Open Families

Open Families
May 6, 2020

Shambhavi talks about the stages of life according to Hindu tradition and addresses the question of how family life can become an aspect of spiritual practice. A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

Podcast First Words

So we have three generations of a family here today, and I thought it would be a good idea—or maybe not, but I’m going to do it anyway!—to talk about family. I often get in trouble with this topic. The reason I get in trouble with it is because it’s an area where people have a lot of very definite ideas about things. So then if you say something different, they get upset with you.

But in any case, in India, in the various teaching texts and scriptures, you have this idea of varna. The varna are natural stages of life that an ordinary human being would go through in order to fulfill all of the functions of life. The varna are dharma, kama, artha, and moksha.

So dharma means your duty or fulfilling what your purpose is in this life. Kama means having some enjoyment along the way. Artha means gathering some wealth and hopefully spreading some wealth around. And moksha means liberation.

So in the foundational teachings of all Indian culture and traditions there’s this idea that in order to be fulfilled as a human being, you don’t want to exclude any of these. You don’t want to exclude dharma, kama, artha, or moksha.

You want to express something about your gifts—what you came here with to give away. That’s dharma. You want to have some enjoyment of life. You want to gather some wealth. And you want to, eventually, wake up and discover your real nature, which is self realization.


Satsang with Shambhavi is a weekly podcast about spirituality, love, death, devotion and waking up while living in a messy world.