Morality is the standard of activity by which the Supreme Authority is satisfied. So long we are concerned with the relative world, we must have to deal with relativities of actions and reactions accrued up by our routine work and to regulate such and such actions of daily affairs, we have to follow the standard codes so that our actions may be considered as moral.
The moral codes of the marketplace is therefore different from the moral codes of a householder's life which is different from the moral codes of the politicians. The politicians may take up some actions which are against the principles of householders standard of morality and the standard of morality in the household affairs may be completely different from the moral codes of the marketplace. In that way we cannot find out the standard of moral codes unless and until we find out the standard of morality in all perfectness.
To take up a very common cause we may cite the following examples of morality. In the moral codes of the revealed scripture it is instructed that one should avoid the following immoral activities of life, if anyone wants at all to make any progress of life. Such prohibitory injunctions are as follows:
(1) One should not make any unholy connection with woman.
These moral principles are to be observed especially by the public leader, a learned Brahmin, a religionist and by the head of executive department of the state. Unless such persons are strictly moral by the above codes we cannot expect any citizen of the state to follow the moral principle. The public leader cannot be a successful leader if he is not serious about the above moral principles.
Mahatma Gandhi became a successful public leader because he observed the above moral principles in life. Although he was a married man during his leadership of the country he completely abstained himself from all sorts of bodily relation with his married wife even and what to speak of making unholy connection with other codes of life. The first principle is this that one should be completely aloof from all womanly connection save and except his own married wife. In that sense child marriage is most convenient form of morality and there are many examples in the noble life. Mahatma Gandhi was married at the age of sixteen or so and it is said that his wife was elder than him by one year. But see the life of Mahatma Gandhi. Apart from economic considerations, the system of child marriage prevents both the man and the woman falling into immoral connection with the opposite sex. Psychologically both a boy or a girl develops the sex-consciousness at the age of thirteen to eighteen years of age according to different climatic conditions. In such stage especially after the attainment of puberty a woman wants a male and if she is not married within that time and allowed to mix up with boys who have developed the sex consciousness, it is quite natural that there is every chance of fall down either by the boy or by the girl. With the change of social conditions, the standard of conjugal life is also changing but the code of avoiding unholy connection with woman is always there. You cannot indulge in unholy connection with the opposite sex because the social conditions have changed. Because unholy connection with woman is the beginning of all immorality. There are thousands and one examples in the history of mankind as to how a great man fell down simply by illegitimate connection with woman.
The highest principle of moral code begins therefore with the codes of avoiding illicit connection with woman.
In the moral codes of ordinary dealing the standard of judging a person about his becoming a learned man is defined like this.
The testing criterions are as follows:
(1) That a learned man is he who is able to look upon all women, except his own married wife, as his mother-is certainly a passed moralist.
(2) That a learned man is he who treats others' property as much untouchable as are the household refuse thrown away in the dust bin of the street.
(3) That a learned man is he who behaves with all other living beings as he wants to be behaved by others.
Nobody wants to be killed by any other living being. As such we should not indulge in unnecessary killing of the animals to satisfy the taste of the tongue.
Therefore the next stage of morality begins with non-violence not in theory but in practice. You cannot look upon the poor animals as objects of killing by man and become moral at the same time. You cannot live at the expense of others and become moral at the same time. The whole world or the universe is conducted by a supernatural power of God. This external energy of the Supreme Lord is called by the name 'Avidaya Karmnsamga Shakti' or the material energy. Everyone has to work for his livelihood. The services are of different grades. The service of the learned scholar is superior than that of the expert statesman. The expert and sincere service of the statesman is superior than that of the industrialist and the businessman. And the service of the industrialist or businessman is better than the common and uncommon artisan or the expert and inexpert labourers. The labourer class of men can render service to the upper class men as above mentioned.
The affairs of the human society is being managed under the above arrangement and everywhere the division of the above four classes of men can be found under different names only. Such classification of men is made according to the standard of qualification and occupation and not by any birthright claim. The idea of the caste system is based on the above principle and it has nothing to do with any birthright claim. When such birthright claim is made the whole thing becomes vitiated and the order of the society becomes degraded for want of real moral strength.
The learned scholar who devotes himself to studies only must follow the previous learned Acharyas or men in authority and must not deviate from the standard of the great Acharyas. In the Bhagwat Geeta worship of the bona fide Acharyas is recommended for the learned persons who actually want to do something good to the society. Such learned scholars may undertake all kinds of research work to suit the current social and political circumstances and may make some external alteration in the procedure of the work but if they deviate from the ideals of the original authorities, they must be called immoral men. One should always follow the footprints of the standard Mahajan or the Acharyas recognized by all concerned. The research work taken up by such scholars must have an aim for the well-being of the society and not otherwise. Happiness for all the members of the society including the animal members is the ideal standard of morality.
