Source of Fundamental Rights: Traces in Hindu Mythology

Source of Fundamental Rights: Traces in Hindu Mythology

Source of Fundamental Rights: Traces in Hindu Mythology

When someone asks us about the source of Fundamental Rights that enshrined in the Constitution of India, we confidently, better to say proudly reply him/her – it is taken from Bill of Rights of the United States.

"Bill of Rights of The United States Bill comprises the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. The Bill of Rights amendments add to the US Constitution specific guarantees of personal freedoms and rights, clear limitations on the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and explicit declarations that all powers not specifically granted to the U.S. Congress by the Constitution are reserved for the states or the people."
But how satirical and paradoxical it is to say that, the Fundamental Rights (mentioned in the Part III and Article 12 to 35 of the Indian Constitutional) has been borrowed from the United States. I rephrase it for your easy understanding, even in today’s time, the maximum number of cases of the racial discrimination (at every walk of life including in the employment) can be seen in the United States.

Source of Fundamental Rights: Traces in Hindu Mythology

However, I won’t be sharing any link or other such footnotes to corroborate my point in reference to racial discrimination in the United States because there are not one or two sources where you can get such information, but rather – just google racial discrimination in the United States and see yourself, how many official websites give report on such cases. Story does not end here, if I talk about gender discrimination that is also perceptibly prevalent there. The cases of sexual harassment at workplace are quite common; it recently portrayed in the Hollywood movie “Bombshell.” So, this is the story of a founder who drafted and enacted the concept of human rights (Bill of Rights) about two hundred thirty years ago.

However, for a while, ignore this fact that the concept of Fundamental Rights has been borrowed from the US and pay a little attention towards our monumental texts described in many of the religious books, and now answer the following question:

Do we really need to borrow any such provisions from a foreign land?

So, in order to answer this question, let’s have a brief account of each provision of Fundamental Rights and its traces in Hindu Mythology:

Article 14: It is read as:
“The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.”

Traces of such provision can distinctively be seen in Valmiki Ramayana. Lord Rama, when returned back to Ayodhya with wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, people of Ayodhya started gossiping about the Character and Chastity of Sita, as she was kidnaped by Ravana and lived in his custody; so, it was not acceptable for them that Lord Rama lives with Sita. Since, Lord Rama was a king, he could have easily suppressed such rumor. Secondly, it was very well known to Lord Rama and all other authoritative people of the State that Sita’s chastity is unquestionably spotless.

Source of Fundamental Rights: Traces in Hindu Mythology

So, he could have proven this fact to the people of Ayodhya, but he did not do anything like that rather when he came to know about it, he, followed the provision of Article 14 and penanced himself by sending Sita back to Jungle. It proves that, in front of law, everyone is equal (Page No. – 524-525, Uttar Kand, Valmiki Ramayana; read the underlined text in the image given above).

Further, I would also like to quote here the concept of ‘Rule of Law,’ which means, every person is subject to the law, including people who are lawmakers, law enforcement officials, and judges.

In Lord Rama’s one arrow, there was tremendous power, as it could have dried out hundreds of oceans simultaneously, but instead of using his such power, Lord Rama preferred to implore the Ocean to give him way so that he and his sepoys (Army) can cross the Ocean to reach the Lanka (page no. 109, Sunder Kand, Ramcharitmanas – Tulsidas; read the underlined text in the image given below)

Source of Fundamental Rights: Traces in Hindu Mythology

Lord Rama’s such disciplined act illustrates that in spite of having unlimited power, he did not prefer to misuse that rather followed the “Rule of Law.”

Next provision is prohibition of discrimination:
Article 15: it is read as:

“The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.”

Besides, Article 17: it is read as:

“Untouchability” is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. The enforcement of any disability arising out of “Untouchability” shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.

Traces of these two provisions can be apparently seen at many places, but I would like cite Tulsidas’s Ramcharitmanas.

Lord Rama while crossing the river Ganga with his wife Sita and Brother Lakshmana, the respect he gave to a lower cast boatman namely Kevat; it reflects his indiscriminatory practices. 
Source of Fundamental Rights: Traces in Hindu Mythology

Besides, Lord Rama’s visit to lower cast old lady namely Shabari’s home and accepting food there also reflects that he never practiced discrimination and untouchability (Araṇya-Kāṇḍa – Ramcharitmanas, Tulsidas; read the underlined text in the image given above).

Next Provision is –
Article 16: it is read as:

“No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect of, any employment or office under the State.”

The evidence of practice of “equality of opportunity in matters of public employment” can noticeably be seen in Tulsidas’ Ramcharitmanas, as Lord Rama appointed armies and given post based on their talent and capability and essentially not on the basis of cast or class system. Secondly, in sage Vedvyas’ Mahabharta, prince Duryodhana and Karna’s relation brazenly illustrates practice of equality. Duryodhana not only had given the top most post to Karna, but also accepted him as his friend and gave the place beside himself; in spite of knowing the fact that Karna was the son of a lower cast couple (note: don’t confuse about the original story of Karna, as Duryodhana did not know that – the only fact known to Duryodhana was, Karna was the son of a lower cast couple, so no need to discuss that fact at this point in time).

