Iran Politics Club      
               
     
Website For Thinking Iranians
 
Back to index   Islam & Human Rights
Chapter 5: India & Democracy
 

Islam and Human Rights
Chapter 5: India and Democracy
Anwar Shaikh

March 8, 2017

Preamble

The bigger they are, the harder they fall, and therefore, the greater the pain they suffer: history of India proves this adage.

Once upon a time, (the undivided) India was the greatest country in the world. Unfortunately, the very great Indian past has fallen extremely low to split into three countries, and all of them belong to the Third World!

History is the mirror that reflects the past of a nation. The people struck down by the caprices of time, can find solace in the glorious memories of the bygone days, and can cure the wounds of humiliation by equalling their character with that of their ancestors. The one thing that the people of undivided India never did was to study their history. Instead, they preferred the easy options and fell for the foreign cultures. This is what created formidable religious, social and political divisions among them, leading to the partition of their Motherland.

The modern age has eagerly chosen the democratic way of life, which was once, an integral part of the Indian faith. Since it has become the guiding principle of life, one can be proud of one's Indian origin. But how many Bhartis, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis know of this honour? If they were aware of their ancestral values, they would feel close to one another instead of drifting apart.

People of the Indian subcontinent will have a genuine feeling of mutual belonging if they appreciate their ancestral values. This feeling is the only panacea that can restore their shattered sense of national unity and set them on the way to success and glory.

India and Democracy

Democracy versus absolutism seems to be the basic law of human culture because civilisation is the product of the continual strife between these concepts. Antagonism between the two is as natural as between bleak and bright or blessing and blight. In fact, it is a logical relationship because the recognition of everything depends on the existence of its opposite: truth cannot be understood without falsehood and black has no meaning without white.

When we look into it deeply, the concept of democracy versus absolutism, also appears to have a psychological basis:

Man is born to be free. This is the essence of humanity, and has been repeatedly expressed by history. Though, to err is human, we want to go straight. What conducts us on the right path is our knowledge and moral conscience, coupled with free will, which goads us to use these two virtues for self-correction. When man's behaviour is under his own control, he is free. Such a human can be called a blessed person because no favour, felicity or festivity is a greater joy than freedom. Of course, freedom is not a licence. A freeman, being a lover of the concept of freedom, guards other people's freedom as much as his own. He achieves this aim through his moral conduct and the force of law, which he himself legislates through the democratic institutions.

Democracy, usually described as government of the people, by the people and for the people, is the culmination of human love for liberty. It is superior to any system of government despite its numerous weaknesses. However, it must be understood that democracy is not meant for the society, which is culturally backward and morally corrupt; it is based on pluralism which denotes collective consciousness of common good and refers to the old addage: "Do not do to others what you do not want to be done to yourself." In a nutshell, democracy and sense of responsibility go together.

Since pluralism is the foundation-stone of democracy, I may say a few words about it. Pluralism in its philosophical context means polytheism, the view, which holds that there are many gods, each having power over a distinct phenomenon of nature, yet collectively representing the same final truth. In its socio-political sense, the word refers collectively to such groups as churches of various denominations, municipalities, industrial unions, business corporations, professional organisations, ethnic minorities, and so on. These entities are different manifestations of power, which remains distributed among the various organs of the society, and serves as a check on the tendencies of absolutism i.e. monarchy, dictatorship or religious autocracy.

Pluralism, represents man's collective consciousness by resisting the egoistic compulsions of an individual. This is what endeared Marxism to people for its social care, and this is also what destroyed it, because pluralism converted itself into absolutism as the political pyramid of Marxist power reached its apex. In ancient history, pluralism expressed itself through guilds, chartered cities, monasteries and similar medieval structures.

Opposed to man's love for liberty is his Urge of Dominance. What is Urge of Dominance?

This is the drive, that goads man to seek superiority over others through acquisition of power. As it is the nature of power to maximise itself without acknowledging any upper limit, it is averse to being shared; its goal is to secure the highest commanding position, crowned by absolutism. The Urge of Dominance operates in many ways: socially, politically and spiritually (religiously):

1. Its social manifestation can be seen in patriarchy whereby a male assumes controlling power over his family, and thus decides the fate of its members even to the minor details. The old patriarchal laws entitled father to inflict even death-sentence on his children with impunity. This was done "out of love" to enhance the familial causes!

