Skip navigation

ashoka Hindu philosophy (which I’m reading about in Prof. Wendy Doniger’s fascinating The Hindus: An Alternative History) divides life in to three dimensions: dharma, artha and kama.

Dharma means righteous duty or any virtuous path.  A persons dharma is affected by a person’s age, class, occupation, and gender. 

Artha is the path to achieving widespread fame, garnering wealth and having an elevated social standing.  It is about how society sees them, and how they should see society.

Kama refers to the aesthetic and sensual pleasures of life.  It embodies the leisured private life.

These three dimensions are affirmed in a wide variety of texts.  There are many dharmashastras.  There is only one Arthashastra by Kautilya (Max Weber called Machiavelli’s The Prince ‘harmless’ compared to the Arthashastra).  There is also only one Kamasutra. 

It says a lot about our society that the only well known text is the Kamasutra.  Even when your culture is thousands of years old, it seems that only the sexy part sells.

Advertisements