Human Values

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Item Code: NAG645
Author: Satya Vrat Shastri
Publisher: Bharatiya Vidya Mandir, Kolkata
Language: Transliteration with English Translation
Edition: 2013
ISBN: 9788189302450
Pages: 268
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 450 gm
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Book Description

About the Book

Human values have occupied the mind of thinkers since ages. They have been trying hard to identify the ways to make society run smoothly, to bring civility into it from its primitive animal existence. Every successive generation of thinkers has provided the inputs to it with the result that a whole set of values has emerged out of this continuous mental churning. These values have found expression in words that serve as windows to them. They carry in them the deep thought of the ancient masters that they have elaborated in their works. This elaboration in well-marked parameters, called definition, they have thrown in their works which run into hundreds. It is from them that it has to be traced. The present work has attempted this daunting task. But it has not stopped at that only. It has gone on to explaining the human values in detail supporting the explanations with proper illustrations from the ancient literature of India and the lives of the great personalities worldwide.

The volume is the first among the many planned on the subject. Human values covering practically every aspect of life, their treatment in the framework of a single volume is not possible.

About the Author

Born on 29th September 1930, Prof. Satya Vrat Shastri had his early education under his father, Prof. Charu Deva Shastri. He was consistently top rank holder up to Post-Graduation and won University Medals. After doing his Ph. D. at the Banaras Hindu University he joined the University of Delhi where during the forty years of his teaching career he held important positions of the Head of the Department of Sanskrit and Dean of the Faculty of Arts. He was also the Vice-Chancellor of Shri Jagannath Sanskrit University, Puri, Orissa. He is the first recipient of the JnanpithAward in Sanskrit, 2009 and the Padma Bhushan Award, 2010


He has the distinction of having been Visiting Professor in five Universities on three Continents. Among his many foreign students the most prominent is Her Royal Highness Maha ChakriSirindhorn, the Princess of Thailand. He has attended and chaired a number of national and international conferences and seminars and delivered more than a hundred lectures in Universities and institutions of higher learning in Europe, North America, Southeast Asia and the Far East.

Both a creative writer and a literary critic, Prof. Satya Vrat Shastri has to his credit three Sanskrit Mahakavyas of about a thousand stanzas each, a Prabandhakavya, a Patrakavya (in two volumes), three Khandakavyas, the first ever diary in Sanskrit Dine Dine Yati Madiyajivitam and the first ever autobiography in Sanskrit Bhavitavyanam Dvarani Bhavanti Sarvatra. The well-acclaimed critical work, The Ramayana-A Linguistic Study which is the first ever linguistic appraisal-of not only the Valmlki-Ramayana but of any extant Sanskrit work, Kalidasa Studies in two volumes, two studies on Thailand, Sanskrit and Indian Culture in Thailand and Thaidesa ke Brahmana, Discovery of Sanskrit Treasures (in seven volumes), Sanskrit Studies-New Perspectives and Sanskrit Writings of European Scholars, more than a century and a half of research articles and Forewords to a hundred and thirty books are his contributions as a critic. He has enormous experience in translation work. He has translated A.A. Macdonell’s A Vedic Grammar for Students in Hindi, Siramacaritabdhiratnam of Nityananda Shastri in English, the thousand Subhasitas, wise sayings, the Subhasitasahasri in Hindi and English, the Canakyaniti in Hindi and English, and the select poems in different languages of poet laureates of Europe in Sanskrit. He is the subject matter of seventeen theses for the degrees of M.Phil., Ph.D. and D.Litt. in Indian Universities.


He is the recipient of eighty six honours and awards, national and international, including Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, President of India Certificate of Honour, Thai Royal Decoration “The Most Admirable Order of Direk Gunabhorn”, the Honour “Autorita Academische Italiano Straniere”, the Civil and Academic Authority for Foreigners from the Govt. of Italy, the Medallion of Honour from the Catholic University, Leuven, Belgium, the Golden Prize from CESMEO, the International Institute of Advanced Asian Studies, Torino, Italy and five Honorary Doctorates from Indian and foreign Universities. In the Citation for the Honorary Doctorate at the Silpakorn University, Bangkok, he was described as “a living legend in the field of Sanskrit.”


Human values have occupied the mind of thinkers since ages. They have been trying hard to identify the ways to make society run smoothly, to bring civility into it from its primitive animal existence. Every successive generation of thinkers has provided its inputs to it with the result that a whole set of values has emerged out of this continuous mental churning. The set of values has found expression in certain words which serve as a window to them. These words and the thinking that they symbolise make an interesting study which the present monograph seeks to attempt.

Values can be divided into two, one, which are common to all regions and nations and are a core to civilized existence, such as doing good to others, not feeling greedy of others wealth, causing them no harm, serving fellow beings, standing by them through thick and thin, not robbing them of what is rightfully theirs by means of stealth, robbery and depredation, serving them particularly when they are in distress with loving care. The other, which are peculiar to certain cultures in attracting far greater attention than they do in others, like respect for parents, teachers, guests, physical and moral hygiene, practising continence (Brahmacarya) and control over the senses, avoidance of undue addiction to sensuous objects, seemly behaviour towards servants and slaves, conjugal fidelity, especially on the part of the wife, family cohesiveness stretching up to extended families, obedience to elders to the point of self-abnegation.

Since Sanskrit grew in India, its vocabulary represents both the types of values, the universal, the world-centric and Indian, the India-centric. It is only in India that respect for teacher has touched all time high equating him with the trinity : gurur brahma gurur visnur gurur devo mahesvarah and the highest creative principle : guruh saksat parabrahma. It is in India again where parents commanded respect to the point that their circumambulation was equated with the circumambulation of the whole earth with all its seven continents : pradaksinikrta tena saptadvipa vasundhara. It is in India again that the entire universe was conceived as a tiny hamlet, yatra visvam bhavaty ekanldam and the whole world as one big family, vasudhaiva kutumbakam.


While Sanskrit has a good corpus of words for human values, it has two words among them which deserve special notice incorporating as they do all the other values. These are dharma and sila. Attempts have been galore to explain them, to expound them, to interpret them, to elaborate them. Dharma is sometimes assigned ten characteristics, sometimes five and sometimes even one, the most basic to human existence, jagatah pratistha, the sustainer of the world. It is doing good to others and not causing them any harm, one leads to merit and the other to sin : paropakarah punyayapapaya parapidanam, the message of the vast Puranic literature : astadasapuranesu Vyasasya vacanadvayam. Dharma cultivated leads to sila, civility, the core of human existence. Between them dharma and sila sum up human values and what they do to human existence.


Very often words for values are used without appreciating their full sense. The person using them has just a vague idea of what they convey. This is particularly true of such words as are close in sense. It is very difficut to pinpoint the precise distinction in the meaning of words like dayd, krpa, karuna, anukampa, anukrosa, anugraha, etc. It requires concerted and sustained efforts to unravel this distinction. The first step in this exercise is to trace their definitions from old Sanskrit literature for that would be a fairly reliable guide to divining the mind of the ancient thinkers with regard to their precise signification, a daunting task indeed requiring as it does perusal of hundreds of Sanskrit texts with their thousands of pages. Where this help is not forthcoming, it would be worthwhile to take recourse to commentaries and glosses. Where even this were not to help, it would be worthwhile to pick up a whole set of uses and arrive at some conclusion on that basis. Last should come etymology. Recourse to all these measures has been taken in the course of this study with an accent on tracing the definition/s which must have to occupy the pride of place in providing the insight into the mind of the ancients when they used them. Take, for instance, the common word dana used frequently even in the vernaculars. Ask anybody and he would say: simple enough! It is to give, give in charity. But is it what the ancients understood from this? The two definitions of it ill the chapter on dana would point out in clear terms as to what they understand from it.

The monograph seeks to explain human qualities/values denoted by Sanskrit words with appropriate illustrations and explanations so that they are properly appreciated.

If the discerning readers find my attempt of use ill properly appreciating the Sanskrit vocabulary for human values, I would consider my labours amply repaid.

Before I close I would like to offer my hearty thanks to Dr. B.D. Mundhra, the wellknown industrialist and philanthropist for arranging for the publication of the work under the auspices of theBharatiya Vidya Mandir, Kolkata whose Chairman he is. I am also thankful to his assistant Shri Shankar Lal Somani for all the help he provided in seeing through the work. Lastly, I would like to thank my esteemed friend Dr. Satya Vrat Varma of Sri Ganganagar (Rajasthan) for going through the proofs and offering valuable suggestions.


