ARTHA, KAAM, DHARMA and MOKSHA

ਚਾਰਿ ਪਦਾਰਥ ਲੈ ਜਗਿ ਆਇਆ ॥:
Chaari padaarath lai jagi aaiaa (sggs 1027).
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This article will try to reflect on the followings:
  • Four Types of Desires Artha, Kaam (Kama or Kam), Dharma, and Moksha
  • The Gurbani's Chaar or Four Padaarath
Four Types of Desires

All beings have Mayaic desires and related fears, from a tiny ant to a largest animal and including human beings. And they seem to be endless. They prompt all beings to act in this world - the pluralistic world of gross objects is activated by desires. These desires are classified under the four headings: wealth or economic development (Artha), sense gratification / passions or desires (Kama, Kam or Kaam), Dhaarmic activities or morality (Dharma), and salvation or liberation (Mokh or Moksha).

Attaining salvation (liberation, Mukti...) from the cycle of repeated suffering is the goal of human life. Many (in Manmukh consciousness) consider these four the vehicle to realize this goal. Also called by many the four Purusharths (endeavors, Chaar Padarath or Padaarath ...) of human life, are Artha, Kaam, Dharma, and Mokh (Moksha).

However, as we will see later, these are not the Gurbani's four (Chaar) Padaarath. Because all desires emanates from our attachment or love or hunger for Maya (ਮਾਇਆ ਦੀ ਭੁਖ).

  • ਲਿਵ ਛੁੜਕੀ ਲਗੀ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਮਾਇਆ ਅਮਰੁ ਵਰਤਾਇਆ ॥: Liv chhurrakee lagee trisanaa maya amaru varataaiaa (sggs 921).
Now, let's briefly look at these four types of desires separately. First, what is Artha? One desire that is common to all human beings and animals is the desire to survive or feel secure. Whatever the animals or humans do or acquire to fulfill this innate desire is called Artha. In Artha we seek recognition, and in Artha we seek power and strength. Education also gives man the feeling of security. Hence, whatever we seek to survive or feel secure is, in essence, seeking Artha only. Thus, at this Artha level we get the sense of doership. Under this false sense of doership, once a person feels secure, he naturally embarks on the next step in the desire ladder to seek sense gratification (Kaam).

An unsound and unhealthy body will have a mind unfit for attaining Spiritual Knowledge and God's contemplation. Accordingly, the Gurbani urges man to lead a healthy life with a strong mind. The Soul is encased in this human body. For the Soul to realize the significance and actual goal of this human life, economic development is required to maintain the body and mind in a healthy and sound condition.

However, the question one may ask himself is: Am I working for maintaining a healthy body and sound mind so that I can realize the Self, or am I working like a donkey to cultivate ignorance to gratify the senses? Material wealth cannot be amassed without corruption. However, corruption and Spirituality are of the opposing nature!

