Hindu ethics differs from modern scientific ethics, which is largely influenced by biology; for according to this latter, whatever is conducive to the continuous survival of a particular individual or species is good for it. It also differs from utilitarian ethics, whose purpose is to secure the maximum utility for a society by eliminating friction and guaranteeing for its members a harmonious existence. Hindu ethics prescribes the disciplines for a spiritual life, which are to be observed consciously or unconsciously as long as man lives.
Hindu Ethics is Mainly Subjective r Personal Hindu ethics is mainly subjective or personal, its purpose being to eliminate such mental impurities as greed and egoism, for the ultimate attainment of the highest good. Why Hindu ethics stresses the subjective or personal value of action will be discussed later. Objective ethics, which deals with social welfare, has also been considered by Hindu thinkers. It is based upon the Hindu conception of Dharma, or duty, related to a man’s position in society and his stage in life.
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Objective ethics, according to the Hindu view, is a means to an end, its purpose being to help the embers of society to rid themselves of self-centeredness, cruelty, greed, and other vices, and thus to create an environment helpful to the pursuit of the highest good, which transcends society. Hinduism further speaks of certain universal ethical principles which apply to all human beings irrespective of their position in society or stage in life. Social welfare The ethical doctrines of the Hindus are based upon the teachings of the Pinheads and of certain secondary scriptures, which derive their authority from the Veda.
But though their emphasis is mainly subjective, the Pinheads do not deny the value of social ethics. For instance, we read: “As the scent is wafted afar from a tree laden with flowers, so also is wafted afar the scent of a good deed. ” Among the social virtues are included ‘hospitality, courtesy, and duties to wife, children, and grandchildren. ‘ In one of the Pinheads, a king, in answer to a question by a Irish regarding the state of affairs in his country, says: “In my kingdom there is no thief, no miser, no drunkard, no man without an altar in his home, no ignorant person, no adulterer, much less an adulteress. Ethical actions calculated to promote social elf is enjoined upon all who are identified with the world and conscious of their social responsibilities. Without ethical restraint there follows social chaos, which is detrimental to the development of spiritual virtues. According to the Pinheads, the Why Self-control, Hinduism By Richardson liberation from samara, or the relative world, without previously discharging their social duties. As a person realizes the unreality of the world and the psycho-physical entity called the individual, his social duties gradually fall away; but they must not be forcibly given up.
If the scab is removed before the wound is healed, a new sore forms. Every normal person endowed with social consciousness has a threefold debt to discharge: his debt to the gods, to the Risks, and to the ancestors. The debt to the gods, who favor us with rain, sun, wind, and other natural amenities, is paid through worship and prayer. The debt to the Risks, from whom we inherit our spiritual culture, is paid through regular study of the scriptures. The debt to the ancestors, from whom we have received our physical bodies, is paid through the procreation of children, ensuring the preservation of the line.
With the blessings of the gods, the Risks, and the ancestors, one can cheerfully practice disciplines for the realization of the highest good, in which all worldly values find fulfillment. The observance of social ethics, in a large measure, preserved Hindu society when various outside forces threatened to destroy it. The neglect of social ethics, on the other hand, has undermined its vitality. How, by suitable ethical disciplines, the brutish man may become a decent man, a decent man an aristocrat, and the aristocrat a spiritual person, has been explained by a story in one of the Pinheads.
Once a god, a man, and a demon – the three offspring of the Creator – sought his advice for self- improvement. To them the Creator said: “Dad. ” As the syllable ‘Dad’ is the first letter of three Sanskrit words, meaning, respectively, self-control, charity, and compassion, the Creator was in effect asking the god to practice self-control, the man to practice charity, and the demon to practice compassion. In human society there exists aristocrats, average men, and demoniacal men.
The aristocrat, in spite of his education, refinement, generosity, and gentleness, may lack in self-control and go the excess in certain matters like eating, drinking, or gambling. Hence he needs self- control to improve his character further. The average man, in spite of his many human qualities, is often greedy; he wants to take what belongs to others. Liberality or charity is his discipline for self-improvement. The demoniacal person takes delight in treating others with cruelty and ruthlessness, which can be suppressed through the practice of compassion.
The Pinheads say that the Creator, even today, gives the same moral advice to different types of human beings through the voice of the thunderclap, which makes the reverberating sound ‘Dad-dad-dad. The caste system in Hinduism is intimately connected with the social aspect of Hindu ethics, demonstrating the importance of renunciation and self-denial as cardinal virtues. The origin of this system is found in the Veda, though it later underwent much transformation in the hands of the Hindu lawgivers. The Baghdad Gait says that the Lord Himself divided human beings into four groups, determined by their actions and virtues.
Traditions other than Hinduism support similar divisions. Plato divided the state into three classes, castes, or professions, namely, philosopher-rulers, arioso, and the masses. Nietzsche says that every healthy society contains three mutually conditioning types and that it is Nature, not Mann (the Hindu law giver), which separates one from another; the mainly intellectual, those mainly endowed with muscular and temperamental strength, and those who are distinguished neither individuals, and the last, the great majority.
According to the Hindu scriptures, a normal society consists of the Brahmins, who are men of knowledge, of science, literature, thought, and learning; the Ashtrays, who are men of action and valor; he Visas, who are men of desires, possessiveness, and acquisitive enterprise; and lastly the Sutras, who are men of little intelligence, who cannot be educated beyond certain low limits, who are incapable of dealing with abstract ideas, and who are fit only for manual labor.
Each of them, in the words of Nietzsche, has its own hygiene, its own domain of labor, its own sentiment of perfection, and its own special superiority. In the Veda the four castes are described as four important parts of the body of the Cosmic Person: the head, the arms, the thighs (or the stomach), and the et. This analogy suggests the interdependence of the four castes for the common welfare of all; it also suggests that the exploitation of one by another undermines the strength of the whole of society.
The rules regarding the four castes sum up the experience, sagacity, and experimental morals of long centuries of Hindu thinkers. The Baghdad Gait describes the virtues of the four castes, and their duties. The qualities of a Brahmins are control of the mind and the senses, austerity, cleanliness, forbearance, uprightness, scholarship, insight, and faith. He possesses a minimum of orally assets, accepts voluntary poverty, and is satisfied with simple living and high thinking. Both a priest and a teacher, he is the leader of society and an adviser to king and commoner.
A custodian of the culture of the race, he occupies his high position in society by virtue of his spirituality, and not by the power of arms or wealth. The qualities of a Ashtray are heroism, high spirit, firmness, resourcefulness, dauntlessness in battle, generosity, and sovereignty. Agriculture, cattle rearing, and trade are the duties of a Visa. The main duty of a Sutra is action entailing physical labor. The hierarchy in the caste system is determined by the degree of voluntary renunciation, poverty, and self-control, and also by the degree of intellectual and spiritual attainments.
A Brahmins has to suppress many impulses for physical enjoyment. A Ashtray, no doubt, enjoys power and pleasure, but he is ready at any time to lay down his life for the protection of the country from external aggression or internal chaos. A Visa, whose moral code and intellectual attainments are not so rigorous or high as those of the two upper castes, amasses wealth, both for his own enjoyment and for the welfare of society. One does not expect from a Sutra very much of spiritual, intellectual, or moral perfection.
The higher is one’s position in the caste system, the greater is one’s obligation to members of the lower castes, and the more stern is the renunciation of personal comforts. Noblesse oblige. The caste system was designed to promote the harmonious working of society, the weak being assured of protection from the strong. “It is a law of spiritual economics,” said Mahatma Gandhi; “it has nothing to do with superiority or inferiority. ” When a person belonging to a lower caste becomes a saint, he is honored even by the Brahmins.
The disciplines for spiritual development are not withheld from anyone. Continued below Top To top of this page Index Alphabetical [Index to Pages] continued The basis of the caste system, according to the Hindu view, is men’s self-evident inborn inequality; physical, intellectual, and spiritual. An individual is born into a higher or lower caste as a result of actions performed by him in his previous life, and each person, therefore, is himself responsible for his position. By discharging the duties determined by his caste, a man becomes qualified for birth in a higher caste in a future life.
If one does not accept the doctrine of rebirth and the law of karma, then the inequity from which members of lower castes often suffer cannot be explained. A second element in the organization of the caste system is Verna or color. Even in the remote past of history, people of different racial groups marked by different complexions inhabited the Indian subcontinent, which formed the basis of their divisions. In course of time, through trade relations and invasions, the Persians, the Greeks, the Scythian, the Bacteria’s, the Asks, the Kansas, the Hung, and peoples of other races entered India and were gradually absorbed into Hindu society.
They were assigned places in the caste system according to their physical or mental aptitudes. In this manner Hindu society solved the problem of alien minorities in its midst. Gradually the contrast between colors was toned down by intermarriages. Through permutations and combinations many subspaces came into existence. A tolerant Hindu society allowed the newcomers to preserve, as far as practicable, their own racial preferences regarding food, clothes, and social and religious customs. This perhaps explains the existence of a great diversity in India in regard to these matters.
