Hindu Organization of Long Island

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Human Pursuits

The Human Pursuits (Purusharthas)

Hindu religion recognizes four distinct purusharthas, or legitimate pursuits of human life. These aims should be pursued in balance with each other, for an excess of one or the other will result in harm.

Artha is material success, in all of its forms. Artha is not limited merely to wealth, but also includes prestige, honors, skills and accomplishments.

Kama is pleasure: physical, emotional, intellectual, and any other kind of pleasure that may exist as well.

Dharma means good conduct and correct action. Artha and kama must be pursued within the framework and boundaries of dharma, and dharma includes respecting the legitimacy of artha and kama. One must not act wrongly in order to gain wealth or pleasure. Neither can one be said to be acting rightly if one disrespects one's own wealth and pleasure and that of others.

Moksha means liberation. It is liberation from the constraints of human life and from the other three pursuits, as well as from the cycle of birth and rebirth. This is achieved by gaining the ultimate knowledge that the individual is not separate from Ishvara (god).