After birth, we grow up, get an education, find a job, get married, produce children, grow old and die. “Is this what life is all about?” many may ask. The ancient Hindu sages in India pondered the same question. The only thing that separates us from animals, they said, is our intellectual capability to acquire knowledge, both physical and spiritual.
The result of their search is found in the Hindu concept of Moksha (salvation), meaning liberation from the cycle of birth and death and unification with God. The purpose of life is to attain Moksha by acquiring divine knowledge. Moksha offers immortality, eternal peace and supreme bliss. It is not nothingness or an eternal life of pleasures in Heaven. It cannot be termed as dissolution or destruction of the individual self.
According to Hindu scriptures, Moksha is: “Just like the merging of the rivers into the sea, where they lose their name and form. Similarly, the wise, freed from name and form, attains the supreme reality.”
Hindus believe the aim of all religions is to lift us from our worldly mundane existence to the eternal, blissful and immortal essence. While Hindus call this concept Moksha, Buddhists call it Nirvana and Christians call it the Kingdom of Heaven.
A HINDU CONCEPT
Although, according to Hinduism, the soul comes to this Earth in different life forms, human life is the best creation of God and offers the best opportunity for spiritual growth, evolution and attainment of Moksha. But Moksha is not an ideal to be experienced only in the next life after we die. It can be experienced and obtained here and now. A person who has achieved Moksha in this lifetime is called Jivanmukta or a liberated soul. Such a spiritually enlightened person is sinless and free from all desires.
In order to achieve Moksha, an average person has to achieve three lesser goals: Dharma, Artha and Kama. Dharma simply means “moral obligations” or “virtuous living.” One has the duty to himself and others to do what is expected of us morally and ethically. To discharge such duties is our Dharma. Dharma is more than praying to God: one needs Dharma to be a competent employee, a loyal friend, loving parent, helpful neighbour, loyal and ideal citizen, faithful and loving spouse, etc. Life is uplifted by Dharma, which must be reflected in every aspect of living.
Artha is a human goal to generate and participate in economic activities or public welfare, which includes working in a worthwhile job. In this way, not only do we satisfy our personal needs but we also contribute to the welfare of society.
A MATTER OF DISCIPLINE
Kama can be defined as satisfaction of worldly desires, including sex. We accumulate wealth in order to satisfy our desires by using our senses to enjoy the physical pleasures of life. In this process, however, we can go astray and create social problems. Therefore, the ancient Hindu sages warned against overindulgence and urged for the need for a disciplined life. That is why pre-marital and extra-marital sex is outside the Hindu norms of human behavior.
Many Hindu scholars believe that Moksha is the only goal of life, and the other three, Dharma, Artha and Kama, are the necessary processes an ordinary person has to go through. An ordinary person may have to come to this Earth as a human being more than once to achieve Moksha.
Regardless of whether or not one attains Moksha, leading a well-disciplined life or following moral obligations (Dharma) in the process of accumulating wealth (Artha) and fulfilling desire (Kama) will guarantee a life free of suffering.
Artcle By: Ajit Adhopia
Book: Dharma, Karma and much more