People travel to see the heights of the mountains and the waves of the sea, the wide rivers and the expanse of the ocean, but they pass by the greatest wonder, themselves.” Saint Augustine.

Since time immemorial, the philosophy and practice of yoga have guided spiritual seekers to Enlightenment. Yoga has become part of all human cultures, and today people all over the world adopt this practice to keep themselves physically and spiritually strong. The yoga method deepens self-awareness, broadens one’s perspective on Reality, and mediates between sensory perceptions, leading to heightened sensitivity, introspection, convergence, mindfulness, kindness, and compassion towards others.

Similarly, the spiritual journey can be seen as an ascent of a pyramid. The sages of ancient India knew that man could ascend this pyramid through merits of kindness to others and fall through undeservedness, causing suffering. The pyramid of evolution has a base. We rise gradually, step by step, until we reach the highest point. In the Vedic view, this pyramid structure of human life comprises four aspects called dharmas. These eternal relationships gave rise to the concept called purushartha.

Purushartha means the goal of life. The four dharmas or purushastras are the ultimate goals of life that we bring together into one focus of attention. Yoga is the power through which we realize them.

Sometimes the dharma is called Sanathana Dharma, the eternal dharma that will not perish because its source is in the depths of Eternity.

Pure Truth is difficult to understand, and therefore, we are asked to look at it as a four-faceted object, viz:

Dharma – living following our highest human potential and the Divine purpose within;

Artha – setting goals and benchmarks that lead to and secure the inner meaning;

Kama – fulfilling the desires of the heart and finding happiness in actions based on personal dharma;

Moksha – attaining liberation of consciousness or Infinite Eternal Divine Bliss.

In the light of dharma, the purpose of human existence is one and indivisible, to realize Cosmic Consciousness. However, this purpose appears to be manifold because of the limitations of the human personality. Therefore, to minimize the difficulty of understanding the Truth and merging with it in yogic life, we undergo a disciplinary system called tapas (spiritual practice).

All these (dharma, artha, kama, and moksha) are the foundations that we must pursue simultaneously in the aspiration towards spiritual perfection so that, from the very beginning, we can experience a gradual ascent of perception to the realization of the ultimate totality, which is the Absolute.

More often than not, spiritual seekers emphasize moksha (attainment of the liberation of consciousness), seeming to forget the other three aspects (dharma, artha, and kama) through which we can transform ourselves completely. Unfortunately, today’s society puts material attainment and pleasure, which are aspects of artha and kama, before dharma and simultaneously ignores moksha. On the path of yoga, we call beneficial actions dharmic actions and contrary actions adharmic. If our actions are not rooted in dharma, the adharmic pursuit of any life goal cannot bring us happiness.

Although purusharthas are called the four dharmas, they are also known as Artha Dharma, Kama Dharma, and Moksha Dharma. So the sanskrit word dharma has a deeper understanding and should be interpreted according to the context in which it is encountered.