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Moral Thinkers

Buddha | Ethics moral thinkers

Ethics moral thinkers :Buddhism is a set of moral guidelines and practices which, if followed, can bring people to the ultimate state of reality and peace. The Buddha described these morals after he reached enlightenment, or nirvana: the true understanding of the universe.

Basic Buddhist principles of moral thought and action is karma. Fundamental conviction in Buddhism is that life is a cycle of birth, death and rebirth and that people’s actions in not only the present but also in the past affect into what realm they are reborn and how their life is lived. This idea of the continued effects of all actions is the definition of karma. Until such time, as one becomes open-minded, one’s actions in this life will determine the nature of future rebirths. A related thought fundamental to Buddhism is merit. Acts of generosity toward and support of Buddhist monks are channeled by the monks toward progression for the giver in future rebirths or toward improving the lot of deceased relatives.

The Buddha’s Four Noble Truths are another guiding norm of moral thought and action, particularly as expressed in the fourth truth, the Eightfold Path. The truths are as follows:

  1. The Truth of Dukkha is that all conditional phenomena and experiences are not ultimately satisfying.
  2. The Truth of the Origin of Dukkha is that craving for and clinging to what is pleasurable and aversion to what is not pleasurable result in becoming, rebirth, dissatisfaction, and redeath.
  3. The Truth of the Cessation of Dukkha is that putting an end to this craving and clinging also means that rebirth, dissatisfaction, and redeath can no longer arise.
  4. The Truth of the Path of Liberation from Dukkha is that by following the Noble Eightfold Path; namely, behaving decently, cultivating discipline, and practicing mindfulness and meditation ; an end can be put to craving, to clinging, to becoming, to rebirth, to dissatisfaction, and to redeath.

The motivation for following the Four Noble Truths is not to “be good”, but to facilitate the recognition the Buddhists call enlightenment. The English translation of the terms within the path does nothing to dissipate the impression that the Eightfold Path is a series of moral injunctions “right effort,” “right livelihood,” etc. as the term “right” in English implies “correct.” A more accurate translation for “right” in this case might be “skillful.” Practically speaking, since the earliest days of Buddhism, many have regarded the Eightfold Path as a set of guidelines for correct behaviour, and it is not difficult to see why. Even in the early texts, the Buddha often mentioned “do nots” when discussing the Eightfold Path.

Buddhism agreed that there is evil in man, but it teaches that this evil can be eliminated by understanding and determination. Because people, especially government leaders and educationists, fail to understand the true nature of life, they do not attempt to teach their young the right values. Buddhism teaches man to live in peace and harmony. The Buddha exhorted his followers not to take His Teachings on blind faith but to accept them only after close investigation and inquiry as to whether the Teachings are really acceptable according to one’s own intelligence and experience. Even though Buddha wanted his followers to absorb the Dhamma. He did not want them to accept it without clarity of mind and complete understanding.

The Buddha wanted all human beings to lead perfect lives to be kind, compassionate and considerate to one another and to exercise patience, tolerance and understanding in all activities and relationships. The Buddha, with his supreme wisdom, realised that there were weaknesses and pit-falls in human society. He introduced the Buddha Dhamma in order to enlighten, liberate and reform mankind to lead a meaningful life. His Teachings were clear and comprehensive. They covered the existence of a human being, from birth to the grave. Those who were unable to comprehend his teachings or were not prepared to accept his Teachings, would rate his Teachings as too idealistic and incapable of accomplishment. In spite of such assertions, his Teachings, if reduced to the simplest of terms, could be contained in just a few words: “DO GOOD, SHUN EVIL AND PURIFY THE MIND”. These words were true during the Buddha’s period. These words are just as true and applicable for the present and the future. If everyone does what is good for oneself and for others as well and completely shuns evil, that would affect others as well as oneself and the world would definitely be a better place to live in. Buddhist Teachings are designed to empower men and women to achieve fulfilment and satisfaction in this life through their own continued efforts and to boost them to create a social order conducive to the benefit and welfare of all mankind. It develops selfless moral codes, generosity, concern and a spirit of real discipline for the good and wellbeing of relations, friends and acquaintances.

Kautilya | Ethics moral thinkers 

Kautilya was genius and prominent figure in the history. He was the minister in the kingdom of Chandragupta Muarya. He was considered as shrewdest minister of his time and had explained his view on state, war, social structure, diplomacy, ethics, politics and state craft in his book Arthashastra. He had strong opinion on each of the four dimension framework: war and peace, human right, international economic justice, and world order (Santosh Ajmera, Nanda Kishore Reddy, 2015). It is visualized that he was an epoch making personality. He nurtured the sense of nationalism and inculcated in the minds of people that they owed their basic allegiance to the Rajya and not to dharma (Chaturvedi, 2004). He highlighted the necessity of moral values in social and political life and administration (Sen, 2006).

