Invitation to an International conference
Values Embedded in Indian Philosophy
Banaras Hindu University
January 10-12, 2013
In the present era of value crisis caused by a conflict between the ancient values and the post modernistic rush for material enjoyment, we think of organizing the conference on Values for thorough deliberation of its pros and coins and for coming out with an agreeable solution that may be welcomed as a culmination of the two and may work as a solution to the post modernistic crisis as well. Knowledge is value because it frees us from bonds and the consequent sufferings caused by them. Had knowledge not been value, there might have been no meaning of scriptures, traditions and their follow ups; traditional branches of learning and growing educational institutions are meaningful and are progressing day by day for educating not only a section of society but also the whole human life on the earth only because it is value. All the systems and institutions of learning have a purpose to import knowledge and to cultivate wisdom. So to learn is not to accrue dry knowledge only but to cultivate one’s individual and social life as well. Life is a process of living values which is it’s creativity principle; it has a meaning not only because of knowledge but due to performance of duties or obligations also.
Values occupy utmost importance in life and society; they play a vital role in the making of a life human. An atheist can deny the existence of God but cannot deny the role of values he learns since his birth first from his parents and later by society and other sources that have been major in transforming him in to a human being and then understanding the laws of nature properly in a reflective way. The discussion in the conference will be centralized to make points of human values relevant against disguised purposes prevailing in corporate ideology.
For Indian sastras, life is an obligation. Had there been no occasion to payoff the debts one owes by birth, no life could be human .There is birth because there are debts (ŗņa) it borrows from the earlier life to payoff. Indians believe in three kinds of debts to pay out – i. to seers, sages and teachers (ŗşiŗņa), ii. to fellow beings and deities (devaŗņa) and iii. to manes (pitŗŗņa).Tattirīya samhitā 6/3/10/5 says that by practicing celibacy, by performing sacrifices, and by begetting a son respectively, one pays off those debts ). According to a view, the debts are not three but five but according to Brāhmaņa- texts they are three only because the bhūtaŗņa is included in devaŗņa and nŗŗņa is included in pitŗŗņa. These five are discussed in coming paragraphs in connection with five sorts of yajnas. In brief, paying off those debts forms religious, social, socio-ethical and cultural practices of life of man reasonable, lively, and interesting. The philosophy lying behind it is that if all of them are healthy and balanced, the life will be peaceful and peace will be blissful. Thus, our utmost effort is to insure their health and to protect the balance.
Since paying off the inborn debts is the purpose, life is a constant process of obligation and responsibility to all which ultimately results in freedom from them, the freedom which is the ultimate goal of life. This freedom is value and therefore every one aspires for it. As human beings are born to pay off the debts, it needs time and requisite fitness and it is for that reason that assuming hundred year duration of the life, with present body, they divide it in to four institutions (āśramas) each of which is twenty five years. After five years from birth, it enters into brahmacaryāśrama, the first institution of life, follows the vows of celibacy, engages itself in acquiring physical and mental fitness, plays sports and learns his lessons from traditional wisdom, respects values, performs yogic practices and meditation and, thus, he acquires fitness including capability to enter into the second twenty five years of household (gŗhasthāśrama) which is central or spine of the life. Connected with earlier two institution Vānaprastha and Sanyāsa are the direct roads towards liberation. The villagers in India think that they achieve liberation if they have succeeded in paying off the inborn debts. In post modern era we notice a generation gap. There is rift between the followers of the life of ancient values and the post modernistic values.
Indians do not believe in value or a collection of values but in a value- system which in classical terminology is called puruşārthas that is four fold ideals of human life. Performing of the duties of institutions (varnasrama dharmas), a number of sanskaras, household life, marriage, earning wealth, enjoying sex for begetting an offspring, sacrifices, meditation, pilgrimage, all are value and virtuous only because of them instituted in the system. Puruşārthas are enumerated generally as four namely wealth (artha), desire (kāma), dharma (virtues) and liberation (mokşa). Bŗhaspatiśūtra takes artha only as puruşārtha while Śukranīti takes artha and kāma as puruşārtha, Arthaśāstra and Kāmandakīnīti consider the earlier three as puruşārtha only. Generally mokşa is considered as the culminating point of the earlier ideals but traditional writers consider it also as one of the ideals of life.
For incorporating the changing faces of values for a better present living, a living in consonance with the respect of the ancient and reception of the new and thus fulfilling the gap between the two, Ancient Philosophy of values requires to be viewed in the transition of it in recent time.
Apart from the following topics for deliberation in the conference scholars may select any of the topics of their choice.
i. Classical Values and the modern value-crisis
ii. Myth of the Puruşārthasas
iii. Concept of Values in Indian classical philosophy
iv. Post modernity and the relevance of ancient values.
v. Religio-ethical values.
vi. Values in Higher Education.
vii. Socio-political values.
viii. Concepts of Ŗta & Sat
ix. Role of three debts (ŗṇatraya) in Indian life.
x. Values and Social obligation
xi. Individual & social values.
Professor D.N. Tiwari
Department of Philosophy
Banaras Hindu University