[Advaita-l] kshatriya dharma according to manu smriti and its interpretation today?

Raghav Kumar Dwivedula raghavkumar00 at gmail.com
Fri Jan 12 04:18:06 EST 2018

Namaste Everyone
Thank you Venkatraghavan ji for the manu smriti pdf references to kshatriya
dharma in its 7th chapter.


 The general sense i get is that the kshatriya king who is committed to
dharma and protection of shrotiyas is to challenge and wage war against
unrightoeus kshatriyas who do not become his allies or vassals. This is of
course quite natural. However i did not come across any explicit shastra
reference to a 'dharma yuddha'  idea yet. What should be the primary
*motive* for war for a kxatriya? The smRti seems more intent to look at war
as an inherent dharma of kshatriya. Will read it a little more carefully
and get back.

On a different note,when Sri Krishna declares, paritrANAya sAdhUnAm
vinAshAya ca duShkRtAm - is that not a fairly good motto forany dharmic
kxatriya as well, not to speak of an avatara like SriRama or SriKrishna?

 I get the sense that every kshatriya is enjoined by the smRti to first
strive to purify his own mind and align his mind with the highest truths of
the Vedas (the quintessential philospoher-king) and then take initiative
and claim overlordship over other kings who had better bow down to his
authority or they invite war upon themselves. In other words, its not
overtly pacifist in outlook - such pacifism from a kshatriya (read: those
in power) is just tamas? War is for a kshatriya what
entrepeneurship/start-ups are for a vaishya. Although it seems like
needless war-mongering at times, the equally strong injunction for the
kshatriya king to purify the mind, bring the senses under control etc.,
indicate that the use of force is only for the larger good of all - to
establish dharma on a stronger footing - that's implicit?

The smriti seems to strive for a "Super-King" who upholds the dharma and
others kings have to fall in line with him or fight him. Rather like, how
Yudhishthira performed the rajasuya and challenged other kings to either
accept him as supreme or fight him. There was no 'live and let live' policy
in the mandate for kshatriya kings. Other dharmik forces like the yadavas
and vrishnis etc., had no hesitation in accepting Yudhishthira as the
'Super-King' (chakravartin?). Although I did not see any specific reference
to such a mandate either viz., a kshatriya king should submit to a more
powerful dharmik king and accept him as the Chakravartin who 'moves the
wheels of dharma' or 'whose chariot can freely move anywhere indicating his
supremacy over other Kings.'

The silver lining is that even those kings who were defeated would be asked
to become vassals of the Chakravartin King or if they got killed, then
their son or relative who was willing to become an ally of the Super-King
was enthroned. (Like Vibhishana or Sugriva a la Ramayana). The reference to
this is there in manu smriti.

There is no shying away from the use of force when the situation demands it
and a kshatriya should necessarily bring other kings under his control. A
bandwagon model of kshatriya kingly power was encouraged where other kings
bandwagon and line up behind the Chakravartin who is the King of Kings.
There was no balance-of-power encouraged where several kings who considered
themselves mutual equals balanced each others' power to prevent any one
king from becoming too powerful. (I think Samuel Huntington had his take on
this.) This 'balance-of-power' between equally powerful kings was not
encouraged by manu smriti.

Its not surprising that India was stronger to repel invaders when such a
bandwagon model of kshatriya power obtained under the Mauryas, Guptas etc.,
and India had one massive kingdom rather than several smaller
principalities tentatively balancing each other's power.



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