Dharma (virtue, right way of living) is one the main Purushartha (Purpose of Life) together with Artha (wealth) and Sukha (happiness) as exposed in Ayurveda’s Astanga Hrdayam Ch1, Su 1.2.
The main purpose of Ayurveda is longevity.
Ayurveda, the ancient science of life and longevity, has been teaching us how to live long and healthy for more than 5,000 years.
The purpose of Ayurveda is to preserve the health of a person and ensure a long life, to help them realise the four aims of human life know as Purushartha.
But why should we live long?
Ayurveda suggests that we must live long in order to achieve the Purushartha – purpose of life.
What are the purpose of life? :
- Dharma (virtue, right way of living)
- Artha (wealth, earning means of living)
- Sukha (Happiness brought by Kama – fulfilling our desires / worldly pleasures and Moksha – liberation).
–> Wealth and pleasure is something we are well acquainted to being born in the XX century in the western world! But what means Dharma or the right way of living?
What is Dharma?
What is essential here is to observe the order of the words as enounced in the sutra on the purpose of Ayurveda.
Dharma comes first, then Artha and then Sukha. Indeed, Artha and Sukha must be secondary to Dharma. Why is that?
Try and live a life based on gathering money and satisfaction of mundane desires? Has this ever been satisfying? Have you ever reached a point of fulfilment?
Most likely not, as these two pursuits only lead to wanting more and more and endless unsatisfaction. The more money we have, the more desires we have and this is an unstoppable race.
These two goals, according to Ayurveda, have an absolute right to exist and to be pursued since they are inherent to Human Nature, but they must not be pursued at the cost of Dharma. Dharma must come first. Money and desires must support Dharma for the proper functioning of the universe, for there to be peace and order.
And what is Dharma? This is a very complex term which has many deifinitions pointing towards it. In this video I share my understanding of what Dharma is, based on various teachings of Ayurveda and personal experience.
Dharma is translated in several ways and applies to the universe as a whole as well as to us on an individual level. It is translated as the nature of reality, the universal law governing right conduct and ensuring right order of all things existing. At an individual level Dharma is our inherent nature, our individual purpose, or actions which are conducive to the wellbeing of ourselves and the universe.
More on that in the video!
How to live according to Dharma ?
This is what is explained in the A.H. sutra on the purpose of Ayurveda.
By studying and practicing Ayurveda with great care and respect, one aligns with the universal laws.
Indeed through Ayurveda, we understand our own Nature (Prakriti) as well as the Nature of other living and non living beings and our environment. We are also taught how to remain in balance and to live according to the universal laws of the universe, which in the case we do not, manifests as dis-ease.
The study and practice of the science of life brings us naturally and gently back into the path of Dharma. So that we can enjoy wealth and happiness!