Nationalism does not mean for the human being only but nationalism based on moral standard must include the animals and all other living beings in the state. The statesmen make laws specially for the protection of the minority but they have no law for the protection of the majority of living being other than the human being. The state protects human being by all means but they send the poor animals to the slaughter house. This is against the principle of morality.
In India there are certain terminologies in respect of the learned scholars, devotees of the Supreme Lord and the Lord also. The learned scholar is called the Brahmin, the pure devotee is called the Harijans and the Lord is called Narayana. Unfortunately a certain section of men claim to become a Brahmin simply by birthright without having the necessary qualification and the term Harijan which is specially meant for the pure devotees of the Lord is now applied to the lower class of men without any proper rectification. Any man even from the lowest status of society can become a Harijan or Brahmin and there is no restriction for them but such Harijan or Brahmin must possess the necessary qualification. That is the standard of morality. Immoral persons only claim something which they do not deserve. Immoral persons without being qualified want to capture power of the great man against the principle of standard morality. Similarly the Lord is brought to the standard of wretched men under the name of Daridra Narayana without knowing the real morality. The word Narayan is so exalted that it cannot be compared with the names of Brahma the creator of the universe or Shiva the annihilator of the universe. And if such Narayana is compared with the wretched persons it is an act of immorality as it is said in the standard scriptures. So far birthright is concerned even a man born by a great father cannot claim to be equal to his father without being duly qualified. The son of a big High Court Judge cannot claim to become the High Court Judge without the necessary qualifications.
The Supreme authority is Vishnu or the Lord who is above all other living beings. In the Vedas, Vasudeva or Vishnu is described to be the original Person. He is above all. Nobody is equal to Him or greater than Him. He is therefore the Lord of everyone big and small. It is said that the Surayas or the Aryas do always look upon the Supreme Lord Vishnu whereas others who do not do so or one who has no respect for the Supreme Lord call Him by any name, must be an immoral man and therefore such person is counted amongst Asuryas or the demons. The moral codes of the Asuryas are different from that of the Surayas. The moral codes of the Surayas is to satisfy the wishes of the Supreme Lord whereas the moral codes of the Asurayas are to satisfy their own senses. The senses of the Asurayas being impure in the matter of sense satisfaction, their moral codes cannot be accepted as standard and we see therefore clashes amongst the asurayas in the name of moral standard. Sense gratification cannot be taken as moral at any stage. In any home, society or state nobody can be a moral man who satisfies his own senses without satisfying the higher authorities. Nobody can be happy therefore in any status of the society or state if he is unable to abide by the moral codes of that particular institution in which he is attached.
An Englishman or an American or a German or an Indian or anyone else are all free members of a free state respectively. But that freedom is not absolute. Every individual member of the state must abide by the laws of the state otherwise such law breakers shall be subjected to the police action of the state. This idea of the small state and that of the individual person can equally be applied to the larger state of Vishnu or the Supreme Lord of the universal state.
Any person who abides by the principle of four division of the social order as well as one who is able to follow the four stages of spiritual realisation can only satisfy the Supreme Lord and there is no other alternative to satisfy Him. And that is the beginning of Morality.
And what is this Varnashram system? The four varnas are respectively the intelligent class of men, the statesmen, the commercial community and the labourer class known as the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas, the Vaishyas, and the Sudras technically. And what are the Ashramas? They are different stages of development.
The whole system is schemed for fulfilling the mission of human life by suitable division of departmental activities. The aim is one namely to satisfy the Supreme Lord. And as the Lord and the living entities are both living forces, the spiritual enjoyment between them by reciprocal exchange of dealings are not without variegatedness. The Lord is the chief amongst all kinds of living beings. Both the Lord and the living beings are one in quality and therefore both of them want enjoyment by reciprocal give and take policy and the Lord being the chief personality all activities of the living entities can be moral only when they fulfill the standard of satisfying the Lord. It is a scheme of cooperation for everyone's benefit. The intelligent class of men or the Brahmins are said to be the head of the whole body, the statesmen or the Kshatriyas are the arms, the commercial community or the Vaishyas are the thighs and the labourer class of men are the legs of the whole body. So neither the head nor the legs are less important for the service of the body which compared with the all pervading Personality of Godhead. But without any service for the satisfaction of the Lord the scheme is a show only as much as the blind eye or false eye is only a show to cheat innocent public without any value of the eye. There is no quarrel between the capitalist and labourer or the industrialists and the labourers in healthy or moral condition of the society as there is no quarrel between any different parts of the body in healthy condition. Combined activities for the one supreme goal of life i.e. satisfaction of the ultimate person is the sum and substance of moral standard.
