Skip to main content

Can one say that life process is an unending and inescapable process of interrogation?

By NS Venkataraman* 

From time immemorial, humans have been wondering as to what could be the purpose of human life, as men and women are born from nowhere and then passing away to nowhere. Several saints and sages all over the world over the years have attempted to find an explanation for this vexed question. However, these deep thinkers could only suggest about the purpose for life and this seem to be somewhat assumptions.
Men and women in the early stages of life and in the middle age generally think that they have a goal and purpose in life, such as getting high qualification, earning good money, gaining power and reputation and so on. However, in most cases, men and women, when they reach the age of around 65 plus, would start looking ahead and would wonder whether life process can have any better purpose, different from the pattern of chasing money and power.
Throughout the past years of life process, everyone would have heard and seen about thousands of men and women passing away at the various age.. Inspite of the tributes, silent sobs, loud cry with which people have reacted on seeing the departed persons, sooner than later, the departed persons would be nearly forgotten by them and even their children would remember them only as passing thoughts after a few years. Obviously, all the so called purpose of life to achieve, which men and women strive during most part of their life, would amount to nothing as far as the departed persons and those on the verge of passing away due to old age and sickness are concerned.
Men and women who think that they have purpose in life generally assume that animals, birds and other creatures have no purpose in life. Is such idea appropriate?
The ground reality is that both humans and animals and other creatures want to survive as long as possible and they all the time chase everything that are required for comfortable survival. From this point of view, are the humans and animals any different or humans in any way better than animals as far as the ultimate purpose of life is concerned?

What saints and sages said?

Over thousands of years in the past, several great thinkers and saints over many generations have introspected over the purpose of human life and have attempted to reach a conclusion and understanding about purpose of life by conducting human experiments like meditation as well as debates and so on.
The essence of the sayings of the saints and sages is that there is Superior Force, that should be viewed as the cause for creation and operation of the world and humans should strive to worship, surrender and merge themselves with that Super Force, which is termed as God.
The concept of Super Force is not only appropriate in the view of the saints and sages but modern scientists and technologists also do accept that there should be a Super Force beyond the capability of human intelligence to understand, that should be the cause for the happenings on earth and elsewhere. However, unlike saints and sages, a scientist may not interpret the term Supreme Force as God to be worshipped but would like to “discover” further.
All religions advocate that humans should strive for liberation of their individual soul from the cycle of birth and death and achieve union of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul or Supreme Force(described as God) which is deemed to be the ultimate purpose of life. Such view has been repeatedly stressed by the ancient spiritual scriptures and saints and sages belonging to all religions all over the world. In essence, all religions say the same concept , though in different style and the suggested practices to “reach God” may be different.
Could such views on ultimate purpose of human life be considered as procrastination and assumptions arrived at by great thinkers and philosophers, as they appear to be somewhat laboured explanation?
While recommending the methodology of reaching God, the relations between individual soul and the Supreme Soul have been repeatedly discussed by many saints and sages with varying types of explanations, which marginally differ.
For example, the three great Indian thinkers namely Adhisankara, Ramanuja and Madhvacharya seem to somewhat differ in their perspectives and explanations. Adi Shankara who espounded Advaitya philosophy concluded that pervasive Atman ( soul ) is a common substrate of Jiva (individual soul), Jagat ( universe) and Paramatma ( Supreme soul / Absolute ). On the other hand, Ramanuja, who espounded Visishtadhvaitha concluded that Paramatma is the whole and Jiva and Jagat are its parts. Madhvacharya who espounded Dvaita philosophy said that the paramatma is independent and Jiva and Jagat are dependent on Paramatma. Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, a great Indian thinker of of 20th Century, seem to echo the Advaita philosophy of Adi Sankara.
In such context, with great elegance, the Upanishad scripture give the dictum in Sanskrit “Ekam sat vipra bahudha vadhanti", meaning “The truth is one – One God is worshipped in different names”.
Call to realise God and achieve purpose of life by meditation:
All religions recommend meditation to understand the fruitlessness and purposelessness of life process and truly realise the purpose of life. It is stressed that honest and sustained meditation is necessary to realise the feeling of oneness of individual soul with Supreme Soul, which is deemed to be ultimate purpose of life. Such meditation, for which prayer lays the principal path, helps in driving out the greed, ego, hate, jealousy and violence out of the mindset and enable one to reconcile oneself to the conditions of life process, whether pleasure or pain. According to the scriptures, such mindset is the ultimate condition to realise oneness of individual soul with Supreme Soul (termed as purpose of life).
Religions have not advocated inactivity but advocate active life with pursuits, maintaining ethical attitude and also having detached attitude of reconciliation to the end results, whatever they may be. Therefore, it should be understood that the religious concepts are in tune with the natural urge of humans to pursue ideas and vision.

Beyond the human comprehension?

Where do we go from such views on life process recommended by deep thinkers of the past?
Can one say that life process is an unending and inescapable process of interrogation?
The ground reality is that the Supreme Force or the system operating in the world are beyond human comprehension for thousands of past years and will continue to be beyond human comprehension for all time to come, however much science and technology achievements would increase and improve and scientists would strive.
With regard to life process, Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore said “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was duty. I worked and behold duty was joy”.
Perhaps, Rabindranath Tagore has laid out an ideal way of life, which imply that let not anyone be unduly concerned about the purpose of human life and should carry on adopting an active way of life and aiming to achieve peace and joy by ensuring the fair means to achieve the ends. Tagore has emphasised that tuning the mind set for such approach is absolutely necessary.
Upanishad proclaims Sat Chit Ananda - pure existence, pure consciousness and pure bliss. This realisation is the objective of human life.
*Trustee, Nandini Voice For The Deprived, Chennai



Misleading ads 'manipulate, seduce, lure' to market unhealthy harmful food

By Our Representative  The Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPI) in its new report “50 Shades of Food Advertising” has sought to expose how seductive, luring, manipulative or deceptive these advertisements can be. Consequences of such advertising are increased intake of unhealthy food products that is associated with obesity and diabetes, it says. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Why's Govt of India reluctant to consider battery storage system for renewal energy?

By Shankar Sharma*  If having so many small size battery energy storage system (BESS) at different locations of the grid, as in the report from Australia (a portfolio of 27 small battery storage projects across three Australian states that will total arounds 270 MWh), is considered to be techno-economically attractive in a commercially driven market such as Australia, the question that becomes a lot more relevance to Indian scenario is: why are our planners not in favour of installing such small size BESS at most of the distribution sub-stations not only to accelerate the addition of RE power capacities, but also to minimise the need for large size solar/ wind power parks, dedicated transmission lines and pumped storage plants; which will also minimise the associated technical losses.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Failure of governance': India, China account for 54% pollution-related deaths globally

By Vikas Parsaram Meshram*   A recent report jointly prepared by UNICEF and the independent research organization Health Effects Institute has been released, and the statistics within it are alarming. It states that in 2021, air pollution caused the deaths of 2.1 million Indians, including 169,000 children who hadn't yet fully experienced life. These figures are indeed distressing and raise questions about why there hasn't been more serious effort in this direction, putting policymakers to shame. 

New MVA-INDIA MPs asked to raise Maharashtra milk farmers' demand

By Our Representative  All-India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) national president Dr Ashok Dhawale and AIKS Maharashtra general secretary Dr Ajit Nawale have asked three newly-elected MPs of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA-INDIA) from the milk belt of Maharashtra Dr Amol Kolhe (NCP),  Bhausaheb Wakchaure (SS), and Nilesh Lanke (NCP), to take up the cause of milk farmers of Maharashtra in Parliament.  After congratulating them on their resounding victory over their BJP-NDA rivals, the AIKS leaders apprised them of the milk farmers struggle which is intensifying in the state under the leadership of the AIKS and the Milk Farmers Joint Struggle Committee, and requested them to support it. All three MPs agreed not only to support, but also to take the initiative in this struggle, an official AIKS communique claimed. Farmers in Maharashtra are currently getting as low as Rs 24-27 per litre for cow milk, which is being sold in the market for Rs 56-60 per litre, the AIKS leaders noted. The low price to farmer

Report suggests Indian democracy 'hasn't achieved' equitable economic decentralization

By Vikas Parsaram Meshram  The news that the current economic inequality in the country is worse than during British rule is unsettling. This suggests the harsh reality that our democracy has not achieved equitable economic decentralization. A recent report by Thomas Piketty and three other economists reveals shocking findings: in 2023-24, the top 1% of the wealthiest people in India hold 40% of the nation's wealth, with a 22.6% share in income.