Advaita Vedanta-Ethics: Classical Indian Philosophy for Competitive Exams

Get unlimited access to the best preparation resource for competitive exams : get questions, notes, tests, video lectures and more- for all subjects of your exam.

Advaita Vedanta- Ethics: Classical Indian Philosophy

Complete Video at - Advaita Vedanta- Ethics: Classical Indian Philosophy (Philosophy)

The Concept of Purusharthas

  • Purusarthas is referred as the goal, the purpose, the end or the aim of human life or existence.
  • Etymologically speaking, the word purusartha can be understood as purusha means man and artha means a purpose.
  • They are also defined as the objectives of a human being.
  • They are also called the four pointers of human life.
  • They are four in number; 1. Dharma, 2. Artha, 3. Kama and 4. Moksha.

Complete notes and preparation module at doorsteptutor. com

  • Dharma:
    • Dharma is the first goal or the first objective of the human life.
    • The concept of Dharma has been understood differently by a number of people, some understand it as one՚s duty, some as one՚s faith, and some as the concept of justice.
    • Dharma is also understood as the obligatory duty prescribed by the vedas where God is taken to be the upholder of the dharma.
    • It deals with the notion of doing duty for duty՚s sake alone.
    • Hence, it defines our roles, our duties and our responsibilities in the society to uphold harmony and order.
    • The Vedas and the Bhagavad Gita are regarded as the sources of Dharma.
  • Artha:
    • Artha is the second goal.
    • It means material wealth and prosperity.
    • It is important for the overall happiness and well-being of an individual and the society.
    • The reason why it is regarded as the second most important objective is because according to the scriptures, wealth is pursued for the sake of others, and not for one՚s own selfish reasons.
    • The desire for wealth is not the same as the desire for greed.
    • The former is for the betterment of the society and the latter deals with one՚s own selfish reasons.
    • Hence, aiming for wealth is a kind of virtue for artha upholds dharma.
    • According to the scriptures, Lord Vishnu is taken to be the lord of wealth.
  • Kama:
    • Kama is the third objective of the human life.
    • Kama means pleasure.
    • The concept of kama can be understood in two ways, the broad sense and the narrow sense.
    • In the narrow sense, the concept of kama deals with sensuous pleasure and in the broad sense, it deals with desire, love and emotions.
    • In the broad sense, it deals with the aesthetic enjoyment of life without sexual connotation.
    • According to the scriptures, kama in accordance with dharma and artha, takes a person on the journey towards the final end, that is, moksha.
  • Moksha:
    • Moksha is the fourth and the final objective of the human life.
    • Moksha means liberation, emancipation, release or freedom for the cycle of rebirth that deals with suffering and pain (samsara) .
    • It is regarded as the most important objective because it is something which leads one to the world of Brahman.
    • It is because of this reason, moksha is regarded as both, a purusartha and the paramartha.
    • Paramartha means the final, the ultimate end or the final purpose.
    • Hence, it is understood as emancipation, liberation, freedom, self-knowledge and self-realisation.
    • Out of the four purusharthas, Advaita Vedanta school focuses the most on the last or the fourth purushartha, i.e.. . Moksha.
    • The first three purusharthas are duly noted by the school but they have been understood only as a means to realise the end, moksha or Brahman.


  • Shankara emphasises on the importance of the path of Jnana Yoga for the attainment of liberation.
  • In other words, according to him, Brahman can be realised only via the path of knowledge or Jnana Yoga.
  • Jnana-yoga deals with a three step methodology. The three steps are:
    • Sravana or hearing: It means to listen to the teachings of the Guru, the sages on the Upanishads, Brahma-sutras, etc.
    • Manana or reflection: It means to think or to ponder over the teachings of the sacred texts. In other words, it means self-contemplation, or self-study (svadhyaya) .
    • Nididhyasa or repeated meditation: It means to meditate and to introspect regarding the nature of absolute reality.
  • The path of Jnana Yoga consists of four behavioural qualities. They are;
    • Nitya-anitya vast viveka: It is the ability to discriminate between the real and eternal substance or nitya and anitya or unreal, non-eternal, changing, transitory substance.
    • Ihamutrartha phala bhoga viraga- It is the ability to distance oneself (viraga) from the desires, passions, etc. that distract the mind. Mind according to Shankara must be kept free from all the obstacles in the pursuit of Brahman knowledge.
    • Samadi shakta sampatti- It consist of sixfold qualities which one must possess. They are
      • Sama or mental tranquility
      • Dama or self-restraint
      • Uparati or dispassion towards everything
      • Titiksha or endurance and perseverance
      • Sraddha or devotion or faith in texts
      • Samadhana or intentness or attentiveness of mind
    • Mumukshutva- It is the ability to develop a positive eagerness or longing for Brahman knowledge.


1. Lord Vishnu is considered as the Lord of ________

A. Dharma

B. Kama

C. Artha

D. Both B and C

Answer: C

2. Advaita Vedanta focuses the most on which Purushartha

A. Artha

B. Dharma

C. Kama

D. Moksha

Answer: D

3. Jnana Yoga consist of ________ behavioural qualities according to Shankara

A. Two

B. Three

C. Four

D. None of these

Answer: C

4. Manana means

A. Hearing

B. Reflection

C. Meditation

D. All of the above

Answer: B

5. Sama, Dama, Uparati, Titiksha Sraddha and Samadhana come under

A. Nitya-anitya vast viveka

B. Ihamutrartha phala bhoga viraga

C. Samadi shakta sampatti

D. Mumukshutva

Answer: C




Developed by: