I hope not to offend, but I should admit that I don't intend to read the entirety of the Vedas to find whether or not it forbids murder, rape, lying, hypocrisy, etc.

As I am sure you are well aware, other holy texts have a great deal of commandments such as 'do not kill' or 'murder infidels', and I am curious if such exists in the Vedas.

I am working on the history of morality. I am aware of a great deal of good and a great deal of bad within the Vedas, but specific questions are difficult to find where I am from (America).

So, do the Vedas command against murder? If so, what quote or reference may you provide? I'm also interested if it forbids traditionally accepted evils (theft, perjury, hypocrisy).

And, if you'll pardon me to break the rules a bit, I'd like to ask a simpler question: when are the Vedas suspected to have been created (orally, and in the written form)?

  • Read satyarth prakash first then you will be eligible to ask question on vedas. Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 6:23
  • 2
    I'm ineligible to ask questions about a text because I do not understand it? That sounds like a horribly dangerous thought, and you even spent the time to down-vote my curiosity into the religion. That might be the most extremist, fundamentalist, dangerous philosophy I have ever been confronted with on the internet, and I do not mean that hyperbolically. You don't say that I'm an idiot, or something of this sort, but me being an outsider is in itself illegitimacy. You aren't aware of it, but that's precisely how genocides start, my friend.
    – user31078
    Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 6:26
  • 1
    @ManojPilania There is no ineligibility to ask questions. It is a bad comment. Everyone are eligible to ask questions. Does reading a text you like make anyone eligible to ask questions? Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 6:28
  • 1
    There is always eligibility because if you do not know alphabets and asking question how to write poem like poet. Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 6:45
  • @ManojPilania That doesn't apply here. I don't know whether you have read alphabets or recite poems. So, should I not read your questions and answers too? That definition doesn't apply here or Stack Exchange. Here, anyone can ask and anyone can answer. It is the stack Exchange motto. Know that first. SE is different. Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 8:01

2 Answers 2


If by commandments in hinduism, you mean "Code of conduct/ethics" , then please refer: What are the Hindu Code of Conduct (Ethics)?


ref: https://www.himalayanacademy.com/media/books/code-of-conduct_ei/web/ch42.html

The Ten Vedic Restraints= Yama

  1. Ahimsa Nonviolence
  2. Satya Truthfuless
  3. Nonstealing, Asteya
  4. Divine Conduct, Brahmacharya
  5. Patience, Kshama
  6. Steadfastness, Dhriti
  7. Compassion, Daya
  8. Honesty, Arjava
  9. Moderate Appetite, Mitahara
  10. Purity, Saucha

The Ten Vedic Practices =Niyama

  1. Remorse, Hri
  2. Contentment, Santosha
  3. Giving, Dana
  4. Faith, Astikya
  5. Worship, Ishvara-Pujana
  6. Scriptural Listening, Siddhanta Shravana
  7. Cognition, Mati
  8. Sacred Vows, Vrata
  9. Recitation, Japa
  10. Austerity, Tapas

ref: http://hindupedia.com/en/Ethics_of_Hinduism

Ṛgveda It means 5 commandments. Hindus today submit to the Panchavrata or five major vows or commandments:

Ahiṅsa - non-injury
Brahmacharya - non-fornication
Asteya - non-stealing
Satya - non-lying
Aparigraha - non-possessiveness 

The following excerpt from the Ṛgveda sums up the Panchavrata: "Violence, womanizing, drinking liquor, gambling, stealing, falsehood or lying and association with those who commit these sins; one who commits any of these sins is a sinner."

Bhagavad Gitā It has 9 commandments. The lawgiver Kṛṣṇa gave the following precepts:

Amanitva - Absence of pride
Adambhitva - Absence of deceit
Ahiṅsā - Non-injury
Śanti - Patience
Arjava - Uprightness
Acaryopāsāna - Service to the teacher
Sauca - Internal and external purity
Sthairya - Steadfastness
Atmavinigraha - Self-control

Srimad Bhagavatam It has 30 commandments. The Śrimad Bhāgavatamlays down the following customs to be practiced for a good human life.

Bathing twice a day
Discrimination between right and wrong
Control of the mind
Control of the senses
Reading of scripture
Rendering service to saintly persons
Gradually taking leave of unnecessary engagements
Observing the futility of the unnecessary activities of human society
Remaining silent and grave and avoiding unnecessary talk
Considering whether one is the body or the soul
Distributing food equally to all living entities
Seeing every soul as a part of the Supreme Lord
Hearing about the activities and instructions given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead
Chanting about these activities and instructions
Always remembering these activities and instructions
Trying to render service
Performing worship
Offering obeisances
Becoming a servant
Becoming a friend
Surrendering one's whole self

As per Patanjali yoga sutra (canonical text of yoga): Yama (restraints) are: The five yamas listed by Patañjali in Yogasūtra 2.30 are:

Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा): Nonviolence, non-harming other living beings
Satya (सत्य): truthfulness, non-falsehood
Asteya (अस्तेय): non-stealing
Brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य): chastity,marital fidelity or sexual restraint
Aparigraha (अपरिग्रहः): non-avarice, non-possessiveness

ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoga_Sutras_of_Patanjali#1._Yamas

Ten Yamas (restraints) The ten yamas listed by Śāṇḍilya Upanishad, as well as by Svātmārāma are:

Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा): Nonviolence
Satya (सत्य): truthfulness
Asteya (अस्तेय): not stealing
Brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य): chastity, marital fidelity or sexual restraint
Kṣamā (क्षमा): forgiveness
Dhṛti (धृति): fortitude
Dayā (दया): compassion
Ārjava (आर्जव): non-hypocrisy, sincerity
Mitāhāra (मिताहार): measured diet
Śauca (शौच): purity, cleanliness

ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yamas

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niyama (practices)

Śauca (शौच): purity, clearness of mind, speech and body
Santoṣa (सन्तोष): contentment, acceptance of others and of one's circumstances as they are, optimism for self
Tapas (तपस): austerity, self-discipline, persistent meditation, perseverance
Svādhyāya (स्वाध्याय): study of self, self-reflection, introspection of self's thoughts, speeches and actions
Īśvarapraṇidhāna (ईश्वरप्रणिधान): contemplation of the Ishvara (God/Supreme Being, Brahman, True Self, Unchanging Reality), attunement to the supreme consciousness

I will recommend Patanjali Yoga Sutra.

If you mean 10 commandments in sense of 10 "core principles" , then there are 10 commandments of Arya samaj(which is one sect of hinduism)(other sects view may be different).

ref: https://archive.org/stream/TenCommandmentsOfAryaSamaj/Ten%20Commandments%20of%20Arya%20Samaj_djvu.txt


The 10 Principles of Arya Samaj:

God is the original source of all that is known by spritual knowledge and the physical sciences.

God is Existent, conscious, all-beatitude, Formless, Almighty, Just, Merciful, Unbegotten, Infinite, Unchangeable, Beginningless, Incomparable, the support of All, the Lord of All, All-pervading, Omniscient and Controller of All from within, Evermature, Imperishable, Fearless, Eternal, Pure, Creator of the Universe. He alone ought to be worshipped.

The Vedas are the books of all True knowledge. It is the paramount duty of all Aryas to read them, to teach them to others, to listen to them and to recite them to others.

All persons should always be ready to accept truth and renounce untruth.

All acts ought to be performed in conformity to Dharma(righteousness) i.e. after due consideration of truth and untruth.

The primary object of Arya Samaj is to do good to the whole world, i.e. to promote physical, spiritual and social progress of all humans.

Your dealings with all should be regulated by love and due justice, in accordance with the dictates of Dharma(righteousness).

Avidya(illusion and ignorance) be dispelled, and Vidya(realisation and acquisition of knowledge) should be promoted.

None should remain satisfied with his own progress only, but incessantly strive for the social upliftment, realizing his own benefitin the advancement of all others.

All men ought to dedicate themselves necessarily for the social good and the well being of all, subordinating their personal interest, while the individual is free to enjoy the freedom of action for individual being.

