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UNIT 1

AN ETHICAL VISION OF
BUSINESS AND
MANAGEMENT

An Ethical Vision of
Business and Management

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INTRODUCTION

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Introduction
Unit Objectives
The Indianness of Indian Management
Advantages of Sacred Simplicity
System of Education in Ancient India
Essentials of Indian Philosophy
The Philosophy of the Gita
The Law of Grace
Ethics of Hinduism
Ethics of Buddhism
Ethics of Jainism
Tenets of Buddhist Economics
Ethics of Buddhist Economics
Excluded Activities
Swami Vivekananda and his Philosophy and Ethics
Gandhi and his Philosophy and Ethics
The Philosophy of Aurobindo (18721950)
The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore (18611941)
Summary
Answers to Check Your Progress
Questions and Exercises
Further Reading

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Although our country keeps looking to the West for guidance on nearly everything, most
of the answers lie in the roots of our own culture and ethical vision of management. Vedic
thought is very clear in its approach to management and as relevant in the modern context
as when it originated. In ancient India, education, religion and civilization were closely
interlinked for a common, holistic purpose.
Contrary to the perception of the West, Indian thinking is karma-based, believing the world
to be a stage for the soul to be born, act and attain liberation. Karma regards life as a
spiritual journey from suffering to eternal bliss. All men, regardless of their inherent traits,
can improve their nature through their karma. Every society needs ethical principles to
guide the life of its individuals, and has accordingly formulated the same. While there may
be a difference in the Western and Indian outlook on the nature and purpose of human
existence, there are also variations amongst religions within India, providing a vast canvas
for study and thought.
The Buddha advocated the noble eightfold path for living rightly. Buddhism believes that
spiritual health and material well-being can co-exist happily, but it regards the essence of
civilization not in increasing demands but purification of human character. The viewpoints
of modern economic theory and Buddhist economics make an interesting contrast. Different

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philosophers during different periods of time have upheld certain ethical principles according
to their personal viewpoint as well as the prevailing circumstances. While each has had the
welfare of the masses in mind and raised a voice against injustice, the paths or methods
advocated by them to express the same may have been quite different.
In this unit, you will learn about the system of education in Ancient India, the ethics of
Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, the philosophies of Aurobindo and Rabindranath Tagore,
and management in India.

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1.1

UNIT OBJECTIVES

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After going through this unit, you will be able to:


Explain the Indianness of Indian Management
Describe the system of education in ancient India
List the six aims of this education
Differentiate between education and religion
Explain the essentials of Indian philosophy
Analyse the idea of rebirth and the law of karma
Define the law of grace
The ethics of Hinduism
The ethics of Buddhism
The ethics of Jainism
The basic tenets of Buddhist economics
The ethics of Buddhist economics
The exclusion of certain non-essential industries
Swami Vivekananda and his philosophy and ethics
Gandhi and his philosophy and ethics
The philosophy of Aurobindo
The philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore

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An Ethical Vision of
Business and Management

1.2

THE INDIANNESS OF INDIAN MANAGEMENT

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Management writers in India often insist on keeping the world of business goals and means
secular. This is an example of deep-seated fragmentism. India is a country where
Vivekananda, Tagore, Gandhi and Aurobindo insisted upon holisticsan approach that
integrates multiple parts. It is a mystery why most of us behave the way we do. It is our
misfortune that even now we seek new light for everything from the West. The ghosts
of Macaulay and Marx still haunt and rule the cognitive world of most of our learned
people.

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There has been a discernible interest in discovering Indianness of Indian management.


This can be achieved by discovering the roots of our culture and by following the ethical
vision of management.
There are three approaches to management hedonomics (hedonism + economics),
communomics (communism + economics) and spirinomics (spirituality + economics).
The first two approaches are secular and the third is spiritual or sacred the reinstatement
of the moral man in management.
To harness secular complexity to the guiding hand of sacred simplicity is the ethicomoral note in the management of all affairs. The Vedantic genius grasped long ago the truth
that problems springing from secular pursuits cannot be resolved by following secular
routes. It was equally clear that the answer to growing complexity is not to invite a greater
complexity. The solution lay in the conjunction of their opposites: the sacred and the
simple. This insight was formulated into a four-goal system of human existence: Dharma
ArthaKamaMoksha.

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The secular goals of artha and karma are to integrate into the model within the bounds
of dharma, or ethico-moral propriety and moksha or liberation of the spirit. Modern
interpretation of this view can be thus summed up: Every act is a spiritual prayer, every
step is a pilgrimage. In other words, the key task of management in any secular aspect
of life is to transform and elevate it into a sacred process. Otherwise, secular life is subject
to entropic degeneration under cover of exterior gloss. Simple living, high thinking is
exiled and its place usurped by complex living, low thinking. Spirit or consciousness
crystallises from its subtle, universal, infinite state into gross and finite matter, life and
mind. Self-management by the human implies seizing this dynamic and realising the
original state of consciousness. This is God, Heaven, Mukti. As humans transform themselves
by investing the secular with the sacred through sadhana, clashes and conflicts begin to
lessen because the more one progresses towards the subtle, the more one becomes all
embracing, all inclusive. Coarseness and differentiation go together. The feeling of oneness
is constricted at the level of matterlifemind that are finite and subjected to limitations.
Though secular ethics tends to be founded on self-preservation as the first principle, it
certainly cannot be the final destination for humans. Hence, the need for sacred ethics in
the management of our affairs, grounded in the final principle of self-transcendence for
self-ascension.
If, despite higher education, better emoluments and good profits, organizations present
a gloomy picture of the quality of worklife, the secular model must have some flaws.
Secular values of self-preserving rationality and materialist competitive excellence have to
answer for such deficiencies.

1.3

ADVANTAGES OF SACRED SIMPLICITY

Now, let us consider some insights into the kind of correctives we may obtain from sacred
simplicity.

First, the most important goal of human existence is to aim at and strive for a pure
mind. Mind-purification always takes precedence over intellect-sharpening. Intellect does
not decide or choose. Emotions or feelings are the first to make the secret choice. Then,
the clever intellect is employed to justify it superficially in one way or another. So, if the
primary driving power behind human actions is not properly groomed in wholesome ways,
intellect or reason will merely play into the hands of murky, destructive driving forces of
perverse emotions. Achievement of pure mind is a great fact and feat of spiritual empiricism.

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Second, Vedantic thought is equally emphatic about the law: the subject is the cause,
the object is the effect. Whether one individual produces a beautiful painting or another
commits gruesome murder, both these objective events are effects springing from the
inner or subjective causal source harboured within each. When turbulence or depravity is
seen in the external workings of society or organizations, the root lies necessarily in the
collective subjective domains concealed within these entities. In terms of management,
therefore, primary reliance on systems and structures to ameliorate organizational ill-health
becomes questionable. But there is widespread lack of appreciation amongst managers
about this basic perspective.

Third, Vedantic thought offers a general theory and method of work for those who
are capable of reconciling short-term doing and long-term becoming while at the same
time enhancing purity of mind. The central tenet of this theory is: Work must be done
without personal claims to egocentric results (i.e. rewards) as the driving force.
Fourth, descending from the spiritual general theory of egoless work, Vedantic
thought also offers an ethico-moral general theory for ego-led work. Like causelike
effect is the fourth general theory. Malafide decisions or acts will boomerang with
unfavourable or retributive effects on their source. The popular name for this law is Karma
theory. Toynbee has expressed its essence in this way: The ethical level of society at a

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particular moment depends on the state of karmaaccount of each of the participants in


society. The most important objective for a human being, both for his own sake and for
the sake of society, is to improve his karma.

An Ethical Vision of
Business and Management

Thus awakened internal awareness about the inescapable retributive effect of greedy,
selfish, manipulative acts, sooner or later will serve as a salutary psychological braking
device in man's slippery journey through ethico-moral traps. The Biblical pronouncement
you reap as you sow captures this very truth of ethicomoral existence. This law also
fosters a profound sense of personal accountability for life's experiences. Today's fate is
one's own creation of the past. Tomorrow's fate will also be one's own creation in the
womb of the present. There is no need for God to decree anyone's rewards or punishments.
If I am an exploiter today, then I will be tomorrow's exploited. If I am being exploited
today, I must have been an exploiter yesterday.

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Fifth, in respect of self-management in a broader sense, the Indian ethos presents one
more general theory. It states that human personality comprises: (i) an outer active,
involved and dynamic self, and (ii) an inner quiescent and silent self. The first part is called
prakriti, the second purusha. Even when one works in the midst of turbulent or hectic
external circumstances, this inner purusha exists all the time as a permanent background
of stillness. It just so happens that we are not aware of this presence. The practice of this
depth awareness is, however, a crucial process for effective self-management.
Sixth, we have a spirinomic exchange theory of generating the means of human
sustenance and economic wealth in the Gita and Upanishads that offer a systematic
framework for this purpose by linking the human and the cosmic. And, this vital bridge
is provided by the concept of Yajnartha Karma, i.e., work done as sacrifice. Sacrifice
denotes the external, sacred exchange process imbedded in the humancosmos nexus.
This is a transcendent existential view where the finite and infinite meet.

Both Tagore and Gandhi subscribe to this theory when they say man's social and
economic affairs should be rooted in and imbued with a comprehensive cosmic awareness,
including humble gratitude for all that is already available to him as sublime gifts from the
Supreme. Greedy and arrogant appropriation of these gifts, whether in the context of man
versus man or man versus Nature, is bad economics and also bad management. This is
what has been called hedonomics. The answer to this must be a basic change of direction
towards spirinomics as the ancient VedaVedanta corpus of insights has already proclaimed.
The process of imbibing the Upanishadic principle is essentially a spiritual endeavour. The
theory of nishkam karma also meshes neatly with the theme of doing work to please the
Lord and not for the greedy ego.

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To add force and power behind this endeavour, man's role in society has also been
conceived of in terms of indebtedness in Vedantic literature. This systemic indebtedness
framework is:

Check Your Progress

1. What must human existence


strive for?

2. What is Yajnartha Karma?


3. Whose
formula
is:
a n yth in g an yt im e
anywhere?

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Devarin (indebtedness to supra-human powers for the gifts of air, sun, water, light,
etc.).

Rishi Rin (indebtedness to sages who by leading lives of utter self-denial, realised
the highest truths).

Pitri Rin (indebtedness to parent and ancestors for their cumulative contributions
to our present standing).

Nri Rin (indebtedness to humanity at large, to countless people who have done their
bit, all converging to make each moment of our existence a reality).

Bhuta Rin (indebtedness to the countless members of sub-human species like the
trees, the birds, the insects, the animals, etc. for their incalculable gifts to us).

Man's attitude towards his social existence, if inspired by the above indebtedness
orientation, will naturally shift more towards duties, obligations and sacrifice. Covetousness
will decline, trusteeship will grow and distributive justice will be more securely founded.

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Seventh, when we are dealing with the management of economic activities and industrial
enterprises, the theme of creativity deserves attention. We may begin by segregating the
creativity of an artist or a poet from the kind of creativity engaged in the economic and
industrial sphere. For the latter, in the past three centuries, Redonomics and technology
have formed a near-invincible alliance that in the last analysis, has given to mankind a
consumeristmilitarist culture. If this is a correct assessment, what should creativity mean
during the present century and thereafter? Should it go on serving higher standards of
consumption? Is it not a kind of falsehood when hedonomics flouts the slogan, higher
standard of living while what it has actually been doing is to promote higher standards
of consumption, often at the expense of true and higher living. Unless the haves scale
down their standards of consumption and renew the efforts to live more and more
holistically, (which is the true meaning of higher standard of living), what chance do the
have-nots get to meet the minimum standards of consumption? Yet, creativity has
triggered more upward percolation than 'downward seepage'.

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And, this systematic model beckons the individual to be honourable: so live in society that
as many of these inescapable debts as possible are liquidated before departure from this
world. Is this not sacred simplicity at its best? Does this not help man to transcend to
spiritual status even while living within society? While neither hedonomics (neoclassical
economics) nor communomics (communist economics) has been able to achieve the
economic welfare of all, spirinomics built on these ideas and without transforming the
individual into a consumerist automaton out of rapacious greed or without riding roughshod
over the individual self seems to have the best chance of providing balanced fulfilment.

We believe that creativity in the future must, on the whole, be directed towards
reviewing the simple living high thinking goal for humanity. If our present existential
mode is predominantly complex livinglow thinking, then creativity needs to function in
the reverse order. The post-industrial society or information society by cherishing the
magical existential formula of S.M. Davisanythinganytimeanywhere that promises
instant gratification, may be conjuring a tempting technological scenario. This aim makes
the industry rush headlong into improving per unit efficiency factors in the use of various
inputs (e.g. electricity) while simultaneously causing a manifold rise in the aggregate
number of units of the final product.

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But this implies opening up ultimate avenues to greed and desire. They pay no heed
to Christs profound insight: The kingdom of God is within. And, it is antithetical to the
Vedantic transformational goal of unfolding the higher self or core self within which is
poorna or that which is autonomously whole and self-sufficient by itself. This intrepid
technological model needs also to face up to the issue of increased entropy in a closed
system that our planet is. Does it offer a high entropy scenario or low entropy one? Unless
the spiritsoul/self is brought to the centre of global planning for the future, which alone
is not subject to entropy, no effective countervailing force against such high entropy
creativity can be initiated. Therefore, once again we have a choice: Hedonomics or
spirinomics? Managing creativity will be a derivative of this choice. It is, therefore, a
pleasure to hear Miller say that although technology is a creative art, just as all mind and
no heart produces a barren human being, technology applied without heart produces a
barren world and a barren lifestyle and goes on to assert that secular decisions ought to
be made in the light of higher spiritual values.

Eighth, let us turn to another major aspect of management within a spirinomic


organization: leadership and teamwork. In the Indian context, the credibility of a leader
rests ultimately on his attribute of impersonal love springing from the higher self. This is
a transcendental quality because it can rise and stay above petty likes and dislikes, narrow
preferences and abhorrences. In a pluralistic society such as India, various kinds of
biases, prejudices and partialities constantly mar the credibility of a leader's decisions. He
is not seen as fair and impartial by all. Many of his colleagues and followers gradually feel
alienated. Motivation and effectiveness suffer in consequence. Much energy is wasted in
checkmating nepotism. All this is at odds with the character of spirinomic organizations.

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An Ethical Vision of
Business and Management

1.4

SYSTEM OF EDUCATION IN ANCIENT INDIA

Education is a purposeful and ethical activity, hence one cannot imagine it to be without
aims and ideals.

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Ancient Hindu civilisation is the direct product of religion. Religion practically moulded
the civilisation of the Hindus. Social, political and economic activities of the Hindus were
greatly regulated by religion. Education was also regarded as a part of religion. It was
sought as the means of salvation or self-realization. The main business of education is to
open up other avenues of knowledge rather than the mere physical senses. It seeks to
educate the mind as the medium of knowledge. In ancient Indian education, the individual
constituted the fulcrum and lever of it. In other words, education was essentially individual
in nature.

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An intimate relationship between the teacher and the pupil was the soul and kernel of
the system of education prevailing in ancient India. This relationship started with a religious
ceremony called upanayana (new birth). The education that began with this ceremony
was called Brahmacharya, indicating thereby a mode of life.

Vedic literature constituted a vital part of education. The Atharvaveda refers to a vedic
student collecting fuel for fire worship and bringing alms to his teacher or Guru. NonBrahmins were not debarred from learning the Vedas. The members of the Kshatriya and
Vaishya castes went through the period of studentship. They were entitled to receive the
sacrament of the upanayana. The principal duties of a Brahmachari were as follows:
(i) Vedic study; (ii) services to the teacher; and (iii) purity of body and mind. This system
gave emphasis to truthfulness, observance of duty, devotion to the teacher, to one's
parents, hospitality, faith and generosity.
The Buddhist system of education was also akin to the ancient Hindu system; Buddhism
is not a new religion; it is deeply indebted to the Hindu system of thought and life.

Buddhism was born in India and was started by Gautam Buddha, who was an Indian
Prince of Sakya dynasty of Kshatriyas. Dr. Radhakrishanan had said, It was no freak in
the evolution of Indian thought, Buddha did not completely break away from spiritual ideals
of his age and country. Buddhism was not a sudden investigation of any thought. It was
the natural evolution of Indian line of thinking. Hopkins also says, The founder of
Buddhism did not strike out new system of morals, he was not a democrat, he did not
originate a plot to overthrow the Brahman priesthood, he did not originate the order of the
monks. According to R. Davis, Buddha was the greatest, wisest and the best of Hindus.

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The Buddhist system of education was coloured by their philosophy of life. According
to Buddhist philosophy, the world is full of sorrow; men should strive to get rid of sorrows;
they can overcome sorrow if they can avoid birth in this world and they can avoid birth
by the attainment of nirvana.
It was this philosophy of sorrow that gave rise to the monastery system, one of the
most remarkable features of the Buddhist system of education. For the improvement of
life that was indispensable for the attainment of nirvana, a life of retirement from the world
was necessary. This belief prompted the Buddhists to renounce the world and live in
companies in viharas that gradually developed into monasteries.
The condition of admission into a Buddhist Sangha was simple. Admission was
thrown open to all castes. After admission, the candidate lived as a novice under the
guidance of a preceptor for at least twelve years and then could apply for full monkhood.
The pupil was to regard his preceptor as his father.
Buddhist education was spiritual in essence. It was not primarily concerned with the
promotion of learning or development of the intellect. To the Buddhists, education was an
agency through which Nirvana could be attained.

