[Advaita-l] chaturvidha purushartha

Shyam shyam_md at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 20 10:45:22 CDT 2007

Moksha is no doubt the final goal.
  Why? Because until one knows oneself to be of the nature of fullness, to be complete, one will not stop seeking. The endpoint of the search can only occur if the seeker gets dissolved.
  Whether we like it or not, whether we are aware of it or not, consciously or subconsciously we all want one thing and one thing only, a freedom from our own smallness, our own insignificance. This freedom is Moksha. So in reality there is only one purushartha - moksha.
  Now, why artha,kaama,dharma.
  Self-knowledge alone is the key to unlocking the prison of samsara. However for the mind/intellect to acquire this knowledge, this key, a certain environment is necessary - both internal and external - internal - as in a pleasant non-compliacted mind and a intellect that has the ability to enquire focus and hence assimilate and external as in a Guru who is available and willing to Grace you with the knowledge as well as an appropriate environment where this learning can take place.
  This is obtained only through Grace. Grace is obtained by duritakshaya, by a negating of the accumulated papakarmas or fruits of my misdirected acts of omission and commision in infinite past janmas.
  For duritakshaya i need to do karma. There is no other way. For karma i need artha.
  In the vedic times karma was in the form of rituals - yajnas, yaagas, etc. Even in modern times, if I have to do some good, even as basic as fulfilling my duties towards my own family, towards society, etc I need to do work, and earn a livelihood. If I mistakenly avoid this pursuit - and prefer to be a sloth who eats and sleeps - then I am setting myself up for more failure- i am going to make no progress neither in the materialistic realm nor in the spiritual realm.
  So in Its infinte kindness the Shastra itself tells me about artha being a "bona fide" goals, and guides me through these as well. 
  I also come into this birth with a long endless list of wants and desires - many of these vasanas need to find expression in order to find some exhaustion.
  Of course in doing so they only create further desires and vasanas but that is a different matter. So with artha pursuing sense pleasures is also a pursuit which has an important benefit. One develops a strong conviction in their failure to get the job done. Blessed with a discriminating intellect one discerns that no matter how many sense pleasures I indulge in, how much materially comfortable I get, my sense of limitation only seems to get more surcharged. The more I gather, the more I lack. And this is the only way to be drawn to a spiritual path, to start questioning and enquiring. And so kaama helps by revealing to you its own limitation.
  Dharma is mot important because as a human being with free will, with choice, one is held accountable for one's actions. As I sow so I reap. And in life I need a guiding light to endure that my actions, coming as they do from a limited intellect, are not in violation of the Order, and that I don't do something I should not, and even more importantly I not forget or get lax in doing something that I do. Dharma is thus the guiding source as one pursues artha/kaama - following dharma I ensure i do not earn more paapas, and even as i gather and preserve, I do not move away from the one true calling - which is self-knowledge.
  Now why are the majority involved in artha/kaama?
  Because they seemingly yield immediate pleasure.
  It is why the fish bites the bait. It is why an alcoholic hits the bottle.
  The power of Maya deludes one's capacity to think beyond the moment, and we fall prey to a quick-fix ephemereal solution to our sense of limitation.
  At the time of sobriety, the first thought that comes to an alcoholic is a craving for his state of stupor. This is something that is immediately available and more importantly seems to solve the "problem". But as Bhagwan Krishna says, this type of immediate pleasure only causes pain in the long-haul. But such is the power of Goddess Maya!
  "Máyá which is skilful in accomplishing the impossible deludes at once, alas, even those who can clarify hundreds of Veda and Vedánta texts by showing up wealth, etc. and makes them non-different from quadrupeds."

  So once one has discerned for oneself that any amount of artha and kaama are never going to be successful in eradicating one's notional smallness, then one's identification with moksha purushartha gets fortified and solidified. And then alone does sannyasa, initially internal in the form of karmayoga as benevolently explained by Bhagwan Krishna, and then external in the form of embracing sannyashrama, lead one to the Goal.
  My humble pranams and best wishes,
  Hari OM
  Shri Gurubhyo namah

"Jaldhar H. Vyas" <jaldhar at braincells.com> wrote:
  On Thu, 16 Aug 2007, chandramouli gunnala wrote:

> Dear Atmaswaroopa, OmNamo Narayanaya,
> Chaturvidah Purusharthas known as Dharma, Artha, Kama,
> Moksha.
> How a person should go about to accomplish these
> Purusharthas? Is there any priority or sequence or
> time and space in Vedantic approach?

Dharma, Artha, and Kama go together. From the Vedantic point of view 
Moksha trumps the rest.

> Many a time, Artha and Kama are looked down as
> conflicting to the Dharma or Moksha. Is it really so?

It need not be. The Kama sutra is notorious as a "book about sex" but 
that is one of the subjects covered in it. Actually it prescribes a whole 
lifestyle which includes pleasure-seeking but is based on a temperate and 
moral outlook.

The Arthashastra of Kautilya is known for often cynical advice about the 
acquisition of power but its advice is meant to guide a ruler to govern 
justly and wisely.

> Yet, majority are entangled in these two purusharthas.
> Why?

Shortsightedness. The problem with artha and kama is not that they are 
not enjoyable goals but that as usually practiced they are finite and what 
is finits is inevitably destroyed.

> The ultimate goal of a seeker being Moksha, should he
> delink himself from Artha and Kama?

The wise proponent of kama should pursue moksha because Brahman is the 
ultimate bliss. (See anandamimamsa of taittiriyopanishad.)

The wise proponent of artha should pursue moksha because Brahman is all 
the material that exists and more.

Shankaracharya says that one can take sannyasa to pursue moksha from any 
ashrama or even none (see for example Shukadevaji who didn't even have 
upanayana) however in the Smarta tradition it is usual to go through 
brahmacharya and grhastha ashramas first.

Jaldhar H. Vyas 
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