EPOCH OF THE MANUS (contd)
During Tamasa's tenure, Jyotirdhama and others were members of the council of seven sages. They were luminaries, jyotis, who enjoyed a high status as intellectuals. Some of them might have been astronomers like Devala. The rise of Haris, a Vaishnava cadre loyal to Narada and of Viras, a Saivaite cadre needs attention..
Uparicara Vasu and Pancaratra Cult
Uparicara Vasu of Cedi conducted a sacrifice along the Satvata rites which abjured animal sacrifice. The seven sages, Marici, Atri, Angirasa, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu and Vasishta were present with their hair knotted in the Chitrasikhandi style. Kratu, the Valakhilya sage who had specialised tantric techniques for manufacturing tools and weapons presided over the rites.
Narada explained at this conclave that Narayana was the same person as Vasudeva whom Uparicara honoured. At this meeting the system known as Pancaratra (one expounded during five nights) was explained. According to this school of thought, Vasudeva, Samkarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha represented four vyuhas or mazes. Of course when this system was first announced only Vasudeva and his brother, Samkarshana were present.
Bhrgu mentions Narayana in the first chapter of Manusmrti but does not refer to any of the four contributors to the Pancaratra system which occupies a central place in Vaishnavaism. Bhrgu was not present at this conclave. It was attended by Kapila, the chief exponent of the Samkhya system of dialectics. Angirasa's 'son', Brhaspati, exponent of Lokayata was present. He disputed the validity of the postulate of a primordial divinity. The Satvatas and Vasus supported the new Vasudeva cult.
Narada's efforts to synthesize the Narayana and Vasudeva cults experienced unforeseen difficulties. Rshi Narayana was a senior contemporary of Manu Svayambhuva while Samkarshana and Vasudeva were considerably junior to him. Nara and Narayana had their abode in Badrika, Vasudeva had his in Svetadvipa.
This conclave brought the Vasus in the mainstream of social life and they were recognized as Kshatriyas following pastoral economy.
Release of Gajendra, the Pandya chieftain
The authorised chronicle, Bhagavatam, says that Hari saved Gajendra, the Indra of elephants from the mouth of a crocodile and that the incident took place during the tenure of Tamasa. The incident is cast in the area of Trikuta, a mountain in the midst of milk. Some identify it in the western ghats near the source of Krshna. It was a resort of siddhas, charanas, gandharvas, uragas, vidyadharas, kinnaras and apsarases. These mobile cadres followed different practices and had been invited by Hu-hu, a gandharva chieftain. Bhagavatam 8-2-3 does not mention the presence of yakshas, rakshasas and asuras or of devas. The enclave was not meant for the three sectors of the ruling elite or of their guards.
The different gandharva cadres who were highly mobile cadres and belonged to the free intelligentsia and also the uragas who belonged to the mobile sector of the industrial proletariat must have met to discuss issues pertaining to their orientations and ways of life.The enclave was not open to those who were not a part of this vast and varied mobile middle class.
According to the legend, Gajendra entered the beautiful valley and disturbed its denizens and was trapped. He was saved by Hari and both the elephant and the crocodile attained salvation (moksha), freed from the effects of the sins committed by them in earlier births. Behind this story of Gajendra's salvation lies a social issue that has eluded both medieval and modern thinkers. Indradyumna was a Pandya chief of the southern Dravida land.
After retirement he went to Kula mountains (Coorg?) to meditate in an abode where Agastya, the sage who was engaged in educating the local population came across him. The sage was offended by the indifference shown to him by that chieftain and cursed him (8-4-10). Meanwhile the gandharva chieftain Hu-hu who spoke a dialect not understood by many had offended Devala, a Vedic sage and been similarly cursed by the latter.
Kautilyan Arthasastra indicates (AS 14-3) that Devala was connected with tantric practices where incomprehensible sounds and syllables were used.
Devala appears to have advised Hu-hu to utter a highly potent verse (uttama-sloka) to be able to overcome the handicap that he was then suffering from. Devala, an associate of Kashyapa, had advised the gandharva chieftain to accept the authority of Manu Uttama who too did not take kindly to the orientations of the plutocrats (yakshas).
The move to assimilate in the dhio-prthvi core society, individual members from the other society, had begun during the tenure of Manu Uttama. Devala, an associate of Narada had embarked on this campaign. Arthasastra (14-3) mentions Savarni, Galava, Devala and Narada. Galava was the head of the council of seven sages during the tenure of Manu Savarni.
Savarni was held in esteem by the Valakhilya sages who were experts in technology. It may be noted here that when Rama went southward in search of his wife who had been abducted by Ravana,
Manu Savarni was stationed in the western ghats which were then treated as an extension of the Vindhya range. Savarni's daughter, Svayamprabha belonged to the cadre of apsarases, independent women. She was engaged in meditation (tapas). Rama did not meet either Savarni or his esteemed daughter, though his envoy, Hanuman, met her.
Hu-hu and his associates (gandharvas) were wary of technocrats (which nagas were) though they were intellectually-oriented. Indradyumna, like the technocrats who ruled Hastinapura (the city built by Hasti, elephant), was engaged in supplying elephants captured and tamed in the southern forests to the rulers of the north who were building palatial buildings and mobilising strong elephant contingents for their armies.
Agastya's name is associated with the killing of Vatapi, an asura (feudal chieftain) who owed loyalty to Hiranyakasipu, father of Prahlada. Vatapi pretended to be a hasti. It would appear that Vatapi became the centre for the spread of the new knowledge that the hastis (of whom Gajendra was one) had. Vatapi later came under the control of the Western Chalukyas and was burnt by the Pallavas of Kanchipuram.
Agastya might have had reservations about both groups the technocrats that the hastis were and the independent intelligentsia that the gandharva cadres were. He did not want the two to come together. Hari who brought about reconciliation between Gajendra and the Gandharva chieftain, Hu-hu belonged to a cadre that was loyal to Narada. Manu Tamasa had given Haris the status of nobles (devas).
In the thanks-giving verses (Bhagavatam 8-4-17ff) we come across references to Siva, Sesha, Brahma, Narada, Prahlada, Surya, Agni, Soma, Dharma, Kashyapa and daughters of Daksha. Surya, Agni and Soma represented the three social worlds (lokas), nobility, commonalty and the frontier society (divam, prthvi and antariksham). Siva, a tapasvi and yogi, was the charismatic head of the social periphery.
Sesha, an associate of Samkarshana, represented the mobile proletariat (sarpas) who were entrepreneurs, pioneers, engaged in building a new civilisation in the forests.
These verses refer to not only Brahma (the socio-political constitution), and to Satya (the rigid laws based on truth) but also to Dharma (the new legislation based on consensus). They refer to Narada and two of his studenta (Prahlada and Dhruva). All these personages and officials and the advocates of the constitution of the new society as well as the upholders of the then existing Vedic laws based on truth welcomed this reconciliation. Brahmarshis too were happy with it.This reconciliation resulted in the acceptance by all of the pranava (aum) as the symbol of this wide social unity.
Kashyapa who was said to have married three of the daughters of Prajapati Daksha was a highly influential Prajapati who advocated unity despite diversity and union without uniformity. This episode followed the Matsya, Kurma and Varaha episodes (avatars, incarnations of Vishnu, as commonly presented) and preceded the Narasimha episode, according to the commentators.
Prahlada and Narada Movement
Prahlada was given instruction in the principles (niti) and policy (naya) of political control (danda) and sent to be trained further by Sanda and Amarka, assistants of Usanas, the famous political grammarian, for further instruction. (Bhagavatam 7-5-2)
He was upset by the manner in which the concepts, sva and para, were used in dandaniti. The relentless pursuit of self-interest at the cost of the interests of others was not in tune with his psyche.
He even considered that renunciation was the best solution for his dilemma. However he was persuaded to concentrate on the studies of the three sections (trivarga), dharma, artha and kama. (18)
The syllabi in the school where students belonging to the nobility and the feudal order were educated differed in their approaches only on issues pertaining to polity. The two classes did not differ from each other on their outlooks with respect to ethics, economy and aesthetics.
The Bhagavatam does not hold that the asura orientation was against dharma. It was only against the concept of salvation (moksha) and renunciation (sanyasa). It was this-worldly.
Prahlada, son of Hiranyakasipu, was taught the four means (upayas), sama, dana, bheda and danda, before he was sent back to the king. These four means could be used by any ruler. But, when the king found that his son was impressed by the nine principles, hearing, singing etc. in gaining knowledge as advocated by the Vaishnavaites he was annoyed with the instructors. Sanda submitted that neither he nor his colleagues had taught Prahlada these methods of learning (7-5-28). He had obviously learnt these methods from elsewhere.
Prahlada was found to justify Varaha's action in killing Hiranyaksha (Hiranyakasipu's brother and general). It amounted to disloyalty to his own lineage. Sanda advised that Prahlada be kept in Varuna bondage, internment (and tied with ropes) till he grew up.
The Vedic official, Varuna, was said to adopt coercive methods like the feudal lords and deny the offender freedom of movement. Especially those who failed to discharge their duties and their debts (rna) would lose their freedom. It was correctional rather than punitive.
Sanda requested Hiranyakasipu to wait till his teacher (and father), Usanas returned. (7-5-50) The king asked Sanda to train Prahlada in the duties of a royal (raja) householder (grhasta). But Prahlada went about teaching his classmates the futility of materialistic life.
The rebel student thought that the entire education on dharma (humanistic ethics), artha (political economy) and kama (aesthetics), naya (policy), dama (control) and varta (economic occupations) was external (bahya) and that total surrender to the Ultimate (parama) was the best (7-6-26). He claimed that he had been taught this by Narada.
These teachings offered the opportunity of salvation (moksha) for allwhether nobles (devas) or commoners (manushyas) or feudal lords (asuras) or plutocrats (yakshas) or free intelligentsia (gandharvas) or free women (naris) or workers (shudras). They could be applied even in training animals and birds. Narada adopted a holistic and societal approach in his methodology for education. (7-7-53,54)
Narada's teachings were subversive of the orientations of every one of these groups but were intended to bring them all together on a common platform through a new emphasis in the methodology and objectives of education.
