Former President of India Dr. S. Radhakrishnan was a great thinker, philosopher, communicator, teacher all rolled into one in a remarkable manner.Last week’s Sunday story carried the Part i of his concept of GOOD LIFE! Enthused by the responses of our valued viewers, i am bold to give this week Part II and I am sure it will be well received by all.
Let us read what he has to convey on the theme.
As a follower of Hinduism, Radhakrishnan also believed in four ends of life
which is termed as Purusharthas. These are Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha. Here Artha implies economic well-being, Kama stands for physical pleasure, Moksha means spiritual freedom and Dharma indicates the religious aspiration of life. More comprehensively “Dharma is the whole duty of man in relation to the four fold purposes of life.” He says, “Dharma in a wide sense is used to connote all the means for the achievement of the different ends of life.” According to Radhakrishnan, spiritual freedom of all is the ultimate end of human life. He says Moksha or perfection
or spiritual self realization cannot be achieved only by ethical action because moksha is essentially of a different and higher order, a new dimension altogether of reality and experience. If human being is able to attain this state then he is regarded as capable of leading a good life. Therefore, Radhakrishnan’s concept of good life is nothing but spiritual freedom or universal salvation or sarvamukti i.e. liberation of all
people. To attain sarvamukti Radhakrishnan gives some ethical as well as religious ways. Human beings exist in the objective world for something more than earthly existence. Men have a higher aspiration than an animal to grow better. Morality enables man to rise to higher plane. So, ethics has a great significance in the pursuit of highest goal in the life of human being. Ethics is a pre-requisite for the attainment of spiritual destiny of man. He says, “The moral law within us is evidence of our citizenship in the world of spirit. Moral discipline makes for spiritual insight.” In“Hindu view of life” Radhakrishnan remarks that “Hinduism is more a way of life
than a form of thought” . He treats the concept of dharma or the various
religious, ethical and social duties governing a Hindu’s life and yoga or the various ways and discipline by which the Hindu seeks the goal of moksa or release from the chain of rebirth. He relates the theory of dharma with the theory of universal self. According to Radhakrishnan, ethics as a profoundly significant aspect of human life needs a metaphysical basis to provide ultimate support for ethical values and meaning for the moral life, that ethics needs a metaphysical foundation in a reality that is basically characterized by values and it is provided by the absolute idealism of
classical Hindu tradition modified and clarified in details in the light of reason and modem knowledge. According to him, Radhakrishnan’s concept of good life is the same as the good life of Hinduism. The good life is mainly the religio-ethical life based on some principles and it has a strict foundation. To know these basic principles it is necessary to examine the metaphysics, which is the basis ofRadhakrishnan’s ethics, his way of
life i.e. his religion and also his own personal experiences related to changing situation.
According to Radhakrishnan, dharma is the essence of morality and it is a
close combination of ethics and religion. The goal is the ‘double object’ of happiness on earth and salvation. Moksa is the aim of all human life. He says dharma is progressive in nature and changeable age to age. But the principle of dharma is eternal. He says, “Though dharma is absolute it has no absolute and time less content. The only thing eternal about morality is man’s desire for the better.” The purpose of ethical life is the discipline of human nature leading to a realization of the spiritual.
Dharma includes the forms and activities of human life. Human beings have diverse interests, various desires, conflicting needs, which grow and change in the growing to round them off into one whose is the purpose of dharma. The principle of dharma rouses us to recognition of spiritual realities not by abstention from the world, but by bringing to its life, its business (Artha) and its pleasure (Kama) the controlling power of spiritual faith. Life is one and in it there is no distinction of sacred and secular.
Bhakti and Mukti are not opposed. Dharma, Artha, and Kama go together. Thus, we find that Radhakrishnan emphasizes all the four ends of life. According to him “Physical well being is essential part of human well being. Pleasure is a part of the good life. It is both sensuous and spiritual. Just like to enjoy sunshine, to listen music, to read plays ate both sensuous and spiritual. Radhakrishnan also admits wealth or economic factor as an essential element in human life like Kama. He says there is no
sin in wealth, just as there is no virtue in poverty.”13 The efforts ofanyone to increase his wealth cannot be condemned, but if his pursuit of wealth exploits others then it cannot be accepted. From this we can say that human being have no right to exploit other people for his personal benefit. He should consider the other people also. All the four values have same position in society. Radhakrishan says, “Wealth and enjoyment
are not opposed to righteousness and perfection. Ifpursued for their own sake they are not right, but if adopted as means to spiritual well-being and social good they are worthy of acceptance.” It implies that dharma and artha can be regarded as means for spiritual development. But there must be condition i.e. wealth and pleasure should be pursued not for their own sake but for the sake of others. According to Radhakrishnan, dharma is the whole duty of man in relation to the four fold purposes of life (dharma artha, kama and moksha) by members of the four groups (chaturvama), and the four stages (Caturasrama), (student, house holder, forest dweller and ancestor). The basic principle of dharma is the realization ofthe dignity of the human spirit. If we add to these basic principles the concept of moral obligation, both to aspire to divinity and also to conform to the discipline of society, the concept of freedom which is indispensable part of rebirth and
the details of personal and social dharma we have a clean cut picture of
Radhakrishnan’s way of life.
(Part III to follow)