Artha (meaning, wealth, purpose)

With reference to Sounds and Meanings (Vag Artha), artha means “meaning”. kALidAsa says that word and meaning are joined like the eternal parents of the universe pArvati and paramEs’vara. yAska muni said अर्थं वाच: पुष्‍पफलम्‌. Meaning is the flower and fruit of a sentence. He did not believe in chanting without knowing the meaning. He is the author of a text on Nirukta (Etymyology) necessary for Learning Vedic Sanskrit.

In the context of Chanakya’s Kautilya Arthasastra artha means wealth. And this s’Astra deals with economics, besides a host of other topics. bhaktAs (devotees) say God alone is wealth: draviNam tvamEva (You alone are wealth).

aSTAvakra samhitA (gItA) says Enough of artha, kAma and sukRta karma!. It says that For mOkSa, we must give up dharma, artha and kAma.

A subhAshita by bhartRhari compares working for svArtha (our own well-being) and parArtha (the well-being of others). He says that a satpuruSa or a good person gives up his own svArtha for parArtha..

artha is purpose. As  the second Purushartha, artha refers to purpose. If svArtha is in the interest of the self, puruSArtha is the purpose in the interest of the puruSa (the Self of all) and paramArtha is the ultimate purpose or meaning. (We take Ahalya‘s example)

viVekAnanda defined our purpose as Atmano Mokshartham Jagad Hitaya Ca : आत्मनो मोक्षार्थं जगद हिताय च. For our liberation and the welfare of the world.

When we trade the higher goals of Ananda (Joy) and mukti (freedom) for artha (wealth, purpose), we feel cheated because we are exchanging high value for lower value. To get value for our actions related to kAma, artha and dharma, we must engage the manas with the brahman.