MOTIVATION AS VIEWED IN INDIAN PHILOSOPHY: CONCEPTS OF ARTHA, DHARMA, KAMA & MOKSHa
“He is able who thinks he is able.”
• Motivation helps you start
• Motivation helps you move on in difficult times
• Motivation helps you finish
• Motivation helps you start
• Motivation helps you move on in difficult times
• Motivation helps you finish
Motivation refers to those forces operating within an individual which impels an individual to act or deter from a certain act. Acting without direction is meaningless and purposeless in life.
The framework of Dharma actually gives man a sense of security, as he does not have to live in a dilemma all the time. The four Purusharthas not only make a man aware of the legitimacy of his need and wants, but also guide him on the path of Dharma in order to help him attain his legitimate goals. This is where the theory of Purusharthas differs from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, where the awareness of the hierarchy of needs is allowed in man, but the means to achieve them is totally in the control of man himself. Purusha means human being and artha means object or objective. Purusharthas means objectives or goals of man.
Let us see now Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in detail.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
Maslow has set up a hierarchy of five levels of basic needs. Beyond these needs, higher levels of needs exist. These include needs for understanding, esthetic appreciation and purely spiritual needs. In the levels of the five basic needs, the person does not feel the second need until the demands of the first have been satisfied, nor the third until the second has been satisfied, and so on. Maslow's basic needs are as follows:
These are biological needs. They consist of needs for oxygen, food, water, and a relatively constant body temperature. They are the strongest needs because if a person were deprived of all needs, the physiological ones would come first in the person's search for satisfaction.
When all physiological needs are satisfied and are no longer controlling thoughts and behaviors, the needs for security can become active. Adults have little awareness of their security needs except in times of emergency or periods of disorganization in the social structure (such as widespread rioting). Children often display the signs of insecurity and the need to be safe.
Needs of Love, Affection and Belongingness
When the needs for safety and for physiological well-being are satisfied, the next class of needs for love, affection and belongingness can emerge. Maslow states that people seek to overcome feelings of loneliness and alienation. This involves both giving and receiving love, affection and the sense of belonging.
Needs for Esteem
When the first three classes of needs are satisfied, the needs for esteem can become dominant. These involve needs for both self-esteem and for the esteem a person gets from others. Humans have a need for a stable, firmly based, high level of self-respect, and respect from others. When these needs are satisfied, the person feels self-confident and valuable as a person in the world. When these needs are frustrated, the person feels inferior, weak, helpless and worthless.
Needs for Self-Actualization
When all of the foregoing needs are satisfied, then and only then the needs for self-actualization is activated. Maslow describes self-actualization as a person's need to be and do that which the person was "born to do." "A musician must make music, an artist must paint, and a poet must write." These needs make themselves felt in signs of restlessness. The person feels on edge, tense, lacking something, in short, restless. If a person is hungry, unsafe, not loved or accepted, or lacking self-esteem, it is very easy to know what the person is restless about. It is not always clear what a person wants when there is a need for self-actualization.
The hierarchic theory is often represented as a pyramid, with the larger, lower levels representing the lower needs, and the upper point representing the need for self-actualization. Maslow believes that the only reason that people would not move well in direction of self-actualization is because of hindrances placed in their way by society. He states that education is one of these hindrances. He recommends ways education can switch from its usual person-stunting tactics to person-growing approaches. Maslow states that educators should respond to the potential an individual has for growing into a self-actualizing person of his/her own kind. Ten points that educators should address are listed:
1. We should teach people to be authentic, to be aware of their inner selves and to hear their inner-feeling voices.
2. We should teach people to transcend their cultural conditioning and become world citizens.
3. We should help people discover their vocation in life, their calling, fate or destiny. This is especially focused on finding the right career and the right mate.
4. We should teach people that life is precious, that there is joy to be experienced in life, and if people are open to seeing the good and joyous in all kinds of situations, it makes life worth living.
5. We must accept the person as he or she IS and help that person to learn their inner nature. From real knowledge of aptitudes and limitations we can know what to build upon, what potentials are really there.
6. We must see that the person's basic needs are satisfied. This includes safety, belongingness, and esteem needs.
7. We should refreshen consciousness, teaching the person to appreciate beauty and the other good things in nature and in living.
8. We should teach people that controls are good, and complete abandon is bad. It takes control to improve the quality of life in all areas.
9. We should teach people to transcend the trifling problems and grapple with the serious problems in life. These include the problems of injustice, of pain, suffering, and death.