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But the major limitation of Buddhist education was that it was dominated by religion
to a great degree. An education that kept pupils engaged mainly in metaphysical speculations,
could not be conducive to the development of secular subjects. This education wholly
ignored the art of warfare, thereby killing the martial spirit in a large section of society.
The baneful effect of this type of education was felt when the country was invaded by
foreigners.

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Ancient education system refers to the Aryan or Brahmanical system of education


developed from the Rig Vedic to the Sutra period. Altekar has concluded that there were
six aims of education in ancient India. The first of these was infusion of piety and
religiousness. It was so because religion played an important part in life in ancient India
and teachers were priests. The rituals that a student had to perform at the beginning of
his educational career, the religious practices that he had to observe during the educational
course, the daily prayers that he offered in the morning and evening, the religious festivals
that were celebrated in the school or at the preceptor's houseall these fostered piety and
religiosity in the mind of the young learner. But it should be remembered that the inculcation
of virtues of piety and religiosity did not induce the student to renounce the world: The
aim of all education was to make the student a useful and pious member of society.

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Buddhism contributed greatly to the cause of education in ancient India. First, it


democratised education by opening the doors of schools and colleges to all, irrespective
of castes, creed or community. Second, it was through Buddhist universities that India
established relations with distant countries like Korea, China, Tibet and Java. Third,
Buddhist education helped the development of Hindu logic and philosophy by encouraging
comparative study of these subjects.

The second aim of education was the formation of character. It was done by the
proper development of moral feelings. Ancient Indian thinkers held that mere intellectual
attainments were not enough to make a man really learned; along with his scholarship he
must be pure in his life, thoughts and habits. In other words, education ought to develop
moral feelings in a man so that he can control his animal nature. Oral instruction given by
the teacher, ideal life led by teachers, examples of national heroes and heroinesall these
helped to mould the character of students.

The third aim of ancient Hindu education was the development of personality. The
virtues of self-respect, self-confidence, and self-restraint were encouraged and powers of
discrimination and judgement were fostered. It is a wrong notion among some that the iron
discipline enforced by the ancient teachers suppressed the personality of the students. If
the system repressed personality, certainly it would not have produced a galaxy of leaders
whose contributions to Indian culture is regarded as our proud heritage.

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Inculcation of the civic and social duties was the fourth aim of the education system.
The graduate was not to lead a self-centred life. He was constantly reminded of his
obligations to society. Social structure in ancient India, was to a great extent, independent
of government. Social life in villages remained unaffected by the rise and fall of governments.
A stable and well-ordered social life independent of government, was possible only because
people were conscious of their social duties and civic responsibilities. These were inculcated
by the educational system. The convocation address to the graduates as suggested in the
Upanishads shows how students were inspired to be useful members of the society.
Promotion of social efficiency and happiness was the fifth aim of the educational
system. It would be wrong to think that in the field of education, the Aryans were
concerned only with the development of martial and intellectual powers and faculties;
rather, they evolved a peculiar system for promoting the progress of different branches
of arts and professions. The caste system predetermined the occupation of every individual
in society. The system might have sacrificed the individual inclinations of a few, and in a
modern democratic society it may not be acceptable, but there is no denying the fact that
the system had some redeeming features.
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Restriction of occupations and trades to families for generations led to specialization


and this improved the efficiency of the people engaged in different trades and professions.
Ultimately, the system contributed materially to the general progress and happiness of
society.

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The sixth and the most important aim was the preservation and spread of national
heritage and culture. The Aryans, conscious of the superiority of their culture, were
concerned for its preservation and transmission. They knew that eduction was the best
way of transmitting their heritage to the future generations. It is this awareness that
motivated the priestly class to transmit and thus preserve the sacred Vedic texts. The
continuity is one of the remarkable features of the Hindu civilisation since the Persian
attack in the 6th century B.C. India was repeatedly attacked by many foreigners. Many
of them conquered the country but could not to affect her culture and tradition. This
continuity of culture would not have been possible if the ancient educational system did
not aim at its preservation.

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The culture of ancient India was mostly the means of preaching religion but it did not
altogether neglect the worldly affairs. Religion was, no doubt, predominant in every sphere
of life and it may be said that ancient India was more cognisant of the religious field, than
the political, economic or social fields. Dr. R.K. Mukherjee says that, we find the stamp
of religiosity on indian literature since the birth of vedic poetry more than a thousand years
ago. Therefore, literature which was not purely religious, too had the hint of religious
publicity; ancient Indian education system also developed on the same lines. In India,
knowledge was not gained only for the sake of knowledge; it was a means of gaining
salvation or moksh. Dr. R.K. Mukherjee further says that, learning in India through the ages
had been prized and pursued not for its own sake but for the sake of and as a part of
religion. It was sought as the means of salvation or self-realisation, as the means of highest
end of lifemukti or emancipation.
Indeed, the ultimate aim of human society of that age was the achievement of Absolute
(Brahma), which He Himself is, and it was recognised that entire visible world is fully
pervaded with the Absolute (Brahma).

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It is said that the worldly difference between the soul and the Absolute is based on
ignorance and thus, it is false. A man should engage in karmopasana, i.e., work of
worship and purify his inner senses and gain the Absolute. The welfare of the soul is
possible only when the oneness of the soul and Absolute is achieved. The ignorance of
factual relation of Absolute with soul and the world is illiteracy. The scholars say that the
soul, though an integral part of the Absolute, has forgotten the whole, i.e., Absolute and
so it has to go through the cycle of life and death in the world. It is a bondage that cannot
be severed without full self-realisation and oneness with the Absolute. The soul of all
animate beings comes in this world to face the consequences of good or bad deeds. Man
forgets the Absolute due to ignorance and illiteracy. The Upanishads teach the way of
salvation and oneness with the Absolute by the destruction of ignorance or illiteracy that
is the cause of all the worldly sufferings.

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4. What
moulds
civilization
of
Hindus?

the
the

5. Which ceremony implies


'new birth' according to
Altekar?
6. How many aims did
ancient Indian education
have?
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It should be remembered that the realisation of Brahma (i.e. Absolute) is impossible


through the outwardly knowledge of the material world because this type of knowledge
pollutes the soul and thus forgets its real form. That is the reason why physical knowledge
has been called illiteracy or ignorance one which diverts the soul away from the real
knowledge of Absolute. Real knowledge of Absolute is possible only with inner meditation
and self-realisation.
Lord Krishna himself has said, I am the spiritual knowledge among all the knowledge.
This very knowledge has been taught by the Upanishads. Being acquainted with the
Absolute, the soul gets rid of all the worldly sufferings, even the sufferings of birth and
death.

ESSENTIALS OF INDIAN PHILOSOPHY

It is generally held in the West that according to Indian thinking, everything is predestined.
The fate of man is not in his own hands. He is bound by the iron chain of destiny. Certain
universal laws are determinates of his fate. Man is but a plaything for these inexorable
forces. If a man is fated to die, nothing can prevent his death. This view about man and
his destiny is known as fatalism, a view accepted by some but rejected by most, for its
acceptance would imply the futility of all human action. If fate determines everything then
there is no need of any effort on the part of man.

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Indian philosophy, far from accepting fatalism and predestination, holds that the world
is a moral order. The creation of the world is not the result of an accidental combination
of atoms. It is a stage built for the soul to take birth, act and attain its cherished goal of
liberation in which it releases its true nature. Man achieves his ultimate spiritual destiny not
at once but goes through a series of births and deaths to reach his goal. This concept of
rebirth is foreign to Western thought, a product of Judaic-Christian religious beliefs which
hold that man comes but once on this earth. We shall not pass this way againis the poetic
expression of this belief. After death, human beings wait for the day of judgement when
God himself sends men to eternal damnation in hell or eternal blessedness in heaven. But
the fact of rebirth is accepted by all the systems of Indian philosophy, not on the basis of
mere belief but on the basis of spiritual realisation. This idea of rebirth is inextricably linked
with the law of karma and the idea of liberation. Why should a soul be born again and again
if not to realise a goal which it had not attained in its earlier birth? Rebirth and karma are
the twin pillars of Indian spiritual thinking which envisages a life of Bliss or ananda as the
ultimate destiny of man who seems to be subject to death, disease and suffering, all sorts
of limitations and imperfections on earth. He is not what he appears to be. He is a deathless
spirit, the possessor of ultimate Delight. That is the message of the Indian yogis down the
ages.

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1.5

The law of karma is an integral part of this spiritual journey from a life of suffering
to eternal bliss, from darkness to light. Spiritual progress is possible because the world is
not a product of whim or accident. The entire universe is an expression of rta, which
means truth as opposed to anrta or falsehood. Truth and existence (sat) are virtually
synonymous terms. The universe being a manifestation of Truth, all things, mental and
physical in the universe must be governed by it. Hence, we see even the heavenly bodies
are ruled by certain laws, they form a system, a cosmos and not a chaos. Even the gods
are subject to rta or Truth.

ik

as

This concept of rta, the law of Truth, has nothing mysterious or unscientific about
it. Even the materialist who does not accept the existence of God and things spiritual is
bound to accept that the material world is ruled by laws. Otherwise, he could not have
explained the natural phenomena. What the materialist believes to be true of that part of
the world which is manifest to his ordinary senses, is accepted as true of the whole
universe, visible and invisible, material and spiritual. This law of truth which upholds the
whole universe, has been accepted in various forms in the different systems of Indian
philosophy. In the Mimamsa system, it is termed Apurva, the principle which guarantees
the future enjoyment of the fruits of deeds and rituals performed in this world. Even in
this world we find that one has to wait for some time to enjoy the fruits or results of one's
actions. Between the sowing of a seed and production of fruits, there is a considerable time
gap. But that a cause will produce an effect is certain. Sometimes, the time gap between
a deed and its result is short, sometimes it is long. But a person, must bear the consequences
of his deeds, good or bad. Since the universe is guided by the principles of truth and justice,
there must be strict correlation between acts and their results; good deeds producing good
results and evil deeds producing bad ones. Even the materialist has to admit the law or
principle of conservation of mass and energy. It is this law that ensures that there is a
Self-Instructional Material 11

quantitative equivalence between the amount of mass and energy in the cause and the
amount of mass and energy in the effect. Rejection of this principle of conservation of
mass and energy would lead to chaos in the world of physical sciences. The concept of
Rta and its manifestation in Mimamsa as Apurva are nothing but the principle of conservation
of values. If good deeds produce bad results or the doer of good deeds has to suffer and
the evil doers prospers, it will mark the end of all moral principles and there will be chaos
in society. In fact, all ordered and harmonious systems will collapse. It is this principle of
conservation of moral and spiritual values, that is extended by the Hindus to the whole of
the universe, past, present and future. That past events influence present and future events
is not a strange and unscientific principle. The universe, as realised by the yogis, is not
limited to the world perceived by the ordinary senses. There are wider and higher levels
of existence perceptible to yogins, the existence of which is strongly denied by those who
equate existence with objects and events revealed by the ordinary senses.

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NOTES

op
ub y
lis rig
hi ht
ng
H
ou

The law of karma can be accepted only if we are able to go beyond the limits of the
ordinary senses. The same is the case with the idea of rebirth. These facts are rejected
by the Western minds who equate existence with the world visible to the ordinary senses.
Even in ordinary life, we have to learn to take an extended view of things and events. We
have to learn to see beyond the tip of our noses and to think of possible consequences of
our acts. Even the animal has to go, in however limited a way, beyond the objects
immediately perceptible to the senses. However, the so-called human intellectuals pride
themselves on their views rejecting what is not evident to their senses. To things spiritual
and not attainable by the ordinary senses and scientific instruments, which are but an
extension of the senses, they turn a blind eye, or reject as nonsensical. If we accept this
view of sense and science, we shall have to bid good-bye to all moral and spiritual concepts
and limit ourselves to the immediate presenta view which hardly stands the test of
scrutiny.

The law of karma, far from being an unscientific principle, is the law of moral and
spiritual causation that upholds and justifies the moral and spiritual values manifest in our
world. This law ensures that good deeds will produce good results and that the doer of
good deeds will enjoy the fruits of his actions. So will the evil doer suffer the evil
consequences of his deeds. According to Jaina, Buddha Sankhya and Mimamsa systems,
the law of karma is an autonomous principle that works independently of the will of God.
This law metes out reward and punishment in accordance with the deeds performed by
an individual and harmonises the physical world with the moral and spiritual world. The
Naiyayikas, however, believe that this law operates under the guidance of God. They hold
that the past deeds of an individual produce a force called adrsta (invisible, unseen). This
force being unintelligent, cannot by itself produce its effect. It is God who controls this
force and metes out good or bad results to the individual in accordance with his karma.

as

Karma has been broadly classified into arabdha and anarabdha karma, i.e. actions
which have already begun to bear fruits and those which have not. Anarabdha karma has
again been subdivided into praktana or sanchita and kriyamana or sanchiyamana. Praktana
or sanchita karma is the karma accumulated from past lives, while kriyamana karma
means those karmas that are being accumulated in this life. Again, karma has been
classified into sakama and niskama. The former is karma done with a view to enjoyment
of worldly fruits and personal gain. But niskama karma is not done with such worldly
motives but disinterestedly. Performance of such deeds does not bind the individual but
exhausts and destroys the accumulated effects of his past deeds done out of selfish
motives. Study of the sastras, performance of prayer and sacrifice are disinterested
karmas. It is by doing such disinterested work that the soul finally frees itself from worldly
attachments and attains liberation.

ik

Check Your Progress

7. What are the twin


pillars of Indian
spiritual thinking?

8. Which principle
guarantees future
enjoyment of the fruits
of deeds of this world?
9. What are the two
classifications of
Karma?
12 Self-Instructional Material

Though atheists, the Buddhists believe in the law of karma, which according to them
is a special form of pratitya samutpada or dependent origination. According to the law of
dependent origination, nothing in the world is absolute. Everything depends on its cause.

If a man's life is determined by his karmas in past lives and if the deeds of his present
life determine the future life, then man cannot be said to have free will. Every aspect of
his life is predetermined. But the Buddha did not believe that the law of karma was
something mechanical. If the past actions are determinants of the present life, the actions
of the present life will determine what a man will be in the future. Man is the architect of
his own destiny. It was precisely this that the Buddha meant when he said atmadipo
bhava.

NOTES

op
ub y
lis rig
hi ht
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H
ou

By ceaseless effort, man can improve his nature. He is not eternally bound to suffering,
disease and death. Man is subject to the three elements of prakrtisattva, rajas and tamas.
Everything in the world except the self is a product of these three elements. The man in
whom tamas, the principle of darkness and suffering predominates is subject to ignorance,
apathy, sloth. Tamas resists activity, produces inertia. This is the state of the overwhelming
majority of mankind. It is their nature or samskara that makes them act under the influence
of tamas. However, there is also in man the principle of rajas which is the principle of
activity. It is because of rajas that even the tamasic individual has to act to fulfil the
necessities of life. Without rajas, everything would have been inert. But rajas does not
bring peace and tranquillity. Peace and tranquillity are the fruits of sattva which is buoyant
and light. It helps the manifestation of consciousness. The sattvic man is wise and
intelligent and is peaceful and calm. He is not overactive or zealous like the rajasic man,
nor is he given to ignorance and inertia, sloth and apathy. The sattvic man is the repository
of moral virtues. These are the three main types of persons according to the Indian
tradition. But even the sattvic man is not free from the influences of rajas and tamas.
Though predominantly a man of virtue, knowledge and wisdom, a lover of peace and
harmony, the sattvic individual may sometimes be overwhelmed by the principles of rajas
or tamas and behave in a way which is alien to his true nature. This happens because every
man is a mixed bag of sattva, rajas and tamas. However high he may rise in the scale of
virtue and wisdom, he is always subject to the influence of the three elements that bind
him to prakrti. So, the Sankhya philosophy holds that liberation of the self consists in
cutting off all relations with prakrti, which is made up of three elements. Such a liberation
also leads to cessation of the world and all activities.

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The cause happening, the effect happens. Our present life, therefore, is the result of our
past life and its actions. Similarly, our actions in this life determine the nature and course
of our next life. All our lives: past, present and future, are interlinked by the actions that
we perform in those lives. There is no loss of effect of actions. If the fruits of karma are
not exhausted in this life, one will have to enjoy or suffer them in the life hereafter. There
is no krtapransa or loss of the fruits of one's own action and akrta abhyupagama or
suffering the results of deeds not done by oneself.

THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE GITA

as

1.6

ik

The Gita offers a different solution. It believes in the twin principles of purusa, the inactive
witness self and prakrti, the principle of matter. But beyond these two, it believes in the
existence of purusottama which is the lord of both purusa and prakrti. This purusottama
is beyond all gunas but is not inactive like the purusa of sankhya. The individual works
not for freeing himself from the shackles of the three gunas but to rise above them and
to realise the purusottama, the Highest Person, the Lord who by his own maya or power,
creates the world. The traditional sankhya seeks liberation in inactivity and oblivion. It is
a philosophy that leads directly to the all-pervading illusionism of Sankara which makes
a mockery of all karma, life and existence. Inaction and negation of the world cannot be
the goal of karma. Hence, the Gita offers its concept or purusottama as the Lord of the
universe, of both purusa and prakrti. Work is to be done as an offering to the Divine. The
liberated person too should not refrain from action but work ceaselessly for lokasamgraha,
upholding the social order and helping society in its march towards the realisation of the

Self-Instructional Material 13

Divine who is the goal as well as the basis of all existence. This concept of karma differs
significantly from the traditional schools of philosophy and puts real meaning behind
karma. In fact, it is the Divine who is the doer, the deed and the destiny of all karma.
Karma is a manifestation of the nature of purusottama. He has nothing to gain by karma.
Just as light radiates from the sun, so does everything from the Lord. We shall work not
for any personal gain but because that is the way in which we can realise our true nature.
It is the Lord who, seated within each one of us, guides us in all our activities.

