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Most religious traditions have been profoundly ambivalent about economic issues. On the one hand, many religious teachings advocate a division of the spiritual and the material and the religious necessity of becoming removed from worldly life. On the other hand, most religious traditions teach the importance of moral responsibility for social matters. This requires the need for discipline and justice in economic affairs as in other areas of public life.

In the Hindu tradition, these contradictory attitudes are expressed by the differing moral and spiritual requirements for each of the four stages of life. While the last stage of life stresses ascetic withdrawal from the world to seek spiritual perfection, the householder stage of life requires responsible engagement in economic and social activities. The classic Hindu ...

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