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The Parable of Sadhu

Submitted to: Dr Swarup Kumar Mohanty

Submitted by: Mr Ajeet Singh Chauhan


Parable of the Sadhu gives us the tale of McCoy's journey walking through Nepal. Half-way through his 60-day trip through the Himalayan Mountains, McCoy and his anthropologist friend, Stephen, encounter a near dead, almost naked, barefoot, Indian holy man suffering from hypothermia and exhaustion. They found the Indian holy man, a Sadhu, above 15,500 while on one of the most difficult summit climbs of their entire trip. Climbing the mountain in the vicinity of McCoy and Stephen, and their assorted porters and Sherpa, there were three other climbing parties representing an international diversity from New Zealand, Switzerland, and Japan. While representatives from each climbing party provided some assistance to the Sadhu, in the end, the Sadhu was left behind with clothing, food, and drink more than two days journey from the nearest village. The climbing parties all pressed on and made the summit, their goal for that particular climb; the fate of the Sadhu was left unknown. Both Stephen and McCoy supposed that, in the end, the Sadhu died. McCoy's dilemma was simple, at least on introspection: should he have done what he did provide some assistance and then press on to complete his goal or should he have done more. As McCoy suggests, Real moral dilemmas are ambiguous, and many of us hike right through them, unaware they exist.

Is Sadhu himself responsible for his condition? Will religion and culture play a role in the decision? Who is responsible for taking care of the Sadhu? What are we responsible for if we consider ourselves to be ethical persons? Is the Sadhus life more valuable than the experience? If Bowen makes unfavourable choice will he be opposed by the group?

I believe we as human being encounter different form of Sadhu in our life, people who come to our life in dire need of help. It might be the beggar whom we ignore each day while walking through the road or might be the next door neighbour who needs some emotional help. If we choose to provide help we would be loose some of our money or we might be late for our destination. For every decision we make, or every crossroads we choose there is always a cost involved. Sometimes we are so focused on our goal that the way which we are taking doesnt matters to us. Just like in this scenario turning back and giving help to Sadhu meant to give up the goal of the summit. Many times it happens that our most beloved experience or most beloved memory has nothing to do with our goal or aim. They are mostly unplanned events. Some people might suggest that that life is about the journey not the destination. Fundamental part of character is moral knowing. Moral knowing is described as involving moral awareness, values, perspective taking, moral reasoning, and decision making. Moral feeling includes the conscience, self-esteem, empathy, and humility. Finally, moral action is founded on moral competence (the ability to turn moral judgment and feeling into action), moral will (the unction to do whats right), and moral habit (an unconscious proclivity to do whats right). Moral knowing includes knowing when a situation is one which demands an ethical examination. Moral knowing is realizing the person at the side of the trail needs help; it is the acknowledgment of dilemma. This, then, is the first step to being an ethical person. This knowing is only the first step, however. The next step would be to move beyond the knowing and actually do something about it. So what to do in these dilemmas, the answer is simple. As McCoy notes, Not every ethical dilemma has a right solution. Reasonable people often disagree; otherwise there would be no dilemma. If been in the same situation as McCoy I would have used three steps to make my judgement (observations, value judgments, and assumptions) i.e. examining the proposed action against our purpose for being, against some moral principle, and against the consequences of the action. So would have surely accompanied Sadhu to the nearest base and made sure of his well being.