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NOTES

1.7

THE LAW OF GRACE

op
ub y
lis rig
hi ht
ng
H
ou

se

But beyond the law of karma, which is based on the concept of justice (good deeds produce
good results while bad deeds produce bad results which are to be enjoyed or suffered by
the doer), is the law of Grace. Ramanuja laid great stress on saranagati (surrender) and
prapatti (total and unconditional surrender) to the Lord or Brahman as the means for
liberation. It is the most effective way of attaining liberation for even the women, the
illiterate and the low born, all of whom can surrender through bhakti. Study of the Vedas
and the sastras is not possible for them. But they too can attain the highest aim of life
through surrender and in response to sincere aspiration, the Divine Grace pours on them.
But Grace does not work according to human standards or demands. It has its own law
and its own ways. What seems to be a great blow or calamity at present may turn out to
be a great blessing. It often comes to us in a disguised form and we fail to recognise it
for what it is. For this reason, total and unconditional faith in the Lord is needed. Whatever
comes from the Divine is for our good, for leading us along the shortest path to the goal.
All the past karmas and sanskaras are wiped out by Divine Grace and the individual,
however imperfect he may appear to us, is swiftly and radically transformed. He is no
longer subject to the law of karma for he is no longer a blind man groping or feeling his
way to the goal but sees the goal and strides confidently towards it.

1.8

ETHICS OF HINDUISM

ik

as

One of the main criticisms levelled at Hindu philosophy is that it has no moral philosophy.
It regards attainment of liberation or nirvana as the goal of life and for that reason, neglects
the social life as one of ignorance and suffering. The eyes of the Hindus are fixed firmly
on the other world and are oblivious of the improvements that may be made in our social
life through the introduction of a well-balanced moral philosophy that teaches us to give
due importance to the social life of man. In nineteenth-century England, Mill and Bentham
regarded the greatest good of the greatest number as the moral ideal. The utilitarianism of
Mill and Bentham had a tremendous impact on the social life of nineteenth-century England
as it improved the economic and political conditions of the common man. Man being a
gregarious animal, cannot do without society and a social life needs certain ethical principles
to guide the life of the individuals. Apart from the Utilitarians, the West had philosophers
like Kant and Hegel, Comte and Spencer who were interested not only in determining the
nature of ultimate reality, but also in social, political and ethical principles that mould human
behaviour for the realisation of a better life. Even in ancient Greece, we find moral
philosophers like Epicurus, who regarded enjoyment of pleasure under the guidance of
reason as the goal of life, and Aristippus, who considered mental or intellectual pleasures
as being superior to gross sensuous pleasures. In ancient India, we hardly find any serious
concern for the social welfare of man as in the philosophies of the West. Indian philosophy
is other-worldly in outlook and ethics, being essentially a social phenomenon, hardly finds
any importance in Hindu thought.

14 Self-Instructional Material

The above criticism of Indian thinking is based on a radical difference in outlook on


the nature and purpose of human existence. While the Westerners, ancient and modern,
generally regard man as a social, political and economic being; the Hindus hold that the

NOTES

op
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lis rig
hi ht
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H
ou

A proper understanding of the Hindu ethics is not possible without an idea of the nature
of reality as realised by the Vedic sages thousands of years ago and to which the attention
of the world is now being drawn, albeit tardily, propelled by the failure of Western science
and technology and, political and economic philosophies based on the external and surface
view of things and beings. In the West, ethics is concerned almost exclusively with the
social values of life, aiming a better enjoyment of life by minimising the shocks and jars
without trying to bring about any radical change in human nature and without trying to
show man what he really isnot a transient creature that struts and frets on the earth for
a few years and then is heard of no more. Man is, according to the realisation of the ancient
sages, a child of immortality, he is a messenger from the world of light and truth, he is
not the suffering and ailing creature that he appears to be, but has potentiality in him for
the highest truth and light and bliss. To realise the true nature of man is the goal of
spirituality of which ethics of morality may be said to be the stepping stone. The Hindu
sages, though they never placed morality at the summit of values, also never rejected its
value as a means to realising the highest goal of life.

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world has been created as a stage for the individual soul to take birth, exhaust the fruits
of actions of the past and present lives and ultimately attain liberation. The world has been
created for the bhoga (enjoyment of the fruits of actions) and apavarga (liberation) of the
self. The world is not the product of accidental combination of atoms and man is not a
freak of nature as the materialists in the West think. Nor is the enjoyment of sensuous
pleasures, the realisation of certain social good and values the goal of human life. The goal
of life is the realisation of the highest truth. The philosophers in India, who were spiritual
seekers, realised that the highest reality is of the nature of Ananda or Bliss. It is at the root
of all beings. Out of it come all existent things and beings, they live and grow by it and
finally it is to it that they return. The world is a manifestation of this highest principle that
is Sat-Cit-AnandaExistence, Consciousness, Bliss. But most of us have forgotten this
truth and are therefore, subject to various sorrows and sufferings. The removal of all these
evils is the goal of philosophy, that is not a mere intellectual exercise of the ignorant human
mind, but is essentially a spiritual quest for truth and light.

as

Hence, all the systems of Indian philosophy, with the sole exception of the Carvakas,
laid due emphasis on moral principles. The Carvakas, who regarded enjoyment of sensuous
pleasure as the goal of life and artha or wealth as means to the realisation of this end, held
that the ordinary senses were the only sources of knowledge. And, since the senses reveal
nothing over and above the sensuous, there are no higher values and realities than what
are revealed through the senses. Hence the Carvakas held enjoyment of sensuous pleasure
as the goal of life. It is a moral philosophy that reminds us of the gross egoistic hedonism
of some Western moral philosophers, a philosophy that virtually condemns man to the level
of animals. Such a moral philosophy deserves to be condemned in the strongest terms and
has been totally rejected by all other systems of ancient Indian philosophy.

ik

The rejection of gross egoistic hedonism does not imply that the ancient Indian
philosophers totally rejected enjoyment of pleasure from human society, like Kant who
wanted to exorcise sensuous elements from life. The idea that Hindu moral philosophy
preached austere asceticism is one that has its origin in the West. The Vedas and the
Upanishads never preached asceticism and giving up of all the pleasures of life. We have
the example of King Janaka, who had attained the knowledge of Brahman and yet was
ruling over Ayodhya. He had not left his kingdom for a hermitage. In the Gita we find Sri
Krishna urging Arjuna to fight and enjoy an opulent kingdom. Full acceptance of life in all
its different aspects and the search for truth and ultimate reality while in this world, was
the hallmark of the ancient Hindu philosophy. Only, the Hindus did not, like the materialists
and positivists of eighteenth-century Europe, accept the physical world as the sole reality
and anything beyond it as unknown and unknowable or simply non-existent.
The Indian philosophers, in fact, hold that the physical world is a manifestation in
space and time of the supersensible and it is the latter that guides and controls the former.

Self-Instructional Material 15

The whole universe is ruled by an inexorable law or principle termed Rta, which means
truth. The laws of the universe are laws of truth that are to be followed implicitly by
everyone and everything. What is the real significance of this law of truth? It implies that
the universe is one of justice and righteousness. It is this concept that manifested itself later
on in the Mimamsa system in the form of apurva. It is this principle that ensures that one
will enjoy in the future the fruits of the rituals and sacrifices performed by him. The results
of rituals and sacrifices are often manifested much later, sometimes even after death. But
this law of apurva ensures that the doer of the deed will certainly enjoy the fruits of his
action. Had it been otherwise, the world would not have been guided by moral principles.

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NOTES

op
ub y
lis rig
hi ht
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H
ou

se

The same principle of truth and righteousness manifests itself as Adrsta in the NyayaVaisesika systems. Whenever one does something, it generates its effect termed adrsta
(invisible). It is this unseen force that ensures that one should enjoy the fruits of ones
action. The results of ones actions cannot be enjoyed by another. The world is guided by
the strict law of causality. The world is ruled by the law of karma. This law is one of the
most important principles of Indian philosophy. Events in the world are strictly controlled
by the moral principles. We ourselves are the causes of our sufferings; they are not
maliciously imposed on us. And, it is we, who by our good deeds can undo the effects
of past karma. All our actions produce their results, good or bad. Actions done with a
desire for fruits are called sakama karma. Sometimes, we enjoy the fruits of our action
in this life. But often, the results are not enjoyed in this life. They are stored or preserved,
in the form of karma, in the soul. These stored effects come to fruition in the next life.
The karma that has begun to produce its effects is called arabdha or prarabdha karma,
but that which is yet to produce its effects is called anarabdha karma. This latter type of
karma is again subdivided intopraktana or sanchita karma, i.e. karma done in the past
life and kriyamana karma or karma that is being accumulated in this life.

ik

as

All the systems of Indian philosophy, with the sole exception of the Carvakas, accept
the law of karma, which ensures that everyone should enjoy the fruits of ones own
actions. It is this law that strengthens our faith in morality and guarantees that nothing done
by us is fruitless. Since man can enjoy the fruits of his karma in a bodily state and in a
particular environment, God has created the world as a stage in which the individual may
get rid of the evil effects of his past karma by performing good deeds. The only type of
action that does not come under the purview of the law of karma is called niskama karma,
desireless action done out of reverence to God or the Supreme Spirit. It is this action that
helps man reach the spiritual goal of his life. This law of karma is at the basis of our faith
in morality. The fact that we often see the wicked prosper in life and the honest suffer
without any apparent reason, should not shake our faith in morality and governance of the
world by strict moral laws. The wicked prospers because of the virtuous deeds done by
him in his past life and the innocent man suffers because of the evil deeds done by him
in his previous life. But the wicked cannot escape the consequence of his misdeeds. He
will have to suffer the consequence of his actions in the next life, while the honest man
will reap the consequence of his good deeds in his next incarnation. Thus, belief in rebirth
is an integral part of the fundamental principles of Indian philosophy.

16 Self-Instructional Material

While the Christians do not believe in transmigration and rebirth of the soul, the Hindus
accept rebirth of the individual and even the reincarnation of the supreme on earth for
upholding the principles of righteousness and truth (dharma) as facts. The truth behind
rebirth and reincarnation cannot be subjected to empirical tests, but is to be realised and
experienced spiritually. This latter statement is not accepted by the Western philosophers.
They accept the will of God as the ultimate arbiter of destiny. But the Hindus believe that
our karma is the determinant of our destiny. Thus, Hindu ethics is not fatalistic, as many
seem to think.
But ethical perfection or realisation of the moral imperative, doing ones duty for the
sake of duty as Kant believed, is not the ultimate goal of human life. The world is a stage
for the evolution of the human soul. The goal is the realisation of the highest truth and

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NOTES

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reality, that is termed as moksa or liberation in Indian philosophy. It is a state beyond


suffering and is full of bliss. To reach this goal, one has to pass through various stages
of sadhana. The different systems of Indian philosophy have laid down rules or instructions
regarding the path that would lead us to the realisation of moksa. The path laid down, e.g.
by the Jainas consists of samyag jnana or right knowledge, samyag-darsana or right faith
and samyag-caritra or right conduct. True knowledge of the nature of reality can be
obtained by studying the teachings of the Tirthankaras, i.e. those who have already attained
liberation. But before one begins to study those teachings, one must have faith in the
competence of the teachers. This faith paves the way for right knowledge. But knowledge
that is not put into practice is useless. Hence, the need for right conduct. The stages or
right conduct consist in strictly practising moral injunctionsthe panca mahabhrata or the
five great vows. These vows are of abstinence from all injury to life (ahimsa), abstinence
from falsehood (satyam), abstinence from sexual indulgence (brahmacarya) abstinence
from stealing (asteyam) and abstinence from all attachment (aparigraha). The Jainas go
even beyond and avoid injury to the lower forms of life like the insects. One should practise
restraint (gupti) of thought, speech and bodily action. Then comes the practice of dharma
that consists of forgiveness, humility, straightforwardness, cleanliness, truthfulness, restraint,
austerities, sacrifice, indifference and celibacy. The aspirant must purify his body and
mind. He has to conquer the pangs of hunger, thirst, cold, heat and even the pains arising
from the bites of mosquitoes and other insects. All the above points come under samyag
caritra or right conduct. The Jainas attach great importance to the above practices and
particularly to truthfulness, abstinence from sexual enjoyment and detachment from worldly
objects because the lack of these prevents us from rising above the animal level of
existence. The Jainas speak not only of pancamahavratas or five great vows to be
practised by the aspirants but also of anuvrata or small vows to be practised by the
householders. No one who ignores moral principles can be regarded as worthy of being
human.

ik

as

Like the Jainas, the Buddhists too attach great importance to moral principles. They
speak of an eightfold path that ultimately leads to cessation of suffering and nirvana. This
path consists in Samyak-dristi or right views. Men suffer because of ignorance. The first
step in moral reformation should consist of forming and acquiring right views or the
knowledge of truth. By the knowledge of truth, the Buddhists mean the knowledge of the
four noble truths, viz., there is suffering, there is a cause behind this suffering, suffering
can be removed and there is a way to accomplish this. But right knowledge is useless if
it is not followed by the will to lead ones life according to it. Hence, one must give up
ill-feeling towards others and desist from doing harm or injury to others. This step is
named Samyak-samkalpa or right determination. Right determination implies right speech
that consists of abstention from lying, slander, frivolous talks, etc. The aspirant should also
practise right conduct and cease from doing injury to others, stealing and indulging in
improper gratification of the senses. He should earn his living by honest means, try to fill
his mind with good and noble ideas and free his mind from attachment to objects. One who
has reformed his life and character through the performance of the above rules becomes
fit for the final stage of concentration that leads ultimately to the highest state of nirvana.

A change against Buddhist ethics is that it is ascetic and therefore too harsh for man.
This idea is totally false for the Buddha always asked men to follow the middle path. A
life of excessive indulgence in pleasure is to be condemned along with the opposite extreme
of a life of total abstinence from pleasure and one solely devoted to rigorous austerities.
The Buddha allowed a decent standard of life with decent dress, regular food, shelter and
rest. Excessive attachment to penance is harmful for body and mind. What the Buddha
advocated was mental detachment from the objects of enjoyment and not physical
detachment. It is not that we shall not eat good food but we shall have no attachment to
any particular food and drink. Everything should be done in moderation and excess should
be avoided. The spiritual aspirants and householders, alike.
Self-Instructional Material 17

The Yoga system too prescribes an eightfold path for the attainment of the liberation
of self. The eight steps are known as Yoganga of which the first two steps are yama and
niyama. Yama consists of non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, sexual restraint and
non-acceptance of unnecessary gifts. Ahimsa or non-violence is abstinence from malice
towards all creatures in every form and at all times. These yamas are recommended by
all the systems of Indian philosophy. So is the case with the niyamas or positive observances
like cleanliness, contentment, austerity, study of the scriptures and surrender to God. The
yama and niyma lay stess on the ethical preparation necessary for the practice of yoga,
the ultimate aim of which is liberation of freedom from bondage. The yoga philosophy
states that the steadfast practice of the moral qualities like non-violence and truthfulness
give the individual supernormal powers. Non-violence destroys enmity towards all other
creatures. Even ferocious animals do not attack the Yogin. Truthfulness makes a persons
words infallible. Whatever he says or predicts turns out to be true. Non-stealing brings
immense wealth from all directions. Brahmacharya generated unfalling power to impart
knowledge to others. Non-acceptance of wealth other than the minimum necessary for
living, gives rise to the power of knowing the past, present and future births. But apart
from the many supernormal powers that are attained by the practitioners of yoga, these
moral practices are invaluable for maintaining social order and stability. All the systems of
Indian philosophy attach great importance to moral values, both for the houesholders who
lead normal social life and also for the aspirants, those who want to attain the highest ideal
of moksa or liberation.

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op
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ou

se

NOTES

ik

as

But what about the realised souls, those who have attained moksha or nirvana? Are
they still subject to moral laws or are they free to act according to the highest inner ideal
and perform acts that sometimes may seem to go against moral principles? Some hold that
the realised soul has no social and/or moral obligation. Sankarites believe that such a person
merges in Brahman and loses his separate identity. But such an ideal implies that realisation
of the highest ideal would mean gradual impoverishment of society. If the best men are
lost to society, what is the good of such an ideal to the poor and suffering humanity? The
departure of an enlightened soul would leave society in darkness and ignorance. But this
view is not the essence of true spirituality. The Buddha, even after attaining nirvana, lived
and worked for humanity for forty-five years, spreading his message and trying to lift
humanity out of its suffering and misery. In the Gita, Sri Krishna tells us that though he
has no attachment for any action of its fruit, he being the highest and all-perfect Divine
Being, works ceaselessly for lokasamgraha, or the upholding of society. If the highest and
the best among mankind turn their back on society, if they become practitioners of nonaction, the ordinary man too would take non-action to be the ideal of life and society would
sink into darkness. So, the highest and the best, the realised souls, though they have no
unfulfilled desires, should work ceaselessly for the good of mankind. Their deeds do not
have want and desire as the springs of action. Their actions are spontaneous expressions
of the divine light and knowledge in them and are not dictated by any external need to
desire. Personally, they gain nothing from their actions as we ordinary humans do. This
is the fundamental difference between the actions done out of ignorance by ordinary men
and the actions done by the liberated men. Outwardly, their actions may seem to be the
same, but the spirit behind them is entirely different. While the ethics of the ordinary men
may be termed social ethics, the ethics of the enlightened souls may be termed spiritual
ethics, where conduct is not an attempt to fulfil certain desires but is a spontaneous
expression of the inner truth realised by the enlightened soul as was the case with the
Buddha.

