Animals also have rights, which is the duty of a civilised society to defend.
Posted on August 12th, 2009

By Charles.S.Perera

 After elimination of terrorism the Government wants to go to war against the underworld.  But the paradox of it is that around the President basking in his glory are a set unsavoury elements who pays no attention to even the President. They also happen to be the elected representatives of the people, who despite that pays no respect to the voice of the people who had elected them to office.  

 Therefore, before taking action to wipe out the underworld the President should first put his house in order  by at least admonishing  those around him to act with more dignity and decorum. 

 It was on the 25 July,2009 that two elephant suklings were wrenched away from their mother  to be handed over to  the Diyawadane Nilame of the Dalandamaligawa.  When the people of Sri Lanka who were  shocked to hear of this most inhuman act came out with all their force to denounce the offence, the Mahanayake Theros came forward to  defend the offenders who committed the heinous act.  

 According to the teachings of the Buddha all  humans and animals are put into one category as “ beings”   Sabbe satta Bhavantu sukhitatta.  Therefore   loving kindness and compassion are extended to all beings without discrimination, which include the Pinnawala elephants.

 The Christians do not believe that animals have souls, but the Buddhists who do not believe in a soul , are taught that the working of Kamma is such that a human being after death may even be born as an animal- an elephant for instance.

Even the West despite the Christian belief that animals have no soul,  has  accepted  animals also have rights equal to those of human beings. “Animal rights, also referred to as animal liberation, is the idea that the most basic interests of animals should be afforded the same consideration as the similar interests of human beings. Advocates approach the issue from different philosophical positions but agree that animals should be viewed as legal persons and members of the moral community, not property, and that they should not be used as food, clothing, research subjects, or entertainment.”

This modern concept of “animal rights” is not new to Sri Lanka?  We had our ancient Kings who had shown their kindness to animals. The  Great Kind Buddhadasa was very kind and human. He himself  healed  not only human beings but also animals.  He is said to have built hospitals to take care of animals.  In a country where we had such beings how can we  explain  the situation now.

Normally a democratically elected  representative of the people , a Minister of the President Mahinda Rajapakse’s Cabinet should have  respected the  demand of the people to return the two baby sucklings  forcefully removed by the Minister to its mother elephant.  But  the stubborn Minster  swollen with the power he wields as  a Cabinet Minster , has  neither the human  kindness nor the dignity to accede to the demand of the people and correct his unpardonable, act by returning the two elephant suklings to Pinnawala.

 It is in this un-Buddhist, inhuman situation that the President Mahinda Rajapakse turning a deaf ear to the anguished call of the people presented the two baby elephants by a sannasa to the Mahanayake Theros. We respectfully question the propriety of the President Mahinda Rajapakse’s act in offering “children” of another to the Maha Sangha.

 If it were to accumulate kusala kamma, emulating  the good King Vessantara, it has to be reminded to the President that King Vessantara did not offer some one else’s “children” as an act of paramita- perfection for Buddha hood, but he offered his own children Jaliya and Krishanajina to   Jujaka. 

 Looking back now even that generous offer of King Vessantara  the Bodhisatta was wrong, because he had not the right to offer his children without the consent of their mother Maithree Devi who finding that her children had been given away in her absence went wailing and lamenting in search of  Jaliya and Krishnajina..

 Therefore , it seems appropriate  to ask what right had the President Mahinda Rajapakse to offer the two innocent elephant suklings still depending on their mother , to the Mahanayakas Theros ?

 Ofcourse in defence of the President one could argued that the President  having offered the  two elephant sucklings symbolically by handing over a sannasa,to each of the Maha Nayakas, had  ordered that the  two baby elephants be returned  to   their mother elephant until they are of age to be removed to the  ethgala of Mahanayake Theros.

 Even the Buddha did that mistake of taking a child away from a mother without asking her permission.  When Mahamaya Devi sent  Prince Rahula  to the Buddha asking  him to claim his inheritance, the Buddha let Rahuala follow him, and on  arriving at the Monastery he asked Venerable Sariputta to ordain Rahula as a samanera.

 The King Suddhodana saddened on hearing of this, came to the Buddha and   requested him  not to ordain a minor without the permission of the parents or the guardian.  The Buddha agreed and made a Vinaya rule  to that effect.  The Mahanayake Theros had perhaps forgotten that Vinaya precept, which could  rightly be applied to taking away an unweaned baby suckling from its mother to be kept with them.

 It is well over three weeks and the elephants sucklings  have not been returned to  Pinnawala, and the recalcitrant Minster Lokuge adding insult to injury has said he has no intention of returning the baby elephants to its mother but will bring the mother to the baby elephants. What a crass attitude ?  And this is despite the President’s order that the baby elephants be sent to Pinnawala.

 The  people undoubtedly has a right to question whether the Minister Gamini Lokuge has the power to overrule a decision of the President ?

 If it was Kusala Kamma that the President was seeking with the offer,  it is best that the President be reminded  that he had offered ” two children” snatched away from a wailing mother in Pinnawela  whose animal right has not been  redressed as yet, and thereby he has not accumulated any kusala kamma by the offer of the animal to the aging Mahanayake theros, but he has accumulated instead a Maha Papakamma  which he will share along with all those who  had a hand committing the offence of taking away the  baby elephants from their mother in Pinnawala.

 May the better judgement prevail.


One Response to “Animals also have rights, which is the duty of a civilised society to defend.”

  1. dharmasiri Says:

    Thank you for this Charles. As president already commited maha papakamma, the two monks commited even greater maha papakamma. What I do not undestand is why they could not wait for another few years if the really wanted the two bay tuskers.
    Before preaching wedi bana to people these people should learn Buddhism properly.

    We have already learned that some shocking news reach president and this shows president is a good man. This is because normally for bad people kammaa vipaka will not come that fast.

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