By Vishnu Gupta –
Time has come to look for “few good men” devoid of venal and vile traits to lead us and free us from the clutches of oligarchs leading crony capitalism and crony socialism in our country. Contrary to the popular reports in the public domain every politician in the parliament of Sri Lanka is vile and venal. There may be a few MPs without venal traits, yet they have compromised the national interests and sullied the principles of democracy on many occasions in order to protect vested interests of the corrupt political parties or political friends. There isn’t a single exception. Therefore it is imperative to the voters that they search for few good men to represent them in the parliament and a virtuous, honest, intelligent visionary as the executive president. None of the names circulating in the media as the possible candidates fit into the noble classification of “Few Good Men”.
Judging by the deeds (Kharma) of these leading guys in the past and not from their words, it is doubtful that any of them will belong to a “Good Men” club even in their next births. Then, the natural question is do we want to participate in a negative kharma in promoting these alleged well documented sinners of our nation. The answer must be a resounding “NO”.
Stealing from Begging Bowl
It is interesting to note that these aspirants of next presidency did not know that their venal traits and the enormous appetite for stealing from the Public Purse. Stealing from “Public Purse” or “Treasury” is equivalent to that of stealing from the Begging Bowl of Lord Buddha. Yes, Sri Lankan politicians have stooped so low to steal from the begging bowl of Lord Buddha committing unpardonable sins. The Hindu, Christian and Islamic doctrines also may not see the final verdict on stealing from treasury (public purse) differently. Crony Capitalism and Crony Socialism have sheltered them from justice in this life but there is no escape for them in the next birth. Hence the voters of Sri Lanka should not be forced to choose from a pack of sinners. The Sri Lankan voters must understand their actions. It must be explained according to tenets of Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. It is a great sin to aid and abet the sinners of cardinal crimes committed against many generations of our innocent children. Ignorance is not an excuse or an escape valve.
Finding a group of “Few Good Men” should not be a difficult task for the voters of a country where literacy rate is 92% and many of them are brought up by parents adhering to religious convictions. Let’s look at criteria to identify the “Good Men” with acceptable traits specified by different religions in the country.
How to appraise a Good Man
Measure for Buddhists
For the Buddhists it must be pretty obvious, a good virtuous and intelligent man will observe “Pancha Seela or the Five Precepts in his daily life:
A good Buddhist man or woman must undertake to observe the following rules:
1. To abstain from taking life – “taking life” means to murder anything that lives. It refers to the striking and killing of living beings.
2) To abstain from taking what is not given -“To take what is not given” means the appropriation of what is not given. It refers to the removing of someone else’s property, to the stealing of it, to theft. “What is not given” means that which belongs to someone else.
3) To abstain from sensuous misconduct – “Sensuous misconduct” – here “sensuous” means “sexual” and “misconduct” is extremely blameworthy bad behavior. “Sensuous misconduct” is the will to transgress against those whom one should not go into, and the carrying out of this intention by unlawful physical action
4) To abstain from false speech – “False speech” is the will to deceive others by words or deeds. One can also explain: “False” means something which is not real, not true. “Speech” is the intimation that that is real or true. “False speech” is then the volition which leads to the deliberate intimation to someone else that something is so when it is not so.
5) To abstain from intoxicants as tending to cloud the mind – Refrain from taking intoxicants that cloud the mind and cause heedlessness. This means drugs and alcohol (but not prescription medication). This precept is a traditional way of detoxifying our bodies and minds.
Moreover a good Buddhist follows noble teachings (Dharma) of Lord Buddha. And take refuge in the Triple Gem; the Buddha, the fully enlightened one the Dharma, the teachings expounded by the Buddha the Sangha, the monastic order of Buddhism that practice the Dharma.
A good man does not have to visit the temple of the sacred tooth relic in Kandy every week or every month. Or visit a Buddhist temple every day. If this “Good Man” aspires to be a political leader or a ruler of the nation he should know “Dasa Raaja Dharma” or the “Ten Royal Virtues”; know it well, understand the meanings, extensions and the interpretation consistent with the contemporary environment completely.
The ‘Ten Royal Virtues’
Dana: liberality, generosity or charity; giving away alms to the needy. He who wished to be the ruler should not try to be rich making use of his position.