Now, From an 'atheist hindu point of view', the Hindu ethics can be seen in Veer Savarkar literature on Hindu ethics, which can be found at http://savarkar.org/en/encyc/2017/5/23/Ethics-truth-nonviolence.html

What is ethics or good attribute?:

…Any thought or deed that is beneficial to human life may be termed ethical or meritorious. Whatever runs contrary to the same may be termed as unethical or harmful…In other words, human life is the touchstone of ethics. (1940, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.3, p.60)

When does truth become untruth?:

Welfare of humanity is the sole litmus test of all good attributes. In other words, that which results in overall human welfare is truth, good attribute and dharma (*righteousness). But that ‘truth’ which punishes the innocent and spares the guilty is no truth, it is untruth or bad attribute. (1947, Majhya aathvani or My reminiscences, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.1, p.247)

Compassion is the highest sentiment:

Of the various noble sentiments that are responsible for the stability, happiness, contentment and glory of the human race, compassion is the foremost. What a mother is to her child, so is compassion to society. (1936, Ksha kirane or X rays, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.3, p.239)

The origin of compassion for all living beings:

Just as compassion for humankind is innate to humans, so too compassion for all living beings springs from a natural feeling of empathy and sympathy. Those whose horizons of compassion have broadened enough to include all animals gave compassion the pride of place as the highest human attribute. Compassion for humankind broadened initially to compassion for select animals and finally in the case of tender-hearted souls to compassion even for the most violent animals such as tigers and lions. (1936, Ksha kirane or X rays, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.3, p.241)

additionally also see:

  • 1
    You should add only one answer. You can edit your answer to add information. See How do I format my posts using html or Markdown and also avoid recommendations and copy paste answers. Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 8:01
  • There are some exceptional situations to every rule. Commandments of christianity like "thou shalt not steal" etc can be inferred to that questioner is asking for Ethics/Code of conduct of hinduism. And Comamndment of christianity like "I am the Lord thy God, thou shall not have any strange gods before me." can be inferred to that questioner is asking for "core principles". In both views, i have given long enough separate answers.Mixing both the views would have confused the answer and the questioner/seeker .
    – zaxebo1
    Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 8:09
  • It doesn't confuse the questioner. The views are not that distinct to confuse the users. There are many answers in the site which have given more than one views in a single answer. The second answer is nothing but the views of Arya Samaj which questioner didn't ask. The question is something else. There is no need of multiple answers in this case too and also consider editing your answers. Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 8:13

Vedas do not have commandments since God does not actively run the universe.

According to Hindu scripture God is just a spectator. God does not actively run the universe. It is primordial Nature, God’s shakti (power) which does everything.

Resorting to Prakrti, Nature, which is My own Power, I send forth again and again this multitude of beings that are without any freedom, owing to Nature's sway over them. Gita 9.8

These activities do not in any way bind Me, because I remain detached like one unconcerned in their midst. Gita 9.9

Under My direction and control, Nature brings out this mighty universe of living and non-living beings. Thus does the wheel of this world revolve. Gita 9.10

God only helps those who sincerely seek God. Others have to live their lives according to their Karma. God only distributes the fruits of Karma.

There is moral and ethical advice but no commandments. I am posting here excerpts from Mahabharata discussion on ethics.

Vidura was a wise man and gave a series of advice to Dhritarashta. I have posted below some excerpts from Vidura's advice and some additional materials.

Vidura on wise men

He that is not deviated from the high ends of life by the aid of self-knowledge, exertion, forbearance and steadiness in virtue, is called wise. These again are the marks of a wise man, viz, adherence to acts, worthy of praise and rejection of what is blameable, faith and reverence. He whom neither anger nor joy, nor pride, nor false modesty, nor stupefaction, nor vanity, can draw away from the high ends of life, is considered as wise. He whose intended acts, and proposed counsels remain concealed from foes, and whose acts become known only after they have been done, is considered as wise. He whose proposed actions are never obstructed by heat or cold, fear of attachment, prosperity or adversity, is considered as wise. He whose judgment dissociated from desire, followeth both virtue and profit, and who disregarding pleasure chooseth such ends as are serviceable in both worlds, is considered wise. They that exert to the best of their might and act also to the best of their might, and disregard nothing so insignificant, are called wise. He that understandeth quickly, listeneth patiently, pursueth his objects with judgment and not from desire and spendeth not his breath on the affairs of others without being asked, is said to possess the foremost mark of wisdom. They that do not strive for objects that are unattainable, that do not grieve for what is lost and gone, that do not suffer their minds to be clouded amid calamities, are regarded to possess intellects endued with wisdom.

[Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva, Section 33]

Vidura on forgiveness

There is one only defect in forgiving persons, and not another; that defect is that people take a forgiving person to be weak. That defect , however, should not be taken into consideration, for forgiveness is a great power. Forgiveness is a virtue of the weak, and an ornament of the strong. Forgiveness subdueth (all) in this world; what is there that forgiveness cannot achieve? What can a wicked person do unto him who carrieth the sabre of forgiveness in his hand? Fire falling on a grassless ground is extinguished of itself. And unforgiving individual defileth himself with many enormities. Righteousness is the one highest good; and forgiveness is the one supreme peace; knowledge is one supreme contentment; and benevolence, one sole happiness. [Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva, Section 33]

Vidura on Gates of hell

Great fear springeth from these three crimes, viz, theft of other’s property, outrage on other’s wives, and breach with friends. These three, besides, being destructive of one’s self, are the gates of hell, viz, lust, anger, and covetousness. Therefore, every one should renounce them. [Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva, Section 33]

Vidura’s advice on how to act

Do not, O Bharata, set the heart upon means of success that are unjust and improper. A man of intelligence must not grieve if any purpose of his doth not succeed, notwithstanding the application of fair and proper means. Before one engageth in an act one should consider the competence of the agent, the nature of the act itself, and its purpose, for all acts are dependent on these. Considering these one should begin an act, and not take it up on a sudden impulse. He that is wise should either do an act or desists from it fully considering his own ability, the nature of the act, and the consequence also of success. [Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva, Section 34]

Vidura on the importance of controlling the senses

One’s body, O king, is one’s car; the Atman inside the driver; and the senses are its steeds. Drawn by those excellent steeds, when well-trained, he that is wise, pleasantly performeth the journey of life, and awake in peace. The horses that are unbroken and incapable of being controlled, always lead an unskillful driver to destruction in the course of the journey; so one’s senses unsubdued, lead only to destruction…….He to whom the gods ordain defeat, hath his senses taken away, and it is for this that he stoppeth to ignoble deeds. [Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva, Section 34]

Vidura on the means to know one self

One should seek to know one’s self by means of one’s own self, controlling one’s mind, intellect, and senses, for one’s self is one’s friend as, indeed, it is one’s own foe. That man who hath conquered self by means of self, hath his self for a friend, for one’s self is ever one’s friend or foe. [Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva, Section 34]

Vidura on the importance of controlling one’s speech

To control speech, O king, is said to be most difficult. It is not easy to hold a long conversation uttering words full of meaning and delightful to hearers. Well-spoken speech is productive of many beneficial results; and ill-spoken speech, O king, is the cause of evils. A forest pierced by arrows, or cut down by hatchets may again grow, but one’s heart wounded and censured by ill-spoken words never recovereth. Weapons, such as arrows, bullets, and bearded darts, can be easily extracted from the body, but a wordy dagger plunged deep into the heart is incapable of being taken out. Wordy arrows are shot from the mouth; smitten by them one grieveth day or night. A learned man should not discharge such arrows, for they do not touch the very vitals of others. [Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva, Section 34]

Vidura on Kindness

Ablution in all the holy places and kindness to all creatures – these two are equal. Perhaps, kindness to all creatures surpasseth the former. [Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva, Section 35]

Vidura on how to treat others

That which is antagonistic to one’s own self, should never be applied in respect of another. [Mahabharat, Udyoga Parva, Section 39]

I am now posting one of Bhishma’s moral precept.

