Social work in Ancient Hindu Literature- Book by Naveenchandran Bhat

Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal
Sheshadri Sadan, Tulsibag Road, Mahal, Nagpur
Ph. : 0712-2721322 Email :
Publisher :
Bhara􀀡ya Shikshan Mandal
Sheshadri Sadan, Tulsibag Road,
Mahal, Nagpur – 440 032.
Phone : 0712-2721322
Email :
Publica􀀡on Date :
Raksha Bandhan
Shravana Poornima, Yugabda 5120,
Vikram Samvat 2075
ISBN No. 978-81-924168-4-7
Printed by :
Sankalp Printers Pvt. Ltd.
B-4/6, Bu􀀯bori Industrial Area,
Bu􀀯bori, Nagpur.
Price : < 200/-
Chapter Page No.
  
Publisher’s Note 4
Foreword 6
From Author’s Desk 9
Acknowledgement 12
List of Sanskrit Terms 14
Chapter – I 15
Introduc􀀯on : Ancient Literature &
indigenous Social Work
Chapter – II 35
Philosophy of Professional Social Work
Chapter – III 48
Ancient Social Work Ideology and Its Prac􀀯ce
Chapter – IV 87
Social Responsibility of an Individual as
member of the Society
Chapter – V 132
Role of the State and other Ins􀀯tu􀀯ons
for Social Welfare
Chapter – VI 166
Ancient Concepts : Their Relevance Today
Chapter – VII 175
Bunch of thoughts on the essence of
Ancient Social Work
Bibliography 206
Appendix 213
There is a need for robust publica􀀯on wing in every
ins􀀯tute that works in the field of educa􀀯on. One of the most
important mandates of Bhara􀀯ya Shikshan Mandal is
publica􀀯on of peer reviewed research material. Publica􀀯on
ensures that ideas gain some kind of permanence. It also
ensures that further diligent and profound research is made on
the content published.
Sir Prafulla Chandra Ray was a highly qualified chemist,
educa􀀯onist, historian, industrialist and philanthropist from
Bengal. He made deep study in the history of chemistry in Bharat
and published original works. In 1902, he published the first
volume of “A History of Hindu Chemistry from the Earliest Times
to the Middle of Sixteenth Century”. The second volume was
published in 1909. These works were a result of many years’ of
search through ancient Sanskrit manuscripts. Similarly, Dr. M. G.
Bokare (1926-2001), former Vice Chancellor of Nagpur
University and Convener. Na􀀯onal Commi􀁉ee of Swadeshi
Jagaran Manch wrote a book on “Hindu Economics”.
“Poorna Mandal to Swarna Jayan􀀯” from 2018-2020 as it has
completed 48 years in 2018, and will complete 50 years in 2020.
In Bhara􀀯ya calendar 48 years is seen as “Poorna Mandal” and in
contemporary 􀀯me study 50 years is celebrated as Swarna
Jayan􀀯 (Golden Jubilee). The idea is to emphasis on Bhara􀀯ya
values and yet remain contemporary. Hence the name “Poorna
Mandal to Swarna Jayan􀀯” In this period, BHARATIYA
SHIKSHAN MANDAL has decided to publish books with intent
to document Hindu view of life in all the streams of knowledge.
“Social Work in ancient Hindu Literature” is one such
publica􀀯on. This book can also serve as a reference material to
many who are doing their study in this field.
Publisher’s Note
Bhara􀀯ya perspec􀀯ve to Social work has always been
that of “selfless service”. Social work as a profession is a new
dimension which Bharat has to adopt. “{ZË` ZyVZ {Ma nwamVZ”
(Eternal yet innova􀀯ve) is the Bhara􀀯ya way of thinking. Hence,
in prac􀀯ce we have already adopted social work as a profession
and courses on social work have been in introduced in various
universi􀀯es since few decades. But, lack of course material from
Bhara􀀯ya point of view has forced the universi􀀯es to follow
curricula based on alien theories and prac􀀯ces. This book fulfills
the much needed demand of Bhara􀀯ya content on social work.
gra􀀯tude to the author Dr. Naveen Chandra Bhat for bringing out
beau􀀯fully in the books the Bhara􀀯ya perspec􀀯ve to social work.
We are deeply thankful to Shri Milind Khot who has taken special
efforts to print the book in an a􀁉rac􀀯ve form. Quality and
perfec􀀯on are the hallmark of his work prac􀀯ces. Our special
acknowledgements to Dr. Govind Hadap who has been
instrumental in ge􀁏ng this book published by Bhara􀀯ya
Shikshan Mandal and also wri􀀯ng the foreword. He is the
Na􀀯onal Coordinator of Shaikshaik Prakosht (Syllabus Making
cell) of BHARATIYA SHIKSHAN MANDAL. We are also very
grateful to Adv. Govind Athavle, an octogenarian, labour ac􀀯vist,
philanthropist and life long mentor of the author for facilita􀀯ng
publica􀀯on of this book. His con􀀯nued follow up has encouraged
us to keep the deadlines.
We are confident that this book will successfully imprint
and promulgate the Hindu view in social work!
Raksha Bandhan
Shravana Poornima, Yugabda 5120, Prakashan Vibhag
Vikram Samvat 2075 Bhara􀀡ya Shikshan Mandal
The topic Social Work in Ancient Hindu Literature is not only
important but also unique in the sense that the author a􀁉empts
to analyse the relevance of concepts and principles enshrined in
ancient Hindu literature in the context of present day subject
ma􀁉er of Social Work. In common parlance the term social work
has a different meaning in comparison to its meaning in
University curriculum where it is recognized as a stream or
faculty just like Sociology or Poli􀀯cal Science. In the present
scenario, Social Work is considered as a profession having UG &
PG level courses with specific knowledge-base, theories,
principles, skills and methods for prac􀀯ce. Social Work being an
interna􀀯onally taught subject ma􀁉er is claimed to be recently
originated in Euro-Western countries and spread across rest of
the world including India. As a corollary its knowledge-base is
loaded with Euro-west centric views and models. Interes􀀯ngly
lot of limita􀀯ons was observed when it is applied in prac􀀯ce in a
socio-culturally different country like India. Naturally the
ques􀀯on of indigenous Social Work or Indianisa􀀯on or
Bhara􀀑yakaran of Social Work becomes prominent and
developing indigenous knowledge-base with appropriate
addi􀀯ons or amendments is the need of the 􀀯me.
Ancient Hindu Literature is a treasure of valuable knowledge and
there can be hardly any doubt that our ancient literature does
not contain concepts or themes which will enrich current
knowledge-base of Social Work educa􀀯on in our country. In our
Hindu tradi􀀯on we pray for the happiness of all and for good
health of all living beings (Sarvepi-sukhina-santu- savre-santuniramaya).
Bhara􀀯ya or Hindu philosophy speaks of welfare of
not only of mankind but also of all living beings (Sham-no-astu-
dwipade-sham-chatushpade). Our ethos has roots in our Vedas,
Upanishads, Puranas etc which call upon every individual to
strive for the be􀁉erment of society. Even though we may find
people with different languages and different customs in our
vast country, our greatest strength is our ‘unity in diversity’. All of
us believe in the manifesta􀀯on of divinity in all animate and
inanimate things. This fundamental a􀁏tude is our asset as this
helps us to render service to others, look for the happiness of
others first than self-happiness and show respect to all. Our
scriptures proclaim that all our ac􀀯ons ought to be directed
towards ul􀀯mate goal of societal good or social welfare. In this
background, the eminent ques􀀯on that arises is why such
enriching knowledge envisaged by ancient literature does not
find a place in present day curriculum of Social Work.
Probably one of the answers to the above ques􀀯on is that we do
not have text books or reference books to highlight our Indian
tradi􀀯ons or ethos. We miserably failed to include Social Work
models prac􀀯ced by great personali􀀯es like Shri Nanaji
Deshmukh who was instrumental in transforming the most
backward area of Chitrakut in Madhya Pradesh. Lack of
documenta􀀯on is a big shortcoming which we have to address
ourselves. In this regard the present book on Social Work in
ancient Hindu literature is a valuable work done by Dr
Naveenchandran Bhat and his efforts must be appreciated well.
He took pains to study and analyse the en􀀯re ancient literature
from Social Work curriculum point of view. He has dealt with the
subject ma􀁉er beau􀀯fully and elaborated ancient concepts and
principles in such way that a common man as well as a University
teacher of Social Work will find it equally interes􀀯ng and useful.
He made lot of efforts to do jus􀀯ce to the theme in an effec􀀯ve
style of wri􀀯ng in a lucid language. The book is divided into seven
chapters which are logically arranged to help the reader to draw
a complete picture of relevance of ancient concepts for Social
Work educa􀀯on in India.
The book is unique in the sense that the author tries to explain
both professional aspect of Social Work as well as the ancient
outlook towards comprehensive be􀁉erment of society. Hardly
any book is currently available with this important theme. This
work can be considered as the best ini􀀯al step towards achieving
the ul􀀯mate goal of indigenous or Indianisa􀀯on of Social Work.
Samaj Karya ka Bhara􀀯yakaran should be our vision and mission
for the benefit of students of Social Work in India. I feel that this
book will be immensely useful to teachers and students of Social
Work faculty and at the same 􀀯me for the general public at large
as well. More over the work will be a guiding light to the policy
makers of educa􀀯on in our country too. I wish to record my best
wishes to him in all his future endeavors.
Dr. G. N. Hadap
Re􀀯red Principal and Akhil Bhara􀀯ya
Shaishik Prakoshtha Pramukh
Bhara􀀯ya Shikshan Mandal.
Raksha Bandhan
Shravana Poornima, Yugabda 5120,
Vikram Samvat 2075
Social Work as a profession is of recent origin even
though much of its subject content can be traced long back. The
willingness to help others on which the whole superstructure of
modern Social Work is built up, is very ancient. Ancient Hindu
literature before Buddha period speaks of this aspect of “helping
others” in clear terms and narrates the ways and means of
helping others which are easy to prac􀀯ce. These ways and means
of prac􀀯ce were enshrined in the day to day life of Hindu
individual who believed in “Service unto others” as his prime
duty. The concern about duty rather than one’s right, in the
minds of all individuals, helped the ancient society to survive and
grow for thousands of years.
The individual was concerned about the society and the
ancient society took care of the less privileged or marginalised
through various ins􀀯tu􀀯ons, including the ins􀀯tu􀀯on of State or
king. The ancient norms and customs were highly conducive to
the welfare of all because of which the less privileged persons
never felt neglected. The State or the king was held responsible
for various Social Work ac􀀯vi􀀯es in which the individuals as
members of the society par􀀯cipated and made their
contribu􀀯ons willingly.
The concepts like Dharm (Y_©) , Danam (XmZ_), Yajna (`k)
Rina (F$U), A􀀯thipujaman (A{V{WnyOZ_²), Panch Maha Yajna (n§M
_hm`k) etc. are significant and have relevance to Social Work.
Even though the ancient Indian Social Work ac􀀯vi􀀯es originated
from the concepts of ‘Punya’ and ‘Pap’ the Hindu Philosophy
urged the people to rise above these concepts in rendering
service unto others.
The ancient State was similar like that of any Modern
From Author’s Desk….
Welfare State, in its approach to Social Welfare. It was State’s
responsibility to look a􀁔er the old, the sick, the orphan, the
handicapped etc and State undertook developmental measures
like construc􀀯on of roads, digging of well and ponds,
construc􀀯on of public places and plan􀀯ng of trees etc.
It is interes􀀯ng to note that some of the ancient Social
Work ac􀀯vi􀀯es are s􀀯ll in prac􀀯ce with slight varia􀀯ons among
Indian tribals even today. The so called civilised communi􀀯es can
learn many useful Social Work tradi􀀯ons of the primi􀀯ve tribal
communi􀀯es of India.
Thus, lot of things can be observed in ancient Hindu
literature which has relevance in the prac􀀯ce of modern Social
Work. Even though the ancient literature is rich in valuable
concepts and prac􀀯ces which are relevant to modern Social
Work, it is sad to note that a study to explore them is yet to be
undertaken. The present study is an a􀁉empt in this direc􀀯on.
The researcher is not interested in claiming that, whatever is
presented in this study is the complete or exhaus􀀯ve account of
ancient Social Work tradi􀀯ons and that nothing more is
available. The present study is first of its kind which can definitely
play an important role in guiding the future researchers
undertaking studies with similar themes.
With the above views in mind, the author a􀁉empts to
present this study in the following chapters.
The first chapter is devoted for introduc􀀯on, for
mo􀀯va􀀯on, data collec􀀯on method, a brief account of ancient
literature, the libraries used, indigenous Social Work etc.
The chapter II of the book deals with the meaning and
concept of Modern Social Work, objec􀀯ves, principles and
values, nature of Social Work as a profession and Methods of
Social Work.
The chapter III is devoted for the discussion on ancient
concepts like Dharm (Y_©) , Danam (XmZ_) and Yajna (`k) from
Social Work point of view, philosophical bases of ancient social
work, a few special features of ancient Social Work prac􀀯ce etc.
The chapter IV deals with social responsibility of the
individual as a member of the society as percived in ancient
literature; bases of ancient social rela􀀯on; the role of individual,
family and the society; the Samskaras, the specific social work
ac􀀯vi􀀯es of the individual etc.
The chapter V is meant for discussing the Role of the
State in social welfare, the nature of ancient State, tax structure,
State’s responsibility for social work ac􀀯vi􀀯es, patronage of
educa􀀯on, role of other organisa􀀯ons towards social welfare
Chapter VI deals with relevance of ancient concepts in
modern 􀀯mes from social work point of view.
Chapter VII is 􀀯tled as Bunch of thoughts which is the
essence of Ancient Social Work.
The author feels happy and contented in presen􀀯ng this
study to one and all who are interested in Social Work in Ancient
Dr. Na 26/08/2018 veenchandran K. Bhat
On the occasion of publishing this book I wish to
acknowledge my hear􀁖elt thanks to all esteemed personali􀀯es
who inspired and helped me in successfully accomplishing my
cherished dream of presen􀀯ng the topic of Social Work and its
ideological background in Ancient Hindu Literature in a book
form to the readers.
I humbly lower my head before almighty Paramatma
and pray for His blessings without which I could not even think of
undertaking this work. There is no subs􀀯tute to the blessings of
Shri Hari-Guru and I firmly believe that they gave me enough
strength to take this task to the logical end.
I wish to record my sincere thanks to Adv. Shri Govindrao
K. Athawale ex-MLC and Ex-Na􀀯onal Secretary of Bhara􀀯ya
Mazdoor Sangh for his con􀀯nuous inspira􀀯on as well as
guidance. In fact I took up this theme of Social Work in Ancient
Hindu Literature because of him. He was the guiding force
behind this work.
My sincere thanks to Dr G. N. Hadap re􀀯red Principal and
Prakoshtha Pramukh of Bhara􀀯ya Shikshan Mandal for wri􀀯ng
Foreword to this book. He was instrumental in true sense of the
term through his consistent encouragement to get this book
published in the best possible form. Also I wish to record my
heart-felt thanks to the publishers Bhara􀀯ya Shikshan Mandal,
especially Shri Mukul Kanitkar, Organising Secretary and his
team who encouraged me to carry on this task.
I must also express my deep gra􀀯tude to Dr. S. G.
Deogaonkar re􀀯red Professor, Anand Niketan College, Warora,
Maharashtra for his guidance and crea􀀯ve sugges􀀯ons during
compila􀀯on of data, arranging it in a systema􀀯c method and in
comple􀀯ng this work. I must thank him twice as he was my
guide/supervisor for my PhD work and I could get the 􀀯tle as
Acharya from RTM Nagpur University because of him only. Sir,
thank you very much.
I will fail in my duty as an individual if I do not record my
thanks to my family members who encouraged me consistently
and even tolerated the inconvenience that I might have caused
to them unknowingly as I could not devote my 􀀯me to my family
responsibili􀀯es. My special thanks to my wife Mrs Sheela N. Bhat
who took lot of pains in assis􀀯ng me from day one 􀀯ll the logical
end of publishing this work.
Last but not the least I wish to thank all those who
directly or indirectly helped me in cherishing my dream of
ge􀁏ng a book published.
Dr. Naveenchandran Bhat
Associate Professor
MSS Ins􀀯tute of Social Work,
Important Sanskrit Terms Transcribed
Into Roman Script
XmZ_ Danam
`k Yajna
F$U Rina
{nV¥ F$U Pitri Rina
n§M X{jU `k Panch Dakshina
amOg Rajas
nmn Pap
d¡íd Xod Vaishva Deva
{gbm|Mm Siloncha
Aml_ Ashrama
nwéfmW© Purusharitha
H$m_ Kama
F$½doX Rig Veda
gm_ doX Sama Veda
Cn{ZfX Upanishad
Y_© Dharma
n§M _hm `k Panch Maha
Xod F$U Deva Rina
F$fr F$U Rishi Rina
gmpËdH$ Satvik
Vm_g Tamas
nwÊ` Punya
{dYem{g Vighashasi
J¥hñW Grihastha
dU© Varna
AW© Artha
_moj Moksha
`Owdo©X Yajur Veda
AWd© doX Atharva Veda
ñ_¥{V Smri􀀯 (Smru􀀯)
_Zw Manu
amO Raja
_hm^maV Mahabharata
g§ñH$ma Samskara
Vn Tapa
g_~wÕr Samabuddhi
{ZîH$m_ H$_© Nishkama Karma
~«måhU Brahmana
g{_{V Sami􀀯
{dYV Vidhata
`mkdëŠ` Yajnavalkya
a§O Ranj
am_m`U Ramayana
d¥j XmZ_ Vruksha Danam
àOmZwa§OZ Prajanuranjana
g_X{e© Samadarshi
pñWVàk S􀀯taprajna
A{V{W nyOZ_ A􀀯thi Pujanam
g^m Sabha
nm¡a-OZnX Paura Janapada
Chapter I
India is a country rich in its philosophy and tradi􀀯ons
which survived and flourished for thousands of years, inspite of
the frequent cultural and philosophical ouslaughts on it.
Probably no where in the world, one can find “the concern for
others” of highest order, which we find in Hindu philosophy by
way of “seeing and worshipping God in all animate and
inanimate things.”
The concern for human beings and respect and dignity
for all are not new, because they were inscribed long back in
ancient Hindu literature which speaks volumes on its tradi􀀯on of
individual good as part of the social good. In Vedas, the oldest
literature on earth, we find ideals which spoke of well-being of
birds and animals (e Zmo AñV² {ÛnXo, e MVþînXo F$JdoX && 7/54/1) and
which urged every individual to take vow for the well-being of
the man kind. (_Zwî`mUm§ {Z{Ynmo ^ydmg && AmnV² Y_© J¥ø_§Ì&&) The Atharva
Veda, without leaving any room for doubt, clearly men􀀯ons
about the prac􀀯ce of service to the mankind when it proclaimed
“Let the physical difficul􀀯es and emo􀀯onal disturbances arisen
out of service to the mankind be erased by the blessings of
Saraswa􀀯, the Goddess of learning and knowledge”(`V² OZmZ²
AZMaV: `mM_mZñ`…. gañd{V Vxm n¥UX²….7/57/1) .
Ancient Hindu Seers envisaged the welfare of the
individual, the family, the community and the society at large,
through the beau􀀯ful principle of Dharma (Y_©) which denotes as
that which preserves the society. “Hindu religion contained more
than do good and be good” kind of concept like in other world
religions, in its approach to societal good. And it is a wrong
no􀀯on that Hindu religion advocated only the self-centred and
selfish goal of Moksha, the final libera􀀯on. Of course, the
Moksha was the highest objec􀀯ve kept in front of the individual
but its achievement was made possible, only through the
fulfilment of one’s obliga􀀯ons and the service towards the
family, the society and the God.
The ancient texts men􀀯on prayers which envisaged
peace and stability for the whole world (Y¥dm Úmo Y¥dm n¥{W{d… Yw«d {díd
F$½doX 10/173/3 gh 6) and ordain, “let us make the whole Universe,
excellent and noble (H¥$ÊdÝVmo {díd_m`© && F$½doX 9/63/5) which is the
concern of the modern Social Work. And not only, that it
remained only in prayers, but also the customs and norms of the
society were such that every Hindu began his day with service to
animals, birds and human beings. It was nothing short of the
principle “think globaly act locally” in its approach in thinking
and ac􀀯ng on the universal welfare.
But, unfortunately, it is noted with regret that hardly any
Social Work literature is available which peeps deep into the
Social Work ideology and prac􀀯ces as enshrined in the ancient
Hindu literature.
The Study
The present study is an effort in the direc􀀯on to explore
the Social Work perspec􀀯ve as found in the ancient Hindu
literature and hence is 􀀯tled as “Social Work and its ideological
background in Ancient Hindu Literature – A Historical and
Analy􀀯cal view”.
The present study is an a􀁉empt to enumerate the
ancient tradi􀀯ons of Social Work, to view the tradi􀀯ons from the
Social Work angle, to analyze and interpret them logically and
thereby to deduce the ideological background of the Social Work
As it is very obvious, the concept of modern Social Work
regarded as a profession can hardly be traced to ancient 􀀯mes
and hence a broader out look of the concept has been adopted
for the purpose of the present study. Social Work is a self-less
ac􀀯vity, intended for the welfare of others, undertaken with due
respect and dignity of the individual as human being. At the
same 􀀯me, the man in olden 􀀯mes used to live very close to
Nature, he thought of the welfare of animals and birds and also
of the Universe as a whole, which in present day context can be
termed as “concern for animals and birds “Ecological concern”
“Green Peace movement” etc.
Mo􀀡va􀀡on Behind Study
The author undertook the study out of his own interest
and with the object of bringing out the Social Work content of
the ancient Hindu literature which is alleged to be difficult to
digest because of its Sanskrit background. Secondly, it is the
belief of the author that there exists at least some ancient
philosophical concepts which have relevance in the prac􀀯ce of
modern Social Work. A third point that inspired was with regard
to the talk of indigenous Social Work in India, for which a deep
look into ancient works will be much beneficial and will generate
insight. The author, as a student of Social Work was mo􀀯vated by
the words of few Social Work authori􀀯es to undertake the
present study, as given below :
“Indian Social Work Educa􀀯on should par􀀯cularly study
the Hindu, Jain and Buddhist concepts of man if they wish to
relate the alien concept of Professional Social Work to Indian
Philosophy and culture.” 1
“The dearth of research of specific teaching material, of
texts, systema􀀯cally illustra􀀯ng essen􀀯al Social Work values
from Indian Philosophers, Seers or Social reformers, is a serious
problem… Indian students could learn the basic values of
Professional Social Work more easily if they could see them as
different ways of saying some of things that have been taught by
their own Philosophers, Saints, Social thinkers and Social
reformers.” 2
“Indian literature specially the Upanishads and the epics
abound in a rich body of knowledge out of which much Social
Work knowledge, skills and methods can be carved out. But we
may not care to have a look at it and want to dole out a diluted
form of that knowledge packed in books on Social Work wri􀁉en
in west.” 3
The Objec􀀡ves
The objec􀀯ves of the present study are as follows :-
1) To study the ancient concept of Social Work and the ideas in
2) To enumerate and study the ac􀀯vi􀀯es undertaken for the
welfare of the society in ancient India.
3) To study the social responsibility of an individual towards the
society in a contemporary sense, as conceived in ancient
4) To iden􀀯fy the concept of Welfare State in the period under
5) To find out concepts in ancient philosophy and to analyse
their relevance in the present context.
Ancient Time Span of the Study
The term “ancient” has been defined as “old or in olden
􀀯mes; of 􀀯mes long past; especially the 􀀯me before the end of
the Western Roman Empire in 476 A.D.” as per the Webster’s
English Dic􀀯onary. Encyclopaedia Bri􀁉anica refers to “ancient”
by dis􀀯nguishing ancient history from medieval and modern,
generally as meaning before the fall of the Western Roman
As far as the present study is concerned, the term ancient
refers to the 􀀯me before Buddha period, which Is roughly before
400 BC. The reason why pre-Buddhist era is emphasised upon, is
that a lot of informa􀀯on is available on the Social Work ac􀀯vi􀀯es
during Buddha period (like that in the “Jatakas” of Buddhism).
Many Indian authori􀀯es traced Social Work history from
Buddha, in which the Chanakya’s “Artha-Shastra” which is a pre-
Buddha Work, has also been included. But no literature in Social
Work of the Social Work speaks tradi􀀯ons in India before this
period. Hence the present study is based on the ancient Hindu
literature before Buddha period.
Thus, Hindu literature, dis􀀯nguished from Buddhist literature
is the scope of the study which includes “the Vedas, the
Brahmanas, the Aranyakas, the Upanishads, the Sutras, the
Smri􀀡s and the epics Ramayan and Mahabharat.” The
chronological order of these Works and their exact 􀀯mes are not
debated upon as this is not the central theme of the present study
but all these are accepted as Ancient Hindu Literary Works even
though few of these works may have later addi􀀯ons, as late as a􀁔er
Buddha period.
Further, orientalists of Sanskrit Language, differ in their
opinion about the exact number of “Slokas” or Verses or even
chapters, containing in many old works, many of which are over
lapping also. Irrespec􀀯ve of this, the author accepted the works
and the transla􀀯ons of the works by non-controversial
authori􀀯es on ancient Hindu literature, because the analysis is
based on the literature as available to us today. The main object
of the study is to explore the ancient Social Work ideology,
touching all the above men􀀯oned works and hence the study is
exploratory in nature. Even though, the present study is spread
on a vast and wide treasure of literature, an effort has been
undertaken to cover all the ancient works and to enumerate
Social Work tradi􀀯ons there of.
Brief Informa􀀡on About Ancient Indian Literature
India has a vast and tradi􀀯onally con􀀯nuous ancient
literature throws light on the socio-cultural- religious life of the
people of the concerned 􀀯me. Except some literature like
Buddhist literature for example, most of the literary works are in
Sanskrit language even though style and pa􀁉ern differed within
the same language from 􀀯me to 􀀯me. As for the present study
the main aim of which is to explore the contemporary Social
Work ideology, the pre-Buddhist period literature is studied,
with the excep􀀯on of accep􀀯ng even the later addi􀀯ons (a􀁔er
the Buddha period) to the original ancient works.
Ancient Indian literary history is usually divided into
three main periods : the Samhita; the Brahmana; and the
Upanishad periods. The universally accepted ancient literature
includes the Vedas, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas, the
Upanishads, the Sutras, the Smru􀀡s and finally the two great
Epics. A brief introduc􀀯on to these works is essen􀀯al for the
purpose of the study.
The Vedas
The Veda literature has been compiled into four
“Samhitas” meaning collec􀀯ons namely 1) The Rig Veda Samhita
2) The Atharva Veda Samhita 3) The Sama Veda Samhita and 4)
The Yajur Veda Samhita. Samhitas are the Vedas and contain
mantras or prayers but these prayers also bring out the
community life of that 􀀯me.
The Rig-Veda Samhita
The Rig-Veda Smahita consists of 1. 20 Suktas (hymns)
including elevan Valakhilya (addi􀀯onal) hymns. The whole
collec􀀯on is divided into eight ashtakas (books). Each ashtaka is
sub-divided into eight adhyayas (chapter) and each adhyaya is
further subdivided into about thirty-three Vargas (sec􀀯ons)
consis􀀯ng of about five Mantras each. Another division of the
Samhita, is that the whole collec􀀯on is divided into 10 Mandalas
with long and short Suktas, which vary in number from one
Mandala to another, the Suktas being arranged of hymns
according to the subject-ma􀁉er.
The Atharva Veda Samhita
In contrast to the Rig Veda, the Atharva-Veda is
essen􀀯ally a heterogenous collec􀀯on of Mantras, concern
mostly with the every day life of the common man from the prenatal
stage to the post-mortem. The Atharva Veda is know own
by other connota􀀯ons also like “Atharvangirasah”, Bhrugu
Vagirasah, Purchita-Veda, Kshatra-Veda, Brahma-Veda etc.
Nine Shakhas (branches) of the Atharva-Veda are tradi􀀯onally
known but the Samhitas of only two Shakhas the Sawaka and
Pippalada have been preserved. The Samhita consists of 730
Suktas divided into twenty Kandas (books). The main contents of
the Atharva-Veda are I) Bhaishyyani-hymns to counteract
diseases and freedom from evil spirits ii) Ayushyni-prayers for
health and long life iii) Paush􀀡kani-prayers for happiness and
prosperity iv) Strikarmani-about women v) Rajakarmani-about
the king and the rest vi) Sammanasyani-about securing
harmony in domes􀀯c, social and poli􀀯cal spheres.
The Sama Veda Samhita
This Samhita contains mantras or hymns to be chanted
at the 􀀯me of various sacrifices of “Soma” by the udgatrir (the
priest). It is a collec􀀯on divided into two main parts I)The
Poorvarchika and ii) The U􀁆ararhika. The first part consists of
585 single Verses of which the first 114 are addressed to Agni,
the next 352 to Indra, and the last 119 to Soma. The second part
consists, of 1225 verses grouped into 400 units addressed
mostly to Soma.
The Bhagavad Gita (x/22) glorifies the Sama-Veda as the
excellent among Vedas.
The Yajur-Veda Samhita
The Yajur Veda contains hymns of ritualis􀀯c character,
clearly indica􀀯ng the use of the Veda during rituals and
sacrifices. The principal sacrifices include “Agnistoma,
Vajapeya, Rajasuya, Agnihotra, Pitrumedha, Sarvamedha etc.
It is claimed that there are 86 or even 101 branches of Yajur Veda
but the two most important branches are I) Shukla Yajur Veda
and ii) Krishna Yajur Veda.
The Brahmanas
In the literary history of ancient India, the Brahmanas
occupy a significant place as they throw light on the social life of
the people of that 􀀯me. They represent the earliest a􀁉empts to
interpret the Vedas and are the guidelines for the whole
community life. There are several Brahmanas, but the more
important ones are I) The Aiteraya and the Kausitaki belonging
to Rig Veda ii) The Tai􀁈 riya and Satapatha belonging Yajur-
Veda iii) The Jaiminiya and Tandya belonging to the Sama-veda
and the Gopatha belonging to the Atharva-Veda.
The Aranyakas
Actually, the Aranyakas are not universally regarded as
independent texts as they are conceptually a kind of
con􀀯nua􀀯on of the Brahmanas. The Aranyakas are so called
because they were restricted to Aranyas or forests. The
important Aranyakas are I) Aitareya Aranyaka ii) Kausitaki iii)
Sankhayana iv) Tai􀁈riya v) Bruhadaranayaka etc.
The Upanishads
The Upanishads are important as they are the works
containing the philosophy of Vedic life. They are the significant
sources of spiritualism of ancient India and can be called as
trea􀀯se of Indian philosophy. The Muk􀀡kopanishad gives a list
of 188 Upanishads which can be classified under different
Vedas. The most important ones and those which are u􀀯lised for
the present study are as under :-
I) Rig-Veda
1) Aitareya 2) Kausitai 3) Mudgala 4) Nirvana
ii) Yajur Veda
1) Isavasya 2) Bruhadaranyaka 3) Muk􀀯ka 4) Tai􀁏reeya
5) Narayana 6) Brahma 7) Kaivalya
iii) Sama Veda
1) Kena 2) Chandogya 3) Aruni 4) Vayrasuchika
iv) Atharva Veda
1) Prashna 2) Mundaka 3) Mandukya 4) Mahanarayana
5) Surya
The Sutras
Apart from the earlier men􀀯oned Vedic literature, there
exist ancillary Vedic Literature called Vedangas. Further, these
Vedangas are divided into six broad categories, the purpose of
which is to systema􀀯cally organise and throw light on the
“Knowledge” of the Vedic literature. The most important
Vedanga for our purpose is the “Kalpa” containing socioreligious
prac􀀯se and rituals of the 􀀯me under study. This
Vedanga is also termed as kalpa-sutra which again in sub-divided
into three major sutras namely I) the Srauta-Sutra ii) the
Gruhya Sutra iii) the Dharma-Sutra, respec􀀯vely refering to the
religious, the domes􀀯c and the social aspects of the life of the
people. These Sutras primarily seek to regulate and codify the
prac􀀯ces which were already in vogue but at the same 􀀯me,
introduce modifica􀀯ons in accordance with the 􀀯me.
The major Srautra-Sutras are the Baudhayana, the
Bharadvaja, the Apastamba, the Satyashadha-Hiranyakeshin,
the Vaikhanasa, the Vaikhanasa, the Manava, the Varaha, the
Kaltaka, the Katyayana, the Sankhayana, the Jaimaniya, the
Gobhila etc.
The Gruhya Sutra deal with the Gruhya (house hold) rites
and the important Gruhya Sutras are the Sankhayana, the
Kausitaka, the Asvalayana, the Saunaka, the Bharaviya, the
Sakalya, the Vaikhanasa, the Ahnivesya, the Manava, the Varaha,
the Jaimaniya etc. The Srautas and Sutras belong to various
schools of families have affilica􀀯on to the Vedas and their
tradi􀀯on under respec􀀯ve vedas can be traced. A broad
classifica􀀯on of the subject ma􀁉er of the Dharma Sutras can be
done under three main heads I) the achara (conduct) ii) the
Vyavahara (dealings of du􀀯es, including king’s duty) iii) the
prayaschi􀁉a (expia􀀯on).
The Smru􀀡s
The Vedas are termed as “Sru􀀡” which never change but
depending on the 􀀯me, the social ac􀀯vi􀀯es have to change to
accomodate the changes in social rela􀀯on and the changing
aspira􀀯ons and a􀁏tude. To lay down the code of conduct for
each and every member of the society in rela􀀯on to other and to
the society as whole, Smru􀀯s were evolved by the ancient
Indians. The well known Smru􀀡es are Manu Smru􀀡,
Yajnavalkya Smru􀀡 and Devala Smru􀀡.
The Epics
The two great epics which influence the Hindu Psyche
and behaviour are the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The
Ramayana is the story of God Rama the king of Ayodhya while
the Mahabharata glorify the life of God Krishna and the conflit
between the Pandavas and the Kauravas respec􀀯ng Dharma
and Adharma respec􀀯vely. The teaching of God the Bhagvad
Gita is a part of the Mahabharatha epic which has over one lakh
stangas. The epic Ramayana is divided into seven kandas namely
1) Bala Kanda 2) Ayadhya Kanda 3) Aranya Kanda 4) Kishkinda
Kanda 5) Sundara Kanda 6) Yudha Kanda 7) U􀁆ara Kanda.
The epic Mahabharata has been divided into various
Parvas namely 1) Adi Parva 2) Sabha Parva 3) Vana Parva 4)
Virat Parva 5) Udyoga Parva 6) Bhishma Parva 7) Drona Parva
8) Karna Parva 9) Shalya Parva 10) Sowp􀀯ka Parva 11) Stree
Parva 12) Shan􀀯 Parva 13) Anushastan Parva 14)
Ashwamedhika Parva 15) Ashramavasika Parva 16) Mausala
Parva 17) Mahaprasthanika Parva 18) Swargarohana Parva.
The Bhagavad Gita is divided into eighteen chapters.
The Method or Data Collec􀀡on and Interpreta􀀡on
The sources of data are basically the old Sanskrit texts,
translated by established authori􀀯es and publishing houses in
languages English, Hindi, Marathi and Malayalam. The author
have fairly good knowledge of Sanskrit language but s􀀯ll
personal interpreta􀀯on and assigning of meaning of the Sanskrit
texts were avoided with a view to minimize subjec􀀯vity and only
the meaning and interpreta􀀯ons by known authori􀀯es were
considered as bases. Ambiguous terms and verses in Sanskrit,
having more than one single meaning are avoided in the study.
As the number works are voluminous, the author first
undertook the task of studying books with ancient themes
relevant to social work by reputed authori􀀯es. Then, the
transla􀀯ons of original texts accepted universally, were
researched upon to ascertain the correct meaning of the original
verses. And hence the present study can be termed as based on
original texts because for all the points men􀀯oned in the study,
the relevant Sanskrit verses are quoted and the meaning of
terms accepted for the study was based only on the original
verses. Further, the author approched few known personali􀀯es
of Indian Philosophy, Sanskrit, Orientology etc. to confirm the
meaning and interpreta􀀯on for the correct use of the terms and
Libraries U􀀡lised
“Use of library is important because all research
inevitably involves the use of the books…. This applies to studies
based upon original data gathered in a field study as well as to
those based en􀀯rely upon documentary sources.” 1
As the research method is based mainly on library work,
the following libraries were extensively used for the collec􀀯on of
data and other necessary documentary informa􀀯on.
1) Nagpur University Library, Nagpur.
2) Matru Sewa Sangh Ins􀀯tute of Social Work Library, Nagpur.
3) Tata Ins􀀯tute of Social Sciences Library, Bombay.
4) Hindu Dharma Sanskru􀀯 Mandir Library, Nagpur.
5) The Oriental Research Ins􀀯tute Library, Thane.
6) The Sukrateendra Oriental Research Ins􀀯tute Library, Kochi.
8) The Bhandarkar Oriental Research Ins􀀯tute Library, Pune
The research is based mainly on the data available in the
libraries and hence can be termed as “Content Analysis”
method. Komidar notes “Content Analysis studies represent yet
another type of research which can be based en􀀯rely on
materials available in library collec􀀯on.”1
Original Texts Refered
For the present study, the following original texts are
referred for authen􀀯c meaning and for numbering the Sanskrit
slokas and verses.
Rig Veda – a) By – V. S. Satwalekar, Swadhya Mandal, Paradi,
Satara, 1945
b) By – H. H. Wilson, Vol. 1 to Vol. VI Ashtekar and
Sons Poona 1925.
Yajur Veda – By – Kashinath Shastri, Anandashram Sanskrit
Granthwali, Pune
Sama Veda – By – Dayanand Sansthan, New Delhi 1968.
Atharva Veda – By – S. D. Satwalekar, Swadhaya Mandal, Paradi
Satara 1925.
Upanishads a) By Swami Gambhirananda, Advaita Ashrama,
Publica􀀯on Department, Calcu􀁉a 1985.
b) By Gita Press, Gorakhpur 1985.
Brahmanas a) Ananda Sharma Sanskrit Granthawali, Pune
b) Tara Publica􀀯ons, Varanasi.
c) Chowkhanba Publica􀀯ons, Varanasi.
Gruhya Sutras and Dharma Sutras :- Anandashram Sanskrit
Granthawali, Pune.
Mahabharat a) Cri􀀯cal edi􀀯ons, Published by Bhandarkar
Oriental Research Ins􀀯tute, Pune.
b) Gita Press, Gorakhpur.
The Ramayana a) By S. D. Satwalekar, Swadhaya Mandal, Satara
b) Gita Press, Gorakhpur.
The Kau􀀯lya’s Arthashastra – a) By N. N. Law, Longman’s Green
anc Company, Culcu􀁉a, 1914.
The Manu Smru􀀯 – a) By J. H. Dave, Bhara􀀯ya Vidya Series,
bharateya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay 1972.
b) By Surendra Kumar, Arsh Sahitya Prachar
Trust, New Delhi 1986.
The Bagavad Gita – a) Gita Press, Gorakhpur 1987.
b) The Sanskrit Educa􀀯on Society, Madras
For the purpose of ascertaining non-ambigous meaning
for most of the original Sanskrit tex ts “Histor y of
Dharmashastra” by P. V. Kane, Bhandarkar Oriental Research
Ins􀀯tute, Pune has been referred as authen􀀯c work.
Indigenous Social Work:(Indianisa􀀯on of Social Work
The debate on indigenous Social Work is going on in many
countries and academicians are ready to review and re-assess
theories and principles due to the fact that successful prac􀀯ce of
Social Work is possible only if the socio-cultural background of
the clients or the people is taken into account. Universally
accepted principles of Social Work help us to understand the
intricacies of human suffering but s􀀯ll West-Euro centric
knowledge may not be sufficient enough to deal with human
sufferings in other countries.
Meaning of Indigenous Social Work:
Social Work has a universally recognized knowledge base and
specified methods of prac􀀯ce. However when we take into
account socio-cultural background of a society or country, and
then apply knowledge and techniques for effec􀀯veness and
efficiency, we may call it as indigenous Social Work. In other
words, in India we can term it as Indianisa􀀯on of Social Work.
Indianisa􀀡on of Social Work:
First we must understand that there is a vast difference in the
meaning of the term Social Work in common parlance and its
meaning from professional point of view. Social Work as a
profession is a subject ma􀁉er like any other branch of
knowledge. One has to undergo a specific course like Bachelor of
Social Work or Master of Social Work to learn theories and
principles involved. Hope this gives an idea that to do Social
Work, one has to be a trainedSocial Worker by acquiring certain
skills and a􀁏tude. So here we are discussing about Social Work
term as a profession and not in common parlance.
Now, profession of Social Work is universal in the sense that the
theories and principles have universal applicability just like any
other branch of science say Physics or Chemistry. But unlike
Physics, we deal with human beings here individually or in group
or in community under Social Work profession. So the sociocultural
background of the individuals or the community cannot
be neglected and hence prac􀀯ce of Social Work ought to have an
orienta􀀯on about socio-cultural background. Even though the
principles will remain the same universally but a good Social
Worker will give weightage to socio-cultural background too. So
when we fine tune the principles [without compromising its core
value] to best suit the needs of the people or society, it is termed
as indigenous Social Work. In India we call it as Indianisa􀀯on (or
Bhara􀀯yakaran) of Social Work.
Situa􀀡on other countries:
If we look at the historical development of profession of Social
Work, we can find that it got evolved in West and European
countries and its origin is not more than two centuries old.
Hence the available knowledge is mostly West or Euro centric.
That does not rule out that there was no social ac􀀯vi􀀯es for the
well-being of people in the societywhich are culturally rich
countries like India or Japan. As of now many countries like
China, Japan, Australia etc. are moving towards indigenous
Social Work as per their needs, away from Euro/West centric
Social Work. In short such countries are adop􀀯ng Social Work to
suit their socio-cultural background.
Fundamental changes in theories and principles:
It is but natural to raise the doubt that Social Work theories and
principles will differ from country to country. Not necessarily.
Social Work deals with human beings. And basically human
beings are same irrespec􀀯ve of the country or region they
belong to. Whatever theories and principles we have as of now,
are useful in allevia􀀯ng the misery of human beings and that is
the reason Social Work as a profession came into prominence
throughout the world. So there is no ques􀀯on of totally
discarding the exis􀀯ng theories and principles terming them as
Euro/West centric. Rather the theories and principles will get
fine-tuned with addi􀀯ons and modifica􀀯ons to ensure
effec􀀯veness with regard to a country or region. Enrichment of
the knowledge-base of Social Work is the ul􀀯mate goal in such
process which in turn will enhance effec􀀯veness of Social Work
Prac􀀯ce. Advancement of any knowledge or branch of science is
for the benefit of whole humanity.
Achieving the goal of Indianisa􀀡on of Social Work:
This is the fundamental issue. It will be a process and there is no
short cut to it. When we term it as a process, it means that it has
to make a beginning and then con􀀯nue in the same direc􀀯on 􀀯ll
the highest goal is achieved. We must commit ourselves for this
vision and make efforts to develop a good knowledge-base. For
this purpose we must explore ancient Indian knowledge and
compile terms and concepts, relate them to present day theories
and principles of Social Work. Further we have to adopt these
ancient concepts to enrich present knowledge-base and thereby
move towards India-centric rather than Euro/West centric
subject ma􀁉er. Exploring ancient Indian knowledge is essen􀀯al
because it s􀀯ll has a hold on vast majority of people in India.
Old wine in new bo􀁆le!
Not at all. First we have to understand that the bo􀁉le will be new
or there will be a new look. Moreover inside the bo􀁉le also you
will find a new flavor. The wine will not be the same as the
west/Euro centric knowledge-base of Social Work will have to
make way for India-centric one. So there will be Indian flavor
inside the bo􀁉le and the flavor will get stronger and stronger –
more of Indian flavor- as the 􀀯me passes.
Views on Process of Indianisa􀀡on of Social Work:-
There may be as many views as possible. To my mind, radical and
sudden changes or modifica􀀯ons will lead to confusion. Simply
because sudden change will adversely affect both teachers and
students due to various reasons; for example lack of enough
literature or books on indigenous Social Work.
The available-best methodology should be to move towards the
goal in phases or stages. Depending on the difficulty or comfort
involved, I would like to visualize three stages or levels. First one,
the ini􀀯al stage where the difficulty will be theleast. In this level
we can replace Euro-centric examples, case studies etc. which
are used for explaining the theories and principles with those
from our own country or our experiences. Like in teaching
Community Organisa􀀯on we can use examples of contribu􀀯on
by people like Anna Hazare or VinobaBhave and similarly we can
introduce and do analysis of events like KumbhaMela which is a
mega community event taking place smoothly with the
voluntary involvement of people. Nowhere in the world you will
find example like KumbhaMela.
Second level will be having li􀁉le more difficulty than the previous
one. Here we have to work towards supplemen􀀡ng /suppor􀀡ng
exis􀀯ng theories and principles of Social Work with ideas and
concepts from our Indian culture or tradi􀀯on. This will help us for
successful prac􀀯ce of Social Work in Indian context, with
emphasis on the socio-cultural background or belief system of
Indian clients or society in general.
The third and the final stage will be to evolve an Indian model of
Social Work educa􀀯on and prac􀀯ce where learners will be able
to learn similari􀀯es and differences of Euro-centric Social Work
and indigenous Indian Social Work. All the above three levels are
not exclusive like water 􀀯ght compartments in the sense that we
can work on all the three levels simultaneously too. The bo􀁉om
line is that the transi􀀯on must be a smooth and consistent one,
otherwise there will be chaos.
Three stages with examples:-
In the first stage we have to enrich current knowledge-base with
our experiences and examples in Indian context. For example
instead of teaching the subject Community Work/Organisa􀀯on
purely on the basis of a foreign model, we can include
experiments /work done by Anna Hazare in Ralegan Siddhi or
NanajiDeshmukh in Chitrakut or Amte family from highly
backward tribal district of Gadchiroli. Similarly Dr.Abhay Bhang
of Gadchiroli and his team has been doing excellent work – very
cost effec􀀯ve—Health Care of rural and tribal community.
