Chapter 8: Moral and Ethical Ideals of
Ethics can be described as the science of morality, and morality as
the living of a virtuous life. Hindus place greater emphasis on the attitude of
the mind rather than on postulation of the elaborate theories of what is right
and what is wrong. Accordingly, the Hindu vision of morality and ethics is
characterized by the following considerations:
- Morality proceeds from the inner spirit of man. In Hindu view, one's
motive is as important in the performance of an action as the action itself.
When the heart is pure and free from lust and greed, whatever one does to
perform one's duties has a high moral value.
- Harmlessness to all creatures is the highest morality.
- There are four sources of right conduct: Vedas, the Smriti (secondary
scriptures), the conduct of wise persons, and the individual's own judgment.
- In times of confusion and crisis regarding what is right and what is
wrong, one's own conscience is the sole guide. "In times of doubt, O,
son of Kunti [Arjuna], one must decide using one's own good sense." 9
- An individual is ultimately responsible for his own actions, i.e. the Law
of Karma. He is also responsible for the actions of others if he induces or
forces them to perform such actions.
- Hindus declare that loyalty to one's moral values is the highest loyalty,
and of all the losses, loss of one's character and loss of judgment are the
and Niyamas16 - Moral and Ethical Ideals of
||Don't harm others by
word, deed or thought.
||Refrain from lying and
|3. Asteya (nonstealing)
||Don't steal, covet or
enter into debt.
|4. Brahmachărya (controlling
||Observe celibacy when
single, and faithfulness in marriage.
|5. Kshamă (forgiveness)
||Restrain from intolerance
and ill will.
|6. Dhriti (firmness)
indecision, and fickleness.
|7. Dayă (compassion)
||Conquer callous and
|8. Ărjava (honesty)
||Renounce fraud, cheating
||Refrain from overeating
and consuming meat.
||Observe purity of the
body, mind and intellect.
|11. Hrî (remorse)
||Be modest and show
remorse for misconduct.
||Don't be a slave to the
senses. Seek joy and serenity in the Self.
|13. Dăna (tithing)
||Give generously without
thought of reward. The more you give, the more you get.
|14. Ăstikya (faith)
||Have unwavering faith in
|15. Pűjana (worship)
||Perform daily worship and
|16. Shravana (hearing
|Study scriptures, listen
to the teachings of the wise, and faithfully follow guru's
||Sharpen the intellect
with guru's guidance.
|18. Vrata (sacred
|19. Japa (chanting)
||Chant God's names and
sacred mantras daily.
|20. Tapas (austerity)
(spiritual discipline) as outlined by the guru.