Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Purusharthas - Artha

Artha is the first of four Purusharthas: Artha, Kama, Dharma, and Moksha.

The fundamental quest of any living being is to stay alive and fight the insecurity of 'death/Mr'tyu'. This pursuit for security is called Artha, the first Purushartha.

It is instinctive for a living being to search and acquire food to fight hunger, water for thirst, dwelling for security from elements, procreate to continue one’s lineage etc., which are part of pursuing the Artha Purushartha. Any pursuit that goes beyond this basic sense of security becomes the second Purushartha, Kaama. For example - acquiring food to sustain one's life and health is Artha, whereas the desire to have a specific taste/type of food becomes Kaama.

Even this natural pursuit of security has to be done within the limits of a socially acceptable code of conduct, Dharma, the third Purushartha. The live beings are separated into two groups: the species that are mere Bhoktas - all non-human beings who have limited consciousness; and Kartaas - humans who are beings with enough level of consciousness to choose their actions. Only the Kartaas are bound by the Dharma - code of conduct, whereas Bhoktas are destined to accept whatever action is imposed on them.

When extrapolated to a society, the Artha Purushartha becomes the modern concept of National Security. The purpose and objective of any governance system is to ensure that all its citizens are provided this basic sense of security in terms of the social, civilizational and territorial definitions of a given nation. Chanakya thus defines Artha "ManuShyaaNaam Vrutti : ArTha:, Manushyavatii Bhoomirityartha:, Tasyaa: pruThivyaa: LaabhaPaalanOpaaya: Saastram ArThaSaastram Iti = The process of human livelihood is Artham, and the process of acquiring and securing such a society is science of Artha or Artha-Sastram" in his Arthashastra (Chapter 15:1).

No government's mandate goes beyond this Artha-Purushartha, because even the whole universe cannot satisfy a single person's Kaama/desire.

The only way a being's Artha Purushartha can be neutralized is by redefining one's being. As long as a person's being is defined in the limited sense of life (period between material birth and material death), the Artha Purushartha exists. Only when this definition of oneself goes beyond this concept of life, this in-complete sense of insecurity can be solved permanently.

That alternative definition of self and life is defined as Aatma-swaroopa in Sanatana Dharma a.k.a Hinduism. That is why all other Purusharthas dissolve when one realizes one's Aatma-swaroopa-- Moksha, the last Purushartha.

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