Purushartha, aka: Puruṣārtha, Purusha-artha; 10 Definition(s)


Purushartha means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, the history of ancient India, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

The Sanskrit term Puruṣārtha can be transliterated into English as Purusartha or Purushartha, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Mīmāṃsā (school of philosophy)

Purushartha in Mimamsa glossary... « previous · [P] · next »

Puruṣārtha (पुरुषार्थ) refers to a primary ethical precept (dharma) which is conducive to personal as well as universal welfare, e.g. “Non-aggression (ahiṃsa) is the highest form of Dharma”.

Source: Srimatham: Mīmāṃsa: The Study of Hindu Exegesis
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Mimamsa (मीमांसा, mīmāṃsā) refers to one of the six orthodox Hindu schools of philosophy, emphasizing the nature of dharma and the philosophy of language. The literature in this school is also known for its in-depth study of ritual actions and social duties.

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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

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Puruṣārtha (पुरुषार्थ).—Four in number;1 realised by the study of viṣṇu purāṇa.2

  • 1) Viṣṇu-purāṇa I. 18. 21.
  • 2) Ib. VI. 8. 3.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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Dharmashastra (religious law)

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Puruṣārtha (पुरुषार्थ) or Puruṣārthacatuṣṭaya (“four ends of life”).—Learners were taught to grow by pursuing the realisation of puruṣārtha-catuṣṭaya (four ends of life), dharma (righteousness), artha (material well-being), kāma (enjoyment), and mokṣa (liberation from worldly ties). Pupils were trained to guide their life in consonance with dharma, the modelling principle for the individual, the family and the society. Dharma required all, including students, to perform their duties towards parents, teachers, people and gods.

Source: Knowledge Traditions & Practices of India: Education: Systems & Practices
Dharmashastra book cover
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Dharmashastra (धर्मशास्त्र, dharmaśāstra) contains the instructions (shastra) regarding religious conduct of livelihood (dharma), ceremonies, jurisprudence (study of law) and more. It is categorized as smriti, an important and authoritative selection of books dealing with the Hindu lifestyle.

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Arthashastra (politics and welfare)

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Puruṣārtha (पुरुषार्थ, “renunciation”) refers to the concept of “four ends of life”.—These four ends of life are the goals which are desirable in them and also needed for fulfilment of human aspirations.

The four puruṣārthas are:

  1. righteousness (dharma);
  2. worldly gain (artha);
  3. fulfilment of desire; (kāma);
  4. liberation (mokṣa).

The fulfilment of all of these four ends of life is important for man. In this classification, dharma and mokṣa are most important from the ethical point of view. They give right direction and purpose to human life. For instance, acquiring wealth (artha) is a desirable objective, provided however it also serves dharma, that is, the welfare of the society.

Source: Knowledge Traditions & Practices of India: Indian Ethics: Individual and Social
Arthashastra book cover
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Arthashastra (अर्थशास्त्र, arthaśāstra) literature concerns itself with the teachings (shastra) of economic prosperity (artha) statecraft, politics and military tactics. The term arthashastra refers to both the name of these scientific teachings, as well as the name of a Sanskrit work included in such literature. This book was written (3rd century BCE) by by Kautilya, who flourished in the 4th century BCE.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

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Purushārtha (पुरुषार्थ): The four chief aims of human life. Arranged from lowest to highest, these goals are: sensual pleasures (kama), worldly status and security (artha), personal righteousness and social morality (dharma), and liberation from the cycle of reincarnation (moksha).

Source: WikiPedia: Hinduism

India history and geogprahy

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Puruṣa-artha.—(IE 7-1-2), ‘four’. Note: puruṣa-artha is defined in the “Indian epigraphical glossary” as it can be found on ancient inscriptions commonly written in Sanskrit, Prakrit or Dravidian languages.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Indian Epigraphical Glossary
India history book cover
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The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as royal dynasties, rulers, tribes, local festivities and traditions and regional languages. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom and encourages the path of Dharma, a concept common to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

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Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

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puruṣārtha (पुरुषार्थ).—m (S) A common term for the four ends or objects of the existence of man; viz. dharma, artha, kāma, mōkṣa The acquisition of merit by pious and virtuous acts; the pursuit of fame, riches, or power; the enjoyment of the pleasures of sense; and the seeking and working out of final emancipation. 2 (Poetically and popularly.) Prowess, puissance, martial daring.

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

puruṣārtha (पुरुषार्थ).—m The end and aim of human existence. Prowess, martial daring.

Source: DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
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Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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Sanskrit-English dictionary

Purushartha in Sanskrit glossary... « previous · [P] · next »

Puruṣārtha (पुरुषार्थ).—

1) any one of the four principal objects of human life; i. e. धर्म अर्थ, काम (dharma artha, kāma) and मोक्ष (mokṣa).

2) human effort or exertion (puruṣakāra); धर्मार्थकाममोक्षाश्च पुरुषार्था उदाहृताः (dharmārthakāmamokṣāśca puruṣārthā udāhṛtāḥ) Agni P.; H. Pr.35.

3) something which when done results in the satisfaction of the performer; यस्मिन् कृते पदार्थे पुरुषस्य प्रीतिर्भवति स पुरुषार्थः पदार्थः (yasmin kṛte padārthe puruṣasya prītirbhavati sa puruṣārthaḥ padārthaḥ) ŚB. on MS.4.1.2.

Derivable forms: puruṣārthaḥ (पुरुषार्थः).

Puruṣārtha is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms puruṣa and artha (अर्थ). See also (synonyms): puruṣāyaṇa.

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Puruṣārtha (पुरुषार्थ).—m.

(-rthaḥ) A human object: as the gratification of desire, acquirement of wealth, discharge of duty, and final emancipation. n.

(-rthaṃ) Adv. For, or on account of man. E. puruṣa, and artha object.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Shabda-Sagara Sanskrit-English Dictionary
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Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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Relevant definitions

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Mahāpuruṣa (महापुरुष).—m. (-ṣaḥ) A great man. E. mahā and puruṣa a man.
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