Abhyudaya (अभ्युदयः)

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Abhyudaya (Samskrit: अभ्युदयः) refers to socio economic welfare of an individual or a social group.

Explanation of Term

Adi Shankaracharya in his commentary on Bhagavad Gita mentions:

dvividho hi vedokto dharmah; pravíttilaksano nivritti-laksanah ca.

jagatah sthiti karanam praninam abhyudaya nishryasa hetuh

Translation: The dharma (धर्मः) taught in Vedas is of a two-fold nature, characterized by pravrtti (प्रवृत्ति), which is outward action and nivrtti (निवृत्ति), which is inward contemplation. Dharma (धर्मः) brings about even stability of the world, which is meant to ensure abhyudaya (अभ्युदयः), socio economic welfare and nihshreyasa (नि:श्रेयस), adhyatmik freedom of all being.

Therefore Shankara emphasises on Praninam saksat abhyudaya-nihsreyasa-hetuh - a philosophy of life which integrates social welfare and adhyatmik freedom through action and meditation[1].

Udaya (उदयः) after abhi means welfare. abhi (अभि) means together, not alone. It is an important prefix added to this particular expression and it adds an important dimension. It means that no socio-economic development can come without cooperative endeavour. There is a need for coordination and team-spirit to create a healthy society. If everyone fights against each other, then there will be no prosperity. Social peace is absolutely essential, cooperation is essential, teamwork is essential; all that is emphasized by that one word abhi[1].

Swami Ranganathananda's Explanation of Abhyudaya

Swami Rangnathananda says: 'We have to learn how to deal with our neighbours in our villages; let us make peace with them and we shall together improve our villages. Improvement of sanitation, good roads, better housing, and all people properly fed and educated—all these we can achieve only by working together. We have been most interested in relating ourselves to a far away God, or to an image of God in a temple, than to the man in our neighbourhood, with whom we more often pick up a quarrel. This has to change, and that change is what will bring about abhyudaya'.

Swamiji further says: 'West has achieved this dimension of Abhyudaya to a large extent; and we can learn from them how to work it out in our country. Many societies have achieved abhyudaya today; and we also can achieve it in India'[1].

For Abhyudaya, we have to bring in three values into our life and work: hard work, efficient work, and co-operative work[1]. Adi Shankara says that this Vedic philosophy with its twofold ideology of pravrtti (प्रवृत्ति), and nivrtti (निवृत्ति), makes for the abhyudaya (अभ्युदयः) of men and women on the one side, and nihshreyasa (नि:श्रेयसम्), on the other[1]. This is a better definition of welfare state and there is nothing utopian about it[1].


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Swami, Ranganathananda, Universal Message of Bhagavad Gita: An exposition of the Gita in the Light of Modern Thought and Modern Needs. Volume 1