THE PATTERNS OF HINDU PERFECTIONISM
A common expectation of moralists is that man will develop some positive characteristics (virtues) in himself. However, they disagree as regards the solution of two problems:
- Is it desirable that man’s virtues should be as intensive as possible or is it better to maintain some moderation in virtues?
- Should each man be a substratum of as many virtues as possible or should individuals or groups specialize in separate virtues?
These two problems are related to each other: records necessarily result in selecting from among the virtues; whoever should desire to attain integrate perfectness must abandon records. When someone tries to excel in some virtue I call that record beating perfectionism.
In this study I try to show that the western moral tradition is dominated by the tendency toward moderation in virtue and toward developing as many virtues as possible by individuals. In contrast to this, Hinduism tends strongly to appreciate record beating perfectionism. Moreover the tradition of Hinduism makes individuals specialize in entirely different and extremely divergent groups of virtues, and the specific kind of virtues in which man is expected to perfect himself follows from his belonging to a definite caste. This tradition has been combated by many moralists and reformers and today attempts are also made to overcome it by legal acts.
The study is illustrated by many examples from ancient Hindu writings and from contemporary moralists of India.