No one has a Constitutional Right to kill an animal in Sri Lanka under the guise of freedom of religion
Posted on July 20th, 2021

Senaka Weeraratna

There must be a total ban on Animal Sacrifice as it hurts the sentiments of a vast majority of people of this predominantly Buddhist country.

No one in Sri Lanka has a Constitutional Right to kill an animal under the guise of freedom of religion.

The State is the Guardian of all Animals in Sri Lanka.

This is part of Buddhist Customary Law.

The trusteeship power of the State was extended to protect animals, birds and other living creatures of the land pursuant to a moving plea made by Arahant Mahinda to King Devanampiyatissa in their very first encounter at Mihintale about 2300 years ago, in the following words:

“Oh! Great King, the birds of the air and the beasts have an equal right to live and move about in any part of this land as thou. The land belongs to the peoples and all other beings and thou art only the guardian of it”.

The Buddhist Customary Law in Sri Lanka was also heavily influenced by 

the Buddha’s discourse in the Cakkavatti Sihanada Sutta (Digha Nikaya of the Sutta Pitaka) where the Buddha in spelling out the duties of an ideal ruler declared:

” The Cakkavatti King (Righteous King) will give protection, shelter and ward both to the different classes of human beings, and also to birds and beasts” 

Emperor Asoka of India (3rd Century BC) accepted state responsibility for animals and granted them protection via edicts inscribed on rocks all over India (the Asokan Edicts). These edicts were legal pronouncements based on ethical teachings.

Arahant Mahinda’s declaration at Mihintale set the tone for the creation of an Asokan model of benevolent state in Sri Lanka, which protected animals, accepted State Responsibility for animals, and prohibited Animal Sacrifice. 

King Devanampiyatissa established the world’s first wild life sanctuary in Mihintale following his acceptance of Arahant Mahinda’s life affirming advice. 

Senaka Weeraratna

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