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Opinion Discrimination and Toleration: An Examination of Caste Discrimination in India

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by Aman Singh, Jan 29, 2010.

  1. Aman Singh

    Aman Singh
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    Jun 1, 2004
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    Discrimination and Toleration: An Examination of Caste Discrimination in India
    by Basil Fernando

    Copyright © Asian Human Rights Commission

    Caste prejudice is common among people of the Indian sub-continent. The author correctly points out Lord Buddha’s rejection of Indian caste structure. Not only Buddhism but also Islam, Christianity and Sikhism categorically reject caste discrimination. Unfortunately caste prejudice is prevalent among the people of these faiths.

    Recently there was a report on three Amritdhari Sikhs who were refused langar at a Gurdwara in Punjab because they were accused of belonging to a so-called low caste.

    In 1699 when Guru Gobind Singh bestowed the sacrament of khande da pahul (baptism), the first five people who volunteered to commit their lives to Sikh ideals also included the lower castes. Later, in the spirit of equality, the Guru requested them to baptize him and said:

    Let all embrace one creed, obliterating all differences of religion. Let the four Hindu varnas adopt one form of adoration, and thus become brothers. Let no one deem himself superior to another. Let none pay heed to Ganga or other places of pilgrimage, spoken of reverently in Shastras. Rather than adore the many, believe in one Supreme God. Let men from all four varnas (castes) receive the Baptism of Khanda, eat from one dish, and feel no disgust or contempt for one another.

    Earlier Guru Nanak had rejected caste discrimination:

    The lowest of the low castes
    The lowliest of the lowly, I seek their kinship
    Why emulate the (so-called) higher ones
    Thy elevating Grace is
    Where the down-troden are looked after. (SGGS, p.15)


    Wisdom is that which is imparted to the four castes alike: Nanak says: One who meditates on the Name of the all-pervading Lord, alone is emancipated in the Kali-age (Raag Suhi M. 5). The Kshatriyas, the Brahmins, the Shudras and the Vaishyas: the Lord's Word is equally for them all. So worship (the Word), your Guru, as God, day and night, more and forever more (Bilawal M. 4).

    We hope that some misguided people from our community who openly violate the basic Sikh ideal of equality will realize the shame their actions bring to the memory of the great Gurus. --Editor

    The eminent Indian historian Romila Thapar wrote in A history of India: 'The fundamental sanity of the Indian civilisation has been due to an absence of Satan.' It may however be said that the fundamental insanity of the Indian civilisation has been due to the notion of Caste. When Caste entered into society, it destroyed the homogenous culture that had already been established.

    This paper examines the particular discrimination that grew in India as a result of the Caste system. While it is not my intention to generalise, others may compare it to different scenarios.1

    Though Caste discrimination is worse than slavery and Apartheid in many respects, the West has not taken any significant position against Caste. Is it because Caste falls outside the definition of discrimination for reasons of race and ethnicity? Perhaps it is because of a widespread view in the West that Indian notions of life are more religious than their Western equivalents. Yet what have passed as religious views in India are very often mundane theories and rules of social control that have been deemed sacred. On this basis, it is possible to argue that if serfs still existed in Europe believing it their religious duty to remain subservient to aristocrats, Europe too would have been a more religious place than it is now.

    Ludicrous as this may seem, it is the way the claim to special religiosity of Asia is made in defence of Caste. Even prominent intellectuals like Ananda Coomaraswamy have written, 'If it be asked what inner riches India brings to aid in the realisation of a civilisation, then from the Indian standing, the answer must be found in her religion and her philosophy and her constant application of abstract theory to practical life.'2 To make this the 'Indian' paradigm, the views of vast masses of 'low Caste' Indians must be excluded. In fact, discourses on India constantly ignore their perspective.

    The object of this paper is to draw attention to the realities of their condition and the nature of Caste from the position of discrimination and toleration. To develop an adequate response to Caste, it is necessary to look into the history of social organisation that gave rise to Caste and the development of philosophical and religious legitimisation of this form of discrimination.

    Folk Life, discrimination and toleration

    Before I proceed to examine Caste in detail, I wish to make a distinction central to ideas expressed in this paper: I distinguish Folk Life from organised forms of political life. This is not to say the two are not interrelated, but only asserts that that they are distinct. The way discrimination and tolerance are looked at and practised in Folk Life, and the way they are looked at within the frame-work of the organised political system of a given society need not always be the same; often they are very different.

