The Buddha is generally associated with the doctrine of Ahimsa. That is taken to be the be-all and end-all of his teachings. Hardly any one knows that what the Buddha taught is something very vast: far beyond Ahimsa. It is therefore necessary to set out in detail his tenets. I enumerate them below as I have understood them from my reading of the Tripitaka :
1. Religion is necessary for a free Society.
2. Not every Religion is worth having.
3. Religion must relate to facts of life and not to theories and speculations about God, or Soul or Heaven or Earth.
4. It is wrong to make God the centre of Religion.
5. It is wrong to make salvation of the soul as the centre of Religion.
6. It is wrong to make animal sacrifices to be the centre of religion.
7. Real Religion lives in the heart of man and not in the Shastras.
8. Man and morality must be the centre of religion. If not, Religion is a cruel superstition.
9. It is not enough for Morality to be the ideal of life. Since there is no God it must become the Jaw of life. 10. The function of Religion is to reconstruct the world and to make it happy and not to explain its origin or its end.
11. That the unhappiness in the world is due to conflict of interest and the only way to solve it is to follow the Ashtanga Marga.
12. That private ownership of property brings power to one class and sorrow to another.
13. That it is necessary for the good of Society that this sorrow be removed by removing its cause.
14. All human beings are equal.
15. Worth and not birth is the measure of man.
16. What is important is high ideals and not noble birth.
17. Maitri or fellowship towards all must never be abandoned. One owes it even to one’s enemy.
18. Every one has a right to learn. Learning is as necessary for man to live as food is.
19. Learning without character is dangerous.
20. Nothing is infallible. Nothing is binding forever. Every thing is subject to inquiry and examination.
21. Nothing is final.
22. Every thing is subject to the law of causation.
23. Nothing is permanent or sanatan. Every thing is subject to change. Being is always becoming.
24. War is wrong unless it is for truth and justice.
25. The victor has duties towards the vanquished. This is the creed of the Buddha in
a summary form. How ancient hut how fresh!
How wide and how deep are his teachings!
– Dr B R Ambedkar