By Swami Harshananda
Rājyāṅgas literally means ‘constituents of a State’.
Rājyāṅgas as per Arthaśāstra
- Svāmin - king
- Mantri-pariṣad - council of ministers
- Janapada - people
- Durga and bala - fort and armed forces
- Kośa - treasury
- Mitra - allies
Svāmin literally 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 and śastras
- Good knowledge of the four branches of learning viz.:
To understand the basic principles of dharma and act according to them, one 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 even 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. 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 the legitimate activities such as:
- Examining the income and expenditure position
- Preparing a balanced budget
- Planning welfare schemes for the people
- Consultations with the ministers
- Secret meeting with the spies bringing information
- Inspection of the armed forces
- Consultation with its officers
- Spending some time with the family members
- Personal prayers
Mantripariṣad literally means Council of Ministers. The ministry was usually in two tiers:
- Inner or core group
- Outer or larger council
The inner or core group comprised the:
- Prime minister
- Royal preceptor
All policy decisions and framing of laws were done by the inner group. The outer circle could consist of 8 to 23 or even more persons. They were important officers and heads of the departments. The 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 literally means people. Since the kingdom or 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 development. The primary means of achieving this is by giving them food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, 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
- Self-government agencies like the pañcāyats
Mostly all the welfare activities must be undertaken through them or with their cooperation.
Durga literally means forts. 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
- Other essential commodities
- Secret places for hiding
Food and essential commodities were always kept in stock.
Bala literally means armed forces. 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:
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, 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 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 literally 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, 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. Those who got the exemption from tax were:
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. They were punished severely for cruelty. The tax money was apportioned to various public purposes by proper budgetary procedures.
Mitra literally means ally. For the consolidation of the State and help in emergencies, friends and allies were considered absolutely necessary. The four upāyas or means were:
- Sāma - a spirit of reconciliation
- Dāna - the spirit of give and take
- Splitting enemy ranks
- Daṇḍa, violent means including war
The last two were resorted as the last option. The sage Vidyaraṇya, the chief architect of the Vijayanagara Empire, is said to have built up an emergency treasury worth 920 million varahas. He instructed the princes Harihara and Bukka never to touch it except in extreme emergencies.
There were some rules governing the principles of ally:
- Potential enemies, when not amenable to sāma and dāna were to be neutralized.
- Friendly countries were to be helped in their hour of need.
- Pacts signed were strictly honored.
- King who was virtuous and was ruling according to dharma should not be invaded.
- Statescraft includes Rājyaśāstra, Vārtā and Daṇḍanīti.
- He lived in 300 B. C.
- Astras means missiles.
- Śastras means weapons.
- Royal preceptor was called as rājaguru.
- Sāmanta is feudatory chief.
- Sādhus are the recluses and monks.
- Brāhmaṇas are devoted to Vedic learning and austere life.
- He lived in A. D. 1350.
- Varahas means gold coins.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore