Photo courtsey flickr/Khans'
which loosely translates as "getting ahead," is one of four goals of
Hinduism. Students explore this concept using a translated political
doctrine from 4th century B.C.E. and also through a story about a young
Through this activity, students will be able to
- explain the concept of artha
- recognize strategies that allow states to survive
- see how elements useful in political science can be applied to getting ahead in everyday life (for long version only)
- consider when and how students survive, get ahead and have a good time
discussion to demonstrate understanding of a complex concept by
analoging artha to events in world history and in the students' own
- In order to
introduce the four goals of life in Hinduism, ask students to make up a
list of ten wishes. They can make the list for homework or do it in
- As students share their various wishes, group the wishes into
categories such as Things I Like (Pleasure), Things I Want (money and
power), Things I Hope to Offer to Society (doing what's right). If
anyone has a transcendent goal, make a category for that as well.
- Share the four goals in Hindu thought - duty (dharma),
pleasure (kama), wealth and power (artha), and release from samsara
(moksha). Help students see their "Things I Like" is really kama and
"Things I Want" is really artha.
- Ask students how people go about getting ahead, getting rich
or famous. Lead them to consider how powerless people survive and get
ahead. Why do basketball players use a "fake"? Why do spies give
- (Skip this if teaching short version).Present each of the
Seven Ways to Greet a Neighbor. Suggest historic examples of when
nations or leaders used one or more of these tactics, and encourage
students to offer examples as well. For example, what role did saman
play in the period between WW I and WW II? How did the US use danda in
the Gulf War? How did Eisenhower use maya, trying to convince Hitler
that Allied troops were planning to attack at Calais and not Normandy?
Wasn't the US using Indrajala when it made it appear we had an
unlimited supply of atomic bombs in August of 1945?
- (Skip this if teaching short version). If time allows, tell
the class to imagine they want to convince a teacher to put off a test
or a parent to extend a curfew, or something of the sort. Then divide
the class into six groups. Give each group one of the first six "ways
to greet a neighbor" (Indrajala is hard to act out), and tell them to
create a skit that illustrates how they would use that tactic to
achieve the goal. Have the various groups put on their skits and ask
the class to identify which tactic it illustrates.
- (Skip this if teaching short version). Summarize the concept
of artha making sure that students realize it can be both a goal in
political science and a personal goal.
- Give the story Eight Rupees as homework (or read as a class
for short version of this lesson), and ask the students to look for why
the sahib gave the shoe-shine boy the eight rupees. "Sahib" referred to
Englishmen during colonial rule, and is used now as a term of respect.
A rupee at the time this story was written (early 1980's) would have
been equivalent to a dollar. There are 100 naye paise in a rupee.
- Discuss Eight Rupees. Consider questions such as:
- What initial impression does the sahib have of the shoe-shine boy? How does the boy get to shine the sahib's shoes?
- Why does the boy ask to borrow eight rupees? Why does he want
eight and not five? Why won't he take ten rupees? Does the sahib think
the boy will ever return the rupees? Why does he lend the boy eight
- How does the sahib's impression of the boy change? Why does it change?
- What's the significance of the boy's smile when the sahib
gives him the eight rupees? Why did the sahib smile when the boy
reminded him about the 25 paise? Why did the sahib walk away with a
"pleased as punch" smile?
- What does the last paragraph tell us about the boy? Were you surprised?
- Discuss how this story illustrates how "little fish" might get ahead in the amoral world of the fishes.
Author: Jean Johnson.