Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Dharma – Artha – Kaama – Moksha
Many of us have read that the Santan Dharmi life, traditionally, revolved around Dharma – Artha – Kaama – Moksha. But I am sure, very few, handful, would have given it any serious thought. Many have given meaning that does not fit easily into logic. I think I also must add my two-bits to this interesting debate.
Even when the life is spiritual, it doesn’t become abnormal. A spiritual life may carry an aura different and purer compared to a non-spiritual life, it may even look mystical to some, but I can assure you, it is very normal life for the person living it. All that is different is the view and, therefore, the objective of life. There’s nothing more and nothing less to it.
Now we need to take into consideration, certain facts of ancient Indian life. Amongst many social classifications one was of Grahastha and Grah-tyagi (Householders and Wanderers).
Now for a Grah-tyagi, the entire life revolved around understanding the Dharma and then working hard to attain Moksha.
Systems like Purusharthas and Ashramas, are meant for the Grahastha, the householders. Since many are not mentally ready to leave home in a singular search for liberation or, in a social system of human beings people are required to carry out certain responsibilities, the enlightened ones seem to have attempted to help the Grahastha to learn Dharma and live by it before they get freed from there worldly duties.
From these four Purusharthas, we can make out that Dharma under reference here is about the Law of Nature, of all things within the nature, like our body-mind complex and things outside like those that may help preserve nature for healthy living environment, as well those that may help in trade & commerce. This Dharma at the beginning of a Human Life, also seems to be about teaching Kushal Dharmas (beneficial Dharmas) that will help the people live harmoniously with each other, bring mutual benefit too members of society as well as help all to achieve the purpose of human life that is Moksha.
So, through knowledge of working of Dharma, a man learnt about himself, his surroundings as well as specific doable acts, that will help him ensure his own and his companions progress in the field of Dharma.
Now, as long as the people continue to live a householder’s life and in social communities, certain acts become important. And this also seems to have given the rise to the concept of Varnas, where the human labour in a social community was categorized on the basis of his mental & physical ability and assigned specific tasks of a living community. So, actually, it was the necessary duties that need to be performed for functioning of a living community that was understood, what physical & mental abilities are necessary for carrying out these duties was understood and on this basis assignment of roles & tasks was carried out amongst human beings. Therefore, some were Protectors, some were Learned, Learners & Intellectuals, some created means for Earning which helped acquire material necessary for survival of Human Body and some took care of the fundamental aspects like provision of utilities.
And since everyone needed Artha, the means for sustenance of Body, the householders were expected to take-up meaningful roles within society, earn Artha through practice of Kushal Dharma. Expectation must have been to not have greed for Artha, theft, robbery & stealing of Artha, Violence for Artha, dishonesty and falsehood for Artha. Dharma would guide the behavior of the man while earning the means for his body’s sustenance – the Artha.
While Kaam-Vaasna is one the most common mental factor in all human beings, and reproduction is a natural ability and a bodily faculty, Dharma would guide the man even in this endeavor, to not be obsessive, to not get over-whelmed by such thoughts, to not indulge in improper sexual activities like making advances on somebody else’s wife. This is Kushal Dharma. This would keep the man & the entire society focused on the ultimate objective of Moksha.
And towards the end of life, but with enough time on hand, therefore after fulfilling the responsibilities as a provider and raising a capable family, the man should focus on his final Purushartha – The Moksha.
So, the whole life has to be Dharmic. Householders must also carry-out their responsibilities normally without forsaking the Dharma.