Sri Aurobindo on Ancient Polity

Thus in effect the Indian polity was the system of a very
complex communal freedom and self-determination, each group
unit of the community having its own natural existence and administering
its own proper life and business, set off from the rest
by a natural demarcation of its field and limits, but connected
with the whole by well-understood relations, each a copartner
with the others in the powers and duties of the communal existence,
executing its own laws and rules, administering within
its own proper limits, joining with the others in the discussion
and the regulation of matters of a mutual or common interest
and represented in some way and to the degree of its importance
in the general assemblies of the kingdom or empire. The State,
sovereign or supreme political authority was an instrument of
coordination and of a general control and efficiency and exercised
a supreme but not an absolute authority; for in all its
406 A Defence of Indian Culture
rights and powers it was limited by the Law and by the will of
the people and in all its internal functions only a copartner with
the other members of the socio-political body.
This was the theory and principle and the actual constitution
of the Indian polity, a complex of communal freedom
and self-determination with a supreme coordinating authority,
a sovereign person and body, armed with efficient powers, position
and prestige, but limited to its proper rights and functions,
at once controlling and controlled by the rest, admitting them
as its active copartners in all branches, sharing the regulation
and administration of the communal existence, and all alike,
the sovereign, the people and all its constituent communities,
bound to the maintenance and restrained by the yoke of the
Dharma. Moreover the economic and political aspects of the
communal life were only a part of the Dharma and a part not at
all separate but inextricably unitedwith all the rest, the religious,
the ethical, the higher cultural aim of the social existence. The
ethical law coloured the political and economic and was imposed
on every action of the king and his ministers, the council and
assemblies, the individual, the constituent groups of the society;
ethical and cultural considerations counted in the use of the
vote and the qualifications for minister, official and councillor;
a high character and training was expected from all who held
authority in the affairs of the Aryan people. The religious spirit
and the reminders of religion were the head and the background
of the whole life of king and people. The life of the society
was regarded not so much as an aim in itself in spite of the
necessary specialisation of parts of its system, but in all its parts
and the whole as a great framework and training ground for
the education of the human mind and soul and its development
through the natural to the spiritual existence.

Complete works of Sri Aurobindo Vol 20 p 405-406

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