2. Politics is the power-game that recognises no law except the law of self-promotion. What serves in attaining power is lofty, lawful and laudable but what stands in the way of achieving it, is the token of insanity, immorality and impropriety. Power is the only piety in the lexicon of a power-seeker. This is what men like Alexander, Genghis, Timur, Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini believed in.

3. Religion is the most ferocious trap of power. The power-seeker brainwashes people with the most cunning dart of faith; it turns man into a moth, which becomes impatient to cremate itself on the flame of spiritual trickery that a self- styled god, guru or prophet ignites with his devices, dodges and deceptions.

The power of a secular suzerain, no matter how great, lasts only during his life time; once he breathes his last, his power departs and he cannot tell people what to do. On the contrary, the power of a spiritual magnate such as a god, guru or prophet, gathers momentum after his death, and surprisingly keeps accelerating with the passage of time through a process of exaggeration, which his followers adopt to mention his miracles, marvels and majesty. Thus, a holyman commands through his dust or ashes, and the faithful devise traditions of interpreting the rational as irrational and vice versa, to hide the shame of their docility, deviance and distraction. In fact, it is a form of psychosis induced by the unconscious desire for recouping one's free will that has been lost to the illusory forces of faith.

The buried or burnt spiritual magnate, usually proclaims his absolutism through a code of law, which is considered binding by his followers irrespective of its relevance to real life and problems. The insane zeal of the followers contributes, not only to the prestige of the spiritual magnate, but also to the principle of absolutism that radiates from his Divine Person. The situation is exacerbated by his lieutenants, who treat him as the model of morality and government and want to rule absolutely in his name. In fact, their religious fervour is usually no more than showmanship; they lay stress on following the Divine Model to establish their own absolutism; in terms of dominance or suzerainty, power is to be snatched for the simple reason that masses love liberty and are reluctant to to surrender their rights of freedom, but this attitude though pious in itself, appears profane to the power-seeker because more power for the people means less power for him. This is the reason that he hates democracy, the fountain of people's power, and wants to decimate it with religious sanctions. Since this issue is vital to human liberties, I may devote a few more pages to explain it more effectively:

Historians do not seem to have realised the fact that the Arabian Peninsula is the home of absolutism whereas India is the fountain of democracy. What I am about to say, has nothing whatever to do with racism; it is simply a discussion of facts and principles and requires philosophical explanation of the terms: "Pluralism" and "Monotheism;" the former means that there are many gods, each controlling a different aspect of the physical phenomena, yet representing the Final Truth collectively. This is the essence of the Indian metaphysics, which had been practised in Greece and Italy, almost to the letter. On the contrary, the Semitic theory originating from the Arabian Peninsula, known as Monotheism, advocates that God is one, who is Creator, All-powerful and Absolute. Being above the law, He can do anything, and is accountable to none. He sends guidance through His Prophet, who being His representative on earth, wields Divine power singularly and must be obeyed. The Prophet brings the Law of God, which is everlasting and unchangeable, and must be followed under all circumstances and during all ages. Man has no choice but to obey God's Vicar (the Prophet) and his lieutenants i.e. the men who succeed him (the Prophet) over a period of time. This is total negation of democracy because man is not allowed to differentiate between vice and virtue according to his own conscience nor is he permitted to make his own laws to suit his circumstances. Not only the standards of right and wrong but laws to deal with different situations have also been laid down by God through the Prophet, who might have lived centuries earlier! This is Urge of Dominance at its apex!

Monotheism is a Semitic theory. For the sake of convenience, one may call Moses its originator though historically, it is associated with the name of the Egyptian pharaoh, Akhenaton also known as Amenhotep IV.

The Jews were originally a polytheistic race, that is, they worshipped many gods. Yahwe, the Jewish God, gave tablets of law to Moses, who told the Jews the nature of God and the consequences of not obeying Him:

" 1. And God spake all these words, saying
2. I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
5. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6. And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments."
(Exodus 20: 1-6)

From the above verses, it is quite clear that God is extremely jealous about His authority and inflicts terrible punishment on the disobedient. Following His commandments is tantamount to loving Him and ignoring them counts as hating Him. In other words, enjoyment of absolute power is the Divine Will.

This Jewish rule of absolutism served as the model for subsequent Semetic Prophets and became a spiritual tradition of the Middle East, subjecting people to the will of monarchy in the name of God. It is not surprising that in 1 Samuel: 5-6 people themselves ask for the establishment of kingship. Saul, the first king of Israel, who reigned during 1021-1000 B.C. was chosen by the people themselves. David, who became Saul 's eventual successor, was also an elected monarch but thereafter Jewish monarchy lost its elective element and became hereditary.

The Christianity started with the Jewish doctrine of absolutism:

"And I (Jesus) say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earlh shall be loosed in heaven." ( St. Matthew 1 6: 18 -19 )

It is considered the exclusive fountain of Peter's primacy. Despite many contests on the subject, it came to be established that Christ himself appointed Peter as Prince of the Apostles and Head of the Church. This primacy was not merely a matter of honour but carried true authority compatible with the Petrine divine responsibilities. Not only that, Christ's establishment was to pass in perpetuity to his successors, the successive Bishops of Rome, who came to be known as the Popes of Christendom. Thus, the establishment of the Bishop of Rome was gradually defined as the Holy Apostolic See; supremacy of the Roman Pontiff, acknowledged as the successor of Peter, Prince of the Apostles, true Vicar of Christ, was given authority all over the world. This is how he was assigned the full powers of Lord Jesus Christ to nourish, rule and govern the universal church.

This glory of Pope as successor and representative of Peter was legitimised at grassroot level by giving it analogy with the Roman law of inheritance. This is what entitled Pope to wield Peter's powers. Since Peter had been accorded principatus (primacy) over the Church, Popes interpreted it that they were entitled to use his ( Peter's ) prerogative in the monarchical style, which is absolute and cannot be challenged. Despite this manipulation, under the influence of the Roman constitutional traditions, papacy remained elective in character, but in exercising powers, it became as absolute as the Good Lord Himself. According to the proverb: "power corrups and absolute power corrupts absolutely, " papacy, the practical absolutism, weaved the myth of infallibility about itself: it means, Pope can do no wrong, even someone like Pope Alexander VI, who had incestuous relationship with his own daughter, remained pious, pure and prophetic. This process of divine lust for power, which started in the third century, culminated during the period of Pope Gregory VII when the Church came to operate wwithin a unified Christian society expunging the distinction between state and Church as separate entities. Popes claimed greater spiritual powers than Christ himself and exercised jurisdictional supremacy over the Christian emperors.

Here is a short description of the Papal absolutism, which destroyed the constitutional and democratic traditions of Rome and Greece to nourish itself. To convey the full meaning of this statement, I may quote from my book, "Taxation And Liberty:"

"A Papal excommunication meant a command to the Christian faithful to rise against the renegade ruler, who wielded authority over his subjects during pope's pleasures, owing to the fact that the Holy Father exercised complete control over the mind of every Christian because of his divine powers as the Vicar of Christ. Again, the Church was also a temporal state in its own right; in 755, Peipin, the Short, laid its foundation when he gave the Pope the territories he had won from the Lombards. Stephen II was the first Pope to become a mundane sovereign, as well. At Reims in October 816 when Stephen IV crowned Louis I, the Pious, and his wife as Emperor and Empress, papacy became the divine agency of crowning through its exclusive prerogative of anointing. From this precedent arose the papal theory of government that the monarch anointed by the Pope was his lieutenant and secular arm. St. Nicolas I (the Great) claimed the right to legislate for the whole of Christendom and asserted to be the supreme judge with final authority to settle all doctrinal disputes."

" During 1050 and 1060, the Latern Palace, that is, papal residence was reconstituted and the temporal splendour hitherto associated with the secular courts entered the holy realm: the Pope was afflated by St. Peter to act in his name as a feudal lord, enter contractual obligations and accept military services and money payments in return for affording protection to his feudatories. By the end of the 13th century, the Pope became the largest feudal lord in Europe: Sicily, Sweden, Denmark, Arragon, Poland, England and Ireland were parts of his feudal empire."

The immense authority prompted Popes to interfere even in the matrimonial affairs of the Christian rulers such as Philip II, Augustus of France, Peter II of Arragon and Alfonso IX of Leon. William I conquered England with the papal blessing. When the Conqueror married Matilda, daughter of Baldwin, Count of Flanders, Pope Leo IX in 1049, forbade the marriage expressly and it was not until 1050 that Pope Nicholas II accorded it legitimacy through a special dispensation on the condition that they each built a monastery for the atonement of their sins. Henry II of England, had to do penance at Canterbury for the murder of Archbishop Becket: he allowed the monks to scourage him! Henry IV of Germany incurred excommunication, and as a price for apostolic mercy, he had to strip off all his regalia, wear woollen clothes and stand barefooted for three days before the gate of the castle at Canossa in 1077. It was then and only then that the burning humility of his sighs and tears broke through the frigid barrier of the papal compassion, which took him back into communion, and restored his kingdom. Frederick Barbarossa, the Holy Roman Emperor was forced to kiss publicly the feet of Pope Alexander III for the sin of not acknowledging him as Christ's vicar: just kneeling was not sufficient to secure forgiveness of the Holy Father. "

This was the plight of the Christian monarchs at the hand of the Papal absolutism! What about the Christian masses? Their pathetic conditions are represented by what is known as Inquisition. What was Inquisition?

It was an uninvited enquiry into people's beliefs to establish whether or not they held exactly the same doctrines and opinions as officially sanctioned by the Church. With a view to enlarging the Papal net of authority-alchemy, witchcraft, sorcery, devil-worship, adultery and incest were also included in the Inquisition. During the first three centuries of Christianity, penalties inflicted on heretics were spiritual, but as it became the established religion, the dissenters were treated as enemies of the state, and laws were passed to subject them to such punishments as flogging, confiscation of property, exile and death. Until about 1000 A.D. rigours of the Inquisition remained tolerable, but as the Clerical pressures of dominance increased, the despotic process of Inquisition became foul, fierce and frightening. During the 11th and 12th centuries, evils of the Papal absolutism increased in severity and ecclesiastical decrees condemning heretics became the fashion of the day, indicating the corruptive influence of unbridled power. The Papal writ ran through all the Christian countries, and the secular rulers who practically held their dignity subject to the pleasure of the Holy Father, vied with one another in executing decrees of the Vatican and the Church Council; they would prosecute heretics for trivial offences: it was a heresy to say "marriage is as good as celibacy." The clerics, who were theoretically celibate but practically enjoyed the favours of the nuns, treated it as an insult to Christ who did not marry.

Inquisition was an efficient organisation, equipped with supreme Papal authority, assisted by notaries, police and counsellors. The inquisitors roamed through cities hunting heretics, who were expected to present themselves for "correction." Since this correction could involve severe penalties, the force of faith was not always sufficient to make dissenters kiss feet of the Inquisitor. Those who knew about the heretics, were required under pain of excommunication to act as informers. The heretic-hunting became an obsession of the clergy, when in 1252 Pope Innocent IV authorised use of torture to obtain confession from the suspects. The Ecclesiastical tribunal called Roman Inquisition set up in 1542 by Pope Paul III to combat Protestantism, and the similar organisation known as the Spanish Inquisition founded in later part of the 15th century to deal with the apostate Jews and Muslims, were, in fact, the forerunners of the Nazi gas chambers. The first Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition, Thomas de Torquemada, qualifies as the Divine Ganghis Khan for burning thousands of innocent people at the stake to demonstrate the glory of God, who is All-love, All-grace and All-munificence!

Eventually, it was the French and the English rulers, who made a dent in the most infamous edifice of the Ecclesiastical absolutism: the Concordat of 1516 delivered the French Church into the hands of the French monarch, reducing the Papal despotism in France. Henry VIII of England ranks as the Patron of democracy for taking England comp!etely out of the Papal pale and enabling Parliament to legislate for the country.

Religion and secularism, have ceased to be a unity in Christendom for a long time, leading to the growth of democratic institutions in the world but Islam, a Semitic religion, still continues to be the ambassador of absolutism. A detailed examination of the Islamic political theory is necessitated by the fact that the Muslim scholars falsely project this religion as the guarantor of human liberties and democratic institutions. They do so to promote their self- interests whereas the stark fact is that Islam is the worst opponent of human liberty and democracy. See for yourself:

"To God belongs all that is in the heavens
and in the earth, and God encompasses everything."
(Women, IV: 125)

Because of His proprietory rights:

"To God bow all that is in the heavens and the earth
willingly or unwillingly."
( Thunder XIII - 15 )

Thus, it is the destiny of everything to bow, bend and bemoan before God. There is nothing that He loves more than submission, slavery and servitude. It is the Lord's attitude that dictates man's purpose of creation. Therefore, Allah addressing mankind, remarks:

"What, did you think that We created you only for
sport ....." (The Believers XXIII: 115)

No, man has not been created as a sport. What has he been created for then?

