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The Purpose of Life

The taittirīya upaniṣad (3.6.1) states: 

 

From Happiness, indeed, all these beings originate; 

Having been born, they are sustained by (the pursuit of) Happiness; 

they move towards and merge in that Happiness (in the end). 

 

The Vedic scriptures clearly state that the purpose of life is to seek Happiness. Inevitably all human beings pursue Happiness unconsciously as if it’s programmed in our DNA.

 

Generally human beings fulfil this purpose of life by pursuing Happiness in two forms. The first is via the world of objects and forms; and the second is through the pursuit of the Self. The happiness gained through the experience of objects is called viṣayānanda. And the happiness ‘gained via’ the Self is called brahmānanda. All human beings have a natural disposition to prefer one over the other. And this forms the foundation to choosing our lifestyle which can be either a life of duty and enjoyment (pravṛtti dharma) or the life devoted to knowing the Self (nivṛtti dharma). 

 

The Vedic tradition legitimises both these lifestyles and states the people who pursue visayananda or pravṛtti dharma in an ethical and dutiful manner to be equivalent to the gods (Manu Smrti, 12.90).  While the seekers of the Self who form a relatively small size of the human population as those fit for the study of vedānta (vairāgya). 

 

The pursuit of vedānta is characterised by an intense desire for knowledge and a feeling of dispassion (jñāna vairāgya lakṣanaṃ). These traits serve as an effective means to assess one’s readiness for the pursuit of vedānta. 

 

 

Further Readings:

1. Introduction to bhagavad gītā commentary by saṅkara

 

2. Chapter 15 of pañcadaśī by vidyāraṇya

 

Read 1224 times Last modified on Saturday, 25 October 2014 19:40