04.17 – Should we be happy when we are happy?

by May 5, 2013

When we are materially happy, we are exhausting our past stock of good karma – something similar to depleting the money in our bank account.

This begs the question: should we be happy when we are happy? In simple words, when we are exhausting the resource that makes us happy – our past good karma, does it make sense to be happy?

Of course, it doesn’t make sense to be unhappy all the time either. But it does make sense to see things with the eyes of philosophical knowledge, just as recovering patients see their condition based on not just their present feelings but also the scientific knowledge of how their sickness is being curbed and cured.

Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (04.17) indicates that the workings of karma are profoundly incomprehensible. The essential point is straightforward enough: Whatever happens to us is a result of not just our present actions but also our past actions. What is not at all straightforward is how these past and present actions will blend to hand out our due results.

Such a karmically-informed perspective of life can be balance-restoring. It can protect us from becoming elated amidst success or devastated amidst failure – a repeated recommendation of the Bhagavad-gita. Instead of obsessing over what is happening to us at present, Gita wisdom urges that we focus on what we can do to create a bright future for ourselves, by acting in ways that create positive karmic credits for ourselves.

And bhakti-yoga enables us to create the most rewarding and enduring credits – the devotional credits of deepened attraction to Krishna that offer the highest fulfillment and last for all of eternity. By keeping our mind on this, we can stay fixed in the all-auspicious service of Krishna amidst both success and failure.


The intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore one should know properly what action is, what forbidden action is, and what inaction is.


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