This is the ultimate good. This is the aim of all the activities of man. Those acts which assist in its attainment are right while those which hinder it are wrong and detestable.
But the question which arises here is whether the end justifies the means. What is the place occupied by the purity of the means in human conduct? It is said that St. Crispin used to §teal leather brought to him by the rich and make shoes for the poor.
Was his act correct? The rich people exploit the poor on the one hand and build temples and give alms on the other hand. How far is their conduct ethical?
According to Marx, the end justifies the means. End and the means are both the same. In acting the actor should keep ail eye on the end. All’s well that ends well. For the fulfillment of a socialistic aim, any means can be used.
The best means is the one which affords the earliest achievement of the end. Peaceful means are.
Undoubtedly better than the revolutionary methods but history shows that they have always failed. The propriety or otherwise of a means depends upon its end or result. The revolution of workers will end capitalism and establish a classless society.
Thus it is reflecting but this does not mean that war is good. Means is good only if the end is good the good means. Is will become bad if the end is bad thus according to Marx the question whether the end justifies the means, wrong history will judge the right means for the situation hi question. If it needs a revolution to establish a communist society, it is perfectly justified.
The Opinion of Gandhiji:
The principle of Gandhi and Sri Aurobindo is contrary to this. Means justify the end. In the ‘Hind Swaraj’, Gandhiji writes, that means is the seed and end the tree; thus the relation between means and end is the same as that between a tree and its seed.
By following the devil I cannot reap the fruit of prayer to God. Therefore to say that “we are praying to God even if the devil be the means is to be ignorant. As we sow so do we reap?’ At another place Gandhiji has distinctly said that “as the means, so the end.” The ultimate end is undetermined.
It cannot be imagined with clarity. Then chain of means and ends never comes to an end. The end of one means is the means to some other end. We cannot know the final end. We have in our hands only the means and thus a good means is of primary importance for a good end.
In the words of Sri Aurobindo, Our means must be as great as our ends and the strength to discover it and use the means so as to attain the end can only be found by seeking the eternal source of strength in ourselves.
Both Opinions are Partial:
In fact, the opinions of both Marx and Gandhiji are partial. The means end relation is so complex that it cannot be resolved by any simple law. If the end justifies the means then there is no difference between dacoit Man Singh and Saint Vinoba because both took from the rich to distribute to the poor.
On the other hand it also cannot lie asserted that violent means are never to be used. In the Mahabharata, Lord Krishna himself told Yudhisthira to tell a lie in order to facilitate the extermination of Dronacharya. A doctor has to use. Painful means to cure a patient Even the most successful parent has to scold his child sometimes. The entire ethics of Gita advocates the propriety of right war.
Analysis of Total Situation is Necessary:
Actually, the most appropriate means in some particular situation can be known only after a complete, analysis of the total situation. Gandhiji himself had to resort to bad means in order to break the salt law. On this subject Gandhiji propounded the principle that if the same man is to suffer the good or bad consequences of some activity and the good consequences outnumber the bad, that activity is good for the individual.
For example, if one leg of a patient is completely spoilt and causes him unendurable pain, it is better to cut it off even though this removal will also give him terrible pain. Here the imputing of the leg is right because it ends the pain of the entire body.
In the example of Gandhiji’s breaking of the salt law, the law was in India and its violation meant pain to Indians but its violation was a step towards independence and in this way there was more good than evil in it.