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Dharma, Karma, Artha, and Moksha

Episode No. 81

Shambhavi unpacks the four traditional aims of a human life from the perspective of nondual Tantra. A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

first words from the podcast

There are said to be four goals or aims of a human life. They are dharma, artha, karma, and moksha.

Most of you have probably heard the word “dharma” and “karma.” I even saw an ad in a GAP store window that said something about karma. I can’t remember what it was—some funny thing about clothing and good karma. Anyway, you may have some general idea about what dharma and karma mean, but tonight I’m going to talk about those terms from a more tantric perspective.

Artha loosely translated means wealth. Moksha means liberation or self-realization. So in the Indian traditions dharma, karma, artha, and moksha are all said to be aims of human life. All of these—not just one or the other—need to be satisfied or fulfilled or worked with in some way in order to have a fulfilling life. We’re not leaving anything out.

The word dharma has definitely been popularized. A lot of Americans of a certain ilk—those of us who go to yoga classes and such—have some idea in our minds about what dharma means. A lot of times people think dharma means “the special thing I’m supposed to be doing in life”. They think, “I have to find MY dharma.” It’s something people in our culture—our individualistic culture—often think is unique to them, like it’s this one perfect thing they’re supposed to be doing. If they could figure out what that one perfect thing was, it would bring them peace of mind and success. They would never have to worry about what to do for the rest of their lives.