Happiness from Ancient Indian Perspective: Hitopadeśa
People who seek happiness intentionally often do not get it. That is, as per the paradox of happiness, in order to be happy one should forget about it (Martin in J Happiness Stud 9(2):171–184, 2008) and try to make others happy. Given that, the purpose of present article is to suggest a six-stage people-centric (rather than self-centric) theoretical model of happiness (sukha), which is constructed using a framework based on one of the eminent ancient Indian texts—Hitopadeśa. The ancient yet novel model describes a balanced path to happiness. The propounded model indicates “knowledge” (vidyā) as a foremost antecedent of happiness. The model propounded not only offers insights on achieving integrated well-being and happiness in a moral and philanthropic way, but also extends complex constructs and perspectives in the realm of happiness studies and psychology, which could subsequently promote further research. Furthermore, the proposed model seems to corroborate some of the modern well-being theories.
KeywordsKey to happiness Knowledge Dharma Eudaimonic happiness Humility Righteousness Harmony Self-acceptance Self-control Moderation
The authors would like to thank the Editor-in-chief, Antonella Delle Fave and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions and supportive guidance throughout the review process. Also would like to thank Google Inc. for preserving and digitising old and rare texts and making them available online. Finally, thanks to Parijat Lanke of IIM Tiruchirappalli for lending us some of the reading resources.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Aknin, L. B., Hamlin, J. K., & Dunn, E. W. (2012). Giving leads to happiness in young children. PLoS ONE, 7(6), e39211. Retrieved from http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0039211.
- Arnold, E. (1861). The book of good counsels: From the Sanskrit of the Hitopadeśa. London: Smith, Elder and Co. https://books.google.co.in/books?id=Rkw5AQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- Delle Fave, A., Brdar, I., Wissing, M. P., Araujo, U., Castro Solano, A., Freire, T., et al. (2016). Lay definitions of happiness across nations: The primacy of inner harmony and relational connectedness. Frontiers in Psychology, 7(30), 1–23.Google Scholar
- Diener, E., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2009). Will money increase subjective well-being? A literature review and guide to needed research. In E. Diener (Ed.), The science of wellbeing: The collected works of Ed Diener (pp. 119–154). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
- Dorji, L. G. (2008). Happiness and spirituality. In Towards global transformation: Proceedings of the third international conference on Gross National Happiness (pp. 26–30). Thimphu: The Centre for Bhutan Studies. Retrieved from http://crossasia-repository.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/1384/.
- Krause, N. (2010). Religious involvement, humility, and self-rated health. Social Indicators Research, 98(1), 23–39. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40783449.
- Mitroff, I. I., & Denton, E. A. (1999). A study of spirituality in the workplace. MIT Sloan Management Review, 40(4), 83–92.Google Scholar
- Müller, M. (Ed.). (1864). Handbooks for the study of Sanskrit: The first book of The Hitopadeśa (Vol. 1). London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, & Green. https://books.google.co.in/books?id=gb8XAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- Muniapan, B. (2008). Kautilya’s Arthashastra and perspectives on organizational management. Asian Social Science, 4(1), 30–34.Google Scholar
- Panchatantra. (2015). In Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/topic/Panchatantra-Indian-literature.
- Paranjpe, A. C. (2002). Self and identity in modern psychology and Indian thought. New York, NY: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
- Pigou, A. C. (1907). The ethics of the Gospels. International Journal of Ethics, 17(3), 275–290. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2376118.
- Pillai, R. (2011). Corporate Chanakya: Successful management the Chanakya way. Mumbai, MH: Jaico Publishing House.Google Scholar
- Radhakrishnan, S. (1922). The Hindu dharma. International Journal of Ethics, 33(1), 1–22. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2377174.
- Richards, N. (1988). Is humility a virtue? American Philosophical Quarterly, 25(3), 253–259. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20014245.
- Rowatt, W. C., Ottenbreit, A., Nesselroade, Jr., K. P., & Cunningham, P. A. (2002). On being holier-than-thou or humbler-than-thee: A social-psychological perspective on religiousness and humility. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41(2), 227–237. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1388005.
- Salagame, K. K. K. (2013b). Well-being from the perspective of Hindu/Sanātana dharma. In S. David, I. Boniwell, & A. C. Ayers (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of happiness (pp. 371–381). Oxford: The Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Slack, K. (2013). Benjamin Franklin’s metaphysical essays and the virtue of humility. American Political Thought, 2(1), 31–61. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/669687.
- Sommerfeldt, J. R. (1989). Meditation as the path to humility in the thought of Bernard of Clairvaux. Mystics Quarterly, 15(4), 177–183. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20716953.
- The Hindu. (2014, February 18). Self-control & humility. The Hindu. Retrieved Aug 29, 2016, from http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/religion/selfcontrol-humility/article5699892.ece.
- Van Cleemput, G. (2006). Aristotle on eudaimonia in Nicomachean Ethics I. In D. Sedley (Ed.), Oxford studies in ancient philosophy (Vol. XXX). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Vishṇuśarma. (1830). The Hitopadesha: A collection of fables and tales in Sanskrit. L. N. Nyālankār (Ed. & Trans.). Calcutta, WB: The Shastra Prakasha Press. https://books.google.co.in/books?id=JskGAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- Vyāsa. (1883–1896). The Mahabharata in Sanskrit: Book 12: Santi Parva: Rajadharmanusasana Parva: Section XXI. (K. M. Ganguli, Trans.). Retrieved from http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m12/m12a021.htm.
- Vyāsa, (2010). Śrīmad Bhagavadgītā. (J. Goyandka, Trans.). Gorakhpur, UP: Gita Press.Google Scholar
- Wiese, H. (2011). Moderation, contentment, work, and alms—A Buddhist household theory. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, 40(6), 909–918.Google Scholar
- Wiese, H. (2013). Microeconomic analyses of old Indian texts. Leipzig: University of Leipzig. Retrieved from http://www.wifa.uni-leipzig.de/fileadmin/user_upload/itvwl-vwl/MIKRO/Lehre/Old_Indian_Texts/main.pdf.
- Williams, M. (1872). A Sanskrit–English dictionary: Etymologically and philologically arranged with special reference to Greek, Latin, Gothic, German, Anglo-Saxon and other cognate Indo-European languages. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. https://books.google.co.in/books?id=_3NWAAAAcAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- Woodruff, E., Van Tongeren, D. R., McElroy, S., Davis, D. E., & Hook, J. N. (2014). Humility and religion: Benefits, difficulties, and a model of religious tolerance. In C. Kim-Prieto (Ed.), Religion and spirituality across cultures (pp. 271–285). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar