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Notes: Chapter 8 - Hindus and Buddhists

1 Mark Juergensmeyer, "Dharma and the Rights of the Untouchables," unpublished essay, 8 March 1986, 1.

2 Ibid.

3 Kana Mitra, "Human Rights in Hinduism," in Human Rights in Religious Traditions, ed. Arlene Swidler (New York: The Pilgrim Press, 1982), 79. Raimundo Panikkar argues that the Hindu notion of dharma requires: 1) that human rights are not only the rights of individuals or even humans, 2) that human rights involve duties and relate us to the whole cosmos, and 3) that human rights are not absolute but are relative to each culture. Panikkar, "Is Human Rights a Western Concept? A Hindu/Jain/Buddhist Reflection," Breakthrough 10, nos. 2-3 (Winter/Spring 1989):33-34. An expanded version of this article appeared in the UNESCO publication Diogenes (Winter 1982).

4 Ibid., 80-81.

5 Ibid., 81.

6 Barnett R. Rubin also argues that respect for human rights in India does not necessarily mean abolition of the caste system, and that "The plurality of dharmas can also legitimate rights and social and political pluralism." He claims that "the biggest obstacle to human rights is not caste itself but untouchability, which, while outlawed, is still widely practiced and relegates a whole section of the community to 'unclean' status." Rubin, "India," in International Handbook of Human Rights, ed. Jack Donnelly and Rhoda E. Howard (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1987), 137.

7 Ibid. However, Ralph Buultjens asserts: "The Western concept of human rights has been advocated by relatively few leaders of myth-figure stature in Indian history. Two such recent advocates have been Rabindranath Tagore and Jawaharlal Nehru. However, neither Tagore nor Nehru evokes the passionate fervor that attaches to Krishna-Chaitanya-Bose-Gandhi and projects them as exemplars." Buultjens, "Human Rights in Indian Political Culture," in The Moral Imperatives of Human Rights: A World Survey, ed. Kenneth W. Thompson (Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1980), 116.

8 John B. Carmen, "Duties and Rights in Hindu Society," in Human Rights and the World's Religions, ed. Leroy S. Rouner (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988), 117. The late P. V. Kane writes: "The Constitution makes a complete break with our traditional ideas. . .. The Constitution engenders a feeling among common people that they have rights and no obligations and that the masses have the right to impose their will and to give the force of law and justice to their own ideas and norms formed in their own cottages and tea shops. . .. The Constitution of India has no chapter on the duties of the people to the country or to the people as a whole." Kane, History of Dharmasastras, 2nd ed., rev. and enl. (Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 1968), 1664-65. Quoted in Carmen, "Duties in Hindu Society," 119.

9 Ibid., 120.

10 Ibid.

11 Barnett R. Rubin, "India," in International Handbook of Human Rights, 137.

12 Ibid.

13 Kana Mitra, "Human Rights in Hinduism," in Human Rights and Religious Traditions, 82.

14 Ibid.

15 Ibid., 83. Bühler, Laws of Manu, 2:1.

16 Mark Juergensmeyer, "Dharma and the Rights of the Untouchables," 28. A. Pushparajan, who argues that both Hindus and Christians have failed miserably to overcome untouchability in India, supports the program outlined by Gandhi. See his article, "Harijans and the Prospects of Their Human Rights," Journal of Dharma 8 (October-December 1983):391-405.

17 Quoted in German Arciniegas, "Culture—A Human Right," in Freedom and Culture, ed. Julian Huxley (London: Wingate, 1951), 32.

18 Gandhi, Young India, 21 August 1924, and Young India, 26 March 1931, in The Essential Gandhi: His Life, Work, and Ideas, ed. Louis Fischer (New York: Vintage Books, 1983), 200 and 284.

19 Gandhi, Young India, 8 January 1925. Max L. Stackhouse asserts that Gandhi "worked with others to get socialist as well as Western democratic statements of human rights included in the constitution." Stackhouse, Creeds, Society, and Human Rights: A Study in Three Cultures (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1984), 254.

20 Barnett R. Rubin, "India," in International Handbook of Human Rights, 154.

21 Ibid., 156.

22 R. C. Pandeya, "Human Rights: An Indian Perspective," in Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights (Paris: UNESCO, 1986), 274.

23 Ibid., 275.

24 Ibid., 277. Another Indian, Prem Kirpal, disagrees. He argues that the Universal Declaration is largely the result of Western political thought and neglects "the wisdom and faith" found in "the older experience of Asian civilizations and several world religions." Kirpal, "The Contemporary Situation—Looking Ahead," in Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights, 280-82.

25 Ibid.

26 Mark Juergensmeyer, Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence (Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: The University of California Press, 2000), 95. See also Mohandus Gandhi, Discourses on the Gita (Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House, 1960) (trans. From the original Gujarati by V. G. Desai) and David Kinsley, The Sword and the Flute: Kali and Krsna, Dark Visions of the Terrible and the Sublime in Hindu Mythology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975).

27 For instance, John Carmen describes a mid-nineteenth century conflict between Brahmins and a group of outcastes who had become Christian. The Brahmins asked the British magistrate to require the outcastes to pull a temple car as part of a traditional festival, claiming that it was the outcastes' dharma. The magistrate held that, as Christians, the outcastes had a duty not to participate in the practice of Hindu religion and so upheld their right to refuse. Carmen, "Duties and Rights in Hindu Society," in Human Rights and the World's Religions, 115.

28a Ibid., 127. Ralph Buultjens suggests: "it may be that the special accommodative genius of Hindu culture will create a new synthesis and produce the type of adjustment it has achieved in other areas. Perhaps both Indian political culture and Western political ideals can transcend their historical constrictions, taking lessons from the ways in which India has already adopted and adapted forms of democracy in the past three decades." Buultjens, "Human Rights in Indian Political Culture," in The Moral Imperatives of Human Rights: A World Survey, 121.

28b Four hundred thousand converted with him, one hundred thousand more converted after his cremation. As his ashes were distributed around India, hundreds of thousands of others converted. Sangharakshita, Ambedkar and Buddhism (Glasgow, Scotland: Windhorse Publications, 1986), 162-63.

29 Ibid., 59.

30 Ibid., 60.

31 Ibid., 68.

32 Quoted in Dhananjay Keer, Dr. Ambedkar: Life and Mission, 2nd ed. (Bombay: 1962), 106. In Sangharakshita, Ambedkar and Buddhism, 76. Robert Aiken agrees that "the Buddha's own teaching was egalitarian and democratic to the core." Aiken, "The Lay Zen Buddhist Sangha in the West," The Pacific World, New Series no. 4 (Fall 1988):77.

33 Dr. Baba Saheb B. R. Ambedkar, Writings and Speeches, 1 (Bombay: 1979), 57. Quoted in Sangharakshita, Ambedkar and Buddhism, 113.

34 B. R. Ambedkar, Buddha and the Future of His Religion, 3rd ed. (Jullundur: 1980), 7. Quoted in Sangharakshita, Ambedkar and Buddhism, 109.

35 Sangharakshita, Ambedkar and Buddhism, 157.

36 Ambedkar, The Buddha and His Dhamma, 2nd ed. (Bombay, 1974), 234. Quoted in Sangharakshita, Ambedkar and His Religion, 156.

37 Masao Abe, "Religious Tolerance and Human Rights: A Buddhist Perspective," in Religious Liberty and Human Rights in Nations and in Religions, ed. Leonard Swidler (Philadelphia: Ecumenical Press, Temple University, 1986), 202.

38 Ibid.

39 Ibid., 204.

40 Ibid., 205.

41 Ibid. Ali A. Mazrui argues that the three monotheistic religious traditions contribute to the process of psychic subhumanization which precedes human rights violations, for these monotheisms create the "greater danger to human rights," that is, "the dichotomy between 'us' and 'them'." He concludes: "Western civilization has become increasingly secularized, yet its two greatest challenges are, on one side, militantly monotheistic (Islam) and, on the other, self-consciously atheistic (Marxism). But Marxism, Western civilization and Islam are in any case interrelated. The dialectic in Marxism is dualistic; so is the constant tension between good and evil in both Christianity and Islam. The map of world power today is a map covered by Islam, Western civilization and Marxist systems. All three cultural universes betray the historic and normative impact of monotheism and its derivative patterns of cognition. 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was of God, and the Word was God.' But perhaps the word was of man, and the word was man. And in the beginning were the rights of man." Mazrui, "Human Rights and the Moving Frontier of World Culture," in Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights, 243 and 264.

42 Ibid., 205.

43 Ibid., 206-11.

44 Kenneth K. Inada, "The Buddhist Perspective on Human Rights," in Human Rights in Religious Traditions, 70. Saneh Chamarik makes the same argument in "Buddhism and Human Rights," in Human Rights Teaching 2, no. 1 (1981), 14-20.

45 Ibid., 70.

46 Majjhima-nikaya, I, 190-91. The Collection of the Middle Length Sayings, trans. I. B. Horner (London: Luzac & Co., 1954), 1, 236-37. Quoted in Inada, "The Buddhist Perspective on Human Rights," 71.

47 Ibid.

48 Ibid., 75.

49 Ibid.

50 Ibid., 76.

51 Ibid.

52 Taitetsu Unno, "Personal Rights and Contemporary Buddhism," in Human Rights and the World's Religions, 129.

53 Ibid., 130.

54 Ibid., 131.

55 Ibid.

56 Ibid., 140.

57 Ibid.

58 Ibid. Kenko Futaba argues that this sense of gratitude is central to the teachings of Shinran, who founded the Jodo Shinshu community on the principle of equality: "Any power structure that trampled on human dignity was absolutely contrary to the Nembutsu way which proclaimed equality of all human beings." Shinran's objective "was to realize Buddhahood and live dynamically in the flow of history in harmony with Amida's Primal Vow. Thus, he opened a world where all peoples could live equally in truth. He took issue with any social condition that obstructed the realization of human dignity—the complete fulfillment of the human person in the way of the Buddha." Kenko Futaba, "Shinran and Human Dignity: Opening an Historic Horizon," The Pacific World, New Series no. 4 (Fall 1988):57-58. This translation by Rev. Kenryu T. Tsuji is the first chapter of a book entitled All of Shinran (Shinran no Subete), edited by Kenko Futaba.

59 Ibid., 145.

60 Ibid.

61 Robert A. F. Thurman, "Social and Cultural Rights in Buddhism," in Human Rights and the World's Religions, 148.

62 Ibid., 150. Similarly, Henry Rosemont, Jr. maintains that the Confucian concept of the person, as "the totality of roles" one lives "in relation to specific others," is contrary to the Western notion of a freely choosing individual who has rights. Rosemont, "Why Take Rights Seriously? A Confucian Critique," in Human Rights and the World's Religions, 177.

63 Ibid., 152-53.

64 Ibid., 156. Aryasanga's The Stages of the Bodhisattva, trans. Jampel Thardod et al. (American Institute of Buddhist Studies, manuscript translation), sanctions revolutions against an oppressive king; Nagarjuna's Friendly Epistle and Jewel Rosary of Royal Advice, written to the Satavahana King Udayi in the second century C.E. contains detailed prescriptions for government according to Buddhist principles; The Teaching of the Manifestations of Liberative Strategies in the Repertoire of the Bodhisattvas, which survives only in Tibetan and Chinese versions, conveys the teachings of Satyavadi on good government; and the Universal Vehicle Scripture of Kshitigarbha Bodhisattva, the Ten Wheels of Government describes all of social life from a Buddhist perspective. See Thurman, "The Politics of Enlightenment," Lindisfarne Letter (1975) and "Buddhist Social Activism," Eastern Buddhist (1983), and also Ven. Samdong Rinpoche, "Social and Political Strata in Buddhist Thought," in Samdong Rinpoche, Social Philosophy of Buddhism (Sarnath, 1972).

65 Ibid., 161.

66 See Bhikshu Shih Tao-an, "La Doctrine du Bouddha et les Droits de l'Homme," Revue des Droits de l'Homme/Human Rights Journal 10, nos. 1-2 (1977):5-13.

67 A North American Buddhist Resolution on the Situation in Asia, prepared for the Conference on World Buddhism in North America by Buddhists Concerned for Social Justice and World Peace (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Zen Lotus Society, 10 July 1987).

68 "Seeking Solidarity Beyond Religious Differences: World Conference on Religion and Peace Discusses Disarmament, Development, and Human Rights," Dharma World (Special Issue October 1986):50-51.

69 "Asian Conference on Religion and Peace III Held in Seoul," Dharma World 13 (September/October 1986):7. Two pages earlier in the same issue, in an article entitled "Promotion of Human Dignity and Humanization," it was reported that "Discussion focussed on the religious significance of human dignity, from which concepts of human rights originate."

70 Quoted in Egan Schwelb, Human Rights and the International Community: The Roots and Growth of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948-1963 (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1964), 7. See U Thant, View from the UN (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1978).

71 U Thant, Population Newsletter, April 1968, 43. Quoted in Human Rights Aspects of Population Programs: With Special Reference to Human Rights Law (Paris: UNESCO, 1977), 111.

72 Quoted in The International Observance: World Law Day—Human Rights: 1968 (Geneva: World Peace through Law Center, 1968), 37.

73 Tilokasundari Kariyawasam, "Feminism in Theravada Buddhism," paper presented at the conference, "Buddhism and Christianity: Toward the Human Future," Berkeley, Calif., 8-15 August 1987, 1.

74 Ibid., 3-4. See also pages 8 and 9, where she writes of equal rights "as to marriage, during marriage, womanhood etc." and of rights "of freedom of peaceful assembly and association." Emphasis in the original.

75 Sulak Sivaraksa, "Being in the World: A Buddhist Ethical and Social Concern," paper presented at the conference, "Buddhism and Christianity: Toward the Human Future," Berkeley, Calif., 8-15 August 1987, 6.

76 Ibid., 7.

77 See also Sulak Sivaraksa, "Buddhism and Development—A Thai Perspective," Ching Feng 26, nos. 2-3 (August 1983):123-33.

78 Rev. Dr. Michael Rodrigo, O.M.I., "An Example of Village Dialogue of Life," paper presented at the conference, "Buddhism and Christianity: Toward the Human Future," Berkeley, Calif., 8-15 August 1987, 3. Tragically, Dr. Rodrigo became a martyr for human rights soon after returning to Sri Lanka from the Berkeley conference, for he was killed in an ambush by those opposed to his work for village reform.

79 Ibid., 4.

80 Ibid. The Sarvodaya movement in Sri Lanka employs Buddhist concepts to undergird the basic human rights of villagers. See Joanna Macy, Dharma and Development: Religion as Resource in the Sarvodaya Self Help Movement (West Hartford, Conn.: Kumarian Press, 1983).

81 His Holiness the Dalai Lama, "Hope for the Future," in The Path of Compassion: Contemporary Writings on Engaged Buddhism, ed. Fred Eppsteiner and Dennis Maloney (Berkeley, Calif.: Buddhist Peace Fellowship, 1985), 2.

82 His Holiness the Dalai Lama, "Spiritual Contributions to Social Progress," in The Path of Compassion, 10. In a speech on 15 June 1988 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the Dalai Lama called for "respect for human rights and democratic ideals" in Tibet and pledged that a Tibetan government would adhere "to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." Reprinted by the U.S. Tibet Committee. The Dalai Lama received the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize.

83 His Holiness the Dalai Lama, "The Principle of Universal Responsibility," in The Path of Compassion, 17.


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