Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Evidence of democracy in Rig Veda

Evidence of democracy in Rig Veda
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Evidence of a Democratic system of government in India is originally found in Rig Veda, which mentions a thriving republican form of Government in India.
These are the slokas from Rig Veda which were to be sung in unison at the beginning of the republican assembly
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sáM sam íd yuvase vRSann ágne víshvAny aryá Á
iLás padé sám idhyase sá no vásUny Á bhara ||
sáM gachadhvaM sáM vadadhvaM sáM vo mánAMsi jAnatAm
devÁ bhAgáM yáthA pÚrve saMjAnAnÁ upÁsate ||
samAnó mántraH sámitiH samAnÍ samAnám mánaH sahá cittám eSAm
samAnám mántram abhí mantraye vaH samAnéna vo havíSA juhomi ||
samAnÍ va ÁkUtiH samAnÁ hRdayAni vaH
samAnám astu vo máno yáthA vaH súsahÁsati || [Rig Veda 10.191.1-4]

Translation :THOU, mighty Agni, gatherest up all that is precious for thy friend. Bring us all treasures as thou art enkindled in libation’s place.
Assemble, speak together: let your minds be all of one accord, As ancient Gods unanimous sit down to their appointed share.

The place is common, common the assembly, common the mind, so be their thought united. A common purpose do I lay before you, and worship with your general oblation.
One and the same be your resolve, and be your minds of one accord. United be the thoughts of all that all may happily agree.

However, not much historic evidence is available today to prove implementation of democractic and republic ideas in ancient India.
The terms Sabha,( gathering) , Samiti, ( smaller Gathering or Committee ) Rajan or Raja,( Householder, Leader), exists and are found in Vedic literature.
Sabha is found eight times in the Rig Veda, which is accepted as the oldest Veda.

The term Rajan denoted Householder, Head of the Household. One who was eligible to take part in the assembly or gathering or the sabha.It did not mean a King, but simply meant a ‘Leader’, a leader who was elected.
The term Raja came to mean in time, a feudal king, a monarch. The elected leader or elected king would, as is usual with human nature, wish his offspring to follow in his footsteps, and take the leadership or Kingship position after him.

Rig Veda also says that the position of the King(Leader) was not absolute, and he could be removed by the Sabha or the Assembly.
The term Sabha is still used today, as the Indian Elected Parliament is called the ‘Lok Sabha- Assembly of the People’, Nominated Parliament is called ‘Rajya Sabha‘ and state assemblies are called as ‘Vidhana Sabha’.

Democracy today functions at 3 basic level in India :
The village level- The Panchayat – Council of Five (Panch = Five)
Province or State level – Assembly
National – Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in Parliament.

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