SOCIAL POLITY----VEDIC TIMES
Calling for a rigorous rational approach to the study of the social structure, cultural practices and polity of Ancient India, I have in my works insisted on discarding the baseless postulates and undesirable stereotypes floated by the western Indologists and adopted avidly and uncritically by their Indian admirers.
Even highly respected commentators on ancient Indian works who belonged to the medieval times were unable to present correctly the features of the social polities of the past---early Vedic, middle Vedic, later Vedic and early post-Vedic. This remark is not to be construed as wanton irreverence to the great traditions of India and to these early scholars or as impudence.
The scholars of the medieval times whose contributions to the protection, continuance and enrichment of the traditions of India cannot be ignored or underestimated were not unaware of the difficulties in recording and interpreting the dynamics of the social polity of the past from which they were separated by over two thousand years. Modern Indologists have failed to present the medieval scholiasts too in the proper light.
I have refrained from both idolatry and iconoclasm while interpreting the past and tracing the changes in it from time to time. I have kept away from metaphysics and theology and stuck to aspects of political sociology, to society, economy and polity. I have also kept away from issues that pertain to spiritual values. I have also not dealt with culture and civilization.
I have not commented on the views of any modern author unless absolutely necessary as I do not fancy sparring and running down any one. A careful reader can find whose views I agree with and whose views I do not.
Vedic Polity: Pre-3100BC: Pre-Mahabharata
The Vedas have dealt with the social polity of the four centuries preceding the famous battle of Kurukshetra, which according to the Indian tradition took place in c3100BC. This traditional date should be followed unless it is convincingly proved to be wrong. The date c1400BC assigned to it by some western scholars and adopted by their Indian adherents is not backed by logic or evidences though it may appear to be reasonable.
So are the later dates assigned to different literary works and ancient Indian scholars, leaders and rulers not based on proofs.
There is a gap of nearly two millennia between the times of Parikshit who ruled Hastinapura soon after that battle of Kurukshetra and the times from which lineages of rulers of north India have been traced by chroniclers and historians.
This hiatus was because the industrial sector of plutocrats, technocrats and industrial workers (yakshas, nagas, and sarpas) that had been promoted by Parikshit's predecessors withdrew from limelight following the gruesome massacre of the industrial workers (sarpas) by Janamejaya and the Brahman jurists he had commissioned to avenge the murder of Parikshit, I have pointed out in my work, Hindu Social Dynamics.
I have also discussed the causes and consequences of that withdrawal. It had blocked the industrial progress of ancient India.
It is wrong to interpret that devas and asuras were gods and demons. They were liberal aristocrats and cruel feudal warlords respectively. Both were members of the ruling elite of the agro-pastoral core society of the Vedic times. The sages accepted that the feudal warlords were the first to emerge and were senior (jyeshta) to the liberal nobles who should be treated as junior (kaneeniya) to them.
The sages traced social progress as one from the stage of despotism and tyranny to the stage of liberal governance and refused to hold that there was social decline from liberalism to tyranny. But the struggle between the two has continued down the ages.
Because the liberal nobles (devas) succeeded in scoring over the feudal lords (asuras) and securing the authority to utilize the funds from the stste treasury (sura) they were called suras and the feudal lords who were deprived of this authority were called asuras.
The two sectors of the ruling class were not ethnically different from each other. It is mischievous and absurd to suggest that the two sectors were ethnically related to the west Asian peoples and were hence called so.
Devas and devatas were not gods and demigods. They were liberal aristocrats of the agro-pastoral plains and greedy plutocrats of the industrial society of the forests and mountains (antariksham) respectively.
While the commoners (manushyas) most of whom were agricultural labourers held the nobles (devas) in esteem and made offering to them in sacrifices the residents of the forest including the vanaprasthas, that is, the elders of the core society who had retired to their forest abodes were required to respect the devatas and present offerings to them in sacrifices.
The yakshas were granted the status of devatas which was marginally lower to that of devas. The step to accommodate the plutocrats (yakshas) in the integrated ruling class as part of the move to build an integrated society was approved by Samkarshana, a guide of the agrarian masses. But it was questioned by his brother, Krshna. Krshna was against the feudal lords (asuras) as well as the plutocrats (yakshas).
Devas, asuras and yakshas were three wings of the ruling class and had been referred to as Adityas, Daityas and Danavas, the offspring of Aditi, Diti and Danu respectively.
The nobles (devas) resided in the urban areas of the core society, the feudal lords (asuras) in the forts in the social periphery adjoining the rural areas and the plutocrats (yakshas) in their fortified capitals located deep in the forests and mountains. Later some technocrats (nagas) were granted the status of devatas.
While examining the conflict between Janamejaya and his former protg, Takshaka, I brought out how the Astika (a believer in the existence of soul in all beings) who was a technocrat (naga) as well as a jurist (Brahman) prevailed on Indra, the head of the assembly (sabha) of nobles (devas) to grant Takshaka, a leader of wood-cutters and builders of palaces and towns, who was accused of killing King Parikshit, entry to the fold of nobles so that he might not be accused of treason and murder and sentenced to death.
In my essays on Dharmarajya, I have drawn attention to how Dushyanta, father of Bharata, headed a plutocratic state and how the rulers of Hastinapura were technocrats who built huge cities and large palaces. Janamejaya and Takshaka might have been associated with the construction of Takshaseela, a famous academic centre and outpost near Gandhara, a region dominated by gandharvas.
Janamejaya's mother, Lakshi, was a daughter of Bhagiratha, an engineer and architect. She had married Dushyanta. Janamejaya was a step-brother of Bharata (son of Dushyanta by Sakuntala, a daughter of Visvamitra). Parikshits brother, Jahnu, was an engineer. He had assisted Bhagiratha in taming the waters of Ganga, a project begun by Sagara. Bhishma, son of Ganga, was another grandson of Bhagiratha, a great emperor of the Vedic times.
While Bhagiratha, Visvamitra, Bharata and Santanu (Bhishmas father) belonged to the Vedic times, Bhishma and his nephews, Dhrtarashtra and Pandu (whose sons fought against each other in Kurukshetra) belonged to post-Vedic decades. Dhrtarashtra was a technocrat (naga). Dhrtarashtra and Takshaka were proteges of Kashyapa.
Kashyapa headed the council of seven sages during the tenure of the seventh Manu, Vaivasvata. Vasishta, Visvamitra, Gautama, Atri, Bharadvaja and Jamadagni were the other six members of this council. Bharata was a grandson of Visvamitra while Bharadvaja was Bharatas political guide.
Vasishta, Visvamitra, Bharadvaja, Vamadeva, Kanva, Agastya and Gautama were major contributors to the Rgvedic anthology. Bharata was the foster-son of Kanva, uncle of Dushyanta. Rama of Kosala was a student of Vasishta and Visvamitra and was trained by Bharadvaja and Agastya. Vamadeva was a prominent counsellor of Dasaratha.
The nobles (devas) who were respected by the native communities (jana) of the agro-pastoral core society and the new nobles (devatas) who were obeyed by the natives of the other society (itara-jana) too withdrew from positions of power soon after the feudal lords had been defeated and exiled to the social periphery.
This victory over the asuras was secured when Dasaratha was still ruler of Kosala. It may be noted here that Rama was junior to Parasurama (son of Jamadagni) among whose students were Balarama (brother of Krshna) and Karna (step-brother of Arjuna).
Some of the retired and reformed asuras were admitted to the cadre of pitrs, retired heads of families who were required to stay in their forest abodes.But the aristocrats (devas) and plutocrats (devatas) continued to enjoy the immunities they had earlier. By the end of the Vedic era they no longer took part in governance.
Diarchy (Dvairajyam) vis--vis anarchism (Vairajyam)
But they retained the right to approve the measures taken by the king and his executive or veto them. In the core society, the control over economy and civil administration had passed into the hands of the bourgeoisie, the upper crust of the commonalty (vis) whose spokesman was Brhaspati. Indra, the head of the house of nobles had to depend on him. But the nobles were respected.
Brhaspati-Indra diarchy which was prominent during the Atharvan times continued to be in vogue even during the post-Vedic decades though it was losing its importance and usefulness slowly.
The early Vedic period was marked by the absence of an organized state. The informal laws of nature (Rta) based on the inevitability of the natural propensity of every individual and every being asserting itself were in force. Men despite the differences in their innate traits (gunas), gentleness (sattva), assertiveness (rajas) and inertness (tamas), desired to be free.
But this primal anarchism (vairajyam) did not last long. The mighty began to rule over the weak and coerce the latter to meet their needs and demands. Anarchism, society governing itself without the aid of systematic law and organized state and with every individual exerting to control himself and restrain his senses (indriyas) and determining what creative activity (krta) he could be engaged in, was replaced by despotism.
Anarchism called for diffusion of power to the smallest of the social units and for compromises and consensus among them.
The society so governing itself had no abiding structure. It suffered from vairupa and experienced constant flux. It was a diffused society with a diffused state and absence of social and political structure.
By the end of the early Vedic period, Vairupam and Vairajyam (which characterized mainly western India) yielded place to the small state which promised to save the people from anarchy (arajaka) into which anarchism was deteriorating.
To be precise, the western region continued to be under the grip of anarchism and anarchy when the battle of Kurukshetra took place.
The efforts of Krshna and Samkarshana to make it a diarchy could not succeed. In my work on Hindu Economic State, I have dealt with Kautilyas views on diffused state (vairajyam) and diarchy (dvairajyam). He was a junior contemporary of Bhishma.
During the Atharvan times, the aggressive chieftains of the clans who were marked by the predominance in them of the trait of aggressiveness (rajas) elected from among themselves one as the rajan (king).
This election was often preceded by a period of anarchism and then by anarchy and violent conflicts and even civil war. But this rajan could not become a despot or found a dynasty. The aggressive chieftains and the sober sages and even the inert commoners preferred diarchy to monarchy.
In some areas diarchy (which the school of Baradvaja advocated) was found to be harmful (as Kautilya noted) because of the conflicts between the two powerful chieftains who tried to browbeat each other. The people would have benefited if only the two had competed with each other in helping them and they would have become popular. Failure of dyarchy (dvairajyam) and of anarchism (vairajyam) resulted in monarchy getting established as the preferred system of governance.
Monarchy that threatened to become autocracy could be averted only by oligarchy, three or more persons sharing power and each heading the state by rotation. Modern historians have overlooked this aspect. Often the head of the oligarchy had limited tenure and limited power. The implications of this system have not been grasped adequately by the western Indologists and the Indian historians who have toed their line.
Kautilya found that in the context of inter-state conflicts, oligarchies were the most difficult to be defeated. It is unfortunate that the chapter in Kautilyan Arthasastra dealing with the oligarchies has not yet been traced.
Rajanyas, Sabha and Samiti
The king (rajan) could not collect levies (bali) from his subjects (prajas), for not all of them were under his direct control. He could collect tributes only from the chieftains whom he had subdued. Kshatriya aggressiveness (rajas) was externalized with the liberal nobles (devas) protecting the commoners (manushyas).
Of course, often the house (sabha) of nobles failed to exercise its authority and perform its duty and come up to the expectations of the commoners.
In the normative Vedic state, the nobles (devas) were members of the assembly (sabha) while the sages (rshis) and elders (pitrs), most of whom were retired heads of families and had been landlords or owners of cattle were members of the council (samiti). Devas were not gods or divine beings. And pitrs were not spirits of dead ancestors. They too were human beings like the sages.
The sabha seems to have been the first legislative body to have come into existence. It was then a large body of aggressive chieftains who were later described as asuras. These chieftains, rajanyas were granted the status of devatas if they were not cruel and exploitative like the feudal lords (asuras). The samiti emerged later to check the high-handedness of the members of the sabha, who were aggressive chieftains.
The treasury (sura, rajyalakshmi) was controlled by the house of nobles (sabha) while the samiti debated, legislated and implemented the civil laws. The aggressive among the elite had constituted themselves into an electoral college and elected one of their members as rajan, the head of the state.
The king had to seek the permission of the two bodies, sabha and samiti, to withdraw funds from the treasury for his purposes whether, personal or social or for his economic ventures or for conquests.
Unless the two bodies examined his credentials and qualifications and recognized him as being eligible (as having the prescribed traits, (varcas), to withdraw funds from the treasury to which the liberal nobles (suras) had each contributed his mite, the king could not have access to them.
The approved sections of the elite were called suras. The aggressive feudal chieftains were not given that status though they were members of the ruling class from the very beginning and were senior (jyeshta) to the nobles.
The joint meeting of the two bodies was convened by the chief of the people (prajapati). It had to unanimously approve the kings project and consent to release the necessary funds.
