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Chapter 3

Human Values in Indian Scriptures

3.1 Fundamental Source:

Ancient India Scriptures clearly enumerate the value system and the human values for
inculcation and practice. The value system in India has been derived from Vedas believed to be originated
from Divine Consciousness and are considered to be the fundamental source of knowledge and wisdom.
The rituals, precepts and value system derived from Vedas are in vogue even today. Each of the four
Vedas namely Rig Veda, Sam Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda deal with various aspect of human life
from supreme consciousness to societal norms. The objective of human life has been defined in the form
of, Purushartha or endeavor which consists in following four areas each of which fountain heads of all
human values.

Dharma ( Righteousness)
Artha( Material Possession)
Moksha(Salvation or Liberation)

In addition, three main ways (Margs) of Indian life have been characterized.

Satyam (Truthness, Ever persistent)

Shivam (Supreme Consciousness, Goodness)
Sundram (Beautifulness)

The values enshrined in Indian scriptures endeavor to bring the universal human values tied together in
the form of thread of spirituality. They believe in the inner reality of man. The main scriptures that deal
with human values are Vedas, Upanishads, Ramayan, Mahabharat and Bhagwad Gita.

3.2 Vedas:

Vedas, the books of knowledge are the greatest legacy of India, a vast body of verse, philosophy
and hymens originally transmitted by a phenomenal human chain of memory during prehistoric era dating
back to 10000 7000 B.C. and written down centuries after. They proclaim the transcendental truth
which does not change with time or place. The Vedas have a universal appeal embracing all that is noble
and sacred in the form of equality of human beings and concept of oneness in all. In Rig Veda, one of
the verse says,

Let us work together, Let us Speak Together,

Let our minds and hearts be united for a great cause.

Though ancient, how modern and relevant, the worst sounds today!

According to the Vedas, there is no value nobler than truth; without truth all values become wise.
The most important Vedic values may be described in one sentence as follows

Deep avoiding Faith in God and Virtuous Actions based on truth, love and respect for others. In
the Vedic literature, eight basic values have been referred which sustain the world. They are Truth
(Satya), Vastness (Brahat), Right Attitude (Rtam), Fromidibility (Urgam), Consecretion (Diksha),
Penance (Tapas), Aptitude for learning (Brahman), and Sacrifice (Yagya). The other values such as non-
violence, austerity, universal friendship, security, peace, fearlessness, and dedication have been
propagated in various verses and prayers through which God is invoked for blessings. Once such prayer
offered by every chaste Indian is Gayatri Mantra which is quoted in Sanskrit as below.

Om Bhu Bhuvah Svah, Tatsavitur Varenyam,

Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi, Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat (Rig Veda 3.62.10)

Meaning, O being becoming and bliss! May we imbibe in ourselves the choicest effulgence of the
divine creator, so that He evokes our intellect.

3.3 Upanishads:

The Upanishads (total 13 in number) have been derived from Vedas and form the core of
Indian philosophy. The sages who wrote the Upanishads were prone to flashes of spiritual wisdom. The
ultimate human value in Upanishadic texts is the Self referred by other names like Satya, Atman or
Brahmin. The attainment of self as the ultimate or absolute value is called Moksha or the state of
liberation- getting united with self. After this state there is nothing else to be done as one is completely
and truly fulfilled. The individual has then no urges and desires and is in bountiful tranquility. The gain of
this knowledge is associated with Aanand or bliss. Upanishads also stress for attainment of another most
important value Shraddha or faith. Shraddha leads to Upasana which means coming very near a
thing. The three fundamental things indicated are Bhakti (Devotion), Gyana (Knowledge) and Karma
(Action). The combinations of all these three create an ideal state of being or the state of Upasana.
Shraddha or faith once established makes the life meaningful and successful. Upanishads describes
establishment of faith (Shraddha) in four ways one, by possessing faith, two by exerting faith, three by
putting forth faith and four, by making faith. Thus, faith (Shraddha) becomes a powerful instrument in
human life.

One of the oldest and longest of the Upanishads, the Brihadaranyaka says the following:
From the unreal lead me to real!
From the darkness lead me to light!
From death lead me to immortality!

It provides the essence of all human values and endeavors which culminate into
immortality, the highest virtue of mankind- an everlasting urge for existence, the sustainability. In all
Upanishads, the sages have said that what ultimately sustains is the truth (Satya), the manifestation of


It is a Sanskrit epic poem written by the ancient Indian sage and poet Valmiki. It
depicts the story of Rama (the 7th incarnation of Hindu Supreme God Lord Vishnu), whose wife Sita is
abducted by Ravan, the King of Lanka (now known as Sri Lanka). Thematically, the Ramayana depicts
human values. In this great Indian epic, all the values that enrich human life and are close to divinity have
been dealt with. They include love, happiness, peace and prosperity, compassion, courage devotion etc
depicted by its main characters. The Ramayan teach us the core values pertaining to individual, family
and society. The character of Rama is the ocean of compassion. It is love personified and an epitome of
all virtuous values. The principles of Ramayan explain in detail the relationship that should exist between
father and son, between brothers, between preceptor and disciple and between people themselves. The
moral, social and spiritual values are contained in Ramayan. It also depicts the effect of demonic traits in
life through the character of Ravan, the mightiest king full of all forms of knowledge and skills but
devoid of virtuous human values. He ruined himself along with his clan and lost kingdom because he did
not understand the basic principle of human life. Before his death Ravan said, O people, with all my
skills and expertise in different forms of knowledge, I became a victim of desires. I lost my sons,
ruined my clan and kingdom, as I could not control my desires. Do not become a victim of desires
like me. Follow the path of truth and righteousness and be like Rama. Experience divinity.

The Ramayana serves as an eternal source of inspiration and inculcation of the human
values. The example of Ramas sacrifice in accepting the sentence of exile of 14 years in forest despite
having committed no fault is a testimony of honour the word of his father, King Dasarath is the finest
example of the relationship between son and father. The example of Sita, the wife of Rama preferring to
accompany her husband in the forest in place of remaining in the comfort of palatial life shows the utmost
feeling of sacrifices, love and compassion. The example of Laxman, the younger brother of Rama is an
epitome of the highest order of relationships in the hour of crisis by joining his brothers mission.
Similarly, the refusal of Bharata (another brother of Rama) in accepting the kingdom offered to him in
place of Rama, is yet another example of highest selflessness. Likewise there are other characters in
Ramayan that are embodiment of virtuous human values. The Ramayan remains incomplete without
Hanuman. This character displays the virtues of humility, self-confidence, strength of body mind and
soul, chastity, compassion and courage, and above all utmost devotion and service for the master. The
achievements made by Rama would not have been possible without the help of Hanuman. All the feats
performed by Hanuman including flying over the ocean, spotting Sita in Lanka, burning of palaces of
Ravana and bringing life saving drug from Himalaya would not have been possible without the virtues
mentioned above.

3.5 Mahabharat:

It is an Indian epic written by the great sage Maharshi Vyas in the form of a historical
narrative about various human characters and owes its existence to the Vedas. Mahabharat throws light on
what one must not do in life. By invariably doing the wrong things, the characters of Mahabharat tell
what must be avoided in life. The Pandavas and Kauravas - the cousins in a great empire represent the
values and anti-values respectively. The values such as truth, righteousness, courage, discipline and
obedience are seen to be practiced by Pandavas. On the other hand, Kauravas believed and practiced
jealousy, greed, unrighteousness, hatred, deceit and possessed excessive ego. The clash of values and anti-
values lead to the war between Kauravas and Pandavas. Kauravas in spite of having much more resources
and strength as compared to Pandavas, not only lost the war but died in it.

The Mahabharat presents a veritable array of human characters, from sublime to

ridiculous. All possible human emotions, sacrifices, generosities, deeds of valor and courage can be seen
in various characters. The divine character, Shri Krishna transfers all the knowledge about human values
to Arjun, one of the Pandavas and main character of Mahabharat in the battle field of Kurukshetra at the
beginning of the war. The epic Mahabharat also depicts the value system prevalent in those days. Even
the rules of the battle were based on human values, such as a warrior sitting on an elephant or horse will
not fight with the soldier on the ground. Similarly the fighting will occur during day time only. The
warring groups could meet each other after sun-set without any fear of being assaulted.

