Purushartha – Objectives of Life (October 2012)
The topic for this month is Purushartha. ‘Purush’ means human, and ‘arth’ means goal/objective. Purushartha means human objective. Hinduism defines Purushartha as the purpose of human life. Without understanding the purpose of life on earth, one may incorrectly consider it is only for eating, drinking, growing, enjoying – and finally succumbing to death. Per Hindu religion, the human life is not without purpose – it has four main goals. The final goal of human life is liberation from the cycle of birth and death. However, while pursuing that goal, one is also expected to materially prosper and enjoy the life fulfilling the social and religious duties. The four objectives are Dharma (Duties), Arth (Prosperity), Kaama (Enjoyment), and Moksha (Salvation). Throughout the life, all of our actions should be aligned with these four Purusharthas. For instance, while earning money, one must remember that it must be earned though clean means only. Similarly, when seeking enjoyment, one needs to ensure they don’t contradict with the religious and social duties. These goals help maintain balance in life.
Dharma defines and shows path to reach God while living a disciplined life. It is our duty to perform actions based on the principles of Dharma (Truth, love, non-violence, justice, and other virtues). We have covered Dharma in details early in the year.
Artha means material prosperity, which is a important aspect of life. Earning money is essential – families, societies, schools, governments cannot function without it. It provides the energy to almost every aspect of life. Per Hinduism, material wealth should be earned based on the righteous principles (Dharma). While earning money, one needs to have a religious attitude. In other words, the means to earn money should be devoid of deception, pretense, robbery, injustice and falsehood. One must not earn and spend it for personal use only – instead, one is expected to donate a part of earned money towards religious and social causes.
Kaama means enjoyment and fulfillment of worldly desires. The ordinary person may consider attainment of the objects of sensory organs as happiness. The five sensory organs are tongue, eyes, ears, nose and skin. Depending upon personalities, different people get satisfaction in seeking the fulfillment of different senses. For instance, one may find satisfaction in listening to music, another relishes in delicious foods. Irrespective of the pursuit, the attempt to derive bodily or mental pleasure is the third objective of life. Hinduism does not oppose or forbid it. Whatever pursuit one follows it needs to be pursued with spiritual attitude. It must stay within social and religious bounds.
Moksha means liberation or renunciation. Why would someone want to renounce – or more importantly, what would one renounce? While one may consider sensory organs satisfaction as happiness, true happiness means freedom from suffering. The sufferings may come from physical illness, mental disturbance, famine, simply old age. One of the main causes of human sufferings is bondage – bondage with physical possessions, bondage with body, bondage with relations, etc. One forgets that sooner or later this life will end – which will break all earthy bindings anyway. The ultimate goal is freedom from suffering or liberation. In order to gain liberation, one needs to live life of virtues. All of the life actions must be carried with Dharma and aimed towards Moksha.
Mantra of the Month (MoM)
Seventh mantra of Ishwar Stuti Prartha Upasana Mantras
Om Sa no bandhur janitaa sa vidhaataa dhaamaani veda bhuwa-naani vishwaa.
Yatra devaa amritam aa-na-shaanaas triteeye dhaaman a-dhyair-ayanta.
God showers happiness upon us like a sincere brother. He is the giver of the fruits of our actions. He knows past, present and future. Learned men find ultimate resort in Him, who is the creator and bestower of bliss. May we attain eternal bliss by praying and worshipping Him.
Kids can prepare an overview of the Purusharthas or expand on an individual Purusharth. As always, please take time to discuss this topic with kids, and encourage them to memorize the MoM with meanings.