The resolutions, concepts, ideals, and higher expectations give birth to values in society. An overwhelmingly large number of these values like paropakara, doing good to others, ahimsa, not causing violence or harm to others, asteya, non stealing, drdhasankalpa, resoluteness, ekagrata, single-minded pursuit of an objective, akrodha, not giving way to anger, viveka, discrimination, santulana, maintaining balance in activities, desabhakti, patriotism are universal. There are some which are limited to a particular region or a country being part of its culture. They would have owed their origin to a particular circumstance or a set of circumstances or a particular environment. They may have something to do with a particular religion that would have laid these down to be strictly followed by its adherents. In Indian ethos the chastity of women is prized the most. Though it may look harsh and incongruous in the modern day context when there is so much of talk of gender parity, the family integrity rests more on the purity of women, they carrying the greater burden in keeping it united and not falling apart unlike its counterpart in the West. In regard and respect they got more than their due share; they were objects of worship; gods rejoice where they are honoured, yatra naryas tu pujyante ramante tatra devatah, it was said of them; they were and are given the exalted status of devis, goddesses, the word (devi) forming part of the names of a number of them. Even while in childhood they were and still are treated as incarnations of Goddess Durga during the Navartra days; they are the most sought after during that period, their feet are washed, they are given new clothes, they are offered some cash and good food, Promiscuity in women the Indian society has frowned upon since time immemorial. To keep up chastity, to be devoted to their husbands has so deeply entered in their psyche that in spite of the avalanche of ultra-modernity invading the Indian society they are not able to come out of it. Or, otherwise how could one explain the sight of hordes of highly educated well-dressed career women, the professionals, observing daylong fast, till the sight of the moon, on the Karvachauth day for the welfare and wellbeing of their husbands. In middle ages when our weak rulers were unable to protect them, Indian women preferred death to surrendering their honour. The practice was called Sati deriving its name from the consort of Siva in an earlier incarnation who could not stand the insult shown to her husband to which her father had subjected him. In those circumstances this was the life value. But in the changing circumstances, it made no sense to continue with the custom. It owed itself to a particular circumstance and was limited to a particular period only. A few cases of this unseemly practice do come to notice even now but it has nothing to do with saving one’s honour as was the case in the past. It has more to do with the show of total identification with the deceased husband without whom life has no meaning. There may also be the ulterior motives of the kin in encouraging the doting women to follow this ghastly practice. Anyway, it is legally banned now. There is no point in talking about it any more. The fundamental point is the protection of women’s honour and that has not changed. No society comprises ideal men and women only. It has its share of deviants. Indian society is no exception to it. Violation of a woman’s person the Indian society frowns upon. It reserves the harshest condemnation for it. The public outcry against the-recent incidents of rape wherein men jostled with women in protest is a case in point. In spite of the loosening of morals, their hold on society on the whole is strong enough to call for strong and vociferous protest. This is because of the value of women’s chastity on which special emphasis is laid in India.

It is for the protection of dignity and honour of women that Islamic society enjoins upon women to be accompanied by male relatives while venturing out. It is again to protect from the lustful gaze of men that it enjoins proper covering of the body by women that includes wearing Hijab and Burquah (a veil, a mantle).

There are certain other values too that are typical of India either in their form or in the emphasis laid on them. One of these is the utmost respect for father, mother and teacher, each one is enjoined to be treated as god, vide the Siksavalli of the Taittiririya-upanisad where the teacher gives the parting instruction to his pupil on completion of education to treat mother, father and teacher-he includes the guests too among them-as deities, matrdevo bhava, pitrdevo bhava, acaryadevo bhava, atithidevo bhava. This is a sublime value which serves as the guiding principle for society to uphold which a person is ready to undergo unimaginable sufferings. It is in line with this that Lord Rama did not take a second to go in exile to honour the promise his father had made to his step-mother of two boons which were his repairing to forest and stay therein for fourteen years. Even in utmost pain from separation from his dear son who was his very life he did not go back on his promise of boons. He himself did not ask his son to go to forest. It was the step-mother who conveyed this to him on his behalf. Realizing his father’s predicament he readied himself to do that which could free him from the sin of reneging on his word and making him truthful in granting the promised boons, thus setting an example of total obedience to his father, a core value in Indian culture epitomized in inimitable words in the Ramayana : There is no greater act of virtue than obedience to one’s father and carrying out his will (2.19.22). Mother in India is ranked weightier than the earth, mata gurutara bhumeh, and in importance is said to excel father a thousand times : sahasram hi pitur mata gauravenatiricyate (Balaramayana, 4.30). The teacher is equated with the Divine Trinity, Brahrna, Visnu and Mahesa: Gurur brahma gurur visnur gurur devo mahesvarah. A guest represents in his person all the deities : atithih sarvadevatah.

To protect one’s honour and not compromise with it is another core value that India has cherished for ages. Maharana Pratap wandered in the forests, his children had to eat the bread of grass but neither did he surrender his dignity nor accept slavery. To do everything possible for protecting Dharma is also one of the core values of India. At the age of nine, Guru Gobind Singh inspired his father to sacrifice his life for the sake of Dharma. He nurtured the great value - it is better to die in one’s own Dharma than accept another one’s under duress. His seven and nine years old sons preferred death to accepting conversion. After the martyrdom of his other two children in the battlefield Guru Gobind Singh fought with cruel Aurangzeb and his commanders but never conceded defeat. How can one forget the sacrifices of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev who embraced death willingly for the sake of the motherland. Their values were living life with dignity, love for freedom, protection of Dharma, devotion for motherland. These were the people who made the greatest sacrifices for the sake of values and became legendary figures.