3.6 Bhagwad Gita:

Bhagwad Gita the song of the Lord is an Indian scripture set in a narrative framework of dialogue
between Pandava prince Arjun and his guide and charioteer Lord Krishna in the battle field of
Kurukshetra during the period of Mahabharat. It represents a synthesis of righteousness, devotion and
duty in a yogic form to attain a blissful life using knowledge and unbiased action. Bhagwad Gita is
repository of human values. It is the timeless wisdom bestowed upon the civilization since ages, and the
path finder towards a blissful life. It deals with the co-ordination of action, speech and thought and
discusses various forms of virtues and ethical approach in daily activities of human beings. In verses (8)
to (12) of chapter XIII of Bhagwad Gita, all the virtuous human values have been delineated. These
verses are reproduced below in Sanskrit language.

Amanitvam admbhitvam, ahimsa ksantir arjvam,

Aacharyopasanam saucham, sthairyam atma-vinigrahah (8),

Indriyarthesu vairagyam, anahankara eva cha,


Asaktir anabhisv-angah, putra-daragradisu

Nityam-chasma-chittatvam, istanistopapattisu (10),

Mayi chananya-yogena, bhaktir avyabhicharni,

Vivikta-desa-sevitvam, aratir jana-samadi (11),

Adhyatma-jnana-nityatvam, tattva-jnanartha-darshnam,

Etaj jnanam iti proktam, ajnanam yad ato nyatha (12)

There are total of 19 values mentioned in the above verses. The meaning of the above
verses is as follows:

Desirelessness for honour, pridelessness, non violence, forbearance, honesty, service to spiritual master,
purity, stability, self control; Detachment from the objects of senses, absence of egoism, awareness of
miseries of birth, disease, old age and death; Worldly detachment, absence of doting on children, wife,
home etc; Constant equanimity in desirable or undesirable circumstances; Undeviating pure devotion to
Me, residing in a solitary place, indifference to mundane association, constancy in self knowledge and the
vision of goal of true knowledge all these qualities have been said to denote the knowledge. Anything
contrary to this is to be considered ignorance.

The values are listed below. The words in capitals are Sanskrit words used in Bhagwad Gita-
1. AMANITVAM (Absence of Self-Worshipness, Politeness)
2. ADAMBHITVAM(Absence of Self Glorification)
3. AHIMSA(Non Harmfulness)
4. KSANTI (Tolerance)
5. ARJVAM(Straight forwardness, Simplicity)
6. ACHARYOPASNAM(Respectfulness to Teacher/Guru)
7. SHOUCHAM(Cleanness)
8. STHAIRAM(Steadfastness)
9. ATMN-VINIGRAHAM(Control of Mind)
10. VAIRAGYAM (Dispassion of objects of Sensory gratification)
11. UNAHANKARAM (Absence of egotism)
12. ANBHISHWANGA PUTRA DARA GRAHADISHU(Absence of obsession with son, wife and
13. ANASKATI(Noon- attachment)
respect to good as well as bad happenings)
15. MAYI CHANAYNAYOGAN BHAKTI AVYABHICHARNI (Steady devotion towards supreme
16. VIVIKTA DESHA SEVEITWAM (Aspiration to live in Solitude)
17. ARATHI JAN SANSADI ( Detachment from crowd of people)
18. ADHYATMA GYANAM NITYATWATAN (Continuous faith in spirituality)
19. TATWA GYANARTH DARSHANAM-(Philosophical approach towards ultimate knowledge)

It is said that each of these values if nurtured and practiced, they will bring positive changes in life. A
brief explanation about these values is as follows:

1.AMANITVAM (Politeness, Absence of Self-worshipness)

This is the first criterion for seeking knowledge. A polite person will always be liked by
everyone because he is not rude, he does not possess self ego. A polite person always pays respect to
elders as well youngsters. The absence of self-worshipness is directly related to politeness.

