Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha are considered as the four goals of life according to Hinduism.

One might argue that Moksha is the highest amongst all four.

In the remaining three - Dharma, Artha and Kama - which is higher? Or, is it even valid to compare them?

Also, if Kama (fulfillment of desires) is considered one of the goals, why are texts like Kamasutra frowned upon as exemplified in this question.

When Artha and Kama are part of the Hindu religion as goals, should texts written on them not be considered as religious texts?

  • First of all Kama is not always sexual lust. Kama is desire but used as sexual lust in modern days. Kama and Ardha if go in accordance with DHARMA, they are good. That's the reason we say DHARMA, Ardha, Kama and Mokshya. Dharma is righteous duty. Second, Kamasutra is not a religious book and Vatsayana was not Vyasa to revere him or his work. He wrote his fantasies in a book and in 19th century, westerners (actually people of US and Europe have predominantly RAJAS and Kama falls under Rajas) got attracted to it. So, it became famous.
    – The Destroyer
    May 30, 2016 at 13:13
  • @TheDestroyer Agreed, as you say Kama and Artha (in accordance with Dharma) can be used as tools to attain Moksha. How do you know that Vatsayana was not using Kama as a tool to attain Moksha. Why do you say he was 'fantasizing' - have you read his text? Similarly, why can't Arthashastra be used to attain Moksha? May 30, 2016 at 13:19
  • I read few slokas but didn't find them useful in spirituality. So, didn't read completely. A person who read Kamasutra in Sanskrit (not in English) may answer you clearly. You didn't get my point. Anything in accordance with Dharma mentioned in scriptures is fine. How can a person who reads or follows Ardhasastra can get moksha? Do Ardhasastra remove desires of a person? I think Ardha and Kama with proper Dharma will get you moksha. Dharma is to fulfill your worldly duties righteously and you can have dharmic Ardha and Kama.
    – The Destroyer
    May 30, 2016 at 13:28
  • A good question indeed. My answer hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/7839/70 might shed some light. Jul 1, 2016 at 5:24

2 Answers 2


What every little I have learnt from great scholars I am sharing here.

As " D " mentioned -out of four "Purushardhas" Dharma is the pivot and one should adopt "Dharmic Kama" and "Dharmic Artha" and the fourth one will automatically come to you that is " Moksha".

Example :

you take a long stick - measure it into "1/3 of it's length" and start cutting into first / second / third. When you cut the 3rd piece you will end up with 4th piece as well. That means if you follow Dharma / Artha / kama as explained above you will get the 4th piece Moksha easy ( thanks to that great scholar who made it so simple for me)

I can't really comment on "Vatsyana" , as it needs deeper understanding inlines of a learned scholar... ( except the key tenets of conjugal pleasure)and for me it is more in line with "KAULA" marga which is a dangerous path. and if we interpret it wrongly, pitfalls are we may go back in the evolution cycle in terms of next births.

May god bless

  • 3
    You should cite the source.
    – Pandya
    Jul 1, 2016 at 4:47

त्रिवर्गे त्रिविधा पीडा ह्यनुबन्धस्तथैव च ⁠।
अनुबन्धाः शुभा ज्ञेयाः पीडास्तु परिवर्जयेत् ⁠।⁠।⁠
धर्मं विचरतः पीडा सापि द्वाभ्यां नियच्छति ⁠।
अर्थं चाप्यर्थलुब्धस्य कामं चातिप्रवर्तिनः ⁠।⁠।⁠ - Mahabharata 1.139.69-70 [Gita Press ed.]

Virtue, wealth and pleasure have both their evil and good effects closely knit together. While extracting the effects that are good, those that are evil should be avoided. Those that practise virtue (incessantly) are made unhappy for want of wealth and the neglect of pleasure. Those again in pursuit of wealth are made unhappy for the neglect of two others. And so those who pursue pleasure suffer for their inattention to virtue and wealth. Therefore, thou shouldst pursue virtue, wealth and pleasure, in such a way that thou mayest not have to suffer therefrom. [Kisori Mohan Ganguly's translation]

The Hindi translation sums it up in the following way -

त्रिविध पुरुषार्थोंका सेवन इस प्रकार करना चाहिये कि तीनों एक-दूसरेके बाधक न हों अर्थात् जीवनमें तीनोंका सामंजस्य ही सुखदायक है।

So, it is not about higher or lower. Rather, as you see, the balance between the three is recommended in ancient texts.

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