aatmano mokshaartham jagat hitaaya cha

Swami Vivekananda set the motto of Ramakrishna Math
and Mission
as
“aatmano mokshaartham jagat hitaaya cha”, which means
“For one’s own liberation and the world’s welfare”.

This is a very wonderful concept. These words can be understood
from two stand points. From the stand point of the goal, this
motto indicates the symbiosis between “peace” and “prosperity”.
From the stand point of the means, this motto indicates the
symbiosis between “spirituality” and “service”.

Peace and Prosperity

Indian Philosophy defines four goals of human life, called
Purushaartha. They are
Artha – Security – What is necessary for the very survival
Kaama – Pleasure – All other pursuits
Dharma – Law – Restrictions on Artha and Kama to ensure that
they are sustainable and well distributed to everyone
Moksha – Liberation – Permanent freedom from sorrow, which can
come only through renunciation of desire

The first three – Artha, Kaama and Dharma – are together called
Hita“. They indicate sustainable and well distributed prosperity
in the society.

The last one – Moksha – indicates the unshakable internal peace
of the individual. The Upanisads and Bhagavad Gita stress time
and again the idea “tyaagainaike amrutatva maanushuhu” –
“Immortality comes to man only by renunciation”. Renunciation
means renunciation of desire for pleasure, possessions, power, etc.

Thus, Swami Vivekananda adds a clarification to these goals of life.
The clarifies that “Hita” is for the sake of the society and
“Moksha” is for the sake of the self.

The professional job we do, the wealth we earn, the charity we give, the
house we build, the food we cook, the prayer we make, the knowledge we
seek and all other pursuits should be for the prosperity of the society
and spiritual upliftment of ourselves. These two goals complement each
other and give the overall results.

Prosperity is an external goal for the sake of the society.
Liberation is an internal goal for the sake of the self.
Our entire life is the means to these.

Spirituality and Service

Another way to look at this is as “spirituality” and “service”. Service
to the society is the means for spiritual progess of the individual.
Spiritual progress of the individual in turn becomes the basis for his
service to the society.

The scriptures advice that spiritual knowledge should be given only to
a person who approaches reverentially and specifically for the knowledge.
Spiritual knowledge should be given only to a person who comes asking
for peace of mind. On the other hand, prosperity should be given to people
without asking. We should go voluntarily and help people to become
prosperous.

Social service should be rendered by going out in search of the needy,
without waiting for them to come and ask. Spiritual knowledge should be
given only to people who come in search of it.

Thus Swami Vivekananda gives a very interesting line of thought by the
words “aatmano mokshaartham jagat hitaaya cha”.

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2 Responses to aatmano mokshaartham jagat hitaaya cha

  1. Anonymous says:

    Serving the society is charity in one of it’s many forms. When we give charity, on the physical plane we would be donating material things, but on the mental plane, we are letting go our attachments to the material things. Being generous and helpful, we develop “vairaagya” which in turns leads to liberation from this body of pus & blood. Though, i am not sure of Vivekananda swami’s works, i am sure he would have emphasized on not indulging in “apaathra daanam”, which means helping the unworthy and turning them into worthless souls.

    Here is where, i beg to differ in your otherwise excellent text. I feel that it is spiritual knowledge which has to flow like water from a river flowing graciously into the sea. It is irrespective of whether the recipient is worthy or not. If no good happens atleast no bad will happen. This is not the case with charity and serving the society. Enough care needs to be taken before we extend a helping hand to others.

    What do you think sir ?

  2. Gomu says:

    The Gita says every work has a mixture of good and bad effects. There is no work that is purely good and there is no work that is purely bad.

    There is a classic example: A person was dragging a cow to a slaughter house in Kashi. The cow did not budge and with great difficulty, he was pulling it by a rope. He got tired. He had lost all energy. He saw a board that some pious person was doing annadaana. He tied the cow to a pole, went and had food. Now with renewed energy he easily took the cow to the slaughter house. Some of the effects of killing the cow went to the pious person who did annadaana. The cow had been making a lot noise in the nights and disturbing a pandit who was trying to study the scriptures. Now the pandit was happy that he was able to study in peace. Some of the good effects of the pandits study went to the person who took the cow for slaughter.

    You cannot refrain from action. To live itself is an action. Millions of germs have to die everyday for the body to live. To breathe is an action. Millions of microscopic organisms are breathed in with every breath. We depend on the labor of so many people for our food, clothes, house, security, roads, etc. Nature will force us to act, whether we like it or not.

    And, every work has a mixture of good and bad effects. Only a person, who gives up the all the fruits of action and the doership, is free from both the good and bad effects.

    By working, we cannot change the world. The world is a gymnasium where we work out and develop our own personality. We smoothen all our rough corners to become a wholesome being. This is the objective of all work. From this point of view, there is no distinction between spiritiual work and secular work. There is no difference between work for job, family or charity. If you are selfish and running after name and fame, even social service is bad. If you are doing with an attitude of selfless service and sacrifice, even earning money for the security and luxury of your family is good. It is the attitude which is more important.

    Coming to ‘apaathra daanam’, who are we to judge the person who receives? What we know even about ourselves is very superficial. How can we judge about others? Even if the person to whom we give is a healthy but lazy person, by giving him food we will be atleast preventing him from stealing for the sake of his stomach. And when we give, we should not give from a superior position. It is our privilege that we are able to serve God in the form of the needy. When we see the receiver as God, where is the question of ‘apaathra daanam’? There can be a choice is how we serve the person – give food or clothes or education, etc. But there can never be the question of deserving. It is God whom we serve in the form of a man.

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