Lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrations

Rabindranath Tagore

The centre of Tagore’s philosophy was man of god. Even his concept of God was influenced by the humanism inherent in his outlook. The supreme reality thus according to Tagore, essentially human and could be realised only through love of man. Love of God was thus translated into love of human. Tagore in fact sought the origin of spiritual aspirations and the concept of god in the spirit of the unity expressed by the primitive man. In a discussion with Einstein, Tagore said, if there is any truth absolutely unrelated to humanity then for us it is absolutely non-existing. Tagore thus firmly believed that truth could be realised only in human society.

Politically Tagore believed that each nation and individual must have certain rights and through those rights he should be in a position to ‘his personality. At the same time he stressed people should have power and strength enough to realise their rights as without that strength it was impossible to retain rights even if extended by the rulers. He also stood for the individuals saying that States existed for the individual and its activities should aim at giving maximum freedom for attaining that liberty. He couldn’t reconcile himself with the then prevailing trend of british rule which was impersonal in character and which denied freedom, spiritual, economic and political, to the vast majority of the Indians. According to him freedom could be possible by adopting the policy of decentralisation of authority and giving, more powers to local self-government institutions.

Socially, Tagore believed that 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. He felt that social and political institutions should go side by side. He had faith in social solidarity and belief in ancient Indian culture and civilization. According to him political life was only a specialised aspect of social life and both could not be separated from each other. He quoted from Indian history that India always represented the synthesis of various philosophies and was very much broad-based. Therefore he believed that constructive efforts should be made to revive our ancient Indian culture.


He was educationally a revolutionary and strongly believed that there should be a system of education suited to India. It should be the system in which the cultures of east and the west should unite and where there should be a platform for understanding each other. In the words of G. Ramchandran, “Gurudev never accepted that the object of education was simply the accumulation of knowledge. He unhesitatingly proclaimed that education should give alround human personality in which the physical, the intellectual, the aesthetic and spiritual growth would be harmonised into one integral process. He, therefore, emphasised freedom and joy as of basic importance in the education of boys and girls. This meant elimination of physical punishment, examination and therefore of fear and everything humiliating restriction from Shanti Niketan system rather pattern of education”.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was one of the very few people who impressed an idea upon a historical epoch. That idea was nonviolence. Gandhi’s creed of non-violence insisted that people struggle for their rights should never violate their basic obligation to respect life.

Gandhi was both religious and open-minded, and saw all religions as paths to reach the same goal. He was inspired by the teachings of Jesus, in particular the emphasis on love for everyone, even one’s enemies, and the need to strive for justice. He also took from Hinduism the importance of action in one’s life, without concern for success.

Gandhi’s God was an immanent and his general philosophy of Hinduism becomes an ethic of political action. Gandhi’s approach to reality is religious rather than philosophical. He approached reality through non-violence. Non-violence is an integral part of every religion. He says that: “Non-violence is in Hinduism, it is in Christianity as well as in Islam. If non-violence disappears, Hindu Dharma disappears. Islam does not forbid its followers from following nonviolence as a policy.

After having studied the Bhagavad-Gita against the background of Indian culture and tradition, he has come to the conclusion that the central teaching of the Gītā is to follow truth and non-violence. When there is no desire for truth, there is no temptation for untruth of violence but it maybe freely admitted that the Gita was not written to establish non-violence. The central teaching of the Gita is not violence but nonviolence. Violence is impossible without anger, without attachment, without hatred, and the Gita strives to carry us to the state beyond sattva, rajas and tamas, a state that excludes anger, hatred, etc., to one who reads the spirit of Gita, it teaches the secret of non-violence, the secret of realizing the self through the physical body.

Gandhi was not a visionary but he claimed to be a practical idealist. He was a man of action. It was the idealist that made him function as a practical man. He was also an irrepressible optimist. His optimism was based on the belief that man is endowed with infinite possibilities of development. His belief in the law as the ideal is unquestionable. It matters whether individuals fall short of the ideal. Though he was aware of the reality, his striving was always to reach the idea.

It is a means of focusing his attention to the ultimate goal. He has to tread the right path without digression. This is the yardstick by which man’s progress is measured. Gandhi’s philosophy was the direct result of human relations and it was in the sphere of human interaction that his plan of action took concrete shape. His approach was liberal and human. The world is there for all practical purposes. It is the field of greatest activity. No turning ones back to, or running away from, the world is Gandhi’s attitude. According to him:

“The world offers problems of man and he is made to solve them. This is what Gandhi thinks about man and the world. Thus, the world is an arena where man has to fight his battle for the conquest of life. The world is an active field. Man cannot remain inactive or static in it. His activity can be progressive as he is a progressive being pushed up by Nature which is never at a stand-still.”

Gandhi has faith in the fallible man who can improve his condition by cultivating a perfectly innocent heart incapable of evil. Thus, the fallible man, being a hindrance to his own self-development, can be corrected to follow the path of progress in the right spirit. It can only happen through life-education. Gandhi observes that: “It is not literacy or learning which makes a man but education for real life.”


Aristotle is one of the greatest thinkers in the history of western science and philosophy, making contributions to logic, metaphysics, mathematics, physics, biology, botany, ethics, politics, agriculture, medicine, dance and theatre. He was a student of Plato who in turn studied under Socrates. Although we do not actually possess any of Aristotle’s own writings intended for publication, we have volumes of the lecture notes he delivered for his students; through these Aristotle was to exercise his profound influence through the ages. Indeed, the medieval outlook is sometimes considered to be the “Aristotelian worldview” and St. Thomas Aquinas simply refers to Aristotle as “The Philosopher” as though there were no other.

One of Aristotle’s most influential works is the Nicomachean Ethics, where he presents a theory of happiness that is still relevant today, over 2,300 years later. The key question Aristotle seeks to answer in these lectures is “What is the ultimate purpose of human existence?” What is that end or goal for which we should direct all of our activities? Everywhere we see people seeking pleasure, wealth, and a good reputation. But while each of these has some value, none of them can occupy the place of the chief good for which humanity should aim. To be an ultimate end, an act must be self-sufficient and final, “that which is always desirable in itself and never for the sake of something else” (Nicomachean Ethics), and it must be attainable by man. Aristotle claims that nearly everyone would agree that happiness is the end which meets all these requirements. It is easy enough to see that we desire money, pleasure, and honor only because we believe that these goods will make us happy. It seems that all other goods are a means towards obtaining happiness, while happiness is always an end in itself.

According to Aristotle, happiness consists in achieving, through the course of a whole lifetime, all the goods — health, wealth, knowledge, friends, etc. — that lead to the perfection of human nature and to the enrichment of human life. This requires us to make choices, some of which may be very difficult. Often the lesser good promises immediate pleasure and is more tempting, while the greater good is painful and requires some sort of sacrifice. For example, it may be easier and more enjoyable to spend the night watching television, but you know that you will be better off if you spend it researching for your term paper. Developing a good character requires a strong effort of will to do the right thing, even in difficult situations.

Another example is the taking of drugs, which is becoming more and more of a problem in our society today. For a fairly small price, one can immediately take one’s mind off of one’s troubles and experience deep euphoria by popping an oxycontin pill or snorting some cocaine. Yet, inevitably, this short-term pleasure will lead to longer term pain. A few hours later you may feel miserable and so need to take the drug again, which leads to a never-ending spiral of need and relief. Addiction inevitably drains your funds and provides a burden to your friends and family. All of those virtues — generosity, temperance, friendship, courage, etc. — that make up the good life appear to be conspicuously absent in a life of drug use.


Confucius lived during the Spring and Autumn period (777 BC to 476 BC) of the Eastern or Later Zhou Dynasty (770 BC – 256 BC). It was a time in China’s history when the great Zhou dynasty had broken down and the country was divided among rival factions. Confucius traveled from State to State to teach what he believed to be the best approach to government and civilization.

Wherever he went, he sought positions in government as an advisor or administrator, but only briefly held a few such posts. While he attracted a large number of students and followers, his views and advice were not popular among the kings nor were they considered practical. A number of his students were able to make successful careers in government; perhaps they were more flexible or more politic.

The writings of Confucius would seem to appeal to a feudal lord. Confucius taught that the subordinate owed obedience and honor to his superior. This began in the home where the father was held to be the absolute ruler. The family was to follow him in all decisions and look to him for guidance and wisdom. This principle, filial piety, was then applied to the organization of civilization and government. The individual household owed allegiance and obedience to the local ruler who in turn honored and obeyed those above him.

Confucius relished the idea of ceremony and promoted it as a means to serve as a visual and behavioral reminder of rank. The external signs or rituals of society were to regulate both day to day exchanges as well as the ceremonies of State. Rank was dignified by rituals as well as privilege. Each rank would have specific roles in religious and political ceremonies and would be limited to certain ceremonies they could conduct. Included in the idea of ceremony were the clothes that you were to wear, the insignias on the clothing or your carriage, the style of hat worn on special occasions, where you could and could not walk, and even the colors you were allowed to use in clothing and decoration. Only the Emperor was to use and wear certain colors of gold, crimson, and purple.

One would think that rulers would embrace such a militaristic organization of the population. However, Confucius also taught that rulers must be responsible to their subordinates. They earned their privilege through promoting the welfare of the populace. When a father or a ruler betrayed that trust, the children or the subjects had the right and duty to disobey, to overthrow the ruler. At heart he was a humanist. When Confucius did manage to secure a position in court in one of the kingdoms, he didn’t last long. The kingdoms were preoccupied with war. Resources which Confucius thought should be spent on benevolence were channeled into either defense of territory or the acquisition of new territories.

Confucius seldom stayed in a place for a long time. Either the kings and dukes didn’t have much patience with the idea of tempering their power and he was quickly dismissed or he would leave in disgust when prescribed rituals were violated. He despaired when he would witness minor nobles engage in the rituals of kings. He felt insulted when the proper courtesies due his rank were abridged or forgotten altogether. He left disciples and students behind who had been exposed to a radical form of thought. Perhaps, in part. because he traveled so extensively, Confucian thought spread widely following his death. His students carried it to all corners of China. It influenced other forms of Chinese philosophy such as that of Mencius and the Legalists. As a philosophy it was a deliberate consideration of the function and responsibility of government and society. It contained a moral code that applied to the minutia of greeting a friend as well as to the proper function and ethics of government. By the time that the King of Qin (221 BC) conquered the neighboring States and declared himself as Shi Huang Di, Emperor of China, Confucianism was a powerful force. As one of his first acts as emperor, Huang Di ordered that all of the books of Confucius should be burnt and the Confucian scholars executed. Huang Di then embarked upon a total reorganization of society and government, one based on absolute power, forced labor, conscripted military, and central control. In a few short years he was able to join and lengthen the Great Wall, build roads, dig canals, and build the great mausoleum at Xi’an for himself. The violence and disrespect for traditional values led to the overthrow of the Qin dynasty only 21 years after its inception. The Han dynasty, which replaced it, returned to Confucian principles and lasted until 220 AD.


Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

The three keys to a corruption-free country must play their part: Showing his faith in three key societal members, Dr Kalam firmly believed that the father, the mother and the teacher have a humungous role to play in making a difference to the nation. He taught us that a country can only become a nation of beautiful minds if these members play their part correctly.

Values are always open to change, for better or for worse. Corruption refers to a situation where poor values supersede good values. Since nobody is born corrupt, this implies that a poor upbringing or a poor experience of socialisation has damaged the individual’s sense of propriety. Therefore, if the right values are to remain instilled in an individual, it is important that value education begins as early as possible. This emphasizes the role of the family. Since a child’s first socialization is his/her parents, this makes it vital for the father and mother to display and reinforce good values e.g. a father who does not obey traffic signals will raise a child who shows disregard for the same. A mother who discriminates between her son and daughter will encourage chauvinistic mindsets in her children. A child’s first formal socialization is the school. This makes it vital for teachers to reinforce the values inculcated by the parents and taught by books e.g. a teacher who tolerates a lack of punctuality, is subconsciously teaching the student that punctuality is not a necessary virtue. If these three members uphold the right values and guide the children conscientiously, future generations will have a clear distinction between right and wrong and will abhor rather than aspire to corruption.

Devotion is necessary: Dr Kalam always wanted people of his nation to succeed in their mission. And, his mantra for success was single-minded devotion to the goal. He stressed that to be devoted, is to bear fruits of success.

Difficulties help you enjoy success: Dr Kalam’s suggestion to someone who has continually failed in his efforts is to never give up. It is through difficulties and failure that one truly enjoys the fruits of his labour. He advised people of the nation to beat their difficulties raw.

Always Be Humble: Dr. kalam was always humble with the people and that made him a great leader. As a youth it is very important for you to be humble that helps you to build healthy relationship with the people and creates a good image about you in their minds.

Dr. APJ Kalam was surely one such grand human being whose achievements, humility, sincerity, hard work, positivity and never-give-up outlook had and would always impart a great moral fillip for all, at every stage of life.

One of the most important characteristics of an ideal role model is never to give up hope and hard work in the face of oddities. Life is ready to throw challenges at different stages but a true winner is the one who does not get vulnerable to the unfavorable situation and keeps on finding ways to beat the challenge and fight right up to success. Dr. Kalam had been one such gallant fighter since his childhood and its bravery to face challenges with a smile right as a kid that has duly elevated to the cult status of a role model for all.

The much revered ISRO project direct and former head of India hailed from a poor family in Rameshwaram. His father was a boat owner of modest means and found it hard to run the family alone. Dr. Kalam had this dream to make it big one day since his childhood and despite his underprivileged situation. Thus, when he saw that it was getting hard for his father to make both ends meet, he took to selling newspapers, along with continuing his education. It was his utmost dedication to his studies; in spite the different oddities in his surroundings that earned him the scholarship to study his desired aerospace engineering from Madras Institute of Technology.

The poor boat-owner’s son, who used to sell newspapers to help out his dad as a lad, went on to become a scientist at DRDO and later the honorary project director of ISRO, under whom India’s first ever SLV-III deployed the famous Rohini satellite back in 1980. In 2002, the great man was elected as the 11th President of India and he has also been a revered recipient of all the highest civilian awards of the country. He was felicitated with Bharat Ratna, Padma Bibhushan and Padma Bhushan added to several other prestigious honors from esteemed bodies all across the country and the world.

  1. sreedharan

Work with honesty, others will co-operate: Sreedharan has help thousands of people to success. But when asked, he has not claimed a method to his leadership. He has simply done his best, with full devotion and with a sense of honesty. People have looked up to him and in return have reciprocated by doing their best too.He has set an example. People have followed. He is a man who has led people by his personal power though he wielded immense positional power.

Focus on Goals Not Politics: Shore up your perseverance and prepare for maximum resistance, especially by Focus on Goals Not Politics: Shore up your perseverance and prepare for maximum resistance, especially by political expediencies. “I don’t know why some bureaucrats are not able to function. They should have the courage to stand up to their convictions and take decisions and not leave everything to the politicians,” says Sreedharan. He followed this principle throughout his career.

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation chairman E. Sreedharan has said that the education system should be able to instil moral values, ethics, culture and integrity in students more than giving them lessons in science, mathematics or other subjects.

Emphasising the importance of imparting value education, ‘Metro Man’ Dr E. Sreedharan has observed that the success of any governance institution or commercial venture is ultimately dependent on its ethics and value system. “For any undertaking, success should be measured not in terms of its profit margins, but the values – such as punctuality, integrity, professional competence and commitment to society – it builds across its structure and the changes it brings about both within the culture of institution and beyond it,” he said

Immanuel Kant

Towards the end of his most influential work, Critique of Pure Reason(1781/1787), Kant argues that all philosophy ultimately aims at answering these three questions: “What can I know? What should I do? What may I hope?” The book appeared at the beginning of the most productive period of his career, and by the end of his life Kant had worked out systematic, revolutionary, and often profound answers to these questions.

At the foundation of Kant’s system is the doctrine of “transcendental idealism,” which emphasizes a distinction between what we can experience (the natural, observable world) and what we cannot (“supersensible” objects such as God and the soul). Kant argued that we can only have knowledge of things we can experience. Accordingly, in answer to the question, “What can I know?” Kant replies that we can know the natural, observable world, but we cannot, however, have answers to many of the deepest questions of metaphysics.

Kant’s ethics are organized around the notion of a “categorical imperative,” which is a universal ethical principle stating that one should always respect the humanity in others, and that one should only act in accordance with rules that could hold for everyone. Kant argued that the moral law is a truth of reason, and hence that all rational creatures are bound by the same moral law. Thus in answer to the question, “What should I do?” Kant replies that we should act rationally, in accordance with a universal moral law.

Kant also argued that his ethical theory requires belief in free will, God, and the immortality of the soul. Although we cannot have knowledge of these things, reflection on the moral law leads to a justified belief in them, which amounts to a kind rational faith. Thus in answer to the question, “What may I hope?” Kant replies that we may hope that our souls are immortal and that there really is a God who designed the world in accordance with principles of justice. In addition to these three focal points, Kant also made lasting contributions to nearly all areas of philosophy. His aesthetic theory remains influential among art critics. His theory of knowledge is required reading for many branches of analytic philosophy. The cosmopolitanism behind his political theory colors discourse about globalization and international relations. And some of his scientific contributions are even considered intellectual precursors to several ideas in contemporary cosmology.