Sila: morality – a high moral character. He must observe at least the Five Precepts, and conduct himself to be a shining example to citizens.
Comfort Pariccaga: Making sacrifices if they are for the good of the people .
Ajjava: Honesty and integrity.
Maddava: Kindness or gentleness. A ruler’s uprightness may sometimes require firmness. But this should be tempered with kindness and gentleness.
Tapa: Restraint of senses and austerity in habits. Shunning indulgence in sensual pleasures, an ideal ruler keeps his five senses under control. Not a hedonist.
Akkodha: Non-hatred. For instance, Political victimization is also not conducive to proper administration.
Avihimsa: non-violence. Not only should he refrain from harming anybody but he should also try to promote peace and prevent war, when necessary.
Khanti: Patience and tolerance. Without losing his temper, the ruler should be able to bear up hardships and insults.
Avirodha: Non – opposition and non-enmity. The ruler should not oppose the will of the people.
Lord Buddha explained ten royal virtues effectively and shown how a country could become corrupt and unhappy when the head of its government become corrupt and unjust. For a country to be happy, it must have a good and just government. Lord Buddha in his dispensations has emphasized the fact that the nature of the subjects depends largely on the behavior of their rulers. Therefore, for the good of the people at large, he espoused Ten Royal Virtues to be adopted by the rulers of nations. Unfortunately, all government heads of Sri Lanka ignored these rules due to ignorance and greed.
After the advent of Buddha Sasana in Sri Lanka, in the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa, 3rd century B.C, the long line of Buddhist Kings adhered to ‘Dasa-Raja-Dhamma’ in fostering good governance until the arrival of colonialists. Fostering good governance in our country ceased to exist with the signing of Kandyan Convention on March 10 1815 by British and a venal group of treacherous Sinhala men.
Measure for Hindus
Dr. Gangadhar Choudhry, a Hindu scholar has summarized essence of the Hindu way of life with Five Principles and Ten Disciplines or commandments of Sanatana Dharma.
2. All human beings are divine
3. Unity of existence through love
4. Religious harmony
5. Knowledge of 3 Gs: Ganga (sacred river), Gita (sacred script), Gayatri (sacred mantra)
2. Ahimsa (Non-violence)
3. Brahmacharya (Celibacy, non-adultery)
4. Asteya (No desire to possess or steal)
5. Aparighara (Non-corrupt)
6. Shaucha (Cleanliness)
7. Santosh (Contentment)
8. Swadhyaya (Reading of scriptures)
9. Tapas (Austerity, perseverance, penance)
10. Ishwarpranidhan (Regular prayers)
The beliefs and values of Hindus and Buddhists do not differ much. A righteous conduct and the virtues are measured according to what Bhagawad-Gita declares. Since Hinduism firmly believes in the reincarnation of souls, the faith of a Hindu does not begin with his birth but it is identified as a continuation of his past lives and as the consequence of his karma. If his faith is influenced by SATTVA, he will strive for liberation. If it is influenced by TAMAS he will worship lower gods and remain ignorant. Thus, in Hinduism, a person’s faith is not separate from him. It is shaped by the modes (GUNAS) of Nature, which are in turn shaped by it. It influences a devotee’s way of life, his character, living and destiny. Faith (shraddah) in Hinduism means not only simple faith in God or a divinity but also inclination, concentration, respect and interest.
For a Hindu, who is deeply devoted to God and to the idea of liberation, God does not exist in temples and sacred places only. Going to the temples is a good practice, but it is not the only way by which a good Hindu worships God. He does not look for God in particular places only such as a temple, an image or a sacred place but everywhere. He remembers and reveres God everywhere in all things he touches and feels. He knows that God can be approached worshipped in diverse ways, not only by performing ritual and sacrificial ceremonies (YAJNAS) but also by the very act of living and using life as an opportunity to serve God, Family, Society and Dharma and pay off all the karmic debts. Since he knows that God is all, he does not judge anyone or any path.
Hindu scriptures affirm that Man is a god in the making. “The breath that exists in him is also the same life breath that sustains the universe. His body is verily a living temple, a city of nine gates, in which resides the divine soul.”
Measure for Christians
True faith in Christ and good works go hand in hand. Jesus said, A good tree cannot produce bad fruit nor can a bad tree produce good fruit (Matthew 7:18).
Accordingly, biblically speaking, a good person will be characterized by at least five things in no particular order of importance:
1. He relishes in Godly Ways
The backslider in heart will have his fill of his own ways, But a good man will be satisfied with his.
Those who habitually and willfully sin will have the fill of their own way. In contrast, the good man is filled by sowing over a lifetime in ways pleasing to the Lord. Walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. The resultant fruit of a Spirit-controlled life is the fruit of the Spirit. They are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Each one of these characteristics yields great satisfaction in the heart of a good man.
2) He desires to Help the Poor
One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, And He will repay him for his good deed.
Contextually this is a restatement of the Law of God to God’s chosen people, Israel.
3) He is a Godly Influence on Others
The third characteristic of a good man is the influence he has on others.
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.
The wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor will sinners in the assembly of the righteous . . . the way of the wicked perish.
4) He chooses Godly Friends
So you will walk in the way of good men And keep to the paths of the righteous.
5) He is the Recipient of Godly Favor
A good man will obtain favor from the LORD, But He will condemn a man who devises evil.Since goodness is a fruit of the Spirit, the good man is synonymous with one who possesses within him the Holy Spirit, someone who is truly saved. He or she then emanates the munificent goodness of God. He or she is the almoner of God’s grace in a fallen, selfish world. Aggressively kind then, is characteristic of wise living. People who contrive evil against others are not good men they are condemned already. Biblically defined, a good man — one with moral and spiritual excellence manifested in active kindness — receives God’s favor
Measure for Muslims
According to the teachings of Holy Quran, the chief qualities a good Muslim should display:
Truthfulness: “O you who believe! keep your duty to Allah and speak straight, true words.”
Sincerity: “Serve Allah, being sincere to Him in obedience.” “It is most hateful in the sight of Allah that you say things which you do not do.”
Unselfishness: “You cannot attain to righteousness unless you spend (in charity)
Humility: “The servants of the Beneficent (Allah) are those who walk on the earth in humility”.
Patience: “Allah loves those who are patient.”
Forgiveness: “Pardon (people) and overlook (their faults). Don’t you love that Allah should forgive you.”
Honesty: “Don’t go near the property of an orphan, except in a goodly way, till he attains maturity. And fulfill the promise (you make) . . .. Give full measure when you measure out, and weigh with a true balance.”
Goodness and kindness to others: “Allah commands you to uphold justice and to do good to others and to give to the relatives.”
Consideration and respect for others: “O you who believe! do not enter houses other than your own until you have asked permission and greeted the inmates . . . and if it is said to you, ‘Go back’, then go back.”
Moderation: “Eat and drink, but do not be immoderate.”
“Do not chain your hand to your neck (so that you are mean in spending), nor stretch it out to the utmost limit (so that you waste everything).”
Obviously every religion has laid down the rules to guide us live in harmony in the society and guard us against the tendency to commit evil acts. Therefore in the case of our collective journey to identify a “few good men” to represent us in the parliament and a man or woman to be our next executive President should not be a major struggle.
Then what is the rationale behind choosing misfits and deranged individuals as our representatives in the parliament and tainted politicians as heads of the government over and over again. What is the reason for electing non-pragmatic and non-visionary individuals for the posts of Prime Minister and President of the country since 1953?
The Sri Lankan voters have failed to elect a visionary or a pragmatic leader since the death of Hon. D.S. Senanayake. The voters keep on voting for the same self centered, condescending, corrupt individuals and their family members responsible for failed governments and making us a miserable lot on earth.
Our nation is headed in the wrong direction. The central promise of 2015 elections; -uprooting the country’s deeply corrupt, oligarch-controlled political system –remains unfulfilled. Heavily tainted 19th amendment to the constitution, Erosion of confidence in government institutions plus the financial markets and the Power struggle between oligarchs exemplifies the backsliding.
Yet the old guard representing crony capitalism and crony socialism hopes that voters will be naïve and opt for “experience” once more in 2020. If they succeed, what a travesty; no future generation will forgive us for not doing enough to select “Few Good Men”. 2020 is the most opportune time for “Revolution of Dignity” guided by our religious convictions and to prove plutocrats and oligarchs lead by hedonism are wrong.