Quote 21: The basic structure of the Constitution

We know how in our ancient days great kings considered themselves bound by the instructions given in the Shastras. Our Constitution itself is a shastra for us. One such a situation I had explained thus in my book Judicial Role in Globalised Economy (published in 2005)1: to quote from (Chapter 3) –

“Our literature provides us a suggestive story from which much wisdom can be derived. It is nuanced in the epic to turn into an expanded metaphor of deep import. The Valmikya Ramayana, in its Kishkindhakand (the Part dealing with what happened in Kishkindha), tells us a lot about Bali’s guilt which invited the divine curial justice. Sugriva was the victim of his wrath. Lord Rama came to help him. He struck Bali with a fatal arrow from a hide. Bali was furious, and he charged the Lord in scathing words. His charges were well reasoned. The poet devoted a full canto to set them forth, succeeded by a canto wherein the Lord replies in his defence quoting authorities. He made it clear that even He was working under constitutional limitations. Tulsidas has laconically described Bali’s charges in these two celebrated lines of the Ramacharitmanasa:

Dharma hetu avatarhu gosayin, mara mohi byadh ki nayi.
Main veri Sugriva piyara karan kawan nath mohi mara.

[O Lord! you came to ensure the triumph of dharma, but you have killed me behaving as an ordinary hunter. Tell me the reasons why have you discriminated me from Sugriva.]

Bali charged Rama invoking his Fundamental Right to Equality. Lord Rama neither lost temper nor brushed him off in the huff. He explained to Bali his cognizable faults. He explained his fundamental duties, which left him no alternative but to kill him. He does not silence Bali with any ex cathedra assertion. He justified his conduct with reference to binding authorities. He refers to the duties of king as mandated by the tradition and the Manusmriti. He suggested that even he was bound by dharma, which even he cannot break! Under our tradition even God is questioned.”

Here I intend to dwell only a few of those shlokas which provide directions to our representatives to think and act. Their import would be stated with utmost brevity leaving the pursuit of developing them comprehensively for persons abler than me.


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