Kant’s moral theory is organized around the idea that to act morally and to act in accordance with reason are one and the same. In virtue of being a rational agent (that is, in virtue of possessing practical reason, reason which is interested and goal-directed), one is obligated to follow the moral law that practical reason prescribes. To do otherwise is to act irrationally. Because Kant places his emphasis on the duty that comes with being a rational agent who is cognizant of the moral law, Kant’s theory is considered a form of deontology (deon- comes from the Greek for “duty” or “obligation”).

Like his theoretical philosophy, Kant’s practical philosophy is a priori, formal, and universal: the moral law is derived non-empirically from the very structure of practical reason itself (its form), and since all rational agents share the same practical reason, the moral law binds and obligates everyone equally. So what is this moral law that obligates all rational agents universally and a priori? The moral law is determined by what Kant refers to as the Categorical Imperative, which is the general principle that demands that one respect the humanity in oneself and in others, that one not make an exception for oneself when deliberating about how to act, and in general that one only act in accordance with rules that everyone could and should obey.

Although Kant insists that the moral law is equally binding for all rational agents, he also insists that the bindingness of the moral law is self-imposed: we autonomously prescribe the moral law to ourselves. Because Kant thinks that the kind of autonomy in question here is only possible under the presupposition of a transcendentally free basis of moral choice, the constraint that the moral law places on an agent is not only consistent with freedom of the will, it requires it. Hence, one of the most important aspects of Kant’s project is to show that we are justified in presupposing that our morally significant choices are grounded in a transcendental freedom (the very sort of freedom that Kant argued we could not prove through mere “theoretical” or “speculative” reason.

Kant begins his argument from the premise that a moral theory must be grounded in an account of what is unconditionally good. If something is merely conditionally good, that is, if its goodness depends on something else, then that other thing will either be merely conditionally good as well, in which case its goodness depends on yet another thing, or it will be unconditionally good. All goodness, then, must ultimately be traceable to something that is unconditionally good. There are many things that we typically think of as good but that are not truly unconditionally good. Beneficial resources such as money or power are often good, but since these things can be used for evil purposes, their goodness is conditional on the use to which they are put. Strength of character is generally a good thing, but again, if someone uses a strong character to successfully carry out evil plans, then the strong character is not good. Even happiness, according to Kant, is not unconditionally good. Although all humans universally desire to be happy, if someone is happy but does not deserve their happiness (because, for instance, their happiness results from stealing from the elderly), then it is not good for the person to be happy. Happiness is only good on the condition that the happiness is deserved.

The Categorical Imperative

If a good will is one that forms its intentions on the basis of correct principles of action, then we want to know what sort of principles these are. A principle that commands an action is called an “imperative.” Most imperatives are “hypothetical imperatives,” that is, they are commands that hold only if certain conditions are met. For instance: “if you want to be a successful shopkeeper, then cultivate a reputation for honesty.” Since hypothetical imperatives are conditioned on desires and the intended consequences of actions, they cannot serve as the principles that determine the intentions and volitions of an unconditionally good will. Instead, we require what Kant calls a “categorical imperative.” Where hypothetical imperatives take the form, “if y is desired/intended/sought, do x,” categorical imperatives simply take the form, “do x.” Since a categorical imperative is stripped of all reference to the consequences of an action, it is thereby stripped of all determinate content, and hence it is purely formal. And since it is unconditional, it holds universally. Hence a categorical imperative expresses only the very form of a universally binding law: “nothing is left but the conformity of actions as such with universal law” (4:402). To act morally, then, is to form one’s intentions on the basis of the very idea of a universal principle of action.


Raja ram mohan roy

During the late 18th century (what was known as the Dark Age), the society in Bengal was burdened with a host of evil customs and regulations. Elaborate rituals and strict moral codes were enforced which were largely modified, and badly interpreted ancient traditions. Practices like child marriage (Gouridaan), polygamy and Sati were prevalent that affected women in the society. The most brutal among these customs was the Sati Pratha. The custom involved self-immolation of widows at their husband’s funeral pyre. While the custom in its original form gave choice to the women to do so, it gradually evolved to be a mandatory custom especially for Brahmin and higher caste families. Young girls were married to much older men, in return for dowry, so that these men could have the supposed karmic benefits from their wives’ sacrifice as Sati. More often than not the women did not volunteer for such brutality and had to be forced or even drugged to comply.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy was abhorred by this cruel practice and he raised his voice against it. He spoke freely and took his views to the higher ups in the East India Company. His passionate reasoning and calm perseverance filtered through the ranks and ultimately reached the Governor General Lord William Bentinck. Lord Bentinck sympathised with Roy’s sentiments and intentions and amid much outcry from the orthodox religious community, the Bengal Sati Regulation or Regulation XVII, A. D. 1829 of the Bengal Code was passed. The act prohibited the practice of Sati Daha in Bengal Province, and any individual caught practicing it would face prosecution. Raja Ram Mohan Roy’s name is thus etched forever as a true benefactor of women not just for helping abolish the custom of Sati, but also raising his voice against child marriage and polygamy, while demanding equal inheritance rights for women. He was also a great opponent of the rigid caste divisions of his time.

Ram Mohan Roy vehemently opposed the unnecessary ceremonialism and the idolatry advocate by priests. He had studied religious scriptures of different religions and advocated the fact that Hindu Scriptures like Upanishads upheld the concept of monotheism. This began his quest for a religious revolution to introduce the doctrines of ancient Vedic scriptures true to their essence. He founded the Atmiya Sabha in 1928, and the first meeting of this new-found religion as held on August 20 that year. The Atmiya Sabha reorganised itself into the Brahma Sabha, a precursor organisation of the Brahmo Samaj. The primary facets of this new movement were monotheism, independence from the scriptures and renouncing the caste system. Brahmo religious practices were stripped bare of the Hindu ceremonialism and were set up following the Christian or Islamic prayer practices. With time, the Brahma Samaj became a strong progressive force to drive social reforms in Bengal, especially women education.

Ram Mohan viewed education as a medium to implement social reforms so he came to Calcutta in 1815 and the very next year, started an English College by putting his own savings. He wanted the students to learn the English language and scientific subjects and criticized the government’s policy of opening only Sanskrit schools. According to him, Indians would lag behind if they do not get to study modern subjects like Mathematics, Geography and Latin. Government accepted this idea of Ram Mohan and also implemented it but not before his death. Ram Mohan was also the first to give importance to the development of the mother tongue. His ‘Gaudiya Byakaran’ in Bengali is the best of his prose works. Rabindranath Tagore and Bankim Chandra also followed the footsteps of Ram Mohan Roy.

Swami vivekanand

The most famous disciple of Ramakrishna was Nerendranath Dutta. Who became renowned as Swami Vivekananda. After the death of Ramakrishna in 1866 Vivekananda came forward to fulfil his mission. Vivekananda was born in Calcutta in 1863 in a Kayasta family. He was well educated in school and college. First he was attracted towards Brahmo Samaj and then drank deeply into the philosophy of John Stuart Mill, Hume and Herbert Spencer. Then he was persuaded to visit Ramakrishna.

Vivekananda realized the value of Western materialism. The scientific achievements and the material happiness of the West impressed him deeply. He desired for the combination of Indian spiritualism and Western materialism for a happier life of a man. He then made it a mission of his life to awaken the Indians from the slumber to a new life. He believed that man had divinity and the spark of spirituality in him. Every individual therefore should give up fear and rise from degradation and be a noble man. By preaching about spiritual unity he advocated for a sense of national unity which attracted millions of Indians to his side. To organize social service and to infuse a sense of unity among men he founded an order to the Sanyasis or monks called Rammakrishna Mission in 1897.

Vivekananda condemned blind beliefs. He wanted to see every Indian as a modern man with a modern and rational outlook. He therefore said that I would rather see every one of your rank atheists than superstitious fool, for atheist is alive and you can make something of him. But if superstition enters, the brain is gone, the brain is softening, and degradation has seized upon the life.

Vivekananda told his countrymen to be tolerant towards each other. “We reject none, neither theist, nor pantheist, monist, polytheist, agnostic, nor atheist, the only condition of being a disciple is modelling a character at once the broadest and the most intense”, he said. He further said, “I shall enter to the mosque of the Mohammedan; I shall enter the Christian’s church and kneel before the crucifix; I shall enter the Buddhist temple where I shall take refuse in Buddha and his law, I shall go into the forest land sit down in meditation with the Hindu who is trying to see the light which enlightens the heart of everyone. Not only shall I do these but I shall keep my heart open for all that may come in the future.”

Through these words he could impress upon every Indian a sense of brotherhood that resulted in strengthening the unity of Indians. Vivekananda condemned the Indian orthodox in harsh terms “Our religion is in the kitchen, our God is in the cooking-pot, our religion is: do not touch me, I am holy”. He narrated that superstitions had destroyed much of Hindu spirituality. By reminding those of their spiritual value Vivekananda generated the spark of self-confidence among the Indians which indirectly infused a sense of democratic consciousness as democracy rested on self-respect and individuality of every man.

