Sunday, August 15, 2010

Raj Dharma - 3

Recap: Part 1 and Part 2

In the third part of the series, we will see the qualities of a ruler according to the Arthashastra by Kautilya. My attempt here is to paraphrase material from the rendition of Arthashastra by L.N. Rangarajan, and try to produce a generalized attempt at understanding the conditioning of a king, his self control and his duties as explained in the Arthashastra which are essential parts to understand for people of a democracy, so that they can choose the right kind of leader for themselves. Those aspiring to participate in politics should also have a brush with these topics, since these qualities are to be expected of them as well:

Note: I am only skimming these ideas in brief. For a complete study, I urge you to buy the book I'm reading (click), or another translation of the Arthashastra.

Training a king: (In modern parlance, a PM?)

Importance of self discipline:

The three sciences [philosophy, the three Vedas {four now} and economics] are dependent on the science of government. Without the rule of law, pursuit of learning or vocation would not be possible. The rule of law can guarantee security and welfare of the people, and this rule of law is dependent on the self discipline of the leader. {1.5-2}

This self discipline is of two kinds - 1) Inborn and 2) Acquired. There needs to be a certain capacity of a person to benefit from training in discipline. This includes - obedience to a teacher, desire and ability to learn, capacity to retain, understanding, reflecting and ability to make inferences on what is learnt. A king should be able to acquire discipline and follow it in life.

Self Control:

This part mostly pertains to controlling the senses, not falling prey to lust, anger, greed, conceit, arrogance and foolhardiness. The leaders of a nation should avoid over-indulgence in the pleasure of the senses i.e, hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell.

Duties of a king:

The King is advised by Kautilya to be a Rajarishi {who is wise like a sage}. The features of such a king include:

- Having self control, conquering the temptations of the senses.
- Cultivates intellect by association with elders (in modern parlance, experts from various fields).
- Keeps a vast spy network.
- Is ever active in promoting security and welfare of the people,
- Ensures observance of dharma by people by authority and example.
- Endears himself to people by enriching them and doing good to them.
- Avoid daydreaming, acting by whims, falsehood and extravagance.
- Respect councillors and purohitas who warn him of bad behavior, make him follow his schedule and caution him when he errs.

Kautilya also advises the king to be energetic. If he is so, the subjects will be equally energetic. If he is slack, the subjects will be too and be a load on the economy. A lazy king as per Kautilya, is of ten a victim of his enemies.

Disaffection among subjects:
Besides, the king also has to control disaffection among his subjects, and must not act in a manner which would cause impoverishment, greed or disaffection among the people. If such a thing were to occur, he should take remedial measures {7.5.28}

The Arthashastra also warns the king against possible behavior which causes impoverishment, greed and disaffection among the subjects. This it says to happen when:

- The king ignores the good and favors the wicked.
- Causes harm by new unrighteous practices.
- Neglects the observation of proper and righteous practices.
- Supresses dharma and propagates adharma.
- Indulges in wasteful expenditure and destroys profitable undertakings.
- Antagonizes the knowledgeable by lying and mischief.

From {7.5.19-26} Such would cause resentment of the people against the King, cause rebellion and an opportunity of mischief in the country for the enemy. (Sounds similar, doesn't it?)

In addition to this, I would also like you to go over the earlier two parts of this series to have a complete review on the topic of Raj Dharma (Part 1 and Part 2) as covered until now. Let this also be a lesson for this Independence day. The pathetic and lax attitude of India's democratic rulers are one reason for our current condition. The other reason is public being unaware of the properties they need to look for in a leader, often getting swayed by petty issues like caste, free food, free electricity, narrow regionalist outlook, quota, etc. From a morally corrupt citizenry, only a morally corrupt leadership can emerge. May the above be a template for us to choose our leaders wisely, and to participate in the democracy with additional fervor than what we regularly show. The solution to a failing democracy as ours is not no democracy, as so many deluded people believe today, but is more democracy. The power is yours people, to be the change you wish to see in the society.

P.S: Some of these ideas have found a better, more fluid and contemporary expression in this article: click. Give them a tribute as well.

|| जय हिंद ||

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Are Samkhya Yoga and Karma Yoga inter-dependent?

Lord Krishna in chapter 5 of the Bhagavada Gita explains the importance of devotional work over renunciation of work in shloka 2 as follows:

श्री-भगवान उवाचा
संन्यासः करमा-योगस का
निह्स्रेयासा-करव उभौ
तयोस तू करमा-संन्यसत
करमा-योगो विसिस्यते ।
"The Personality of Godhead replied: The renunciation of work and work in devotion are both good for liberation. But, of the two, work in devotional service is better than renunciation of work."

And then comes the piece which is our topic for today in the 4th shloka of the chapter.

संख्या-योगौ प्रिथाग ब्लाह
प्रवदन्ति न पण्डितः
एकं अप्य अस्थितः संयाग
उभयोर विन्दते फलं।
"Only the ignorant speak of devotional service [karma-yoga] as being different from the analytical study of the material world [Sankhya]. Those who are actually learned say that he who applies himself well to one of these paths achieves the results of both."

