Values in Practice

Values are meant to be practiced, specifically through dharma. This refers to both socio-religious practices according to varnashrama-dharma and specific spiritual practices, such as puja (worship) . Many Hindu stories are about the difficulties encountered in performing one’s dharma and the difficulties in distinguishing between right and wrong in trying or unusual circumstances.

By performing worship in accordance with sanatana-dharma, Hindus practice certain values. Offering our respects to the deity invokes an innate sense of loving service.

Arjuna on the battlefield, bewildered about performing his duty. Dharma is not to be performed blindly, and there are many problems faced in its proper execution. Arjuna’s situation is a template for problems, and illustrates the importance of knowledge in qualifying sentiment and in redressing inappropriate values (in this case misplaced compassion).

Culture is an important means of transmitting values. Also essential is the role of parents in establishing the suitable domestic ethos and in performing the rites of passage that purify the soul.

A rural setting, considered to be influenced by the of quality of goodness, is considered important in developing the appropriate values and attitudes.

Common Misunderstandings

Hindus don’t eat meat because they believe they may come back as an animal
(See also Common Misunderstandings in Reincarnation and Samsara section).

We should be careful about how we relate the moral practices of others to their concepts, and check that our ideas are backed up by members of that tradition.

For Hindus, moral decisions are determined by dharma
This is largely true, but could wrongly imply a thoughtless pursuit of duty. Hindu texts encourage consideration of time, place and circumstance, and particularly the results of executing dharma. If the consequences contradict the principles underpinning such duty, it should be abandoned. Dharma should not be followed blindly.


“The still small voice within you must always be the final arbiter when there is a conflict of duty.”

Mahatma Gandhi

“Even there is duty, we have to see what will be the effect of that duty. Nothing should be done blindly”

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami