Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Aim Of Life

I have wondered many times what is the aim of life? I think everybody would have wondered about this at some or the other point of their life... I turned to our scriptures to find the answers for this question. Eventhough every book talks about 'mukti' or salvation as the ultimate goal of the life of a hindu, I am not satisfied with that.
But for sometime let us accept that it is the aim of life. Then what is the most direct way of reaching god. Let us say that we have to reach God as early as possible. Then if we look at people who have attained moksha, Dhruva is the youngest person. He did it by doing narayana japa. Even 'Bhaja Govindam' written by Shankaracharya was written advising a very old person trying to learn sanskrit to stop doing that and think of God and do his bhajans (Bhaja Govindam). So the fastest and easiest way to attain moksha is utmost dedication to and worship of God. Then why should we go through the usual shodhasa samskaras(birth,...,education..., marriage,... death) in our life? They say that because it is not possible for everyone to give the utmost dedication to God so early in life, hence we need to go through the shodasha samskaras
they will understand life and hence they will walk on this path. But if we know the direct path to our destination, why will we choose the other path? We may even argue that the direct path is a difficult path, and that the indirect path is little easier. But the person who marries cannot understand that he is getting attached to one person and is ready to create a web of attachments around himself which will take a lifetime to untangle. So this proves that even this is not an easy path owing to the attachments we will have if we go in this path. Hence it makes sense for us to take the first path only though it feels as if we are losing a lot.

I have said that I am not satisfied with the theory. If the sole aim of a human is to reach God or salvation or mukti whatever we call it and there is nothing else for humans to do here except worshipping God, then why should he create people at all? If God is the one who created us and wants us to reach him, then why should he create us at all? Here people talk about karma siddhanta that we are born because of the papa/punya phalas of our previous birth. Then I ask how did it accumulate its papa and punya, Initally it should have been a blank slate right? Why is he created then? Is it just that Gods wanted to see a game? Doesnt it look strange to be born freely, do what ever we want but being awarded points for being good or bad respectively, and again being born, not freely but with the points we accumulated in the previous game, and this happens cyclically till our good overwhelms the bad and we reach God. Doesnt it seem like a game and we are just coins in His hands? This is the limiting point of the theory. People argue this way too - why do you argue about where you came from, as you know the end point try to reach the end point of salvation. But when I am not convinced of the starting point, how can I be convinced of the end point? Hence I feel that acheving moksha is not the real aim of our life.

Hence I have rejected the claim the aim of our life to do something in other world, which brings us to the logical conclusion of doing something in this world. So what should we do?
we can aspire to become many things. I believe in atleast basic humanity and hence my aim atleast should be -
"In the time of your life, live - so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite variety and mystery of it." This is the least we can do. But the higher thing is leaving the earth better than how we have come here. So we have to do something which adds value to the world, something which can help humanity outside our family, which is service to mankind in our own small way we can. But lets not forget the duty we have to our parents, siblings, spouse and children. We should understand that we should not be just bound by the duty to our parents, siblings, spouse and children, but to venture out and do something so that we can say ' I have helped in making earth better than the way it was when I came into it'
Let me end it with Ravindranath Tagore's quote
I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.
and Gandhi's quote
Service to man is service to God.

Robert Frost says
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.

which gives advice on acheiving it the best way that is uniting what we do to satisfy the duty to our family and that which adds value to the mankind doing what we love to do.

This brings us to the point where we can ask
> What are we doing as a vocation? - this you might get an answer easily as you might be earning somehow
> What are we doing as a avocation? - what is the thing that you love to do? and doing you might answer this easily too...
> How to unite them together to add value to mankind? Answer this and our life is solved. :)


  1. As I read this blog, I was instantly reminded of the following quotes and thoughts -

    1) Einstein: God does not play dice with the universe. I am infinitely lesser knowledgeable than the great time; he has spent enough time and energy (pun intended) to gather his thoughts and come to a conclusion that God.. is rational.. the world is logical and created in a very synergized manner. Simply put, God does not gamble.

    2) Majority of what you have mentioned in this blog is about one basic premise - Hinduism, or rather our Shastras and puranas. What about Christianity? As per this religion, God created the world in steps.. first the earth, then the light and the darkness, then the man (adam n eve) and so on... sounds ridiculous to some extent, but billions follow this.

    3) I dont know if there is after life. Heck, I dont even remember more than half of things I did in my present life. I know this world is in a bad shape, and i believe, as time wears on, things will only get graver and more dangerous. If I can, somehow, make life easier for those around me or anywhere else, I will be happy. I would feel I have fulfilled the purpose of my existence.

    4) Ending with where it all begins.. What about God? Have I seen Him? No. Do I believe in Him? Yes. Is there any specific reasaon? I believe so, I am bound to Him, God - The Almighty - The Omnipresent - The Higher Power - The Light - The Truth.. by a very special, very personal bond, which every person has the choice to recognise and embrace- the bond of feeling His presence inside us.

    A resounding quote from the movie Passion of the Christ - Jesus prays to God - 'Father, You can do all things. If it is possible, let this chalice pass from me... But let your will be done, not mine'. If we want to be happy and sane in this crazy, chaotic world, maybe we should believe it is all about Him, not us. Our reason is not enough to interpret all things and see the bigger pictures. We are all small parts of this big game, let us live well with the other small parts around us :-)

  2. If we accept there is a higher power who has created all these things,then definitely the questions of why arises?

    Ofcourse we can just ignore that question and try to make the world around us better and be happy and thats what my conclusion was ;)

    I don't know much about Christianity but I like few things from it - 'Love thy neighbor as thyself' is one of them.

    like this line -We are all small parts of this big game, let us live well with the other small parts around us :-)

    But sometimes, I do get a question of why and this has been my attempt to logically unravel it.

  3. Beyond all the words and phrases that try to ''make sense'' of life and its purpose, perhaps humanity can find common purpose in understanding life itself. And life, simply is breath, a form of energy. Maybe it was never created to be destroyed, hence they ''why'' question can cease, and our energies can be directed to experiencing it...what is it (silent meditation), does it really bind us with the universe, and when it is outside the material realm of the body where does it go?