Finding the Meaning of Life

Finding the Meaning of Life

By Anand Krishna
For The Bali Times

Along with dharma (right action), artha (social security), kama (basic comfort) and moksha or (freedom) – are commonly considered the four Purushartha, the four most important pillars of human life’s structure.

The Sanskrit word Purushartha is, actually, made of two words, purusha and artha. Purusha is commonly translated as man; its meaning, however, can be stretched to include woman also. So purusha is both, man and woman – human.

Artha can mean wealth, money and even meaning. It is something that gives meaning to your life.

So the four Purushartha together give meaning to life. Now, you don’t have to be a Balinese to agree that these are, indeed, the four most important things in life. These are the so-called pillars of human life’s structure.

We all need to know what is right and what is not right to do. We all do need some kind of social security, comfort and freedom. These are the basic and common needs of all humans.

How do we pursue these needs?

How do we acquire them?

The ancients advise us to start with dharma. One must know what is right, and what is not right to do. Along with such knowledge, one must also acquire the necessary skill and proficiency to undertake the chosen course of action.

“First things first,” advises the renowned motivator Stephen Covey. First of all, we must pursue dharma. Without the wisdom to know what is right and what is not, we cannot succeed in life. And to develop such wisdom, it is necessary that we have a sharp mind and willingness to learn.

Wisdom is the fruit of learning. We learn from books. We also learn from observing others and their life experiences. Most importantly, we learn from our own life experiences.

For the first few years of our life, we learn from observing others. That is what we did when we were children. We could not read; we could not write; but we could observe. Reading and writing come later – first observation.

Children, who lack this faculty of observation are generally not very curious. They do not ask too many questions. We may consider them to be the quiet type. We may even be happy about it, since they do not bother us as much as the questioning type does. However, this is not desirable. Children who are less observant not only grow to be less wise, but also less dynamic.

This is the reason why we have so many motivators these days. Those of us who were less observant in our childhood cannot do without them. We need to be motivated, and pushed to pursue our goals in life, to accomplish and achieve anything.

Observe your child and check how observant he or she is. An observant child is not a naughty or mischievous child, but one who is always asking, “What is this? What is that?” It is such a questioning mind that helps a child blossom to a full human. Without such a questioning mind, we remain subhuman.

A questioning mind, however, cannot be enslaved. So there are communities, societies and social systems that are not in favour of a questioning mind. They despise intelligence. They need a compliant mind that can be directed and ruled. Rulers everywhere, and in any field, are against intelligent people, for they cannot be enslaved.

Purushartha, as the ancients put it, is not for slaves. Other than slavery, they have no choice in life. Slavery is the only meaning of their lives. They cannot pursue dharma, artha, kama and moksha. They are not free to do anything. They have been enslaved so long that they no longer value, or even understand, the meaning of freedom and independence.

Unfortunately, slavery is not an old and dead tradition. Slavery is as rampant and thriving today as it was in the days of Moses. We have an altogether new genre of rulers now. Where governments are not tyrannical, economic, social, religious and other similar institutions become the new rulers. They can control governments from behind the scenes and remain invisible to our eyes.

To pursue the four Purushartha is to break the chains of slavery, and free our minds. But as I have said, if we have been enslaved for too long, we may not even understand the meaning of freedom. We may even enjoy slavery, and find it comfortable. It is for this reason that, from time to time, we need a Moses or a Muhammad, a Buddha or a Krishna, a Washington or a Gandhi to show us the way out of slavery.

These messiahs, prophets, men of God, avatars or whatever you call them are actually “free people.” They know the meaning of freedom. They are people with sharp minds and super intelligence. They can pursue the four Purushartha and live life on their own terms. And they are willing to share with us the kind of freedom that they enjoy. They are reaching out to us to show us the way out of slavery.

Yes, that is what they exactly do. They “show” us the way to freedom, to independence, to liberty, equality and justice for all. We still have to walk the way. They cannot walk for us.

The people of Bali believe that from time to time we are blessed with the presence of such free souls. They live among us, like one of us, so we can feel affinity with them and learn the way to freedom from them. So we can learn to pursue our Purushartha and find the true meaning of life.

But once again, we cannot find the true meaning of life by worshipping them. We can only find the meaning of life if we learn from them and “cook our own broth,” so to say.

Purushartha is not a prayer or a chant; it is a work plan. Purushartha is not a religious dogma or doctrine, something to believe in blindly, but something to live by, something to work on.

The writer is a spiritual activist and author of more than 120 books. To know more about his books and activities in Bali, call Aryana or Debbie on 0361 7801595 or 8477490, or visit and


  1. adi sucipta says:

    Once again You give me a new understanding and spirit to work in this life….
    Thank You Sir!

  2. Aisanya says:

    Indeed, Dharma, Artha, Kama moreover Moksha can not be attain if we dont free our mind, our soul. We may have satisfy our ‘Kama’ and gain a little bit of ‘Artha’ and also knowing what so called ‘Dharma’, but yet we live in slavery. We enslave ourselves until we dont even know that we are being enslaved. Cant agree more with Pak Anand Krishna, Catur Purusartha is a life guide.

  3. Putu Kesuma says:

    Thank you Pak Anand. It really gave me a very deep and thourough understanding of Purusaartha.

  4. kemal says:

    thank you bapak Anand krishna to remind us . i agree to you pak anand krishna

  5. Widhy says:

    Thx Mr. Anand Krishna,this article was make me wake up from this life.i have new spirit to expressed for my country… Thx so much Sir.All the best for you.

  6. Fery says:

    Knowingly or unknowingly we are the subject of enslavement in every aspect on our life. Can we live a life on our term? I do believe we all can achieve such life. Thank You Mr Anand Krishna such an enlightening article.

  7. made mulia says:

    As a Balinese, i get new understanding about the four Purusharta. Bapak Anand Krishna persuasively gives the Balinese right understanding to our local wisdom. Thank you Pak Anand, we are looking forward to reading your new article on The Bali Times. And thanks to The Bali Times for publishing such inspiring article.

  8. Marhento says:

    Very inspiring article. The Indonesian People need these such like articles to enlight Indonesian’s mindset.. Thanks for Bp. Anand Krishna

  9. Haryadi says:

    “The people of Bali believe that from time to time we are blessed with the presence of such free souls. They live among us, like one of us, so we can feel affinity with them and learn the way to freedom from them. So we can learn to pursue our Purushartha and find the true meaning of life.”

    Sir, or rather Bapak,
    i’m sure that You are one of the free souls! Your writings are always awesome! Hopefully there will be more in Bali Times.

    We need Your writings to remind us about the cultural value of Indonesia!

    Thank You, Bapak!

  10. Kandaga says:

    Again and again, you give us a path, a map to live this life…. Indeed a path is only a path, it is worthless if do not walks through it… Very happy to have u in my life,,, Bapak, bless me and guide me always so i can walks your path and map… Thank U and may you always in a good health…. Namaste..

  11. Liny says:

    its a good notes to open our mind and think wisely for the cultural value of each part of Indonesia.
    cant wait to read for the nxt friday’s article. tks Pak Anand, also tks The bali times have published it.

The Bali Times