Four pursuits of life – Purushartha Chatushtaya

By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S

Man lives for a stipulated and destined lifespan. He dies and leaves this world after completing his lifespan.


In between life and death, man needs to live a meaningful life, immaterial of the length of his life. He is destined to perform some duties, earn goodness in all aspects of life, wish certain things happen and some not and live life in an ethical, moral and good way. If the proverb ‘you reap what you sow’ is true, we get good fruits of whatever good we do in a lifetime. The converse is also true. This is possible if we have clear cut objectives to fulfil. Read – Sadvritta In Ayurveda – Code Of Conduct For Healthy Life

All that you wish to have or have in an ethical way, all good deeds you do, all bad things you avoid doing and all goodness you earn in a given lifetime will sum up into your account. Your life will be like living on a bed of roses.

But is it easy to live a perfect life? May be not!!

But to wish for such a life is everyone’s choice. In fact, the ancient treatises of India, including Ayurveda which is a health science, advocates one to wish and practice these deeds. It is also said that when one chooses to travel the right path of life, he will be liberated from all sufferings. Read – Achara Rasayana – Behavioral Therapy For Calm Mind And Long Life

Being liberated may be a resultant of all good deeds, but it should also be a choice.

Choice of doing good deeds, earning things and values in a moral way and wishing for good things to happen so as to make living life easy and pleasurable along with choice of wanting to be liberated from grief, from this eternal world and to obtain salvation put together are called purusharthas.

These should be one’s goals in his or her life.

If artha translates to wealth or objects, these four are the best virtues we earn in a lifetime which are beyond any rich and priceless treasure that one can earn. Read – Artha – Pursuit For Ethical Earning, Money, Wealth

Four life objectives

Four objectives of life Chaturvidha Purushartha:

Purushartha is a Sanskrit word and is made up of two terms.

Purushartha means –

  • Purpose of human life
  • Objectives of human life

Chatushtaya – means ‘a group of four’. This denotes that the goals of one’s life are four in number.

The ancient Hindu scriptures and philosophies, including Upanishads and Ayurveda has enlisted 4 objects of desire which needs to be followed by everyone who is a part of this creation. They are –

  • Dharma – moral way of living
  • Artha – ethical earning
  • Kama – desires and wishes made in an ethical away, sexual desires
  • Moksha – Salvation

As per Ashtanga Hrudayam Sutrasthana 1st chapter,
आयुःकामयमानेन धर्मार्थसुखसाधनम् ।
आयुर्वेदोपदेशेषु विधेयः परमादरः॥२॥
āyuḥkāmayamānena dharmārthasukhasādhanam |
āyurvedopadeśeṣu vidheyaḥ paramādaraḥ||2||

To achieve the purpose of life, that is
1. Dharma – following the path of righteousness,
2. Artha – earning money in a legal way,
3. Kama – fulfilling our desires,
4. Moksha – achieving salvation,
one should concentrate on having a long life. To learn the science of Ayurveda, which explains how to achieve this purpose, ‘obedience’ (Vidheya) is the most important quality.

We need to observe that all these four objectives of life have collective importance and are interrelated achievements, though the importance of individual entities cannot be ruled out.
Read – Money, Ayurveda, Spirituality – How To Strike Perfect Balance?

Ayurveda relation

Ayurveda and four objectives of life

Ayurveda is a health science, the oldest school to be precise. Ayurveda has advocated and preached preventive measures to keep the diseases away as much as it has elaborated the time tested remedies for the cure of many diseases afflicting the mankind.

The two primary goals of Ayurveda is –

‘Health is wealth’ says a modern proverb.

Ayurveda tells that ‘If one has to achieve the objectives of his life, he has to live long and healthy. Longevity of life is the tool to achieve objectives of life i.e. righteousness (dharma), wealth (artha) and happiness (kama). Person desirous of such longevity of life and good health should duly respect and follow the teachings of Ayurveda’. Read – Ayurvedic Definition Of Health – WHO vs Ayurveda

Thus – Ayurveda helps one to be healthy and enjoy longevity of life. Longevity of one’s life in turn helps in achieving the prime goals of his life and makes it meaningful.

The converse also can be taken to be true. One who ardently follows the four objectives of life would enjoy a respectable life span and a meaningful liberation from vicious cycle of life and death.

This shows that Ayurveda too has emphasized on the importance of the four goals of life.
Read – Ayurvedic Preventive Healthcare: Swastha Urjaskara Chikitsa

Relationship between the four objectives of life All four objectives are interrelated. Following righteousness, having materialistic wealth and earning it in most ethical way and desiring things and entities being within the framework of rules and regulations of creation and within one’s limitations are the objectives which are under our control. We can definitely achieve these objectives by working out our life in ethical way. Liberation is the resultant of fulfilling these objectives. Thus all these entities have cause and effect relationship with each other, the first three objectives can be considered as causes which lead to liberation.
Read – Dharma – To Follow The Right Of Life

Among the four objectives, one should aim to follow righteousness, gain wealth and desires and wish to get liberated. Moksha (liberation) can be obtained by only that person who has achieved the first three objectives in a noble way. But one should also aim liberation, which forms the forth objective. Only when he aims to get liberated he will give his best to achieve the other three objectives in a ethical way. Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu) – Email / Skype

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