Next provision is -

Article 19: it is read as:
(a) to freedom of speech and expression;
(b) to assemble peaceably and without arms;
(c) to form associations or unions;
(d) to move freely throughout the territory of India;
(e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India;
g) to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

Besides, Article 21 that read as:

“No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”

All such provisions (both Article 19 and Article 21) were implied in the governing system of ancient India, as there is hardly any evidence that distinctively points out any such repressive practices regarding any of the provisions of Article 19 or even Article 21 of the Constitution. 

One of the noticeable examples of such freedom (specifically freedom of speech and expression – Article 19 (1) (a)) can be seen in Valmiki Ramayana, Uttar Kand, page number – 515; read the underlined text in the image given below).  

Source of Fundamental Rights: Traces in Hindu Mythology

When Lord Rama returned back to Ayodhya after killing Ravana; the people of Ayodhya were started gossiping about Sita’s chastity. It reflects the level of freedom of speech and expression. People had the freedom to discuss their views and raise questions even against the queen and king of the State. Likewise, if I start enumerating such provisions, it is simply endless process.

So, if I compare both, then I can conclude like this that the concept of human rights in the United States or in some other such developed countries, had been adopted, incorporated through newly drafted texts and provisions, as it was not there from the beginning; on the contrary, in India, the concept of human rights was already there right from the beginning; so (in fact), we don’t need to proclaim any such thing in our text rather such acts are in our behavior carrying from the beginning itself. The practices of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (the meaning is – world is one family), and “Atithi Devo Bhava” (the meaning is – the guest is god) reflect the profoundness of our practices of human rights and fundamental rights. 

The learned thing can be unlearned; the provision that imposed to follow certain acts, can be easily ignored, manipulated, and broken. This is the reason that we can see more often people ignoring, manipulating, and breaking all such provisions. Another aspect of such provision is – if the provision made, it also gives clue to break it or commit the crime. But the thing that is in practice that cannot be unlearned nor manipulated and broken in a normal circumstance. 

Moreover, there is no evidence of any sort of discrimination practice (of such level that it required to legislate rules to curb that), until the advent of foreigners on Indian land; therefore, there is no evidence of such provision; such provision evidently required to those political entities where discrimination was prevalent. And, in India, the practices of discrimination and suppression of humans and then talking about the human rights provisions; everything is started and imposed by foreigners only. 


  1. In the given article, Sir has taken incidents from Ramayana and compared it with articles of the constitution of India. He took article 14 which says state shall not discriminate anyone and by following this article Ram Ji was not biased towards sita when he had to check chastity of sita when they all returned from Lanka after killing ravan, similarly, Sir has taken article 17, Article 19(1).

    1. Thank you for reading our article, hope you liked it. Keep reading.

  2. This was beautifully written with on point examples.
    Agreed with all the points except this- no discrimination practice traces were there before foreign invadors...what about karn from mahabharata and the discrimination done to him as he was soot.(just a thought)

    1. Nicely linked and articulated; however, as Ms Taru pointed out the question regarding the discrimination; on this point, I think writer has mentioned about the Karna, the story that Duryodhana accepted him as friend and given the equal status. However, as far I know, there is as such hardly any evidence of discrimination practiced at that time. But this is also true that at that time society was divided into caste and class, everyone had given their own work based on caste and class; but discrimination practice per se was not witnessed. Another fact that is evidenced i.e. if someone was talented enough, he had been given chance to get the job of higher class.

    2. Firstly, thank you for reading our article and we're glad that you like it and even give us a precious review.

      And for the part of discrimination;

      I agree with you that Discrimination is always there, even then, even now and in future as well.

      We can reduce it but eradication seems impossible because we just can't get rid of narrow minded people, and if there is even one person alive who discriminates, it is impossible.

      In this article, we try to connect it with different happenings from Hindu Mythological events.

  3. According to this Article as we can see India is one of the few countries in the world with a glorious tradition of democracy since ancient times.Since ancient times, people in India have had a tradition of performing their duties even in partial disregard of their rights and privileges. Since time immemorial, an individual’s the performance of one’s duties towards society, his/her country and his/her parents was emphasised in this article. The most important thing is that we are relating our greatest epics with our fundamental rights and duties. The Mahabharata and Ramayana also ask people to perform their duties. In the Gita, Lord Krishna ordains, “One should do one’s duties without expectation of any fruits”. And the same we can Relate with this article. I jus want to quote another example here from "Ramayana" that when Hanuman was convicted by Ravan and have been awarded capital punishment then Ravan's brother said that this is against the dharma shastras and the death sentence of Hanuman should be quashed This shows that our country for years practised the fundamental rights that a person should be heard before convicted. So on the accordance of this article Law is equal for everyone, and everyone is equal before the law.

    1. Thank you for your keen interest. I can also relate your example of Lord Hanuman. So, keep reading! we are going to upload more interesting article in near future.