  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਖੋਟੀ ਰਾਸਿ ਖੋਟਾ ਪਾਸਾਰਾ ॥ ਕੂੜੁ ਕਮਾਵਨਿ ਦੁਖੁ ਲਾਗੈ ਭਾਰਾ ॥ ਭਰਮੇ ਭੂਲੇ ਫਿਰਨਿ ਦਿਨ ਰਾਤੀ ਮਰਿ ਜਨਮਹਿ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਵਾਵਣਿਆ ॥੭॥: Manmukh khoteeraas khotaa paasaaraa. Koor kamaavan dukh laagai bhaaraa. Bharme bhoole phiran din raatee mar janmahi janam gavaavaniaa ||7|| (sggs 116).
  • ਸੰਪਉ ਸੰਚੀ ਭਏ ਵਿਕਾਰ ॥ ਹਰਖ ਸੋਕ ਉਭੇ ਦਰਵਾਰਿ ॥: Sanpaou sanchee bhaye vikaar. Harakh sok ubhe darbaar (sggs 222).
In general, ceremonies or rituals at religious places are performed with the purpose of material benefit in mind. Such act is not in the mode of goodness; it's rather in the mode of passion (Bikaars) or ignorance. In this madness, people work day and night like donkey to develop material wealth, without caring for the eternal Spirit or advancement in Spiritual Understanding (ਸੂਝ-ਬੂਝ).
  • ਏਕੁ ਗਿਰਹੁ ਦਸ ਦੁਆਰ ਹੈ ਜਾ ਕੇ ਅਹਿਨਿਸਿ ਤਸਕਰ ਪੰਚ ਚੋਰ ਲਗਈਆ ॥ ਧਰਮੁ ਅਰਥੁ ਸਭੁ ਹਿਰਿ ਲੇ ਜਾਵਹਿ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਅੰਧੁਲੇ ਖਬਰਿ ਨ ਪਈਆ ॥੨॥: Ek Girah das duaar hai jaa ke ... ||2|| (sggs 833).
Man can loose the material wealth at any time. But the Spiritual Wealth is such that a thief can not steal it, fire can not burn it, water can not wet it, a weapon can not cut it, and wind can not wither it. On the other hand, every material possession, including this body are all temporary! Therefore, the Gurbani reminds us that the purpose of this human life is not just to keep working for material accumulation, but to attain union with with our True Being within (Mool, ਮੂਲ).
  • ਅਰਥੁ ਦਰਬੁ ਸਭੁ ਜੋ ਕਿਛੁ ਦੀਸੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਨ ਕਛਹੂ ਜਾਈ ॥: Artha darba sabh jo kish deesai sang na kashhu jaayee (sggs 1237).
  • ਹਰਿ ਧਨੁ ਜਿਨੀ ਸੰਜਿਆ ਸੇਈ ਗੰਭੀਰ ਅਪਾਰ ਜੀਉ ॥੩॥: Hari dhann jinee sanjiaa seyee ganbheer apaar jeeyu ||3|| (sggs 132).
  • ਸੋ ਕਿਛੁ ਕਰਿ ਜਿਤੁ ਮੈਲੁ ਨ ਲਾਗੈ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕੀਰਤਨ ਮਹਿ ਏਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਜਾਗੈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: So kish kar jit mail na laagai. Har kirtan mahi eh manu jaagai ||1|| ||Rahaaou||(sggs 199).
  • ਭਈ ਪਰਾਪਤਿ ਮਾਨੁਖ ਦੇਹੁਰੀਆ ॥ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਮਿਲਣ ਕੀ ਇਹ ਤੇਰੀ ਬਰੀਆ ॥ ਅਵਰਿ ਕਾਜ ਤੇਰੈ ਕਿਤੈ ਨ ਕਾਮ ॥ ਮਿਲੁ ਸਾਧਸੰਗਤਿ ਭਜੁ ਕੇਵਲ ਨਾਮ ॥੧॥: Bhaee praapat maanukh dehureeaa. Gobind milan kee ih teree bareeaa. Avar kaaj terai kitai n kaam. Mil saadh sangat bhaj keval Naam ||1|| (sggs 12).
Thus, development of material wealth is not the end. With the accumulation of wealth comes the urge to indulge in the sense pleasures. This is Kaam. Thus, Kaam can be defined as lust, hankering for material enjoyment with a strong sense of attachment, etc. In other words, Kaam is the unlimited lustful desire that entices man to indulge in sensory pleasures.
  • ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਕੇ ਲੀਨੇ ਗਤਿ ਨਹੀ ਏਕੈ ਜਾਨੀ ॥: Kaama krodh trsnaa ke leene gati nahee ekai jaanee (sggs 1123).
Unrestricted Artha and Kaam activities rooted in greed and selfishness give us an arrogant sense of doership and enjoyership, respectively. This is Bhoga Avasthaa (lust), as oppose to Sahaj Avasthaa (the state of Natural Being). One exhibits this false ego (Haume) under the sense of limited individuality grown out of his body-bound inclinations. Both these doership and enjoyership go together, and create in us the misapprehension that we are the product of material nature (Maya). In the name and guise of fulfilling one's necessary needs, Haume lures man to continuously seek self-satisfaction until death, resulting only in further suffering and sorrows. It is said to be the internal consummate enemy of man. Kaam being a demoniac instinct, a Kaam-ridden person is a Manmukhin the Gurbani.
