What Is the Purpose of Life?
Years ago, I asked a friend – What Is the Purpose of Life?
He said: “Purushartha!”
“Ah, it’s just a Sanskrit translation of the question. (Purusha=human being; Artha = here the meaning is purpose, goal or objective). That was my question, not answer.”
To get the answer, we need to recall the science we learned in the school class. Physics says we are all just matter (energy). In chemistry, we are a meat-bag of reactions composed of basic building blocks of life. As per (evolutionary) biology, the whole purpose of life is to reproduce (or pass on genetic materials), and our offsprings also get to reproduce. Paleoanthropology and Genetics reveal that all life forms share at least one essential purpose: survival.
Our ancestors, the Hindu sages, were great scientists too. They understood these fundamental scientific principles. After ages of Dhyana (I don’t know the English word for Dhyana. No, it is NOT meditation) and Sadhana (disciplined and dedicated learning), they found the real purpose of life for human beings. They found that the purpose of existence is to realize our own purpose on earth and to do things that are important to ourselves. It is about living a fulfilling life that makes you happy and at peace (Shanti). Your purpose of existence is that at the end you can say your life was worthwhile!
So, they have simplified Purushartha into four folds (Chaturvarga).
1. Dharma (= duty, responsibility, right, and privilege)
2. Artha (here the word has a different meaning, ie = prosperity and wealth)
3. Kama (= pleasure, love, psychological values) and
4. Moksha (=liberation, emancipation, enlightenment)
Now, what is the purpose of life (Purushartha)? Very simple. Create Artha as per your Dharma. Use that Artha to fulfill your Kama. When Kama is accomplished, Moksha happens.
As simple as that
When you live as per this Purushartha formula derived by our Sages, you become happy and contented. This is a cosmic law that can be scientifically proven. Any other way of life (based on beliefs, religion, ideologies, spiritual or material) may necessarily not yield to a full-filling or happy life.
A related question previously asked by many readers: “Udayji, can you explain more about Dharma?”
“The full form of Dharma = Varna-Ashrama-Dharma. Varna = Profession; Ashrama = Age status or life stage. Dharmic living = Live as per your profession and life stage. You better. For, this is true for everyone everywhere, isn’t it? It’s universally correct. Our ancestors said Dharma varies as per Desa (location), Kala (times), and Patra (character). It is also factual. So living Dharmically means living scientifically which is applicable even in today’s democratic and civilized world. Some people may find it difficult to realize their Dharma. There are three ways to find your Dharma. One – there are a lot of Dharma Shastra scriptures to teach you. Two – a deep Dhyana will lead you. Three – you can seek help from learned people.”
“Uday, our religion is based on morality and ethics. Isn’t it the same as your Dharma?” question from Mathew Abraham, Bangalore.
“No. Morality/ ethics depends upon the social moral values of the local tribe (lived in the 1st or 6th century CE) that were addressed by the respective Holy Book. But Dharma has nothing to do with those ancient morals/ethics. It’s universal and factual. Your local priests may tell you many things as God’s commandments. Any Holy Book will advise you on illogical things that they call spirituality. All are great. It may be good for the society that you follow morality, ethics, and values taught by them or religion. That will satisfy your beliefs too. Good enough. But you must check if you’re living according to your Dharma. Dharma is supreme. If you don’t follow Dharma, even God cannot save you. For, God is also following the Dharmic laws.”
On a personal note, learning about Dharma provided me with clarity of thought. I found that any setbacks in my life were caused ONLY because I didn’t follow my Dharma properly. So I can’t blame anyone else. All deeds (Karma) based on the Dharma yield respective results.
“How has Dharma connected to Sanatan Dharma?” is another question.
Varna Ahrama Dharma is also called Sanatan Dharma. We have seen it always prevails. The Dharma-based scientific living will lead to prosperity, virtues, and love. Any unscientific living (or belief-based living) may breed vice and hatred. Look around objectively – you can experience this truth yourself. You’ll rarely see a person who doesn’t follow Dharma attain happiness and peace. Think with clarity. Since Dharmic living is an everlasting truth, we call it Sanatan (timeless) Dharma.
In short, Sanatan Dharma tells you to live a happy life. The eternal happiness would lead to a mental status: “I am at Peace”. Om Shanti. That’s how we attain the ultimate Moksha. Moksha at the feet of Vishnu. Or in Kailasam or heaven – as per your choice… So be happy, come what may.
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