Sunday, February 22, 2009

Four Purusharthas - Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha

The four purusharthas or goals of human life are 1. Dharma (righteousness, duty and moral order) 2. Artha (wealth and prosperity) 3. Kama (wordly desires) 4. Moksha (liberation) The ancient hindus never neglected any aspect of human life. The four goals or endeavors of human life constitute the roadmap for a happy life on earth and beyond. Let us try to understand each of the goals briefly: 1. Dharma is the foundation and first of the four human goals. Dharma refers to moral duties, obligations and conduct, namely, vidhis(do's) and nishedhs(dont's). Dharma is always given a highest importance, in Ramayana, Rama himself represented the Dharma and was crowned as a King. In Mahabharat, Krishna himself crowned the Dharma roopa Yugishtir as King. 2. Artha, is the second goal of life for the householder for the attainment of wealth and material prosperity. The efforts or means to realizing this goal must have a righteous and moral basis. It must be based on dharma or lawful means. 3. Kama, is the fulfillment of biological, physical and material desires. The householder is instructed by the shastras to legitimately fulfill his or her wordly desires in accordance with the canons of dharma. Artha & Kama are important goal for the growth and progress of society. 4. Moksha means liberation form the web of maya, freedom from the cycles of birth and death, and the experiences of divine happiness. This is the ultimate goal of human life. It is achieved through taking the refuge of God or a God-realized guru. Through the guru's grace one becomes free from the bondage or maya, and is blessed with self-realization and God-relalization. Hari Om.

16 comments:

  1. Kindly see the attached link

    http://www.boloji.com/index.cfm?md=Content&sd=Articles&ArticleID=11087

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  2. Artha, Dharma, Kama, and Moksha.

    Which one of these emphasizes the life is bad goal

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    1. Mr anonymous, there is nothing like bad goal or good goal, it depends on the person, a hunter want to kill a deer and an environmentalist want to protect it, tell me whose goal is good

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    2. Good one

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    3. Hi,the morality says ,when u cannot save a life atleast donot destroy it,and if a bad man wants to kill people,u think his goal is good..?.goal has to have a sattvic approach too..

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  3. I doubt if the average Hindu understands these goals and strive for them in the right manner.

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    1. We must always correct ourselves firstand not bother about average hindus behaviuor..one has to cultivate the habit of self correction..not mass correction.each one has their own tendencies n their own life tenure..

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    2. love what you noted here re: cultivating the habit of self-correction (as opposed to mass correction). nicely put.

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  4. thanks 4 d information

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  5. Thanks for the information!

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  6. Chaturvidha Purusharthas (the four types of purposes, goals, or aims that human beings try to realize) are 1. Dharma (righteous way of life - as prescribed by the law of the land, for the individual's social class by the religion, or by the conscience of the individual), 2. Artha (the way of life aimed at earning and accumulating wealth), 3. Kaama (the way of life aimed at fulfilling worldly desires), and 4. Moksha (the way of life aimed at achieving nirvana or salvation). It is incorrect to think that any one of these is good or bad - although, the ultimate aim for a mortal "ought to be" the Moksha (or salvation). According to Bhagavad Gita, each one is free to pursue any one or a combination of these aims with Bhakti (or devotion) towards the Supreme Self (or Paramatma), and will ultimately attain Moksha.

    To attain Moksha - it is said that there are essentially two paths - one is Brahmacharya (that of total celibacy), and the second is Grihastha (that of a family). One can attain Moksha regardless of the path one chooses to follow - so long as the "Dharma" prescribed for that particular path is followed, and followed with Bhakti. While Gita says Brahmacharya" is the "best" path, Gita also recognizes that it is an extremely difficult path to follow for most mortals, and as such prescribes a specific pathway for a Grihastha. If you choose to follow the Grihastha path, then the Dharma is - get married, have a wife, raise a family, earn wealth, fulfill the worldly desires for self and for the family, earn wealth to provide for the family and the fulfilment of their desires, lead a righteous way of life, AND (the most important of all), lead such a life with devotion towards the Supreme Self (Paramatma). Half-way into your Grihastha path, if you leave and want to pursue “sanyasa” (renunciation), it is considered Adharma (wrong). From Brahmacharya path, one can “jumpship” into Grihastha mid-way, start over and fulfill the Grihastha Dharma completely and attain moksha… but not the other way around. Once a Grihastha, one is expected to fulfill that dharma as long as the components of the ashrama (wife, kids etc.) are still dependent (physically, financially, emotionally, spiritually).