The king was not a regular member of the house of nobles (divam, sabha), the upper house of the legislature though he might be gentle and educated. He had to be a lone warrior (ekavira) and could not lead the state army (sena) unless the two bodies permitted.
The status of devata granted to approved kings should not be interpreted as the king being given divine right to rule or making him exempt from accountability for his actions.
Cadres of Nobles (Devas)
The traditional assembly of nobles (divam) had four cadres---Rudras who wielded influence over the populations of the social periphery and the frontier society, Maruts who were storm-troopers controlling the moors and open areas, Vasus who were landlords and owners of cattle and had influence over the people of the agro-pastoral plains and Adityas who controlled the administration and the army on behalf of the patriciate.
When the order of Manu was instituted every incumbent to the post of Manu inducted, in consultation with his council of seven sages, new cadres as nobles. Manu Vaivasvata inducted Visvedevas (representatives of the bourgeoisie) and Asvins (representatives of the lower classes, Shudras and Dasas), in the assembly while retaining the four traditional groups.
Viraj-Head of the Federal Social Polity
The Viraj was the head of the federal polity---the city (pura) and the rural region (rashtra) around it in all the eight directions. Earlier he was elected by a college comprising the head of the city council and the heads of the four janapadas around it. The four main districts and the four intermediate regions together formed the rashtram. (It is advisable not to translate this term as nation. It was the janapada whose residents were born there that was nearer the definition of a nation.)
The virajam was culturally varied and its population was marked by unity in diversity while a janapada tended to be culturally cohesive.It is however not sound to describe janapada as an ethnic unit. It was a political unit.
Kashyapa and Eight Approved Sectors
Kashyapa who headed the council of seven sages during the tenure of Manu Vaivasvata identified eight distinct sectors in the larger society which he termed virajam. They were all approved sections. According to the Atharvaveda, this format was present since the earliest times.
The feudal lords (asuras), the liberal nobles (devas), the sages (rshis), the retired elders (pitrs) and the agro-pastoral commonalty (manushyas, jana, native population) were sectors of the core society.
The plutocrats (yakshas) and their guards and retinue belonged to the other society (itara-jana) of the frontier regions. The technocrats (nagas) and the organized mobile industrial workers (sarpas) too belonged to the other society. The cadres like gandharvas and apsarases who were a mobile population (jagat) were known as blessed people (punya-jana).
The election for the position of the Viraj was often preceded by wild conflicts and threat to peace and law and order.
During the interregnum marked by civil war, Agni, the head of the council (samiti) of sages and elders and of the civil judiciary, along with Varuna, the ombudsman, ensured that every member of the executive and every subject continued to perform his duties. The interregnum was not allowed to deteriorate into anarchy.
It may be noted here that the post of the chief judge, Agni, was held by a senior member of the bourgeoisie, while that of the ombudsman, Varuna, by a pitr (elder) who had been an authoritarian lord (asura) earlier and was in charge of river and maritime economy and also of galleys where offenders were kept chained and made to work until they discharged their debts or paid the ransom.
Later Viraj, the head of the federal polity comprising the city and the four janapadas around it was elected by a larger body comprising dynamic social leaders (purushas) who were heads of clans or larger families and their consorts (stris).
But as wives could not act on their own when their husbands were on the socio-political scene, the electoral college accommodated free women (naris) in their place. The naris would have been spinsters or elderly women who were widows or were living apart from their husbands and offspring.
The Viraj was an elected head of the state, whether he was elected by the smaller body of five regional heads (who had the status of rajans) of the pura-rashtra or by the larger body comprising dynamic social leaders (purushas) and free women (naris).
This system was adapted by Yayati who recognized Puru as the head of the oligarchy of five brothers (Puru, Anu, Yadu, Drhyu and Turvasu) and by Yudhishtira who ruled with the aid of four brothers. Such setups were present in many areas of north India during the Vedic era.
The two bodies, Sabha and Samiti, were headed by officials designated as Indra and Agni respectively. Indra controlled the treasury and the army and headed the eight-member executive.
Agni headed the civil judiciary and the council that debated the provisions of the social laws. This legislative body had sixteen members who were jurists and sixteen elders. Law was then based on the principles of Truth (Satya). It did not preclude resort to ordeals to ascertain the truth and to enforce adherence to it.