So, this gives the impression that Sankhya yoga and Karma yoga are tied to each other. But is it? What if somebody decides to do only an analytical study of the world, with material lusts as a guiding factor? The results of that would be utterly different from a person who dedicates himself to a devotional service to the Lord. We can see that from the difference in outcome of a person who is dedicated to the material sciences, who is duly rewarded for his work in money and in fame and all through does not develop any devotion towards anything, while a person who is dedicated to devotional service might live a life of penury without acquiring any analytical knowledge of the material world. Then how can it be said, that an analytical study of the material world -- Sankhya Yoga can lead to realization of results of devotional service -- Karma Yoga, and Karma Yoga can lead to the results of Sankya Yoga?

Or is this an indication of how corrupted our society has become, that we give importance only to the material world and not the physical or spiritual. Perhaps a union of the results of the two was possible in earlier times and not now? Is thus the Gita an indicator of a pristine, pure age? If that is the case, we ought to correct our approach to life to restore the old ways, or if it has always been like this for ages, we can continue along our current path of rewarding endeavours in the material world over those in the spiritual world.

Need citations/links from followers and readers on this topic.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Dandniti

Quite often, politics involves conflicts of some kind. Some of them are among the King's own royal family/ PM's own party and some of them are between other enemies, sometimes of another party or sometimes of another country. Effective politics for a political power involves resolving these conflicts in its favor. Successful resolution of conflicts such that the issue never crops up again can ensure a long and unbroken stint of power for a politican / king.

One such doctrine of settling conflicts among political powers has captured the Indian mind since a long time. It is the four pronged approach of 'sama', 'dana' , 'bheda' and 'danda' (meaning conciliation, bribing, division and destruction) towards the enemy.

With today's India being pinned down on all its borders by indifferent or inimical interests, and Hindu Dharma being pinned down inside India by its sworn enemies, understanding the Dandniti becomes a prerequisite of Indians and Hindus and more so for those attempting to or desiring to join politics or do some social service. The four methods can be used singly, or in combination. Thus, there are fifteen combinations of tactics for dealing with conflicts by either choosing one, two, three or all four of these methods for dealing with conflicts. {9.7.77-78} The order of employing these methods could be an easier one first or a harder one first. Besides, it is easier to employ the earlier method in the order. For instance, 'dana' is two times more difficult than 'sama', 'bheda' is three times harder than 'sama' and 'danda' is four times more difficult than 'sama'.

The following is the Dandniti as explained by Chanakya in the Arthashastra and as translated by LN Rangarajan in edition from Penguin Classics (with some changes).

"Sama" - Conciliation:
'Sama' can be deployed in four ways
  1. Praising the merits: This can be done by flattering a person on the basis of his pedigree, personal qualities, occupation, good nature, learning or wealth.
  2. Linkage: Emphasizing relationship with the inimical entity such as a blood relation, relation by marriage, being students of the same teacher and other such commonalities.
  3. Mutual benefits: Explaining how solving the conflict can benefit the two parties. {2.10.48-53}
  4. Awards and honours: To award an internal enemy and give him honours to tame his warring tendency. {9.5.10}
"Dana" - Placating with gifts:
'Dana' can be employed by rewarding the enemy with money, granting favors, exempting from taxes and giving employment. {2.10.54, 9.5.11} In essence, bribing him to join the flock again. The gifts can be of five kinds: giving up demand on what is owed, return something received, donate something, allowing to keep something from the enemy. {9.6.24}

"Bheda" - Sowing dissension:
This is done by creating mutual suspicion between members of the enemy camp or by threatening one of them. {2.10.55} Techniques for this involve the use of secret agents to sow rumors of some kind.

"Danda" - Use of Force:
Basically, involves the destruction of the enemy, his property or liberty (plunder, harassment and death) {2.10.56}

Chanakya also provides some examples of usage of these tactics:
In case the target is a relative, the appropriate method is conciliation and placating with gifts. For citizens of a city, village or army, either placating with gifts or sowing dissension should be the option. In case of the tribal people or enemies, the method is dissension or use of force. This order is anuloma [natural and recommended]. If the order of methods are reversed, e.g. : 'danda' before 'bheda' ; 'dana' before 'sama', it is called pratiloma. {9.7.68,69}

In case of allies and enemies, a combination of methods ensures success because the different methods mutually reinforce each other {}

Some methods are ideal in some cases and does not require the usage of others. Enemy ministers whose loyalty is uncertain can be grouped by conciliation, traitorous ministers can be pacified by gifts, a confederacy of an enemy can be disrupted by dissension and against a powerful enemy it can be outright war. {9.7.72}

With the idea of India gaining enemies immediately after its birth, Hindu Dharma's enemies being around for a long time, and the case getting progressively worse over the years, every Indian ought to master all the above four methods. That can increase the possibility of getting people in the political sphere who can deploy these tactics against India's and Hindu Dharma's enemies. Besides this, for us this post will also act as an appendix for future works