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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

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Yong Geng & Murray Haight & Qinghua Zhu, 2007. "Empirical analysis of eco-industrial development in China," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(2), pages 121-133.
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    3. Ralf Isenmann, 2003. "Industrial ecology: shedding more light on its perspective of understanding nature as model," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(3), pages 143-158.
    4. Nunnenkamp, Peter, 2002. "Determinants of FDI in developing countries: has globalization changed the rules of the game?," Kiel Working Papers 1122, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    5. John H Dunning, 1988. "The Eclectic Paradigm of International Production: A Restatement and Some Possible Extensions," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 19(1), pages 1-31, March.
    6. Andreas Waldkirch & Munisamy Gopinath, 2008. "Pollution Control and Foreign Direct Investment in Mexico: An Industry-Level Analysis," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 41(3), pages 289-313, November.
    7. Marcelo Braga Nonnemberg & Mario Jorge Cardoso de Mendonça, 2004. "The Determinants Of Foreign Direct Investment In Developing Countries," Anais do XXXII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 32th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 061, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
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