In the quest for meaning and purpose, the question “What’s the purpose of my life?” stands as a timeless inquiry that has echoed through the ages, transcending cultures, philosophies, and personal narratives. This profound question invites us on a journey inward and outward, to explore the depths of our being and the vast expanse of the world around us. Getting to learn/understand the purpose of our lives helps us live peacefully with good mental and physical health. Drawing wisdom from ancient texts like the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads, and reflecting on the exemplary lives of figures such as Lord Rama and Lord Krishna, we embark on a quest to understand the essence of our existence. In this blog, we seek not just answers but a deeper connection with the universal truths that guide us toward living a life of purpose, fulfillment, and liberation. The following represents the purpose of our life:
- Stay liberated
- Perform righteous karma for the greater good while staying liberated
To stay liberated in one’s lifetime involves recognizing and maintaining the awareness that one is the “see-er” of the mind and body, rather than identifying with them. This concept is rooted in the teachings of the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, which emphasize the realization of the Self (Atman) as distinct from the physical and mental constructs. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna advises Arjuna to perform actions without attachment to the outcomes, which is a way to maintain liberation while engaging in the world. This detachment and realization of one’s true nature as the observer, not the doer or the experiencer of actions and thoughts, lead to living in a state of liberation, or Moksha, while still in the physical body. It involves the consistent practice of mindfulness, meditation, and the application of spiritual discernment (Viveka) to see beyond the illusions (Maya) created by the mind and the senses.
Perform Righteous Karma for the Greater Good
In the context of Hindu scriptures, particularly the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads, and through the lives of Lord Rama and Lord Krishna, the ideal of performing righteous actions for the greater good while remaining detached and liberated is vividly illustrated.
Lord Rama, in the epic Ramayana, embodies the principle of Dharma (righteous duty). His life is a testament to performing one’s duty selflessly for the greater good, even at personal cost. This can be a great inspiration for all of us. Rama’s decision to go into exile, forsaking the throne for the sake of his father’s word, and his actions to rescue Sita and defeat Ravana, were driven by a commitment to righteousness and the welfare of others, rather than personal desire or attachment to outcomes. Rama’s adherence to Dharma, despite the trials and tribulations, exemplifies the principle of Nishkama Karma (selfless action) and staying liberated from personal desires.
Lord Krishna, in the Bhagavad Gita, elaborates on these principles to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Krishna teaches the importance of performing one’s duty without attachment to the fruits of actions (Karma Phala Tyaga). He emphasizes that one should act according to their Dharma, for the sake of the action itself, and not be motivated by the results. This dispassionate and duty-bound approach to action is a pathway to staying liberated while engaged in worldly duties.
The Bhagavad Gita further elucidates this with the concept of Yoga: “Yoga is skill in action” (2.50). The practice of Yoga, as Krishna describes, involves maintaining equanimity in success and failure, which leads to liberation (Moksha). This state of equanimity (Sthitha Prajna) is achieved by recognizing the impermanence of material outcomes and identifying with the eternal self (Atman), which is beyond the transient nature of the world.
The Upanishads, ancient philosophical texts, reinforce this by teaching the ultimate unity of the Atman (self) with Brahman (universal consciousness). Actions performed with the awareness of this unity contribute to the greater good without binding the doer to the cycle of birth and death (Samsara). The Isha Upanishad, for example, begins with the assertion that everything in the universe is inhabited by the divine, prompting a life of selfless action and renunciation.