The Dutiful Way to Live
One of the essential doctrines that prescribe how a good Hindu should live is the Four aims, or ends, of human life. The four ends of life, or goals of humanity, are called purusharthas.
In Hindu tradition, these four comprise a scheme, or set of goals, that tell us what life is for. The scheme has been maintained in its current form for more than 2,000 years. Each of these four aims prescribes a value or manner of conduct that is a piece of a larger moral view. Each is therefore appropriate for a proper Hindu upbringing.
To be sure, there are activities in a person's life where he tries to gain an advantage or pursue some pleasure. When the object of this pursuit is material well-being, the end is artha. When it is love or pleasure, it is kama.
At the end of life, there is a renunciation of all these activities in order to devote oneself to religious or spiritual activities. Here, the goal is moksha, the liberation or release of oneself from the concerns and activities of worldly life. We will consider each stage in turn.
While the four are emphasized at different stages of life, one seems to reign above the rest: dharma. Dharma is one of the four ends, but it is also like an umbrella that covers the other three ends.
Recent evidence shows that followers of Hinduism are more likely to stay with their religion than followers of any other major religion. According to a Pew forum poll, 90 percent of all people who are raised Hindu remain Hindu. This ranks first among the major religions, with Catholics (89 percent) and Jewish people (85 percent) running second and third.