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All the things which are being in this world can be classified as sensient and insensient things. Sensient things are those with life and insensient things are the inert things.


The sensient things can be divided into human beings and animals. Though the necessity of food, sleep, fear of survival and procreation are common to both, the important criteria, which differentiate them, is the faculty called Budhi or intellect. In this context the budhi can be defined as that faculty which enables human beings to set goals, plan them and achieve the same.


The faculty is there from the childhood till the old age and it varies in quality and quantity relevant to particular stage of life. These could be as many ventures of goal as there are human beings.


Our shastras classifies all these qualities called as purusharthas into four categories namely (1) Artha (2) Kama (3) Dharma and (4) Moksha.
In this context the word purusha indicates only human beings and that includes both male and female. Now the important features of these classification are as follows : -

  1. Arthas :- Any purushartha that is undertaken for the sake of security or survival is called Artha. Example money, property etc. This is necessary for the basic needs of life. But the desire to accumulate money or power depending upon how one has complicated his life.
2. Kama: - Purusharthas persued for the sake of sense pleasures are called kama. It does not mean desire alone but any boga can be called kama. Sometimes boga will also include Artha.
3. Dharma: - We believe in rebirth, which depend on the good or bad deeds done in this life. These are called punya or papa. All the punya karmas are classified as Dharma. This is not only applicable to the next life but also help us to lead a better life in this life too. All the three purusharthas are called Preyas. Though they are required and useful but they have three main defects.
  1. They are always associated with pain. We have to encounter with struggle & pain to acquire them and in the process we experience pain while loosing them.
  2. They are temporary pleasures and do not give us the sense of fulfillment. They are always associated with dissatisfaction.
  3. All these three purusharthas will bind us and make us dependent on the worldly things and beings. They will also lead us to addiction as they are associated with attachment.

For people who want to be free from all the above defects that is to be happy and always secured without depending on the outside world we have the fourth Purushartha called Moksha.
We start out life with Artha and Kama and then Dharma comes into picture. Action can bring both Adhrusta pala and Dhrushta pala. They can be either positive or negative results. They are called punya if it is positive results and papa if it is negative results.

The three Artha, Kama and Dharma called Preyas are necessary and useful for our relative life. But the fulfillment we get out of them is fleeting in nature just like we get satisfied after full meals so after the food gets digested we are ready for the next meal. So also these preyas is endless and cannot give us satisfaction.


Any addiction will create problem when these defects are not analysed thoroughly. By most of the people, the viveki, one who analyses starts seeing the defects and understands that there is a defect free goal. Absolute freedom from depending on external factors of the world to be happy and secured. This is Moksha and Moksha is called Sheryas. Preyas is pleasing and relatively good whereas Shreyas is for absolute good. The Shreyas in other words called as Paramapurushartha. This Shreyas, Moksha, Paramapurushartha puts an end to all our struggles. Having gained this Shreyas we need not gain anything. Very few only think of Shreyas and try for this.

To pursue Moksha purushartha we have to depend on a body of knowledge called " Shastras".
The shastras can be defined in two ways namely
(1) The body of knowledge by which human beings are taught is called Shastras
(2) It is also defined as that which protects the human being by teaching. Shastras cannot be forced upon a person but it is available for help.
The shastras can be grouped into two types namely:
  a. The Vedas which are moola pramanas.
b. Secondary scriptures into four classifications
Sutras, Smruthi, Puranas and Ithihasas.
a. Vedas: - Vedas are the original and self authentative. They are not written by any human beings. Hence they are called A pourisheyam. Vedas are given by the Lord and received by Rishis in their deep meditation. Thus the Rishi’s were like trasistors. The Vedas are always available in the atmosphere and can be received by those who are tuned to them. The body of Manthras are edited and compiled by Vyasa. The Vedas are four in number. They are Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharvana Veda.  
  • Rig Veda :- Consists of maximum number of Manthras
  • Yajur Veda : Yajur Manthras, they do not have definite number of letters in each quarter.
  • Sama Veda: - Manthras are sang and common with Rig Veda.
  • Atharva Veda :- Name after Atharva Rishi. Language of Vedas are not easy to understand and development is not systematic.

The secondary Vedas are not authentic by themselves and written by Rishis to understand better by the common people. So it is Pourishya.


Suthra :- Brief presentation ; Aphorism example Apasthamba Suthra, Dharma Suthra.
Smruthi :- There are eighteen smruthis. Out of them Manu Smruthi is popular. They are in elaborate slokha form written by various Rishis and they talk mainly about Dharma.
Puranas: - Story form containing the recitation of Vedas only.
E.g.: Vishnu Purana written by Parasura Batta.
Ithihasa: - These are history which happened really E.g.:
Ramayana and Mahabaratha. It gives the teaching of Veda in the form of history.