    Experience shows that frequently a particular form of discrimination against a particular group is created in the process of making a particular political system. The political system introduces the problem, leaving a need for solutions by way of changes to the legal system. The solutions may fall far short of the problem and seemingly permanent forms of discrimination may arise as a result. These seemingly permanent forms of conflict are then attributed to the Folk Life, as inherent conflicts that had always been present among the peoples of a particular locality.

    It is also necessary to clarify that Folk Life does not mean a disorganised way of life. Folk Life has its own modes of organisation. At risk of generalising, it may be said that the chief characteristic of Folk Life is spontaneity of relationships among the Folk. The relationships are marked by something more than mere tolerance. Sharing, compassion and basic justice remain the overarching considerations in Folk Life. Nicolas Frederick Severin Grundtvig (1783-1872) recognised these qualities when he asserted that Folk Life is first and Christianity is second. To Christianity I add all religions and philosophies, particularly legal philosophies.3

    Discrimination results in varying degrees of suppression or killing of Folk Life. When in Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago the hero declares the end of love in Russia, it is recognition of the death of Folk Life and the take-over of all aspects of life by the state. We see similar perceptions elsewhere in the works of Franz Kafka. In fact, the over-powering effect of the state on peoples is quite a common theme in modern times.

    It is with these preliminary considerations that I approach Caste from the point of view of discrimination and toleration. In the Indian Caste system, the following features stand out:

    i. Caste was not present in India at all times.

    ii. Caste is not based on race or ethnicity.

    iii. A Caste is not a mere social group, like a class or religious group.

    iv. The essential feature of Caste is its enclosed nature, from the moment of birth.

    v. Among the upper Castes, (Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas,) Brahmins enjoy an incomparably advantageous position over the other two.4

    vi. Every form of social and political power is completely withdrawn from the lowest Castes (Sudras, Dalits5).

    vii. The overwhelming majority of people in India are of lower Castes.

    viii. Caste discrimination, based on birth, violates all human rights norms on which UN instruments are founded.

    viii. Rejection of equality prevents the possibility of associated living among the people. It thus blocks development of Folk Life. Politically, it makes the functioning of democracy impossible.

    Caste was not present in India since time immemorial. There were many migrations and conflicts among various groups. Over a long period of time an homogenous culture developed and exogamy was normal. Later, with groups enclosing themselves, Caste and endogamy became the rule. Discrimination on the basis of group began during this time, and religious and judicial notions were developed to justify Caste.

    Then came a collapse and revolt against Caste, leading to a virtual ousting of this system. The radicalism of Buddhism at this time was its fundamental rejection of Caste and acceptance of all persons on the basis of equality. The results included more widespread democratic practices, equality and freedom. They were accompanied by abandonment of religious and judicial norms justifying Caste and emergence of new ethical and juridical norms. I shall examine this era in greater depth momentarily.

    After this period of sanity, India fell back into the Caste system again. The re-emergence of forces favouring the Caste system led to a protracted contest for supremacy between the two sides. Finally, the Caste system was re-imposed, but this time practices of discrimination were even worse than before and draconian regulations were developed to ensure Caste segregation. The notion and practice of 'untouchability' was introduced. The period of colonialism and subsequent independence weakened legal aspects of Caste discrimination, but at economic and social levels discrimination has remained much the same.6

    The theological justification of Caste was found in Purusha Sukta of the Rig Veda, according to which Brahmins came from the mouth, Kshatriyas from the arms, Vaishyas from the thighs and Sudras from the feet of Brahma, the Creator. This fourfold division is called Chaturvarna, the literary translation of which is four Castes.7 The Brahmins were in the modern sense the intellectual class, having a monopoly over knowledge. They were also the priestly class, the most powerful and all dominating of the four. Kshatriyas were the soldier class and they alone were allowed to bear arms. Vaishyas were traders. The Sudras performed menial jobs. To this a fifth category of 'untouchables' (Dalits) was added later.

    As the Brahmins were both the predominant and priestly class, their arguments took the form of theological positions and were called Dhramma. Religious rules imposing various forms and rituals were also developed, and these went into minute details of life. Much later came the draconian Law of Manu, which comprehensively entrenched the rules of Caste enclosure.