His educational campaign was built on a pattern similar to that of the kaumara-brahmacharis. It attempted to meet the challenges of lokayata by claiming that the souls of all were alike.
Prahlada was then a youth and could not be subjected to corporal punishment. He was accused of trying to cause division in his family and of having gone out of the rulers control.
Prahlada was to be punished by the civil magistrate, yama, (rather than be interned under orders by Varuna) who was empowered to punish those who committed prohibited deeds (7-8-5). This discussion is followed by the famous disputation between Hiranyakasipu and Narasimha.
After Hiranyakasipu was killed, Prahlada pacified Narasimha, the ferocious unarmed chief who led the militia drawn from free men, naras and was not satisfied with only killing his opponent.
He drew attention to the salvation of Gajendra (7-9-9). Prahlada might have accompanied Narada to the Trikuta conclave. Narasimha episode must have been post-Tamasa and coincided with the tenure of Manu Raivata.
As the tenure of Priyavrata as ruler of Barhismati ended, he was succeeded by Agnedhra and then by Ajanabhi who was a successful emperor but his reign was brief. Rshabha who took over the charge of the vast empire was more spiritual than temporal. However the Rshabha concept of state promoted authoritarianism even as that of Usanas did.
But like Manu Svayambhuva, he was held in esteem by the votaries of non-violence (ahimsa) and utter selflessness. Both the Sramanas and the Vratyas, the orthodox sect of Saivaites claimed him to have belonged to their respective school of thought.
Rshabha granted the asuras (feudal lords) a status next only to devas (liberal aristocrats). But the feudal lords demanded a status in order of precedence higher than that of the nobles. Earlier Manu Svayambhuva had consented to treat the plutocrats (yakshas) as upadevas. The famous stoic, Jatamuni Bharata was a disciple of Rshabha.
The death of Hiranyakasipu at the hands of Narasimha was followed by installation of Prahlada as a Prajapati. He was an associate of Angirasa, Pracetas and Narada. It is however improbable that Prahlada would have continued to patronise the Usanas school of polity. Raivata, the fifth Manu, was a chieftain from Madhyadesa, the region between Yamuna and Sindhu and between Narmada and Sutlej. Raivata is a river in the Vindhyas.
The Bhagavatam says that Arjuna, Bali and Vindhya were his sons. These rulers must have acknowledged his social authority. Kartavirya Arjuna of the Haihayas, Bali (grandson of Prahlada) and the people of the Vindhya region could have approved his policy of reconciliation among warring sectors. Raivatas father was a feudal chieftain controlling a fortress on the banks of Yamuna(Kalindi). He was accused of being irreligious. According to Markandeya, Raivata's mother, Revati, was brought up by a sage. The future Manu was brought up in the abode of that unidentified sage.
Raivata reversed Tamasa's step and revived the post of Indra and placed him in charge of the contingents of the nobles (sura-ganas). Their captains were former rulers (bhutarayas). They were drawn mainly from the masses and on their disbandment they had to stay in the social periphery. For the new labourers who had taken their place in the agricultural fields could not be thrown out of job.
There was no standing army. It was Mahadeva constitution that provided for a standing army. It must have come in force only after Raivata's tenure. Raivata appointed a vibhu, a charismatic leader of a large agrarian community as Indra. He did not belong to the nobility.
The Mahadeva constitution conceded that only an aristocrat (deva) should hold the rank of Indra. The general of the Kshatriya army too was to be from the aristocracy according to that constitution.
The Bhagavatam links the periods of Raivata and his successor, with the concept of Vaikunta and the episode of the churning of the ocean by the asuras and the devas. Vaikunta was envisaged as a satellite of the earth peopled by warriors, suras.
Of relevance is the concept of lokaloka, satellite, a social world (loka) which is not totally autonomous and is but a commune (aloka) depending on one of the main social worlds. Vaikunta was such a commune dependent on the social world of nobles (divam). This concept was attributed to Vikunta, wife of Subhra, probably an astronomer.
The impact of a new knowledge regarding the utilisation of light (vidyut) for setting in motion a disc of fifteen spokes (representing or functioning for a fortnight (paksha) might have influenced the visionaries to suggest such a satellite. This concept was sponsored by one Aja. (8-5-28)
Churning of the Ocean: Struggle between Devas and Asuras
Raivata's tenure was coeval with that of Ajita whose father had been the head of a diffused polity (vairajam). (8-5-10)
In the form of a tortoise (kurma) he churned the 'ocean' to produce milk for the nobles (devas). He bore the famous Mandara mountain used for this purpose, on his back. Ajita might have been a follower of Kashyapa. (Kacchapa means tortoise.)
Mahendra and Varuna were both upset when they found that the feudal lords (asuras) had emerged more powerful than the aristocrats (devas) as they were able to secure secret plough-like weapons (sita ayudha) produced by the industrial proletariat (sarpas).
As counselled by the chief justice (Brahma), a joint endeavour to churn the ocean of nectar, to arrive at a compromise through prolonged deliberations on the right to permanent immunities (amrta), and distribute them was arranged.
These deliberations were visualized as a tug of war between the two sectors of the ruling class, the asuras and the devas. Vasuki, the chief of the mariners, was visualized as the referee who served as the rope (who gave them a long rope).
Vasuki was a member of the Vasudeva school of thought and was held in high respect by Krshna. The maternal uncle of the Astika (the Believer) who put an end to the notorious sarpayajna conducted by Janamejaya was a Vasuki.
Vasukis ranked lower than Vasus who were landlords and claimed a status equal to the nobles. Vasus were also a branch of the Ambha school of social thought that was prominent among the matriarchal Apsarases who lived in river islands and near lakes and ponds. They were delicate and yet had resilience.
The deliberations were given misdirection by the Hari Mohinis who pretended to be Haris and followers of Vasudeva Krshna. This misdirection benefited the devas and the asuras felt cheated.
Meanwhile the poison shed by Vasuki was swallowed by Siva. The anger of the class of the mariners who were outside the agro-pastoral core society was allowed to subside.
Keeping aside the story, we note how a major effort at division of the surplus produced by the maritime economy between the two rival groups of the elite, asuras and devas, was scuttled by the antipathy of the Vaishnavaites to the asuras and how the Saivaites tried to check its undesirable fallout.
While the Bhagavatam, a basically Vaishnavaite chronicle lauds the discomfiture of the asuras, it takes note of the objections raised by the Saivaites and is forced to acknowledge Siva's role as a notable act of willingness to sacrifice one's life for the welfare of all.
The battle that followed the fiasco was not a cakewalk for Indra and the nobles. It was tougher than the one against Vrtra Asura. It was a total war between Sakra Indra and Bali. The governors of the different social worlds or settled organized communities (lokapalas) stood by Sakra who was supported by Brhaspati.
The feudal lords, asuras had entrenched themselves in the social periphery when they were denied access to the surplus produced by the three social worlds, divam, prthvi and antariksham. The social periphery where exiles from the organized communities took shelter did not come under the political jurisdiction of Indra or of the economic codes determined by Brhaspati.
The asuras and rakshasas found the political grammarian, Usanas, sympathetic to their cause. Indra and Brhaspati had to face the arguments advanced by Usanas regarding the validity of the political edicts issued by Indra and the embargo imposed by Brhaspati on transactions with the feudal lords and chiefs of the periphery.
Bali was saved by Usanas. The Bhagavatam seems to have dilated on the battle described in Atharvaveda Bk.11. This episode may pertain to the period of Manu Sraddhadeva.
By the time Kurma Ajita encouraged the friendly tug of war, the churning of the ocean by the 'sons' of Kashyapa (who recognized both the groups, devas and asuras), Angirasa was already dead as 8-8-27 indicates. Kashyapa's dream to bring all groups together was shattered as the total war shows.
Chitraketu, the Vrtra Asura
We would not like to be swept off the ground by theology but would not also shelve events and episodes to realms of myths and miss their implications to social dynamics and social change. The Satvata conclave at Uparicaras sacrifice where Pancaratra system was expounded was a significant step at fusion but found no support from the Manus and Bhrgu or from the Pasupatas and Brhaspati.
As we trace the social dynamics behind the Chitraketu episode we have to be cautious about rebirth. The events began during the tenure of the fourth Manu, Tamasa and continued till that of the seventh Manu, Vaivasvata. A brief outline of the legend may be noted first.
Angirasa and Narada (two of the sages selected by Manu Svayambhuva as representatives of different sectors of the larger pre-varna Vedic society and appointed on the board of ten prajapatis, to compile the new social code, Dharmasastra and to re-organise the society along the four-varnas system met Chitraketu, a Vrshni ruler who had lost his only son following rivalries among his wives. He lost his ruler-ship too.
Under Narada's influence he became a follower of Samkarshana. He antagonised Siva whose consort declared him to be a Vrtra Asura, born of Agni and Tvashta. Meanwhile Brhaspati had parted company with Indra as the latter was discourteous to him. Indra was exposed to attacks by Asuras and requested Visvarupa, a Tvashta, for secret weapons.
Visvarupa was suspected of having given similar weapons to the Asuras also and was killed by Indra. Vrtra wanted to avenge this murder. Indra was able to procure the Dadhichi Vajra with which he killed Vrtra Asura. Indra was accused of having killed a Brahman and was sent abroad for penance. During the interregnum Nahusha (a serpent chief) held the post of Indra.
The dramatis personae are Marici, Bhrgu, Angirasa, Narada, Indra, Brhaspati, Agni, Chitraketu and his queens, his Tvashta mother, Manu, Siva and his consort, Parvati, Sesha or Ananta, Visvarupa, a Valakhilya, Dadhichi, the corpse of Kausika, and Nahusha.
The events are set against the periods of Tamasa, Raivata, Chakshusha and Sraddhadeva (Vaivasvata) and the scenes are laid in Madhyadesa between Narmada and Yamuna.
