Artha (wealth) stands for the means by which this life may be maintained-in the lower sense, food, drink, money, house, land and other property; and in the higher sense the means by which effect may be given to the higher desires, such as that of worship, for which artha may be necessary, aid given to others, and so forth. In short, it is all the necessary means by which all right desire, whether of the lower or higher kinds, may be fulfilled. As the desire must be a right desireâ€”for man is subject to dharma, which regulates themâ€”so also must be the means sought, which are equally so governed.
The first group is known as the trivarga, which must be cultivated whilst man is upon the pravrtti marga. Unless and until there is renunciation on entrance upon the path of return, where inclination ceases (nivrtti-marga), man must work for the ultimate goal by meritorious acts (dharma), desires (kama), and by the lawful means (artha) whereby the lawful desires which give birth to righteous acts are realized. Whilst on the pravrtti-marga ” the trivarga should be equally cultivated, for he who is addicted to one only is despicable” (dharmarthakamah samameva sevyah yo hyekasaktah sa jano-jaganyah.) (1).
1. As, for instance, a householder, who spends all his time in worship to the neglect of his family and worldly estate. The Shastra says, “either one thing or the other; when in the world be rightly of it; when adopting the specifically religious life, leave it “â€”a statement of the maxim “be thorough”.