Vivekananda drew the attention of Indians towards the values of Western ways of life. He opened the link between Indian minds and external things. The West appeared to him as the land of material civilization. The spirit of that civilization to him was essential for Indian progress. Therefore he declared “From the great dynamo of Europe, the electric flow of that tremendous power vivifying the whole world, we want that energy, that love of independence, that spirit of self-reliance, that immovable fortitude, that dexterity in action, that bond of unity of purpose that thirst for improvement”.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel handled effectively the integration of the princely states with his diplomatic skills and foresightedness. The problem of amalgamating 562 independent states with a democratic self-governing India was difficult and delicate. But it was essential to save India from balkanization, once the Paramountcy of British crown would lapse. Sardar Patel took charge of the states department in July 1947. He sensed the urgent and imperative need of the integration of princely states. He followed an iron handed policy. He made it clear that he did not recognize the right of any state to remain independent and in isolation, within India.

Sardar vallabhbhai Patel always raised his voice on several issues against exploitation and criticized the high-handedness of authority, the exploitative revenue policy of the Government and maladministration in the Princely states. He not only criticized the arbitrary policies of confiscation of movable and immovable properties, but also insisted on guarded regulations on land reforms and nationalization of key industries. His efforts to reform the Hindu religion and protect the people of other faiths reflected his longing for the right to religion. He encouraged the duly elected authority to bring restrictions through various legislative measures to freedom for all. Thus, his political value system was a fine synthesis of liberalism, conservatism and welfarism.

His vision of State was in tune with the pattern of his political values. In his concept, the State was founded and held together by a high sense of nationalism and patriotism. Individual liberty was to be in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution, to create a Nation-State, he pressed for the emancipation of backward communities and women and bring about Hindu- Muslim unity through the Gandhian constructive programme and skillfully utilised the higher castes for social integration and political mobilisation. Thus, he strengthened the plural basis of the nation-state by bringing electoral participation as effective political mobilisation. He saw a nation as ‘democratic in structure, nationalistic in foundation and welfarist in spirit and function’.

The process of the integration of the various states and the part played by Sardar in it, we realize the important role that Sardar had in the integration of the country. The states included Saurastra (including Junagadh) Hyderabad, Travancore, Cochin, Kashmir and other small states. Sardar’s role in each of these states was vital. The continuation of a divided and weak central government would in Patel’s mind, result in the wider fragmentation of India by encouraging more than 600 princely states towards independence. Between the months of December 1946 and January 1947, Patel worked with civil servant V.P. Menon on the latter’s suggestion for a separate dominion of Pakistan created out of Muslim-majority provinces. Communal violence in Bengal and Punjab in January and March 1947 further convinced Patel of the soundness of partition. Patel, a fierce critic of Jinnah’s demand that the Hindu-majority areas of Punjab and Bengal be included in a Muslim state, obtained the partition of those provinces, thus blocking any possibility of their inclusion in Pakistan. By August 15, 1947 all except Hyderabad, Junagarh and Kashmir acceded to India. He thereafter carried three fold processes of assimilation, centralization and unification of states. The states were amalgamated to form a union and that union was merged with the Union of India. He handled the Junagarh and Hyderabad crisis as a seasoned statesman. Nawab of Junagarh wanted to accede to Pakistan.The integration of the princely states thus acted as a synchronizing phenomenon and established a State of balance between chaos and segmentation and solidarity of the newly born Indian Union.



Scholars differ about Kabir’s parentage, his family, the place of his birth, the time and place of his death etc. Instead of concentrating on various beliefs about Kabir’s life, the scholar deems it appropriate to side with the beliefs that are widely accepted. Scholars agree with the fact that Kabir belonged to the time of Sikandar Lodi and was a disciple of Swami Ramanand. Apropos this fact, most scholars believe that Kabir was born in 1455 and died in 1575.

At a very early stage, Kabir seems to have realised the fact that any kind of tenets, dogmas, precepts, principles and cult are counterproductive as far as true devotion is concerned as all these things breed dogmatism and fanaticism, which ultimately do not allow humankind to see the truth as it is. That is why, probably, many of his poems appear to urge to discard creeds and beliefs that embrace without any rational thinking.

Besides, Kabir appears to talk of the God that does not live at a holy shrine or a temple but within man. However, Kabir seems to say that ironically that is why people cannot notice God and oblivious of their real self they keep thronging at Kashi and Kaba:

How funny!

In the midst of water,

A fish thirsts for water,

The thing lies at home,

But searching for it,

In the woods, they roam.

Without self knowledge,

The world is false,

Be it Mathura or Kashi.

Here, Kabir seems to believe that as a fish lives in water and is surrounded by water, human beings live in God and are surrounded by God but they are still away from God because in vain they seek Him outside.

Kabir’s devotion looks to be not a blind devotion born of an impulse. Rather it seems to be an application of his belief in logic and evidence. The researcher holds that Kabir scoffs at the prevalent ritual of chanting God’s name on beads, despite the fact that in Hindu and Muslim religions chanting God’s name is believed to liberate one from suffering of this life.

This kind of egalitarianism, seems to be a need of the time when Kabir lived, as society was presumably divided into various strata of hierarchy and those belonging to the lower strata were believed to bear the brunt of inhumane discrimination, ostracism and untouchability. Thus, Kabir might have opposed differentiation made on the basis of castes not because he is a social reformer but because he is a rationalist in his thinking and a humanist at heart.

Kabir seems to believe that a person has to be careful of what he speaks and ensure that his words do not hurt anybody. It is observed that though means of communication have increased, communication between two people has decreased because people unnecessarily indulge in grumbling about and criticising others. Consequently nobody is ready to listen. If a person speaks words imbued with love, other people will love to hear him. On the other hand, if he keeps bitching about others, he will alienate a lot of people and lose his friends. As a result, a person will be left alone and the loneliness will tear him asunder. Thus, being polite in our speech is very much essential for social solidarity.

Swami vivekanand

Swami Vivekananda is one of the greatest thinkers of Indian Renaissance. Vivekananda was moved with pity on seeing the impoverished state of the masses. He says:

“Material civilization, may even luxuries necessary to create work for the poor. Bread, I do not believe in a God who cannot give me bread here, giving me eternal bliss in heaven. Pooh! India is to be raised the poor are to be fed, education is to spread, and the evil of priest craft removed. No Priest craft, no social tyranny: More bread, more opportunity for everybody.”

According to Swami Vivekananda, social, economic and political reconstruction of the country is a pre-requisite for the spiritual uplift of the masses. When the people ask for food, to offer religion to a starving people is to insult them. To teach religious principles to a starving man is an affront to his self-respect. He criticizes strongly the failings and weaknesses of the people, the evil practice of untouchability, the feeling of caste superiority, priest craft and religious tyranny. He prefers to see the people as confirmed atheists rather than as superstitious fools, for the atheists may be of some use. But with regard to superstitions it holds away, the brain is bread, the mind is frozen and decadence engulfs life. So it holds good if the mankind become atheist by relying on reason rather than blindly believing in two hundred millions of Gods on the authority of anybody.

According to him freedom is the precondition for the human growth but freedom does not mean absence of obstacles in the way of social aggrendisement or economic exploitation. Commenting on the meaning of freedom he says:

“Our natural right to be allowed to use your own body, intelligence and wealth according to our will, without doing any harm to others, and all the members of a society ought to have the same opportunity for obtaining wealth, education or knowledge.”

He has expounded progressive ideas and vehemently opposed escapist doctrines like mysticism. He maintains that occultism and mysticism have destroyed the people. The need of the present is man making religion. Any-thing that weakens has to be rejected as poison. He stands for reason. He says that no genuine inspiration ever contradicts reason when such contradiction is found, it is to inspiration. Vivekananda’s outlook is essentially idealistic although it contains elements of materialism. Man’s objective is to identify with Brahman through self-purification and service of the people. Man is the centre of religion conceived by him. He, who has set out in search of God, ultimately recognizes man as the centre of this world. He calls upon the people to find God in man.

The only hope for India he lays in the common people, for the upper classes were exhausted physically and morally. He urges a radical transformation of the social order because all the members of a society ought to have the same opportunity for obtaining wealth, education or knowledge and declares that these rules governing the society which stand the way of the unfolding of the freedom are injurious and steps should be taken to destroy them speedily. To uplift the masses spiritual and secular education is necessary. He says:

“We have to give them secular education. We have to follow the plan laid down by our ancestors that is to bring all the ideals slowly down among the masses. Raise them slowly up. Raise them to equality. Impart . . . Secular knowledge through religion.”

n the whole idea of education, we find Swami Vivekananda summing up as the manifestation of divinity in man. He realizes the caste consciousness as a barrier to India’s progress. Casteism narrows restricts and separates the noble bond of humanity. For him the true measure of man is worth but not birth. The ultimate end of Swami Vivekananda is the good of all. He advocates the idea that man must strive for this end even to the point of sacrificing himself. The means to be adopted for realization of this ultimate end must also be worthy of that end.

