Seminar Report: Political Systems of Ancient Bhartiya Dynasties

The Departments of Political Science and International Relations & Mass Communication and Media Studies, School of Humanities of Gautam Buddha University, Greater Noida, organised the Seminar on December 23 & 24, 2019. The Seminar was sponsored by ICSSR, and ICHR, New Delhi.


Inaugural Session


The Seminar was inaugurated by Prof Kapil Kapoor, Chairman, Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla and attended by luminaries from the academic world. The hosts - comprising Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Bhagwati Prakash Sharma, Prof. Bandana Pandey, Convener of the Seminar and Dr. Vivek Kumar Mishra, Organising Secretary & Head of the Department of Political Science and International Relations - welcomed the dignitaries in the inaugural session on Day One of the Seminar.


Prof. Kapil Kapoor emphasized the importance of the Mahabharata and extrapolated on the wisdom in ancient epics of India. Further, he delineated the issue of systematic neglect of ancient Bhartiya dynasties in history books. Dynasties like Chaulakyas, that rules for over 600 years seldom find mention at length in the historiography undertaken by the Indian Historians. He also outlined how the state and governance evolved in India with organic institutions like Mandals, Janapadas and with these decentralisation of power came into force. Moreover, he repeatedly underlined that equality was primarily responsible for the longevity of the ancient Bhartiya dynasties. Also, political unity that was the end to be achieved while keeping democracy intact. Democracy was prevalent in 8th century as kings were elected. The underlying idea of his lecture was that we have been interpreting the political processes through Western concepts and definitions.


The patron of the National Seminar, Prof. Bhagwati Prakash Sharma, ViceChancellor, Gautam Buddha University, delivered an enlightening speech on the structures of political systems in ancient Bharat. Governance always meant reaching the last man in the society and also emanated from the society itself. Prof. Sharma pointed out that the "kings were always subservient to the needs of the society". The only Dharma of the King was to remain responsible to the Praja and responsive to societal needs. That the idea of self-righteousness and the concept of 'just war' which operated in ancient India, finds a mention in Magasthanese’s Indica.


Prof Sharma discussed the expanse of Chola dynasty and said that it is very important to dwell on ancient wisdom available in the form of at least 30 Tamba Patras. He underlined the importance of the thorough study and research into ancient political dynasties, knowledge about which is available in various forms like inscriptions, edicts and so on. At the end of his lecture, he threw his weight behind the dire need for a dedicated team of scholars to draw up the chronological epigraphy of ancient dynasties.


Technical Session 1

THEME: RAJDHARMA AND GOVERNANCE IN ANCIENT SCRIPTURES


Chair: Sri Prakash Singh

Prof. Sri Prakash Singh spoke at length on “Rajdharma in Adikavya" and outlined the key features of governance. He emphasized the issue of serving the society, which was the Rajdharma of the king. The King was required to be judicious and devoid of any vices. He dwelt on the 'sap tang theory'and how the character of Ram influenced the emergence of governance in ancient India. The key point of his lecture was Purohit Parishad and Amartya Parishad and how these functioned in an unbiased and judicious manner to dispense justice or to perform raj dharma.


Prof. Dilip Kumar Mohanta delineated the concept of governance in ancient India and how Buddhist texts inspired spirituality and morality in the realm of political apparatus. The vehement materialism could not have provided governance bereft of injustice, greed, corruption so on and so forth. Further, he extrapolated the Buddhist idea of conflation of economics and political principles such as Dhamma, political morality, equality, democratic rights, tolerance of criticism and the need to recognise diversity. In a nutshell, Prof. Mohanta outlined the importance of principles such as accommodation and integral humanism.


Dr. Bhaktiputra Rohtam talked about political systems of Vedic periods and its link with the Bhartiya society. He stated that in our Vedas, there was an organised system from village to nation based on spirituality and morality.


Technical Session II

Theme: Bhartiya Political Thought and Governance

Chair: Prof. S R Bhatt, former Chairman ICPR, New Delhi Prof. Bhatt chaired the second technical session and pointed out three basic guiding principles that characterize Bhartiya civilisation: Peaceful Existence, Harmonious Cooperation, Mutual Caring, and Sharing. For the realisation of the said principles, an organisation required both mundane and transcendental. political organisation existed to promote Hita and Sukh of the Praja. He said that for the protection of people, the King should augment and protect the resources of the state.

