Dharma is one of four Purusarth namely Dharma , Arth , Kama and Moksha .

If we remove Moksha as it is not for everyone. Dharma is relegated to being equivalent to - Kama and Arth.

So, Is Dharma falsely glorified as the most important thing in life when it is just being considered as equivalent to Kama and Artha ?

  • no. because you can disregard artha and kama while following dharma. but if you disregard dharma while following artha and kama, you'll be punished.
    – ram
    Apr 16, 2022 at 23:33
  • This answered in vana parvas of mahabharata when questioned krishna about what is important of the 4 when an argument between the brother took place krishna answers its kama
    – Prasanna R
    Apr 18, 2022 at 13:41
  • @PrasannaR Give me the link.
    – river
    Apr 18, 2022 at 16:59
  • KamA is just desire not sexual only as described by pradip gangopadya krishna clearly gave his judgement kama stati g that even sanyasi have desire of moksha. Todo dharma desire is needed
    – Prasanna R
    Apr 19, 2022 at 7:30

4 Answers 4


Regarding Artha and Dharma it can be said that both are equally important because without wealth Dharma can't be fully practiced. The following verses are relevant:

No article is procurable without trouble. How can any religious rite be performed in the absence of [proper] articles ? There is no religion in the absence of rites.. And where is happiness in the absence of religion ? (22)

All persons seek happiness ; but that originates from religion. Therefore religion should always be carefully practised by all the castes. (23)

A rite for the next world should be performed by articles acquired by fair means.

From Chapter III of Daksha Smriti

Happiness depends on Dharma (mentioned as religion in the verses) but performance of Dharma is very much dependent on wealth (Artha) too.


In the perspective of vedanta(or Brahma Vidya),

Preyas is what is pleasing to senses, (born out of contact with sense objects) accomodate the 3 purusharthas dharma artha and kama .

Shreyas is the path chosen towards selfrealization which frees from one from all limitations /bonds and confers eternal bliss nishreyas . So Moksha is the only component of this category

If the pursuit artha or kama is without dharma , one regresses from shreyas, If it is the contrary one progress es towards shreyas.

Since Bhagavad Gita shows the path to progress from Preyas to shreyas it is known as yoga shastra.

Katho upanishad 1.2.2 says

श्रेयश्च प्रेयश्च मनुष्यमेतस्तौ संपरीत्य विविनक्ति धीरः । श्रेयो हि धीरोऽभिप्रेयसो वृणीते प्रेयो मन्दो योगक्शेमाद्वृणीते ॥ २ ॥ śreyaśca preyaśca manuṣyametastau saṃparītya vivinakti dhīraḥ | śreyo hi dhīro'bhipreyaso vṛṇīte preyo mando yogakśemādvṛṇīte || 2 ||

Both the good and the pleasant approach the mortal; the intelligent man examines and distinguishes them; for, the intelligent man prefers the good to the pleasant; the ignorant man chooses the pleasant for the sake of his body.

HH Shankara’s Commentary: If both the sweet and the good can be pursued at will, why do the mankind, in general, pursue the sweet? This is explained; it is true that they can both be pursued; still, as they are not easily distinguishable by persons of poor intelligence, either in respect of the means to their attainment, or in respect of their fruits, both the sweet and the good become as it were mingled, and approach man. Therefore the intelligent man examines both the sweet and the good as a flamingo separates milk and water and having considered in his mind their relative weight, divides them both and follows the good alone, as preferable to the sweet; but the man of poor intelligence, incapable of such discernment, pursues the sweet, such as cattle, sons and the rest, for the purpose of fattening and preserving his body, etc.


Dharma, Artha, and Kāma together are known as Trivarga (त्रिवर्ग).

Dharma is not falsely glorified, indeed it is the means to realize the other Puruṣārthas, and not otherwise. In that sense, Dharma is the foremost. Artha and Kāma when done in accordance with the Dharma may be called equally important, and not otherwise.

Also, note that each person, in their different stages of life has different dharma. A student cannot pursue Artha and Kāma, and neither can a forest hermit or an ascetic. So, it is Dharma that guides us throughout, across all stages and situations in our lives, and hence it is the most important. Even, Mokṣa is realizable only through Dharma.

Quoting from Kūrma Mahā-Purāṇa 1.2.51-63

varṇāśramavarṇanaṃ, pūrvavibhāge, dvitīyo'dhyāyaḥ, Kūrma-purāṇa

परित्यजेदर्थकामौ यौ स्यातां धर्मवर्जितौ । सर्वलोकविरुद्धं च धर्ममप्याचरेन्न तु ॥ २.५१ ॥

  1. One should abandon the Artha (pursuit of wealth) and Kāma (desires or lust) that are devoid of righteousness (Dharma). If a holy act is against the interest of other members of the society, it should not be practiced.