18 Self-Instructional Material

But the Buddhist philosophy ultimately led to inaction for the state of nirvana is a
transcendent one. The Buddha did not speak of transforming the world but of leaving it
altogether for enjoying the peace and silence of the nirvana. The real goal of life cannot
be the desertion of life. Hence, any spiritual ideal that advocates the negation of life and
existence, cannot be accepted by us. The goal of ethics is not merely passing moral

An Ethical Vision of
Business and Management

se

NOTES

op
ub y
lis rig
hi ht
ng
H
ou

judgement on human conduct as the Westerners think, but to prepare men mentally and
morally for the realisation of bliss and happiness. Ethical principles are an indispensable
part of our march towards this goal. No one with impure thoughts and desires, and acting
from base impulses can hope to attain happiness and joy, even in ordinary social life. The
life of such a man is full of misery, suffering and anxiety. Ethics tries to rein in these beastly
impulses in man by upholding the ideal of the good and welfare of all members of the
society. But mans ethical life, though certainly better than the animal life led by carnal
desires, is still guided by ignorance. He cannot see the whole truth for the light of truth
still eludes him. That is why men are often faced with virtually insoluble moral problems
like when there is a conflict of duties. These conflicts show the inadequacy of moral
standards in solving the problems of life and existence. This is why no Indian system of
philosophy considers attainment of moral perfection as the goal of life. The basis of
morality lies beyond and above ethics in the realm of spirituality. Ethical rules must be
manifestations of the spiritual truths in society. Many Western thinkers hold that moral
rules are no better than rules of the road, the rules of traffic. We obey these rules not
because of their intrinsic worth, but because their violation results in loss of life and limb,
destruction of property and wealth. We can change moral rules according to our convenience.
There is nothing absolute about them. Such a view regarding morality would result in moral
anarchy and finally the total destruction of all moral values. Though moral values, by
themselves, do not represent the highest truth, yet they are not passing illusions, they are
manifestations of the highest truth that can be realised only by going beyond ethics.

ik

as

Man was, in the beginning, an animal man. The ethical man represents an enormous
advance from the previous stage. But mans march towards light and truth has not ended
with the appearance of the moral man. The final stage in the evolution of man will be
reached with the appearance of the spiritual man who acts according to his inner light and
not in accordance with the outward rules that change according to every passing social
change. The Hindus have long been aware of this truth, that is why Hindu ethics has not
limited itself to certain external rules of social conduct. The Hindus certainly did not forget
to formulate social and moral rules. The codes of Manu are an eloquent testimony to it.
Manu has his successors too in many social and moral reformers. But none of them forgot
the truth that consists of the realisation of the highest self or Brahman. The ultimate
foundation of the ethical rules can be found in the world of spirit. Only when outward
conduct of man will be the outpouring of his spirit, will moral rules cease to be external.
To support their utilitarian morality, i.e. realising greatest good of the greatest number, Mill
and Bentham had to resort to external and internal sanctions and pressures. Such morality
under pressure hardly deserves the name of morality. Unless man realises that the root of
morality lies in his highest self, only then can morality cease to be external and become
an automatic or spontaneous expression of the highest truth in him. That is why no Hindu
moral or social philosophy, for example, those of Manu or Parasara, has limited itself to
strictly social and moral rules. True ethics is the ethics of the spirit. Its laws are radically
different from the moral man. The goal of ethics is to transcend, not deny, ethics. The
ethical principles will find their basis in the laws of the spirit. The spiritual man will be truly
ethical for in him, the outward or social conduct will be an expression of his spiritual
realisation. He will unfailingly do right and the good without being torn asunder, as
sometimes happens to man, by the claims of conflicting duties. This is the ethical ideal of
man as visualised by the ancient Hindus.

1.9

ETHICS OF BUDDHISM

Buddha was primarily an ethical teacher and reformer, not a philosopher. The message of
his enlightenment shows man the way of life that leads beyond suffering. When someone
asked Buddha metaphysical questions like whether the soul was different from body or

Self-Instructional Material 19

NOTES

se

whether it survived death, he avoided getting into a discussion with them. Discussion of
problems for the solutions of which there is insufficient evidence leads to further confusion.
Buddha talked about many such metaphysical views advanced by earlier thinkers and
demonstrated that all of them were inadequate since they were based on uncertain senseexperiences, cravings, hopes and fears. Buddha repeatedly pointed out that such speculation
should be avoided because it does not take man nearer to his goal which is the state of
freedom from all suffering. On the contrary, a man who indulges in such speculation
remains entangled in the net of theories that he himself has woven. The most urgent need
is to do away with misery. One who indulges in theoretical speculation on the soul and the
world, while he is suffering from pain, behaves like the foolish man stricken with a
poisonous arrow, who whiles away time on idle speculation regarding the origin, the maker
and the thrower of the arrow, instead of trying to pull it out.

An Ethical Vision of
Business and Management

Buddha lists ten questions, answers to which are uncertain and ethically unprofitable.
1. Is the world eternal?

op
ub y
lis rig
hi ht
ng
H
ou

2. Is it non-eternal?
3. Is it finite?

4. Is it infinite?

5. Is the soul the same as the body?


6. Is it different from the body?

7. Does one who has known the truth, live again after death?
8. Does he not live again after death?

9. Does he both live again and not live again after death?

10. Does he neither live nor non-live after death?

These have come to be known as the ten indeterminable questions in Buddhist literature.

Instead of discussing metaphysical questions that are ethically useless and intellectually
uncertain, Buddha tried to enlighten the people on the most important questions of sorrow,
its origin, its cessation and the path leading to its cessation.

The answers to these four questions constitute the essence of Buddhas enlightenment
that he was eager to share with all fellow-beings. These have come to be known as the
four noble truths. They are:
(i) Life is full of suffering,

(ii) There is a cause of this suffering,

(iii) It is possible to stop this suffering,

as

(iv) There is a path which leads to the cessation of suffering.

Check Your Progress

ik

10. What is another term for


Nirvana?

11. According
to
the
Buddhists, which path
leads to Nirvana?
12. In which code are the
social and moral rules of
Hindus formulated?
13. Give another term for the
highest self.
20 Self-Instructional Material

The path recommended by Buddha consists of eight steps and is called the Eightfold
Noble Path. This constitutes the essentials of Buddhist ethics. The Noble Path consists of
the acquisition of the following eight good things:

1. Right Views
As ignorance with its consequences, namely, wrong views about the self and the world,
is the root cause of our suffering, it is natural that the first step to moral reformation should
be the acquisition of right views or the knowledge of truth. Right view is defined as the
correct knowledge about the four noble truths. It is the knowledge of these truths alone
that helps moral reformation and leads us towards the goal of nirvana.

2. Right Resolve
Mere knowledge of the truths would be useless unless one resolves to reform life in its
light. The moral aspirant is asked to renounce all attachment to the world, to give up ill-

feeling towards others and desist from doing any harm to them. These three constitute the
contents of right determination.

An Ethical Vision of
Business and Management

3. Right Speech
Right determination should not remain a mere pious wish but must issue forth into action.
Right determination should be able to guide and control our speech. The result would be
right speech consisting of abstention from lying, slander, unkind words and frivolous talk.

NOTES

4. Right Conduct

5. Right Livelihood
Renouncing bad speech and bad actions, one should earn ones livelihood by honest means.

6. Right Effort

op
ub y
lis rig
hi ht
ng
H
ou

Right livelihood entails that ones means of livelihood should not be dishonest or
otherwise cause suffering to other living beings. Wrong livelihood is trade in weapons,
living beings (keeping animals for slaughter), meat (meat salesman or fisherman), alcoholic
drink or poison. Such trades, especially, being a slaughterer or hunter, are socially despised
in Buddhist societies and are said to lead to a bad rebirth. Wrong livelihood is also seen as
any mode of livelihood that is based on trickery or greed. To be able to see how to increase
ones wealth is fine, but to be blind to moral considerations and to do so with tricks, fraud
and lies is to be one-eyed. While the early texts only give a short list of types of wrong
livelihood, in the modern context, a Buddhist might add others to the list. For example,
doing experiments on animals; developing pesticides; working in the arms industry and
perhaps even working in advertising, to the extent that this is seen as encouraging greed,
hatred and delusion or perversion of truth. The precept against false speech implies that
one should not work in advertising agency or blindly follow advertising notions either.

se

Right determination should result in right action or good conduct and not stop merely with
good speech. Right conduct consists, therefore, of desisting from destroying life, from
stealing and from improper gratification of the senses.

as

7. Right Mindfulness

While a person tries to live a reformed life, through right views, resolution, speech action
and livelihood, he is constantly knocked off the right path by old evil ideas that were deeprooted in the mind as also by fresh ones that constantly arise. One cannot progress steadily
unless he maintains a constant effort to root out malicious thoughts and prevent fresh ones
from arising. Moreover, as the mind cannot be kept empty, he should constantly try to fill
the mind with good thoughts and retain these in the mind. This four-fold constant endeavour
is called right effort.

ik

The necessity of constant vigilance is further stressed in this rule, that lays down that the
aspirant should constantly bear in mind the things he has already learnt. Sobriety is not
listed under right action or right speech but can be seen to act as an aid to right
mindfulness. When one is intoxicated, there is an attempt to mask rather than face the
sufferings of life, there is no mental calm and this is likely to break all the other precepts.
Drunkenness is described as the delight of fools. Buddha said those who recognise me
as their master should not drink any strong liquor.

8. Right Concentration
One who has successfully guided his life in the light of the last seven rules and thereby
freed himself from all passions and evil thoughts, is fit to enter step-by-step into the four
deeper stages of concentration that gradually take him to the goal of his long and arduous
journeycessation of suffering. He concentrates his pure mind on reasoning and
investigation regarding the truths and enjoys the joy and ease born of detachment and pure
thought. This is the first stage of intent meditation.

Self-Instructional Material 21

When this concentration is successful, belief in the fourfold truth begins to dispel
all doubts and thereby makes reasoning and investigation unnecessary. From this
results the second stage of concentration, in which there is joy, peace and internal
tranquillity born of unfilled contemplation. There is a consciousness of this joy and peace
in this stage.

An Ethical Vision of
Business and Management

NOTES

In the next stage, attempt is made by him to initiate an attitude of indifference, to be


able to detach himself even from the joy of concentration. From this results the third
deeper kind of concentration, in which one experiences perfect equanimity.

se

Lastly, he tries to put away even this consciousness of ease and equanimity and all the
sense of joy and elation he previously felt. He thereby attains the fourth state of concentration,
a state of perfect equanimity and indifference and self-possession without pain, without
ease. Thus, he attains the desired goal of cessation of all suffering, and attains nirvana.
Thus he acquires perfect wisdom and perfect righteousness.

op
ub y
lis rig
hi ht
ng
H
ou

There are some important ideas about man and the world underlying Buddha's ethical
teachings. We shall discuss four of these views on which his ethics mainly depend: (i) the
theory of dependent origination, (ii) the theory of Karma, (iii) the theory of change, and
(iv) the theory of the non-existence of the soul.

1. The Theory of Dependent Origination

There is a spontaneous and universal law of causation that conditions the appearance of
all events, mental as well as physical. This law works automatically without the help of
any conscious guide. In accordance with it, whenever a particular event appears, it is
followed by another particular event. The existence of everything is conditional, dependent
on a cause. Nothing happens by chance. This is called the theory of dependent origination.

2. The Theory of Karma

The belief in the theory of Karma is an aspect of the principle of causation. According to
this doctrine, the present existence of an individual is the effect of its past, and its future
would be the effect of its present existence. The law of Karma is only a special form of
the more general law of causation as conceived by Buddha.

3. The Doctrine of Universal Change and Impermanence

The doctrine of dependent origination also yields to the Buddhist theory of the transitory
nature of things. All things are subject to change and decay. As everything originates from
some condition, it disappears when the condition ceases to be; whatever has a beginning,
also has an end.

4. The Theory of the Non-existence of the Soul

ik

as

The law of change is universal, neither man nor any other being is exempt from it. It is
commonly believed that in man, there is an abiding substance called the soul that persists
through changes that overcome the body, exists before birth and after death and migrates
from one body to another. Consistent with his theories of conditional existence and
universal change, Buddha denies the existence of such a soul. But how does he then explain
the continuity of a person through different births? Though denying the continuity of a
soul-like substance in man, Buddha does not deny the continuity of the stream of successive
states that compose his life. Life is an unbroken series of states; each of these states
depends on the condition just preceding and gives rise to the one just succeeding it. The
continuity of the life-series is, therefore, based on a causal connection running through the
different states.

22 Self-Instructional Material

Ahimsa is the keynote of the ethics of Buddhism. Non-injury in thought, word, and
deed, love, patience, forgiveness, compassion and self-purification are the virtues that
ought to be cultivated. Buddha preferred a monk's life to a householder's, because the
latters is full of temptation. Still, the Buddhist ethics cannot be said to be ascetic. It is

midway between hedonism and asceticism. It is not inactivism. It inculcates calm and
selfless life of activity for the good of humanity. Unlike the ethics of the Gita, it does not
enjoin an active life dedicated to God. It inculcates alternistic humanism.

1.10 ETHICS OF JAINISM

An Ethical Vision of
Business and Management

NOTES

The most important part of Jaina philosophy is its ethics. Knowledge of any kind is useful
for the Jaina insofar as it helps him to know the right conduct. The goal of right conduct
again is salvation that means removal of all negative bondage of the soul and the positive
attainment of perfection.

op
ub y
lis rig
hi ht
ng
H
ou

Bondage means the liability of the individual to birth and all consequent sufferings. The
suffering individual is a living, conscious substance called the soul. This soul is inherently
perfect. It has infinite potentiality within. Infinite knowledge, infinite faith, infinite power
and infinite bliss can all be attained by the soul if it can duly remove from within itself,
all obstacles that stand in the way. But what then, are these obstacles and how do they
come to rob the soul of its native perfection? The obstacles are constituted by matter
particles that infect the soul and overpower its qualities. In other words, the limitations that
we find in any individual soul are due to the material body with which the soul has identified
itself.

se

1. Bondage of the Soul

The body that we have inherited from our parents is not a mere chance acquisition.
Our past karma determines the family in which we are born as well as the nature of the
body.
The passions that cause bondage are anger, pride, infatuation and greed.

2. Liberation

If bondage of the soul is its association with matter, liberation must mean the complete
dissociation of the soul from matter. This can be attained by stopping the influx of new
matter into the soul as well as by complete elimination of the matter with which the soul
has already become mingled.

ik

as

Our ignorance about the real nature of our souls leads to anger, vanity, infatuation and
greed. Knowledge alone can remove ignorance. The Jains stress the necessity of right
knowledge of reality. Right knowledge can be obtained only by studying carefully the
teachings of tirthankaras who have already attained liberation and are therefore, fit to lead
others out of bondage. But before we study their teachings, we must have a faith in the
competence of these teachers. The right faith paves the way for the right knowledge. But
mere knowledge is useless unless it is put to practice. Right conduct is, therefore, regarded
by the Jains as the third indispensable condition of liberation. For right conduct, a man has
to control his passions, his senses, his thought, speech and action in the light of right
knowledge. This enables him to stop the influx of new Karma and eradicate old Karmas,
securing thereby the elimination of matter that ties the soul into bondage.
Right faith, right knowledge and right conduct have come to be known in Jaina ethics
as the three gems that shine in a good life.

Right conduct is described as refraining from what is harmful and doing what is
beneficial. It is what helps the self to get rid of the karmas that lead him to bondage and
suffering. For the stoppage of the influx of karmas, one must (i) take the five great vows
(ii) practise extreme carefulness in walking and speaking so as to avoid doing any harm
to any life, (iii) practise restraint of thought, speech and bodily movements, (iv) practise
dharma of ten different kinds, namely, forgiveness, humility, straightforwardness,
truthfulness, cleanliness, self-restraint, austerity, sacrifice, non-attachment and celibacy,
(v) mediate on the cardinal truths taught regarding the self and the world, (vi) conquer,

Check Your Progress


14. Which theory believes
that nothing happens by
chance?
15. What is the keynote of
the ethics of Buddhism?
16. On what do the Jains lay
stress?
Self-Instructional Material 23

through fortitude, all pains and discomforts that arise from hunger, thirst, heat, cold and
so on, and (vii) attain equanimity, purity, absolute greedlessness and perfect conduct.

An Ethical Vision of
Business and Management

Some Jain writers select the following five great vows for perfection of conduct.
1. Ahimsa: Abstinence from all injury to life. For the layman, ahimsa means abstaining
from injury to moving beings that are endowed with at least two senses.

