Ramrajya and Leadership

Dr R Neerunjun Gopee —

Inauguration of the Ram Mandir

Ramrajya and Leadership

This afternoon is taking place the inauguration of a Ram Mandir at Union Park, Rose Belle. It may be recalled that this is the materialization of a project conceived by Pt Rajendra Arun from India, who settled in Mauritius over four decades ago. He is well known today as a Ramayana scholar who has been popularizing the Ramcharitmanas of Goswami Tulsidas – a rendering in Awadhi of the original Valmiki Ramayana which was written in Sanskrit – through radio programmes and island-wide Ram kathas (discourses).

To consolidate and supplement this approach in a more structured manner, he succeeded in having a Ramayana Centre Act passed in 2001, and with the help of trustees in a management board, devotees and supporters, building the Ramayana Centre got underway in two phases. The first phase, a Learning Complex in which to carry out all the activities meant to fulfil the objects of the Act, was inaugurated and became operational in 2007. The second phase consisted of a Spiritual Hall, which was inaugurated and became operational in 2013, and a Ram Mandir: the culmination of the project, a unique one of its kind in the Indian Diaspora worldwide, a confluence of spirituality, learning and devotion.

The programme leading to the inauguration began on Sunday last, with a Nagar Parikrama, that is, a tour of villages in the vicinity of the Ramayana Centre to sensitize and invite people. Day-long prayers known as Pooja Vidhi have been held daily from Monday onwards, conducted by priests from India. There have been cultural shows every evening, including a Ram Lila on Monday, with the participation of well-known Ramayana singer, Shri Ajay Yagnik from India who has been associated with the Ramayana Centre since its inception.

Ramrajya: Principled rule: Good governance

We thought this is a good opportunity to take a closer look at Ram Rajya, which several local leaders have evoked on different occasions and in various forums. Prime Minister Modi in a recent speech stated, ‘When people asked Mahatma Gandhi how good governance should be, he would reply in one word, a welfare state should be like Ram Rajya…’

It is interesting to have it in the Mahatma’s own words: ‘I mean by Ramarajya Divine Raj, the Kingdom of God. …Whether Rama of my imagination ever lived or not on this earth, the ancient ideal of Ramarajya is undoubtedly one of true democracy in which the meanest citizen could be sure of swift justice without an elaborate and costly procedure. …Ramarajya of my dream ensures equal rights alike of prince and pauper.’

The implication is that under Ramarajya the rulers and those at the helm of public institutions, as well as the public, would live by the highest moral values. In this sense it may be thought of as a form of Utopia. But unless we have an ideal to guide us, we are very likely to stray from the right path, and we know how dangerous this can be for both people and institutions, especially those entrusted with running the country.

We are seeing around us, locally as well as around the world, how perceived leadership deficiencies and failures are causing untold harm and misery to populations – in all the continents, in countries ranging from Venezuela and Brazil to the US, Europe, in the Middle-East and Asia. It seems that no country is immune from leaders and their so-called elites who are bent on taking the maximum from the state and leaving the masses in the lurch. This has spawned the populist wave, given as the major reason for the unexpected results of elections in, for example, the US, France, UK. And there probably is more surprise to come.

In fact in modern times, ‘the concept of “Good Governance” found a formal mention in the 1992 World Bank Report titled “Governance and Development”. The term was defined as “the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development.” Some of the key elements that have been present in most of the interpretations are accountability, transparency, rule of law, appropriate legal and judicial frameworks and participation. This is not an exhaustive list, but a list of certain elements that find a mention most frequently when good governance is talked about.

Accountability, has been used variously to mean the responsibility of the Government, various institutions and the public servants and employees for their actions, towards the public, from which they derive their authority.’

And so Ramrajya

With this background we can now take a look at what Ramrajya means, from an online source responding to a question on this issue some time ago, the writer being Haricharan Vijayaraghavan. For the sake of clarity and brevity, the text has been suitably modified. Although it was meant for the princes about to become kings in those ancient times, it will be seen to have relevance even in our own times – in fact, in all times – to those aiming for leadership roles, whether at national or institutional levels.

