The Gita is not just a book about Liberation (Moksha). It is also a book on how to live in this world: i.e. how to lead a righteous life (dharma), accumulate wealth the right way (artha) and enjoy worldly pleasures (kama) the right way. It is often misunderstood that the Gita is only for liberation from the clutches of samsara. While it is true that the Gita has many ways of yoking to the supreme (yoga) and also provides ways to attain liberation, it also provides wonderful guidance to live life here.
The four purusharthas (goals) of life per Hinduism are: Dharma (Righteousness), Artha (Wealth), Kama (Pleasure) and Moksha (Liberation).
Let’s see how the Gita addresses these:
1. Dharma (Righteousness) – The Gita is a shastra (scripture) to learn how to live life. Ample descriptions of qualities sat (good), rajas (passion) and tamas (ignorance) are provided. If you follow the ways of goodness (satvic) you lead a life of dharma or righteousness.
2. Artha – Sri Krishna equates himself to Kubera among Gods of Wealth and to Shri (Lakshmi – Goddess of Wealth) among women. He also says that in all things and properties, he is the best of the best. As you see, he does not belittle creating wealth. Based on the natural inborn aptitudes, people must find vocations that befit the aptitudes and utilize them to sustain their livelihood. By following Karma yoga, one can freely focus on the process of acting with no worry about the result. This process many times results in favourable results! If the result does not show up, it because many factors have to come together (timing, action of the individual, tools at hand, how the tools are used and divine providence) before something happens! The individual’s job is to act!
3. Kama (Pleasure) – Sri Krishna says of the causes of instincts of procreation, he is Kandarpa (god of love). True, it is defined that what is sweet at the beginning need not be sweet at the end and vice verse but kama has not been negated by the Lord as seen in Chapter 10.
The key to dealing the previous three goals of life is un-attachment to the fruits of action. As stated in Chapter 18 verse 34 – “Indeed the firmness with which one vehemently clings on to the pursuits of dharma, kAma and artha out of desire for the fruits of action, that commitment, O’ pA-rtha is rA-ja-sik (in the mode of passion – which is not as good as the mode of goodness)”.
4. Moksha (Liberation) – Rightfully, the Gita is read by most people who are in search of the truth; who are willing to look beyond the previous three purusharthas (some try to transcend the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance) and who realize that they want to seek that after finding which there is nothing more find! The Gita is a masterpiece for one interested in Moksha and the Gita will find the aspirant when they are ready for it! Sankya/ Gnana Yoga(Knowledge), Bhakthi Yoga (Devotion/ Love for God), Karma Yoga (Acting while renouncing the fruits of the action) and Saranagati (Surrender or Prapatti) are a few ways that different aspirants take. One path invariably leads to all others and when the individual is ready for it, she/ he becomes a mumukshu (one who wants moksham) and at the right time attains moksham (in this life or in a future lifetime depending on various factors).
So the Gita is a description of the science of living in this world and achieving all the four goals of life! It is not just for after this life… it is also a guide as to how to live in this world!