Prof. Pawan Sharma, Head Political Science Department, Meerut University emphasised on the process of selection and the right to recall the king. According to him, there are hundreds of stories that describe the process of election, re-election, and rejection of kings. For instance, when Kekai requested Raja Dasharatha to make her son the king, the decision had to be made unanimously. Even in the Nanda dynasty, the power was scattered among 10 brothers. The prevalence of decentralised and democratic structure was discussed at length. Technical Session III Theme: Bhartiya Political Thought and Governance Chair: Prof. S R Bhatt, former Chairman ICPR, New Delhi Dr. Ram Shankaran spoke at length on the “Political systems of Cholas”. According to him, the Chola dynasty was the golden era of administration in ancient India. It had decentralised governance, like autonomous village units, where even villages had wards. There was a proper mechanism for agricultural development, like land survey, taxation, tax waiver, water management and committee to protect lands. Trade and commerce were also very vibrant and this was the era of economic prosperity as well. The judicial mechanism was very democratic which followed a determined path to dispense justice. And, the bureaucracy was highly organised. Sri Kalyan Raman spoke on “Political System of Pallava Dynasty”. The administrative system was divided into five different domains on a geographical basis. For instance, paleyi, (desert area), Kurunji (hills area), nedal (shore area), Mardam (Most fertile area), etc. He pointed out that in the past no divisions existed between North and South, and the whole country was unified. This is a false narrative promoted by centrifugal forces. In every administrative sphere, there use to be a post of Dharmasena to dispense justice. Technical Session IV THEME: GOVERNANCE IN VEDIC AND POST VEDIC LITERATURE Chair: Prof. Gulab Chandra Jaiswal Prof. Gulab Chandra Jaiswal explained the administration under Maurya dynasty and outlined the importance of history to realise the needs of the nation in the present times. Further, he also urged the students to dwell on academic discourse to develop an analytical bent of mind. Dr. M L Raja discussed the political system of the Magadh Empire. He presented the emergence and fall of these dynasties. Further, in the initial stage, there were no kings and the concept of Dharma operated in the minds of general populace which resulted in mutual protection. He explained the administrative structure of the village and differential functions like tax collection, defense, etc. performed by different villages based on their capacities. At the town level, there were Nagarika, who was the chief town officer to look after the various needs of the town. Conference Report: Day 2 on 24/12/2019 SPECIAL SESSION ON POLITICAL SYSTEM OF ANCIENT INDIAN DYNASTIES The special session was chaired by Prof Bhagwati Prakash Sharma, ViceChancellor Gautam Buddha University and Keynote speaker of the session was Dr. Krishana Gopal. Dr. Krishna Gopal at length outlined the dire need of reviving our ancient wisdom. Further, he also dwelt upon the administrative, economic and political vibrancy, which existed in ancient India. He stated that there was social harmony in the ancient political and social system in Ancient India. Citing the Rig Veda, Dr. Krishna Gopal said in ancient India women saints and men belonging to so-called lower castes gave Vedic mantras. Everything depended on the capability of a person in those days. But this system has somewhere been lost gradually. He said that there should be an understanding among people from different classes as in civilised society cooperation among people is a must. Bharat as a Rastra is united not only on a territorial basis but because of its common social, ethical and cultural values that are the binding and uniting force across the country. Dr. Krishna Gopal Ji stated that nation-building does not only comprise maintaining and increasing the geographical borders, but also requires building the moral character of the people of a country and to imbibe nationalist spirit. Further, he emphasised on comparative study of Indian and Western political structures, which existed in the past. The main idea given by him is that Indian civilization and political systems were always multi-polar whereas the Western political system was unipolar. The Indian system never lost its existence because of its multipolarity, which is the uniqueness of Bharat. He highlighted the importance and different models of ancient Bhartiya governance. Technical session 1 THEME: GOVERNANCE IN VEDIC AND POST VEDIC LITERATURE Chair: Prof. Kumar Ratnam, Member Secretary ICHR, New Delhi Speaking on “Governance in Vedic and Post-Vedic literature” Prof Ratnam argued that according to Manu, Rastra is not only about territory alone but also how existence is an ongoing process, where king also is guided by some basic rules and regulations. For example, Sabha-Samiti was also not fully controlled by king, thus the king did not enjoy absolutist powers. The society was guided by values and ethics and was organized in such a manner that it was bereft of vices.


Prof. Kaushal Mishra delivered a lecture on “Manusmriti Mai Ram Rajya and Sushashan”. He stated that according to Manu, politics is about Sanskar, life process, and Rastra in itself. Manu is a symbol of humanism and that Manu in a detailed manner laid down the foundation of politics. Manu touched a variety of subjects like employment with security, clean environment, disease-free society, a society free from violence and a place where there will be a lot of water and wealth. In the presence of the said amenities, the state will be constructed. Technical Session 2 THEME: POLITICAL SYSTEM AND GOVERNANCE IN HIMALAYAN KINGDOMS Chair: Prof. Ashwini Mahapatra Prof. Ashwini Mahapatra has threw light on ancient political system of the Kashmir dynasty with a focus on Lalitaditya period. He highlighted the geo-political and cultural importance of the Himalayan region.


