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ImageVedanta says earn and acquire as much wealth by honest means as you can but also upgrade yourself as a human being – that is, as 'the one who can see self in other'.

It means cultivating pleasing manners. The least you can do is not to offend and hurt others with your behaviour. To become a better and responsible person with good civic sense, to embrace virtues like honesty, truthfulness, patience, consideration for fellow human beings and compassion for those who are not as privileged as you are. However, material prosperity tends to erode character, values and behaviour in some and this is something that we need to guard against.

For example, some of us are so proud of our children – who are not even eligible for a driving licence – when they drive cars in by-lanes at high speed. We don't mind telling lies for petty gains. Arrogance and ego grow along with growth in income. Patience in one is seen as a sign of weakness, you are called a "loser". You are seen as an achiever, as one who gets things done if you can jump the queue as others wait patiently their turn. The more we earn and the more things we acquire, the greedier we become.

Another distinguishing feature of our prosperity is – as we acquire wealth we start looking down on the less privileged. Suddenly we feel we're different – and so create a separation. We change our manner and demeanour according to who we address – a VIP or someone who is less known. Test of our behaviour is not how we treat VIPs or those who matter to us but how we treat the people who are less fortunate than us.

One's behaviour and conduct in society is not only about how we relate to each other but also in the way we treat public places and facilities. The Delhi Metro train service is a case in point. Within five years it has grown so much in popularity that it is almost always full of commuters. However, if it were not mandatory for Metro doors to remain closed, chances are that people would think nothing of hanging out, risking their lives and others'.

Etiquette and pleasant manners need not be restricted to the home, office or among peers and friends – it needs to be evident in public places as well. Pushing and shoving each other to catch a train or bus does not behove those who otherwise project themselves as educated or evolved people. Senior citizens and others who might be physically challenged need to be given preference in seating and so on. With material progress and technological advance, we need to also take care to nurture comparable upward evolution of our own selves.

To come back to Vedantic culture and tradition, a truly evolved human being would be perceived as one who would be sensitive to the needs of others and not only his own. This is the reason perhaps why all Vedic rituals and prayers are directed not at the welfare of any one individual but are meant for the common benefit of all. Hence, the tradition promotes the concept that all life is one family – vasudaiva kutumbakam.

Good manners and a compassionate outlook are marks of one who is on the path of onward evolution, striving to reach higher planes of consciousness. Good ethical practices and mindful living are not the preserve of the renunciate – they are equally important for those who choose to live in the world and yet perhaps strive to rise above it.

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