Emancipation of women and uplift of the masses are the two important items in Swami Vivekananda’s programme of social regeneration of India. He could notice the downfall of Indian Society because of the continued neglect of women and masses. In India there are two great evils: he writes:

“Uplift of the women, the awakening of the masses must come first and then only can any real good come about for the country.”

That country and that nation, he says, which do not respect the women has never become great, nor will ever be in future. The state with the assistance of society can foster and promote the common interests of people, which can bring justice, honesty, peace etc. The state cannot have interests than the interests of the individual who form the society. The state is composed of individuals. Without virtuous individuals it is futile to expect the state becoming prosperous. He states:

“The basis of all systems social or political rests upon the goodness of man. No nation is great or good because parliament enacts this or that, but because its men are great and good.”


John locke

The major writings of John Locke (1632–1704) are among the most important texts for understanding some of the central currents in epistemology, metaphysics, politics, religion, and pedagogy in the late 17th and early 18th century in Western Europe.

Pleasure and Pain

The thread of moral discussion that weaves most consistently throughout the Essay is the subject of happiness. True happiness, on Locke’s account, is associated with the good, which in turn is associated with pleasure. Pleasure, in its turn, is taken by Locke to be the sole motive for human action. This means that the moral theory that is most directly endorsed in the Essay is hedonism.

On Locke’s view, ideas come to us by two means: sensation and reflection. This view is the cornerstone of his empiricism. According to this theory, there is no such thing as innate ideas or ideas that are inborn in the human mind. All ideas come to us by experience. Locke describes sensation as the “great source” of all our ideas and as wholly dependent on the contact between our sensory organs and the external world. The other source of ideas, reflection or “internal sense,” is dependent on the mind’s reflecting on its own operations, in particular the “satisfaction or uneasiness arising from any thought”. What’s more, Locke states that pleasure and pain are joined to almost all of our ideas both of sensation and of reflection This means that our mental content is organized, at least in one way, by ideas that are associated with pleasure and ideas that are associated with pain. That our ideas are associated with pains and pleasures seems compatible with our phenomenal experience: the contact between the sense organ of touch and a hot stove will result in an idea of the hot stove annexed by the idea of pain, or the act of remembering a romantic first kiss brings with it the idea of pleasure. And, Locke adds, it makes sense to join our ideas to the ideas of pleasure and pain because if our ideas were not joined with either pleasure of pain, we would have no reason to prefer the doing of one action over another, or the consideration of one idea over another. If this were our situation, we would have no reason to act—either physically or mentally. That pleasure and pain are given this motivational role in action entails that Locke endorses hedonism: the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain are the sole motives for action.


Locke is very clear—we all constantly desire happiness. All of our actions, on his view, are oriented towards securing happiness. Uneasiness, Locke’s technical term for being in a state of pain and desirous of some absent good, is the motive that moves us to act in the way that is expected to relieve the pain of desire and secure the state of happiness. But, while Locke equates pleasure with good, he is careful to distinguish the happiness that is acquired as a result of the satisfaction of any particular desire and the true happiness that is the result of the satisfaction of a particular kind of desire. Drawing this distinction allows Locke to hold that the pursuit of a certain sets of pleasures or goods is more worthy than the pursuit of others.

The pursuit of true happiness, according to Locke, is equated with “the highest perfection of intellectual nature”. And, indeed, Locke takes our pursuit of this true happiness to be the thing to which the vast majority of our efforts should be oriented. To do this, he says that we need to try to match our desires to “the true instrinsick good” that is really within things. Notice here that Locke is implying that there is distinction to be drawn between the “true intrinsic good” of a thing and, it seems, the good that we unreflectively take to be within a certain thing. The idea here is that attentively considering a particular thing will allow us to see its true value as opposed to the superficial value we assign to a thing based on our immediate reaction to it. We can think, for example, of a bitter tasting medicine. A face-value assessment of the medicine will lead us to evaluate that the thing is to be avoided. However, more information and contemplation of buy tramadol will lead us to see that the true worth of the medicine is, in fact, high and so it should be evaluated as a good to be pursued. And, Locke states, if we contemplate a thing long enough, and see clearly the measure of its true worth; we can change our desire and uneasiness for it in proportion to that worth. But how are we to understand Locke’s suggestion that there is a true, intrinsic good in things? So far, all he has said about the good is that it is tracked by pleasure. We begin to get an answer to this question when Locke acknowledges the obvious fact that different people derive pleasure and pain from different things.

Living the Moral Life

In order to behave in a way that will lead us to the greatest and truest happiness, we must come to judge the remote and future good, the “unspeakable,” “infinite,” and “eternal” joys of heaven to be our greatest and thus most pleasurable good . But, on Locke’s view, our actions are always determined by the thing we are most uneasy about at any given moment. So, it seems, we need to cultivate the uneasiness for the infinite joys of heaven. But if, as Locke suggests, the human condition is such that our minds, in their weak and narrow states, judge immediate pleasures to be representative of the greatest good, it is difficult to see how, exactly, we can circumvent this weakened state in order to suspend our more terrestrial desires and thus have the space to correctly judge which things will lead to our true happiness. While in the Essay Locke does not say as much as we might like on this topic, elsewhere in his writings we can get a sense for how he might respond to this question.

Locke states that we must recognize the difference between “natural wants” and “wants of fancy.” The former are the kinds of desires that must be obeyed and that no amount of reasoning will allow us to give up. The latter, however, are created. Locke states that parents and teachers must ensure that children develop the habit of resisting any kind of created fancy, thus keeping the mind free from desires for things that do not lead to true happiness . If parents and teachers are successful in blocking the development of “wants of fancy,” Locke thinks that the children who benefit from this success will become adults who will be “allowed greater liberty” because they will be more closely connected to the dictates of reason and not the dictates of passion. So, in order to live the moral life and listen to reason over passions, it seems that we need to have had the benefit of conscientious care-givers in our infancy and youth. This raises the difficulty of how to connect an individual’s moral successes or failures with the individual herself. For, if she had the bad moral luck of unthinking or careless parents and teachers, it seems difficult to see how she could be blamed for failing to follow a virtuous path.

Ethical teaching

Mahavir jain

Lord Mahavira was the son of Nayas and born to a royal couple in India in 599 B.C. He was the last and 24th tirthankara of Jainism. Though he was born in a royal family and had a comfortable life, he maintained a distance from all worldly possessions from an early age. By the age of thirty, Mahavira gave up his family and kingdom. He lived a tremendously strict life for 12 years as an ascetic. During this period, he even gave up his clothes along with all other worldly possessions. He spent most of this time meditating and achieving self control. He attained omniscience by the age of forty-two, thereby knowing everything about the past, present and future.

Jainism was opposed to rituals. Jainism believed in the possibility of solving the riddle of the universe to attain perfection without the concept of God. Jainism held that it was possible for any human being to realize absolute knowledge and attain absolute bliss through the intense human effort. The faith in self-reliance for achieving perfection was an integral part of Jainism. The Jainism teaches claim that the Jainas only can stand the scrutiny of reason.

The Jainas emphasized that knowledge could be perfected by right conduct. Knowledge without right conduct was mere futile and conduct without right knowledge was blind. The Jainas said that one could achieve complete mastery over oneself by subduing the passions. Emancipation was to be acquired not by observing rituals, prayers and sacrifices but by regulating moral and spiritual discipline. For this reason they attached great importance to the five vows – non-violence (ahiṁsā), truth (satya), non-stealing which implies not to take anything to which one was not entitled (aṣteye), celibacy or abstention from selfindulgence (brahmacharya) and non-possession or renunciation (aparigraha). Non-violence was accorded utmost importance among these principles. The three doctrines of Right faith, Right knowledge and Right conduct which were known as three jewels constituted the foundations of Jainism.

Jainism believes that no overall good of individuals or society can arise from violence. Jainism teaches that untruth, stealing, taking more than one’s fair share, immoderate pursuit of sensual pleasures and possessiveness are aspects of violence. All these involve passions, mental violence of self and of others.

Jainas are openly hostile in the matter of introducing the supernatural. Jainism believes that man is capable of controlling his own moral life. He can make ethical decisions and find ethical goals without non-human assistance of intervention. Ethical values require that the individual either to make or unmake himself in the world. The soul (individual soul) has a self identity which it preserves even in the ultimate condition. The morality brings about reformation in man’s nature. The conversion of the inner man leads to the way of freedom. Man should attempt to develop the tendency of indifference towards pleasure man holds infinitude in his finitude. The eternal consciousness is within the human experience which is the power that directs all human beings beyond all finite forms.