NOTES

2. Satyam: Abstinence from falsehood. Truthfulness is not just speaking what is true
but speaking what is true as well as good and pleasant.

se

3. Asteyam: Abstinence from stealing. This vow consists of not taking what is not
given. The sanctity of the property of others like that of their lives is recognised
by the Jainas. Wealth is but the outer life of man and to rob wealth is to rob life.
If human life is impossible without wealth, there is no exaggeration that depriving
a man of his wealth is virtually to deprive him of an essential condition on which
life depends.

op
ub y
lis rig
hi ht
ng
H
ou

4. Brahmacharyam: Abstinence from self-indulgence. This vow is generally interpreted


as that of celibacy.

5. Aparigraha: Abstinence from all attachment. This is the vow to give up all attachment
for the objects of the five sensespleasant sound, touch, colour, taste and smell.
As attachment to the world's objects means bondage to the world and the force of
this causes rebirth; liberation is impossible without the withdrawal of attachment.

Ahimsa is the fundamental virtue. Truthfulness, non-stealing, restraint of carnal desires


and non-convetousness are based upon ahimsa. The Jaina ethics is pre-eminently the
ethics of ahimsa.

1.11 TENETS OF BUDDHIST ECONOMICS

We shall first discuss the basic tenets of Buddhist economics and then focus our attention
on Buddhist ethics derived from Buddhist economics, which are applicable to the business
world.

Right Livelihood is one of the requirements of the Buddha's noble Eightfold path.

Buddhist countries have often stated that they wish to remain faithful to their heritage.
So, New Burma (Myanmar) sees no conflict between religious values and economic
progress. Spiritual health and material well-being are not enemiesthey are natural allies.
We can successfully blend the religious and spiritual values of our heritage with the
benefits of modern technology.

as

Let us take some fundamentals and see what they look like when viewed by a modern
economist and a Buddhist economist.

ik

There is universal agreement that a fundamental source of wealth is human labour.

24 Self-Instructional Material

The modern economist considers labour or work as little more than a necessary evil.
From the point of view of the employer, it is an item of cost to be reduced to a minimum.
From the point of view of the workman, it is a disutility. Hence, the ideal from the point
of view of the employer is to have output without employees and the ideal from the point
of view of the employee is to have income without work.
The Buddhist point of view envisages the function of work to be at least three-fold:
to give a man a chance to utilise and develop his faculties to enable him to overcome his
egocentric nature by joining with other people in a common task and to bring forth the
goods and services needed for worthy existence.
Buddhist economics is very different from the economics of modern materialism,
since the Buddhist sees the essence of civilisation not in the multiplication of wants but
in the purification of human character.

NOTES

op
ub y
lis rig
hi ht
ng
H
ou

From the Buddhist point of view, this approach would mean that goods are more
important than people and consumption more important than creative activity. It means
shifting the emphasis from the worker to the product of work, that is, from the human
to the sub-human, a surrender to the forces of evil. The very start of Buddhist economic
planning would be a planning for full employment and the primary purpose of this would
in fact be employment for everyone who needs an outside job; it would not be the
maximisation of employment nor the maximisation of production. Women do not need an
outside job and large-scale employment of women in offices or factories would be considered
a sign of serious economic failure.

An Ethical Vision of
Business and Management

se

If a man has no chance of obtaining work, he is in a desperate position, not simply


because he lacks an income but also because he lacks the nourishing and enlivening factor
of disciplined work. A modern economist may engage in highly sophisticated calculations
on whether full employment pays or whether it is more economic to run an economy
at less than full employment so as to ensure a greater mobility of labour, a better stability
of wages and so forth. His fundamental criterion of success is simply the total quantity
of goods produced during a given period of time.

While the materialist is mainly interested in goods, the Buddhist is mainly interested in
liberation. But Buddhism is The Middle Way and in no way antagonistic to physical wellbeing. It is not wealth that stands in the way of liberation but the attachment to wealth;
not the enjoyment of pleasurable things but the craving for them. The keynote of Buddhist
economics is simplicity and non-violence. From an economist's point of view, the marvel
of the Buddhist way of life is the utter rationality of its patternamazingly small means
leading to extraordinarily satisfactory results.

For the modern economist, this is very difficult to understand. He measures the
standard of living by the amount of annual consumption, assuming that a man who
consumes more is better off than a man who consumes less. A Buddhist economist would
consider this approach excessively irrational; since consumption is nearly a means to
human well-being, the aim should be to obtain the maximum well-being with the minimum
consumption. The ownership and the consumption of goods is a means to an end, and the
Buddhist economics is the systematic study of how to attain given ends with the minimum
needs.

as

On the other hand, modern economics considers consumption to be the sole end and
purpose of all economic activity, taking the factors of production, land, labour and capital
as the means. In short, the former tries to maximise human satisfaction by the optional
pattern of consumption, while the latter tries to maximise consumption by the optional
pattern of productive effort. It is easy to see that the effort needed to sustain a way of
life that seeks to attain the optional pattern of consumption is likely to be less exacting than
the effort needed to sustain a drive for maximum consumption. So, we need not be
surprised that the pressure and strain of living is much less in Myanmar than in the USA.

ik

Simplicity and non-violence are closely related. The optimal pattern of consumption
allows people to live without great pressure and strain and to fulfil the primary injunction
of Buddhist teaching: cease to do evil, try to do good. As physical resources are limited,
people try to satisfy their needs by a modest use of resources are less likely to be in conflict
with one another than people who depend upon a high rate of use. Similarly, people who
live in highly self-sufficient local communities are less likely to get involved in large-scale
violence than people whose existence depends on world-wide systems of trade.
From the point of view of Buddhist economics, production from local resources for
local needs is the most rational way of economic life, while dependence on imports from
afar and the consequent need to produce for export to distant peoples is highly uneconomic
and justifiable only in exceptional cases. Just as modern economists would admit that a
high rate of consumption of transport services between a man's home and his place of
work indicates a misfortune and not a high standard of living, so the Buddhist economist
would hold that to satisfy human wants from faraway sources rather than from nearby
sources signifies failure rather than success.

Check Your Progress


17. What is the Buddhist more
interested ingoods or
liberation?
18. Name three non-renewable
fuels.
Self-Instructional Material 25

Another striking difference between modern economics and Buddhist economics


arises over the use of natural resources. The noted French philosopher, Bertrand de
Jouvenel has characterised western man in words that may be taken as a fair description
of the modern economist. He tends to count nothing as an expenditure, other than human
effort; he does not seem to mind how much mineral matter he wastes and, how much
living matter he destroys. He does not seem to realise at all that human life is a dependent
part of an ecosystem of many different forms of life. As the world is ruled from towns
where men are cut off from any form of life other than human, the feeling of belonging
to an ecosystem is not revived. This results in a harsh and improvident treatment of things
upon which we ultimately depend, such as water and trees.

An Ethical Vision of
Business and Management

NOTES

op
ub y
lis rig
hi ht
ng
H
ou

se

The teachings of the Buddha, on the other hand, enjoin a reverent and non-violent
attitude not only to all sentient beings but also to trees. Every follower of the Buddha
ought to plant a tree every few years and look after it until it is safely implanted. The
Buddhist economist can demonstrate that the universal observation of this rule would result
in a high rate of genuine economic development independent of any foreign aid. Much of
the economic decay of south-east Asia is due to a shameful neglect of trees.
Modern economics does not distinguish between renewable and non-renewable
materials, as its method is to quantify everything by means of a money price. Thus, taking
various alternative fuels like coal, oil, wood or water power; the only difference between
them recognised by modern economics is relative cost per equivalent unit. The cheapest
one has to be preferred as to do otherwise would be irrational and uneconomic. But from
a Buddhist point of view, this will not do; the essential difference between non-renewable
fuels like coal and oil on the one hand and renewable fuels like wood and water power on
the other hand, cannot be overlooked. Non-renewable goods must be used only if their
need is very acute. To use them extravagantly is an act of violence and while complete nonviolence may not be attainable on this earth it is the duty of every man to attain the ideal
of non-violence in all that he does.

As the world's resources of non-renewable fuelscoal, oil and natural gasare


unevenly distributed over the globe and limited in quantity, it is clear that their exploitation
at an ever-increasing rate is an act of violence against nature that must inevitably lead to
violence between men.
Industrial society is fundamentally unstable and some of the outcomes are disastrous
a collapse of the rural economy, a rising tide to unemployment and the growth of city
proletariat without nourishment of body or soul.

as

The study of Buddhist economics is recommended even to those who believe that
economic growth is more important than any spiritual or religious values. For, it is not a
question of choosing between modern growth and traditional stagnation. It is a question
of finding the right path of development, the Middle Way between materialist heedlessness
and traditionalist immobility, in short, of finding Right Livelihood.

ik

1.12 ETHICS OF BUDDHIST ECONOMICS

26 Self-Instructional Material

Buddhism as a doctrine has been mistinterpreted as being exclusively concerned with


other-worldly affairs and paying little attention to man as an earthly living being. The
accusation often is that Buddhism cannot offer a plan for man's economic well-being and
that it has no economic foundations. This is a distorted interpretation of the doctrine. Since
Buddhism is concerned with man and as material things are essential for him, the doctrine
offers a programme for his development, even though it may conflict with the fundamentals
of Orthodox Economics. To a large extent, his material welfare would be subservient to
certain spiritual values and a code of conduct, so that he may be able to determine those
material things that are best for him.

Buddhist Economics is not neutral to ends. It is positively concerned with the ends
themselves, because value judgements are closely involved with man's spiritual and material
improvement. Economics cannot be neutral to ends as long as man in modern society
degenerates rapidly in an inhospitable environment by having access to unwholesome
goods and services. The essence of Buddhist economic planning is based on man being
selective in the choice of what he needs. It makes serious value judgements on the
objectives of planning, elaborating on those activities that must be promoted, those that
must be discouraged and the kinds of goods and services that must result from the process
of economic development.

An Ethical Vision of
Business and Management

NOTES

op
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hi ht
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H
ou

One of the objectives of development planning is to increase per capital income and human
welfare. The performance of the plan is judged by the criteria of how quickly a country
is able to increase its per capita income. The Buddhist economic system would not pay
much attention to per capita income because it is only a deceptive statistical figure. In a
Buddhist economy, only goods that will increase mans material and spiritual well-being
would be produced. It would exclude harmful drugs, alcoholic liquors, narcotics, weapons,
slaughter of animals, and chemicals that are dangerous to man and which would ultimately
result in his moral and material degradation.

se

Specification of Objectives

Another objective of modern development planning is to make full use of the productive
resources of a country. This is consistent with the basic tenets of Buddhist Economics.
Buddhism advocates the prudent and economic use of resources in the interest of man
but it does not advocate the indiscriminate and irresponsible use of resources in the way
it is being done now. A Buddhist Economy would use resources rationally while promoting
their conservation. By depleting forest resources, man destroys at one stroke what nature
has taken thousand of years to build. Buddhism would conserve a nation's wild life
resources because it is against the taking of any form of life. Man should not kill animals
for his survival. Science has found many other avenues through which man could obtain
the proteins that he needs.

Nowadays, the bulk of non-renewable resources like coal and oil is being wastefully
used in the production of large quantities of goods and services that are not really useful
to man. In the Buddhist economic planning, non-renewable and scarce resources would
be conserved because the priorities in production would be determined according to man's
basic needs where the focus of attention would be on food, clothing, housing and other
necessities. Productive resource should be diverted to produce the most essential goods.
In other words, the resources used in the production of arms, drugs, alcohol and harmful
chemicals would be diverted to the production of food, clothing and house building.

ik

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The provision of full employment is an important objective in all development plans.


But the Buddhist economics pays much greater attention to this because the achievement
of other objectives depends on this. Buddha said, poverty should be eliminated and the
country should prosper by providing employment. Buddhism places great value on the
individual because the moral stature of the community can only be improved by developing
the individual. For every one, employment is the source of income and income is the
source of sustenance. Even if 5 per cent of the labour force is unemployed it means society
has neglected a valuable group of people in the community. Buddhist economy would have
a state of permanent full employment.
Modern Keynesian economics says that more goods must be produced to provide
more employment and that people are assured of jobs only if the demand for goods
increases progressively. The advanced economies of the West are able to keep their
population at near full employment levels by producing arms and other means of destruction.
In a Buddhist economy, there is no need to do this.
One way of providing more employment is to use more men than machines in
production. Buddhist economics does not say that machines should be dispensed with. But

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it does not support the use of sophisticated technologies where it is not necessary.
Technology must be subservient to man; it is his servant and not the master, it should not
dominate him. In the production process, man should be given pride of place and not
technology. In the Buddhist economic plan, the traditional techniques of production would
be judiciously combined with modern methods.

An Ethical Vision of
Business and Management

NOTES

Moreover, production should not be confined to territorial limits. Nations should


produce for each other. Man should be internationally-oriented.

Spirit of Dana

se

The most important objective in a Buddhist plan would be the development of the
individual, materially and spiritually. It is through man's self-knowledge self-efforts and
self-control, that his true material welfare can be furthered.

op
ub y
lis rig
hi ht
ng
H
ou

The spirit of Dana or giving is a factor around which all activities will be vitalised. This
is not a new concept, it is found in most religions, but has a more important place in
Buddhism. For the businessman, it would mean that he must realise that it is not necessary
to make very large profits. Profits can be scaled down and economic expansion need not
depend on large profits. The latter is not necessary to induce a large amount of savings
because industries would operate on a reduced scale. In place of monopolies, there would
be a large number of small enterprises that will require less capital.
For the consumer, it would mean sacrifices and it would also result in reducing his
Tanha or craving. Dana means giving and sharing. He will have to be ready to share his
goods with others who have less. Modern materialism is concerned with more goods and
as the range of goods and services increases, the new items that come within this range
are less and less useful. The main objective would be to produce a wide range of basic
essential goods in adequate quantities so that everyone will have the right to enjoy an equal
share. In order to ensure an equitable distribution of goods, emphasis would be given to
the removal of income disparities.

1.13 EXCLUDED ACTIVITIES

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The exclusion of certain non-essential industries and activities would be the essence of
Buddhist planning. Buddha has prohibited trade in weapons, trade in human beings, trade
in the rearing of animals for slaughter, trade in liquor, trade in poisons, drugs and narcotics.
On the other hand, materialistic planning works on a scheme of priorities but does not
exclude any activity. As the scope of production widens, less important economic activities
begin to figure in the plans. In a Buddhist plan, some economic activities would not find
any place, even if all production possibilities have been exhausted and resources are freely
available as the activities are fundamentally inconsistent with the development of man. In
the first place, industrial planning would exclude the production of harmful goods, nonessential goods and others that are destructive to man. The production of alcoholic
beverages would not find a place in a Buddhist Economy because liquor has a debilitating
effect on man. Under the influence of liquor, man loses his capacity for right thought and
action. It is one of the trades that Buddha has specifically prohibited. This is not difficult
to achieve because in some Islamic countries, there is total prohibition of liquor and there
is no reason why other countries cannot act likewise.

Check Your Progress


19. How much of their
earnings did Buddha
advise laymen to save?

28 Self-Instructional Material

Planners will have to be selective about the production of goods that cannot be
classified as essential for a comfortable existence. Modern economics maintains that as the
standard of living improves, goods that are otherwise classified as luxury goods, come to
be treated as essential goods by people who enjoy a higher standard of living. This thesis
cannot be sustained, as long as such luxury goods are being produced at the expense of
essential goods.

Resources
After the specification of objectives and the exclusion of certain activities, the next problem
in planning is the question of resources. The latter is identified with how much people can
save out of what they produce. Buddhist economics pays a great deal of attention to saving
because the Dharma is founded on principles of frugality, resourcefulness and control
over excessive craving for material goods. The practice of these principles helps the saving
process. The importance of saving has been emphasised by all religious philosophies but
Buddhism has specifically laid down the quantum in view of the singular importance of
saving as a social discipline.

An Ethical Vision of
Business and Management

NOTES

Public and Private Savings

op
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lis rig
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H
ou

Buddha has advised laymen to save one-fourth of what they earn. If a nation could limit
consumption to three-fourth of the national product it would be saving one-fourth and
what it does not consume could be invested for developing the economy. This implies that
at least one-fourth of the total production of the community would be set aside for the
future.

se

There is no need to carry out saving drives, promotion campaigns or offer very high
interest rates. Savings would come out of the Buddhist way of living.

Buddha refers to saving as one of the three cardinal requirements for economic
development and that such saving must arise out of a prudent pattern of expenditure. In
many economies, savings are low because either consumption is too high or incomes are
too low. Orthodox economists advocate that incomes must be raised for savings to
increase. Without the moral and spiritual development of man there cannot be a high
standard of living. The latter by itself, could cut down waste and people could save
enough.
In Buddhist economics, a high level of savings is desirable and to this extent, it agrees
with modern economic theory. The process of saving is the essence of building a resource
base for development.

Modern economic theory states that it is only through income disparities that savings
could be maximised and that the bulk of savings come mainly from those who have the
highest incomes, thus belittling the contribution that the less affluent could make. In a
Buddhist economy, in the absence of very wealthy people, large corporations and monopolies,
saving must come from the medium and small-size economic units.

In such a society, inflation would not occur as there would not be a global shortage
of goods. There will be production for the people and there would be no erosion of
purchasing power through inflation. Today, people cannot save because of inflation. Price
increases sharply because not enough essential goods are being produced.

ik

as

International tension arising from ideological conflict would become less important
because there will be no place for materialistic ideologies. The only ideology would be one
that has a spiritual base and its primary interest would be in the promotion of peaceful living
and spiritual harmony. Such an ideology will greatly ease all tensions.

