Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Vedic Impeachment

In ancient India, there was a progressive spiritual paradigm called varnashrama-dharma, in which society was categorized into sections of classes and orders of life according to their quality. Not that one class of people is better or worse than another (although it has degenerated into that in the modern age). Society naturally falls into four varnas, or classes. The intelligent, (braminical) class, such as the scientists, philosophers and religious preceptors, the administrative (ksatriya) class, such as the government officials and military personnel and police, the mercantile (vyasa) class, or the farmers and businessmen, and the laborer (sudra) class, or workers who help the other three divisions.

The intelligent class of men are like the head of society, and it gives direction to the other parts of the social body. The administrative (ksatriya) class are like the arms of society. They are to give protection to the rest of society (ksat means protect, and triya means harm). They provide protection from harm. In this system, there are checks and balances, so that if the administrative class fails to take direction from the intelligent class, then they are removed from office.

In America, the democratic system set up by our forefathers (borrowed from the Native Americans) has a similar system of checks and balances. There are three branches of government- the executive, legislative, and judicial. If the executive branch misuses it's powers, commits some crime, such as declaring an illegal war, or fails to protect it's citizens, then the legislative branch invokes a process of impeachment.

There was a similar process in Vedic society.

From Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto 1, Chapter 3, Text 20:

"The ksatriyas, or the administrative class of men, are expected to rule the planet by the direction of the intelligent class of men, who give direction to the rulers in terms of the standard sastras, or the books of revealed knowledge. The rulers carry on the administration according to that direction. Whenever there is disobedience on the part of the ksatriyas, or the administrative class, against the orders of the learned and intelligent brahmanas, the administrators are removed by force from the posts, and arrangement is made for better administration."

There was a different political system 5000 years ago, (monarchal - rule by saintly kings). The king was Maharaja Yudhisthira, a God-conscious soul, who did not exploit his his citizens or material nature for his own selfish ends, rather, ruled under the direction of the Brahmanas and in his case, God Himself. Thus the citizens were happy. Every aspect of human activity and knowledge such as medicine, agriculture, business, science, music, politics, psychology, religiosity, and ultimate liberation from this miserable world is included in the plan and revealed scriptures of the Lord. There is nothing separate from Him, and we can know that by reading and/or hearing from those scriptures under the direction of learned saintly persons.

From Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 1, Chapter 10, Text 2:

Suta Gosvami said: Lord Sri Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the maintainer of the world, became pleased after reestablishing Maharaja Yudhisthira in his own kingdom and after restoring the Kuru dynasty, which had been exhausted by the bamboo fire of anger.


This world is compared to a forest fire caused by the cohesion of bamboo bushes. Such a forest fire takes place automatically, for bamboo cohesion occurs without external cause. Similarly, in the material world the wrath of those who want to lord it over material nature interacts, and the fire of war takes place.... Such fires or wars take place, and the Lord has nothing to do with them. But because He wants to maintain the creation, He desires the mass of people to follow the right path of self-realization, which enables the living beings to enter into the kingdom of God. The Lord wants the suffering human beings to come back home, back to Him, and cease to suffer the threefold material pangs. The whole plan of creation is made in that way, and one who does not come to his senses suffers in the material world by pangs inflicted by the illusory energy of the Lord.

From Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 1, Chapter 10 Text 3 (purport):

...The modern elected executive head of a state is just like a puppet because he has no kingly power. Even if he is enlightened like Maharaja Yudhisthira, he cannot do anything out of his own good will due to his constitutional position. Therefore, there are so many states over the earth quarreling because of ideological differences or other selfish motives. But a king like Maharaja Yudhisthira had no ideology of his own. He had but to follow the instructions of the infallible Lord and the Lord’s representative and the authorized agent, Bhismadeva. It is instructed in the sastras (scriptures) that one should follow the great authority and the infallible Lord without any personal motive and manufactured ideology. Therefore, it was possible for Maharaja Yudhisthira to rule the whole world, because the principles were infallible and universally applicable to everyone. The conception of one world state can only be fulfilled if we can follow the infallible authority. An imperfect human being cannot create an ideology acceptable to everyone. Only the perfect and the infallible can create a program which is applicable at every place and can be followed by all in the world. It is the person who rules, and not the impersonal government. If the person is perfect, the government is perfect. If the person is a fool, the government is a fool’s paradise. That is the law of nature. There are so many stories of imperfect kings or executive heads. Therefore, the executive head must be a trained person like Maharaja Yudhisthira, and he must have the full autocratic power to rule over the world. The conception of a world state can take shape only under the regime of a perfect king like Maharaja Yudhisthira. The world was happy in those days because there were kings like Maharaja Yudhisthira to rule over the world.

From Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 1, Chapter 10 Text 4 (purport):

...Has this civilization produced anything but quarreling individually and nationally? Has this civilization enhanced the cause of equality and fraternity by sending thousands of men into a hellish factory and the war fields at the whims of a particular man?...

Although in Vedic times, a rule by saintly kings was possible, in the current climate of Kali-yuga (the age of quarrel), we have to work with the government and democratic system that we have, not the one we may desire, so if the executive head commits some crime, we must use the democratic process of impeachment, removing him/her from office.

No comments: