Hinduism Puruṣārthas
by
Greg Bailey
  • LAST REVIEWED: 24 September 2014
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 January 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399318-0044

Introduction

Puruṣārtha (meaning “goal of a man” or “aim of a person”) is a term normally used in the plural to define three spheres of activity that encapsulate most areas of cultural activity. They are treated as options to which particular individuals can give weightings according to how they might wish to lead their life, either at specific times or throughout their life—or as in the case of the Pandavas (Mahābhārata 12, 10–18), use them to justify particular activities. As a plurality they are combined into a group called either trivarga (having three parts) or caturvarga (having four parts), and each can be broken down into their individual components: kāma (sensuality/desire), artha (wealth/power) and dharma (normative order/merit), with mokṣa (liberation) being added as a fourth in an all-encompassing scheme called caturvarga (having four parts). These translations can be problematic, as each of the individual words can be translated differently according to context. What I have suggested is a set of translations defining a kind of family resemblance underlying most of the meanings of these words. But the reality is that each word carries much weight in the Hindu context. Much more scholarly work has been done on individual components of the trivarga/caturvarga than on the respective conglomerates. In part this is because each of them developed as individual concepts, producing a large body of descriptive literature after 100 CE. Very little explicit literature in Sanskrit on the trivarga as a collective exists, and what does exist has been scarcely studied or even edited.

General Overviews

In a foundational article Halbfass 1994 bemoans the fact that while the puruṣārthas are frequently mentioned in literature, there are scarcely any comprehensive conceptual studies of them nor of their role in Indian tradition. There have been few overviews of the puruṣārthas. Rao 1970 is one such overview. Like Sharma 1982 it is philosophical and does not take into account the historical development of the doctrine of the puruṣārthas as a collective. Sharma 1982 is interested more in the treatment of the puruṣārtha as idea in later Indian thought. Biardeau 2002 analyzes classical Hindu thought as a set of doctrines through the puruṣārthas. The four chapters dealing with the individual components of the caturvarga are masterly treatments in Mittal and Thursby 2004, but the mastery is of the historical and thematic treatments of the individual components rather than the groups in which they can be found in literature. Davis 2004 argues that the puruṣārthas are Indic in general, not just Hindu, and Banerjee 2008 and Doniger 2009 are general summaries of the doctrine.

  • Banerjee, S. C. “Puruṣārtha.” In History of Science, Philosophy, and Culture in Indian Civilization. Vol. 3, Part 5, Philosophical Concepts Relevant to Sciences in Indian Tradition. Edited by D. P. Chattopadhyaya, 301–337. Centre for Studies in Civilizations: New Delhi, 2008.

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    A general survey of the four components. Traces them briefly through a range of texts beginning with the Mahābhārata. Focuses more on the individual components than on the three or four as a group.

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    • Biardeau, Madeleine. Hinduism: Anthropology of a Civilization. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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      Classifies Hinduism in terms of the four puruṣārthas. Found in chapter 2 is an elegant essay focusing on the interaction between the four. It begins with dharma as encompassing the others and then contextualizes the other three in relation to the particular social roles associated with women, the king, and Brahmins.

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      • Davis, Donald R., Jr. “Being Hindu or Being Human: A Reappraisal of the Puruṣārthas.” International Journal of Hindu Studies 8.1–3 (2004): 1–27.

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        Excellent article summarizing most of the previous scholarship. Argues that the puruṣārthas provide a description of, and prescription for, human aims from an Indic perspective, not just a Hindu perspective—as they also occur in Buddhist and Jain literature. The beginning point for all scholarly work on the puruṣārthas.

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        • Doniger, Wendy. The Hindus: An Alternative History. New York: Penguin, 2009.

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          Runs through the trivarga as it is defined in the Mahābhārata, Manusmrti, the Arthaśāstra, and the Kāmasūtra. Tends to focus on the interrelation between the four component parts and the hierarchical difference between them, as this is explained in alternative ways in texts dealing individually with each of the three components.

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          • Halbfass, W. “Menschsein und Lebensziele: Beobachtungen zu den puruṣārthas.” In Hermeneutics of Encounter: Essays in Honour of Gerhard Oberhammer on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday. Edited by Francis X. D’Sa and Roque Mesquita, 123–135. Publications of the De Nobili Research Library 20. Vienna: Sammlung de Nobili, 1994.

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            An important article providing an introduction to the meaning of each of the components in the caturvarga and a brief evaluation of their historical development. Also exposits the oft-repeated view that the presence of the aims of life, insofar as they give the possibility of reasoned choice, is a fundamental feature distinguishing humans as a species from animals.

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            • Mittal, Sushil, and Gene Thursby, eds. The Hindu World. New York and London: Routledge, 2004.

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              Chapters 10–13 deal sequentially with each component of the caturvarga, mainly focusing on the meaning and development of the individual component in Sanskrit literature.

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              • Rao, P. Nagaraja. The Four Values in Indian Philosophy and Culture: A Study of the Puruṣārthas. Mysore, India: University of Mysore, 1970.

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                A general study from the perspective of delineation of fundamental values. Illustrates the tendency among certain Indian philosophies to build up a Hindu philosophy of culture on the basis of the puruṣārthas.

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                • Sharma, Arvind. The Puruṣārthas: A Study in Hindu Axiology. East Lansing: Asian Studies Centre, Michigan State University, 1982.

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                  Essentially a useful annotated bibliography. Consistently attempts to assert the importance of the puruṣārthas as a normative foundation for contemporary Hindu culture.

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                  Bibliographies

                  There may not be any extant bibliographies of works dealing with the puruṣārtha concept. Sternbach 1973 is a bibliography of two of its components, dharma and artha. Other bibliographical material can be found in Stietencron, et al. 1992.

                  • Sternbach, Ludwig. Bibliography on Dharma and Artha in Ancient and Medieval India. Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz, 1973.

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                    Contains a full listing of books and articles in many languages and includes a section on the trivarga.

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                    • Stietencron, Heinrich von, et al. Epic and Puranic Bibliography, (up to 1985). 2 vols. Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz, 1992.

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                      Consult the index for this volume, as it supplements Sternbach 1973 by including works published after 1972. Has entries under each of the components of the caturvarga as well the trivarga.

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                      Translations of Puruṣārtha and Its Components

                      Few scholars have devoted much effort to analyzing the translation of this word, which is a possessive compound meaning “aim of man, aim for man,” although Malamoud 1981 notes that one school of Hindu philosophy takes it to mean “that which is aimed at man.” Contrary to all these, Potter 1963 argues that the individual components can refer only to “orientations,” and that in no sense, except for mokṣa, can they be taken as “states.” Koller 1968 criticizes Potter 1963 for assuming that Hindus believe the puruṣārthas are human states. Davis 2004 suggests that they can be better understood as “the principal categories or spheres of human activities” (p.3) that occur in most advanced societies. Krishna 1991 argues that the puruṣārthas should be regarded only as that which can be realized by human effort. Looking at the trivarga from the perspective of the effect of one of its individual components on the other two Das 1981 develops the sense of kāma as it is found in Kalidāsa’s reinterpretation of the Rāmāyana and conclusively shows that it is more semantically complex than simply meaning “desire.” Das shows how the sense of kama can relate to dharma, though not to artha. Davis 1986 criticizes the ahistorical thrust of Das and other articles utilizing structuralist approaches, and Davis 2004 argues for seeing the puruṣārthas as the role of a modern classificatory system.

                      • Das, Veena. “Kāma in the Scheme of Puruṣārthas: The Story of Rāma.” Contributions to Indian Sociology 15.1–2 (1981): 183–203.

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                        Rich study of how different modes of kāma are reprised narratively in the figures of some of the principal male and female figures in different versions of the Rāmāyaṇa. Illustrates how the theme operates syntagmatically across a single text.

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                        • Davis, Donald R., Jr. “Being Hindu or Being Human: A Reappraisal of the Puruṣārthas.” International Journal of Hindu Studies 8.1–3 (2004): 1–27.

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                          Based on all the previous secondary sources and a careful reading of a large range of primary sources, argues that the puruṣārthas should be seen in a similar manner to modern classificatory values. As such they can be regarded as more than fundamental values defining Hinduism as opposed to other religiocultural systems.

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                          • Davis, Richard. “Way of Life.” Contributions to Indian Sociology 20.1 (1986): 135–148.

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                            A review article of the volume containing Malamoud 1981, Das 1981, and Shah 1981 (cited under Individual Components and Their Incorporation. Argues that the puruṣārthas need to be analyzed in their specific historical/textual context, not just theoretically in terms of the interplay of a finite set of binary oppositions.

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                            • Koller, John M. “Puruṣārthas as Human Aims.” Philosophy East and West 18.4 (1968): 315–319.

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                              Criticizes Potter who, he argues, assumes that Indians have taken the puruṣārthas as states, instead of aims or goals of life. Argues that dharma is fundamental to the pursuit of the other three goals because it is primarily regulatory, ensuring that the other three goals can be reached “with a minimum of undesirable consequences” (p. 318).

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                              • Krishna, Daya. “The Myth of the Puruṣārthas.” In Indian Philosophy. A Counter Perspective. Edited by Daya Krishna, 189–205. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1991.

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                                An article critical of the realistic nature of the puruṣārthas as defining possibilities for human effort. Points out that mokṣa is beyond the three guṇas, which pervade the life choices associated with the other three goals, and that there is a potential contradiction here.

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                                • Malamoud, Charles. “On the Rhetoric and Semantics of Puruṣārtha.” Contributions to Indian Sociology 15.1–2 (1981): 33–54.

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                                  A classic article studying the different groupings of the tri/caturvarga and the method used in Sanskrit commentarial literature of using one of the puruṣārthas to explain the meaning of the others through its hermeneutical predominance over the rest, although the trivarga itself is always considered superior to its individual parts.

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                                  • Potter, Karl H. Presuppositions of India’s Philosophies. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1963.

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                                    Pages 1–25 give a general treatment of the puruṣārthas understood as a concept underlying later Indian philosophical developments. Asserts the view that the four different arthas are “capacities for taking things in a certain way” (p. 10). Rejects the idea that the four goals could in any sense be understood as states that humans could be in.

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                                    Individual Components and Their Incorporation

                                    Each of the individual components of the tri/caturvarga has produced many studies, too many to enumerate here, some of which are treated elsewhere in this bibliographical resource. Listed here are only a few studies that distinguish themselves by studying the individual artha in the broader context of the tri/caturvarga. Wilhelm 1978 pioneers the approach of analyzing one artha in literature associated with the other two arthas. Shah 1981 is a detailed study of artha in its preeminent text, the Arthaśāstra. Holdrege 2004 is a useful overview of dharma as it occurs in a selection of texts, alluding briefly to the role of dharma as encompassing kāma and artha, while standing in contrast to mokṣa, and the inconsistencies that can arise from this. Scharfe 2004 is not only a learned study of artha as it appears in a limited number of texts but also focuses on the problem of artha giving its name to the general term of puruṣārtha and raises yet again the problem of the hierarchical status of the components of the trivarga. Killingley 2004 studies kāma mainly as a concept in its own right, but the book also includes a few pages on the position of kāma in the trivarga—citing especially the Mahābhārata and the Kāmasūtra.

                                    • Holdredge, Barbara. “Dharma.” In The Hindu World. Edited by Sushil Mittal and Gene Thursby, 213–248. Routledge: New York and London, 2004.

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                                      A concise survey of dharma across a number of textual traditions. Looks briefly at the conflict between the trivarga and mokṣa within the more general framework of dharma and mokṣa, the one representing worldly goals, the other a nonworldly goal.

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                                      • Killingley, Dermot. “Kāma.” In The Hindu World. Edited by Sushil Mittal and Gene Thursby, 264–287. Routledge: New York and London, 2004.

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                                        Essentially about kāma as concept, god, and theme in Hindu culture. But does treat (pp. 267–269) the position of kāma in the trivarga. Cites passages in the Mahābhārata where kāma is given precedence over the other two, and, surprisingly, in the Kāmasūtra where artha is given precedence.

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                                        • Scharfe, Hartmut. “Artha.” In The Hindu World. Edited by Sushil Mittal and Gene Thursby, 249–263. Routledge: New York and London, 2004.

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                                          Certainly one of the best treatments of the caturvarga available, building on the other secondary sources cited here. Ostensibly about artha, it covers the problem of the conceptualization of the caturvarga from the perspective of each of their four terms. Provides an excellent brief summary of previous scholarship on the puruṣārthas (pp. 255–259).

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                                          • Shah, K. J. “Of Artha and the Arthaśāstra.” Contributions to Indian Sociology 15.1–2 (1981): 55–73.

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                                            Primarily devoted to a study of artha in the Arthaśāstra. Makes one important point, however, arguing that the four goals “constitute one single goal, though in the lives of individuals the elements may get varying emphasis for various reasons” (p. 59).

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                                            • Wilhelm, F. “The Concept of Dharma in Artha and Kāma Literature.” In The Concept of Duty in South Asia. Edited by Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty and J. Duncan M. Derrett, 66–79. Columbia, MO: South Asia Books, 1978.

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                                              Explores how dharma interacts with artha and kāma in texts belonging to the traditions associated with those two names. Shows that the Kāmasūtra and its commentaries take the interrelation among the trivarga’s three parts more seriously than the Arthaśāstra does.

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                                              Historical Development of the Concept

                                              While the words dharma, artha, and kāma are found in the earliest Sanskrit literature, a trivarga as such seems only to have been noted in some grammatical literature dating to about 150 BCE and some slightly earlier ritual texts. The caturvarga is certainly conceptually later, its earliest occurrence being in Mahābhārata 1, 56, 33 and 12, 59, 30 where the four components are mentioned as a group. Texts dealing with the individual components of the trivarga probably existed by the beginning of the 1st century BCE but it was up to epic traditions such as the Mahābhārata to investigate the interrelations between the three or four, which a priori could be seen as contradicting each other.

                                              The Mahābhārata

                                              At the end of the long summary of its contents in Book 1.56 where in Verse 33 it declares “Whatever is here, on Law, on Profit, on Pleasure, and on Salvation, that is found elsewhere. But what is not here is nowhere else.” Yet earlier in Verse 16 it speaks only of dharma and artha, omitting kāma, though perhaps implying mokṣa. This sets the scene for a debate about the preeminence of the individual components, which extends throughout the text and in many others. Fitzgerald 1991 notes that the 7th-century intellectual Kumārila regarded the Mahābhārata and the Purāṇas as having as their ultimate aim the exposition of the four puruṣārthas. Krishan 1989 is a general introduction to their treatment in the Mahābhārata. Surprisingly, there exists no study tracing the debates about the tri/caturvarga as they occur sequentially throughout the Mahābhārata. However, the subtlety of the interaction between the three comes out especially in this text, where two out of the three are often connected with the one left out. Often kāma is omitted in the Mahābhārata as if the ambit of the text is moving toward an ascetic position away from a more worldly outlook. Moreover, the hierarchical relationship between the three or four is already implied in this large work, although it becomes more explicitly tested in the individual works associated with each of the three components of the trivarga, leaving mokṣa aside.

                                              • Fitzgerald, James L. “India’s Fifth Veda: The Mahābhārata’s Presentation of Itself.” In Essays on the Mahābhārata. Edited by Arvind Sharma, 150–170. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1991.

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                                                An important essay about the contents and structure of the Mahābhārata. Deals briefly with the role of the puruṣārtha in the Mahābhārata, and points out that other Hindu intellectuals considered it and the Rāmāyaṇa to be substantially focused on this concept and its individual parts.

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                                                • Krishan, Y. “The Meaning of the Puruṣārthas in the Mahābhārata.” In Moral Dilemmas in the Mahābhārata. Edited by B. K. Matilal, 53–68. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1989.

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                                                  Defines each of the terms individually as they occur in the Mahābhārata and correlates them with the four stages of life.

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                                                  The Śāntiparvan

                                                  The famous twelfth book of the Mahābhārata, the Śāntiparvan, contains some important debates about the trivarga. The famous passage in the Mahābhārata at Book 12, chapter 161, which contains a debate between the Paṇḍavas and Vidura about the preeminence of three components of the trivarga has been mentioned by many scholars and is translated in Fitzgerald 2004. Woods 2001 compares the puruṇārthas here with another dyadic classificatory system, and Bowles 2007 gives the most extensive analysis of this passage, which needs also to be read in conjunction with Mahābhārata Book 12, chapters 10–20, in which there is a debate about the preeminence of dharma and artha.