1. King Dasharatha’s Advice to Sri Rama

On the eve of Sri Rama’s coronation, King Dasharatha summoned his son and tendered wholesome and mature advice on Administration based on his experience, as follows:
‘Resorting to even greater humility (than before), constantly keep your senses under control. Avoid vices born of lust and anger’ – (vices arising from lust include playing at dice, sleeping by day, slandering others, fondness for women, vanity; vices resulting from anger being tale-bearing, violence, vindictiveness, jealousy, fault-finding, squandering one’s wealth, abusive speech, and cruelty in punishment).

‘Rule according to both the direct and indirect methods of governance:

Indirect method: Ascertaining the conditions and loyalty of one’s own people and the relative strength and intentions, etc., of the neighbouring states through a network of spies.
Direct Method: To make a tour of one’s dominions and ascertain things personally, to invite direct petitions from one’s subjects, hear their grievances and decide their cases on their own merits.‘Disciplining your mind, my son, conduct yourself well as instructed by me.’
The importance attached to personal discipline and far-sightedness in matters of efficient administration will be evident from the foregoing.

2. Sri Rama’s advice to Bharata

Sri Rama, forced into exile in the forest, makes his younger brother Bharat agree to run the kingdom of Ayodhya, and therefore instructs him extensively on the finer points of the art of administration, in the form of both questions and statements. His address highlights the duties and responsibilities of Kingship covering all aspects and the entire range of administration in which a King should attain proficiency if he is really concerned with the happiness and welfare of his subjects.
Starting with human relations at home and Bharata’s personal conduct and self-discipline, the questions cover his reverence and service to his parents, teachers and elders to ensure domestic harmony. It embraces all departments of government activity like Home Affairs, Defence, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Labour Relations, Agriculture, etc.

‘Are you rendering service to our father, oh my dear Bharata? Is he duly honoured by you?’

‘Do you hold in high esteem gods and manes, dependents, elders, kinsmen of your father’s age, the aged, the physicians as well as the Brahmanas?’

‘I hope the ministers you have appointed are valiant like you – full of learning, who have controlled their senses, who are born of high pedigrees (cultured family).’

‘The sound advice given by experienced ministers well versed in the laws of truth and virtues is the very foundation on which the prosperity of a King rests.’

‘The learned in times of difficulty bring endless glory by solving knotty problems. I hope you prefer learned men to thousands of fools. No help will come to a king if he seeks advice from thousands of evil advisers.’

“Has a man of your own State, who is learned, clever, ready witted and capable of delivering messages correctly, who is able to distinguish between right and wrong, been appointed by you as an Ambassador, O Bharata?” (Foreign affairs and diplomatic assignment).

Next Sri Rama instructs Bharata on the defence and protection of Ayodhya and enquires about the various aspects and measures designed for its prosperity (like water storage, well-cultivated fields not depending on the vagaries of the monsoon (or rainy season), cattle wealth, peopled by highly delightful men and women, free from violence and fear, etc.). ‘Are the forests which are the homes of elephants preserved by you?’

‘Are the women folks well protected?’

‘Is your income sufficiently large to meet your expenses and your expenditure comparatively less? I hope your wealth does not go to undeserving men.’

‘I hope the laws are administered justly and impartially. I hope the innocent do not suffer and the guilty are not let off without punishment due to greed (corruption).’

“I hope disputes between the rich and the poor are dealt with and judged impartially. For the tears from the eyes of those falsely convicted, destroy the king who rules the people for the sake of pleasures and not caring for equity and justice.’

This is not an exhaustive list, but it definitively gives a sense of what is expected from a leader in terms of character and other qualities, as well as from those whom he appoints. A frequent cliché we hear locally when something goes wrong in the country is that the leader was ‘mal entoure.’ But it is only too obvious that he is the one who chooses his ‘entourage’ and therefore he is the one who ultimately must bear the final responsibility of whatever goes wrong. Bearing such a high responsibility, from what we read above, requires of the ones who assume it the highest moral fibre, a broad sweep of knowledge, maturity, and a refined judgement so as to discern right from wrong.

Ramrajya: principled rule: good governance mean the right people in the right place pursuing their duties in a righteous manner.

Then only the country and its people can live well and at peace. No one can deny that this is what is most needed at all times, but particularly in our very, very troubled times everywhere in the world.

RN Gopee

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