Sri Aurobindo on ancient indian polity

At the height of its evolution and in the great days of Indian
civilisation we find an admirable political system efficient in
the highest degree and very perfectly combining communal selfgovernment
with stability and order. The State carried on its
work administrative, judicial, financial and protective without
destroying or encroaching on the rights and free activities of the
people and its constituent bodies in the same departments. The
royal courts in capital and country were the supreme judicial
authority coordinating the administration of justice throughout
the kingdom, but they did not unduly interfere with the judicial
powers entrusted to their own courts by the village and urban
communes and, even, the regal system associated with itself the
guild, caste and family courts, working as an ample means of
arbitration and only insisted on its own exclusive control of
the more serious criminal offences. A similar respect was shown
to the administrative and financial powers of the village and
urban communes. The king’s governors and officials in town
and country existed side by side with the civic governors and
officials and the communal heads and officers appointed by the
people and its assemblies. The State did not interfere with the
religious liberty or the established economic and social life of the
nation; it confined itself to the maintenance of social order and
the provision of a needed supervision, support, coordination and
facilities for the rich and powerful functioning of all the national
activities. It understood too always andmagnificently fulfilled its
opportunities as a source of splendid and munificent stimulation
to the architecture, art, culture, scholarship, literature already
created by the communal mind of India. In the person of the
424 A Defence of Indian Culture
monarch it was the dignified and powerful head and in the
system of his administration the supreme instrument—neither
an arbitrary autocracy or bureaucracy, nor a machine oppressing
or replacing life—of a great and stable civilisation and a free
and living people.

CWSA Vol 20 p 423-424


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