Br. Saket Chaitanya
Purushartha means purush + artha. A little grammar for those who would be interested. Purush comes from 'pru' root which means to fill and to protect. (pru- piparti). one definition of purusha goes as - purnatvaat purushah. That which fills the human body, that is the jiva. Artha than means some achievement goal (arth root + ganj pratyaya). This creates a shasthi tatpurush samas. purushaaNaam arthah purushartha. The goal of the jiva.
If we take other definition purush as that which protects using pru for protection then it becomes bahuvrihi - paati purusham yena saha - purushartha, that by which a person is protected (from falling down).
Put together, this would mean purushartha is that which protects a person from falling below current level by protecting him.
This our dharma sastras have defined under:
Mahabharata (shanti parva) - dharma, artha, kaama, moksha. Geetaji talks of two - kshema & shreya (relative good & ultimate good)
Kathopanishad - preya and shreya (material good & ultimate good) (anyatchchhreyo anyadutaiva preyaste ubhe naanarthe purusham siniitah kathavalli 2 verse 1)
Even manusmriti would have defined it. If anyone is aware, please post them.
Now why all of these?
These steps indicate evolution of human beings & they are :
a) Stages when one would like to gain one or another.
b) Meant for different types of people.
Whereas most of the karma kanda of jaimini is focussed on dharma artha and kama most of the jnana kanda is focussed on moksha. The first sutra of brahma sutra athato brahma jigyasa defines, having done karma one should now start with brahma mimansa ( atha is now & jigyasa is mananam there). At the same time kathopanishad clearly defines two different paths for two different people - shreyascha preyascha manushyametat tau samparitya vivinakti dhiiraH. shreyohi dhiirobhipreyaso vriNite preyo mando yogakshemaata vriNite. Whichever way we interpret, one thing is sure, there is a stage in a life when one moves from dharma artha kaama to moksha and that is why moksha is known as parama purushartha. This is because finally everyone is searching for bliss. This is well known and doesnt need elaboration i suppose.
But the questions that are posed with regards to the four purusharthas are:
1) should one follow dharma at all? If so why?
2) Can dharma lead to artha?
3) Can artha earned through dharma alone can cause fulfillment of kaama. when we say fulfilment of desires only increases the fire of desires (havishma iva vardhate ??? (if someone can complete this verse... - manusmriti)
4) Can there be moksha at all by fullfillment of desires?
First considering dharma. Chodana lakshano dharmaH that is what jaimini risihi says in his karma sutras - meaning whatever is prescribed in vedas as injunction is all dharma. But it is not comprehensive atleast for today's world where vedic rituals are missing. Even later on subsequent to treta age, vedic rituals were lesser and lesser understood becoming very obsecure. The vedangas related to them nirukta and kalpa were becoming difficult to understand. Kalpasutras, the edifice for procedures of dharma were not clearly explaining the result of perfornance and non performance. Hence, smritis were created. That was the age of ishta karma (rites). Later purta karma (selfless actions for benefit of society) became more prominent and in today's world we find primarily purta alone exists. In that context vedic definition and associated kalpasutras or smritis might not serve as a proper guide. Also dharma cant be mere ritual or actions for society alone. Here a more comprehensive defintion of dharma as given by manu maharaj in manusmriti helps. It says one should follow shruti, smriti, people of good character and finally the agreement with one's own conscience in that order of precendence. Normally, a dharma is said to have been performed when all of them are in agreement and generally they would all be in agreement. E.g. in Geeta Lord himself says that for loka sangraha he has to follow dharma which indicates people of good character follow dharma. We see in case of Lord Rama - Ramo vigrahvaana dharma. It is also seen that their conscience agreement is always there in most of the cases. But if it doesnt then precendence is to be accepted as yudhisthira did in case of "naro va kunjaro va", speaking part lies against the conscience. This universal definition is much more acceptable for dharma in today's world.