Raja Ram Mohan Roy | Ethics moral thinkers 

Raja Ram Mohan Roy was an Indian religious, social, educational reformer and humanitarian, who challenged traditional Hindu culture and indicated the lines of progress for Indian societies under British rule. In modern times, Raja Rammohan Roy who has been called the ‘father of modern India’, injected fresh life into political thinking in the nineteenth century by attempting to bring together the democratic ideas of the modern West and the philosophy of Vedanta as preached in the Upanishads. The Raja had notions of establishing a modern democratic state in India and fought against many superstitious and evil practices that were prevalent in the nineteenth century. He had a very broad vision in sympathy with the known major religions of the world. He is regarded as one of the pioneers who ushered in the age of enlightenment in modern India. He supported the introduction of Western learning into Indian education system. So he promoted study of English, Science, Western Medicine and Technology in India.

Sarojini Naidu | Ethics moral thinkers 

Saroji Naidu also recognized by the sobriquet The Nightingale of India, was a child genius, Indian independence activist and poet. She was the first Indian woman to become the President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to become the Governor of Uttar Pradesh state. She was a great patriot, politician, speaker and administrator of all the famous women of India. Her birthday is celebrated as WOMEN’S DAY. She got recognition as “BulBule Hind” for collection of her poems under the title ‘Golden Threshold’.

During 1915-1918, she travelled across India, preaching on social welfare, women empowerment, liberation and nationalism. She was motivated by Jawaharlal Nehru and embarked on providing help and support for the indigo workers in Champaran who were being subjected to violence and tyranny. She played a vital role in awakening the women of India. She re-established their self-esteem and often said, “When there is oppression, the only self-respecting thing is to rise and say this shall cease today, because justice is my right”.

With the institution of the Rowlatt Act in 1919, Sarojini joined the Non-Cooperation Movement organized and led by Mahatma Gandhi. In the same year, she was chosen the Home Rule League’s ambassador to England. In 1924, she became a delegate to the East African Indian Congress. In 1925, Naidu was appointed as the President of the National Congress thus making her the first Indian woman to hold the post. With the Indian Independence in 1947, Sarojini Naidu was made the Governor of the Uttar Pradesh in the wake of her contribution to the movement.

To summarize, several moral thinkers and philosophers of ancient times to modern period provided intellectual arguments against the various ways of developing a virtuous character. Aristotle took his stand to debate that the actions contribute greatly to the way a character is. Earlier to that, he elucidated how individuals act the way they speak or behave. Confucius in Analects demonstrated the notion of how the environment acts upon the way the person interacts. Another prominent figure, Plato exemplified the soul as a lead to the characters desires and wants. Several modern thinkers of India such as Mahatma Gandhi has great contribution in developing ethical ideologies.

Rabindranath Tagore | Ethics moral thinkers 

Life Sketch

Viswakavi (World Poet) Rabindranath was born on May 9, 1861 in Bengal. His father Maharihi Devendranath Tagore was a rich man and an aristocrat and his mother was Sarada Devi. Rabindranath Tagore was not sent to any school. He was educated at home by a tutor. Rabindranath was not happy, getting educated within the four walls. He was a curious and creative child.

Though he was educated at home, he studied many subjects and there was a method in his studies. He would get up early. After physical education he would study Mathematics, History, Geography, Bengali and Sanskrit. In the afternoon, he learnt drawing, English and play games. On Sundays he would learn music and conduct experiments in science. Reading plays was of special interest to him. He was happy to read plays of Kalidas and Shakespeare. He had a special interest in Bengali, which was his mother-tongue.

For further studies, he was sent to a public school at London, where he became a student of Prof. Henry Morley whose lectures influenced Rabindranath to take interest in English literature. He developed interest in English culture, traditions and literature. While studying in England, he wrote a poem “Broken Heart”. After 18 months in England, he returned to India without taking any degree.

Rabindranath started writing poetry. “Gitanjali” is a well-known collection of his poems. Rabindranath Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913. Rabindranath Tagore was the first Indian to get a Nobel Prize and the British Government conferred on him knighthood and gave the title of “Sir”.

Rabindranath started a school at Bolpur, a village 112km. north of Kolkata. This school developed into Shantiniketan. Students come to Shantiniketan from many countries. It specializes in arts, crafts, music and dance besides rural reconstruction.

He established Viswabharathi University near Santiniketan in 1921. It is now a university of the Central Government.

