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Three Main Desires As Per Hinduism

Esanatraya is the term used to refer to the three main desires as per Hinduism. It is related to Hindu philosophy and teachings of ancient gurus. ‘Esana’ means desire and ‘traya’ stands for three.

The Three main desires are:
  1. Desire for a son
  2. Desire for wealth
  3. Desire for heaven.
Man is a storehouse of innumerable desires. The ancient seers of Hindu religion have analyzed all desires of man and broadly classified them in the above three categories.
In Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (III.5), Yajnavalkya teaches about the importance of child like simplicity in life to Kahola Kaushtikeya. He talks about the three desires.  

“Thus having realized himself, the self realized soul abandoning the desire for a son, the desire for wealth and desire for heaven follow a life for begging alms because what which is desire for a son is a desire for wealth and what is desire for wealth is the desire for heaven. Therefore a self realized soul, having become disgusted with erudition, should lead a childlike simple life.”

How The Three Desires Are Interlinked?

  • To achieve liberation one must repay pitr-rna, the debt owed to forefathers;
  • to repay this debt, one has to have a son to continue the lineage;
  • to have a son one must marry according to Shastras;
  • for a dharmic marriage, one must have money.
Thus the ultimate goal of mukti sanctifies all the three desires – for a son, a good wife and for wealth.

These desires themselves become impediments in the pursuit of liberation.

This is bhava-chakra, the cycle of life and death.

Source – Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (1995) N C Yati – DK Printworlds (New Delhi)
Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume IV page 50 - IHRF