Agni was later recognized as one of the eight karmadevas and granted a place in the executive next only to Indra.This exaltation of Agni took place only after Daksha, the powerful Prajapati, who controlled the magistracy was made to step down.
Purusha pattern and Viraj pattern
The eight members of the executive represented the eight distinct sectors of the federal polity, Virajam, which was an union without uniformity (virupa) and ensured the autonomy (svarajam) of its every unit.
According to the Atharvaveda version of Purusha-sukta, this was the earliest form of polity. It held that the Purusha constitution evolved out of the Viraj pattern. According to the Rgvedic version, the Viraj pattern itself was an evolute of an earlier Purusha pattern.
Purusha pattern proper evolved out of the Viraj pattern whether there was an earlier Purusha pattern or not. This enigma can be solved only if we trace the relation between the two statuses, Viraj and Purusha.
The two houses of the Vedic legislature, sabha and samiti, could be convened only by the chief of the people, Prajapati. When they transacted matters pertaining to law and order or peace and war or finance, the joint-meeting was presided over by Indra, the head of the house of nobles, sabha. When they dealt with issues pertaining to social laws, it was presided over by the Prajapati himself.
The needs of the commoners (vis) were brought to the attention of the nobles (devas) by Agni. Prajapati, Viraj, Indra and Agni were not gods, even as devas were not. They were prominent officials of the Vedic era. Indra ranked higher than Agni and Prajapati was superior to Indra. The Viraj as the head of the federal polity was superior to the Prajapati.
Some of the heads of administrative wings like Soma, Varuna and Kubera had the status of Raja and so too the heads of the urban council (paura) and the autonomous rural bodies (janapadas).
They were assertive and the residents of the areas under them did not dare to disobey them. Soma looked after the interests of the people of the forests and mountains, especially of the intellectuals stationed there.
Varuna controlled the river and maritime economy. He was also in charge of the wing of the judiciary that ensured that every one discharged his duties, especially of maintaining the non-economic sections of the society like the nobles, sages and elders. He was also the ombudsman. Varuna was feared even as the asuras were. Kubera headed the plutocrats, yakshas, and got the economic laws promulgated by them implemented by all in the larger society.
In the Atharvan social polity, Soma (who belonged to the school of Rudra) was connected with the northern regions, Varuna with the western and Kubera (Vaisravana) with the southern. Indra (an Aditya) was associated with the eastern region. .
While a king (raja) had tenure of five years, the Viraj, head of the federal polity had tenure of ten to twelve years, even as the Manu had. (It is wrong to presume that a manvantra or period of Manu lasted several millennia. A viraj could be re-elected for a period of five or ten years. Neither a raja nor a viraj had life tenure. Neither was a hereditary post. Neither was a noble (deva).
Only a purusha was allowed life tenure of twenty to twenty-four years. He too was not a noble. He was only on the threshold of the aristocracy. He had risen from the ranks of the masses, prakrti. (The features of the purusha constitution are discussed separately.)
Tenure and Status of Prajapati
The chief of the people (prajapati) was elected by the elders (pitaras) who had retired from social and economic activities. In the Vedic set-up, he had tenure of twenty-four years and if so desired by the elders he could continue to be in that post for another twenty years. If no suitable candidate was found to fill in that post he could continue for more years.
The prajapati who was a highly charismatic figure represented the population of the predominantly agrarian region (rashtra) and had considerable influence over the administration and the army, that is, over the civil and military wings (kshatram) of the state, as the Mahadeva constitution indicates.
The Rgveda had recommended that the Prajapati would convene the meetings of the two legislative bodies, sabha and samiti, and preside over the joint-meeting when it deliberated the nuances of the social laws, but did not give him the authority to overrule the decisions of either body or those of the joint-meeting.
The Mahadeva constitution described in Atharvaveda Bk.XV however gave the Prajapati a very high position. He commanded the confidence and loyalty of the commonalty (vis). The king (rajan) and the electoral college of rajanyas had to honour him and wait on his instructions.
All the four state institutions, house of nobles (sabha), council of scholars (samiti), army (sena) and treasury (sura) headed by Indra, Agni, Aditya and Brhaspati respectively had to follow his instructions.
Prajapati was superior to the king and the four chiefs of the essentially rural state.
