The whole world is turning to Ayurveda, a South Indian medical system, which carries a legacy running to thousands of years. It stands on solid research background although only now many of the western countries have begun to acknowledge it. Ayurveda is the science of life. It aims at achieving the fullness of life. It teaches how one can live a successful life. Diseases are the hindrances of happiness in human life. Ayuveda tells us how we can lead a life without any disease and also how we can be protected from the diseases that may attack us occasionally. It prescribes the FOUR important goals of life. They are: Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.
Dharma means service to the society. Every successful human life has to pass through these four stages of goals. Man is a social animal. Dharma is the adjustment of life with himself and with the society around him, i.e., his family, his kith and kin, his village, his country, etc. The frictions against his own self or against others make him uneasy and sick.
Dharma means to follow the path of righteousness and living one’s life according to the codes of conduct as described by the Vedic laws. Observance of Dharma enables humans to be contented and happy which enables a harmonious and peaceful life. It saves the individual as well as the others around him from all sufferings. It makes the earth a place of heavenly bliss! Without Dharma human coexistence is impossible!
Life as a single, then loving others, marrying and settling in life, raising a family, all these experiences of life come under the practice of Dharma! Whatever creates conflict and harms unity and harmony is Adharma.
Ayurveda prescribes in detail methods and ways to reach these four goals of life. In short, Dharma promotes divine love and universal brotherhood!
Artha literally means wealth. Material wealth is very essential for the overall happiness and well being of an individual as well as the society s a whole. Any individual requires wealth, because he has to perform many duties to uphold dharma and ensure the welfare and progress of his family and society. How can a person uphold Dharma, if he has no money or any wealth with him? Hence Ayurveda has rightly placed the material wealth (Artha) as the second most important goal of life.
Artha does not mean amassing wealth and live a luxurious life of selfishness! Rather it means that it should promote Dharma or justice in each and every step of life. It is also managing material wealth in a righteous way.
Kama means seeking pleasure or fulfillment of desires through which the true love and happiness of the individual and the society is promoted. It causes the wellbeing and development of the society. Ayurvedic Sutras say, “In the beginning, the Lord of Beings created men and women, and in the form of commandments in one hundred thousand chapters laid down rules for regulating their existence with regard to Dharma, Artha, and Kama.” Human life from childhood until death is a journey of achieving the ultimate goal of Moksha (heavenly bliss) through the former three goals. Human life is to achieve Moksha through happiness of sharing and it is not a life to waste in mourning.
Ayurveda teaches and encourages people to enjoy everything and fulfill all material desires. Reaching the ultimate goal Moksha is a long process. It can be achieved only when all material desires are fulfilled.
Kama does not bring any bad sense as it is interpreted by some narrow minded people now. It is the pure pursuit of love which leads to the Eternal Love of Divinity!
Moksha is the ultimate goal of every human existence. As St. Augustine says, “Lord1 we are created in your image and until we reach you our souls cannot find rest,” the goal of Ayurvedic life is to reach the Eternal Bliss through righteous living.
It defines the relationship between the devotee and the divine is that of submission, reverence, and adoration. The whole human life is a Yoga of worship through Dharma, Artha and Kama. That is why Lord Krishna says in Bhagavad-Gita, “Oh Arjuna! Whatever you do, eat, offer as an oblation, give as a gift or undertake as a penance, offer all that to me.” Doing exercises and meditation under the guidance of a guru is another way of reaching Moksha. This second path focuses more on the individual’s relationship with the divine, and the objective is to push out all outside distractions.
Ayurveda is not a mere system of medicine. It is a path of life. It states clearly that only the imbalance of the way of human life causes diseases and so only by correcting the life style man can achieve health. Hence it gives equal importance to all the four goals without any of this taking precedence over the others. This is in order to attain a fulfilled and meaningful life. Neglecting any one of these goals would mean instability and a dangerous imbalance in human life which will surely lead to disease and disaster.