Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Purushartha – Swami Paramarthananda


The word purushartha is very much used in our scriptures. We should have a clear understanding this word. It means human goals. 'Purusha' is a human being male or female. We can translate as manushya arthah. The word 'arthah' in Sanskrit has several meanings. It has the meaning 'meaning'. What is the artha of that particular verse means what is the meaning. It also means wealth. The word arthah here in this context is goal or destination. Arthyate sarvaih manushyaih prarthyate iti arthah – that which is sought after by every human being is called arthah. What is sought after by human beings? Different goals. So any human goal is called arthah. Combining these two words purusharthah means human goals.

The word 'purushartha' itself is used in other meanings also in sastra. In certain context it means freewill. In certain other contexts it means choice. And in yet certain other contexts the word is used in the sense of effort or prayatnah, endeavour. This is another meaning. Freewill. Choice, effort etc are some other meanings or secondary meanings of the word purushartha. But the primary meaning of the word is human destination or goal. By using the word purushartha itself, we convey an important idea that these are goals sought after only by human beings. The very fact it is called purushartha or mansuhyartha indicates that they are sought after only by human beings and not animals or plants. Because of the availability of purusharthas the human beings become distinct from or different from all the other beings. In fact because of the purusharthas human beings are considered to be superior to all the other living beings.

How come human beings alone have these purusharthas? What faculty of human being makes him endowed with this unique opportunity to have purusharthas? The sastras themselves declare that no doubt that the human beings are very very similar to animals and plants in several aspects. There are lot of sadharmyams common features. But there is one uncommon feature unique feature which makes the human beings and this is presented in a beautiful sloka – ahara nidra + buddhir hi tesham adhiko viseshah vidya vihinaah pasubhihs samanah. Human beings and other beings are similar in many respects like ahara or food. All seek food. Like from birth onwards they start seeking food. Then sleep. After lot of activity taking rest or nidra is a common thing for animals and humans and plants. Of course there are several ways of nidra. So animals sleep standing. Humans also can manage to do that. They sleep while standing during travels in the bus. Some sleep sitting. Next one is bhayam - fear of the external world. Sense of insecurity, the feeling of insecurity and therefore trying to protect itself. Then the next one is propagation of one's own s0ocies through children, grand children and so on. Santataih or parampara. Etat samanyam – these four are common to humans and animals If both are same in all these respects why do we consider human beings superior. Aritu aritu manuda janmam +

Buddhir hi + Intellect, thinking faculty, judging faculty, or reasoning faculty, projecting the future faculty, far sightedness planning for future and working for the betterment of the future all these come under the buddhih. It is an extra faculty. Since buddhi alone makes a human being superior or different from animal, buddhya vihinah if we do not have intellect or do not use your intellect. There are some philosophers who advise - never use intellect. It is the cause of all problems and so their teaching is do not use the intellect. What an unfortunate advise. The sastra says that if the intellect is not used that human being is as good as or as bad as animals. So buddhi or reason power is unique. Because of the extra faculty only we are extremely self-conscious also. Capable of self-judgement Capable of comparing myself with other human beings which animals do not have. When there is dog show and there have a competition to find out which dog is well trained dog dogs are asked to do various things and they are given various medals and there may be stand also as in Olympics. When they are standing on these three? What is their feeling? I have got gold or I missed gold by one hundredth of a second. Dog's do not have either superiority complex or inferiority complex. They only put their tongue out and look here and there. They do not know what the hell or heaven is happening. Let us tell heaven also.

On the other hand you know the who has the complex. The fellow who is owning the dog has complex. So buddhi gives me a unique faculty of self judgement complex, self-development comparison with other members of the same species. Once I develop a complex certainly I think of improving myself in the future. So planning for the future becomes another natural consequence of buddhi faculty. Self consciousness, self complex self-development self judgement and therefore projection of future hoping that I will be better off. And for the improvement of the future I start planning. The plans cut into several levels of immediate goals, long term goals. First year I expect a profit of 10 lakhs and next year expand and make it 20 lakhs. So primary and secondary goals, short term and long term goals – we alone are capable of having. If you interview the dog which has got the second prize, and ask in the next dog show do you want to come first. What will be its response? It will either wag the tail or bark at. It depends. It does not have plan for next dog show. All the animals and plants have an instinctive life style. Their entire life is governed by instincts whereas human beings are governed by instincts also. It is also common to them. Human beings have instincts also. But more than that, dominantly they have got the capacity to choose their future. Because of this choice human beings entertain lot of goals and all these goals are called purusharthas.

Now the question is how many such goals are possible? If you start enumerating the goals intermediate and ultimate, short and long terms, they are countless and anantah. Even though the goals are endless, we classify all the goals into four types or categories. The numbers are many but they can be categorised into four and we call caturvidha purusharthas. Any goal you want to accomplish will come under one of these four alone. There is no fifth variety. What are those goals?