धर्मात् संजायते ह्यर्थो धर्मात् कामोऽभिजायते । धर्म एवापवर्गाय तस्माद् धर्मं समाश्रयेत् ॥ २.५२ ॥

  1. It is Dharma which is the source of Artha and even of Kāma. Righteous conduct (Dharma) is conducive to emancipation from Samsāra. Hence one should resort to Dharma.

धर्मश्चार्थश्च कामश्च त्रिवर्गस्त्रिगुणो मतः । सत्त्वं रजस्तमश्चेति तस्माद्धर्मं समाश्रयेत् ॥ २.५३ ॥

  1. Dharma, Artha and Kāma are together called Trivarga (the three main objectives of worldly life). They consist of the three Gunas viz. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Hence one should resort to Dharma.

ऊर्ध्वं गच्छन्ति सत्त्वस्था मध्ये तिष्ठन्ति राजसाः । जघन्यगुणवृत्तिस्था अधो गच्छन्ति तामसाः ॥ २.५४ ॥

  1. Those who adhere to Sattva-guna (i.e. Dharma) go to higher regions, those who have Rājasic qualities (i.e. Artha) stay in the middle, those who possess Tamasa qualities (i.e. Kāma) go down to lower regions, as they indulge in a mean type of activities.

यस्मिन् धर्मसमायुक्तावर्थकामौ व्यवस्थितौ इह लोके सुखी भूत्वा प्रेत्यानन्त्याय कल्पते ॥ २.५५ ॥

  1. A person, in whom Artha and Kāma live side by side supported by Dharma, becomes happy in this world and becomes entitled to infinite nature (eternal salvation) after death.

धर्मात् संजायते मोक्षो ह्यर्थात् कामोऽभिजायते । एवं साधनसाध्यत्वं चातुर्विध्ये प्रदर्शितम् ॥ २.५६ ॥

  1. Dharma is thus the source of salvation and the Kāma originates from wealth. Thus in the fourfold objectives of life, mutual inter-dependence has been demonstrated since those objectives are both the ends and the means.

य एवं वेद धर्मार्थकाममोक्षस्य मानवः । माहात्म्यं चानुतिष्ठेत स चानन्त्याय कल्पते ॥ २.५७ ॥ तस्मादर्थं च कामं च त्यक्त्वा धर्मं समाश्रयेत् । धर्मात् संजायते सर्वमित्याहुर्ब्रह्मवादिनः ॥ २.५८ ॥

  1. to 58. The man who knows thus all about Dharma, Artha, Kāma and Mokṣa and maintains their greatness, becomes entitled for eternity. Hence one should eschew Artha and Kāma and resort to Dharma. The expounders of the Veda state that everything accrues from Dharma. The whole universe consisting of the mobile and immobile beings is sustained by Dharma.

English Translation by Motilal Banarsidass Publishers

To Conclude -

  • Dharma is not falsely glorified, it is rightfully the essence of existence. In fact, it is Dharma that sustains everything, and thus it is much more important than Artha & Kāma. God descends every time on Earth to uphold & protect Dharma only (BG 4.8), not Artha and Kāma.

  • Artha and Kāma are to be only pursued if they're in accordance with Dharma and not otherwise. They're not equivalent to Dharma. In fact, Artha and Kāma are to be regulated with Dharma and must be taken as 'mutually inter-dependent' means in the journey to achieve Mokṣa.


No, Artha and Kama are not equally important as Dharma. Dharma as one of the Purusharthas (Dharma, Kama, Artha and Moksha) means righteousness and not rituals. Dharma is needed even in Samsara to keep the competitive instincts of men for kama and artha under control. Without Dharma Samsara will be a dog-eat-dog world where anything goes and life would be very difficult.

Dharma, understood as the Supreme Good of man, can never have wealth as its reward. Nor has wealth, understood as an aid to the achievement of Dharma, been conceived as an aid for the attainment of kama (sexual desire). Kama in its turn is not a call to indulgence in sexual pleasures, but a mere inducement implanted by the Creator to make life unbroken. And as for life, it has the quest of the Supreme Truth as its end – not certainly Karma (i.e. performance of rituals and social duties) for the attainment of wealth (prosperity here and heaven hereafter).

Srimad Bhagavata Purana I.2.9-10

If a holy act is against the interest of other members of the society, it should not be practiced. It is Dharma which is the source of Artha and even of Kama.

Kurma Purana I.2.54

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