A composite Hindu society gradually came into being, whose watchwords were unity in diversity and friendly coexistence. In olden times inter-dining was permitted, as also intermarriage under certain conditions. Through the caste system, Hindu society entrusted itself to the leadership of spirituality and intellect in preference to that of military power, wealth, or labor. As the population increased and other complexities set in, the qualities of the individual became less easy to determine and heredity was gradually accepted as a sort of working principle to determine the caste.
The son inherited the professional duties of the father as well as some of his physical and mental traits. But in olden times, when a Brahmins did not live up to his virtues, he was demoted, and a Sutra, by the acquisition of higher qualities, was promoted. Conduct was more important than birth. One of the Pinheads narrates the touching story of Satsuma, a young boy who wanted to study the Veda, a privilege accorded only to one who was born in the Brahmins caste.
When the boy asked his mother about his lineage, she said: “l do not know, my child, of what ancestry you are. In my youth I was preoccupied with many (household) duties and with attending (on guests) when I conceived you. I do not know of what ancestry you are. I am Cabala by name, and you are Satsuma. So you may speak of yourself as Satsuma Cabala (the son of Cabala)”. When the teacher whom Satsuma approached for Vided knowledge heard this, he was impressed with the boys truthfulness and outspoken nature and concluded that his father must have been a Brahmins.
For many centuries the caste system worked in a super manner, creating and consolidating the Indian culture, which reached its height when the Brahmins, Ashtrays, Visas, and Sutras all dedicated their activities and efforts to the moon welfare. But in this relative universe even a good custom, if it continues for the scriptures, which was the source of their power; eventually they became greedy for more and began to exploit the lower castes. They demanded privileges and respect even when they did not possess Brainchild qualities. Similarly, the Ashtrays and the Visas exploited the Sutras, who formed the majority of the population.
The social laws became rigid, and in the absence of freedom Hindu society stagnated. On account of exploitation, the masses became weak and the country fell an easy prey to powerful invaders from the outside. Islam and Christianity took advantage of the injustices that prevailed in Hindu society and made easy converts, especially among those who were denied social privileges. Hindu society, however, was not completely to blame; for these foreign religions also sometimes used force and unethical persuasion for the purpose of conversion.
But it should not be forgotten that the caste system, even in its rigid form, rendered good service to Hindu society during the days of foreign domination. The Brahmins leaders, by means of ironclad caste laws, prevented Islam and Christianity from completely destroying it. They became the custodians of the Hindu culture and zealously protected it from the leveling influence of these alien faiths. Contact with the West revealed to the Hindu leaders many drawbacks in their society and made them aware of the need for drastic changes in the caste system.
Since Indian’s attainment of political freedom, laws are being enacted for the gradual elimination of taboos about marriage, inter-dining, and social intercourse. The lower castes are being given greater facilities for education, and no one is being debarred from government Jobs on account of his caste. It is to be hoped that this unique social system, which has n he past decisively contributed to Indian’s spiritual life, will again create an environment in which men and women will be able to practice the virtues stressed in Hinduism for the realization of the final goal of human evolution.
The Baghdad Gait states, in its last verse, that the secret of prosperity, strength, morality, and all round social welfare lies in the harmonious working together of the spiritual and the royal power. Sanctuary’s points out that a conflict between the Brahmins, the creators of the spiritual culture, and the Ashtrays, the protectors of that culture, causes the congregation of society. If India gives up the caste system in principle and in practice, she will surely lose her spiritual backbone. There is, however, no room for the caste system in an industrialized society, which is controlled largely by the power of wealth and labor.
It is the goal of a secular classless society to create an equality on the level of the Sutras, whereas Indian society, through the caste system, has aimed at creating an equality by raising all to the level of the Brahmins. Even at its best, however, the caste system is a human institution, and one cannot expect perfection of it. The good an evil of the rule of society by the four castes have been brilliantly pointed out by Swami Vegetarians in a letter to an American friend written during the last decade of the nineteenth century.
The Swami says: (Ethics continued below) (Ethics continued) The Sutra rule “Human society is, in turn, governed by the four castes- The priests, the soldiers, the traders, and the laborers. Each state has its glories as well as defects. When the priest (Brahmins) rules, there is tremendous exclusiveness on hereditary grounds- the persons of the priests and their descendants are hemmed in with all sorts of upgrades- none but they have any knowledge. Its glory is that at this period is laid the foundation of the sciences. The priests cultivate the mind, for through the mind they govern.