  • ਸੁਖ ਕਉ ਮਾਗੈ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਦੁਖੁ ਨ ਮਾਗੈ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਸੁਖੈ ਕਉ ਦੁਖੁ ਅਗਲਾ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਬੂਝ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥: Sukh kaou maangai sabh ko dukh n mangai koi. Sukhai kaou dukh agalaa manmukh boojh na hoi (sggs 57).
Unrestricted Kaam corrupts one's sensory apparatus. Consequently, through the corrupted sense of sight, man lusts after material objects; through the corrupted sense of hearing, man craves to hear the slow poison of flattery and other sounds that rouse his material nature; through the corrupted sense of smell, he is enticed toward wrong environments and actions; through the corrupted sense of taste, he is lures to consume such food and drink that destroy his physical and mental well being; and contaminated sense of touch lusts him for indulgence in physical comforts and sex. Under the influence of corrupted senses, man looses his sanity and act like donkey, swine, elephant, and so forth.
  • ਉਰਝਿ ਰਹਿਓ ਇੰਦ੍ਰੀ ਰਸ ਪ੍ਰੇਰਿਓ ਬਿਖੈ ਠਗਉਰੀ ਖਾਵਤ ਹੇ ॥੧॥: Urajh rahio indree ras prerio bikhai thagayuree khaavat hae ||1|| (sggs 821).
  • ਕਾਮ ਹੇਤਿ ਕੁੰਚਰੁ ਲੈ ਫਾਂਕਿਓ ਓਹੁ ਪਰ ਵਸਿ ਭਇਓ ਬਿਚਾਰਾ ॥: Kaama het kunchar lai phankio oh par vas bhaio bichaaraa (sggs 671).
Kaam ruins man's happiness, health, mind, intelligence, memory, and discriminative judgment (Bibeka).
  • ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਮਾਇਆ ਕੇ ਲੀਨੇ ਇਆ ਬਿਧਿ ਜਗਤੁ ਬਿਗੂਤਾ ॥: Kaama krodh maya ke leene yiaa bidhi jagat bigoota (sggs 338).
Thus, a demoniac life (Manmukhtaa) begins with unrestricted activities of Artha and Kaam. When Kaam can not be satisfied by efforts, it manifests into anger and greed. This trio then become the three gates leading man to the hellish life or degradation of the Soul Qualities.
  • ਹਉ ਰੋਗੁ ਬਿਆਪੈ ਚੁਕੈ ਨ ਭੰਗਾ ॥ ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਅਤਿ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨ ਜਰੰਗਾ ॥: Haou rog biaapai chukai n bhangaa. Kaama krodh ati trisan jarangaa (sggs 1305).
  • ਕਨਿਕ ਕਾਮਨੀ ਹੇਤੁ ਗਵਾਰਾ ॥ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਲਾਗੇ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਿਸਾਰਾ ॥: Kanik kaamanee chet gavaara. Dubidhaa laage Naam visaaraa (sggs 416).
As the person Spiritually evolves in life, he feels the desire to lead a righteous and truthful life through Dhaarmic activities. A person can be truly religious, truthful or virtuous only if he possessed the Self-knowledge (Aatam-Giaan). Thus, in Dharma, proper thinking which leads one to righteous actions (Karnee) and truthful living is predominant; because in Dharma one is concerned about what is right. However, unfortunately, we try to become religious before gaining such True Divine Knowledge (Giaan Padaarath). It is like placing a cart before the horse!
  • ਜਿਨਿ ਆਤਮ ਤਤੁ ਨ ਚੀਨ੍‍ਆਿ ॥ ਸਭ ਫੋਕਟ ਧਰਮ ਅਬੀਨਿਆ ॥: Jini aatam tatu n cheenhiaa. Sabh fokat dharma abeeniaa (sggs 1351).
  • ਕਬੀਰਾ ਜਹਾ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਤਹ ਧਰਮੁ ਹੈ ਜਹਾ ਝੂਠੁ ਤਹ ਪਾਪੁ ॥: Kabeeraa jahaa giaanu tah dharamu hai jahaa jhoothu tah paapu (sggs 1372).
