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February 27, 2005
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February 27, 05

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Home > 2005 Issues > February 27, 05

Some wisdom on ruler and ruled

By Manju Gupta

Trivarga Siddhanta by M. Rama Jois, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 140 pp, Rs 75.00

Vedic vision and wisdom and the Bhagavad Gita proclaim that four purusharthas (goal of mankind) when righteously observed bring bliss to mankind. These purusharthas are Dharma or right conduct, artha or creation of wealth through righteous means, kama or satisfaction of rightful desires and moksha or salvation. It is said that absence of Dharma, artha or kama renders life futile. However, legitimacy of both artha and kama depends on conforming to Dharma. The scriptures therefore call these three purusharthas as trivarga.

The author, Justice Rama Jois explains in this book the trivarga doctrine as evolved by ancient seers and saints. The Indian philosophy considers kama and artha as valid human pursuits but lobha (greed) and moha (attachment) as unethical because they tend to work against social interests. To prevent these two pursuits from being anti-social, the Indian philosophy presents a third vital human pursuit, mainly Dharma. Even Lord Krishna, the human manifestation of the divine self in a being, had endorsed the validity of kama in the Bhagavad Gita. He said, ?I am that kama (sensual desire) in all beings, which is not opposed to Dharma. But this pursuit of satisfaction of desires has to be regulated by an ethical sense, so that all persons in a society get the opportunity to satisfy their urges.?

The Hindu epics had declared that the rule of trivarga should be followed both by the rulers and the ruled for peace and prosperity. In fact this was the doctrine that prevailed in the country throughout the centuries and was followed by individuals including those who exercised political power. The author regrets that the doctrine was forgotten when the country came under foreign rule as also after Independence because of adoption of the materialistic Western way of life. He deplores our accent on economic prosperity (artha) and on fulfillment of desires (kama) as the basis for peace and happiness.

The author has rightly concluded by quoting from Bharat Ratna C. Subramaniam?s summary of Mahatma Gandhi?s views: ?Gandhiji?s ideal of the ideal polity was Ramarajya. It stood for a society wherein a high, ethical standard of life is characterised by the pursuit of purusharthas-Dharma, artha, kama and moksha. It is the prevalence of Dharma, which characterises an ideal society. Such a society is possible only if the governance of the country is based on clear, efficient and transparent administration. In the past, the king was not only a symbol but was the ruler and administrator and the king had to observe the Dharma of the ruler, functioning in a selfless manner for the prosperity, harmony and happiness of his people. This is Gandhiji?s concept of Ramarajya. Today, we have responsible governments run by elected representatives. If the rulers do not observe Dharma, it will become a Ravanarajya. We have to make a choice between Ramarajya and Ravanarajya. In other words, Dharma is given the supreme position controlling artha (wealth) and kama (desire).?

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