    Importantly, it was the Brahmins who introduced the idea of Chaturwarna to the West, asserting that the four-fold division did not involve any form of discrimination. They maintained it was only a division of labour. Prestigious scholars such as Coomaraswamy, well known to the West, accepted the Caste system merely as a division of labour and part of the Varnasharma and Sanatana Dharma. Mahatma Ghandi, who strongly condemned the present day manifestation of the Caste system, describing it as a leprosy, likewise defended the conceptual basis for Caste along these lines.

    Tracing the origin of Caste to division of labour or similar functions is unsatisfactory in that like divisions exist in all societies but do not give rise to such rigid practices. Comparison of Caste to the European guild system is not useful for the same reason. Many misconceptions of Caste have originated due to writers trying to explain it to a European audience (most of whom may not have had a deep interest in the matter) by comparing it with experiences that their audience may understand. However, such explanations understate the discrimination suffered by those bearing the brunt of the Caste system.

    It was left to the first generations of educated people among those who suffered under the Caste system to make a more comprehensive critique. Their analyses reflected those of the anti-Caste Buddhist movement centuries earlier. Dr. Brim Rao Ambedkar (1881-1956) became the undisputed leader of the Dalits and the pre-eminent exponent of their cause. Ambedkar left an examination of Caste that remains unchallenged even by his worst opponents. Himself a Dalit, Ambedkar knew personally the extremes to which Caste discrimination could touch the most rudimentary aspects of daily life:

    I would like to tell you some of the reminiscences of my childhood... One day, I remember, I was very thirsty. I was not allowed to touch the water tap. I told my master that I wanted to drink water. He called the peon and asked him to turn on the tap and I drank water. Whenever the peon was absent I had to go without water. Thirsty, I had to return home and then only I could quench my thirst.'8

    Ambedkar argued that Caste practice might have arisen when one social group enclosed itself from others. Exclusion and enclosure may have entailed advantages for this group. From this he argued that only the more socially powerful group would have both found benefit in such enclosure and also had the ability to isolate itself in this manner. Others followed, either by imitation of the more powerful social class or because they had no choice anyway. This is more plausible than any other theory put forward so far on the origins of Caste. Others have not even attempted to explain the unique nature of Caste and the inherent discrimination involved in the practice of Caste. In fact, the labour-function theory is used to explain Caste as inherently neutral (if not good) and to claim that any discrimination is only a result of abuse within the system.

    The Dalit movement has always proceeded from this position that the Caste system was discriminatory by origin. The extent of discrimination far exceeded anything that may occur within an otherwise non-discriminatory system. It follows that:

    To the Untouchables, the problem of discrimination in order of seriousness is only next to the problem of recovering their manhood. The discrimination against the Untouchables is practised by the Hindus on a scale, the extent of which it is impossible for an outsider to imagine. There is no field of life in which the Untouchables and the Hindus come into competition and in which the former is not subject to discrimination.'9

    Thus, observed Ambedkar, Caste is a division not of labour but of labourers. The annihilation of Caste, he stated, is an undeniable pre-condition for democracy in India.

    Every form of discrimination involves some type of enclosure. In Europe, lower classes were denied access to many social privileges by the aristocracy. Blacks in the United States and South Africa were also disenfranchised. The difference with Caste is that enclosure is complete, to the extent that direct contact between Castes is prohibited, in order to avoid 'pollution'. It means total segregation, whether in temples, at wells, on roads, in schools and most importantly, in marriage.10

    Thus, while discrimination by Caste bears some similarity to that imposed by slavery11 and Apartheid, the Caste system is in many respects more dehumanising. The very term 'untouchable' means ones with whom no social contact of any sort should be held, under threat of punishment. It degrades beyond all comparison. Thus Caste was not a mere division of labour but the most extreme division of social and political power. The question of balancing interests between groups did not exist, for the simple reason that each Caste was a world unto itself.

    Thus it was that Caste became entrenched practically, theologically, and jurisprudentially. In every respect, Caste rejects the notion of human equality and thus justified enclosure of each Caste within its own boundaries on the basis of graded inequality. In this set-up the idea of common good existed only within each Caste group.

    The first great revolt against Chaturwarna

    That there would have been much opposition to Chaturwarna philosophy and practices is natural, for it imposed barbarous conditions upon many. In fact, literature provides many examples of such resistance. However, one great revolt made history and for quite some time kept Indian society open, defeating forces supporting the enclosed Caste units. This was the social revolution led by Siddhartha Gottama Buddha. Buddha refused to recognise Caste distinction. He attacked the Chaturwarna philosophy both theoretically and practically, by creating a new type of a religious leadership, the Sangha. This movement, with begging bowl in hand, entered into communion with all sectors of society, including the lowest Castes.

    Himself a born follower of Sanatana Dharma, Buddha tested its every tenet and found it false. In his later teaching he repudiated each of these tenets. He refused to recognise the belief in God or soul as a precondition for leading a good life[12]; he rejected the authority of Vedas; he refused to recognise superiority based on birth; he opposed Vedic sacrifices. He repudiated the Caste system.

    Buddha recognised the right of everyone to learn. He admitted persons belonging to any Caste into his following, admonishing all who became his disciples to abandon Caste. He allowed women into the Sangha, whereas the Brahmins forbade women even to read the Vedas, considering them as 'impure as falsehood itself'. His fundamentalist position was an all-round attack on enclosed social units and a call for more open social interactions. From rejection of the Vedas and Vedic sacrifices also grew his position on non-violence. Rejection of violence against all beings, insects, animals and others naturally implied opposition to the use of violence against human beings. The Caste system rested on the threat of violence by a higher Caste against a lower Caste. Without this threat, Caste enclosures could not last.

    While all these positions can be considered radical, in my view Buddha's most fundamental attack on the Caste system was the creation of the Sangha. In it, Buddha created a substitute for the Brahmin.13 Yet these religious leaders differed from Brahmins in every aspect. The most extreme difference between the two was the begging bowl. It is interesting to note that the begging bowl was called bhiksha patra, which literally meant 'sharing bowl'.

    Likewise, the word bhikkhu, meaning 'member of the Sangha', is derived from bhik, of the root bhaj, meaning 'the wish to share'. Thus, one religious leadership sought enclosure, the other acted on a desire to share. To beg for food from anyone, including a Sudra, was indeed the very annihilation of Caste. One Indian scholar notes: 'What this means is difficult to explain to anyone who does not know that most Indians would rather go hungry, and many have preferred death by starvation to eating soiled food or that prepared by a person of a lower Caste.'14 The Sangha moved among all persons. Their position was not hereditary but one of choice. The choice was not for power but for sharing. The following poem by an early monk reflects the radical change of lifestyle that came as result of joining the Sangha:

    I made a hut
    From three palm leaves by the Ganges
    Took a crematory pot
    For an eating bowl,
    Lifted my robe off a trash bin
    Two rainy seasons passed and I
    Spoke only one word
    Clouds came again
    But this time the darkness
    Tore open

    Taking a crematory pot as a food bowl, taking a robe off a trash bin; these were marks of renunciation, from the prestigious position of the highest Caste to identify with the lowest, the Sudras.

    Like the Lutheran Reformation, Buddha's renaissance spread fast. The sheer frustration people would have had under the Chaturwarna system may have been the main reason for its advancement. Human nature inevitably revolts against enclosed systems and Folk Life makes use of every opportunity to rise again when it appears crushed.

    Soon, it influenced even kings, among whom Emperor Ashoka remains the best known. Ashoka had been shaken by the violence of war. After more than two and a half years due consideration, he converted to Buddhism and helped to propagate it beyond the borders of India. It has been written of his era that 'Buddhism of [Emperor Ashoka's] age was not merely a religious belief; it was in addition a social and intellectual movement at many levels, influencing many aspects of society. Obviously, any statesman worth the name would have had to come to terms with it.'[15] Ashoka transformed Buddhist teaching into a philosophy explaining the responsibilities people owe to each other. Ashoka spread this system by edicts:

    These may be described as proclamations to the public at large. They explain the idea of Dhamma [Universal Law]. It was in this concept in the context of Mauryan India that the true achievement of Ashoka lay. He did not see Dhamma as piety resulting from good deeds inspired by formal religious beliefs, but as an attitude of social responsibility. In the past, historians have generally interpreted Ashoka's Dhamma almost as a synonym for Buddhism, suggesting thereby that Ashoka was concerned with making Buddhism the state religion. It is doubtful if this was his intention. Dhamma was aimed at building up an attitude of mind in which social responsibility, the behaviour of one person towards another, was considered of great relevance. It was a plea for the recognition of the dignity of man, and for a humanistic spirit in the activities of society.'16 (My emphasis)

    During this time, as the Caste system declined, ideas of common humanity, human dignity and responsibilities towards each other flourished in its place. As a result, the Caste situation changed dramatically. The dominant Caste, the Brahmins, became marginalised. During at least 140 years of the Mauryan Empire the Brahmins lost the state patronage they had held. As Ashoka forbade animal sacrifices, Brahmins also lost their main occupation as priests offering the sacrifices.

    Muslim suppression of Buddhism was ruthless. It was part of their struggle against idolatry. There are many historical narratives on the brutality with which Buddhism was suppressed. The greatest loss to Buddhism was the Sangha, who were either killed or fled to other lands such as Nepal and Tibet. As Buddhism was weakened, Brahmin attacks against the Buddhists increased, both physically and theologically. Sri Sankaracarya conducted a mass propaganda campaign in every part of India. Against Buddha's secularist position, worship of gods was restored. The dominance of the male and the priest was also restored. In short, the dominance of religion over Folk Life was re-established.

    The Caste system revived with greater harshness than before. Bereft of their Sangha, Buddhists soon preferred to be Muslims rather than live under their age-long oppressors, for Islam also rejected the Caste system. Thus there were many conversions to Islam from Buddhism.

    While much more could be said on this re-imposition of Brahminism and the Caste system, we may derive more profit from a reconsideration of the distinct moral principles offered by each of the two competing systems. The Buddhist view of human beings is that of equals. In contrast, inequality is a fundamental principle of Brahminism. It is based on the premise that Brahmins are the most important class and they are entitled to special privileges and immunities. Yet the Buddhist view goes further than mere equality; the Human is seen as part of the wider world of nature. As such the human does not have an absolute superiority over nature. The Brahmin view was that higher Castes, being so ordained by God, were superior not only to others but everything else likewise.

    The views on toleration emerging from these two worldviews are polarised. One admits a feeling of fellowship only towards a particular group; the other the feeling of fellowship extends to all and cannot be abandoned at any cost. For one, 'the other' is partially or totally an enemy, but under the second view, the idea of total enmity is never acceptable. Under one view, one can (and in fact must) be indifferent to what happens to 'the other'; such indifference is not morally possible under the latter. Under one, differences can be absolute and under the other differences are only of relative importance. Under one, it is permissible to create and maintain absolute conflicts; under the other, conflicts (when they arise) are relative and transitory.

    When conflicts are made absolute, total war is possible and even unavoidable. But total war is never acceptable under the other view, where kalyana mitrata" beautiful friendship[17]" with everyone is the underlying search in all relationships. Under one, basic, decent human relationships can be sacrificed for greater goals; but under the other, nothing is greater than these relationships. That is, as far as I understand it, the meaning of Folk Life.

    Eliminating discrimination, reviving toleration

    Rejection of equality via Caste prevents the possibility of associated living among the people. It thus blocks development of Folk Life. Politically, it makes the functioning of democracy impossible.

    Caste discrimination violates all human rights norms on which UN instruments are founded. In its application, Caste has led to sub-human treatment of a vast population. Presently, India's Dalits constitute around 17% of the population. With other minorities, such as tribal peoples, Sikhs and Muslims, minorities in India constitute roughly 85%; the overwhelming majority. To this day, the level of violence against Dalits and other 'lower' Castes is atrocious. Social degradation perpetuated under the Caste system has very few parallels in human history. Such treatment continues to this day.

    Discrimination is extended to all aspects of life: whether in employment, education, health, land holding, security, and all aspects of women's rights. The psychological effects on 'inferior' Castes constitute gross human rights abuse and a continuing cruelty.

    On 26th of January 1950, the Constitution of India came into force. This Constitution accepted the principles of equality, fraternity and liberty. Jurisprudentially, the Constitution outlawed all enclosed units and philosophies that support such enclosures by implication. M.V. Pylee, a foremost authority on the Indian Constitution, remarked, '[The constitution] represents the political, economic and social ideals and aspirations of vast majority of the Indian people.'[18] However, between this legal position and the reality of India there is a vast gap. The world's largest democracy has thus failed to develop beyond a mere formal democracy.

