IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Sustainable consumption as a means to self-realization: a Hindu perspective on when enough is enough


  • Yamini Narayanan

    (Politics and Development Studies Program, School of Social Sciences, La Trobe University, Melbourne (Bundoora), Australia)


In this paper, I investigate the religious notion of self-realization or self-actualization in the context of sustainability, and argue that sustainability is the means to this end. I am particularly interested in Hindu perspectives on self-realization or the Purusharthas . The Purusharthas provide an interesting sustainability critique because they consider the satisfaction of material want as an important step to self-actualization; the reconciliation of want and need is a fundamental sustainability tension. The issue of growing want is doubtless an important one, given the rapidly growing middle classes in the developing world that aspire to Western material dreams, as illustrated by the case of Delhi. The Purusharthas may be seen to give consumption legitimacy; however, I argue that it is the selective understanding and institutionalization of the religious message that causes the sustainability problem. Viewed in their entirety, the Purusharthas provide the correct prescriptions for the sustainable enjoyment of want, and take the adherent beyond sustainability into greater transcendence or self-awareness. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Yamini Narayanan, 2010. "Sustainable consumption as a means to self-realization: a Hindu perspective on when enough is enough," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(5), pages 252-259.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:18:y:2010:i:5:p:252-259
    DOI: 10.1002/sd.476

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Link to full text; subscription required
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:18:y:2010:i:5:p:252-259. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.