2. ADAMBHITVAM (Absence of Self-glorification).

The absence of self- glorification is based on real achievements and abilities,
DAMBHITVAM (Self-glorification) or DAMBH stems out from pretended or fabricated
accomplishments and abilities. Such a person blows his own trumpet about the achievements which he
has not really gained. Sooner or later he gets exposed.
3. AHIMSA (Non-Harmfulness)

Ahimsa means non-injury or non-harmfulness, and is displayed by ones thought of not to

hurt, cause pain, give threat or physically assault with vengeance any person or living being. It is because
nobody wants to get hurt, abused or insulted by other person. Commonsense ethics says that one should
not do something to others if the same is not liked by him.
Ahimsa is a part of righteousness .It will be applicable even when an act which is injurious
in nature but is meant for benefit of other person or society. Then also it is termed as Ahimsa. For instance
a surgeon injures the human body but it is for removing a diseased part of body. In a broad sense Ahimsa
is a value for not destroying or damaging any part of creation on this earth.

4. KSANTI (Tolerance, Spirit of Accommodation).

It means accepting people and situations as they are without any conditions. This value is
based on understanding of the nature of people and relationships between them. It is very difficult to find
all qualities in a person which can be liked by another person. If it is not possible to change a person so
as meet the expectation of other, then the only way is to accommodate him. This is the essence of Ksanti
or spirit of accommodation that the people should be accepted as they are. In Indian scriptures Ksanti
and Ahimsa have been given utmost importance as they constitute the saintly qualities in man.
According to Indian philosophy, a saint is a person who never consciously hurts another person by action,
word or thought, and who accepts the people good or bad just as they are.

5. ARJAVAM (Straight-forwardness, Simplicity)

Arjavam means Straightness. When used as a human value, it is similar to the word
rectitude which means uprightness or conduct in accordance with ones thoughts and words. When there
is an arrow-like straightness between actions and words, or between words and thoughts this alignment in
Sanskrit is called RJUBHAVA from which Arjavam has been derived. In other words absence of non-
alignment of thoughts, words and deeds may be called Arjavam. Accordingly, action must be true to
words and words true to thoughts. When there is conflict or non-alignment between the above, the human
personality becomes splintered and the mind becomes restless.

6. ACHARYOPASNAM (Respectfulness to the Teacher/Guru)

It is the spirit of high regard for the knowledge giver- the teacher or Guru. This value is
deeply embedded in Indian traditions. This value needs discrimination while exercising it. Care has to be
taken to identify the true teacher, one who is devoted, and concerned with the welfare of disciple. The
Guru should be true to his profession. In ancient India there used to be Gurukuls where knowledge
seekers used to live and work under the patronage and guidance of Guru, who used to be saintly persons
possessing not only the true knowledge but utmost wisdom.
The system of Gurukul no more exists in India. However, there are still knowledge and
skill seekers as well as accomplished Gurus in India in the field of music, dance, fine arts and yoga. Thus
the respectfulness to teacher or Guru is still an important value prevalent in India. The students still
respect their teachers due to the impact of the ancient Gurukul tradition.

7. SHOUCHAM(Cleanliness)
The SHOUCHAM or Cleanliness is a well understood value. It refers to cleanliness of
body and mind, interiors and exteriors. Clean body, clean clothes and clean dwelling place builds up a
pleasant ambience. Unfortunately the cleanliness of mind is less understood. As the dirt, dust, filth etc
make the body and surroundings unclean, similarly jealousy, hatred, fear etc make the mind unclean. As
the body and clothes become clean after washing, the mind can be made clean by purifying it through the
process of meditation. The Indian culture attaches a great importance to SHOUCHAM of body and
mind for a trouble free life.
8. STHAIRAM (Steadfastness)

It means steadiness, constancy or perseverance in ones actions towards goals. Lack of

steadiness results in non achievement of goals. It is observed that most of the people start with lot of
enthusiasm but do not continue till the completion of the task .This is due to absence of steadfastness.
Those who possess this value are able to achieve the goals.

STHAIRAM is also highlighted in the form of firmness in following ones duty also
called as NISTHA (adherence). It is regarded as one of the most sought after attribute in any profession.
The employers prefer the employees possessing quality of adherence.

