Rājadharma

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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Rajadharma, RAjadharma, Raajadharma


Rājadharma literally means ‘duties of a king.

Qualities of a King

  • Since the State depended heavily on the king, he was expected to possess some basic qualities and proficiency in some fields like physical strength and stamina, expertise in the use of weapons and missiles and a good knowledge of economics and political science.
  • A basic knowledge of the Vedas and logic was also necessary.
  • It was his primary duty to see that all his subjects strictly followed the codes of varṇa-āśrama-dharma.
  • The transgressors were to be dealt with sternly.

Duties of A King as per Atrismrti

The duties and the responsibilities of a king or the ruler of a country, have been delineated in great detail by the epics, the purāṇas and the dharmaśāstras. Atrismrti[1] summarizes the whole topic in a superb though succinct manner. According to him the five duties of a king are:

  • Punishing the wicked
  • Honoring the good
  • Filling up the treasury by right means
  • Meting out justice impartially
  • Protecting the kingdom by all means at his disposal

Duties of a King as per Dharmaśāstras

The dharmaśāstras ordained that the land of the country was not his personal property though he too could own some land and build up his private property by the funds of the State allotted to him for his maintenance. The king had a fixed and strenuous daily routine. The legitimate activities prescribed were:

  • Examining the financial position of the State
  • Tax-collections
  • Preparing a balanced budget
  • Planning welfare schemes for the people
  • Consultation with the ministers and important officers
  • Secret meetings with spies
  • Inspection of armed forces and consultations with the commanders
  • Spending some time with the members of his own family.

Duties of King as per Mahābhārata

Elaborate arrangements were made for the safety of the person of the king. The Rājadharma section of the Mahābhārata[2] has elaborated the rājadharma in great details in 130 chapters.


References

  1. Atrismrti 28
  2. Śāntiparva, chs. 1 to 30
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore