මුල් පිටුව | බොදු පුවත් | කතුවැකිය | බෞද්ධ දර්ශනය | විශේෂාංග | වෙහෙර විහාර | ඉංග්‍රිසි ලිපි | පෙර කලාප | දායකත්ව මුදල් |

Sanchi Stupe, Madhya Pradesh India. (circa 3rd century B.C.)

Thoughts of Emperor Asoka

By Dr. Ananda W.P. Guruge

Dr. Guruge, after analysis of the ethical principles proclaimed, administrative systems and procedures introduced and instructions given to public officers by Emperor Asoka with a view to identifying innovations and experiences, has identified twelve elements which could be diffused and duplicated in modern Sri Lanka.

The following are the twelve elements:

1. Sole objective: The greatest of all victories is the achievement of that satisfaction and fame derived from a sincere effort to ensure the well-being and happiness of all beings in this life and the next on the firm conviction that humanity as a whole comprises one�s progeny or siblings and all man made divisions such as race, ethnic group, caste, religion and social status have no validity.

2. Man and the Biosphere: Not only human beings but all living creatures and organisms should be free from the threat of violence - a principle founded on the undisputed oneness of the biosphere and the human being�s inalienable responsibility to conserve it.

3. Victory without Violence: Greater is the victory attained by persuading others to follow a righteous way of life than that achieved with arms and violence for both the �conqueror� and �vanquished� would be equally blessed and satisfied.

4. Equality of Humankind: The attainment of one�s well-being here and hereafter is not dependent on one�s socio-economic position. As all will acquire identical benefits, it should receive the attention of everyone.

5. Ethic of Person-to-Person Relations: What is essential to promote a righteous way of life is not so much charity but adherence to a set of principles which is conducive to mutually pleasant and beneficial inter-personal relations.

A righteous way of life has to be built on such simple and easy-to-practise principles such as - obeying and respecting parents and elders, proper conduct towards servants and subordinates and honouring the clergy of all religions.

The object of such a life of righteousness is to minimize evil. An aid to this comes from contentment with what little one has. Thus is advocated by precept and example a frugal and simple life, based on the principle of egalitarianism.

6. Inter-religious Tolerance and Dialogue: Whatever be one�s religious persuasion, the purpose of religion is to highlight lofty, social and spiritual values. In this connection, it is important to respect all religions alike and improve one�s knowledge of comparative religion. What needs to be stressed is that any criticism of another�s religion in inappropriate situations with the hope of glorifying one�s religion would only bring discredit to one�s own religion. Inter-religious tolerance and amity is an active principle: it involves the modification of both thought and deed.

7. Equal Attention to Spiritual Development: The fundamental basis of public services rendered to promote economic, religious and social progress of people should be to assure their well-being in both this life and hereafter. Materialistic success without spiritual development is lopsided and futile.

8. Persuasion through Education: While a person could be persuaded to follow a life of righteousness both through legislation and through exhortation leading to moral conviction, the latter is more effective: that is, transforming the human mind by appealing to reason and convincing one of error is more effective than prohibition.

9. Social Responsibility of Public Office: The very opportunity that a king, an administrator or any official of whatever grade gets to serve fellow human beings generates an obligation towards the persons who are entitled to their services. Even kingship involves a debt payable to the subjects. That debt could be paid only through diligent performance of one�s duty by suppressing one�s proneness to such tendencies as laziness, incompetence or lack of sustained effort, fatigue, haste or rashness, hatred, jealousy, greed, arrogance, ruthlessness and cruelty. An officer who is not diligent and conscientious in his duties cannot expect favours from the king or government.

10. Total Commitment: Any person (including the monarch) who has undertaken to serve the public should be ready to perform their duties at whatever time during day or night. It is his duty to sacrifice his personal comforts, leisure and privacy in the name of public service.

11. Impartiality and Objectivity of Administration: A public servant�s fundamental obligation is to generate the people�s confidence in the government. It has to be achieved by two means; impartiality and uniformity of punishment. These are to be given special attention in the adminstration of justice so as to avoid undue imprisonment and other forms of harassment.

12. Full Involvement of State: The programme of spiritual awakening of the people can be implemented by every official in government service. Every official can be entrusted with the diffusion of moral principles and the supervision of related activities in addition to his normal functions. It is equally important to issue written instructions to officials as also to ensure that they are advised to review them from time to time.

It is useful for this purpose to assemble officials in an area to a central place. The only way to assess public services is to inspect them in a situation.

An important means of enhancing the efficiency of the administrative system is to institute a prescribed number of supervisory visits at regular intervals. This in a nutshell is what Emperor Asoka has left behind as his legacy of insights, innovations and experiences not only as regards the principles, objectives and targets of his major policy and programme of Dharmavijaya but also as regards the administrative reforms and management norms he utilized in implementing it.

How much of these merit diffusion and duplication in any given context today is a matter of opinion conditioned by varying historical and ideological factors. Whether a secular state should have anything to do with matters spiritual would be endlessly and seriously debated in societies which have long battled to achieve a separation of church and state. Whether the ethical principles which Asoka advocated are valid in this modern world would be another question which others could raise. The relevance and effectiveness of the pedagogical approaches he adopted in the diffusion of his message are further aspects on which comment is most likely. Whether the ideals upheld by Asoka are so Utopian that they may never be fully achieved is another issue. Whether Asoka merits emulation when his own experiment did not eventually bring lasting results would be the tenor of the arguments of those who assume that the disruption of his empire immediately after his death and the disappearance of all traces of his reign in the Indian sub-continent spell failure. These and many other questions which sceptics would raise could in no way detract from the perennial relevance of Asoka�s precept and practice if only one were to analyze them objectively and without prejudice.

Perennial Relevance of Asoka-Dharma

The lasting contribution of Asoka to humanity is undoubtedly his message of peace and non-violence, tolerance and forbearance and undivided dedication to the welfare and well-being of all beings.

There is little doubt that the overriding inspiration for his thoughts, words and deeds came from his personal religion, namely Buddhism, both on account of his own admission and the multiplicity of parallels between his inscriptions and Canonical texts. It is, nevertheless, indisputable that, with the very spirit of tolerance he imbibed from Buddhism, the emperor did make a perfect synthesis of all that was handed down for millennia from generation to generation of sages and holy men as the sum total of human wisdom. If the proponents of different religious traditions of the Indian subcontinent vie today to claim the similarity of Asokan principles with their own ethical systems as proof of adoption or adaptation of a particular religion, the credit has to be given without any hesitation to Asoka. He evolved a Dharma which can only be called his own and accordingly, Asoka Dharma. It is not a common denominator of existing religious systems but more importantly an amalgam whose collective quality transcends that of the components.

Daily News, February 1997.

                                                                To be continued on next week

පොසොන් පුර පසළොස්වක

පොසොන් පුර පසළොස්වක පෝය ජුනි 17 වනදා අඟහරුවාදා පූර්ව භාග 8.43 ට ලබයි.
18 වනදා බදාදා අපර භාග 11 දක්වා පෝය පවතී. සිල් සමාදන්වීම ජුනි 18 වනදා බදාදාය


මීළඟ පෝය ජුනි 26 වනදා බ්‍රහස්පතින්දාය

පොහෝ දින දර්ශනය

Full Moonපසෙලාස්වක

ජූනි 18

Second Quarterඅව අටවක

ජූනි 26

New Moonඅමාවක

ජූලි 02

First Quarterපුර අටවක

ජූලි 10

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