That is what is said about life in general. Even such a great sage as lord Buddha based his faith, the religion that he preached on ‘sorrow’ — Life is all ‘sorrow’ and deprivation’, that was his study and understanding of life on which he based his philosophy. But what he ultimately propounded was ‘how to get rid of this sorrow — this suffering cycle of life’ — how to attain ultimate salvation.
His philosophy goes from the negative to the positive — from suffering’ to lavation’.
So it means that when the soul receives ‘salvation’; it is all an eternal happiness. Happiness is what is attainable and should be aspired for. When and if attained, complete contentment would follow and life would become enjoyable.
All our efforts, physical, mental and moral are towards the attainment of contentment which would lead to happiness and joy. We can only laugh heartily when we are in a state of joy.
Laughter, though a physical expression, but actually it is a mental sensation which expresses itself in the form of laughter. Mind is the centre of all activity and the seat of all sensations.
One who laughs, at least at that moment, he has forgotten all sorrow, all suffering, all discontentment which misbalances life. So laughter is the result of a healthy sensation and mental health leads to physical health. That is the whole psychology behind ‘daughter.
Physiologically, laughter — the guffaws of laughter are tonic to the lungs and give them a healthy exercise. When we laugh and if we fall in the spasm of laughter which we sometimes fall into, when there is something really laughable, our face reddens and blood runs rapidly in our veins. Lungs are activated and pump out blood in good measure.
But all the above description and analysis makes laughter much of a serious matter while laughing actually is the most non-serious matter.
In a good congenial company we sit together talking and relating some queer incident which sets the whole company laughing or cut a joke to cause loud laughter. When you laugh and the company in which you be is also laughing; it seems that the world is all a happy scene.
We laugh with the company and the company laughs with you — laugh and the world laughs with you — that is what it is; that is how it is. But just while you are in a laughing company, you receive a telephone call of something amiss and your laughter ceases and a somber shadow travels over your countenance, the whole company gets infected instantly and the erstwhile laughing scene suddenly changes into something subtly sober. Such is this sudden serenity infectious.
Laughter had been found to be so essential to add spice to life that the royal courts used to engage and keep in their service clowns who would regale the audience in the court with their jests and jokes. The kings sitting on their regal pedestal could hardly afford to cut any jokes; as that might have been regarded ‘cheap’ and courtiers could also not dare indulge in jokes as that might have been treated indecorous; therefore to do the laughing and to invoke laughter clowns had to play their part. They stood guaranteed all impunity and they could even make the king the target of their jokes and satires.
Shakespeare’s comedies have these all important clowns. The clown in Twelfth night’ makes the Duke the butt of his satire.
Jokers in circus or in dramatic performances and even in the present day pictures are specially introduced to provide lightheartedness to the atmosphere and regale the audience.
Even the Mushairas and Kavi Sammelans do not go successful without some humorous poets as a part of the poetic symposium. Humour and satire cause laughter but with a difference.
In humour we laugh with while in satire we laugh at. But in the modern state of the society, there is really so much worthy of laughing at that our poets and writers make fun of the scenes, situations, persons and personalities as the target of their satires and the audience loves to hear that and enjoys it to the full.
‘What oft was thought but never so well expressed’ — is what the audience feels when they hear the pungent satires from the poets.
So laughter is what everyone wants and everyone enjoys. It has been the need and craving of human mind since times immemorial. Even in the ancient Sanskrit plays there used to be ‘Vidushaks’ — the clowns in the courts. That is what it is; that is how it is.
Friends assemble at your place every evening; you are their centre of attraction. After the days hard work, you are also relaxing and the friends also assemble in a relaxed mood.
Over a cup of tea and some snacks (these days a cup of tea just cheers but something more is needed to inebriate) and the company sets talking, joking and laughing, one does hardly laugh alone, except while 9oing through something really jocular that one finds in an article, in a story or in a novel. One usually and generally laughs in a company whether it is a company of friends or of the family.
The scene changes, your fortune falls on evil days and all the zest and joy of life seems to have gone out. The residue of oil in the lamp lets the wick flicker — but it only flickers. Friends who used to flock together every evening slowly stop coming.
The family atmosphere is all depressing. he wives serves you the dinner as a ritual, children come and pass by to their rooms. Days on days pass and there is none to come and ask you what the matter is all about.
The sitting room which used to reverberate with guffaws of laughter carries the silence of the graveyard. If at all, your wife would come to your side and sit quietly without any questioning, but just to grant you solace. The lines of the poet Shelley echo in the mind —
‘We look before and after and pine for what’s not our sincerest laughter with some pain is fraught’
And we have ultimately to say:
‘Laugh and the world laughs with you. Weep and you weep alone’.
Rahim, the great Hindi poet had a retinue of friends who used to gather together everyday to enjoy his hospitality when he had greener days. But misfortune befell him and he tendered a worldly-wise advice to his friends — which transliterated in English says —
‘Friends, give up your friendship Rahim is not what he used to be.’
This is actually life and the way of life.
So as long as one can, one should keep laughing. He can even with a stout heart and mind laugh away a misfortune.
Fight it out but not succumb and surrender, take it in your stride, with a hopeful heart and the dark clouds would dissolve in due course and again the crimson sun would rise up to shine on the horizon. Laugh away and laughter would be yours. But with the change of the scene you, at least had the chance to judge the ways of the world — a great lesson learnt.