A Compassionate Constitution for Sri Lanka based on Dasa Rajadhamma – some comments
Posted on April 18th, 2015

By Mario Perera, Kadawata

The core recommendations of Mr.Weeraratne were already laid down by King Devanam Piyatissa who stated that this land belongs to all living creatures, be they birds, fish, or the jungle denizens. This statement is furthermore carved out in rock. The king also stated that he was the TRUSTEE of the land. He did not beat his breast crying out MAGEY, MAGEY, MAGEY. The trustee of a property is NOT its owner. The owners are all the living sentient beings that inhabit that land. The land is entrusted to the Trustee to read, spell out and accomplish the wishes of the owners. Our present rulers have drifted far away from that ancient wisdom, a wisdom which surely is not somebody else’s grandfathers.”

The foundation and the soul of this country is its Buddhist heritage. It is not a museum piece but a reality interwoven with the history and destiny of the country. The problem I confront has certainly nothing to do with the enshrining in the constitution of the protection of the Buddha Sasana, its preservation and fostering.  It has to do rather with the Dasa Raja dharma. What is it precisely? This question must be answered before it is judged as deemed fit in governance. How is it different from the core of Buddhist teaching? If it is the same, then it is redundant: if redundant then superfluous.

The Lord Buddha’s teaching is an all encompassing philosophy, moral and religious. It is all encompassing in that it leaves out nothing with regard to the way, the truth and the life of man both as an individual and with regard to his social commitments. Then what lacuna can the Dasa Raja Dharma fill? Further the article states that the Dasa Raja Dharma is also enshrined in the Indian constitution. The religion of India is Hinduism. Now this same Dasa Raja dharma is proposed also as the base for the Sri Lanka constitution in spite of Sri Lanka being Buddhist. If it is equally applicable to a Hindu as well as to a Buddhist country, then it contains nothing specific for us.

It would certainly be an aberration to, to turn (our) back on the wisdom of our ancestors on questions of governance and instead turn to the wisdom of somebody else’s grandfathers wholesale for new directions.” This statement however raises inevitable questions. The wisdom of our ancestors on questions of governance are as valid today as they then were. The problem then is not that wisdom but its application especially given the continuous radical changes in progress in our society affecting both its moral and physical environment?

Yet again ancient wisdom in spite of its modern relevance would be ineffective if the legal systems have undergone radical changes with time. Anyone who has studied law in this country would know the very little place accorded to our ancient legal systems. They have long disappeared leaving only skeletons in the cupboards. All that a law student is taught is indeed the wisdom of somebody else’s grandfathers”, and the machinery to implement that particular wisdom. The machinery adapted to that ancient legal system was geared to give full weight to that ancient wisdom. In contrast today’s legal systems, while paying lip service to that ancient wisdom is overburdened with other considerations that undermine the ancient wisdom. If this country is to give full weight to that ancient wisdom them the present legal system has to be overhauled completely and a new one put in its place. Not only that, but also the physical, social and moral environment would have to be overhauled and replaced as well. Not only can new wine not be put in old wine skins but old wine too would not be compatible with new wine skins.

This consideration is applicable also to the traditional religion. That it is has to be enshrined, safeguarded, fostered and promoted is a categorical imperative. But as long as it remains as old wine in old wine skins it will remain ineffective in the modern context. How else can one explain the rampant and snow balling criminality and unprecedented corruption in a country such as ours that is founded, grounded with a wholesale commitment to the Buddhist doctrine, framed in by monastic orders, temples and rites and ceremonies galore. How can one explain our servile acceptance of the wisdom of somebody else’s grandfathers” which holds us down as a subjugated nation? All this simply means is that our traditional perennial religion is not taught and inculcated in a manner that it motivates us as a nation to vie for economic prosperity and material wealth. Our religion continues to bombard us with the message that greed and desire are to be shunned, while at the same time condoning the dispatching of our women to Arab countries to become the objects of their greed, desire and lust. These women as all know and accept, are the backbone of our economy. While preaching that tanha begets suffering, we expose the most fragile element of our society, our women, to the violent tanha of Arabs to draw in the financial benefits of the suffering imposed on them. This is disgusting hypocrisy. How can this hypocrisy have any truck with our ancient wisdom? We export our women totally against our ancient wisdom, complying with a wisdom which is somebody else’s grandfathers.”

The constitution must do honour to our perennial religion and so it will be. But society does not honour it by abiding within its precepts? Herein lies the contradiction. We are more concerned by the formalities while the realities remain untouched. Nothing heralds any change in this situation which puts the religion enshrined in the constitution to derision as being sterile. Yet how gladly we harp on our ancient history and our incomparable religion?

Now coming to the comments of Stephen B Young with reference to the Thai constitution. It is well known that the two pillars on which the Thai constitution rests are the monarchy and the military. Whatever be the clauses written into the Thai constitution, if in the normal running of the political machinery anything is suspected of undermining the Monarchy, then immediately and almost automatically the military intervenes and takes over the machinery of government. Whatever be the core moral principles inscribed into that constitution, be they Buddhist of Dasa Raja Dharma the monarchy and the military have the final say and way. The question of perpetual tutelage to the West or its permanent monopoly on truth and justice totally lose their relevance and significance when confronted with these two ineluctable pillars of Thai governance.

Stephen Young recommends that ‘A good constitution should be designed for the future as architecture, not as interior design for a particular temporary occupant’. The question of a particular temporary occupant does not rise in Thailand,  because the Thai government has an immovable permanent occupant…the King zealously guarded by his guardian deities, the military.

In the concluding paragraph of his inspiring article Stephen Young says: In planning their own constitutional future, Thais should take a stand on the best of their traditions and values. Sufficiency economy principles and the related principles of good public trusteeship contained in the Dasa Rajadhamma principles are valuable intellectual resources for a good constitution for Thailand.” All this is nothing but sterile wistful thinking.

A Compassionate Constitution

The recognition and the claims of other living beings for compassion and appropriate consideration from human beings, and the protection of their legal rights…the advocacy on behalf of these suffering and unrepresented interests…the concept of ‘Ahimsa’…the Fundamental Duties’ of every Citizen ‘to protect and improve the environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures’ are not only very valid but must also be considered as imperatives. This is the responsibility of the State. Yet all this, which no doubt is ancient wisdom, has to rely on a legal and constitutional system that is the wisdom of somebody else’s grandfathers”.

In the final analysis, we are confronted with two wisdoms, the one we consider to be ancient but is fruitless and sterile, and another wisdom which he vehemently decry as the wisdom of somebody else’s grandfathers” which nevertheless rules the roost and with which we comply to the hilt for our economic gain while hiding our heads like ostriches.

Mario Perera

Kadawata

 

15 Responses to “A Compassionate Constitution for Sri Lanka based on Dasa Rajadhamma – some comments”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    I think we should learn from other THERAVADA BUDDHIST countries.

    Thailand – in a RIGHT ROYAL MESS!! No govt. can run it. A lawless country of regime change every year and sex industry.

    Cambodia – a VERY POOR country selling women and tarantulas to survive.

    Burma – a VERY POOR country selling women to survive.

    Tibet – NO COUNTRY! The giant neighbor has take it over!!

    Bhutan – a HAPPY country thanks to its isolation. But a VERY BACKWARD country.

    SL must break free from this lot. Otherwise SL will also end up miserable like them.

    Lets protect Buddhism and let the ruler APPLY Dasarajadharma as applicable but lets NOT make Buddhism the GUIDING PRINCIPLE of SL. Law and order must rule supreme.

  2. Fran Diaz Says:

    Security First !
    Survival First !

    Dharma can than follow in Peace.

  3. Independent Says:

    Use Dhamma to do better than survival.
    We need not compare with other countries , NONE give above has pure Buddhism practiced by a large percentage of the Buddhist than Sri Lanka. There is nothing wrong in our religions. It is the immoral conduct of the minority races and minority religions which is troubling us.
    Media is happy to bash Buddhism for all the issues created by those minorities. They want to take the advantage of every situation to attack pillars of Buddhism and remove it from Sinhalese.
    It is clearly evident even in Lankaweb. All writers, mostly from other religions try to teach Buddhists how to practice Lobha, Dvesha and Moha but avoid Nibbaana and Five precepts. People must understand that these are the evil forces.

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    Agree with Fran.

    Independent,

    “pure Buddhism practiced by a large percentage of the Buddhist” is a MIRAGE. It will NEVER happen. We have to work with what we have.

    Thailand has 90% Buddhists. Burma over 80%. Cambodia over 90%. Tibet over 90%. SL has only 70%. If we take middle east working people, only 67% of people in SL practice some form of Buddhism. Only 16 out of 25 districts have a Buddhist majority in SL. That is only 64% of all districts. 4 districts are on the borderline with less than 60% Buddhists. There is the THREAT they might fall in 20 years. Then only 12/25 = 48% of districts will have a Buddhist majority.

    So your logic is WRONG.

    We need STATE PROTECTION for Buddhism.
    We need SECURITY FIRST, SURVIVAL FIRST and other MATERIAL THINGS FIRST to save Buddhist people.
    Buddhism will survive only if Buddhist people survive.

    Evil forces are the ones who DON’T want these 3. These forces want Singhalese to go EXTINCT. They use Buddhist concepts to get rid of Singhalese. Will not work because people are developing more and more cravings in the internet age. Should be legal but more cravings are always good. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Zuckerberg and other MONEY MAKING MACHINES are the heroes of SL youth. Very good.

  5. Independent Says:

    Evil forces
    1. Never pronounce Sinhalese as Sinhalese as Sinhala people do, they always call them Singhalese even though they studied Sinhala for years.

    2.Never pronounce Premadasa as Premadasa as Sinhala people do but pronounce as Premathasa

    3. Never pronounce Wellawatta and Wellawatta as Sinhala people do but pronounce as Wellawattai.

    4. They always prefer to use Ceylon to Sri Lanka.

    5. They always claim they are smarter than Sinhalse.

    6. They never accept large scale cheating they have been doing and are doing to enter universities.

    7. Hate Buddhism than anything else in Sir Lanka.

  6. mario_perera Says:

    “It is clearly evident even in Lankaweb. All writers, mostly from other religions try to teach Buddhists how to practice Lobha, Dvesha and Moha but avoid Nibbaana and Five precepts. People must understand that these are the evil forces.” – Independant

    You are being too harsh and extremely unjust with regard to some of us, Independant.

    Nibbana and Rebirth are both Buddhist beliefs. At this juncture what seems more important is not Nibbana but rebirth. The country is in danger. The details revealed by Lorenzo are really alarming. Even the Lord Buddha as Bodhisatva returned to the land of his birth 550 times to build, motivate and dynamize the Sasana before making his final exist. The role of the Sasana in Sri Lanka was primarily the SECURITY and SURVIVAL of Sri Lanka. A recurring theme in some comments was about the Sangha accompanying Dutugemunu to war. They were surely not showing Dutugemunu the way to Nibbana. What do the Buddhist masses say when a local hero dies? Their wish is that he be reborn in this country. That is what the famous song of Pandit Amaradeva is all about: PIN KETHA HELA LAKDERANE YALI IPADINNATA HETU WASANA WEWA.

    Independant, that this country is at the cross-roads is not a secret. We need our Sinhala heroes to re reborn. If the patriots make their final bow and the real evil forces (not the ones you mention!) remain, then this country will cease to be Buddhist within a few generations.

    At this crucial juncture Buddhist teachings must concentrate on ‘rebirth’, just as the Bodhisatva did until the time was ripe for his ‘parinibbana’. The Buddhist masses are more aware of this need than the intellectuals who float in their world of hazy analyses. That is what the masses who assisted at the funeral of General Kobbekaduwa screamed in their agony. They called him Sapumal Kumaraya who had returned, and who would return to save this country.This was not the wish of the evil force that I am…but of the Buddhist masses.

    May I also kindly remind you that I (one of your evil forces) wrote a book titled: The Bhikkhu-Light of Lanka depicting the salvific role of the Sasana throughout this country’s history. This book was feted by leading members of the Maha Sangha including Maduruwawe Sobitha Thera at a convocation held at the Kelaniya University. I also wrote ‘The Beast-a liberation theology for Tamils, a book that received the adulatory comments of G.L.Peiris and of MR, and which made its way to the Geneva conference. So please think twice before making such condemnatory derogatory utterances.

    the time has come to leave the bana potha and take up the challenges facing the country. The stark fact is that Buddhists are losing ground primarily because they are materially poor. Who are the rich in the country? The Muslims and the Tamils. How did Colombo and its suburbs become Tamil residential areas? Because the Sinhala did not have money to purchase property put on sale by their fellow Sinhala. Exactly so too with the Muslims. Put up a property for sale anywhere and the sinhala buyers will propose a pittance while the Muslims will surpass such offers and occupy the land.

    to put it bluntly, this country, this Buddhist country is being oppressed by antagonistic forces because it is poor. Become poor and you even lose your relations. Become rich and unknown people will claim relationships. Become poor and disappear. Become rich and stay.

    Mario Perera
    Kadawata

  7. Dilrook Says:

    What Mario says is very true. A fantastic example is Singapore. It had a worse Freedom House civil liberties ranking than some countries that are worse off economically. But the world attention was not directed at the dictatorship. That was due to its economic clout. Singapore earned world respect by becoming a prosperous country following a material path to development. Now Singapore is in a better footing to uplift its people’s moral issues. That too needs investments. Without funds, Sri Lanka cannot even uplift societal moral standing.

    I have no faith in Sri Lankan politicians making constitutions which has proved to be disastrous and dictatorial. The 1931 and 1947 constitutions followed a more democratic process of consulting the people before constitution making. Such inclusive approaches were unseen in 1972, 1978 and subsequent tinkering of the constitution. Passage of the 13A is a case in point. MPs and their families were locked in hotels, threatened and intimidated to agree to 13A. Better for Sri Lanka to copy a constitution from a developed Asian country with obvious changes to suit us.

    Sri Lanka has international commitments to various conventions it has ratified. The constitution must take these into account. Otherwise it amounts to a violation of these conventions and the International Law. Clauses on animal welfare must not interfere with people’s food choices. It is a fact animal protein intake of developing countries goes up rapidly. Anything that increases price of animal protein will have a negative effect on society and the economy. If the constitution is too distant from modern times and economic realities, people will simply disregard it.

    Greece has an enviable past so glorious that very few can match. But it has an unenviable present and a bleak future thanks to its poor economy. Poverty leads people to engage in immoral and illegal activities. That is why poor countries cannot hold on to their rich moral standards of the glorious past.

  8. Independent Says:

    Mario,
    If you consider yourself as a writer who promote a one of the three evil forces “Lobha” ( other two being “Dvesha and Moha) as a “good” for a person or for a country AND you accept belonging to a follower of a faith other than Buddhism, then you may consider as a “evil force” I have directed my statement at . But I had no intention to include you or Dilrook in that category.
    The way people of Sri Lanka practice Buddhism has nothing do to with the fact that our country is facing grave danger at the moment or in the past. This is a fact. Tell me whether I am wrong here.

    My nest point is , actually the inverse is true, that is some of our leaders, putting their self interest (Lobha) before the country has always brought us to near destruction whereas the others acting with “Devesha”(hatred) has also given un international condemnation and to the point that no one respects our country. All these happened because of “Moha” ( or ignorance) that the leaders had no wisdom in acting the way they have acted.

    Therefore , not adhering to Buddhist values has brought us to any unfortunate stage we are in right now or in the past we were in.

    Now, if ANYONE, belonging to ANY religion says because of the mistake with Noble truths or the fundamentals of Buddhism that all this happened, then that is not only absurd and unfair to the core but also those people clearly should definitely have another motives or agendas because this does not make ANY sense at all.

    Therefore the great “bana potha” or “begging bowl” the spine and brain of our culture has nothing to do with this to leave it somewhere and go to war. Those who have learned Buddhism should actually carry the “bana potha” and go to war and the monks could still take the “begging bowl” and support the soldiers in war against ALL forms of EVIL FORCES. That is how it was done in the past and will be the same in the future as far as Sri Lanka is concerned.

    People must apply “Chanda”, “Viriya” , “Chitta” and “Vimansa” to achieve ANY difficult goal be it for self improvement or for saving of a country and the society. This is the greatness of Buddhism.

  9. Independent Says:

    In Mario’s main write-up (not the comment) there is only ONE shortcoming mentioned related to Buddhism. That is “hypocrisy” mentioned in the paragraph,

    “Our religion continues to bombard us with the message that greed and desire are to be shunned, while at the same time condoning the dispatching of our women to Arab countries to become the objects of their greed, desire and lust. These women as all know and accept, are the backbone of our economy. While preaching that tanha begets suffering, we expose the most fragile element of our society, our women, to the violent tanha of Arabs to draw in the financial benefits of the suffering imposed on them. This is disgusting hypocrisy.”

    Clearly there is no “hypocrisy” in Buddhism. Buddhist are encouraged to keep 5 precepts which will control bad action out of “greed” and “desire”. But there is no restrictions for Buddhist women to go abroad specified by Buddhism there is no encouragement too. So it is disgusting to accuse Buddhist teaching. Instead you should accuse the rulers who acted in self interest ( which is in fact greed and desire) to bring our country to a level that rather than providing employment to poor Tamil Nadu resident now we sent our poor women to rich countries to make a living. You should also accuse the evil forces that contributed to this unfortunate situation in addition to the evilness of the rulers.
    Having said this I should also add that, the women ,if they kept 5 precepts well in those rich countries, it will definitely benefit them. Is this hypocrisy ?

  10. Independent Says:

    Dilrook,
    As I said earlier in this forum, I was a long-time resident of Singapore.
    The world attention was not directed at the dictatorship because there is no dictatorship and also because SINGAPORE IS A CLOSE ALLY OF USA . I felt more dictatorship in 1988-1990 and around 2011-2013 in Sri Lanka than in Singapore.

    I am not aware of Singapore becoming a prosperous country following a material path to development without any effort to uplift its people’s moral issues. I was there too long to reject this completely. Singapore rulers not only encouraged public to continuously uplift moral values but they lead by example. That does not mean they are saints but compared with our politicians ….. I have no words to describe. If you inquire correctly, you will find that Singapore developed by establishing moral values first , may not be Buddhists but they ruled in line with Chinese, Confucius teaching.

  11. Independent Says:

    The way people of Sri Lanka practice Buddhism has nothing do to with the fact that our country is facing grave danger at the moment or in the past. This is a fact. Tell me whether I am wrong here.

  12. Lorenzo Says:

    Independent,

    Making abusive comments against those who peacefully disagree with you makes your PERSONAL VERSION of your religion evil. Much like ISIS. Isn’t it? Thank g~d Buddhists are different.

    (May be I’m using the wrong words. When does a PARAMI become GREED?)

    1. To save our country (SL) we should CRAVE for a UNITARY SINHELA BUDDHIST SL. We must wish BAD THINGS to the enemies of this country instead of wishing them well.

    2. We must be possessive for the ENTIRE island not to allow Endians, Americans, etc. to break this up in the name of reconciliation and other good sounding things. Dutugemunui could NOT share the island PEACEFULLY with good old king Ellalan. We too can’t.

    3. We must earn MORE AND MORE money as FAST as we can legally so that we can buy MORE AND MORE LETHAL WEAPONS to KILL our enemies as needed. Greed for more is the only way to drive this unfortunately.

    4. We must WIN the propaganda war with TRUTH AND BIGGER LIES (all propaganda are 50% lies) than our enemies.

    5. We must SAVE Buddhism by giving it STATE PROTECTION but lets not be restricted by the GREAT GOOD it teaches when other things are required for SURVIVAL – the most important thing for any living being.

    (To give you the ORIGINAL proverb in my words, religion (not patriotism) is the last hiding place of the unrepentent scoundrel. Credit to Ananda-USA.)

  13. Independent Says:

    Lorenzo,
    a) Identifying LTTErs is not abusive comments.

    b) Showing that there are evil forces is not an abusive comment.

    c) Condemning the invisible forces that abuse Buddhas words and call Buddha a “dead body” completely without basis as EVIL FORCES is not considered abusive work.

    d) Highlighting your repeated and deliberate misspellings (for example Dutugemunui ) is also not abusive comments.

    Let me comment on your ” 5 criminal wisdom”

    1. Wrong word . ” carving ” will not help as it will not help at all – good for foolish criminals. I consider use of this word ( which is not suitable even in plain English for the purpose) as an abusive comment on Buddhism. Only fools crave lazily. Smart people strive to get what the want without harming others.

    To save our country (SL) we should strive with diligence until we achieve a country governed according to Sinhala Buddhist culture throughout the entire island. Highlighted are the Buddha’s last advice, so use it – to hell with Lorenzo’s criminal wisdom attacking of Buddha’s words by Evil Forces.

    It is entirely our fault that we could not produce a true Sinhala Buddhist king lately.

    2. Again unsuitable word “possessive”. Use “protective”. This is our island wee need not try to be possessive bur protect our land. I find use of these words abusive to Buddhists in a subtle way.

    3. We can develop the country VERY FAST being honest and hardworking without cutting corners or trying to cheat others. Purpose of that is not to kill enemies but enemies will have no chance if we act diligently, protecting what we have earned.

    4. We must WIN the propaganda war with TRUTH – again BIGGER LIES will not last long and we are not USA or CHINA or INDIA to survive using bigger lies.

    5. Unnecessary statement. If we strive with diligence we will achieve much more than mere SURVIVAL.

    We are Sinhalese , Lorenzo, unlike you we need not fight for survival. Please do not put us in your boat to SURVIVAL.

    Come out of hiding Lorenzo. Accept who you are ! You are hiding behind Buddhism !

  14. Ben Silva Says:

    Independent – You do not appear to have a clue about the way, real world operates. You slavishly follow an Indian myth. Have you heard of Kalama sutra. Please read and understand that, Buddhas valuable teaching. With friends like you, the Sinhalese do not need enemies. Praba’s map shows our state now. People like you, slaves of Indians will sink our country and no need for Tamils to do that.

  15. Independent Says:

    Ben ( or shall I call your more appropriate name ?),
    What is your country ? Are you not a slave of UK who falls into suicidal depression time to time and blame Buddhism for you own personal problems and became an atheist ? Good that you appeared to have read Kalama Sutta at least. I am a Buddhist and I know Buddhism. Please take your medicine.

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