Hinduism and The Secrets of Success

Success in Hinduism

by Jayaram V

Hinduism is not averse to the idea of success or achievement. Worldly life, acquiring wealth, professional competence, supernatural achievements, perfection in practice, excellence in moral and spiritual life, wars and conflicts between good and evil, victory and defeat, opulence, self-made men of great eminence, and the rise and fall of great heroes, cities, empires, and kingdoms, are the typical themes of many scriptures of Hinduism. They make the mortal life a source of great suffering and the very justification to work for liberation.

The epics and the Puranas depict how human beings create their own suffering and enjoyment through their actions, and how virtue, character, and righteousness on one side, and fate and gods on the other, can shape their lives and their future. They reflect the complexity of life, the struggles that are inherent in the mortal existence of beings and the importance of success, peace, harmony, and happiness in the continuation of the worlds. In God's creation, no one is safe because it is a drama written for the enjoyment of the Lord of Death on the stage of impermanence. Even gods can lose their power and status because of simple mistakes.

Therefore, people should not take anything for granted, and live with the wisdom that they can only stand somewhere between the polarities of life, living responsibly, wisely and carefully on the raft of moderation. Success and failure are the dualities of life. There is no guarantee that success will always make you happy, or failure is a painful experience. What you consider success in worldly life may be a failure from a spiritual perspective, and vice versa. Therefore, the ideal approach is to do your duty and perform your actions, without hankering after success or worrying about failure and leave the rest to the all-knowing God.

References to success in the Vedas

If you read the Vedas and the Upanishads, you will realize that the idea of karmayoga, or performing actions without desires and attachment, developed gradually in Hinduism. In the Samhithas, which exclusively deal with sacrificial ceremonies, you will find that the primary goal of all sacrifices is essentially to ensure peace and prosperity for the worshippers or seek the help of gods for protection against calamities, enemies, and evil forces.

The Vedas recognize the right to enjoyment as part of one's dharma and mortal existence. Since enjoyment is the very essence of God and soul, and since it represents the state of perfection, they rightly recommend enjoyment of life, rather than the renunciation of it, for the order and regularity of the world. Mortal life is full of suffering. Human beings are here as the aspects of God to succeed in their duties and obligations, knowing what they should do and doing what they are meant to do, as part of their eternal duties. In that process, if they enjoy life, there is nothing sinful about it.

In the Vedic prayers, the worshippers, including the priests, unhesitatingly seek the help of gods to achieve name and fame, progeny, wealth, peace, happiness, strength, virility, courage, victory in war, and success in attracting and influencing the opposite sex. They do not prescribe renunciation for everyone. It is meant only for those who are tired of their worldly duties, or who are driven by a strong aspiration to pursue liberation. They recognize the role karma, God, gods, and others in achieving success but give priority to dedicated individual effort as an offering to God. Certain qualities lead to victory and success, such as the resolve, honesty and integrity displayed by young Nachiketha when he stayed for three days in the hell with the single-minded determination to have a direct conversation about life and death with Yama, the lord of the underworld.

From the perspective of the Vedas, you can greatly increase your chances of success or minimize the possibility of failure by several means such as prayers, actions, sacrifice, service, karma, knowledge, blessings, intelligence, and divine help. In the Vedas we come across two basic approaches to achieve success. They are the way of the gods (daivika) and the way of the asuras (daitya). The former is the path of righteousness to fulfill desires or achieve victory, whereas the latter is the demonic path of sinful actions and deceptive methods, which leads to one's downfall and suffering in the darker worlds.

The Isa Upanishad also suggests that worldly people should solely focus neither upon worldly success through rituals and sacrifices nor upon spiritual success through renunciation and spiritual practice. One is the path of ignorance (avidya), and the other is the path of knowledge (vidya). Both are important, and both should be pursued, to cross the world of suffering. In other words, worldly people must aim for both worldly success and spiritual success and lead holistic, balanced lives to fulfill their obligations and responsibilities.

