Though its origin could be traced to the ancient and medieval periods, human rights as a concept and policy instrument became popular in the 20th century, particularly after the promulgation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations in 1948. There are many scholarly studies on the subject, but most of them adopt a Eurocentric approach. Scarcely there are studies which bring into focus a Vedanta perspective on the subject. The concept of practical Vedanta, popularized by Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th century, could be considered a precursor to the idea of human rights. Vedanta philosophy, Swami Vivekananda argued, has no value unless it addresses everyday problems confronted by human society including the exploitation of the weak, discrimination against women, and problems like poverty and illiteracy. He argued that for universal peace it is necessary that individuals come out of their selfish boundaries and think of the world as one family (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam). This Vedanta perspective with its deep philosophical and practical underpinnings is relevant for human rights policy and practice
In this course the students will be able to:
- Survey the evolution of the concept of human rights from a Vedanta perspective.
- Study select Vedic hymns to demonstrate how those hymns could be considered the foundation of human rights.
- Relate the ancient knowledge with the modern concept of human rights and apply that knowledge for the benefit of human society and the world.
Area of Study: Conflict and Peace Studies
Required / Elective: Elective
Prerequisites: Admission into a Program of Study
Faculty: Dr. Debidatta. A. Mahapatra