For the second stage, we can incorporate Indian values or
concepts in addi􀀯on to exis􀀯ng West-Euro centric ones. As an
example, when we discuss about essen􀀯al a􀁉ributes or quali􀀯es
of a Social Work Prac􀀯􀀯oner, we can incorporate teachings from
Upanishads or Buddhist literature. InBhagavat Gita we find
verses like “ yasmanno–dvijate-loka- lokanno-dvijate-chayah”
meaning one who does not get bored by the people/society and
the people are not bored by him/her He/she likes to be amongst
the people and people do not dislike him/her.This is essen􀀯al for
a Social Work Prac􀀯􀀯oner as his/her work is basically with the
people and not an arm chair work like an accountant. Further
G i t a s a y s “ Tu l y a – n i n d a – s t u 􀀡 r – m o u n i … . . a n i k e t a –
sthirama􀀡r…”meaning one who remains stable in the face of
apprecia􀀯on and cri􀀯cismswith calmness. This again is a good
quality expected of a Social Worker as he/she should not be
swayed by rewards or no-rewards. But as of now these quali􀀯es
are not men􀀯oned in the Social Work text books. Such things can
be incorporated easily as these are in addi􀀯on to whatever is
taught today and there will be no controversy.
For the third stage let us take an example of an important
principle of Social Work. Principle of Self-determina􀀯on
essen􀀯ally means that the client must be allowed/encouraged to
decide about the final course of ac􀀯on for his/her own benefit
and the Social Worker must leave it at that phase. In Indian
situa􀀯on most of the clients will come back to the Social worker
with a request to decide on behalf o􀁔hem in their best of
interest. In turn the responsibility of the Social worker increases
and he/she must make efforts to understand the desperateness
of the clients also. They are really not able to make a decision
which may be a􀁉ributed to level educa􀀯on in our country or
some other factors. The social worker can shun his/her
responsibility by saying – “No. It is for you to decide yourself and I
will not advice you further”. This approach may not help the
client, rather he/she may feel dejected and may not pursue
further. Gita gives us insight in this respect. At the end in Gita,
Krishna tells Arjuna to cri􀀯cally analyse whole knowledge and
decide for yourself what should be done(Yathechasi- tathakuru).
But Arjunasays “ I have clarity in my mind now as I have
lost all wrong a􀁏tudes…. I will do without any hesita􀀯on
whatever you say”( Nashto- moha- smri􀀙r- labda….karishyevachanam-
tava). Here we must understand that we are not
compromising with the principle of self-determina􀀯on but
enlarging or enriching it.
Difficul􀀡es visualized at this moment:-
First and foremost is very limited number of books or nonavailability
of readymade indigenous literature. It has to be
evolved and developed which may require some period of 􀀯me.
Second we may have to create a mechanism to orient the
teachers first which will require consistent efforts for one to two
years. We may have to ini􀀯ate discussions and debate on various
aspects Indianisa􀀯on of Social Work at various levels. This can
lead to the crea􀀯on of uniform understanding and can lead to
the forma􀀯on of uniform syllabus in various Universi􀀯es in India.
The third difficulty is about ensuring the support of all Govt.
departments and bodies dealing with Higher Educa􀀯on without
which the whole exercise will remain only on paper.
Sugges􀀡ons for early implementa􀀡on:-
a) Forma􀀯on of Social Work Council of India just like Medical
Council of India which will develop a road-map in this regard.
b) Forma􀀯on of high power commi􀁉ees for curriculum
development and implementa􀀯on on a 􀀯me bound manner.
c) Organising Seminars, Workshops etc. for all the stake holders
of Social Work at college and University levels.
d) Crea􀀯on of devoted websites, blogs etc. for speedy
communica􀀯on of views.
e) Ensuring involvement of experts, academicians from the
areas of ancient literature and philosophy.
References :
1) Khinduka S. K. : “Meaning of Social Work” “Social Work in
India” (edited by S. K. Khinduka) Kitab Mahal Pvt. Ltd.
Allahabad, 1965 – page 27/18.
2) Yasas F. A. : “Gandhian Values and Professional Social Work
Values” “Social Work in India” (edited by Khinduka S. K.)
Kitab Mahal Pvt. Ltd., Allahabad 1965, Page 76.
3) Banerjee G. R. : “Paper on Social Work-An Indian
Perspec􀀯ve” Tata Ins􀀯tute of Social Sciences, Bombay. Page
4) Wilkinson T. S. and Bhandarkar P. L. : “Methodology and
techniques of Social Research” Himalaya Publishing House,
Bombay 1986. Page 65.
5) Based on the Version of Shri. R. N. Dandekar on Ancient
Indian Literature, B. O. R. I., Pune.
6) Komidar S. J. : “Use of the Library” “Methods in Social
Research” (by Goode W. J. and Ha􀁉 P. K.) Interna􀀯onal
students edi􀀯on, Mc Grow Hill, Tokyo, 1952. Page 103.
7) Komidar S. J. : Ibid Page 104.
  
Chapter II
The dis􀀯nguishing characteris􀀯c of Social Work lies not
in its social science know-how or even in its skills or in
interpersonal rela􀀯ons, but in its concern for those in need of
help… the deprived, the underprivileged, the unadjusted and
the handicapped.1 The basic concern of Social Work is without
ques􀀯on the welfare of its clientele and it has developed a
responsible ethic which gives direc􀀯on to its use of the
knowledge it acquires.2
In fact Social Work seeks to enhance the social
func􀀯oning of individuals, singly and in groups, by ac􀀯vi􀀯es
focused upon their social rela􀀯onships which cons􀀯tute the
intera􀀯on between man and his environment.
Quo􀀯ng Younghusband, Phil Lee writes. “The Social
Worker is concerned with remedying certain deficiencies which
may exist in rela􀀯on between the individual and his environment
and for this purpose is concerned with the total individual in
rela􀀯on to the whole of his environment, in so far as this is
relevant to righ􀀯ng such deficiencies.”3
Beulah R. Compton sums up by saying “it is possible to
define Social Work as the profession that delivers the personal
social services devised by social welfare programmes and guided
by Social Policy to the consumer of such services.”4
Brief Historical Development of Social Work
To trace the historical development of Social Work, its
origin can be found in the Charity Movement in England.
Woodroofe notes “Although the ma􀁉ers with which it is
concerned are old, Social Work as a profession is very young. Its
beginnings are to be found within the Charity Organiza􀀯on
Movement which developed in England during the 1860’s as one
answer to the ques􀀯on of how to tackle poverty in the midst of
Victorian plenty.”5
In the period of the founding and growth of the charity
organiza􀀯on movement, a new organiza􀀯on with some what
similar purposes the American Red Cross-came into being.6 A
large number of charity organisa􀀯ons both in England in
America, demanded trained and skilled workers to man them,
which was a major turning point for Social Work, giving rise to
Social Work Educa􀀯on Ins􀀯tu􀀯ons.
The interven􀀯on by the State became more prominent
and the “charity” concept gave way to the concept of “Social
Welfare”. It was in twenteeth century, “the economic deluge of
the 1930’s not only brought a new deal for Social Work, in the
sense that for the first 􀀯me, it (Social Work) became a recognised
and respected func􀀯on of Government in U.S.A.”7
Indian Scenario
Tracing the historical development of Social Work in
India, Billimoria writes” we see the germs of voluntry Social
Work in the a􀁉empts made by primi􀀯ve tribes to preserve their
homogeneity and protect the weak in the face of a common
danger.” 8
“The spirit of doing good to one’s fellow beings and
in􀀯􀀯a􀀯ng or taking part in ac􀀯vi􀀯es for the welfare and common
good of all seems to have been a special characteris􀀯c of Indians
in ancient 􀀯mes”.9 The amount of efforts undertaken for the
welfare of the society can be easily enumerated from the old
literary works like kau􀀯lya’s “Arthshastra” and the “Jatakas” of
Buddha period and from the inscrip􀀯ons of the king Ashoka and
king Krishna Devaraya of South India.
“The Muslims who formed an important element of the
popula􀀯on from the thirteenth or fourteenth century onwards
were inspired by the same spirit of social service par􀀯cularly in
the fields of religion and educa􀀯on.”10 During Bri􀀯sh regime
Social Work in India, crossed major milestones in the sense that
during this period, ins􀀯tu􀀯ons and great personali􀀯es came
forward to work for the Societal Welfare.
The contribu􀀯ons made by personali􀀯es like Raja Ram
Mohan Roy, Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, Mahatma Jyo􀀯ba Phule,
Pandita Ramabai, Swami Vivekanand and later on by Gopala
Krishana Gokhale, Lokamanya Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi, Vinoba
Bhave etc. had far reaching effect on the Indian society. During
the same period, ins􀀯tu􀀯ons like Brahmo Samaj, Arya Samaj,
Ramakrishna Mu􀁉, Theosophical Society, Servants of India
Society etc. made their own impact in serving the society.
“The first school of Social Work was set up in Bombay in
1936, which produced Social Workers with professional
training.”11 The other places like Delhi, Indore, Madras etc.
followed Bombay in the establishment of School of Social Work
in India.
A􀁔er Independence, declaring itself as Welfare State,
Indian Government took up welfare measures through Social
Policy and programmes. The establishment of Central Social
Welfare Board gave a boost to the voluntary welfare agencies
working in the field of Social Work. At present both
Governmental and non Governmental organis􀀯ons are striving
for the be􀁉erment of life of less privileged and the deprived,
with the help of trained Social Workers.
Defini􀀡ons of Social Work
B. R. Compton records a number of defini􀀯ons of Social
Work as given by various authori􀀯es.12
a) Social Work is a process through which we use the
understanding of individual in society in the rendering of
certain social service supported by the community and
applied for by members of it— Gartland. (1940).
b) Social work is a helping ac􀀯vity directed to problems, which
affect economic and social well-being and a liason ac􀀯vity
concerned with maximizing resources, for well-being and
facilita􀀯ng their use— United Na􀀯ons Commission 1959.
c) The central target of technical Social Work prac􀀯ce is
matching something in person and situa􀀯on that is
intervening by whatever methods and means necessary to
help people, be in situa􀀯ons where their capabili􀀯es are
insufficiently matched with the demands of the situa􀀯on to
“Make a go of it — William Gordon, 1969.
d) Social Work is the professional ac􀀯vity of helping the
individuals, groups or communi􀀯es to enhance or restore
their capacity for social func􀀯oning and to create societal
condi􀀯ons favourable to their goals —Na􀀯onal Associa􀀯on
of Social Works U. S. A. 1970.
Khinduka S. K. men􀀯ons defini􀀯ons given by some more
authori􀀯es on the subject.13
a) Social Work is a form of professional service, based upon
scien􀀯fic knowledge and skill in human rela􀀯ons, which
assists individuals, alone or in groups to obtain social and
personal sa􀀯sfac􀀯on and independence. It is usually
performed by a social agency of a related organisa􀀯on.—
Friedlander 1955.
b) Social Work is a welfare ac􀀯vity based on humantarian
philosphy, scien􀀯fic knowledge and technical skills for
helping individuals or groups of community to live a rich and
full life—Indian conference of Social Work, 1957.
c) Social Work comprises of the en􀀯re body of public and
voluntary welfare ac􀀯vi􀀯es that seek to assure every ci􀀯zen a
desirable minimum standard of living, freedom and
security— Radhakamal Mukerjee, 1954.
Social Work is the art of bringing various resources to
bear on individual, groups and community needs by the
applica􀀯on of a scien􀀯fic method of helping people to help
Nature and Scope of Social Work
Further, khinduka brings out the nature and scope of
Social Work through six per􀀯nent points which are self-
explanatory. 15
1) Social Work is a helping ac􀀯vity.
2) It has both public and private auspices.
3) It has a knowledge base.
4) It has its own methods of service.
5) It draws its inspira􀀯on from humanitaranism.
6) It has a problem solving func􀀯on and seeks to help
people meet their genuine needs.
Philosophy of Modern Social Work
Regarding philosophy of modern Social Work, Khinduka
writes “Social work is rooted in humanitarianism. It is scien􀀯fic
humansim. It is based on certain values which when organised
into a logically consistent system are designated as the
Philosophy of Social Work”.16
P. T. Thomas differenciates Philosophy of Social Work and
between philosophy of Social Workers. According to him, Social
Work Philosophy is based on a set of theore􀀯cal propor􀀯on
while the Social Workers Philosophy takes form on the mental
a􀁉unement or atmosphere gathered and cul􀀯vated by the
intending Social Worker as a result of feelings and experience.17
P. T. Thomas writes further in the rigid professional
approach, we have a set of ideas call it philosophy if you like
which has as its springboard a complex of beliefs such as (1)
democracy is the natural right of man and is hence an a􀁉ainment
to be aimed at (2) individual behaviour is mo􀀯vated by
subconcious factors that are both discoverable and controllable
through the appropriate insights and skills (3) all social
problems are ul􀀯mately personal maladgusments to
environment and therefore… (4) Social Work must concern itself
with the problem of the individual’s adjustments to given
situa􀀯ons at given 􀀯mes. This I believe is more or less the broad
outline of the philosophy of professional Social Work. 18
P. T. Thomas con􀀯nues “In contemporary Indian
background, the philosophy of Social Work as understood in the
case discussing professional circles has li􀁉le significance. What
our situa􀀯on demands is a philosophy based on collec􀀯ve
responsibility for social welfare. When this is accepted : it ceases
to be a philosophy of Social Work; it will be a philosophy of
welfare which is very ancient indeed.19
Friedlander notes “The prac􀀯ce of Social Work is based
upon a generic philosophical concept. This concept is that the
individual human being is the primary concern of a democra􀀯c
society, inside of which individuals are inter-dependant and
socially responsible to one another and to the society”.20
Basic Principles of Social Work
Walter A. Friendlander is an authority on modern Social
Work, who is recognised universally as later authors quote him in
their works. He men􀀯ons “Generic” Principles concerned with
the three primary types of Social Work, namely Social Case
Work, Social Group Work and Community Organisa􀀯on, which
are quoted here in his own words.21
(1) Convic􀀯on of the inherent worth, the integrity and the
dignity of the individual is the first principle.
(2) The second generic principle is the convic􀀯on that the
individual who is in economic, personal or social need has
the right to determine himself what his needs are and how
they should be met.
(3) A third concept is that of decisive importance for Social Work
in a democra􀀯c society is the firm belief in equal opportunity
for all limited only by the indivisual’s innate capaci􀀯es.
(4) A fourth value common to all methods of Social Work is the
concvic􀀯on that man’s individual rights to self-respect,
dignity, self determina􀀯on and equal opportuni􀀯es are
connected with his social responsibili􀀯es toward himself, his
family and his society.
Purpose of Social Work
To understand the concept of Social Work, it becomes
necessary to study its purpose.
“On the one hand, the purpose of Social Work is to
strengthen the individual and on the other to provide for such
arrangements in society which would provide maximum
opportuni􀀯es to the individual to realize all that is best in him”.22
The Report of the Working Party on Social Workers in the
Local Authority Health and Welfare Services, England 1957
brings out the purpose of Social Work as “The purpose of Social
Work is to help individuals or families with various problems and
to overcome or lessen these so that they may achieve a be􀁉er
personal family or social adjustment.23
Pincus and Minahan note “Social work is concerned with
the interac􀀯on between people and their social environment
which affect the ability of people to accomplish their life tasks,
alleviate distress and realise their aspira􀀯ons and values.
The purpose of Social Work therefore is to (1) enhance
the problem solving and coping capaci􀀯es of people. (2) link
people with systems that provide them with resources, services
and opportuni􀀯es. (3) Promote the effec􀀯ve and human
opera􀀯on of these systems and (4) Contribute to the
development and improvement of social policy”.24
“The goal of Social Work is to reconcile the well-being of
the individuals with the welfare of society in which the live”.25
Social Work Values
Pincus and Minahan note the values of Social work. “The
primary values of Social Work might be stated as follows (1)
Society has an obliga􀀯on to ensure that people have access to
the resources, services and opportuni􀀯es they need to meet
various life tasks, alleviate distress and realise their aspira􀀯ons
and values. (2) In providing social resources, the dignity and
individuality of people should be respected.
Muriel W. P. presents the highly abstract values of Social
Work in a schema􀀯c form.27
Importance of the individual –> Interdependence of all
individuals at all 􀀯mes.
Condidera􀀯on for and acceptance of differances–> Social
u􀀯liza􀀯on of and provision for variability within flexible
Self determina􀀯on. Right to select own lifestyle –>
Considera􀀯on for self determining needs and desires of others
Self helf –> Obliga􀀯on to assist others in developing or
recovering this capacity; non-blaming acceptance when selfhelp
is not possible .
Common needs of man –> Recogni􀀯on of similari􀀯es and
Acceptance of every person –> No condoning of behaviour
which hurts others.
Right to equal par􀀯cipa􀀯on –> Gran􀀯ng par􀀯cipa􀀯on to others.
Right to protec􀀯on of body and intellect –> Obliga􀀯on not to
injure or deprive others.
Freedom –> Limit.
Change – progress – growth –> Preserva􀀯on of the effec􀀯ve
stability, security, social direc􀀯on through accepted norms
Validated knowledge –> Intui􀀯ve specula􀀯on; in sight.
Social Work As a Profession
In India, unlike in the Western countries which gave birth
to the concept of Social Work, much needs to be done to create a
concrete public opinion to regard Social Work as a profession.
Even though, the schools of Social Work and the Social Work
educators go on hammering the public mind in India, to accept
Social Work as profession, people at large do not seem to
consider it so, specially like the profession of medicine or law.
Lawyers and doctors get easily recognised as professionals but
when a Social Worker terms himself as a professional by which
he earns his liveihood also, people can not digest the idea of
reward or payment of money for Social Work. For many Indians,
Social Work s􀀯ll remains as selfless ac􀀯vity and not job which is
why the big ques􀀯on is always asked “Is Social Work a
By discussing the meaning and concept of the term
“profession” S. K. Khindnka, draws six major characteris􀀯cs of
profession,28 namely
1) A special body of knowledge
2) A system of impar􀀯ng training
3) Special ability of the professionals in their area of opera􀀯on.
4) Professional organisa􀀯on.
5) Professional ethics
6) Social recogni􀀯on.
With discussing the above points in length, Khinduka
concludes. “To our first ques􀀯on, then, namely is Social Work a
profession in India our answer can only be an unqualified “Yes”.
True it is new as profession and its pres􀀯ge among the profession
is as high as of law and medicine, nevertheless as the above
discussion shows it is impossible to deny it the status of a
D. Paul Choudhary writes “Social Work is not merely a
leisure 􀀯me ac􀀯vity now. It has developed into a full- pledged
profession with definite knowledge, techniques and skills.
Which are acquired by a social workers”.30
Even in the Countries of its origin Social Work is yet to get
full recogni􀀯on as profession. Woodroofe notes. For despite the
fact that it is acquiring its own body of theory, methods, ethical
code and organisa􀀯on, Social Work in the United States is s􀀯ll
not fully recognised as one of the professions. Although it has
travelled far since the days in 1915, when it was deemed as the
mediator who summoned the expert, Social Work in the United
States has s􀀯ll not been able to gain complete professional
The Process of Social Work Prac􀀡ce
Beulah R. Compton writes about the process of Social
Work prac􀀯ce which is as follows.31
“The dynamics of all that goes on between the client
system and the worker is encompassed by the phrase Social
Work Process, meaning the whole series of ac􀀯ons, changes, or
func􀀯ons that go on between the client and the worker in the
course of their being together.
1) Problem or issue defini􀀯on.
2) Goal se􀁏ng and assessment
3) Contrac􀀯ng
4) Ac􀀯on towards change and
5) Evalua􀀯on
Social Work Methods
Social work as a profession has evolved its own methods
through which the welfare of the individual, groups and the
society has been aimed at. The three primary methods are (1)
Social Case Work (2) Social Group Work and (3) Community
Organisa􀀯on, while the secondary methods are (1) Social
welfare Administra􀀯on (2) Social Ac􀀯on and (3) Social Work
The areas termed as the fields of Social Work include (a)
Child welfare (b) Youth welfare (c) Family welfare (d) Labour
welfare (e) Tribal welfare (f) Correc􀀯onal work (g) Medical and
psychiatric Social Work etc.
Thus the Social Work as we understand today has its
origin in the concept of charity. Its basic concerns are the welfare
of individual, the group and the society. The values of Social work
are based upon democra􀀯c principles and humanitariansm.
Presently, at least in India, Social Work is yet to get social
acceptance as a profession because in the common parlance,
Social Work is termed as a self-less ac􀀯vity under taken for the
welfare of others.
References :
1) GORE M. S. : “The Scope of Social Work Prac􀀯ce”, “Social
Work Educa􀀯on and Social Work Prac􀀯ce in India” (edited
by Nair T. K.) Associa􀀯on of Madras, 1981 page 9.
2) EMMET, DOROTHY : “Ethics and the Social Worker”, “Social
Work and Social Values” (Complied by Younghusband E.),
Georage Allen and Unwin Ltd, London, 1967. page 16.
3) LEE PHIL : “Some Contemporary and Perennial Problems of
Rela􀀯ng Theory to Prac􀀯ce in Social Work”, “Theory and
Prac􀀯ce in Social Work” (edited by Balley R. and Lee Phil).
Basil Blackwell Publisher Ltd. England. 1982. Page 10.
4) COMPTON B. R. : “Introduc􀀯on Social Welfare and Social
Work” The Dorsey Press, Illinois., U.S.A. 1980. Page 107.
5) WOODROOFE K. : “From Charity to Social Work” University
of Toronto Press, Toronto 1974. Page 3.
6) WOODROOFE K. : Ibid. Page 27.
7) WOODROOFE K. : Ibid. Page 77.
8) STROUP H. H. : “Social Work – An Introduc􀀯on to the Field”
Eurasia Publishing House Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi, 1965. Page
9) WOODROOFE K. : Op. Cit Page 176.
10) BILLIMORIA, G. R. : “Voluntary Social work”, “Social Work in
India” (edited by Wadia A.R.) Allied Publishers Pvt. Ltd
Bombay 1961. Page 60.
11) MAJUMDAR R. C. : “Social Work in Ancient and Medieval
India”, “Social Work in India” (edited by Wadia, A. R.) Allied
publishers Pvt. Ltd. Bombay, 1961. Page 17.
12) MAJUMDAR R. C. : Ibid page 23.
13) CHAUDHARY, D. PAUL : “Introduc􀀯on to Social Work”. Atma
Ram and Sons, Delhi 1976. page 3.
14) COMPTON B. R. : Op cit page 108.
15) KHINDUKA S. K. : “Meaning of Social Work”, “Social Work in
India” (edited by Khinduka S. K.) Kitab Mahal Pvt. Ltd.
Allahabad, 1965. Page 9 to 11.
16) STROUP H. H. : Op Cit page 2.
17) KHINDUKA S. K. : Op cit page 11.
18) KHINDNKA S. K. : Ibid Page 23.
19) THOMAS P. T. : “Reffec􀀯ons on the Philosophy of Social
Work” “Social Work in India” (edited by Khinduka S.K.),
Kitab Mahal Pvt. Ltd. Allabad, 1965. Page 67.
20) THOMAS P. T. : Ibid page 68.
21) THOMAS P. T. : Ibid page 70.
22) FRIEDLANDER W.A. : Op Cit page 284.
23) FRIEDLANDER W.A. : Ibid page 1 to 7.
24) JALF. B. : “Social Welfare Under Indian Condi􀀯ons” “Social
Work in India” (edited by Khinduka S.K.) Kitab Mahal Pvt.
Ltd. Allahabad, 1965. page 316.
25) EMMET D. : Op cit page 7.
26) PINCUS A & MINAHAN A. : “A Model for Social Work
Prac􀀯ce” “Integra􀀯ng Social Work Methods” (edited by
Specht, H and Vickering A), George Allen and Unwin,
London, 1977. Page 78.
27) FRIEDLANDER W.A. : Op cit page 8.
28) RANADE S. N. : “Trends in Social Work” “Social Work in
India” (edited by Khinduka S. K.) Kitab Mahal Pvt. Ltd.
Allahabad, 1965 page 316.
29) PINCUS A AND MINAHAN A : Op cit page 92
30) MURIEL W. P. : “The Teaching of Values and Ethics in Social
Work Educa􀀯on” (as quoted by Khinduka S.K.) in “Social
Work in India” Kitab Mahal Pvt. Ltd., Allahabad, 1965. page
31) KHINDUNKA S. K. : Op Cit page 37.
32) KHINDUNKA S. K. : Ibid, page 55.
33) Choudhary D. P. : Op cit. page 11.
34) WOODROOFE K. : Op Cit page 223.
35) COMPTON B.R. : Op Cit page 115 to 117.
  
Chapter III
“A sprit of service or of rendering help to fellow human
being on which the superstructure of Modern Social Work rests,
was well known in India from very ancient 􀀯mes”.1 Ancient
Hindu literature speaks volumes on the aspect of helping others
and rendering services to the needy as one’s Dharma or
obligatory duty. The structure and the lores of the society were
such that the Social Work a􀁏tude as well as its prac􀀯ce were
beau􀀯fully integrated with the individual’s aim of life or purpose
of his existence on the earth. For him helping others, was a
service unto God as he saw God in animate and inanimate things
and it was easy for him to ‘feel’ the pain of other because he saw
self in all living creatures. These principles existed not merely in
philosophical level but Hindu texts envisaged easy and prac􀀯cal
ways and means to adopt them in day to day life.
Prof. Wadia narrates the principle of divinity of man and
its relevance in social work in his forceful language. Wadia says
“The divine in man is o􀁔en smothered but never totally
annihilated. This is the truth which Social Workers in every land
have discovered. Howard found that divinity in criminals,
Elizabeth Fry in the insane, Josephine Butler in the pros􀀯tute,
Florene Nigh􀀯ngale in the wounded and the suffering, Kagwa in
the leper, Ramabai in the oppressed women and Gandhiji in the
Ancient Hindu literature is rich in a number of excellent
concepts which have relevance in the prac􀀯ce of modern Social
Work. These invaluable concepts need to be analysed and
interpreted logically to bring out their significance and
relevance. The following paras are devoted for this purpose.
The Concept of Danam
It is a well known fact that the origin of the present day
concept of Social Work can be traced to the charity movement
especially by Christain Missionaries. It had contributed
significantly in the prac􀀯ce of Social Work and gave broader
philosophical base to it. Prof. Wadia notes “Charity is a virtue
which has flourished on the soil of religion.”3
The Charity – Defined
The Webster’s New world dic􀀯onary gives the meaning
of charity as “the love of God for man or of man for his fellow
man; an act of goodwill; benevolence; kindness in judging
others; a voluntary giving of money etc. to those in need, welfare
ins􀀯tu􀀯on, organisa􀀯on etc”.
Charity is the act of giving something to a needy out of
love for him in the name of God, as the needy person can not
acquire it of his own. The religious teaching, specially the
Chris􀀯an theology expects every one to undertake charity,
voluntarily as an act of good will, according to his capacity and
will. And hence the “Charity” concept is different from that of
“Social Welfare” which is a ma􀁉er of social duty. Even though the
charity is obligatory, the par􀀯cular occassions of performing it
are le􀁔 to our choice. No one has a moral right to our generosity
or benifiecence but under Social Welfare ie welfare by State, one
claims what one is en􀀯tled to as a special category and what
some one has a duty to provide for Charity is the will and wish of
the give but welfare is a right. 4
Meaning of Danam
Ancient Hindu literature, men􀀯ons the concept of
Danam which is more than equivalant to that of charity in its
meaning and wider in its prac􀀯ce.
The English meaning of Danam is giving, gran􀀯ng,
teaching, liberality, giving away as charity, munifience etc”. But
exact meaning of the term can be known from its actual prac􀀯ce
and from the significance a􀁉ached to it in the ancient works. In
Rigveda, the meaning of Danam is men􀀯oned as “Distribu􀀯on”
as the root da (Xm)means distribu􀀯on.5
In Bagavat Gita, God Shrikrishna explains the importance
of Danam by equa􀀯ng it to “yajna (Group ac􀀯vity for collec􀀯ve
good) veda (doX) (learning of scriptures) and tap Vn (medita􀀯ng
for salva􀀯on).
Further Danam is equal to Shradha (lmÕ) (obla􀀯on to
forefathers) as it is demeed to free the man from his “Pitra Rina
(Debt to ancestors) ({nV¥ä` lmÕmXmZoZ Z¥U_ä`MZoZ && _hm^maV em§{Vnd© –
Classifica􀀡on of Danam
The Danam ac􀀯vity has been classified into three groups
in Bhagavat Gita while Five groups of classifica􀀯on are
men􀀯oned in Mahabharat. The three men􀀯oned in Gita are
Satvik, Rajas and Tamas. (gmpËdH$, amOg, Vm_g) When one
performs Danam considering it as his obligatory duty with in the
parameters of Xoe (Place) H$mb (Time) and nmÌ (the needy) not as a
reward for an earlier favour is termed as “gmpËdH$ XmZ_”. The three
parameters and the a􀁏tude as obligatory duty carries much
importance in its out look and prac􀀯ce. “gmpËdH$ XmZ_” should be
􀀯mely and should be with base to the place. Say for example a
“XmZ_” of cloth which is not usually worn in a par􀀯cular region, if
given to a person, can never be a “gmpËdH$” one, Similarly, the
need of the needy must be understood by the giver before the
needy asks for it. This is what is meant by the parameter “Patra”.
In short “gmpËdH$ XmZ_” is one which is performed as an obligatory
duty before the needy begging for it and given appropriately
with regard to place and 􀀯me. ( XmVì`{_{V `ÔmZ Xr`Vo AZwnH$m[aUo & Xoeo
H$mbo M nmÌo M VXXmZ gmpËdH$ ñ_¥V_² 17/201).
The seconed one “amOg XmZ_” is one which is performed
with an inten􀀯on of ge􀁏ng in return something, say nwÊ` with
much unwillingness. The act of giving takes place but the
inten􀀯on and the mental frame work at the 􀀯me of giving is not
at the heighest level of nobility. (`ÝVw àË`wH$mamW© \$b_w{Ôí` dm nwZ: &
Xr`Vo M n[apËH$ï> VÔmZ§ amOg§ ñ_¥V_² && 17/21)
The third one is Vm_g XmZ_ which is carried out with least
respect to the needy, without caring to the parameters of 􀀯me
and place. This one is last in order of importance and even
though it is much disgraceful, “Vm_g²” type is also considered to
be one among XmZ_ (AXoeH$mbo `XXmZ_nmVmo-`ü Xr`Vo & AgH¥$VVàdkmV
CÎm_g_wXmhV_ && 17/22).
Classifica􀀡on in Mahabharat
Mahabharat classifies the XmZ_ ac􀀯vity into five,
depending on the inten􀀯on behind them. The first one is
Dharma Danam (Y_© XmZ_) which is selfless, without expec􀀯ng
anything in return; not even nwÊ` and undertaken as a obligatory
duty. Second one is termed as AW© XmZ_ in which the glorifica􀀯on
or praise of the giver is expected from the receiver. The inten􀀯on
behind third one is to avoid curse or which is undertaken out of
fear and is termed as ^` XmZ_. The fourth one is H$m_Zm XmZ_
which is undertaken only for the near and dear or only known
friends and rela􀀯ves with a view to material gain or favour in
return. The last one is X`m XmZ_ which is because of the Pity or
Sympathy towards the receiver who gets what the giver wants to
give at his will and wish. (Y_m©V² AWm©V² ^`mV H$m_mV H$méÊ`m{X{V ^maV &
XmZ§ n§M{dY§ ko` H$maUo`¡{Z©~moY VV² & _hm^maV AZwemgZ nd© & 138/5 to 11).
The gmpËdH$ and Y_© XmZ_ are held in high esteem and the ancient
texts urge everyone to undertake the same daily, without any
default. Manu says that the mind must always be engrossed in
Danam (XmVm {ZË`_ZmXmVm…. 6/8) and it should be undertaken
daily. ({H«$`mV² {ZaVm§ {ZË`§ XmZo `ko M H$_m©{U && _hm^maV em§{Vnd© 19/22)
How of Danam – Obligatory Duty
Bagavad Gita gives emphasis more on How of Danam
rather than What of Danam. Equa􀀯ng it with Yajna and Tapa it
proclaims Danam as a obligatory duty of everyone which is never
to be done away with. (`k XmZ VnH$_© Z Ë`mÁ`§ H$m`©od VV²…..18/5)
And it should be undertaken without the desire to get something
in return. (XmVmÝ`{n V H$_m©{U g¥S> ì`ŠËdm \$bm{Z M & H$V©ì`m{_{V _o nmW©
{Z{üV§ _V_wÎm__²& ^JdX²JrVm 18/61). Again Danam as a unavoidabble
duty has been stressed and the selfish inten􀀯on of ge􀁏ng nwÊ`
should never be the factor of considera􀀯on.
To explain further, in Mahabharat various nwÊ` are
a􀁉ached to different Danam like heaven for one who offers food
to a hungry person but gaining Punya should never be the
outlook of the giver at the 􀀯me of Danam even though a definite
reward for a good deed is guaranteed in the ancient texts.
It must be given before the needy asks for it and a Danam
given to a person who does not seek is be􀁉er than one given to a
person asking it; which implies the need of the needy must be
understood before the needy begs for it (lo`mo Xo `mMV: nmW©
XmZ_möa`mMVo….._hm^maV & AZw nd© 68/2).
Danam – Dedicated to God
Gita ordains that the Danam should be undertaken in the
name of God and should be dedicated to Him. (Vñ_mX² Amo
BË`wXmhËd `kXmZ Vn: {H«$`m: Gita 7/24). With the view that the whole
universe belongs to God and without ego, the Danam is to be
performed (VV² BË`Z{^gÜ`m` \$b§ `k Vn: {H«$`m: & XmZ {H«$`m ü {d{dYm:
{H«$`ÝVo _mojH$m§{f{^: ^JdX²JrVm 7/25).
The ego behind the act of giving should be avoided
because what one posses which he intends to give to another,
really belongs to God. And one posses it by the grace of the God
and offering it to a needy is considered to be his duty towards
God too. This kind of a􀁏tude enables the Hindu psyche not to be
greedy in possesing or hoarding the things but to be generous in
offering it to others. Manu says that one should never boast of
his Danam (Z XËdm n[aH$sV©`V² 4/236).
Danam-With Devo􀀡on and Hapiness
Danam should be performed with full devo􀀯on i.e. the
giver should never feel sorry as to loose his possession by way of
Danam. Not even in the remote corner of the mind, the giver
should have such feeling of loosing his property and not that
whatever is in abundance with him to be given. But whatever is
most valuable to him should also to be given in Danam a􀁔er
which he must happily accept the reality that whatever is
offered, is not the possession of the receiver (XÎm§ _Ý`oV `X XËdm VX²
XmZ§ loð> _w`MVo & _hm^maV AZwemgZ nd© & 59/4).
During Danam the giver must u􀁉ar only sweet and kind
words which not only appear to be sweet but also the feeling of
kindness to be sincerely conveyed to be receiver, without which
Danam does not carry any u􀀯lity. (XmZ_od {h gd©Ì gmÝËdoZmZm{^dpënV_
&& _hm^maV && em§{V nd© 84/7). Atharva Veda urges everyone to
always think of Danam by reminding oneself “I will be dona􀀯ng”
(XXm_rË`od ~«w`mV²&& AWd©doX && 12/4/1) while Rigveda calls upon to
donate magnanimously (aMr§ gd©dra§ XYmV©Z, 10/15/11).
Danam – By the Whole Community
A beau􀀯ful prayer is offered in Atharva Veda which
envisages unity in the community and also community mentality
for Danam. The prayer is made to Indra and Vayu. Let the whole
community be united, have friendly and virtuous mentality and
let the community strive for Danam (`Wm Z gd© B‚mZ: g§JËdm§ g¥Zm
AgX XmZ H$m_ YZmo ^dV² (Atharva Veda 3/20/6). It implies that all the
members in the community come together to organise Danam
for the collec􀀯ve benefit of the community and the needy
persons thereupon.
Mutual Respect in Danam
Manu lays down that both the giver and the receiver
have mutual respect during “Danam” saying “mutual respect
leads both to heaven and direspect to hell” (`mo{M©V§ à{VJ¥hUmVr
XXmË`{M©V_od `& Vmd_mo JÀN>V: ñdJ© & ZaH§$ Vw{dnW©`o _Zwñ_¥{V 4/235).
Honouring of the receiver is very essen􀀯al.
Time Factor
Danam must always be performed with base to the
principle of 􀀯meliness. (Xo`§ H$mbo M Xmn`oV² & _hm^maV AZwemgZ nd© &
57/11 Also H$mbo XmVmM AZwemgZ nd© 57/22).
What of Danam
What to be offered in Danam is not a big issue as far as
the Ancient Hindu literature is concerned because anything and
everything can be given in Danam. Rather the words “offering”
“giving” or “dona􀀯ng” narrow the limit of the concept of Danam
as “Vruksha Danam” (dona􀀯on of tree) has been recommended.
The meaning of it should never be accepted literally to cut and
offer a tree to another person. It means plan􀀯ng of trees for the
benefit of others like travellers who require shade.
Hence the Danam conveys a broader meaning than
dona􀀯on and Danam is to be performed or “undertaken”.
Further Danam is equated with Yajna or Tap which are to be
performed with much devo􀀯on and care.
Few examples of items under Danam which are different
from the usual items like food., clothes, drinking water etc. are
enumerated in the following paras.
Abhaya Danam – Freedom From Fear
Mabharat calls upon all to provide protec􀀯on or freedom
from fear to all creatures and to be kind to all in distress and
terms it as Abhaya Danam (A^`§ gd© ^yVoä`mo ì`gZo Mmß`ZwJ«h:…. XmZ§
loð>_wÀN>Vo && AZwemgZ nd© 59/4 and 5). Protec􀀯on (freedom from
fear) to be provided, must be of highest order and even if the life
has to be sacrificed, Abhaya Danam is to be held high. There
exist no Danam equivalent to Abhaya Danam and one who
provides it, gets the highest reward (A^`ñ` {h `mo XmVm Vñ`¡d g_whV²
\$b_² & Z {h àmUg_§ XmZ§ {Vfw bmoHo$fw {dÚVo & _hm^maV & em§{V nd©& 72/24).
Vruksha Danam (Plan􀀡ng of trees)
Plan􀀯ng of trees for the benefit of others is considered as
Danam because probably plan􀀯ng trees brings that much
“Punya” like Danam. In Mahabharat, at Anushasan Parva,
Bhishma urges for Vruksha Danam. The plan􀀯ng of trees brings
fame and glory and heaven (EVm Om`ñVw d¥jmUm§ Vofm§ amono JwUpåd_o &
H$s{V©ü _mZwfo bmoHo$ àoË` M¡d \$b§ ew^_² && AZwemgZ nd© 58/24). Trees are
like children and they must be treated like children (Vñ` nwÌm
^ŠË`oVo nmXnm ZmÌ g§e`: && AZwemgZ nd© 58/27) and the trees are to be
planted in the best places where they are of most u􀀯lity like on
the bank of ponds and wells and on road sides. (Vñ_mV² VS>mJo gX²d¥jm
: amoì`m lo`mo{`©Zm gXm & nwÌdV² n[anmë`úM nwÌmñVo Y_©V: ñ_¥Vm: & AZwnd©
Deepa Danam (Providing Street Light)
Another interes􀀯ng concept is that of Deepa Danam of
providing street lights as men􀀯oned in Mahabharat. This ac􀀯vity
must be undertaken daily. (XmVì`m XrnXmZ§ gVV§ && _hm^maV & AZwemgZ :
nd© 68/28) and is must for all house holders (Vñ_mX² Xrnm: àXmVì`m gm`§
do J¥h_opûK{^: AZw. nd© & 100/39). It is s􀀯ll more interes􀀯ng to note
the places where street lights ought to be provided with.
Mahabharat, urges people to provide street lights, daily at rivlets
(small rivers near hills) at jungles, at temples, at squares of the
roads, at ca􀁉le-houses, at houses of Brahmanas, at difficult
places etc. ({J[aànmVo JhZo M¡Ë`ñ`mZo MVwfnWo & Jmo ~«åhmUmb`o XþJ} Xrnmo ^w{V
àX: ew{M: & XrnXmZ§ ^dopÝXË`… AZwemgZ nd©& 98/53). The houses of
Brahmanas may be the houses where educa􀀯on even in the
night might have being imparted freely.
Observa􀀡on on Danam
From the above discussion on Danam following
observa􀀯ons can be drawn.
1) As such, the concept of Danam has a broader meaning and
applicability than the concept of charity.
2) Danam is not a mere act of dona􀀡ng rather it is a welfare
ac􀀯vity in which more involvement of the Giver is envisaged
mentally and physically.
3) It is welfare ac􀀯vity also in the sense that it is an obligatory
duty of the Giver and the receiver is never looked down upon
as, the element of pity or sympathy is not a criteria of much
4) The dignity of the receiver is always upheld by respec􀀯ng
him, through the sweet and kind words and by providing him
before he asks for it.
5) The parameters of 􀀡me place and the needy as discussed
above makes the concept of Danam all the more significant
from the social work point of view.
The Concept Dharma
The concept of Dharma in Hindu Philosophy is of much
significance as it is the life-line of the whole social life. Dharma
concept carries a wider meaning and to explain it in a single
defeni􀀯on acceptable in all contexts will be an effort in fu􀀯le.
What is intended in the following paras, is to highlight its
meaning from social work point of view and to enumearate how
social work was envisaged through the concept of Dharma in
ancient Hindu literature.
The Dic􀀯onary meaning of the word Dharma includes
“Virtue good work. duty, prescribed course of conduct” etc. But
the Sanskrit terms are potent with deeper meaning than these,
English words singley convey.
Dharma-as holder of society
The word Dharma is derived from the Sanskrit root Dhru
meaning to hold to gether, to preserve.6 “It is the norm which
sustains the universe, the principle of a thing in virtue of which it
is what it is”.7
Shrikrishna says Dharma is so called because it protects
all (YmaUmV Y_© BË`mhwa Y_m} Yma`Vo àOm: && _hm^maV em§Vrnd© 109/59).
Dharma preserves all that is created (`ñ` ñ`mV YmaU g`wŠVmg g Y_©
B{V {ZíM`: && _hm^maV H$U© nd© 109/11).
Dharma – As Love for All
In Mahabharat, Bhishma, gives a simple meaning to
Dharma. He says to Yudhishthira “Whatever is the result
obtained by the love for all is Dharma and O! Yudhishthira, know
this as the brief characteris􀀯c difference between Dharma and
Adharma” (gd© {à`ä`wMJV§ Y_©mh_©Zr{fU: & ní`oV§ Y_m©Y_} `w{Y{îR>a: &&
_hm^maV & em§{Vnd© 259/25). Further, all that is free from doing harm
to any living being is certainly Dharma. (`_ ñ`mV² A{hg g§`wŠVmg gm
Y_© B{V {Zü`: && _hm^maV & em§{Vnd© 109/58). Non-violence is the
highest Dharma (A{hg§ gH$bmo Y_m©:…. _hm^maV & em§{Vnd© 272/20).
Dharma- for the Welfare of all
Dharma is meant for the welfare of all (bmoH$g§J«h g§`wŠV…
gyú_ Y_m©W© {Z`V§….&& _hm^maV& em§{Vnd© 259/26). The purpose of
Dharma is the well being of all as Shrikrishna says “Dharma is
created for the well being of all living creatures” (à^dmW©² M ^¥VmZm§
Y_© àdMZ§ {H«$V_²…. _hm^maV& H$U© nd© 69/57). Again Swayambhuwa
Brahma has created Dharma for the well-being of all (à^dmWª {h
^yVmZm§ Y_© g¥ï> ñd`§^wd&& _hm^maV & em§{Vnd© 89/18) and with the growth
of Dharma, the growth and development of all take place (Y_©
dY©{V dY©pÝV gd© ^yVm{Z gd©Xm && _hm^maV & em§{Vnd© 89/17). It is Dharma
from which happiness and beau􀀯tude results (`Vmo Aä`wX` {Zlo`ñ`
{g{Õ{h gm Y_©). Shrikrishna says “I take form for protec􀀯ng the
good and destroying the evil for the purpose of establishing
Dharma (n[aÌmUm` gmYyZm§ {dZmem` M XþîH¥$Vm§& Y_© g§ñ`mnZmWm©` g§^dm{_ `wJo
`wJo && ^JdX²JrVm 4/81). Dr. Sinha notes “Dharma is what is
conducive to the welfare of all being which is the supreme duty;
devo􀀯on to the highest good of humanity is the highest
Dharma – as a Social Principle
Manu conceives Dharma as the prefect social principle
which helps the upholder. Explaining the consequences of
destruc􀀯on of Dharma, manu says “one who destroys Dharma,
gets destroyed himself while Dharma protects him who upholds
Dharma (Y_© Ed hVmo hpÝV Y_m©o aj{V a{jV: && _Zwñ_¥{V 8/15)
Who Knows Dharma
The Mahabharat records “he who by his ac􀀯on, mind
and speech is con􀀯nuously engrossed in the welfare of others
and who is always a friend of others O! Jajali knows Dharma
(gd}fm§ `h _wh{ÞË`§ gd}fm§ M {hVoaV: & H$_©Um _Zgm dmMm g Y_© doX OmObo &&
em§{Vnd© 26/29).
Essence of Dharma
Devala Smru􀀯 records “know this to be the essence of
Dharma and then prac􀀯ce it, refrain from doing unto others
what you will not have done unto yourself” (lw`Vm§ Y_©gd©gd§ lwËdm
Mm{n AdYma`Vm§ & AmË_Z: à{VHy$bm{Z naofm§ Z g_mMaoV²).9
Dharma – Dignity of All
The basic principle of Dharma is the realisa􀀯on of the
dignity of all, as God dwells in all. The knowledge that supreme
spirit dwells in the heart of every living creature is the abiding
root principle of all Dharma (^JdmZ² dmgwXodmo {h gd©^yVofy AdpñWV: &
EVV² kmZ§ hr gd©ñ` _yb§ Y_©ñ` emoeV_²).
Observa􀀡on of Dharma
From the above discussion, the following observa􀀯ons
can be drawn :
1) Dharma is a comprehensive concept in which social work is
taken care of.
2) Dharma envisages the principles which has to be observed
daily in the social rela􀀯ons with the purpose of welfare of all in
one’s mind.
3) Dharma was the chief factor that shaped men’s lives and the
Dharma engrossed everyone for the welfare of others and be like
a friendly social worker in thoughts and deeds.
4) Dharma as a social principle upholds the dignity of all and
sustains the social life for its smooth func􀀯oning which helped
the society to help itself.
The Concept Yajna
Yajna is a unique concept, which probably can not be
traced in any philosophy other than Hindu Philosophy. It is s􀀯ll in
vogue and is a􀁉ached with invaluable significance in Hindu life
and is termed as the greatest ac􀀯on (`kmo do loð>V_ H$_© && `Owd}X 1/1).
What is prac􀀯ced at present, might not have been perceived in
the ancient days. No wonder, that much devia􀀯on in its original
meaning and prac􀀯ce took place as Yajna has been tradi􀀯onally
handed down to genera􀀯ons to genera􀀯ons for the last
thousands of years.
