DVG’s essay titled Rama Rajya is the fitting finale and the crowning glory of his monumental, semi-academic work, Rajyashastra (Statecraft/Politics) meant for a general audience. This essay touches the upper echelons of pure political philosophy akin to the precision of the tip of a finely-sharpened pencil.
While defining completeness (or fulfilment) as one of the vital characteristics of Rama Rajya , DVG simultaneously clarifies that this completeness in a Rama Rajya is attained in both our outer and inner worlds. This clarification is essential because a mere outer completeness is fraught with a terminal risk: it ushers in complacency by making self-effort and self-reliance unnecessary. World history shows that every great civilization that attained this stage (of external completeness) eventually went into a downward, self-destructive spiral. To this end, DVG offers this timeless warning written in a splendidly pithy style in the original Kannada.
The sight of suffering is the reminder of auspiciousness. Indigence is the brand ambassador of prosperity.
DVG’s exposition of Rama Rajya occurs at three major levels: the literary, the philosophical, and the practical (in the sense of political philosophy). This exposition is a harmonious blend of all three, marked by an element of indivisibility. Thus, when he extols Valmiki Maharshi’s description of Rama Rajya, he also makes allowance for the deep-seated, traditional faith of millions in Rama’s kingdom. Among other things, DVG’s reverence towards Valmiki Maharshi is based on the grand vision of life and perennial philosophy that he has embedded throughout the Ramayana. And whether Rama really existed or not or was based on an existing king’s life is secondary to DVG: the fact that Valmiki Maharshi offered an immortal, inexhaustible bounty to the world by conceiving such a character holds greater value. Which is why DVG invokes a sort of Advaita between Valmiki Maharishi and Rama when he says,
Just like how Valmiki is among the poets, Rama is literally a manifested truth in the realm of ruling a kingdom, who has no equal.
DVG also stresses upon and upholds the necessity and importance for a ruler to be guided by poets, philosophers, scholars and wise people, a tradition that has been maintained since the dawn of political systems throughout the world. This has an echo in P.B. Shelley’s rather passionate statement that “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” As also in an oblique warning attributed to Thucydides that “a nation that separates its scholars and its warriors will have its laws made by cowards and its wars fought by fools."
At the practical level, DVG offers perhaps the most profoundly insightful and compassionate understanding of what Rama Rajya really means.
Rama Rajya is an exquisite conception of the beauty of life because it is an attainable goal instead of being a finished product. A continuous quest for it, the effort to attain it, and a single-minded penance upon it is the greatest profit that our soul can obtain. Its quest is what makes our soul become deserving of completeness, perfection. Just as Rama Rajya existed in some era in the remote past, it will also be a realized possibility in some era in the future. Our very conviction in this is itself the motivation to achieve it.
An Attainable Truth
As we have seen in the earlier chapters, as far as DVG was concerned, the inner world was the surest and most reliable guide of actions and transactions in the outer. This is completely in consonance with Valmiki Maharshi in this context. Valmiki Maharshi’s conception of Rama Rajya has “truth in its soul.” It is an attainable truth for which the only path is continuous study, introspection, incessant pursuit, and penance unlike established facts like “statistics, data, reports, census.” In the quest for Rama Rajya , “all of us are Sadhakas—seekers—and not Siddhas” (self-realized people). The nature of our Rama Rajya will be directly proportional to the extent to which our quest and penance is truthful and noble. Or to state this in plainer words, when the entire nation is shaped by such ideals, it will be automatically reflected in its political, social, intellectual, moral, ethical and spiritual health.
At the same time, DVG was not blind to the real-world pitfalls because the pursuit of ideals is met more with opposition than support and encouragement in an era of parliamentary democracy and a climate of free expression which exists largely in its abuse. The extent to which “old fashioned” ideas of conviction, shraddha, devotion have a place in this climate is still a matter of debate. Given this everyday reality, how pragmatic, or even possible is it to pursue this ideal of Rama Rajya? As early as in the 1940s DVG sounded the same caution:
No political system is inherently perfect and beyond continuous scrutiny and refinement. Merely because we name a system as “democracy,” it doesn’t mean it is universally applicable. There is nothing magical about a system of voting. It might bring a fool to occupy a place that a wise man deserves to occupy; it cannot make that fool wise. Similar to monarchy and other systems, democracy too, is just one more experiment in human history.
The truth of this caution and the analysis made by DVG of the aforementioned pitfalls can be accurately verified in hindsight. When we examine the history of elections fought since 1951, we observe a very prominent slogan—used almost customarily—till the early or mid-1970s. This slogan was the promise by aspiring candidates to usher in Rama Rajya in contemporary India. After seventy years, none in our political class have managed to rebuild just one Rama temple.
The reason behind this electoral promise of bringing Rama Rajya is no secret: it was a blind, templatesque parroting of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s declared notion and dream of bringing a Rama Rajya in India.
To be continued
- See Chapter 1 for a brief discussion of Rajyashastra.
- See also: the highly-elevating discussion beginning at para 4 on p. 315 through para 2 on p. 316: D V Gundappa: Rajyashastra, Rajyanga—DVG Kruti Shreni: Volume 5 (Govt of Karnataka, 2013)
- D V Gundappa: Rajyashastra, Rajyanga—DVG Kruti Shreni: Volume 5 (Govt of Karnataka, 2013) p. 315
- D V Gundappa: Rajyashastra, Rajyanga—DVG Kruti Shreni: Volume 5 (Govt of Karnataka, 2013) p. 311
- Ibid. p. 316. Emphasis added.
- Ibid. p. 313