However, this dharma should have a proper end in mind which is the artha which is wealth. Dharma done with wrong ends in mind is no dharma. Karna was fighting the war as per the rules of war but shri krishna didnt consider it as dharma at all. Artha is wealth. Wealth in gross terms means money, but it really means prosperity both material and spiritual. Even six fold wealth in saadhan chatushtaya is wealth. Actual dharma, action has two results, the drashta phalam seen result and adrashta phalam, an unseen result. Any action causes four types of changes says mimansa sastra which is taken up and discussed by bhagavan shankaracharya in the commentary of mundaka upanishad (verse - parikshya lokaan karma chitaana bhrahmanah) which is a change of any of the four kinds: aapya (gained), sanskaarya(purification), vikarya(transformation) and utpaadya (created). These are always there. No one can remain without doing any action and this results are essentially always there. What differs in case of dharma is the adrashta phalam. It relates to the intention a person has in doing the action. This decides whether the action is dharma or adharma. If it is dharma, it contributes to his purushartha. If not it leads to his destruction. Mostly people dont realise this relation and hence believe that dharma cant be helpful in gaining the results. They know that a particular action leads to a particular seen result. Hence, irrespective of the means they want to get the seen result alone. The unseen result is ignored. Hence, they fall and their efforts goes in vain. This is not purushartha, neither is dharma helping him gain any "artha" in truest of the sense. Obviously it cannot give him any joy at all. Hence, to achieve the artha dharma has to be followed and it has to be in line with the definition stated above.
Upto this I have taken up two questions: should one follow dharma & why and can dharma lead to artha.
Now comes what is kaama and can artha fulfilled through dharma alone help us fulfil our desires. This is tricky question. The answer again lies in purushartha. If we are talking of purusharta, we are searching for fulfillment. If we are searching for fulfilment it shouldnt be a mere satisfaction of baser materialistic desires. It should be accompanied by a sense of completion, inner peace and achievement.
The desires can be fulfilled by two ways: a) desires guiding the action b) dharma guiding the action. If desires guide the action, then that kaama is not kaam at all. kam means sukham, joy. Taddhita of kam is kaam. (sorry a little grammar too). Meaning that which gives us sukham. If the desires when fulfilled doesnt give us joy but leaves with an agitation which enslaves us leading to a spiral of misdeeds and an ever increasing hunger for the object then it is not kaama it is bhogavasana or kaamavikaara. Here kaamavikaara is not meant by kaama. Kaama is only those desires which are in line with sastras, permitted by your consicence and fulfilled by artha which is earned by dharma. If you achieve artha driven by desires, you might transgress dharma. This would definitely cause fear and dissatisfaction. This cannot lead to any kind of joy. This is hence not kaama. Such a kaama fulfilment done with dharma can only give satisfaction and doesnt increase the desires for more (answers third question). If at all it does, dharma applies the brakes. Dharma is the brakes in the highway of purushartha accelerated by artha. Thus kaama also leads to evolution of a person only.
For the fourth question, can kaama lead to moksha, we need to go back to Geetaji. Guruji says without desires no one can work!!! What? Yes, desires are there even if we talk of selfless action. Actions whose fruits are offered to Lord, or selfless by itself done purely as service have the desire of offering or service in mind. By that we want to achieve mental purity. 'Vina uddeshyena mandopi na pravartate. ' So any action has to have a desire. Without action, Geetaji says you cant stay a minute (na hi kashchit kshanam api jaatu tishthati a karma krit). So action has to be there. Now we cant perform an action which is against fulfilment of our desires. Hence, desire fulfilment has to be there even if we desire moksha. Desires are the pole vault which we used in guiding ourselves to the final goal, the moksha and then drop the pole and jump over dropping the desires. Viveka chudamani says - yadaa yadaa pratyagavasthitam manah tada tada munchati bahya vaasana, nissheshe mokshe sati aatmanubhuti pratibandha shunyaa. As our mind slowly absorbs in the peace of the self, the desires drop off. When they drop off completely we experience the unobstructed joy of the supreme self.
That is my first take on the concept of purushartha. I would like people to question on these. Request you to please use another colour or italics or something to identify seperately.
Sorry for the mail being too long. But when we say mananam, it is a thread bare analysis in a systematic logical approach. Sthula khananam nyaya - once a pillar is planted it should be shaken and tested for its firmness. Our ideas should be firm.