Any human being in the society is called to live and lead a moral life. To lead a moral life, he needs certain guidelines and principles of morality to do certain
deeds and to abstain from certain deeds.
What is the primary source of morality in India?
The answer could be the authority of the Scriptures especially that of the Vedas, after the Vedas, the authority of the Smrtis is accepted. So Vedas (Srutis) and the Smrtis (Dharmasastras of Manu) taken together, have been regarded as the source of morality. Of these two (Vedas and Smrtis), the Vedas
are regarded as superior. In the event of a conflict between the two, the verdict of the Vedas prevails.
Besides Srutis, Smrtis and practices of good people, conscience and reason also play a role in the matters of morality. The inner conscience also is the source and test of morality. This means that even the desire arising out of right will or determination may serve as a source or guide to morality. Right will is to be identified and decided. In recent times, especially; in the thoughts of Gandhi, and Aurobindo, conscience has been accorded a very important place as giving the final verdict regarding questions of morality and immorality.
The very concept of Indian morality is both authority based and social reasoning. Both in Buddhism and Jainism reason has been given a prestigious place. In
Jainism right faith is given the first place among the three jewels. One is advised to use his reason in ascertaining the validity and worth of the precepts before following them. In Buddhism too the use of personal reason is neither disallowed nor despised. The four noble truths are to be followed but even then Buddha says wherever there is disagreement, questions can be asked for removing doubts.
In modern Hindu thought, reason is given better place, especially in the ideas of Vivekananda and Gandhi. For them reason is not the source of moral ideas, but yet they believe in the role of reason in the matters of morality.
Hence, the primary role is given to Vedas and Smrtis as the fundamental source of morality in Indian tradition, but besides them, all the above mentioned sources also played their roles in deciding the question of morality and immorality in Indian tradition.