Saturday, June 26, 2010




What are Human Goals?

Are there common goals for all of us in the Human society? Are we not different from each other in our wants, needs and Goals?

These are questions examined by social scientists in every Society. In a previous post, we have examined Abraham Maslow’s classification of Human needs. He calls the five layers of human needs as Physiological needs, Safety needs, Love/belonging needs, Esteem needs and self Actualization needs. That classification is applicable, by and large for all human beings, with some exceptions of human beings and some exceptions of circumstances. Subsequent authors added a few more needs.
In another post, we have also seen how the five human quotients, namely, physical, Intellectual, emotional, Social and spiritual, drive us to seek satisfaction of each of their innate needs. We have also seen how little each of us knows about our own five quotients – which is very astonishing to us, on close examination.
We have also seen the difference between our wants and needs. Our wants are UNLIMITED and as each want is satisfied, another want takes its place. But, our needs are comparatively LIMITED. Between the unlimited wants and the limited needs come some where the HUMAN GOALS. They do encompass the human needs, but not all of human wants, which by their nature are unlimited. Unlike wants and needs, Goals create a wonderful focus for human life.
In ancient India, human Goals were classified into 4 categories, namely - (1) Artha (2) Kaama (3) Dharma and (4) Moksha. The four categories together are called the “FOURFOLD GOALS OF MAN.” In Sanskrit, these are called Chathur Vidha Purushaartha.

All the four goals are wholesomely integrated goals of every one’s life and each person is expected to strive to achieve all the four goals in a wholesome manner.

For each of the goals, there is an underlying science, called a “Saasthra” in Sanskrit.  The ancient sages had propounded their own ideas, the ideas of their venerable ancestors and their Gurus in these Saasthraas. A Saasthra does not consist of a single book by a single sage. There can be many texts  by many sages. But, today, very few of the ancient Saasthraas are available. There are too many, large, historic gaps and too few authentic records. Yet, the substantive content of the Saasthraas can be gleaned to some extent from available texts. These are explained below in respect of the four human goals:

This Introduction helps us to understand that each human goal is backed by a science on the nature of the goal, its importance to man,  how, when, where and how much of the goal is to be attained and the goal becomes irrelevant!


This is the first Goal. Artha  can be loosely translated  as Wealth. Wealth accumulation has been a common goal in east and west in all ages. But, ARTHA is much more than Wealth. Various types of wealth are detailed in many ancient texts. While wealth is a goal, wealth is needed to satisfy various wants and needs. Some are needed to mitigate different types of pain, sorrow, suffering and fear and some are for satisfaction of other physiological, psychological, emotional and safety needs.

Physical strength, children and Spouse also comes under ARTHA. Wife is considered the embodiment of the Goddess of Wealth (named, Lakshmi) and it was ordained that where Women weep, there gods do not send rains.  Apart from Wealth, Wealth earning skills and Possessions are all considered as WEALTH.

But, acquisition of wealth is not considered as the goal in itself.

It is well understood that there is no way any wealth can give happiness. Except to a miser. The real joy of wealth accrues when it is spent in exquisitely designed ways that satisfy some of our very best emotional, social and spiritual needs.

Every spending therefore occurred in community. Even the family Unit was a single large, combined family. People derived maximum happiness from each wealth spending activity and the elaborate procedures surrounding them. If there was one country which derived maximum joy from wealth, it was ANCIENT INDIA.

Artha Sasthra (the Science of Wealth) was taught in the ancient residential schools called Gurukulams. Artha Sasthra written by Chanakya (the famous minister and Guru of the Magadh Empire) brings together some of the teachings on the subject available already. Parts of it can be found in what Bheesma taught to Yudhistir in Maha Bharat. Every Guru taught these sciences to all of their students. But, with the gradual disappearance of most Gurukulams, and the apathy of the ruling clans, many of these sciences (or, Sasthras) have disappeared from public knowledge.


 The second goal is Kaama. Kaama means - Desire, entertainment and any pleasure seeking activity like Love(including man-woman physical relationships).

India had well developed sciences for satisfaction of human desires. Dress, ornaments, buildings, festivities, dances, singing, love (including sex) and all that goes in the name of entertainment and pleasure existed in those days – in a much more enjoyable and scientific form than today.

64 different arts and skills were specifically mentioned, developed and practiced, but there were many others too. Some of these arts and skills were for wealth acquisition, but many were for entertainment, love, pleasure and happiness, not always requiring any support of wealth.

Extraordinary skills existed – for enjoying the pleasures of life.

Some say that the first goal of Artha was mainly for DUHKHA NIVRITTHI (Removal of sorrows, pains, ensuring basic needs etc), While Kaama was mainly for SUKHA PRAPTHI (for attaining pleasure and luxury  of all types, comfort etc). But, the two were never water tight compartments.

