A holistic view of life through yoga, value dimensions & spirituality

A holistic view of life through yoga, value dimensions & spirituality

by Sanjay B

“What matters in Life are not a status or position but his virtues and wisdom”
–Samrat Ashok

Traditionally, this holistic view of life is given by the scheme of the four purushartha viz. 1. Dharma, 2. Artha, 3. Kama and 4. Moksha. It takes a holistic view of life and its multifaceted value dimensions. These dimensions have been labeled as material values, ethical values, social values, psychological values, aesthetic values and spiritual values.


It is a matter of common observation that while the world is progressing so fast in the domain of science and technology that man has been able to land on the moon, his character and his ways of life are going lower and lower every day. The atmosphere has undergone a change so much so that at present, nowhere in the world is left any substance of happiness or any essence of peace. Human life has now become worth a kawdi or worth of penny as they say. It has become very object and worth straw because he possesses neither any divine qualities nor real peace nor happiness.

To a large majority of people, the present state of affairs causes disappointment. In order to elevate the self and to make his life worth a diamond, a man should be vigilant about when he thinks, speaks or does. He should perform the day’s task with the care that is expected of a knowledgeable man or a yogi and should employ introspection. A man, who does not care to examine his day to day life, goes out of gear and his sanskaras become vitiated and his mind gets abased and his morality degenerates day by day. To avoid this, we have to follow the path of Yoga. The word “Yoga” literally means joining the individual soul with the universal soul.

The four prominent ways of Yoga are :

1. Karm Yoga : The Path of Action.

2. Raj Yoga : The Path of King.

3. Jnyan Yoga : The Path of Knowledge.

4. Bhakti Yoga : The Path of Devotion.

1. Karm Yoga (The path of action): This system is based on the concept of “Anasakt” or the “Nishkama karm” selfless action as propounded by Bhagvadgita. It seeks to remove the egoful sense of doer ship from the worldly actions. It also demands that we disassociate ourselves from the fruit of our actions. This means, that work should be not done with expectations of rewards, recognition or fame, but purely out of sense of duty and with a sense of detachment. All duties are performed in the spirit of an offering to God. This path was observed by Mahatma Gandhi, Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil, Mahatma Jotiba Phule and others.

2. Raj Yoga (The path of king): The spiritual perfection can gain through concentration and psychological exercises aimed at the control of mind. Through rigorous training, we can open-up layer after layer of mind and enter into states of super-consciousness. The most celebrated school of this system is the eightfold “Ashtanga Yoga” of Patanjali. It has gained a lot of popularity in the modern times. But unfortunately at this popular level it is being treated merely as a set of physical exercises, and used as therapy for bodily ailments or as a stress realization powers, rather than a system for seeking the highest spiritual realization.

3. Jnana Yoga (The way of Knowledge): Spiritual knowledge is the real knowledge. This is called Vidya. All other kinds of knowledge may be called useful or practical but they are “Avidya” in the spiritual view. The true understanding removes our ignorance about the nature of Jiva and Jagat. This ignorance is the main cause of human suffering and bondage. An essential components of this preparation is the purification of heart and mind “Chittashuddhi” through ethical conduct, cultivate of virtues, practice of meditation, dhyana etc.

4. Bhakti Yoga (The path of devotion): This is path of spiritual attainment through worship and devotion to God. The whole life a devotee is devoted to the service of God. All his/ her activities are inspired by the love of God. The object of Human love cannot be an abstract, impersonal absolute. Therefore, views god as a person with infinite goodness but with human attributes. This is the path of Meera, Surdas, Tulsi and other saints in India and in all other religious traditions.

A Holistic View of Life :

Traditionally, this holistic view of life is given by the scheme of the four purushartha viz. 1. Dharma, 2. Artha, 3. Kama and 4. Moksha. It takes a holistic view of life and its multifaceted value dimensions. These dimensions have been labeled as material values, ethical values, social values, psychological values, aesthetic values and spiritual values. A good life is looked upon as a harmonious realization of all these values.

