purushartha svarupam — The Purpose of Life. The earthly plane is known as karma bhumi or the realm of action. According to the Vedic cosmology in addition to this world there are other realms called bhoga lokas or places of enjoyment where aims, goals and striving have no meaning as they are transcendental states of pure bliss where nothing is lacking. The jiva that attains these realms simply enjoys the results of accumulated merit until the stocks are depleted - it then returns to the karma bhumi to continue its spiritual evolution.
The Vedas teach that all human endeavour to find happiness is generally motivated by one or more of four essential goals which are technically called purusharthas :-
These fundamental goals of human endeavor are pursued by everyone in various degrees. In the modern western world money and power (artha) and sensual enjoyment (kama) are the predominant obsessions. There is very little regard for Duty or right living (dharma) and even less for true Liberation from the state of bondage to sense gratification. On the contrary; there is a bizarre idea that physical immortality is achievable and in fact desirable! Everything possible is done to prolong physical life and to find the elixir of immortality! When one reflects upon these four goals we see that there is an innate flaw in each one of them.
No matter how hard we try to practice our dharma and do what is right by others, they will never be happy. No matter what one does, one cannot please everyone - even Krishna and Rama, as perfect as they were, could not please everyone.
The problem with artha - the pursuit of wealth and power; no matter how much one earns or achieves it is never sufficient - there will always be a desire for more and more. Having and achieving become ends in themselves, and whatever one gains one will eventually lose.
Recreation, food and sex are all highly desirable in their absence, but once obtained and enjoyed they very quickly turn to objects of disgust, boredom or frustration.
And as for Moksha or liberation, all our self-initiated efforts at bringing about our own personal freedom and self-determination in the material sense are like straw in the wind - how
much more so in the spiritual sense! In order to achieve enlightenment one has to meditate regularly for many many years and this is almost impossible for the average human being, so the likelihood of liberating ourselves from Samsara is a very rare indeed.
The doctrine of the Four Goals of Human Aspiration (purusharthas) is inseparably linked with the doctrine of the Social Divisions & Stages of Life (varnashrama dharma). So bearing in mind that ultimate and abiding happiness cannot be achieved by the pursuit of these goals as goals in themselves - we are encouraged to pursue them in accordance with the varnashrama dharma as service to the Lord.
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