Prajapati Mahadeva after assessing the views of the four major sections of the core society, the nobility (devas) the commonalty (vis, prthvi, manushyas), the administrators-cum-warriors (kshatras), the intelligentsia-cum-jurists (Brahmans) recommended that Indra would continue to head the nobility but would not be in charge of the army or the treasury.
The state army would be a separate institution headed by Aditya (Surya) who would be answerable to the charismatic chief of the people (Prajapati) and not to Indra, the head of the nobility or to the Rajan, the head of the ruling oligarchy.
Neither the nobility nor the oligarchy was dissolved. Indra however continued to head the eight-member executive that took all political decisions including peace and war.
But the nobles would no longer be eligible to retain their personal troops with the army instituted as part of the state apparatus headed by Aditya who could not function without the permission of the Prajapati, the highest authority.
Indra-Brhaspati Agreement: A critique
Indra-Brhaspati agreement which was a corollary to Trisamdhi, the agreement among the three social worlds, patriciate, commonalty and the frontier society had placed the deployment of the army in the hands of Indra and had permitted Aditya to be in charge only of training the combined forces.
It however placed Brhaspati, the civilian authority in charge of the armoury and the treasury, thereby preventing Indra and Aditya from acting independent of the civil government. Indra would have his objectives frustrated if he ignored Brhaspati.
Indra-Brhaspati pattern promoted by the Atharvan ideologues-cum-activists (Brahmavadis) had visualized a civilian government supervised by Brhaspati as a check on the nobles who enjoyed several immunities and privileges. Indra could not enter into war or go on conquests, without the consent of the civilian authority Brhaspati.
If Brhaspati refused him access to the arms and funds Indra who was the head of the government and leader of the aristocrats of the core society could find his projects and ambitions frustrated forcing him to depend on plutocrats (yakshas) and technocrats (nagas) of the frontier society to rescue him from the feudal lords (asuras) who were his bitter enemies.
Prajapati Mahadeva who had circumambulated the entire country several times and studied in depth the needs of its varied populations at all levels did not want the civil government headed by Brhaspati to have more powers than what were necessary to meet the economic needs of the commonalty. He placed the treasury (sura) in the hands of the Brhaspati, but not the armoury or the army.
The nobility would be in charge of political policy regarding peace and war and also of providing the necessary weapons to the army. The army however would be raised, trained and headed not by Indra but by Aditya (Surya). It would be independent of the nobility as well as the commonalty.
Brhaspati was in reality, a spokesman of the rich bourgeoisie rather than of the commoners. Agni who headed the council of sages (rshis) and elders (pitrs) was retained in his post and continued to head the civil judiciary. In many areas, the samiti had been wound up and administration was run by Indra and Brhaspati, that is, by the aristocrats and the bourgeoisie.
This diarchy had resulted in constant friction between the privileged class of nobles and the civil administration which controlled the judiciary, the treasury and the armoury.
Indra-Brhaspati agreement had while permitting the bourgeoisie-controlled civil administration to have a stranglehold over the army enabled it to destroy the independence of the judiciary.
The jurists and intellectuals (Brahmans) could not have their say in matters pertaining to economic laws (vyavahara) or political policies (dandaniti). Prajapati Mahadeva ended this distortion. Of course he allowed economic affairs to be handled by those engaged in productive economy, that is, by the bourgeoisie, and not by the nobility or the intelligentsia.
Prajapati Mahadeva was a charismatic figure who had toured the country widely and come in contact with the people at all levels and in all regions and understood their needs, social and economic. He was entrusted with the task of socio-political reorganization by the masses (vis) rather than by any small electoral college or sectoral body.
The reorganization resulted in the creation of small viable nation-states (rashtras) all over the country.
The three non-economic classes, nobles (devas), sages (rshis) and elders (pitrs) who were not engaged in productive economic occupations (varta) were kept away from the field of economy (varta), economic laws (vyavahara) and economic power (sura). These were placed in the hands of Brhaspati.
Indra-Agni diarchy which was highly influential even during the last decades of the long Vedic era and was recommended by Bharadvaja, counsellor of Bharata, had prevented conflicts between the leisure class of nobles (devas) and the working class of commoners (manushyas).
The council (samiti) comprising sages and elders ensured that the rule of law prevailed and protected the commonalty against exploitation by the powerful ruling class and against internal conflicts (between Vaisyas and Shudras).