Rabindranath Tagore was also a good artist. He started to learn painting at the age of 60. He drew more than 2000 pictures, which were exhibited in many countries. What makes Rabindranath Tagore special for Indians is “Jana gana mana” and it is our National Anthem. Rabindranath Tagore wrote it when he visited Madanapalli in Andhra Pradesh on the eve of the Rishi Valley School Anniversary at the invitation of Dr. Arundale, the Principal. Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru had the greatest respect for Rabindranath Tagore. He was a great philosopher and a teacher. He was called “Gurudev” by all. He breathed his last on August 7, 1941, leaving his thoughts and ideas for all to follow.

Philosophical Idea

Rabindranath was a philosopher, poet, dramatist, teacher, essayist and painter of outstanding repute. His philosophy of life was based on the ideals of dedication, patriotism and naturalism. Although he was an ideal philosopher, but the thoughts of naturalism, pragmatism and individualism are also reflected in his philosophy. The values which contributed a lot towards enrichment of his life are discussed as follow:

(1) Idealist:

Tagore believes that man should realize the “ultimate truth” which will liberate him from the worldly bondage. Experience according to him is within the world of illusion (Maya). He thoughts the world is the place of both truth and illusion (Maya).

In Tagore’s view man is born with enormous surplus force which is excess of his physical need. This surplus is the limitless potentiality of human personality and creativity. In this lies the infinite future of man. The surplus potentiality manifests itself in man’s religious spiritual and moral activities. As an idealist he was an ardent supporter of truth, virtues and values. According to Tagore, “By art man can experience the wholeness of life. The fine arts were nothing but intellectual and spiritual discipline. He said Bhakti can spiritualize Kama.

(2) Humanist:

Tagore said nature and man are created by supreme power. There is a strong link between man and nature. So man should act naturally to feel the presence of superpower within him. Love fellowmen in a natural way. Realization of self is the essence to realize the Godhood.

(3) Naturalist:

Tagore said nature is the great teacher which is not hostile to man. Nature is kind, generous and benevolent like mother. In his view, “Education diverted from nature has brought untold harm to young children.” Man should develop his relation with the nature as his fellowmen.

(4) Patriotism:

Tagore was a great poet and patriot. His writings were filled with patriotic values. He had joined in freedom movement to make the country free from foreign yoke. Sense of national service, patriotic feeling, dedication etc. was fostered through his writings. “Jana Gana Mana Adlii Nayak Jai Hai” is the famous National song which elicited a strong sense of integration.

(5) Internationalist:

Rabindranath Tagore was in favour of one world creation of unit amidst cultural, colour and religious diversities is the need of the time for peaceful co-existence in the globe. Forgetting selfishness one we should work to establish world culture based on love, affection fellow feeling and mutual understanding. Cosmopolitan feelings are explicit in his writings and paintings. Tagore’s internationalist thought and attempt for making united world is appreciated all over the world.

(6) Vedantist:

Tagore’s philosophy reveals that he was a vedantist in true sense of terms. He had faith in one Supreme Being that is the Brahma. He finds unity in diversities in the world and a spiritual unity between man and man, man and nature. The relationship between god and man must be like the relationship between love and joy. He believes both the presence of God in all manifestation of matter and spirit.

Educational Idea

Rabindranath Tagore was primarily an educationist rather than a political thinker. He put emphasis on ‘naturalism’ for framing educational model. In education, freedom is the basic guiding force for inculcating interest within a student who will derive inspiration from nature to pursue any branch of knowledge he likes. The establishment of Shantiniketan fulfilled the desired goal of Tagore in the educational front.

  1. Unity of West and East:

Tagore’s education marked a novel blending of the ideas of the East and West. The spiritualism of Indian philosophy and progressive outlook of the western people were blended together to give rise to an educational philosophy which marked its distinction in comparison to other educationists of India.

  1. Natural growth in natural circumstance:

Tagore envisaged that nature is the best teacher to the pupil. Nature will provide the student with necessary situation to earn knowledge. No pressure should be exerted upon the student to learn anything. It is nature which will be the guiding force to inculcate the spirit of learning in the mind of a student to pursue the education he likes. It will shape his behavior and character.

  1. Goodbye to book-centered education:

For the first time in the arena of education, Tagore established a new mile-stone. With boldness and firmness, he rejected a book-centered education for students. To him it is not just to confine the mind of boys and girls to text-books only. It will kill the natural instincts of a student and make him bookish. It will kill his creative skill. So, students should be freed from the-book-centered education and should be given a broader avenue for learning.