Manusmrti treats the land of the Kurus, the Panchalas, the Matsyas and the Surasenakas (between Ganga and Yamuna) as the land of the new generation of sages known as Brahmarshis (MS 11-19) and the warriors of these lands as eminently suitable for being drafted to the army (MS 7-193). Bhrgu was aware that there were mixed classes (samkaravarnas) in these lands even as there had been in Brahmavarta (Sarasvati-Drshadvati basin).
Chitraketu was a ruler of the Surasenakas. Their kingdom was organized on the pattern of seven constituents, prakrtis (Bhagavatam 6-14-7). The political structure reflected the early paurajanapada pattern, the ruler, his wives, subjects (praja), amatyas, mantris, workers (bhrtyas), corporations (srenis), urban and rural boards (paurajanapada), owners-cum-administrators of lands (bhupa) and the princes (atmaja). This pattern was pre-Kautilyan and pre-Manusmrti. It was partly feudal and partly bureaucratic. It distinguished between executives (amatyas) and counsellors (mantris).
The agrarian lands did not come under the jurisdiction of the janapada. The economic corporations were not under the control of the paurajanapada boards or the executive. Similarly the paid employees (bhrtyas) were not under them. They had contractual relations with the srenis.
The (atmaja) who were born (ja) in the janapada and with personal rights and individual identities (atma) were distinguished from those to whom these (prajas) were extended later.
This late Vedic state had no standing kshatriya army (sena). It was protected by warriors who were volunteers (senakas). It had no treasury (kosa) either. It was a bureaucracy with autonomous urban and rural boards, rural administration in charge of agricultural lands and trading corporations engaging paid employees.
The population had two sectors, those who were individuals and claimed inviolable rights of nativity (atmaja) and those who had been granted such rights but were subjects (praja) of the state. The society was not classified on any other basis.
The Surasenakas were warriors but were not Kshatriyas. They were referred to as Kshatra-bandhu, a class closer to the varna of Kshatriyas but not initiated as Kshatriyas who were trained in the civil and military academies and granted the status of dvijas (twice-born).
The Surasenakas would have been corporations (srenis) of armed Vrshnis who had the status only of Vaisyas, being pastoral cadres.
Chitraketu was a kshatra-bandhu (6-17-13), a status higher than that of a kshatr, who was an agriculturist rather than a soldier and was distinct from the traders, Vaisyas. This was the status of Vrshnis, a pastoral cadre to which Krshna belonged.
Chitraketu had no sons and a ruler without male progeny was liable to be replaced and hence he was eager to beget a son. He was the son of an intellectual who had the rank of Agni and was a civil judge. Only Brahmans and Vaisyas were eligible to hold this post. His mother was born to a Tvashta (smith).
Like Takshas (carpenters) and Rathakaras (manufacturers of carts and chariots made of timber), the Tvashtas (blacksmiths) were independent professionals who could be Vaisyas but asked to be treated as Brahmans.
They were not given a status even between these two classes. Yet they were allowed the privileges due to dvijas. They were samkaravarnas and were avoided by the dvijas, Brahmans, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas. But these three classes were only at the formative stage when the Chitraketu episode took place.
Angirasa's visit to him was in the course of and connected with the duty assigned to him by Manu Svayambhuva. He was in charge of the new Kshatriya varna. He had to regulate their codes and determine who were to be admitted to that varna. Chitraketu accepted the orientation prescribed for the dvijas that one should beget a son who would discharge his debts to the three cadres, nobles (devas), sages (rshis) and elders (pitrs).
He requested Angirasa to help him perform the conventional sacrifice for begetting a son (Bhaga 6-14-26). But the male child was killed in an intrigue in the harem. Chitraketu's status became shaky.
When Angirasa met him he was entertained with food prepared in accordance with Tvashta practice. [Bhrgu cites (Manusmrti 4-210ff) orthodox views which disallowed Brahmans eating the food given by smiths or dealers in weapons or by a carpenter, taksha.]
Chitraketu's claim to the status of a dvija was not unchallenged. But Angirasa set aside these restrictions and accepted the hospitality, thereby declaring that Chitraketu was a dvija. He was a Brahmana (or a Vaisya) as his father was Agni.
This statement snubbed Saivaite detractors who held Chitraketu as a kshatra-bandhu. The Vaishnavaites emphasized paternal ancestry and claimed that he should not be rejected on his maternal Tvashta ancestry.
Angirasa too, like Bhrgu, into account both inherited qualities, paternal and maternal, seed and soil, and granted him the status of a Kshatriya, a status in between Brahmans and Vaisyas. The Vrshni chieftain was thus drawn closer to the Brahmavadis who were treated as but Vratya Saivaites. But the poisoning of the child led to his being deposed.Angirasa and Narada visited the king (6-14-61) who was bereaved.
Chitraketu was then the chief of a Gandharva city (agara) (6-15-23). It was not obligatory for gandharvas to beget sons. Narada might have taken interest in him because he was like the former a gandharva. The Vrshnis (to whose ranks Krshna belonged) seem to have been treated as gandharvas by orientation.
The discourses of Angirasa and Narada during the second visit merit notice. They bring out the differences in their outlooks. They were in the guise of Avadhutas (6-15-10). Angirasa put forth the Sramana view while Narada emphasized the new Gandharva outlook.
Angirasa instructed Chitraketu on the impermanence of life. The body of the child was created by a body (of the father) from a body (of the mother) and the body was composed of material elements which were permanent. This view denied the soul any role in the birth and growth of the child, that is, in the process of evolution. It may be called prakrtivada, materialism, which is attributed to Angirasa Brhaspati.
It treated distinction between individuals and communities (jatis) as artificial and incorrect (6-15-8) The Avadhuta emphasized the permanence of matter and not of the soul. As sattva, rajas and tamas, are traits of the soul and as there is no (proof of existence of) soul, varna and other distinctions based on these three gunas are artificial, he argued.
To avoid the impression that Angirasa and Narada were (closer to) Sramanas, the editors add that they were great sages like the Kumaras, (Sanatkumara etc.) Rbhu, Durvasa, Devala, Asita, Vyasa, Gautama, Markandeya, Vasishta, Parasurama (Bhagavan Rama), Kapila, Yajnavalkya etc. (6-15-11 to 15).
The names of those included in this list of teachers and of those omitted from it are both significant. Those who were closer to Saivaism were treated to be similar to Sramanas in their views. It seeks to establish that it was not Brhaspati but Gautama who was Angirasa's ideological heir on the plane of philosophy.
Badarayana, an associate of Parasurama and Vyasa was eager to establish that Angirasa and Narada were in the mainstream of the Samkhyan tradition which emphasized the permanence of both matter and soul, of both prakrti and purusha.Angirasa explained that he had not changed his views since his earlier visit to Chitraketu. The Sramana thought had its origin in the outlooks of the technocrats (nagas) and industrial workers (sarpas) with whom Angirasa had cordial relations.
Chitraketu was accorded a status equal to that of a Kshatriya though he belonged to a gandharva cadre. His mother, a Tvashta, belonged to the frontier society of technocrats, artisans and workers while his father, an Agni, to the pastoral sector of the core society. Both the parents were intellectuals.
Kautilya treated Brahmanas and Sramanas on par. He was a believer, a positivist (astika) though he used the concept prakrti and followed the samkhya system of dialectics. Prakrtivada however did not accept asuramaya, which rejected the permanence of both matter and soul.
Gandharvamaya considered equality of all as illusory while accepting the concept of permanence of matter. The postulates of the existence of the soul and of its permanence are not established according to samkhya dialectics.
Sesha and Vidyadharas
Narada did not accept the permanence of matter. It is the soul which is reborn. It is permanent. It may be born again anywhere, not in the same lineage necessarily. It is not sound to claim that a son is a father reborn. Hence the question of being indebted to the ancestors does not arise, the gandharva sage argued. Even Manu Svayambhuva had to soften the traditional emphasis on the three debts. The gandharvas who are childless have to be accommodated.
Chitraketu wanted to be declared a Brahman but Angirasa could not oblige. Only Bhrgu could admit new members to the class of Brahmans, not even Vasishta. Narada recommended that Chitraketu should follow the thoughts of Vasudeva, Samkarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha (6-16-18). The Bhagavatam composed long after this episode had failed to take note of the fact that Pradyumna and Aniriddha arrived on the scene after this episode and not earlier.
After meditating on Narada's suggestion, Chitraketu approached Sesha (6-16-29) who was an associate of Samkarshana. Sesha was visualised as a personage lotus-white in colour, wearing a dark-blue costume, a crown, armlets, a belt and bracelets, smiling but with red eyes. He was both gentle and ferocious (6-16-30). He was surrounded by siddha-isvaras who had attained fulfilment in their high objectives and were charismatic and benevolent chieftains. He was described as a jagat-guru, a preceptor whose students belonged to the social universe of various gandharva cadres.
Sesha was a vigraha (icon) according to the social code (sastra) of the Satvatas of Madhyadesa who were vegetarians and followed the Pancaratra cult expounded by Vasudeva and Samkarshana. He was also described as the endless, Ananta and as the invincible, Ajita.
Ajita was placed in the period of Manu Chakshusha (8-5-9) and as an offspring of Viraja (the head of a federal social polity) by a protg of the nobles (devasambhuti). Deification of the living was started by the Satvatas, it may be inferred.
They accepted all who were endowed with the trait of gentleness (sattva) as Arya. (6-16-43) This should have become possible because of Naradas new Gandharva outlook.
Chitraketu was in search of an ideology that would accept him on par with the Brahmans. He opted to follow that of Sesha, an aggressive Vaishnava cult introduced to him by Narada, a gandharva prajapati. He was recognized as the chief of the Vidyadharas (6-16-49).
There were two groups of Vidyadharas, sthira and chara, stationary and mobile. [This system is adopted by the institution of spies, chakshus.] The mobile Vidyadharas were counterparts of the Saivaite charanas (scouts).
Association with the radical mobile group of Vidyadharas led to his coming in conflict with the Saivaites. He condemned Siva as being a shameless hedonist given to lust. As a roaming Vidyadhara he had undertaken to chastise others though he was no longer a ruler entitled to take the delinquents to task (6-17-1).
Under the leadership of Samkarshana and Sesha (Ananta), an aggressive Vaishnavaism sprouted in Madhyadesa, especially among the Vasus. While Samkarshana was a champion of agriculture, Sesha was a technocrat, naga, and pioneer who encouraged entrepreneurs. Superiority was claimed on the basis of expertise in specific fields (vidya). The Vasus had exceeded the limits proposed by Kapila and Narada.
They took law into their hands without formal sanction by any authority Brahma (the chief justice who stood by the Atharvan socio-political constitution) or Bhrgu (the chief editor of the Dharmasastra) or the Kumaras (especially Sanatkumara, the advocate of Prthu constitution) or Manu Svayambhuva (or Raivata?).
One of the Vasu groups, Vidyadharas, was roaming about chastising others. Siva was not perturbed by these adventurists. But his consort, Parvati, declared Chitraketu as an Asura. Thereby his immunity as a Vidyadhara was withdrawn. He came to be known as Vrtra-asura, one who could be exterminated as a feudal chief cut off from all privileges and immunities.
Bhrgu was an anathema to the followers of Samkarshana, who were peasants but did not hesitate to take to arms. They claimed that they were establishing a new social order based on merit rather than birth. It was a repudiation of varnasrama dharma.
Atharvaveda Bk.3 episode features Vasus, Agni and Vrtra-slaying Indra. This episode was cast in Revati, the capital of Samkarshana, a Vrshni. In Atharvaveda Bk.8-9, the Saddhyas were found to be recognized as Kshatriyas.
The Vasus claimed that they were a politico-intellectual elite entitled to chastise others. They were essentially landlords. The Saivaite proponents of Dandaniti and the advocates of Dharmasastra were both offended by this claim. The Vasus were asked to look after pasture and to keep away from agricultural lands. But this directive could not be easily enforced.
Indra and Visvarupa
Indra (of one of the dhio-prthvi dichotomous states which had adopted diarchy) had offended Brhaspati and the latter left the assembly of nobles (sabha) in anger, the Bhagavatam says. This break between the son of Angirasa, Brhaspati, and Indra deprived the latter of control over the treasury (rajyalakshmi, sura) and the armoury.
By this time, Usanas, a prominent political grammarian had consented to be the preceptor of the feudal lords (asuras). His rival, Brhaspati, an economist, was the guide of the liberal nobles (devas).
This situation prevailed during the period of Prahlada and his son, Virocana which coincided with that of Manu Raivata. Indra was isolated. Indra (of Revati) was advised to approach Visvarupa, a vipra (free-lance scholar) and son of a smith (tvashta).
Indra was however warned that he could not get the support of Visvarupa, without an amount of risk. Visvarupa could not be expected to place his expertise at his exclusive use. Indra would have to tolerate his activities. (6-7-35)
The young technocrat who claimed the status of an independent scholar and counsellor (vipra) was offered the status of a purohita (political counsellor who took care of the interests and progress of his student). He accepted it in self-interest though such counselling as a profession was reproached. A vipra was required to give free counselling and guidance.
Visvarupa collected the Vaishnavaite vidya (works on technology that were available with the schools patronised by Prajapati Vishnu) and gave it to Indra (6-7-39). These were special war-techniques including weaponry known to the followers of Samkarshana. Indra asked for Narayana-Akhyam or shield that was previously known to Kausika who died in the desert. It had a magnet that could pull down any flying vehicle. Chitraratha, the gandharva, was said to have had such a vehicle. He had learnt the science of seeing without being seen (chakshushi, spying in common parlance) from Manu (Chakshusha).
This Manu had learnt it from Soma (a follower of Atri) who was a Vedic official in charge of the industrial frontier society of forests and mountains.
Kausika was a Valakhilya, an ancient Rgvedic group known for mysticism and tantric practices. Another Valakhilya requested Visvarupa to throw Kausikas bones in the eastern river, Sarasvati. Valakhilyas must have emigrated from the western Sarasvati basin to the eastern. Visvarupa discovered the magnetic shield implanted in Kausika's body and kept it with him.
The Tvashtas who had been trained in the secret techniques of weaponry by the Valakhilyas (many of whom were emaciated yogis) made secret weapons and sold them to the aristocrats (suras, devas) as well as to the feudal lords (asuras, daityas). Like Visvakarmas they were professionals.
Indra suspected that Visvarupa had let him down and killed him. Thereupon, Indra was accused of having killed a scholar (Brahman) who had immunity against death penalty.
Tvashtas were Atharvans. Atharvaveda was called Brahma and its followers claimed to be Brahmans. Visvarupa was a Vidyadhara who held that knowledge was power. Chitraketu whose mother was a Tvashta had become a chief of Vidyadharas Tvashtas called upon Chitraketu to avenge the killing of Visvarupa.
Battle against Vrtra-Asura
Meanwhile, Chitraketu had been declared as a vrtra-asura, one who resorted to coercive methods like a feudal lord and was liable to be exterminated without being given any opportunity to correct himself.
Indra had lost the advantageous position and sought the help of Dadichi, a scholar belonging to the Sarasvati region, to secure a weapon which would be effective against the vrtra-asura. The battle between Indra and vrtra-asura took place on the banks of Narmada.
Chitraketu was supported by Sambara (the head of the confederation of feudal lords), Namuchi, Dvimurdha, Ayomukha, Rshabha, Hayagriva, Samku-sira, Puloma, Viprachitti, Vrshaparva, Heti, Praheti and Utkala. Of these, Namuchi, Sambara, Puloma and Viprachitti fled from the field. (6-9-55). Pulomas who belonged to the sector of technocrats claimed the patronage of Kashyapa. Dvimurdha too was approved by him in the Viraj allegory. Sambara had twice trounced Dasaratha of Kosala. Namuchi was later killed by Rama.
Viprachitti, a scholar who misguided others was associated with Bali and later got exonerated. Praheti and Heti are mentioned in Arthasastra 14-3.
Vrshaparva's daughter was a colleague of Devayani, daughter of Usanas who taught science of political control (dandaniti) to all including Asuras. Vrshaparva had a soft corner for Yudhishtira. Hayagriva has been held in esteem by Vaishnavaites. Not all the opponents of Indra were undesirable persons though they supported Chitraketu who was exhorted by the Tvashtas to avenge the killing of Visvarupa.
Indra was supported by Rudras, Vasus, Adityas, Maruts, Saddhyas, Asvinkumaras, Rbhus, Vahinis, Vrshnis and Visvedevas. Vrshnis and Vahinis are the new cadres that are found to have claimed a status equal to the other cadres recognized as devas by Manu Svayambhuva and Manu Vaivasvata. The alliance is similar to the one in the battle described in Atharvaveda 8-9.
The battle between Indra and Chitraketu, the Vrtra-asura, took place in the beginning of the fifth year of the house of nobles (devas) during the tenure of Manu Sraddhadeva (Vaivasvata).
According to the kalpa system after four years some members of each cadre would retire and some others from that cadre would take their place. Some others might have been permanent members of the house of nobles.
Purandara was Indra then. The Bhagavatam notes that after Vrtra was killed, Indra was advised to perform penance for having killed a Brahman (who had the right to pronounce judicial verdicts). Marici and other sages were then present. Some Atharvans had claimed that Chitraketu, the Vrtra-asura, was the son of Agni and was later a vipra who assisted the judiciary in counselling all on social conduct. Purandara's action was unilateral and high-handed.
During Purandara's absence Nahusha, an artisan (a sarpa) was appointed to function as Indra. Some provisions of Trisamdhi must have been invoked for this purpose. The nobles were never prepared to give up their claims to the post of Indra. Purandara did not act under the orders of Manu or as a missionary implementing Parvatis angry pronouncement. He functioned on his own. He killed Virocanas sister and confiscated Balis wealth. It is not necessary to read any allegory in his destruction of a hundred forts.
Atharvaveda and Bhagavatam do not say that Purandara destroyed Vrtra-asura. But this has been posited here on the basis of the reference to kalpa and yuga mentioned in the Bhagavatam. Purandara might not have been Sakra Indra. Was he a Haihaya?
Parasurama was against the Haihayas who killed his father, Jamadagni. They were neo-kshatriyas patronised by Atri. The traditional nobles (devas) and Rajanyas did not like their authority being restricted by Brhaspati. They wanted monopoly of power and the subordination of the experts to state authority. Brahmarshis and Brahmavadis were both against unbridled political power.
Dadhichi, a champion of the superiority of Brahmans, was a rival of Prajapati Kshupa, a champion of Kshatriya. While the Saivaites revered the former, the Vaishnavaites hailed the latter. Kshupa might have played a significant role in the installation of the seventh Manu, Vaivasvata.
Skanda Purana describes the battle between Dadhichi and Kshupa, as one between Saivaites and Vaishnavaites, rather than as one between Brahmans and Kshatriyas, between the judiciary and the executive. This event must have belonged to the period of Manu Vaivasvata. supremacy.
The Bhagavatam (4-13) treats Chakshusha as a descendant of Dhruva. Markandeya described him as Ananda, the foster-son of Vikranta. Vamana Purana describes him as an illicit son of a Tusita woman.
Like Svarochisha Chashusha was under a cloud. His tenure was coeval with that of Virocana, son of Prahlada. It was also marked by an uneasy truce between the devas and the asuras. The two collaborated in the utilisation of natural resources and of knowledge of science.
Some held that Vena was a descendant of Chakshusha. This Manu might have ignored the excesses of Vena. The Vaishnavaites did not favour his orientations and searched for a new Manu
Rajarshi Satyavrata: Manu Sraddhadeva: Vaivasvata
Bhagavatam 8-24-58 says that King Satyavrata by th grace of Vishnu became in this kalpa, Manu Vaivasvata. 8-24-11 says that in this maha-kalpa, he became the son of Vivasvan and was known as Manu Sraddhadeva and was placed in the position of Manu by Hari.
That Sraddhadeva was Vaivasvata is corroborated by the Mahabharata and other works. The editors of the chronicles like the Bhagavatam were confused about the chronology. It was their own making.