To know the Indian values it is necessary to understand their basics. With the gradual development of civilization, the human beings have learnt the art of life better than the animals. Perhaps, the inspiration to live in a group could be the result of self-defence. The spirit of individual self-defence might have changed into group defence. Man might have learnt the importance of life from this doctrine. It might have created faith in life and he might have started to understand the value of his group and society. This was the dawn of his faith in values. In fact, the foundation of-these values is enshrined in the Srutis, the Smrtis and the Puranas. Being an intellectual, human being started to contemplate about right and wrong, firstly, with the individualistic point of view, then from the point of view of society, finally from the point of view of humanity. Gradually, he left the propriety and impropriety in every sphere of life to his discretion. As for individualistic field he reached the conclusion by reasoning himself but in social matters he debated the point with others. When this value did not go well with different places, time and circumstances he through reflection came to the conclusion that with the change of time, place and circumstances that value needs to be changed. One, therefore, has to accept the importance of time and space. Now, the question is for whom are these values? The answer is for society as a whole. The values that are not beneficial for society, do not deserve to be called values. An important basis of values is their usefulness for the welfare of others. Having said all about society it is time now to reflect on their position in the I ife of an individual. Should he sacrifice all his values for the welfare of others or should he take the shefter1Jf discretion and think of his own progress too? One thing is- clear, whether a. person follows his own discretion or not, the values which cannot develop his inner-self, cannot be called ·values. The following factors constitute the basis of Indian ‘value system:

1. Faith in life

2. Intellectual reflection

3. Enlightenment of environment

4. Welfare of others

5. Individual sublimation or internal development.

To have the knowledge of values in wider sense, they can be divided in different categories. : The physical values, the mental values, the financial values, the ethical values, the social values, the spiritual values and the aesthetic values. The physical values revolve round sound body. Their essential ingredients are healthy, strong, and proportional limbs, glowing face according to age, caste or profession. The mental values are self-strength, self-confidence, dignified bearing, self-reliance, fearlessness, contentment, patience, determination, compassion and so on. Financial values include earning of wealth through righteous means, spending of it in support of good cause/s, spending economically, using it generously for charitable purposes and not hoarding it. The texts on morality clearly lay down three states of wealth : either donate it or enjoy it or squander it : danam bhogo nasas tisro gatayo bhavanti vittasya.’ Ethical values include dutifulness, honesty, dedication, sacrifice, benevolence, service, good conduct, civilized manners, belief in truth, respect for law and order etc. Social values involve amiability, sympathy, co-operation, humanity etc. Political values include love for nation, discipline, celebration of victory. Spiritual values include faith in the Supreme Being, devotion to God, chanting of mantras, glorification of god, saying of prayers, search for the path of enlightenment, self-realization and so on. In intellectual values the important ones are imagination, inquisitiveness, scrutiny, investigation, exploration, reflection, creativity, discrimination. The aesthetic values include love of art, love for nature, love for human beauty etc.

This classification or categorization does not mean that the values are not related to each other. In fact, all these values are the branches and the sub branches of a gigantic tree of value of life. It will be easier to choose the values from the same environment where we are placed. The second important question is, there are times when conflicts between two values do occur. How to resolve that situation? There is a famous example for solving it. When a scared cow enters a Hindu street from the fear of a butcher’s dagger and at the crossroads the butcher asks you, which way the cow has gone? What should be the answer? If the truth is told, the butcher will kill the cow. This will become the cause of Hindu - Muslim riots. Many lives will be lost. If the butcher is pointed a different direction, that won’t be truth. The scriptures enjoin speaking of truth. satyam vada, i.e. Speak the Truth.








Ahimsa (Nonviolence)


Satya (Truth)




Dana (Charity)


Acara or Sadacara (Good Conduct)


Karuna (Compassion)


Cittasuddhi (Purity of Mind)


Dhairya (Fortitude)


Aucitya (Propriety, Balance)


Audarya (Liberality)


Krtajiiata (Gratefulness)


Akrodha (Absence of Anger)


Duradarsita (Farsightedness)


Drdhasankalpa (Resoluteness)


Srama (Exertion)


Saurya, Parakrama (Bravery, Valour)


Ksama (Forgiveness)


Viveka (Discrimination)


Paropakara (Doing Good to Others)


Titiksa (Forbearance, Endurance)


Udyoga, Udyama (Effort)


Santosa (Contentment)


Sauca (Purity)




Asteya (Non-stealing)


Matr-Pitr-Bhakti (Devotion to Mother and Father)


Guru-Bhakti (Devotion to Teacher)


Indriyanigraha (Control over the Senses)


Atithisatkara (Respect for Guests)


Prayascitta (Atonement)


Punyoparjana (To Earn Merit)


Satsangati (Association with Good People)




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