    Caste can exist only within a system of Castes. An enclosed unit called a Caste has no meaning if it does not exist in the midst of other enclosed units. The Caste system is one in which doors and windows to other Castes are closed. To open or to break the doors cannot be a decision of just one Caste. It has to be a decision by consensus. The breaking of Caste boundaries involves an exit as well an entrance. Whilst one Caste may make a decision to exit from its boundaries, entering into boundaries held by others requires their consent. When the most socially and politically powerful Castes want to remain enclosed, lower Castes' decisions to break open can have little effect. When higher Castes rules of internal discipline require strict observance of enclosure, revolts by lower Castes can make very little progress.

    Emancipation lies in destroying Caste enclosure. In other words, making it open. Yet in India, after a few thousand years of enclosure practice, breaking open has proved near impossible, despite many gigantic efforts. It is perhaps not difficult to understand the inability of some leaders - those who are reliant on the support of the upper Castes - to take a strong position against Caste. One may recall that even during the early part of this century, the prominent white politicians in the United States could not take up the issue of discrimination against blacks strongly.

    The emergence of Martin Luther King and his ilk in the United States and Nelson Mandela of South Africa were a necessary part of the process dealing with discrimination in those countries. Ultimately, as understood by Dalits themselves, the annihilation of Caste is likewise a precondition for democracy in India. The solution to Caste discrimination does not lie in toleration among the Castes. It demands nothing less than the elimination of Caste itself, from within Caste itself.

    Discrimination causes suffering, often very deep forms of inner suffering. People who are thus made to suffer withdraw. As result, they also refuse to co-operate. In such circumstances, if tolerance is to have any meaning, it must be sufficiently genuine and strong enough to restore co-operation. Thus discrimination and toleration both reflect the quality of compassion, mercy and justice. If there is a perception that these qualities are missing, the legitimacy of the social organisation and the political system as whole will be under challenge.

    If such legitimacy is finally lost, deep enmities arise, leading to violence. Violence can reach a point that people become indifferent to cruelty; cruelty they cause and cruelty they suffer. Such indifference kills folk relationships and communication. Ultimately, the test of active tolerance is its ability to genuinely revive the Folk Life in the face of suffering caused by discrimination.


    1 Caste systems also exist in Nepal and Sri Lanka. These are modified forms of the same system according to different historical and cultural circumstances. The underlying principles are the same.

    2 Ananda K.Coomaraswarmy, Jak Mohan, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, November 1979

    3 The word used for 'folk' in my mother tongue- Sinhala - is jana. Buddhist literature uses the word bahu-jana, meaning 'multiplicity of folks'.

    4 All of the three upper classes are considered Dvijas, that is, persons 'twice-born': once from their mother, physically; the second time spiritually, into a higher state of consciousness within their same body. It is due to this perceived difference from the other classes that they derive privileges.

    5 Dalits were previously known as Pachamas.

    6 Historically, these periods were approximately as follows: First Chaturwarna era 10th - 5th Centuries BC; Revolt against Chaturwarna 5th Century BC - 8th Century CE; Second Chaturwarna era 8th Century CE onwards

    7 Varna is usually translated as 'colour'. However, the meaning of Varna is 'Caste' or 'group'. Ambedkar, Vol.3, 1987, pg.420.

    8 Ambedkar, Vol. 5, 1989

    9 Ambedkar, Vol. 5, 1989, pg.108

    10 It has been argued that the absolute prohibition of inter-Caste marriage is the key component of the whole system.

    11 In fact, slaves in ancient India were able to obtain buy their freedom, but not the low Castes or outcasts.

    12 This position is very similar to Grundtvig's position on the primacy of Folk Life noted above.

    13 In the western context this was very much like Luther's reforms to Catholicism of his time.

    14 D.D. Kosambi, The Culture and Civilisation of Ancient India, Vikas Publishers, New Delhi, 1977 [1970] p.103. Quoted in Swaris.

    15 Thapar, pg.85

    16 Thapar, pg 87. In passing one may note that in the 20th Century there are many writing on Buddhism and there are many people professing to be Buddhists. However, among these it is difficult find this Ashokan attitude to social responsibility.

    17 Ananda once asked Buddha, his closest colleague and friend, if life of friendship and mutual support in the Sangha was half the life of perfection. He answered, 'Say not so, Ananda! Say not so! It is the whole, not the half of perfection.' Swaris, pg.384

    18 M.V. Pylee, India's Constitution, S. Chand & Co. Ltd, New Delhi, 1994 (5th Ed.)

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