India: Spiritual master of the world

(The Blog  is reverently for all the seekers of truth, lovers of wisdom and   to share the Hindu Dharma with others on the spiritual path and also this is purely  a non-commercial blog)

India: Spiritual master of the world

1. Certification of Righteousness (Dharma)

1.1 What is certification (praman)?

‘It is a principle from the Darshans. It is defined as “प्रमीयते अनेन इति” meaning that from which the ultimate and absolute experience originates is called certification [praman (प्रमाण)]. The other definition of certification is “प्रमाकरणं प्रमाणम्‌” meaning the most useful tool to acquire knowledge is an authority. All Indian philosophers following the Darshans have accepted the doctrine that absolute experience depends on certification or rather the fulfillment of absolute experience depends on certification.’(1)

1.2 Authority of the scriptures (shastrapraman) and rationalism (buddhipraman)

‘Realising the actual nature of an object is called absolute (samyak) knowledge and it is known as prama. This is not possible with the intellect. Besides what appears appropriate to one’s intellect may not appear to another’s. The third may partly agree or disagree and the fourth may interpret it in an altogether different fashion; hence rationalism is not appropriate.’
तस्‍माच्‍छास्त्रं प्रमाणं ते कार्याकार्यव्‍यवस्‍थितौ ।। - महाभारत ६.४०.२४
Meaning: (Lord Shrikrushna says) O Arjun, to determine which is good action and which is not you will have to use the scriptures as the authority. - Mahabharat 6.40.24

1.3 Types

‘The four axioms (praman) of Righteousness (Dharma) that Manu describes are -
·         वेद: स्‍मृति: सदाचार: स्‍वस्‍य  प्रियमात्‍मन: 
एतच्‍चतुर्विधं प्राहु: साक्षात्‌ धर्मस्‍य लक्षणम्‌ ।। - मनुस्‍मृति २.१२
Meaning: The Vedas, the Smrutis, righteous conduct and that which is pleasing to one’s mind (antahkaran) are the four types of features (axioms) of Righteousness. - Manusmruti 2.12
·         वेदोखिलं धर्ममूलं स्‍मृतिशीले  व्‍दितीयम्‌ 
आचारश्चैव साधूनामात्‍मन: तुष्‍टिरेव  ।। - मनुस्‍मृति २.६
Meaning: The Vedas, the Smrutis, righteous conduct and self-contentment constitute the basis of the axiom of Righteousness. - Manusmruti 2.6
Here the first position is accorded to the Vedas. The Smrutis which are not contradictory to the Vedas are the second axiom of Righteousness. The third axiom of Righteousness is the wise one who displays righteous conduct in accordance with the Vedas or Shrutis and the Smrutis. The wise one who is chaste and righteous in accordance with the Shrutis and Smrutis (refer nos. C, D and E below) and the thoughts with which he is inspired from within (refer no. F) constitutes the fourth axiom of Righteousness.’(2)
A. The Vedas (Shrutis): The Vedas being divine and not written by man, they constitute the first axiom of Righteousness.
B. The Smrutis: Since the Smrutis are a translation of the Vedas they too serve as a means to determine Righteousness.
     ‘Of the two epics, the Ramayan and the Mahabharat specially in the latter, elaboration of Righteousness is done in different instances. Such quotations from the Mahabharat are accepted as axioms of the authenticity of the Smrutis by the authors of holy texts in the period following the Mahabharat.’(3)
C. The selfless followers of logic (tarkashastra)
अनाज्ञाते दशावरै: शिष्‍टैरूहवद्‌भिरलुब्‍धै: प्रशस्‍तं कार्यम्‌ 
चत्‍वारश्चतुर्णां पारगा वेदानां प्रागुत्तमास्त्रय आश्रमिण:
पृथक्‌ धर्मविदस्त्रय: एतान्‌ दशावरान्‌ परिषदित्‍याचक्षते 
असम्‍भवे त्‍वेतेषां श्रोत्रियो वेदविद्‌ शिष्‍टो विप्रतिपत्तौ यदाह,
यतोऽयं प्रभवो भूतानां हिंसानुग्रहयोगेषु ।। - गौतम स्‍मृति २९
     Meaning: Between the Shrutis and the Smrutis which are incomprehensible so as to know which is righteous or not, one should select what is acceptable to ten (or more than ten), selfless followers of logic and those having righteous conduct. A conference constitutes four people who are well versed in each of the four Vedas, three very evolved people, one each from the three stages of life (ashrams) viz. a celibate, a householder and a retired householder and three learned men well versed in religious scriptures. If even they are not available then in case of doubt one should listen to one well versed in the Vedas, one having a righteous conduct and a follower of the Vedas. - Gautam Smruti 29’(4)
D. One with a righteous conduct (shishta): Those who know the scriptures, worldly transactions, etc. are called shishta. When it becomes difficult to make a decision based on the scriptures, the advice given by these uprightly ones should be accepted. The rules and regulations laid down by them are called shishtasmruti.
·         यद्यदाचरति श्रेयानितरस्‍तत्तदीहते 
 यत्‍प्रमाणं कुरुते लोकस्‍तदनुवर्तते ।। - श्रीमद्‌भागवत ६.२.४
Meaning: The common man emulates the actions of a great one, follows the scripture that he follows and considers that scripture as the authority. - Shrimadbhagvat 6.2.4
·         तर्कोऽप्रतिष्‍ठ: श्रुतयो विभिन्‍ना  नैको ऋषिर्यस्‍य मतं प्रमाणम्‌ 
धर्मस्‍य तत्त्वं निहितं गुहायां  महाजनो येन गत:  पन्‍था: ।।
महाभारत ३.३१३.११७
Meaning: (When one starts contemplating on the principles of Righteousness) rationalism fails. Quotes from the Shrutis are of different kinds. There is not a single quote which is universally accepted by all sages. Hence it is said that the principles of Righteousness are extremely complex. Thus it is better to adopt a path trodden by evolved souls ! - Mahabharat 3.313.117
E. Evolved Self-realised souls (saints): Authors of the scriptures have stated that whatever saints say is Righteousness (Dharma) thus bestowing authority to spiritual knowledge (Self-realisation).
F. Inner inspiration (intellect): ‘When discussing the issue of the truth and the untruth Bhishma tells Yudhishthir - “Most people consider that whatever is told in the Shrutis is Righteousness. However many others differ in opinion that everything in them may not be Righteousness. I do not disagree with the second opinion because eventually it is not possible for everything to be written in the Shrutis.” (Mahabharat 12.109) Hence when taking decisions on Righteousness one should use one’s common sense. Further on one occasion Bhishma has clearly told Dharmaraj,
तस्‍मात्‌ कौन्‍तेय विदुषा धर्माधर्मविनिश्चये 
बुद्धिमास्‍थाय लोकेऽस्‍मिन्‌ वर्तितव्‍यं कृतात्‍मना ।।
महाभारत १२.१४१.१०४
     Meaning: Hence, O son of Kunti, a wise man should behave in this world using his intellect to discriminate between what is right (Righteousness) and wrong (unrighteousness).’(5)

2. Righteousness and the importance of India

The history of our ancestors is recorded in holy texts such as the Ramayan, Mahabharat, Shrimadbhagvat, Purans, etc. From that one will realise how only seekers are fit to rule the earth surrounded by the oceans. At the end of the Satyayug when the spiritual emotion of ‘He is I (so’ham)’ declined, one out of the four aspects of Righteousness was destroyed and proportionately one-fourth of the earth began to become unrighteous; three-fourths remained righteous. The Tretayug manifested at that time. Again when one more part deteriorated the Dvaparyug came into existence and only a few individuals on half the earth remained righteous. At the culmination of the Dvaparyug as three parts deteriorated, people on only one-fourth of the earth remained righteous. It was then that the Kaliyug commenced. From the Pandav lineage Arjun’s grandson Parikshit became the first king in the Kaliyug. Even in those times of the Kaliyug Brahmans (priests) were capable of performing a sacrificial fire to destroy snakes (sarpayadnya). Later as the sattva predominant attitude began to decline everywhere only India remained a spiritual land and therefore became a meritorious land. This is precisely why the holy text the Shri Gurucharitra quotes that ‘India is the most meritorious among the five continents’. This means that though our ancestral kings ruled the entire earth their capital was India alone; that is Indraprastha. So if happiness and peace should reign in the world then it should begin in India because at present only India remains as the land of Righteousness (Dharma).
Even if all parts of the body get emaciated due to illness so long as the heart continues to beat one can still survive. Today the state of the entire world resembles such an ailing body. This in other words is ‘deterioration of Righteousness’. Today’s India represents the heart of the body of the universe and its beating is symbolic of the saints and Their close disciples. Thus the cardiac ailments of this universal body will get cured and the health of the universe shall improve only by following the norms of Righteousness preached by these righteous ones and by enhancing our sattva predominant attitude.
The numbers of Gurus and the importance of India
The table below gives the number of Gurus, Sadgurus and Paratpar Gurus and saints of the corresponding spiritual level presently in India and in other countries. It will illustrate why India is called the ‘spiritual master (Guru)’ of the world.

level %
Number of saints
Number of saints
A. Gurus
B. Sadgurus
C. Paratpar
In this context the following verse (shloka) from the Mahabharat (18.5.46) is important.
अष्‍टादश पुराणानि धर्मशास्त्राणि सर्वश: 
वेदा: साङ्‌गास्‍तथैकत्र भारतं चैकत: स्‍थितम्‌ ।।
Meaning: The eighteen Purans, all the scriptures (Smrutis) and the Vedas with its parts are on one side and Bharat (ancient India) on the other. (So great is the potential of Bharat.)

3. Righteousness (Dharma) and culture

‘Both the words in Sanskrut, sanskar (संस्‍कार) meaning impression and sanskruti (संस्कृति) meaning culture are derived from the root words sam (सम्‌) and kru (कृ). Grammatically the two are synonymous. The use of the word sanskar however is confined only to matters pertaining to Righteousness. On the other hand the word sanskruti is also used to refer to the evolved state of life. The meaning of this word has become extremely comprehensive.
Nature is comprised of man and the universe around him. Man continues his sojourn of life by making suitable changes in his environment, in other words by creating impressions on Nature conducive for his evolution. Man too is a part of this Nature. So besides external objects he also creates impressions upon his mind, body and intellect and thus changes himself. Both these impressions or changes are included in the word sanskruti (culture). The life of man is fit to be called as living only when he is able to acquire victory over both the external and internal worlds. To make his living happy, prosperous and attractive man fights both with himself and with society. Both these actions occur simultaneously to varying extents. Impressions made by man on an uncut stone which he sculpts into a beautiful idol with the help of a chisel is an example of impressions made on an external object of Nature. This impression is never dissociated from the mind of the sculptor. Along with this chiselling on the idols which are being sculpted impressions are also created in his mind in relation to sculpture. With such constant efforts he becomes skilled in sculpture and seeing and worshipping such idols bestows him with satisfaction. The impressions created on the mind due to those made on the stone is the spiritual aspect of culture. It is with such worldly efforts of man that Nature consisting of material objects and psychology are generated. This dual creation itself is sanskruti. Though worldly and spiritual adjectives are different yet sanskruti remains one and the same. Agriculture, animal husbandry, architecture, smithy with metals, designing machinery, weaving cloth and generating finance with the help of technology comprise sanskruti in the worldly sense (adhibhautik). Similarly experiencing pleasures from the external world, using Nature as a means to fulfill one’s needs and aspirations in that direction depict sanskruti in the worldly sense. Righteousness (Dharma), ethics (niti), law, sciences, various performing arts, literature, dignity and protocol constitute the spiritual realm of sanskruti. Even the performing arts are a means of attaining Self-realisation; only their media are external. Hence art too occupies a high status in sanskruti from the spiritual viewpoint. The aspirations of man are fulfilled due to material progress. However only when this is supported by a foundation of Spirituality does it acquire the status of sanskruti (culture). A cultured individual has to control his mind, intellect and five senses along with external prosperity. The process of achieving both these simultaneously is termed as sanskruti.’(6)

3.1 Main special features of Indian (Bharatiya) culture

‘India’s cultural heritage displays the following three chief special features - 1. Continuity in tradition, 2. Absence of centralisation of political and religious powers and 3. Avoiding social conflicts and a tendency to bring about cultural integration.
·         Continuity in tradition : From among the Indo-Germanic languages the oldest literature is written in India in Sanskrut. This literary work is referred to as the Vedas. Among them the period of the Rugveda is considered to be approximately around seven thousand years ago. The tradition of learning the Vedic texts by rote and then teaching them to others in the form of recitation for generations together is found only in India. The rhythm with which mantras were recited in ancient times for prayers, fire sacrifices (havan) or to obtain blessings are chanted even today for the same purpose and in the same manner. The Vedic deities are worshipped in some form or the other even today. The hierarchy of several Vedic sages still continues in the form of lineage (gotra). Earthen vessels made in some parts of the country even today resemble those found during archaeological expeditions of ancient civilisations. Garments depicted in ancient sculptures and paintings are still seen somewhere or the other across the country in India. The tradition of performing sacrificial fires (yadnya) is continuing from the Vedic era till the twentieth century. The magical practices, remedies and medicines described in the Atharvaveda are still in use by a vast majority of people.
·         Absence of centralisation of political and religious powers: In the religious context centralisation of power has never occurred. Here no one enforced religious principles advocated by a particular prophet countrywide. In India the ultimate goal is attainment of the Final Liberation (Moksha) and not much importance is attributed to heaven (svarga). Consequently the religious sects lived in harmony like the various princely states. This country considered that though there is only one God He can manifest in different forms and be worshipped variously too. Every caste or even a family here was free to choose its own special deity without considering other deities to be inferior. It is because of these things that the social life here did not become monotonous or of a particular type.
·         Avoiding social conflicts and a tendency to bring about cultural integration: Over the ages, groups of thousands of people have migrated to India making it their home. These groups had made long-standing cultural influences over the ages. Despite this there were no intense conflicts aimed at suppression or destruction of one culture and preservation of another. There was always a cultural compromise between the original inhabitants and the new foreigners.’(7)