Kaama Sasthra, the science of fulfilling various desires and pleasures was highly developed. Bharatha Muni had written a treatise on the famous dance form Bharatha Natyam. The scientific principles governing physical relationships of man and woman were compiled by Sage Vaathsyayana as Kaama Sutras which, because of their nature and wider usage, is very popular across the world. Charaka and other great doctors had found herbal medicines which had extraordinary properties to satisfy human desires of various kinds. Some People knew the art of travelling to distant places without any mechanical assistance. This was the art of Kaama Gamana. Disbelief about some of them will stalk our mind today, since, we have lost most of them. But, even Patanjali mentions a few such powers, in his Yoga Sutras, which he says are easily attainable through the processes of Samyama. Today, almost no one tries to go beyond Meditation into dharana, samyama etc.  These are not called extraordinary powers – but are quite ordinary for the one who goes through the training meticulously.


It is difficult to find an English equivalent for the Sanskrit word “Dharma” , which is the third human goal.  There are 2 meanings for the word.

In the first meaning, DHARMA tells us what are the appropriate actions one can indulge in on each occasion of one’s life. Not merely wealth getting or wealth spending or entertainment activities but many other activities. Dharma lays heavy stress on Just means for achieving the goals of human life. In this meaning – most of the time, Dharma is placed before Artha and Kaama – to signify the importance of means – to achieve the goals of Artha and Kaama. Artha and Kaama are the ENDS, but Dharma is the means ( in this meaning). No just occupation is considered inferior by Dharma. 

In the second connotation, DHARMA defines good and unselfish deeds which must be performed by all individuals on a daily basis and the result of such deeds. On the negative side, it also lays down the list of bad deeds and their result.

This meaning of Dharma closely follows the principle of Cause and Effect inherent in the theory of Karma. It in fact says that there are always two results for every good and bad deed.

One is the Visible, Direct and Immediate Result – on the doer of the deed and on the beneficiary/receiver of the deed.

The Second is the Invisible, Futuristic and Indirect  result that arises from the GOODNESS / BADNESS  implicit in the deed.  The motive behind the deed also counts heavily in deciding the indirect, future result that should accrue to each party. For example, when thief steals money, the direct result is, he gets the money or the goods which he steals. But, a definite, futuristic, invisible result now follows him and makes him pay for his unfair deed at some time, in ways decided by the Dharma. There is no escape from this result awarded by the Dharma.  

The invisible fruits of the GOODNESS / BADNESS are finally reaped by us in a VISIBLE FORM – either in this life in future , or in some cases, in a future life. It is of course difficult for us to connect the original GOOD/BAD deed with the invisible result which accompanies us and which fructifies on some future date in a VISIBLE FORM.

This implies that, in the current life, we are mostly, reaping the effects of  THE GOODNESS/BADNESS  of our deeds of the past  in this birth or those of a past birth.  The invisible effect of Good deeds is called PUNYAM and the invisible effect of the BAD DEEDS  is called PAPAM (Or Sin).

Our stock of PUNYAM and PAPAM which remains unspent in current birth will definitely accompany us to our next birth. All other things which we  accumulate in life through good and bad deeds  can never accompany any of us after death. We all know that. It is also said that our Punyam and Papam will determine the course of our future  in current birth and in our future births.

We may or may not believe in Next Birth or karma theory etc – But logic tells us that  – for every action, there must be an equivalent and opposite reaction. If that be the nature’s law – how can there be NO BAD EFFECT on you for your  BAD DEEDS? How can nature allow you to get away with the enjoyment of things stolen by you, without compensating for the suffering inflicted by you on others in the process?

We can cheat the judicial systems, law enforcement systems and everybody else – but the Nature’s infallible and inviolable Law of Karma is always with us. It calculates and gives you what you deserve on the basis of your deeds  – not necessarily what you want or need and not necessarily when you want or need.

Dharma is laid down in various Dharma Sasthras. There were many of them, but very few have survived. Manu Dharma Saasthra compiled by a famous king called Manu is available in bits and pieces, but, is widely misunderstood. Lord Krishna speaks of Karma theory in detail in Bhagavad Gita. Dharma prescribed in Vedas is considered more authentic, but Social systems and practices have moved far away from Vedic days. Yet, the Dharma Saasthra when examined in depth, appear highly relevant today, than at any time.

LAW OF ATTRACTION : We all talk of the Law of Attraction. It is a popular law now and largely it is true. But, You are not attracting and getting some thing merely because you want it badly.  It comes to you –because you have done some thing - either known to you or unknown to you – to deserve it. Sow the seed – and get the appropriate fruit at appropriate time. Sow the seed of Love- you get the fruits of LOVE. Sow Dharma – and your needs of Artha and Kaama are fulfilled.

