The Humane Principles of Statecraft that Powered a Hindu Kingdom: Amatya Ramachandra Pant’s Profound Guidebook

In this episode of Amatya Ramachandra Pant's Ajnapatra, we observe the incredibly humane principles that guided the great Hindu Kingdom of Chhatrapati Shivaji and his descendants. This must be made prescribed reading especially to our bureaucrats today.
The Humane Principles of Statecraft that Powered a Hindu Kingdom: Amatya Ramachandra Pant’s Profound Guidebook

Read the Previous Episodes of this Series

The Humane Principles of Statecraft that Powered a Hindu Kingdom: Amatya Ramachandra Pant’s Profound Guidebook
What the Majestic Ajnapatra of Amatya Ramachandra Pant Teaches us about 18th Century Hindu Polity: An Introduction
The Humane Principles of Statecraft that Powered a Hindu Kingdom: Amatya Ramachandra Pant’s Profound Guidebook
How Shivaji Created a Hindu Kingdom from the Scratch: Ramachandra Pant's Vivid Description

Editor’s Note

In this episode, Amatya Ramachandra Pant provides a semi-detailed backgrounder which led to the composition of the brilliant Ajnapatra. The portions excerpted from it stand the test of time and our administrators, political theorists, academicians and even a general audience will undoubtedly derive immense benefit from reading it. It is perfectly consonant with the Sanatana method in which theory is not divorced from practice.

Written in an intimate, refined and soothing tenor, the learned Amatya addresses the document to his ruler Sambhaji II.

Read on!

The Need of enunciating Principles of State Policy

Your esteemed Majesty increased the prosperity of the kingdom, the administration of which was entrusted to you. You understand political affairs, policy and laws well. However in order that princes of long life who are the very ornaments to the kingdom should be well-versed in political affairs and that other governors and criminal officers in various parts of the country should protect the state by conducting themselves according to principles of good governance, this treatise on the principles of state policy in the form of this Royal Edict (Ajnapatra) in accordance with the Sastras.

Remembering it fully in mind you, should see that princes of long life are educated according to its principles. Similarly, the kingdom should be protected by making all the people perform their duties in consonance with it and according to the functions allotted to them.

The General Principles of State Policy and Organization

The Origin of Kingship

The whole world is created by the Bhagavan who is the ruler of all. He first created kings in this world. Amongst the people, every individual is the same but temperaments differ. Therefore, if they have no protector who would make for them one common law, they would quarrel and fight with one another and be destroyed. This should not happen. All the people should be free from trouble and should follow the path of Dharma. Out of compassion for people, Bhagavan in his full favour has granted us this kingdom.

Private Functions of the Ruler

Fully realizing in mind the fear that if this command of the Bhagavan is disobeyed, his anger will fall on him, a ruler without ascending the throne but keeping himself vigilant and restrained should be ready all the time to look after the welfare of the people.

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Likewise, firmly believing that the ruler’s gains and losses are in the hands of Bhagavan and that they cannot be altered by any one, and supplicating the Bhagavan for protection, not becoming dependent on others internally and not disregarding the service of his subordinates, he should act with unswerving justice by attracting the minds of subordinates to himself according to rank and by adopting proper methods.

The ruler should follow that Dharma which is traditionally the best and which his ancestors had followed, and should perform deeds by which fame is acquired.

He should have great fear of bad reputation in all undertakings.

Kings who lived in the past succeeded in this world and acquired the next with the help of Dharma. Believing with a firm confidence that the practice of Dharma, the worship of Bhagavan, the acquisition of the favour of saintly persons, the attainment of the welfare of all, and the prosperity of the kingdom should be uninterrupted and regulated, the king should settle grants according to their special Punya on temples of Devatas, places of pilgrimage, holy centres of Santana Dharma, hermitages of saints and places so that the daily ablution of water, worship, offerings, annual pilgrimages and great festivals may be well performed. The King should continue these traditions uninterruptedly by making frequently inquiries with kindness.

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Showing great devotion to Brahmanas, Vaidikas, those versed in Sastras, those free from desire and worldly ties, those subsisting on alms but without begging, those living in forests, those practicing austerity and holy men, and providing for their maintenance, he should acquire blessings for the increase of his welfare. He should not put faith in those persons who assume disguises, fakirs, yogis, and others who practise sorcery and wander about, and without trusting them, he should through his servants send them away after giving them a few alms.

Opinions which are against Dharma should in no way be allowed to prevail. If such Adharmic opinions were to rise, then he should make a personal inquiry and punish it duly so that no one would follow that wicked path. The King should also destroy it and not associate himself with such people.

Holding universal compassion towards the blind, the crippled, the diseased, the helpless and those without any means of subsistence, he should arrange for their means of livelihood so long as they live.

Personal Protection

Except in case of mortal fights, Kings should always be very careful at least about their personal protection. After careful inquiry, those persons who are very trustworthy, hereditarily in service, honest and not greedy should be appointed in kitchens, places of water and fruits, dressing-rooms and other important royal household departments as also in other public royal establishments.

By taking work from these subordinates according to the functions allotted to them and by treating everyone with equal regard by virtue of his authority, the King should keep them contented and look after them so that none of them would feel any want about their maintenance. Everything should be done which would keep them ready and pleased in his service.

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If any doubt is felt about their conduct, an immediate inquiry should be made in accordance with the principles of Dharma. If a doubt against a servant cannot be removed, he should be positively dismissed from that work and given other work. If he deserves punishment, then he should be punished. This matter should not be neglected.

Similarly those servants who are to be kept near the King’s person should be judged as to whether they are very trustworthy and intelligent and act after knowing their master’s purpose and intent. Such servants should be brave, of agreeable appearance, with auspicious marks and are not cruel. Only after ascertaining all these should they be employed.

They should be treated cordially and with kind regard, and whatever makes them live loyally and devotedly without caring for any other master but himself, should be done. They should be paid well so that they should not find it necessary to look to others for their maintenance. They should be made to observe a certain amount of discipline so that they do not get accustomed to going to other's houses without permission, to speak out secrets or to commit other wrongdoing. They should not insult high officials or carry gossip. From amongst them, everyone should be promoted and encouraged according to the measure or importance of his work.

To be continued

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