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The definition of ātman is sat-cit-ānanda-svarūpa. Elsewhere, there is a definition of Brahman, satyam jñānam anantam brahma. This satyam is what we call sat, jñānam is cit and anantam is ānanda. Ānanda has no other meaning except ananta. Any other meaning is not the meaning in this context. Therefore, 'ānanda', like the other words, is only a lakṣaṇa. They reveal by implication what that ātman is.
In ānanda there is a subject and there is an object. If the subject, you, and the object in front are one and the same, then there is limitlessness. And that is the nature of ātman, caitanya, consciousness. It is never lost at any time.
If, cognitively, you have no appreciation of this limitlessness, then you can only wait for an experience in which the object pleases you and does not evoke the wanting person—only then are you happy. And that happiness is, therefore, a lakṣaṇa for ātman.
Why is ānanda mentioned if ananta is more accurate? There are two reasons. One is that it is a lakṣaṇa because, in the experience of happinesss, what obtains is the wholeness that is you. Thus, ānanda becomes the lakṣaṇa for ātman, which is ananta. The second reason is that ānanda is something that everybody wants to have. That is, everybody wants to be happy. The happiness that you are seeking, even in experience, is just yourself. It is your fullness alone. But your seeking happiness makes it a kind of puruṣārtha. And this experiential happiness, the happy person, which is a goal set up by everybody, is not separate from you. Why? Because you cannot be more than what you are. You can only be limitless, and you cannot improve what is limitless. It is to be cognitively gained. So, when ānanda is used in place of ananta you should see only the meaning of ananta in the meaning of ānanda, especially if ānanda goes along with sat and cit. This is called svarūpa. It is not experiential ānanda, anubhūta-ānanda, but rather svarūpa-ānanda.
The difference between svarūpa and anubhava, experience, is this: the anubhūta-ānanda is due to a particular mental condition, vṛtti-viśeṣa. It is because of the vṛtti-viśeṣa that the mind assumes a certain form conducive to the experience of ānanda. But then, in that ānanda, the fullness that is experienced is the very nature of ātman. Therefore, ānanda stands for fullness or limitlessness, which is the meaning of ananta. This difference must be understood.
‘Tattva Bodha’ pp171-174 Swami Dayananda
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