Hinduism – Life & Living – An introduction…
The purpose of a religion is basically to pave a way for leading a meaningful, smooth and joyous life without sacrificing mental peace and without too much pain and suffering.
Hinduism contains enough guidelines for the above purpose.
Hindhu dharma outlines four Purusharthas — meaningful pursuits for life: Dharma, Artha, Kama & Moksha.
Righteousness and duties in life. Hinduism places highest importance to following righteousness in life. Whatever be your activity in life, if it confirms to right dharma, it brings in peace and harmony in life. In Hindu dharma, ‘Eat, drink and be merry’ is never considered the goal of life. Every individual is bound by his duties and responsibilities towards his family, to the society, to the nation and to the entire nature and universe. In ancient Hindu civilization, Manu Smriti was the scripture elaborating the dharmas to be followed in life by different classes of people.
Going in pursuit of money, wealth, comforts and possessions is indeed considered as an essential aspect of human life. But it shall not be the only goal of life and whatever one does to acquire Artha should be bound by dharma.
Seeking pleasure through the 5 senses including sexual pleasure is the very nature of all creatures. Again Hinduism permits enjoyment within boundaries subject to dharmic means and channels.
Of all the acceptable pursuits of life, seeking Moksha (liberation from the Samsara — from the cycle of births and deaths) is considered the highest goal of life. Man, after pursuing a life of seeking artha (wealth) and kama (pleasures) and even leading a life of strict dharma (righteousness) is bound to feel a shallowness in life at some point of time or other. The the fundamental nature of wealth or sensual enjoyments is such that practically no one ever gets a feeling “enough is enough”. This aspect, known as maya always deludes people to indulge in more and more enjoyment leading only to more suffering and dissatisfaction.
Man starts wondering whether his hunt for wealth and enjoyment is fundamentally flawed somewhere. He starts seeking more clear answers for the true meaning of birth, life and death. It is at this point, a man grows from the clutches of religious faith to spirituality. From the Karma Kanda in Vedas (that gave all the procedures for seeking worldly enjoyments) a seeker elevates himself to Jnana Kanda — Vedanta /Upanishads and he gets the right answers and insight.
He gets mentally prepared to leave behind Artha and Kama and goes behind Moksha as the only meaningful pursuit in life.
Guidelines for Life and Living for the present day
The Hindu society has moved far, far away from the period of Vedic Rites and fire sacrifices. Manu Smriti, written thousands of years ago and the Parasara Smriti written later for this Kali Yuga are not fully suited to the present society today. But these scriptures do contain several eternally true guidelines for peaceful living in society, but the society is no longer the ones fitting to the Varnashrama Dharma.
But the problems, worries, pains and dejection faced by human beings in their lives do continue and they do need life advice suited to times. In Hinduism, many saints and Mahatmas keep coming from time to time to guide people on rightful living from time to time. They keep advising us on things right and wrong and give us guidelines for peaceful living suited to our times.
Despite all the drastic changes, onslaught of western culture and the erosion of basic values in life, Hindu masters have never diluted the significance of dharma as the top most purushartha amidst the first three nor seeking moksha as the true pursuit of life.
This website contains several articles and Q&As related to life and living; many of them based on teachings of mahatmas of recent origin.
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