The Meaning of Life According to Hinduism

According to Hinduism, the meaning (purpose) of life is four-fold:

  • Dharma,
  • Artha,
  • Kama, and
  • Moksha.

The first, dharma, means to act virtuously and righteously. That is, it means to act morally and ethically throughout one’s life. However, dharma also has a secondary aspect; since Hindus believe that they are born in debt to the Gods and other human beings, dharma calls for Hindus to repay this debt. The five different debts are as follows: debt to the Gods for their blessings, debt to parents and teachers, debt to guests, debt to other human beings, and debt to all other living beings.

The second meaning of life according to Hinduism is Artha, which refers to the pursuit of wealth and prosperity in one’s life. Importantly, one must stay within the bounds of dharma while pursuing this wealth and prosperity (i.e., one must not step outside moral and ethical grounds in order to do so).

The third purpose of a Hindu’s life is to seek Kama. In simple terms, Kama can be defined as obtaining enjoyment from life.

The fourth and final meaning of life according to Hinduism is Moksha, enlightenment. By far the most difficult meaning of life to achieve, Moksha may take an individual just one lifetime to accomplish (rarely) or it may take several. However, it is considered the most important meaning of life and offers such rewards as liberation from reincarnation, self-realization, enlightenment, or unity with God[1].

Lord Shiva

What is Hindu Dharma

In Hinduism, it means ‘duty, ‘virtue’, ‘morality’, even ‘religion’ and it refers to the power which upholds the universe and society.

Hindu’s dharma was revealed in the Vedas although a more common word there for ‘universal law’ or ‘righteousness’ is “rita”. Dharma is the power that maintains society, it makes the grass grow, the sunshine, and makes us moral people or rather gives humans the opportunity to act virtuously.

But acting virtuously does not mean precisely the same for everyone; different people have different obligations and duties according to their age, gender, and social position. Dharma is universal but it is also particular and operates within concrete circumstances. Each person, therefore, has their own dharma known as “sva-dharma”. What is correct for a woman might not be for a man or what is correct for an adult might not be for a child[2]

According to Hindu philosophy, dharma represents order with laws to govern creation. It is more than just a set of laws of physics; it is religious and moral laws that bind us in harmony with that order.

Hindu Dharma as the Foundation of Life



In Hinduism, religion /dharma influences the way people live and view themselves. The very act of living is regarded as an obligatory duty and an opportunity to fulfill the aims of creation and participate in God’s eternal dharma. Tradition holds that religious duty (dharma) is the primary aim “Purusharthas” of human life since it is the foundation upon which one develops the wisdom and discretion to pursue wealth “Artha” and happiness “kama” without compromising the chances of liberation moksha". 

There are four different types of dharma:

1) Universal, cosmic law (rita) regulates the forces of Nature, manifested by laws of physics. It controls everything from subatomic properties to the motions of galaxies. The Hindu believes himself/herself to be part of Nature and seeks to bring the Self into harmony with the universal path.

2) Social dharma (varna dharma) consists of the duties, occupations, and responsibilities that everyone fulfills in the family, nation, society, and communities. An important aspect is religious and moral law.

3) Human law (ashrama dharma) is the natural expression and evolution of the body, mind, soul, and feelings throughout the stages of life: righteousness, wealth, pleasure, and liberation.

4) Self-dharma (sva-dharma) is perhaps the dharma that most Westerners are aware of. It is the sum of all accumulated “karmas” in one’s life, molded by one’s tendencies, personality, desires, and experiences. It represents one’s path one takes. 

Hinduism strongly believes that it is best to follow one’s own path rather than the path of others. Search for the natural self is of utmost importance. 

When does Dharma becomes a burden?

The duties prescribed in the scriptures of Hinduism are obligatory. It means you cannot avoid them. It is something like a rent you pay to live in the world of God, who is the true owner and indweller of all creation. To stay in this world, you have two options.

The first option is that either you pay the rent in the form of karma or you offer all your actions to Him and take no credit for them. The first approach binds you and keeps you chained to the cycle of births and deaths.

The second option, which is prescribed in several Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Gita is the best way to keep away from the burning fires of existential suffering.

Why is Hinduism called Sanatana Dharma?

Sanatana Dharma

Sanatana Dharma

Hinduism is called Sanatana Dharma because the religion is derived from the duties of “Bhagwan” / ” God” which are eternal. Since as human beings we share these duties upon the earth, just as gods and other beings, in other words, to let the divine order of things continue and since the knowledge of such duties are enshrined in our religion in the form of the Vedas, Hinduism, is derived from Vedas.[3]

One might ask questions like: –

What is the dharma of a living entity?

What is the meaning of the soul’s existence?

What is it that makes a living entity what it is and that cannot be separated from the living entity?

The answer of all lies in our Vedas, which answer “Service”. Service or to serve is the inherent quality that cannot be taken away from the soul. The soul or the particle of consciousness, which is an eternal part of serve “Bhagwan” /” God”, is simply meant to serve “Bhagwan”/”God”.

In our conditioned state, where we exist separately from “Bhagwan”/”God”, this service is expressed in so many other fashions, but the serving tendency inevitably shines through in all circumstances. We all have to serve someone or something.

Understanding of Hindu Dharma

To understand Hindu Dharma, Let’s ask some simple questions to ourselves.

As parents we serve our children; As citizens, we serve society by paying taxes; As employees, we serve the employer at work; As Children, we serve our parents in their old age.

So Common man can Answer that Service Equals Love.

In all of the above cases, service is an integral aspect of love, because without service there is no love. Without service, love is just empty or at best fancy talk, that which poets write about. A man might declare his love to a woman, but if he never does anything for her, if he never shows her his love by buying her flowers or nice dresses, what then is the value of his love? And if a woman loves a man, she will also be eager to please him in all kinds of ways by cooking his favorite dishes for him, etc.

In other words, we serve the ones we love. This urge to serve is so strong that even people who have no loved ones to serve, like some old people who have lost all their relatives or other lonely people often get themselves a canary or a little dog they can serve. They serve the bird by cleaning its cage and feeding it with fresh water and food, or they walk their dog and pick up its droppings in a plastic bag to dispose of later, and sometimes they spend half their pension on veterinary bills. These are all symptoms of the loving service that are always manifested in the living entity.

Even in animals, we find this service although in lesser degrees. And even in people, who are very selfish, who care for nothing and no one, who claim that they feel absolutely no necessity to serve or care for anyone, we find that they still have to serve. They serve the urges of their bodies; they are forced to it. They have to eat, they have to sleep, they have to mate, there is just no way they can escape serving their bodies. Or they will serve their minds’ demands for name and distinction.

In all circumstances, everyone is serving. Correct?

Now Does it means that

“The Service or To Serve is Dharma?”

[1] The Meaning of Life According to Hinduism | Philosophy 1100H Blog (

[2] BBC – Religions – Hinduism: Hindu concepts

[3] Dharma, the Moral and Religious Duties in Hinduism (

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