Principles of Hindu Ethics


There is a remarkable agreement as well as divergence between various ideals of life
evolved by various peoples. Ethical systems of the world may be grouped in various
ways. There are systems like the Greek ethics, for example, which look upon the
material perfection as the goal of life. There are other systems like the ethics of early
Christianity, which look upon life-beyond as the main purpose of our life here. Thus
there is naturalistic ethics and there is supra-natural ethics; the former reveling in the
affirmation of our worldly life, the latter glorying in its denial. Now here the Hindu is
peculiar. The perfection of material life is a valuable Hindu ideal, an end in itself.
But eternal life is not allowed to swallow up our sojourn here. Marriage, pursuit of
wealth, acquisition of fame, success in war and peace, family prosperity: those are
held up as highly desirable things, when they are enjoyed in a righteous spirit. No one
can repose in peace as long as one has not made a personal contribution to the
building up and furthering of the secular civilization. But while it is enjoined on all
persons to fulfill to the best of their capacity their worldly ambitions summed up in
vittaiṣaṇā (desire for wealth), lokaiṣaṇā (desire for recognition), and putraiṣaṇā
(desire for progeny), it was clearly perceived that these were highly important ends,
but mere means for gratification of selfish desires. If one wants to save oneself, one
must rise to a high level and transcend altogether the attraction of these earthly

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I. The Hindu View of Life

2. Criteria of Morality

3. Value of Life: Positive and Prudential Qualities

4. Truthfulness

5. Purity and impurity

6. Culture and Character

7. Woman: her Status and Functions.

8. Marriage Considerations

9. Husband and Wife

10. Chastity

11. Obedience to Elders


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