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Concept of Rajdharma

Today there is no real dharmika country in the world. Similarly there is no religion that as a whole shines with dharma. People confuse dharma with a religious belief or dogma or with a religious fatwa. The restoration of dharmika ways of life is perhaps the key to the regeneration of humanity. True dharma is understood when we understand the nature of things, particularly when we understand  our self-nature. It requires sensitivity to life. Then we can live and act in the world with respect for the sacred nature of all creatures.
Rajdharma proceeds to guide the individual to incorporate spirituality to guide the individual to incorporate spirituality in his/her work life and in his personal life. The thoughts do not focus on traditional or orthodox values and visions of religious duties, but on techniques by which one can become an effective competitor in the world market. The spiritual dimension refers to the revival of inner strength, which is a sensitivity which can be felt and experienced but not measured. This prepares the individual to cope with the environmental scramble and existential stress. It also helps the individual to become a naturally happy person with no real gap between his public and private face. Such persons become inspired workers and their inspiration is derived from spiritual strength and reinforced by positive thinking.


May the capacity to understand Rajdharma dawn on all people!


Vedic Rajdharma
The Rig-Veda and the Atharveda are important as a source-book of ancient Indian polity. Some suktas of the Atharvaveda contain references to the election of the king, the constitution and responsibilities of the 'sabha' and 'samiti' coronation of the King, prayers for success in the battle, the defeat of the enemies etc., These mantras are the valuable sources for the later literature on Indian polity. Since monarchy is a public office, its occupant must have all the qualities necessary for its successful functioning and he must be accepted as such by the society.

The vedic prince was subjected to:
(1) an elaborate system of education and training,
 (2) bind the king by an oath,
 (3) regulate his conduct and functions,
 (4) limit his arbitrariness and
(5) finally reserve to the people the right of tyrannicide.

People could accept a prince as their king only if he had the qualities of leadership, courage, bravery ability to control himself, kindness feeling for his fellow beings and good character. His conduct was strictly regulated by law and his daily routine fixed by a time-table. The vedic 'Rajan' was created for a specific social purpose and was made to live for it. He had to sacrifice his personal dharma was resented by the people. Sukra advises the king to improve his own behaviour in the light of the comments os the people. The first function of the king according to Bhisma was to conquer himself. This was more in the interest of the king himself.

The rishis conceived of a social order rooted firmly in  Rita the eternal spiritual and moral law and protected by political power, whose function was to create and maintain conditions conducive for the realisation of 'purusartha' by all. Accordingly, brahama and Kshatriya, the spiritual power and temporal power were conceived as the upholders of the social order, while the brahma was to define and interpret dharma from time to time and lay down rules and regulations for all people and groups, it was for the kshatriyas to protect the social order. The kshatriya of the ruling power had to seek its justification in protecting the good and punishing the wicked so that the world order could progress smoothly. It had to be guided, controlled and supported by the spiritual order. Ksharitya divorced from spiritual energy harms not only the social harmony but also destroys itself. Therefore, the wielders of kshatriya are to be properly trained, educated, guided and regulated by the elders and the learned in the society.

Thus was created a political order which derived its strength from the spiritual order and whose sole function was the protection of social order. It is significant to note that this temporary power, more precisely the ruler, was not the sovereign. He had powers, no doubt to enable him to fulfill his obligations efficiently, but he had to exercise his powers according to dharma which was the real sovereign. Kshatrasaya Kshatram.The firm belief in the supremacy of the eternal spiritual law and a political and social order sustained by dharma are the distinguishing features of the vedic society. Rashtra mentioned often in the Rigveda and other vedic works definitely means a Kingdom or state. It was a union of villages and towns. The head of a village was gramina.The rajan was the symbol of all the people and the elements and intersts of the state. He was entrusted with the responsiblilty of protecting the state and of enhancing its property.

The coronation ceremony was actually the ceremony of entrusting the ruler with this duty. There are several mantras in the Rigveda and the Atharvaveda which suggest that the ruler was at some period in the past, elected by the people, while some of the mantras refer to the unanimous election of the king.
 Several sacrifices such as Rajasuya Vajapeya, Ashavamedha, Purusamedha, Sarvamedha, Aindara Mahabhiseka mentioned in the sacred texts were performed by rulers. The Rajasuya was to be performed by the Kshatriyas only or those who desired to be kings, for by its performance alone one could become a king.

Therefore, the Rajasuya was the most significant ceremony at which kingship was invested in a person. Only a consecrated king was a valid or legal ruler.  The most significant part of the ceremony was the king's taking an oath of good rule.
Then the ruler is accepted and announced to the people. The coronation ceremony was of considerable significance. It bound the ruler by his solemn oath to a rule of law and justice. It ensured the consent and support of the people, and the duties and the obligations of the ruler were specifically announced during the ceremony, while the pomp and splendor, the majesty and excellence of the ruler are displayed, the ruler's responsibilities towards the country and his subordination to Dharma are also emphasised in the course of this ceremony.

