|Thus by glorifying
the house holder and sanctioning his pursuit of wealth (Artha) and pleasure (Kama) within
the limits of the moral law (Dharma), Hinduism does justice to the flesh as well as to the
spirit of man.
Almost all virtues known to
man come within the province of every religion. But each religion emphasizes only a few of
them, calls them cardinal virtues and tries to bring all other virtues under one or other
of them. It is these cardinal virtues emphasized by a religion that determine its
The cardinal virtues of Hinduism are amply indicated in the
Mahabharata and the Ramayana and the Puranas. They are exemplified in the ideal
characters, which all Hindus love and venerate. Not only that, they are common to
Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The reason is not far to seek. Buddhism and Jainism were
never regarded in India as separate from Hinduism.
The Buddhist and Jain sects were always looked upon as the
dissident sects of Hinduism. Therefore the cardinal virtues of Hinduism may be regarded as
the distinctive marks of the religious spirit in India. They are-purity (Saucam),
self-control (Samyama), detachment (Asanga or Vairagya), truth (Satyam) and non-violence
(Ahimsa). Let us now consider the scope of each of these as conceived by the Hindu sages.