During the epoch of the early Manus that lasted less than a century, some of the activists belonging to the cadre of Haris inducted by the fourth Manu, Tamasa as nobles (devas) took the initiative in installing Satyavrata as Manu Sraddhadeva. He replaced the sixth Manu, Chakshusha. Sraddhadeva was a protege of Vivasvan, an eminent Prajapati and intellectual aristocrat (devarshi) and general.
Vishnu who was then the Viraj, head of the federal social polity of Virata, an open and essentially pastoral mega-state to the west of Yamuna, was supported by the general (Surya), Vivasvan. He accepted the recommendation of Vivasvan and extended the tenure of Sraddhadeva. During his second tenure the seventh Manuwas known as Manu Vaivasvata.
Vishnu, the Viraj, must have been similarly given a second tenure and recognized as Purusha (a ruler who had tenure of twenty to twenty-four years). Neither as Viraj or as Purusha Vishnu participated in battles. He was a socio-political leader. So too Manu was not a warrior though he was a retired Kshatriya ruler. Vivasvan however led troops.
Satyavrata was a Pandya ruler. This ruler of a southern state was paying oblations on the banks of Krtamala (Vaigai or Tamraparni) when a fish got into his hands. The editors of the Bhagavatam comment that it was like the fish (matsya) which destroyed Hayagriva and saved the Vedas. The Pandyas have sported the matsya flag. The goddess of their capital, Madurai, is known as Meenakshi, one whose eyes resemble fish. The northern state of Mathura with which Krshna was associated was known as Matsya.
Krtamala flows into the gulf of Mannar between South India and Sri Lanka. The ebb and flow of the sea was pronounced here. Along with seven sages Satyavrata, the saintly king who had taken the vow to abide by the laws based on truth, boarded a boat from there, carrying seeds and herbs, on a mysterious voyage. They took along with them some men and other beings.
[It was not another Noah's ark. We would avoid the temptation to declare that the concept of Flood associated with Manu's expedition was but a myth modelled on the Biblical episode. Several ports and coastal towns are noted to have gone under the sea or the seas to have receded from ports.]
It was a coastal voyage directed by a senior mariner Vasuki. Even the editors of the Bhagavatam could not believe that it was possible. During the voyage, Satyavrata was instructed on what was expected of him.
According to Bhagavatam 8-24-50,51 Rajarshi Satyavrata was selected as the new Manu because the sages were sorely disappointed with the previous incumbent under whom materialism flourished. This ruler was taught Samkhya and Yoga and how to apply their methods (8-24-55).
In Bhagavad-Gita Krshna claimed that he had taught Rajayoga to Vivasvan and that the latter had taught it to Manu and Manu to Ikshvaku. As a Rajarshi, Satyavrata had resolved to abide by Truth (8-24-60).
Sraddhadeva has been claimed to be associated with Janaka Siradvaja of Mithila. We are unable to trace the cause of the disenchantment with Manu Chakshusha. He was earlier known as Prince Ananda. It must have been connected with his association with the Vidyadharas and Charanas who were more interested in the secret forces of nature.
The upper hand which the asuras and other groups of the frontier society had gained over the aristocrats, devas, after Usanas became their preceptor led the orthodox sections long for adoption of an aggressive approach. Purandara Indra and Prajapati Kshupa had a hand in it while Kashyapa called for an inclusive approach.
Manu Sraddhadeva had his headquarters at Gaya where Galava met him. Galava who had influence in the southern peninsula later became the chief of the council of seven sages during the tenure of Manu Surya Savarni. The eminence of the seven sages led by Kashyapa made Manu Vaivasvata more famous than Manu Svayambhuva himself. He was the first Manu from the south. His ascent was a watershed in the history of India.
His tenure witnessed the liquidation of Vrtra Asura and the final battle against asuras when Bali was overthrown and exiled from Aryavarta. It also witnessed the revolt against Vena and the installation of Prthu, a peasant, as a king. It was also the period when Krshna came to the fore and the internecine war between the Kauravas and the Pandavas took place.
We are constrained to hold, setting aside all conventional notions, that most of the events pertaining to the so-called incarnations (avatars) of Vishnu took place during the decades of the seven Manus (Svayambhuva, Svarochisha, Uttama, Tamasa, Raivata, Chakshusha and Vaivasvata) and their successor (Surya Savarni) were in office.
Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parasurama, Rama and Krshna were eminent personages who belonged to this short epoch. They could not have been separated from one another by millennia or even centuries.
From Svayambhuva to Vaivasvata it was an age of renaissance, resurgence, turbulence and reconciliation. It was short but momentous, almost incredible that many eminent personages, rulers as well as sages strided the stage within such a short span.
Manu Surya Savarni
The editors of the Bhagavatam attempted to trace the history behind what had become legends by their own times. Though far closer to the days of those events than we are, they were bogged by the different versions of those events then in vogue. The most important hurdle was the issue who the first Manu was, Svayambhuva or Vaivasvata. They accepted that Vaivasvata was not the first Manu. He was the seventh Manu but the earliest Manu of the present age, manvantara, the school of Bhagavatam said. There was another personage who too was claimed to be the son of Vivasvan (Surya). He had his seat in the western ranges.
Savarni had collected around him a council of exiles, as it were, from north India (Aryavarta). Galava, Diptiman, Parasurama, Badarayana, Rshi Srnga, Krpa and Asvattama were the seven sages of his council (saptarshi mandalam). Bali (son of Virocana and grandson of Prahlada) who had been expelled from Janasthana in the Narmada valley was his Indra. Bali was assigned jurisdiction over the area known as Chitrapada, the abode of the chitras, a branch of gandharvas, who were known for their mastery over fine arts.
Bali seems to have been stationed in areas south of River Krshna and to have come in conflict with a powerful administrator of that region who claimed to be functioning on behalf of the great emperor and head of the confederation of states, Chakravarti Bharata, and was a disciple of Rshabha, an authoritarian but stoical ruler who had renounced power and become a recluse.
Badarayana (editor of the Bhagavatam and the Brahma-sutras) was an associate of Vyasa, who had sired the two Kuru chieftains, Dhrtarashtra and Pandu, whose sons, Kauravas and Pandavas fought against each other at Kurukshetra. Krpa and Drona had taught both these feuding youths. Drona had married Krpa's sister. Asvattama was the son of Drona. While Drona got killed in that battle, Krpa, Asvattama and Badarayana survived.
Parasurama had taught warfare to Karna, a step-brother of the Pandavas. Karna too fell in the battle. Soon after that battle, Parikshit, the sole surviving son of Kuru, was installed as ruler of Hastinapura. Krpa became his political counsellor, purohita.
Parasurama, son of Jamadagni, who joined Savarnis council had been exiled from north India for having demilitarised several states. He was defeated in a duel by Rama, son of Dasaratha of Kosala. Rama was taught by Vasishta and Visvamitra who along with Kashyapa, Atri, Gautama, Bharadvaja and Jamadagni were members of the council of seven sages during the tenure of Manu Vaivasvata. Drona was a student of Bharadvaja.
Galava who headed Savarnis council was a student of Visvamitra. Rshi Srnga, a sage revered by the industrial proletariat (sarpas) was insulted by Parikshit for ignoring him. Parikshit was killed by Takshaka, a devotee of Rshi Srnga and protg of Kashyapa. Diptiman might have been associated with Pradyumna, nephew of Krshna and also been a member of Krshna's ministry.
When Rama went southward in search of his wife who had been abducted by Ravana of Sri Lanka, Savarni was in the western range and was Manu. Rama however did not meet either Manu Savarni or Bali who was his Indra. He learnt about Bali's exile and the role of Vamana in it from Jambhavan, a chirftain of Rkshas, who was a witness to that event. Kara who had been appointed as governor of Janasthana after Bali was deposed was killed by Rama.
Galava had already established himself in the south and is mentioned by Kautilya in Arthasastra 14-3, along with Devala, Narada and Savarni.
The British and European Indologists of the period 1750-1950 failed to interpret the features of the social polity of Ancient India correctly. The causes for this failure have been brought out in this book and other books of this compilation. We cannot however pardon the Indian scholars of that period who had uncritically toed the lines of the western Indologists while interpreting ancient Indian writings. We have to set right the study of Ancient India.
Let us steer clear of all notions that promote racial and cultural divides and also the ones based on religious and caste prejudices. Let us also stay away from fields like deism and spiritualism, metaphysics and theology while describnig the passage from the pre-Vedic social polity to the post-Vedic social system. Let us keep away from all biases and prejudices and adopt a rigorously rational approach to the study of Ancient Indian social polity.
Vedic Polity presents the picture of the issues that were faced by the sages of that period which was going through transition from the laws based on Rta to the laws based on Satya. Both these social frames preceded the social laws that are known as Dharma which came to prominence only by the end of the Vedic era.
The laws that accepted the inevitability of subordination of the weak to the mighty and exploitation of the poor by the rich and the struggle for existence and the theorem of survival of the fittest and mans conduct being directed more by his innate traits than by any cultural value and nurture are covered by the concept of Rta.
It implied that men's responses to the socio-physical environ that they have at any given time are but natural ones and are not to be found fault with.
Of course man is afraid of those who are unknown to him and of the mightier. He however exhibits empathy for those who are weaker and are suffering thogh he may not be always able to help them out.
The permissive laws of the pre-Vedic and early Vedic periods prevailed when everyone was a law unto himself. Primal anarchism characteristic of individualism delayed the emerging of a credible state. It validated that individualism which was reflected in the pithy remark, I am Brahma.
It was not recognition of one's identity with the Ultimate. To put it in plain (but not banal) terms, mans first response to his environ was marked by his inability to comprehend it rather than surprise or awe. He was alone and there was none but him. He was afraid as he was alone.
It was not too long to secure a companion and then a clan to give him security and a community that would guide and control his conduct vis-a-vis that of others in his social environ. Clans (kulas) and communities (jatis) of those who were born (jana) in the local areas framed their own rules of permitted acts and proscribed ones based on their past experiences.
