The Ramayana Polity

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About the Author

 

Born in Madras on June 12, 1907, Miss pazhamaneri Chandrasekhar Dharma was educated at Ewart School, Madras, Queen Mary’s College, Madras and Presidency College, Madras. Her father Dr. P.S. Chandrasekhar, M.D., was a renowned physician, Tuberculosis specialist and a noted scholar. And her uncle Dr. Sir P.S. Sivaswamy Aiyer, was a legal luminary, statesman, publicist, savant and an authority on Indian Constitutional problems.

 

Miss P.C. Dharma was invited by Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya to become a Lecturer at Women’s College, Banaras Hindu University (BHU) until 1968.While serving as a Lecturer in History and Economics at the BHU, Miss Dharma worked on a Thesis on The Ramayana Polity as well as a voluminous index (in several volumes) to Valmiki Ramayana, which won for her the D. Litt of Madras University in 1940. Incidentally, she was the first Research Scholar to get a D. Litt of Madras University. She was principal, Woman’s College, Banaras Hindu University, from 1959 to 1968. Dr. Dharma had contributed scholarly articles on the status of women in ancient India to several learned periodicals and articles on cultural subjects and musical themes to English and Hindi newspapers. She was also a member of the Research Programmes Committee of the Planning Commission during the fifties. And she died at Madras on November 13, 1977.

 

Foreword

 

The Vedic Research and Cultural Foundation has been established with the objective of promoting research in our scriptures and for propagating Indian Culture. Among its various activities is a publication programme, and this is the second book in our planned series on various aspects of Vedic philosophy.

 

In recent times science and technology have made tremendous progress, and have given us fantastic benefits which are unparalleled in human history. And yet that very science and technology have given us the means of destruction, not only of the human race but perhaps of a” life on this planet. There is thus a deep crisis in the divergence between knowledge and wisdom, between “?????” and “???????”. If we are to survive as a race, we must bridge the gap between science and philosophy, and with the post-Einstenian Science, with the development of sub-nuclear physics, quantum mechanics and extra-galactic cosmology, the old rigidities of science have collapsed. Various new concepts in physics, mathematics and astronomy have brought about a situation where many of the approaches inherent in the mystical tradition are again becoming relevant.

 

In my view, India is the only country which can bring about this convergence between science and philosophy, because we alone of all the nations of the world have the philosophical background and also the scientific temper. The time has come when the wisdom contained in the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Epics should be widely disseminated throughout the world. It is with this end in view that the Vedic Research and Cultural Foundation has decided to bring out selected studies in this field.

 

The present study of the Ramayana Polity by the late Miss P.C. Dharma brings out the system of administration prevalent during the Ramayana period. It will be observed from the survey how advanced and elaborate the whole system of administration was in ancient India. The Hindu political institutions were based on very sound principles which adapted themselves to changing circumstances from time to time while retaining their basic tenets. For example, while the ancient Hindus have tried various political experiments from time to time, including absolute monarchy, constitutional monarchy, republican forms of government and democracy, the basic objective has always been the greatest good of the people and efficiency in administration. The system of administration during the Ramayana period, as analysed in this book, will surprisingly be found to compare favourably even with the most modern concepts of administration.

 

This study of the Ramayana Polity will prove that our ancient Epics are still relevant as guides to our present-day problems. I am sure this book will be of interest to students and scholars of political and social sciences, as well as the general readers who would like to have a new interpretation of our ancient literature. It is an auspicious coincidence that Ramayana Polity is being brought out on the occasion of the 128th Birth Anniversary of Mahaman Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, which falls on 31st December 1989, to whom the original thesis was dedicated by the late author.

 

Preface

 

It is with much pleasure that I commend this thesis. It shows great industry in gathering material and sound judgment in interpreting the material. Though it is all taken out of one book, a good deal of general knowledge has been brought to bear on the study. The ordinary reader of the Ramayana feels edified by the subject and is carried away by the entrancing story. He does not pause to note the numerous references scattered on every page to the social and political conditions of the time. These references are mostly hints which require patient co-ordination and reflection for a full understanding. When a conscientious and discriminating researcher puts these hints together and gives a more or less coherent picture of our ancient civilisation, the result is a rich measure of the joy of discovery. Miss Dharma claims that the polity disclosed by Valmiki and the material organisation of his day mark an advanced stage of development, not much inferior to, though widely different from, the institutions of our own epoch. The facts that she has assembled in this essay justify her claim abundantly. Her simple and straightforward style gives the treatment-an air of detachment and adds to its persuasiveness.

 

In presenting her arguments and conclusions to the present- day scholar, Miss Dharma has necessarily to use the terminology familiar to him. This has a precision and definiteness denied to that of the old time. Danger lurks in all analogy. We may not affix the exact si