                                                  • Bowles, Adam. “The Song in Six Parts.” In Disorder and the Political in Ancient India: The Āpaddharmaparvan of the Mahābhārata. By Adam Bowles, 382–391. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 2007.

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                                                    The best analysis of Mahābhārata Book 12, chapter 161 yet published. Analyzes the debate about the components of the trivarga within the context of the broader debate about the practice of dharma in times of distress.

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                                                    • Fitzgerald, James L. The Mahābhārata: Vol. 7, 11. The Book of the Women, 12. The Book of Peace, Part One. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.

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                                                      See pp.187–205 for a translation of Book 12, chapters 10–20 and pp. 587–590 for a translation of Book 12, chapter 161. Both are accompanied by exemplary notes.

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                                                      • Woods, Julian F. Destiny and Human Initiative in the Mahābhārata. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001.

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                                                        A good paraphrase (pp. 67–68) of Book 12, chapter 161, and advances a correspondence between the trivarga and pravṛttidharma (or, “engagement with the social world”) and mokṣa and nivṛrttidharma (or, “disengagement from the social world”).

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                                                        Śāstric Texts

                                                        In addition to the Mahābhārata, some scholars have also argued that the Rāmāyaṇa also exemplifies the puruṇārthas in its narratives, but it has not been studied comprehensively from this perspective. Three other early sources can also be cited that in dealing with individual components of the puruṇārthas, also contain passages questioning the hierarchy of the individual components in relation to each other, in the manner already anticipated in Book 12, chapter 161. Kangle 1963, Doniger and Kakar 2003 and Olivelle 2005 are good translations of texts dealing with artha, kāma, and dharma, respectively. Raghavan and Dandekar 1988 give extracts from the same texts. Davis 2004 studies some of the relevant passages from the Arthaśāstra, Manusmṛti and the Kāmasūtra.

                                                        • Davis, Donald R., Jr. “Being Hindu or Being Human: A Reappraisal of the Puruṣārthas.” International Journal of Hindu Studies 8.1–3 (2004): 1–27.

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                                                          Discusses some of the passages from these texts dealing with the trivarga, noting that their level of analysis is restricted to determining hierarchical supremacy but that it does not go beyond this.

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                                                          • Doniger, Wendy, and Sudhir Kakar. Kāmasūtra. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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                                                            A recent translation of the Kāmasutra, a text that exposits kāma in a theoretical and practical sense.

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                                                            • Kangle, R. P. The Kautilya Arthśāstra, Part 2 of 3: An English Translation with Critical and Explanatory Notes. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1963.

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                                                              The best translation of the Arthaśāstra, the preeminent text dealing with artha.

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                                                              • Olivelle, Patrick. Manu’s Code of Law: A Critical Edition and Translation of the Mānava-Dharmaśāstra. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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                                                                Exemplary translation of the Manusmṛti, an early systematization of theories of dharma and its practical application.

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                                                                • Raghavan, V., and R. N. Dandekar. “Part I: The Hindu Way of Life.” In Sources of lndian Tradition: From the Beginning to 1800. Vol. 1. Edited by Ainslie T. Embree, 201–378. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988.

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                                                                  Contains translations of texts from the abovementioned texts and the Bhagavadgītā illustrating the four components of the caturvarga, with brief introductions dealing with each component. Originally published 1958.

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                                                                  Kālidāsa

                                                                  Later Sanskrit texts dating from after 400 CE that devote themselves to the exposition of the tri/caturvarga can be divided into two groups: those that collect passages, mainly from the Purānas dealing with the four components and build narratives around these, and those collections of poetry that specifically comment upon each of the components of the caturvarga in poetic compositions. The Purānas are full of individual references to the tri/caturvarga, and some of them (for example, Skanda Purāna Book 1, section 1, chapter 21, verses 92–94 extolling kāma) praise one over the other two, though mokṣa is always treated separately. No study of the puruṣārthas in the Purānas exists. The second body of literature Kāvya is sophisticated texts composed in poetry and prose or a mixture of both, many of which rework stories or themes found in the two Sanskrit epics. Two of India’s most famous kāvya composers, Kālidāsa and Bhartrhari, are responsible for texts in which the puruṣārthas are explored, and many examples of their practical applications are given. Das 1981 studies kāma in the Rāma narrative using Kalidāsa’s Raghuvamsa as her principal source, and Srinivasa Rao 1989 extends the study of the puruṣārthas to Kālidāsa’s other works.

