Hindu Virtues

To Western audiences, Hinduism will often seem even more unknown or exotic than Islam or Buddhism, although it is the third most practiced belief-system in the world. This valuable cultural tradition is practiced primarily in South Asia, with some evidence of roots that go as far back as two to five thousand years BC! The value system of theirs presented here are from the Vedas, which are the earliest and more influential of the Hindi scriptures. While the actual practice of the religion is extremely diverse between traditions, many Hindus well-respect these values even if they have different ideas about priority or exact definitions.

These values come from the "Sattva," which is one of the three "gunas" (universal tendencies) that describe everything from objects, people, to divine beings. The Sattva is the holier tendency toward goodness, wisdom, and a hard work that maintains the good. A person who holds these tendencies is one who always works for the welfare of the world, lives moderately, eats moderately, is truthful, honest, unjealous, and never vulgar. In fact, this person is not even supposed to let evil qualities enter the mind. He is also very dedicated to his spiritual life and spends time in either worship or meditation. This description is reserved for Holy men, seers, and divine beings—this may seem to be out of the reach of most of us. Like they say, however, when you reach for the stars and miss, you've likely still reached out pretty darn high.

What is in it for you, however, if you work toward getting a bit more of those "Sattva" tendencies in your life? When judging any value or ethic system, one of the best tell-tale signs of what is truly important in a tradition is what belief is held toward the meaning or purpose of life. While, once again, Hinduism is very varied, these are the classical Hindu objectives of life: righteousness, livelihood, wealth (not just money), sensual pleasure (not just sex), and freedom.

If you decide that this type of system is right for you, you will benefit from this program that will not only educate you about what you can do to improve your character and personality toward these areas, but also provide you a way to check your progress and move you forward toward your goals. You will be judging yourself on a daily basis using the same technique that Benjamin Franklin used (the original American "self-made" man). If you keep up with your education—toward virtue and yourself—and you keep working toward progress, then you can achieve success in having more of these "good" and "wise" tendencies. If these values are not for you, on the other hand, then there are many other value systems and ideas on this site for you to explore.

Virtues

  • Altruism — A desire toward selflessness and serving humanity
  • Restraint and Moderation — In all things. This doesn't mean total abstinence, but it certainly also doesn't mean reckless abandon as well. This includes topics such as food, sex, spending, etc.
  • Honesty — One is required to be honest with all of humanity, that means yourself and loved ones and the whole world.
  • Cleanliness — This means both good hygiene and an inner, spiritual devotion. The Hindus believe that avoiding intoxicants helps maintain inner-cleanliness.
  • Protection and reverence for the Earth — You have to protect and love the world you live in.
  • Universality — Showing tolerance and respect for everyone, everylife, and even the very way that the universe operates.
  • Peace — One must find and practice peace for both his/her own benefit and to the benefit of others.
  • Non-Violence — Simply no killing or violence or harm to any living being. Many who practice this tradition are vegetarians.
  • Reverence for elders and teachers — We should revere those who teach us wisdom and selfless love.

Opinion

...Four periods of development occur in the full lifetime of each one of us: childhood, youth, maturity, and old age. Each of these periods in Hindu philosophy is dominated by one of the four aims of life, which are virtue, success, pleasure, and liberation.

The first aim of life, virtue (dharma) is the art of behaving according to one's own fundamental qualities, and hence the observance of a code of conduct given by nature and birth. A king's virtues differ from those of a craftsman, and their implementation depends very largely on the education received as a child.

The second aim of life is achieved during youth by realization on the social level and the achievement of success, property, wealth, and power (artha).

The third aim of life is sensual pleasure (kama), whose fullness is enjoyed on the attainment of maturity.

The fourth aim, spiritual realization involving renunciation and leading to liberation (moshka), is dominant during the fourth stage of life, old age.

At no stage in life, however, can any of these aims be achieved if the others are neglected.

Alain Daniélou | Virtue, Success, Pleasure, and Liberation: The Four Aims of Life in the Tradition of Ancient India

Quotes

  • From Delight we came into existence.
  • In Delight we grow.
  • At the end of our journey’s close,
  • Into Delight we retire.
From The Upanishads, Hindu Scripture

India is the meeting place of the religions and among these Hinduism alone is by itself a vast and complex thing, not so much a religion as a great diversified and yet subtly unified mass of spiritual thought, realization and aspiration.

Sri Aurobindo, Indian English Yogi, Philosopher, and Poet

A universal feeling, whether well or ill founded, cannot be safely disregarded.

Abraham Lincoln, Renown American President

Recommended Reading

Virtue, Success, Pleasure, and Liberation: The Four Aims of Life in the Tradition of Ancient India — by Alain Daniélou

The author, who lived in India for many years, explores traditional Indian culture and the Hindu value system.

The Essential Gandhi: An Anthology of His Writings on His Life, Work, and Ideas — by Mahatma Gandhi

The selected writings of Mahatma Gandhi on morality, non-violent resistance, civil disobedience, religion, politics, spirituality, poverty, suffering, love, and other topics.

Gandhi the Man: The Story of His Transformation — by Eknath Easwaran

"There was nothing unusual about the boy Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, except perhaps that he was very, very shy. He had no unusual talents, and went through school as a somewhat less than average student: self-conscious and serious, deeply devoted to his parents, and only vaguely aware of anything outside the quiet seaside town of his birth..."

General Rules

Practice virtues daily so that they become ‘habits of the heart’.

Don‘t strive for perfection.

Never give up! Remember: even the greats have off days.

Rely on your intuition.

Avoid extremes. Strive to achieve the golden mean between excess and deficiency of a virtue.

Have fun and enjoy the program with humor and optimism.



On Amazon.com

Fewer possess virtue, than those who wish us to believe that they possess it. Cicero
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