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02 Jun

Purpose of Life

Everything we do in life – how we spend each and every moment of our life – has been neatly divided into four categories in the Indian scriptures. These are known as the four Purusarthas (or objects of human pursuit) and include:

  • Kama: Kama encapsulates all forms of pleasures and enjoyments we try to obtain through our six senses i.e. eyes, ears, tongue, nose, skin and mind. This includes nice things to see (like good views, images, etc.), hear (like good music, talks, etc.), taste (like good food, beverages, etc.), smell (like good scents, perfumes, etc.), touch (like good materials, etc.) and think (like good food for thought, memories, fantasies, etc.). All of these fall under the category of Kama.
  • Artha: Artha is all forms of means that we try to acquire to fulfill other aspects of our life. This includes money, status, property, health, security, family, etc.
  • Dharma: Dharma is righteousness – both towards ourselves as well as anything apart from ourselves, like other humans and living beings, society, environment, etc. Anything we believe is “right” based on our value system (morals, ethics, disciplines, etc.) falls under the category of Dharma.
  • Moksha: Moksha is liberation. It is brought about by discovering our true self through self-realization or enlightenment. It answers many deeper questions of life like who am I?, why am I here?, what is this universe?, where did it all come from?, etc. in a process of inquiry into the absolute truth and reality of the whole existence, and leads to ultimate bliss, peace, harmony, freedom and knowledge.


A vast majority of people spend a very significant part of their time towards Kama and Artha, a little time towards Dharma and hardly any time towards Moksha. There are exceptions but this is usually the norm. However, the scriptures always lay down the Purusarthas in the following order:

dharma artha kama moksha

First and foremost is Dharma which means everything we do in life should first be righteous before we even proceed further. Out of all activities that pass through the filter of Dharma, some must be performed to acquire Artha or means to sustain life but only to the extent necessary, and the remaining activities should be focused towards Moksha while not getting trapped in Kama.

Its important to note that Kama is a trap that a vast majority of people fall into, which makes them spend most of their free time and resources running after sensory pleasures that prevents them from focusing on Moksha. Some people eventually realize that Kama does not provide the level of satisfaction they inherently seek and they come to learn about Moksha, but most never get to that stage. Even among those who know about Moksha, very few actually focus on it.

There are so many under-privileged who can’t even start thinking any of this due to severe lack of resources and support, making their very existence extremely difficult. And then there are countless other non-human living beings who can’t even think. So one should consider oneself supremely blessed if one can even come close to thinking of Moksha!

Why is Moksha important? For the simple reason that by not being one’s real self one can never be fully satisfied and will always find something missing deep within. Hence its very important to identify one’s absolutely true self and be firmly established in it. History is laden with accounts of people who have successfully attained self-realization in the past and they all have stressed the supreme importance of Moksha. Not focusing on Moksha only results in a discontented life. Only through Moksha can one attain the ultimate level of satisfaction, peace and bliss while leading a life of enduring happiness, and be free from this extremely arduous cycle of life and death that is essentially made of miseries and sufferings.

So please don’t let this opportunity called life pass in vain without even working towards its actual purpose!

(This article was cross-posted from happinessjourney.net/post/127875498570/purpose-of-life)

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