9. ATMN-VINIGRAHA( Control of Mind)

In Sanskrit, ATMAN means singular I, the first person - self. It is invariably used for
mind functions. Usually inner-self is responsible for all the good and bad actions performed by a person.
VINIGRAH means restraint or control. The mind can be controlled by thought process. All kinds of
thoughts good as well as bad keep on coming to mind. The mind by nature is always varying. Therefore it
needs control. If I - the inner-self (atman), is able to control the thought, by observing them as to which
are good and which are bad, then the I the inner-self, can decide which thought is to be permitted and
which one is to be rejected. The thought process of mind is usually of three types:-

Impulsive: The thoughts which emerge suddenly. They are born out of instinct and capable of
Conventional: These are almost repetitive in nature and occur in normal way. They relate to daily
usual activities.
Constructive: Such thoughts are original and emerge in persons who possess equanimity. They
are the outcome of intellect and positive attitude.
ATMN-VINIGRAHA is characterized by directing the mind towards a noble pursuit.
This is associated with alertness and awareness. If I - the inner-self, is conscious about what mind is
thinking then choice can be exercised to use the mind for constructive purposes.

10. VAIRAGYAM (Dispassion of Objects of Sensory Gratification)

This value is again a state of mind which is freedom from any kind of craving for worldly
pleasures and possessions. One who is free from cravings is called VAIRAGI. Dispassion or Vairag is
not any kind of forced suppression of worldly attractions but possession of total objectivity towards the
things of the world. By nature a human being is a wanting person with desires and material possession. It
is also evident that there is no limit to longing for desires and material possession. This makes the life
devoid of mental peace and happiness. A sense of emptiness always remains, because the struggle for
fulfilling the desires and acquiring material possession is endless. Any amount of accumulation of wealth
seems to be not enough, any amount of pleasure is unable to bring lasting fulfillment. No lasting sense of
security is ever achieved and the contentment is never reached. But those who attain the state of mind free
from craving enjoy peace and happiness.

11. UNAHANKARAM (Absence of Egoism)

Ahankara is a Sanskrit word which means self-ego or feeling of superiority of self over
others. Absence of this feeling is called UNAHANKARA. It prepares a person to gain knowledge. It has
been observed that the cause of self-ego is ignorance, in other words lack of knowledge. The false notion
that I know, I do, I own create the feeling of superiority over others. The individualized sense of I
with the world acts as a catalyst in producing self-ego or Ahankar. This tendency needs to be curbed.
Teachers, parents and other well wishers play an effective role towards removal of ignorance.

12. ANABHISHWANGA PUTRA DARA GRAHADISU(Absence of Obsession with Son, Wife and

Obsession or excessive attachment with son, wife and home is usually observed in most
of the persons. This causes worry and pain when circumstances are unfavorable. Such an obsession if
removed can bring peace of mind. Anabhishwanga as a value means dispassionate caring. It does not
mean that a person having dispassion with son, wife and home (Anabhishwanga) will in any way be
devoid of affection and caring.

Such a person will bestow upon others the unconditional love and affection and enjoy the
life blissfully.

13. ANASAKTI(Non - Attachment):

It is similar to, Anabhishwanga described above. The feeling of non-attachment
towards worldly things including money, materials, comforts, and relations is called Anasakti. This
value if inculcated develops a sense of trusteeship which involves responsibility. Having the feeling of
non-attachment (anasakti) with the sense of trusteeship will enable a person to always live in the state of
fulfillment and joy.


with respect to Good as well as Bad Happenings)

Usually the people get elated when their desire get fulfilled and feel dejected when they
do not get what they wanted. The changing state of mind between the two extreme states of jubilation and
depression gives rise to imbalance which is harmful in life. Equanimity with respect to happenings in the
form of either fulfillment or non fulfillment of desires is a desired human value.

The habit of maintaining continuous equanimity of mind (Nitya Sama Chitatvatam) in the
face of good and bad happenings will make the life free of tension and worries. The oddities and
complexities of life can be faced with courage and composure if this value is imbibed. The success and
failures will not perturb the person.



This value expresses the steadfast devotion to almighty God, which is also a form of
supreme consciousness. The Sanskrit word Anayanayogan amounts to the single -mindedness feeling of
un-separation from the God or supreme consciousness. Bhakti means total reverence with faith and
surrender. Avyabhicharni means undeviating.

Thus, living with the realization that God is within me, around me and everywhere else,
believing that he is the creator, controller and concluder of entire universe, enables a person to lead the
life full of radiance, intellect, energy and enthusiasm.

16. VIVIKTA DESHA SEVITWAM (Aspiration to Live in Solitude)

Solitude is a state of existence with self alone. It provides an opportunity to know the
self. People always find themselves busy with worldly affairs. They are required to carry out multitude of
activities which never come to an end though out the life. Tiresomeness and restlessness affects the
physical and mental health giving rise to a diseased body and tensioned mind. The way to overcome this
state of being is to go into solitude for some time and live with the self. This is not escaping from the
duties and responsibilities but a kind of rejuvenation for discharging them with full vigor and vitality.
Therefore this value is of great importance.

17. ARATHI JAN SANSADI(Detachment from the Crowd of People)

Rathi means longing for something. Arathi means detachment. Jan-Sansadi refers to
crowd of people. The detachment from the crowd of people is a value which allows a person to develop
his own identity. The crowd does not possess any mind of its own. It is usually subjected to the designs
and objectives of the one who leads it. It does not mean that one should discard the company of people. It
implies that for being happy the company of the people is not required. The company of people should
neither be yearned nor discarded. With the possession of this value a person will always have the
composure with or without the company of people.

18. ADHYATMA GYANAM NITYATWATAM (Continuous faith in Spirituality)

Knowledge about the self or Adhyatm Gyanam is known as spirituality. For any
knowledge to be acquired there has to be continuous effort and faith. Adhyatma is also related to
Spirit. It is the energy or consciousness which pervades in all human beings. Nityatwata represents the
everlasting consciousness with which one discovers himself. Knowing the Self requires the study of
scriptures that involves contemplation, reflection and discussion. All these three things together constitute
Adhyatmagyanam. This value if imbibed yields a good Spiritual Quotient (SQ) which is now required
along with Intelligence quotient (IQ) and Emotional Quotient (EQ).

19. TWATA GYANARTH DARSHANAM (Philosophical Approach towards Ultimate Knowledge)

Twata means Truth, Gyan means knowledge, Artha means the purpose, and
Darshanam means visioning. This value refers to the philosophical approach for knowing the ultimate
truth of life. According to Indian philosophy the ultimate truth of life is to become free from the bondage
and liberate the self. This is achievable by Prurushartha described earlier in previous chapter. In the
world of today, it may not be fully possible to imbibe all the above mentioned values; but the extent to
which they can be developed will decide the quality of life of an individual.

The above list of values seems to be quite exhaustive in its content. However, there are obviously
some values which have been repeated. For example, values from S.N. 60 to 68 which are about Self are
over lapping with each other. Similarly S.N., 38 and 39 namely Kindliness and Kindness to animals are
the same.

Questions for Learners

1. What is the fundamental source of human values?
2. When did the Vedas originate and how were they written?
3. Which human values the Vedas represent?
4. Is there any resemblance of universal human values with those mentioned in Vedas?
5. In your opinion, is the preaching of Vedas relevant in 21st century Yes or No? Support
your answer with the arguments.
6. What is the difference between Vedas and Upanishads?
7. Name any four Upanishads.
8. By whom was the epic Ramayana written?
9. Name the two most prominent values seen in the character of Ram.
10. Which character of Ramayana influences you the most? Give reasons.
11. Do you find any virtues in the character of Ravan? If so, name them and give instances of
the same in the story of Ramayana.
12. By whom was the epic Mahabharata written?
13. How is the epic Mahabharata different from Ramayana?
14. Which character of Mahabharata impressed you the most? Give reasons.
15. How Bhagwad Gita does get correlated with Mahabharata?
16. Name the three most important values enunciated in Bhagwad Gita.
17. Is it possible to practice all the values narrated in Chapter XIII of Bhagwad Gita Yes or