Friday, January 31, 2014

What are we doing here?

A king presented a rich Kashmiri shawl to a pundit. The poor man had no idea of the value of the shawl. He wiped his running nose, cleaned the nostrils and his dirty feet with the shawl. Angry at such foolishness, the king ordered the shawl be taken away from the pundit who was ignorant of its value or use. It was promptly snatched away from the pundit.
This analogy was used by Swami Sivananda to convey that most of us unaware of the value of human life bestowed on us by God in His kindness use it for lowly purposes as the pundit did only to find it being taken away after some years. While the sole purpose of life could be for realizing the self and liberating from this cycle of births and deaths, the burden of this article is not towards a spiritual quest. For many of us  the search for a good life in ease and comfort is far more important than undertaking a journey in uncharted direction in quest of self and the Ultimate. Most of us are also not mentally inclined to take such a path for whatever reason, karma or otherwise.
But the journey in life should not be aimless. There should be a purpose. To study well, equip for a job, marry and enjoy the pleasures of life, get children and acquire wealth could all be normal pursuits in life and its mundane goals. To achieve these we would  ever be engrossed in such pursuits till one day in advanced years, we stop the chase only to find that we have not really enriched our lives or done something soul filling  with a social content. Having wealth, family or happiness do not constitute as the real purpose. They are like blowing the nose in the expensive shawl of life. It should have a greater meaning and richer content.
Mahatma Gandhi spent major part of his life for the freedom of the country while Nelson Mandela was compelled to spend long years in prison for his fight against apartheid. Abe Lincoln fought for abolition of slavery while Mother Teresa spent all her life for destitutes.Vinobha sacrificed his life for landless. When you think of philanthropy the names of Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Azim Premji come to our mind. They worked to give away large share for noble causes. Many stop the chase after lucre to work in villages silently without glare of publicity and devote their time for worthy causes like education, health, creation of skill, upliftment of tribals,care of the old and such expecting nothing in return. There is no dearth of social causes
Are you content with routine goals or wish to do something extra in return for the blessing? Choose some worthy cause that is within your reach and practicable,not self centred but encompasses a larger canvas as your life’s purpose.
Ralph Waldo Emerson puts it “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” The purpose of life cannot be better said than this by Bernard Kelvin Clive “You may or may not make a million dollars in life, a song may not be sung in praise of you, monuments may not be erected in your name but promise me this: to live life fully, to give wholeheartedly, to do your best with what you have, to impact souls, to use your gifts and talents to serve humanity, to live, love and leave a legacy in your own way.”


  1. Human life has only one purpose and that is self realization. otherwise animals and humans are same - aahar, nidra, bhayam, maithunam cha... Yes law of karma can come in the way but some agyaat sukriti or by association that can be overridden. Yes philanthropy is good but the best charity is the charity of gyaan.
    After all a vaishnava is always para dukh dukhi :)

  2. Coincidentally I was discussing this topic with my parents today! Creating a purpose makes life more meaningful and worthy of being born. Great post!

  3. I liked the example of the expensive shawl and its real use, value and purpose relating it to our daily life. nice post.

  4. A cleverly written post that I enjoyed reading.

    Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

  5. Namaste:
    I think the mistake we often make is in thinking we only have one purpose and our path must resemble someone else's in order to be valued and worthy. Purpose isn't always grandoise and loud it can me small, quiet and steady and loaded with significance.

    "Mahatma Gandhi spent major part of his life for the freedom of the country" -true. "Nelson Mandela was compelled to spend long years in prison for his fight against apartheid." - I don't think he was compelled rather he was imprisoned for standing for something and did it loudly and without apology.

    "Abe Lincoln fought for abolition of slavery' - true, yet here is the rub, he also owned slaves.

    Keep on writing.
    I'll keep on reading.

  6. I is not all about happiness and self gratification..its purpose is beyond that..only if people could understand it..

  7. Life is precious many ways. It should be percieved. I remember your previous story on Value of Samsaara...