Their is comparatively little about the King's rights and privileges but on the other hand, the greatest emphasis is laid on the king's duties and responsibilities. The king was warned that failure to perform his duties would lead to his own destruction.


 Sabha and Samiti

Two popular assemblies Sabha and Samiti that are regarded as the most important features of the Vedic polity. It is unanimously held that these two assemblies had a significant place in the vedic polity and provided opportunities for the people or some prominent individuals to exercise effective control over the ruler and his administration.

The Atharvaveda (17.138)k contains the following passage which throws some light on the nature of these two bodies."May the samiti and the sabha the two daughters of Prajapati, concurrently, aid me, may he, with whom I shall meet, co-operate with me, may I, obey fathers, speak agreeably to those assembled."The Sabha was an assembly of the elders, the learned and the prominent. The king usually attended the meeting but it had perhaps its own Sabhapati. It discussed all problems- political religious, philosophical and cultural. Its position was an exalted one. Its membership was an honour; an opportunity to address it was one's good fortune. Every poet aspired to win the applause of the Sabha.
 
Every father prayed for a son worthy of a place in the Sabha.
The Samiti was an assembly of the people. The representatives of various classes and villages gathered together to discuss mainly political problems. This house had a decisive voice in framing the policy or guiding the ruler. The discussion in both these assemblies were free and often spirited.It is particularly interesting to note that the Sabha is called narista as its decisions, taken by many are not to be violated. This certainly suggests that there was a practice of arriving at a decision by free discussion and the principle of majority.

In later times the Sabha continued to be an institution of considerable influence and dignity. The Mahabharata declares its essential features when it states, "There is no Sabha where there are no elders, and they are no elders who do not declare dharma". The Sabha was a common feature of every village. It is beyond doubt that Vedic monarch was sub-ordinated to the will of the people, and the dharma and therefore, it was in a way constitutional monarchy. The real sovereign was Dharma. The opinion of the people expressed through the assemblies and their leaders had considerable influence on the administration.

The Vedic ruler was a generous patron of learning and culture and the protector of the needy. It had the essential features of a liberal welfare state which was assiduously developed by monarchs and emperors of the subsequent ages. It is no wonder that the tradition of the vedic ruler has survived even now albeit in a different form.

The prayer of the vedic ruler which should be the prayer of all administrators of the people is this "let my subjects be satisfied, my herds be satisfied, my people be satisfied, let not my people be needy." (Yaj. Vaj.-6.31).

The king was always to act according to the advise of the ministers nobles and elders.

1. The ruler was bound by an oath to a rule of Dharma.
2. The king was thus created and accepted by the people to perform these functions:

(a) to please the people.
(b) to protect them.
(c) always to seek their welfare.
(d) to establish all his subjects in the observance of their respective duties.
(e) to punish wrong doers.
(f) to practice the virtues of promptitude, energy, truthfulness, self-restraint, humility, righteousness and compassion.The king was held responsible for every calamity, misery mishap or loss. He was the maker of the age. The king was therefore, to be always energetic, vigilant and affectionate. He was in brief the first servant of the people. The Khsatra of the Khatriya must spiritualised by  Dharma- the concern and active work for justice and welfare for all.

Therefore, an ideal king is according to Kautilya, a Rajrishi. Bhismacharya the Grand old man of the Mahabharata sums up the the essentials of kingship thus-
"Sacrifice of the self, Kindness towards all beings, understanding and protection of all people, redress of the aggrieved and the rescue of the oppressed. These constitute the Dharma of rulers".

The keen desire of the ancient Indians for a just and good administration is reflected in the prayer recited atr most of the public rituals and ceremonies.
 Swasti prajabhaya paripalyantam nyayayen margen mahim mahisha |Go Brahmanebhaya shuhmastu nityam lokaha samastah sukhino bhavantu||

1. To sum up, Kingship was a public office deliberately created by the leaders of the society.
2. The administration was well disciplined and well managed in Vedic India.
3. Corruptive officers were punished.
4. The king was easily accessible even to the common man in Vedic India.
5. There were no mediators between the ruler and the ruled.
6. The king himself used to look into the royal affairs and to check the accounts.
7. Therefore, the kings in Vedic India could rule for a long period successfully.
8. The king was the symbol of the Union and Solidarity of the people.
9. Illiterates were not given the administrative powers.
10. Literacy was encouraged and well-maintained.
11. The Rajan was the symbol of harmony of all the people and he was entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the state and of enhancing its prosperity.
12. The king occupied a position of pre-eminence which was deliberately distinguished in all possible ways from the rest of the people. And it is also necessary to note, the most striking feature of the Vedic India, monarchy in general was its sub-ordination to Dharma.