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Pancha Shila Concept in Hinduism

According to Hindu scriptures, the twin ideals of material prosperity and spiritual emancipation are complementary. In fact, real material prosperity is possible and meaningful only when it is oriented to spiritual emancipation. That is why in ancient India the chief purpose of education was to acquire and impart knowledge for one’s own welfare and for the welfare of other people. It is only then that knowledge becomes fruitful. For the attainment of this purpose five basic principles (pancha shila) have to be adhered to:

Jijnasa, or the desire to know

The desire to exist, the desire to know and the desire to enjoy are the three basic desires of a human being. Of these, it is the desire to know that governs the other two. Therefore, its proper cultivation occupies a primary place in education. By jijnasa is meant not mere curiosity but
  • love of knowl edge for its own sake, and
  • the longing to know the ultimate Truth.

Shraddha, or faith

Faith is more than just belief. It is trust
  • in one’s higher self (Atman) and in one’s own potentialities,
  • in God, and
  • in dharma, or the moral order that governs the universe (which involves a conviction that virtue will ultimately triumph).

Shakti, or strength

Strength does not mean the strength of a brute to fight and destroy. It includes
  • physical strength to discharge one’s duties properly,
  • mental strength to bear the un avoid able adversities of life,
  • strength of will in the exercise of self control (samyama), especially with regard to enjoyment, and
  • the capacity for one-pointed application or perseverance in any form of work
  • undertaken (including higher meditation).

Niti, or morality

This consists of 
  • personal moral principles such as truthfulness, chastity and non-violence,
  • social moral principles such as respect for elders and women, dignity of labour and non-exploitation of others, and
  • collective moral principles such as patriotism, international understanding and religious harmony.

Seva, or service

Service rather than being restricted to some special kinds of activities, should become a ‘way of life’, that is, it should be a basic attitude towards social life. Such service has four main components:
  • service to one’s parents,
  • service to holy people and one’s teachers,
  • service to the poor and the sick, and
  • service to humanity at large through the work one does.
Our whole life must become a course in self discipline. Perfection is not a fixed value; there is no end to it. As long as we live, we must keep learning and improving. There are no short cuts here. So we need not be too ambitious in the beginning. Before attempting to run, we must learn to walk easily.

SourceExcerpts from an article published by Swami Jagadatmananda in Prabuddha Bharata Magazine January 2006 Issue.