Dev Samaj
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Parvat Aashram Solan
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A Panorama of Good Life


 As a reflective being, man does seek to know why he should avoid evil conduct of being intemperate, unjust, cruel and selfish and why he should cultivate good conduct of honesty, justice, benevolence, understanding and service with love. The answer may be given on the pattern of immaturity of a child. When a child is asked why he does something, be says his father tells him to do so. For him good or bad is what his father declares to be good or bad. We all hold that the child is immature in his thinking. What is good is not made good by the commandment of the father. The reason for something being good is other than its being commanded by his father. A father may tell his child that it is good to study hard. It is good to study hard, not because the father says it is good, but there are grounds other than the declaration or command of the father. It is good to study hard, for it helps us to gain knowledge and illumine our intellect. Similar to the child is the theists' answer to the question : "Why is it bad to kill another or to steal things of others ?” They say, "They are bad because Gods says so. “Moses' ten commandments are good because God has given them. It is not realized that commandment by God does not make things good. Suppose God were to command the rape of a girl-child, would theists consider it good! If a theist is not in the mood of Goldsmith's school master, who 'Even when vanquished, he still argued' he would regard such a commandment as abnoxious and abhorrent and would say that God would not or could not command such a thing. We ask the theist why God would not do it. What is there to stop him from doing it since he is all-powerful? What stops God from saying that rape of a girl-child is good, is that such evil conduct involves horror of sexual cruelty for the child's body and mind.

This theological answer has many other objections.
Given the testimony of scriptures, for there is no other source to know God's ethics, God gives contrary commandments of what is right in conduct in different scriptures and so commandments do not confirm nor is the ground or reason of rightness or wrongness of conduct.

Again, we find in the scriptures some commandments which are excellent and others which are vicious. What makes some commandments virtuous and other vicious, is not that they are commanded, for both are commanded. Since we find both good and bad commandments in scriptures, it shows that God is not all good.

In contrast to the child pattern theological explanation why to be good, is the adult pattern. To take a simple case Why should we form a queue? A mature adult thinks it is good to form queue, not because DTC says so. He thinks it is good to form a queue for it saves us fights and bitterness, relieves us of anxiety whether we would be able to get into the bus, relaxes all commuters to talk friendly to one another. This is secular explanation in contrast to the theological.

The reasons for anything being good is the same whether they are given by God or by man, for neither God nor man makes a thing good. Both discover things which are good just as a mathematician discovers that the sum of the interior angles of a triangle is equal to two right angles.

This secular adult approach to morality is made in history of philosophy. Plato in his republic gives a secular answer to why we should be moral. We need to be moral or 'just', because it makes for harmony, strength and happiness of the soul. However, Plato thinks soul to be immortal, so he does not say that evil destroys soul. He thinks like Indian philosophers, that evil conduct leads to transmigration of soul.

 Dev Dharma offers an answer in unqualified secular terms of health and disease of the soul. It considers soul to be, biological in origin, a natural product like rocks, plants and animals. It thinks of life of the soul on the pattern of the life of the body. There are the laws of health, and the laws of death of the body. So there are the laws of the life and the laws of death of the soul. The laws of health of the soul are the moral principles. The moral principles or virtues of temperance, honesty, chastity, justice, disinterested service add to the health and strength of the soul. The evil principles or vices of intemperance in food and sex, dishonesty, injustice, cruelty, lead to the degeneration, degradation, decay and death of the soul, if they remain unchecked.

In this collection of articles the author explicates the secular moral philosophy of Dev Dharma. He shows how evil conduct is evil and how good conduct is good for the health and strength of life, both of body and of soul. Since body and soul are inseparable aspects of man, good or bad conduct affects both of them. Evil conduct saps the vitality of both the body and the soul, involving suffering and death if one persists in it. Good conduct increases vitality and health of both, the body and the soul.

The first four articles vividly portray this intimate relation between morality and life.

Man is related to the universe besides his fellow human beings. He is to realize that there are the processes of evolution and devolution in Nature. The processes of evolution and devolution are processes of life and death. If a man leads moral life, he allys himself with the universal process of evolution and lives a triumphant life of harmony with Nature. If he lives evil life, he has thrown himself into the whirlpool of devolution and death. The truth is that universe is a moral order and therefore if an individual is desirous of his adjustment and harmony with it, he has no other option but to be good. This truth is made clear in the next four articles.

The author rejects with vehemence the theistic interpretation of morality and Nature as misleading for mankind. He feels infinite harm has been done by theism to man's understanding and conduct.

The last article gives the optimism that life of goodness is not in vain. To live good life is to share in the final triumph of truth and goodness. Man wants to live and Iive well. This is an unconquerable urge in him as a species. So man as a species would not ultimately side with untruth and evil for they destroy him. The author tells us how everybody wants others to be good to him, for goodness furthers his biological and cultural life. Evil in man is against his urge to live and live well. So the collective urge to live and live well make for the triumph of goodness and truth in life.

The author further holds Devatma to be the saviour from evil life and cultivator of good life in man. His philosophy and his sublime life of truth and goodness have in them the potency and power to help the realization of the collective urge of mankind for life of peace, harmony and unity in social cosmic relations.

S.P. Kanal

From : A Panorama of Good Life