The Puruṣārthas and the Self


Man is a bag of desires. His life is a river of ceaseless likes and dislikes. Whatever he desires and whatever goals he attempts to attain have all together been termed by our ancestors as puruṣārthas.

There are four puruṣārthas –

1. Dharma (good works, virtue, sustenance, global ethic)

2. Artha (wealth, means to fulfill desires)

3. Kāma (desire, enjoyment)

4. Mokṣa (liberation).

Repetitions and Reiterations in the Gītā

Let us get back to the Bhagavad-gītā. There are so many punaruktis (repetitions); upamāna-upameyas (comparisons in a simile) and paradoxes. Our attention should be on their purport. When prosaic speech does not suffice and figurative expressions are resorted to even while describing commonplace incidents and worldly experiences, how else could the mind of the philosopher expressing thoughts about the supernatural reveal itself to us without figurative language?

Sādhana-catuṣṭaya - The Four Prerequisites

It is indicated above that the buddhi is a power that works with the manas. The buddhi is under the influence of the manas. Therefore, to purify the buddhi, it is imperative to purify the manas. Buddhi is an implement that enables reflection.  Manas experiences the product of the buddhi. In Vedānta, jñāna (wisdom) is the same as anubhava (experience). Knowledge of Brahman is the experience of Brahman. Mind is the arena of experience.

Bhārata-Sāvitrī (Part 4)

A Touchstone

Though we have a great deal of material connected with dharma, it is not easy to decide what constitutes dharma and what would be adharma when faced with challenging situations. Draupadī, while being humiliated in the court of the Kauravas hurls a scathing remark at Bhīṣma and questions him about the nature of dharma. Bhīṣma replies that it is beyond his capacity to assess what is dhārmic under the current circumstances.[1]

Instruction on the Viṣaya is According to the Adhikārī

Let us first look at the theme of the work and the qualification to study it. Each of these decides the other. The story of puṇyakoṭi befits a six year old. A study of the Raghu-vaṁśa, however, is for a student aged sixteen or more. 

Thus each one decides the other. The one who is capable of dealing with the viṣaya—subject of the work—is the adhikārī. The instruction has to be tailored to the education and capacity of the seeker. Both of these are thus relative to each other.