Higher Purpose — Maslow Vs. Gita

J A A & Associates
3 min readFeb 20, 2023

The pursuit of a higher purpose in life is something that has fascinated humanity for centuries. In fact, it is a fundamental question that has been addressed by philosophers, thinkers and spiritual leaders throughout history. Two such approaches to understanding the concept of higher purpose are Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the Indian philosophy of Shreyo marga Vs. Preyo Marga.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a psychological theory that describes the different levels of human needs. It suggests that as humans meet their basic physiological and safety needs, they naturally progress to higher levels of needs such as belonging, esteem and ultimately self-actualization. Self-actualization is the level at which individuals reach their highest potential and find fulfillment by pursuing activities that are aligned with their values and purpose.

Similarly, in Indian philosophy, Shreyas and Preyas are two different paths that individuals can take in their pursuit of happiness and fulfillment. Preyas refers to activities that provide immediate pleasure and gratification, while Shreyas refers to activities that lead to long-term benefits and ultimately spiritual enlightenment. The Bhagavad Gita, in particular, chapter 2 discusses the difference between the two paths and the importance of pursuing Shreyas over Preyas.

The Pleasant (Preyas) vs. The Good (Shreyas)

https://www.sivanandaonline.org/?cmd=displaysection&section_id=582 in the essence of kathopanishad, says “One is good while another is pleasant. Blessed is he who, between them, chooses the good alone (Sreyas); but who chooses what is pleasant (Preyas) loses the true end.

Sreyas is the good, the Supreme Self, the knowledge of which leads to Moksha or the final emancipation.

Preyas is that which is pleasant. It is sensual pleasure.”

The pursuit of a higher purpose in life requires an individual to move beyond the immediate gratification of Preyas and strive for something deeper and more meaningful.

To this end, Hindu philosophy differs from a heirarchical approach and says pursuit of Shreyas is the only true pursuit.It discourages going towards the instant, in preference to the permanent

However, both approaches align in some ways, as it requires individuals to explore and understand their inner selves, identify their values, and pursue activities that align with their higher purpose.

This blogpost however, is not on spirituality. It began in response to my thinking of how to repurpose individuals efforts in an office environment to achieve the greater good (or Shreyas in context of my office)

Applying the concepts of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the Indian philosophy of Shreyas and Preyas can help improve office productivity by helping employees find greater fulfillment and meaning in their work. Here are some ways in which these concepts can be applied:

  1. Address Basic Needs: According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, employees must first have their basic physiological and safety needs met before they can focus on higher needs such as esteem, belonging, and self-actualization. As an employer, it is important to ensure that employees have a safe and comfortable work environment, are fairly compensated, and have access to benefits such as health insurance and retirement savings plans.
  2. Foster a Sense of Belonging: The third level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is the need for belonging and social interaction. Employers can help foster a sense of community and belonging among employees by organizing team-building activities, promoting open communication, and creating opportunities for social interaction.
  3. Encourage Pursuit of Higher Purpose: The pursuit of a higher purpose is important for both Maslow’s concept of self-actualization and the Indian philosophy of Shreyas. Employers can encourage employees to pursue activities that align with their values and purpose by providing opportunities for professional development and growth, recognizing and rewarding employee contributions, and offering meaningful and challenging work.
  4. Balance Preyas and Shreyas: While the Indian philosophy of Shreyas suggests that the pursuit of a higher purpose should take precedence over immediate gratification, it is also important to find a balance between Preyas and Shreyas. Employers can encourage employees to find this balance by promoting work-life balance, offering flexibility in work hours or location, and providing opportunities for leisure and self-care.

By applying these concepts, can we work to create a more fulfilling and meaningful work environment, which can in turn lead to increased productivity and employee satisfaction?.



J A A & Associates

A full service public accounting firm based out of Bangalore