                                                                  • Das, Veena. “Kāma in the Scheme of Puruṣārthas: The Story of Rāma.” Contributions to Indian Sociology 15.1–2 (1981): 183–203.

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                                                                    Substantially based on the Raghuvamsa, shows how kāma becomes a dangerous force when used outside of a dharmic context but that it is auspicious and necessary when restrained by dharma.

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                                                                    • Srinivasa Rao, Ivaturi. Puruṣārthas in the Works of Kālidāsa. Allahabad, India: Vohra, 1989.

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                                                                      A rather decontextualized catalogue of the occurrences of dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa in Kālidāsa’s writings, followed by individual essays on Kālidāsa’s visions of each of these. Collects material rather than being analytical.

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                                                                      Bhartṛhari and Gnomic Poetry

                                                                      The only extant work of the poet Bhartṛhari is the Śatakatrayam, consisting of three sets of one hundred poems roughly dealing with artha, kāma, dharma, and mokṣa. The brilliance of this work derives from each of the components being used to deconstruct the others, leading to a strongly skeptical tone about their validity as lifestyle guides. Barbara Stoler Miller discusses Bhartrhari’s treatment of the puruṣārthas in the introduction to her translation (Miller 1967), and Bailey 1991–1992 introduces the poet’s deconstructive techniques. There are some near equivalents of these texts in Tamil, the most famous of which is the Tirukkural of Tiruvalluvar. Zvelebil 1974 gives a summary of these.

                                                                      • Bailey, Greg. “On The Concept of the Ephemeral in Bhartṛhari’s Śatakatrayam.” Indologica Taurinensia 17–18 (1991–1992): 11–34.

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                                                                        Deconstructs Bhartṛhari’s use of the categories and has a separate section on the function of the poems dealing with nīti.

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                                                                        • Miller, Barbara Stoler, trans. Bhartrihari: Poems. New York: Columbia University Press, 1967.

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                                                                          A translation of about two hundred of the poems divided into three sections corresponding to artha (= nīti or “shrewd conduct”), kāma, and dharma/mokṣa.

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                                                                          • Zvelebil, Kamil V. Tamil Literature. Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz, 1974.

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                                                                            On pp. 55–169 there is a fine summary of the Tirukkural, a text that deals with dharma, artha and kāma (but not mokṣa) from a Jain perspective. Argues that this text is intended to be worldly rather than spiritual.

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                                                                            Medieval Texts

                                                                            There are a few large collections in Sanskrit composed after 1200 CE, at a time when Hindu intellectuals were preoccupied with reconfiguring theoretical perceptions of Hinduism on the basis of earlier texts, especially the Purāṇas. These have been edited in Chandrasekharan 1955 and Śiromaṇi, et al. 1873–1911, but they remain untranslated and unstudied. Although they are derivative in content, their importance lies in the evidence they give of the continuing importance of the puruṣārthas in the thought of some Hindu intellectuals.

                                                                            • Chandrasekharan, T., ed. Puruṣārthasudhānidhih, by Sri Sayanācarya. Madras: Government of Madras, 1955.

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                                                                              A collection of material drawn from earlier sources, mainly Purāṇas. Contents summarized in Davis 2004 (cited under General Overviews).

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                                                                              • Śiromaṇi, Bharata Candra, Yogeśvara Bhaṭṭācārya, Kāmākhyānātha Tarkaratna, Yajñeśvara Smṛtiratna, and Pramathanātha Tarkabhūṣaṇa, eds. Hemādri, Caturvargacintāmaṇi. Calcutta: Bibliotheca Indica, 1873–1911.

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                                                                                A classic work of compilation with many relevant passages drawn from the Purāṇas.

