Artha

Definition - What does Artha mean?

In Indian philosophy and yoga, artha is one of the four aims of human life, which are collectively called purusharthas. Individually, it is the pursuit of material advantage and wealth. Artha is the Sanskrit word for “wealth” or “property,” but it has other meanings depending on the context. It also translates as meaning “goal,” “essence” or “purpose.”

In Hindu scriptures, artha is a broader concept that refers to the resources that enable an individual to achieve an ideal state or situation for his/her life.

Yogapedia explains Artha

In addition to artha, the other purusharthas (aims of life) are dharma (righteousness), kama (pleasure and emotional fulfillment) and moksha (freedom from the life-death cycle).

While artha may be considered a selfish pursuit, in moderation, it is an appropriate aim on the path to moksha as having the financial and material means to live in comfort is a basic necessity to everyday life. Artha ensures dignity through food, shelter, clothing and enough material possessions to live a meaningful life.

In contrast, poverty can lead to anarchy. So, the pursuit of material comforts helps to maintain social order. Excessive pursuit of wealth, however, leads to greed and social disorder. So, artha must be kept in check by dharma. The ultimate goal is the fourth and final aim, moksha. Until the individual reaches this state, the other three aims promote satisfaction and balance in life.

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