The Four Puruṣārthas: Artha

teachings Aug 01, 2021

In my last article on the four Puruṣārthas, I mentioned that there are four main drives of the embodied Spirit described in the ancient spiritual texts, the Vedas. The root artha, as used in the word Puruṣārtha, is a drive, an urge that the embodied Spirit seeks to satisfy in order to find meaning in this material life. The four Puruṣārthas are Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha. Today I will discuss Artha. 

Artha deals with our five senses. It is what we take in through our senses and the way that we process that data in our mind that enables us to give things meaning. Artha has a multitude of translations. It can stand for aim, purpose, goal, wealth, currency, meaning, desires, values, and object of the senses. These are actually all connected if we look deeper. 

What is currency? Money is nothing but matter to which we have assigned meaning. A $100 bill in the United States is only worth $100 because we have collectively decided that it has that value. Otherwise, it is just a piece of paper with $100 printed on it. It burns the same as a $1 bill and is made of exactly the same material. We have given it all the meaning that it has. We also spend that $100 on what we find personally meaningful and worth it. Thus, worth is another aspect of Artha. We place our energy into what we find valuable, meaningful, and worth it. Energy is a current, and money is the currency through which we spend our energy. 

What is appealing to the senses is appealing because of data that was previously brought into the mind, liked, and stored in the memory. What is not appealing to our senses is data that we brought into the mind, disliked, and stored in the memory. The eyes, ears, skin, nose, and tongue are receivers for data in the external material world. We receive sights, sounds, touch, smells, and tastes and that information that goes into the mind and memory is immediately invoked. That invoked memory contains all of the past data, likes, dislikes, emotional reactions, and actions that we have stored in the memory in regards to that particular thing or anything similar to it. Thus all of this is invoked in the instinctual mind and then passed along to the intellect to make sense of all of it. The intellect discriminates, judges, sorts, analyzes this collection of information and comes up with new likes and dislikes, biases, judgements and opinions. 

In the ancient Vedic Sanskrit language, the word for the five senses is indriya, meaning belonging to Indra. Indra is another word for the Spirit that resides in the body. Thus the five senses belong to and should serve the embodied Spirit within. This is the true meaning of Artha. It is the Spirit and all things that support the Spirit and alignment with the Spirit that we should find meaningful. The Spirit within is what gives our life meaning. Our energy, the currency that we use to spend on the material objects of the senses, comes directly from the Spirit. 

Our sense of self-worth and self-esteem are directly connected to our internal connection with Spirit. If we know that we are the Spirit, and our container to hold that light within is strong, then we will have strong self-worth and self-esteem. We then draw our own meaning and worth from something much higher within ourselves rather than from external opinions and society. We use the senses to serve the Higher Self within by making sure that whatever we bring into our mind through them is beneficial to our connection to Spirit and to the peace and love that are It's nature. What we bring in through the five senses should nourish us. It should make us feel peaceful. It should increase our vital life energy. If it is causing dis-ease in the mind and body, it should be examined closer and dealt with. 

How we behave in society and the power and authority we have over others is directly connected to our inner behavior and inner authority. How are we within our own systems? Are we allowing the lowest part of our being to rule our system or are we surrendering to the highest aspect of our being? Which one do we find most meaningful and valuable? Where do we place our energy? 

Artha supports the previous Puruṣārtha of Dharma. If our senses are yoked with Dharma, then they will be supporting the Spirit within. The health of the mind and body are dependent upon the proper use of the senses. The senses ultimately create our actions and define our character and destiny. We can thus have a destiny in alignment with the highest potential within us or one in alignment with the will of the lower ego. The choice is always ours. 

Jai Bhagwan,