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pray_hands.GIF (680 bytes) Prayer & Spirituality
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Many Paths to One God

Goals of Human Life

The four aims of man (purushartha) is an important concept underlying the Hindu attitude to life and daily conduct. The first and overriding one of these is right conduct (dharma) involving notions of righteousness, duty and virtue. But human beings may legitimately seek other aims too, such as material gain or wealth (artha), the second aim; or the satisfaction of desires and pleasure, including the pleasure of physical love (kama), the third aim. The fourth and ultimate aim of life implies the renunciation of the three preceding ones and is concerned with complete release (moksha) from all worldly attachments and from the cycle of rebirths.

1. Kama - Satisfying the desire for sense pleasure including sex.

2. Artha - Acquisition of worldly possessions such as money and property.

3. Dharma - Observance of religious duties and providing service.

4. Moksha - Liberation achieved through realization of God. When you achieve moksha, your soul is liberated from the endless birth and death cycle of reincarnation. The sages of the Upanishads considered that liberation from the miseries and continuous changes of this life could be reached through the knowledge (jnana) of the truth concerning the nature of the Self (atman) and of brahman.

Plough with truth. Plant the seed of desire for knowledge. Weed out falsehood. Irrigate the mind with the water of patience. Supervise your work by introspection and self-analysis. Build the fence of yama
and niyama, or right conduct and right rules. You will soon attain Sivananda, or eternal bliss of Siva.


Among these four goals, kama is the lowest as this urge is common to both man and animals. 

Artha is noticeable mainly in human beings. Hence it is considered to be superior to (higher than) kama. 

Dharma is a training in self-sacrifice. Hindus are required to perform a series of religious duties or dharma as dictated by their scriptures. While kama and artha are rooted in selfishness, dharma is not. Thus, dharma is superior to both kama and artha.

Moksha means liberation. It can be achieved only through the realization of God. Hinduism teaches that God is omnipresent. Divinity is  present  in every human being. Although divinity is present equally in all creations, it is not manifested equally. Spiritual practices help us to manifest this inherent Divinity. When this Divinity becomes fully manifest, a person is said to have become a God-realized soul. He is described to have attained moksha.

The ten abstinences are nonviolence, truth, non-stealing, chastity,
kindness, rectitude, forgiveness, endurance, temperance in food and
purity. -- Yajur Veda

I walk with those who go after God. I live with those who sing His
praise. The Lord blesses those who seek him. With those who unite in
Him, I unite in their feet. -- Tirumantiram

Nonviolence, truth, freedom from anger, renunciation, serenity, aversion to fault-finding, sympathy for all beings, peace from greedy cravings, gentleness, modesty, steadiness, energy, forgiveness, fortitude, purity, a good will, freedom from pride-these belong to a man who is born for heaven. -- Bhagavad Gita

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