The military (Ashtray) rule is tyrannical and cruel; but they are not exclusive, and during that period the arts and social culture attain their height. The commercial (Visa) rule comes next. It is awful in its silent crushing and blood- sucking power. Its advantage is that, as the trader himself goes everywhere, he is a good disseminates of the ideas collected during the two previous states. They are still sees exclusive than the military, but culture begins to decay. Last will come the labor (Sutra) rule. Its advantages will be the distribution of physical comforts- its disadvantages (perhaps) the lowering of culture.
There will be a great distribution of ordinary education, but extraordinary geniuses will be less and less. If it is possible to form a state in which the knowledge of the priest period, the culture of the military, the distributive spirit of the commercial, and the ideal of the equality of the last can all be kept intact, minus their evils, it will be an ideal state. But is it possible? Yet, the first three have had their day, now is the time for the last- they must have it- none can resist it. The other systems have been tried and found wanting.
Let this one be tried- if for nothing else, for the novelty of the thing. A redistribution of pain and pleasure is better than always the same persons having pains and pleasures. The sum total of good and evil in the world remains ever the same. The yoke will be lifted from shoulder to shoulder by new systems, that is all. Let every dog have his day in this miserable world, so that after this experience of so-called happiness they ay all come to the Lord and give up this vanity of a world and governments and all other botheration’s”. Outside the pale of society are the untouchables, whose contact pollutes others.
Who are these untouchables? Originally they were the aborigines, with a very low mental development, who ate unclean food, lived by hunting, and were uncouth in appearance, manner, and conduct. The Aryans, proud of their spiritual culture, shrank from them. But instead of annihilating them outright, or forcibly superimposing upon them their own higher culture, the Aryans sought to assimilate them through education. The Ramadan and the Inhabitant record that any of these aborigines established intimate friendships with the Hindus of the higher castes.
During the foreign rule of India, when the very existence of Hinduism was threatened, society became conservative and the process of assimilation practically stopped. Now that the danger is over, laws have been passed abolishing intractability. Economic and political positions, educational facilities, and temple entry for the purpose of worship are open to all. Even in the past many Hindu religious leaders have protested against intractability and regarded it as a blot upon society. The Four Stages of Life
Apart from caste, a person’s duties, in the Hindu tradition, are determined by the stage of life to which he belongs. Life, which is regarded by Hinduism as a Journey to the shrine of truth, is marked by four stages, each of which has its responsibilities aspiration unfulfilled; otherwise physical and mental sickness will follow, putting roadblocks in the way of his further spiritual progress. The first stage of life covers the period of study, when a student cultivates his mind and prepares himself for future service to society.
He lives with his teacher in a forest retreat and regards the latter as his spiritual father. He leads an austere life and conserves his energy, spurning the defilement of the body and mind through evil words, thoughts, or deeds. He shows respect to his elders and teachers, and becomes acquainted with the cultural achievements of the race. Students, rich and poor, live under the same roof and receive the same attention from the teacher and his wife. When the studies are completed, the teacher gives the pupil the following instruction, as described in one of the Pinheads: “Speak the truth.
Practice Dharma. Do not neglect the study (of the Veda). Having brought to the teacher the gift desired by him, (enter the shoulder’s life and see that) the line of progeny is not cut off. Do not swerve from the truth. Do not swerve from Dharma. Do not neglect personal welfare. Do not neglect prosperity. Do not neglect the study and teaching of the Veda. Do not neglect your duties to the gods and the Manes. Treat your mother as God. Treat your father as God. Treat your teacher as God. Treat your guest as God. Whatever deeds are faultless, these are to be performed- not others.
Whatever good works have been performed by us, those should be performed by you- not others. Those Brahmins who are superior to us-you should comfort them by giving them seats. Now, if there arises in your mind any doubt concerning any act, or any doubt concerning conduct, you should conduct yourself in such matters as Brahmins would conduct themselves- Brahmins who are competent to Judge, who (of their own accord) are devoted (to good deeds) and are not urged (to their performance) by others, and who are not too severe, but are lovers of Dharma.
Now, with regard to persons spoken against, you should conduct yourself in such a way as Brahmins would conduct themselves- good deeds) and are not urged to their performance by others, and who are not too severe, but are lovers of Dharma. This is the rule. This is the teaching. This is the secret wisdom of the Veda. This is the command (of God). This you should observe. This alone should be observed”. With marriage, a person enters the second stage. A normal person requires a mate; his biological and emotional urges in this respect are legitimate.
