Goals of Human Existence: Lest We Forget

I’m quite new to Facebook. In fact, I’ve only had it for nine months, and so far  #cargoals, #housegoals, #makeupgoals and other related hashtags have been dominating my newsfeed. Which got me thinking: how much time do we spend thinking about the goals of human existence? If life is about eating, sleeping and gathering objects for survival, then aren’t we leading lives that are akin to those of animals? What makes human life so special?

I mean, let’s think about this seriously for a second. There are hundreds of thousands of species inhabiting the world and out of all the possibilities out there, we were born as humans. Texts of all religions converge on the fact that once man was created, there was nothing higher left to create. Which I think is pretty on point. Of all the species, man is the only one endowed with manas( mind), buddhi (intelligence), chittha(reasoning faculty) and ahamkaara(ego/identification of self with the body) whilst the ego aspect is predominant in animals. With all these extra endowments,  it’s pretty safe to say that man would be in a grave predicament if he too centred his life solely around needs and desires for survival, much like his animal co-habitants.

It is embedded so deeply within Indian culture that obtaining a human birth is the result of accumulated merit of millions of births, and not using it to discover our higher purpose is a travesty.This raises an important question: how do you survive in this world that requires you to earn money and pay  bills AND also think about your higher purpose in life?

According to Hinduism, the four goals of human existence are;

  1. Dharma: Righteousness
  2. Artha: Accumulation of wealth
  3. Kama: Fulfilment of desires
  4. Moksha: Liberation via knowing the nature of the self, termination of the cycle of birth and death

So the solution to this question is pretty simple, really: accumulate wealth only for the sake of upholding righteousness(i.e. providing for you self and your family) , and redirect desires you have for things that give you temporary happiness, to that which will give you everlasting bliss( liberation).

Hinduism also prescribes 4 stages of life, which makes accomplishing these goals a whole lot easier.

Stage 1: Bramhacharya(0-25 yrs)

Accumulation of knowledge and skills

Stage 2: Grihastha(25-50 yrs)

Marriage, raising righteous children and creating a household that is fit for God.

Stage 3: Vanaprastha(50-75 yrs)

Retirement

Stage 4: Sanyasam(75-100 yrs)

Giving up all attachments and desires and turning the mind fully towards God.

Combining the 4 goals with the 4 life stages, you can see that Stage 1 involves Dharma, Stage 2 involves Dharma, Artha and Kama while Stage 3&4 pertain to Moksha. Pretty cool right?

Every aspect of Indian culture is pretty much a chapter fit to be a part of a “Moksha for dummies” guide. It has literally all been laid out for us. All we have to do now is sit back, relax and follow the path so easily marked out for us by this beautiful culture. I suppose we could challenge the knowledge given to us by the ancients, and test the waters by going against what has already been prescribed for the sake of our own affirmations and fancies, but I’d much rather stick to the tried and tested method. Why lose energy digging up so many different holes for the sake of experimentation to strike gold when we can so easily strike the same by persistent digging in one spot? I don’t know about #cargoals and #housegoals, but I’m definitely all for #humanlifegoals :p

What do you think? Is it so easy to get caught up within the ephemeral in today’s day and age? Leave a comment down below!

I am a 20 year old University student living in Australia. I am no expert in Indian culture, but my love affair with this beautiful culture has been running strong for many years and I hope to share my passion with everyone this blog reaches:) Parts of this blog are fictional, while others are based on my own experiences and interactions with friends. Happy reading! – Divya

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