Buddhism, Human Rights, and Social Renewal


“Buddhism, Human Rights, and Social Renewal” is the title of a book written by Nalin Swaris. It is a short book, but perhaps more relevant for the students of Buddhism, Human Rights, and social movements. Nalin Swaris was not an ordinary scholar. He was born in Sri Lanka and was trained in theology and western philosophy for decades for his training to get ordained in the Christian order. He, however, turned to Buddhism and did an exhaustive study of Buddhist scriptures and Pali texts. He became perhaps one of the revolutionary Buddhist thinkers of modern times.

I had an occasion to meet this great scholar many times and he became a very personal near and dear friend. He visited Nagpur and Pune, showing his solidarity with the Buddhist Ambedkarite movement. His life was committed to what has known today as “socially engaged Buddhism”, the term that will soon be discarded after reading the great book that Nalin Swaris wrote, as it shows that social transformation is at the heart of Buddhism, the individual salvation/emancipation is not.

His books are based on careful reading of the Pali texts and he uses his understanding to free Buddhism from western constructs and limited understanding that locked Buddhism into “religious” category. He frees Buddhism from these conditions. Buddhism just as a scholarship without the experience of practice does not convey the full importance of Buddhism. Citing a passage from Majjhima Nikaya (MN), he writes:

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The Buddha’s teaching (dhamma) is self-dissolving of its authority because when the goal of the Path is realised, the teaching as a “view” can be discarded: liberated disciples would “speak of what is known by themselves, seen by themselves, and found by themselves”. He expresses Buddhism in a kinetic language which clarifies many complex things. He explains how Pabajja is “going out” of the society and Upasampada as “arriving at” the community of fellow brothers and sisters.

Nalin designed the book to gradually explain how the Buddha’s Dhamma is revolutionary and how it can be applied in the modern times. He explains the theory of power in the western world and also Brahminism. He explains how Buddhism denies the power and creates a better society through a basic understanding of human nature and human existence. The book is available online and it is a useful addition to the studies that make Buddhism a revolution to change the world for better through compassion and wisdom.

You can read the book “Buddhism, Human Rights, and Social Renewal” from here.

Author – Mangesh Dahiwale

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