10 Moral Duties of Kings (Governments)
The Buddha posited that governments have certain responsibilities to their people. The basic framework of Buddhist ethics for rulers is set out in the “Ten Duties of the King” (dasa-raja-dhamma). This version is taken from What the Buddha Taught, the 1959 classic introduction to Buddhism by Walpola Rahula.
1. Dana — liberality, generosity, charity. The ruler should
not have craving and attachment for wealth and property, but
should give it away for the welfare of the people.
2. Sila — a high and moral character. He should never
destroy life, cheat, steal and exploit others, commit
adultery, utter falsehood, or take intoxicating drinks.
3. Pariccaga — sacrificing everything for the good of the
people. He must be prepared to give up all personal comfort,
name and fame, and even his life, in the interest of the
4. Ajjava — honesty and integrity. He must be free from fear
and favour in the discharge of his duties, must be sincere in
his intentions, and must not deceive the public.
5. Maddava — kindness and gentleness. He must possess a
6. Tapa — austerity of habits. He must lead a simple life,
and should not indulge in a life of luxury. He must have
7. Akkodha — freedom from envy, ill-will, enmity. He should
bear no grudge against anybody.
8. Avihimsa — non-violence, which means not only that he
should harm nobody, but that he should try to promote peace by
avoiding and preventing war, and everything which involves
violence and destruction of life.
9. Khanti — patience, forbearance, tolerance, understanding.
He must be able to bear hardships, difficulties and insults
without losing his temper.
10. Avirodha — non-opposition, non-obstruction, that is to
say that he should not oppose the will of the people, should
not obstruct any measures that are conducive to the welfare of
the people. In other words he should rule in harmony with the
How awesome it would be to see more governments abiding by these principles.
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