Moral Values and Duties: Some thoughts

Posted by: amar

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.

Moral Values and Duties: Some thoughts was last modified: January 5th, 2007 by amar
 

Blog Comments

  1. lpk

    As alwyas I agree with Pawan: If we stick to our religion and culture, we cannot enhance our status quo of 5000 years. The Christian based religion,the Buddhists,The Shiekhs, and the Muslims,..all have business sense, the ability to fight hardships, refugeeism,the ability to be saved from perishing..because of the religion and culture in them. In strict sense, hinduism offers lavishness,spending, no saving. There is no way of people knowing Everything is fair in living, Business, and in war.We look at Scriptures to see which is correct or which is bad, which was done 5000 years ago or before that. So, the Religion needs to be changed. We have new religion, new culture, and new business, i.e. computers and electronics..all others will be ok if we follow this new religion and we must preach this new religion.

  2. pawan

    Yes Abhishek. You got some serious point here. We lack passion. We lack passion for nothing but pelting stone and buring tyre. Clearly its not about laziness or religion. That is where the upbringing, the values, and history come to play. I believe, history is the one that shapes the psychie of people the most.

    One thing, we can not expect John Napiers’ among all of us. Its few Napiers’ that shapes country’s future. And we lack those few Napiers’.

  3. abhishek

    Why our country is poor? And how come the western countries are affluent? hmm … it is science and technology which makes the country rich. All the western countries are exporting science & technology. That’s their cutting edge. And in Nepal we are like zombies who seek the way out through some stupid spiritual or moral philosophies. Ironically, in Nepal, we lack the passion for anything, neither for things spiritual nor for material (read science & technology). There has been no tradition for science or for spiritual or moral philosophies in our country. How many people we can see around us who would want to find out the square root of 2 to two hundred digits after the decimal like Sir Issac Newton did or who is willing to spend 25 years doing some laborious (or boring?)calculations to build the log table like Jhon Napier did? And why would they want to do it anyway? May be Newton and Napier were crazy! But in Nepal we are very pragmatic people. What is the point of calculating the value of root 2 or building a log table? What benefit we will derive from that absurd task? Yet, those absurd tasks which didnt give fruit those days are at the root of the whole cutlture and tradtion of Science and Technology in the west. Now, why are we asking why our country is poor? It is poor because we are mediocore people. We dont have passion for anything. We are just a bunch of taste buds. Since the very begining we have been living in the age of mediocrity and entertainment. That’s all. Q.E.D.

  4. amar

    Pawanji, this time it is excellent. I agree with your point on Roman and Greek; however, I don’t concur with your point on religion. Please see my comment in the next paragraph.

    Pawan and Rudra:
    please refer to work by “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” Max weber (Maximilian Carl Emil Weber )who is considered one of the founders of the modern study of sociology and public administration. As far as I have read any materials, even the course essays on English language, confirms to the fact that Protestants have heralded early capitalism which stemmed from their belief in pursuit of economic gain.

    Rudraji,
    I am a Hindu and will remain Hindu. However, it doesn’t mean we should not find out its faults and contradictions and their possible implications. There are many contradictory stories in Hindu. Frankly speaking although not to “steal and lie” are said many times, however many a times you find your gods stealing, lying and deceiving Indra, Krishna, Bishnu and Shiva all resorted to lie and deceptions. In addition, our education, political and administration systems which are based on Western Systems (although of Victorian age) sharply contradict with our widely held belief. In school, although we are taught physics, math, and chemistry etc- these teachings contradict our religion or family values, most of the time, living students in confusion and frustration. At least I was. For example, your school might teach you to voice your opinion, however at home you have to zip your mouth most of the time in front of seniors because otherwise you are considered as being disobedient as opposed to virtue of Ram Chandra.
    I totally agree with you that this darkness we need to eradicate through the education, however it is also true that current educational system and family values need to be changed to make progress.