These have later been referred to as kuladharmas and jatidharmas. Kuladharmas and Jatidharmas got reinforced as time passed on and became impregnable and immutable. These have been in recent times referred to as Adidharma, the first among the social codes to emerge.
Adidharma took into account mans nature and the fact that not all are alike. Neither mens nature nor their nurture has been uniform. Hence very little of mans life could be regulated according to Rta. Diversities are bound to be present and Adidharma acknowledged this fact. But aspects of mans conduct that could become uniform and had to be uniform to ensure the security of all the members of the clan were brought under rigorous scrutiny and code of dos and donts.
These were not formulated by any council of intellectuals or promulgated by any state. Every clan and every community was autonomous but their members could no longer assert their individual identities and preferences and embark on any personal pursuit. Men might have all been born free but they were not born alike. All of them were however destined to obey their clans and communities. It is extravagant to claim that all of them were in chains, though born free.
All beings, both human and non-human can be classified on the basis of the predominance in them of one of the three traits, gentleness (sattva), aggressiveness (rajas) and inertia (tamas). To be precise every one of these three classes can be further stratified on the basis of whether those assigned to that class have higher levels of that trait or medium levels or are in the lower levels.
This leads to nine tiers and the four or five cadres included in a tier can also be similarly stratified. Over forty cadres have been identified and stratified by the editors of Manusmrti. It is significant that none of these cadres bear the nomenclatures of the castes identified by the western scholars and the British government of India.
Modern caste system cannot be traced back to the social polity of the Vedic times or even to the numerous mixed classes (mentioned in Manusmrti) that had the traits of more than one class and whose vocations were distinct from the ones permitted to the basic varnas.
The dichotomies, rich and poor, mighty and weak, pious and impious, talented and non-talented, clever and foolish are too simplistic to be more than a rough guide, in recognising the true calibre of an individual. It may however be noted that in the era when the laws were based on natural moods, Rta, most chieftains were marked by the predominance in them of the trait of aggressiveness (rajas). They fought with one another for supremacy and terrorised the gentle but intelligent (sattvik) as well as the inert and ignorant (tamasik).
The mighty ruled the roost. There was no state and no constitution. The law of fishes (matsya-nyaya), by which the larger fish swallowed the smaller and grew further, prevailed. What prevailed in any area was autocracy and if there was no person who could control all others anarchy prevailed.
The agro-pastoral core society of the plains (prthvi, bhumi) had two major strata, a small rich leisure class whose needs were met by the vast working class. The members of the rich liberal cultural aristocracy were referred to as devas. They were not gods. They differed from the aggressive chieftains who were referred to as asuras. They were not demons. Both belonged to the power structure of the core society and were pitted against each other. Most of the commoners (manushyas) opted to support the liberal nobles. This feature of polity has continued to this day.
This dichotomy between the rulers and the commoners and the one between the two sectors of the ruling class of the agro-pastoral core society can be noticed also in the other society of the frontier region of forests and mountains which followed industrial economy. Interdependence of the two societies was slow to emerge. While feudal lords and liberal aristocrats were engaged in settling the issue of who should control the core society, within the frontier society the class of technocrats emerged as a rival to that of the ruling plutocrats.
Aristocrats (devas) of the core society and plutocrats (yakshas) of the frontier society wielded economic power and socio-cultural influence while the feudal lords (asuras) and the technocrats (nagas) had political power.
Within the ruling class of the core society a liberal wing emerged in due course as some of the ruling class found that they could lead a more comfortable life with the willing support of their servants (dasas) than by coercing them. Feudal warlords resorted to coercive methods while the cultural aristocracy won the support of the workers through its liberalism and policy of patronage and friendship.
As the ruling elite split, the cultural aristocrats, devas constituted themselves into an assembly (divam, sabha) that controlled the finances that were contributed by individual nobles and by the commoners, especially the rich among them through ritualistic voluntary sacrifice (yajna).
The more aggressive chieftains, rajanyas, elected the head of the state from among themselves. It was often preceded by violent conflicts among the aspirants. But the rajan, who claimed to be the head of the state, could not have access to the state treasury.
The intellectuals and the elders who had retired from economic activities supported the liberal aristocrats and were given a share in the offerings given voluntarily by the landlords. These intellectuals (rshis) and retired elders (pitrs) who were associate members of the assembly (sabha) of the nobles (devas) later became members of samiti, the house of legislature.
The two bodies and their members, nobles, sages and elders (devas, rshis and pitrs) who were three classes not engaged in economic activities looked after economy, social relations and cultural activities while political power was vested in the hands of the aggressive chieftains (rajanyas) and their head, the rajan. They procured their requirements through coercive methods from the commoners (manushyas) who were engaged in economic activities
The powers of the chieftains whose leader claimed to be the head of the state, rajan, were checked effectively by the two bodies, sabha and samiti, which admitted to the native agro-pastoral community individuals who were members of the other sectors of the economy and other areas.
This larger community whose members had the status of prajas elected their own head, prajapati. He became the convener of the two houses of the legislature, sabha and samiti. Their heads, designated as Indra and Agni, respectively had more influence than the rajan who claimed to be the head of the state but did not enjoy popular mandate.
The insistence that the members of the two bodies should arrive at unanimous decisions, after deliberating the issues threadbare and that their decisions would be binding on all members were the salient features of the Rshabha constitution. The chief of the people, Prajapati, who was an elder (pitr) was likened to the bull which protected the herd of cows. The Rshabha who did not resort to violence was however able to resiat violence and protect his gentle folk against all threats.
The middle Vedic period witnessed transition from the permissive laws (Rta) which conceded that every individual should be free (svatantra) to pursue his way of life including choice of vocation, companion and goals of life to the highly puritanical laws that required everyone to take a pledge to abide by truth (satya) and non-violence (ahimsa).
Those who were not entitled to take this pledge as they were ignorant of its juridical significance were advised to abjure perjury and get legal protection. The two classes were called satyavratas and na-asatyas, respectively. They were instituted as Aryas and Dasas and later as Vaisyas and Shudras. These laws also guaranteed right to life and personal property.
The earlier laws of the Rshabha constitution enabled the state, that is, the Prajapati, who was the head of the council of elders to control all property and all movements on the ground that protection of life was the most urgent need in the face of atrocities committed by feudal lords (asuras) and inimical aliens.
The new laws under the Viraj constitution made Prajapati, the chief of the people and head of the two legislative bodies (sabha and samiti) subordinate to the Viraj who was to be elected by a larger body of heads of families, purushas and their consorts, stris.
Lest the patriarch, Prajapati, should become an authoritarian figure the eight-member executive appointed by the house of nobles was placed under the supervision and guidance of the benevolent mother-figure, Aditi, who enjoyed the power to pardon the penitent while supervising the implementation of the ten strict rules of permission and prohibition (niyamas and yamas).
The Viraj constitution was democratic but continued to be puritanical. Viraj, the head of the state was free to extend his authority over areas beyond the agro-pastoral plains (prthvi) and its commonalty (manushyas) and the ruling class of nobles (devas). He was required to wipe out the undesirable feudal elements (asuras) who had taken shelter in the peripheral (parija) areas.
Aggressiveness (rajas) was thius externalised so that the nobles (devas) and the commoners (manushyas), and the sages (rshis) and elders (pitrs) were free from state control while the four sectors of the core society protected one another.
Most regions had a thirty-three member house (sabha) of nobles (devas) and a council (samiti) of sixteen intellectuals who were also jurists (Brahmans) and sixteen elders (pitrs) who had retired from all economic activities.
Indra, the head of the thirty-three member sabha was also the head of the army and the treasury and the eight-member executive. Agni, the head of the council (samiti) was alsos the head of the sixteen member civil judiciary and ranked next to Indra, the head of the executive which represented the eight large social sectors.
Both these officials were subordinate to the Prajapati, the head of the council of elders and convener of the bicameral legislature. He was the chief of the people of the enlarged society but was subordinate to the Viraj, the head of the federal society with eight social sectors (rashtra) and five state units, the city (pura) and the four regional bodies (janapadas) around it.
In many areas the samiti functioned under Brhaspati who was an economist (expert in varta) and controlled the treasury and the armoury and ensured that the civil society comprising the nobles and the commoners remained unarmed. He was for laws that protected life and livelihood and property. Indra lost control over the army as its training and deployment was placed in the hands of the official designated as Aditya and the armoury in that of the civil authority, Brhaspati. This weakened the liberal aristocrats (devas) in their objective of wiping out the intransigent feudal lords (asuras).
Brhaspati was a champion of the bourgeoisie and wanted to prevent the aristocracy (divam) from violating the policy of the state dictated by the ideologues-cum-activists (Brahmavadis) of the Atharvan school. While other sages (especially the Brahmarshis who were theoreticians and social philosophers) outlined the socio-cultural constitution implicit in the Rgveda (and Yajurveda and Samaveda), the Atharvans (Brahmavadis) outlined the two sections of the politico-economic constitution, dandaniti and varta.
Indra-Brhaspati agreement upheld laws that pertained to economic transactions (vyavahara) while Indra-Agni diarchy was concerned mainly with moral values and ethics. Both laws and both alliances were functioning within the framework of the laws that gave primacy to commitment to truth (satya).
Indra-Brhaspati alliance that bound both the nobility and the commonalty, the two strata of the agro-pastoral core society was a corollary to the triple entente, Trisamdhi, which brought together the three social worlds (lokas), aristocracy (divam), commonaklty of the agro-pastoral plains (prthvi) and the industrial society of forests and mountains in the frontier areas (antariksham).
There was an effort to bring together all the three sectors of the ruling elite, liberal cultural aristocrats (devas), autocratic feudal warlords (asuras) who were after political power and the plutocrats (yakshaas) who sought economic power. The agro-pastoral terrains were controlled by the liberal aristocrats (devas) and the distant lands in the fotests and mountains by the plutocrats (yakshas) and the periphery between the two by the feudal lords (asuras).
While Trisamdhi aimed at bringing the three sectors together and ensure peace through the Blue-Red policy called Indras Bow with a blue interior signifying and encouraging brotherhood and a red exterior signifying determination to exterminate the intransigent elements (vrtras) who were a threat to the innocent.