Agni who was selected from among the rich Vaisyas was later given the status of devata, a rank just below the nobles (devas). His place was next only to Indra.
Indra-Brhaspati pattern was followed by many rulers like Dasaratha of Ayodhya. It was in force in many states as Kautilya, a junior contemporary of Bhishma noticed. The two officials determined who would be the successor to the incumbent ruler and took him under their charge even when he was but a kid.
But Kautilya was not happy with power divided between the two officials, Sannidhata and Samaharta who represented the urban council (paura) and the rural areas (rashtra) respectively, even as Indra and Brhaspati did during the Atharvan epoch.
Kautilyas king was not as powerless as the Atharvan king was under both patterns Indra-Agni diarchy and Indra-Brhaspati diarchy.
The nation-state as proposed by Mahadeva who fused the above two patterns became the pattern adopted all over the country. It had no place for either Viraj, the head of the federal polity with five autonomous political units or Aditi the benevolent mother-figure who looked after the implementation of the ten rules of ethics (that were adopted by Manusmrti but made obligatory for only monks, sanyasis).
These rules were moderated by her brother, Soma, the head of the sober intelligentsia of the frontier society of forests and mountains.
The Viraj polity had required the eight members of the executive to function under the guidance of Aditi. They were hence known as Adityas though they were not all members of the Aditya cadre of nobles.
But Aditi herself had to function under the guidance of the chief of the people, Prajapati. Aditi functioned within the framework of duties outlined by Prajapati Kashyapa.
The Vedic hymns indicate that Prajapati Daksha who held sway during the decades preceding the installation of Manu Svayambhuva, was but one of the officials functioning under an earlier Aditi. Daksha controlled the department of magistracy (Yama) which enforced the prohibitory orders and punished the violators of yamas.
Kashyapa continued a pre-Svayambhuva tradition.
The normative pattern of the Vedic state provided for a Prajapati who convened the two houses of legislature, sabha and samiti. He treated the nobles (devas) to be superior to the sages (rshis) and the elders (pitrs). All the three cadres were superior to the king (rajan) the head of the oligarchy and of the state.
The rajan had no control over any state activity, legislative or military, political or economic though he was the head of the state. He had no role in settling disputes and rendering justice. He ranked below Prajapati, Indra and Agni.
But in many areas Indra-Brhaspati diarchy prevailed. Indra headed the army and the treasury and presided over the house of nobles (devas).
Brhaspati, an economist and ideologue (Brahmavadi) was in charge of civil administration and economy. He could function effectively only when the state treasury was placed in his charge. He also took charge of the armoury in a move to establish a demilitarized society free of civil war and violence. This deprived Indra and other nobles of both political and economic power.
Brhaspati was thus next only to Prajapati and became superior to Indra. He was claimed to be the protector of the provisions of the Atharvan constitution, Brahma.
In this pattern, Brhaspati who exercised considerable influence over the bourgeoisie and implemented the economic laws based on the principles of truth (satya), non-violence (ahimsa) and inviolability of personal property (asteya) crippled Indra.
The latter had to curtail his campaigns against the feudal order though they were justified. The Atharvans were not against all feudal lords (asuras). They wanted only the intransigents (vrtras) to be exterminated as they were enemies of the entire social system.
State policy was determined by Brhaspati, successor to Angirasa, one of the two chief editors of Atharvaveda. (The other was called Atharvacharya.) Brhaspati was functioning on behalf of the commonalty (manushyas).
Indra-Brhaspati agreement was a corollary to the Triple Entente which brought together the three social worlds (lokas), divam, prthvi and antariksham, patriciate, commonalty and frontier society without adversely affecting their separate identities and exclusive privileges.
The frontier society was led by the plutocrats (yakshas) who consented to finance the campaigns of the combined forces against the intransigents (vrtras) among the feudal lords.
Indra prevailed on the nobles to place their personal troops at his disposal. The commoners too provided troops which formed the main body though they were not in the front.
The frontier society sent the sarpas, industrial workers, with their own troops. After the war was over, they returned to the forests with their troops while the troops of the commonalty were disbanded and the arms given to them were deposited in the armoury under their charge.
Brhaspati demanded that the nobles too should ask their troops to surrender their arms in the armoury. He was eager to ensure that the core society remained unarmed during peace. Dasas, manushyas and sarpas were the three sectors of the combined troops led by Indra but were trained by Aditya.
