In Hindu philosophy, there are four goals of human life: Artha, Kama, Dharma, and Moksha. Each life form is in the pursuit of happiness. Based on the degree of spiritual evolution, the perception of the pursued happiness evolves. In the most basic form, our happiness is related to the degree of our consumer abilities, which forms the basis of two of the four goals.
The first goal of any life form is Artha, which can be translated as security or survival. This includes shelter, food, security from your enemies, and for humans, financial security. The second goal of all life forms is Kama, a desire for pleasure. The pleasure can be sexual or for humans it can be secondary to entertainment, gourmet food, desirable clothes, dance, music, etc. In pursuit of Artha and Kama, we need to be conscious that others have similar needs too. Our pursuit of happiness should not hamper the pursuit of happiness of others or deliberately cause someone else’s pain.
To prevent the abuse of others during our pursuit of happiness, we need Dharma and Moksha. Dharma is derived from the root word Dhr-, one which supports. Dharma is the moral law that supports the existence and sustenance of the individual and society. Dharma encompasses the duties of an individual. When everyone performs their duties, everyone’s rights are automatically protected. A life of Dharma is lived when after our basic needs are satisfied, we graduate from being consumers to becoming contributors. A contributor seeks beyond his own needs for the benefit of society. The pleasure of contribution is more sustaining than the temporary pleasure of egotistic self-satisfaction.
As a life of Dharma is lived, a human realizes that there is an ultimate goal, a limitless existence called Moksha. Moksha is to be one with the Divine after death, getting liberated from the cycle of reincarnation.
Hindus believe in Divine justice through reincarnation. We are reborn to live as some life form, to suffer for or receive pleasure for our current and past actions. While we have to suffer for the bad action, the way to avoid being reborn is to be unattached to our good actions. We should avoid “my social work,” “my donation,” “my charity.” Performance of good actions without a sense of ownership of the effect leads to a soul with no attached baggage, clearing the way to attain Moksha.
The best way to be unattached from your actions is to perform good deeds as an offering to the Divine. Moksha has nothing to do with the method of worship, religion, or belief system. It is attainable for all humans regardless whether you believe it or not. Every living entity in the entire creation is capable of the realization of Moksha, receiving complete freedom and oneness with the Divine, whether after this life or after multiple births. Just act with the mental state of Edam Namama- Nothing is mine. Every aspect of my life I surrender to the Divine.
Dr. Pattekar is a radiologist. He serves as National Director of Service Activities for Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, USA. He also serves on the Board of Volunteers of Hindu Temple of Central IL, Peoria.