The crisis of values in modern life is traced to a narrow perception of the good life, in terms of material values, i.e. in teams of Artha and Kama alone.

The quality of life in the present day society very much depends on the kind of values they bring to their professional work. If used in a responsible manner, with a sense of service to the community, their professional knowledge, skills and authority can greatly help to improve the quality of life for the general public.

In recent years there is a growing awareness amongst educators in the professional field, particularly in engineering and management, of the need to offer courses on topics like human values, ethics, professional ethics, etc. However, the universities and higher learning institutions have become merely man-made training centers or mints for hall marking a certain standard of knowledge and not nurseries of good citizens, as visualized by Mahamana Malaviyagji.

Even after fifty years of progress in different fields – economic, industrial, scientific, educational – it is doubtful if we are moving towards creation of a just society, a happy society, a good society. The promises “trust with the destiny” and the dreams of prosperity, social well being and human happiness are proving to be false. Jawaharlal Nehru’s vision of good life ” a full, free, dignified and creative life, vibrant with intellectual and spiritual tremors, a process of continuous social development, of becoming better and higher, of the ceaseless adventure of man.”

Good life is one with unrestricted enjoyment of sensuous pleasures and fulfillment of unlimited desires. It’s guiding slogan is “higher the quantity of consumption, better the quality of life. The economy is being opened to all kinds of objects of desire because the ability to consume them has become the index of progress.”

Yoga and Value Dimensions and Spirituality

Yoga is associated with certain amount of detachment. Yoga indicates the way of turning inwards the Nivntti Marg. In order to make our lives valuable like the diamonds and our actions as bright as the jewels and for enjoying the deep bliss of yoga and for attaining the highest stage of liberation (Mukti) it is essential that we should observe the spiritual rules.

Yoga is now being accepted in academic curricula of school, colleges and universities as a means to enhance the learning ability, orderliness in thinking, better job performance, etc and above all universal brotherhood and harmony.

The purushartha scheme of values makes a still more important contribution in conceptualization of values for a good life. While recognizing both the validity and importance of material values of Artha and Karma, and the higher level ethical principles of dharma, it does not consider them to be the ultimate or absolute values. It covers wide ranging value issues like personal virtues, righteousness, duties and obligations, and moral principles for interpersonal and social relationships. It provides guidelines not only for individual moral and spiritual advancement but also for the creation of a social order which harmoniously combines the values of stability and progress. The fourth purushartha, Moksha, which is called the parama purushartha. Its most common meaning is liberation from the unceasing cycle of birth, death and rebirth and attainment of a state of permanent and absolute bliss. It is liberation form all kinds of limitations and bondages – biological, social and those imposed by the false sense of ego. Such a liberated person becomes truly and fully human value par excellence.

It would be most wonderful if every individual could realize all the values in his or her personal life to the full. However, pursuit of these different values places conflicting demands on life. For example, serious pursuit of ethical and spiritual values for limiting, and at times giving up, our natural inclinations for material success or establishment of social may demand some curtailment of our individual freedom. Resolving such value conflicts is the greatest challenge life places before us.

In conclusion, we could say that pursuit of material values is essential for a good life, just as eating is essential for remaining alive. But we do not live merely to eat. Material values therefore should be seen mere as the means for pursuit of the whole value spectrum which goes into making a good life. Every sphere of economic activity should be related to moral and human ends. Endeavours for material gains should be made only through moral means, that is that do not harm to others. These gains should be utilized at least partly, for the good of others, for promoting the common good, and not merely for personal aggrandizement. That is the Indian conception of “Dharma” regulating Artha and Kama. And finally, each one of us has to define the limits of his/her needs and wants. That calls for voluntary restraint on demands for goods and services we make on the society. This ethic or restraint is the most salient point of the Indian Thought on the good life and the good person.

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