Rajyangas

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Rājyāṅgas literally means ‘constituents of a State’.

According to the ancient and medieval works on political science or statecraft[1] like the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya[2] the rājyāṅgas or the constituents of a State are six. They are:

  1. Svāmin - king
  2. Mantri-pariṣad - council of ministers
  3. Janapada - people
  4. Durga and bala - fort and armed forces
  5. Kośa - treasury
  6. Mitra - allies

Svāmin

It means the King. The ancient and medieval works on political science recognized the great necessity for the office of the king or the supreme Head of the State. Since everything concerning the State ultimately depended upon him, he was expected to possess some basic qualities and proficiency in some specified fields. They were:

  • Physical strength and stamina
  • Expertise in the use of astras[3] and śastras[4]
  • Good knowledge of the four branches of learning viz., trayl,[5] ānvīkṣikī,[6] vārtā[7] and daṇḍaniti[8]

To understand the basic principles of dharma and act according to them, he must have been properly educated, refined and cultured. Self-control was an essential part of this training. Since the stability of the society depended on the strict maintenance of dharma by all concerned, and since the varṇa-āśrama-system was considered pivotal to it, the king was expected to enforce it strictly. In the process he was obliged to deal with the transgressors very sternly.

Contrary to the Western concept that the king was the owner of all the land over which he ruled, the dharmaśāstras ordained that the land did not belong to him as he was only its trustee. However he could have a private property built up from the funds allotted to him in the management of the State. Consequently he could give gifts only from this.

The king had a fixed, but strenuous, daily routine. Sufficient time was allotted for all legitimate activities such as:

  • Examining the income and expenditure position
  • Preparing a balanced budget
  • Tax- collections
  • Planning welfare schemes for the people
  • Consultations with the ministers
  • Secret meeting with the spies bringing information
  • Inspection of the armed forces and consultation with its officers
  • Spending some time with the family members and personal prayers

It goes without saying that always elaborate and strict arrangements were made for the personal safety of the king. Kings who aspired to become emperors cherished a great desire to perform sacrifices like the Rājasuya or Aśvamedha.

Mantrapariṣad

It means Council of Ministers. The ministry was usually in two tiers, the inner or core group and the outer or larger council. The inner core group comprised the crown-prince, the prime minister, the royal preceptor[9] and the commander-in-chief. All policy decisions and framing of laws were done by this inner group. The outer circle could consist of 8 to 23, or even more persons. They were important officers and heads of the department. This outer circle was mainly concerned with the implementation of the decisions taken by the inner circle. The king was expected not to go against the majority decisions.

Janapada

It means people. Since the kingdom, the entire governmental system, is meant for the welfare of the people, they must be kept happy and contented. For this they need security and all the opportunities for the development. The primary means of achieving this is by giving them food, clothing, shelter, health-care, education and avenues for employment. Hence, the king and his government must support and encourage all the organizations of public service such as trade guilds, labor unions, educational institutions and self-government agencies like the pañcāyats. As far as possible, all the welfare activities must be undertaken through them or with their co-operation.

Durga and Bala

It means forts and armed forces. During those days, forts were extremely important for the defense system. They used to be built in important places, including the inaccessible ones, for emergencies. Vantage points were always preferred. They would have outer and inner structures, secret tunnels, proper places for the soldiers, weapons, treasury, food and other essential commodities, and even secret places for hiding. Food and essential commodities were always kept in stock here. The espionage system was well organized.

There were proper provisions and methods for the raising and training of the armed forces which consisted of four divisions:

  1. Infantry
  2. Cavalry
  3. Chariot-force
  4. Elephant-force

Since ship-building was well-known even in the early period, powerful navies formed part of the armed forces. During wars and invasions, very strict rules were followed. A few of these are:

  • The soldiers should not fight with unarmed persons.
  • Weak persons, women and children, sick people and refugees must never be harmed.
  • No damage should be caused to agricultural fields and civilian industries.
  • There should be no looting or molestation in the conquered territory.
  • Local religions and customs must be honored and never interfered with.
  • Closest relative of the conquered king, if found fit, may be installed as the new king.
  • He was to be a sāmanta[10] paying tributes and supplying the army when the conquering king needs it.
  • He had complete autonomy in all other respects.
  • People of the conquered country had to be befriended by proper means.

Kośa

Kośa means treasury. No activity of the State can be undertaken unless there is enough money and wealth to back it up. Hence, collection of taxes was a primary duty of the State. The taxes levied were generally light or moderate and never heavy. Land revenue was the main tax. Irrigation tax was also collected wherever irrigation had been provided. The tax was generally one-sixth or one-fifth of the produce. Arts, crafts and trades were also taxed. Religious and educational institutions, disabled persons, unemployed people, sādhus[11] and brāhmaṇas[12] were exempted.

During droughts, famines and other national emergencies, taxes were either abolished or deferred. Emergency funds were built up in a separate treasury and were never touched except in grave and critical situations. There was a constant and strict supervision of accounts. Tax-collectors were expected to behave humanely and invited severe punishments for cruelty. The tax money was apportioned to various public purposes by proper budgetary procedures.

Mitra

Mitra means ally. For the consolidation of the State and help in emergencies, friends and allies were considered absolutely necessary. The first two of the four upāyas or means, viz., sāma[13] and dāna[14] are more prevalent in this regard. The other two bheda[15] and daṇḍa[16] were meant to be used against enemies and that too as a last resort. Potential enemies, when not amenable to sāma and dāna, were to be neutralized. Friendly countries were helped in their hour of need. Pacts signed were strictly honored. Virtuous king, ruling according to dharma, should not be attacked.

References

  1. It is Rājyaśāstra, Vārtā and Daṇḍanīti.
  2. He lived in 300 B. C.
  3. Astras means missiles.
  4. Śastras means weapons.
  5. Trayl means the Vedas.
  6. Ānvīkṣikī means logic.
  7. Vārtā means economics and political science.
  8. Daṇḍaniti means state-craft.
  9. Royal perceptor means rājaguru.
  10. Sāmanta means feudatory chief.
  11. Sādhus means recluses and monks.
  12. Brāhmaṇas means devoted to Vedic learning and an austere life.
  13. Sāma is a spirit of reconciliation.
  14. Dāna is the spirit of give and take.
  15. Bheda means splitting the enemy ranks.
  16. Daṇḍa means violent means including war.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore