Prof. Oliver Abeynayake
Among the Buddhist teachings on polity, the concept of Dasarâjadharma
occupies a place of pre eminence. There, the Buddha identifies ten principles
of good governance as follows: dâna, sîla, pariccâga,
ajjava, maddava, tapa, akkodha, avihmsâ, khanti, avirodha.
The insight into the meanings of these terms reveals that these ten
principles of good governance in Buddhism covers much more than the
modern concept of the welfare state.
This includes the practice of charity, generosity and sharing. The facilitation
of basic needs of the people falls on the government under this principle.
Sîla Moral integrity
This principle indicates the moral responsibility of the government.
The rulers virtuous conduct paves the way for ethical progress
of the entire country. At the lowest level, the rulers have to follow
the five precepts to the very letter. It is emphasised that all other
forms of development rest on the moral integrity of the rulers.
Giving up of personal pleasure and comfort and sacrifice of personal
wealth for the benefit of the country are taken into consideration in
The rulers should refrain from deception, false promises and all forms
of pretension. They must be sincere and act according to what they say.
Transparency of action is meant here.
The rulers must be soft, tender, approachable, sympathetic and kind.
This is the principle which goes with the dictum: the rulers are not
masters but the servants of the people.
Moderate living is taken into account under this principle. Self-indulgence
and luxurious life are banned for the rulers. It is not the rulers but
the ruled that enjoy the advantages of good governance.
Akkodha Absence of anger
The rulers should be free from taking revenge under this principle.
They should not act and speak with anger in public. Sobriety is what
is expected from the rulers.
The responsibility of refraining from harassing others and promoting
peace come within the scope of this principle. Political power is not
to be used to harass others.
The rulers should maintain a good temperament. They should always show
the qualities of forbearance, tolerance, and understanding. They are
not to be irritated, instigated and mislead by any word or action of
their friends or foes. They should bear any form of criticism with equanimity.
Avirodha Absence of obstruction
This principle insists that the rulers should go with the will of the
people. The opposition should not be suppressed. Confrontational policies
and attitudes are to be done away with. The rulers should always strive
for unity, amity and concord.