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.
DEFINITION AND MEANING
John Lochtefeld describes _artha_ as the means of life, and includes
material prosperity. Karl Potter explains it as an attitude and
capability that enables one to make a living, to remain alive, to
thrive as a free person. It includes economic prosperity, security and
health of oneself and those one feels responsible for.
Gavin Flood explains artha as "worldly success" without violating
dharma (moral responsibility), kama (love) and one's journey towards
moksha (spiritual liberation). Flood clarifies that _artha_ in ancient
The Mimamsa school of Hinduism explained artha, dharma and kama by contrasting Puruṣārtha and Kratvartha. Puruṣārtha is human purpose of a yajna , while Kratvartha is sacrificial purpose of a yajna . They recognized and explained all human actions have two effects: first, every act affects itself regardless of actors involved; second, every act has human meanings, hopes and desires and affects each actor in a personal way. Jaimini explained in 3rd century BC, that this human meaning cannot be separated from the human goal. The _phala_ (fruit, result) of a sacrifice is implicit in the _artha_ (meaning, purpose) of the sacrifice. Mimamsa school then argued that man is for the purpose of actions demanded by Vedic injunctions (apauruseya), and such subordination of man to rituals allows man to reach heaven. Other schools of Hinduism, such as Yoga and Vedanta schools, disagreed with Mimamsa school. They argued that rituals and sacrifice are means, not ends. Their emphasis shifted from rituals to effort and knowledge, from heaven to moksha, from freedom after life to freedom in this life, from human being as a cog in cosmic wheel to human being as an end in himself. For example, Aitareya Aranyaka recites:
He knows tomorrow, he knows the world and what is not the world. By the mortal he desires the immortal, being this endowed. Man is the sea, he is above all the world. Whatever he reaches he desires to go beyond it. — Aitareya Aranyaka, II.1.3
Thereafter came a flowering of the Shastraic literature on
RELATIVE PRECEDENCE BETWEEN ARTHA, KAMA AND DHARMA
Ancient Indian literature emphasizes that dharma is foremost. If dharma is ignored, artha and kama - profit and pleasure respectively - lead to social chaos. The Gautama Dharmashastra, Apastamba Dharmasutra and Yājñavalkya Smṛti , as examples, all suggest that dharma comes first and is more important than artha and kama.
Vatsyayana , the author of Kamasutra , recognizes relative value of three goals as follows: artha is more important and should precede kama, while dharma is more important and should precede both kama and artha. Kautiliya's Arthashastra , however, argues that artha is the foundation for the other two. Without prosperity and security in society or at individual level, both moral life and sensuality become difficult. Poverty breeds vice and hate, while prosperity breeds virtues and love, suggested Kautiliya. Kautilya adds that all three are mutually connected, and one should not cease enjoying life, nor virtuous behavior, nor pursuit of wealth creation. Excessive pursuit of any one aspect of life with complete rejection of other two, harms all three including the one excessively pursued.
Some ancient Indian literature observe that the relative precedence of artha, kama and dharma are naturally different for different people and different age groups. In a baby or child, education and kama takes precedence; in youth kama and artha take precedence; while in old age dharma takes precedence.
The Epics such as the
Mahabharata debate the relative precedence of
dharma, artha, kama and moksha, through the different characters in
Book 12, the Book of Peace . Rishi
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. — The Mahabharata , Book 9.60
Gavin Flood suggests the concepts embedded in purushartha, which includes artha, reflect a deep understanding and insights into human nature, and of conflicts which are inevitably faced by all human beings. It is an attempt to acknowledge and encourage one to understand diversity yet seek coherence between people, rather than deny one or more aspects of human life or force a particular precept and code on people.
Donald Davis suggests that _artha_, _kama_ and _dharma_ are broadly
applicable human aims, that extend beyond
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ James Lochtefeld (2002), The Illustrated
Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Rosen Publishing, New York, ISBN
0-8239-2287-1 , pp 55–56
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ John Koller,
Puruṣārtha as Human Aims,
Philosophy East and West, Vol. 18, No. 4 (Oct., 1968), pp. 315–319
* ^ _A_ _B_ Scott Walsworth and Suresh Kalagnanam (2013), Applying
* ^ see:
* Sanskrit English Dictionary University of Kloen, Germany (2009) * Karl Potter (1998), Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, Volume 3, ISBN 81-208-0310-8 , Motilal Banarsidass, pp 610 (note 17)
* ^ _A_ _B_ Bruce Sullivan (1997), Historical Dictionary of Hinduism, ISBN 978-0-8108-3327-2 , pp 29–30 * ^ Constance Jones and James Ryan (2007), Encyclopedia of Hinduism, ISBN 978-0-8160-5458-9 , pp 45 * ^ "Artha" in Encyclopædia Britannica, Chicago, 15th edn., 1992, Vol. 1, p. 601.
* ^ see:
* A. Sharma (1982), The Puruṣārthas: a study in
* ^ Gavin Flood (1996), The meaning and context of the Purusarthas, in Julius Lipner (Editor) - The Fruits of Our Desiring, ISBN 978-1-896209-30-2 , paragraph overlapping pp. 12–13 * ^ _A_ _B_ Karl H. Potter (2002), Presuppositions of India's Philosophies, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-81-208-0779-2 , pp. 1–29 * ^ _A_ _B_ Daya Krishna, The myth of the purusarthas, in Theory of Value (Editor: Roy Perrett), Volume 5, Taylor For English translation - Rangarajan (1987), Penguin Classics, ISBN 978-0-14-044603-6 ; * Ashok S. Chousalkar (2004), Methodology of Kautilya's Arthashastra, The Indian Journal of Political Science, Vol. 65, No. 1, pp. 55–76
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ Gavin Flood (1996), The meaning and context of the Purusarthas, in Julius Lipner (Editor) - The Fruits of Our Desiring, ISBN 978-1-896209-30-2 , pp 13–16 * ^ R. V. De Smet (1972), Early Trends in the Indian Understanding of Man, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 22, No. 3, pp. 259–268 * ^ Ludwik Sternbach (1974), Subhasitas, Gnomic and Didatic Literature, in A History of Indian Literature Volume IV, ISBN 3-447-01546-2 , Otto Harrassowitz, Germany, pp. 1–76 * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Gavin Flood (1996), The meaning and context of the Purusarthas, in Julius Lipner (Editor) - The Fruits of Our Desiring, ISBN 978-1-896209-30-2 , pp 16–21
* ^ See:
Patrick Olivelle , Dharmasutras - The Law Codes of Ancient India,
Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-283882-2 , Note 24.23 at pp 364;
* ^ P.V. Kane (1941), History of Dharmashastra, Volume 2, Part 1,
Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, pp. 8–9
* ^ R.C. Zachner (1962), pp 115–117
* ^ Kisari Mohan Ganguli (Translator), Book 9:Calya Parva The
Mahabharata, pp 232
Gavin Flood (1996), The meaning and context of the Purusarthas,
in Julius Lipner (Editor) - The Fruits of Our Desiring, ISBN
978-1-896209-30-2 , pp 19–20
* ^ W. Halbfass (1994), Menschsein und Lebensziele: Beobachtungen
zu den puruṣārthas, In Hermeneutics of Encounter: Essays in Honour
of Gerhard Oberhammer on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday (Editors:
D'Sa and Mesquita), Vienna, pp 123–135
* ^ Donald Davis Jr. (2004), Being
* v * t * e