Padam Shree Prof. Jawahar Lal Kaul spoke on “Principles of Governance in Ancient and Medieval Kashmir”. During the Buddhist rule animal slaughtered was banned, governance was based on equality, non-violence, and liberty. Further, every sect was accorded the same status and the political dispensation acted in an unbiased way. Lalitaditya of the Karakoram dynasty was a great strategist monarch who anticipated the danger from the foreign invaders. Thus, the ruling elite was well versed in politics.


Dr. Neerja Gupta stated that Buddhist Lamas had a great impact on the formation of greater Ladakh. During the time of Lochava Rinchope, in the sphere of religion, a renaissance occurred. In the 12th century, King Lachhan Ptpal United the Ladakh. During his reign, Ladakh became a hub of the educational center. Sri Ashutosh Bhatnagar: Sri Ashutosh Ji spoke on the “Administration and Value System in Ancient Kashmir". He explained the system of the compulsory education system in the ancient Kashmir and the punishment of the parents if their children not getting enrolled in education. And the King could be removed and even a widow was allowed to rule the territory. Technical session 3 THEME: RASTRA: ANCIENT REPUBLICS Prof. Sanjeev Kumar Sharma, Vice-Chancellor of Central University Motihari Bihar chaired the session and illuminated the gathering with his words of wisdom. He addressed the allegation leveled against Indian history that it doesn't have facts and only interpretations. He argued that in Indic thought should focus on thinking and interpretations and not on facts and dates. Our history has always been the contest between the old and new. He also pointed out the handicaps that we face in the process of translation. Prof. Vibha Upadhyay shed light on the need to study history and how it is important to understand how we arrived at the present. She pointed out that the study of Politics and History goes in tandem. She outlined that the process of historiography was imported from the western world and applied in the Indian context, which in turn failed to portray the true and impartial history of India. Also, the definitions like that of Nation, Nation-state were taken from the west and after their application led to the fallible conclusion that India has not been a nation and could not become one. Since the concept of nation in the western world was conceived in terms of uniformity i.e, one language, race, religion, etc. Ancient Bharatiya political system was based on Dharma i.e Hinduism. Dr. Binod Kumar Mangalam explained the political systems in the Vedic age. He raised a question on how the political tradition and culture of India has declined. Further, in the modern world. He has stressed the process of documenting history, especially with the advent of the modern age. Prof. Rakesh Kumar Upadhyay delivered lecture on Political Thought in Indian tradition. He said that written evidence on political systems of ancient Bharat started mainly from the Kautilya’s Arthashatra when it was retrieved in 1905. Kamdanka’s Nitisara has also given a detailed analysis of the political systems. Banbhatt, who lived during the reign of King Harshvardhan wrote a book Harshcharit giving details about the political system of Harsha. The Huns' barbarity and their march towards India were also explained along with the resilience of Indian civilization that how it survived relentless blows from invaders. Dr. Manan Dwivedi talked about the importance of cultural precepts and their relevance in understanding vibrant political systems or dynasties which existed in the past. The ethics and moral values of the Maurya Empire were discussed at length along with their responsive justice system and the political decentralization in the spirit of democratic rule. Further, the characteristics of the Maurya Empire like irrigation system, revenue, trade, sound bureaucracy, espionage system were also dwelt upon. Sri Praful Ketkar in a very thought-provoking manner shed light on the dichotomy of the fact that the intelligentsia debate whether or not India has a culture of contemplation and political thinking. Sri Ketkar exposed misplaced constructs like the Nehruvian conception of the nation in the making and that India is not a nation. He dwelt upon the topic on the evolution of Rashtra. He outlined the central characteristic of the Bhartiya Political Dynasties, which ran through all the Bhartiya dynasties has been that of a “Spiritual Democracy”. VALEDICTORY ADDRESS BY DR KRISHNA GOPAL Valedictory Address was given by Dr. Krishna Gopal, Sah Sarkarvah of Rashtriya Swayam Sevaksangh (RSS). Dr. Krishna Gopal advised Political Science academics to develop a strategy and plan to work on political systems of ancient dynasties. There is an urgent need to work on this issue and to strengthen the political and social system of Bharat. Dr. Krishna Gopal encouraged academics especially from the field of Political Science to make the revival of ancient Bhartiya political systems based on culture and traditions of Bharat their primary mission. Prof. Bhagwati Prakash Sharma, VC of Gautam Buddha University thanked Dr. Krishna Gopal and all eminent scholars and stressed that the university will constitute a working group for the further conduct detailed study and academic work on the Political systems on Ancient Bharat. Dr. Vivek Kumar Mishra presented the report of the seminar and Prof. Bandana Pandey gave the Vote of Thanks. Prof Bandana Pandey Convener Dr. Vivek Kumar Mishra Head and Organising Secretary Department of Political Science and International Relations Gautam Buddha University, Greater Noida

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