    And this being the core of the Dharma, the Varna Dharma (or the Dharma of a particular social classification) is not universal to all mankind. There are different Varna Dharmas prescribed for different social classes - Brahmana (the priest) Dharma, Kshatriya (the warrior) Dharma, Vaisya (the business man’s) Dharma, and Shudra (the working man’s) Dharma. This is because - each of these classifications were created to fulfill a specific part of the dharma chakram, to which these four classifications serve as four equal parts (or four wheels). The key message here is - the four classifications serve four specific purposes, and the mankind cannot exist as a whole without any one of them. Therefore, the "Dharma" for each of these classifications is different and depends on the purpose of that particular classification. People belonging to one classification cannot follow the Dharma prescribed for another classification - unless they "repurpose" their own individual existence. A Brahamana cannot follow Kshatriya Dharma (for example), UNLESS he gives up his Brahmana purpose and takes up to be a warrior. Strictly speaking, it is not really forbidden to make that switch, but what is forbidden is to remain a Brahamana and follow Kshatriya dharma and so forth.

    Finally… all these dharmas and purusharthas are completely set aside, and bhakti towards the Paramatma is given the most prominence with one sloka in Bhagavad Gita. In the sloka “Sarva dharman parityajya”, the Supreme God, in the form of Krishna at that time, says “Renounce EVERY dharma, and surrender to me and me alone completely! I will deliver you from all your sins, and grant you moksha (salvation)”.

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  7. Can you please tell the source of this. I mean the original sanskrit scripts depicting the same and the book which contains it.

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  8. Freedom (Moksha) here means free from all worldly desire – a level or state at which it is supposed that you can perform your desired action at your will without any impediment. This complete freedom and liberation (Mukti) of man and society is not achieved after death. Freedom or final emancipation or liberation has been called a Purushartha (aspiration) or a desirable action that every person or society must try to attain in his or/her life itself. It is the ultimate goal of human life journey according to Holy Scriptures. Modern managers also try to attain this Purushartha to some extent when they talk about optimization of their organizational goal. Now the question arises why some people attain their goal by reaching at the helm of power in their respective fields and enjoy freedom whereas why most people can’t. The answer is veiled in the question itself. You desire to attain liberation but the desire or attachment itself is the impediment in the way of attaining liberation. So seers advised to shun all the mundane desire – be it sexual instinct or any other materialistic desire (Kama). However it is neither desirable nor possible for a household to come out of worldly attachments as Kama Purushartha or material longings is inevitable to run the whole creation. This is why the marriage system has been instituted in all races. We can’t afford to isolate our basic biological instincts but there is always a way out. If you have eaten enough you can satiate your hunger. In the same way try your best to fulfill all your ambitions – biological or earthly first then think of liberation from all desire. This is conducive for the society and the nation too. To put in other words overcome your Kama to proceed in the path of renunciation otherwise Kama will be haunting you all the way. Remember Kama is known as the last but one Purushartha or desirable action of human life. I wish I have all comforts available on the earth. You covet for the most beautiful woman in the universe. Kama or desire is a Purushartha or desirable action of human life nevertheless very few of us can fulfill our desired object (Kama). What’s the problem? The problem is that I don’t have money and you have no status to marry the most beautiful woman. So Artha (affluence of man and affluent society in pursuit of the meaningful purposes of life and organisation) is another Purushartha or desirable action to move upward in human life voyage. Even a monk has to collect a fistful of alms to maintain his physical existence. Nowadays (as misunderstood by every generation) the society has become more perverted and corrupt than ever. People want to grab Artha, wish to enjoy Kama and desire to avail sovereignty in their sphere of life without doing necessary righteous action. To be millionaire by corrupt practices, to be selfish to fulfill the trifle wishes, to grab the position of power by hook or crook are a few proof to illustrate that these Purushartha are the basic psychological instincts of the human beings. The result of this greed is that the person is bounded by immense illegal Artha or deceitful Kama and finally caught by the law and imprisoned. He may deceive the law of the land but his own conscience can’t allow him to enjoy freedom. So the righteous path or legitimate action or what we call Dharma (the upholding and sustaining principle) is the first Purushartha in our journey of attaining Moksha via Artha and Kama. Dharma is the fortune; that is if you do any action by right means your fortune will smile at you and it would be easy to stride fast in the path of higher aspiration. Scriptures has it that Dharma is the path of austerity and it is very difficult to observe. So what is the obstruction in the way of Dharma? It is our inertia what is misapprehended as materialistic pleasure or Sukha.

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  9. people let your mind let go into the meaning of hinduism. we will understand its true meaning. it is the most meaning full of all of gods great religions

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  10. Super prabhu

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