Morality: A Fundamental of Civilization Dedicated to Human Welfare

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A review of thousands of years of human history, in which various civilizations raised their flags in different parts of the globe, from time to time, confirms the fact that morality always remained established in human society in both forms, direct as well as indirect. Morality, as one of the strong supplementary value of non-violence, not only existed, rather it functioned as a guide remaining active and dynamic in daily chores of man; and ultimately it called for all-round human welfare and inspired man for this purpose.

Since morality remained dedicated to human welfare, and played important role in making and unmaking of various civilizations, it is necessary that we should get introduced to the meaning of morality.

In India, from very ancient times, consistently and under all circumstances, the message was for progress and welfare of all, general and particular; and while doing so, it was declared that “this is the highest moral law” and if “we all adopt this live truth, all laws relating to morality will themselves appear.” According to Bhagvad Gita morality is a part of duty. But of which duty! Generally of the same duty, under which actions for prosperity of all are accomplished without any self interest, without any desire or expectation of reward and by dedicating to that symbol of oneness, the God. No doubt, this is a repeat of message of human welfare in the Gita.

In Indian philosophy morality has also been treated as dharma. By doing so, it has been said “in real terms man can be called moralist, or in other words dharmic [religious], if he is above hate and selfishness, whose life is perfectly pure and who is involved in service of all. Only such a person can best perform for humanity; and truthfulness is the basis of all this best and highest.” All important concepts regarding dharma, like “adoption of goodness or the best” or “discharge of ones duty” are incorporated in this declaration. Not only this, a scholar, while expressing his views regarding relationship of dharma and morality, has even said, “If we loose the morality like base in our life, without any doubt we get separated from dharma.” According to this scholar, “There are no religious discourses that are not moral. For example, a person, who talks of torture and repression, and act untruthfully, he cannot claim to be following the path of God.” Clearly, here the good deeds also become the acid test of morality. Such deeds become worth following for others, besides individual welfare of man.

All principles and practices of Mahatma Gandhi have been full of morality. Let us see what he says about morality. At one place he says, “True morality does not lie in following the path of defeating others, rather to search the path of truth for self and in fearlessly following it.” In this very context, at another place Gandhi says, “In fact, the life of a moralist is full of virtues, or in other words, he leads a life full of virtues and that too, not for the reason that by doing so he is benefited, rather because this is the law of his existence; definitely it is the base of breath. In very brief we can say that virtue itself is the reward of man.”

After all here we have discussed about noble deeds; they are made the basis of morality, and it is dedicated to welfare of all. Dharma [whether adopting goodness or discharging duties or in whatever context] is bound by it and the path of truth passes through the domain of morality. In simplest language, or speaking clearly and also in brief, morality is the best manifestation of true virtues, with which duty is inseparably linked, and saying again, its objective is the welfare of all.

Above described meaning, explanation and objective of morality is not confined only to Indian concept; scholars, philosophers and thinkers from the West, who have spoken or written about morality, more or less, agree to this meaning, explanation and objective. In this context, first of all, let us talk of German scholar G. F. Nikolai. According to him, “There is no logical system behind the concept of moral feeling, rather it is natural disposition inherited from [ones] ancestors.” In the explanation of Nikolai, thus, there are three dimensions about morality:

  • It is a naturally developed sentiment;
  • It is linked to duty and is a subject of ‘action’ not of ‘logic’; and
  • It is in competition with immoral deeds.

According to another German scholar Martin Nimular, all, general and particular, should follow the life style and ideals of Jesus Christ and practice them in their life; life and deeds of Christ were the climax of morality. Simultaneously, many other thinkers of the West have, more or less, expressed the same views, and not only in the philosophy of modern thinkers, but they are found in messages of ancient thinkers like Socrates also.

Ultimately, views of both, the West and the East, about morality are almost similar. Both are near to each other. Let us think, if Nikolai treats morality as natural, and by linking it with duties, find it involved in competition with immorality, where is it against the concept of morality defined in Srimadbhagvad Gita, Vedas or by great man like Mahatma Gandhi? Side by side, if Martin makes Christ, whose life and deeds were dedicated to welfare of all, as the base of his principle of morality, where is the difference between his concept and the concept of the East, and especially India? Not only this, in my own view, even social thinkers like Bernard, who suggests two separate concepts of morality for man and woman, are not out of the above field.

Dr. Ravindra Kumar is an eminent writer, Indologist, political scientist and a former vice chancellor of Meerut University, India, who authored and edited over 100 works on great personalities like Mahatma Gandhi and on various social-cultural issues.