 In the absence of Dharma, even the money, food, house etc you get – will give you suffering and not joy.  Let us understand that – Dharma is – as much a need as Artha and Kaama. You carry Dharma – the invisible result of your deeds always with you. If you are peaceful and joyful today – it is the invisible result of your own earlier deed fructifying today! If you are not – that too is the result of your own deeds.

However much we may earn the  ARTHA  and KAAMA – WE have to leave them behind on earth when DEATH  comes. All relationships also end with death. But, our Dharma is the only wealth which accompanies us. Spirituality emphasizes this in many ways. You need this invisible baggage of DHARMA in your next birth. Likewise, the PAPAM or SIN that we do, also accompanies us to the next birth and  gives different types of adverse effects. This third goal thus lays down that means are of great importance for earning and spending the first two goals of artha and Kaama.

Most people are aware of and are working  for these 3 goals only. 

But, do these three goals satisfy us in sufficient measure?

This is the question which comes up before every human being all through his life. Human wants are unlimited. As each want is satisfied, another want takes its place. So, we are in a vicious circle of wants, efforts and ends. Even DHARMA deos not really free us from this vicious circle.

Also, all the three Goals examined above and all the five types of needs of Abraham Maslow suffer from some serious limitations. Some of these LIMITATIONS of our goals were examined by the ancient Indian Gurus as below :

(i)                      PAIN : The very act of seeking the three goals involves inherent suffering and pain. The very desire itself, the efforts made to satisfy it, the efforts to be made to retain the achieved goal all involve pain. There is always the fear of losing what is achieved. Most of the desired objects  come into our life, stay with us for some time and then, go away from us. You must acquire them again. This unending pursuit of human wants involves pain. In many cases, the pain is much more than the pleasure that we get. Pain is longer and pleasure is shorter.
(ii)                 DISSATISFACTION : Every thing that we acquire may give us some satisfaction. But, it also gives us some dissatisfaction. Either we want more of it, or, we want some thing better than what we got. There is nothing that gives us complete satisfaction and only satisfaction. Always some dissatisfaction comes along. It creates seeking of some other or some more of the same – to avoid or to take away the dis-satisfaction. There is never a time that we get complete satisfaction and only satisfaction.
(iii)                 DEPENDENCE : whatever we seek or achieve, creates some dependence of us on it. We depend on the house, the spouse, the money, the friends and any thing that we acquire because of our efforts. This dependence also causes Pain and dis-satisfaction.
(iv)               TEMPORARY : All want satisfying things are temporary and have no permanence. The most beautiful wife ages soon. So will you too. The cleanest house becomes dirty and dilapidated. We are constantly reminded of their temporariness – even while they are with us.

 Thus, all the goals we achieve suffer from these limitations. Do we not need a goal which is free from all these limitations? That is our fourth goal – called Moksha or liberation.


The goal of Moksha is elaborately dealt with in all Upanisads. Moksha or Liberation is – liberation from all the limitations of the aforesaid three Goals. All struggles, wants, dissatisfactions, pains, bondages and all fears must end. How does that happen?

Liberation is said to happen when you know YOUR true self or true nature. The body-mind complex that you possess comprises of the five universal elements  of space, air, fire, water and earth.

Be it your beautiful wife or husband or  a great meal, or a house, or any other thing that satisfies your want, it comprises of these five elements in some proportion. The five elements within you are seeking union with the five elements outside you. You want more and more of them – but this wanting never ends.  The wealthiest man is just as much dissatisfied and unhappy as the one on the roads -as this wanting never ends.

Now, the fourth goal of Moksha liberates you from this seeking by giving you your real nature back. Your real nature comprises of  three dimensions. First – the real you have no birth, no death, no illnesses, no growing old or young, no decaying and no pains. This dimension of YOU is called SATH. The second dimension is called CHITH -  that you are actually the CONSCIOUSNESS pervading your body and mind (and every where else in the Universe) and not the body and mind. The body and mind are given to you in this birth for certain purposes. The third dimension is, AANANDA – or joy. It is not that you are merely joyful – but you are joy itself. 

“YOU are the consciousness, which has no birth, death or suffering and is pure joy”.

All meditation is contemplation on this real you. Can you meditate on this?

It doesn’t matter, if this is confusing and you can’t agree with this because of your presently-held belief systems. The experience of this dimension of truth is not easy – for most people. The body-mind complex looks and feels so much like the real you.

But, this meditation (contemplation) has significant other tangible benefits for you. From a purely worldly life point of view – You will experience a calmness, a joy – which you can’t experience in any other worldly activity. You become much more joyful than you are today and reduce your sorrows and sufferings drastically, through simple means. This is a gradual progression towards liberation.

Liberation is not, repeat, NOT, some thing which happens after death. Liberation is said to occur instantly on realization of the truth.

Do you want to be more joyful – and less suffering? You do! Try this contemplation and meditation. Go to a competent Guru to teach you this. You lose thing – except, your tensions and suffering.

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