By Bal Ram Singh, PhD
India has embarked on a mission of becoming a developed nation by 2047 to celebrate its 100th independence day. On the other hand, India of Mahatma Gandhi’s dream was to bring out Ramrajya, a concept that is derived from the practices in the kingdom of Rama during the Treta yuga, some 14,000 years ago.
A developed nation is considered to have high industrial and economic development with the following criteria, a strong economy, a technological infrastructure, and the citizens have a high quality of life overall. Specific criteria for such features are:
- Per capita income
- Political stability
- Freedom of citizens
- GNP (Gross National Product)
- GDP (Gross Domestic Product)
- Human Development Index
Currently the seven countries that are currently considered as the developed ones are – Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, United Kingdom, and the United States.
Mahatma Gandhi’s key features of the Ram Rajya are:
- It is a democratic system where the ruler rules with the pleasure of people
- There are equal rights for everyone
- Violence cannot be the means to achieve justice
- The justice is swift, accessible even to the poorest and at the lowest possible cost
- The rules are based on moral principles and the stress is on moral authority than realpolitik
- Government should uphold truth in its own actions and also expect the same from others
- Army doesn’t have a major role to play in governance
- Respect for all religions and faiths
The Yuddhakand of Valmiki Ramayan, which among others outlines the following features of Ramrajya:
न पर्यदेवन्विधवा न च व्यालकृतं भयम्।
न व्याधिजं भयन् वापि रामे राज्यं प्रशासति।।
While Rama was ruling the kingdom, there were no widows to lament, nor there was any danger from wild animals, nor any fear born of diseases.
सर्वं मुदितमेवासीत्सर्वो धर्मपरोअभवत्।
Every creature felt pleased. Every one was intent on virtue. Turning their eyes towards Rama alone, creatures did not kill one another.
आसन्वर्षसहस्राणि तथा पुत्रसहस्रिणः।।
निरामया विशोकाश्च रामे राज्यं प्रशासति।।
While Rama was ruling the kingdom, people survived for long years, with large number of their progeny, all free of illness and grief.
The Valmiki Ramayan sets such a high standard that current or past elected governments do not even pretend to be pursuing Ramrajya ideals. Nevertheless, political class is making efforts at some level to invoke Ramrajya for their actions.
Recently, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath stated that “that thousands of years ago, Lord Ram established the foundation of Ram Rajya by defeating falsehood and injustice. Following the ideals of Lord Ram, various essential amenities, including housing, sanitation facilities, food and healthcare, have been ensured for millions of impoverished individuals under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he stated.
There is some resemblances in positions stated by the politicians and the scenario presented by the sages like Valmiki and swamis like Goswami Tulsidas, the author of Ramcharit Manas. In Ramcharit Manas, the following is outlined for the Ramrajya.
दैहिक दैविक भौतिक तापा। राम राज नहिं काहुहि ब्यापा॥
(Under the rule of Shri Ram there was none who suffered from affliction of any kind whether of the body, or proceeding from divine or supernatural agencies or that caused by another living being.)
सब नर करहिं परस्पर प्रीती। चलहिं स्वधर्म निरत श्रुति नीती॥
(All men loved one another: each followed one’s prescribed duty, conformably to the precepts of the Vedas.)
अल्पमृत्यु नहिं कवनिउ पीरा। सब सुंदर सब बिरुज सरीरा॥
(There was no premature death nor suffering of any kind; everyone was comely and sound of body.)
नहिं दरिद्र कोउ दुखी न दीना। नहिं कोउ अबुध न लच्छन हीना॥
(No one was destitute, afflicted or miserable; no one was stupid or devoid of auspicious marks.)
These features described by both Sage Valmiki and Goswami Tulsidas are in terms of what was on the ground reality of the Ramrajya. At least these elements seem to being addressed by the political class.
However, his other points of political class setting examples in their own conduct, respect for all faiths, and rules based on the moral authority rather catering to the lowest instinct of people, people being the praja (creative), and finally the system of governance, such as centralized power of dominance, need further examination. How some of those critically examined points could be applied in India and perhaps the entire world to ensure environmental sustainability and public harmonization to usher into India reclaiming the Vishwa Guru mantle, need further analysis.
Balram Singh is a Professor and the President of the Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, Massachusetts, researching Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedic education, and Vedic social and political traditions. He is also adjunct faculty at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi.