Artha

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Artha (Sanskrit: अर्थ) is one of the four aims of human life in Indian philosophy. The word artha literally translates as “meaning, sense, goal, purpose or essence” depending on the context. Artha is also a broader concept in the scriptures of Hinduism. As a concept, it has multiple meanings, all of which imply “means of life”, activities and resources that enables one to be in a state one wants to be in. In Hindu traditions, Artha is connected to the three other aspects and goals of human life - Dharma (virtuous, proper, moral life), Kama (pleasure, sensuality, emotional fulfillment) and Moksha (liberation, release, self-actualization). Together, these mutually non-exclusive four aims of life are called Puruṣārtha

Quotes[edit]

  • Artha, in Hinduism, the pursuit of wealth or material advantage, one of the four traditional aims in life. The sanction for artha rests on the assumption that—with the exclusion of the exceptional few who can proceed directly to the final aim of moksha, or spiritual release from life—material well-being is a basic necessity of man and is his appropriate pursuit while a householder, that is, during the second of the four life stages. Furthermore, artha, as the pursuit of material advantage, is closely tied to the activities of statecraft, which maintains the general social order and prevents anarchy. But, as the immoderate pursuit of material advantage would lead to undesirable and ruinous excesses, artha must always be regulated by the superior aim of dharma, or righteousness.
...the Northern Recensions contain a stanza, which states that the reader of the Ramayana really learns the great science of Polity (Dandaniti), and also the three professions (Trayivarta), i.e., Agriculture, breeding of cattle and trade. Moreover it is said to teach the Artha and the Dharma, to which another verse adds Kama as well. It is an interesting problem that the Ramayana, although held with reverence by the Hindus, is not stated to be conducive to Moksha. - Ananda W. P. Guruge.
  • To Kala there is no relationship, no reason, no valour; it (respects) no friendship or kinship no cause nor one’s control. But the evolution of Kala should be well observed by him who sees. Dharma, Artha, and Kama are established in the course of Kala (Kalakrama).
  • Morality is well practiced by the good. Morality, however, is always afflicted by two things, the desire of Profit entertained by those that covet it, and the desire for Pleasure cherished by those that are wedded to it. Whoever without afflicting Morality and Profit, or Morality and Pleasure, or Pleasure and Profit, followeth all three - Morality, Profit and Pleasure - always succeeds in obtaining great happiness.
  • Man, the period of whose life is one hundred years, should practice Dharma, Artha, and Kama at different times and in such a manner that they may harmonize, and not clash in any way. He should acquire learning in his childhood; in his youth and middle age he should attend to Artha and Kama, and in his old age he should perform Dharma, and thus seek to gain Moksha, that is, release from further transmigration.
  • ... Vatsayana was a law giver like Manu or Kauitilya and was anxious to reconcile Dharma, Artha and Kama the three recognized ends of life by emphasizing their equal importance and harmonious blending, and hence it was not possible for him to reduce his work to gross sexual level as did his successors or imitators in the subsequent erotic writing.
  • The first three goals pertain to the world we know, whereas moksha involves freedom from the world and from desires... Moksha, although the ultimate goal, is emphasized more in the last two stages of life, while artha and kama are primary only during Grihasthshram, the householder stage.... Hindus themselves prefer to use the Sanskrit term sanatana dharma for their religious tradition.... According to Hinduism, our experience, our reason and our dialogue with others - especially with enlightened individuals - provide various means of testing our understanding of spiritual and moral truth...
  • Artha includes the pursuit of material well being, wealth and power. Dharma includes striving for righteousness and virtue. Moksha describes the desire for liberation from reincarnation. The first three goals pertain to the world we know, whereas moksha involves freedom from the world and from desires.
    • Derrick M. Nault, in “Asia Journal of Global Studies, Issues 1-2 (1 January 2012)”, p. 95
  • Mimamasa definition:Codana lakshano artho dharmaha is according to Sabara’s interpretation means that whatever is indicated by the Vedic injunctions (or enjoined by the Vedas) and leads to the good is dharma. Codana refers here to the injunctive text, ‘Laksano’ is that by which something is indicated. ‘Codana laksano’ means what is indicated by the injunctive text. ‘Artha' means something conducive to good. Thus the entire sutra means 'that which is indicated by the injunctive text and which leads to the good is dharma'. As a matter of fact, 'artha' is a controversial term in the sutra admitting of different interpretations.
The Vedas abound in both injunctions and prohibitions. It is the prohibitions not the injunctions which lead to evil consequences. If one trespasses prohibitions anartha is produced. So artha and anartha are the two opposite results emerging from the sacrifices — the former out of the injunctions and the latter when prohibitions are trespassed... - Kedar Nath Tiwari
  • The Vedas abound in both injunctions and prohibitions. It is the prohibitions not the injunctions which lead to evil consequences. If one trespasses prohibitions anartha is produced. So artha and anartha are the two opposite results emerging from the sacrifices — the former out of the injunctions and the latter when prohibitions are trespassed. So killing of animals is not in itself bad. What is bad is its result and that will bedecided by the vedas themselves.
    • Kedar Nath Tiwari in: "Classical Indian Ethical Thought: A Philosophical Study of Hindu, Jaina, and Buddhist Morals", p. 11
  • There are four purusharthas – Kama, artha, dharma and Moksha of which the last one is the highest. The three earlier purusarthas in the order they are mentioned do not however represent the progressive steps of the ladder such that kama comes first, then artha and then dharma. As a matter of fact, dharma pervades both kama and artha such that in the observance of both of them dharma must be our essential guide.
    • Kedar Nath Tiwari in: "Classical Indian Ethical Thought: A Philosophical Study of Hindu, Jaina, and Buddhist Morals", p. 37
  • Besides the above, the vanaprastha should continue to offer the five great sacrifices like the householder, the only difference being that whereas the householder performs the sacrifices with the aim of attaining artha and kama, the vanaprastha is inspired by no such worldly motive.
    • Kedar Nath Tiwari in: "Classical Indian Ethical Thought: A Philosophical Study of Hindu, Jaina, and Buddhist Morals", p. 94
  • ... dharma is generally regarded merely as a means to Moksha. In any case, however, its role is very important insofar as the observance of dharma is necessary for any and every human being even while pursuing the goals of kama and artha, the two lower purusharthas.
    • Kedar Nath Tiwari in: "Classical Indian Ethical Thought: A Philosophical Study of Hindu, Jaina, and Buddhist Morals", p. 123
  • When all three viz., Dharma, Artha, and Kama together, the former is better than the one which follows it, i.e., Dharma is better than Artha, and Artha is better than Kama. But Artha should be always practiced by the king, for the livelihood of men is to be obtained from it only. Again, Kama being the occupation of public women, they should prefer to the other two, and these are exceptions to the general rule.
    • Kama Sutra in: "The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana: Translated from the Sanskrit. In seven parts, with preface, introduction, and concluding remarks", p. 18
A man practicing Dharma, Artha and Kama enjoys happiness both in this world and in the world to come. The good perform these actions in which there is no fear as to what is to result from them in the next world, and in which there is no danger to their welfare... - Vatsyayana.

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