Bhishma’s morality

Bhishma said, ‘Knowing how painful it is to himself, a person should never do that to others which he dislikes when done to him by others.’

Mahabharata Santi Parva Section CCLX

Here are some additional quotes.

Protest against slavery

Tuladhara said, ‘…Men are seen to own men as slaves, and by beating, by binding, and by otherwise subjecting them to restraints, cause them to labour day and night. These people are not ignorant of pain that results from beating and fastening in chains. In every creature that is endued with the five senses live all the deities, Surya, Chandramas, the god of wind, Brahman, Prana, Kratu, and Yama (these dwell in living creatures). There are men that live by trafficking in living creatures!

Mahabharata Santi Parva Section CCLXII

Treatment of servants

Bhishma said, ‘…One should not make distinction between one’s guests and attendants and kinsmen in matters of food. Equality (in this respect) with servants is applauded.’

Mahabharata Santi Parva Section CXCIII

Condemnation of dowry

A wife should never be purchased. Nor should a father sell his daughter. Only those persons of sinful soul who are possessed, besides, by cupidity, and who sell and purchase female slaves for making serving women, regard the status of wife as capable of arising from the gift and acceptance of a dowry.

Mahabharata Anusasana Parva Section XLIV

Condemnation of Weapons trade

They who sell weapons, they who forge weapons, they who make shafts, and they who make bows, have to sink in hell.

Mahabharata Anusasana Parva Section XXIII

Against Usury

Bhishma said, ‘They who betake themselves to improper conduct, they who take exorbitant rates of interest, and they who make unduly large profits on sales, have to sink in hell.’

Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva, Section XXIII

Highest Morality

Tuladhara said, ‘O Jajali, I know morality, which is eternal, with all its mysteries. It is nothing else than that ancient morality which is known to all, and which consists of universal friendliness, and is fraught with beneficence to all creatures. That mode of living which is founded upon a total harmlessness towards all creatures or (in case of actual necessity) upon a minimum of such harm, is the highest morality.’

(Mahabharata Santi Parva Section CCLXII

Need to feel for the afflicted

I abide in all beings as their inner-most soul. Disregarding My presence within them, men make a show of worshiping Me through images. If one disregards Me present in all as their soul and Lord but ignorantly offers worship only to images, such worship is as ineffective as a sacrificial offering made in ashes. A man who persecutes Me residing in others, who is proud and haughty, who looks upon God as the other – such a person will never attain to peace of mind. If a man disregards and persecutes fellow beings, but worships Me in images with numerous rituals and rich offerings, I am not at all pleased with him for proffering such worship. A man should, however, worship Me in images, side by side with discharging his duties, which include the love of all beings, until he actually realises My presence in himself and in all beings. As long as man is self-centred and makes an absolute distinction between himself and others (without recognizing the unity of all in Me, the Inner Pervader), he will be subject to the great fear of Death (including every form of deprivation of self-interest). So overcoming the separateness of a self-centred life, one should serve all beings with gifts, honour and love, recognising that such service is really being rendered to Me who reside in all beings as their innermost soul.

Srimad Bhagavata Purana III.29.21-27

Moral guidelines for the Righteous

Yudhishthira said, ‘Abstentions from injury, the observances of the Vedic ritual, meditation, subjugation of the senses, penances, and obedient services rendered to the preceptors - which amongst these is fraught with the greatest merit with respect to a person?’

Vrihaspati said, ‘All these six are fraught with merit. They are different doors of piety. I shall discourse upon them presently. Do thou listen to them, O chief of the Bharatas! I shall tell thee what constitutes the highest good of a human being. That man who practices the religion of universal compassion achieves his highest good. That man who keeps under control the three faults, viz., lust, wrath, and cupidity, ,,, (and practises the virtue of compassion), attains to success. ……. That man who regards all creatures as his own self, and behaves towards them as towards his own self, laying aside the rod of chastisement and completely subjugating his wrath, succeeds in attaining to happiness. ….One should never do that to another, which one regards as injurious to one’s own self. This, in brief, is the rule of righteousness.

Mahabharata Anusasana Parva Section CXIII

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