Ananda - Bliss
Ananda is a Sanskrit word which means ‘Bliss.’ It’s used in many contexts and is perhaps best known for being the name of one of Buddha’s disciples. This man was said to have the best memory for remembering his teachings. The name also appears in the famous Paramahansa Yogananda and is the name of the global organization set up to pass on these teachings.
Developed by the practitioner of the same name, Paramahansa Yogananda offers a non-sectarian, universal spiritual path of self-realization. Before leaving India for the Western world, Yogananda was advised by his teacher that;
“The West is high in material attainments, but lacking in spiritual understanding. It is God’s will that you play a role in teaching mankind the value of balancing the material with an inner, spiritual life.”
These concepts, of balance and inner peace, are the central focus of his teachings.
Many elements of yoga teach that God is ‘sat-chit-ananda’ - a phrase which translates as existence consciousness bliss. Yogananda takes this another step, stating that ananda differs from typical happiness.
The joy which results from listening to beautiful music, eating delicious foods and seeing incredible views is, he argues, temporary happiness. He also teaches that such pleasure is monotonous; always the same each time it is experienced. Ananda, on the other hand, is a joy which “changes and dances itself in many ways to enthrall your mind and keep your attention occupied and interested forever.”
This happiness can be achieved only through a regular, deep meditation practice. It is important to remember that ananda lives only within, and cannot be found externally. When one has achieved this joy, it will remain consistent, regardless of any difficulties or challenges we may face outside.
While ‘ananda’ is used to refer to ‘bliss’ in general, its association with the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda are perhaps the biggest claim to fame.