The Gita’s Ethics (A Critical Study)

by Arpita Chakraborty | 2017 | 59,351 words

This essay studies the Ethical Teachings of the Gita, as presented in the Mahabharata in the form of a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna. Ancient Indian ethics as evolved from the Vedas developed through the Upanisads, the Gita, Mahabharata, Ramayana and finally reached the Dharma-Shastras such as the Manusmriti. As the means to liberation, the e...

6. The Brahmanas

Generally speaking, the brahman as scriptures maintained the same moral ideas as preached by the Vedas. But the most important characteristics of the period of brahmanas are their exclusive emphasis upon the duty to perform various kinds of yajnas. The charity and pity were more emphasized among the virtues. More attention was paid to the rituals in the performance of religious duties, the duties peculiar to the varna system were more emphasized. An important innovation of this period in the field of ethics is the concept of the rinas. The concept of rinas since that period occupies an important place in Indian ethics. According to this concept each man has to pay back three types of debts-these are the debt towards gods, the debt towards teacher, and the debt towards parents, respectively known as deva rina, rishi rina and pitri rina. The first of these was usually repaid by means of prayer of the gods of elements such as that of water, fire, air and rains and the performance of yajnas for their propitiation. The debt towards teachers or rishi rina, was repaid in the form of the study of the Vedas and the achievement of learning because the teachers aimed at precisely this. The debt towards parents or the pitri rina was repaid in the form of procreating a son who was considered as a necessary means for the welfare of ancestors in the other world. He who discharges them all is the good man. No man can touch his meal without offering parts of it to Gods, fathers, men, and animals, and saying his daily prayers. This is the way to live in harmony with the world around him. Life is a round of duties and

responsibilities. The conception is certainly high and noble whatever the actual filling of the ideal may be. Unselfishness can be practiced in all our acts. In the Satapatha Brahmana, the sacrifice of all things, sarvamedha, is taught as a means to the attainment of spiritual freedom[1].Godliness is of course the first duty. It does not consist in the mechanical performance of fixed ritual. It consists in praise and good works. Godliness means trying to be divine as much as possible. Truth-speaking is a essential part of Godliness. It is a religious and moral duty. The brahmanas have considered the brahmacharya and the grihastha as the two most important ashramas from the point of view of moral practice. The aim of life according to them was self-controlled enjoyment in this life and the achievement of the heavens after death.

Footnotes and references:


Satapatha Brahmana.,ii.5.1.1-3).

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