1.14 SWAMI VIVEKANANDA AND HIS


PHILOSOPHY AND ETHICS
In his teachings Vivekananda, focused on the doctrine of social service and preached
ethicsthe main concern of which was the improvement of the condition of the poor and
the downtrodden.
In 1893, Vivekananda went to the US to attend the Parliament of Religions. He praised
Americans for their vitality and for their scientific progress but he also observed that
mainly economic considerations devoid of ethics dominated their lifestyle. He said: For

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all the criticism of the Westerners against our caste system, they have a worse onethat
of money. The almighty dollar, as the Americans say, can do anything here.

An Ethical Vision of
Business and Management

In America and Europe, Swamiji saw the spirit of division, the prevalence of greed and
the fierce struggle among the Western powers for the mastery of the world. He saw the
hidden tragedy of Europe, the weariness under the forced expenditure of energy, the
discontent and uneasiness under the mask of frivolity. He felt that social life in the West
was like a peal of laughter, but underneath there was a wail. The fun and frivolity was
only on the surface, for life underneath was full of tragic intensity; but in India it was sad
and gloomy on the surface, though underneath there was gay abandon and merriment.

NOTES

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lis rig
hi ht
ng
H
ou

se

Vivekananda described the dilemma the educated Indians faced of a choice between
the attractions of the materialistic civilisation of the West and those of the ancient oriental
civilisation. On the one side was materialism, abundance of wealth, accumulation of power
and an opportunity to indulge in intense sense-pursuits; and on the other, there was the
ascetic message of the ancient gods. On the one side, said Vivekananda, was the
independence of western societies based on self-interest; on the other, was the selfsacrifice of Aryan society. The goal of the West was individual independence, its language
was money-making education and its means were politics, while the goal of India was
mukti, and her language was that of the Vedas, and her means, renunciation.
Vivekananda wanted Indians to propagate the Vedantic ideal of the identity of Brahman
and atman, and their relationship with each other. Let foreigners come and flood the land
with their armies, said Vivekananda, but advised that Indians should go to the West and
proclaim the great truths of the Vedanta, for the West was a volcano that might burst any
day. We must go out and conquer the world through our spirituality and philosophy.
Vivekananda said that whereas the West needed the spirituality of India, India needed
their science and he wanted a synthesis of the two.

ik

as

Vivekananda maintained that if a man possessed everything but did not possess
spirituality, he really possessed nothing and he claimed that to the Oriental, the world of
the spirit was as real as was the world of senses to the Occidental. To the Occidental, the
Oriental seemed a dreamer but to the Oriental, it was the Occidental who was dreaming
and was playing with ephemeral toys that one will have to leave sooner or later. Each called
the other a dreamer. But the Oriental ideal was necessary because only if a person was the
lord of his mind, could he really be happy. It was true that external nature was majestic;
yet there was a more majestic internal nature of man, higher than this physical universe.
In the knowledge of that internal nature, the Orientals excelled, just as the Occidentals
excelled in the knowledge of the outer nature of the world. Therefore, it was fitting that
when the Oriental wanted to learn about machine-making, he should sit at the feet of the
Occidental. And, when the Occidental wanted to learn about the soul, spirit and God, and
about the meaning and mystery of the Universe, he should sit at the feet of the Oriental.
Then, he would know that every man and woman was a living God to be worshipped.
Vivekananda lectured throughout the length and breadth of the country, speaking
against indiscriminate Westernisation. He asked his countrymen not to forget that the ideals
of their womanhood were Sita, Savitri, and Damyanti; that their lives had not been for lived
pleasure of the senses, instead, they had happing agreed to be sacrificed at the Mother's
altar. He asked every Indian to proclaim that every ignorant Indian, the poor and destitute,
the Brahmin, the Pariah, was his brother.
About social reform movement, Vivekananda regretted that the social reformers had
confined their activities to the upper castes and not touched the masses. They had laid
emphasis on widow remarriage that affected mainly the upper castes and not on the
removal of untouchability, that concerned the masses.

30 Self-Instructional Material

He had little faith in politics. I have seen your Parliament, your Senate, your vote,
majority ballot; it is the same thing everywhere, my friend. The powerful men in every

NOTES

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H
ou

Vivekananda's real hope for Indias revival rested on the spread of education among
the masses. He believed that with the spread of education and dissemination of spirituality,
social reform would come as a matter of course. His faith was in growth, not in reform.
He said it was impossible for hungry men to become spiritual, unless they were provided
with food. He did not pay much attention to social reform as he believed that social evils
were a sort of disease in the social body, and if that body was nourished by education,
these evils will die out themselves.

An Ethical Vision of
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se

country are moving society whichever way they like and the rest are only like a flock of
sheep. And, he said that if one saw the bribery and robbery, the dance of the Devil during
elections, then one would lose all faith in man. The educated classes of India wanted to
introduce all these political institutions of the West that had been tried and found wanting
in Europe, in India. But these were not fundamental solutions, for Acts of Parliament could
not, in any event, make men virtuous. Therefore, one would have to go to the root of the
matter, namely, man and his character. They could be changed only through spiritual values
and through religion, and not through politics.

So long as millions lived in hunger and ignorance, Vivekananda considered every man
who had been educated at the expense of the destitute, and did nothing for their uplift to
be a traitor.

Though Vivekananda was a cultural nationalist, he asked his countrymen to learn


Western science. He asked Indians to learn modern science and technology, yet he said
that the heart of Indians was in religion, just as that of Englishmen was in economics and
that of Frenchmen in politics. The English resisted their kings when they wanted to extort
money from them; the French rebelled against their kings who denied them political
freedom; and Indians opposed their kings when they attacked the religion of the people.
The empire of Aurangzeb was destroyed because he attacked the Hindu religion, but the
empire of the English in India was strong, he wrote, because they did not touch the religion
of the people. Swamiji warned the people that it would be suicidal for them to attempt to
make politics and not religion, the centre of national life.

as

Vivekananda admired the Western people for their proficiency in industrial and commercial
activities, but he asserted that they had failed to create happy and harmonious societies.
Indeed, so long as men remained essentially egotistic and desired wealth and power above
all other things, this was bound to happen. Men could create happy and harmonious
societies only if they realised the Vedantic truth of the unity of all individual selves because
of their identity with God. The interest shown in Indian philosophy and ethics by
Schoppenhauer and Max Muller made Vivekananda think that Indian religious literature
could lead to a far-reaching and profound revolution in Europe as as was once produced
by Greek literature. Swamiji envisaged his mission to be the spread of Indian spiritual ideas,
the same mission as that of Ashoka in the past. Vivekananda asked Indians to conquer the
world with spirituality.

ik

Vivekananda was a pragmatist. To his poor and miserable countrymen it was not
another worldly religion that he preached. He said that he would prefer to be an atheist than
believe in a God who could not bring food to the hungry millions. Material civilisation was
necessary to create work for the poor. Bread! Bread! I do not believe in a God who cannot
give me bread here, but gives me eternal bliss in heaven.
Vivekanandas idea of Ethics. One idea stands out as the centre of all ethical
systems, expressed in various forms, namely, doing good to others. The guiding motive
of mankind should be charity towards men, charity towards all animals. But these are all
various expressions of that eternal truth: I am the universe, this universe is one.
Doing good to others is a virtue; injuring others is a sin. Strength and manliness are
virtues; weakness and cowardice are sins. Independence is a virtue; dependence is a sin.
Loving others is a virtue; hating others is a sin. Faith in God and in ones own self is a
virtue; doubt is a sin. The different scriptures only show the meaning of attaining virtue.

Check Your Progress


20. What did Vivekananda
attend in the US in 1893?
21. In what did his real hope
for Indias revival rest?
Self-Instructional Material 31

It is the quintessence of all ethics preached in any religion or by any prophet in the
world. Be thou unselfish, Not I But thouthat is the background of all ethical codes.
And, what is meant by this is the recognition of non-individualitythat you are a part of
me and I of you; the recognition that in hurting you I hurt myself and in helping you I help
myself, the recognition that there cannot possibly be death for me while you live.

An Ethical Vision of
Business and Management

NOTES

Thus, the definition of morality is this: that which is selfish is immoral, and that which
is unselfish is moral.

op
ub y
lis rig
hi ht
ng
H
ou

se

Ethics always says, not I, but thou. Its motto is: Not self, but non-self. The vain
ideas of individualism, to which man clings when he is trying to find that infinite power
or that infinite pleasure through the senses, have to be given up. You have to put yourself
last and others before you. The senses say, Myself first. Ethics says, I must hold myself
last. Thus, all codes of ethics are based upon this renunciation; not construction but
decantation of the individual on the material plane. That Infinite Spirit will never find
expression on the material plane.

1.15 GANDHI AND HIS PHILOSOPHY AND ETHICS


In 1919, a new star rose in the political sky of India. The anti-Rowlatt Act agitation brought
to the fore of the national movement, a new leaderMohandas Karamchand Gandhiwith
a novel political philosophy and technique. He was the high priest of the Indian freedom
struggle against the British colonial rule. No single individual has had a greater influence
on the nationalist movement than Gandhiji. He provided his dynamic leadership in a
successful political struggle.
Gandhiji was a vivid contrast to this mad and materialistic worlda world convulsed
with irreligion, avarice and greed. Sir Stafford Cripps aptly remarked: I know no other
man of any time or indeed recent history, who so forcefully and convincingly demonstrated
the power of spirit over material things.

Gandhiji did not fit into the popular image of leadership. Most of the leaders look
like heroes, talk like oracles and pose as supermen. But Gandhiji was nothing of the sort.
He looked ordinary. But he was extraordinary in his simple living, clear thinking and
missionary zeal. He was really a sanyasi who lived in the midst of the world but was
altogether above it.

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Gandhiji declared that his own life was his message. It was undoubtedly a great life
intensely lived at many different levels. He loved the poor and the downtrodden and tried
to live like them. His love for the poor was neither intellectual nor sentimental, nor
romantic. It was deep and abiding. He would travel in a third class railway compartment
because that was how the poor people travelled and Gandhi was averse to alienating
himself from the mainstream of life. The loin cloth that he wore, which earned him the
epithet of the Naked Fakir, indicated his desire to identify himself with the masses.
Gandhiji is the soul of eternal India. When he became a world figure, Rabindranath
Tagore said of him:
The secret of Gandhis success lies in his dynamic spiritual strength and incessant
self-sacrifice.
He covets no power, no position, no wealth, no name and no fame. Offer him the
throne of all of India, he will refuse to sit on it, but will sell the jewels and distribute the
money among the needy.
Emperors and maharajas, guns and bayonets, imprisonments and tortures, insults and
injuries, even death itself, can never daunt the spirit of Gandhi.

32 Self-Instructional Material

His is a liberated soul. If anyone strangles me, I shall be crying for help, but if Gandhi
was strangled, I am sure he would not cry. He may laugh at his strangler; and if he has
to die, he will die smiling.

Gandhiji was not a born politician, not even a political agitator. He was a rather
reluctant politician. He was essentially a religious-minded man, a humanist and a man of
action and intuition. His entry into politics was a matter of coincidence. He chose it as a
matter of duty. Politics to him was a means, not the enda way, not the goal. He wanted
to spiritualise politics. He believed that politics bereft of religion was a death-trap because
it killed the soul. Politics without morality was to be avoided. The effort to purify politics
was a positive and lasting contribution of Gandhi to the freedom struggle. It was Gandhi's
firm conviction that if politics was to be a blessing and not a curse to mankind, it should
be guided by the highest ethical and spiritual principles. The Swaraj that he visualised was
not merely political independence. It would be meaningless without economic and social
justice.

NOTES

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H
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Gandhiji was more than a mere politicianhe was a social reformer and like every
reformer, he suffered from the apparent handicap of being ahead of his time. The average
intelligence of his generation was incapable of grasping what was taught by his superior
wisdom. Not susprisingly, Gandhiji did not receive his dues and was even misunderstood
by his contemporaries.

An Ethical Vision of
Business and Management

se

His simplicity of life is childlike, his adherence to truth is unflinching, his love for
mankind is positive and aggressive. He has what is known as the Christ spirit.'

Plato allowed his philosopher-king to tell lies, deceiving both his enemies and his own
citizens for the benefit of the city. This Machiavellian way of thinking travelled a long way
in history and finally became an article of faith with the authoritarians. Authoritarian
movements everywhere have displayed increasing recourse to falsehood, deceit and violence.
In their view, an action was to be judged solely by the motive underlying the action. If the
motive was good, the action was justifiable whatever be the means. Inevitably, the
authoritarian politics became essentially amoral and a matter of expediency, and sought to
set up a double standard of morality.
The Gandhian way was a living protest against this political tradition of expediency.
It involved an interweaving of means and ends. Gandhiji believed that by treading an amoral
path of falsehood and violence, it was not possible to reach the temple of truth and justice.

Gandhiji was always an unflinching champion of people's upsurge against injustice. In


every form of society, occasional battles against social or political oppression and injustices
were bound to occur. Revolutionaries advocated violence and classwara method that
according to Gandhiji, was hostile to reason. Gandhiji advised satyagraha as the means to
resist the evil forces of injustice and tyranny.

as

Gandhiji revived Buddha's ethics of ahimsa and applied it to social and political problems.
He evolved a new outlook on life based on the doctrine of ahimsa and sought to solve all
problems in the light of this principle. Non-violence as practised by Gandhi, was rooted
in the Indian doctrine of ahimsa. On the negative side, it meant avoiding injury to anyone.
On the positive side, it meant the principle of love. It was omnipotent, infinite and
synonymous with God himself. Gandhi said, Ahimsa is a weapon of matchless potency.
It is the summum-bonum of life.

ik

Truth is the basic factor of non-violence. To Gandhiji, it was not enough to say that
God is truth but Truth is God. Gandhiji was a truth-seeker and not a system-builder.

To visualise Gandhiji without the charkha or the spinning wheel is inconceivable. He


knew that the chief article that the villagers needed was cloth. Its import from the UK
during British days, drained more of our wealth than any other single article. So, Gandhiji
took up the production of cloth. The charkha was the answer to the economic emancipation
of the rural masses.
Gandhiji was every inch an Indian. He wore the national dress because it was most
natural and the most becoming for an Indian. He believed that copying European dress was
a sign of our degradation, humiliation and our weakness, and we were committing a sin
big discarding a dress that was best suited to the Indian climate.
Self-Instructional Material 33

Gandhiji was not an intellectual in the accepted sense of the term. Though a well-read
man, he was neither a scholar nor philosopher. He was not a theoretician. He was preeminently a man of action.

An Ethical Vision of
Business and Management

Gandhian economics is the economics of non-violence that poses a challenge to


Western economics in order to establish world peace. Gandhian economics takes of the
whole man as against the economics of the economic man. It is an economics of life
rather than standard of living.

NOTES

se

Gandhian economics is essentially ethical. To him, ethics and economics were


inseparable. As he said, True economics never militates against the highest ethical standard.
This ethical consideration prompted Gandhi to advocate reconstruction of the entire social
order with obliteration of distinctions of rank and with the rich acting as trustees of their
property for the benefit of all. In the present-day world that is marked by greed, equality
will remain elusive unless we become ethical and follow Gandhian principles.

op
ub y
lis rig
hi ht
ng
H
ou

To Gandhiji economics was a way of life. He believed in human life that was an integral
whole. Life was one and could not be divided into separate watertight compartments such
as economical, political, social or moral. All the seemingly separate segments were but
different facets of man's life. They acted and reacted upon one another. Division of human
life into different compartments was often undertaken to facilitate study and analysis. The
artificial individual thus created had, however, no existence in real life. Any knowledge
derived from the study of such an individual would be partial and lopsided. It would not
be true to the integrated facts of life. If life could not be artificially divided and was to be
lived worthily, it must be regulated in accordance with an integrated scheme. It must be
guided by some basic principles and values. Bereft of them, it would lack direction and
purpose.
Beware of the man whose God is in the skies, said Bernard Shaw. Gandhiji also said,
I am endeavouring to see God through the service of humanity, for I know that God is
neither in heaven nor down below, but in everyone. He held that through work, one could
achieve, salvation and self-realisation. Gandhiji was a truly religious man but he neither
observed Hindu ceremonies nor visited temples except sometimes through curiosity. His
Hinduism was based on the teachings of the Upanishads and the Gita.

Gandhiji made no difference between religion and morality. Dharma must guide all our
activities. He did not think that religion was to be practised in a cave or on a mountain top.
It must manifest itself in all the actions of man in society. He believed in God but for him
God was the moral lawDharma. He said, Truth is God. To me God is truth and love;
God is ethics and morality. God is fearlessness. God is the source of light and life and yet
He is above and beyond all these.

ik

as

Gandhiji revived Buddhas ethics of ahimsa and applied it to social, economic and
political problems. He evolved a new outlook on life based on the doctrine of ahimsa and
sought to solve all social, political and economic problems in the light of this principle. He
gave a new orientation to the problems that faced humanity at the time and offered a new
solution.

