Table of Contents

  About the Author
  Books by Bansi Pandit
  What is Hindu Dharma?
  Hindu View of God
  Why Hindus Worship Deities
  Hindu Scriptures
  Principal Hindu Doctrines
  Law of Karma
  Popular Systems 
  Moral & Ethical Ideals of Hindus
  Hindu View ...
  Hindu Reverence for Elders
  Daily Routine of a Devout Hindu
  Hindu Dharma
  Hindu View of Ecology
  Some Philosophical Aspects
  Hindu Response 
  Contribution of Hindus
  Practicing Hindu Dharma
  Timeless Wisdom 
  Sw„mi Vivek„nanda's Address
  Works Cited
  Color Plates
  Download Book

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir


Symbol of Unity


Chapter 10: Hindu Reverence for Elders

A unique and magnificent feature of Hindu religious thought is that salvation is the birth right of each and every human being, and is attainable in due course of time (i.e. either in this life or in some future life) through spiritual practice and training. In the words of Betty Heimann, late professor of Sanskrit and Indian philosophy at Ceylon University, "It is an undeniable fact that no philosophy outside India makes such a varied and manifold use of [spiritual] instruction in order to visualize the supreme Truth. It is the very metaphysical bent of Hindu thought which makes room for this practical educational training." 13

In Hindu culture, the elders (senior citizens) are considered to be the progenitors of spiritual instruction and training. The relationship with elders is, thus, viewed as a spiritual relationship by the young generation, and is revered as such. This reverence for old age in Hindu culture is reflected in the following Hindu etiquette and mannerism towards all elders in and outside one's family:

  • Elders are received by standing up. One must stand up, if seated, in order to receive an elderly person.
  • Elders are not called by their first or last names. They are addressed with conventional titles of courtesy such as Dr., Mr., Mrs., Ms., or personal titles such as Grandpa, Grandma, Uncle, Papa, and Mama. Depending upon one's level of familiarity with an elder(s), the word "Ji" is commonly added to the elder's first or last name (if male) or to the first name (if female) to form an appropriate address.
  • In the presence of elders one sits or stands upright. Sitting with legs dangling, feet stretched or pointed towards or in the direction of elders, hands behind one's back or clapped around the neck, or arms folded are viewed as disrespectful to elders.
  • In the presence of elders, smoking, chewing gum, drinking liquor, exhibiting overt behavior of love, affection, anger or bad temper are considered rude.
  • Abusive, sarcastic, vulgar, or "street" language, boastful (words of self-praise), possessive (I, me, my or mine), or impersonal words are not used in communication with elders.
  • When talking to an elder, one should always look towards the elder person. Looking towards other directions or rotating one's head or eyes while talking to an elder are considered rude and disrespectful.
  • When elders are talking or discussing, a junior person addresses questions or converses with only the eldest person in the group. Addressing questions or conversing with junior persons in such a group, unless specifically permitted by the eldest person, is deemed as rude.
  • When walking with an elder, one either walks in step with the elder or within a step behind the elder. Walking ahead of elders is deemed discourteous and disrespectful.
  • In home or at the dinner table the elders are seated first before others take their seats. At public places (such as a bus or train) elders are offered seats first before others occupy their seats. When getting into a car, a person opens the door for elders and lets them sit first before others take their seats.
  • Elders are not confronted in the presence of others. Any disagreements or differing viewpoints are discussed with them separately and only on a one-to-one basis.


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