  Vedas are divided into 2 parts.
(1) Poorva Baga (2) Vedantha

(1) The Poorva Baga is called karma kanda and it deals with preyas purushartha. Since this type of Athikaris and relevant purusharthas are different part of Veda and this part of veda is very voluminous

  (2) Vedantha : This is the end portion of Vedas. It deals with Shreyas purushartha i.e. Moksha. This is called Upanishad.
Vedas has given us the scheme both for social harmony and individual harmony. The scheme to organise the society for the social harmony is called Varnashrama vyavastha. Here varna means division and the society is divided into 4 varnas
i.e. Brahmana, Shatriya, Vysya and Sudhra.
  These divisions are based on the three main factors as follows:
  1. Janma: This division is based on the family in which the individual is born. There is no gradation of superior or inferior in the birth.
  2. Guna: This division is based on the character or disposition of the individual. For this the guna is classified into four corresponding to the four varnas as given below.
  1. Religious and Spiritual disposition of the individual having this nature swabhava of Dharmic and Adhyathmika is called Guna Brahmana.
  2. Disposition of selfless activity :- This disposition of Niswartha is called Shatriya guna and the individual is called Guna Shatriya
  3. Disposition of selfish activity: This is called Swartha guna and the individual is called Guna Vysya.
  4. Disposition towards laziness and mechanical thinking. This is called Alasi or Pramodha guna and the individual is called Guna Sudhra.

There is gradation in the classification. Guna Brahmana is considered to be superior to the other three gunas. Shathriya guna is placed second, Vysya guna is placed third and Shudhra guna as the fourth.
This gradation is justified as every individual can evolve themselves from lowest guna to the highest.

  c. Karma: The third criteria for the classification is based on the profession adopted by the individual. Religious activity is considered as Brahmana Karma. Politics and defence considered as Shatriya Karma. Business and commerce considered as Vysya Karma. Serving the above three is considered as Sudhra Karma. There is no gradation in this, as all professions are important for the society.
As could be seen all the divisions (varna) are important for the society’s harmony and infact varnas are regarded as part of Baghavan and all parts are important. Also except for caste (Jathi) we have a choice in guna and profession to choose our varna. One’s swabava and family profession forms the basis of this choice. We should realise money alone should not be the criteria for choosing one’s profession.
An individual and society cannot be separated, as both are interdependent. Both Varna Vyvastha and Ashrama Vyavastha (stages of life) meant to take care of the harmony of the individual and the society.
Earlier there was a synchronisation of the three factors Janma, Guna & Karma of the Varna Vyavastha and there was a social hormony. But man because of his exploiting tendency, misused the system of Varna vyavastha Brahmana felt that they are superior because of their birth in the Brahmana family. The respect for guna lost its significance. Because of individuals raga dwesha the varna vyavastha itself losts its significance. But to get Moksha the guna is very important and the seeker should be a guna Brahmana. Thus to help the individual growth and harmony and to evolve himself we had the Ashrama Vyavastha i.e. the stages of life. According to our shastras the stages of life are divided into four namely
(1) Brahmacharya (2) Gruhastha (3) Vanaprastha and (4) Sanyasa.
  1. Brahmacharya: This is the first stage of life where one learns about the four purusharthas, one’s family’s profession and how to lead a dharmic life. This learning will be based on a holistic approach to life as against what is being done in the present education. So a man prepares himself to lead a cultured and dharmic life in his Brahmacharya stage.
  2. Gruhastha: In this stage of life the man enters a family life and leads a life as per the teachings learnt in the Brahmacharya stage. In this stage all the 3 Purusharthas i.e. Artha, Kama and Dharma are put into practice.
  3. Vanaprastha: Having achieved materialistic success and after doing full justice to Artha and Kama purusharthas, one hands over the responsibilities of the Gruhasthashram to the next generation and starts preparing for Moksha Sadhana. In this stage he practices Dharma and Moksha purusharthas by withdrawing himself from the mundane
  4. activities and practicing meditation.

  5. Sanyasa: By following the three stages as per the shastras a man becomes matured and fit enough to pursue only Moksha sadhana. He follows the sprit of Sanyasa and which ultimately leads him to enlightenment. From the above discussions we see that the Ashrama vyavastha enables a person to lead a holistic life and helps him in effective growth. But now these things are changed and we do not follow the Ashrama system. Only first two systems are present in a very vague and pseudo form. There is no Ashrama but we have only shrama. Now people lead Gruhasthashram till the end of the life and never get retired. In the earlier stages we get wealth by loosing health and later stages we loose wealth to get health.
    Though we do not have this vanaprasthashram existing now as in earlier days what is important is that we
    should follow the spirit of the teaching i.e. Psychologically follow the system for our own good. Once our family responsibilities are reduced we should spend more time in Japa, meditation, scriptual studies, contemplating on self-knowledge etc. This will reduce our pocessiveness for mundane things and the mind will get prepared for a mental sanyasa. Mental Sanyasa means the sense of belonging should go. The sprit of vanaprastha is a preparatory stage for this mental sanyasa. Vyragya and Ahimsa are two exclusive commitments for sanyasa and sanyasa is the exclusive commitment for Moksha. The husband and wife will lead a friendly life in vanaprasthashrama. The robe and vibuthi help to follow the sprit of Vanaprastha. This Ashrama vyavastha is common for all varnas.


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