(3,226 words)

Artha is a rich and polysemic term in Sanskrit, indicating, variously, “purpose,” “goal,” “meaning,” “thing,” “object,” “wealth,” or “acquisition.” Relevant for the discussion here are last of these meanings, usually treated as a part of the much-celebrated Hindu “axiology” known as the “goals of man” (puruṣārtha; note the usage of artha here as “goal”): gain (artha), pleasure ( kāma ), righteous action ( dharma ), and spiritual liberation (mokṣa). This scheme is not found in the vedic texts, but is introduced in the early ritual and Smṛti literature. A notab…

Cite this page
Daud Ali, “Artha”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Edited by: Knut A. Jacobsen, Helene Basu, Angelika Malinar, Vasudha Narayanan. Consulted online on 20 February 2019 <>
First published online: 2012

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