Contributions of Moral Thinkers and Philosophers from India
This article deals with ‘Contributions of Moral Thinkers and Philosophers from India.’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’ . For more articles , you can click here
1 . Kautilya
- In Arthashastra, Kautilya has
written how ideal king should conduct the affairs of state especially for
the welfare of the public
- King has to personally attend the person who had come to meet him
- The people shouldn’t wait long to meet the king especially women and old age
- In the happiness of people should lie his happiness
- In time of calamity, king should protect people in similar way as mother protects her child
All these things were driven by the human love , creativity, wisdom .
2. Gandhian Ethics
Gandhiji learnt from
- New Testament : Service of Man, Love to Mankind, Niranakar Brahma (formless god)
- Ruskin Bond’s Sermon on the Mount
- David Thoreau : Civil Disobedience
- Confusious : Treat other person in such a way that you want other’s to behave with you
- Gita : Every shaloka of Gita is case study of human life and how to work in real situation
2.1 Seven sins of Gandhi
Seven Deadly Sins according to Gandhiji are
|Commerce without morality :||– Commerce = Sale and Purchase |
– For sale and purchase , Civil Law cant define every minute aspect Hence, Morality has big role to play
|Science without humanity||– Human must not become slave of science |
– It resembles Kant’s Ethics
|Religion without sacrifice.||– Religion is medium of internal peace |
– Gathering and collecting money or property on name of religion is sin
– Internal peace cant be achieved without sacrifice .
|Politics without principle||– Politics is such a process in which based on ideology and philosophy, matter of human importance is taken up. |
– If it is mobilized without any principle for just vote bank, it is equivalent to sin.
– This is the reason why Gandhi advised to end Congress after Independence as goals for what it was made were achieved.
|Knowledge without character||– In absence of Character, integrity cant be developed. |
– Better Character generates moral strength in person
– If Moral Character is absent, then presence knowledge is dangerous and chances of it’s misuse are great.
|Wealth without work||– Nature has ownership over Wealth. We are normal possessioners who after fixed time keep on changing. Hence, person should act as trustee of wealth |
– Wealth acquired without any work is equivalent to sin .
|Pleasure without conscience||– Physical pleasure is not Real Pleasure as it is temporary |
– Real Pleasure is in the pleasure of others .
2.2 Ethical Religion
- Ethics tells us what it ought to be , it enables man to know how he should act.
- Man has two windows in his mind. Through one he can see his own-self as it is and through other he can see what it ought to be.
- In path of morality, there is no such thing as award for moral behavior. If a man does some good deed, he shouldn’t do it to win applause but he does it because he must do it .
2.3 Nonviolence and Satyagraha
- Satyagraha = Truth Force
- Nonviolence doesn’t mean servile passivity. It means changing others heart by strong moral force. If harm is to be done, it is to be done on oneself’s body
- Other examples of Person’s using Non-Violence : Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King
2.4 Ideal Morality
- Moral Desires : We don’t wish for what we have already but always value more what we don’t have . He taught to be content with what you have. Although desire is good but if desire is limited to self interest , then it is immoral. Other desire is to do good for others, this is moral
- Moral Action : Most of our actions are non moral ie not involve morality . We think that if we go along convention and prevailing rules, we are moral. By doing this one prevents anarchy in society. But don’t think that this is morality , this is the minimum that one should do. Morality begins after when u start doing things beyond non moral . Also any good act isnt moral unless intention behind doing that act is also good.
2.5 Means and End
- According to Gandhi , means may be likened to seed and ends to tree and there is same connection between the means and end as between seed and the tree. As the seed will be, as the tree will become.
- Purity of the means is very important because of the relationship he has proposed.
- A good mean will result into good end and bad means will result into bad ends.
- Gandhi said that if one take care of means, the ends will take care of itself. Hence, one must concentrate on means and end will be proportionate to the means . That is why he stressed on achieving freedom by non violence because he thought that what is gained by sword will also be lost by sword.
- Sarvodaya means ‘progress of all’.
- Welfare of person lies in the welfare of society
- No profession is small or big . Barber , Farmer and
- Gandhi’s Ashrams (Phoenix Farm, Tolstoy Ashram, Sabarmati Asharam) were example of Sarvodaya experiment. Here persons lived, performed their function and every person was treated equally and shares the fruit equally
- Gandhi was of the view that everything belongs to god and we are not the absolute owner. So the concept of ownership is completely wrong.
- All the things are for people of god as a whole and not for particular individual. When individual has more than his proportion , he become trustee for that resource for god’s people.
- Hence, he was not against idea that person with great talent must not earn more but gave idea that whatever he earns more has to be used as trustee.
2.8 Gandhi’s Talisma
- His talisma is specially for the cases of dilemma .
- While pursuing all these things, person can come across various dilemma. What should person do at that time?
- Whenever you are in doubt or when self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest whom you may have seen and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to Swaraj for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?
2.9 Gandhi’s Ramrajya
- According to Gandhiji , there will be no need of state, police or army when all people are ethically fully developed and self disciplined .
- It is ideal state of ‘Stateless Perfect Morality’
- This is Gandhiji’s Sophisticated Anarchy.
3. Aurobindo Ghosh (1872-1950)
- For moral life, moral consciousness is necessary. This can be seen in Aurobindo Ghosh . He presented that , for development of anything, three things are required ie Matter, Life and Mind. But these three things cant develop whole universe . For this, consciousness is required which is associated with internal aspects. If consciousness is moral and ethical, better and happy world. Hence, for moral development , person should increase moral development.
- Poorna Yoga :
- Aurobindo emphasised on Poorna Yoga rather than Yoga. He was of the opinion that rather than individual benefit which can accrue from Yoga, person should also look towards societal good by adopting Poorna Yoga
- Person can perform Poorna Yoga only when he surrenders before his own Aatma ie soul and spirit along with knowledge that he is Consciousness rather than matter .
- Human Character : Sri
Aurobindo accepted that ultimate goal of life is param anand ie ultimate
pleasure and for this people try to use
method of fulfilment of physical and psychological needs which cant
help person to achieve param anand. Based on this, he presented 4 stages
of human conduct
- Individual needs , likes and desires
- Goodness of group and society
- Ideal Conduct
- Law of Nature
Hence, moves from Individual => Society => Nature
In this way, Aurobindo’s teachings emphasize on Virtue and goodness .
4. Vivekananda(1862 -1908)
Main points of Vivekananda’s Philosophy
Vivekananda was influenced by Bhagwat Geeta and Yogasutra and emphasised on following Yogas
- Raj Yoga : Controlling the mind . Such people should be present in Administration (can be equated with Plato’s Philosopher King)
- Karma Yoga
- Bhakti Yoga
- Gyan Yoga
4.2 Darida Narayan
- Dridra Devo Bhava ie Service of poor and downtrodden is the biggest service of god.
- Very important for Civil Servant to cultivate Empathy and Compassion
- Due to this, he established Ramakrishna Mission and acted like Missionary.
4.3 Self Realization
- It is most important for living ethical and moral life
- It can be achieved with strength => ‘Weakness is Death , Strength is God’
- Only that person can live ethical and moral life who has ability of self-realisation
We cant make new and progressive India with weak people
4.4 Focus on Means (rather than end)
- Means are more important than ends
- If means are pure and good, then person cant fail
4.5 Sarva Dharma Sambhava
- God is one and there are many paths to reach that god
- According to Vivekananda, no god supports injustice and naked exploitation. He found universality of every religion . Religion shouldn’t bring hatered but it should bring brotherhood, mercy, love, sympathy, mutual respect etc
- Was influenced by his Guru Ramakrishna in this.
- Availability of more paths is good as all people cant follow same path as strength of each person vary.
5. Rabindra Nath Tagore
5.1 Spiritual Humanism
- Supreme reality could be realized only through love of man.
- Love of God was thus translated into love of human.
5.2 About nature of States
- States existed for the individual and its activities should aim at giving maximum liberty
5.3 On Education
- Object of education was simply the accumulation of knowledge.
- Education should give all round human personality- physical, intellectual, aesthetic and spiritual growth
5.4 On Society
- Indian society has very much degenerated mostly because of the policy of our social rulers who didn’t care to preserve our social institutions and allowed them to degenerate.
6. Mother Teresa
- The true lesson of Mother Teresa is to live your life on your values. Conditions should never deter one from his or her personal goals and mission. When we dedicate our lives to positive values we regain peace. We attain independence from the omnipresent stressful elements life brings. Our inner core values help us as an anchor that is changeless in a sea of constant change.
- Devotion for great cause
- Mother Teresa spent over 60 years of her life in the slums of Calcutta and devoted all of her life to service of the poor, especially lepers, the sick, the dying and the abandoned. It took a lot of resolve, determination and faith to keep going in the face of incredible difficulties and challenges.
- Strong Personal Foundation
- It means one should hold high moral and ethical values. Mother Teresa had a solid foundation that kept her going through all the turmoil and challenges in her life – her strong faith.
- She gave following message
- Service of poor is service of god
- Poverty is not a curse
- God helps them who helps poor
- She was against abortion because she considered abortion is a murder in the womb and child is a gift of god .
The list is endless. We will continue to add in this article if any moral philosopher comes in news . We also advice the aspirants to keep on updating the list in their own notes as the situation demands.