HUMAN RIGHTS IN ANCIENT INDIA – PART 2

For instance, during Emperor Ashoka’s reign, the capture or execution of prisoners of war was condemned. The Indian view on all human beings remained the same – despite outward differences in appearances and cultures, the common link of a need and necessity for basic human dignity and respect links all people, across any boundaries.

In ancient India, religious freedom too was imbued in every person’s mind. And the freedom to express was also recognized as universal. A declaration to this effect can be found in the Edicts of Ashoka, wherein is mentioned the importance of tolerance in public policy by the ruler. Such tranquility and tolerance is not seen in our country today.

In 1893, Swami Vivekananda, at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago, stated that the Indian people believe in universal acceptance of all religions. Tolerance and hospitality were not just words, but actual principles upheld by people. To this effect, India has had a history of sheltering the persecuted and exiled, be they from any part of the world.

Centuries ago, the Indian people had the right to choose their profession. This was based on the varna system – four divisions – Brahmanas (those who taught), Kshatriyas (those who protected), Vaishyas (those who traded) and Shudras (those who worked) – in descending order of reverence and status. This aspect of Indian society was heavily ingrained then, and still is in some parts of the country, and was, in my view, blatantly disregarded the entire meaning of human rights in the first place. Dignity was reserved for the upper classes, whilst the lower classes often faced many difficulties. This later evolved into what is now known as the caste system, another unfortunate custom, which even now plagues the way people are treated here.

In the Vedic period, the education of women was given paramount importance – so much so that the Atharva Veda (one of the texts of ancient India) stated that “the success of a woman in her married life depends on her proper training during the Brahmacharya (pre-marriage years).”

According to Vedic hymns and texts, women and men could possess property jointly, and could take part in sacred rites and ceremonies, attend state occasions and pursue education in the sciences and arts.

Much of what was part of the daily lives of people then has changed drastically now, of course. Granted, that women and men still have a say in what they wish to make of their lives, but in the more non-literate parts of India, where even access to basic education is not possible for many, ignorance breeds. Many women are not allowed to pursue an education, are relegated to household and maternal duties for the better years of their lives, and people are discriminated against on the basis of their caste – which apparently is supposed to decide their worth and standing in society. There have been radical examples of fundamentalism, honour killings are an example, where a bride and/or groom from disproportionately situated families are killed by their own family members, simply because the possiblity their union is perceived to bring shame to an entire community.

Many children do not have access to education, but there are even more pressing concerns, such as lack of food, clothing, shelter and sanitation. Poverty does not help their cases. A fear of the unknown, combined with the apathy of those better off, keeps the divide between the haves and have-nots growing. These things sound bookish upon reading, but are true of our country. No one is innocent in all this. Not me certainly. Hope is good, but action is desirable.

[End.]


Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at adv.aishwaryasandeep@gmail.com

We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge

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