Check Your Progress


22. On what was Gandhijis
outlook of life based?
23. What was the moral law
for Gandhiji?

34 Self-Instructional Material

Swadeshi Dharma was an integral part of Gandhian philosophy. It connoted that the
village was to be Self-sufficient to the utmost possibility but additional products could be
traded. Gandhiji said, Any article is Swadeshi if it serves the interests of the millions.
Swadeshi is a sentiment in us that prompts us in our daily dealings to patronise the goods
of our immediate neighbours rather than the goods brought from distant places. This
philosophy calls upon each individual to depend for his sustenance mainly upon the
immediate environment.
Gandhijis idea of trusteeship was based on the humanitarian ground of bread for all
before cakes for some. He opined that the rich man ought to recognise that he was a
trustee for all the wealth that he collected with the help of the members of the society. This
levelling down of the few rich on the one hand and the levelling up of the naked millions

Gandhiji favoured a decentralised economy, not because he was against industrialisation


of the country but because the costs of industrialisation through machinery that led to
exploitation of man and natural resources, were unbearable to him. He was an opponent
of machinery only in as much as it poured wealth into the pockets of a chosen few who
paid little attention to crores of people from whom the machine snatched away even their
bread. Men become cogs in the wheels of machinery. Gandhiji did not want India to repeat
the torturous experience of the West.

NOTES

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Gandhiji warned us not to build our economic edifice on the bedrock of Western
thought. Our tradition was not suitable for the adoption of the Western pattern of centralised
industrialisation. He realised that the problem of Indian economic development was not
merely one of growth but also of rehabilitation, of the growing drift towards urbanisation,
a decentralisation of productive activities and an integration of rural and urban economics
to ensure increased production. He, therefore, pleaded for a decentralised system of
industry on a cooperative basis. Gandhiji was not out of tune with modern thinking in his
advocacy of small, decentralised industrialisation. Many modern economists believe that
a small, decentralised industry approach can solve many problems of an underdeveloped
economy that large-scale industry cannot.

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on the other, was really a scientific-cum-psychological approach for establishing economic


equality, in place of exploitation of the poor by the rich and of the employee by the
employer.

Gandhiji made no distinction between man and woman. Both were equal in his eyes.
He was against the pernicious system of child marriage. He was very progressive in his
outlook and was against all social and religious barriers to widow remarriage. He was
against the dowry system. For the poor and middle-class, these evils were a nightmare.
Gandhiji held that a womans grace lay in her character and her modesty. A woman must
cease to consider herself as the object of a mans lust. She must refuse to adorn herself
for men, including her husband, if she was to be an equal partner with man. Gandhiji
wanted India to be free from the evil of the use of intoxicating drinks and drugs.

Sometimes, a comparison is made between Gandhiji and Jawaharlal Nehru. The latter
was modern and the former was a revivalist. Nehru's mode of thinking was Western
but Gandhiji's mode of thinking was Indian. If modernism means a Westernised outlook,
Gandhiji was not modern. If however, modernism implies a rational and scientific outlook,
Gandhiji was positively modern.

1.16 THE PHILOSOPHY OF AUROBINDO (18721950)


Aurbindo was a saint, philosopher and militant nationalist.

ik

as

Aurobindo had a highly Westernised education. Though he stayed for 14 years in


England, he had no particular attachment for that country; intellectually and emotionally
his attachment was for France rather than for England. Whereas England took 12 centuries
to establish democracy, the French Revolution did that in five short years. And, it was not
only the French Revolution, but all movements of revolt that attracted Aurobindo. He was
inspired by Cleisthenes who inaugurated the Athenian social and political reorganisations,
Gracchi who brought changes in the Roman constitution and in particular, Joan of Arc,
who rid France of English occupation. He was inspired also by the American Revolution
and the Irish movement for self-government. The study of Bankim Chandra Chatterjees
Ananda Math instilled him with patriotism and a spiritual fervour.
According to Aurobindo, a purely political movement without any religious appeal
could not rouse the people. He asked them to remember that by participating in a movement
of spiritual nationalism, they would be helping in creating a nation, consolidating an age
and Aryanising the world. He wrote, India cannot perish, our race cannot become extinct
because among all the divisions of mankind, it is to India that is reserved the highest and

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most splendid destiny, the most essential to the future of the human race. It is she who
must send forth from herself the future religion of the entire world, the eternal religion
which is to harmonise all religions, science and philosophies and make mankind one soul.
It is for this that Sri Ramkrishna came and Vivekananda preached.

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NOTES

Aurobindo felt that it was futile to emerge as a nation or to win political freedom if
India was to remain enslaved at heart by purely materialistic ends that were supposed to
be the objective of European civilisation; and that a national movement could have no real
justification if no new manifestation of Indian genius relating to the real things of life took
place. He lamented that under Western influence, Indians had become denationalised. The
nineteenth century in India was thus imitative, self-forgetful and artificial; it aimed only at
a reproduction of Europe in India, forgetting the teachings of the Gita.

op
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se

Indians could not realise their destiny if they merely accepted European ideas or looked
at life from a purely material standpoint. He advised them to first recover the patrimony
of their forefathers, recover Aryan thought, Aryan discipline, Aryan character, Aryan life.
recover the Vedanta, the Gita, yoga. They would have to win back the kingdom, the inner
Swaraj before they could win back their outer empire.
Aurobindo wrote The Life Divine, The Ideals of Human Unity, The Synthesis of Yoga
and many other famous books that received worldwide acclaim.

Aurobindo did not consider the human mind as the highest form of existence. God did
not descend directly into human consciousness or mind. A link was necessary between
the Absolute, the super-consciousness and Mind, the ordinary consciousness. The Supermind
provided this link. Aurobindo wanted each man to develop his manhood into that true
supermanhood. He wanted each man to enter the cosmic consciousness and to achieve
a union with the Eternal. This is possible through Yoga.
In the course of a lecture in Japan in 1917, Paul Richard said: The hour is coming
of great things, the hour of great events and also of great men, the divine men of Asia.
All my life I have sought them across the world. It is in Asia that I have found the greatest
among them, the leader, the hero of tomorrow. He is a Hindu. His name is Aurobindo
Ghosh.

Aurobindo on Money

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Money is a valuable force that is indispensable to the development and fullness of existence.
In a creative economy of modern life, the role and importance of money cannot be overemphasised. Without money, nothing can be achieved in material life. All socio-economic
activities, all cultural gains and attainments, all creations and constructions, all trade,
industry and commerce depend directly upon and are determined by money. The ascetic
has to depend upon the money of others for sustenance and his sermons. Money is a force,
a lever of control and a power of possession. The index of modern (material) prosperity
is money and money-power.

36 Self-Instructional Material

But money is not an unmixed blessing. It has brought in its train deceit, default, evil,
crime, corruption and demoralisation. The real solution lies in understanding money through
the mechanism of divinity. If human life as such, has to be reorganised on the basis of
divine consciousness, money power too, will have to be looked upon as an Instrument of
the Divine. If we fight shy of it, our progress will remain choked. To really understand
the meaning of money as a lever of rich and powerful creative material life in the world,
we will have to redefine the contents and the conditions of money as a medium of social
good and human progress.
According to Sri Aurobindo: Money is the visible sign of a universal force, and this
force in its manifestation of earth works on the vital and physical planes, and is indispensable
to the fullness of the outer life. In its origin and its true action it belongs to the Divine. But
like other powers of the Divine it is delegated here and in the ignorance of the lower Nature,
can be usurped for the uses of the ego or held by Asuric influences and perverted to their

purpose. This is, indeed, one of the three forcespower, wealth, sex that have the
strongest attraction for the human ego and the Asuric that are most generally misheld and
misused by those who retain them. The seekers or keepers of wealth are more often
possessed rather than its possessors; few escape entirely a certain distorting influence
stamped on them by its long seizure and perversion by the Asur.

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NOTES

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We plan to set up a divine life on earth and for that reason alone the divine use of money
will have to be our first imperative. The aversion against money or against its misuse will
be our timidity, truancy from reality, anaemic spirituality and flight from our ancient
ideality. All wealth, all splendour, all significance emerges from the Divine, and if matter
is from the Divine, then material wealth is also from the Divine. Aurobindo holds that
money is often usurped in the material world for the use of the ego by Asuric influences
and perverted to their purpose.

se

Thus, money is a universal force derived, like other forces, from the Divine. But, like
every other force, it is appropriated and perverted by the beings of darkness and it is used
to serve and satisfy their own ends.

Thus, money is a product of the Divine, and instrument of setting up Life Divine of
earthit has to be extricated from the hold of the Asuras and used for the service of the
Divine in the world. Money cannot be dispensed with. For a harmonious, progressive and
luminous life on earth, money, like all material means, is indispensable and more should
plead for its extinction from earthly life.
The real danger is that most present possessors of money have become possessed by
money power. Instead of their being masters of money, they have become slaves of
money-power and are governed by the vital forces of desiressay for food, fame and
furnishings. Money is watered down for the baser needs and this lavishness is not only
justified but admired as large-hearted munificence. Society praises such selfish use of
money and expects that the right/wrong uses of money can be analysed only through the
motives, attitude and the consciousness of the possessor.

Aurobindo said, All wealth belongs to the Divine and those who hold it are trustees,
not possessors. It is with them today, tomorrow it may be elsewhere. Everything depends
on the way they discharge their trust while it is with them and in what spirit, with what
consciousness they use it and to what purpose.

The proper use of money is to win it from the hands of the vital forces and then to
divert it into the developing channels of Divine work.

as

No dynamic spirituality can afford to put a ban on money, for that will mean leaving
money power in the hands of the vital forces on the one hand, and on the other, paralysing
the material world with poverty. Like other powers it has to be reconquered for the Divine
and to be used for the Divine purpose in human life.

ik

Aurobindo said: I do not regard business as something evil or tainted, any more than
it is so regarded in ancient spiritual India. If I did, I would not be able to receive money
from X or from those of our disciples who in Bombay trade with East Africa; nor could
we then encourage them to go on with their work but would have to tell them to throw
it up and attend to their spiritual progress alone. How are we to reconcile Xs seeking after
spiritual light and his mill? Ought I not to tell him to leave his mill to itself and to the devil
and go into some Ashram to meditate? Even if I myself had the command to do politics,
I would have it without the least spiritual or moral compunction. All depends on the spirit
in which a thing is done, the principles on which it is built and the use to which it is turned;
I have done politics and the most violent kind of revolutionary politics, and I have supported
war and sent men to it, even though politics is not always or often a very clean occupation,
nor can war be called a spiritual line of action. But Krishna calls upon Arjuna to carry on
war of the most terrible kind and by his example, encourages men to do every kind of
human work. Do you contend that Krishna was an unspiritual man and that his advice to
Arjuna was mistaken or wrong in principle? Krishna goes further and declares that a man,

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NOTES

Aurobindo on Materialism and Spirituality

se

by doing in the right way and in the right spirit, the work dictated to him by his
fundamental nature, temperament and capacity, and according to his dharma, can move
towards the Divine. He validates the function and dharma of the Vaishya as well as of the
Brahmin and Kshatriya. It is, in his view, quite possible for a man to do business and make
money and earn profits and yet be a spiritual man, practise yoga, have an inner life. The
Gita is constantly justifying work as a means of spiritual salvation and enjoining a yoga
of works as well as of Bhakti and Knowledge. Krishna, however, superimposes a higher
lawthat work must be done without desire, without attachment to any fruit or reward,
without any egoistic attitude or motive as an offering or sacrifice to the Divine. This is the
traditional Indian attitude towards these things, that all work can be done if it is done
according to the dharma and it does not prevent the approach to the Divine or the access
to spiritual knowledge and the spiritual life.

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It has been customary to dwell on the division and difference between these two sections
of the human family and even contrast each other; but for myself, I would rather be
disposed to dwell on oneness and unity than on division and difference. East and West have
the same human nature, a common human destiny, the same aspiration after a greater
perfection, the same seeking after something higher than itself, something towards which
inwardly and even outwardly we move. There has been a tendency in some minds to dwell
on the spirituality of mysticism of the East and the materialism of the West but the West
has not been too far behind the East in its spiritual seekings though not in such profusion
through its saints and sages and mystics. The East too has had its materialistic tendencies,
its material splendours, its similar or identical dealings with life and matter. East and West
have always met the mixed more or less closely, they have powerfully influenced each
other and at the present time are under an increasing compulsion of Nature and Fate to
do so more than ever before.

There is a common hope, a common destiny, both spiritual and material, for which
both are needed as co-workers. It is no longer towards division and difference that we
should turn our minds, but on unity, union, even oneness, necessary for the pursuit and
realisation of a common ideal, the desire goal, the fulfilment towards which nature in her
beginning unconsciously set out and must in an increasing light of knowledge replacing
her first ignorance, constantly persevere.
But what shall be that ideal and that goal? That depends on our conception of the
realities of life and the supreme Reality.

ik

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Here, we have to take into account that there has been, not any absolute difference
but an increasing divergence between the tendencies of the East and the West. The highest
truth is the truth of the Spirit; a Supreme Spirit above the world and yet immanent in the
world and in all that exists, sustaining and leading all towards the aim and the fulfilment
of Nature since her obscure inconsient beginnings through the growth of consciousness
is the one aspect of existence which gives a clue to the secret of our being and a meaning
to the world. The East has always and increasingly put the highest emphasis on the
supreme truth of the Spirit; it has, even in its extreme philosophies, put the world away
as an illusion and regarded the Spirit as the sole reality. The West has concentrated more
on the world, on the dealings of mind and life with our material existence, on our mastery
over it, on the perfection of mind and life and some fulfilment of the human being here:
lately this has gone so far as the denial of the Spirit and even the enthronement of Matter
as the sole reality. Spiritual perfection as the sole ideal on one side, and on the other, the
perfectibility of the race, the perfect society, a perfect development of the human mind and
life and man's material existence, have become the biggest dream of the future. Yet, both
are truths and can be regarded as part of the intention of the Spirit in world-nature; they
are not incompatible with each other: rather, their divergence has to be healed and both
have to be included and reconciled in our view of the future.

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NOTES

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The process of evolution has been the development from inconscient Matter to a
subconscient and then a conscious Life, from an animal life to a fully conscious and
thinking man, the highest achievement of evolutionary Nature. The achievement of mental
being is at present, her highest, and tends to be regarded as her final work; but it is possible
to conceive a still further step of the evolution; Nature may have in view beyond the
imperfect mind of man a consciousness that passes out of the mind's ignorance and
possesses truth as its inherent right and nature. There is a Truth-Consciousness as it is
called in the Veda, a Supermind, as I have termed it, possessing knowledge, not having to
seek after it and yet constantly miss it. In one of the Upanishads, a being of knowledge
is stated to be the next step above the mental being; into that the soul has to rise and through
it to attain the perfect bliss of spiritual existence. If that could be achieved as the next
evolutionary step of Nature here, then she would be fulfilled and we could conceive of the
perfection of life even here, its attainment of full spiritual living even in this body or it may
be in a perfected body. We could even speak to a divine life on earth; our human dream
of perfection would be accomplished as also, the aspiration to a heaven on earth, common
to several religions and spiritual seers and thinkers.

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The Science of the West considers evolution as the secret of life and its process in
this material world; but it has laid more stress on the growth of form and species than on
the growth of consciousness; in fact consciousness has been regarded as an incident and
not the whole secret of the meaning of evolution. Evolution has been admitted by certain
philosophies and scriptures in the East, but there its sense has been the growth of the soul
through developing or successive forms of the individual to its own highest reality. For,
if there is a conscious being, that being can hardly be a temporary phenomenon of
consciousness; it must be a soul fulfilling itself and this fulfilment can only take place if
there is a return of the soul to earth in many successive lives in many successive bodies.

The ascent of the human soul to the Supreme Spirit is that soul's highest aim and
necessity, for that is the supreme reality; but there can also be the descent of the Spirit
and its powers into the world and that would justify the existence of the material world
also, give a meaning, a divine purpose to the creation and solve its riddle. East and
West could be reconciled in the pursuit of the highest and largest idea, that Spirit
embraces. Matter, and Matter find its own true reality and the hidden Reality in all things
in the Spirit.

1.17 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RABINDRANATH


TAGORE (18611941)

as

Poet, patriot and humanist, Rabindranath Tagore was one of the spokesmen of the soul
of India and was regarded as our cultural ambassador to the West. As a poet, he won
international recognition and is hailed as the Goethe of Bengali literature.

ik

At the age of twenty, Tagore came to be known as a poet. He turned out to be a most
versatile and prolific writer of verses, essays, dramas and novels. He drew his inspiration
from every source, from the Vedas, Upanishads, Mahabharata and Ramayana, from
Buddhist literature, from the poetry and drama of Kalidas and from the songs and verses
of medieval Vaishnava saints. Not only that, the poetry of English romantics, the philosophy
of enlightenment and the new science of evolution also provided grist to his intellectual mill.
But all these were transformed and made new and vibrant in his poems, that were for every
man, for every season and for every mood.
Tagore first went to England at the age of seventeen. At that time England had provided
refuge to many rebels and patriots who had been banished from their countries and Tagore
had then thought of the chivalrous West, that trained the enthusiasm of Knight-errants
ready to take upon themselves the cause of the depressed. Many educated Indians were
under the illusion that the special mission of Western civilisation was to bring emancipation

Self-Instructional Material 39

to all and sundry; and that though the West came to the shores of India as cunning
tradesmen and imperial rulers, the literature of freedom that they brought would ultimately
induce the victor itself to pave the path of freedom for the vanquished.

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In 1901, Tagore started a school at Shantiniketan after the model of the ancient
Tapavanas. He had bitter memories of school education and regarded the conventional
schools as factories, where the child, separated from nature and society, was put in an
abnormal environment and was subjected to daily torture. In Shantiniketan, he held classes
in the open air under the trees. He made the school residential and wanted to develop close
contact between the teacher and the taught. His aim was to have a system of teaching that
would make education enjoyable and interesting.