10. We must teach people to be good choosers. They must be given practice in making good choices.
It is the needs that develop the individual’s attitudes about the environment and about himself. The individual has to develop the capacity to handle many needs simultaneously. The personal needs of individuals vary in intensity from person to person and vary daily within the same person too. They depend on situations, both physical and emotional. Thus, needs are looked at as ‘motivators’ by many psychologists. It becomes necessary to understand the psychologists’ views on needs in relation to Management. If needs are understood as motivators, they are also recognised as stressors giving rise to mental strain, physical discomfort and sicknesses, cultural disturbances and physical and mental inequilibrium.
Man determines his goals in life based on his needs, according to modern psychologists. It leads to the necessary involvement of man in the various activities that one would engage in, to survive and progress. The terms ‘needs’, ‘wants’, ‘drives’, ‘urges’, ‘expectations’, ‘emotions’ and ‘motives’, are used interchangeably and synonymously by many.
Prof. Abraham Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of needs is more expounded as a theory of motivation by western schools of thought. It is well accepted in developing management models in industrial houses. Today the contention is not that Maslow’s theory is erroneous, but that it is incomplete. It is a fact that man has needs and that these needs can be graded. But it also needs to be realised that man’s gradation of his own needs is dynamic, and it varies from situation to situation for the same individual. Moreover, the philosophy of life determines his priorities in life and the importance given to the needs depends to a large extent on these priorities. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs becomes necessary to be understood and critically evaluated in the context of the dynamic man and his constantly changing environment.
The will to work depends largely on how much the individual feels that he belongs in the organisation. The needs, desires and aspirations of all in the organisation should be taken into consideration for creating an environment that motivates everyone to work. All employees are subject to their own perceptions, beliefs, viewpoints, opinions and emotions which motivate them to work or prevent them from working to their fullest capacity. All members of the organisation strive to satisfy their various needs through the work and activity that they are involved in. Maslow, D. McGregor, Fredrick Herzberg and many other psychologists have discussed human needs and listed them in a hierarchy, suggesting that the five main ones are the following –
• Physiological needs
• Safety and security
• Love and belongingness
The acceptance of these theories as the final word in understanding human behavior and human motivation results in limiting oneself. It is not enough to believe that people are always motivated by external stimuli alone. These stimuli have limited and temporary effect on people. Hence, the need to be self-motivated is encouraged.
Indian ethos teaches one the art of motivating oneself and others from within. One needs to follow the Vedic mantra for progress:
‘chara eva iti, chara eva iti’, i.e. ‘move on, move on’.
There are various suggestions that one can derive from Indian thought to motivate oneself. The four values or goals accepted in Indian philosophy are universal and comprehensive in nature. The affirmative attitude of Hinduism towards life has been emphasized by its recognition of four legitimate and basic desires. They are, as given in the Hindu Scriptures:
1. Dharma – Duty/ Righteousness/ Morality
2. Artha – Wealth/ Material Prosperity and Just Political Order
Kama – Instinctual desires and needs
4. Moksha – Salvation/ Liberation, from the bondages of the soul/ freedom through communion with God or the Infinite. It could be interpreted as self–actualisation and self–realisation, as is done by many Indian thinkers, in order to give it a more pragmatic approach. Liberation is also called as Mukti, Kaivalya or Nirvana in the other schools of thought as in Jainism and Buddhism.
These four attainments of life are collectively known as Purusharthas. According to Hindu way of life, a man should strive to achieve the above four chief objectives (Purusharthas) in his life. Of these, the first three belong to the realm of worldly values; the fourth is called the supreme value. The fulfilment of the first three paves the way for Moksha.
"Dharma is the law of conduct by means of which man attains worldly prosperity as well as final beatitude or Moksha".
- Sri Shankaracharya
Dharma actually means that which upholds this entire creation. Dharma is a very complicated word, for which there is no equivalent word in any other language, including English. The key to individual and social ethics of Hinduism is the conception of Dharma, whose full implications cannot be conveyed by such English words as religion, duty or righteousness. Derived from a root which means to support, the word signifies the law of inner growth by which a person is supported in his present state of evolution and is shown the way to future development. A person's Dharma is not imposed by society or decreed by an arbitrary God, but is something with which he is born as a result of his actions in previous lives.
It is a Divine law that is inherent and invisible, but responsible for all existence. Dharma exists in all planes, in all aspects and at all levels of creation. In the context of human life, dharma consists of all that an individual undertakes in harmony with Divine expectations and his own inner spiritual aspirations, actions that would ensure order and harmony with in him and in the environment in which he lives. Since this world is deluded, a human being may not know what is right and what is wrong or what dharma is and what adharma is. Hence he should rely upon the scriptures and adhere to the injunctions contained there in. In short, dharma for a human being means developing divine virtues and performing actions that are in harmony with the divine laws.
Dharma is considered to be the first cardinal aim because it is at the root of everything and upholds everything. Any action performed without observing dharma is bound to bring misery and suffering and delay ones salvation. The best way to know what dharma is and what is adharma, is to follow the religious scriptures such as the Vedas, Bhagavad gita, puranas, epics, smritis or any other scripture that contains the words of God.
But most human beings often forget dharma and moksha and run after worldly pleasures, often resorting to unrighteous means. As a result they suffer all through their lives. Misery is the inevitable result of adharma. Observing this sad plight of the people, Vyasa says in the Mahabharata:
"Artha and Kama, which all people desire so much, can be attained from Dharma itself. Why then do they not follow Dharma?"
Dharma determines a man's proper attitude towards the outer world and governs his mental and physical reactions in a given situation. It is his code of honour.
Dharma is the basis of both individual progress and social welfare.
Artha means wealth. Hinduism recognizes the importance of material wealth for the overall happiness and well being of an individual and the society too. A house holder requires wealth, because he has to perform many duties to uphold dharma and ensure the welfare and progress of his family and society. A person may have the intention to uphold the dharma but if he has no money, he would not be able to perform his duties and fulfill his dharma. Hinduism therefore rightly places material wealth as the second most important objective in human life.
Hinduism advocates austerity, simplicity and detachment, but does not glorify poverty. Hinduism also emphasizes the need to observe dharma while amassing the wealth. Hinduism believes that both spiritualism and materialism are important for the salvation of human beings. It is unfortunate that Hinduism came to be associated more with spiritualism, probably because of the influence of Buddhism, where as in truth Hinduism does not exclude either of them.
As Swami Vivekananda rightly said religion is not for the empty stomachs. Religion is not for those whose main concern from morning till evening is how to make both ends meet. Poverty crushes the spirit of man and renders him an easy prey to wicked forces.
Artha shastras (scriptures on wealth) provided necessary guidance to people on the finer aspects of managing their wealth. Kautilya's Artha Shastra, which is probably a compilation of many independent works, gives us a glimpse of how money matters were handled in ancient India . India
Dharma should be strictly adhered to for the attainment of worldly prosperity. Wealth must be earned or acquired according to Dharma.
Kama in a wider sense means desire and in a narrow sense, sexual desire or the enjoyment of sense pleasure.
Hinduism prescribes fulfillment of sexual passions for the householders and abstinence from it for the students and ascetics who are engaged in the study of the scriptures and in the pursuit of Brahman.
Kama covers a vast area- from the enjoyment of conjugal love, without which the creation cannot be maintained, to the appreciation of art, music and poetry. Sense pleasures, if not pursued according to Dharma, degenerate into sensuality.
The Bhagavad gita informs us that desire is an aspect of delusion and one has to be wary of its various movements and manifestations. The best way to deal with desires is to develop detachment and perform desireless actions without seeking the fruit of ones actions and making an offering of all the actions to God. This way our actions would not bind us to the cycle of births and deaths.
Wealth and sense pleasure, which are only means to an end, are valuable in so far as their enjoyment creates a genuine yearning for spiritual freedom in the mind of the enjoyer.
If dharma guides the life of a human being from below acting as the earth, showing him the way from above like a star studded mysterious sky is moksha. Dharma constitutes the legs of a Purusha that walk upon the earth; both artha and
kama constitute his two limbs active in the middle region; while moksha constitutes the head that rests in the heaven.
Human life is very precious because of all the beings in all the worlds, only human beings have the best opportunity to realize the higher self. It is also precious because it is attained after many hundreds and thousands of lives. Rightly, salvation should be its ultimate aim.
Man, who in essence is spirit, cannot be permanently satisfied with worldly experiences. After fulfilling all his worldly desires and responsibilities a man still wants to know how he can suppress his inner restlessness and attain peace. So at last he gives up attachment to the world and seeks freedom through the knowledge of the spirit.
Moksha actually means absence of moha or delusion. Delusion is caused by the inter play of the triple gunas Satva, Rajas and Tamas. When a person overcomes these gunas, he attains liberation. These gunas can be overcome by detachment, self control, surrender to god and offering ones actions to God.
If dharma is the center of the wheel of human life, artha and
kama are the two spokes and moksha is its circumference. If dharma is at the center of human life, beyond moksha there is no human life, but only a life of divine.
The four Purusharthas are also like the four wheels of a chariot called human life. They collectively uphold it and lead it. Each influences the movement of the other three, and in the absence of any one of them, the chariot comes to a halt.
