Thursday, December 17, 2009

Human Rights Day

Human rights is the concept that a person is entitled to be treated in certain ways and to have certain things simply because they are human. The most basic human rights are the right to life, freedom of worship, freedom of speech, freedom of thought and the right to be treated equally before the law. The concept of human rights developed in Europe from the 18th century onwards and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations in 1948. The concept of human rights grew out of three ideas; (1) that human laws and institutions are man-made not God-made and thus can be changed, (2) that all humans are equal and (3) that all humans possess a quality called dignity. The first of these ideas is explicitly mentioned in the Agganna Sutta where the Buddha argued against the idea that the prevailing social system was divinely ordained (D.III,92). It is also mentioned in the Jataka where it is stated that people are justified in overthrowing unjust or cruel kings. The second of these ideas is explicitly mentioned in the Vasettha Sutta where the Buddha argues against the caste system and says that `the differences between humans are insignificant' (Sn.594-611). The third idea is not explicitly stated by the Buddha but is implicit in his teachings of the preciousness of life, that all beings are worthy of love and the idea that all have within them the ability to attain enlightenment.
Despite this, Buddhist civilisations never developed the concept of human rights, probably because from an early period they adopted Hindu political theory in which the king is considered divine. Until recently Sri Lanka had a fairly good human rights recourd although it has declined abmisably in the last 20 years. Now that the civil war is over it can only be hoped that it begins to improve. The standard of human rights in most other traditional Buddhist countries - Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Mongolia, Bhutan – range from poor to appaling.


Buddha said...

Dear Bhante..
you have mentioned that until recently Srilanka had a good Human Rights Record?

If they had then how did Organisations such LTTE came into existence.

The Tamils from India who went to Work in the Rubber Plantaions in Sri lanka were Illtreated to a Great Extent.
They Protested , unfortunately LTTE which i do not like , killed all the Tamil Leaders who Resisted in a Gandhian way.
Just becuse the LTTE was cruel does not mean that the Srilanka had a good human Rights

පොඩ්ඩා said...

to the above commenter

first of all calling your self buddha is an insult to buddha, i am asking you to change it

and then you got your fact really confused. tamils from india were brought by british for tea plantations because up country sri lankans considered working for british is not something to be proud of. rubber grows low country and people from low country didnt have that peoblem.

ethnic conflict happend with tamils from north and east. they are sri lankan tamils who had roots back to couple of hundred years. indian -tamils didnt have a problem. why only tamils from north and east is an interesting questions.

and why it happend is something cannot explain with a comment and its a big area of research. i know it because i lived in sri lanka for 25 years.

while i accept the human right concerns about sri lanka, it was nicely put in to media. thats what they do right ?

who wanna read about how sri lankan army helped people ? on the other hand the news that army killed childrens, and bombed schools are hot news.

i am not saying all reports are false. but as my boy friend said to me about the whole situation. i believe half of what i see and none of what i hear.

Soe am i said...

now now, we can't stop others from choosing a name they like.

It may be because one feels inspired by the Buddha or wants to aspire to overcome attachments to names and see their true value as only conventions for identifying things in the world just like the Buddha.

Or possibly aspire to follow the Buddha's example to have patience to share only what is beneficial with others.]

Compassion said...

Thank you - and "Soe am i" - for the reference to the Agganna Sutta. It's ironic that we meet so many words on the way to the Wordless.

aah-haa said...

Human Wrongs far exceeded Human Rights. The concept of human rights is practically alien to Asian nations as they were for a long time ruled by force, absolute power, cronyism, nepotism, warlords, militia (junta) and colonialists. I was shocked to hear a Buddhist said that student protests in Myanmar were pure idealism, useless and trouble-making. In the same breath, I heard Buddhists should practised compassion by forgiving the atrocious acts of the junta, never mind the trampling on human dignity, hate not the soldiers and wait for change by way of impermanence.
Small wonders that countries with predominant Buddhists are still mire in the 8th century.
Even if there was a modicum of respecting human rights, it was just cupboard democracy, wafer thin justice, more show than sincerity.

aah-haa said...

Oops ... cupboard democracy should be cardboard democracy. Either way, readers may interpret it as they like.

Buddha said...

Dear Sayaru,

We belive that all sentinent Beings to have the Potential to become a Buddha one day so its just a matter of time and effort..So i do not see anything wrong in a name.
I Consider the Buddha as a Foremost Scientist who experimented successfuly with Mind and Matter Phenomena,Social Reformer and at times as a god too, Its common to keep a Gods name as a person name in our country,you see Its much Inspiring.

Though i have not visited Srilanka to observe the ground reality, I have been a follower of Neutral Magazine's Like Tuglaq for the past many years.(Editor :Cho Ramaswamy) who do agree that the human rights in srilanka has been a Question mark due to which the whole ethinic conflict has arisen.

I have also been in touch with my friend who owns a Business which has Some customers in Srilanka who have also felt the same.

If you feel i am ignorant of the ground reality please mail me the reality,especially what you have mentioned as "intresting question" i can be reached at

Lots of Metta

P.S: Dear Bhante , sorry for the long reply in ur blog comments i just felt that i needed to reply to his comment.
I am not mature enough to Observe all the Reaction Samkhara as it rises and passes away :-)

පොඩ්ඩා said...

to above commenter,

let me apologize first for your name issue. i didn't think of it in a cultural aspect. my bad. i carelessly forgot it. if it allows to do in your culture you definitely can. sorry again.

i never said there were never human right concerns. i corrected you that it was sri lankan tamils, not indian tamils. i cant comment on the magazine you mentioned because i don't know it. couldn't even find anything on internet. however it was power hunger of both sinhala and tamil politicians that started the conflict than the human right issues. dont believe what i say. have an open mind. listen to the story from sinhala's side as well.