Arthah - The first one which starts very early in life is the goal of arthah. Here in this context the very word 'artha' means security. Everything you procure for the sake of your security all those things will come under arthah. Artha or security I mean sheer physical survival Right from birth one instinctive or natural urge every living being including a human being has is the urge to somehow survive. Anything that you procure for your security all those objects which contribute to your security your physical survival will come under arthah which will help you in removing the sense of insecurity. This is negative language. In positive language anything that provides for your security.

What are those things – broadly they're food, clothing shelter and health. Food - right from beginning struggle begins. Without food the security is in threat. Next you have to protect your body from environment. So all types of clothing that you have – summer clothing and winter clothing. Books and books are written for this. Multi-million fashions shows. Helmet you wear for your safety, the seat belt that you wear for your safety. The air filter – some wear in two wheeler. You do not know who the terrorist is and who is not. They tie the towel. You do not see the face. They all are meant for what? Security. You air-condition your car so that the pollution in the city will not affect your health. Anything that protects your body shields your body that is food and clothing. Again shelter. I am working for a house. There is still no house for us to call as our home. Before death one project is to own a house. To own a flat at at least in Maduvankari. Then comes health. Fighting all forms of diseases. Anything that you procure to take care of all these four to safeguard your survival. First we have to survive. Whether I'm useful to myself or society or not is another question. First is survival

Initially I want to take care of my own security. Then comes the second layer of security. It is security for my future. Because in old age I cannot work and earn. In olden days they thought that children are security for the old age. Nowadays doubt is coming whether the children will take care of me or not. I have a confidence in my son but I do not know what type of daughter in-law or son-in-law will come I do not know. Whether they will allow my children to take care of me is doubtful. So I care for my future food, future clothing, future shelter and future health. Fear of health and disease becomes more and more as I grow old.

Initial part of life food and clothing becomes important. Later part of life health becomes important. I therefore procure envisaging or visualising possible troubles. Then I am worried about unexpected accidental threats and so I have to take all forms of insurances. Medical insurance, accident insurance, car insurance life insurance. Present security and future security.

Then comes the next layer of security. Once I possess a few things or people for my security then I am worried about their sucurity. See how it grows. First I want cloth for the security of body, now I have to regularly clean the cloth for the security of cloth itself. Buy a washing machine. For what? For security of cloth. It is not for your security. Otherwise you will be dumped in it. There are washing machines for human beings also. You sit. Then their power fluctuation. It will get spoiled. So for the security of washing machine you buy voltage stabiliser. Security. Security for security and security for security of security.

Your house gives security. You are worried about the security of house and so you employ a security. A security for the security of your house. This is what we are doing. Since your security is very important for the security of house which is required for your security, you are worried about the security of security. If he falls ill he will not come. So you provide his security. Swami if he comes then only I can come to the class. So the story goes on and on. Most of the life we are busy providing for security and all these things like washing machine or securities staff, come under artha purusharthas, abhaya praptyartham for freedom from bhayam. Animals also want security. But they instinctively take care of their securities. Lord has provided for them. They have special skin. Or fast legs. You do not have problem about their clothing. Bhagavan has given them naturally. We have got to work for them.

Kama - Then comes the next goal of human being which is kama. Once security is taken care of and now there is no threat for my survival, I have enough money. I have enough money not only for food now but enough for three generations. I have got reasonably own house. I have bought myself. Then I have got clothing. Every thing is there. What else to do with my life. Once artha is taken care of I go towards kama purushartha. Kamah means all forms of comfort which you do not require for your security but which you can enjoy. If they are there it will be nice. If not also okay. If they are I will be more comfortable Luxury or comfort or all forms of entertainments. No entertainment is required for my survival. So it does not come under arthah. All entertainments are separate from of purshartha coming under kama. I want to have a gala time, I want to enjoy myself. So any form of music or dance or drama or TV. Once door darsan is there, I want cable connection also. All entertainment industry is so big now.

Once I take care of the entertainment within my surrounding I am bored. Seeing Madras itself again and again I am bored. I want to go around. A small world tour. What small! All of them come under kama purushartha. Comforts, enjoyment and entertainment. And animals also want comforts and they do instinctively go after comfort. If there is lot of sun, animals naturally go towards the shade. It is instinctive seeking of comfort. In our case due to our superior intellect he plans and entertains himself. This comes under kama purushartha. This is second goal of human life. Among most of the human beings, artha purushartha itself takes the whole life time. They cannot even pass on to kama. Daily water is a struggle. It is arthah. Water seems to be luxury because it is so difficult to get.

Dharma - Then comes the third human goal which is known as dharma purushartha. What do you mean by it? It can be defined as an invisible form of wealth generally translated as good luck or good fortune in English. That person was very lucky and he had good fortune. I was fortunate. Luck or fortune when I say, it is not something that I see, but it seems to contribute to your well being. Either in the form of providing artha or kama it seems to be an invisible form of wealth contributing to your welfare. So in Sanskrit it is called adrshtam. In Tamil adihstam. Kaun benega karodpati. Something like that. No doubt lot of knowledge is required. But to enter that there is lottery. You say sukra dasa. It is all invisible forms of wealth which contributes. This dharma can be acquired by appropriate means which we are not going to discuss. I am not discussing the means here. It can be acquired by appropriate means. Since dharma is something which is an achievable through appropriate methods dharma also becomes a human goal. It is all translated as punyam. Dharmah or punyah or adrshtam. These are all synonymous.

This dharma contributes to our wellbeing in two fold ways. 1. Dharma contributes to our well being in this very life itself by providing artha and kama. Dharma is very useful in this life. In addition to my own effort it contributes. 2. The second benefit of dharma is it also contributes to our welfare in our next life, especially in the initial stages of life. If you study any birth, our own human birth we will find that our initial few years are certainly not under our control. In fact my initial few years happen to me not after consulting with me but I find they have happened to me. What type of parents I have? I find myself with. I may think I would have been happier if only my parents were little bit different. I was not asked for choice. I find myself with certain and certain parents. Sometimes only one parent. Sometimes the child is orphan. A child is helpless with regard to parentage, with regard to environment and with regard to type of upbringing whether it is doted child or beaten child. I find even though I am a human being my initial stages of life are certainly not under my control. Then it is under whose control? It is supposed to be determined by dharma. The dharma I acquire now will not only help me in this life, but also help me in the initial few years of my next janma also. In what way? By providing good parentage, good environment, good health, good shelter good food, good values. Everything good in the next birth is also contributed by the dharma. So a child's life is heavily determined by the invisible wealth called good luck.

Not only that. Initial few years of human life is so important that it can even determine the future adult life. The psychologists are discovering this more and more. They say that many of my emotional conditions now during my adulthood are heavily determined by my childhood. My physical health, my emotional health and even my intellectual health. Therefore adult life is determined by childhood. Childhood life I am not able to determine. How my parents will bring me up, I am not able to determine. So if I want to control my childhood in next janma it can be done through dharma purushartha. Dharma directly influences my present life and it also influences my future childhood life and it indirectly affects my future adult life also. Thus dharma becomes extremely important. And there is an appropriate method of earning this dharma. Sambadicchirukkan, they say. Not only we talk of earning visible wealth called money we also talk of earning the invisible wealth called panya sampadanam. We say he has earned it. This is the third purushartha. They are otherwise called dharma artha and kama. Dharma being powerful subtle form of wealth we enumerate first. These three human goals have got many things in common. Since that being so put together they are known as preyas. It is one word which means dharma, artha and kama. Any thing that you acquire is preyas. Deliberately legitimately or plannedly whatever you acquire is preyas.

Moksha - Now the question is what is the fourth purushartha or the fourth human goal. It is called moksha otherwise called muktih or sreays. Sreyasca + Moksha can be translated as freedom. Freedom from what? Freedom is political freedom or economic freedom? It is an inner freedom. Freedom from what? Freedom from slavery with regard to preyas. Or all other accomplishments.

In what way I am a slave to preyas or anything in the world? Any object in the world or person in the world enslaves me in two ways.

1. One is an object can enslave me by its very absence in my life. When that particular thing or person is not there for me if I feel a vacuum, if I feel an emptiness, if I feel worthlessness then that object is capable of enslaving me. Because I am all the time obsessed with that. I have no money… I have no wife.. Nobody comes to marry me. Spouse binds you by his or her absence. Another person says I have no child, I have no child. Child abhavah. A thing can bind me by its absence by creating emptiness. Abhavah badhnati sunyata dvara. Enslaves me. I am not happy. I miss things. I lack things. I lack company. I lack friends and money. Any lack is one form of slavery.

2. Otherwise objects can bind me by their presence also. Swamiji my problem is not absence of spouse. Do not take it seriously. It is his or her presence. I do not know how to escape. I am seriously thinking of how to come to ashram. So too children - not absence but their presence is the problem. So things bind me by their presence also. By creating burden or strain. Absence creates vacuum and presence creates strain and tension. Some objects create problem by their absence and some objects create problems by their presence and some create problems both ways. Like money. Richness also problem and poverty also problem. Both go to ashram seeking peace of mind. One because of prosperity and another because of poverty. This slavery with regard to preyas or external goals is a bondage. Freedom from this slavery. Otherwise called self mastery. I am no more a dasah but I am a Swami. Svami is not one who wears kaavi. An external swami may also be a slave. I do not have an ashram for myself. I do not have a cottage for myself. Do you feel that - do not ask. Some people say I do not get disciples. I did so many things. They do not come and they do not stay even if they come. I miss disciples or miss name or fame. Swamitvam is an internal condition and what does it mean.

When things are absent I do not have vacuum and when things are present they are not burdensome to me. Unlike a shoe. When it is absent I can have a problem. Because it is hot weather or stones or thorns. So I bought the shoe. Now it is not fitting properly. It is now biting me. So now I am disturbed by the presence of the shoe. Similarly in life the whole thing I have, I am burdened, I do not know how to handle them. If shoe is fitting then their presence is not felt at all. So moksha is that where I am comfortable without things, preyas. I am comfortable with preyas. This inner strength, inner maturity or inner mastery is called mokshah or sreyah. The first three are secondary purusharthas and the last one alone is primary purushartha. In preyas slavery continues and in sreyas alone I am no more a slave of anything