This article is based on the following:

  • Teachings of my Guru – Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
  • वेदान्तपरिभाषा – written by श्रीधर्मराजाध्वरीन्द्रः
  • Explanation of the text वेदान्तपरिभाषा by Dr K S Maheswaran from Madras Sanskrit College

Pursuit – What is the singular pursuit of every human being ? We all want something all the time. All our actions, thoughts, desires are directed towards this end. What is it ? It is Happiness – सुखम्।

If something does not give us Happiness, we wont do it. Sometimes out of complusion or circumstancial constraints we might do things that dont give us Happiness. However, given an opportunity we would rather not do those things.

Some examples:

  • Going on a holiday. To see things and experience things that give us joy and thus make us happy.
  • Seeking a job. To find fulfillment in life and thus experience happiness. Or to earn wealth by which one can live life as wish.
  • Making an investment. To obtain a certain desired return and thus use that to acquire things to become happy.
  • Getting into a relationship. To be happy staying with the person you like / love.

Think about this. Ask yourself as to why I am doing this. In the final analysis, you will come to the answer: “To be happy” “To not be sad“.

Means: However, each of us have a certain understanding of how to get to the state of Happiness.

Some believe that being good, not doing harm to anyone, helpling others, doing good and noble deeds is the ideal way to gain happiness. Both in the moment and also as a result of those good deeds which come back later as good consequences.

Some others consider that acquiring wealth is the most assured way of gaining happiness. Wealth (money) is infact very important and necessary to lead a trouble free life. Without wealth one cannot be free from the difficulties of life. If one has wealth, one can be assured of daily food, secure place of stay, ability entertain oneself and enjoy life, acquire things that one desires and so on. So wealth definitely is a means to gain happiness.

There are others who believe that fulfillment of ones desires is what can give happiness. Achieving ones goals becomes the reason for satisfaction and thus for becoming happy. And hence they put everything else aside and accord highest priority to achieving their goals. Some one wants to climb the Mt Everest. Some one wants to be the world champion in Tennis. Someone wants to discover new molecules. Someone wants to understand the mysteries of outerspace. Someone wants to be a successful business magnate. Someone wants to be the best cine-actor. Someone wants to have the love of their life so they persue relationships. And so on. Thus, fulfillment of a certain desire becomes their pursuit to achieve the desired state of Happiness.

There are others who believe that gaining complete freedom from all kinds of bondages, including the bondage of the physical body is the guaranteed path to obtaining happiness. This more importantly pertains to the liberation from ignorance of the mistaken identity of who we truly are. It is the discovery that our very nature is happiness. – आत्मस्वरूपम् – सत् चित् आनन्दः। Realising thus, there is no more pursuit to gain happiness, instead there is only the state of being happy.

Analysis of the Means

Thus there are broadly four means by which happiness is pursued.

पुरुषार्थः चतुर्विधः – धर्मः अर्थः कामः मोक्षः च।

Now let us understand the nature of these four.

  • Of these 4, मोक्षः is considered to be the most superior. Why ?
    • धर्मः – Consequences of doing good brings good but its not everlasting. Both in this life and life after in other worlds. (स्वर्गलोकः इत्यादयः)
    • अर्थः – Wealth gained is spent away or lost. Once gone, we are again unhappy and hence once again commence our pursuit to gain it.
    • कामः – Aspiration and desires once fulfilled gives rise to new ones. Its an eternal chase.
  • Where as मोक्षः वा मुक्तिः is a permanent achievement. There is no coming back from this state. And hence it guarantees complete, true and everlasting happiness.
  • That is why my Guru says: “Happiness is Union with God”.

Who would want to tread the path to happiness that is not going to provide guaranteed happiness. We all want guaranteed returns on our investments and efforts. Then isnt it ideal to work towards मोक्षः and thus develop the quality of मुमुक्षुत्वम् ?

Deeper Understanding

The पुरुषार्थाः have a deeper understanding as explained by Bhagawan Baba. Let me share them below:

Common UnderstandingDeeper Understanding
Of the four Purusharthas (Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha), the first one, Dharma, is regarded in common usage as referring to actions like charity, the duties of one’s ashrama (stage in life), going on pilgrimages and such other good deeds. The observance of the duties relating to different ashramas (Brahmacharya , Grihastha, Vanaprastha and Sanyasa) is incidental to the particular stage in life. The duties do not constitute Dharma proper. These relate only to external actions.  The true Dharma of every human being is to make every endeavour to realise the Divine. The process by which this consummation can be reached constitutes Dharma. Dharma should lead to Self-realisation.
Similarly, Artha does not mean, as commonly understood, the accumulation of property and wealth. They may well become anartha (calamitous). They are not lasting.The acquisition of such wealth cannot be considered as Purushartha. The real wealth that the man should acquire is the wisdom that is related to the Divine. 
The word Kama is generally associated with worldly desires and sensual pleasures. But, when it is considered as the Purushartha – as one of the purposes of life – it relates to the yearning for God and not to mundane desires.
The term Moksha is generally understood as referring to the means by which one reaches God or Heaven. But one can be in Heaven only for the period earned by one’s meritorious deeds and at the end will have to be reborn again. But Moksha in the true sense refers to a state in which nothing is lacking and there is no incoming or going out. It is a state without name or form. It is not a specific place to go to. It is the attainment of unity with the Divine.

Baba further elucidates as follows:

Thus, for every human being,

  • The first task, among the four Purusharthas, must be to determine what is permanent and what is transient and seek the Eternal Madhava. – True धर्मः।
  • The second objective is the acquisition of the Divine Wisdom as the real wealth. – True अर्थः।
  • The third is to develop faith in God and yearn for realisation of mergence in God. – True कामः।
  • The fourth is Moksha, the state of Self-realisation in which there is no change and there is no movement. – True मोक्षः।


इह खलु धर्मार्थकाममोक्षाख्येषु चतुर्विधपुरुषार्थेषु मोक्ष एव परमपुरुषार्थः, "न स पुनरावर्तते" इत्यादिश्रुत्या तस्यैव नित्यत्वावगमात्, इतरेषां त्रयाणां प्रत्यक्षेण,"तद्यथेह कर्मजितो लोकः क्षीयते, एवमेवामुत्र पुण्यजितो लोकः क्षीयते" इत्यादिश्रुत्या च अनित्यत्वावगमाच्च । स च ब्रह्मज्ञानादिति ब्रह्म तज्ज्ञानं तत्प्रमाणञ्च सप्रपञ्चं निरूप्यते ।

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