Hindu philosophy revolves around the following precepts :

  • Dharma
  • Artha
  • Kama
  • Moksha

Dharma

This simply means our duty. As we progress through the ages, we take up different roles. From a new born baby to an old person, the journey leads us through different characters. In the Hindu way of life there are four distinctive phases through our life.

  1. Brahmacharya
  2. Grahasth
  3. Vanaprasth
  4. Sanyaas

The first one is Brahmacharya. During this phase, we simply do duties to ourselves. Approximately speaking, this is the age through 1-25 years, when we are still absorbing things and learning. Then comes Grahasth. Again the years are through 26-50, when we get married, raise a family and discharge duties as a husband/father etc. (wife/mother). Vanaprasth is roughly the age between 51-75. This phase involves giving back the knowledge / wealth to the world. After 75,  we take up Sanyaas, which means that we go in search of the truth, leaving behind worldly things.

Earlier, people were divided into four kinds depending on their line of duty:

  • Brahmana (Priests)
  • Kshatriya (Warriors)
  • Vaishnava (Businessmen)
  • Shudra (Workers)

Lord Krishna has said that duty is above everything else, including truth.

Artha

Artha means meaning or assets that matter to us. There has been lot of different views on what Artha is. This in short is to mean what we say and do, from the view of our possessions. The meaning that we attribute to day to day activities should have a semblance of the truth. Maybe people do not understand what we say and do. But above all, we must be true to ourselves. All our actions, thoughts and emotions should clearly align with our higher purpose. If we are a seeker, we should question. If we are a master, we should share. Artha also means following a religious life. Detest negative emotions, and embrace the positivity. In whatever sphere of our life that we may be in, we have to discharge our duties accordingly. This is how it is related to the aforesaid Dharma. We should not hoard our wealth. It has to be used for the benefit of the world.

Kama

Another term for worldly desires. A lot of people mistake Kama to be sexual desires. Well, this is just one among the many other desires that we have. Having desires is not bad. But getting attached to them is. Thus, we have to do our duties to the best we can, in alignment to our desires. But the result is not in our hands. Desires can lead to anxiety, disillusionment and depression. This happens because of an uncontrolled mind. Having a few desires is considered better than running after every shining object that we see. Thus the old adage ‘All that glitters is not gold’. If say , we desire for wealth and our plans go awry. Do not take it to heart or attribute the meaning of failure. Let it go. Perseverance is one of the hardest quality to come by. But once we learn to wait and persist, nothing is impossible. Always lead a life which is neither in excess nor short of something. Kama has to be tamed, before it takes over our life.

Moksha

Liberation. This is the final stage. Hinduism considers this to be the goal of life. As we look closely at life, it has dualities. Pain comes with pleasure. Dejection comes with happiness and so on. As long as we have subdued ourselves to the duality of life, we will always suffer. To get the best out of life, we need to be liberated from the woes. Moksha is actually a state of mind. When our mind is clear and sees everything as a part of ourselves, we take the first step towards liberation. Unity consciousness where we feel all as one is the penultimate stage. Finally moksha or freedom from the duality of life and entering a state of mind where we feel peaceful and calm, is the final goal. Although we have to strive for it, its well worth the ride. Sometimes we may allude to all the tools and techniques that are available for attaining moksha. However to attain this state of repose, we need God’s grace.