Social integration was achieved through granting the plutocrats (yakshas) the status of devatas marginally lower to that of the aristocrats (devas). The reformed feudal lords (asuras) were acknowledged to be senior (jyeshta) to the nobles (devas) and granted the status of patriarchs and elders (pitrs). Some of them were recognised as benevolent, chatismatic chiefs (isas and isvaras) mainly of the social periphery inhabited by former tillers and ex-servicemen who lived as discrete individuals (bhutas).
The agrarian proletariat (Shudras) and the mobile industrial proletariat (sarpas) were placed on par and granted equal rights which were also exrended to the unorganised population of discrete individuals (bhutas) and dropouts from the two societies (agrarian and industrial) and residing in the periphery (parija) that had come under the control of the feudal lords (asuras).
There were many individuals and cadres who were not engaged in economic activities and who were not settled communities. They were treated as members of social universes (jagats). They claimed and were granted the right to move freely in all areas and pursue activities that were needed for the spread of education, moral values and culture. But they were not allowed to till the lands or to dig them for minerals.
The larger commonalty had three sectors, natives (jana) of the core society settled in plains (bhumi) as clans (kulas) and native communities (jatis), people with privileges and immunities (punya-jana) who were mobile individuals and cadres and were not under the political control of any authority or economic influence. These cadres and individuals aided the ruling classes as intellectuals and administrators and also manned the army, the police and the independent rural bureaucracy.
The commoners of the other industrial society who were not settled communities but were organised corporations (srenis) and guilds (samghas) and were controlled by the plutocrats (yakshas) were referred to as the other native people (itara-jana). The organised settled communities and ranks were referred to as social worlds (lokas) and the unorganised mobile populations as social universes (jagats). The implications of these factors for Vedic social polity have been underlined for the first time in this treatise.
The Vedic polity also witnessed the emergence of the two classes, the landed gentry and traders who had personal property and political franchise and the working class who had no property and no rights. The two classes were earlier called Aryas and Dasas and later as Vaisyas and Shudras. Both belonged to the commonalty (Vis) governed by the aristocrats or by the feudal lords or by the plutocrats.
From the social universe (jagat) comprising gandharvas, apsarases, vipras, vidyadharas, charanas, chakshus, tapasvis, siddhas etc and who had diverse non-economic orientations and pursuits the two classes, Brahmans (who were jurists and intellectuals) and Kshatriyas (who were administrators or warriors) emerged. Even as the class of workers had no personal property these two classes too had no personal property.
After the ruling class of aristocrats (devas), plutocrats (yakshas) and feudal lords (asuras) was wound up all these four classes, Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras were granted right to property, personal freedom and political franchise. All the four were treated as Aryas, This was a later Vedic and early post-Vedic development. However the Vedic era witnessed an effort to secure freedom for the bonded labourers (dasas), who served the nobles (devas).
Kashyapa who headed the council of seven sages during the tenure of the seventh Manu, Vaivasvata and an Atharvan ideologue-cum-activist identified eight large social sectors, feudal lords (asuras), liberal nobles (devas), sages (rshis), elders (pitrs), commoners (manushyas), plutocrats (yakshas), the cadres who were privileged and were engaged in spreading wholesome cultural attitudes (punyajana like gandharvas) and the mobile industrial class (nagas and sarpas). They were all human beings. None of them were supernatural or celestial or preternatural beings.
He recognized all of them as eligible for protection by the state. Only intransigent rebels (vrtras) were kept isolated and denied protection by the state and the rest of the larger society. This larger society was based on the principle of union without uniformity, unity despite diversity and union that ensured autonomy of every unit. Such a social polity was called virajam. It was antithetical to the Rshabha constitution that ensured that no individual was away from the watchful eyes of the patriarch, Prajapati. who headed the polity and controlled the entire economy.
Indra, Agni, Vayu, Soma, Varuna, Mitra, Daksha, Yama, Dhanada, Apa, Parjanya, Prthvi, Aditya etc were the designations of the officials of the Vedic polity. While most states had eight members drawn from this list in the highest executive the personnel and their specific roles differed from time to time and from region to region.
They were not gods of the Vedic times nor did their roles reflect either polytheism or pantheism. Of course, the Vedic sages were not adherents of monotheism or monism or dualism. These theological schools came into existence long after the Vedic times.
The Vedic society did not worship Brahma, Vishnu and Siva as gods. The concept that they represented the aspects of creation, protection and destruction came to the fore only long after the Vedic times.
Brahma was the designation of the chief justice who outlined, interpreted and implemented the Vedic constitution, referred to as Brahma and enshrined in the Vedas, especially in the Atharvaveda. But the Vedic polity did not have an independent chief justice.
Law which was based on the inviolability of truth (satya) was interpreted by the intellectual, Agni and ion many places by Brhaspati who was referred to as Brahmanaspati. Varuna, Yama and Daksha were other officials implementing the provisions of the laws and ensuring order. Of these Varuna was the ombudsman, regent during interregna and trustee of all property other than acknowledged personal property. State had no property and the state was not the property of anyone.
Vishnu was a senior Prajapati who was a Virat and also Purusha, which were two distinct socio-political ranks. Siva was a yogi associated with the frontier society as Rudra and with the society of the periphery as Isvara, a charismatic, benevolent personage.
These officials represented different social sectors of the larger polity. Ordinarily Indra, Agni and Soma represented the three organised social worlds, nobility, commonalty and the frontier society of the forests and mountains. Of significance is the role of Varuna. He was highly powerful and ensured that all abided by the unwritten socio-political constitution, Brahma.
Many jurists (Brahmans), especially the followers of Bhrgu were unwilling to honour the provisions of the Indra-Brhaspati pact that was in effect an alliance between the aristocrats and the bourgeoisie for they found it violative of the Kashyapan policy of recognising the right of every sector to follow its traditions.
These jurists and the other sectors were warned not to protect the rebels who had spurned the hand of friendship offered by this pact which vested political authority in the hands of Indra, the head of the aristocracy.
This pact negated the authority of the Rajan as the head of the State and of the Prajapati as the Chief of the People and the head of the bicameral legislature. It made Indra, the head of the political executive abetted by the bourgeoisie ride roughshod over the legislature and the will of the people. It vitiated the objective of Trisamdhi to ensure social integration through a policy of compromise without bowing to recalcitrants.
Mahadeva constitution attempted to bring all the eight social sectors together by ensuring that the new small integrated viable nation-state would meet the economic needs of all the sectors. It permitted the chieftains of every unit to elect the Rajan, who would be the head of the state and the oligarchy of five Rajans who headed the administration of the city and the four janapadas to elect the Viraj.
But this electoral body and its head and also the Viraj, head of the federal state, were subordinate to the Prajapat, Chief of the People, who alone enjoyed the mandate of the entire eight-fold nation (rashtram). He was also made head of the army and the executive. The Prajapati was the head of the nation-state.
Mahadeva constitution brought into existence in every region four state institutions, the house (sabha) of nobles (devas) headed by Indra, the army (sena) of recognised and trained Kshatriyas headed by Aditya, the council (samiti) of intelllectuals and jurists (Brahmans) headed by Agni and civil administration including economic affairs and treasury (sura) headed by the Atharvan economist (Brhaspati).
Like the electoral body of Rajanyas and their head, Rajan, all these four bodies and their heads were subordinate to the Prajapati, the only authority with popular mandate. These heads and the Rajan had equal status. The two patterns of diarchy, Indra-Agni and Indra-Brhaspati were fused in this system. Aditya was in charge of the army and Indra, the head of the aristocracy and that of the eight-member executive would have no control over the army and the main bureaucracy.
The bourgeoisie whose spokesman, Brhaspati was no longer in a position to intere in affairs pertaining to national security. All the three authorities were advised not to interfere in matters pertaining to social laws which were under the exclusive jurisdiction of Agni. Agni could however not interfere in affairs pertaining to polity and economy which fields were under the jurisdiction of Indra and Brhaspati respectively.
Fifty such small viable nation-states spread over the entire sub-continent were brought into rxistence with the consent of their local populace. Mahadeva was the chief of this nation comprising two confederations of twenty-five states. Each confederation, chakra had five circles (mandala) of states and each circle had five states (rajya) under it.
The protection of the state against external enemies and internal dissidents was in the hands of Aditya but he was subordinate to Prajapati, the chief of the people. Neither the aristocracy nor the judiciary nor the civil administration and economic bodies could dictate terms to Aditya, the head of the army and the assertive bureaucracy. Not even the Rajan, the nominal head of the state could undermine this arrangement.
While the continuing conflict between the liberal nobles and the authoritarian feudal lords was brought to a halt by allowing the latter to control the social periphery and the collaboration between the feudal lords and the plutocrats was ended by absorbing the latter in the house of peers and giving them a voice in economic affairs, the collusion between the head of the state (Rajan) and the chief of the army (Aditya) could not be wished away,
This collusion characteristic of militarised polities, whether headed by autocrats or conquerors or charismatic chieftains did not hatm the lives of the populations of their states. It however resulted in violent conflicts among states and struggle for control over the mandalas and the chakra.
Parasurama, a Bhargava, tried to end these wars by disbanding the armies of the states. No state should seek to expand its territory. Every state should be stable without any state expanding its jurisdiction It should be kutastha, Manu Svarochisha had directed. Parasurama, himself an expert in martial weapons called upon the rival chieftains to settle their disputes through personal duels or through dice.
Aryavarta (North India) had five circles of five states each. Their heads were designated as Samrats. A Samrat was required to settle the disputes among the members of his circle and function as the highest arbiter in all civil cases. Many of these states were demilitarised by Parasurama leading to anarchy. He was indicted and exiled from North India by Kashyapa an influential Prajapati who became the head of the council of seven sages during the tenure of the seventh Manu, Vaivasvata.
The Mahadeva constitution which was kept in abeyance was repudiated by influential rulers of the Ganga basin for it did not provide for any mechanism that would prevent the Prajapati who was a charismatic personage with immense powers from becoming an authoritarian head of the nation-state.
In the vacuum created by the retirement or death of the five samrats (emperors), Marutta, Mamdhata, Bhagiratha, Kartavirya and Bharata, Jarasamdha, ruler of Magadha stepped in and took into custody all the fifty heads of states whom he had invited for his assumption of power. He claimed to be a follower of the Mahadeva constitution.
I have pointed out that the events connected with the several incarnations of Vishnu should be interpreted rationally.
The concept of the law of fishes (matsya-nyaya) has been linked to the experiences of Rajarshi Satyavrata of the southern Pandya kingdom. He was one of the first rulers to depart from the laws of Rta and opt for those based on the inviolability of truth (satya). The concept of collaboration between the liberal aristocrats and the ambitious feudal lords and the conflict between the two are connected with the policies adopted by Kashyapa (Kacchapa, tortoise) to build integrated states taking into account the need for ensuring the autonomy of all the eight social sectors.
Kashyapa later became the chief counsellor of Manu Sraddhadeva or Vaivasvata who had earlier been Rajarshi Satyavrata. Both these moves must have received the approval of Vishnu, a Virata-Purusha. The concept of Purusha, a social leader with control over sixteen fields of administration, received a jolt when Adoksha Varaha, leader of a confederation (chakra) who was engaged in retrieving the areas that had become marshy in order to rehabilitate the nobles and the sages who had been forced to emigrate was challenged by Hiranyaksha, a feudal chieftain.
The latter was overcome and killed. However his brother, Hiranyakasipu, who followed the political policy outlined by Sukra, a Bhargava and champion of the concept of benevolent despotism came in conflict with the school of Narada who advocated that every man should be free (a nara) and be master of his own destiny. As Hiranyakasipu's son, Prahlada, preferred Narada's teachings to those of Sukras, Narasimha, a champion of the freedom of man (nara) was constrained to kill the despot.
Both these events like the first two (and the fifth) took place outside the Ganga-Sindhu basins which were known as Aryavarta.
The fifth incarnation of Vishnu is related to the setting aright the constitution of the autonomous Janapada, free from the distortions made by Bali, grandson of Prahlada, and ruler of Janasthana in the Narmada valley in with the aid of Usanas.
Vamana pointed out how Bali and Usanas had dispossesed the independent aristocrats (sva) and rich plutocrats (bhuva) of their lands and wealth and appropriated them. Others who had personal lands lost them to the state which claimed right to all lands (bhumi). Bali claimed to be establishing in a social welfare state. Vamana retrieved the lands and wealth of these three social worlds (lokas) and restored them to their rightful owners.
Then he took three steps to put down the despot and ease his counsellor, Sukra (Usanas) out of his academy.
By his first step Vamana restored to the members of the three social universes (jagats) of gandharvas, kimpurushas and kinnaras the right to move in all areas and to settle down in any area and pursue any means of livelihood other than cultivation. By the second step he restored the three state institutions, legislative council (mahaloka), the assembly (janaloka) of the representatives of the natives and the academy of researchers (tapaloka). Bali and Sukra however had not dared to wind up the judiciary (satyaloka), the seventh and highest political body.
By his third step Vamana relieved Bali of the three trust funds (vistapas) that Bali had illegally taken over. Everyone was expected under the pre-Vaivasvata constitution to spend one-fifth of his earnings each for meeting his social (dharma) obligations, the economic needs (artha) of his family, his obligations to his wife (kaama), his dependents (svajana) and his ventures that would yield him benefits (yasa) in the long run. It was a period when both the orientations, commitment to truth (satya) and treading the path of social good (dharma) were honoured.
This scheme did not provide for taxes (kara) or surrender to authorities what the latter demanded (bali) or voluntary sacrifice (yajna) to meet the needs of the non-economic classes. Bali with the connivance of Usanas took charge of three funds meant for dharma, svajana and yasa and did not use them for the purposes they were meant. Vamana forced Bali to surrender these funds so that they might be kept in safe custody and utilised for the socio-economic purposes (social welfare, social security and economic progress).
Vamana set the crooked rod of power (rajadanda) straight. It may be pointed out here that this act of Vamana to get Bali exiled and Sukra punished for his distortion of the laws based on commitment to satya codes has not been comprehended in the proper spirit before it was put across by me in my 1988 dissertation on the Evolution of the Social polity of Ancient India
But Vamana did not stay back to introduce a new socio-political order. Elements loyal to the feudal orientations continued to vex certain pockets and the cadres like gandharvas were not permitted to settle down as organised communities and the new pattern of agricultural co-operatives introduced by Vamana was prevented from functioning on the basis of equal distribution of the earnings. It was left to Krshna to step in to complete his mission.
The period of transition from inviolability of the laws based on truth (satya) to the liberalism that marked the legislation based on the principles of consensus and availability of diverse approved social options, that is, to the social laws called dharma was coeval with the period of the first seven Manus. The final century of the long Vedic era that ended with the retirement of Manu Vaivasvata was marked by the issues that the Manus and the sages close to them had to face.
Svayambhuva, the first Manu, was the head of a small community on the banks off River Sarasvati before he became its Prajapati and a member of the board of Prajapatis that discussed issues pertaining to the concept of Dharma and its provisions. Svayambhuva was in charge of this task before he was elevated to the position of Brahma, chief justice who was required to implement the socio-political constoitution, Brahma. Manus were expected to have functioned in this post before they were elevated to the higher rank from which they could amend the constitution as required to get new needs.
An outline of the contributions of each of these thinkers, Manus, and the circumstances in which these liberal provisions were introduced from time to time has been presented in this treatise. While the reified laws of clans and communities, later called kuladharmas and jatidharmas, were referred to as the original Dharma, Adidharma, the laws that were consented to by Manu Svayambhuva and his council of seven sages have been referred to as hhallowed Sanatana Dharma.
It is also referred to Srauta Dharma, implicit in the Vedas (Srutis) which were transmitted by oral tradition. The authoritative texts of Sanatana Dharma are not yet available. The text of Manusmrti or Manava Dharmasastra which is now available is a version doctored by the British governors of India to suit their requirements. It was called the permanent legislation, sasvata dharma and is a version attributed to Bhrgu, a confidante of the first Manu. It was however given assent by the seventh Manu, Vaivasvata and his council of seven sages. It is also known as Smarta Dharma and is more liberal than the earlier Vedic code whose features can be only inferred by the application of samkhya dialectics.
Manu Vaivasvata proposed a constitution by which every region had two bodies of legislature paura and janapada, which were urban and rural councils. All those who paid one-sixth of their earnings as tax (kara) were eligible to expect protection of their lives and property. Both the commoners of the agro-pastoral core society and the dwellers of the forests and mountain tracts and moors were admitted to the status of prajas. They were subordinate to the king, Rajan.
The paura-janapadas were democratic bodies which took decisions after deliberating on the issues concerned. It is interesting to note that Manu Vaivasvata introduced the debating pattern of svapaksha and parapaksha, by which both sides of every issue would be considered by the king and his counsellors before arriving at the solution.
The assembly of nobles had as in the past representatives of the traditional cadres of nobles, Maruts, Vasus, Rudras and Adityas who took care of the four sectors, the nobility, the commonalty, the frontier society and the eight-member executive. It included Visvedevas who represented the commoners, especially the rich landlords and bourgeoisie and Asvinidevas who represented the working class. It would appear that with the democratisation of the sabha, the council (samiti) of scholars lost its relevance.
As pointed out by Kashyapa, Prthu constitution tried to remove the distortions made in the Rajarshi constitution by his predecessor, Vena. This despot was burnt to death by his subjects who were instigated by the Bhrgus, a branch of the Atharvan school of polity. Its main branch was headed by Angirasa who was the chief of the council of seven sages during the tenure of the second Manu, Svarochisha.
The Rajarshi constitution was introduced by the Rudra school of thought of which the most important spokesman was Samkara. It envisaged a dynamic and sober scholsr as the head of the state. The provisions of this constitution of an agro-pastoral state have been brought out for the first time. It required the state to protect all social orientations, dharmas and to function as a bridge between them, dharmasetu. It called for openness in state affairs and refused to grant immunity to any official including the king, the head of the state.
He could become a conqueror (as ekavira, the lone warrior) but could not have access to the state army. No one was permitted to have a private army. The principle of one-sixth of the produce and of earnings as tax (kara) due to the state was introduced by this constitution for the first time. It did not acknowledge hereditary monarchy or charismatic legitimacy claimed by conquerors. The king was elected by the people most of whom were agriculturists. Prthu's was a secular state.
1. Atharvaveda Translation by W.D.Whitney
Text by Dayananda Samstha
2.Rgveda Translation by Griffith
Text by Dayananda Samstha
3.Bhagavad-Gita Translation by Dr.S.Radhakrishnan
Text and Translation by J.Goyandka for Gita Press
Text and Translation by A Kuppuswami Iyer
Text and Translation by B.G. Tilak
4. Manusmrti Text and Translation by G.N. Jha
Translation by Wiiliam Jones
Translation by Buhler
Translation by Burnell
5. Kautilyan Arhasastra Text and Translation by Shama Sastry
Text and Translation by R.P.Kangle
6. The Upanishads Text and Translation by Dr.S.Radhakrishnan
Translation by Swami Nikhilananda
7. Bhagavatam Text and Translation by Bhakti Vedanta Trust
Tamil Translation (Sridharan Company 1914 ff)
8. Vedanta Sutra Text By Dr.K.L.Daftari 1943
9. Brahmasutras: Swami Vireswarananda (1977): Ramanujas Commentary
10. Vedanta Sutra Max Muller Translated into English by G.Thibaut 1904
11. Mahabharata Text by Gita Press, Gorakhpur
Text by Pandit Kinjwadekar Pune (1932)
Tamil Translation by M.V. Ramanujacharya (1908ff) (14 Vols)
12. Valmiki Ramayana Text by Gita Press, Gorakhpur
Tamil Translation (based on Govindacharyas commentary by C.R. Srinivasa Iyengar (1984) (3 Vols)
13. Skanda Purana Tamil Translation by A.V. Sivan (1893)