Does Life Have Any Purpose? Or Is It Just An Accident, One Of The Things That Happen Without Any Particular Reason? Different sections of people have different views on the Purpose and Significance of Life, On Why We Humans, or for that matter, Living Beings in General Exist On This Earth.
According to the pragmatic thinking of Scientists, Life is only one of the Creations of Nature, like other Organic and Inorganic Matter that has successively appeared on this Earth since its formation, and it is We Humans Who Ascribe a Purpose to it. On the other hand, the Leaders of the Various Religions expound the view that Life is not simply an’arbitrary product’ of Nature, and that it is put on this Earth by a Supreme Power or Spirit called ‘GOD’ or ‘DEVA’ or ‘ALLAH’,who is the Creator and Regulator of this Universe and All Life, and will ultimately be its Destroyer, and that the Mission for Human beings is to serve and act out ‘God’s Will’, that is, to better this World. Unfortunately, not all people have a positive or humanitarian idea of HOW God Wants Them to Better The World! Therefore, we have communities like Islam which believe that their duty towards their God is to kill all Kafirs, namely, those who do not believe or pay obeisance to Him. Some others like Christians don’t kill the nonbelievers, but think that latter are ‘Heathen or Pagan’, that is, unenlightened, and that their duty is to serve as Slaves of their ‘Enlightened’Lords to be redeemed from their ‘Original Sin’of Disobedience of His Will, while that of the ‘Enlightened Servants of God’ is to spread the message of God to all, and convert nonbelievers into believers, by persuasion or force, as they did in India,ancient America and all underdeveloped countries.
Still other Puritan communities like ancient Romans and Jews believed their duty in life is to perform Penance and Atonement for their Sins of this life, or as Hindus still hold, for their sinful ‘Karma’ in a previous life, by harsh ways such as infliction of Self-Mortification by Flogging Themselves, strict Fasting, or Cruel Ordeals like Walking barefoot on Burning Embers to wash out their Sins.
Hindus also believe that one reason for their coming into this world is to pay off their debts to people towards whom they had failed to discharge their obligations in some previous life. This is a very appealing and seemingly plausible theory. However, if this theory is valid, then what is the explanation for miscarriages, still births, and early deaths of children? These children die before they have the time or opportunity to pay off any past debts, or receive any compensation or benefits from others. Should we understand it as cases of ‘misdelivery’ from the realm of the Almighty, that is, a child which was supposed to be born to some other parents having come to us wrongly, and hence taken back Immediately?
According to Jains and Buddhists, Birth into this World is for striving to attain Moksh or Nirvana(Liberation) from attachment to this World and its pleasures and sufferings, in order to be freed from the vicious Cycle of Birth and Rebirth.
Then there are some sects among Hindus, namely Shaivites, and the adherents of the ‘Advaita’ philosophy of Adi Shankaracharya, who profess that this Mortal World, it’s material pleasures as well as one’s personal joys or sufferings in this life are all ‘Maya’, that is, Illusion, and that Death is the only ultimate, Eternal Reality-‘Param Satya’ Therefore, every worldly goal should be to disentangle oneself from the trappings of attachment and longings for earthly possessions and gratification and strive to unite one’s individual Soul with the Eternal Soul or God, that is, one’s Atma with the Paramatma.
To my mind, all the above suppositions are entirely self centred, in that they stem from a personal sense of unfounded guilt or ‘Dush-karma’. Alternatively, those who think they are ordained by God to cleanse the World of nonbelievers -Kafir or Heathen-by converting them to faith and submission to the ‘Real God’ through persuasion and bribes or by torturing and killing those who do not surrender willingly, are prompted from an idea of their own superiority by virtue of being the followers of the ‘True God’.
With due respect to all the scholars in the area of Theology and Philosophy, my humble contention is that the real purpose of life, especially human, on this Earth, is the creation of a physical and intelligent medium through which GOD, viz. the Supreme Spirit or Power operates and maintains the World and the rest of the creation of Nature- the Animals, Birds, Aquatic life, Forests and Waters. It is said that “God could not attend everywhere, that is why He made Mothers!” Similarly, it can be said that “The Supreme Formless Spirit cannot directly do things that require a concrete form of flesh and blood with intelligence superior to that of other animals. Therefore, ‘IT’, HE(or SHE, as a Catholic Priest who recently revived from a Near Death Experience has revealed God to be), made Mankind!” Hence, it is the obligation of Humans to act as responsible guardians of these Earthly Treasures, that is, the Environment, and all Living beings, more so, of children who are The Future Generation and of the Poor and Infirm, instead of callously destroying Nature and others’ lives for their selfish greed and pursuit of Power. For as a famous Philosopher said, “IT IS THE DUTY OF EACH OF US TO MAKE IT OUR PURPOSE IN LIFE TO TRY TO TRANSFORM THIS WORLD INTO A BETTER PLACE WHEN WE LEAVE IT, THAN IT WAS WHEN WE ENTERED IT.” For We have Got Something From It, So We Owe Something To It!”
I believe that This is the Real Purpose or Mission of Life, viz. “To Carry God’s, namely, (for those who don’t believe in God) the ‘Supreme Creative and Regulatory Power’s Work Forwards, For The Betterment of This World and All ‘IT’s Creation, including the Most insignificant, poorest and weakest part of It.” Jesus Christ has quoted the Words of God as follows, “In As Much As Thou Doest For The Least Of My Chidren, Thou Doest It Unto Me!” There is a famous Hindi song which goes as: – “Ik Din Mit Jayega Maati ke Mol; Jagme Rah Jayenge Pyare Tere Bol!” The words of this poem have been coined for rhyming, hence the last word is ‘Bol’, but what really remains behind you is the Memory of what you have DONE FOR others, or (ill deeds) DONE ‘TO’ Others! Therefore, ‘Do Unto Others As Thou Wouldst That Others Do Unto Thee!”
I have my reservations about the Real Purpose of Human Life being only to Prepare Oneself for Death, the Ultimate End of one’s Life and Departure from this World, by Withdrawing from Attachment to all Worldly Things and Relationships, as ascetics, particularly Shaivite, and Jain, Buddhist Sadhus and Sadhvis, as also Catholic monks and Nuns advocate and do, for Uniting With The Eternal Soul or Spirit, God or ‘The Paramatma’, because the Material World is Not Permanent, but Temporary, Fragile and therefore Unreal, ‘Maya’ or Illusion. FOR if one were supposed to live with only Death in view, and Detachment from Worldly Life and Domestic/Social Relationships our Main Goal, there was no need for Human Life on Earth at all! There is a very meaningful song in the old film of the 60s, ‘Chitralekha’, between a Courtesan Chitralekha (played by the magnificent actress Meena Kumari) and a Buddhist monk Upamanyu (enacted by the veteran actor Ashok Kumar), the lines of which are,”Sansarse Bhaage Phirte Ho, Bhagwan ko Tum Kya Paoge?” The meaning of these Words of Wisdom and Depth is that One cannot understand or attain Communion with the Creator by keeping away from His(or Her?) Creation, The World or ‘Sansar’!
For this reason, the ‘Karma Yog’ philosophy of Swami Vivekanananda, of whom India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a devout follower, appeals more to me than the dogmatic Sanatani Hindutva,or the Morbid and Escapist Philosophy of Buddha(though the latter too has its own merits, in that it teaches Mankind ‘How to Live in Harmony with Life and the World as it is, by controlling one’s own reactions to unpleasant behavior of other people and painful experiences in general, instead of revolting against it for its flaws, and attain Peace and Spiritual Elevation). I also appreciate the social contribution by people like Nana Patekar, Akshay Kumar, and Suyash Tilak of Marathi TV, who go out of their way to help poor farmers and other needy people, as well as Sikh groups and Christian Missionaries, as even some Muslims, who may not be making a show or issue of their respective religion, but go out to serve Humanity by offering help to the needy unostentatiously, more than the stance of people who only rant and fight over religion and idols, temples or mosques, but do nothing substantial for the poor, challenged and downtrodden sections of Humanity! There are so many things which need to be done for the uplift of the suffering humanity, such as the control of crime, I mproving the lot of sexually exploited and destitute women and children, helping physically and mentally challenged persons to become self reliant, and eradication of life endangering ailments/diseases as well as illiteracy and begging, which the escapist sages who flee from worldly problems and take refuge in forests don’t think of.
TO CONCLUDE, the Purpose of Human Life is to Nurture and Guard the Creation of Nature, including the Lives of Others on this Earth for the Welfare and Progress of All, instead of exploiting and destroying others or the environment for Individual Selfish Benefit!