Success and Happiness in Life, Part 1

Part 1 of 2. Bodhinatha gives a wonderful talk about the Hindu view of success in life. An initial view of success from the western point of view falls short, being based solely on wealth and love. This attitude often negatively influences parents' interest in their children's success and the relationship of that success to religious life. Bodhinatha talks in detail about the four goals of life in Hinduism--dharma, artha, kama and moksha.

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Questions? Bodhinatha is the successor of "Gurudeva," Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. If you have questions on subjects about spiritual life you will find answers in Gurudeva's books and teachings. Learn about ways to study these teachings by visiting The Master Course site or writing to mastercourse@hindu.org.

Unedited Transcript:

Good Morning, everyone! Nice to be back at our Sun One homa. A Siva homa in Kadavul to start the phase or the week.

We have a talk. It is somewhat new this morning, 'Success, A Hindu approach'.

In today's material world, success in life is popularly measured by looking solely at people's professional and family life. Do they have a good and well paying job and a nice home with a well educated spouse and intelligent children? If the answer is yes, then they are considered to be successful.

We will take this as our initial definition of success and throughout this article deepen and broaden it in important ways.

Parents are naturally focused on making sure their children are as successful in life as possible, which is good. However, unfortunately some Hindu parents feel that their children's participation in Hindu religious activities and studies is a complete waste of time. Meaning that, it contributes nothing at all to their becoming successful. This attitude is based on one or more incorrect concepts, such as the following three.

Hinduism encourages us to look at the world as unreal and thus take no interest in becoming successful.

Hinduism is against the acquiring of wealth and the enjoyment of life.

Hinduism's devotional practices and attending the Hindu temple are only for field and factory workers and not for the highly educated professional.

These three concepts are, of course, incorrect concepts as Hinduism when properly taught and properly practiced definitely helps us to be even more successful in life then we, otherwise would be.

Let us begin deepening our understanding of the Hindu concept of success by looking at the concept of the purusharthas. These are called the four pursuits in which humans may legitimately engage, also called chathurvarga, fourfold goals and are basic principles of Hindu ethics. They are as we know dharma - virtue, artha - wealth, kama - love and moksha - liberation.

The achievement of the two goals, wealth and love, is identical to our initial definition of success. As we can see, Hinduism contrary to what many Hindus believe, is in fact concerned with the individuals being successful in life. Said another way, wealth and love are the goals of all humans, including Hindus.

Hinduism, however, is also concerned about how we pursue wealth and love. Do we do it in a virtuous and honest way? Or, do we do so without virtue and honesty? Are spouses faithful to one another or not? Do we acquire wealth through honest or dishonest means? This is a concern of all the worlds religions, not just Hinduism.

Dharma, virtue, now enters the picture. Dharma is not totally a separate goal. It also governs the proper way to pursue the goals of wealth and love. Dharma also guides us not to simple hoard our wealth just for our own benefit but rather to share it through acts of hospitality and giving.

To elaborate a bit more, dharma is the fulfillment of virtue, good works, duties and responsibilities, restraints and observances, performing one's part in the service and upliftment of society. It is the steady guide of artha and kama.

Artha is material welfare and abundance, money, property and possessions. It includes the basic needs, food, money, clothing and shelter. Gurudeva expands the definition to say, "Wealth is required to maintain a comfortable home, raise a family, fulfill a career and perform religious duties." He goes on to say, "The broadest concept of wealth embraces financial independence, freedom from debt, worthy children, good friends, leisure time, faithful servants, trustworthy employees and the joys of giving, feeding the poor, supporting religious mendicants, worshiping devoutly, protecting all creatures, upholding the family and offering hospitality to guests."

Artha measures not only riches but quality of life. Providing the personal and social security needed to pursue kama, dharma and moksha, it allows for the fulfillment of the householders five daily sacrifices, panchamahayajna, to God, ancestors, devas, creatures and men.

Kama is earthly love, aesthetic and cultural fulfillment., pleasures of the world including sexual, joys of family, intellectual satisfaction. It includes the enjoyment of happiness, security, creativity, usefulness and inspiration.

Of course, we need to say something about moksha as well.

Moksha, also called mukti, is freedom from the rounds of birth and death, samsara. Moksha occurs after karma has been resolved and realization of the Self God has been attained. The desire for moksha only comes after a soul has pursued and been successful in dharma, artha and kama for many lives, so that one is no longer attached to worldly joys and sorrows. Said another way, those who renounce the world in this life in the one pointed pursuit of moksha do so because they have achieved success and fulfillment in the world in past lives.

You may find it interesting to know that we regularly receive e-mails from devotees pursuing family life, saying that their strong desire is that their dharma for their next life will be to follow the monastic path and pursue to moksha. That is always a nice e-mail to receive.