3.2 Some other features of Indian culture

The expansive meaning of the word sanskruti (culture) is a variety of subjects such as Righteousness (Dharma), Darshans (holy texts), deities, etc. The concepts of debts, stages of life (ashrams), pursuits of life (purusharthas) and the four classes (varna) are some of the special features of Indian (Bharatiya) culture. Righteousness (Dharma) is the foundation of real culture (sanskruti).
‘Though Righteousness and culture are two words used commonly with different connotations, in reality there is hardly any difference between them. They are in fact one and the same. The codes of conduct (achar) to be adopted as advised by the scriptures mean culture (sanskruti). The thoughts expressed by honourable Mr. Anantrav Athavale in this regard are given below. Sanskruti (culture) is actually a neologism created by us. It is mainly used with reference to civilisation and traditional habits. It does not exist in ancient Indian literature. Before the advent of foreign influence the word Dharma (Righteousness) was sufficient for all our communication. The concept of Righteousness includes all four i.e., philosophy, thinking, morals (niti) and conduct; hence sanskruti and Dharma are one and the same.
If culture is considered to be distinct from Righteousness then the concept behind the word culture has to be restricted. Some are of this opinion too. Consequently the meaning of the word sanskruti undergoes various transformations. Some people call the performing arts of dance and music, literature and sculpture itself as culture. Excluding philosophy some people refer to conceptualisation and conduct as culture. According to others there is no difference between dignity and culture.
If culture and dignity are considered to represent two different concepts then culture deals with concepts about ethics (niti) and dignity is the external behaviour of the society considering that concept as ideal. However consequently what is dignity for one society could be antisocial behaviour or indignity for another. How a kiss in Western and Indian culture express dignity and indignity respectively is an example of such behaviour. That is why emulating behaviour without considering the concepts of morality would be inappropriate.
When elaborating Hindu culture its basis should be considered. In consistence with our concept of the ultimate goal of life our culture is envisaged around the temple and the concept of sacrificial fires (yadnya). It has not materialised from the concept of happiness and unhappiness which is subjective. Although scriptures of Righteousness have not recommended certain things, but whatever is good is included in sanskruti (culture), e.g. paying obeisance to parents everyday, reciting the ‘Shubham karoti’ and ‘Ramaraksha’ verses (stotra) when lighting a lamp for an idol or a picture of deities every evening, etc.’(8)

4. Righteousness (Dharma) and ethics (niti)

‘It is from the word ni (nay) meaning to take; to lead that the word niti (ethics) has been derived. The word niti signifies various aspects such as honesty, righteous conduct, ability to discriminate between right and wrong, non-violence, truthfulness, not committing theft, etc. and the path which leads to the ultimate goal. Ethics is closely associated with economics, political science, civics, biology and Spirituality. Consequently the concept about ethics becomes equally expansive. This expansive concept of moral values itself is called the code of ethics (nitishastra).’(9)
‘One speciality of Indian religious scriptures is that Righteousness and ethics are considered as two different entities. Their relationship is common as well as special, e.g. “सत्‍यं वद” meaning speak the truth is a general code of ethics. Since merely that is insufficient further “धर्मं चर” meaning observe Righteousness is preached. This implies that not only should one speak the truth but should also behave righteously. The code of ethics is an important part of real Righteousness and controlling the tendencies for wealth and other desires is its true form.’(10)
‘No moral values in the world persist simply because they are good. For their continuance the support of the penance of highly evolved people proves essential. Several times in the history of the world there has been a triumph of unrighteous values solely due to the power of penance.’(11)
The following table illustrates the differences between Righteousness and ethics.

1. Founder
2. Objectives
Happiness in life in
the subtle world
Happiness on
the earth
3. Relative to place,
    time and person
Not relative
4. Mainly associated
    with what?
The embodied soul
undertaking spiritual
practice (jivatma)
and the God realised
soul (Shivatma)
Mind and
5. Plane with which
6. Insistence on

5. Deterioration of Righteousness (Dharma) and incarnations

The Sanatan religion (Dharma) is comprised of four classes. In His book Shankarbhashya, Jagadguru Shri Shankaracharya has said, ‘Righteousness of Kshatriyas depends on Brahmans (priests), that of Vaishyas (businessmen) on Kshatriyas (warriors) and that of Shudras (labourers) on Vaishyas.’ If Brahmans remain righteous then the ethics of Righteousness of Kshatriyas are maintained. Consequently the state of Vaishyas and morals of Shudras remain in good condition.There are two types of radiances in the world - that of a Brahman (brahmatej) and that of a Kshatriya (kshatratej). These two radiances are directly complementary to each other. Only if these two act cohesively then universal peace is assured. So in other words deterioration of Righteousness means disintegration of the structure of the four classes. Once deterioration of Righteousness occurs there is dissolution of the relationship between those following the path of Spirituality whilst leading a worldly life and those who are on the path of detachment. This means that if worldly persons shirk their responsibility of taking care of the worldly needs of ascetics then it poses as an obstacle for ascetics undertaking austerities. They being devotees of The Lord, He assumes an incarnation to protect them. If one makes a careful analysis of incarnations one will realise that reinstatement of Righteousness (Dharma) is the principal mission of an incarnation. Protection of ascetics (sadhus) appears to be merely a by-product. When this process reaches the zenith, worldly people become cruel and begin harassing seekers. Thereafter destruction of evildoers, to protect them, becomes a mission of the incarnation.
In the fourth adhyay (chapter) of the Shrimadbhagvadgita, Lord Shrikrushna has explained what incarnation The Lord assumes, when and why in the following two verses (shlokas).
यदा यदा हि धर्मस्‍य ग्‍लानिर्भवति भारत 
अभ्‍युत्‍थानमधर्मस्‍य तदात्‍मानं सृजाम्‍यहम्‌ ।।७।।
परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय  दृष्‍कृताम्‌
धर्मसंस्‍थापनार्थाय संभवामि युगे युगे ।।८।।
Meaning: Whenever there is a deterioration in Righteousness (Dharma), that is when there is an upsurge of unrighteousness I assume an incarnation. - 7
I incarnate in every yug (era) to protect sages, destroy evildoers and to reinstate Righteousness. - 8
Implied meaning: Whenever there is a deterioration of Righteousness the Sanatan religion (Dharma) being divine in origin, that is a creation of The Lord Himself, plays a role in reinstating Righteousness. To accomplish that He assumes a manifest form.
(For more information on incarnations refer ‘Science of Spirituality : Vol. 7 - Supreme God, God, Incarnations and Deities’.)

‘Righteousness (Dharma)’, published by Sanatan Sanstha.
Bharatiya Sanskrutikosh. Publisher: Pandit Mahadevshastri Joshi, Secretary, Bharatiya Sanskrutikosh Mandal, 410 Shanivar Peth, Pune 411 030.
First edition: Vol. 3 to 10, Second edition: Vol. 1 and 2
[1]. Vol. 5, Pg. 719            [2]. Vol. 9, Pg. 63
[4]. Vol. 4, Pg. 564            [5]. Vol. 7, Pg. 173
[6]. Vol. 9, Pg. 596-597     [7]. Vol. 9, Pg. 605-606
[9]. Vol. 5, Pg. 144            [10]. Vol. 4, Pg. 595

[3]. Dharmashastracha Itihas (first and second halves). Second edition: 1980, Publisher: Secretary, Maharashtra State Literary and Cultural Society, Secretariat, Mumbai 400 0034., Pg. 51
[5]. V.S.S. Dhundirajashastri Date (Solapur Tarun Bharat, 14/10/1992).
[11]. Sanskruti-Pujan. Pandurangshastri Athavale Yanchya Pravachanache Sankalanatmak Prasad. Page 114, Publisher : Mr. Vallabhdas Zhaveri, Sadvichardarshan Trust, Vimal Jyoti, Second floor, 6/8, Dr. Wilson Street, V.P. Road, Mumbai 400 004.

Om Tat Sat


(My humble salutations to Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Jagruti for the collection)

(The Blog  is reverently for all the seekers of truth, lovers of wisdom and   to share the Hindu Dharma with others on the spiritual path and also this is purely  a non-commercial blog)


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