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A comparative study of moral and value education as prescribed in Hindu and Buddhist philosophies

(For school children) Mattia Salvini

Many philosophies and religions have prospered in ancient Bhārata. Among these, nowadays we often speak of ‘Hindu’ and ‘Buddhist’ philosophies. Thanks to these beautiful and rich philosophies, we can improve our mind and know how things really are. When we say ‘Hindu’ we usually mean a philosophy that relies on the authority of the Holy Veda. ‘Buddhist’ means a follower of the teachings of the Buddha, who takes refuge in the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma (his Teachings) and the Saṅgha (those who realize the meaning of the Dharma). The Buddha did not rely on the authority of the Veda, because he said that he could see the nature of things directly. There are many similarities and some differences between Hindu and Buddhist philosophies. Even in the context of morality and values we can find some important differences. Of course, when we speak of ‘Hindu philosophies’ we are talking of many different traditions who understood the Veda in a great variety of ways. Similarly, the Buddhist tradition is very vast and contains many schools. So now I will explain only in a general way. One main difference between the followers of the Veda and the followers of the Buddhadharma is the emphasis on svadharma. For the followers of the Veda, one should carefully identify one’s svadharma according to one’s background and adapt one’s morality accordingly. For example, in the Śrīmad Bhagavadgīta, Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa encourages Arjuna to follow the svadharma of a warrior (kṣatriya), and fight. His fighting will be in harmony with his own basic nature, it will be done due to a sense of duty and not out anger or greed. Similarly, a person must identify one’s basic nature and then look at the rules written down by the ancient sages (like Manu) about the proper behavior to follow. On the other hand, the Buddha taught a Dharma where the main emphasis is ahiṁsā. ‘Dharma, in brief, means not to harm’ (dharmaḥ samāsato’hiṁsā). All the Buddhist rules for laymen or monks are meant to improve one’s activity of body, speech and mind, so that harm to others might be minimized. This type of Dharma does not depend much from one’s background, although it must still be adapted to one’s own situation. There are different rules for lay people and for monks, but the common Dharma is the Noble Eightfold Path, which regulates the activities of body, speech, and mind, including meditation and a correct view of reality. Another important difference is the emphasis on intention. Bhagavān Patañjali makes it clear that if we break the injunctions of the Veda we are committing a sin, whether we do it intentionally or not. On the other hand, for the Buddhist, good and bad karma depends entirely on intention. Of course, in many

Nirvāṇa is to understand this nature vividly. . rather than to material wealth. devoted to what is important. Hence they teach us to be content with little and look for happiness inside. The good qualities that we develop in our mind will remain with us until we reach ultimate and permanent happiness. because usually our mind is not calm and clear enough to see those topics very clearly. and to have good thoughts towards all beings. Dharma – proper behavior. These are: Kāma – pleasure. At the level of an ordinary person. Both Vedic and Buddhist philosophies give a great importance to the wealth of our good behavior and inner qualities. to understand that it is no ātman. aversion and ignorance will have no basis and suffering will not arise again. Artha – wealth and power. the difference between ātman and no ātman is not yet so important. Vedic philosophers tell us that liberation comes from realizing the eternal ātman. but in both cases it is important not to be attached to what is impermanent and to concentrate on what is eternal. not to be selfish. We have already seen that there is some difference in terms of Dharma. There is also some important difference in terms of Mokṣa. the emphasis that karma means intention is a specific feature of Buddhist philosophy. Mokṣa – liberation. Then our attachment. This will be our most powerful tool to develop greater wisdom. appearing brightly but with no real substance. which will eventually give us eternal happiness.Vedic philosophies intention also plays a role: however. The ancient masters tell us to develop a calm and concentrated mind. Some schools emphasize knowledge (jñāna) and others emphasize devotion (bhakti). cultivating and watching our mind diligently. by distinguishing what is permanent from what is impermanent. the Buddha taught that we can obtain nirvāṇa when we understand that there is no eternal ātman: our body and mind are like the flow of a candle-flame. On the other hand. Both Vedic and Buddhist philosophers speak of the ‘four purposes of human life’. Both Vedic and Buddhist philosophies emphasize that we must take care of our behavior.