A false pride of becoming a religious person becomes hurdle to one's own Spiritual progress. Further, all religious rituals bind man to Maya (duality or relativist consciousness) and further inflate his egoism. Accordingly, religious hypocrisy (Pakhand) and rituals are all branded as material entanglements.
  • ਕਰਮ ਧਰਮ ਸਭਿ ਬੰਧਨਾ ਪਾਪ ਪੁੰਨ ਸਨਬੰਧੁ ॥: Karam dharam sabh bandhanaa paap pun sanbandh (sggs 551).
The underlying objective of any true religion is attaining Moksha (liberation, Mukti) from material bondage by knowing  the Supreme Truth. Therefore, a true religion is that which helps man to realize his true relationship with his Essential Nature ("Joti-Svaroopa", Mool). According to the Gurbani, the best religion is as follows:
  • ਸਰਬ ਧਰਮ ਮਹਿ ਸ੍ਰੇਸਟ ਧਰਮੁ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕੋ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਿ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਕਰਮੁ ॥: Sarab dharam mahi sarest dharam; hari ko naam jap nirmal karam (sggs 266).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਹਰਿ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਕਰਿ ਅਟਲ ਏਹੁ ਧਰਮ ॥੧੧॥: Nanak hari kirtan kar atal ih dharma ||11|| (sggs 299).
Moksha means complete freedom from bodily inclinations or material consciousness (Manmukhtaa) and situation in the Pure Consciousness ("Joti-Svaroopa", Mool). Instructions of the Gurbani is to awaken this Pure Consciousness within. Purified Consciousness simply means acting in accordance with God's command or Hukam. This is the whole sum and substance of Purified Consciousness. Thus, Moksha means freedom from the state of duality (Doojaa Bhaav) or menacing body-consciousness. A person free of duality has the true Understanding (ਸੂਝ-ਬੂਝ) that he is made in the true Image of Joti (Joti-Svaroopa). He thus imbibes in Pure Consciousness. Immortality, Absolute Bliss and perfect Freedom from material contamination are what Moksha is all about.
  • ਹੁਕਮਿ ਮੰਨਿਐ ਹੋਵੈ ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ਤਾ ਖਸਮੈ ਕਾ ਮਹਲੁ ਪਾਇਸੀ ॥: Hukam manniai hovai parvaan taa khasmai kaa mahal paaisee (sggs 471).
  • ਦੂਜਾ ਮਾਰਿ ਮਨੁ ਸਚਿ ਸਮਾਣਾ ॥: Doojaa maar man sach samaanaa (sggs 120).
However, the demoniac instincts such as Kaam (desire, lust, ਕਾਮਨਾ...) destroys one's chances for liberation. Without restricting the inner enemies like Kaam, one cannot set himself free from Mayaic entanglements (Manmukh lifestyle). Without complete freedom from worldly entanglements, linking with the Supreme Reality within is not possible.
  • ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਲੋਭ ਮਦ ਮਾਤਾ ॥ ਕਉਡੀ ਬਦਲੈ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਵਾਤਾ ॥: Kaama krodh lobh mad maataa; kaudee badle janam gvaataa (sggs 1004).
  • ਉਧਰੁ ਦੇਹ ਦੁਲਭ ਸਾਧੂ ਸੰਗਿ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪੇਰੈ ॥: Udhro deh dulabh saadhu sang hari hari naam japerai; gharee na muhat chasaa bilambahu kaal nitahi nit herai (sggs 530).
In spiritual ignorance, the man is diseased by the tendencies toward sense pleasures (Kaam...). Consequently, as indicated in the Gurbani, the two wheels of the vehicle, namely faith and salvation (Dharma and Moksha), have disappeared!
  • ਕਲਿ ਕਾਤੀ ਰਾਜੇ ਕਾਸਾਈ ਧਰਮੁ ਪੰਖ ਕਰਿ ਉਡਰਿਆ ॥: Kal kaatee raaje kaasaayee dharma pankh kar udariyaa (sggs 145).
In other words, if there is Kaam (desires, lust...), there can be no Mukti (Mokh, salvation...). In other words, these Chaar Pdaarath - Artha, Kaam, Dharma, and Mokh - leads man to Manmukh lifestyle. And, accoeding to the Gurbani, a Mannmukh lifestyle cannot lead one to Mokh (liberation from bondage...).

Apparently, people seem to have no sincere interest in transcendental knowledge, faith or salvation. In such deluded mentality and understanding, people maintained some religious rituals or observance as long as such activities contribute to their wealth or material possessions. This economic development or material success, in turn, is utilized for sense gratification. This is like pouring more fuel on already blazing fire!Thus, the majority of us seem to be interested only in sense gratification (Kaam...). In the illusion to gratify senses (which is impossible), we make plans for developing wealth or material success. Participation in organized religious activities or rituals is also motivated by the hope for further sense gratification here as well as after death, etc.

Since all desires are under the spell of Maya, the Gurmukh (Spiritual Being, follower of the Truth and truthful living, those who live by the Gurmat....) cares less for these "four" or " Chaar ".

  • ਧਰਮੁ ਅਰਥੁ ਸਭੁ ਕਾਮੁ ਮੋਖੁ ਹੈ ਜਨ ਪੀਛੈ ਲਗਿ ਫਿਰਥਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Dharma artha sabh kaam mokh hai jan peechhai lag firthayee ||1||Rahaaou|| (sggs 1320).
Mortals, who do not have the Aatam-Giaan (Self-Knowledge...) desire for salvation in order to enter some far off heaven. First of all, none can attain Divine Union by mere talk or Pakhand. Secondly, a true devotee even renounces such desire of salvation or heavenly life. Because, a person of Aatam-Giaan knows the true meaning of salvation and heaven.
  • ਮੁਕਤਿ ਬਪੁੜੀ ਭੀ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਤਿਆਗੇ ॥: Mukti bapurree bhee giaanee tiaage (sggs 1078).
  • ਜਬ ਲਗੁ ਮਨਿ ਬੈਕੁੰਠ ਕੀ ਆਸ ॥ ਤਬ ਲਗੁ ਹੋਇ ਨਹੀ ਚਰਨ ਨਿਵਾਸੁ ॥੩॥ ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਇਹ ਕਹੀਐ ਕਾਹਿ ॥ ਸਾਧਸੰਗਤਿ ਬੈਕੁੰਠੈ ਆਹਿ ॥: Jab lag man baikunth kee aas. Tab lag hoi nahee charan nivaas. ||3|| Kahu Kabeer ih kaheeai kaah. Saadh sangat baikunthai aahi (sggs 325).
The Gurbani's Chaar or Four Padaarath

These four desires are not the Gurbani's Chaar or Four Padaarath ("ਚਾਰਿ ਪਦਾਰਥ"). Many inaccurately take them as such.

In fact, the Gurbani wants us to eradicate all desires (Kaam, Trishanaa...), not to increase them!

Accordingly, a Gurmukh cares less for these four desires - Artha, Kaam, Dharma, and Mokh - which are tainted by Maya. Instead, the Gurmukhs consider the following four Padaarath, which are beyond the influence of Maya. The Gurbani (Gurmat...) gives us these four Padaarath.

  1. Giaan Padaarath / Prem Padaarath (ਗੁਣ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਕਿਰਤਾਰਥੁ ਸੋਭਾ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਈ ॥: Gun giaan padaarath hari hari kirataarath sobhaa gurmukhi hoee, sggs 445); (ਗਿਆਨ ਕਾ ਬਧਾ ਮਨੁ ਰਹੈ ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥੫॥: Giaan ka badhaa manu rahai gur bin giaanu n hoi ||5||, sggs 469); (ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਤਤੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥: Prem padaarath paaeeay gurmukhi tau veechaar, sggs 61)
  2. Mukati Padaarath (ਮੁਕਤਿ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਸਲਾਹੀ ॥: Mukti Padaarath sabadi salaahee, sggs 1024)
  3. Naam Padaarath (ਨਾਮੁ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਹਜਿ ਸੁਭਾਇ ॥੭॥: Naam padaarath paaeeai gurmukhi sahaj subhaai, sggs 759)
  4. Janam Padaarath (ਜਨਮੁ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜੀਤਿਆ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਨ ਜੂਐ ਹਾਰਿ ॥੧॥: Janamu padaarathu gurmukhi jeetiaa bahuri n jooai haari, sggs 1226)
The Gurbani tells us that - in this human birth - we have come to attain (Realize...) these four Padaarath.
  • ਚਾਰਿ ਪਦਾਰਥ ਲੈ ਜਗਿ ਆਇਆ ॥: Chaari padaarath lai jagi aaiaa (sggs 1027).
  • ਚਾਰਿ ਪਦਾਰਥ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਮਾਗੈ ॥ ਸਾਧ ਜਨਾ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਲਾਗੈ ॥: Chaari padaarath je ko maagai. Saadh janaa kee sevaa laagai (sggs 266).
— T. Singh
www.gurbani.org