What is Artha? Why is it important?

Artha is only possible when we possess a happy mind, a healthy body, dependable family, credible friends and, most importantly, knowledge and wisdom. Everything that helps us to achieve and lead a life of bliss is verily Artha. Therefore, Artha can also be realized as a concept, word as well as wisdom in itself.

By Dipika Mehra

Most people translate Vedic Sanskrit word Artha as Wealth. And Wealth for the majority of people around the world implies material possession and currency. This is by far a very narrow definition of Wealth.

Artha essentially signifies abundance, which is not limited to currency alone. Besides, Artha also translates to “meaning, sense, goal and purpose”, which gives it a broader perspective. Therefore, Artha can be better understood as that “meaningful wealth” which is the harbinger of abundance leading unto bliss.

When a child is born, it is dependent on its parents and family members for sustenance. As it grows up its social and friend circle increases, then it gets married and forms business and professional association. Vedas put emphasis on the fact that we become what we surround ourselves with. Hence, having people, who uplift each other, provide the right advice and resources is also Artha – Wealth of Relationship. For example, if we see in Mahabharata was under influence of Shakuni, which led to Suyodhana’s (later corrupted as Duryodhana) downfall, whereas Arjuna under the tutelage of Krishna survived a daunting war with modest resources. Today, all the corporate leader surrounds themselves with experts from a different field which help them and their business to grow. These relationships too tantamount to Artha.

The selection and choice of people in our lives are better when we can distinguish between deserving and underserving in accordance with the ideas and ideals of Dharma. Making the right choices and decisions is possible only when we are aware and have the knowledge and hence Wealth of Knowledge becomes crucial for our survival.

Just as our planet earth has different seasons, our life has different phases, some good and some not so well. We regret our past and stay anxious about our future. In our times, when technology has made our physical life comfortable, our mind is in a web of desires, performance, and societal pressure. We are chasing our desires which gives us momentary happiness and then, again, we get stuck into a rat race out of fear and anxiety. The rampant increase of terrorism, hate crimes, politics in organizations, teenage suicide are due to lack of control over our minds. Knowledge helps us to be cantered and not be swayed away in emotions. The Wealth of Happiness is the most treasured Artha on earth today. The poor are unhappy due to want of money and the Prosperous is in the anxiety of sustaining it.

The feeling of hate, greed, anger, self-blame and blaming others for our own misfortune is the sign of an unhappy and not contented person. But, unfortunately, a significant percentage of the world populace is affected by the said emotions owing to the sheer absence of wealth of knowledge.

A person who has gratitude for whatever (s)he has acquired and instills patience while preserving in nature is most certainly have an abundance of Wealth of Happiness – a manifestation of Artha.

Such a happy mind can make the right decisions and remain focused on its goal. This also helps them to create and sustain physical Wealth of Health and Material Possession.

Our body is the greatest gift and yet we often neglect it and end up in the trap of diseases inducing myriad quality of pains. A healthy body is quintessential not just to achieve our desires but also to enjoy them. Nothing makes sense to a body infested with diseases. As Kautilya a.k.a. Chanakya says in Artha Shastra “For a diseased person – the material possession is of little importance.” Many people perceive wealth incorrectly. As a result, they either value it excessively or declare it as the root of all evils.

Artha is only possible when we possess a happy mind, a healthy body, dependable family, credible friends and, most importantly, knowledge and wisdom. Everything that helps us to achieve and lead a life of bliss is verily Artha. Therefore, Artha can also be realized as a concept, word as well as wisdom in itself.

November 18, 2019

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