Although Indian thought considered both spiritual life and rational life as universal, the spiritual life is higher than the latter. Spiritual life is universal since the spirits, even for the schools that accepted their plurality have the same nature. Rational life is universal because reason has the same objective reference according to the understanding of all schools of thought. Indian thought maintains that the essence of man goes beyond even reason; it is Ᾱtman. Several systems of Indian philosophy hold that highest in man is not reason but spirit (Ᾱtman) which is above reason.

Jainism, a religion and philosophy of India, founded in about 6th century BC by Vardhamāna who is known as Mahāvīra (“Great Hero”), the 24th of the Tirthānkarās, (“Fordmakers”), Jainas means Conquerors”, whence the name Jainism, the great religious figures on whose example the religion is centered, in protest against the orthodox Vedic (early Hindu) ritualistic cult of the period. Its earliest proponents may have belonged to a sect that rebelled against the idea of practice of taking life prevalent in the Vedic animal sacrifice.



Guru nanak

Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikhism. He was a contemporary of Kabir. He was born in a Khatri family at Talwandi (Nankana Sahib) in the district of Seikhpura in West Punjab, now in Pakistan.

He was sent to school at the age of seven to learn Hindi, Sanskrit and Persian. Different types of miraculous stories are associated with the astonishing wisdom of child Nanak.

Nanak had played a very dominant role in the Bhakti movement of medieval India. Both Sufism and Bhakti had contributed to the development of Nanak’s religious philosophy. So his teachings were composite by nature comprising of the noblest principles of Hinduism and Islam. At the same time he discarded the retrograde elements of both religions.

Nanak believed in the presence of a soul in every human being. Good actions of a man help the soul to merge with the Eternal soul that is God. Evil actions increase the burden of sin for which the soul cannot rise high and remains in darkness. So each individual must do good and be virtuous to get eternal liberation from the bondage of the world.

hus Nanak’s teachings rested upon two themes—praise of virtues and condemnation of vices. In other words moral conduct and emphasis on moral values constituted the foundation of his teachings.

Like all Sufi saints Nanak was in favour of accepting a guru who would guide the individual in all his conduct. In his own words, “Without guru, nobody can attain God. Under the guru’s instruction, God’s word is heard and knowledge is acquired.” So the presence of a guru is essential for every man for his own spiritual emancipation.

Nanak was very practical in his outlook. He wanted to bring an end to the conflict among various religions. That is why he vehemently rejected the caste system, authority of the Vedas and the Quran and idolatry or image-worship. He never laid any emphasis upon renunciation of the world. Rather he stressed upon upholding moral values and rejection of religious hypocrisy, falsehood, selfishness and violence.

Nanak had both Hindu as well as Muslim disciples. His catholicity of spirit and loving approach aimed at bridging the gap between the two communities by establishing harmony between them. He endeavored towards this end till his death in 1538 A.D.

His mission and teachings were carried on by a line of nine successors who worked devoutly for about a century after his death. His teachings were included in the Adi Granth compiled by the fifth Guru, Arjun Das. It was during the time of later Gurus that the followers of Nanak began to be known as Sikhs – a distinct religious unit.


Ethical teachings


Ram Manohar Lohiya

Ram Manohar Lohia (1910 – 1967) divides his views into three parts. In the first part, Lohia’s conception of international society is discussed. Lohia agrees with Gandhi and Nehru that the international society is basically composed of the nation-states. They are the dominant actors. They create order in international society. However, Lohia was thoroughly dissatisfied with that order as he perceives that the society is highly stratified between the hegemon (powers) and the peripheral powers. In order to rectify that order, Lohia suggests a strategy. The second part discusses that strategy. Being an idealist, Lohia wants to do away with unjust order c-.nd suggests long term strategy to transcend that order. So that the society of states can be transformed into a society of men. This strategy elaborated by Lohia for the global order and peace.

Lohia was firmly convinced that the approximation (full development of human personality) of human race was not possible with the existing concept of international relationship. He, therefore, favoured a new idea of people to people relationship in place of government to government relationship which dominates the international affairs today. Every one has been striving for the unity of mankind. This strivings have been expressed through the need of one God, or one world or even onenesB of all animal life. According to Lohia, aspiration for unity of Godhead was intimately connected with the aspiration for the political unity of mankind.

Justice even in world order can not be achieved without the establishment of equality of man in that society. He writes that all those who desire for world peace through the world government must aspire to achieve a world view of equality against class or caste or regional inequalities. Lohia conceives equality not only within a nation but also among nations and that such equality must not be limited to the field of law. The concept of equality must embrace economic, political and social and other areas also. Material equality among nations appears more difficult to achieve than material equality within the nations. No nation can for long remain equal within its frontiers-if it is unequal against other nations. As water finds its level, human society tends to approximate to its lowest levels, provided these levels are otherwise not raised.

Lohia views equality in four aspects, viz., inward and outward as well as spiritual and material, he pleads for an integrated approach. He advocated, “Equality must therefore, be grasped in all its four meanings. Material equality must mean the outward approximation among nations as well as the inward approximation within the nation. Spiritual equality must mean outward kinship as much as it means inward equanimity, kinship, material equality within the nation and among nations is worthy to become a supreme aim of life and its purpose.

Lohia’s concept of justice also implies an urge to end all forms of colonialism and political rule of one nation over another. He considers colonialism as a shame to mankind and a serious impediment to the growth of an equal world. In the preface to Marx, Gandhi and socialism, Lohia writes, “National freedom is on the way to becoming men’s irremovable property… No people shall now be allowed to exercise direct rule over another. Indirect control, oppressions may continue and their fate shall be part of the wider fate of the total fight against injustice. But direct political rule of one nation over another belongs to the irrevocable past.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Radhakrishnan’s appeal to intuition underlies his vision for an ethical Hinduism, a Hinduism free from ascetic excesses. The ethical potency of intuition affirms the validity of the world. “Asceticism,” Radhakrishnan emphasizes, “is an excess indulged in by those who exaggerate the transcendent aspect of reality.” Instead, the rational mystic “does not recognize any antithesis between the secular and the sacred. Nothing is to be rejected; everything is to be raised”.

Radhakrishnan’s ethical mystic does not simply see the inherent value of the world and engage in its affairs. Rather, the ethical individual is guided by an intuitive initiative to move the world forward creatively, challenging convention and established patterns of social interaction. For Radhakrishnan, this ethically integrated mode of being presents a positive challenge to moral dogmatism. The positive challenge to moral convention, according to Radhakrishnan, is the creative promotion of social tolerance and accommodation. Just as Radhakrishnan’s Hinduism rejects absolute claims to truth and the validity of external authority, so too has Hinduism “developed an attitude of comprehensive charity instead of a fanatic faith in an inflexible creed”.

Radhakrishnan gave a spiritual interpretation to the modern theory of evolution. The growth of human beings have led to their spiritual development. The human self is conscious of its limitations and purpose. He believed that the existence of the soul can be proved through our spiritual consciousness. However, the noble men are better able to listen to voice of this inner self. But, misuse of our rational faculties can lead to a deterioration of our spiritual self. This human spirit develops through love and worship. That is why, all the religions emphasize on the element of love and worship.

He believed that humans exist in the world for a higher cause. Hindu thought has laid a belief in the power of the human mind. It puts faith in the capability of human beings. The idealist tradition has always asserted the supremacy of the spirit in humans. This spirituality is essential to the dignity and identity of the man. It is the source of our values and principles. The values bind the individual in a harmonious relationship with the society.

Radhakrishnan also believed that a training is necessary to direct our mental vision to the right objects. He carefully mentions that intuition should not be confused with anti-intellectualism. Intuition which ignores the intellect is useless. The two are deeply interlinked. Human nature changes in two ways: First, there are natural and mechanical changes which are inevitable. Second, there are ethical and spiritual changes which are linked to our conscience.

Morality enables a person to rise above to a higher level. His conception of religion transcends the religious dogmas. It is more of a universal religion, fulfilling the aspirations of humanity. Radhakrishnan’s philosophy is the philosophy of growth and progress of human’s spiritual personality. Our total liberation is possible only when we are truly free.

Development of our moral nature can be ensured only by loving other fellow beings. One should control the ego. This is the foundation of all ethical process. A moral person follows his inner spirit, and not his external senses. Our destiny is to expand our humanity, and make it more spiritual and understanding. Matter, life and mind evolve only when their respective conditions are met.


Ethical teachings

Sri Aurobindo

The criterion of social development, according to most of the Western social philosophers, is the moral progress in the individuals and society. Thus ethics has been considered as the most potent method of social development. This contention, to be fully verified and examined, requires a two-fold inquiry. First, what is that standard of morality which is the wisest and hence the widest and most comprehensive?