The Purusharthas signify an integrated approach to the problems of humanity. The recognition of the integration of the body, mind and soul is clearly evident. The harmonious development of these three aspects in man alone leads to a healthy, integrated and purposive individual. The emphasis is on the enhancement of both the personality and the social development of the individual. In any social group or organisation, if individuals have to live with co–operation and peace, with the attainment of common goals and objectives in mind, then it is necessary that every individual is aware of his real self. The theory of Purushartha actually maps the worthwhile ends of all actions of man, aiming towards the wellbeing of man.
According to Maslow, man moves on to the next level of needs only after satisfying the earlier level of needs. Indian thought, however, does not subscribe to this view, as it is believed that man can progress to the higher level of needs even after giving up the lower needs. Maslow believed that a hungry individual could never be a good student. Indian thought contradicts him here and puts forth the view that one can attain even transcendence if one was able to give up the lower passions and focus on the attainment of higher pursuits. This view makes man recognised more as a moral and spiritual being than just a biological and rational being. It helps us to understand and accept man’s spiritual needs more sensibly. Man as a purposive and conscious being, with a system of values to guide him, is clearly depicted in the Indian thought. The concept of Purusharthas gives us the holistic view of man in Indian thought.
The term ‘purushartha’ literally signifies “what is sought by men”, so that it may be taken as equivalent to a human end or purpose. The qualifying word ‘human’ may give the impression that the term is not applicable to ends which man seeks in common with the other animals; but this is not really so, for we find it used with reference to seeking even ends like food and rest. The qualification is hence, explained in a different way. Man, like animals, acts instinctively in various situations. However, he also exercises his sense of discrimination and discretion, when he makes conscious choices, using his sense of reason and values. Even choices that he makes to satisfy his natural wants and needs, can be done with deliberation. He sets before himself ends to be achieved and then sets about fulfilling them.
The Purushartha ultimately leads man to the state of self realisation. The concept of Purushartha leads us to the awareness that all man’s activities are aimed at the attainment of permanent, eternal and absolute peace and bliss. The acceptance of these four values as goals by our Indian thinkers makes it clear that in our culture and tradition, man’s physical wellbeing is considered naturally necessary. Men bodily needs have to be taken care of in a manner that it leads to his mental, moral and spiritual growth. The gratification of his basic needs does not happen in the same manner as in the case of animals, as it is done instinctively in the case of the latter. Man is conscious of his needs and fulfils them with a higher purpose in mind. His functioning is also within a moral framework that is value based. The four values of dharma, artha,
kama and moksha, thus, aim at the realization of the maximum, exhaustive and comprehensive growth and welfare of the individual and the society.
One needs to question oneself on the role that one is playing in the organization. If one decides to follow instructions, obey rules and be at the job for a stipulated time as expected of him, his work becomes monotonous and routine. This makes him bored and demotivated. On the other hand, if he has realised his ‘
’ and ‘ashrama’ in the organisation, he will enjoy work as ‘svadharma”. He will move from the sthula (gross) to the sukshma (subtle). His gradation of desires and wants that motivate him to work will change, as the focus will shift from the ‘I’ to the ‘Us’. Working with a broader perspective and for higher purposes gives him a sense of fulfillment. He will be not just a ‘doer’ but a ‘performer’. He will mobilise resources, initiate actions, take decisions, and promote changes. The need to express himself as a spiritual being with the potentiality to create will bring in sustained motivation. The need for external motivators will decrease and the empowered individual becomes exemplary. One who needed to be continuously motivated will be a great motivator to others. The positive energy and the positive attitude of such person will be contagious enough for the environment itself to be dynamic. varna
Every individual has all the varnas in himself. When an individual is learning or studying, then he is a Brahmin. To elaborate on this point, it is necessary to understand that a child is a student right from birth, and is, hence a Brahmin. The Brahmin in the individual is continuously alive as he is constantly learning various skills and talents for himself and his family, or even his organisation. When he is working to protect himself or his family, clan, kith and kin, he is a Kshatriya. He becomes the Kshatriya when he indulges in physical activities that are serving to protect and preserve his kind. His job, profession and all other economic activities that are needed to sustain himself and his family makes him the Vaishya. When he works to maintain saucha (cleanliness), by keeping himself and his environment clean, then he is a Shudra. Man needs to learn to respect all varnas, as he too is categorised on the basis of his own roles and activities in the same manner. The
categorisation system which is considered the greatest blotch on Indian culture by many thinkers needs to be re- evaluated. If Lord Krishna himself has proclaimed to the world the significance of the varnas, it needs no further reiteration. The system needs to be understood in its right perspective. It has in fact, made it clear that the dignity of labour in varna is exemplary to the entire world. India
No.3, M.S. SALAI, T.NAGAR
CHENNAI – 600 017