Best practices to achieve success and perfection

Success or perfection in any effort is not achieved overnight. Three factors play an important role in the life and destiny of every person, internal causes (adhyathmika), external factors (adhibhauthika), and divine causes (adhidaivika). In all of them, you are the key. Your karma, thoughts and actions must lead to your material and spiritual wellbeing. There must be harmony between your intention and your destiny for your wishes to come true. Some people are very successful because they have learned to reflect the power of God in them and through them, with inner perfection and purity. Both arise through spiritual effort and self-transformation.

The Bhagavadgita recommends that you should focus upon your actions rather than their fruit to avoid their karmic consequences. It also states (18.45) that devotion to duty is of utmost importance (18.41) and qualities that are conducive to success and perfection are specific to the duties performed by each person (18.41). Good conduct is the basis of success and perfection. You must also use right methods to achieve right ends. To decide what needs to be done and what should be avoided, says the Bhagavadgita, the scriptures should be the authority. For example, the following are a few important, approved practices found in our scriptures which lead to perfection in action.

  1. Sankalpa, where you set the goals and give a clear shape to your desires and intention
  2. Diskha, where you commit yourself to the chosen action
  3. Abhyas, the regular and persistent practice of prescribed methods.
  4. Shraddha, having faith and conviction in your methods, beliefs and goals.
  5. Virya, having the courage and confidence to overcome obstacles and succeed
  6. Svadhyaya, learning by self-effort the knowledge which is vital to your practice
  7. Smrithi, remembering and learning from others, from your guru and from your past failures
  8. Prajna, the intelligence to foresee problems and make right decisions
  9. Samadhi, concentration and complete absorption in what you do and what you seek
  10. Vairagya, keeping your passions and emotions under control with detachment
  11. Tapah, austerity of the mind, body and speech
  12. Samathvam, sameness in both success and failure

The role of God in worldly success

In Hinduism, God symbolizes perfection (siddhi, completeness (purnathvam), purity (suddhvatvam), lordship (isvarathvam), supreme power (purushathvam), limitlessness (anathathvam), and the highest state (brahmathvam). He is concerned with neither success nor failure because he is the source of both and free from desires. Human beings possess all the powers and qualities of God as potencies and latent powers, but they remain suppressed because of the triple modes of Nature (gunas). Therefore, their power of manifestation also remains suppressed either fully or partially according to their gunas. To achieve success or perfection in any field, they must take refuge in God and try to remove the impurities so that their hidden potencies manifest in the purity of their minds and bodies.

People have many misconceptions about God. True, he is the controller of the universe. However, he becomes the controller of your life only when you give up all control as a mark of surrender. He does not interfere in your life unless you seek him. He will not fail you if you ignore him. If you do not seek him, he will remain withdrawn and let you be solely responsible for your life and actions. If you are too proud or independent, it may be the best option for you. However, it is better if you invite him into your life and ask him to be your guide and teacher. The grace of God can play a very effective role in your life if you want to overcome the negative consequences of your past karma, or the influence of your negative tendencies. With the help of God, you can effectively remove all the obstacles and make your task easier. As the Bhagavadgita declares, God takes care of those who take refuge in him and contemplate upon him.


From the above we can conclude that Hinduism is not opposed to worldly success as part of the soul's journey to find its own perfection and eternal state. Perfection is inherent in all since God exists in all as their very essence. Human beings have to manifest this perfection in them through effort, righteous conduct, and self-purification. They should live in harmony with him and his creation so that they can manifest their true potential. Human beings have a right to enjoy life and experience peace and happiness upon earth, by observing and practicing dharma. To achieve success in any field, you must create right conditions in you. You must prepare the ground, plant the right seed, and remove the obstacles for the tree of perfection to manifest itself. However, success in worldly life becomes a delusion if you have not cultivated inner purity and divine qualities. Success may also lead to your downfall if you use the wrong methods to achieve it, or use it for wrong ends.

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