On today’s bus ride to the gurukula, the bus conductors remembered that they owed me change and gave it to me. One B.Com student of Maharani Lakshmammanni college gave me her seat in the bus. Another student accommodated a little girl next to her. The bus driver stopped exactly at the stop.
My point in saying all this is that everyday so many people are dutiful in so many transactions. And so many people are nice to strangers when there is no external pressure to be nice. It is out of the kindness of their own heart.
kundA dEvI was waiting for me on her red-oxide doorstep as usual reading a work of byrappa. Unlike me she is patient with students who are late to class. Sitting in her crumpled white khadi saree. The conversation starts with byrappa and then moves across to the persecution of hindus at the hands of buddhists, muslims and christians from then to now. Then to the Aurora batman movie killings and the slaughter at virginia tech.
Then I present my latest thesis to her. That the 4 puruSArthAs (human goals) are independent of each other like the x,y,z and t dimensions.
Many people accept that kAma or desire does not lead to mOkSa or freedom. Nothing enslaves a person as desire does. (As’AyAh yE dasAh, dasAh tE sarvalOkasya).
artha or wealth is seen as a means to kAma and dharma. You need money for buying what you want as well as for doing noble things for the society eg charity. No one generally argues that you need wealth for mOkSa.
Similarly dharma (ethics – social good) is also uncorrelated to mOkSa.
This point needs elaboration. Because people have been fed from childhood that of you do good deeds you get lots of puNyam or merit and if you get enough puNyam you go to heaven and that God will be pleased if you serve your fellow human beings and other life forms. In fact many people have gone on to declare that service to humanity is service to God.
I completely disagree – as I have argued elaborately in the previous post, Is Life Over-Rated? Good deeds are impossible because to feed someone is to hurt the food which is also life. jIvAh jIvasya jIvanam. Life is the food(life) of life! So if you feed someone or save their life – you are actually hurting all the life they are going to consume. From a global perspective – it makes no difference.
From a human perspective – it makes a lot of difference. If you kill a plant or animal to feed another human, then the human race wins. If you care for cats that kill rats, then your food supplies will last longer and the human race wins.
samAja is human society. samAja would like you to dedicate your life and death to itself. samAja honours heroes and soldiers who die for it. samAja honours the farmers who grow life and then kill it to feed humans.
samAja has the single goal of its own welfare. dharma (ethics, righteousness) as prescribed by every religion and non-religion has always held the the prosperity of humanity (or a narrower sub-set) as the highest goal!
dharma is about human beings mostly and then a little about other animals and plants. In the end its focus is on the welfare of human society. Even environmentalists want a good environment because it benefits humans in the end, primarily.
By all means work to fulfill your desires – kAma.
By all means earn wealth. – artha
By all means work for the welfare and uplift of your species – the humans.
By all means work to kill cancer, cold and HIV viruses while taking care of all the ‘nice’ animals.
But do not imagine that finding a cure for the common cold will earn you mOkSa. It may give you the satisfaction of helping people or solving a tough problem but that will be it.
guruji proposed that mOkSa was beyond dharma. (dharmAtIta).
I did not agree.
s’ankarAcArya by passed the gRhastha As’rama that is meant for upholding dharma and achieved gnyAna and mOkSa (jIvanmukti). After that he taught others, but he needn’t have. There are many jIvanmuktAs who are/were happy to delight in themselves.
Human Society wants you to dedicate your life and death to itself. Your spouse wants your dedication, your family wants your dedication, your relatives and friends want your dedication, your nation and community want your dedication. You will be loved by the group that benefits from your dedication to its needs.
She agreed to this.
Now – the first three puruSArthAs are sufficient for the cArvAkAs, but not for the vEdAntins.
vEdAntins want mOkSa.
Which means that they are dedicated to the brahman.
People on the planes of bhOga (enjoyment) and dharma (duty) will severely censure vEdAntins who may achieve only mediocre success in the first three puruSArthAs.
vEdAntins need gnyAna (knowledge), bhakti (devotion), vairAgya (dispassion) and such like.
For this they need to study the upaniSads and other texts and spend time in contemplation. This takes time away from bhOga and dharma and for this the society might frown on them and call them lazy or good for nothing.
If you want to be a vEdAntin in modern times and in home settings, be prepared to handle the guilt/blame that will be heaped on you for not dedicating yourself to dharma and samAja and bhOga and instead dedicating yourself to the brahman. And be prepared for plenty of interruptions and people telling you that you should be doing something else. Also be specially prepared for preachy pseudo-spiritual people who tell you that you must suffer and starve and hurt kRSNa who dwells in you! All that is needed is to turn your mind to the brahman.