Yama Yoga Talks About the Purusharthas - The 4 Aims of Life

Purushartha is one of the main key concepts in Hinduism and refers to the four proper goals of human life. This term is constructed from two Sanskrit root words; Purusha, simply meaning human being, and artha, meaning purpose. In combining these two words, Purushartha can be interpreted as the “purpose or objectives of human beings.”

There are four Purusharthas with hierarchical order.

  • Artha = prosperity and economic value
  • Kama = sense pleasures
  • Dharma = morality, and righteousness
  • Moksha = freedom and liberation from the birth-death cycle (samsara) all four of these goals are considered to be important and play off of one another. In Hindu philosophy, they give precedence to dharma over artha and kama, and moksha is viewed above all and is the ultimate goal of a human's life.

These four goals of purushartha are described as the necessary prescription for a fulfilling life. Each one could be sought for its own sake, or as a means of accomplishing the next one...Here they are in order:

Artha - This level incorporates wealth, a career, financial security, and prosperous growth. Having the means and material comfort to live with ease. If you put this into western context it may describe the "hierarchy of needs" as it is much harder to move on the next level without attaining this first one.

Kama - The Kama level incorporates desire and pleasure, enjoyment, love, and intimacy weaved in with music or art. The Hindus express that excessive Kama can lead to a life of overindulgence but the right kind of Kama can help people to fulfill the next level (dharma) with more vigor.

Dharma - The Dharma level incorporates duties, personal conduct, and our virtues. Dharma means "right way of living", and can be thought of as a persons personal purpose in life. You are here for a reason, what is your truth? In Dharma we start the path of action. Our personal conduct may be to help others and in true Dharma form not because we seek any recognition or gain from it. 

Moksha - the ultimate goal of human life is self-realization and the ultimate liberation from the cycle of birth and death or reincarnation. Moksha occurs when an individual has achieved artha, kama, and dharma.


Artha and Kama can be thought of as what we, as humans are likely to try and attain in our natural lives while Dharma and Moksha are greatly considered for spiritual realization. Moksha being the ultimate goal. Moksha can be thought of as something inherent in many practices like Buddhism and Jainism only wearing a different name.

These ideas weave nicely into many Yoga practices.  

Sat Nam ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ
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