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Mains Practice Questions

  • Q. Discuss Indian saints who though untouched by western ideas have shown a progressive modern outlook. (150 words)

    20 Oct, 2022 GS Paper 4 Theoretical Questions


    • Discuss briefly the western ideas.
    • Discuss at least two Indian Saints who propagated modern ideas without compromising on Indian Ethos.
    • Conclude suitably.


    • Western idea, sometimes equated with Western civilization, is a term used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems, and specific artifacts and technologies that have some origin or association with Europe.


    • Indian Saints who showed modern outlook:
      • Swami Vivekanand:
        • He introduced Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world and is credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the world stage during the late 19th century.
        • He established Ramakrishna Mission in 1987, named after his Guru Swami Ramakrishna Paramhansa. The institution did extensive educational and philanthropic work in India.
        • Core values of Swami Vivekanand’s Philosophy:
          • Ethics
            • Morality in both individual life and social life is mostly based on fear of societal censure.
            • But Vivekananda gave a new theory of ethics and new principle of morality based on the intrinsic purity and oneness of the Atman.
            • Ethics according to Vivekananda was nothing but a code of conduct that helps a man to be a good citizen.
            • We should be pure because purity is our real nature, our true divine Self or Atman.
            • Similarly, we should love and serve our neighbours because we are all one in the Supreme Spirit known as Paramatma or Brahman.
          • Rationality:
            • He did not discard reason in favor of faith.
            • He recognized intuition or inspiration as a higher faculty than reason. But the truth derived from intuition had to be explained and systematized by reason.
      • Buddha:
        • Core values of Buddha’s Philosophy:
          • To avoid the two extremes of indulgence in worldly pleasure and the practice of strict abstinence and asceticism.
          • He ascribed instead the 'Madhyam Marg' or the middle path which was to be followed.
          • According to him everyone was responsible for their own happiness in life, stressing upon the individualistic component of Buddhism.
        • Main teachings:
        • To encapsulating in the basic concept of four noble truths or ariya-sachchani and eightfold path or astangika marg.
        • Four noble truths:
          • Suffering (dukkha) is the essence of the world.
          • Every suffering has a cause – Samudya.
          • Suffering could be extinguished – Nirodha.
          • It can be achieved by following the Atthanga Magga (Eight-Fold Path).
        • Eight-Fold Paths: It consists of various interconnected activities related to knowledge, conduct, and meditative practices.
          • Right view
          • Right intention
          • Right speech
          • Right action
          • Right livelihood
          • Right mindfulness
          • Right effort
          • Right concentration


    • Swami Vivekananda belonged to the 19th century, yet his message and his life are more relevant today than in the past and perhaps, will be more relevant in future.
    • The Buddhist teachings inculcate compassion, calmness & composure, joy among humans and they can help maintain a sustainable balance between man and nature.
      • The ultimate goal of Buddha’s teaching was the attainment of nibbana which was not a place but an experience, and could be attained in this life.

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