Virtues in Sikhi | Conclusion
We have presented the various aspects of the virtues of wisdom, truthfulness, justice, temperance, courage, humility and contentment.
It may be asked whether any hierarchy of these virtues has been attempted in Sikhism:
The answer is in the negative. One does find isolated references to certain virtues or certain groups of virtues but any systematic gradation is not indicated by the Gurus.
The absence of such an attempt could have been inspired by the feeling that such gradation is not necessary. It could also be due to the general methodology used in the Sikh literature where no special or detailed examination is undertaken in respect of virtues.
Virtues thus are treated in a general way and, in spite of the great importance attached to them, no ascending or descending hierarchies are attempted.
We may, therefore, conclude that all these virtues are cardinal and define, in general, the behaviour of the person as it ought to be.
We may refer here to the treatment of virtues as found in Hindu Schools of Philosophy:
We find these virtues included in the sādhāraṇa dharma list. The Sādhāraṇa dharma is the list of generic duties which is to be followed by the members of all Varṇas (castes).
We may, however, mention that in Hinduism courage and justice are regarded to be the Viśeṣa dharma, that is, they are the exclusive duties of a certain caste, namely Kṣatriya (the warrior caste). The recourse to arms was the duty of this caste.
But in Sikhism all the virtues, including courage and justice, are moral characteristics to be cultivated by all. This is due to the rejection by Sikhism of the Hindu caste system along with the division of the virtues in terms of castes.
We have not taken up the love of fellow men, which is to be expressed in terms of altruism, and is a whole separate subject.
However, before passing on we may add here that while men are advised to cultivate virtues for realizing the state of Sachiāra, they are cautioned against the danger of becoming proud of their virtues:
The attitude of a person on this ethico-spiritual path ought to be one in which the person's ego is not permitted to puff itself up or glow with the idea that it possesses these virtues while others do not have them:
One may cultivate all the virtues but, like the Guru, should claim, "I am virtue-less."