Indian ethics has a strong and deep metaphysical foundation. Indian ethics is absolutistic, spiritualistic, and humanistic. by AYUSH HEALTH AND WELLNESS™

Ethics is a branch of philosophy in western philosophy. In the Indian perspective, Ethics is coeval with philosophy. Philosophy is not just an intellectual inquiry but a way of life. Indian thinkers aim at the realization of the Ultimate Reality. Indian thinkers take a synthetic view of life. For them, there are no watertight compartments among philosophical problems. The Indians have a strong faith in the moral order that prevails in this universe. Everyone has to contribute to the universal moral order. Every individual has a role to play in this universe. Every role brings with it specified duties and responsibilities.

In the Indian view, the obligation of an individual is not confined to human society only. It is extended to the whole of sentient creation. Indian philosophy holds, “Love thy neighbor as thyself and every living being is thy neighbor”. Moral philosophy in India is truly speaking the art of living a good and disciplined life.


Indian Schools of Philosophy are broadly classified into Orthodox (Astika) and Heterodox (Nastika). Six chief philosophical systems viz. Mimansa, Vedanta, Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, and Vaisheshika are Orthodox schools of Indian Philosophy. These schools accept the authority of the Vedas. So they are called as Orthodox or Astika schools. Three Chief Philosophical Systems viz. the Charvakas, the Bauddha, and the Jaina's are Heterodox Schools of Indian Philosophy. These schools do not accept the authority of the Vedas. So they are called as Heterodox or Nastika schools.

All Indian systems of thought whether Orthodox or Heterodox share some common features. The features of Indian Ethics can be stated as below:-
  • Indian ethics is the oldest moral philosophy in the history of civilization. It is difficult to ascertain the chronology of the Orthodox and the Heterodox schools (except Lord Buddha i.e 487 BC). The remoteness of Indian ethics is responsible for making it well established in the practical life of the followers. Every school of Indian Philosophy confirms the endurance of ethical ideals which are unshaken even today.
  • Indian thinkers suggest some practical means of attaining a life of perfection here in this world. The rules of conduct have been practically followed by the Yoga, the Jain, and the Buddhist disciples for a thousand years. The aim of Indian moral philosophy is not only to discuss moral ideals but also to follow the path leading to moral Ideals.
  • Indian ethics has a strong and deep metaphysical foundation. Each school of philosophy points to metaphysical ideals that are to be actually experienced. There is a synthesis of theory and practice, of intellectual understanding and direct experience of ultimate reality (Kaivalya, Nirvana, etc.) In Indian Ethics, intellectualism and moralism are two wings that help the soul in spiritual flight.
  • Indian ethics is absolutistic and spiritualistic. It aims at the realization of supreme reality by transcending pleasure and pain; even right and wrong and good and evil. The ideals are attainable by spiritual discipline.
  • Indian Ethics is humanistic. It seeks a balance between an individual's inner and outer life; individual and social life. Moral laws or code of conduct is prescribed in such a way that individual progress and social welfare will lead to harmonious living. The goal of morality is the wellbeing of humanity.
  • Indian ethical thinkers preach non-violence, love, compassion, and goodwill for all living beings. It is not limited to human beings. It includes every living being, plants, birds, and animals, every visible and invisible form of life.
  • Indian thinkers believe in the Law of Karma. The Law of Karma means that all our actions good or bad produce their proper consequences into the life of an individual, who acts with a desire for fruits thereof. It is the general moral law which governs the life of all individuals. The Law of Karma is the force generated by an action that has the potency of bearing fruit. It is the law of the conservation of moral values. Except for Charvakas, all Indian schools accept the Law of Karma.
The Indian view of moral philosophy is different from that of Western Philosophy. In Western philosophy ethics is an intellectual inquiry whereas in the Indian view, it the way of life to realize the ultimate reality. The concept of DHARMA is the unique concept of Indian philosophy. It is not just religion- the faith one follows. Dharma is depicted in Rta, Rna, and Purushartha. Rta is Dharma as the eternal cosmic order that prevails in this universe. Rna is Dharma as a moral duty in the life of a person. Purushartha is Dharma in the achievement of subjective morality.

The Bhagwad Gita preaches the path of action i.e Nishkama Karmayog. The Gita advocate disinterest performance of duties. However, the Gita prescribes specific duties of an individual as per his aptitude and as per his stage of life. In other words, the Gita prescribes Varna-Ashrama dharma. The Gita ethics promotes individual as well as social welfare.


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