Puruṣārtha translates to “an object of human pursuit”, derived from Sanskrit, Purusa meaning soul and Artha meaning purpose. A key concept in Hinduism inherent of universal values of Dharma (righteousness), Artha (economic values), Kama (pleasure), and Moksa (liberation). In Hinduism, these are the ideal goals a person should have as they bring out a balanced satisfaction and meaning to life at a deeper and more holistic level. These goals provide a way to determine if you are making good decisions or not and enhance your spiritual practices.
Originally the Vedas only mentioned the first three goals of life, later when the Upanishads were being developed and a search for a higher consciousness then came about the concept of Moksa. Moksa is considered to be the ultimate goal classified as one of the most important, followed by Dharma. All the goals are intertwined and require a harmonious interaction of all to be meaningful.
Dharma is about living ethically, striving to be virtuous, and being helpful to others. The Bhagavad Gita says “The greatest dereliction of Dharma is to desert the helpless in their time of need.” Dharma is fundamental for the right order of things in the world as it reflects the cosmic law that created the universe from chaos. The way to discover your Dharma is through a reflection of your actions and by listening to your deepest intuitions.
Artha means having the material comfort you need to live with ease. Artha focuses more on being content with the things you have and being able to adapt to a world of material objects. Artha is about everything that helps build social security in terms of friendships, love, skills, career, and success. It provides a foundation for Dharma and Kama because without success in a social society it can be difficult to live a moral life.
Kama is about the pleasures we desire, the passion we seek be in any form - music, art, beauty, etc. Passion helps bring inner delight and a purpose to human life. Kama is the joyful aspect of human life which should be handled with thought, care, and enthusiasm. If it becomes excessive and you lose control then it can turn into greed, addiction, and lust. Kama requires complete presence throughout your experience like in any spiritual practice. It has to be a complete sensory experience, from the discovery of the object, research, making an emotional connection, and enjoyment.
Moksa is the ultimate goal, freedom from the cycle of death and reincarnation. Moksa comes from being completely free from human suffering, having self-knowledge and discipline. When the self-knowledge is so perfect it becomes a part of the unconscious like second nature. This liberation comes when one lives a life with inner purity, intelligence and a realization that all souls are the same and none is superior.