NOTES

se

Tagore asked the people to be self-reliant and not to harbour the illusion that merely
by producing good arguments, Indians would be able to induce the British rulers to grant
political concessions. The British officials were not likely to be convinced by such arguments.
It was therefore futile to depend on the British sense of justice.

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An English edition of Tagores collection of poems, Gitanjali, was published with an


introduction by W.B. Yeats. In November 1913, the country was overwhelmed with the
news that Tagore had been awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. The Nobel Prize turned
Tagore from an individual into an icon, a symbol of the West's recognition of Asia and its
cultural resurgence.
In 1921, Gandhi started a non-violent non-cooperation movement not only against the
British Raj but also against Western civilisation itself. Tagore was wholly opposed to the
philosophy of non-cooperation with Western culture. Gandhi countered Tagore's charges
by saying that non-cooperation was not intended to erect a Chinese Wall between India and
the West and that, in any event, non-cooperation with the evil was as much a duty as
cooperation with the good.

The clash between Tagore and Gandhi was somewhat striking but almost inevitable.
These two men, who dominated India during the first half of this century, differed in
temperament, outlook and ideology. Tagore was the poet and Gandhi, the political crusader.
Tagore believed in art, and Gandhi in action. Tagore believed in fullness of life, whereas
Gandhi's ideal was renunciation. For Tagore, the ultimate quest was beauty, while for
Gandhi the ultimate quest was truth. Tagore and Gandhi represented two different aspects
of India, but they also complemented each other. To one and all Gandhiji simply said, Spin
and weave, spin and weave. Is this the call of the New Age, to new creation ? asked
Tagore.

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Tagore felt that the emphasis on spinning was a trend away from modern industrialism
that India sorely needed and that such an emphasis would substitute superstition for
science in economic matters. But if the country had come to such a state that precise
thinking on economic and other matters had become impossible, then the fight should be
against such a fatal habit to the temporary exclusion of all else, for such a habit was the
original sin from which all other ills flowed.

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Gandhiji justified his programme of spinning and burning of foreign cloth. He considered
the wearing of foreign cloth a sin. To him, there was no distinction between economics
and ethics, for economics should deal with welfare and not just wealth. It was the love
of foreign cloth that had ousted the spinning wheel. This love itself was a sin.
With the growth of nationalism, the activistic and humanistic ideals came into prominence.
Gradually, these ideals became so dominant that even the profession and practice of art
came under suspicion. Art was denounced as an escape into fantasy from hard political
realities. In consequence, Tagore came under criticism. In the early stages, Tagore had
taken part in the anti-Partition agitation, but later he withdrew from it. He took no part at
all in the non-cooperation movement. He did not favour boycott of British foods or
schools. He said, boycott to school would result in non-education.

NOTES

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The ethical lifeaffirmation expressed in the Bhagavad Gita and later by Ramanuja
and Ramananda, was developed and strengthened in the 19th and 20th centuries by Tagore
and others. Political insecurity led many in the Buddhist period to seek salvation outside
this sorrowful world and in the Middle Ages to find in the Sankara Vedanta a justification
for their inactivity. But in the 19th and 20th centuries, marked by political security, what
was emphasised was not the sorrowful aspects of life, but the optimistic message contained
in the greatest part of the Upanishads preached disinterested ethical activity preached in
the Bhagavad Gita.

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se

Tagore kept away from active politics in the manner of Goethe. While Tagore
kept away from politics, he did not preach quietist philosophy. He was not a mere
visionary, but he did not consider that problems could be solved on the political plane
alone. He wanted far-reaching changes in society and preached the ethics of active social
service. He also wanted to establish that this emphasis on ethical activity and social service
was continuation of old Indian throught, not a radical departure from it; and that ancient
Indian thought was not utterly other-worldly and pessimistic, believing life to be a bondage
and seeking mokshaa way of individual salvation outside the ambit of organised social
life.

Tagores religion was not that of an orthodox man of piety or of a theologian. It was
a poet's religion; the inspiration for such a religion came to him through the same unseen
and trackless channel as the inspiration for his songs. God did not grow in his mind
through a process of philosophical reasoning. He flashed into his consciousness with a
direct vision. His God humanised, he was a Jivan Devta, the presiding spirit of his life and
the inspiration of his verses.

Tagore found support for his humanism not only in the Upanishads but also in
Buddhism. At the root of Buddhism, was certainty, a rigid metaphysical theory, but it was
not this that had united people. Like the Upanishads, the doctrine of Buddha also generated
two divergent currents of thoughtone impersonal, preaching negation of the self through
discipline and the personal preaching the cultivation of sympathy for all creatures. The
latter, represented by the Mahayana, had its origin in the positive aspect of the Buddha's
teaching, that was love and compassion. Thus, the Buddha preached not inaction, not
extinction of the active self, but only the extinction of pride, ignorance and lust.
Tagores ideal of a free man was expressed in Gitanjali thus:
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high,
Where knowledge is free,

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls,
Where words come out from the depth of truth,

as

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection,


Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of
habit,

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Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever widening thought and action,
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father,

Let my country awake.

While in the West, the people were too concerned with the external world, in India,
Tagore regretted, the people were too concerned with the internal world. Consequently the
Western people suffered from the intoxication of power, and Indians suffered from the
intoxication of the spirit. In India, the seekers of truth were sometimes tempted to think
that the material world was an illusion, the Absolute alone was real, and that therefore, all
attachment to family, society and nation was undesirable. Tagore attacked this otherworldly and life-denying philosophy.
Self-Instructional Material 41

In 1921, Tagore founded the Viswa Bharati University that became a great centre of
Indian culture. Through this university, Tagore wanted to present to the world, the composite
culture of India.

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In 1930, Tagore visited Europe for the last time. He delivered the Hibbert Lectures on
Religion of Man.

NOTES

se

Tagore had a great love for the Soviet Republic where the poor were not despised for
their poverty. He felt that Bolshevism sprang from a hatred of injustice, from a desire to
remove inequality and poverty but yet he was greatly distressed by the excesses of the
Russian experiment, its scant regard for individualism and refusal to discard violence as
a means of social transformation. Bolshevism was like a storm. This unnatural revolution
had broken out because human society had lost its balance. It was because the individuals
apathy for the community had been growing that the suicidal proposal of sacrificing the
individual in the name of collectivity had arisen.

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Yet, Tagore felt that Russia was engaged in the task of building the road to a new age.
He even conceded that for the ills from which the world suffered, drastic remedies such
as Bolshevism might be the treatment, but then medical treatment cannot be permanent;
indeed, the day on which the doctor's regime comes to an end must be hailed as the red
letter day for the patient.
Tagore, the poet and individual, was distressed by the fact that violent efforts were
being made in Russia to cast public opinion into the mould of a particular social philosophy
and that free discussion was being stymied. Where the temptation for quick results was
strong, the political leaders were loathe to respect mans right to liberty of opinion.
Tagore could not accept either Marxism or Gandhism as the gospel of truth.
He believed in the multi-religious, multi-racial nationalism of India.

Tagore believed in Indian unity transcending the diversities not only of creeds but also
of castes. He denounced the caste system in the strongest language.

Denouncing those politicians who asked for political reforms, and yet did not attack
the inequities of the caste system, he said that nationalism could not build a political miracle
of freedom upon the quick sand of social slavery and that the spirit of liberalism must
permeate not only politics but also society. He pointed out that it was the love of reason
and liberty that had led to the development of science and a free society in modern Europe.
Similarly, English education in India had stimulated rationalism so that the educated had
begun to criticise superstitious beliefs and irrational customs.

ik

as

Though Tagore spoke of the comparative superiority of Eastern ideals of contentment


and self-restraint, but in his writings as a whole he emphasised the limitations of Eastern
as well as Western ideals and institutions. He criticised those who regarded everything
Western as material and unethical, and who claimed that the average European was
dominated only by the love of personal pleasure, while the average Indian was guided by
higher spiritual motives. Tagore wanted a synthesis of the East and the West and said that
India would be shorn of fullness if she was deprived of the western contact.

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Some social reformers despised Indian culture without even understanding it. In Gora,
Tagore gave us a picture of such a social reformer, Haran, an ardent Brahmo Sanyasi, who
never read the Bhagavad Gita, but wanted it to be banished from Brahmo households. But
he had no objection to the Bible, on which he relied greatly. It is as a reaction to the
denationalised social reformers such as Haran that a revivalistic Hindu like Gora emerged
and vice versa. But Tagore was confident that through the conflicting movements of
extreme revivalism and extreme Westernisation, Indians would ultimately establish a proper
balance between the ideals of the East and the West.
Tagore regretted that Western civilisation, in spite of all its achievements, was based
on conflict: the conflict between the individual and the state, between labour and capital
and between one nation and another. It had produced a vast industrial system that increased

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Tagore did not believe that the problems of modern civilisation could be solved
through changes in social and political institutions alone. He put his faith not in any
institution, but in individuals all over the world, who would think clearly, feel nobly and
act right. He felt that the highest ideals of the East that emphasised the need for change
in the moral nature of men, could alone provide a real and lasting solution to the problems
of modern humanity.

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the material comforts of Western humanity, yet, was essentially based on competitive
selfishness. It gave birth to a great mechanical and commercial civilisation but also destroyed
much of the simplicity and beauty of earlier times. It created mighty nations that cooperated
with each other but also generated war and conflicts in Europe, and perpetrated aggression
and exploitation in Asia and Africa. Tagore warned against the dangers involved in the
modern cult of the nation, under the inspiration of which an individual was willing to
perpetrate all kinds of wrongs in the belief that he was patriotic. A few months before he
passed away, he warned against the aggressive nationalism and imperialism of the West
and forecasted that the new dawn will come from this horizon, from the East where the
sun rises.

Tagore was truly Indian, yet he embraced the whole world.

Tagore on Ethics

1. And, upon this wealth of goodnesswhere honesty is not valued for being the best
policy, but because it can afford to go against all policiesmans ethics are founded.

2. The stage of pure utility is like the state of heat which is dark. When it surfaces
itself, it becomes white heat and then it is expressive.

3. . . . what is valuable to a man when he is bad becomes worse than values when
he is good.
4. Perpetual giving up is the truth of life. The perfection of this is our lifes perfection.

5. The moral side represents training of unselfishness, control of desire; the spiritual
side represents sympathy and love. They should be taken together and never
separated.

6. This necessity of a fight with himself has introduced an element in a man's


personality which is character. From the life of desire it guides man to the life of
purpose. This life, is the life of the moral world.

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7. The evil which hurts natural man is pain, but that which hurts his soul has been
given a special name, it is sin. For it may not be at all realised as pain, yet it is evil,
just as blindness or lameness is of no consequence to the embryo, yet it becomes
a great evil if it continues after birth, for it hinders lifes ultimate purpose. Crime
is against man, sin is against the divine in us.

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8. Through . . . repeated experience of disasters man has discovered, though he has


not fully utilised the truth, that in all his creations the moral rhythm has to be
maintained to save them from destruction.

9. In sin we lust after pleasures, not because they are truly desirable, but because the
red light of passion makes them appear desirable; we long for things not because
they are great in themselves, but because our greed exaggerates them . . . These
exaggerations . . . break the harmony of our life at every step, we lose the true
standard of values.

1.18 SUMMARY


There has been a discernible interest in discovering Indianness of Indian management.


This can be achieved by discovering the roots of our culture and by following ethical
vision of management.

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Vedantic thought offers insights into the kind of correctives we can obtain from
sacred simplicity.

In ancient India, education was regarded as a part of religion. It was essentially


individual in nature. There was a close relationship between the teacher and the
student. Vedic literature constituted a vital part of education.

The Buddhist system of education was based on the then philosophy of life.

The Brahmanical system of education aimed to develop students moral feelings and
personality.

Far from being fatalistic, Indian philosophy believes that the world is a moral order.
It is a stage built for the soul to take birth, act and attain its cherished goal of liberation
in which it releases its true nature.

The law of Karma is an integral part of this spiritual journey from a life of suffering
to eternal bliss, from darkness to light. This law ensures that good deeds will produce
good results and the evil doer will suffer evil consequences.

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The Gita says that work has to be done as an offering to the divine.

By the law of grace, Ramanuja stresses on total and unconditional surrender to the
Lord or Brahma as the means to liberation.

A proper understanding of Hindu ethics is not possible without an idea of the nature
of reality as realised by the Vedic sages thousands of years ago. Attention to this is
being drawn because of the failure of Western science, political and economic
philosophies that are based on the surface view of things.

The Eightfold Noble Path as recommended by Buddha constitutes the essentials of


Buddhist ethics.

The most important part of Jaina philosophy is its ethics. Knowledge of any kind is
useful for the Jaina as it helps him to know the right conduct.

Right Livelihood is one of the requirements of the Buddhas noble eightfold path.

The Buddhist economics is very different from the economics of modern materialism,
because the Buddhist sees the essence of civilisation not in the multiplication of wants
but in the purification of human character.

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The essence of Buddhist economic planning is based on man being selective in the
choice of what he needs.

The spirit of Dana or giving is a factor around which all activities will be vitalised.

The exclusion of certain non-essential industries and activities would be the essence
of Buddhist planning.

Vivekananda focused on the doctrine of social service and preached the ethicsthe
main concern of which was the improvement of the condition of the poor.

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Swadeshi Dharma was an integral part of Gandhian philosophy. It connoted that a


village was to be self-sufficient to the utmost possible.

According to Aurobindo, the ills of money can be removed through the mechanism
of Divinity.

Tagore felt Gandhis emphasis on spinning was a trend away from modern industrialism
that India surely needed, and that such an emphasis would substitute superstition for
science in economic matters.

1.19 ANSWERS TO CHECK YOUR PROGRESS


1. A pure mind.
2. Work done as sacrifice.
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3. S.M. Davis.

4. Religion.

An Ethical Vision of
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5. Upanayana.
6. (i) infusion of piety, (ii) formation of character, (iii) development of personality,
(iv) inculcation of the civic and social duties, (v) promotion of social efficiency and
happiness, (vi) preservation and spread of national heritage and culture.

NOTES

7. Rebirth and Karma are the twin pillars of Indian spiritual thinking.
8. Apurva.
9. Karma has been broadly classified into arabdha and anarabdha karma, i.e. actions
which have already begun to bear fruits and those which have not.
11. The eightfold path leads to Nirvana or liberation.
12. Codes of Manu.

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13. Brahman.

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10. Liberation .

14. The Theory of Dependent Origination believes that everything is conditional, dependent
on a causenothing happens by chance.
15. Ahimsa is the keynote of the ethics of Buddhism.

16. The Jains lay stress on the necessity of right knowledge of reality.
17. Liberation.

18. Coal, oil and natural gas are non-renewable fuels.


19. One-fourth.

20. The Parliament of Religions.

21. Vivekananda believed that the spread of education among the masses and dissemination
of spirituality would automatically lead to social reform.
22. Ahimsa formed the basis of Gandhijis outlook of life.

23. Gandhiji believed in God but for him God was the moral law, Dharma.

1.20 QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES

1. Name the three approaches to management. Which one is the best and
why?
2. Discuss the Vedantic approach to management.

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3. Show how the theme of creativity draws attention when we deal with management
activities.
4. Discuss the systematic indebtedness framework of the Vedanta.

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5. What were the objectives of education in ancient India?


6. Discuss briefly the Buddhist system of education. What are its limitations?

7. Do you think that Buddhism contributed much to the cause of education in India?
8. What are the different aims of education in India?
9. Education of ancient India was mostly the means of preaching religion but it did not
neglect worldly affairs. Comment.
10. As you sow, so you reap is what the law of karma teaches us. Explain.
11. What is fatalism? Do you think Indian philosophy has accepted fatalism?
12. Discuss how the idea of rebirth is linked with the law of karma.
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13. The law of karma, far from being an unscientific principle, is the law of moral and
spiritual causation that justifies the moral and spiritual values manifest in the world.
Explain this statement.

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14. Discuss briefly the Hindu ethics.

NOTES

15. The goal of life is the realisation of the highest truththis is the Hindu ethics.
Discuss.
16. To realise the true nature of man ethics may be said to be the stepping stone.
Elucidate this statement.
17. Discuss the law of karma as the basis of Hindu faith in morality.

19. Discuss briefly the ethics of Jainism.

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20. Write a note on Buddhist ethics.

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18. Discuss the eightfold path which leads to cessation of suffering according to Lord
Buddha.

21. Though mainly interested in liberation, Buddhism is not antagonistic to physical well
being. Explain.
22. What are the differences between modern economics and Buddhism?
23. Discuss Buddha's view on public and private saving.

24. Vivekanandas ethics is the ethics of humanism. Discuss this statement.


25. Define Vivekanandas idea of ethics.
26. Discuss the ethics of Gandhiji.
27. Write a note on Satyagraha.
28. Discuss Gandhian ethics.

29. Describe the Gandhian idea of trusteeship.


30. Discuss the ethics of Aurobindo.

31. Discuss Aurobindos idea of money.

32. Describe Aurobindos ideas of materialism and spirituality.


33. Describe Tagores ideas of humanism.

34. Tagore is the greatest symbol of Indian spiritualism. Comment.

1.21 FURTHER READING

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1. Ghosh, B., Ethics in Management and Indian Ethos; Vikas Publishing House.
2. Harrison, Mike, An Introduction to Business and Management Ethics; Macmillan.

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3. Petrick, Joseph A., Management Ethics: Integrity at Work; Sage Publications.

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