Such a theory of moral standard will, obviously, harmonize and integrate all other theories, show their limitations and weld them into a more perfect theory. Secondly, does moral progress realize an integral evolution of man and society?

As this is the aim of social development, the social philosopher will find out the true nature of ethics, its highest standard and its value but he will also see its value for the achievement of the ideal of social development. Find out its limitations, if there are any, and suggest other methods which might be an improvement upon it Sri Aurobindo examines various standards of morality, presents a standard at once integrating and transcending others, assesses the value of moral progress in social development, shows its limitations and finally indicates how religion and Yoga are an advance upon the ethical method.

The basic fallacy underlying the different theories of ethics is the same as it is in the theories of psychology, metaphysics and religion all these are vitiated by the defect of abstraction.

Theories of ethics, psychology and metaphysics have been generally built upon the truths of some one aspect of man’s being, on the truth of the individual, in isolation from society and vice versa, and on similar other abstractions. But as Sri Aurobindo points out, “The ethical being escapes from all these formulas; it is a law to itself and finds its principle in its own eternal nature which is not in its essential character a growth of evolving mind, even though it may seem to be that in its earthly history, but a light from the ideal, a reflection in man of the Divine.” Morality, religion, science, metaphysics, all should seek the development of the whole man, not isolated from but in and through society. This is the aim of all the efforts of man.

The Ultimate End

Thus the ultimate end, according to the moral philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, is God-Realization. This is the criterion of good and right “All takes new values not from itself but from die consciousness that uses it; for there is only one thing essential, needful, indispensable, to grow conscious of the Divine Reality and live hi it and live it always.’

This is a principle on which Indian sages have generally agreed. It is the real inner meaning of the ethics of self-realization as Sri Aurobindo points out, “The God is also, subjectively, the seeking for our highest, truest, fullest, and largest self.”

In the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, man, world and God, are three forms of the same Reality, Existent, Conscious and Blissful to realize that Reality is the supreme end. Thus “good is all that helps the individual and die world towards their divine fullness and evil is all that retards or breaks up that increasing perfection? These concepts of good and evil hi Sri Aurobindo’s ethics are dynamic since their aim is progressive and evolving in time. Hence no rigid rules of conduct can be framed. The temporality of the forms of moral conduct is quite compatible with the eternity of moral ideals.’

Ethics: A means to God realization

Kant preached “Duty for the sake of Duty.” Sri Aurobindo like the author of Gita, accepts Duty for the sake of God. He interprets the central teaching of the Gita in a way different from that of Samkara, Ramanuja and Tilak, etc.

To him, “The Gita does not teach the disinterested performance of duties but the following of the divine life, the abandonment of all Dharmas, sarvadharman, to take refuge in the Supreme alone, and the divine activity of a Buddha, a Rama Krishna, a Vivekananda is perfectly in consonance with this teaching. Thus, like the Gita, Sri Aurobindo strongly emphasizes the value of Kanna in life. There he agrees with Tilak, his closest associate in political activities. But he does not admit Kanna as an end in itself. The ideal man of Sri Aurobindo’s moral philosophy works neither for himself nor for society, nor event for Duty itself but for God, as an instrument hi His hand.


Tulsidas was the most important poet of the Rama Bhakti school. The wave of the Bhakti movement spear-headed in the North by Ramananda may have influenced Tulsidas. But to Ramananda it was irrelevant whether the devotee was a Nirguna or Saguna Bhakta so long as he followed Ramananda’s preaching and had religious fervour. His disciples were free to interpret Rama in any manner they liked so long as they felt drawn towards Him as an object of worship and devotion.

Among the different Bhakti schools, the most prominent were the Nirguna and Saguna. Nirguna School believed in formless God, whereas those belonging to Saguna worshipped a personal God with a form. Kabir who founded the Nirguna School of Bhakti conceived Rama as a formless God whereas Tulsidas and his followers worshipped Rama as Saguna God taking into account His divine.

Even the Nirguna School of Bhakti was split into two groups – those who believed in ‘gyan’ (knowledge) and had an intellectual approach to devotion and those who believed in love and attachment, and total surrender to God for attaining Him. Those who followed the latter path were the Sufis or mystics. The Saguna school of Bhakti also branched into two directions, one devoted to ‘Rama’ and the other for ‘Krishna’. The former school of saint poets was led by Tulsidas and the latter by Surdas. Thus in Hinduism the three schools of Bhakti which produced poetry of highest order was Kabir, Surdas and Tulsidas, besides the Sufis.

The magnum opus of Tulsidas is, however, Ramcharitmanas in Hindi or Avadhi. It is the life story of Rama as narrated by Valmiki in his Ramayana with slight modifications. The Manas has been adjudged as the best work in Hindi literature with devotion as the theme and, as one of the best epics in any tongue anywhere. It presents Rama as an ideal man in all respects, viz. as a son, brother, husband, friend, warrior and a king.

For Tulsidas Rama was an incarnation of God (Vishnu) Himself. No other book has made such a deep impact on the minds of the people in the North. Many scholars and even foreign critics have gone to the extent of comparing ‘Manas’ (Tulsidas) with Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’. According to H.C. Kala, both believed in a life with spirituality and truth as the dominant note, struggle between good and evil, and ultimate triumph of god over evil. Both have a classical theme and subject; Tulsidas narrated the story of Rama and Ravana, and Milton having made us of Adam and Eve.

In his beautiful verse of couplets in rhyme (dohas), Tulsidas has described the greatness of Rama and also the characterization of Bharat, Sita, Lakshman and Kaushalya superbly. Equally fascinating is the collection of poems in Vinaya Patrika and Kavitavalli. When Tulsidas abandoned home and became an ascetic, he is said to have spent fourteen years visiting numerous sacred places of pilgrimage. One of the moving descriptions by Tulsidas in the Manas is that of Chitrakoot which Rama, Lakshman and Sita passed during their exile.

A most touching incident about Tulsidas and Chitrakoot tells us about his unfathomable love for Lord Rama. It is said at this crowded Chitrakoot Ghat Tulsidas sat making the paste of sandalwood waiting for the ‘darshan’ of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshman who were to visit there. But actually when the Trio came to his counter and stood in front of him, Tulsidas was so engrossed in his love for making the paste for his Rama that he doesn’t look up!

Ethical teachings

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

Maulana Azad was not only this century’s most articulate votary of Hindu-Muslim unity but also the only one erudite aalim (Islamic scholar) who claimed Quranic sanction for his faith in that unity and the freedom of the nation.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad is, by any reckoning, a major figure in twentieth-century Indian History. He was a scholar thoroughly trained in the traditional Islamic sciences, with great intellectual abilities and eloquence of pen and speech. He had, in addition, a remarkable openness to modern western knowledge even as he opposed western rule over India.

Azad made a lasting contribution to Urdu prose literature with his translation and interpretation of the Qur’an.— Tarjuman-ul-Quran. The intellectual history of Islam in India has long been described in terms of two contrasting currents: the one tending towards confrontation, the other towards assimilation, with the Hindu milieu. This dichotomy is, of course, an oversimplification, for separatist and syncretist represent extreme points on a spectrum of possible intellectual responses by Muslims to the Indian scene.

In his youth, Azad had been totally inexperienced in politics. Now with a full knowledge of what was involved, he had proved that his religious faith could guide him in the area of general principles, and give him strength for the difficulties he had to face.Maulana Azad earned a reputation for ‘absolute impartiality’ and ‘unimpeachable integrity’ which served him well, particularly in the years after independence.

The major concern of Azad’s life was the revival and reform of the Indian Muslims in all spheres of life, and his political hopes for them were within this context.For any such reform, he realised the key position of the ulema and of the traditional educational system which produces them. This was why he pinned his early hopes on the Nadwat ul-Ulema under the leadership of Shibli. Such was Azad’s vision concerning matters internal to the Muslim community.

He had never contemplated any other political possibility, and when incidents of communal strife in the 1920s threatened Hindu-Muslim unity, and then in the 1930s and 40s the Pakistan movement gathered strength, his spirit rebelled against those trends.

Deen Dayal Upadhyaya

Integral humanism is a doctrine developed by Deendayal Upadhyaya and adopted by the Jana Sangh in 1965 as its official doctrine.It is also the official philosophy of the Bharatiya Janata Party.It aims to appeal to broad sections of Indian society by presenting an indigenous economic model that puts the human being at center stage .

