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Two Different Spiritual Paths

Hinduism offers two major spiritual paths, one for householders and the other for monks. They are called Pravritti Marga, the Way of the World, and Nivritti Marga, the Path of Return. The path for householders (Pravrittas) is Pravritti Marga while the path of monks (Nivrittas) is called the Nivritti Marga.

The Pravrittas, or people of the household life, were not regarded as inferior to the Nivrittas. They have their purpose and function to fulfil. Although the householders bow to the feet of monks, the Hindu Dharma recognized that both had an important part to play. A man was not regarded as inferior just because he could not renounce his worldly life (In fact, many of the spiritually-illumined sages during ancient times such as King Janaka and Ashvapati were family men). Instead, a practical outlook required him to give sufficient attention to religious life -- no matter how dual it might be -- and to enjoy life to the full.

Hinduism has always maintained that that there are four legitimate aims in life, for which the householder should strive. Collectively they are called the Purusarthas. They consist of

Dharma (Righteousness and Duty)
Artha (Pursuit of Wealth and Property)
Kama (Sensual desires) and
Moksha (Liberation).

He who finds the balance and harmony between these four is one who finds the real rhythm of life.

Chapter 8 of "Mahanirvana Tantra" describes the Pravritti Marga (duties of the householder) in detail.

The path of for all-renouncing monks, Nivritti Marga, is quite different from that of the householders. A monk, avowed to celibacy, should be physically and mentally pure. He should view every woman as his own mother. He should lead a life of simplicity, spend most of his time in the contemplation of God, and study the scriptures. He should not own any home, wealth or property. He should live in a hut, a temple, or under a tree. He should be truthful and full of compassion for all beings. He should be totally indifferent to blame, praise, pleasure or pain. His only goal in life should be the realization of God.



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