    In conclusion, my whole point of writing this article was to suggest that if faith (which teaches to work hard, be it religion or other way created moral values) and day to day work are aligned, you will have phenomenal productivity. It is true that religion is slowly fading away from western civilization; there should not be any doubt that some proportion of current western culture is derived from Roman, Greek and Christian philosophies.
    Rudraji, I don’t agree that those who chant mantra, perform yoga and meditation are lazy, they are either enlightened (if they are right) or disillusioned (if I am right). However, I once myself was one of them and I thought the rest of the world was being greedy and selfish.

    And I don’t intend to invade your lunch time, I sincerely apologize, and no hard feelings. It is a good discussion.

  5. Rudra Pandey

    I wish I had more time to articulate and elaborate my thoughts. I was trying to be brief. Why do you think that we Hindus follow religion when it comes to work and business? We do several things that our religion does not allow us to do: 1. intense (you what I mean by intense) pre-marital affair; 2. Ditching old parents; 3. stealing (our religion never says stealing is tolerable – your example of stealing from rich and giving to poor came from western culture – please sharpen your research – please read this Robin Hood piece from Wikipedia: Robin Hood is the archetypal English folk hero; a courteous, pious and swashbuckling outlaw of the mediæval era who, in modern versions of the legend, is famous for robbing the rich to feed the poor and fighting against injustice and tyranny).

    Then why do you think we stick to religion when it comes to not working hard (instead doing yoga and puja). Only lazy people give up hard working, blame their “janma kindali” and remain satisfied with what they have. This is not HINDUISM. This lazy guy’s MANTRA for living. If one is a Hindu kid grown with the lesson of the need of hard working, he/she will never give up hard working no matter what “Janma Kundali” says.

    Let us not blame religion. We have twisted it enough to our advantage as I stated above. We can’t blame religion when we can’t succeed. Root cause I think is our culture which can’t change without education. We have to educate more Nepali if we want to get next step. Educated people know how to better use religion and how to give up part of the religion that does not make sense. We are on this blog site discussing only because we are bit more educated than Nepalese mass.

    Nation, as you know, is a collection of bunch of folks like you and me. It starts from you and me. Fairness, openness, competitiveness and stick-to-it-ness which are not against Hindu religion are what it takes to promote culture of individualism and independence.

    Therefore:

    1. Culture is the foundation
    2. To change the culture and our way of thinking we need education
    3. Let us educate millions of Nepalese
    4. Things will start falling into right place and we can be happier Hindu

    Apologize for anecdotal thought. This is my lunch-break write-up.

  6. pawan

    Oh, that was just a flavor to Rudra’s post, that is difference between west and east, you know what we do in kitchen table and in bed.

  7. pawan

    Roman civilization has greatest influence on western capitalism. One primary reason that romans spread its empire was to spread Roman business and keep Rome the center of business. Those down to earth Roman aristocrats were the true ancient capitalist. Greek contribution to western world is rather political and philosophical one.

    But with christianity, Roman Empire and rest of Eupore witness a Dark Age for more than thousand years. Anything and everything were judged on the base of the Bible, a sort of suspension of reasoning. Early christians were against aristocrats and extravagance. But by 15th century they fought back and began to base their thoughts and life style to those of Greeks and Romans and redefined the christianity. So i don’t see any relation between christianity and western capitalism.

  8. Amar

    Pawan,

    Cultutre in which sense ? Do you agree that culture has nothing to do with religion as Rudra has stated ?

    Unlike your feedback on Bad investment, I’m afraid to say that I didnot find your comments coherent, could you please elaborate.

    Amar

  9. Amar

    Thanks for your comments. My response.

    Rudraji,

    Thanks for positive note on my thought process, and thanks again for inspiring me to write, although in indirect way. However, having heard about you, with due respect I am a bit disappointed by your shallow reasoning.

    Firstly, the article is based on my study of the existing materials, i.e. it is based on facts. Except for a few of my own experience, the rest is derived from very reliable sources. If you would like I can provide you the source.

    Secondly, I am providing three definitions of culture which alludes to the fact that culture has something to do with the religion and belief. Additionally, there are more than enough materials which indicate that Western culture has roots in their religion. Particularly attitude towards work. I quote one of the tenth commandments: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work.” I quote bible “In all labor there is profit, But mere talk [leads] only to poverty.” {Proverbs 14:23} . I have not found any popular hindu or budhist religious books which illustrate such an attitude toward work, except as I mentioned in Gita.

    Lastly, in terms of changing South Asia, I completely agree with you. However, if we don’t become aware of our social problems and way to deal with them, even if India rocks I don’t see any hope for us. North America becoming the richest country has not helped South American countries. Right now, India is way developed than Nepal, however so far this fact has not helped us to make rich.

    UNESCO definition: “… culture should be regarded as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group, and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs”.
    Edward Burnett Tylor from the perspective of social anthropology: “Culture or civilization, taken in its wide ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.”
    The HarperCollins Dictionary of Sociology: Culture has been called “the way of life for an entire society.” As such, it includes codes of manners, dress, language, religion, rituals, norms of behavior such as law and morality, and systems of belief.

    Nilesji,

    Your interpretation is correct. Although I don’t read the way you have interpreted, it needs rewriting. This is my second article in my lifetime; therefore undoubtedly some mistakes will occur.

    Again, you are correct about the Muslim religion, however I didn’t include it in my article because they don’t appear to have sustained development. And, my aim was to derive idea for sustainable development.

    There is no doubt -no Maoist philosophy.

  10. Rudra Pandey

    Amar – good thought process. But, nothing to do with these different religions. It is all about culture and upbringing. It is about what is talked at the kitchen table. Westerners talk about individualism and independence at the kitchen table. We easterners, particulalry Hindus, talk about family dependence and acquiring good jobs. Things are different right from the kithcen table. Please do not make it complicated. South Asia is changing and we are on the lead. Inida will rock and we will benifit by the boom in India.

    Rudra

  11. Nilesh Shrestha

    Hmmm…

    You wrote
    “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.”

    I think you didn’t want to say it or I got it wrong. In fact for greater effectiveness these two things should work hand-in-hand. But we need to re-define moral values in terms of religion as this context covers here.

    Christianity is not only expanding religion in early days, but it is true these days too and Muslim is growing even faster.

    Born Identities are always favored by us no matter how bad it is. You can hate your sister, but you cannot tolerate neighbors hating your sister. You can hate your country , but you cannot tolerate foreigners hating your country and you can hate your religion, but you cannot tolerate others hating your religion. There is the very subtle sense in us that needs to overcome to gain what you are addressing here.

    I find very hard to believe in Ramayan and Mahabharat except Bhagwat Gita. I find some sense of supernatural phenomenon in it. Greeks left their mythology and converted themselves into Orthodox Christians. We are in early Greece now. We need to be narrowed down to Gita and get religiously transformed. The way we worship God should be cleaner and centric. I want to be Hindu and I want Hindus to be worshipping God via only one messenger of God.

    Jesus for Christians, Muhammed for Muslim, why not Krishna for Hinuds? After all in Mahabharat only Krishna can be taken as God as every character in there worshipped him as God. Why on earth we worship every entity in there?

    True, we need religious revolution in Nepal. Hey again not Maoists. They don’t have religion.

  12. pawan

    What’s moral about krishna convincing Arjuna to kill his brothers? Beside Maoists are already killing Nepalese brothers. Do you think that elated the moral? I am not sure if that what Yoga school of thought teaches use.

    Btw, in judio-christian trading, it is normal to resort to violence in other to win soul for their god. By the way Judism, Chistian, Muslims, and Communist–yes Das Kapital is their morden Bible–are related to judio-christian tradition.

  13. LAVA KAFLE

    TRUE TRUE!! nepal has remain as it is, and will remain as it is because of Nepalese mentality developed from last 5000 years. We must root out the evil and make Nepalis work more than talk and find wrongs of other people.

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