The key element was humanism in political thought. His thoughts are relevant in today’s circumstances in national life of India. He was a political leader but more than it, he was a fundamental political thinker. India’s 1947 independence is political independence but Pandit Upadhyay is one of those thinkers in India who exercised on Swaraj of ideas. It means decolonisation of ideas, i.e. decolonisation of Indian minds. India was free politically but ideologically, colonial hangover was there. His relevance lies in the fact that in political, social and cultural discourse, he introduced basic concept of Indian philosophy. For example- he propounded in 1950 that there should not be artificial differences between left and right. This concept is irrelevant for India. In 2016, in latin America and EU, political thinkers are deliberating that left and right distinctions are artificial and damaging political discourse. He conceptualised that politics can’t free from ethics.

Integral humanism is a philosophical and scientific thought developed by Deendayal Upadhyaya and adopted by the Jana Sangh in 1965 as its official philosophy. It aims to appeal to broad sections of Indian society by presenting an indigenous development model that puts human identity at its centre.

According to Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya, the primary concern in India should be to develop an indigenous development model that has human beings as its core focus. It is opposed to both western capitalist individualism and Marxist socialism, though welcoming to western science. It seeks a middle ground between capitalism and socialism, evaluating both systems on their respective merits, while being critical of their excesses and alienness.

Humankind, according to Upadhyaya, had four hierarchically organized attributes of body, mind, intellect and soul which corresponded to the four universal objectives of dharma (moral duties), artha (wealth), kama (desire or satisfaction), and moksha (total liberation or ‘salvation’). While none could be ignored, dharma is the ‘basic’, and moksha the ‘ultimate’ objective of humankind and society. He claimed that the problem with both capitalist and socialist ideologies is that they only consider the needs of body and mind, and were hence based on the materialist objectives of desire and wealth.

Upadhyaya rejected social systems in which individualism ‘reigned supreme’. He also rejected communism in which individualism was ‘crushed’ as part of a ‘large heartless machine’. Society, according to Upadhyaya, rather than arising from a social contract between individuals, was fully born at its inception itself as a natural living organism with a definitive ‘national soul’ or ‘ethos’ and its needs of the social organism paralleled those of the individual.


Ethical teachings

Ravindra Nath Tagore

An open vision of Tagore

In a society, an individual can develop skill and knowledge through rigorous attempts to cope with the challenges of the environment. With this conscious attempt of survival in a given society, an individual shapes his/her own personality. This ever-evolving process of personality, corresponds to one’s educational acumen. Rabindranath Tagore pointed out two related directions of education: education of pleasure and education for need. The complex relation between these two directions has been immensely propagated in the idea of Visva-Bharati (University) and Sriniketan. In a lecture at Oxford (“Personality”), Tagore pointed out: ‘If the world is taken away, our personality will lose all its contents.’ An organic relation between the ‘concrete world’ and the ‘world within’ was derived by Tagore. In this relation, ‘Man’ and ‘Nature’ are juxtaposed to form human personality. Ideas of education that of self-respect, selfreliance or Palli-punargathan (resurrection of Villages) was evolving in his mind at that time.

After the establishment of Visva-Bharati University (1916), Rabindranath was involved in shaping abstract ideas of self-respect and self-reliance into reality. He was inspired by the notions of personality and the environment. As the first Asian to receive a Noble-Prize in Literature in 1913, Tagore practically left no stone unturned to develop his Visva-Bharati. The ‘Nationalism’ debate or questions on social inequality were dealt with an idea of social organic synthesis: one which an individual enjoys a space of his own and creates ‘joy’ in every sphere of activity. He was more concerned with the idea of natural social balance than any organised revolution. This concern matches his ideals in upholding self-reliance of a ‘marginal man’.

He welcomed the idea of ‘activity’ (Shram) in elementary education which he had implemented in Siksa-satra. But at the same time, he argues for western mode of progressive elementary education (John Dewae) that was advocated by James (1842 – 1914) and Charles Piears (1839 – 1910). He read William James’ book entitled Talks to Teachers and Students (1899), which was presented by scientist Jagadish Chandra Bose and discussed with his fellows several times. Rabindranath was influenced by Graham Wallas’ idea of “opportunity for continuous initiative”. ‘Freedom’ was the only milieu where this continuous initiative could take place. In Siksa-Satra (July 1924), this freedom of expression was the only quest. Tagore (1924) wrote: “It is only through the fullest development of all his capacities that man is likely to achieve his real freedom”. This is close to Gandhi’s elementary education model.

Formation of Lokshikkha Samsad

Lokshikkha Sansad (Mass Education Council, 1937) was Tagore’s outstanding idea through which he tried to spread his educational views to the margin. A model of accreditation of lifelong learning was there. And this ‘margin’ was not only on economic basis but also to reach the unreached and misplaced people.

Breaking the barrier

To shape this idea, Tagore formed Lokshikkha Samsad (Mass Education Council) at Visva Bharati in 1937 (Visva-Bharati Bulletin, 1937). His primary aim was to reach the people who were beyond institutional educational ambit. The idea of Lokshikkha Samsad evolved in his mind after he critically analysed the limitations of conventional education system. Tagore realised the crux of the problem for social development was expansion of education which was not possible through school or college education only. The aim of self-reliance can only be achieved through vertical and horizontal expansion and that can only be possible if informal education goes beyond formal territory of institutional education. People have innumerable set of skills and knowledge in their lives. The open approach to education should incorporate.

these everyday knowledge and skills to form a better social equilibrium. Tagore had an idea to open all barriers of education to everyone. In Lokshikkha Samsad, a pattern of today’s open learning institution was observed long before the establishment of any open universities in the world. The study centre concept has been introduced to develop non-conventional mode of teaching. There was increasing number of study centres across the state in pre-independent Bengal annually.

Dayananda was an important Hindu reformist whose views did much to promote gender-equality, democracy, education, as well as a new confidence in India’s cultural past and future capabilities. In some respects, he qualifies as an architect of modern India as am emerging scientific and technological power. Aspects of his views impacted negatively on inter-religious relations, however, and contributed to extreme forms of Hindu nationalism which denies non-Hindus their complete civil rights. Yet, in his own day, when he spoke of the superiority of Hindu culture and religion, he was doing so in defense of what Europeans in India had insulted and denigrated. A consequence of assuming racial, cultural, or religious superiority over others is that they retaliate, and reverse what is said about them. The Arya Samaj is now a worldwide movement.

Swami Dayanand Saraswati

Dayananda was an important Hindu reformist whose views did much to promote gender-equality, democracy, education, as well as a new confidence in India’s cultural past and future capabilities. In some respects, he qualifies as an architect of modern India as am emerging scientific and technological power. Aspects of his views impacted negatively on inter-religious relations, however, and contributed to extreme forms of Hindu nationalism which denies non-Hindus their complete civil rights. Yet, in his own day, when he spoke of the superiority of Hindu culture and religion, he was doing so in defense of what Europeans in India had insulted and denigrated. A consequence of assuming racial, cultural, or religious superiority over others is that they retaliate, and reverse what is said about them. The Arya Samaj is now a worldwide movement.

In 1845, he declared that he was starting a quest for enlightenment, or for liberation (moksha), left home and started to denounce image-veneration. His parents had decided to marry him off in his early teens (common in nineteenth century India), so instead Dayananda chose to become a wandering monk. He learned Panini’s Grammar to understand Sanskrit texts. After wandering in search of guidance for over two decades, he found Swami Virjananda (1779-1868) near Mathura who became his guru. The guru told him to throw away all his books in the river and focus only on the Vedas. Dayananda stayed under Swami Virjananda’s tutelage for two and a half years. After finishing his education, Virjananda asked him to spread the concepts of the Vedas in society as his gurudakshina (“tuition-dues”), predicting that he would revive Hinduism.

Dayananda set about this difficult task with dedication, despite attempts on his life. He traveled the country challenging religious scholars and priests of the day to discussions and won repeatedly on the strength of his arguments. He believed that Hinduism had been corrupted by divergence from the founding principles of the Vedas and misled by the priesthood for the priests’ self-aggrandizement. Hindu priests discouraged common folk from reading Vedic scriptures and encouraged rituals (such as bathing in the Ganges and feeding of priests on anniversaries) which Dayananda pronounced as superstitions or self-serving.

He also considered certain aspects of European civilization to be positive, such as democracy and its emphasis on commerce, although he did not find Christianity at all attractive, or European cultural arrogance, which he disliked intensely. In some respects, his ideas were a reaction to Western criticism of Hinduism as superstitious idolatry. He may also have been influenced by Ram Mohan Roy, whose version of Hinduism also repudiated image-veneration. He knew Roy’s leading disciple, Debendranath Tagore and for a while had contemplated joining the Brahmo Samaj but for him the Vedas were too central.

In 1869, Dayananda set up his first Vedic School, dedicated to teaching Vedic values to the fifty students who registered during the first year. Two other schools followed by 1873. In 1875, he founded the Arya Samaj in 1875, which spearheaded what later became known as a nationalist movement within Hinduism. The term “fundamentalist” has also been used with reference to this strand of the Hindu religion.



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