The Prominence of Virtue
Virtue is defined variously as a quality that bestows moral excellence or behaviour that is desirable or deemed as good in a person. Right from our childhood, we are taught the importance of leading a virtuous life. Virtues encompass a wide range of good qualities, like kindness, humility and patience, which form the basis for model behaviour.
Children are taught the efficiency of leading a virtuous life by narrating moral stories , culled from our rich mythological history. The Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Bhagvad Gita are the epics that are an abundant treasure trove of stories that teach moral values. The Panchatantra and the Jataka Tales offer illuminating stories that impart moral education to children in an interesting manner. The importance of virtues can not only be found in the tenets of Hinduism but also in other major religions like Christianity, Islam and Buddhism.
In our culture, there are many tales that we hear which subtly introduce the values of goodness and morality. Lord Rama is considered an ideal example of a virtuous king. Raja Harishchandra is synonymous with truthfulness, and Shravan Kumar is cited often to reinforce the importance of respecting our parents and elders. Even the Quaran and the Bible urge followers to practice the virtues of love, faith, kindness and charity among others in their daily lives. Buddhism too teaches the principles of compassion, friendship, altruism and equanimity.
It is often easier to succumb to vices like lying, dishonesty, cheating and violence. But the prominence of virtue lies in the immense benefit it imparts to the person’s mind and soul. Iconic figures like Mahatma Gandhi also show us the far reaching effects of leading a morally upright life. The Mahatma faced several struggles yet he triumphed in the end, earning the title of ‘the Father of the Nation’. Any quality or characteristic that not only imparts goodness in a person but also benefits his fellow human beings is a virtue that is essential for human life.
In a world that is increasingly getting trapped in a web of vices, the prominence and importance of virtues can never be underestimated.