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Moral Values and Duties: Some thoughts

First of all let me admit that I am neither an anthropologist nor an economist. However, one question that has always bothered me from the childhood why our country is poor and what could be done. This became my part time hobby, and I read many books I could lay my hands on. As a result, I came to some conclusions, and out of which some I tried to share on “Why our country is poor: Some thoughts”. After all, in order to put our country on right track we need to analyze and find out how we arrived at this abysmal situation.

Thanks to a few comments on my writing, I realize the necessity of providing supporting examples that religion and philosophy exert tremendous amount of influence in the building of moral values, which in turn serve the basis of justification for many people’s action. It is worth stressing that if these moral values confirm to daily duties, the resulting productivity is phenomenon. Industrial revolution was, in fact, the upshot of this confluence.

For instance, in early days, Christians were under divine compulsion to extend their religion. It was duty of a Christian to spread gospel and convert non-believers. If necessary even many did not hesitate to resort to violence. As a result, there are many Christians in the world. This may offer an example on how moral values based on faith provide purpose for the people.

As for philosophy, Greek philosophy has blended into western civilization, which provided them architecture, literature, science, and gradual liberation from the catholic Christian community. It gave them reasoning power that they could boldly deny many irrelevant teachings of the church. For example, “Sun is the centre of this universe”.

It is also important to underline that progressive Westerns have modified religion when they are not satisfied from the constraints that were imposed on them. Christianity, which has a close tie to the Judaism, always emphasized on “hard work”, unlike Hinduism which from the ancient time emphasized on “Hom” , “Japa” and “Yagya” to achieve anything you name it. Traditional views of Catholic towards money were same as Hinduism and Buddhism, a source of corruption and potential evil. However, protestant who defied Pop, develop a new attitude towards money. Particularly, in Holland and England Potestantism favored rational pursuit of economic gain. The commercial activities had been given positive spiritual and moral meaning. At the same time, however, their faith did not allow lavishly spending on themselves, and thus the money was diverted back to business-creating a positive cycle for ultra production. It has resulted in the great industrial revolution leading to capitalism.

Later, great figures like Benjamin Franklin who emphasized frugality, hard work and punctuality managed to further engrave moral values of time and money in western civilization.

In support of the argument that people tend to find justifications in their moral values and faith, let us take examples of drug addicts and dacoits. Many drug addicts in Nepal find some consolation that they are following “Shankar Bhagwan”. When we want to smoke “Gaja” or “Charas” , we say “Jai Shambhu” without a trace of guilt of wrong doing. At least that was the case with me during my college days. Likewise, many dacoits who have built moral values that “they are looting rich and distributing them to the poor” had been very popular and successful. We can site more examples like “Muslims fanatics’ suicide bombings”.

Another burning example in the context of Nepal is Maoists, who believe in the philosophy of Marxism, Leninsm and Maoism. Conforming to this philosophy, they were able to slit throats of our own Nepalese without a second thought, shattering our long held proudest image that we Nepalese are the most peaceful people in the world. It is very sad that the things we as Nepalese can be proud of are virtually nearing to zero.

Now, at least there should be less doubts that the more your moral values and your day to day tasks are aligned, the greater the achievement and productivity. Unfortunately, this is not the case in the context of Nepal, hence as a country we could not progress. Our prevalent religious philosophy in Nepal in essence teaches us to “think nothing and do nothing (meditation and renunciation)”, “Santosham Param Sukham”, and “It is not in your fate”. Any of these three teachings alone is capable of ensuring that people turn into “inert mass”. If combined, generates deadly combination. Take for example, person A went to a “Jyotishi” with his “Janam Kudali”, and “Jyotishi” declares that “A is useless and will not be successful in the life”. A resorts to second moral formula “ Santosham Param Suksham”, in order to be happy. As an individual there is nothing wrong with this approach, however for the country it is a great loss. Many poor believe that they are poor because of their “previous karma”, however since we Nepalese so much believe in fate that we hardly endeavor to change the situation. At the same time “Santosham Parma Suskham” allow them to drag rest of the life peacefully. Those who want to go further in their religious pursuit end up thinking of nothing, and doing nothing, thus becoming burden to the society.

To our rescue, in contrast to many prevalent religious approaches which teaches to chant mantra for anything you want to get, or think of nothing to unit to the God, we can find some hope in Gita where Krisha tries to elate the moral values of Arjun to persuade him to kill his own relatives. Unfortunately, although Karma Yoga says that you can change your future, most of us succumb to what is written in our “Birth Chart”, and instead of working hard, we ask a Brahman to chant mantra several thousand times (Some are beginning to doubt the conscience of a Brahmin , and are chanting the mantra by themselves). Although, there is some hope in Karma Yoga and can form the basis of moral values to engage us in our duty with a clear purpose, there still are some obstacles in its teachings. That is for the next time.

I very much appreciate your comments on my thoughts.