  1. Freedom to learner:

Tagore had championed the cause of freedom. The same he wanted to implement in the field of education. With that object he had opened Shantiniketan, Sri Niketan and Brahmachari Ashram. Accordingly, he gave free choice to students to develop their interest in any field they like. To him, education should be after the heart of a man. He explained freedom in three-categorized ways i.e. freedom of heart, freedom of intellect and freedom of will.

Education imparted in a natural way will lead to the fulfillment of these three freedoms. One may pursue the vocational education or education of an intellect, or education in any branch of the arts or one may become a sansei by observing celibacy.

  1. Teaching – practical and real:

According to Tagore, teaching should be practical and real but not artificial and theoretical. As a naturalist out and out, Tagore laid emphasis on the practicality of education. That will definitely increase the creative skill within a learner. That creativity will bring perfection in the learning process and the student will be a master in his own field but not a slave to mere theoretical knowledge which one delves deep.

  1. Palace of fine arts (dance, drama, music, poetry etc.:

Tagore attached great importance to the fine arts in his educational curriculum. To him, game, dance, music, drama, painting etc. should form a part of educational process. Students should take active part in these finer aspects of human life for these are very essential to enrich soul.

In his words “Speaking is for mankind and music for nature speaking is clear and limited by its needs; whereas music is mystic and expressive for a romantic eagerness. That is why; speaking creates nearness between man and man, while music helps us to identify ourselves with nature. When the harmonies of sounds are released with our expression then speaking loses much of its limited significance, but on the contrary getting together of the two muses had an all pervading character”.

  1. Education for rural reconstruction:

Tagore was aware about the rural poverty of our country. So, he wanted to eradicate it through education. The practical training imparted in different crafts to the students will make them skilled artisans in their field. They can remove the poverty of the rural bulk by applying their education helping thereby in the process of rural reconstruction.

Aims Of Education

The aims of education as reflected in educational institution founded by Rabindranath Tagore in Santiniketan are as follows:

(1) Self Realization:

Spiritualism is the essence of humanism; this concept has been reflected in Tagore’s educational philosophy. Self-realization is an important aim of education. Manifestation of personality depends upon the self-realization and spiritual knowledge of individual.

(2) Intellectual Development:

Tagore also greatly emphasized the intellectual development of the child. By intellectual development he means development of imagination, creative free thinking, constant curiosity and alertness of the mind. Child should be free to adopt his own way learning which will lead to all round development.

(3) Physical Development:

Tagore’s educational philosophy also aims at the physical development of the child. He gave much importance to sound and healthy physique. There were different kinds of exercises. Yoga, games & sports prescribed in Santiniketan as an integral part of the education system.

(4) Love for humanity:

Tagore held that the entire universe is one family. Education can teach people to realize oneness of the globe. Education for international understanding and universal brotherhood is another important aim of his educational philosophy. The feeling of oneness can be developed through the concepts like fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man all creatures are equal on this earth.

(5) Establishment of relationship between man & God:

Man bears the diverse qualities and potentialities offered by God. These qualities are inborn and innate. The relationship between man and God is strong and permanent. However the dedication to spiritualism and sacredness will lead to the harmonious relationship with man, nature and God.

(6) Freedom:

Freedom is considered as an integral aspect of human development. Education is a man-making process, it explores the innate power exists within the man. It is not an imposition rather a liberal process their provides utmost freedom to the individual for his all-round development. He says, Education has leaning only when it is imparted through the path of freedom”.

(7) Co-relation of Objects:

Co-relation exists with God, man and nature. A peaceful world is only possible when correlation between man and nature will be established.

(8) Mother tongue as the medium of Instruction:

Language is the true vehicle of self-expression. Man can freely express his thought in his mother-tongue. Tagore has emphasized mother tongue as the medium of instruction for the child’s education.

(9) Moral and Spiritual Development:

Tagore emphasized moral and spiritual training in his educational thought. Moral and spiritual education is more important than bookish knowledge for an integral development of human personality. There must be an adequate provision for the development of selfless activities, co-operation and love fellow feeling and sharing among the students in educational institutions.

(10) Social Development:

According to Tagore, “Brahma” the supreme soul manifests himself through men and other creatures. Since He is the source of all human-beings and creatures, so all are equal. Rabindranath Tagore therefore said, “service to man is service to god”. All should develop social relationship and fellow-feeling from the beginnings of one’s life. Education aims at developing the individual personality as well as social characters which enables him to live as a worthy being.

Rabindranath Tagore, a true philosopher developed an ideal experimental education institution in Santiniketan. Tagore was a great advocate of spiritual education and also stressed on harmonious development of the child with equal emphasis on mental, social and emotional growth. Tagore was the greatest prophet of modern Indian renaissance who sought to bring change through education.

ETHICS LECTURES

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