Anything which is not aimed at the above mentioned goal of life is called atheism or non-moral standard of life. Spiritual realisation and moral life are both identical things. Spiritual life without morality has no meaning and in the same way morality without the knowledge of the Supreme Authority is only a show. Any person who is engaged in the transcendental service of the Lord in terms of the above scheme must have all the moral qualities which are visible in the character of the gods whereas person who has no relation with the personality of the Lord evidently cannot have any moral quality and that is the verdict of the history of human society. Therefore moral life is not a life of sense gratification but it is a life for the satisfaction of the higher authority.
The difference is that the animal does not know anything but sense gratification whereas the man is understood to have the sense of morality by obeying the laws of the state or society and therefore a man's action of trespassing a householder's premises is taken more seriously than that of the animal. That is the difference of a man and the animal. The human life is a benediction to understand this moral codes of the Lord and if he behaves like the animal life even in the human form, certainly he is again sent back to animal species of life for leading a life of the 'Naradhama.' Nara means a man and adhama means the most degraded. So naradhama means that a man who does not develop the moral standard of life is again degraded into the animal kingdom with full facility for sense enjoyment like the dogs and hogs without any sense of morality.
As we have already stated that moral quality has no value if it is devoid of the relation of the Lord. A dog is sometimes called moral animal because it is very faithful to its master. But that sort of faithfulness has no moral standard because it has forgotten its relation with God. The dog may be very faithful to its master but it is not faithful to other dogs who are more akin to its features. A dog at once begins howling as soon as it sees another dog in the precincts of its jurisdiction and similarly we can see that a man is very good man in relation to his own atmosphere but when the question of self interest, community interest, society interest or national interest is there he becomes the most ferocious man exactly like the dog. These things happen only when there is not spiritual realization of the human being and they think only in terms of self interest, community interest, social interest or national interest without any interest for the Lord. Real morality is there when everything is acted in the interest of the Lord which includes all other minor interest.
Without such spiritual realization in view no amount of one-sided doggish service of faithfulness will bring in any moral standard of life. If it was possible at all then all the leaders of different nations would not have quarreled between themselves for some temporary things which they have wrongly accepted as permanent. For want of real moral life there is continuous rupture of national interest and all schemes of peace and harmony being continuously frustrated without any solution. The dogs cannot make any solution of continuous quarrel because they are unable to revive their consciousness of relation with God. But the man if he likes he can do so easily because he has the capacity of discharging this important duty.
The standard of civilization on the basis of unlimited sense satisfaction has to be changed into regulated life for spiritual realization and that will lead to the actual moral standard of life. In the diseased condition of life nobody can be happy increasing the standard of sense gratification. If he wants to get rid of the diseased condition he has to consult the experienced physician for guidance of diet and medicine. And to relieve the diseased condition of the present set up of Godless civilization the leaders have to consult the liberated physicians who have already prescribed the right medicine and right diet. The right medicine is very simple. They must attend to hear the transcendental messages from the Lord and the diet is prescribed in the matter of partaking the remnant foodstuff or Prasadam or the foodstuff which is first offered to the Lord. There is no fear of the foodstuff being taken up by the Lord if it is offered to Him but by doing so the foodstuff is purified by spiritual process which helps the eater in reviving his consciousness of relation with God. When one revives his Godly consciousness by hearing in submissiveness the message of the Lord and make practice for eating the Prasadam under prescribed rules, he is sure to revive his lost consciousness and thus make progress in becoming a moral man proportionately with the revival of God consciousness. Every disease takes some time for its being completely cured but the treatment must begin without delay. We shall request all leaders of the society in all countries to accept this process of treatment which is neither expensive nor difficult. The whole thing is possible to be adjusted in terms of the special circumstances and we shall advise everyone to adopt this method for a general relief in the epidemic of moral degradation.
Advancement of modern education has no value because it is devoid of moral standard. Advanced students in the university of modern education have to be guarded by regular Police force for the matter of observing the moral codes of the university. And the highest officer in the state service has to be brought into justice by the supreme court of law for his conduct of misappropriation of public money. Such is the condition of moral life at present.
Therefore an educated man does not necessarily mean a man of morality while an illiterate man with full consciousness of the Lord's presence everywhere makes him the most moral and faithful man in the world. Therefore it is not the so-called education but it is God consciousness of the man that will bring in the required moral standard. Godless civilization full with vulgar literatures of sex indulgence or instruction by advanced science in the matter of sense gratification of the uncontrolled senses makes the whole scientific brain immorally compact. Invention of the atomic bomb is the result of the highest grade of scientific brain. But the whole world is disturbed now for its fear may be real or unreal and it is the sign of pure sense gratification under the influence of power intoxication. (To be Continued)
[Taken from the Back to Godhead Magazine, dated November 20, 1958, written by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Founder Acaraya for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness]