Artha is one of the four aims of human life in Indian philosophy. The word artha literally translates as “meaning, sense, goal, purpose or essence” depending on the context.see:
- Sanskrit English Dictionary University of Kloen, Germany (2009)
- Karl Potter (1998), Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, Volume 3, ISBN 81-208-0310-8, Motilal Banarsidass, pp 610 (note 17) Artha is also a broader concept in the scriptures of Hinduism. As a concept, it has multiple meanings, all of which imply “means of life”, activities and resources that enable one to be in a state one wants to be in.
Artha applies to both an individual and a government. In an individual’s context, artha includes wealth, career, activity to make a living, financial security and economic prosperity. The proper pursuit of artha is considered an important aim of human life in Hinduism. At government level, artha includes social, legal, economic and worldly affairs. Proper Arthashastra is considered an important and necessary objective of government.
In Hindu traditions, Artha is connected to the three other aspects and goals of human life - Dharma (virtuous, proper, moral life), Kama (pleasure, sensuality, emotional fulfillment) and Moksha (liberation, release, self-actualization). Together, these mutually non-exclusive four aims of life are called Puruṣārtha.see:
- A. Sharma (1982), The Puruṣārthas: a study in Hindu axiology, Michigan State University, ISBN 9789993624318, pp 9-12; See review by Frank Whaling in Numen, Vol. 31, 1 (Jul., 1984), pp. 140-142;
- A. Sharma (1999), The Puruṣārthas: An Axiological Exploration of Hinduism, The Journal of Religious Ethics, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Summer, 1999), pp. 223-256;
- Chris Bartley (2001), Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy, Editor: Oliver Learman, ISBN 0-415-17281-0, Routledge, Article on Purushartha, pp 443