The author a􀁉empts to analyse Yajna concept in the
following paras.
Meaning of Yajna
The dic􀀯onary meaning of Yajna is “sacrifice, sacrifical
rite, any offering or obla􀀯on, an act of worship or devo􀀯onal act
But the meaning will be more clear from the actual usage
of the term.
Hospitality – As Yajna
Atharva Veda proclaims that the guest or stranger
coming to the house is to be treated like God (1/11/2). And it
urges to provide best hospitality to the guest and says “What
ever is offered to the guest is like offering, made in Yajna,
morever the hospitality itself is Yajna (`X² dm A{V{W n{Va{V…. EVñ`
`kmo {dVVmo….g Jmh©àË`mo….Atharva Veda 6/1 to 62). It implies that a
service to another especially to a stranger or guest coming to the
house is “Yajna” which is to be performed with full devo􀀯on and
Mahabharat stress upon the same point of view and calls
it as Pancha Dakshina Yajna (n§M XjrUm `k) it proclaims water
given to the guest for cleaning his feat, seat offered, light (or
lamp) provided, food to eat and shelter for rest, cons􀀯tute the
Pancha Dakshina Yajna (nmÚ_mgZ _odmW© Xrn_Þ à{V ld_² & XÚmX{V{n
nyOmW© g `k: n§ÀMX{jU && _hm^maV AZwemgZ nd© 7/12). It further
elaborates on the method of providing hospitality, by saying
“Receive the guest with pleasant eyes, engage the whole mind
(sincerely) at his service, speak to him with sweet and kind
words, accompany him for some distance when he leaves the
house, always keep him comfortable; all these cons􀀯tute Panch
Dakshina Yajna (MjwX©X²`mMmZmo XX²`mX dmM XÚmƒ g¥Z¥Vm_² & AZwd«Oo Xþnmg{V
g `k: nÀMX{jU: AZwemgZ nd© 17/6).
It becomes clear that hospita-lity is not equated with
Yajna rather it in itself is held as “Yajna”. This supports the view
that Yajna is an ac􀀯vity in which selfless service to others is the
essen􀀯al factor.
Panch Maha Yajna (nM _hm `k)
Ancient literature call upon every house-holder
(Gruhastha) and also persons in other Ashrama to perform
Panch Maha Yajna without fail. Manu says the great Rishis
provided Panch Maha Yajna to get rid of the Pap (nmn) (sin), and
is to be performed daily (Vmgm§ H«$_Uo gdm©gm§ {ZîH¥$Ë`W© _h{f©{^: & n§À`
Šb¥ßVm _hm`km: àË`h J«h_o{YZm_² && _Zwñ_¥{V 3/69).
Manu clarifies further “learning or teaching (Vedas) is
Brahma Yajna, obla􀀯on to forefathers is Pitru Yajna, sacrifice is
Dewa Yajna, feeding animals is Bhuta Yajna and hospitality to
guests is Nru-Yajna (AÜ`mnZ§ ~«÷`k: {nV¥`kVw Vn©U_ & hmomo X¡dmo
~m{b^moVmo Z¥`kmo A{V{WnyOZ_² && _Zw ñ_¥{V 3/70) and ordains everyone
to undertake these according to one’s might (dÀ`¡VmÝ`mo _hm`kmÞ
hmn`{V e{ŠVV: & _Zw ñ_¥{V 3/71). Yajnavalkya Smru􀀡 (1/102) and
Ashwalayana Gruhya Sutra (3/1/4) also hold the same view.
Manu asks Gruhasthas (the house-holders) to eat only a􀁔er
when food is offered to Gods, parents, guests, servants etc. and
proclaims Yajnashistha (Whatever is le􀁒 behind `k {eï> ) food is
the best food for a wise man. (` k{eï>meZ§ hmoVËgVm_ÝZ {dÚr`Vo _Zw
ñ_¥{V 2/118 also read 116 and 117) which implies that offering of
food to other itself is Yajna. Atharva Veda makes it more clear
that offering of food to others itself is Yajna (Atharva Ved 4/34).
Bhagawad Gita says “one who eats Yajna Shishtha (whatever is
le􀁔 a􀁔er offering others) gets rid of all pap (sin) and one who
cooks food only for the self, eats Pap only (`k{eîQ>m{eZ gÝVmo _wƒÝVo
gd© {H$ pëdf¡ & _wOwVoVo ËdX nmnm `o nMÝË`m` Ë_H$maUmV² g Bhagwad Gita
3/13). This again supports the earlier view of Manu and Atharva
Mental Yajna for the Welfare of People
Mahabharat envisages mental Yajna too. It says “wise
Dwijas trea􀀯ng themselves as instruments of Yajna performed
mental Yajna for the welfare of the people” (ñd_od MmWª Hw$dm©U `k
MH«$ nwZ{Xd²Om: & n[a{Z{îQ>VH$_m©U àOmZwJ«hH$å“m && _hm em§{Vnd© & 263/27).
Without construing the implied meaning of mental Yajna and
commi􀁏ng a mistake thereby the verse clearly suggests that
Yajna is performed for the welfare the people.
Yajna – an Obligatory Duty for the Welfare of the People
Bhagavad Gita throws more light on Yajna concept in
chapter III. The creator in the beginning of the universe, created
the people along with Yajna and proclaimed that through this,
the people will get what they want and will a􀁉ain growth and
development (gh`km: àOm: g¥ï>m§ nwamodmM àOmn{V: & AZoZ àg{dî` Üd_of
dmo@pñËdf¥H$m_YwH$ && Bhagavad Gita 3/10). But what exactly is Yajna
or what it is made up of one should dwell deeper into ancient
Shrikrishna says Yajna is made up of ac􀀯ons or moral
du􀀯es (`k: H$_© g§^d: Bhagavad Gita 3/14). Duty is not merely
ritualis􀀯c act prescribed by the Vedas but it includes whatever
we are obliged to do by birth and status in society.10
And the ac􀀯ons (du􀀯es) are to be oriented to the welfare
of all because Gita says “Even the learned people like Janaka
a􀁉ained the utmost stage of salva􀀯on only doing their ac􀀯on
(du􀀯es) and hence for the purpose of welfare of the people, O!
Arjun you deserve to perform your ac􀀯on (du􀀯es)” (H$_©U¡d {h
g{g{Xd_pñ`Vm OZH$mX`: & bmoH$g§J«h_od{n gní`ÝH$Vw©hr{g Bhagavad Gita
3/20). Krishna con􀀯nues “Hence with the a􀁏tude of non
a􀁉achment perform your du􀀯es perfectly and consistently as
man with non a􀁉achment, a􀁉ains salva􀀯on through du􀀯es.”
(Vñ_mXgŠV: gVV§ H$m`ª H$_© g_mMa & AgH$Vmo ô`mMnH$_© na_mÝ`mo{V nwéf:
Bhagavad Gita 3/19). Let the doubt be cleared that nona
􀁉achment may lead to non-performance of duty”. Krishna says
“Non-a􀁉ached wise man perform duty for the welfare of the
people.” (Hw$`m©{XdX²dm§ñV`mgŠV {üH$sf©w bmoH$g§J«h 3/25).
How to Perform Yajna
Explaining Yajna as the obligatory duty meant for the
welfare of the people, Shrikrishna hints out the method of
performing yajna. He says “O! Arjun dedicate your yajna i.e.
du􀀯es, to the God and perform them in the name of God, with
non-a􀁉achement, otherwise a mind with a􀁉achment never
produce salva􀀯on” (`km`m©ËH$_©UmoÝ`V bmoH$mo@`§ H$_© ~ÝYZ: & VXW© H$_©
H$m¡ÝVo` _wŠVg§J g_mMma && Bhagavad Gita 3/9). “Through Yajna, let all
of you strive for the well – being of Gods, and let the community
of Gods strive for your welfare. Thus by recognising it as mutual
responsibility let all of you reach to the highest good”
(XodmÝ^mdVmZoZ Vo Xodm ^md`ÝVd: & nañna§ ^mdÁV: lo`: na_dmßñ` n && ^JdX²
JrVm 3/11).
Classifica􀀡on of Yajna
Bhagavad Gita gives three classifica􀀯ons of Yajna,
namely Satvik, Rajas and Tamas (gm{ËdH$, amOg², Vm_g²). Satvik
Yajna is one which is performed according to “Shastras” and fully
sa􀀯stying the mind as it is an obligatory duty without the desire
of rewards. (A\$bmH$mB{j{^`©kmo {d{YhîR>mo ` BÀN>Vo & `îQ>Ê`_odo{V _Z:
g_mÜ`m` g gm{ËdH$: && 17/11).
Rajas Yajna is that one which is performed with false ego,
just to show off and with the desire of reward (A{^g§Ym` Vw \$b
Xå`m`©{n M¡d`V² & BÀN>Vo ^aV loð> V§ `k {d{Õ amOg_² && 17/12). And one
which is performed unscien􀀯fically, without the distribu􀀯on of
food, Dakshina, and with least dedica􀀯on and faith is termed as
Tamas Yajna ({d{YhrZ_gîQ>mÞ§ _ZhrZàX{jUm lÕm{da{hV `k Vm_g§
n[aMjgo && 17/1/13).
Satvik Yajna is the best Yajna there by implying that
ac􀀯ons or du􀀯es performed for the welfare of others without
expec􀀯ng a reward are the ones which every member of the
society, must undertake which result in mutual help and
reciprocal welfare of all in the society.
Yajna-for Collec􀀡ve good of the Comminity
Whatever the nature and form of Yajna as it exists today,
even from that the real purpose for which it is performed can
easily be construed. The real inten􀀯on behind Yajna is
“defenitely not for the benefit of the individual par􀀯cipants but
for the collec􀀯ve good or benefit of all”. The mantras ultered are
of significance to bring out this real purpose. The two mantras
used are Swaha (ñdmhm) and Idam Na Mama (BX§ Z __). Usually
the whole community takes part in the performance of Yajna and
every par􀀯cipant u􀁉ers the above two Mantras.
Swaha (ñdmhm) means Sacrificing of self-things as the
mantra is made up of two le􀁉ers Swa (ñdm) and Ha (hm). Swa ñd
meaning of one’s own and Ha hm means to leave, forsake or
relinguish1 (or in other words sacrificing the false ego or own
thing itself Yajna).
Again every par􀀯cipant in Yajna, virtually all the
members of the community individually u􀁉ers the mantra
Iadam Na Mama which means it is not mine or it does not
belong to me. Then whose it is or to whom does it belong to. In a
way it is renuncia􀀯on of things in favour of the Gods. But Gods
also performed Yajna, then to whom do they renunciate.
Morever, not only the human beings and Gods but also
forefathers, Gandharvas and Rakshasas depend upon Yajna (Xodm
_Zwî`m: {nVamo JÝYdm} aJamjgm:& `k_odmo nOrdÝVr Zm{gV MoîQ>_amOHo$ & _hm^maV
em§Vr nd© & 72/28).
It does mean that it belonged to the (human or
otherwise) community collec􀀯vely as a whole and not
individually, through which the collec􀀯ve good of the
community is envisaged. The Sukta 15 of Kanda I of Atharva
Veda supports this view”.11
Social Work Educators on Yajna
Miss Gauri Banerjee notes the concept of Yajna.12
“ I t m a y b e w o r t h w h i l e t o q u o t e s w a m i
Chinmmayananda’s commentary of the verse (Bhagavad Gita
3/20). The word Yajna is here taken as any social, ra􀀯onal or
personal ac􀀯vity to which the individual is ready to devote
himself en􀀯rely in spirit of service or dedica􀀯on. Only when
people come forward to act in the spirit of co-opera􀀯on and self
dedica􀀯on, can the community get itself freed from the shackles
of poverty and sorrow. This interpreta􀀯on of the Yajna indeed
marked a daring revolu􀀯on in Indian thought which is in
consonance with the available po􀀯􀀯cal and economic structure
of India in VYASA’S 􀀯me……. Krishna, the Redeemer of Hinduism,
naturally gives the Gita a new interpreta􀀯on and emphasis to the
empty deed pharse, Yajna. He refills it with a vital life giving
Prof. Raja Ram Shastri in his Hindi book, deals in length
about the concept of Yajna and writes.13
“The oldest nature of Yajna portays Satra (gÌ) (Being
together) and Kratu (H«$Vw) (Sacrifice). When the community of
Gods, used to perform Yajna, the satra and kratu existed in its
complete form and love for all was in its peak…… It was the
community ac􀀯ons performed daily for the purpose of social
security and social development. Hence this word in Sanskrit,
meant Yogapadya, Eikikrita, Samuhikata (`moJnÚ, EoH$sH¥$V,
Yajna – Various Meanings
Ancient Hindu literature addresses various ac􀀯vi􀀯es as
Yajna which are specially self less ac􀀯vi􀀯es. Life of man itself is
Yajna (nwéfmo dmd `kñVñ`…. N>ÝXmo½` Cn{ZfX 3/16/1). Humility is Yajna
(`kmo d¡ Z_: & `Owd}X 13/8). Non-Violence is Yajna (AÜdamo d¡ `k: &
eVnW ~«måhU && 1/2/4/5; 1/4/1/38). All living creatures depend on
Yajna (`kmo d¡ {demo `k {h gdm©{U ^yVm{Z {dï>m{Z && eVnW ~«måhU 8/7/3).
Yajna is the centre of universal life (`kmo d¡ ^wdZñ`Zm{^: && V¡Îmar`
~«måhU 3/9/5/5). Money u􀀯lised for service of others is Drawya
Yajna fulfilling one’s obliga􀀯on is Tapa Yajna. And there are more
like Jana Yajna, Yoga Yajna etc. (Ðì“kmñVnmo `km `moJ`kmñVWmnao &
ñdmÜ`m`kmZ `kmü `V`: g§{eVH$Vm: && ^JdV JrVm 4/28).
Yajna Symbolic ac􀀡vity of helping the whole universe
Fire God is regarded as the agent of Gods (A¾r _rio
nwamo{hV_ `kñ` Xod… F$½doX 1/1/1) and it is through offering in fire
that all Gods receive their share. Fire is also regarded as the
symbol of Sun… the ul􀀯mate and ever las􀀯ng powerful source of
energy. Sun is the source of life of earth, and everything depends
on Sun. Ahou􀀯 or offering is made in the fire as a symbolic
ac􀀯vity of offering to sun. Manu makes it clear “offering in fire
reaches the Sun” (AnZmo àñVmhþVr: g_`Jm{XË`_wnVrîR>Vo-_Zwñ_¥Vr 3/76).
Manu con􀀯nues “it is because of Sun that it rains, rain produces
food which in turn creates life on earth” (Am{XË`mÁÁ`mVo d¥îQ>rd¥©ÛoQ>oaÝZ§
VV: àOm: && _Zwñ_¥Vr 3/76).
Thus it implies that making an offering to fire, ul􀀯mately
helps all life on earth to survie and to develop. Offering in fire is a
symbolic ac􀀯vity of individual sharing his social responsibility of
becoming a part what-so-ever li􀁉le it may be, in the gigan􀀯c
process of helping the life on earth. It is with this percep􀀯on that
the sacrificial fire is kindled and offering is made in the Yajna. The
same percep􀀯on can be traced in case of A􀀡thi Pujanam also.
The guest or the A􀀯thi is considered as Wishwanara Agni or
Garhapatya Agni entering the house. Anything offered to the
guest is equalivant to offering made to fire God.
Dr. Madhukar As􀀯kar notes “to induce noble quali􀀯es in
human life, to evolve good maners… itself is Yajna. To integrate
(life of) individual, family, Society and Na􀀯on is Yajna. Whatever
is dearer to us, needed to us, offering all such thing to others,
imbing such mentality to sacrifice for others, developing such
habits moulding the mind and the senses, to think of all things as
not belonging to the self….. is Yajna.”14
Observa􀀡on on the Concept of Yajna
The author would like to draw some inference on the
basis of above discussion and would like to make the following
observa􀀯on on the concept of Yajna.
1) The concept Yajna is not necessarily merely the sacrifice or
worshipping God through fire.
2) Yajna had broader meaning and was made of selfless ac􀀯on
or du􀀯es for the welfare of all.
3) All members of the community took part in it, for the
collec􀀯ve benefit of all thereby rendering it into a perfect social
4) The principles of mutual help and non-a􀁉achment by way of
non-desire of reward were the bo􀁉om lines of this social ac􀀯vity.
5) In this social ac􀀯vity, people (example of Rishis) considered
themselves as instrument and with the spirit of co-opera􀀯on,
were ready to sacrifice for the welfare of the whole community.
6) Yajna in short is nothing but the collec􀀯ve ac􀀯ons (of each
one performing each one’s duty with devo􀀯on) of people who
helped mutually, coming forward in the spirit of co-opera􀀯on
with non-a􀁉achment to self gain, for the purpose of welfare, of
collec􀀯ve good, or benefit of the community.
Thus Danam Dharma and Yajna concepts cons􀀯tuted
the three bases of ancient Social Work ideology. Danam basically
was a welfare ac􀀯vity meant for the less privileged persons,
while Dharma cons􀀯tuted the obligatory du􀀯es towards society
and Yajna was a group effort for the collec􀀯ve good of the
Ancient literature proclaims Dharma Consists of three
branches namely Yajna, self learning and Danam (Ì`mo Y_© ñH§$Ym
`kmo@ Ü“Z§ XmZ{_{V && N>ÝXmo½` Cn{ZfX 2/23/1).
Danam helped the society in its effort to up-li􀁔 the life of
less-privileged and to undertake construc􀀯ve ac􀀯vi􀀯es like
plan􀀯ng trees and providing lights. On the other hand, Dharma
helped the society not to let down the condi􀀯ons of well-being
but to maintain and to develop further, while “Yajna”
contributed the necessary in put of group co-opera􀀯on and
sacrifice for others.
These three concepts gave a perfect and complete, and
ever sustaining net-work of social work and no wonder the
ancient Hindu society survived and flourished for thousands of
years. The prac􀀯ce of these in le􀁉er and spirit would render
external ins􀀯tu􀀯onal help redundant, as the miserable are taken
care of and the developmental works under taken, guaranteed
with mutual co-opera􀀯on with in the society.
Bases of Ancient Social Work Philosophy
Even though there was no ques􀀯on of existence of
welfare agencies in the compact and small communi􀀯es of
ancient India, Hindu Philosophy could evolve ways and means
which gave the necessary organised impact of social work
ac􀀯vi􀀯es. For example, construc􀀯on of public wells and inns,
plan􀀯ng of trees and providing of street light etc. with the
religious sanc􀀯ons on every king and State – to undertake such
ac􀀯vi􀀯es – produced the net effect of any modern organised
Social Work ac􀀯vity.
It is but natural to appreciate that such ac􀀯vi􀀯es have
been rooted in some bases or basic concepts of Hindu
Philosophy and what is lacking is that these bases are to be
logically deduced. The following paras are devoted to discuss on
the philosophical bases of ancient Social Work.
The Hindu Concept of Rina (F$U – Debts)
The concept of “Rina” is widely held in Hindu philosophy.
“Rina” means “debt” which is to be repaid and there is no other
way but to repay it. Manu, the esteemed Shastrakara on Hindu
life as also other Shastrakaras men􀀯on basically three debts,
1) Rishi Rina – debt towards the Rishis or Seers
2) Pri􀀡 Rina – debt towards forefathers
3) Deva Rina – debt towards god
(F$Um{Z ÌrÊ`nmH¥$Ë`……….._Zw ñ_¥{V 6/36)
The ways to repay these debts are – The Rishi Rina can be
repaid by learning Vedas, held as the lores of community – the
Pitri Rina by bege􀁏ng progenies for con􀀯nua􀀯on of family and
propoga􀀯on of the species – the Deva Rina by undertaking
Yajnas according to one’s capacity.
(AYrË` {ddX²doXmZ² nwÌm§lMmoËnmX` Y_©V: & Bï>dm M e{ŠVVmo `k_©Zmo _mojo
{Zdoe`oV² && _Zwñ_¥Vr 6/36)
The epic Mahabharata, regarded as the fi􀁔h Veda,
speaks of few more Rinas and ways to get rid of them. It says
“Every individual gets born with Rinas towards God, the
strangers, the dependants, the fore fathers and to self” (XodVm{V{W
^¥Ë`må`: {nV¥ä`ümË_ZñV`m Om`Vo _Ë`©: Vñ_mX Z¥UVm§ d«OoV&& _hm^maV&
em§{Vnd© 292/9).
In the next immediate verse, it men􀀯ons some more
Rinas and also the ways of repaying them. “By self-study Rishi
Rina can be repaid, the Deva Rina by organising Yajnas, the Pitri
Rina, by obla􀀯on (lmÕ) and charity (XmZ), the A􀀡thi Rina, termed
as Manushya Rina can be repaid by hospitality and service to
guests (ñdmÜ`m`oZ _h{f©ä`mo Xodoä`mo `kH$_©Um & {nV¥ä`: lmÕXmZoZ
Z¥Um_ä`M©ZoZ M && _hm^maV & em§{V nd© & 299/10).
It futher lays down one can get rid of Atma Runa (Selfdebt)
by listening to and learning of Vedas and ea􀀯ng the food,
le􀁔 a􀁔er Yajna (which means feeding others first) and the
dependent Rina can be repaid by looking a􀁔er all the
dependants” (dmMmeofmdhm`}U nmbZoZmË_Zmo {d M & `WmdX² ^¥Ë`dJ©ñ`
{MH$sf}V H$_© Am{XV: && _hm^maV em§{Vnd© 292/11) and repaying is the
first and foremost duty of every individual. ( H$_© Am{XV:)
The repayment of these debts is binding on all and is
compusorily necessary for the a􀁉ainment of Moksha.
Manu says “Turn your mind for Moksha, only a􀁔er
repayment the Rinas and one who strives for Moksha without
repayment of Rinas, definitely goes to hell” (F$Um{Z ÌrÊ`nmH©$Ë` _Zmo
_mojo {Zdoí`oV² & AnZmH©$Ë` _moj§ Vw god_mZmo d«À`Ë`K: _Zwñ_¥{V & 6/35). Manu
emphasises the same point at 6/35 and 6/37 and also Yajna
Valkya 3/56 speaks of the same. The Mahabharata proclaims
“First repay the debts of fellow human beings reques􀀯ng help,
fore-fathers and God, and then do the other things. (Am{W©Zm§ M
{nV¥Um§ M XodVmZm§ M ^maV & AZ¥Ê`§ JÀN> H$m¢Vo` VV² gd© M H$[aî`{g && _hm^maV
em§{Vnd© & 24/6)
It becomes clear from the above discussion that every
individual is conceived as owing debts right from his birth and
that the ways of repaying them are just not worshipping God in
temple. The ways are definite, precise in their meaning but
larger at their implica􀀯ons and easily prac􀀯cable for all. There
remains no way of escaping from debts or excuse for not
repaying them as the Moksha can never be achieved without
their fulfillment. The Hindu Seers beau􀀯fully integrated the life
􀀯me aim Moksha of every individual with his debts which
demanded ac􀀯ons oriented towards welfare of others. The so
called selfish of self-centered Moksha is possible only through
the service of others.
Now the Rinas towards strangers, towards dependants
and towards fellow human beings carry much significance from
the social work point of view. The Pitri Rina – bege􀁏ng issues for
the con􀀯nua􀀯on of the society is seen as fulfilment of a debt and
a duty towards society. The Deva Rina, organising of Yajnas and
the “Rishi Rina”— learning of Vedas are for the welfare of all
(AmåZm`dMZ§ gË`{_Ë“§ bmoH$g§J«h: & AmåZm`oä`: nwZd}X àgwVm: gd©Vmo _wIm: &&
_hm^maV em§{Vnd© 260/9) and when considered as the lores of the
society, Vedas allude their social significance. The welfare
(bmoH$g§J«h, H$ë`mU) in Hindu Philosophy is the wholesome welfare,
in which the spiritual welfare is at the highest level.
The hospitality to strangers is not just offering of food
and water, it is given with esteem or as worship and the same is
true regarding caring of the dependants and the concept of self-
debt. The repayment of these debts speaks the greatest
principle of “other first than self” in sharing the food which leads
to service to others.
Thus the seeds of social work have been sown in the life
of the Hindu individual right from his birth and the Social Work
ac􀀯vi􀀯es become natural, inborn and easy to prac􀀯ce.
Panch Mah Yajnas (n§M _hm `k)
Ancient Social work owes it ideological base to another
concept termed as “Panch Maha Yajna” (n§M _hm `k) which is
the outcome of Rina concept. Manu proclaims “Learning and
teaching is Brahma Yajna, (~«åh `k) offering water to manes is
Pitri Yajna ({nV¥ `k), performing sacrifices is Deva Yajna (Xod
`k), offering food to living creatures is Bhuta Yajna (^yV `k) and
A􀀡thi Pujanam (A{V{W nyOZ_²) hospitality towards guests in
Nru-Yajna (Z¥`k) (AX²`mnZ_² ~«åh `k: {nV¥`kñVw Vn©U_² & hmomo Xodmo
~br^m}Vmo Z¥`kmo A{V{WnyOZ_² && _Zwñ_¥{V && 3/70).
These Yajnas must be performed daily by all house
holders (`ÀM Šb¥ßVm _hm`km: àË`h_² J¥h_o{YZm_²&& _Zwñ_¥{V 3/69), along
with taking care of dependents, parents and the self because
“One who does not take care of God, the guests, the parents the
dependants and the self is living like a dead man”
(XodVm{V{`^¥Ë`mZm_² {nV¥Um_mË_ZúM`: & Z {Zdm©M{V nÁMmZm_² _wÀN>ngÞ g
Ord{V &&).
Deva Yajna (Xod `k) and Pitri Yajna ({nV¥ `k) or these
two Rinas occur in Rigveda, but for the first 􀀯me the concept of
Panch Maha Yajna comes in Shatapata Brahmana14 (n§M Ed
_hm`km: 11/5/6) Vaishva Deva is the procedure by which the
offerings are made to Gods under the wider concept of Panch
Maha Yajna.
Joshi notes {díd means all. Vaishva Deva means offering
of part of our food to all. Vaisha Deva is the remnant of ancient
Yajna and 􀀯ll the beginning of the present century, it was
prac􀀯ced by most of the families.15
P. V. Kane writes “Bali or Bhuta Yajna is a part of Vaishva
Deva…. Bali (~{b) should be offered to the prosperity of all on
the first floor of the house….. on top of the house…… at the foot
of the house….. in water….. a bali (~{b) to Maruts on the door…..
a bali to the trees bali should be offered to the manes towards
the south….. the house holder should lightly (so that no dust will
get mixed with it) offer on the ground some food to dogs etc.”16
Manu declares that the guests must be received by
offering food and all creatures be respected by Bali Karma
(…Z¥ZÝZ¡ ^y©Vm{Z ~{bH$_©Um && _Zwñ_¥{V 3/81). Manu con􀀯nues “offer
food to the sky for all Gods, and offer Bali (food) in the day 􀀯me to
creatures moving in day 􀀯me and offer Bali in the night, for
creatures moving in the night” ({dúMä`Y¡d Xodoä`mo ~{b_mH$me C{ÝjnoV²
& {Xdm`aoä`mo ^wVoä`mo ZŠVMm[aä` Ed M && _Zwñ_¥{V 3/90).
Welfare of all creatures can be understood from the
teaching of Manu, “Bali be offered carefully to dogs, outcastes,
chandalas, to those suffering from disease, crows and the
crawling creatures” (ewZm§ M n{VVmZm§ M ûdnMm§ nmnamo{JUm_² & dmMgmZm§
H¥$_rUm§ M eZH¡${Zd©ZoX^w{d && _Zwñ_¥{V 3/93) and “a person a􀁉ains the
highest place, who daily offers food to all” (Ed§ `: gd© ^wVm{Z ~«måhUo
{ZË`_M©{V & g JÀN>{V na ñ`mZ§ VoOmo _w{V© nWOw©Zm && _Zwñ_¥{V 3/93).
P.v. Kane writes “These direc􀀯ons to give food even to
outcastes, dogs and birds were the out come of the noble
sen􀀯ment of universal kindliness and charity, the idea that one
spirit pervades and illumines the meanest of creatures and binds
all together. The whole world human and non-human is one
crea􀀯on and there must be a spirit of live and let live or give and
take. Therefore one must offer what one can afford to a guest
and also have something for all beings. These feelings of
devo􀀯on, gra􀀯tude and tolerance seem to have been the springs
that prompted the Aryans of old, to emphaize the importance of
the five daily Yajnas.”17
Reading this concept of Panch Maha Yajna along with
the concept of Rinas help to bring out the importance a􀁉ached
by the Hindu Seers to service to others. The importance can be
visualised from the fact that feeding animals and hospitality to
strangers are Yajnas in themselves. Again the Yajnas are not
op􀀯onals for the individual to prac􀀯ce at his will or wish, rather
they are compulsorily to be prac􀀯ced daily as obbigatory du􀀯es.
The prac􀀯ce must con􀀯nue even at the stage of Vanaprastha
Ashrama the third stage of living in the woods for Moksha
purpose. Thus, the concept of Panch Maha Yajna too acted as
the philosophical base for the ancient Social Work.
The place of Punya (nwÊ`) and Pap (nmn)
The concept of Punya (nwÊ`) and Pap (nmn) hold
significant place in deducing the ideology of ancient Indian social
work Punya (nwÊ`) means merit and Pap (nmn) means sin or
demerit, usually counted at the 􀀯me of weighing the total virtue
of a person a􀁔er his death.
The great Maharshi Vyasa summed up all Puranas saying
helping others meant Punya and causing injury to others meant
Pap (nmn). (Aï>mXe nwamUofw ì`mgm` dMZ Xd`§ & namonH$mam` nwÊ`m` nmnm` na
nrS>Z_²&) In other words all the good ac􀀯ons by mind, speech, and
deed which are helpful to others, brought Punya and the wrong
ac􀀯ons brought Pap to an individual. As per Hindu Philosophy,
one acquires heaven or hell depending on his Punya and Pap.
These are the two psychological sovereigns which govern the
ac􀀯ons of living men. Enough Punya meaning there by good
deeds in one’s life, reaches him to heaven where he lives 􀀯ll all
his Punya get exhausted. Similarly Pap leads him to hell where he
has to undergo miserable life 􀀯ll the Pap effect is completed.
Further, the individual himself and no one else including the
family members is held responsible for the Pap or the wrong
deeds and both Punya and Pap follows him even in the second
life which becomes happy or miserable accordingly.
Again, the amount of Punya for various good deeds and
the amount of Pap for different wrong ac􀀯ons are clearly laid
down and some 􀀯mes only the severity is men􀀯oned. Thus one
accumulates Punya by offering food to a hungry, digging a well,
plan􀀡ng a tree, worshipping a cow construc􀀯ng Dharam Shala
etc and similarly one gets Pap who causes injury to other,
destroys the temples and public places, deceives some one else,
destroys the liveihood of widows and helpless etc.
According to Dr. Madhukar Ashthikar the concept of
Punya (nwÊ`) and Pap (nmn) served great purpose from social
work point of view. The inten􀀯on behind the concepts was to
channelise the human energy for construc􀀯ve work for the
welfare of the society. Because Punya (nwÊ`) is a􀁉ached to good
deeds, people made efforts in performing them and because
Pap (nmn) is a􀁉ached to wrong deeds, people avoided causing
injury or ill feeling to others. These two, served the purpose of
social control and at the same 􀀯me helped in development and
growth of the society. Naturally, the common people got
a􀁉racted towards social welfare.
Prof. Wadia notes “Even if they (good acts like charity)
have been inspired by a desire for reward (Punya) in the life to
come, let us not forget the immiediate good they have tended to
But the Hindu Seers envisaged s􀀯ll higher standard for
the individual. To be one with the God (i.e. final “Moksha”) one
has to forget the ego feeling of “I am the doer” and undertake
good deeds with non-a􀁉achment, which at the end will help to
renunciate every thing including the desire to get rewarded for a
good deed.
Bhagavad Gita urges the people to undertake good
deeds without looking at the reward part of it (_m H$_© \$b hoVw ^ym§ Vo
g§J>mo ñËdH$_©{U && ^JdX² JrVm 2/47). It elaborates “One who
undertakes good deeds with the desire of “reward” and who
considers heaven as the final abode, they are ignorant and speak
only hypocra􀀯c language (`m{__m§ nw{f²nVm§ dmM§ àdXÝË`{dnpúMV: & doX
dmXaVm: nmW© ZmÝ`XñVr{V nm{XZ: && H$m_mË_Z: ñdJ©de OÝ_H$_© \$bàXm_²&
{H«$`m{deof~hþH$m§ ^moJ¡úM`© J{V à{V && ^JdX²JrVm 2/42 & 43). And this is
the Nishkama Karma Yoga of Bagavad Gita. A Yogi traverses
beyond the Punya Phala of Veda, Yajna and Daan to reach the
God and never to return to the life-cycle (doXofw `kofw Vn: gw M¡d XmZofw
`ËnwÊ`\$b§ à{Xï>_² AË`o{V VËgd©{_X§ {d{XËdm `moJr na§ ñ`mZ_wd¡{V MmÚ_² &&
^JdX² JrVm 8/28). Further, a charity or Danam considered as
obligatory duty without desiring the Punya in return is of highest
order while a Danam with an eye on its Punya Phala is of
secondary grade. Similarly Bhagavad Gita men􀀯ons Satvik
Karma as the highest order of performing good deeds, which are
to be undertaken, forgoing the ego and desire for the Phala or
reward. ({Z`V§ g½S>a{hV _amJ ÛofV: H¥$V_²& A\$bàßgwZm H$_© `Îmgm{ËdH$
_wÀ`Vo && ^JdX² JrVm 18/23).
Thus in short, a good ac􀀯on with the inten􀀯on of gaining
in return something as reward, say Punya is looked down upon
and hence a good ac􀀯on like plan􀀯ng of tree – eventhough Punya
is a􀁉ached to it – has to be undertaken in the spirit of nona
􀁉achment, considered as one’s duty. The Hindu philosophy
draws the picture in which the Punya is guaranteed for all good
ac􀀯ons undertaken for the benefit of other but the desire to gain
Punya should never be kept in the mind. It urges to rise even
above Punya desire, in undertaking ac􀀯vi􀀯es for the welfare of
the society.
Dharma – The underlying principle of Social Work
Dharma is the principle which upholds the society and
help in its total welfare and progress. Dharma is binding on all
including the State or king.
The ancient literature men􀀯ons that it is the Dharma of
the king to construct public places, to dig wells and ponds, to
plant and maintain trees. It is again held as the Dharma of the
king to look a􀁔er the old, the sick, the orphan, the widows etc.
Similarly when individual takes care of his old parents and other
dependants, it is held to be his Dharma. A householder must
feed the dog, the chandala (untounchable) the fish etc. as it is his
Dharma. It is Dharma which inspires the rich to donate money to
the poor and it is Dharma of a teacher not to teach for the sake of
fees. It is against Dharma to cause injury to other or hurt their
feelings and also to steal other’s wealth. It goes against Dharma to
be greedy and selfish and to eat food without sharing with others.
All these and many more ac􀀯vi􀀯es intended towards the
welfare of all are clubbed to be under the big principle of
Dharma. Beyond this, Dharma is more comprehensive concept
to be covered fully under the purview of social work. But in short,
whatever ac􀀯ons, obligatory as well as voluntary, undertaken
with the view of the welfare of all, falls under the wider concept
of Dharma which can be seen as the underlying principle behind
such ac􀀯vi􀀯es. Above all, the Hindu Shastrakaras urge all to lead
the Dharma life as it is equally important to speaking of Truth
(gË`§ dX Y_© Ma & V¡Îmar` Cn{ZfX²).
Shri Narada Rishi explains to Shuk Dev Rishi “In my
opinion whatever is for the greatest welfare of all creatures is the
final truth (`X² ^yV{hV_Ë`ÝV_mVoV² gË` _V§ __ && _hm^maV em§Vrnd©
329/13). Lastly, the Svayambhuva Brahma created Dharma only
for the welfare of all. (à^mdmW© hr ^yVmZm§ Y_© g¥îQ>: ñd`§^wdm && _hm^maV
em§{Vnd© 89/18).
Bases of Purushartha
The four fold aims kept in front of a Hindu, namely
Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha (Y_©-AW©-H$m_-_moj) helped
in moulding the mental frame work of the individual to strive for
societal good.
As these are the goals, every ac􀀯vity of the individual
centered around achieving these goals. Through this the
spiritual as well as the materialis􀀯c welfare of the individual and
the society have been envisaged.
Hindu seers envisaged wealth and properity as well as
enjoyment of all desires to be based upon the Dharma and to be
leading towards Moksha. Dharma, the righteous path
concerned with the welfare of all – has to be the medium to
achieve Arth and Kama. It implies that even while striving for
wealth and enjoying the desires, the individual must look at the
welfare of others. As an example, the marriage is considered as a
sacrament, essen􀀯ally not for just passion but to propogate the
species for the benefit of the society and to repay the Pitri Rina.
Bhagavad Gita and Social Work
Let us consider the view point of M. V. Moorthy while
discussing as to what should be the moving spirit for modern
Social Work, especially when it is noted that profession of Social
Work envisages remunera􀀯on to the social worker.
M. V. Murthy writes “one should clarify to one self and to
other, the ul􀀯mate purpose of his profession, so that one will not
be blind prac􀀯􀀯oner nor a professional who is suspect. Let us
consider the worst instances to bring home the point. A
pros􀀯tute is within her rights if she says she prac􀀯ses in order to
make money, to make as much money as she can, making money
alone being her aim, the rest of the aims, if there are any, being
secondary. An actor or a dancer or a boxer may get off by
declaring his inten􀀯on of becoming a mul􀀯millionaire through
the prac􀀯ce of his profession. The world has recognised the
purposes of these and looks on those who do not get rich by this
profession as either mediocres or failures. But take a doctor who
owns that the purpose of his prac􀀯ce is to obtain from his
pa􀀯ents as much money as he can and to get rich as quickly as he
can, making money being his main aim! Even a fool or villain of
doctor will keep such inten􀀯ons to himself. The doctor is not
permi􀁉ed to weigh his skill against his pa􀀯ent’s pocket. In other
words, it is theore􀀯cally unthinkable of a doctor refusing to treat
a pa􀀯ent who has no money, though this may be happening
around us. The society expects that the social worker and the
doctor keep other aims than money as the moving spirit of the
Now let us turn to what Bhagvad Gita has to say in this
Bhagavad Gita calls upon to do the work in Satvik
(gm{ËdH$)) way and to emulate to be a Satvik worker. Satvik
(gm{ËdH$) work is that one, which is perfectly based on norms
governing it, undertaken without looking at the reward, devoid
of ego feeling and without anger or passion ({Z`V§ g§Ja{hV_amJìXofV:
H¥$V_² & A\$b àoßgwZm H$_© `ÎmgmpËdH$_À`Vo && ^JdX² JrVm 18/23). It
implies that the best way of doing any work in general and
par􀀯cularly work devoted for the welfare of the society, is to do
without looking into the remunera􀀯on part of reward, in return
The Social Work should not be based upon the capacity of the
client to pay.
Moreover, the principle of controlled emo􀀯onal feelings
has to be strictly followed or the work should never be on the
basis of passion or undertaken with anger in mind. In other
words, a client who is able to pay more, need not be given
preference or special love and a poor client should never be
dealt with any difference, or unwillingness in the mind. A person
who sees God in all can never discriminate any living creature,
neither among human beings on the basis of wealth and poverty,
or caste and creed. (AÛoîQ>m gd© ^yVmZm§ _¡Ì: H$éU Ed M& ^JdX² JrVm
12/13, {Zd}a: gd©^yVofw& 11/55, g_moh§ gd© ^yVofw.. 9/29 etc). The Satvik
worker is he who is non-a􀁉ached (to the reward), using egoless
language and doing the work to see it prefectly completed with
all his vigour and energy and who neither get depressed in its
failure nor become over joyous in its success. (_wŠV gL²>JmoS>©Z h§ dmXr
Y«Ë`yËgmhg_m{ZdV: & {gÕ`{gÕ`mo{Z© {dH$ma: H$Vm© gmpËdH$ CÀ`Vo && JrVm
A Satvik worker will never leave his work incomplete but
will apply all energy to make the work successful. Nona
􀁉achment or non-caring about the reward, does not make the
worker disinterested in his work rather he applies all his vigour
consciously and he knows that for every good deed, there is
defenitely a reward a􀁉ached to it. Morever the Satvik worker
possesses self-control and self-mo􀀯va􀀯on quali􀀯es in him. A
non-a􀁉ached person undertakes his du􀀯es in the interest of the
welfare of the society. (Hw$`m©{ÛÛm§ñV`mgŠV{ldH$s~w©bmoH$g§J«mh_² && ^JdX²
JrVm 3/25).
To sum it up, the social worker should never consider the
reward or remunera􀀯on as criterion to help others, for reward
follows naturally for every good deed and he must use his
maximum capacity, skill and knowledge without any
discrimina􀀯on among his clients, shunning away the egois􀀯c
feeling, without ge􀁏ng depressed or over jayous, self
controlled, and considering welfare of other as the moving spirit
behind his work.
Principle of Self-Salva􀀡on through Service
Swami Vivekananda, the great Hindu monk, holds a high
place in the spiritual history of Hinduism. His contribu􀀯on to
Hindu spiritualism is well known and at the same 􀀯me his
yearning for service of the poor and the downtrodden can never
be forgo􀁉en easily. In fact he integrated spiritualism and service
to the society, wonderfully and proved through his thought
provoking speeches and self-less deeds that both the two –
spiritulaism and service – are not opposed to each other.
He says “Seeing the poor people of our country starving
for food, a desire comes to me to overthrow all ceremonial
worship and learning and go round from village to village in
serving the poor”.20
In 1880’s, Swami Vivekananda made efforts to construct
the famous Belur Math and the establishment of Ramakrishna
Mission. During this period, Swamiji thought of having Feeding
Homes for the poor, health clinics for the sick, shelter for the old
etc and inspired his disciples to undertake work in these
direc􀀯ons through out the country. At the establishment of the
mission, Swami addressed the disciples “The real aim of Sanyasa
is -(AmË_Zmo _mojmW© OJV {hVm` M) For the highest freedom of the
self and the good of the world. Arise awake and stop not 􀀯ll the
goal is reached”.21 Vivekananda found no clash in seeking
Moksha i.e. final libera􀀯on and the service to the society.
According to him every Sanyasin must strive for the welfare of
the society through helping the down trodden and the people in
distress. The mo􀁉o of the mission itself is kept as “AmË_Zmo _mojmW©
OJV {hVm` M”. And the contribu􀀯on of the mission in the field of
social work and spiritualism is well known.
In fact, Swami Vivekananda gave expression to the age
old principle of Hindu spirituality. Hindu philosophy, ordains to
take care of the old, the servants, the guests, the animals and
birds and it urges all to undertake ac􀀯vi􀀯es like of digging of well,
plan􀀯ng of streets, providing street lights etc. for the benefit of
others. All these, brought the man nearer to the God and his life
ambi􀀯on of Moksha (_moj) was made easy, through such
ac􀀯vi􀀯es. Further, many of such ac􀀯vi􀀯es were termed as his
Dharma-duty and there was no escape from one’s duty as
Moksha is not a􀁉ainable for a non-doer of the du􀀯es. Thus, it
becomes clear that the principle of self-salva􀀯on through service
(AmË_Zmo _mojmWª OJV {hVm` M) was an important philosophical base
of ancient Social Work.
Observa􀀡ons on the Special Charateris􀀡cs of Ancient Social
The author would like to draw some observa􀀯ons on the
nature and characteris􀀯cs of Ancient Social Work.
Wholis􀀡c Approach
The ancient Hindu literature conveys a wholis􀀯c and
comphrehensive approach towards Social Work in many counts.
Firstly, the welfare saught is not only of the mankind but also of
all living creatures. This becomes clear from the prayers and
prac􀀯ces enshrined in the ancient literature. For example, a
prayer is offered by the newly wedded bride entering into her
house. “Let you be not killed O! Shakuna bird, by the arrow of the
hunter, Let there be no difficulty for you from any direc􀀯on. You
sing in all direc􀀯ons for our welfare etc.” (gw §Jbü eHw$Zo
^d{g_mËdmH$m{MX^©^{dî`{d{XV²… eHw$Zo ^Ð_mdX{dúdVmoZ: …. ^Ð_ñ_mH$
ZmodX ^Ч Zmo A^`§ H¥${Y…. F$½doX 2/42/1, 2/43/1 to 4).
The house holder has a duty towards the animals and
birds, as to feed them and to take care of them and to save them
even if he has to loose his life. The individual must plant trees and
look a􀁔er them like his own children. Again the respect and
venera􀀯on shown towards trees, rivers and mountain, speak of
the ecological concern and care of environment in the ancient
Hindu literature.
Secondly, the welfare sought for was not only of the
materialis􀀯c welfare but also of mental and spiritual well – being.
The Hindu Seers rightly understood the short comings of the
materialis􀀯c welfare in making the individual happy and
contended. They envisaged emo􀀯onal as well as spiritual up li􀁔
to round up the welfare aspect into a comprehensive one. A
delicate and prac􀀯cal balancing of all the three aspects had its
impact in contribu􀀯ng to peace and stability to the individual,
family and the society at large. It is a wrong no􀀯on to presume
that Hindu philosophy advocated solely the spiritualis􀀯c
welfare, devoid of materialis􀀯c welfare and that there is concern
only of the other world, forge􀁏ng the difficul􀀯es and problems
of this living world. Had this been true, then the taxa􀀯on policy
for the benefit of the poor, digging of wells and ponds, holding of
Social Fes􀀯vals, etc. by the State would have been something
different as conceived in the ancient literature.
Moreover, the Artha (wealth and prosperity) and the
Kama (desire or passion) are kept as the goals for every
individual, under Purushartha. Again, the approach was unique
in the sense that concern was not limited, only to the poor and
the weak or only to the sick and the old or the handicapped and
the distress. Ofcourse, they being recognised as weaker sec􀀯ons
received special concern and societal care. On the other hand, a
guest (A􀀯thi) coming to house was offered hospitality not
because he is a poor traveller, having nothing to eat. A student
(Bahmcharin) was offered alms, not because he came from a
poor family. Plan􀀯ng of trees or digging of wells were not meant
only for the poor. Rather, the approach to these ac􀀯vi􀀯es was
duty bound and development oriented. In other words, showing
due care to the poor and the weak, ancient literature visualised a
broad based approach to Social Work ac􀀯vi􀀯es.
Dignity and Respect for All
As a corollary to the earlier point, one can observe
dignity and respect for all in the ancient Social Work approach. A
stranger coming to the house is treated like God. He is never
looked down upon, rather his comfort becomes the main
concern of the family. Similary, the concept of Danam tells us
how with all dignity, the needy is to be provided with alms. The
needy, the beggar so to say, is to be provided with alms before his
asking for it and with kind and sweet words. The principles of
Seeing of God in all and Seeing of self in all can never teach the
individual to show indignity to other how-so-ever small, he may
be. These two principles helped the individual to help others on
equal foo􀀯ng or more and not with degrada􀀯on of
Reciprocal Responsibility and Mutual Help
The ancient literature ordains that the Brahmachari
(Student) must beg alms and live on it. At the same 􀀯me the
Grihastha (house holder) must give alms to the student. The
student in turn must repay this debt by helping the society when
he grows up and takes up the next Ashrama of the house-holder.
The old and the sick were taken care of by the family and the
ancient literature advocates the individual not to run away from
the responsibility of the family.
The society through Varna-Ashrama system took care of
the individual who in trun, undergoing the various Samskaras
strived to be useful to the society. The teacher was expected not
to teach for fees and the student in turn served him by staying
with him. Through Yajna the community of mankind helped the
second community, that of Gods and the community of Gods
always was ready to help the manking. (XodmÝ^md` VmZoZ Xodm ^md`ÝVw
d: & nañna§ ^md`ÝV: lo`: na_dmßñ“ && ^JdX² JrVm 3/11).
All these are the examples and pointers towards the
mutual help and reciprocal responsibility conceved in the
ancient literature with regard to the nature of ancient Social
Peculiar Built-in mechanisms of Rehabilita􀀡on
Ancient literature contains passages men􀀯oning
par􀀯cular ways of rehabilita􀀯ng the less privileged people. An
example is that of widow rehabilita􀀯on.
“The Rig Veda and Atharva Veda allude widow remarriage
to the brother of the deceased husband. The brother
accepts her hand and urges her to rise up from the funeral pyre
to lead a prosperows life with new children and wealth.”22
Manu proclaims that the younger brother of the
deceased pf a distant rela􀀯ve of the same Gotra can marry the
widow, who is without issues to look a􀁔er her (Vm_ZoZ {dÚmZoZ {ZOmo
{dÝXoV Xoda: & 9/69).
Manu further says “such person should apply Ghee on
his body and without u􀁉ering any word should meet the widow
to beget only one son and not more” ({dYdm`m§ {Z`wŠVñVw K¥VmŠVmo
dm½`Vmo {Z{e& EH$_wËnmX`oËnw̧ Z {ÛVr` H$`§MZ && _Zwñ_¥{V 9/190). Such a
child inherits the property of the deceased father.
(g§pñ`Vñ`mZdË`ñ` gJmoÌmËnyÌ_mhaoV² & VÌ `{X«Š`OmV§ ñ`mÎmÎm{e_ÝÐ{Ð`mX`oV²
&& _Zwñ_¥{V 9/190). The Naradiya Manu Smru􀀯 (8/80 to 89); Vishnu
Smru􀀯 (25); Yajana Valkya Smru􀀯 (1/68); Vashishlths Smru􀀯
(27/49) also deals with same topic.
Here, the helpless widow is rehabilitated by the peculiar
way of bege􀁏ng son from the younger brother or a distant
rela􀀯ve. The condi􀀯ons of applying Ghee on the body and nontalking
brings out the fact that it is not sexual enjoyment that is
intended but the inten􀀯on is of rehabilita􀀯ng the widow. Again,
only one son needs to be bege􀁉ed; who becomes the heir of his
father’s property, just like his own son. thus the widow never
required out – side help like a widow-rehabilita􀀯on agency of
modern 􀀯mes, rather the family and the kinship (same Gotra)
came to her rescue with the most prac􀀯cal solu􀀯on available in
those days. This kind of inbuilt mechanisms were developed for
the rehabilita􀀯on of less privileged.
References :
1. BANERJEE G. R. : “Papers on Social Work-An Indian Perspec􀀯ve
“Tata Ins􀀯tute of Social Sciences, Bombay, Page 59.
2. WADIA A. R. : “Ethical and Spiritual values in Social Work”
“Social work in India” (edited by Wadia A.R.) Allied Publishers
Pvt. Ltd., Bombay 1961, Page 15.
3. WADIA A. R. : “Ethical and Spirtual Values in the Prac􀀯ce of
Social Work” “History and Philosophy of Social Work in India”
(edited by Wadia A. R.) Allied Publishers Pvt. Ltd., Bombay;
1961. Page 7.
4. MCKAY ANGUS : “Charity And the Welfare State”
“Philosophy in Social Work” (edited by Timms N and Watson
D) Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1978. Page 78 to 83.
5. SHASTRI RAJA RAM : “Samaj Karya”, Hindi Sami􀀯, Lucknow,
1970. Page 3.
6. KANE P. V. : “History of Dharma Shastra” Vol. 1, Bhandarkar
Oriental Research Ins􀀯tute, Pune, Page 1.
7. RADHAKRISHNAN S. : “Religion and Society” George Allen
and Unwin Ltd., London, 1948. Page 107.
8. SINHA (DR.) S. N. : “The Concept of Dharma in Valmiki
Ramayana”, Manoharlal Publica􀀯ons, New Delhi. 1965.
Page 39.
9. RADHAKRISHNAN (DR.) S. : Op. cit. Page 107.
10. SWAMI VIRESWARANANDA : “The Bhagawad Gita – its
Synthe􀀯c Character” Cultural Heritage of India (edited by Dr.
S. Radhakrishnan) Vol. II, the Ramakrishna Mission Ins􀀯tute
of Culture, Calcu􀁉a 1975. Page 182.
11. SATWALEKAR S. D. : “Atharva Veda”, Vol. I, Swadhyaya
Mandal, Satara, 1925. Page 183.
12. SATWALEKAR S. D. : Ibid Page 100.
13. BANERJEE G. R. : “Papers on Social Work – an Indian
Perspec􀀯ve”, Tata Ins􀀯tute of Social Science, Bombay. Page
14. SHASTRI R. R. : Op. cit. Page 2 to 3.
* Based on intervies with Dr. Nanasaheb Pimplapure on
10/12/93 and Dr. K. R. Joshi 12/12/93.
15. ASHTIKAR M. : “Latyayana – Srauta” Sukhada Prakashan,
Nagpur 1993, Page 20/21.
16. JOSHI MAHADEV SHASTRI : “Bharateeya Samskru􀀯 Kosh”
“Maharashtra Government Board of Literature and Culture”
Vol. IX, Pune. Page 292.
17. JOSHI MAHADEV SHASTRI : Ibid page 141.
18. KANE P. V. : “History of Dharma Shastras” Vol. II,
Bhandarkar Oriental Research Ins􀀯tute, Pune. 1935. Page
19. KANE P. V. : Ibid page 698.
* Based on the interview with Dr. Madhukar Ashthikar on
20. WADIA A. R. : “Ethical and Spiritual Values in the Prac􀀯ce of
Social Work” “Social work in India” (edited by Wadia A. R.)
Allied Publishers Pvt. Ltd., Bombay, 1961. Page 7.
21. MURTHY M. V. : “Philosophy of Social Work of Changing
India”, “Social Work Educa􀀯on and Social Work Prac􀀯ce in
India”, (edited by Nair T. K.) Associa􀀯on of Schools of Social
Work in India, Madras, 1981. Page 40).
22. SWAMI SWANANDA (Compiler) : “Talks with Swami
Vivekananda” Advaita Ashram, Culcu􀁉a. 1990 page 373.
23. 22. SWAMI SWANANDA (Compiler) : Ibid page 94.
24. CHAKRAVORTY H. : “Socio-Economic Life of India In The
Vedic Period” Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar, Calcu􀁉a. 1986. Page
  
Chapter IV
An individual human being has no significant separate
existence but is the product of a complex and elaborate system
of interac􀀛on with other individuals.1 Importance or the
interdependence between individual human being and society
is well known from the fact that society can not be imagined to
exist without individuals and vice versa. A good society, in the
sense where harmonious social rela􀀛ons exist, is the final
product of contribu􀀛ons of each individual members of the
society. Further, this becomes possible when the individual gets
trained or socialised through interac􀀛on with others in the
society and the family, being the basic primary group, is mainly
responsibility towards society, un􀀛l and unless an a􀀢tude and
ap􀀛tude to do service to other, developed in him.
This task lies on the family which in turn gets moulded by the
social forces of interac􀀛ons in society at large. Terming family as
an instrument and agent of the larger society, Good writes, “The
family contributes these services to the society; reproduc􀀛on of
the young, physical maintainence of family members, social
placement of the child, socializa􀀛on and social control. The
family is also charged with social arrangements having to do”.2
This chapter is devoted to analyse the posi􀀛on of individual
in the family, contribu􀀛ons of the family towards social good,
and concern of the society for the family and the individual etc as
conceived in ancient Hindu literature. The author also a􀀫empts
to bring out the bases that governed social interac􀀛on and social
rela􀀛ons in the ancient Hindu society and the individuals
responsibility, to undertake social work ac􀀛vi􀀛es as a member of
the society.
Special Rela􀀡ons
Generally speaking, the study of Social Rela􀀛ons is limited to
the probing and interpre􀀛ng the rela􀀛ons between man and
man in the society. The Hindu scholars of ancient 􀀛mes envisage
a much wider rela􀀛on which covers his rela􀀛on with the animate
and inanimate things in the whole universe. It is a false no􀀛on
that ancient Hindu society was individulas􀀛c society w h e r e
every individual is concerned about his selfish Moksha
(salva􀀛on), rather the libera􀀛on was made possible for him only
when he fulfilled his obligatory du􀀛es to the family, to the
society and to the universe at large. And the obligatory du􀀛es
were welfare oriented, with the prime concern for others’ wellbeing
even at the cost of sacrificing the self itself. Non fulfilment
of his du􀀛es, made him to take re-birth (Punarjanma) and
causing injury to any creature, by thoughts, words or deeds
rendered him unqualified for final libera􀀛on. This works as the
frame work for Hindu Social Rela􀀛ons.
Hindu approach to Social rela􀀛on is much deeper and begins
from the fundamental ques􀀛on of the significance of man’s
existence on earth which enables him to be at the service of
others. For him, God dwells in all, and service to other is service
to God which ul􀀛mately leads him for his life’s ambi􀀛on of
a􀀫aining Moksha (Libera􀀛on).
Principle of Seeing God-in-All
Seeing God-in-all is a basic principle of Hindu philosophy
which rendered social rela􀀛on invaluable and sacred.
Yajurveda declares “whatever animate and inanimate things
exist in the whole universe, it is all pervaded by God” (B©em dmí` {_X§
/ gd© `pËH$Ëd OJË`m§ OJV² `Owd}X & 40/1 also Bí`mdmemon{ZfX 1).
Mahabharat, proclaims “God dwells in all, in the whole
Universe (g {h gd}fw ^yVofw OJ_ofw Y¥dofwM&& dgË`oH$mo _hmZmÝ_m `oZ gd©rX
VV_² && em§{V nd© & 239/20). Krishana says “One who sees me in
everything and everything in me. I can never loose him”. (`mo _m§
ní`{V gd©Ì gdª M _{` ní`{V & Vñ`mh§ Z àUí`m{_ g M _o Z àUí`{V && ^JdX²JrVm
6/30). Krishna further elaborates “one who serves all by seeing
me in all creatures, a􀀫ains Me” (gd© ^yVmpñWV§ `mo _m§ ^OË`oH$Ëd_mpñ`V:
&& ^JdX²JrVm 6/31) because the whole world is made up of nothing
but me” (_Îm: naVa ZmË`{H$V{MXpñV YZ§O` & _{` gd©{_X§ àmoV§ gyÌo _{UJUm
Bd&& ^JdX²JrVm 7/7).
Seeing Self in All
Seeing God in all, helps the individual to see self-in-all. This
further prepares him to accept other’s difficul􀀛es as his own and
to see his happiness lying in other’s happiness.
Krishna says “one who sees self in all and all-in-self, a􀀫ains
the quality of g_Xe©Z (impar􀀛al viewing) (gd© ^yVñ`_mË_mZ gd© ^yVm{Z
MmË_m{Z & B©jVo `moJ`wŠVmË_m gd©Ì g_Xe©Z: && ^JdX²JrVm 6/29). and such a
person looks equally and without discrimina􀀛on at Brahmin,
cow elephant, dog and untouchable ({dÚm{dZ`g§nÞo ~«mh² Uo
J{dhpñV{Z & ew{Z M¡d ídnmHo$ M npÊS>Vm: g_X{e©Z: && ^JdX²JrVm 5/18). It
implies that oneness with other and equality in rela􀀛on is to be
a􀀫ained which in turn, will help the individual serve others in a
be􀀫er manner. Krishna calls upon all to discard discriminatory
out look and praises the person who does not discriminate
among a selfless friend, a known person, a well wisher an
indifferent, a hos􀀛le, an enemy, a rela􀀛ve, a noble and a sinner.
(_whpÝ_Ìm`w©XmgrZ_Ü` ñ` Ûoî`~ÝYwfw & gmYwîd{n M nmnofw g_~w{Õ{d©{eî`Vo&&
^JdX²JrVm 6/9).
Krishna further proclaims, “he is my real devotee who
discard enemity with all creatures and become self-less friend
with full of sympathy” (AÛoï>m gd©^yVmZm§ _¡Ì: H$éU Ed M && ^JdX²JrVm
12/12) “he a􀀫ains me who is engrossed in the welfare of all and
sees all without discrimina􀀛on”. (gd©Ì gX~wÕ`: & Vo àmßZwdpÝV _m_od
gd©^yV{hVo aVm: && ^JdX²JrVm 12/4).
The most important aspect of Indian philosophy is the Unity
of Soul, of which the above two principles are the corrollary
principles. The four Major Texts, termed as the Mahavakya
(_hmdmŠ`) in Sanskrit language are the bases of the concept of
Unity of Soul. The texts are àkmZ§ ~«÷ (F$½doX), A`_mË_m ~«÷
(AWd©doX), VËd_{g (gm_doX), Ah§ ~«÷mpñ_ (`Owd}X). All these point to
the principle that whatever exist in the Universe is nothing but
Brahma. (gd© IbwqdX ~«÷). *
P. V. Kane writes “The reason given for such virtues as daya
(X`m), ahimsa (Aqhgm) is based upon the philosophical doctrine
of the One Self being imminent in every individual.”3
All this implies that the Social Rela􀀛on of the Hindu is defined
by his rela􀀛on with the ul􀀛mate – God. For him to worship others
is like worship to God and worshipping others leads to respec􀀛ng
of others which in turn leads to self-less service to others.
Worshipping never means a mere ritualis􀀛c worship rather it is
complete change of a􀀢tude in the out look towards others to
make them happy and to up-hold others welfare first. Seeing self
in all helps the Hindu mind to feel the difficul􀀛es of others and
such a person can never desist himself from service to others.
Thus these two principles of seeing God in all and seeing-self-in
all, helps the Hindu individual to live an ideal social life with the
best-possible Social Rela􀀛ons.
Dr. Radhakrishnan is fully jus􀀛fied when he says “Hindu
moral and ethical values moulds him into a perfect Social being
who takes up the challenge of service to the society.”4
Individual, the Family and the Society
A study of Social Rela􀀛ons ought to be undertaken only with
reference to the elements involved namely the individual, the
family and the society. The family is the basic primary group in
which the individual learns the lores of the society, termed as the
secondary group or larger group in which the individual lives
under the network of social rela􀀛ons. Which one of these
elements, is more significant is irrelevant as the final web of
social rela􀀛ons is cons􀀛tuted by the give and take behaviour of
all the three.
Hindu philosophy narrates a beau􀀛ful and delicate
combina􀀛on of the three, that they act and behave
complimentary and supplementary among each other. The
interests and wishes of the three are never at cross roads, rather
the aims are synchronised in unique manner leaving no room for
any fric􀀛on. Hindu individual always strives for the be􀀫erment
of the family and the society, by making efforts to fulfill all his
obligatory du􀀛es rather than thinking of his rights. As a corollary,
the family and the society provides the best suitable
environment for the individuals development and for a􀀫aining
final goal Moksha or libera􀀛on.
Hindu Seers ordained Dharma (Y_©), Artha (AW©), Kama
(H$m_), Moksha (_moj) as the four goals for the individual to
strive for and the family was envisaged as the mechanism to
produce a social being through various Samskaras or
sacraments while the society backed up the family with the
unique system of Varna and Asharma. While the Dharma-Arth-
Kama-Moksha provided necessary direc􀀛on to the basic
ques􀀛on of the purpose of man’s existence, the necessary in-put
was provided by the family through sacraments and the society
provided the necessary system of Varna-Ashrama for a􀀫aining
the life’s ambi􀀛on (i.e. Moksha) of the Hindu Individual. As a
result, the best of social rela􀀛ons existed and the society could
grow and flourish for thousands of years.
Dharma-Artha-Kama-Moksha (Y_©-AW©-H$m_-_moj)
The English transla􀀛on of Dharma-Artha-Kama-Moksha
(Y_©-AW©-H$m_-_moj) can be done by the words, morality,
wealth, passion or desire, and salva􀀛on or libera􀀛on
respec􀀛vely but the Sanskrit terms have more poten􀀛ality with
deeper meaning than these English words can singly convey. An
in depth discussion becomes essen􀀛al to bring out the meaning
of these words and their role in Social Rela􀀛on. P. V. Kane notes
“Another reason for cul􀀛va􀀛ng high moral quali􀀛es is found in
the doctrine of the goals or ends of human existence. From very
ancient 􀀛mes they are said to be four. (Chaturvidha
Dharma (Y_©)
Dharma is of great significance in Hindu Philosophy and also
plays a major role in understanding the ancient Social Work
ideology in India. Dharma is derived from the Sanskrit root
“Dhru” (Y¥) meaning to sustain, to nourish to uphold. The
principles which one has to observe in the daily life and in social
rela􀀛ons are cons􀀛tuted by the term Dharma. “Under the
concept Dharma, the Hindu brings the forms and ac􀀛vi􀀛es
which shape and sustain human life. We have diverse interests,
various desires, conflic􀀛ng needs which grow and change in the
growing. To round them off into a whole is the purpose of
Dharma is the wider principle with which one individual
interact with other individuals, with the family and the society
and his rela􀀛on with all is governed by Dharma. To sum up, the
importance of Dharma with regard to Social Rela􀀛on, in the
words of Manu the law giver, “One get destroyed by destroying
Dharma and Dharma rescues one who strives for through out his
life. (8/15)
Arth and Kama (AW©-H$m_)
Artha and Kama refer to two of man’s earthly belongings and
are termed as the objec􀀛ves in individual’s life. The wealth and
passion are given due importance in the Hindu life and it is a
wrong no􀀛on to believe that the prosperity and the passion are
always condemned. But neverthless, these two never rendered
the individual to be selfish and greedy as the means of a􀀫aining,
than the ends, were emphasised which are to be based upon
“Dharma” or righteousness. Hindu Seers rightly understood the
importance of Artha and Kama in individuals life and regarded
them as “Punya purushartha” (aims of a virtuous person) but
kept them in between Dharma (morality) and Moksha
(Salva􀀛on) by sugges􀀛ng the correct ways and means, 􀀛me and
place of enjoying Artha (prosperity) and Kama (Passion).
Shri S. D. Satwalekar and eminent authority on Vedic
Civilisa􀀛on, quo􀀛ng (Ëd {doeñ` YZXm A{g&& F$½doX 7/32/17; d¥fm
Mm|X`ñd _S>Vo YZm`² && F$½doX 1/104/7 and gw{damgmo d`§ YZm O`om& F$½doX
9/61/23) writes “Like these, there are lot of mantras which
advise to make efforts for wealth and prosperity. Vedas never
advocate to reject wealth and to live in poverty. But righ􀁎ul
means must be adopted to become wealthy, and then one
should not be a slave of money, by prac􀀛sing non-a􀀫achment
a􀀢tude. This is what Vedas preach”.7 Atharva Veda says “let the
people not call me as poor” (OZmg: _m AmeYg _m dmoMZ² 5/11/8).
Rig Veda proclaims “Those who save money as well as
donate money generously, are protected by soma” (lrUm_wXmamo
YéUmo a`rUm§ _Zr{fUm§ àn©U gmo Jmonm: & F$½doX 10/45/5) but ordains to
use the wealth (for dona􀀛ng and helping the poor (aq` gd©dra
XYmVZ && F$½doX 10/15/11 and Cvmo a{` d¥UVmo Zmo nXñ`Ë`Vm@ n¥UÝ_{S>Vma Z
{dÝXVo && F$½doX 10/117/1).
Dr. Radhakrishnan says “We are required to make every
par􀀛cle of dust into sweet honey” (11/98/7) implying that there
should be sincere effort to be rich and prosperous8.
Manu urges “Make all out effort to increase wealth
righteously, based on Dharma” (9/333). and the same view is
expressed in Mahabharat. Whatever money is earned
righteously whatever money is increased righteously, all should
be saved with all efforts, for the purpose of “Dharma” (service
unto others) (292/4). It further says “Money must be donated to
those who beg it; and used for protec􀀛ng parents, for feeding
wife and children and for ge􀀢ng treatment for a chronic
disease” (23/56) and it advices always to share wealth for
feeding guests and all creatures (66/11)
Regarding wealth u􀀛lisa􀀛on Mahabharat says “The house
holder should divide his wealth into three parts, with one part he
should a􀀫ain Dharma (to be used for service unto others), with
another he should have the objects of desire and the remainder
should be increased”.9
As it is evident from the above discussion, the Hindu
Philosophers never condemned becoming wealthy but ordained
to raise money righteously and to u􀀛lise it for service unto
others. This a􀀢tude behind “Wealth and prosperity” can never
turn the individual to be selfish or greedy. Further, during raising
and saving of money, the concern of the individual is not the self
but others and this defines his rela􀀛on in the society.
Similarly, the fulfilment of desires in the life is envisaged to
be within the frame work of Dharma. At its lowest level of
manifesta􀀛on, the term Kama is understood in the sense of pure
sex drive which is essen􀀛al for propoga􀀛on of the species; Manu
as well as Mahabharat speak on this desire which is not
condemned in totality.
Prashna Upanishad declares “sex at night is as good as
celibacy” (1/13). Apat Dharma Sutra declares that a man should
enjoy all such pleasures as are not opposed to Dharma (2/8/20)
Kau􀀛lya says “one may enjoy Kama provided there is no conflict
with Dharma and Artha; one should not lead a life of no
pleasure” (1/7).
Shrikrishna declares “I am the kama which is not against
Dharma” (7/11).
The Hindu Seers permi􀀢ng the enjoyment of desires, call
upon the people to uphold one’s duty and the welfare of the
society. For instance, the final salva􀀛on is not possible without
repaying the Pitru Rina (debts to fore fathers) which is possible
by bege􀀢ng progenies. This debt concept tells how the sex
enjoyment and the propoga􀀛on of species for societal benefit
are synchronised beau􀀛fully. In turn, concept kama also defines
individual’s rela􀀛on with the children, the wife, the parents and
also with other members of the community.
Moksha is the final libera􀀛on conceived for individuals under
Hindu philosophy. It is again a false no􀀛on that leaving the
working things and going to forest for medita􀀛ng on God can
only bring Moksha. Worldly A􀀫aining Moksha is possible even
when you follow the worldly life, by fulfilling one’s duty to the
family, to the society and to God. The concept of re-birth tells us
that one must take re-birth if the obligatory du􀀛es are not
fulfilled and Moksha is not for him.
A person seeking Moksha should posses compassion for all
(gd© ^yVmZwH$ånm) and should prac􀀛ce non-in jury to all creatures
(gd© ^yV Aqhgm). Moreover, the panch Mahayajna, the five great
sacrifices towards, God, Rishis, fore fathers, all living creatures
including the mankind ought to be performed daily by the seeker
of Moksha.
All this, moulds the mental frame work of the Hindu
individual and enables him to become duty-oriented. Even the
selfish-Moksha comes to him only through his du􀀛es and service
unto others. Dr. Radhakrishnan puts it, “The purpose of human
life is to cross the line, to emerge from insufficiency and
ignorance to fullness and wisdom. This is Moksha or libera􀀛on
into the light of superconsciousness. Moksha or libera􀀛on is to
be achieved here and now, on earth through human rela􀀛ons”.10
This clearly defines Social Rela􀀛ons that existed in ancient India.
The Dharma-Artha-Kama-Moksha are the psycho-social
values that govern the individual’s rela􀀛on with others. All the
four are equally important for a Hindu and these aims of life can
be conceived only in rela􀀛on with other individuals and groups.
These principles help and guide the individual’s rela􀀛on in the
family and the society. As all the four are perceived as concerned
more about du􀀛es rather than the rights, every individual strives
to accomodate other’s interest first and show importance and
recogni􀀛on to others. In turn he gets prominence and a􀀫en􀀛on
from others and thus goes the rela􀀛on among the individuals in
Hindu society.
The Family
The family is the basic social group and the family is the
matrix through in which the most significant habits and a􀀢tudes
are developed in the individual. King and koller write on family,
“The basic social web in which all humans live is the family. It is
the family which provides vital biological and psychological
support for the infant as the child goes through the long process
of matura􀀛on. The family is the ini􀀛al and essen􀀛al transmi􀀫er
of culture, and it forms an important social and economic
“The family, as social unit has already assimilated, through
years and ages, the tradi􀀛ons, the sen􀀛ments and modes of
behaviour of the society. It therefore plays the part of a suitable
medium to convey these to its individual members. The family is
an instrument or agent of the larger society, its failure to perform
adequately means that the goals of the larger society may not be
a􀀫ained effec􀀛vely.”12 In the family the individual obtains most
of the fundamental values which are woven into his life
organisa􀀛on. “Members of the family are usually inden􀀛fied as a
social unit that has a specified part to play in the life of
community.”13 The primary ideals of human society-ideals of
love, service, self-sacrifice have their original schooling in the
family, because the family normally illustrates the prac􀀛ces for
which these ideals stand. Goode adds “Society is a structure
made up of families and that the peculiari􀀛es of a given society
can be described by out-lining its family rela􀀛ons.”14
With this preliminary discussion on the importance of family
as an ins􀀛tu􀀛on, let us now turn towards Hindu Family.
The Hindu Family
Hindu family begins with the sacrament of marriage of a
Brahmachari (Bachelour) who vows to lead a pious and virtuous
life of a Gruhastha (House-holder) by the acceptance of the hand
of the kanya (Virgin girl) (nm{ZJ«hUm{X J¥h`_² n[aMaoV² && Aídmbm`Z
J¥h`gyÌ & 1/9/1 also other Gruhya Sutras). As soon as he is
wedded, the man must prepare himself to undertake the du􀀛es
connected with ‘Home’ where, according to Hindu
Dharmashstras he has to prac􀀛ce all those rites intended for the
preserva􀀛on and con􀀛nuity of the kula (Hw$b), which may be
translated as the family.
The man enters his home by the ceremony of Gruha
prawesh in which the “Vastoshpa􀀛”, the fire God is invoked with
a prayer to him that He may be saviour of the human beings and
animals that come to dwell in the house (Parashara Gruhya Sutra
3/4 5 to 7) and this fire which was kindled at the 􀀛me of the
marriage has to be kept on going con􀀛nuously with great
vigilance by worshipping it daily.
Manu ordains that the householder must perform Panch
Maha Yajna five great sacrifices daily according to his capacity by
which he gets rid of all the sins of violence (nü¡VmÝ`mo _hm`kmÞ hmn`{V
e{ŠVV: & gJ¥ho@{n dg{ÞË`§ gyZmXmof¡Z© {bß`Vo && _Zwñ_¥{V 3/71). These
Panch Maha Yajnas are (1) Brahma yajna-teaching and learning
veda (2) Pitru Yajna – offering water and food to the forefathers
(3) Deva- Yajna– performing sacrifices (4) Bhuta Yajna– offering
food to the sprits who appear in the form of animals and birds (5)
Nru-Yajna the hospitable offering of food and shelter to the
guests (AÜ`mnZ§ ~«÷`k: {nV¥`kñVw§ Vn©U_² & hmomo X¡dmo ~{b^m±Vmo Z¥`kmo A{V{W
nyOZ_² && _Zwñ_¥{V 3/70). Manu emphasises on their duty by saying
that, the Rishis, the fore fathers, the Gods, the living creatures,
and guests (strangers) depend upon the house holder (F$f`: {nVamo
Xodmo ^yVmÝ`m{V“ñVVm & AmemgVo Hw$Qw>på~å` ñVoä`:H$m`© {dOmZVm && _Zwñ_¥{V
3/89). Yajnavalkya also upholds the above views of Manu [
Yajnavalkya smru􀀛 chapter 1 ]. The epic Mahabharat calls upon
the house-holder as well as his wife to eat, only a􀁓er offering
food to servants, the stranger, and the dependants like old
parents, by which he eats only nectar (^¥Ë`m{V{nfw `mo ^wS>ŠVo ^wŠVdËgw
gXm gXm & A_¥V§ Ho$db^wS>ŠVo B{V {d{Õ `w{Y{ð>a && em§{Vnd© 221/13). While
Manu further ordains to make enough efforts to feed all living
creatures (XÚmƒ gd© ^¥VmZm_ AÞ`od à`ËZV: && _Zwñ_¥{V 9/333).
All these point to the nature of social rela􀀛on in the Hindu
family. Further, these norms contribute a lot in the moulding of
the mental frame work of the house-holder as well as other
members in the family in which even the small child observes
these ac􀀛vi􀀛es and learns to respects Gods, Rishis, fore fathers,
the animals and the strangers.
Trusteeship Concept in the Family
As per Hindu Philosophy, life in this world is a sojourn in
which the family-life becomes a part. A􀁓er the family-life
(Gruhastha Asharama), one has to leave all his worldly
belongings for one’s future genera􀀛on (children and grand
children) to enter into the next stages of Vana-prastha and
Sanyasa Ashram. When he entered into the family life, he
received all these from his father and fore fathers, to which he
himself contributed according to his might. And that is the
reason, he has to remember his forefathers daily by performing
Pitru Yajna. And also he is expected to share his wealth with the
guests and other living creatures by hospitable offering of food
to them. The concept of Siloncha ({gbmo§ƒm && `mkdbŠ` ñ_¥{V &
1/128) and the concept of “Vighashasi” ({dYem{g… _hm^maV
em§{Vnd©&& 11/23 and 24) call upon the Hindu individual not to
amass wealth and to take care of others including the
dependants on him, including the servants.
Thus, the Hindu individual considers the Home (family
wealth) as entrusted to him by his fore-fathers, which he has to
pass on to the next genera􀀛on with addi􀀛on or increase and with
the a􀀢tude of non-a􀀫achment. For him, all home/property
belongs in the social meaning, to his fore fathers and their grand
children, not to himself. Lundberg writes “In Hindu society,
property was owned by the family, not by the individual and was
passed from genera􀀛ons to genera􀀛ons within the father’s
family”.15 Even while enjoying all the fruits of family wealth as he
is the Swami of the family, he considers himself as the trustee of
the family which shows the psychology of con􀀛nuity in its
tradi􀀛on. Hence a home is a place where the present, the past
and the future members are living along with the animals and
the guests or strangers.
This kind of trusteeship concept conveys a lot about the
social rela􀀛ons therewith. The social rela􀀛ons within the family
were based on mutual respect, emphasising the duty rather
than the right; with the mo􀀛ve of service to others rather than
selfish and individualis􀀛c, self centered goals.
Inter-Rela􀀡ons Within-the Family
Let us now, turn towards the inter-rela􀀛ons within the family
like those between husband and wife, brothers and sisters,
parents and children etc.
Husband-Wife Rela􀀛ons
The oldest literary works the Vedas beau􀀛fully describe the
sweet rela􀀛on between husband and wife and a􀀫aches high
importance to this rela􀀛on. Husband and wife pray to God “Let
our eyes be sweet like honey. Let out eyes be full of life with best
eye liner; keep me in your heart, let our thoughts be together for
all the 􀀛me” ( Aú`mo Zmo _Ywg§H$memo AZrH$ Zm¡ g_‚mZ_² && AÝV H¥$Uwîd _m h{X
_Z BÞmo ghmg{V && AWd©doX 7/36/1). Further, it says “you are to
remain always mine and let no other name come to your lip” (`Wm
gmo __ Ho$dbmo ZmÝ`mgm§ {H$V©`müZ AWd©doX 7/37/1). Rig Veda alludes
most respec􀁎ul place for wife by addressing her Om`XñV_²
meaning “the wife is the home”,16 Altharva Veda proclaims “O!
the young wedded couples, you be happy in this family life. Let
you never be disunited. Enjoy full life with your children and
grand children with all comfort (Bh¡d ñV _m {d `m¡îñQ>§ {doe_m`wÀ`© lwV_&
{H«$S>ÝVmo nwÌ¡Z©n¥{^_m} X_mZm¡ ñdñV H$mo && 14/1/22).
Manu explaining the Dharma of husband and wife, giving full
freedom for enjoyment including that of sex desire (_Zwñ_¥{V
9/103) call upon both to take part together in all the rituals with
c o – o p e r a 􀀛 o n a n d h a r m o n y a n d w i t h o u t fi d e l i t y
(AÝ`moÝ`ñ`mÝ`m{^Mmamo ^doXm_aUmpÝVH$: Ef Y_© g_mgoZ k` : ñÌrnwg`mo: na:&&
9/101). They must see that they are not opposed to each other
and that they must remain faithful to each other (VWm {ZË`§ `Vo`Vm§
ñÌrnwgm¡ Vw H¥$V {H«$`m¡ & `Wm Z{^MaoVm§ Vm¡{d`wŠVm {dVaoVa_² && 9/102). Further
the husband is enjoined to seek sexual gra􀀛fica􀀛on through his
wife only and not other woman (_Zwñ_¥{V 3/45 ñ`mËñdXma{ZaV: gXm).
Driving the point of mutual responsibility for cordial rela􀀛on,
Manu says “The man gets his wife not by wish alone but she is
given to him by God. Hence, to show respect towards God, the
husband must behave cordially with her and even smallest
ac􀀛vity must always be performed taking her into confidence”
(XodXÎmm§ n{V_m`m© {dXÝVo ZoÀN>`mË_Z: & Vm§ gmÜdr{d^w`m{ÞË`§ XodmZm§ {n«`m_mMíZ²
9/95 and Vñ_mgmYaUmo Y_©:lwVm¡ àËÝ`m ghmo{XV: 9/96).
Mahabharat proclaims “There is no rela􀀛ve like wife, no
saviour like wife, and there is no one like wife in the Dharma
ac􀀛vi􀀛es (ZmpñV ^m`m© g_mo ~ÝYwZm©pñV ^m`m© g_mJ{V: & ZmpñV^m`m© g_mo
bmoHo$ghm`o Y_© g§J«ho && em§{Vnd©& 144/16). It, further, elaborates”. She is
the main helper in all the Dharma, Artha and Kama ac􀀛vi􀀛es and
also on foreign tour (Y_m©W©H$m_H$mbofw ^m`m© nw§g: ghm{`Zr &… {dXoer J_Zo
Mmñ` && em§{Vnd© 144/13 and 14).
“Aitareeya Brahmana” text, says that a wife is a friend, which
shows her equal status with her husband. The wife is called Om`m
because the husband is born of her again in the form of son,
(EoVar` ~«m÷U 33/1) while Shatapath Brahmana text calls her as
the be􀀫er-half of the husband (eVnW ~«m÷U 5/1/6/10).
Sukta 14 of kand 1 of Atharva Veda, speaks on how a
bride/girl is helpful in the welfare of the family and she is looked
upon as an important person who brings various virtues by
ge􀀢ng married into a par􀀛cular family. At the marriage
ceremony, hope was expressed on behalf of every bride that she
would in due course, be able to command the a􀀫en􀀛on of the
Assembly (which means she addressed public/commi􀀫ee
mee􀀛ngs) by her powers of speech and persuassion (d{e{Z Ëd_²
{dÚ _mdXgr && F$½doX 10/85/26).
All these, point to the nature of inter-rela􀀛ons between
husband and wife as conceived in the ancient works. Husband
and wife are bound to each other as complimentary not only 􀀛ll
death but even a􀁓er death, in the other world, “No man even
when he is in anger, should do anything that is disagreable to his
wife, for happiness and joy all depend on the wife”. (_hm^maV
Am{Xnd© 74/50) Ramayana goes ahead and declares “The wife is
not at all different from the husband” implying the equality of
man and wife. (AZÝ`énm nwéfñ` Xmam: & am_m`U & {H${îH$ÝXm H$m§S> 24/38)
Rela􀀡on among Brothers and Sisters
Atharva Veda desribes beau􀀛fully the rela􀀛on among
brothers and sisters. It goes like “Let there be no clash between
brother and sister and also between sister and sister. Let all have
a common a􀀢tude and interact nobly and co-operate each
other for common ac􀀛vi􀀛es without hypocracy (_m ^«mVm ^«mVa {ÛjZ
_m ñdgma_wXñd_m & gå`ƒ gd«Vm ^yËdm dmM dXV ^Û`m & AWd©doX 3/38/3).
In Mahabharat, Bhishma gives a discourse on the du􀀛es of the
younger brothers toward the eldest and his obliga􀀛on towards
the younger ones. The eldest brother, at 􀀛mes overlooking at the
faults of his younger brothers, always should treat the younger
one in the way in which perceptor treats his disciples
(Mahabharata, Anushasan Parva, chapter 105).
Parents and Children
In Hindu religious teaching, the parents are held in high
esteem and they are the Gods for the children (_mV¥ Xodmo ^d & {nV¥Xodmo
^d && V¡Var` Cn{ZfX 1/112).
The word Parent is denoted in Sanskrit by Pitru which is
derived from the root PA (n) meaning to protect or to preseve.
This meaning thus emphasises the rela􀀛on between the parent
and the children and also the role and obliga􀀛ons of parents
towards children. The Rig Veda (4/17/17 and others) refers to
the father as the symbol of all goodness and kindness. Father is
equated to the sky for its greatness and vastness while mother is
equated to earth for its affec􀀛on and capacity to feed all the
living beings, on its surface, ({nVm Y_©: {nVm ñdJ©: {nVm hr na_ Vn: &
{nVar {à{V_mnÞo gdm©: àr`pÝVXodVm: em§{Vnd©& 266/21 and ZmpñV_mV¥g_m
N>m`m ZmpñV _mV¥g_m: J{V & ZmpñV _mV¥g_ ÌmU ZmpñV _mV¥g_m {à`m && em§{Vnd©
For the children, there exists no greater Dharma than the
respect for father and no greater Dharma than the protec􀀛on of
mother ({nV¥ajm namo Y_©: & _hm^maV em§{Vnd© & 266/11) (ñdY_m} _mV¥aj_m_
&& _hm^maV em§{Vnd© 266/11).
The son is denoted by the word Putra and the Swayambhuwa
himself addressed son as Putra because he rescues the parents
from the hell called ‘put’ (nwZmåZmo ZaH$mÚñ_Ìm`Vo {nVa gwV: & Vñ_mnwÌ B{V
n«moH$Vm: ñd`_od ñd`§^wdm && _Zwñ_¥{V & 4 9/138). Mahabharat gives the
beau􀀛ful narra􀀛on of happiness and joy derived from the small
child and there exists no higher level of happiness for the parents
than the touch of the child. It says “What is a greater happiness
to a father than what the father feels when his son, running to
him, clasps him with his 􀀛ny li􀀫le arms though his body is full of
dust and dirt? And even the touch of the sandal paste or that of a
woman and water, is not so pleasing as that of one’s own son
locked in to his embrace” (Mahabharat Adiparva, chapter 74/ 50
to 55)
Perhaps the most important verse that brings out the
rela􀀛on between parents and children is from Atharva veda
which says “Let the son be always suppor􀀛ve to his father and
behave with his mother piously and let there be love between
them like cow loving its calf” (AZwd«Vm: {nVw nwÌmo _mVm ^dVw g_Zm: & …
dËg OmV {^dmÕÝ`m && AWd©doX 4 3/30, 1 and 2).
The whole Sukta 30, kanda 3 of Atharva Veda describes the
inter-rela􀀛on in the family. It says “Let your hearts have the same
noble feeling; the mind be the same with noble a􀀢tude, and let
there be no clash in the home. Let all of you love and respect one
another to have be􀀫er atmosphere in the home. Let all of you
possess the best knowledge by which there will be no clash and
the interac􀀛on in the family will not be at logger heads. Respect
elders, generate noble thoughts in the mind, strive for the best
atmosphere, co-operate with each other and never clash with
each other. Let your place of drinking and ea􀀛ng be united and
perform rituals together and unitedly live in the society like the
spokes of a wheel are 􀀛ed with the axle” (göX` g_Zñ` _{dÛof§ H¥$Uo{_
d:& AÝ`mo AÝ`_{^ h`©V dËg§ OmV{_dm¿Ý`m Ý`m`ñdÝV{ü{bZmo _m {d `moï>
gamg`ÝV gYwamüaÝV: & AÝ`mñ_o dëJw dXÝV EH$ gYrMrZmÝd g_ZñH¥$Uo{V &&
g_mZr ànm ghdmoÞ ^mJ: g_mZo `moÌo ghdmo`wZÝ_r & gå`ƒmo@{Z gn`©Vmam
Zm{^{_dm{^V: & VîH¥$Ê_mo ~«÷ dm J¥ho g§kmZ§ nwaofä`:… AWd©doX gyŠV 30 &
H$mÊS> 3 &&).
Yet another factor that brings out the rela􀀛ons in the family
and the society at large is the concept of “sacrament” in Hindu
Sacraments in Hindu Family
Hindu culture provides for a number of Samskara g§ñH$ma.,
Meant for the purifica􀀛on or sanc􀀛fica􀀛on of individual, which
are considered as the mechanisms for socializa􀀛on process in
Hindu family. “Socializa􀀛on is the process by which the young
human being acquires the values and knowledge of his group
and learns the social roles appropriate to his posi􀀛on in it.17 The
nearest English word by which the term Samskara may be
translated is sacrament. The common word ceremony, does not
give the full and precise meaning because Samskara does not
mean merely an outward religious rite or observance. They are
the ac􀀛vi􀀛es having socio-religious importance for the
individual as well as the family and the society. “It may be seen
that the Hindu sacrament aimed at not only the formal
purifica􀀛on of the body but also at sanc􀀛fying impressing,
refining perfec􀀛ng the en􀀛re individuality of the reciepient,
producing a special merit in him”.18
The Samskaras were never regarded as ends by themselves
as they are the means in leading man to the ul􀀛mate goal of
existence and the virtues of the soul (AmË_-JwU) were also
developed. Moreover, various rules of conduct and behaviour
are prescribed in detail for different Samskaras.
Panini the great Sanskrit scholar gives the meaning of the
word Samskaras as g§ñH¥$dÝVr g§Jr^dÝVr that which purifies
producing perfec􀀛on and that which moulds one to live in group.
Again, Samskaras is that which increases the good quali􀀛es and
reduces the bad ones JwUmZ dY©`Vr, XmofmZ hmn`Vr g§ñH$ma :-
“The Samskaras had been treated from very ancient 􀀛mes as
necessary for unfolding the latent capaci􀀛es of man for
development and as being the symbols or signs of inner change
which would fit human beings for corporate life and they also
tended to confer a certain status on those who under went
In short, it becomes clear that the purpose to be served by
these rites, is for the complete development and transforma􀀛on
of the personality to mould him into a perfect social being
Parashara Smru􀀛 (8/19) says “just as a picture is painted in
various colours, so the character of a person is formed by his
undergoing various Sanskaras properly.”
As the Samskaras are performed at specific periods of 􀀛me
of different developmental stages of the human being, they
serve the purpose of conveying to the individual that he is an
important and useful member of the family as well as of the
society. Further, the hidden meaning of the actual rites
performed and the prayers offered at these Samskaras conveys
to the individual and consistently imbibes on his mind that he
owes something back to the family and to the society as an
important member of it.
Number of Samskaras g§ñH$ma
Manu envisages various samskaras for becoming “Pavanah”
(purified) for a person in this life as well as the life a􀁓er death
(H$m`© earag§ñH$ma : nmdZ: àoË` Moh M && _Zwñ_¥{V 2/26). Other
Smru􀀛karas also men􀀛on about Samskaras but the only
difference is about the number of Samskaras. But it will be
sufficient to discuss only a few most important ones to bring
their social implica􀀛ons and their role in Hindu family and
society with regard to Social Rela􀀛on.
The Garbhadana (J^©XmZ)
Manu and Yajnavalkya ordain the first sacrament or
Samskara as that of the foetus-laying ceremony or the
consuma􀀛on of marriage, usually performed a􀁓er the third day
of marriage. The mo􀀛ve behind this Samskara, is to beget noble
and power full children for the family. At the 􀀛me of marriage,
the couple take the vow to be the par􀀛es for “Kula-vardhana”
(propoga􀀛on of family) and “Garbhadana” is the fulfillment of
that duty.
“According to Hindusim procrea􀀛on is not to be looked upon
as a biological phenomonon only, common to all animals, but it
should be seen in a socio-ethical context. It is a sacred duty of the
married couple to approach each other in the proper 􀀛me for
the sake of progeny so that the race might con􀀛nue.”20
The “Pitru-rina” (debt to fore fathers) can be repaid by the
procrea􀀛on of children which implies that the social con􀀛nuity
and welfare of society to be kept in mind during procrea􀀛on. The
sexual enjoyment is also seen from the societal good and
considered as a duty towards society. The health and safety of
the foetus is prayed for ({haÊ_`r AaUr` {Z^©`Vmo ApídZm & Vo Vo J^©
hdm_oh Xe_o _{g gwVdo… F$½doX 10/184) and the progeny is seen as an
important future member of the family and the society.
The Punsawana Samskara (nw§gdZ g§ñH$ma)
When the safety of foetus is confirmed a􀁓er three months of
concep􀀛on, Punsavana Samskara intended for perpetua􀀛ng the
family by way of bege􀀢ng a child takes place. It was thought
necessary that through the treatment of the pregnant mother
the child in the womb should be influenced and so medical and
mental treatment of the mother was prescribed through this
Samskara. A male issue was an important adjunct in the family in
ancient 􀀛mes, which is conceived as serving the welfare of the
family and in turn the welfare of the society.
The Seemantonnayana ({g_ÝVmoÞ`Z)
This Samskara helps us to understand the care and a􀀫en􀀛on
given to the pregnant mother and the child in the womb. It also
brings out the social interca􀀛on between the husband and wife
to be par􀀛es to produce a healthy member for the family. The
Samskara takes place a􀁓er fi􀁓h month of preganancy when the
mental forma􀀛on of the child starts. To avoid mental as well as
physical shock to the foetus, emo􀀛onal and psychological
support is given to the mother. With caressing a􀀫en􀀛on the
husband himself touches the hairs of the pregnant wife and 􀀛es
a small udumbara (fig tree) branch round her neck with the
words “Rich in sap is this tree; like the tree rich in sap, be thou
frui􀁎ul” (A`§ D$O©dVmo d¥j COud \$bm{Z ^d… nmañH$ J¥ø gyÌ && 1/15/6)
The Jatakarma (OmVH$_©)
The Jatakarma sacrament takes place at the birth of the child
which is made up of several items. The first item is Medha
Janana (the genera􀀛on of talent). Father touches and smells the
child and u􀀫er benedictory mantras into its ears. The child is fed
with ghee and honey with a thin gold strip which are symbolic of
strength and intelligence.21
The other items include praying for longer life, strength etc.
The mother is congratulated by the husband with the words
“thou are like the admirable Arundha􀀛, be thou be blessed with
prosperity”.22 It is clear that the entry of a new member in the
family is not a causal one and it is a highly auspicious occasion
because of its racial importance.
The Namakarana (Zm_H$aU)
The Hindu society realised the importance of naming newborns
and elevated the act to the posi􀀛on of a religious
The Namakarana Samskar takes place on 10th to 12th day
a􀁓er the birth of the child when it is given name. Prayers are
offered to Indra and other Gods to take care of the child like a
deposit kept with them. Hindu Shastrakaras a􀀫ach much
importance to this sacrament as through this the child is known
by the family and the Varna (community) which implies that the
new born is given the full membership of the family as well as the
community. Moreover the occupa􀀛on and the social status also
made known through this sacrament.
The Nishkarana ({ZîH$aU)
This sacrament takes place when the child is of the age when
he can be taken outside the house. It is fes􀀛ve occasion for the
parents to take the child outside the house and hence this socioreligious
sacrament is performed. “The parents as well as
Kinsmen (community people) celebrate the sacrament which is
important also because it recognises a vital need of the growing
child brought face to face with the sublime splender of the
The Annaprashan (AÝZàmeZ)
The ceremony is performed usually in the sixth month a􀁓er
delivery. On this occasion the child is fed with solid food for the
first 􀀛me, which is the physical necessity of the child. The
“Annapate God” is invoked to make the child healthy and
adventurous by providing him with nutri􀀛ous food. The purpose
of the sacrament is to make aware the parents, on the growing
need of the child and to make known their role in its health and
growth. It is also important as it marks the weaning of the child
from the mother at a proper 􀀛me.
The Chudakarma (MwS>mH$_©)
The Chudakarma, tonsuring of the hair takes place at the end
of the first year or before the third year of birth as per the local
conven􀀛ons. Probably at this age, the child grows to understand
the physical hygeine and the sacrament is the child in􀀛ta􀀛on to
the first lessons of bodily hygiene. The parents are expected to
take care not only of food-in-take of the child but also the bodily
hygeine for the child’s proper growth and development.
The Upanayana (CnZ`Z)
In the Hindu thought, this is the second most important
sacrament a􀁓er that of marriage even though each Samskara is
important in its own context. The term Upa-Nayan signifies
“leading to near; near to the society as the child a􀀫ains the age
to learn rules and regula􀀛ons of the society. In ths Atharva-Veda
the term Upanayana is used in the sense of “taking charge of a
student by the teacher.” (AmMm`© CnZ`_mZmo ~«÷Mmar Hw$éVo…… 11/5/3)
The original idea is the child’s ini􀀛a􀀛on for educa􀀛on in
which he begins to learn the lores of the society through the
learning of Vedas and other texts considered to be the
manuscripts for the func􀀛oning and development of the society.
From the sacramental point of view, one item to be observed is
the last meal, child eats si􀀢ng in the lap of the mother. This
marks the end of the childhood and the beginning of a career
outside the home, to be independent and self-reliant. The child
is specially instructed and advised to observe social decorum
and to maintain his own dignity and self-control from now
onwards as the social consicousness begins to draw upon the
boy by the age of this sacrament.
The teacher touches the heart of the child and in􀀛􀀛ates him
to educa􀀛on which symbolies the mental and emo􀀛onal
communion between the teacher and the student. During the
ceremony, the child holds “Danda” a branch of phalas tree and
u􀀫ers the Mantra, “Let I be void of arrogancy, Let this Danda
keep me on moral path and protect me from all fears from all
direc􀀛ons”. (AXmV X_{`Ëdm _m§ _mJ} gñ`mndÝñd`§ & XÊS>: H$ao {gWVmo
`ñ_mÎmñ_mX²dj `Vmo ^`&&)
Again, he goes under the phalas tree and prays “O! phalas
tree, you are much reputed in protec􀀛ng Gods and Yajnakartas;
bless me to become like you, so that I am able to take care of
humanity and Vedic Community” (gwldm gwldm gwldm A{g `Wm Ëd&
gwldm gwldm Añ`oV _m§ gyld: gmoÌdg Hw$é & `Wm Ëd§ XodmZm `kñ` {Z{fYmo@Ë`dh§
_Zwî`mUm§ doXñ` {Z{fYmo ^y`mgf² & AmnV Y_© J¥hñ` gyÌ & AÜ`m` 1).
“Bruhaspa􀀛, the god of knowledge, Indra, the god of power and
Agni the god of brilliance and energy are held before him as his
ideals. If a student acts in the spirit of what is suggested by the
symbolism of this sacrament, he is bound to be a successful
scholar and a full fledged ci􀀛zen fit to share the responsibility of
the world”.24
This speaks of the highest and noblest of objec􀀛ves
envisaged to a child who prepares himself to take up the cudgles
of life in the society, to serve the mankind throughout his life.
Perhaps the most important item in the upanayan sacrament
is begging of alms from others. The child begs alms (^dmZ {^jm§ Xohr
d ^d{V {^jm§ Xohr) from others which he has to divide into four
equal parts, one for his Guru, the teacher, one for Gods which is
later on given to cow; one for guests (strangers), and the last part
to himself. This ac􀀛vity carries a lot of social significance as the
child learns the lessons of HUMILITY which is a significant
a􀀫ribute for a persons intending to do social service. The child
requires this quality in him and hence his personality is moulded
to evolve in him this a􀀫ribute.
Further it shows that the society is more important than the
individual. It conveys to him that he depends on the society
rather than the society depending on him. At the same 􀀛me,
society sincerely and defenitely hopes of his becoming a good
useful ci􀀛zen. All Brahmacharins have to beg the alms, whether
or not he belongs to a rich or poor family as the sacrament is
same for all. A child from a wealthy family also, put on the same
foo􀀛ng of the child from a poor family as far as the Educa􀀡on is
concerned and there arises no ques􀀛on of wealthy family
providing all alms for their own children for educa􀀛on.
Irrespec􀀛ve of background of the family all children under going
this sacrament and ge􀀢ng the educa􀀛on, must beg alms and live
by it alone.
Again it is a symbolic ac􀀛vity which points to the interest
shown by the society in the educa􀀛on of Brahma-charins, the
future members of the society. These future members need
educa􀀛on and proper training to be good for the society in
future and useful for its welfare and growth. Society
understands this responsibility and willingly provides alms to
these Brachamacharins. Moreover, all the house-holders accept
it as their obligatory duty to provide alms to the students and
never refuse when one begs for it. It is not the will and wish of the
house-holder that determine whether or not to give alms but his
duty-consciousness-social duty mind-that freely and willingly
donates alms to the future member. This is an apt example of
society taking care of the individual and the individual when
becomes the house-holder taking care of the societal needs and
the sharing of responsibility of the educa􀀛onal need.
Last but not the least, the sacramet beau􀀛fully imbibes on
the young mind of the child undergoing “Upanayana Samskar”
that he is dependant on the society to which he owe many things
in return. Begging of alms and living on it for at least twelve years
to come, tells him not to forget his obliga􀀛ons to the society.
Interes􀀛ngly he gets at the same 􀀛me the training to develop
a􀀢tude for social commitment, by way of sharing his alms daily,
with the teacher, the guest and the animals because he has a
claim only on one fourth of whatever he gets by begging.
Hindu Shastrakaras have really well done their job of
upholding the responsibility and social obliga􀀛ons of all
concerned rather than the selfish and self-centred
consciousness of their rights and the social interac􀀛on and the
social rela􀀛ons are beau􀀛fully skecthed out, through such
The Vivah ({ddmh)
The most important of all the Hindu sacraments is that of
vivah or marriage which unites not only the two individuals but
also of two families and even two villages. Lundberg writes on
Hindu marriage “The marriage contract was recognised as an
arrangement between two families rather that of two
persons”.25 One of the mantras of marriage ceremony goes on
“Let the emo􀀛on of all of you become similar, let your heart be
one, let all of you think in the same direc􀀛on and let opinion of all
you be same” (g_mZrd AmH¥${V g_möX`m{Zd…. F$½doX 10/191/24).
The marriage is not a contract but a sacrament and an
ins􀀛tu􀀛on under Hindu philisophy.26 The marriage is an affair
not only of the girl and the boy but of the whole society. It is a life
long or even a􀁓er death, for seven lifes to come, union of two
souls which can never be dissolved or divorced. (_m§ {d `moîR>§ &&
AWd©doX 14/1/22). Manu says “it is not the desire of the man that
alone brings him the wife rather it is the wish of God” (XodXÎmm§ n{V
^m©`m©² {dXÝVo ZoÀ`mË_Z: && _Zwñ_¥{V 9/95) and calls upon the couple to
live together 􀀛ll death (9/101). Besides this, the Vivah, is not a
blanket liscence for immidiate sexual enjoyment as the couple
have to undergo the Garbhadana” sacrament before the
marriage is consumated. For the couple, the propoga􀀛on of the
species is a holy act and the good of the family, of the kinship and
of the society becomes their priority.
The Vivah sacrament is the most central one as it is the link,
the gateway to the second stage of life, Gruhasthashram in
which the individual can get rid all his Rinas (debts). The Mantras
u􀀫ered at the ceremony including those at the 􀀛me of Saptapadi
are of social significance in which the husband and wife promise
to lead a life for the well-being of the whole society.
The Antyeshthi (AÝË`oï>r)
Antyeshthi, the funeral is the last sacrament in the life of a
Hindu individual, which is concerned mainly with the life a􀁓er
and the next life to come.
Thus, the Hindu Seers successfully evolved the mechanism
called the sacraments to mould the social animal into a prefect
social being. Every Hindu ought to undergo these sacraments,
including the women (A_Z{ÌH$m Vw H$m`}` ñÌrUm_md¥XeofV: && _Zwñ_¥{V
2/66) and the sudras (_Zwñ_¥{V 10/127 and `mkdbŠ` 1/121); only
difference is to perform the sacraments without mantras and
Rathakara (the chariot maker) a Sudra can be in􀀛􀀛ated to
Upanayan, the second most important sacrament (Baudhayana
Dharma Sutra 2/5/6). All these sacraments contribute a lot in
framing the social interac􀀛ons and social rela􀀛ons. All the more,
they convey the message of individual’s responsibility towards,
the children, the family, the kinship and the society. They also
convey the message of caring by the society and freedom given
to the individual to grow to his full poten􀀛al, within the frame
work of good of all. Pandey notes “As in philosophy, so in rituals,
life is regarded as a cycle. It starts from where it ends. From birth
to death it is a con􀀛nuous series of incidents moving round one
pivot the desire to live, to enjoy, to think and ul􀀛mately to re􀀛re.
All the Samskaras and allied ceremonies emanate from this….
The Samskaras were ins􀀛tuted to create the condi􀀛ons required
for the development of the individual in order to integrate his
personality with the society in which he was born and with the
world around him”.27
The customs and the rituals of these elaborate ceremonies
of Samsakaras signify for the individuals, the family and the
society that something good, something important is happening
on these occasions. The society also gains from these as these
are the milestones which shape the individuals for the good of
the society. The wonderful achievement of these socio-religious
func􀀛ons is that the interest of the individual, the family and the
society are inter-woven and intergrated grandiousely.
Thus, the rela􀀛ons in the family were cordial, co-opera􀀛ve
and based on mutual respect and reciprocal right and
responsibili􀀛es. The rela􀀛ons within the family, were in
conformity with society norms, which evolved service to other
mentality in all the individuals. The rela􀀛ons were considered to
be sacred or Godly and were maintained not in selfish or selfcentered
manner, rather were centered round the other person
in the family which speak of duty – first approach.
The Varna and Ashrama Systems (dU© Am{U Aml_)
The framework of ancient Hindu society was founded upon
Varna and Ashrama a fourfold classifica􀀛on of the en􀀛re
people into Varnas and a fourfold division of the life of each
individual into Ashramas. While the Varna system is intended to
regulate the life of the society in the main, the Asharma system is
essen􀀛ally devised to regulate the life of the individual. “The two
organisa􀀛on of the Ashrama and the Varna which to put it briefly
refer to the problems of the nurture and the nature of man,
rightly serve as the corner of the Hindu theory of social
Varna (dU©)
Varna is the age old classifica􀀛on of the whole Hindu society
into four specific and inter-related and inter-depended
classifica􀀛ons, on the basis of the nature and temparement of
the individuals.
Dr. Radhakrishnan says “When the Vedic aryans found a
heterogeneous popula􀀛on of various tribes and classes of
different races and colour, worshipping different Gods spirits
following diverse customs and habits of life and filled with the
spirit of tribalism, they a􀀫empted to fit them all into an organic
whole by the adop􀀛on of the fourfold classifica􀀛on which is
based on social facts and psychology… The system was designed
to unite all in one common economic, social, cultural and
spiritual bond. By assigning definite func􀀛ons and du􀀛es and
according rights and privileges, the different classes were
expected to work in co-opera􀀛on and to achieve social harmony.
It is a mould into which all human beings can be poured
according to their voca􀀛onal ap􀀛tude and temparement.”29
Varna classifica􀀛ons are Brahmanas, Kshatreyas, Vysyas
and Sudras (~«mô_U-em¡`©-j[Ì`-ewÐ) belived to be originated from
the mouth, the shoulders, the belly and the feet respec􀀛vely of
the cosmic man (~«mô_Umoñ` _wñdm_mgrV ~mhamOÝ` H¥$V: & CñVÛoí` nX²å`m§
ewÕmo AOm`V && F$½doX& nwéfgwŠV).
It also meant that those who live by mouth ie teaching and
learning are Brahmanas, who work by the valour of their
shoulders are Kshatriyas, who work for produc􀀛on and
distribu􀀛on of wealth are Vaysyas and those who live by their
feet meaning doing service to others are Sudras. In its incep􀀛on
and later on also Varna was a flexible system and free mobility
between Varna was in vogue. Shrikrishna declares in Bhagavad
Gita “I created the four Varnas based on the temperament and
voca􀀛on (MmVwd©Ê`© _`m g¥ï>m§ JwUH$_© {d^mJe: && ^JdX²JrVm 4/13).
Sigh􀀛ng numerous examples Radhakrishnan says “There was
healthy social mobility and for long, Varnas did not become
hereditary and crystallised.”30
All the four Varnas had been assigned specific du􀀛es and
responsibili􀀛es as well as rights privileges which are
complimentary and supplimentary among each other by which
the society func􀀛oned smoothly like an organic whole. The
author do not intend to discuss and draw inference on the
hirearchy and discrimina􀀛on in Varna system as it is not the
central theme of the present study. Neverthless, a lot of
examples are available which drew the point that social rela􀀛ons
were cordial, like the king used to take blessing of Sudras at his
corona􀀛on ceremony and there were Sudras who rose to the
hight of Brahmavadins, meaning highly learned persons.
A point to be made is that of the social responsibili􀀛es and
virtues, applicable to all Varnas as men􀀛oned in the epic
Mahabharat. It says sharing of wealth (g{d^mJ), forgiveness
(j_m) non-injury to all nurturing of all (AÛmoh Ed M), dependents
(AmO©d ^¥Ë` ^aUm _hm^maV& em{ÝVnd© & 60/7 and 8) etc are the Dharma
for all varnas. All these mean that the inter and intra social
rela􀀛ons of the four Varnas were cordial and also harmonious
which were definitely tuned to the welfare of the whole society.
M.N. Srinivas writes, Varna percieved a common social language
which holds good for India, as a whole.31
The Ashrama System (Aml_)
The Ashramas are four life stages with graduated course of
du􀀛es calculated to lead an individual, step by step, towards a
realiza􀀛on of the supreme spiritual ideal. They are the stages
through which by intensive exer􀀛on and effort of the body and
the mind, by acts of religious exercsise and austerity, by selfdenial
and self-discipline one may bring one’s whole self under
The scheme of the Ashrama as thought out and devised by
the Hindu is a unique constribu􀀛on in the whole history of the
social thought of the world.
The word Ashrama is originally derived from the Sanskrit
root Shrama meaning “to exert oneself”. Literally, an asharma is
“hal􀀛ng place” or res􀀛ng place”. Therefore the word connotes a
stage in a journey of life meant for the prepara􀀛on of next lap of
the journey. The Asharmas are to regarded as res􀀛ng places
during one’s journey on the way to final libera􀀛on which is the
ul􀀛mate aim of life in Hinduism. The Ashramas are four in
number, namely (1) the Brahmacharya- student stage (2) the
Gruhastha- the stage of the house holder (3) the Vanaprastha
the stage of re􀀛red life in the forest (4) the Sanyasa – the stage of
complete renunica􀀛on.
The Brahimacharya – Ashrama (~«÷M`© Aml_)
The Brahmacharya Ashram begins with the sacrament
Upanayna of a child who starts his students life at the place of his
Guru – the teacher. He is expected to spend at least 12 years or 􀀛ll
the 􀀛me he learns Vedas and other literary works. The
Bramhacharin learns the ancient texts considered to be the
lores of the society, to prepare himself for the next stage of
family life. He is expected to keep celibacy, do service to the
perceptor, beg alms daily for living, discuss on the Vedas etc. The
students life was a life of Brahmacharya – of rigorous discipline of
body and mind which would harden the physical system to go
through austeri􀀛es without demur, and drill the mind in the
exercise of moral quali􀀛es of self control, self denial and self
A story from Mahabharat speaks on the development of
a􀀢tude service unto others even at the cost of self. The child
Brahmacharin, Aruni of Panchala country no􀀛ced inrush of
waters into the fields including that of his percetor, which could
have brought great damage to the village, unable to stop the
waters, Aruni himself laid down at the breach in the dike and
stopped the rushing waters. The teacher, a􀁓er no􀀛cing Aruni’s
absence, searched only to find him, in the dead of night lying
unconscious and completly wet and cold as Aruni was lying
hours together at the breach. Recognising the efforts of the
young Aruni, the perceptor addressed him as Uddalaka Aruni
and proclaimed “O! Uddalaka Aruni the whole Vedas will come
to you of their own. You will be proficient in them”. That was the
kind of training one recieves at this Ashrama.
A magnificient address by the teacher to the student on the
eve of his leaving the school has been described in the Taiteraya
Upanishad (1/11) emlodying noble maxims told in the words
unique for their strength, brevity and vigour, which reads.
“Speak the truth. Do thy duty, Deviate not from the path to
greatness, Neglect not to discharge thy du􀀛es to the Gods and
the Fathers. Whatever acts are above reproach should be
regarded, not others. Whatever acts are good in our conduct,
thow shalt respect and not the others etc.”33 That is the
convoca􀀛on address of a Guru who moulded the student to lead
a perfect social life by faultlessly observing his du􀀛es and by not
shunning away from his worldly responsibili􀀛es which must be
shouldered even to a􀀫ain Moksha or libera􀀛on.
Such a student coming out as a Snataka or graduate assumes
dignity and respect in the society. The lessons of humility and
service along with the knowledge brings him pres􀀛gious place in
the society and even the king shows him respect (Vashishtha
Dharma Shastra 13/59) and the society honours him wherever
he goes (Asvalayana Dharma shastra 3/9/6) which speaks
volumes on the Social Rela􀀛ons of the individual belonging to
Brahmacharya Ashrama.
The Grihastha Asharma (J¥hñW Aml_)
The marriage sacrament is the turning point that marks the
begining of the second stage ie. Grihastha Ashrama, in which
the individual gets ready to discharge his du􀀛es towards the
family, the fore fathers, the God and the society at large. The
Atharva Veda calls upon the couples to be united throughout the
life and to live happily and enjoy along with childern and grandchildern
in this Grihastha Ashrama. (Bh¡d ñV§ _m {d `moï> _m`wì`©lwV_²
{H$«S>ÝVmo nwÌ¡Z©n¥{^_m}X_mZ¡ ñdñV H$mo && AWd©doX 14/1/22)
Of all the Ashramas, the Grihastha Asharma is given a very
high place of honour. The Mahabharat emph􀀛cally clears the
point by telling the story of Yudhish􀀛ra, the king who become so
disgusted with the affairs of the world that he proposed to take
to the Sanyasa Ashrama but he was eventually pursuaded to
remain in Grihastha Ashrama as it is the supporter of other
Ashramas, by the wise Dvaipayana Vyasa himself (`w{Y{ð>`_² à{V
J¥hñWñ` l{îR>Úmnnm XZ_²…_hm^maV & em§{Vnd© & 11).
The house-holder is the support of birds, animals and other
living beings (_hm^maV em§{Vnd© 23/5) and hence this Ashrama is
superior to all. Manu the law giver upholds Grihastha Ashrama
as the most superior of all the four (VWm J¥hñW_m{lË` dV©ÝVo gd©
Aml_m: J¥hñWoZod Ym`©ÝVo Vñ_m‚m`oUl_mo J¥hr _Zwñ_¥{V 3/77 and 78).
The Grihastha Ashrama is the backbone in the Hindu social
system, as this is the stage of propoga􀀛on of the species and
social development. Neverthless, the house-holder never
develops false ego of his high posi􀀛on in the society, rather
accepts willingly as his obligatory duty to serve the rest of the
society. The Hindu philosophy helps the house-holder to
understand and realize his social responsibility, who becomes
humble in serving others. A delicate balance of pres􀀛ge and
responsibility has been envisaged by the Hindu Seers, which in
turn also governs social interac􀀛on and social Rela􀀛on in this
Grihastha Ashrama.
The Vanaprastha Ashrama (dmZàñW-Aml_)
The third stage of Vanaprastha Ashrama, marks the
beginning of re􀀛rement from ac􀀛ve family life when the children
and grand children grow up to independent life of their own. The
individual along with his wife, re􀀛res to forest and begins
medita􀀛on for self salva􀀛on. He begs alms for his living and
shares whatever he gets with the guests and travelers. He ought
to have the a􀀢tudes of non-in jury to all (gd© ^yVmZwH$ånm) and must
perform Panch Maha Yajnas daily, which included feeding of
animals and birds and the guests.
The Sanyasa Ashrama (g§Ý`mg Aml_)
The Sanyasa Ashrama is the last stage of life in this world as
per Hindu thought. The individual completely renunciate; all the
worldy affairs and concentrate only on the self libera􀀛on.
Moksha being the final aim in Hindu life, great importance is
a􀀫ached to this stage of total reclusion. However, the Moksha
can be a􀀫ained only when the whole du􀀛es in the earlier stages
are fulfilled and hence a direct jump into the fourth stage for
selfish interest of salva􀀛on is severely condemned. (AZYrÝ` {ÛOmo
doXmZZwËdmÚ VWm gwVmZ & A{Zï>dm M¡d `kíd _moj {_ÀN>d«OË`ì`Ú: && _Zwñ_¥{V
Further, there are incidents, in which wandering Sanyasins
enter the villages for short dura􀀛on of stay for a maximum of one
day in one village, who impart moral and spiritual teaching to
the society which point towards the social interac􀀛on and social
rea􀀛ons of Sanyasins too.
In order to quality as Sanyasin, one must perform Prajapa􀀡
Sacrifice in which all wealth has to be distributed to priests and
the poor (àmOmnË`m {Zéß`o{fQ> gd© doXgX{lUm_ && _Zwñ_¥{V 6/38 also
`mkdë` ñ_¥{V 3/65, {dîUwY_© gyÌ 96/1). P. V. Kane notes “He should
move about avoiding all trouble or injury to creatures, should
make all creatures safe with him, should bear with indifference
all disrespect, should entertain no anger towards him who is
furious with him, he should beg alms at seven houses without
selec􀀛ng them before hand.34
Thus, we find from the above disicussion on Chaturvidha
punyapurushartha, the family set up, Samskaras and Varna-
Ashrama system, the nature of the wonderful social interac􀀛ons
and Social Rela􀀛ons as conceived in the ancient Hindu literary
works. The goal of the individual the family and the society are
synchronised in such way that permi􀀢ng opportuni􀀛es for the
individual’s full growth, the concern for family and the society
was never relegated into the background. The individual was
taken care of, by the family and the society when it is most
required like during sacramental period and Brahmacharya
Ashram and the individual shared his responsibility towards the
society when he was matured and fully grown up during his
Grihastha Ashram. The society offered a strong socio-economic
frame work through the form of Varna system while the family
took up the responsibility of development of a perfect social
being through the socializa􀀛on process of Samskaras. The aim of
life for an individual was kept in front of him through the
Purusharthas which included the worldly desire for wealth and
prosperity and passion, while the Ashrama system provided the
necessary background to apply the aims into prac􀀛se. Social
obliga􀀛on and duty consciousness with non-a􀀫achment
became the bo􀀫om lines for Hindu social life even when the full
freedom enjoyment and individual development was provided
Apart from the State inter-ven􀀛on for social welfare, the
ancient Hindu literature calls upon the individual to make efforts
for the welfare of the society. In the following sec􀀛on the author
wish to discuss the role and contribu􀀛on of individual in the
Social Work ac􀀛vi􀀛es.
Individual’s Contribu􀀡on Towards Social Work
In his rela􀀛on to the rest of the society, the individual,
according to the Indian scheme, lays stress upon his du􀀛es – his
dharma – by which he is to secure his own advancement.
At his very birth, an individual is born charged with liabili􀀛es
as the Brahmana works declare “Verily, whoever exists, is born
as owing debt to the Gods, to the Rishis, to the fore-fathers and
to men” (Tai􀁅ereeya Brahmana. 6/3/10 and Shatapatha
Brahmana 1/7/2/1). Mahabharat includes in this list, debts to
the guests, the servants, and to one’s own self (XodmV{V`o ^¥Ë`oä`
{nV¥ä`ûMmË_ZñV`m & F$UdmZ² Om`Vo _Ë`©ñVñ_mXZ¥UVm§ d«OoV² && em§{Vnd© &
292/9). And urges to get rid of these debts through service and
duty. This concept of debts, binds him society to undertake many
ac􀀛vi􀀛es for the welfare of mankind, animals and birds as the
final salva􀀛on is achievable only through repaying these debts.
Synchronising of these debts with the ac􀀛vi􀀛es in the life is so
beau􀀛ful that the individual never feels it as burden to repay
them and the ac􀀛vi􀀛es emerge as natural and systema􀀛c in the
whole life of the individual. In explaining how to get rid of these
debts, the Mahabharat proclaims “Rishi-debt can be repaid
through learning, God debt through Yajna, forefathers-debt
through Shraddha and Danam, and guest- debt through
hospitality and service, can be repaid” (ñdmÜ`m`oZ _hm{f©ä`mo Xodoä`mo
`kH$_©Um & {nV¥ä` lmÕXmZoZ Z¥Um_ä`M©ZoZ M && em§{Vnd© 292/10). Similarly,
servant debt and debt of dependants can be repaid through
providing livelihood to them. And through learning of Veda,
performance of Yajna and offering food to living creatures, one
can get rid of the self-debt (dmMmefmdhm`©U nmbZoZmË_mZmo@{n M& `WmdV²
^¥Ë`dJ©ñ` {MH$sf}V² H$_© A{XV: && em§{Vnd© 292/11). The socialisa􀀛on
process in the family and the ques􀀛on of primary existence of
the soul itself, prepares him to be a perfect social being in whom
the a􀀢tude for service to others takes shape as a natural and in –
born charateris􀀛c. He makes his contribu􀀛on towards Social
Work, in his capacity as a member of a par􀀛cular clan and the
society, and as a part of the whole Universe.
Further, the two basic condi􀀛ons for the ul􀀛mate salva􀀛on
are the fulfillment of his du􀀛es envisaged as Dharma and by the
accumula􀀛on of Punya which is gained by way of service to
others. But the individual is expected to forget Punya a􀀫ached to
Social Work ac􀀛vi􀀛es and to undertake them with nona
􀀫achment as the best method of serving others. Neverthless,
the concept of Punya (nwÊ`) and Pap (nmn) contributed heavily for
the Hindu mind to undertake many Social Work ac􀀛vi􀀛es.
Dr. Radhakrishnan points out “The Hindu code insists on the
mo􀀛ve of Social Service and not personal gain”35
People Who Serve For Love
Ramayana men􀀛ons about the persons who serve for love of
others. On being asked, Bharat informs the Assembly “I have
despatched persons who serve for love as well as those who
serve for money with layers of roads and their keepers to
prepare my way” (2/82/20). “By their organised work trees were
planted where there were none before high grounds were
levelled, hollows filled up, rock cut through, bridges thrown over
watering expanses and tracts devoid of water made to over flow
with it”.36
Care of Parents, Servants etc.
Mahabharat says “One who eats only a􀁓er feeding the
servants, the stranger and the feedable in the family like old
parents, eats Amruta (nectar) only” (_¥Ë`{V{Wf² `mo ^yS>H$Vo ^yH$VdËgw
gXm gXm & A_¥V§ Ho$db§ ^yS>H$Vo B{V {d{Û `w{X{ð>a && em§{Vnd© & 221/13). As
per Manu Smru􀀛 (3/116), Yajnavalkya Smru􀀛 (1/105) and
Parasara Grihya Sutra (2/9/12 to 14), both the husband and wife
ought to take food only a􀁓er feeding guests, servants etc.
“One who terminates the hard worker – servant without
fulfilling his promise to compensate in 􀀛me, definitely goes to
hell” (H¥$Vme§ H¥${VZX}e H¥$V^ŠV H¥$Vl__² & ^oXo`o ì`nH$f©{ZV Vo do {Za“m{_Z:
&& em§{Vnd© 23/70).
“One who terminates the teacher, the servant and the
helpers without any cause, goes to hell”. (CnmÜ`m`m§ûM ^¥Ë`mü
^ŠVmûM ^aVf© & `o Ë`O{ÝËddH$mam§ÌrñVo do {Za`Jm{_Z && em§{Vnd© 23/78).
Again, less pay for more work should not be given to servants
(H$ma{`Ëdm _hËH$_© ^Vm© _¥Ë` AZ`©H$_ & am_m`U & A`moÜ`m H$mÊS> 75). And
also dismissal of servants without valid reason is decried upon
(_¥Ë`Ë`mJoM `V² nmn§… am_m`U & A`moÜ`m H$m§S> 75).
Protec􀀡on to People in Trouble
It accrues sin to reject protec􀀛on to those in trouble, not to
feed the servants and dependants as well as killing of birds and
animals. (eaUmJV_ Ë`mJmo _¥Ëñ`m_aU§ V`m &… {Z `©½`mo {ZdYñV`m _hm^maV &
em§{Vnd© 34/10 to 13).
Chandogya Upanishad holds every wise man not to cause
injury to any creatures (8/15/2) but to protect them.
Concern Towards Guests – (A􀀡thi Pujanam) (A{V{W nwOZ_²)
Hospitality to the guests is termed “A􀀡thi Pujanam” (A{VWr
nwOZ_²) and the guest is treated as God (A{V{W Xodmo ^d & V¡Îmar`
Cn{ZfX 1/11/2). Ancient literature a􀀫ach much importance to
this ac􀀛vi􀀛es which can be termed as the prime Social Work
ac􀀛vity of ancient 􀀛mes. “A􀀛thi” is not realy a guest as the
person who is invited at the house but a stranger who comes to
house without pre-no􀀛ce, usuaslly a traveller.
When the stranger (A􀀛thi) leaves the house without ge􀀢ng
alms, he takes away the ‘Punya” of the house holder and leaves
behind his Pap (A{V{Wnd©ñ` ^½Zmemo J¥hmV à{V{ZdV©Zo & g XËdm XdH¥$V§ Vñ_o
nwÊ`àmXm` JÀN>{V && em§{Vnd© 191/12).
A􀀡thi Pujanam is like yajna (sacrifice) which is termed as
Panch Dakshina Yajna. (n§M XjrUm `k) “Providing the guest with
water for cleaning, seat, light, food and shelter, is termed as
Panch Dakshina yajna (nmÚ_mgZ _odmV© Xrn_Þ§ à{Vl`_² & XÚ{XV{` nwOmW©
g `k: nÀMX{jU: && AZwemgZ nd©& 7/12). Manu (4/29) also supports
the same kind of hospitality. One a􀀫ains great ‘punya’ by
providing food to a 􀀛red stranger, with happiness and kindness”
(`mo XÚmXn[a{Šbï> _ÝZ_Üd{Z dV©Zo & lmÝVm`mX²dï> nydm©` Ví` nwÊ`\$b§ _hV
em§{Vnd© a 7/7).
Atharva Veda also equates the hospitality with Yajana by
saying whatever is given to the stranger, is like sacrificing in the
Yajna (`X dm A{V{W{n{Va{V… EVX{V{W{n{V Hw$ñVo… & AWd©doX & 6/1 to
Ramayana calls upon the people to perform A􀀡thi Pujanam
(àmßVmZ_{V`rZm§ M {ZË`e: à{VnyOZ_² A`moÜ`m H$m§S> & 28/15).
Manu terms A􀀡thi Pujanam as one of the Panch Mahayajna
to be performed daily by all house holders (AÜ`mnZ ~«ô_`k:
{nV¥`kñVw Vd©U_² & hmomo X¡dmo ~{b^m}Vmo Z¥`kmo A{V{WnyOZ_² && _Zwñ_¥{V 3/78).
Yajnavalkja Smru􀀛 (1/102) and Asvalayana Gruhya Sutra (3/1/4)
also upholds hospitality towards strangers as one among the
Panch Mahayajna. Manu decries cooking of food for self only
(AY g Ho$db ^wS>Vo `: nMÝ`mË_H$maUmV² && _Zwñ_¥{V 3/118). Bhagavad
Gita endorses this view (3/13) and food must be always shared
with others.
Concern Towards old, Sock, Orpnan etc.
In Mahabharata, the individual is expected to share his
wealth with due sympathy, with the weak, the orphan, the old,
the sick, helpless women (H¥$nUmZm`d¥ÕmZm§ Xþ~©bmZwa`mo{fVm_ & X`m§ `
g§{d^mJ M {ZË`_odmÝX_moXZm_ && em§{Vnd© 228/40). He must always
share his extra wealth and assets with the helpless and
distressed (A{V[aŠV¡: g§{d_O|X ^moJoaÝ`mZ{H$MZmZ & em§{Vnd© & 259/25).
Permanent Livelihood
“No one is like the virtuous person who finds livelihood for
the old, the weak, the despaired, the person without livelihood”
(H¥$em` H¥${VdZm` d¥{ZVjrUm` grXVo & AnhÝ`mV jwÚm§ `ñVy Z VoZ nwéf: g_: &&
_hm^maV AZwemgZ nd© & 59). Providing help for these less privileged
persons, is nothing but their total re-habilita􀀛on, through which
they will earn their livelihood permanently. The term means
permanent livelihood.
Manu urges “Do service to the old, the learned virtuous
person as even Rakshasas (Demons) worship one who serves the
old” (d¥Ûm§lM {ZË`§ godoV {dàmÝdoX{dX: ew{MZ² & d¥Ûgodr {h gVV ajm{_a{n
nwÁ`Vo && _Zwñ_¥{V 7/39).
The Mahabharat proclaims du􀀛es specially of woman which
include looking a􀁓er the poor, the diseased, the weak, the
orphan, the blind, the servants the helpless etc.37
Concern Towards Women
Ramayana urges to protect women specially the royal
women and the wives of others. (ajUr`m {deofU amOXmam _hm~b &
{ZdV© Jvr Zr`m§ naXmam{^_e©ZmV² && AaÊ`H$m§S> & 50/7).
Mahabharat says “One who decieves the woman who is
orphan, old, young, minor, frightened and one involved in
medita􀀛on, goes definitely to hell” (AZmX²`m§ à_Xm§ ~mbm§ d¥Õm§ ^rVr
Vn{gdrZr_² & dÀM`{ÝV Zam `o M Vo do {Zí`MJm{_Z: && em§{Vnd© & 23/64).
Care of Children of wrong-Doers
Atharva Veda calls upon the people to accept the children of
wrong doers and to help them, to lead a be􀀫er life ({d bnÝVw
`mVwYmZm A{ÌUmo `o {H$_r{XZ: & AnoX`_ÊZo Zmo h{d[aÝXûM à{V h`©V_² && AWd©doX
a 1/7/6/10).
Construc􀀡on of Wells, Ponds etc.
Individual as the member of the society contributed his
might in the construc􀀛on of well, ponds etc.
“One who build public parks, houses, gardens, wells, inns
and roads definitely goes to heaven” ({dhmamdg`moX²`mZ
H¥$nmam_g^mànm: & H$àmUm§ M¡d H$Vm©añVo Zam: ñdJ© J{_ZZ: && em§{Vnd© &
“Dig ponds, prepare garden, do Yajnas and always speak
truth” (Vñ_mV² VS>mJ§ Hw$dr©V Amam_m§ûM¡d amon`oV² & `OoZü {d{dYoX©k gË`§ M
gVV§ dXod & AZwemgZ nd© 58/3).
“Hence construct wells, ponds lakes which will contain
enough water for all to use” (Vñ_mV² H¥$àmü dmnrûM VS>mJ{Z M ImZ`oV &&
and Hy$n: àd¥Îm nmZr`: gwàd¥ÎmûM {ZË`e: && AZwemgZ nd© 65/3 and 4). The
whole chapter 65 of Anushasan Parva deals in details with well
and ponds of various sizes, capable of holding enough water for
shorter and longer dura􀀛on and different purposes, for the
individuals to construct.
Manu beau􀀛fully narrates about the places where to dig well
and ponds because these are the places which really require
these facili􀀛es. He says “Dig wells, ponds, lakes and construct
temples (res􀀛ng places) on the boarder of villages or touns.”
(VS>mJmÝ`wXnmZm{Z dm`: àòdUm{Z M & gr_mg§{YfwH$m`m©{U XodVm`VZm{Z M &&
_Zwñ_¥{V 8/248).
Plan􀀡ng Trees
Mahabharat notes that every one must plant trees of certain
kind, probably which are more shady and having longer lifespan,
by doing which one gets fame and noble rewards (EVm
OmË`ñVw d¥jmUm§ Vofm§ amono JwUm{gVËd_o & H$sVuûM _mZwfo bmoHo$ loË` M¡d \$ŠV
ew^_² & AZwemgZ nd© & 58/294) and the trees planted are termed as
children because of which heavan is granted (Vñ` nwOm ^dÝË`oVo
nmXnm ZmV g§e`: & nabmoJV: ñdJ© bmoH$m§ûMm Zo{V gmo@ì`m`mZ& AZwemgZ nd©
58/27). The trees must be cared like own children, a􀁓er plan􀀛ng
them near ponds as by Dharma trees are children themselves
(Vñ_mV² VS>mJo gXd¥jm: amoß`mlo`mo@{`©Zm gXm & nwÌdV n[anmË`mûM nwÌmñVo Y_©V:
ñ_¥Vm: && AZwemgZ nd© 58/31).
Manu says “one who destroys plants and trees should be
punished according to gravity and the value of the tree
destroyed” (dZñnVrZm gd©fm_wn^moJ§ `Wm`Wm & VWm VWm X_: H$m`m}
{h§gm`m{_{V YmaUm && _Zwñ_¥{V 8/285).
In Rig Veda (5/50/7) plants supplying nourishment for life are
addressed as mothers. Similarly (4/7/6) and also earth
(10/18/10) is considered as mother.
Providing for Street Light
Mahabharat urges for dona􀀡ng lights (XmVmì`m XrnXmZ§ gVV§… &
AZwemgZ nd© 68/28) which means members of the society are to
provide street light for the benefit of all. Specifically the householder
is called upon to provide street light towards evening
(Vñ_mX² Xrnm: àXmVì`m: gmX²` d¡ J¥h_o{Y{_: & AZwnd© & 100/39). Not only
the period but also the places where street lights to be provided
are men􀀛oned “provide street lights daily at foot of the hills,
near rivulets, near bushes, at temples, at cross roads, at ca􀀫lesheds,
at Brahmins houses” (house of learning). ([J[aàdVo JhZo
M¡Ë`ñ`mZo MVwfn`o & Jmo~«mô_Umb`o XþJ} Xrnmo ^y{VàX: ew{M: && AZwemgZ nd©
Welfare of Others
Mahabharat says “Your life must be devoted for the welfare
of others and always be at their service. (`moJ: joûM Vo {ZË`§.. VX`©
Or{dVVo AñVw _m Voä`mo à{VnmbZ_² && AZwemgZ nd© 61/18).
But the welfare of others must be without loosing one’s in
livehood, “protect yours as well as others livehood” (AmË_ZûM
naofm§ M d¥{Îm g§aj ^maV && AZwemgZ nd© & 61/17).
Concern For Animals, Birds etc.
Manu ordains “with due efforts, all creatures must be fed
daily” (XÚmûM gd©^yVmZm_ÝZÚod à`ËZV: & _Zwñ_¥{V 9/333).
The author of Mahabharat speaks high of Grihasthashrama
(J¥hñWml_) and terms the house-holder as the support of birds,
animals and various other creatures (Mahabharat, Shan􀀛parva
A bounden duty of the house holder is to offer in the morning
and evening food to dogs, Chandalas (down trodden or
untouchable) and birds.38
Reffering to the term Go Brahmana hitayacha (Jmo ~«m÷U
{hVm`M&) meaning the welfare of cows and Brahmins, Dr.
Rashakrishnan says “the term is a symbolic one, the cow is the
symbol of the animal world and respect for the cow means the
respect for all animals.”39
Atharva Veda ordains “take the sick ca􀀫le to the veternary
Doctors from where it will get cured through proper treatment”
(Efm newÝËg {jUm{V.. VWm í`moZm {edm ñ`mV² && AWd©doX 3/28/2).
Dona􀀡ng Money, Land, Houses etc.
One who provides house, farm, land at the request of others
goes to heaven ({ZdoeZmZm§ joÌmUm§ dgVrZm M ^maV& XmVma àm{W©VmZm§ M Zam:
ñdJ© Jm{_Z: && _hm^maV em§Vr nd© 23/100).
Rig Veda glorifies the act of dona􀀛ng money to poor. “Soma
protects those who generously donate money to the poor”
(lrUm_wXmamo YéUmo a`rUm§ _ÝZr{fUm§ àn©U: gmo Jmonm: 10/45/5).
Further, Rig Veda proclaims “the money and wealth of the
person who donates money, food to the poor, never gets
destroyed (CVmo a{`: àUVmo ZmonXñ`Ë`wVm@ n¥UÝ_{S>©Vma Z {dÝXVo &&
Concern for Handicapped, Blind etc.
“One who snatches everything of the blind, handicapped,
deaf, is termed as killer of God” (Mjwfm {dàhrUñ` nJwbñ` OS>ñ` dm &
haoV `mo do gd©ñd V§ {dX²`mV² ~«ô_Km{VZm_² && _hm^maV em§{Vnd© 24/11).
Manu observes “One should never look down upon
handicapped, deformed illeterate (mentally retarded), nonbeau
􀀛ful, old, poor and down-trodden owing to their
disabali􀀛es (hrZm§JmZ{V[aŠVmJm§ {ÝdX²`m{hZmÝd`mo{YH$mZ² & énX²Yì`{dhrZm§ûM
Om{VhrZmûM Z{jnoV² && _Zwñ_¥{V 4/141).
For Public Health and Hygiene
As a measure of public health and hygiene, Manu forbid
“ea􀀛ng food with scant regard to cloth, bathing without cloths,
urina􀀛ng at roads (public places), or stacks of ash, and ca􀀫le
sheds etc.” (ZmÝZm_X²`mXoH$dmgm Z Z½Z: ñZmZ_mMaoV² & Z _w̧ n{` Hw$duV Z
^ñ_{Z Z J«mЫZo & _Zwñ_¥{V 4/45).
Manu says “one who eases out on roads must be punished
and the roads must be immediately cleaned” (g_Ëg¥OoÐmO_mJHo$©
`ñËd_oÜ`_Zmf{X & g Ûm¡ H$mfm©nUmo XX²`m_oÜ`§ Mme¥ emoY`oV² && 9/282) but a
sick person, the old, the pregnant woman, the child are
exempted from punishment, only that the roads must be
cleaned immediatly (AmnX²JVmo@`dm d¥Õm J^uUr ~mbEd dm &
n[a^mafU_h{ZV VÀM eo¿`{_{V {ñW{V: 9/283).
Atharva Veda says “Maintain Durva gardens in front and
back of houses implying spaces for fresh air and avoiding
conges􀀛on and also ponds with lotuses (Am` Zo Vo nam`Uo Xþdu amohÝVw
nw{fnUr: & CËgmo dm VÌ O`Vm§ hXmo dm nwÊS>arH$dmZ² && 6/106/1). It also
speaks on ven􀀛la􀀛on for the house make the doors of the houses
in the opposite” (nam MrZm _wIH¥${Y && 6/106/2).
Thus, ancient Hindu literature is clear about the Role of the
individual in the family and Society. Hindu Social Rela􀀛ons is
based upon his rela􀀛on with God, and on principles of “seeing-
God and seing-self in all”. Through various Samskaras the
individual’s personality is moulded to think of his responsibility
towards society. Varna and Ashrama systems narrates the
rela􀀛ons between individual and society.
References :
1. KANE P. V. : “History of Dharmashastras” vol. 1, bhandarkar
Oriental Research Ins􀀛tute, Pune, 1935. page 7.
2. RADHAKRISHNAN Dr. S : “Eastern Religions And Western
Thought”, Oxford University Press, London 1939. Page 123.
3. KANE P. V. : Op cit, Vol, II Page 8.
4. RADHAKRISHNAN, Dr. S. : “Religion and society” George
Allen & Unwin Ltd. London 1948. page 105.
5. SATWALEKAR S. D. : “Vedic Sabhyata” Swadhyaya Mandal,
Satara 1923. page 25.
6. RADHAKRISHNAN, Dr. S. : Op cit page 106.
7. BANERJI S. C. : “Indian Society in Mahabharat” Bharat
Manisha Publica􀀛ons, Varanasi, 1976. page 251.
8. RADHAKRISHNAN, Dr. S. : Op cit, page 104.
9. KING C.D. AND COLLER R.M. : “Founda􀀛ons of Sociology,”
Rinehart Press, Sans Fransisco, U.S.A. 1975. Page 87.
10. GOODE J. WILLIAN : “The Family”, Founda􀀛ons of Modern
Sociology Series, Pren􀀛ce Hall, New Jersey, 1965. Page 5.
11. LUNDBERG GEORGE : “Sociology” University of Washington,
Harper & Row Publishers, Newyork, 1968. Page 295.
12. GOODE J. WILLIAM : Op cit page. 1.
13. LUNDBERG G. : Op cit Page 297.
14. CHAKRAVORTY H. : “Socio-Economic Life of India in the
Vedic Period” Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar, Calcu􀀫a, 1986. page 128.
15. GOOD J. WILLIAN : Op cit page 10.
16. PANDEY R. B. : “The Hindu Sacraments” Cultural Heritage of
India (Edited by Radhakrishanan) vol.II, Ramakrishana Mission
Ins􀀛tute of Culture, Culcu􀀫a. 1975. page 391.
17. KANE P. V. : Op cit vol. 2 Page 192.
18. PANDEY R. B. : Op. cit page 316.
19. PANDEY R. B. : Ibid page 390.
20. RAGHAVAN V. : “The Manu Samhita” “The Cultural
Heritage of India.” vol. 2 page 339.
21. PANDEY R. B. : op cit page 400.
22. PANDEY R. B. : Ibid page 406.
23. LUNDBERGG : Op cit page 309.
24. SUKTHANKAR V. S. : “Luctures on Rig Veda” (2nd edi􀀛on)
Oriental Book Agency, Pune 1965, page 166.
25. PANDEY R. B. : Op cit page 413.
26. PRABHU PANDHARIMATH : “Hindu Social Organisa􀀛on”
Popular book Depot, Bombay, 1925, page 75.
27. RADHAKRISHNAN (Dr.) S. : Op cit pages 130-131.
28. 27. RADHAKRISHNAN (Dr.) S. : Op cit page 132.
29. SRINIVAS M. N. : “Varna and Caste” “Social Stra􀀛fica􀀛on
(edite by Dipankar Gupa) Oxford University press, 1991, page 33.
30. CHAKLADAR H. C. : “Some Aspect of Social life in Ancient
India” Cultural Heritage of India Vol. II (edited by Radhakrishnan)
The Ramkrishna Mission Ins􀀛tute of Culture Calcu􀀫a, 1975,
page 559.
31. CHAKLADAR H. C. : Ibid page 567.
32. CHAKLADAR H. C. : Ibid page 570.
33. KANE P. V. : Op cit vol. II, page 933-934.
34. RADHAKRISHNAN : Op cit page 106.
35. NISHREYASNANDA SWAMI : “The culture of Ramayana”
Cultural Heritage of India (edited by Radhakrishnan S.)
Ramakrishna Mission Ins􀀛tute of Culture, Calcu􀀫a 19675, page
36. BANERJI S. C. : Op cit page 256.
37. BANERJI S. C. : Op cit page 251.
38. RADHAKRISHNAN S. : Op. cit page 129.
  
Chapter V
Some students of Social policy see the development of
The Welfare State in historical perspec􀀛ve as a part of a broad,
ascending road of social be􀀫erment provided for the working
classes since the nineteeth century.1 Professor Titmuss,
regarded as one of the most though􀁎ul and s􀀛mula􀀛ng
commentators on The Welfare State percieves it as the
collec􀀛ve recogni􀀛on of certain socially determined needs as
they are manifesta􀀛ons, first of society’s will to survive as an
organic whole and secondly of the expressed wish of all the
people to assist the survival of some people. The disadvantaged
or the less privileged some are taken care of by the whole society
through the ins􀀛tu􀀛on of the State. The State does not leave the
poor and the weak to their own fate, it goes to their rescue and
tries to provide them with adequate and equal opportuni􀀛es to
develop by themselves. The vision of good life for all is at the root
of the Welfare State and that dis􀀛ngunishes it from the concept
of Police State of the nineteenth century. The basic purpose of a
Police State for its existence was to provide protec􀀛on to the
subjects and to punish the guilty. The focus of the State shi􀁓ed
from mere Police func􀀛on to that of welfare func􀀛on under the
Welfare State.
Historical Perspec􀀡ve
Madan2 quotes Purcell “As contrary to the general belief
that the concept of Welfare State was sudden and recent, the
growth has been a gradual evolu􀀛on, rather than upheaval”. As
per Holman it is wrong to imagine that the Welfare State
dropped like manna from heaven into the open mouths of an
expectant people, it is rather the fruits of Bri􀀛sh poli􀀛cal genius,
budding and slowly ripening on a tree which was planted four
and a half centuries ago.
The concept as we understand today, is first used to
describe the Labour Government of Britain a􀁓er 1945.3 The
collec􀀛ve benevolence provided to the working class led to the
belief that in the year 1948, the Welfare State was truely
established in England. Since then, successive Governments,
Conserva􀀛ve and Labour, have busied themselves with the more
effec􀀛ve opera􀀛on of the various services, with extension here
and adjustment there and both par􀀛es in and out of office, have
claimed the maintanence of The Welfare State as an ar􀀛cle of
From Britain the phrase made its way round the world, it
was freely employed usually but not exclusively by Poli􀀛cians
and Journalists in rela􀀛on to diverse socie􀀛es at diverse stages of
development. The Welfare State was the fruit of Social
democracy which was in turn the outcome of the landmark
Charity movement in Britain.
As far as India is concerned the policy of the Bri􀀛sh
regime 􀀛ll 1947 was of lasaize-faire and they were interested
more in maintaining their poli􀀛cal control over India rather than
the welfare of Indian people. A􀁓er Independence India
commi􀀫ed herself to the idea of a Welfare State and sowed the
seeds formally right in its cons􀀛tu􀀛on, policies and programmes.
Meaning and Concept of Welfare State
A Welfare State is a State in which organised power is
deliberately used (through poli􀀛cs and administra􀀛on) in an
effort to modify the play of market forces in at least three
direc􀀛ons first by guaranteeing individuals and families a
minimum income irrespec􀀛ve of the market value of their work
or their property; second by narrowing the extent of insecurity
by enabling individuals and families to meet certain social
con􀀛ngencies (for example, sickness, old age or unemployment)
and third by ensuring that all ci􀀛zens without dis􀀛nc􀀛on of
status or class are offered the best standards available in rela􀀛on
to a certain agreed range of social services.5
The term is used to cover both social and economic
changes like the social change for more comprehensive social
security-“freedom from want” and “equality of opportunity”
through educa􀀛onal reform.
The Welfare State is organised to ensure the well-being
of its ci􀀛zens and use their resources to that end.6
Hobman Observes “The Welfare State is a compromise
between the two extremes of communism on the one hand and
unbridled individualism on the other and as such in spite of all its
imperfec􀀛ons, it sets a pa􀀫ern for any humane and progressive
society. It guarantees a minimum standard of subsistence
without removing incen􀀛ve to personal enterprise, and it brings
about a limited re-distribu􀀛on of income by means of graduated
high taxa􀀛on yet does not pretend to establish economic
equality among its ci􀀛zens. All are assured of adequate help in
case of need whether the need is due to illness oldage,
unemployment or any other cause”.7
Encyclopaediea of Social Sciences brings out the
meaning of Welfare State in following words.8
“The Welfare State is the ins􀀛tu􀀛onal outcome of the
assump􀀛on by a society of legal and therefore formal and
explicit responsibility of the basic well being of all its members.
Such a State emerges when a society or its decision making
groups become convinced that the welfare of the individual
(beyond such provisions as may be made to “preserve order and
provide for the common defence”) is too important to be le􀁓 to
custom or to informal arrangements and private under
standings and is therefore a concern of government”.
Some Parameters of Welfare State
From the above defini􀀛ons and their comparison and
contrast with similar concepts like “Laissez faire State” “Police
State” “Warfare State” “Socialist State” and “Communist
State”, We can draw definite observa􀀛ons on some of the
aspects of Welfare State.
1) It is a compromise between communism on the one side and
unbridled individualism on the other.
2) Every ci􀀛zen in the “Welfare State” is en􀀛tled to minimum
standard of living and his dignity as human being is upheld.
3) The services rendered are not as charity but as a ma􀀫er of
right of the receiver and social obliga􀀛on of the State.
4) Taxa􀀛on properly adjusted to period of prosperity and
depression and as per economic status of the people and the
residuary is u􀀛lised for the welfare of the ci􀀛zen.
5) It undertakes the responsibility to remove illiteracy, poverty,
unemployment etc and tries to remove other social evils.
6) It provides social security for less privileged like woman,
diseased, old people etc.
7) The State undertakes relief measures at the 􀀛me of natural
8) The concept of Welfare State emphasises the need of
democra􀀛c form of government where people are given liberty
and freedom in many spheres and also the voice of the people is
reflected at the State decisions.
9) Ensuring jus􀀛ce to all, the Welfare State does not leave the
poor and the weak to their own fate, rather the weak and the
poor live without clash along with the rich and the strong; the
minimum standard of living for all is ensured.
10) The par􀀛cipa􀀛on of people through various groups and
organisa􀀛ons is of utmost importance for the Welfare State.
“The true object of the Welfare State is to teach people how to
do without it”.9
In short, the Welfare State is one which does not confine
itself to the discharging of mere police func􀀛ons but takes a view
of its obliga􀀛ons and undertakes all ac􀀛vi􀀛es which are
considered necessary and desirable to remove social evils and
promote the welfare of the popula􀀛on. Whether the State is a
Welfare State or not depends upon whether it recognises or
does not recognise this obliga􀀛on.
State in Ancient India
In ancient India, the State was usually headed by a king
who had ministers and other officers to assist him in its
administra􀀛on. Evidences are available throughout the ancient
period that popular assemblies were in vogue by names Sabha,
Sami􀀡, Paura-Janapada, Vidhata” etc. These assemblies were
comprised of peoples’ representa􀀛ves who could influence the
policy decisions of the State. The order of princes and nobles as
also the officials called Sutas and Gramanis who took prominent
part in the ceremonies of royal consecra􀀛on together with the
two popular assemblies must have collec􀀛vely exercised a large
although undetermined measure of influence over the king’s
In those 􀀛mes the ins􀀛tu􀀛on of king was powerful but
the Dharma had greater influence even on the king and his
behaviour. The Dharma has laid down do’s and don’ts for a king
who was bound to abide by it. Bruhadaranyaka Upanishad
points out Dharma as the king of the kings (1/4/14). The general
principle was that no one including the king was above Dharma.
King as an individual carried no authority without Dharma. At
􀀛mes the Dharma has been defined as one which preserves the
people and the king was considered to be an instrument of
The Ancient literature speaks out how kings who were
going against Dharma and against the people, were dethroned
and killed by the people. The king was regarded as the ins􀀛tu􀀛on
which thrived for the welfare of the people and helped them to
lead life as per the Dharma. The ins􀀛tu􀀛on of State merged with
the king and the king as an ins􀀛tu􀀛on was the replica of the
State. The ac􀀛ons, the behaviour, the quali􀀛es, the guiding
principles of the king were considered as that of the State. In
other words, an analysis of the quali􀀛es, behaviour and role of
the king will bring out the nature of the State in ancient period
through which the existence of Welfare State can be examined.
The Meaning of the Word Raja and Rajan (amOm Am{U amOZ)
The word Raja and Rajan carried the meaning of English
equivalent words the king the Prince or the Emperor but the
ideas behind the concept of king differ very much in ancient
Indian context, as compared to the western ideas about king.
The word Rajan (amOZ) though literally is derived from the root Raj
(amO) meaning to shine, it is associated in Hindu polity generally
with the root Ranj (a§O) meaning to please.11
The great epic Mahabharat puts the word Raj (amO) as
derived from the essen􀀛al duty of the king which is to please or
make the subjects happy (a{OVmü àOm: gdmñVoZ amOo{V eãXVo && em§{V nd©
59/125). It stresses the aspect of pleasing the subject as the
prime duty of the king (bmoH$a§OZ _odmÌ amOm Y_© gZmVZ: && em§{Vnd©
57/11, amOm a‚m`{V àOm: && em§{Vnd© 56/12).
Atharva Veda proclaims “one who makes the people
happy becomes king” (amo aÁ`oV VVmo amOÝ`mo Om`V && AWd©doX 15/8/1).
The epic Ramayana also denotes king as the pleaser of the
subject. (àOmZwaÄO && A`moÜ`m H$mÊS> 3/41).
Valmiki, the author of Ramayana depicts Dasharath, the
king of Ayodhya as one who is beloved by his subjects because of
his be􀀫er administra􀀛on (nmoaOmZnX{n«` : ~mbH$mÊS> 6/1) and as the
person who is always interested in the welfare of all the people
(gd©bmoH$ñ` {hVo {Z{dï>: & A`moÜ`m H$mÊS> 2/54). and one who strives for
the economic development of the na􀀛on (H$ë`mU^OZ: gmYwaXrZ: &&
A`moÜ`m H$mÊS> 1/21). Jatayu the bird tells the demon king Ravan
thatRam is a king who takes care of the welfare of all (bmoH$mZm§ M
{hVo `wŠVmo am_mo Xea`mË_O: & AaÊ` H$mÊS> 50/5).
Prajanuranjna is considered to be the primary duty of a
king. This ideal according to Valmiki was to be realised by a king
through the employment of wholesome policies, conducive to
public welfare and by adherence to Dharma. In fact, from his
ideal king, Valmiki demanded a complete dedica􀀛on to the
cause of the subjects and should sacrifice his nearest and
dearest even his very life.
Manu, expect the king to take care of the na􀀛on for its
overall development. (amîQ´>Á` g§J«ho{ZË`§ {dYmZ{_X _mMaoV² & gwg§J«hrVamîQ´>mo
{h nm{W©d: gwI_oYVo && _Zwñ_¥{V: 7/113) and calls him as one who
strives for well being of the people. (àOmnbZVËnam: _Zwñ_¥{V &
In explaining the logic behind the ins􀀛tu􀀛on of king,
Bhishma calls upon Yudhishthria to strive always for the welfare
of the subjects (àOmZmEÝdodojU_² àdm{hV_² && _hm^maV em§{V nd© 58/69)
and addresses the king as the developer of the Na􀀛on (ajU§ M¡d
nmoamUm§ amï´>mñ` M {ddY©Z_²&& em§{Vnd© 59/78).
King’s Happiness
Kau􀀛lya, in his Arthashastra men􀀛ons that the pleasure
(happiness) of the subjects is the pleasure (happiness) of the
king and the welfare of the subjects is more important than the
kings personal interest (àOmgwIo gwI§ amk: àOmZm§ M {hVo ZmË_m{n«`§ {hV
amk: àOmZm§ Vw {n«`§ && AW©emñÌ 2/19). Mahabharat declares that when
the king strives for the welfare of the subjects, he takes the form
of sun (jo§ M H¥$Ëdm d«O{V VXm ^d{V ^mñH$a: && em§{Vnd© 68/43). In other
words, like the Sun which burns itself, the king should sacrifice
himself for the welfare of the subjects. In Ramayana the simile is
with the Moon, “Be like a moon in the happiness and comfort of
the people. (àOmgwIo MÝÐVwb`: am_m`U & A`moÜ`m H$mÊS> 2/30) and
expects the king to posses the quality of becoming happy when
the subjects are happy (am_m`U & A`moÜ`m H$mÊS> 1/32). In fact, the
king should take care of the welfare of the people with the
assistance of experts. In Ramayana, when Bharata visited Shri
Ramachandra to request him to come back to Ayodhya to rule it,
Shri Ramachandra asks him “Are you making efforts for the
overall welfare of the na􀀛on with the help of the experts?”
(n{ÊS>Vmo h`W©H¥$ÀN>ofw Hw$`m©{ZZ lo`g _hV²? && A`moÜ`m H$mÊS> 101/22).
King as the Servant of People :
Shri Krishna who was the president of Andhaka-Vrushni
State bi􀀫erly complains to Narada Rishi that he is not the master
but the slave of the Assembly as he has to listen pa􀀛ently the
bi􀀫er cri􀀛cisms of the different par􀀛es (Xmñ` _¡íd`© ^mdoZ kmVrZm§ d¡
H$amoå`h_ & AY© ^moŠVm{g_ ^moJmZm§ dm½Xþê$ŠVm{Z M j_o&& _hm^maV& AZwemgZ
nd© & 81/5).
Baudhyana Dharma Sutra declares king to be like a
servant to the people, the 1/6th share (tax) being his wages (fS²>
^mJ ^¥Vmo amOm ajoV² àOm_² && ~m¡Ym`Z Y_© gyÌ 1/10/6).
Ancient literature envisages the body of the king not
meant for enjoyment of pleasures; (amkm eara J«hU§ Z ^moJm` _hrnVo) it
has to put up with great troubles and worries while carrying out
the royal duty of nurturing the subject and fulfilling the Dharma
(Šboem` _hVo n¥Ïdr ñd Y_© n[anmbZo) .12
Ram during his Vanavas says to the inhabitants of
Ashrama that he is their servant and they can give him orders (Z¡Z§
Ah©` _m§ dŠV¥ Amkmß`moh§ Vn{gdZm_² && AaÊ` H$mÊS> 6/22).
Tax in Ancient Literature
The revenue income of a State largely depends on the
collec􀀛on of taxes from the subjects. Even when the mode of
collec􀀛on and number of taxes varied from kingdom to kingdom,
imposi􀀛on of tax on the subject is universally accepted prac􀀛ce
of every State. but the nature of tax and the means of collec􀀛on,
made the difference between a Welfare State and Police State.
Tax for what? and when? and how much? (during calami􀀛es) are
the per􀀛nent ques􀀛ons that spoke out the welfare nature of a
State. Hence it becomes important in the present study to
analyse the tax structure in ancient India.
Valmiki, expects the king to accept 1/6th share as tax in
return to protect the subjects and take care of them like father
(~{b fS> ^mJ _wX²Y¥Ë` aZ¥nñ`m a{jVw: àOm: & A`moÜ`m H$mÊS> 75/25 and
n[anmb`_mZñ` amkmo ^¥Vm{Z nwÌdV²& A`moÜ`m H$mÊS> 75/24). In Mahabharat
also, the tax is einvisaged as 1/6th share of income of the subject
and should never go beyond it (AmXr ~{b Mm{n àOmä`: Hw$ê$ Z§XZ& g
fS²>^mJ_{n àmkñVmgm_odm{^Jwá`o && em§{Vnd© 69/25).
King must collect the taxes only through proper ways and
not by force and regard it as his wages for the protec􀀛on of the
tax payer. (~{b fîR>oZ ewëHo$Z XÊS>oZm`mnam{YZm_² emñÌZrVoZ {bßgo`m doVZoZm
KZmJ__² em§{Vnd© 71/10). Tax collec􀀛on must be according to
Dharma (Xmn{`Ëdm H$a` Yå`© amîQ´> ZrË`m `Wm {d{Y: && AZwemgZ nd© 71/11).
The oldest ancient literature Rigveda expects the
subjects to pay the taxes regularly and that too voluntarily. (AWmo
V BÝÐ Ho$dbr{demo ~{bhVñH$aV 10/173/6). Atharva veda proclaims
that a king gets only 16 percent of the cul􀀛va􀀛on and income of
the people as tax (`X² amOmZmo….. fmoS>e `_ñ`m_r…. 3/29/1) but the
tax amount must be u􀀛lised for to fulfill all desires of the subjects
(gdm©Z² H$m_mV² nya`Ëdm ^dZ²… 3/29/2). Further, in liew of the tax the
king is expected to provide proper protec􀀛on to the poor (weak)
so that they need not pay money to the rich (strong) because
king protects the weak with the tax (`§Ì ewëH$mo Z H«$s`Vo A~boZ
~br`go…. 3/29/3) and the mode of collec􀀛on should be scien􀀛fic
and not forceful (H$aoaemñÌhîQ>o{h§ _mohmV² gåàrS²>`mZ² àOm: 71/15).
Taxa􀀡on Policy
In Mahabharat, Bhishma equates the tax collec􀀛on with
cowheard, milking the cow without injuring the cow’s udder and
without straving the calf and goes on collec􀀛ng the milk (taxes)
for a longer dura􀀛on, keeping the cow happy and comfortable
(D$Y{ÀN>ÝÚmV² Vw `mo YoÝdm: jramWu Z b^Vo nW: & Ed§ amîQ´>_`moJoZ nr{S>V§ Z
{ddY{V && em§{Vnd© 71/16).
Another example sighted for the collec􀀛on of taxes is
that of honey bees collec􀀛ng honey without harming the
flowers. Similarly the king must collect the tax not in lump sum
but bit by bit (`Wm H«$_oU nwînoå`{lMZmo{V _Yw fQ²>nX: & VWm Ðì`_wnmXm` amOm
Hw$duV g§M`_²&& em§{V nd© 120/34) and king should never scold or
curse the subjects but be happy and blessed in the ma􀀫er of tax
(Vñ_mX² amOm àJ¥hrV: àOmg¥ _yb§& em§{Vnd© 120/44).
Giving further examples of tax collec􀀛on, Bhishma says
that the king like the leech should take in blood mildly. He should
treat his subjects like a 􀀛gress carrying her cubs, touching them
with her teeth but never bi􀀛ng them. He should behave like a
mouse which though it has sharp teeth, nibbles at the feet of
sleeping animals in such a manner as to keep them unaware of it.
Again it is laid down that the tax should vary according to the
capacity of the taxpayers. No tax should be levied without
determining the profit and the amount of labour needed for
produc􀀛on because no one can be expected to work without
In case of increase of tax, the king used to request the
people “I request for money by way of tax for your protec􀀛on in
view of the danger confron􀀛ng the Na􀀛on at present and I will
return you this share when the dangerous situa􀀛on is over”
(Añ`_mn{X Kmoam`m gàmßVo XméUo ^`o& n[aÌmUm` ^dVm§ àmW©{`î`o YZm{Z&
à{VXmñ`o M ^dVm§ gd© Mmh ^`j`o&& _hm^maV 87).
Convincing the People About Tax :
King must undertake the tour of the country and
convince the people about the necessity of (increasing) tax
before its implementa􀀛on and request them to pay it for their
protec􀀛on (àJdo Vw YZmXmZ _Zw^mî` nwZ: nwZ: & g{ZnË` ñd{df`o ^`§ amîQ´>o
àXe©`V²… n[aÌmUm` ^dVm§ àmW©`oî`o YZm{Z d.&& _hm^maV & em§{Vnd© 87/26 to
29). If increase in taxa􀀛on becomes really inevitable, it should be
gradual and not sudden or steep (AënoZ ^doZ Xo`oZ dY©mZ àXmn`oV²&
_hm^maV em§{Vnd© & 88/7) and even during economic depression
when more tax becomes necessary, the welfare out look
towards the subjects must be held high (Vß`oX`© H¥$ÀN>ofw
àOm{hV_Zwg_aZ² && _hm^maV & em§{Vnd© & 93/11).
Tax for Prajapalanam
In Yajnavalkya smru􀀡, Apararka says that no one ever
makes a payment without expec􀀛ng a return, the taxes are
therefore paid only as a return for the Prajapalanam expected
from the king (gdm} {h YZ§ à`ÀN>ÝZmÝ_g ^mdm{` à`moOZ _wX²{Xe{V…
Vñ_mËH$a-_mXmZoZ àOmnmbZ§ {dX²`o`{_{V {gX² && dëŠ` ñ_¥{V && 1/366).14
Prajapalanam is not mere protec􀀛on as concieved in Police
State. This implies protec􀀛on for the development and the wellbeing
of the subjects.
Tax During Calami􀀡es
Manu, provides for one fourth of income as tax during
calami􀀛es (MVwW© _mXXmZmo@ {n j{Ì`mo ^mJ_mn{X && _Zwñ_¥{V 10/118) and
expects the king to collect, taxes scien􀀛fically once in a year and
behave like a parent (gm§dËg[aH$_mßVol amîQ´>mXmhma`oX A{b_&
ñ`mƒàZm`namo bmoHo$ dV}V {nV¥dÝZyf && _Zwñ_¥{V 10/80). It has to be
remembered that extra tax collected should be returned to the
Tax Expemp􀀡on for Less Privileged
Manu ordains that the king should never yield taxes from
the blind, deaf handicapped, senior ci􀀛zen above seventy years
and one who became poor due to patronage of educa􀀛on (gßV`m
ñ`{dñaûM `: lmo{V`o fwnHw$d©ûM Z Xmß`m: Ho$Z{MËH$a_²&& _Zwñ_¥{V & 8/394).
Further, manu provides for the exemp􀀛on from paying toll at a
ferry for expectant mother, the student, the asce􀀛c etc. (J{^©{U Vw
{Xd_mgm{XñV`m àd{OVmo _w{Z: &… Z Xmß`mñVm[aH$ Vao&& _Zwñ_¥{V & 8/407).
Kau􀀛lya recommends that commodi􀀛es intended for
religious ceremonies and sacraments like sacrifies, marriages etc
and also the gi􀁓s given to the bride must be exempted from the
tax (AW©emñÌ 2/21). Further, tax exemp􀀛on has been
recommended also on the ground of inability in the case of deaf,
dumb and blind persons, who are ususally poor persons.
Students studying at Gurukulas and hermits prac􀀛sing penance
in the forest are not earning members of the society and were
therefore not to be taxed. Women in early 􀀛mes would hold only
a negligible amount of property and have therefore been also
recommended for exemp􀀛on from taxa􀀛on.15
Labouring as Tax
Manu smru􀀛 provides for one day labour per month as
tax from people like carpenters, smiths, loaders etc. who live on
meager daily wages (H$mñH$m{ÀN>{ën Zü¡d ewX²Ym§ ûMmË_monOr{dZ: &&
_Zwñ_¥{V 7/138) but it is important that they must be fed freely on
that day. The same view is held in Gautam Dharma sutra (2/1/31)
and Vishnu Dharma Sutra. Further, Gautama Dharma Sutra,
makes it clear to feed them on that day (^ŠV M Voä`mo XÚmV²…
Welfare Outlook in Taxing Commodi􀀡es
Mahabharat ordains the king to carefully consider not
only the purchase and sale value or the demand and supply of
the commodi􀀛es but also the welfare and the economic
condi􀀛ons even of the employees in the trade while impossing
tax on commodi􀀛es ({dH«$` H«$`_XdmZ ^ŠV M gn[aÀN>X_² & `moJjo M
g_àoú` d{UOm§ H$ma`V H$eZ && em§{Vnd© 87/13).
Varia􀀡on of Tax As per Income
Tax structure in ancient India was scien􀀛fic in the sense
that tax was not same for all kinds of people; it varied as per the
economic level of the payers. Mahabharat proclaims that the
king must yield varying taxes (CƒdMH$e Xmß`m _hmamOm `w{Y{fR>a: &&
em§{Vnd© & 87/15) which should depend upon the paying capaci􀀛es
of the people.
King’s Pledge for the Welfare
The Atharvaveda expects the king to take oath for the
welfare of the people. The king u􀀫ers the words at the 􀀛me of
corona􀀛on ceremony “I will strive for the welfare of the subjects
(_h_m`wÚm… amîQ´> gwdra dY©`{_ AWd© 3/19/5). The Sukta 29 of Kanda 1,
of Atharvaveda, deals with the welfare and development of the
Na􀀛on. For instance, “I am bound for the welfare of the na􀀛on
(amîQ´>m` _h`§ ~Ü`Vm§… 1/29/4),” make efforts for the development
of this Na􀀛on (Añ_mZ amîQ´>m` dY©`… 1/29/1). The Sukta 21 of the
same Kanda deals with the concept of welfare of the Na􀀛on
which begins with. ñdm{VXm {dem§&&
King Vis A-Vis The Subjects
The king is expected to deal with the people like a
pregnant woman. Just as an expectant mother sacrifices her
own desires and pleasures, lest they should be harmful to the
child to be born, the king must sacrifice his own conveniences,
preferences and pleasure in order to be of the maximum help
and service to the people (`Wm {h J{^©{U {hËdmñd§ {n«`_², _ZmogmZwJ_² &
J^©ñ` {hV_mYÌo V`m amkm ß` ge`_² && AZwemgZ nd© 56/46).
The Rigveda considers the king as the benevolent
protector of the subjects like a parent to children (Jmonm Ozñ`….
F$½doX 10/173/2).
In Ramayana, Valmiki expects the king to deal with the
subject like a father to children accep􀀛ng one sixth share as tax
(`mo haoãX{b fS>^mJ Z M aj`{V nwÌdV² && AaÊ`H$mÊS> 6/11).
Manu says that king should behave towards his subjects
as a father to his children (bmoH$ dV}V {nV¥dÝZwfw manu /VII/80). It is
also stated in the those realm every subject moves fearlessly as a
son in the house of his father (nwÌm Bd nVwJ{h {df`o `ñ` _mZdm: &
{dM[aî`{ÝV g amOm amgÝV_: & AZ nd© & 57/53).
C.P. Ramaswami Aiyer makes a per􀀛nent point in this
fatherly treatment by observing “from the constant comparison
ins􀀛tuted between the king and a father in ancient works some
scholars have come to the hasty and unwarrented conclusion
that his posi􀀛on was that of a benevolent despot. This is by no
means correct. The actual concep􀀛on was that the king should
live for his subjects and not for himself.16
Elec􀀡on of king
Elec􀀛on for the posts in government is definitely one of
the aspects which speaks of the nature of the State, whether it is
Welfare State or not. Because, for ge􀀢ng elected, the candidate
must promise to take care of the electorate or the people and
must fulfill his promise. The electorate or the people become
supreme and they can decide upon whom to elect considering
their interest and welfare. Thus a person ge􀀢ng elected as king
can never do away with the welfare of people. In ancient Hindu
literature we get ample of instances in which elec􀀛on of king has
been emphasised. Whether this prac􀀛ce of elec􀀛ng the king was
just a formality or not, whether such prac􀀛ces were extensive
and truely implemeted or not, whether the elected king really
cared for the welfare of the people or not, etc are all ques􀀛ons
which require separate analysis and answers. But the main point
emphasised here is that ancient literature spoke of elec􀀛on of
the kings.
The oldest literary work in the world, Rigveda expressly
describes the elec􀀛on of kings by Vishwas at least in one place (V
B_ {demo Zm amOmZm_ d¥UmZ {~^Vgwdmo Amn d¥ÌmXm{VîR>mZ²… F$½doX&&
10/124/8). Atharvaveda clearly points out to the elec􀀛on of the
king-it says “All the subjects have accepted you by elec􀀛on for
the proper administra􀀛on of the Na􀀛on and to expend the
Na􀀛onal wealth properly” (Ëdm§ {demo d¥UVm§ amÁ`m` Ëdm{__m: à{Xe: n§M
Xodr& AWd©doX& 3/1/4). Aitareya Brahmana points out how Indra
was elected as king among Gods.17
Elec􀀡on Manifesto
Atharvaveda men􀀛ons a beau􀀛ful verse which is nothing
but an elec􀀛on manifesto of a candidate. It reads “By elec􀀛ng
this person as king, success will be ours, we will progress, our
health will improve, our strength will be double, our wisdon
(educa􀀛on or knowledge) will improve, our spiritual strength
will increase, our Yajnas will be successful, our ca􀀫le will be
healthy, our children will develop and prosper, the courageous
persons will remain with us; Hence this person is fit to be
elected”. ({OVñ_mH$_w{äXÝZ ñ_mH$__¥Ë_ñH$mH$ VoOmo Añ_mH$ ~«åhmñ_mH$
ñdañ_mH$ `kmo Añ_mH$ nedmo ñ_mHo$ àOm Añ_mH$ dre Añ_mH$&& Vñ_mX_w
{Z^©Om_mo A_wm`wî`m`U __wî`m: nwÌ _gmo M:&& AWd© doX 16/8/1 to 2). It
implied that the candidate had some kinds of schemes for the
benefit of the people for their health and educa􀀛on, for the
health of ca􀀫le and for development etc and only such a
candidate need to be elected as king.
People’s Hold Over King
Some passages in ancient literature point to the people’s
hold over the king. The Rigvedic prayer goes “O! king I have
accepted you as king. You be always with us (Am Ëdm hmf©ÝVao{Y
Ydm{gVîR>m… F$½doX 10/173/1).18 Atharvaveda used the words king
and king makers poin􀀛ng to the people (amOmZmo amOH¥$V:&& AWd©doX
3/1/5). A verse recited at the 􀀛me of corona􀀛on ceremony of
king, goes on “Let all ci􀀛zens love you” ({deñËdm gdm© dmÀN>ÝËdmnmo…
AWd©doX 4/8/4). Further, the king is blessed by the words “Let the
(popular assembly) Sami􀀛 be always with you” (gY«rMrdm` Vo
g{_{V… AWd©doX 6/88/3) and also “Let the king (kingship) be
stable” (Y¥dmo amOm {dem_`_… AWd©doX 6/88/1) so that “the whole
na􀀛on be stable” (amîQ´> Yma`mVm§ Y¥d… AWd©doX 6/88/2) for a􀀫aining
progress and development. The Atharvaveda makes it further
clear “Sabha, sami􀀛, army, and the treasury obey the king who
follows the subjects” (g{dem AZwÊ` MbV²& V g^m M g{_{VûM goZm M gwe
MmZwÊ` MbZ… AWd©doX 15/9/1 to 3). Taitereeya Brahmana
proclaims” king always depended on the subjects” ({d{e amOm
à{V{ð>V && V¡ÝVar` ~«mô_U&& 2). All these point to the fact that the king
depended on the subject and they had some hold over the king.
The great epic Mahabharat, also men􀀛ons about
“Making” (elec􀀛ng) of king who required some good quali􀀛es. It
says “people elect (make) the person as king who is generous in
dona􀀛ng, shares the wealth properly with the subjects, bears a
good character, disciplined in his behaviour and possesses the
quality of not le􀀛ng down the people” (XmVma g{d^ŠVma _mX©dmonJV
ew{M_² & AgË`H$V_Zwî` M V OZm: Hw$d©Vo Z¥n_&& _hm^maV em§{Vnd© 93/27).
The king ought to gain the confidence and trust of people
residing both in ci􀀛es and villages (nm¡aOmZnXm `ñ_rZ² {dûdmg Y_©Vmo
JVm: && em§{Vnd© 83/46).
Thus without much difficulty, it can be safely concluded
that the prac􀀛ce of elec􀀛ng the king was in vogue and the people
had some hold on the king even though not clearly defined or
determined. In such a situa􀀛on, the king can never forget the
welfare of the people and enough instances are available in
which the tyrant kings were removed by the people. Altekar
notes “Governments in ancient India, could eventually reach the
people and discharge their func􀀛ons mainly through these
bodies (sami􀀛s) and the representa􀀛ve of the people has a
decisive voice in them. Kings may impose any number of taxes,
eventually those only could be realised which the village councils
could agree to collect.”19
Welfare Ac􀀡vi􀀡es by the State in Ancient India
Ancient literature holds the king to be responsible for a
number of welfare ac􀀛vi􀀛es, like construc􀀛on of roads and
townships; building of public places and wells and ponds; care of
old, sick, orphan, widows etc. and patronage of educa􀀛on. In the
following paras, an a􀀫empt has been made to enumerate some
of these welfare ac􀀛vi􀀛es of the State in ancient India.
Construc􀀡on of Roads and Providing Street Lights
In the epic Ramayana, the descrip􀀛on of Ayodhya, the
capital city of Kosala kingdom alludes the construc􀀛on of roads,
their maintenance, sprinkling of scented water daily, street
decora􀀛on with flags, provision of street lamps etc. (amO_mJ© `Wmo
am_mo… MÝXZmZm§ CÌ_mZm§ M… ñ\${Q>Ho$a{n… emo^_mZ _g~mK«… amOn`_wÝV__
{d{dYo nwîno… A`moÜ`m H$mÊS> 17/3 to 5).
Dr. R. Sharma writes “we are casually given to
understand that Ayodhya was connected by road with
Angadesa; Mithila; Girivraja, Sringaverapura and Mathura and
that these roads were maintained in fairly good condi􀀛on so as
to make possible a chariot ride.”20
Again in Ramayan itself, the Lanka city is described as
having properly maintained with spacious roads; and the street
lights were so much that the whole city looked like a dancer,
ready for her performance (nmÊSw>a{^: àVmo{b{^ê$Úm{^a{^gd¥Vm_² &&
gwÝXaH$mÊS> 2/16 ` Vm§ ZîQ>{V{_am§ Xrdo ^m©ñda¡ûM _hmJh¡& `ÎmJmañVZr_¥X²Ym§
à_Xm{^d^¥{fVm_²… gwÝXaH$mÊS&> 3/18 to 19).
The Atharvaveda refers to three kinds of roads, what is fit
for chariots, what is fit for carts and what is fit for foot
Kau􀀛lya men􀀛ons the construc􀀛on of the roads for the
public and special roads for trade and industrialists and ensure
the safety of traffic and the merchants were compensated for
ar􀀛cles lost through any the􀁓 in tranist (AW©emñÌ 4/13).22
Mahabharat calls upon the king to construct highways
and roads ({dembmZ² amO _mJm© ûM H$ma`rV Zam{Yn: em§{Vnd© 69/53).
Townships by The King
The king must develop township with beau􀀛ful squares
(roads) and markets (MËdamnU emo{^V_² && _hm^maV em§{Vnd© 86/8
{dnUm§ûM¡d `WmoX²Xoe§ H$ma`rV em§{Vnd© 69/53).
The township must be with proper ven􀀛la􀀛on and light
(well planned), full of amusement with lots of music and arts; the
houses must be strong and beau􀀛ful, the singing of Vedas and
performing poojas to Gods must be done and the Social Fes􀀛vals
are to be organised (gàw ^ gmZZw mX § ` gàw eñV{Zdeo Z_&² eaw mX` O~ gXmn{w OV
Xdo V_.² .. em{§ Vnd © 86/1910) and (fS> {dY § XJþ © mñ`m`… em{§ Vnd © 86/4).
Digging of Lakes, Ponds etc.
In Ramayana, Valmiki describes Lanka, the Kingdom of
Ravana, having beau􀀛ful trees, public parks, ponds and lakes of
various sizes, gardens etc. (nmXnmZ² {dhJmH$sUm©Z² ndZmüV_ñH$mZ²& dmnr
nm_mXmoËnbmd¥Vm: & A{H$«S>mZ² Xx©e H${nHw$ÀMa: && gwÝXaH$mÊS> 2/11 to 13).
Mahabharat proclaims that the king must construct
wells, ponds and lakes for different purposes including irriga􀀛on
of agricultural land (àdmüdH$nUm§ûM¡d `WmoX²Yoe g_m{deVo² & em§{Vnd©
69/53) and maintain them regularly by cleaning (g§emoY`oV² VWm
H¥$nmZ H¥$V nydm©Z² n`mo {`©{^: && em§{Vnd© 69/46) (and also (Ame`mûMmoXnmZ
ûM à^yVgbrbmH$am: em§{Vnd© 86/15).
In Rig veda (III/45/3 and VII 49/2) water courses both
ar􀀛fical and natural are alluded to, from which we may
reasonally infer that irriga􀀛on of lands under cul􀀛va􀀛on was
In the abscence of flowing rivers in the vicinity of a
village, water was supplied from wells (Rigved, I 105/17) which
were dug deep into the earth and from which water raised by
means of stone-wheel to which pots were a􀀫ached. (Ame_mMH«$_²
F$½doX X/10/5 to 7 and X 93/13). There is also men􀀛on of people
digging lakes for the purpose of supplying pure drinking water
(F$½doX XI/110/5).
Care of Sick and Old
The Mahabharat envisages the care of sick people as the
duty of a king. King must provide special protec􀀛on and care for
both physically and mentally ill. (ì`m{YZm Mm{^nÝZñ` _mZgoVoaU dm&
Y_©kûM H¥$Vk ËdX² {dY: eaU§ ^doV² && em§{Vnd© 104/6).
The king must provide food and clothes and also
encourage others to provide the same to the old, sick, orphan,
weak, homeless etc with due sympathy (H¥$nUmZm` d¥X²YmZm§
Xþ~©bmVwa`mo{fVm_²& X`m§ M g§{d^m§J M {ZË`_odmÝZ _moXVm_² em§{Vnd© 228/40).
An ideal kingdom is described as where there is no
diseases, famine, or problems due to old age (Z Oam Z ` Xþ{^©j§ ZmY`mo
ì`mY`ñV`m& em§{Vnd© 59/12).
The king is described as one who removes tears from the
eyes of old, orphan and disadvantaged (H¥$nUmZm` d¥X²YmoZm§ `XmûM
n[a_mO©{V& em§{Vnd© 91/38) and king is also described as saviour of
people in despair and trouble ({dfUmZm§ _mojU nr{S>VmZm§… AZwnd©
64/27). King is described in Ramayana as one who respect the
old and serves them (d¥X²YmZm§ à{VnyOH$: A`mo H$m & 1/14 and d¥X²Ygodr
A`mo H$m & 2/41).
Care of Orphans And People Without Livelihood
The king must take care of the people without livelihood
and personally supervise their maintainance as it is his duty
according to Dharma (A^¥VmZm§ ^doX² ^Vm© ^¥VmZm_ÝdodojH$:… em§{Vnd© &
The king must always maintain weak and orphan by
providing security to them (ZmWmo d¡ ^w{_dmo {ZË`mZmWmZm§ Z¥Um§ ^doV &&
em§{Vnd© & 85/18).
The Permanent or Complete Rehabilita􀀡on
King must take care and make efforts for the welfare of
the weak, orphans, old, widows (H¥$fUmZmWd¥X²YmZm§ {dYdmZm§ M
`mo{fVm_²& `moJ jo M d¥{Îm§ M {ZË`_od àH$ën`oV²…. 86/24).
A permanent and complete rehabilita􀀛on is visualised in
this verse in which the word “Vru􀀢mcha” (d¥{Îm§ M) is very
significant and has been emphasised. It means that the king
must provide for the livelihood for these less priviledged so that
they can pull on their whole life without depending on others.
King of Gods Helps An Orphan
In Rig Veda there is a beau􀀛ful verse which portrays how
Indra, the king of Gods, rescues an orphan from the ant hill.
(dm§[a{^: nwÌ_² Aj«dmo AXZm_ {ZdmeZmX²Yma Bd A OÌ`m©… 4/19/9).24 The
incident speaks the State’s concern towards the orphan and
probably the reason for men􀀛oning of only few examples is that
either there is no s􀀛gma a􀀫ached to an orphan or that it was
natural responsibility of the State to provide help to the orphans.
Welfare of des􀀡tates
The king must act like the care taker and must provide for
the livelihood for those who do not have means for livelihood
and take care personally, the livelihood of those who have it too.
(A_¥VmZm§ ^doX² ^Vm© ^¥VmZm_ÝddojH$: AZw & 57/18).
Kau􀀛lya writes in Arthashastra that the welfare of
des􀀛stute and diseased is the responsibility of the State which
offered doles to the orphans, the aged and the infirm, also to
poor women in the family way (AW©emñÌ 2/1).
Welfare of Handicapped
Like a father king must take care of all the handicapped
like blind, deaf, persons with distorted body, and the persons
without livelihood (H${íMXÝYm§íM _¥H$m§ûM nJyZ ì`JmZ² ~m§YdmZ²& {nVoZ dm{g
Y_©k V`m àdm{OVmZ{n && _hm^maV em§{Vnd© 67).
Care of Educated Unemployed
Mahabharat ordains the king to maintain and keep them
happy those who are educated but are frightened and depressed
because of unemployment (` {h dX¡ `² m: H$w bOo mVm h`d{¥ Îm ^`{nS>Vm:& àmß`&
Vߥ Vm: à{VîR>{ZV Y_:© H$m&o ñ`m{YH$ñVV:&& em{§ Vnd&© 75/32).
Provision for Doctors and Medicines
The king must respect and maintain the house builder,
the carpenter, the astrologer, the doctor etc. (gËH¥$VmûM ñ`nV`:
gm§dËga{M{H$ËgH$: AZwnd© 86/16). and should preserve medicines
(Vob dgm Y¥V_. Am¡fYm{Z M… AZw nd© 69/56) and specially maintain
the doctors who provide for the treatment of poison, cut and
injury, infec􀀛ous diseases etc. (Am¡fYm{Z M gdm©{U _ybm{Z M \$bm{Z M&
MVw{d© Km§ûM d¡X²`mZ² d¡ g§J¥hUr`mV² {deofV: AZwnd© 69/59).
Public Hygiene
Kau􀀛lya men􀀛ons the efforts taken up by the State for
public hygiene. Every house was to have a dung hill and an outlet
for refuse water (AW©emñÌ 3/8).
Throwing refuse or dirt of a carcass on the road was an
offence. (AW©emñÌ 3/36). Manu recommends publishment to
offenders of public hygine but exempts children, old, sick and a
lady in family way from punishment even if they violate the rule.
(g_wËg¥OoÛmO_mJ} `ñËd_oÏ`mZmd{X… _Zw ñ_¥{V 9/282 and AmnX²JVmo AWdm
d¥X²Ym J{^©Ur ~mb Ed dm& n[a^mfUmB{ZV VÀ` emoÜ`{_{V pñW{V: 9/283).
Welfare of Foreign Ci􀀡zens
The life of the king is condemned who could not provide
livelihood to the subjects as well as foriegners who came to the
country ({YH$ Vñ` Or{dV amkmo amîQ´> `ñ`dgrX{V & Ad¥Ë`mÝ`_Zwî`o{n `mo
d¡Xo{eH$ BË`m{n _hm^maV em§{Vnd© 138/34).
Welfare of Workers
Apat Dharma shastra urges the State or the king to
assume the tasks of the welfare of workers (Apat Dh. Sa. II/10, 15
& 25) and relieve them from fear of want. Again, while preparing
to proceed to the forest, Rama gave specific instruc􀀛on to
Lakshmana for the welfare of the servants during his abscence
(Val. Ram. A`moÜ`m H$mÊS> /101/12).
