Purusharthas: The Fourfold Aims of Life
| After cleansing the mirror of my mind
with the pollen dust of holy Guru’s Lotus feet.
I Profess the pure, untainted glory of Shri Raghuvar
Which bestows the four-fold fruits of life.
Hanuman Chalisa V 1
Since the dawn of human existence, four aims have brought purpose and meaning to our lives. These are the same aims that the poet Tulsidas wrote about in the Hanuman Chalisa centuries ago when he called them “The four-fold fruits of life.” These are the four “Great Goals” or “Purusharthas” recognised by the ancient rishis and documented in the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad-Gita. These aims are:
- Duty, virtue, righteousness; Dharma
- Fun, pleasure, sensual delight; Kama
- Success, fame, wealth; Artha
- Liberation, salvation, union with God; Moksha
The Purusharthas permeates the literature of ancient India, yet their significance goes beyond esocteric doctrines or dogmas. Understanding of these great aims allow us to enjoy our lives more, live a life of more success and meaning, align our lives with greater purpose and make greater contributions. Finally, we will be able to move on from these lives with great confidence that we have done all that we could have and return to the God who gave us these lives.
And while these truths are indentified directly in Hindu texts, they are quite universal. A Hindu becomes a better Hindu by learning about these truths, but a Christian becomes a better Christian by living life in awareness of the right of each one of us to enjoy pleasure and earn success within the framework of virtue and duty. A Buddhist will recognise many of the facets of the Eight-Fold interweave with the study of the purusharthas. A Moslem might be liberated in communion and submission to Allah, knowing that pleasure, success and even everyday duty pale in comparision to a living relationship with the supreme divinity.
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