful, enjoys a name-form, and it’s empirically-true), and glass satyam.
        • Point being all mithya forms at each level depend on sat-cit. Meaning sat-cit isn’t somewhere at the end, it obtains in every mithya. And presence of each mithya, doesn’t limit sat-cit. Because the smallness of cup belongs to mithya, while sat-cit is through-and-through each form.
      • Through satya-mithya relationship, we see there are no two things. There’s only one which obtains as many.
    • FIRST MISTAKE: Word “ananda” is mistaken as literal meaning, “bliss”. And further reinforced by ānandamaya kosha, mentioned 3 types of happiness. Then person says that sat-cit’s bliss is even higher then the 3 (priya, moda, pramoda). Which produces another notion that I will feel “bliss” when I know the final reality (sat-chit). This is fallacy, because it means Existence-Consciousness is within time (since the bliss will only come in future when sat-cit is known), and not here NOW.
    • SECOND MISTAKE: If characteristic of sat-cit was “bliss”, then there would be bliss all the time in all objects, animals and people. Which means you can't take “ānanda” as any type of experience. Only “limitlessness” is appropriate, since “limitless/formless” is that which has no attributes.
  • Why is word “ānanda” (bliss/happiness) used then?
    • 1ST WAY OF LOOKING AT IT: What is everyone looking for? Permanent freedom or fulfillment (ānanda). Initially via external or internal manipulation (EG: Yogi changing mind/prana). Permanent freedom comes when you shift paradigm from thinking “I’m one individual who has to engage in world to be happy”, to “I am the truth of whole universe”. When I understand my “I” in manner keeping with what the real nature of “I” is (as answered in atma kaḥ verse) — there is permanent fulfillment (ānanda). Until then, nothing is adequate, thus a perennial searcher.
    • 2ND WAY OF LOOKING AT IT: Even with little ānanda’s you experience by engaging with objects, what’s the real source of ananda?  Object/time/place/thoughtlessness? No.
      • So then how is the happiness experienced? Seeker (the wanter who wants things to be a certain way) and sought (person, object, state of mid) comes together as one whole. In that resolution, one get’s a glimpse of one’s limitlessness, which manifests as ananda (happiness); uninhibited/unrestricted momentarily. Like dust temporarily blowing off a mirror, and enjoying larger intensity of the sun’s reflection. Similarly, a seeking mind creates a division.
      • How is the seeker/sought resolution resolved permanently in moksha? Thought knowledge. I cognitively appreciate there’s no real division between seeker/sought, as both are sat-cit. I am truth of both. In me, there is as though, a seeker and sought. For example, during dream, there is one character with whom you identify as “I”, and objects which “I” chases and has a happy experience. The happiness is borrowed from you; the conscious being.
    1. What is “ananda” referring to?
      • Word “ananda“, when used in context of sat-cit-ananda, is not to be understood as an experience — but that which is without division / limitless / fullness / wholeness / undivided.
    2. What is the proof “ananda” is my true nature?
      • Everything innocently moves towards it’s own nature. EG: Water finds way of least resistance to overcome obstacles. Plants grow towards sunlight. Birds migrate to warmer climates. Babies cry when hungry. Similarly your entire life is about moving towards happiness, and further away from sorrow. Thus happiness (a glimpse of your fullness), must be My nature. 
    3. Why is there division if am the whole?
      • Ignorance of satya-mithya relationship, as discussed above.
      • Because mind is enveloping Awareness, and mind is looking through one body; making it seem there is a division between you (as body-mind), and everything else. Objects may be outside your mind, but the objects nor the mind is outside Awareness. This is explained last sessions with: pramata, prameya, pramana.
    4. What is the cause of suffering?
      • Thinking the seeker (I-sense) is different from the sought (objects). Thus life becomes a series of chasing objects to temporarily resolve the seeker and experience happiness. And as we said before, happiness is not your nature. It's only giving you glimpse to your limitless sat-cit nature. Not knowing this, the fella writes a book like, “How to be happy”, which becomes a best-seller, further reinforcing the false idea in the society that the goal of life is to be happy. According to Vedanta, happiness is incidental consequence of your engagement in world. It may come, or not come, and comes at various degrees. The purpose of life is to free yourself from the need to chase happiness. Ironically, cessation of need to have more happiness in my life, is what produces happiness, because the pressures of expectations are gone.
    5. What is ignorance?
      • Ignorance is to believe or think that “I need to experience the bliss of my nature by doing some action”. This is observed in Yoga world, by those who hold Patanjali Yoga Sutra book as dear as Vedanta holds the Upanishads. The idea is to practice deep meditation for years, until you attain nirvikalpa-samadhi — which is a state of extended seeker-sought resolution (as spoken of in this session and previous). Yes, it's the greatest pleasure that can be experienced in the universe. However one has to work decades for it, and it only lasts mere minutes, and still doesn't remove beginningless ignorance. Vedanta has a much simpler solution — it helps you understand that you ARE nirvikalpa (one without a second). Like space, in presence of many houses, space is never divided.  Therefore the real nirvikalpa-samadhi is cognitive knowledge, “I am never divided, despite the seeker/sought division”.

Verse: In conclusion…

evaṃ saccidānanda-svarūpaṃ svātmānaṃ vijānīyāt
Thus one should know oneself to be of the nature of Existence-Consciousness-Fullness.

  • OBJECTION: Why don’t I see sat (existence), unlike in a glass? Because [pure/unqualified existence] existence is not available as any given object that can be objectified. Unqualified sat is only evident to you, in your buddhi, as self-evident I. Through enquiry, you have to release your sat-cit, which is limitless, from it’s limitations imposed by notions not keeping with “I”. And through inquiry, understand sat-cit to be everywhere. Same thing with consciousness, when someone moves, we infer they enjoy consciousness, but we don’t try to objectify it.
  • NOT INTELLECTUAL: Vedanta is not an abstract inquiry, where “I” retain my smallness over here, and there’s this big reality over there. However Vedanta initially feels abstract/intellectual because it explores realms so different from your existing framework, that it feels like knowledge is speaking about something different.
  • The 3 words indicate nature of Self from 3 standpoints, for sake of relating.
  • This is the teaching of Vedanta, inquiry into nature of “I”, what is true now. Sat-chit-ananda described is one’s own atma

Next Verse (in next class): 

  • If sat-cit-ānanda is the Truth of everything, and I am that — it doesn’t explain how the world came. What’s the connection between Self and the manifest-world? Who is the maker of the universe? And what is my connection to the maker?


  1. When word “ananda” is used in context of anandamaya-kosha, it means happiness/bliss. When word “ananda” is used in context of sat-cit, it means ______.
  2. Why do some texts/teachers use “happiness/bliss” when talking about “ananda” in context of sat-cit?
  3. If reality is one undivided whole, why are it's [apparent] divisions taken to be real? In other words, if there's only One, why do I see two?


Credit for help in Tattva Bodha to [1] Chinmaya Mission's Swami Advayananda, [2] Arsha Vidya's Swami Dayananda, [3] Neema Majmudar.

Recorded 5 Nov, 2023


  1. So many incorrect teachings out in the world regarding ananda; for years I sought/chased this “bliss” state they spoke of. Even when I had finally encountered the correct view by other teachers, I struggled to understand. This simple metaphor of the cup/glass and subsequent explanations awakened the true understanding. This is a stabilizing teaching for me.

    1. Hi Laura, it’s indeed supposed to stabilize us. To be ok with the whole gamut of life (both lows and highs), rather then being pressured to experience some magical state of mind.

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