In Mahabharat, the saint Narada asks Yudhishthra the
king whether he is providing the worker with instruments and
resources, enough for four months by way of loans. (ÐÊ`monH$aU
{YVgd©Xm gd©{e{bnZm_²& MmVwm©ñ`mda gå`H²$ {Z`V§ g§à`ÀN{g &&)
Kau􀀛lya in Arthshastra writes that it is employer’s
responsibility to pay the agreed wages to the worker even when
there is no work which is not the fault of the worker (AW©emñÌ
2/14) and the State supplied co􀀫on to women workers whose
guardians were away and later collected the yarn a􀁓er paying for
it (AW©emñÌ 2/23).25
Kings Responsibility for Stolen Property
The king or the State is held responsible for the security
of the property of the subjects. The king is expected either to
restore it by catching hold of the thief or to compensate the
stolen property to its owner from the State treasury. ({dîUw Y_©
emñÌ III/66/867) (Xod Mm¡ahöV Ðì` amkm OmZnXm` Vw& AXX{Õ g_mOmo{V
{H${bdf§ `ñ` `ñ` Vw& `mkdbŠ` ñ_¥{V 12/36 and also, _hm^maV em§{V nd©
75/10). Manu also upholds the same view (XmdÊ`§ gd©dU©ä`mo amkm
Mm¡aoh²V YZ_² && _Zwñ_¥{V 8/40).
Care of Prisoners in the Jail
The king must provide medical treatment and care
including quarters to the prisoners who must be treated well
({M{H$Ëñ`: ñ`mËñd{df`o àmß`mo dm ñdJ¥h ^doV² & {ZÌ©UûM g _moH$VÊ` Ef Y_©
gZmVZ: && _hm^maV XII/95/15-14).26
Social Fes􀀡vals
Interes􀀛ngly, ancient literature men􀀛ons the
responsibility of the king to organise Social Fes􀀛vals frequently.
Mahabharat ordains that the king must organise social fes􀀛vals
(g_mkmoËgd gnÞ_² gXmny{OV X¡dV_²… _hm^maV em§{Vnd© & 86/9 to 10,
{dhmaofw g_mOofwM…. em§{Vnd© & 69/11) and the king must maintain the
dancers, magicians, sportspersons etc. (ZQ>m§ûM ZV©H$m§ûM¡d _„mZ²
_m`m{dZíV`m & emo^`o`w: nwada _moX`oMw _moX`oMwûM gd©e: && _hm^maV em§{Vnd© &
Kau􀀛lya men􀀛ons Utsavas (fes􀀛vals) and samajas
(gatherings) as popular ins􀀛tu􀀛ons to be encouraged by the king
(AW©emñÌ 1/21).27
In Ramayana also, social fes􀀛vals are men􀀛oned. It says
“the people in villages and towns enjoyed the social fes􀀛vals”
(àh²îQ> ZaZmar: g_mOmoËgdemo{^n: && A`moÜ`m H$mÊS> & 101/43). Further it
clarifies that these fes􀀛val were oriented for the development of
the na􀀛on (CËgdmûM g_mOmü dY©ÝVo amîQ´> dY©Z: && A`moÜ`m H$mÊS> 67/15).
Patronage of Educa􀀡on
Patronage of Educa􀀛on is an important ac􀀛vity of a
welfare State which aims at the eradica􀀛on of illiteracy and
envisages higher standard of life for the people through
educa􀀛on. It is a ma􀀫er of importance to note that such prac􀀛se
of patronage of educa􀀛on by State, existed during ancient
The Atharvaveda expects the king to organise educa􀀛on
in such a manner that the women and children get be􀀫er vision
and a􀀢tude (Om`m nwÌm: gwZgm: ^dÝVw AWd© doX 3/4/3).
In Rig Veda too, patronage of educa􀀛on by the king is
implied. The verse reads “The king who respect the educated for
their wisdom, gets help from them in return” (Adñdo `mo d[ad:
H¥$Uo{V& ~«ô_Uo amOm V_d{ÝV Xodm: && F$ 4/50/9).
Literacy or educa􀀛on was not limited only to the city of
Ayodhya during Ramayan period Vishwamitra tells Dasarath, the
king of Ayodhya that the educated and valourous demons are
obstruc􀀛ng the Yajnas (dZo Vw ~öe ûMrU} g_mßË`m§ amjmgm: {d_mo & _marMü
gw~möü dr`©dÝVm¡ gw{e{jVm¡: && Val. Ram. 19/15). In Ayodhya, there
was not a single person who is illiterate or slenderly read and
stupid (Z H$m_r dm Z H$X`m} dm Z¥e§g: nwéf: Šd{MV² & ÐdQw> eŠ` _`moÜ`m`m§
Zm{dÛmÝZM Zm{ñVH$: ~mb H$mÊS> 6/8).
A. S. Altekar describes the patronage of educa􀀛on in
ancient India “Educa􀀛on was given free. Kings and richmen
contributed freely to the establishment of the “Ashramas”. The
parents had no worry about the educa􀀛on of their children and
the teachers too had no difficulty about the maintenance of their
ins􀀛tu􀀛on as money was available in plenty for such ins􀀛tu􀀛ons
where rich and the poor were treated as equals.”28
Educa􀀡on Policy
Educa􀀛on was obligatory for all. There is a famous
statement in the veda that every one should receive educa􀀛on.
This educa􀀛on was divided into an obligatory part and op􀀛onal
part. The aim of educa􀀛on was that of equipping the student to
play his part as a honoured ci􀀛zen. There is a very interes􀀛ng
passage in Tai􀀫areeya Upanishad (1/11) that throws
considerable light as the educa􀀛onal policy of those 􀀛mes. A􀁓er
the student has finished his educa􀀛on the teacher ordains the
disciple who is going back to home to “speak truth” and “to lead
virtuous life” (gË` dX Y_© Ma ) and further advises him as to his
du􀀛es and obliga􀀛ons as member of society… to live as a useful
The patronage of educa􀀛on by the State at Ramayanic
period has been described in the book Cultural Heritage –
“Educa􀀛on through Governmental aid was so organised that
each sec􀀛on of the society knew not merely the details of
fulfilling its on special func􀀛on but also the rela􀀛ve place of its
contribu􀀛on in the general scheme. In the Ramayana we have
the instance of the ashrama (hermitage) of Bharadvaja at
There existed ins􀀛tu􀀛ons also for advanced study known
as Parishads. The most famous Parishad of the 􀀛mes was the
Panchala Parishad, which was patronized by the philospher king
of the country, Pravahana Jaivali who daily drove out of his
palace in his royal chariot to a􀀫end its si􀀢ngs (Chandogya
Upanishad VII/14 and Brahma Upanishad VI/2/1 to 7).
Besides these residen􀀛al schools, academies for
advanced study and circles of wandering scholars given to
philosophical discussions, there were the assemblies of learned
men gathered together by kings at their courts. A typical
examp l e o f s u c h a co nfe re n c e i s d e s c r i b e d i n t h e
Bruhaddaranyaka Upanishad sta􀀛ng how, Janaka, the king
Videha, invited to his court the learned scholars of the Kuru-
Panchala country (Br. Up. III/8).31
The Verse (V/11/5) of Chandogya Upanishad tells about
the partonage of educa􀀛on by the State. Another example in the
same Upanishad (at IV/1/2) is that of “Raikva” who had the
knowledge of highest order, was provided with cows,
ornaments, chariots and even his daughter by the king Jana
Sru􀀛, when he came to know about the plight of the learned
“Raikva”. It further elaborates that there were no hoarders, no
thiefs, no slenderly educated in kingdom. (… OZ nXo Z H$X`m} Z
_Ún:…. Z {dÛmZ ñd¡ar ñd¡[aUr Hw$V:).
The king is described in Mahabharat as “one who revers
the knowledge or educa􀀛on” (gËH$amo{V kmZm{Z… em§{V nd© /A
57/38). The king is expected to provide cloths, utensils, food etc
in 􀀛me to the “Ashramas” where educa􀀛on is imparted (Aml_ofw
`Wm H$mb§ M¡b ^mOZ ^moOZ_²&& em§{Vnd© & 86/25). Further, the king is
expected to take care of educators and persons knowing “Vedas
(…. doXmZ…. {dX²`mñZmVm d«VñZmVm `{X amOm Z nmb`oV && em§{V nd© & 68/26).
Manu expects the king to venerate the educated persons
who graduated from the Gurukulas because they (the educated)
are termed as non-diminishing wealth for the na􀀛on (Amd¥ÎmmZm§
JwéHw$bm{X²dàmUm§ n¥OH$mo ^doV²& Z¥nmUm_mj`mo ô`of {Z{Y~«÷mo@{^Yr`Vo && 7/82).
Rehabilita􀀡on of Educated Unemployed
Mahabharat asks the king to rehabilitate the learned
persons along with the family who decides to leave the country
in search of job else where, by providing necessary means for
livelihood ({ddûMoV V`mJ_m{VîR>oXmË_m`o d¥{ÎmH${e©V: n[aH$bß`mñ` d¥{Îm:
ñ`mV² gXmañ` Za{Yn && em§{V nd© 89/2).
Role of Other Organisa􀀡ons
At this juncture, a discussion on existence, nature and
func􀀛on of other organisa􀀛ons will be of worth and interest. The
term organisa􀀛on is used here in the sense of government
organisa􀀛on or oganisa􀀛on recognised and respected by the
state as having poli􀀛cal importance. Some authors wish to call,
these organisa􀀛on as Local Authori􀀛es or Local Governments.
The purpose of discussion in this study is not to debate upon the
poli􀀛cal aspect of these ins􀀛tu􀀛ons but to enumerate their
contribu􀀛on to social welfare. At the outset itself, it will be worth
men􀀛oning that literature throwring light on the social welfare
aspect of these ins􀀛tu􀀛ons, is very less usually the poli􀀛cal
aspect like the cons􀀛tu􀀛on, powers etc are discussed in length in
the available books.
Glancing at the Vedic literature, the insitu􀀛ons that
assisted the state in its func􀀛oning can be listed as SAMITI,
and Sabha, in the opinion of the scholars denotes the same
ins􀀛tu􀀛on. While the term Sami􀀛 is men􀀛oned more during
Vedic period, Ramayana and Mahabharat use the term Sabha.
Paura – Janapadas according to K.P. Jayaswal, is the s􀀛ll later
version of sabha and sami􀀛. Further, Gana type ins􀀛tu􀀛on is
refered both in Ramayana and Rigveda, Sreni and Vara is found
exclusively in Ramayana.
The existence and nature of these ins􀀛tu􀀛ons will be
discussed in the coming paragraphs while the func􀀛ons related
to social welfare will be taken up at the end, as almost all these
have similar func􀀛ons, the difference being only in their size or
area of jurisdic􀀛on.
Sabha and Sami􀀡
Sabha and Sami􀀛 enjoyed a high pres􀀛ge in the Vedic
Age. Atharvaveda describes them as the twin daughters of
prajapa􀀛, the creator (Atharvaveda 7/12/1). A rising scholar and
a poli􀀛cian wished to dis􀀛nguish himself in their mee􀀛ngs
(Atharvevad 12/1/56) and the most important hope expressed
on behalf of an exiled king who has succeeded in his restora􀀛on
is that the sami􀀛 may for ever be in agreement with him
(Atharvaved 6/88/3). Further, the severe-most curse given to a
king is that the sabha may not respect him and there by dethrone
him. Aitareeya Brahmana and Satapatha Brahmana use the term
sabha and Rigveda refer the sami􀀛 as asocial or learned
gathering (Rigveda 8/4/9).
In Ramayana, the poet uses the term Sabha and refers it
in different meaning in different contexts. At one stage (2/5/22),
it is men􀀛oned as an “Assembly” which discusses important
ma􀀫ers concerning the state and the terms samsad, parishad or
parshad are used inter-changebly for sabha, meaning popular
These Assemblies consisted of officials and non officials,
officials being mantrins, amatyas senapa􀀛, etc while the nonofficials
consisted of the representa􀀛ves of the people like
paura-janadas, the tributary kings like Naigamas. Disussing the
importance of the Sabha, Sharma notes “Thus all the prominent
interest in the state being respresented, it is obvious that the
voice of the popular sabha was regarded as the voice of the
people as a whole.”31 Various references are available where a
king takes advise and premission from these Assemblies in
important ma􀀫er concerning state administra􀀛on. In other
words, these popular assemblies could excert pressure on the
king within the frame of reference of Dharma.
Dr. K. P. Jayaswal is of the opinion (supported by other
scholars like Dr. N. N. Law) that the sabha and sami􀀛, were
incarnated in the form of other ins􀀛tu􀀛ons namely paura-
Janapadas in the later vedic period. The word Paura-Janapada is
a compound consis􀀛ng Paura meaning capital and Janapada
meaning the rest of the kingdom except the capital.
The paura was perhaps cons􀀛tuted of the represena􀀛ves
of the various corpora􀀛ons in the capital while the Janapada is a
body of representa􀀛ves of Gramas (agricultural villages),
Ghoshas (Pastoral villages), Nagaras (towns) and Pa􀀫anas
(Commerical ports). Both Paura and Janapada had one inner
(Abhyanatra) and one outer (Bahya) councils. These ins􀀛tu􀀛ons
had a say in the mater of nomina􀀛on of the crown prince, and for
industrial and commercial priveleges for the country. Also the
king required their consent for new taxes.
The next organisa􀀛on, very prominently comes to no􀀛ce
is Sreni. In Ramayana, Ayodhya-kanda refer this term very
frequently. Similarly, it is very common in Mahabharat, the
Jatakas, the Arthashastra, the Dharma sutras and Smru􀀛s.32
Scholars opine that the term sreni denotes a corpora􀀛on of
people of same or different castes but following the same trade
or industry. Srenis could frame rules for their own guidances
which were respected and followed by the state. One Scholar
refering to the chief of Sreni (Sreni Mukhya) as vithi pradhana,
calls him as ward-councillor or mayor for muncipal
Naigma Or Nigama
Niaigama or Nigama is another organisa􀀛on men􀀛oned
in ancient-Indian literature, which some􀀛mes is referred as
offshoot of Sreni. In Ramayana and Jatakas the term is much
frequent. While in Ramayana, it means an associa􀀛on of vedic
Scholars or an associa􀀛on of Paurah (respected ci􀀛zens), in
Jatakas, the term signifies an associa􀀛on of traders and
merchants. This body commanded high respect in the society
and Naigama Mukhyas, or Naigma-vriddhas meaning
representa􀀛ves of chiefs of Naigamas used to a􀀫end king’s court
or assembly on behalf of the Naigamas. The members of this
body usually associated themselves with the corona􀀛on
ceremonies of kings.
In the epic Ramayana, Gana term is associated more with
vanaras (Monkeys) and the Rakshasas than in rela􀀛on to
Ayodhya or similar towns. Rigveda referes this term at least
once. (X/34/12). Scholars interpret the term differently like (1) a
corporate body of individuals formed for a definite purpose (2)
corpora􀀛on of traders, (3) corpora􀀛on of villages and (4) a
Federa􀀛on of different groups or communi􀀛es. In the Jatakas,
the term refers to a federa􀀛on of different kulas. (Families) and
the senior-most male member of each family became the
member of Gana Although the func􀀛ons of Gana varied as
according to the meaning assigned to it, the members were
highly respected in the society and the king lend pa􀀛ent hearing
to the members of Gana in deciding ma􀀫ers related to
administra􀀛on of the kingdom.
Probably the least known organisa􀀛on is Vara. In
Ramayana, it occurs in the Ayodhya-kanda as a group of persons
sent by king Bharata to prepare the passage and in this sense it is
an organisa􀀛on of ar􀀛sans. As per Dr. Dasharath Sharma, in later
period to Ramayana, the term referred to local bodies, having
certain muncipal and Judicial func􀀛ons.
Func􀀡ons of These Organisa􀀡ons
Very li􀀫le statements are available which throw enough
light on the exact func􀀛ons of these organisa􀀛ons, without
ambiguity. Scholars are divided in their opinion about their
func􀀛ons as the exact meaning of verse or the word in original
Sanskrit works, could not be made out unanimously Secondly as
per orientalists the words carry different meaning in different
contexts and more so, one has to take in to account, the nature
of the society at the relevant 􀀛me to bring out the true sense of
the terms or the verse. Neverthless, scholars have given
arguenments logically in favour of the point of view held by
them. In any case, the present study is interested in knowing
welfare func􀀛ons (if at all any) of these bodies.
Evidences are available to prove that these bodies
undertook judicial and municipal func􀀛ons, the former being
given more emphasis. Sabha and sami􀀛 could exert pressure on
the king to take care of the problems of the ci􀀛zens. Similarly the
paura-Janapads and later village assemblies also could influence
the king to great extent to do the services for the society. As
men􀀛oned earlier, the king was asked upon to undertake
welfare measures, like construc􀀛on of roads, ligh􀀛ng the streets
in the towns and villages, construc􀀛ng and maintaining public
buildings and public parks, providing drinking water facility by
digging prapas or wells at suitable places, cu􀀢ng of overgrown
branches of trees but sparing caitya trees etc. All these func􀀛ons
can be well executed in large kingdom having vast areas and
villages, only with the help of local bodies or local people.
Expec􀀛ng to do social services as men􀀛oned above from people
in general, will be too much of diluta􀀛on of final execu􀀛on. Some
had to be held responsible. Hence these bodies, referred by
some scholars as local authori􀀛es were held responsible. It has
to be presummed that the state took help from these bodies in
organising welfare measures.
A term usually a􀀫ached with these bodies is “Paurakaryah”.
Many scholars like Jayaswal, Dr. Sharma, Dr. N. N. Law
etc. interpret this as municipal func􀀛on. Unfortunately many of
them could not further elaborate upon the term, which may be
due to the lack of enough unambigous references in the original
works. But safely we can conude that these bodies were held
high in the society, members of these bodies were from all cross
sec􀀛ons of the society, these were regarded as the voice of
public in general, these could exert pressure on the king to an
extent and were func􀀛oning as local authori􀀛es of the state,
having municipal func􀀛on. Definitely these were the bodies
which guided the king in welfare func􀀛ons and carried out the
func􀀛ons in collabra􀀛on with the other officials of the state.
Thus, this chapter is devoted for the discussion on the
existence of the concept of welfare state in ancient India and
enumerate the welfare ac􀀛vi􀀛es undertaken by such state.
Welfare state concept is a comprehensive one, in the sense that
even when some of the welfare ac􀀛vi􀀛es are not run by the
state, s􀀛ll it is termed as Welfare State. In other words there is no
single opinion as to what are the ac􀀛vi􀀛es and programmers that
are required to term a par􀀛cular state as Welfare State. If a State
takes upon itself the responsibili􀀛es of welfare of its people and
frame policies and programmes in this direc􀀛on, thereby
recogonising welfare as its main func􀀛on which differ from
“Police” func􀀛on, then such a state is on its way to reach the so
called final stage of welfare state.
In ancient India, concept of welfare state in its
contemporary sense, did exist and the ancient states strived for
the overall welfare of its people. The state represented by king as
its chief administrator was held responsible for various welfare
measures. The meaning of the term (king) itself shows that the
king’s prime duty was to keep the subjects happy and
contended. The taxa􀀛on policy, the amount of tax, the tax
exemp􀀛on rules, proper means of tax collec􀀛on as concevied in
the ancient literature are all similar to the modern welfare state.
The tax collec􀀛on was never forceful rather the king was
expected to request and convince the people touring the whole
country and the extra taxes collected at the 􀀛me of calami􀀛es
must be returned to the subjects. The posi􀀛on of the king,
combined with the func􀀛oning of popular assemblies like Sabha
and Sami􀀛 along with other aspects, bring home the hold of
people over the state which can never, forego the welfare of the
people. The ancient texts enumerated various welfare func􀀛ons
of the state which included, construc􀀛on of roads and
townships; providing street light and water for drinking and
irriga􀀛on; maintenance of trees, gardens and public buildings;
care of old, sick, orphan and widows, provision for educa􀀛on and
health; organising of Samaj Utsavas (Social fes􀀛vals) care
towards prisoners and foreigners etc. which all points towards
the welfare outlook of the ancient states. All these ac􀀛ons were
termed as “Raja Dharma” or obligatory du􀀛es of king or state
and the “Dharma” was binding on all including the state and the
To put it in short “all round welfare of the public was
clearly regarded as the chief aim of the state during the vedic and
upanishadic ages”.34 The ancient literature lay down a high
standard for the king’s du􀀛es. Not only is he required to provide
for an extensive system of state relief to the indigent the helpless
and the learned but also enjoined to keep before him the
objec􀀛ve of securing for his subjects freedom from want and
References :
1. TITMISS, M. RICHARD : “Essays on the Welfare State” George
Allen and Unwin Ltd. London (3rd edi􀀛on) 1976. Page 34.
2. MADAN, G. R. : “Welfare State and problems of Democra􀀛c
planing” Allied publishers, Cultu􀀫a 1972. Page 4.
3. BRIGGS ASA : “The Welfare State in Historical Perspec􀀛ve”
“Social Welfare Ins􀀛tu􀀛ons” (edited by Zald M. Mayer) John
Wiley and Sons Inc; London 1965. Page 37.
4. TITMISS, M. RICHARD : Op cit Page 34.
5. BRIGGS ASA : Op cit page 43.
6. MARSHALL BRICE : “The coming of Welfare State” “George
Allan and Unwin Ltd. London, 1951. Page 293.
7. HOBMAN D. L. : “The Welfare State” Unwin Ltd. London,
1953. Page 1.
8. SILLS L. DAVID : “Encyclopaedia of Social Science” Vol. 15,
Macmiltam Publishers, London 1972. Page 512.
9. WEDDERBURN D. : “Facts and Theories of the Welfare State”
“Social Administra􀀛on” (edited by Birrdl, W.D.), Pengvin Books
Ltd, 1973, England Page 47.
10. GHOSAL U. N. : “Poli􀀛cal Organisa􀀛on : The Monarchial
States” “Cultural Heritage of India” (edited by Radhkrishnan)
Vol. II, The Ramkrishna Mission Ins􀀛tute of Culture, Culcu􀀫a
1975. Page 467.
11. Jayaswal K. P. : “Hindu Polity” “Bu􀀫erworth and Company
Ltd. Culcu􀀫a 1924. Page. 189.
12. Altekar (Dr.) A. S. : “State and Government in Ancient India”
Mo􀀛lal Banaraidass, Delhi, 1958. Page 98.
13. AIYAR RAMASWANI C.P. : “Some Aspects of Social and
Poli􀀛cal Evolu􀀛on in India” Cultural Heritage of India” (edited by
Radhkrishnan S.)” Vol. II, Ramakrishana Mission Ins􀀛tute of
Culture, Calcu􀀫a, 1975 Page 503.
14. ALTEKAR A. S. : Op cit Page 97.
15. ALTEKAR A. S. : Op cit Page 267.
16. AIYAR RAMASWAMI C. P. : Op cit Page 501.
17. ALTEKAR A. S. : Op cit Page 313.
18. SATWALEKAR S. D. : “Vedic Sabhyata.” Swadhay Mandal,
Satara, 1945. Page 47.
19. ALTEKAR A. S. : Op cit Page 103.
20. SHARMA R. : “Poli􀀛cal Condi􀀛ons in Ramayana” Mo􀀛lal
Banarasidas, Delhi, 1971. page 363.
21. RAJA K. C. : “Vedic culture” “Cultural heritage of India”
(edited by Radha Krishan (Dr. S) Vol. I. Ramkrishna Mission
Ins􀀛tute of Culture, Calcu􀀫a 1975. Page 215.
22. ALTEKAR A. S. : Op cit Page 332.
23. SUKTHANKAR V. S. : “Lectures on Rig Veda” Oriental Book
Agency, Poona (2nd edi􀀛on) 1926. Page 165.
24. DAS ABHINASHCHANDRA : “Rig Vedic Culture” U. N. Dhur
and Company, Calcu􀀫a, 1925. Page 127.
25. CHAKRAVORTY H. : “Socio-Economics Life of India in the
Vedic Period” Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar, Culcu􀀫a 1986. Page 134.
26. ALTEKAR A. S. : Op cit Page 332.
27. ALTEKAR A. S. : ibid Page 297.
28. AIYAR RAMASWAMI C. P. : Op cit Page 504.
29. ALTEKAR A. S. : “Vedic Society” Cultural Heritage of India
Vol. I (edited by Radhakrishan) Ramakrishna Mission Ins􀀛tute,
Calcul􀀫a, 1975. Page 219.
30. ALTEKAR A. S. : Ibid page 218.
31. NISHREYASANANDA SWAMI : “The culture of the Ramayana”
cultural Heritage of India Vol. II (edited by Radhakrishna)
Ramakrishna Mission Ins􀀛tute Calcu􀀫a 1975. Page 36.
32. MUKHERJI RADHAKUMUD : “Ancient Indian Educa􀀛on”
“Cultural Heritage of India” (edited by Radhakrishnan)
Ramkrishna Mission Ins􀀛tute of Culture. Culcu􀀫a, 1975. Page 644.
34. SHARMA R. : Op cit Page 339.
35. SHARMA R. : Op cit page 372.
36. MUKHERJI R. K. : “Local Government in Ancient India”
Mo􀀛lal Banaridass, Delhi 1956.
37. ALTEKAR A. S. : Op cit Page 48.
38. GHOSHAL U. N. : Op cit Page 469.
  
Chapter VI
Ancient concepts related to Social Work and their
prac􀀔ces can s􀀔ll be observed among the tribal communi􀀔es in
India, because tribals have preserved their tradi􀀔onal culture
and they are not much exposed to industrial civiliza􀀔on. We
consider some of the tribals as primi􀀔ve communi􀀔es which is
true looking at their socio-economic condi􀀔ons but from their
socio-cultural context, they s􀀔ll maintain the advanced
tradi􀀔ons of ancient 􀀔mes. Many of these tradi􀀔ons are helpful
for the smooth func􀀔oning of the society and these can act as
guidelines even for the most advanced socie􀀔es. These tribals
are not polluted with outside customs and hence whatever
tradi􀀔ons exist in them today, can be safely presumed to be
belonging to the period when ancient Indian Philosophical texts
were compiled. Hence the relevance of ancient concepts need to
be analysed from the background of the tribal customs.
Moreover, some ancient concepts s􀀔ll have relevance in
the prac􀀔ce of modern Social work, as it may get enriched by the
ideas, concepts and prac􀀔ces of ancient Social Work tradi􀀔ons.
This chapter is devoted to analyse the relevance of ancient
concepts from the above point of view.
A􀀙thipujanam – Hospitality Towards Guests
Perhaps, the most important ancient tradi􀀔on of Social
Work prac􀀔ce lies in the concept of A􀀔thipujanam-hospitality
towards guests and this concept is the basic source from which
the mentality of “Service to Other” originated. Even today, this
prac􀀔ce of hospitality towards the guests can be observed
throughout the length and breadth of India and many families,
specially in villages are following this tradi􀀔on ceaselssly, with
due care and a􀀬en􀀔on. There are people who adhere to the
concept of Vighashasi (ea􀀔ng food a􀀯er others have taken food)
and those who cook food not only for the members of the family
but also for guests who may come to the house without preno
There are ins􀀔tu􀀔ons like temples and Dharamashalas
which undertake community feeding to all those who assemble
at meals 􀀔me. Occassionally group of people come together to
organise community feeding on some fes􀀔vals or on other
community programmes.
In many villages, guests coming to the village are treated
like guests of the whole village. All the families contribute to feed
them and share the responsibility of the comforts of the guests.
Explaining in great details the life of the Madia Gonds in
Bhamragad of Maharashtra, Dr. S. G. Deogaonkar notes about
the “Youth Dormitory-Ghotul”. “The Madia have Ghotuls in every
village. These days in almost all villages, the Ghotul is used as a
res􀀔ng place for visitors. O􀀯en it is observed that touring officers
or other guests stay in Ghotuls. At least for one or two days they are
treated as the guests of the village. People collect some grain and
send it to the guest. Normally there is a chowkidar (Watchman) for
the Ghotul who prepares food (for the guests).”1
Thus, the concept of A􀀔thipujanam is s􀀔ll relevant and
some modifica􀀔ons may be necessary as concieved by
Sarvodaya leader, Shri Vinoba Bhave through his idea of
“Akshaya Patra” and as prac􀀔sed by some organisa􀀔ons like
Vivekananda Kendra, Nagpur chapter- an all India Organisa􀀔on.
This organisa􀀔on appeals to the people to keep daily, a handful
of rice and other grains separately which is collected periodically
by the organisa􀀔on and handed over to some or the other
orphanages or welfare ins􀀔tu􀀔ons. The quan􀀔ty of grains thus
collected is really of much help for such welfare ins􀀔tu􀀔ons and
at the same 􀀔me people dona􀀔ng it can get the sa􀀔sfac􀀔on of
“A􀀔thipujanam” as well as of fulfilling a small part of their
responsibility towards the society.
The Concept of Vruksha Danam-Plan􀀙ng of Trees
The ecological concern of the people all over the world is
well known and in this background, the ancient concept of
Vruksha Danam or plan􀀔ng of trees for others becomes more
relevant. In ancient 􀀔mes the trees were planted for the sake of
shade specially for the travellers but trees were held to be “Sons”
and were looked a􀀯er very carefully.
Today, ecological concern urges the people to plant the
trees to save the earth and for the survival of the new
genera􀀔ons to come. Plan􀀔ng one or two trees by a single
individual may look minor act of serving the purpose but each
and every individual plan􀀔ng even a single tree, can bring a great
effect which becomes evident from the mo􀀬o of the ecological
concern- “Think Globaly and Act Locally”.
Many tribal communi􀀔es in India, have the custom of
plan􀀔ng the trees during some or the other rituals. The Gonds,
the Korkus and the Munda group of communi􀀔es have this
custom of plan􀀔ng trees during marriage ceremonies. “Tree is
another important object of worship…. par􀀔cularly the Salai
Boswellia Serrata has a central place pantheon of tribal ritual.
The Gonds consider it as an abode of Lord Persapen i.e.
Bada-Deo and a branch of this tree or pillar carved out of it,
forms the central pillar the Mund around which marriage is
solemnised. The peculiarity of this tree is that it grows very fast
even from a stump and we have observed an old marriage Mund
growing branches and becoming tree. The foresight of the
ancestors of these tribals in selec􀀔ng the stump of the Salai tree
for every marriage is laudable because, with every marriage a
new tree can be grown.
Trees even occupy a prominent place in tribal mythology
and folklore which is a recogni􀀔on by the tribals of the important
role tradi􀀔onally played by the trees for food, shelter, clothing,
medicine and total existence of their community”.2
Wri􀀔ng on the Religious Prac􀀔ces in a Santal Village in
West Bengal, Biswanath Banerjee3 notes that during the
celebra􀀔on of Karma fes􀀔val, youth of the village collect
branches from the karma tree from the forest and plant these
branches cermoniously in the village.
Kamaladevi Cha􀀬opadhyay4 notes on the Khasis of
Meghalaya, who keep special land under the ownership of the
whole village, on which the sacred groves stand and it is an
offence to cut these trees.
Thus, concern for ecology through plan􀀔ng of trees can
be made more relevant at least in India, if the plan􀀔ng trees may
be termed as Danam and the a􀀬achment to trees by terming
them as Sons.
The concept Danam and its prac􀀔ce to the le􀀬er and
spirit carry significance and relevance even today. Many of the
welfare agencies are run by Non-Governmental Organisa􀀔ons
for the benefit of the less-privileged persons of our society.
These organisa􀀔ons largely depend upon rich people for huge
dona􀀔ons. It is sad to note that the inmates of these welfare
agencies are usually Paraded in front of these ‘Generous’ donors
when they visit these agencies.
The inmates or the final beneficiaries of these dona􀀔ons
are thereby not treated with dignity and honour. The message
that they are less fortunate and they depend on the ‘Mercy’ of
these donors, is knowingly or unknowlingly conveyed to these
less privileged inmates.
The ancient texts call upon the donor to donate with full
diginity towards the reciever, otherwise the act of dona􀀔ng does
not amount to ‘Danam’ and the donor also goes to hell. Indians
can easily understand the language of ancient texts, as they
revere these texts and wish to follow a life according to them. If
this message of honouring the receiver is conveyed to the
donors in proper perspec􀀔ve, chances are more that Indian
donors will live up to it and will feel the sa􀀔sfac􀀔on of making
dona􀀔ons as per the ancient texts.
The prac􀀔ce of ‘Gupta Danam’ in which the donor’s
name is not publicised, is another kind of dona􀀔on, very helpful
in this direc􀀔on. At the same 􀀔me, the less fortunate persons will
feel that the society is taking care of them; as according to
‘Dharma’ the rich is required to share his Social responsibility by
making generous dona􀀔ons.
The Dharma base of Danam need to be emphasised and
at least Indian donors will follow this willingly and happily.
Widow Rehabilita􀀙on
Ancient texts speak of peculiar way of widow
Rehabilita􀀔on in which the widow is married to the younger
brother of the deceased or begets a son from the younger
brother or a distant rela􀀔ve who mates with her for once under
strict condi􀀔ons like applying clarified bu􀀬er thoughout the
body and not u􀀬ering any word. A son thus bege􀀬ed looks a􀀯er
the widow during her oldage.
The widow remarriage preferrably by the younger
brother of the deceased can be observed in many tribal
communi􀀔es. The Madia Gonds,5 the Bhil6, the Andamanese7
etc. follow this way of re-habilita􀀔on through second marriage.
Probably the rehabilita􀀔on by way of bege􀁈ng a son is not in
vogue which may be because of the misuse of such procedure
rather than helping the hapless widow.
The Concept Yajna
The ancient concept “Yajna” defenitely is not limited to
the meaning of sacrifice through fire. It is a Social ac􀀔vity
undertaken by all members of a par􀀔fcular group or village for
the collec􀀔ve good of all, through mutual help and co-opera􀀔on.
Such social ac􀀔vi􀀔es are s􀀔ll in prac􀀔ce among Tribal
K. L. Bhowmik notes on the mutual help and coopera
􀀔on and collec􀀔ve ac􀀔ons of the Naga Tribes. “At the 􀀔me
of establishing village, each class takes a por􀀔on of land in and
around the village and holds the same as common clan-land.
Generally the en􀀔re village or a Khel cul􀀔vates in one block or on
a hill slope. The friends and neighbours help each other in
harves􀀔ng the crops. The animals killed during the collec􀀔ve
hun􀀔ng are brought to the village and are equally distributed
among all the families in the village.”8 “The Gonds also hold the
land in common and the youth dormitory is held as a communal
In the concept Yajna there is a men􀀔on of Yajna Shishta
Anna which is the food le􀀯 a􀀯er offering to Gods and others.
Many tribals in India follow this prac􀀔ce of offering food to other
and ea􀀔ng only at the end.
The Oraon tribe,10 the Andamanese,11 the Kham􀀔s of
Arunachal Pradesh12 etc. follow such prac􀀔ce.
Certain tribal communi􀀔es announce self-declared
holidays on some days on which no member of the community
goes to work and remain in the village. The Polo of Madia Gonds
and “Genna’ of Naga tribes are such holidays. These holidays are
u􀀔lised in undertaking common work of the community.
Everyone joins hand in building the outer wall of the village or in
renova􀀔ng the public places or even in cleaning the village.
If a poor member or old person finds it difficult to repair
his house or undertake some work in the field, these holidays are
declared and all the members come to the rescue of the poor
member and render self-less service to him. The tribals might
not have termed these ac􀀔vi􀀔es as ‘Yajnas’ but they are very well
akin to the concept of Yajna.
Moreover, the ideas or values behind the concept Yajna
can be of immense use in the prac􀀔ce of Social Work even today.
The Yajna concept conveys the ideas or values such as 1) Selfless
ac􀀔on 2) Mutual Co-opera􀀔on 3) Collec􀀔ve good of all etc. These
need to be imbibed in the minds of social workers who man the
welfare agencies.
The social ac􀀔vi􀀔es undertaken by the agencies are
nothing short of Yajna which must be conveyed to all those
connected with these agencies in par􀀔cular and the whole
society in general. Many welfare agencies fail to produce results
which may be because of the ego or self mentality of the office
bearers of these agencies or the ac􀀔vi􀀔es are undertaken by a
single influen􀀔al office bearer without taking into confidence
others in the agency. Self-less mentality with mutual coopera
􀀔on with the inten􀀔on of collec􀀔ve good of all, will
definitely help the welfare agency for achieving new heights in
the service of the less privileged.
Deepa Danam – Providing Street Lights
The ancient concept of Deepa Danam is s􀀔ll in vogue in
many Hindu families. A light is kindled in the evening and placed
near the “Tulsi” plant which used to be in front of the house and
nearer to the fence or boundary of the front yard. This light is of
immense help to the passers by, specially in villages where
modern electric lights are yet to come. Possibly, this is a symbolic
ac􀀔vity of providing “Deepa Danam” of ancient 􀀔mes.
Concepts From Bhagavad Gita
The Bhagavad Gita is considered as the essence of
Vedanta because it sums up all that is described in detail in
Vedanta. Hence, the Bhagavad Gita influences the Hindu psyche
more than any other ancient text and even of today, many
Indians hold it in high esteem. It men􀀔ons a number of concepts
which are s􀀔ll relevant for the psycho-Social aspect of human
life. A few concept namely Samadarshi, Samabudhi,
Sthitaprajna, Anasak􀀙 require more a􀀬en􀀔on because of their
relevance from modern Social Work point of view.
The chapters 5 and 6 of Bhagavad Gita bring out the
concept of Samadarshi and Samabudhi. In nutshell, Samadarshi
is a person who never makes any discrimina􀀔on in his out look
towards, any one on the basis of his caste, creed or educa􀀔on
and shows no discrimina􀀔on even towards animals. And the
concept. Samabudhi expects the individual not to show any
discrimina􀀔on among a friend, an enemy, a mediator, a sinner, a
rela􀀔ve etc. These two concepts urge to evolve an approach of
non-discrimina􀀔on in dealing with individuals. The modern
Social work, expects the Social worker to adhere to the first
principle of Social Work, namely principle of acceptance in
dealing with the clients. This principle says that the clients must
be accepted without any discrimina􀀔on of whatsoever and the
problems of the client need to be considered with empathy.
The above two concepts bring home the same point of
view. In other words, the present day Social Work, can imbibe in
himself the above two concepts in his dealing with the client.
The concept Sthitaprajna and Anasak􀀙 are explained in
chapters 2 and 4 of Bhagavad Gita. Sthitaprajna is a person who
controls his mind, never a􀀬aches importance to desire or greed,
never gets, over joned by happiness or comfort, nor get
desperate by difficul􀀔es, and one who never get daunted by
anger, fear etc. The concept Anasak􀀔 urges to undertake any
Work, without a􀀬achment, without looking at the reward or
return; to work with more vigour and energy because nonreward
should never lead to non-work and because value of
reward not being the criterion for the degree of efforts to be
undertaken for the work, maximum efforts must be done at all
the 􀀔mes. He must have self-control and self-mo􀀔va􀀔on and
never leave the work half-way through and never allow anger or
passion to dominate his work.
The modern Social Work speaks out the principle of
‘controlled Emo􀀔onal Involvement’ for a Social worker in his
prac􀀔ce. The principle says that the Social worker should
deliberately avoid mixing up of his emo􀀔ons in dealing with the
clients as it may hamper the whole work. The Social worker
ought to have control over his involvement so that the process of
helping the client will not be biased and objec􀀔vity will be
maintained. The above two concepts bring out more or less the
same idea and also highlight the point that the work should
never be undertaken out of fear or favour from any corner. A
Social worker, specially employed by private welfare agencies
can emulate the above point of not working under fear or favour.
Further, at least in India, when the Social Work is termed
as a profession, the ques􀀔on of ge􀁈ng reward or pay for Social
Work, does not appeal to the public mind because tradi􀀔onally
Social Work is considered to be a selfless ac􀀔vity. Many Social
Work educators in India and abroad, have deliberated upon this
aspect of payment of salary or fees for a Social worker. The
principles from Bhagavad Gita, urge not to look at the reward but
to undertake the work with more enthusiasm and guarantees
that a reward is definite for all good ac􀀔ons.
This brings home the point that the social worker never
decides about his dealings with the client looking at the paying
capacity of the clients and he should render his services without
discrimina􀀔on to rich or poor. And to the ques􀀔on of livelihood
for the Social Work, Bhagavad Gita says that the reward is
definite to follow the good ac􀀔on and that, it urges all to fulfill
their recrprocal responsibility for the favour received from other
with proper rewards. The ancient texts condemn non-rewarding
or helping in return of a person who helped earlier.
Thus many of the ancient concepts s􀀔ll hold good in the
prac􀀔ce of Social Work and what is required is some more
interpreta􀀔on and analysis in this direc􀀔on and linking the
ancient concepts to the prac􀀔ce of Social Work to bring out their
  
Chapter VII
The doctrine of ‘Service unto others’ is deeply embeded
in Hindu Philosophy which also evolved easy ways and means for
the individual to actually prac􀀔se it, throughout the whole life.
Hindu Philosophy envisaged nothing less than the total welfare
of all living beings in the Universe. It proclaimed “Let all be happy
and comfortable, let all be healthy, let all see (experience) holy
and auspicious environment and let no one feel any kind of
sorrow (gdm}{n gw{IZ: gÝVw & gd} gÝVw {Zam_`m: && gd} ^Ðm{U ní`ÝVw && _m
H${íMV Xþ:I ^mJ^doV &&) and for the Hindu individual the whole
Universe is his family (dgwY¡d Hw$Qw>å~H$_²). The individual strived for
the welfare of the Universe as he prayed to God “O! Vishnu Give
us wisdom for the welfare of the Universe”. (Ëd§ {d îUmo: gw{V
{doeOÝ`m_ AàÀ`wVm_od` _{V Xm:) Ancient texts urged all to raise
money by hundred hands and to distribute money by thousand
hands (eVhñV g_mha ghñÌhñV g{H$a) and the individual was
determined to hold the nobility wisdom which is for the welfare
of the whole Universe (Amh§ d¥Uo g_{V {doeOÝ`m_).
The structure and the system of the ancient society was
conducive to Social Work which was based on mutual help and
co-opera􀀔on. Individual was provided with full freedom and
ecouragement for his growth and development while, at the
same 􀀔me he was bound by Dharma (Y_©) to fulfil his share of
Social responsibility. Society, at the other end, took care of the
individual when it was much needed, for which the family in the
capacity as primary group contributed its might. Hindu Seers and
Shastrakaras synchronised individual’s aim and ambi􀀔on with
the welfare of the society, which produced the individual good as
part of the Social good. No one was held above Dharma (Y_©)
which helped the society to survive and flourish thousands of
years. Dharma (Y_©) was the principle which sustained the
society for its smooth conduct and growth.
The State in ancient 􀀔mes, acted as the prime welfare
ins􀀔tu􀀔on which took care of welfare and developmental
aspects of Social life. The King ac􀀔ng as the head of the State,
was held responsible for a number of welfare as well as
developmental ac􀀔vi􀀔es. The people could influence the
decisions of the State and as the ancient texts depict, many
tyrant Kings were done to death by the people. The King never
assumed absolute power as he was bound by Dharma and he
was accountable to the people for his ac􀀔ons. At the same 􀀔me,
people offered their co-opera􀀔on and assistance for welfare
ac􀀔vi􀀔es, through various ins􀀔tu􀀔ons like Sabha, Sami􀀔,
Vidatha Paura-Janapad etc.
The modern Social Work is based upon the principles of
Democracy and the dignity of man which were understood
clearly and given prominence in the ancient Indian society. The
ancient philosophy has many concepts and prac􀀔ces which can
enrich the modern Social Work.
Ancient Ideas relevant to Social Work
The Hindu Philosophical principle of “Seeing God in all”
helped the individual in serve others in a be􀀬er frame work and
this principle urged not to discriminate among all living beings
and including the human beings. Respect to all and dignity of
Human beings were envisaged by the principle of “Seeing God in
The ancient texts speak of unity of all souls and consider
the whole Universe as one ‘Self’. The doctrine of seeing ‘Self’ in
all living beings, helped the individual to feel the Pain in others
and to experience pleasure in the happiness of others.
Social Rela􀀔ons were based on the above two principles
which tended to make the rela􀀔ons sacred and important.
Individual’s rela􀀔on with others was governed by his rela􀀔on
with God which resulted in the respect and dignity shown
towards others.
The concept of Danam in ancient texts speak about the
concept of giving which was not mere charity. The dignity and
the honour of the receiver was upheld which rendered the
concept invaluable.
The concept Danam ought to be undertaken not with
pity or sympathy towards the receiver but as a duty in which the
needs of the needy, the 􀀔me and the place of Danam were of
almost importance.
Danam connotes wider meaning because Vruksha
Danam (d¥j XmZ_) plan􀀔ng of trees for others and Deepa Danam
(XrnXmZ_²) providing street lights for others etc. are also covered
in Danam.
Ancient texts allude that the whole community
some􀀔mes, came forward as one unit to organise Danam (XmZ_)
ac􀀔vi􀀔es. Danam should be dedicated to God so as to avoid the
ego of ‘giving’ and always sweet words must be used to keep up
the dignity of the receiver.
The Concept Dharma (Y_©)
The ancient concept of Dharma (Y_©) acted like the main
principle underlying ancient Social Work ac􀀔vi􀀔es. Dharma (Y_©)
was meant for the welfare of all and for maintaining the highest
standard of living for all in the society.
Dharma (Y_©) was the chief factor which shaped men’s
lives and inspired the individual to be engrossed always in the
welfare of others and the whole society.
Ancient Social Work originated from the principle of
Dharma (Y_©) as many welfare ac􀀔vity by the State as well as by
the individual are termed as their Dharma (Y_©).
As no one including the King was above Dharma (Y_©), it
helped in the smooth func􀀔oning of the society and in achieving
a Social life where the rich and the poor, the weak and the strong
lived in friendly atmosphere.
Dharma is meant for the welfare of all because it is
created by the God for the well-being of the whole Universe and
through Dharma growth and development of all is guaranteed.
Dharma protects one who upholds Dharma.
Dharma concept acted as the main principle underlying
ancient Social Work ac􀀔vi􀀔es as King undertook welfare
ac􀀔vi􀀔es because of Dharma, and the individual contributed
towards Social Work by digging wells, plan􀀔ng trees, providing
street lights because of Dharma.
The Concept Yajna (`k)
The ancient Yajna is a unique concept in Hindu
Philosophy and it was not perceived only as a mere sacrifice
through fire. Yajna (`k) was a collec􀀔ve ac􀀔vity, undertaken by a
group of people or all the villagers, for the collec􀀔ve good of all.
Yajna (`k) or group ac􀀔vity for the societal benefit was
based on mutual co-opera􀀔on and help. Through Yajna (`k),
sacrifice of selfish things, even the ego was envisaged and the
term Yajna denoted selfless-collec􀀔ve Social ac􀀔vity.
Hospitality towards guest itself is Yajna and Yajna
originated from the du􀀔es (H$_©) which are directed towards the
welfare of the society and du􀀔es for other’s welfare must be
undertaken with non-a􀀬achment and devoid of expecta􀀔on
about the reward.
Ideological Bases of Ancient Social Work
The Rina (F$U) Concept
The concept of Rina (debts) is widely held in Hindu
Philosophy and the individual conceived as born along with
various Rinas (debts). Specially, the Rinas (debts) towards
guests, dependants and fellow human beings carry much
significance from Social Work point of view. Repayment of these
debts was compulsory and the methods of repayment gave
origin to Social Work tradi􀀔ons.
For repayment of these debts, the individual, is expected
to serve the guests, the animals, the birds, the creepers etc. The
methods of repayment were easy to prac􀀔se but were
significant in their Social implica􀀔ons.
Pancha Maha Yajna Concept
Pancha Maha Yajna (n§M _hm `k) or five great sacrifices
are the second important ideological bases of ancient Social
Work. The concept of Vaishva Deva (d¡îd Xod) which is a part of
the Pancha Maha Yajna enthused Social Work in the individual.
It urged people to provide food daily to the out castes, the
untouchble, the diseased, the dog, the birds, the fish, the
crawling creatures etc and through this, ac􀀔vity it was envisaged
that the individual could reach the highest abode of God.
These Yajnas were not op􀀔onal to be prac􀀔ced at the will
and wish but are compulsory for every house-holder as an
obligatory duty, without which Moksha (_moj) or Salva􀀔on could
not be achieved.
The Pancha Maha Yajna and Vaishva Deva concetps
convey the message that the ancient outlook towards welfare
was not limited to the human beings only, rather the welfare of
all living creatures was the concern of ancient society.
The Bases of Pap (nmn) and Punya (nwÊ`)
The Pap and Punya concepts acted as bases of ancient
Social Work as helping others resulted in Punya while causing
injury to others brought Pap for an individual.
These concepts were meant for channelising the society
or ordinary people to undertake Social Work ac􀀔vi􀀔es for the
welfare of others but the ancient Social Work was never based
upon only on these concepts because the Social Work ac􀀔vi􀀔es
need to be undertaken without looking at ‘Punya’ or reward in
Enough Punya brought heaven but not final Moksha for
which du􀀔es towards the family and the society, must be
fulfilled. Thus these concepts helped to undertake Social Work
ac􀀔vi􀀔es which were to be considered as obligatory du􀀔es
towards the society.
Purushartha (nwéfmW©) which are the aims of life for every
individual acted as the base of ancient Social Work because the
whole life of the individual was based upon these aims,
achieving of which required the individual to undertake many
Social Work ac􀀔vi􀀔es.
“For self-salva􀀔on at the same 􀀔me for the welfare of the
society” (AmË_Zmo _mojmW© OJV² {hVm` M) acted as the another basic
principle of ancient Social Work.
Individual and His Posi􀀙on In the Society.
Every individual was considered to be an important
member of the society as the society and the family showed
interest in celebra􀀔ng through various Samskara (g§ñH$ma) or
The rela􀀔ons with others was guided by the basic
ques􀀔on of purpose of existence of the human being who
considered it as his duty to be at the service of others.
The rela􀀔on within the family was based on mutual
respect and on the principle of “Other first rather than the self.”
The husband wife rela􀀔on was on equal foo􀀔ng as the Hindu
Shastrakaras urged the husband to undertake even the meanest
ac􀀔vity taking the wife into confidence.
The ancient texts urged the family members to live
unitedly like the spokes of a wheel, a􀀬ached to its axle; to evolve
unanimous opinion and same a􀁈tude in all life-related
ac􀀔vi􀀔es; to eat and drink from the same place and render
assistance among each other; to behave as one unit in the
ma􀀬er of welfare of the society.
The Concept Artha (AW©) and Kama (H$m_)
The concept of Artha (AW©) and Kama (H$m_) are termed
as the objec􀀔ves of Hindu life, for which efforts must be
undertaken. Becoming rich and being wealthy is not condemned
in ancient literature but the accumula􀀔on of wealth must be
based on Dharma.
The wealth must be divided into three equal parts, of
which one must be u􀀔lised for Dharma or Social service; the
second part for fulfilling the desires; and the remaining third part
must be saved and mul􀀔plied.
Enjoyment or sa􀀔sfac􀀔on of desires is not looked down
upon but it must be undertaken according to ‘Dharma’ or with a
view to up hold the Social order. The sexual enjoyment a􀀯er
marriage is considered also as a duty towards the society to
perpetuate the species.
The Hindu Family
The family atmosphere was such that the new born
member learned his first lessons of service to others, right from
his early days. The house holder is considered as the supporter
of life on earth and all living creatures depended on him.
The house-holder is to eat only a􀀯er food is offered to
the guests, the parents, the old, the sick, the servants etc. and it
is the special responsibility of the married woman to look a􀀯er
the comforts of the old people in the house.
The family was considered as belonging to the future
genera􀀔on which was handed down by the past genera􀀔on,
there by evolving the Trusteeship concept in the family. The
home was the place where the old, the young the infants lived
along with animals and birds, for all of whom the wealth the
family must be u􀀔lised.
The Samskara (g§ñH$ma)
The Samskara (g§ñH$ma) concept acted as the milestones
in the life of the individual, right from his birth to death, through
which the personality was moulded. These sacraments aimed at
shaping the individual to become a perfect Social being who
shouldered his social responsibility willingly and knowingly.
Ancient literature envisages not to look at procrea􀀔on
only as a biological phenomenon, which is common to all
animals and but to consider it in a socio-ethical context and
procrea􀀔on is regarded as the duty towards the society.
A new born was considered as an important member of
the family and the society, right from the womb and through the
birth of the new born, the welfare of the family and in turn of the
society was conceived.
The Upanayanan (CnZ`Z) Samskara is very much
important as through this, the quality of humility is imbided on
the young mind. The child was made to understand that he
depends upon the society for which he must compensate in
future by undertaking various welfare ac􀀔vi􀀔es.
Through Upanayan Samskara, the child is expected to
take vow to take care of the manking and through the prac􀀔se of
begging and sharing alms, the child was given the prac􀀔cal
training in serving the society.
The marriage is not a contract but a sacrament and an
ins􀀔tu􀀔on through which the newly wedded couple strive for
the welfare of the society.
Through the socio-religious ceremonies of Samskaras,
the individual is taught about his importance in the family and
the society, and at the same 􀀔me, the individual’s personality is
shaped to make him more useful to the society.
The Varna-Ashrama Systems
The Varna (dU©) system regulated the life of the society
and was meant to unite all in one common economic, social,
cultural and spiritual bond. Each Varna was entrusted with
specific du􀀔es which produced the smooth life of the ideal
society. For all Varnas nurturing of dependants, causing noinjury
to any creature, sharing of wealth etc. are envisaged as
common rules. The Varna system survived for long without
clash, allowing social mobility through inter Varna marriages,
helping every other members within and outside Varna.
The Ashrama system four fold and the du􀀔es a􀀬ached to
each were such that the concern of the society was held high. In
Brahmacharya Ashrama (~«åh`© Aml_), the child was imparted
with the knowledge of lores of the society and was trained to
lead life which is useful to the society.
The Grihastha Ashrama (J¥hñW Aml_) is given the highest
importance because of its contribu􀀔on towards the welfare of
the society. The Grihastha or the house holder is expected to
take care of the old, the sick, the animals the birds, the guests,
the travellers etc. and also to undertake developmental ac􀀔vi􀀔es
like plan􀀔ng trees, providing street lights etc.
Individidual’s Contribu􀀙on Towards Social Work
Apart from the State’s efforts, individuals are held
responsible for the welfare of the society according to the
ancient literature. Every individual should contribute his might
towards the be􀀬erment of Social life.
Concern towards the old, the servants etc.
The individual must take care of the old, the servants, the
dependants and should take food only a􀀯er feeding them. Manu
and other Smru􀀔 writers call upon the husband and wife to take
food only a􀀯er offering it to the guests, the servants, the old in
the family etc.
No Worker or servant should be terminated from his
service without any good reason and the terminated servant
must be duely compensated inview of termina􀀔on. Proper pay
must be paid for the Work of the servants.
A􀀙thi-Pujanam (A{V{W nwOZ§)
A􀀔thi (A{V{W) is the guest who comes to the house
without prior invita􀀔on or whose date ({V{W) is not fixed. He has
to be treated as God and his comforts must be the concern of
every house holder.
A􀀔thi-Pujanam (A{V{W nwOZ) or hospitality towards
guests was one of the important ancient Social Work prac􀀔ces
and hence is equated with Yajna (`k) which is to be performed
Whatever is offered to the guest is like offering made into
Yajna (`k) and as per Panch Dakshina Yajna (n§M XjrUm `k), the
guest must be offered water to clean his feet, seat, food, a lamp
or a light and res􀀔ng place.
The guest must be received with pleasant guestures;
sweet and kind words to be spoken to him; the complete
a􀀬en􀀔on must be paid for his comforts, and he must be
accompanied 􀀔ll the boundary of the village or 􀀔ll he bids good
by to show respect and regard to him when he leaves the house.
Cooking food for self is decried and always food must be
shared with others. This points out to the concern of mankind
towards others in ancient literature.
Care of Old, Sick, Orphan, Widow etc.
The individual must take care of the old, the sick, the
orphan, the widow etc and must share his wealth with them with
due sympathy. In other words, these helpless and hapless
persons should be given proper a􀀬en􀀔on and care.
A person who finds livelihood for these people is held in
esteem. It implies that a permanent rehabilita􀀔on by way of
finding suitable livelihood for these people is envisaged in the
ancient literature. It is the special duty of the house-hold woman
to take care of the old and the sick, the blind, the weak, the
servants etc in the family.
No one should deceive the woman who is orphan, old,
young, minor, frightened or ‘Sanyasin’.
Welfare of the Children of Wrong Doers
Atharava Veda calls upon the people to accept the children
of wrong doers and to help them lead a be􀀬er life in future.
Contribu􀀙on towards developmental Works
Individual is expected to build public parks, public
houses, gardens, inns, wells etc for the benefit of others.
Digging of wells and ponds, preparing gardens or
plan􀀔ng of trees on road side, all are equated to be which like
performing Yajna (`k) and speaking of truth.
Wells and ponds of various sizes must be built to contain
enough water 􀀔ll the next monsoon arrives and these must be
constructed on the boarder of the villages where they are most
required. Temples must also be built, which are meant for the
travellers to take rest.
Plan􀀙ng of Trees
Shady trees must be planted and they are to be taken
care of like children. They must be properly maintained so as to
be useful to all.
As per Dharma (Y_©), digging of ponds and plan􀀔ng of
shady trees is essen􀀔al for every individual.
Trees having medicinal value must be planted and
maintained and one who destroys them deserve punishment
according to the value of the tree destroyed.
Provision of Street Lights
Mahabharat urges the people to donate light which
means that all must provide street lights for the benefit of night
travellers. The street lights or lamps must be kindled every
evening by the house-holder.
The places where lights are to be provided are very much
important. Lights should be provided at the foot of the hills, near
rivulets, near bushes at temples, at cross-roads, at caltle sheds
and at Brahmins houses where probably the evening educa􀀔on
classes are held.
Care of Animals and Birds
All living creatures must be offered food and no one
should cause injury to them.
The sick caltle must be taken to the veternary doctors
from where they will be cured.
Bhuta Bali (^yV ~br) is one of the five great sacrifices to be
performed daily by all house-holders. In this Bhuta Bali, food
must be offered to cow, dogs, crawling creatures, birds, fish etc.
which points to the concern of ancient people to whole
Dona􀀙ng Money, Land, Houses etc.
On the request of the poor, the rich used to donate
house, land, farm, money and other ar􀀔cles.
Wealth is to be accumulated by hundred hands but
wealth should be distributed by thousand hands which implies
the generosity to be shown in dona􀀔ng.
The wealth of the rich who helps the poor for the
treatment of old parents, to take care of children and other
dependants, etc. never get diminished which means that such
dona􀀔ons are encouraged for the welfare of the poor.
Concern about handicapped
One who snatches everything from the blind, the
handicapped and the deaf is termed as the killer of God.
Manu, the law giver, ordains not to look down upon or
make fun of the handicapped, the mentally retarded, nonbeau
􀀔ful to look at, the old, the poor, the down-trodden owing
to their disabili􀀔es.
Public Health & Hyginene
As a measure to maintain healthy condi􀀔on, Manu
forbids ea􀀔ng food with scant regard to clothes, bathing without
clothes, and Urina􀀔ng at roads, public places, stacks of ash etc.
One who eases out on roads deserved punishment and
the roads ought to be cleaned immediately but a sick person, the
old, a pregnant lady need not be punished for such offence.
State in Ancient India
In ancient India, the State was headed by a King and the
ins􀀔tu􀀔on of King merged with that of State. Through King, the
State was expected to carry on various welfare ac􀀔vi􀀔es for the
subjects who could hold great influence on the decision’s of the
State, through the medium of ‘Popular Assemblies’, namely
Sabha (g^m), Sami􀀔 (g{_Vr), Vidhata ({dYV), Paura-Janapada
(nm¡a-OZnX) etc.
In Hindu Polity the word Raj (amO) in Sanskrit is associated
with Ranj (a§O) meaning to please as the king is held to be the
person who pleases or strives to keep the subjects happy and
contented. The prime duty of the king was Prajanuranjana
(àOmZwa§OZ) meaning to please the subjects by employing
wholesome policies and programmes conducive to public
Kau􀀔lya in his Artha Shastra men􀀔ons that the pleasure
(happiness) of the subjects is the pleasure (happiness) of the
king and the welfare of the subject is more important than the
king’s personal interest.
King was expected to act like the servant of the people
1/6th share (tax) being his wages, The two great incarna􀀔ons of
God, namely Shriram and Shrikrishna admit that they are the
sevants of the people who can give orders to them.
Tax in Ancient India
Ancient texts, call upon the king to accept only 1/6th
share of wealth as tax which should be collected without
applying any coresion and which should be u􀀔lised for the
welfare of the subjects.
Tax increase should never be steep and sudden but like a
honeybee collec􀀔ng honey bit by bit. The subjects must be kept
comfortable and happy in determining the Taxa􀀔on Policy of the
Convincing the people and taking them into confidence
must be done by the king by undertaking the tour of the whole
country and reques􀀔ng them to pay more tax, before
implimen􀀔ng increase in tax.
Increased tax like during calami􀀔es confron􀀔ng the
Na􀀔on, must be returned to the subjects as soon as such
condi􀀔ons cease to exist. And even doing so, the welfare out look
towards the subjects should never be done away with.
Tax exemp􀀔on is envisaged for less privileged class like
the blind, the deaf, the handicapped, the senior ci􀀔zens etc. Toll
should not be yeilded for crossing a ferry from an expectant
mother, the student, the Sanyasin etc.
Poor people like carpenter, smith, loader etc who cannot
pay tax by currency or in kind, should be allowed to work for one
day in a month in lieu of the tax and during there days, they must
be fed freely.
Tax must be based on the paying capacity of the
individual and welfare outlook ought to be held high in taxing the
King Vis-a-Vis the Subjects
The king is expected to deal with the subjects like a
pregnant woman who sacrifices her own interests for the sake of
the child in the womb. The king should live for his subjects and
not for himself like a father to the children who could move
freely without any fear under the fear protec􀀔on of the father.
The king must take oath to uphold the welfare of the
people and to strive for the development of the Na􀀔on before
assuming the kingship.
People’s Hold Over King
Many instances in which the elec􀀔on of the king, were
men􀀔oned are pointers to the fact that such elected kings could
never forget the welfare of the subjects because he needed their
support to get elected.
The subjects are termed as ‘King makers’ and the
greatest hope expressed was that the Popular Assemblies like
Sabha and Sami􀀔 were always to be with the king who was
regarded as clearly depending on the people.
Sabha, Sami􀀔, the army, the treasury etc obey the king
who follow the subjects belonging to both towns and villages
which implies that the welfare of the people should be the prime
concern of the king.
The Atharva Veda men􀀔ons a verse which high lights, the
elec􀀔on manifesto of a candidate aspiring to become king. The
manifesto promises, good educa􀀔on, development and
progress etc. to the people. This points towards the various
schemes proposed by an aspirant king who used to impliment
them later on.
Welfare Ac􀀙vi􀀙es By The State
Construc􀀙on of roads, Townships, Providing street lights etc.
The Mahabharat calls upon the king to construct high
ways and roads. Artha Shastra also men􀀔ons the construc􀀔on of
roads and protec􀀔on to the travellers and traders as the duty of
the king.
The Atharva Veda refers to three kinds of roads, what is
fit for chariots, what is fit for carts, and what is fit for pedestrians.
The epic Ramayana, alludes construc􀀔on of roads and street
lights in Ayodhya, the capital of the Kosala Kingdom as well as in
Lanka, Kingdom of the demon king Ravana.
The roads were maintained by daily sprinkiling of water
to put down the dust and street lights were provided which
made the ci􀀔es bright and beau􀀔ful as men􀀔oned in Ramayana.
The Mahabharat describes it as the duty of the king to
build non-conjested townships which will have beau􀀔ful roads,
market places, public places for amusement and shelter for the
Digging of Wells, Ponds, Lakes etc.
The Mahabharat proclaims that the king must construct
wells, ponds, and lakes for different purposes including irriga􀀔on
of agricultural land.
The Ramayana men􀀔ons about lots of wells and ponds of
various sizes throughout the kingdom of Shri Ramchandra.
Rigveda men􀀔ons about ar􀀔ficial water courses used for
irriga􀀔on as well as for supplying drinking water.
Care of the Sick and the Old, the Orphan etc.
The king must take care of the sick and the old by
providing them with food, clothes and medicines. The king is
described as the protector of the old and as the person who
removes tears from the eyes of the sick and the old.
The king must maintain the people who are without
livelihood, the orphans etc. The permanent or complete
rehabilita􀀔on of the hapless people is envisaged by providing
them with permanent livelihood.
Care of the Handicapped and the people in despair
King like a father, must take care of all the handicapped
mentally as well as physically, including the blind, the deaf, the
persons with distorted body etc.
The persons without livelihood must be maintained by
the king who must also act like the saviour of the people in
despair by providing security to them.
The king must provide food and clothes and also
encourage other rich people to do the same for the old, the sick,
the orphan, the homeless etc.
An ideal kingdom is that one where there are no
diseases, famine, or problems due to old age.
Kau􀀔lya notes that the welfare of the des􀀔tute and the
sick is the responsibility of the State which offered doles to the
orphans, the aged, the infirm and also to poor pregnant women
for their livelihood. The king like a father must look a􀀯er the
persons with distorted body and persons without livelihood.
Care of Educated Unemployed
The king must maintain and look a􀀯er the comforts of
those who are educated but are frightened and depressed
because of unemployment.
Maintenance of Doctors
King must maintain doctors who are specialised in the
treatment of poison, cuts and injury, infec􀀔ous diseases etc and
king should preserve medicines to be used for the health of all
Welfare of Foreign Ci􀀙zens
The life of the king is condemned who could provide
livelihood to the subjects as well as foreigners who came to the
Country in search of it.
Welfare of Workers
Welfare of the Workers and the servants of the State, is
the responsibility of the king who should strive to relieve them
from fear of want.
King should supply or provide (under loan facility), the
workers with instruments and other resources for their trade to
con􀀔nue for four months of the rainy season.
The State should supply co􀀬on to the women whose
guardians (workers) are on tour and must pay for them for the
yarn prepared by these women.
Care of Prisoners
It is king’s responsibility to look a􀀯er the health of the
prisoners who must be provided with free medical treatment
and even houses to live in along with the family if the prisoner is
very much ill.
Social Fes􀀙vals
King is held responsible to organise Social Fes􀀔vals
frequently both in towns and big villages for the amusement of
the subjects and some􀀔mes these Fes􀀔vals carried Social
themes through various entertainment ac􀀔vi􀀔es.
It is the reqponsibility of the king to maintain the
dancers, the magicians, the atheletes, the actors etc.
Patronage of Educa􀀙on
Patronage of educa􀀔on is a prime ac􀀔vity of Welfare State
and enough evidences are available about this, in ancient texts.
The king should organise educa􀀔on in such a manner that the
women as well as the children get be􀀬er vision and a􀁈tude of life.
In Ramayana, it is described that there was not a single person who
is slenderly read and even the demons (amjg) were educated.
King supplied clothes, utensils food etc to the Ashram
(Aml_) where educa􀀔on was imparted free of cost. The
Ashramas were residen􀀔al schools and besides these, academic
like Parishad (n[afX) and centres of wandering scholars also
existed which were maintained by the State.
Educated people were respected by all including the king
as they were considered as non-diminishing wealth of the
Role of other Ins􀀙tu􀀙ons
Apart from the State, various ins􀀔tu􀀔ons like Sabha
(g^m), Sami􀀔 (g{_Vr), Vidhata ({dYV), Paura Janapad (nm¡a OZnX),
Vara (dma), Gana (JU), Shreni (loUr) etc. played important role in
organising welfare programmes for the society.
The people in general and their representa􀀔ves in these
popular assemblies, in par􀀔cular, par􀀔cipated in the welfare
Bunch of thoughts on Ancient concepts:
Today, knowingly or unknowingly the Social Work
Educa􀀔on in India is more influenced by the Western thoughts
and principles rather than the values and socio-cultural aspects
of Indian society. We have to recognize and accept this reality in
order to raise the standard of Social Work in India to higher
levels. Lack of indigenous knowledge for teaching-learning (and
for training)is considered to be a major handicap in this regard. A
sincere and 􀀔reless a􀀬empt to develop the knowledge base is
the need of the hour. There is a great need to strike a balance
between Western knowledge base of Social Work and the
knowledge about Indian culture and tradi􀀔ons. This will have a
tremendous impact on success of Social Work prac􀀔ce in India.
In this connec􀀔on I wish to deliberate on the following
concepts as a bunch of thoughts which can be developed further
and progressive enfoldment of its content is possible.
Social Work and Spirituality
Spirituality does not mean religion– the way religion is
defined and understood in common parlance. Spirituality is the
processes of knowing the inner world or self and of making a
good connect with the world outside. Dharma is a term which is
nearest to the term spirituality and in fact Dharma is much
beyond spirituality
Spiritual leaders all over the world had contributed
immensely towards the well-being of not only the mankind but
also all living beings. There exists even in the present 􀀔mes, lot of
examples of spiritual leaders/ Guruswho work towards
be􀀬erment of society in all respects and they are far more be􀀬er
than the trained Social Workers. Can we not learn from them?
Can we not learn some basics or fundamentals enshrined in
Spirituality? Definitely spirituality can help Social Workers
understand the situa􀀔on in a broader perspec􀀔ve. For this,
spirituality must become part of Social Work syllabus in the
Indian context.
To discuss as an example, medita􀀔on technique will help
the Social Worker for his/her inner growth. This being a skill, it
can be imparted easily and students of Social Worker will gain
exponen􀀔ally as he/she will be able to handlestressful situa􀀔on
with calm and magnanimity. What type of medita􀀔on? Or which
medita􀀔on can be useful? These ques􀀔ons can be discussed and
the most suitable one that meets need can be accepted for
including it in the syllabus. For example, medita􀀔on techniques
prac􀀔ced by Art of Living members (of Sri Sri Ravi Sankar) or
prac􀀔ced by followers of Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev of Tamil Nadu
can be worked out as lots of youngsters including professionals
appreciate these techniques. One more important area for
Social Work Research will be to study the benefits of medita􀀔on
on individuals as now a days whole world is concerned with
Happiness index of the popula􀀔on.
The other few things that may follow in line will be Yoga-
Asana-Pranayam etc which should never be viewed from
religious angle only. Health benefits arising from these simple
but effec􀀔ve techniques will go a long way in helping poor clients
in India to raise their standard of living. It is all about posi􀀔ve
health like hygiene or washing your hands before meals and in
their absence the poor spends huge money as medical bill. In
certain parts of India, especially Central India, a concept called
‘Garbha Sanskar’ is prac􀀔ced for the past few years successfully.
More and more medical doctors are coming forward to
recommend pregnant ladies to adopt to this system for healthy
delivery. This was evolved and developed by few spiritually
inclined ladies and passed on to next genera􀀔on. This technique
can be propagated along with diet and nutri􀀔on programme for
pregnant ladies, especially in rural areas. Students of Social
Work with Medical and Maternal health elec􀀔ve ought to be
provided with knowledge and imparted training in order to carry
the benefits to rural India.
Doctrine of Dignity
Doctrine of human dignity is the most fundamental
principle on which the Social Work knowledge (and its prac􀀔ce)
has been built upon. Present day Social Work literature deals
with this doctrine elaborately and unknowingly it is passed on to
our students terming it as a western concept as if nothing like
this existed in our Indian society in earlier days. This is incorrect.
Ancient literature in India went beyond human dignity as it
propagated not only human dignity but also dignity of all living
The Bhagawat Gita contains a Sloka which goes like this
Vidyavinayasampanne Brahmane Gavi Has􀀓ni
Shuni Chaiva Shvapake cha Panditah Samadarshinah [Ch.5]Meaning: A learned man looks at a Brahmin, cow, elephant, dog
and an outcaste with equal respect. He never discriminates
among them.
Another Sloka says
Atmoupamyena sarvatra samam pashya􀀓 yo Arjuna
Sukham vaa yadi vaa dukkham saa yogi paramo matah [Ch.6]Meaning: The Yogi who sees all living beings pleasure or pain
alike on the analogy of his own self, is deemed to be the Supreme
Further the Gita calls upon to see God in all beings:-
Yomaam pashya􀀓 sarvatra sarvam cha mayi pashya􀀓 [Ch.6]One who beholds me (God) everywhere and beholds
everything in me (God)…this kind of percep􀀔on of seeing God in
everything helps the individual to respect the dignity of all
beings. It is not just the dignity of human beings but the dignity
of all animate and inanimate things too.
An argument may come up for discussion at this
juncture. Why are we discussing this doctrine of dignity of all
beings?Social Work deals with human beings only and not with
other living beings. The purpose of discussion is for developing a
be􀀬er perspec􀀔ve and a􀁈tude in Social Worker. The a􀁈tude of
seeing God in all things and thereby showing respect to all
definitely will help Social Workers to have a be􀀬er outlook
towards human suffering.
Ancient Indian literature contains many more such
teachings and principles which can shape the mind set up of
Social Workers.
Principle of Self Determina􀀙on
Principle of Self Determina􀀔on is one of the most
important and fundamental principles of Social Work. The client
himself/herself determines his course of ac􀀔on to face the issue
or problem and the Social Worker is not expected to impose his
decision on the client. Let us examine what ancient Indian
literature has to offer in this regard.
There will be no exaggera􀀔on if we say that Bhagavat Gita
is a good example of social case work record. To put it in brief,
Arjuna gets confused and depressed on seeing his own rela􀀔ves
on other side of ba􀀬le field as enemies. He refuses to fight and
Krishna has to make lot of efforts to help Arjuna to come out of
his depression and confusion. Bhagavat Gita which literally
means Divine song is like a dialogue between a Social Worker
and Client.
At the end, Krishna tells Arjuna “this is the essence of all
knowledge which is very difficult to comprehend but please
analyze and examine this cri􀀔cally and decide for yourself what
should be your course of ac􀀔on” (Chapter 18). This is a good
example of principle of self-determina􀀔on recorded long-long
ago. Krishna never concluded his dialogue by imposing his
decision on Arjuna.
However we have to go further and discuss about this
principle especially in the Indian context. There is no doubt that
self-determina􀀔on principle should ever be compromised. Being
Social Workers we must strive to uphold this principle. And that
is what Krishna had also done. Every profession adheres to this
principle. But in Indian situa􀀔on, to what extent we can prac􀀔ce
this principle in le􀀬er and spirit. We encourage and allow the
Client for self-determina􀀔on. For whatever reason, be it less
literacy or socio-cultural upbringing (of members in the family
and the society), very less percentage of clients may be able to
decide for themselves. For example in Medical Profession, the
doctors leave it to the client to opt for par􀀔cular line of
treatment.However most of the clients ul􀀔mately (including
those with good educa􀀔on) revert back to the doctor and
request him/her to decide in the best interest of the client. At the
most, few pa􀀔ents may choose to go for a second opinion but
s􀀔ll come back with the same request to he doctor to take a
decision on their behalf.
Once again it is reiterated that we are not advoca􀀔ng to
do away with this principle of self-determina􀀔on. It is highly
essen􀀔al for any profession including Social Work.
Coming back to the Gita, it is recorded that Arjuna was
also experiencing the same situa􀀔on. Even a􀀯er ge􀁈ng Divine
advice he never chose to decide himself. But there is a vast
difference between a normal client and Arjuna. His mind set
must be understood in proper perspec􀀔ve. Arjuna was clear in
his mind. He says “Krishna, now I don’t have any doubts, I am
clear in my mind. Please tell me what to do and I will do it without
any hesita􀀔on” (Bh. Gita Ch. 18)
This shows the faith of Arjuna on Krishna and he knows
from the bo􀀬om of his heart that decision of Krishna will be the
best op􀀔on to execute.
Now the point is, in Indian situa􀀔on a client shows his full
faith in the Social Worker and believes that Social Worker can do
no wrong to him/her. Thus the client tells the Social Worker to
make decision on his/her (Client’s) behalf. This faith must be
upheld forever and in this regard the responsibility of the Social
Worker increases many fold. Social worker’s ac􀀔ons or words
should never be such that the faith in profession gets damaged.
Otherwise it will lead to a situa􀀔on where professionals decide
on behalf of the client to mint money.
During classroom discussion on the principle of selfdetermina
􀀔on, Social Work educators can deliberate on the
above aspect also, so that the future Social Workers are
A􀁄ributes or Quali􀀙es of a successful Social Worker
The debate on the issue of indigenous Social Work has
been going on for a long 􀀔me. The basic point in this regard is to
understand the rela􀀔on between socio-cultural background of
the people of a par􀀔cular country or region and applicability of
universally accepted principles of Social Work in to prac􀀔ce.
As a part of this larger issue, another salient ques􀀔on
that comes up for discussion is ‘can a Social Work prac􀀔􀀔oner
who is successful in a country like USA be equally successful in
prac􀀔cing Social Work in India?’ A clear cut answer to this
ques􀀔on in terms of Yes or No will never be possible.
Let us elaborate the above point; in a country like USA
with its socio-cultural background, the clients or the society at
large can easily understand the difference between the private
life and the professional life of a Social Worker or medical doctor.
And they may not mind what he or she does in his/her personal
life and they will value, only the professional approach and
efficiency. But the same will not be true in India as clients may
not dis􀀔nguish between private and professional life. In other
words a successful prac􀀔􀀔oner in USA will never be successful as
clients or the people here may not go by his professionalism
alone , rather may not trust him due to what happens in his
private life. They will expect him to be an ideal person in all
respect. As a corollary, we can say skills acquired by the Social
Worker alone may not be of much use for a successful prac􀀔ce.
Clients here in India will be more interested in the personal
a􀀬ributes or quali􀀔es of a Social Worker rather than his/her
Hence it is impera􀀔ve to discuss about the a􀀬ributes and
quali􀀔es of a Social Worker from the point of view of clients in
India. In this connec􀀔on Bhagavat Gita comes in handy. Gita in its
Chapter 12 describes in detail a lot of a􀀬ributes or quali􀀔es of a
devotee which will be equally good for a Social Worker in India.
Gita says
1) He/she (a devotee) must not get bored or annoyed by the
people around him and the people should not be annoyed by his
presence. He/she must be devoid of ela􀀔on, envy, fear or
agita􀀔on. Definitely these quali􀀔es are a must for Social Worker
in India
2) He/she remains neutral or equal or same towards friend and
foe as also in honour and dishonor; pleasure and pain. Don’t we
agree that these are quali􀀔es to be imbibed by Social Workers?
3) He/she treats alike contempt and praise, does not hate or
grieve or desire. He never craves, remains unworried or fearless.
Social Workers even though they are human beings with all
drawbacks, must strive to develop these quali􀀔es.
4) He/she hates no beings, is friendly and compassionate, or is
far away from sense of possession and of egoism; he/she
remains equally magnanimous in pleasure and pain. Surely
Social Workers must think over these quali􀀔es which definitely
will help them in the long run.
To evolve indigenous Social Work or to move towards
Indian Social Work, we must have some mechanisms or systems
to ponder over the essen􀀔al quali􀀔es of a Social Worker. Social
Work educators can do tremendous work in this regard to make
prac􀀔ce of Social Work successful in India.
Indian Spiritualism and Social Work
Spirituality and Social Work ac􀀔vi􀀔es in India are interwoven
in the sense that we can find lot of ac􀀔vi􀀔es which have
profound social impact even though the ac􀀔vi􀀔es are performed
as part of religious or cultural programmes. In other words the
ancient scriptures call upon the people to perform social
ac􀀔vi􀀔es as part of religious life. If we study these ac􀀔vi􀀔es in
depth, we will be able to understand social benefits produced.
Few examples of them are taken up here for discussion.
As per the Indian philosophy there are 27 Nakshatras or
stars and every individual born here, gets a star with base to the
date and 􀀔me of his/her birth. Every Nakshatra is iden􀀔fied with
an animal and a tree. Religious texts call upon the individuals to
not harm these animals and trees (related to their stars) rather
they must worship them. This is nothing but environmental
concern or protec􀀔on mechanism inter-woven with the religion.
Moreover there is a fes􀀔val called “Vata –Savitri Pujan”. On this
day the Vata Vriksha or Banyan tree is to be worshipped
especially by women folk. It is an example of Environment
Protec􀀔on Day celebrated under the banner of religion.
Another such example is the religious ac􀀔vity called
“Kanyaka Pujan” or worshipping girls especially during Devi
Navaratra fes􀀔val. Nine girls of different ages are worshipped for
nine days. It is as good as the campaign for save the girl child of
modern 􀀔mes undertaken for nine days. Unfortunately we do
not observe such fes􀀔vals in true sense of the term. One more
example is that of the fes􀀔val of Nag Panchami on which day
serpents and snakes are worshipped as the Indian philosophy
upholds the principle of seeing God in everything. It also conveys
the importance a􀀬ached to the modern concept of Bio-diversity.
If we worship the most poisonous creature such as snakes in the
true sense of the term, then how can such society kill them or
destroy nature?
One more aspect in this regard that requires a􀀬en􀀔on is
about the socially relevant ac􀀔vi􀀔es undertaken by the spiritual
or religious leaders in India from the past to the present 􀀔mes.
Let us not forget that these are religious leaders, doing
tremendous ac􀀔vi􀀔es related to Social Work. One good example
from the past can be that of Swami Vivekananda. A cursory
glance on the life and work of Vivekananda will impress us that
he has done superior work than any well-known-trained Social
Worker. Same is the case with Basaveswara Swami from
Karnataka region. In the present day scenario, lots of
religious/spiritual leaders are more inclined towards social
ac􀀔vi􀀔es and con􀀔nuously mo􀀔vate their followers to help the
needy people in our society. It will be injus􀀔ce to leave out the
names of religious leaders but due to the constraint of space, let
us name a few only. Art of living, the organiza􀀔on headed by
spiritual Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is doing exemplary work on the
issue of farmers’ suicide especially in Yavatmal District of
Maharashtra which has seen the highest number of farmers’
suicide. Another example is that of Mata Amritanandmayi or
Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev. Social Work students can learn lot of
things from the projects run by such leaders.
The underlying principle that comes up prominently on
analyzing the work by religious leaders is very interes􀀔ng. When
one such religious Guru was asked why he is undertaking such
social ac􀀔vi􀀔es when he being a religious person is expected to
preach about religion and seek salva􀀔on or Moksha. He rightly
said it is for self-salva􀀔on and at the same 􀀔me welfare of the
society [Atmano Mokshartham Jagat Hitaya cha]These are the bunch of thoughts which may seem not to
be cohesive; these are like bunch of flowers with different
colours and fragrance but each flower is beau􀀔ful and fragrant.
Developing knowledge base for Indianisa􀀔on of Social Work is
the need of the hour and these bunches of thoughts will go a
long way in accomplishing this noble goal. Exploring and
explaining the ancient concepts and therea􀀯er applying them
appropriately in Prac􀀔ce should be our goal through which we
can enrich knowledge base of Social Work universally.
Salient Features
1) Ancient Indian literature contains ideological concepts
relevant to Social Work.
The ancient Indian literature speaks of two principles of
“Seeing God in All” and “Seeing self in All” which helps the
individual to uphold the dignity of the other and to feel the pains
of the other which render him to serve others with dignity. The
concept Danam (XmZ_) is very relevant to Social work, through
which, the needy is helped with dignity and honour and before
his asking for help, with respect to the parameters of 􀀔me and
place. The concept of Dharma is the underlying principle for
ancient social work prac􀀔ces. It is the Dharma or obbigatory duty
of every individual as well as the king to be engrossed always, in
the welfare of the society. Another concept Yajna (`k) is a social
ac􀀔vity, collec􀀔vely undertaken by all for the collec􀀔ve good of
all, based on mutual help and co-opera􀀔on.
2) The ancient ideology and prac􀀙ce of Social work was largely
a product of man’s concern towards Punya (nwÊ`) and Pap
The above statement stands par􀀔ally negated in the
sense that to some extent these two concepts channelized the
common man to undertake social work ac􀀔vi􀀔es but the ancient
texts enshrined the individual to rise above Punya (nwÊ`) and Pap
(nmn) in the prac􀀔ce of Social Work. (Supra Page 57-60). Further,
the ancient ideology of Social Work is based upon other
concepts also like Dharma (Y_©) Runa (F$U) Panch Maha Yajna
(n§M _hm`k), Vaishva dev and Bhuta Bali (d¡îd Xod-_yV~br) etc. The
sense of Social Responsibility of the individual, integra􀀔on of
individual’s aim of life and obbigatory du􀀔es with service unto
others; the socialisa􀀔on process in the family etc are responsible
for the prac􀀔ce of Social Work. Hence ‘Punya’ and ‘Pap’ were not
the only two concepts on which the ancient Social Work
prac􀀔ces originated.
3) The concept of Welfare State in a contemporary form was in
existence and the ancient State had many schemes for the
welfare of the Society.
The prime concern of the State was the happiness of the
subject. The State through the ins􀀔tu􀀔on of the king was held
responsible for various welfare ac􀀔vi􀀔es including partronage of
educa􀀔on. (Papers 126) The taxa􀀔on policy was not coersive but
the welfare out look was maintained in its implimenta􀀔on and
u􀀔lisa􀀔on of the State revenue. The people could expert
influence on the decisions of the State through various popular
assemblies. The elec􀀔on manifes to points to the existence of
various schemes for the welfare of the people. various welfare
ac􀀔vi􀀔es of the State proves that the ancient State evolved
s c h e m e s fo r e d u ca􀀔 o n a l , h e a l t h , re c re a􀀔 o n a l a n d
developmental aspects of the social life.
4) The ancient literature concerning welfare, clearly outlined
an individual’s role and his responsibility in rela􀀙on to the
The ancient texts clearly envisaged the role of individual
in the social life and his social responsibility. The aims of the
individual and the aims of the society were integrated
beau􀀔fully to produce the dependency of individual on the
society and Vice Versa. Through the concept Dharma (Y_©),
Danam (XmZ_), Yajna (`k) individuals role in social welfare
becomes more clear and concrete. (pages 36-51) The Varna
Ashrama (dU©-Aml_) system clearly outlined an individual’s role
and his responsibility in rela􀀔on to the society.
5) The prac􀀙se of Social Work in ancient India was highly
developed and conducive to the welfare of old people, infants,
physically handicapped, des􀀙tutes etc.
The ancient literature men􀀔ons not only the theore􀀔cal
or ideal aspect of social work but also men􀀔ons about the
natural and easy ways and means of prac􀀔cing the social work
through the concepts of A􀀙thipujanam (A{V{WnwOZ), the Rinas
(F$U), Pancha Maha yajna (n§M _hm`k), Vaishva Deva (d¡îd Xod)
etc. The individual is held responsible to take care of the old
people, infants (through Sanskaral physically handicapped,
des􀀔tutes etc by way of providing food and shelter to them. The
House-holder took food only a􀀯er feeding these people. The old
people were respected and women were par􀀔cularly held
responsible for their comfort.
6) Religious and Semi-religious ins􀀙tu􀀙ons were involved in
social work ac􀀙vi􀀙es.
Religious and Semireligious ins􀀔tu􀀔ons in the sense of
the terms, temples or Mu􀀬s were not involved as they are not
men􀀔oned in the ancient texts as undertaking Social Work
ac􀀔vi􀀔es. The Social Work ac􀀔vi􀀔es were mainly undertaken by
the State and the individual like those who are in Grihastha
Ashrama (J¥hñW Aml_) or house-holders.
The Sanskrit term Dharma (Y_©) is a more poten􀀔al and
comprehensive in its meaning and can not be equated with the
English term Religion. But Dharma (Y_©) and Dharmic
Ins􀀔tu􀀔ons like Varna-Ashrama, the Purushrtha, the Yajna etc
were back-bone of ancient social work-prac􀀔se.
1) For the purpose of ‘Indianising Social Work’ a further in
depth study will be helpful in the direc􀀔on of the present study.
2) The State as well as individuals can draw inspira􀀔on and
insight for undertaking Social Work ac􀀔vi􀀔es and for which
wider efforts need to be evolved.
3) The ancient concepts like ‘Yajna’ and ‘Danam’ and their
prac􀀔ces are s􀀔ll relevant and terming the present day similar
Social Work ac􀀔vi􀀔es as Yajna may be more result producing.
4) Some concepts like Samadarshi, Sthitaprajna etc. can enrich
the modern Social Work theory.
5) Ancient texts men􀀔on, about quali􀀔es required for an ideal
social worker and these can be followed by the present day
Social Work prac􀀔􀀔oners.
  
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  
Brāhmana Grantha
~«m÷U J«§W
Āranyaka Grantha
AmaÊ`H$ J«§W
~«m÷U-AmaÊ`H$ J«§W
N.B.:- The words Brāhmana, Āranyaka are a􀀬ached respec􀀔vely to
the books/Granthas men􀀔oned in the columns.
Upanishads – Veda affilia􀀙on
Rig Veda
(_x osn)
ŚuklaYajur Veda
(‘kqDy ;tqjosn )
Krishna Yajur Ved a
(Ñ”.k ;tjq osn )
Sāma V eda
(lk eo sn )
Atharva Veda
(vFkoZosn )
Aitreya Ërj;s Ādhyātma vkè;kRe Akshi vf{k Aruni v#f.k Annapurnā vUui.q kkZ
Ātmabodha vkRecks/k Bhikshu fHk{kq Amrita Nāda ve`rukn Cchandogya NanksX; Atharvaśikhā vFkoZf’k[k
Akshamālik v{kekfyd Advaiyātarak v};S krjd Amritabindu ver` fcanq Avyakta vO;Dr Atharvaśirā vFkoZf’kjk
Bhāvricha Hkkfozp Brihadāranyakā gn~kj.;dk Avadhūta vo/kwr Darśana n’kZu Ātmā vkRek
Mudgala eqn~xy Īśāvāsya Ã’kkokL; BramhaVidyā czãfo|k Jābāli tkckfy Bhasma HkLe
Kausītaki dkSlhrfd Hamsa gal Brahma czã Jābālādarśana tkckykn’kZu Bhāvanā Hkkouk
Nāda ukn Jābālā tkckyk Dakshinamūrti nf{k.kewfrZ Kena dsu Brihad jābālā c`gn~tkckyk
shmi lkSHkkX;yf{e Mantrikā eaf=dk Ekākshar ,dk{kj Mahat
sanyāsa egrlU;kl Dattātreya nRrk=s;
Nirvān a fuo k.Z k Mandalbrāhma n eaMyczkã .k Dhyānabin du è;k ufcanq Ku ndikā dafq Mdk Devi nsfo
Rig Veda
_x osn
ŚuklaYajur Veda
(‘kqDy ;tqjosn )
Krishna Yajur Ved a
Ñ”.k ;tjq osn
Sāma V eda
lk eo sn )
Atharva Veda
( ) ( ) ( (vFkoZosn )
Tripurā f=ijq k Mukti kā eqfDrdk Garb ha xHkZ Maitr eyi eS=f; G anapati x.kifr
Śounaka ‘kkuS d Nirāla mba fujky Ec Kaiv alya d oS Y; Maitrā yani eS=k;f.k Garuda x#M
Painga lã iSaxyk Kālāgnirudra dkykfXu#æ Rudrāksha
-Jābā lā #æk{ktk ckyk Go-pālā tapan iya Xkis kyrkiuh;
Paramahamsa ijegal Kālisantaran dkfylarju Sāv itri lkfof= Hayagriva g;xhz o
Satyāyani lR;k;fu Kar a d j Vajraśuchik ā ot’z kfq pdk K rishna Ñ”.k
Subālā lqckyk Kathā dFkk
Vāsudeva o klqnso Mahānārāya na egkukjk; .k
Tārāsara rkjklj Kshurikā {kqfjd k Chūdāman i p wMkef.k Mahā vākya egk okD;
f =f”dczkã.k Nārāyan a ukjk; .k Ma ndūkya eaMwD;
Turiyātita rfq j;kfrr Panchabrāhma iapczkã.k Ma ndūka eaMwd
Yājnavālkya ;kKokYD; Prānagnihotra çk.kfXugks= -Nārada
pari vrajaka ukjnifjo ztd
da not known) Rudrāhri daya # æân; – Narasimha
tapaniya ujfl agrifu;
Rig Veda
_x osn
ŚuklaYajur Veda
(‘kqDy ;tqjosn )
Krishna Yajur Veda
Ñ”.k ;tjq osn
Sāma V eda
lke o sn )
Atharva Veda
( ) ( ) ( (vFkoZosn )
Maha Sarasvatirahasy
a ljLofrjgL; Para-Br ahma ijcãz
Yajnopavita Sarav asar l jolj Paramāhamsapa
rivrajaka Ikjegalifjokz td
Rudra Sarir ākā lfjj kdk Paśupati i’kqifr
Linga Skanda Ldan Praśna ç’u
Visrama Yogakundalī ;k sxdqaMyh Rāma-rahasya jkejgL;
Vajrapanjara Śukra-rahasya ’kØq jgL; Rāmapūrvatapaniya
Varcha opZ Rāma-uttaratapaniy
a jkemRrjrifu;
Śwetāśvar ’osrk’oj Śāndilya ’kkafMY;
Taitterīya rSrjh; Sarbha lHkZ
Yogaśikhā ; ksxf’k[kk S ītā lhrk
Tejobindu r stkfs canq Sūry a lw;Z
Varāha ojkg Tripur-tapaniya f=iqjrifu;
Yogatatva ;ksxrRo Lāngūl a ykaxwy

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