Debarred from marriage are those alone who have a dangerous ailment that may be transmitted to children, or those rare souls who, as students, forsake the world at the call of the spirit. Neither a confession of a sin nor a concession to weakness, marriage is a discipline for participation in the larger life of society. Children endow marriage with social responsibilities; Hinduism does not regard romance as the whole of the married life. Husband and wife are co-partners in their spiritual progress, and the family provides a training ground for the practice of unselfishness.
A healthy householder is the foundation of a good society, discharging his duties as a teacher, a soldier, a statesman, a merchant, a scientist, or a manual worker. He should be ambitious to acquire wealth and enjoy pleasures, but not by deviating from the path of righteousness. The following are the five great duties of a shoulder; the study and teaching of the Veda; daily worship of the gods through food and drink according to the scriptural injunctions; kindness to domestic animals; and hospitality to guests, the homeless, and the destitute.
When the skin wrinkles, the hairs turn grey, or a grandchild is born, one is ready for the third stage of life in the forest or in a quiet place. At this stage, the pleasures and excitements of youth appear stale and physical needs are reduced to a minimum. The third period of life is devoted to scriptural study and meditation on God. During the fourth stage, a man announces the world and embraces the monastic life. He is no longer bound by social laws. The call of the infinite becomes irresistible to him; even charity and social service appear inadequate.
He rises above worldly attachments, finite obligations, and restricted loyalties; he is a friend of his fellow human beings, of the gods, and of the animals. No longer tempted by riches, honor, or power, a monk preserves equanimity of spirit under all conditions. He turns away from the vanities of the world, devoting himself to the cultivation of God-consciousness, which is a man’s true friend both here and hereafter. During the fourth stage, a disciplined life attains to its full blossoming.
Well has it been said: When a man is born he cries and the world laughs; but let him lead a life that when he dies, he laughs and the world cries. ‘ Thus it will be seen that every stage of life, as described in the Veda, has its duties and obligations, the right discharge of which requires self-control. Through the disciplines of the four stages of life, a Hindu learns progressive non-attachment to the transitory world. The movement of life has been aptly compared to that of the sun. At dawn the sun rises from below the horizon, and as the morning progresses it goes on radiating heat and light till it reaches the zenith at midday.
During the afternoon it goes down, gradually withdrawing its heat and light, and at dusk, it sinks below the horizon, a mass of radiance to illumine other regions. Continued below Dharma The key to the individual and social ethics of Hinduism is the conception of Dharma, whose full implications cannot be conveyed by such English words as religion, duty, or righteousness. Derived from a root, which means to support, the word signifies the law of inner growth by which a person is supported in his present state of evolution ND is shown the way to future development.
A person’s Dharma is not imposed by society or decreed by an arbitrary god, but is something with which he is born as a result of his actions in previous lives. Dharma determines a man’s proper attitude toward the outer world and governs his mental and physical reactions in a given situation. It is his code of honor. Hinduism emphasizes the relative nature of Dharma, and does not recognize absolute good or evil; evil may be described as what is less good. One cannot stipulate what is absolutely good or evil for all men at all times.
The attempts to do so, and to Judge all people by a single concept of Dharma or impose upon all a single idea of righteousness, has been the cause of much injustice to humanity. If one wants to give a comprehensive definition of good and evil, one may say that what helps men toward the realization of God or the unity of existence is good, and its reverse is evil. But one faces difficulties when one tries to justice, whereas a saint lays down his own life for the same purpose. The injunction of non-killing cannot therefore have a universal application, at least at the present state of human evolution.
A man must not give up his imperfect Dharma, determined by his inborn nature; all actions have elements of imperfection in them. He should follow his own Dharma and should not try to imitate the Dharma of another, however perfect the latter may be. By performing his duties in a spirit of worship without seeking any personal result, a man ultimately realizes God, in whom alone all duties and values of life find fulfillment. The Inhabitant narrates the stories of a housewife and an untouchable butcher who, by following their respective Dharma, realized the highest truth and became teachers of the knowledge of Brahmas.
Dharma, Earth, Kamala, Mimosa The affirmative attitude of Hinduism toward life has been emphasized by its recognition of four legitimate and basic desires: Dharma or righteousness, Earth or wealth, Kamala or sense pleasure, and Mimosa or freedom through communion with God or the Infinite. Of these, three belong to the realm of worldly values; the fourth (Mimosa) is called the supreme value. The fulfillment of the first three paves the way for Mimosa. Enjoyment, if properly guided, can be transformed into spiritual experience.
