Hindu faith outlines chapters of life

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by Lisa Prezioso Linnell

“My Hindu faith tells me to think of my life in chapters,” says Chopra, Virginia’s secretary of technology. “My first chapter was to maximize my education as much as I could. The second chapter is professional success. My third phase of life, my third chapter, is public service.”

Ramesh Rao, an executive council member of the Hindu American Foundation, says Chopra is describing a primary underlying philosophy of Hinduism known as varna-ashrama dharma.

Loosely translated, “Varna means faith, ashrama means phases and dharma means order,” explains Rao, a professor and department chairman at Longwood

University. “The idea about the third phase is to give up the pursuit of singular pleasures and the creation of wealth for oneself so that you could

communicate with your community. In the past, it meant going off on a pilgrimage. Now, in the modern context, it is the pursuit of public service.”
Following the tenets of his faith, Chopra knows what the next phase of his life will be. “The fourth chapter of one’s life is essentially meditation and frankly being on a personal journey to God.”

Rao concurs. “He is exactly right in thinking of the Hindu division of life’s phases and duties. It is the natural order of life.”

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