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 How much are the Purusharta | It is necessary to understand the meaning of Purusharta



      The ideals which were presented by ancient Hindu sages i.e. Hindu scholars for the progress of man and society are called Purushartha. Purushartha is related to both man and society, it explains the relationship between man and society, regularizes them and also controls their mutual relations.

     Purushartha aims at establishing harmony between the physical and spiritual life of man. The Indian tradition considers material pleasures to be temporary, but does not consider them to be completely despised or discarded, but only opposes excessive attachment to them. Man can progress spiritually only by the moderate consumption of material pleasures. Material pleasures are considered as a seeker, not a hindrance to the attainment of spiritual happiness. Both are closely related to each other. The coordinated nature of both has been propounded or explained through purusharthas.

    How many types of Purusharta are there?

     There are four types of Purushartha, namely – Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha. In these Artha and Kama represent material pleasures while Dharma and Moksha represent spiritual pleasures. Moksha is the ultimate goal of human life, in the attainment of which remaining effort is helpful. The attainment of salvation is not possible for everyone. Therefore, over a period of time, emphasis was laid on the observance of the three Purusharthas, Dharma, Artha and Kama. These are called ‘trivargas’ whose attainment is easy for all the planets. It is the opinion of Hindu scriptures that there is no conflict between the three Purusharthas and they can be followed simultaneously. Full development of human life is possible only when all the efforts are properly followed.

1- Dharma- Dharma is the first step of efforts, which has been given the most importance in Hindu philosophy of life. The word ‘Dharma’ is derived from the root ‘Dhri’ which literally means to hold or or to maintain existence. It is the element that maintains the existence of man and society. It is the regulator of the social system, its detailed explanation is found in the ancient scriptures. It is said in the Mahabharata that Dharma protects all beings, keeps all safe. It maintains the existence of the universe – (Dharanat dharmamityahuh dharyo dharayate prajah. It has been told further that the system of dharma has been made for the welfare of all beings, so that all beings are benefited, that is dharma (prabhavartham cha bhootanam dharma pravachanam kritam. – karnaparva 109.58.). It has been said in Vaisheshik philosophy that by which the worldly and transcendental welfare is accomplished. That is dharma. In ancient literature, conduct (virtue) has been described as a symptom of religion. ..(- Munu 0 2.6.12.).The ancient scholars have told religion to follow the duties which are prescribed in the scriptures like Vedas, Smriti etc. In fact, religion refers to that code of conduct whose Through the medium man develops by becoming regular and eventually attains the supreme position ‘Moksha’.

       It is clear from the views expressed in the ancient religious texts related to ancient Hinduism that it was a broad term by which the Indian sages included all virtues, social duties, personal qualities etc. The word ‘Religion’ in English cannot be a synonym for it. Religion controls the individual and encourages him to faithfully perform his duties towards the society. Through this, a person would develop his all-round, discharge his responsibilities as a member of the society, and ultimately achieve the ultimate goal of life. There is an element living with man at the end of religion. Religion is sometimes considered a collection of duties.

2- Meaning (Artha) – The Artha of this word is narrowly applied to money or property, but in the eyes of ancient Indians, it was a broad term which meant all those necessary resources through which man could attain material happiness and opulence – wealth, power etc. does. Dialogue and politics were also included in its periphery. Agriculture, animal husbandry and commerce are the areas of dialogue (Krishi Pashupalyavajijya cha Varta). Politics is related to governance. Through Artha, a person attains material happiness and opulence. It is a means of convenience.

     The importance of meaning has been accepted in ancient scriptures. In the Mahabharata it has been called ‘Paramdharma’ on which all things depend. He who does not have meaning is like a dead person whereas rich people live happily in the world.

“Dhanamahu: param dharma dhane sarvam pratisthitam.

Jeevanti dhanino loke mrita ye tvadhana.”– Udyog Parv 72.23—24.

 Without meaning, life is impossible. Brihaspati has accepted Artha as the root of the world (Dhan Mool Jagat). In the Arthashastra, it has been represented as the principal element. It is stated in the Ethics that he who has wealth is a noble, a scholar, a knower of the Vedas, a virtuous person, an orator and a visible person. All the qualities are in money only.

“Yasasti finance snar: Kulinah: sa panditah sa panditah sa rtuvangunaah.

S ev speaker sach visible sarveguna: kanchanamaashrayanti.

      But even after accepting the importance of Artha, Hindu scholars have told it to be under Dharma and have emphasized on the attainment of Artha through Dharma. That which harms the meaning, religion, is not desired. It is clearly stated in Manusmriti that Artha and Kama should be abandoned against Dharma. Apastamba has also said that man should enjoy all the pleasures according to religion. Thus, in Indian philosophy of life, meaning is intended only so far as it is religious.

3- Kama- The third Purushartha of human life was Kama which literally means sense pleasure or lust. But in the broadest sense, this word refers to the innate desires and tendencies of man. According to the Mahabharata, Kama is the pleasure of the mind and heart that emanates when it is combined with the objects of the senses. This is the first and foremost trend of happiness. Due to this, man gives birth to children, the householder enjoys various pleasures of life and is attracted towards each other.

     The Hindu scriptures, accepting the importance of work in human life, imposed dharma on it and propounded that only the conduct of righteous work can progress the individual and society. On the contrary, it paves the way for the downfall of man. Autocratic conduct of work hinders the development of a person. When there is no satisfaction of lust, anger and anger lead to attachment. Delusion of memory leads to complete destruction of intellect due to illusion, and destruction of intellect. (Dharmaऽvirudho bhuteshu kamosmi Bharatarshabha). In the Matsya Purana, it is said that ‘Kam without religion is like a son of bondage (dharmahinasya kamartho bandhyasut samau dhruvam). In difficulties, the enemy is made a laughing stock.

   Thus it is clear that the scholars of Hinduism have emphasized only on the conduct of work related to religion. In this way all-round development of the individual is possible. The disorderly conduct of work is harmful to both the individual and the society.

  4- Moksha- Moksha has been accepted as the ultimate goal of life in Hindu ideology, the attainment of which is the ultimate evidence of all. Apart from Charvaka, all other schools accept it. Moksha means the merging of the soul into the Supreme Soul after attaining rebirth or liberation from the cycle of movement. The soul is immortal, immortal and a part of the Supreme Soul. The body is the cause of bondage. The world is an illusion. When a man comes to know this fact, he diverts his attention from worldly matters and turns his attention towards God. Knowledge, devotion and action are the means to attain salvation. Their coordination is found in the Gita.

    A proper analysis of the ideology related to salvation is found in the Upanishads. The Upanishads identify the essence of the individual, the soul and the essence of the world, Brahma. This is the state of salvation. For this it is necessary that the person should have control of senses and mind, detachment from worldly pleasures, knowledge of the impermanence of the world and strong yearning to attain salvation. Thereafter he should receive the teachings of Vedanta from a qualified guru. The Guru makes the disciple realize that ‘You are the Brahman’ (tat tvam asi). Keeping this point of his sage guru in mind, following him firmly, one attains self-realization and in this state he feels ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ i.e. I am Brahman. This is complete knowledge and this is called salvation. After attaining salvation, the sorrows of life are destroyed and man attains ecstasy.

 Almost all Indian philosophy considers disobedience and ignorance to be the cause of bondage. Therefore, salvation is possible only when a person breaks the bond of ignorance. It is said in the Gita that devoid of lust and anger, wise men with a living mind attain God. One who controls the senses, mind and intellect automatically attains salvation. The Gita gives priority to devotion instead of knowledge and tells the grace of God to be necessary for salvation. Krishna tells Arjuna to leave all religions and take refuge in me only. I will free you from all sins. Jains present the law of the three jewels (right vision, knowledge and character) and the Buddhist eightfold path (right vision, will, speech, action, life, exercise, memory and samadhi). It is stipulated in Manusmriti that only a person who is free from anti-sense, attachment-aversion and non-violent attains salvation. In the Puranas, it is said that for salvation, the conduct of compassionate beings, equanimity, forgiveness, non-anger, truth, greed, attachment, renunciation of lust etc., is said to be necessary.

      Thus salvation was the ultimate goal of Hindu philosophy of life. It was only from the Brahmacharya ashram that the student used to realize this and throughout his life he used to plan all his activities in this direction. This goal was fully achieved from the last ashram of life. Purushartha Hindu ideology has its own system which is completely unattainable in other cultures of the world. Where Western culture gives top priority to materiality, spirituality has been given priority in Indian culture, considering materiality as important. Through effort, Indian sages have established a beautiful coordination between instinct and retirement, attachment and renunciation. Here Kama and Artha are the means while Dharma and Moksha are the ends. In Trivarga, there is an interdependent relationship between the three Purusharthas. Among them the position of religion is supreme. Proper utilization of Artha and Kama is possible only through Dharma. In Manusmriti, emphasis has been laid on the coordination of all three. Accordingly ‘some say that man’s profit is in Dharma and Artha’, ‘ according to some it is in Kama and Artha, while some see man’s benefit only in Dharma. But the reality is that the welfare of man lies only in the proper coordination of the three Purusharthas.

  Kulluk Bhatt, who is the commentator of Manusmriti, has the view that “Artha and Kama are important from the temporal point of view, but when considered from the transcendental point of view, salvation remains the only desired and other efforts become helpful in its attainment.”


       Purusharthas are related to both man and society. Explaining the relationship between man and society, he describes them as fair. Throws light on the proper relationship of both and exposes their inappropriate relationship, so that man can avoid them. In fact, Purushartha is the regulator of human and society and their interrelationship. Living through ashrams, a person fulfills his responsibilities towards society and family through various efforts.

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