The suppression of legitimate desires often leads to an unhealthy state f body and mind, and delays the attainment of liberation. Dharma, or righteousness, we have already seen, to be the basis of both individual progress and social welfare. Earth, or wealth, is legitimate; money is indispensable in the present state of society. Voluntary poverty, as practiced by religious mendicants, is something quite different; pious householders provide for the monks’ few necessities in recognition of their efforts to keep alive the highest spiritual ideal.
But a man of the world without money is a failure; he cannot keep body and soul together. According to an injunction of Hinduism, first comes the body and next the practice of religion. Furthermore, money is needed to build hospitals, schools, museums, and educational institutions, which distinguish a civilized from a primitive society. Money gives leisure, which is an important factor in the creation of culture. But money must be earned according to Dharma; otherwise it debases a man by making him greedy and cruel. The object of the third legitimate desire is Kamala, or the enjoyment of sense pleasure.
This covers a vast area- from the enjoyment of conjugal love, without which the creation cannot be maintained, to the appreciation of art, music, or poetry. Life becomes drab and grey unless one cultivates aesthetic sensitivity. But sense pleasures, if not pursued according to Dharma, degenerate into sensuality. Wealth and sense pleasure, which are only means to an end, are valuable in so far as their enjoyment creates a genuine yearning for spiritual freedom in the mind of the enjoyed. The hedonists alone regard sense pleasure as an end in itself.
The Charka school of thinkers, out-and-out materialists, rejects righteousness and spiritual freedom and admits only two values, namely, those related to wealth and sense pleasure. The Pinheads make a sharp distinction between the ideal of the pleasant and of the good, and declares that the former, created by ignorance, ultimately brings about suffering and misery. Even Dharma, or duty, for its own sake, is regarded as empty and dry by Hindu philosophers. It is a worthy end in so far as it helps the soul to attain its spiritual because of his overflowing love for all created beings.
The fourth legitimate desire, equally irresistible, is related to Mimosa, or freedom from the love and attachment prompted by the finite view of life. Man, who in essence is spirit, cannot be rearmament satisfied with worldly experiences. The enjoyment of desires cannot be satisfied by enjoyment, any more than fire can be quenched by pouring butter into it; the more they are fulfilled, the more they flare up. Nor can man attain his divine stature through correct social behavior, economic security, political success, or artistic creation.
Charity for the needy may be a corrective for selfishness, but cannot be the ultimate goal of his soul’s craving. Even patriotism is not enough: as history shows, undue emphasis on patriotism was a major cause of the downfall of the Greek city-states. After fulfilling all his worldly desires and responsibilities a man still wants to know how he can suppress his inner restlessness and attain peace. So at last he gives up attachment to the world and seeks freedom through the knowledge of the spirit. Intended below Personal Ethics Over Social Ethics A few words may be said here to explain why Hindu philosophers emphasized personal ethics over social ethics. Their argument was that since society consisted of individuals, if individuals were virtuous, social welfare would follow as a matter of course. Second, the general moral tone was very high in the ancient Hindu society, here everybody was expected to do his appropriate duties, which included, among other things, rendering help to one’s less fortunate fellow beings.
As the country was prosperous and men were generous and hospitable, no need was felt for organized charity, which even in Europe and in America, has been a comparatively new development. The organized social service in the modern West is, to a large extent, a form of sentimentalism in reaction against the doctrine of utilitarianism and the industrialization of Western society due to the extraordinary growth of science and technology.
Third, the Hindus regarded spiritual help as of more enduring value than material help: the hungry would feel again the pinch of hunger, and the sick would again be sick; but a spiritual person could easily bear with calmness his physical pain and privations. Finally, Hindu philosophers believed that the sum total of physical happiness and suffering remains constant. Suffering, like chronic rheumatism, only moves from one place to another but cannot be totally eradicated. It is not easy to substantiate the claim of progress, if it means the gradual elimination of evil and increase of good.
It is true that we are living in a changing world, but it need not be true that we are living in a progressive world. Every age has its virtues and limitations; but can anyone really show that men today are enjoying more happiness, peace, and freedom than their forebears? The Hindu philosophers, without encouraging the illusion that a perfect society could be created, always exhorted people to promote social welfare as a part of spiritual discipline. We must do good to others, because by means of selfless action we can purify our hearts and transcend the relative world of good and evil. Social service has only an instrumental, not an