Indra-Brhaspati agreement warned the intellectuals, especially the jurists (Brahmans) not to attempt to save the vrtras from the action launched against the latter.
The Atharvan ideologues (Brahmavadis) who adopted Indra's blue-red policy signified by the rainbow did not entertain hatred against the feudal lords (asuras) or the discrete individuals (bhutas) who had been disenchanted with the commonalty (bhumi) and gone to the social periphery or distant areas. They were welcome to return if they upheld the concept of universal brotherhood signified by the blue interior of the bow.
But if they resisted or threatened the predominantly agro-pastoral core society they would have to meet the might of the combined army of the three organized social worlds. The red exterior of the bow signified this warning to those who rejected the hand of friendship and fraternity.
Brhaspati, an economist who was a follower of Angirasa and Atharvacharya was against the ruling class of nobles (devas) compromising with the other sectors of the larger society on social, economic and political issues.
When he refused to hand over the weapons in the state armoury to Indra, the latter was constrained to seek the aid of Visvarupa, a technocrat (who claimed the status and privileges of an intellectual, Brahman) to make new weapons (named after Narayana). But Visvarupa gave the vrtra also similar weapons. Sakra Indra felt let down and killed Visvarupa which act was objected to by Brhaspati. Intellectuals enjoyed immunity against being awarded death sentence even as the nobles did.
Brhaspati was said to have locked the armoury and treasury and gone abroad to show his displeasure. The constant friction between the two authorities, Indra and Brhaspati, could not be toned down as there was then no authority superior to them.
Indra determined the policy favoured by the nobles. It was called daivam. Brhaspati moulded the policy to be adopted by the commonalty and the civil government. It was known as 'manushyam. It called for strenuous effort. The two policies occupied a crucial position in the functioning of the state of the core society of nobles and commoners.
Unless the commoners tuned their efforts and objectives to the ones that could best serve the needs of both the strata, they would fail. (This did not mean that men should follow gods intents.)
In the Mahadeva constitution, both patterns, Indra-Agni and Indra-Brhaspati, became part of the new set-up.
The consensus arrived at protected the status and privileges of the aristocracy. But it was no longer the ruling class. Its troops were merged in the state army most of whose ranks and file had been drawn from the gandharva cadres and commonalty respectively.
While the leaders were trained warriors and had to be prevailed on to deem it as their duty to contribute their talents and risk their lives for a public cause, the bulk of the army was a collection of free men (naras) led by experienced captains (narapatis).
The servants (dasas) of the nobles (devas) and the troops raised from among the commoners (manushyas) increased the numbers but not the efficacy of the army.
The state army was trained by Aditya who had to obey the Prajapati, the chief of the people and not the king (Rajan), the ornamental head of the state or Indra, the head of the eight-member executive and of the nobility.
The Rajan and Indra, if they wanted to display their valour had to do so using their personal contingents and not the state army. Brhaspati would deny them even these contingents and they had to fight alone as ekaviras.
Aditya had to consult the executive on how to deploy his troops and obtain the permission of the Prajapati to deploy them.
Indra became a state dignitary upholding the grandeur of his city and visiting the rural areas rarely or seen by the rural visitors to the city on festive occasions. This led to Aditya heading the executive and the army and being worshipped by the masses whose interests were protected by Brhaspati.
Brhaspati supervised the economy and was expected to settle all disputes on the basis of Truth (Satya). But this mechanism tended to give greater weight to the statements of the rich than to those of the poor though the latter were pious. Brhaspati required the officials (samahartas) of the janapadas to ensure economic equity and economic justice for their people.
Agni headed the samiti and Indra, the sabha, the two houses of the legislature. Agni continued to head the judiciary while the nobility retained the right to veto any step of the executive that in its opinion was undesirable.
The nation-state had come into existence with the sages and elders along with the nobles determining the socio-cultural laws. The commoners had to meet the needs of these cadres through voluntary sacrifice.
It was a small unit where the intermediate region was merged in one of the two neighbouring janapadas. The bhutas, the discrete individuals, of these intermediate regions became part of the jana, the native population of the janapada.
The state could not extend its borders thereafter. Conquests were ruled out. The cultural aristocracy and the intelligentsia called for contentment and subordination to laws (niyamas and yamas). The Prajapati required the state to meet the minimum needs of all, including food.