In the preceding chapter we discussed the question
of Hindu rituals. Let us now go a step higher and consider the question of Hindu ethics.
Both rituals and morals are comprised in the word karma. The former may be called the
lower karma and the latter the higher karma. As I have already said, they are the lower
and the higher limbs of religion.
If rituals are the legs, morals are the hands. We are enjoined
not only to perform certain ceremonies, but also to discharge certain duties and to
cultivate certain virtues. We are slowly to proceed from the outer to the inner-from
ritualistic action to moral action, and from moral action to moral character, calling
forth more and more of our will into operation.
And when the will comes into operation it is free to ask the
question-why should I do this and not that? - Or more generally-why should I lead a moral
life? The ultimate question in ethics is-what is the aim of morality, what are its
The Hindu sages, who consider this question go to its very
root. Their view of moral life is part and parcel of their view of all life in this
universe. Their ethics is a part of their metaphysics. They saw one universal purpose
running through all creation-the return of the divided Spirit to its primal wholeness.