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                                                                                Philosophical Interpretations of the Puruṣārtha

                                                                                A number of articles have been published that analyze the structure of the puruṣārthas from a logical perspective, attempting to explore the extent to which, if they can be regarded as the foundational values of Hindu culture, what philosophical implications would derive from this. Most of the recent studies build upon Hiriyanna 1952 and are theoretical/analytical rather than textual in orientation. Balasubrahmania 1969, Sharma 1986, and Sharma 1999 are such studies, as is Krishna 1991 and Davis 2004 criticize the apologetic tone of Balasubrahmania Iyer 1969 and Sharma 1986. Prasad 1981 is probably the most sophisticated of the philosophical articles, questioning not only the adequacy of the puruṣārthas in providing a total “socio-functional” theory of human values but also the adequacy of including mokṣa within the total framework. Sharma 1986 diverges from all the others in arguing that the puruṣārthas must be understood in relation to the general concept of puruṣa. Sundarajan 1980 is unique in interpreting the puruṣārthas in the light of Habermas’s critical theory.

                                                                                • Balasubrahmania Iyer, K. Hindu Ideals. Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1969.

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                                                                                  Follows on from Hiriyanna but essentially advances similar arguments augmented by many supporting quotations drawn from Sanskrit and Tamil literature. Apologetic in tone and implies that the puruṣārthas constitute the foundation of a Hindu lifestyle.

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                                                                                  • Davis, Donald R., Jr. “Being Hindu or Being Human: A Reappraisal of the Puruṣārthas.” International Journal of Hindu Studies 8.1–3 (2004): 1–27.

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                                                                                    Criticizes Sharma 1999 and Hiriyanna 1952 in arguing for an inclusive Hindu understanding of the puruṣārthas, when they are really just a broad classificatory scheme.

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                                                                                    • Hiriyanna, Mysore. Popular Essays in Indian Philosophy. Mysore, India: Kavyalaya, 1952.

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                                                                                      Chapter 9 deals with the puruṣārthas as defining values and classifies the puruṣārthas in terms of “instrumental” or “intrinsic” value, where the latter is ultimately more valuable than the former. Foundational for later Hindu writers wishing to develop the puruṣārthas as the value basis for defining a particular Hindu life.

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                                                                                      • Krishna, Daya. “The Myth of the Puruṣārthas.” In Indian Philosophy: A Counter Perspective. Edited by Daya Krishna, 189–205. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1991.

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                                                                                        Takes up the question of whether the four puruṣārthas represent a total view of life and asks whether they are descriptive or prescriptive. Responds negatively. Discusses the individual terms of the caturvarga and brings out the conceptual difficulties in comprehending each in relation to the other and how each could conceivably contradict the others.

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                                                                                        • Prasad, R. “The Theory of Puruṣārtha: Revaluation and Reconstruction.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 9 (1981): 49–76.

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                                                                                          Important article that employs considerable subtlety and logic in arguing for the essential social nature of the trivarga and the artificiality of mokṣa in relation to it. Sees the trivarga as forming a wholly cohesive unit and argues that mokṣa could upset this cohesion unless considered part of kāma.

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                                                                                          • Sharma, Arvind. “The Puruṣārthas: An Axiological Exploration of Hinduism.” Journal of Religious Ethics 27.2 (1999): 223–256.

                                                                                            DOI: 10.1111/0384-9694.00016Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            Expressing an apologetic tone, this article implicitly criticizes Krishna 1991 by arguing that the puruṣārthas have an individualistic and social dimension, both conducive to the attainment of mokṣa. Good in summarizing the earlier views of Hiriyanna 1952 and Balasubrahmaniam Iyer 1969.

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                                                                                            • Sharma, K. N. “The Puruṣārtha in Traditional Texts.” Contributions to Indian Sociology 20.2 (1986): 279–287.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1177/006996686020002007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              Following Davis 1986 (cited under Translations of Puruṣārtha and Its Components), makes another plea for a distinction to be drawn between treating the puruṣārthas as a set of ahistorical normative values and their empirical normativeness anchored in particular historical contexts. Argues that the puruṣārtha cannot properly be understood without a full appreciation of the puruṣa concept and that the whole notion of puruṣārtha reflects an ahistorical normative order.

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                                                                                              • Sundarajan, R. “The Puruṣārthas in the Light of Critical Theory.” Indian Philosophical Quarterly 7.3 (1980): 339–350.

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                                                                                                Sees the puruṣārthas as goals to be striven after and as authoritative frames for lifestyles. Sees kāma, artha and dharma and mokṣa as grounding “the aesthetic, the technical, the moral communicational and the emancipating interest of reason” (p. 344).

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