"I have not created ..... mankind
except to worship Me." (The Scatterers LI: 55)

It is man's purpose of life to have no desire, dignity or destination of his own. He is on the earth only to worship God. To make sure that man seeks no status other than servility, Allah has allotted the lowest birth to man so that he should not feel proud and pompous or seek prestige and priority of any kind:

"He (Allah) made his (man's) seed from a draught
of despised fluid." (The Prostration XXXII: 8)

Thus, man's purpose is nothing but prostration before God: virtues like self-development, moral uplift and concern for human rights, have been declared alien to his birth. The more servile a man is, the nearer to God he becomes. It is in this context that man is considered God's viceroy on the earth, and not for any intrinsic virtue.

In fact, the Koranic point of view is a poor adaptation of the Biblical concept:

"And God said, Let us make man
in our image, after our likeness; and let
them have dominion ..... over all the earth ....."
So God created man in His own
image, in the image of God created He him;
( Genesis 1: 26 - 27 )

The Bible says that God created man in His own likeness, and it is this likeness which makes him superior to everything on earth. The Koran copies this Biblical myth in so far as God made man out of clay and breathed his own spirit into Adam, but when it comes to the progeny of Adam, his seed, the semen, is declared "a draught of despised fluid" to heap indignity on the human specie. Just see, how God taunts man about his low birth:

"So let man consider of what he is created;
He is created from a gushing fluid
That issued from between the loins and ribs."
(The Night Star LXXXVI: 5-7)

Here Allah deliberately insults man by alluding to the seminal discharge, which brings a human to life. Further, Allah condemns man for his nature (which He Himself allotted him as the Creator!).

"Perish man! How unthankful he is!
Of what did He create him?
Of a sperm drop .."
(He Frowned LXXX: 15-17)

It should be noted that in these verses Allah is again sarcastic about the low birth of man, owing to a sperm drop i.e. the despised fluid. As Allah declares his intention of creating man, the angels protest:

"And when thy Lord said to the angels,
'I am setting in the earth a viceroy.'
They said, 'What, wilt Thou set therein one
who will do corruption there, and shed blood?' "
(The Cow II: 25)

According to this Koranic statement, man is corrupt by nature and therefore he is prone to bloodshed and similar heinous crimes whereas Biblically, Adam's disobedience is a fall which proves his high birth the same way as darkness proves light and blindness vouches for vision.

Is it not surpsising that the most righteous Allah has appointed the most wicked man as His viceroy on earth? Astonishing it may be, but Allah has used the device of viceroyalty to curb the natural desire of man to be free. It is because, according to the Koran, an evil person becomes good by fearing God and doing what he is told by Him. God tells man what to do through the system of revelation, that is, He sends guidance through a Prophet, who acts as His Messenger:

"We (Allah) said, Get you down out of it, all
together, yet there shall come to you guidance from
Me, and whosoever follows My guidance, nor fear
shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow ...."
(The Cow II: 35)

To understand the meaning of this Koranic statement, one must bear in mind its background: Adam and Eve, his wife, have disobeyed Allah, and thus defied His guidance, that is, His instructions about what to do and what to shun. As a punishment, Allah is driving them out of paradise where there is no pain, no ageing, no illness, no worry of sustenance and no fear of death. They have disobeyed Allah's instructions because they find them hurtful to their sense of freedom, which is so dear to them that they prefer it to the paradisiac mirth and immortality. Yet Allah is so obsessed with curbing man's liberties that He undertakes to send Adam and Eve guidance through His Messengers despite the fact that they have turned it down scornfully. What a Divine stratagem it is to frustrate man's democratic dreams!

This is the fundamental Islamic principle that those who do not believe in the Koran, Allah's guidance, they are the most sordid folks, who will serve as the fuel of hell. Such people are technically known as Kafir (the unbelievers). The Koran declares:

"God is an enemy to the unbelievers."
(The Cow, II: 90)

This is the reason that Allah treats all non-Muslims the same way as someone treats his worst enemies. A non- Muslim, in an Islamic state becomes a dhimmy, who almost loses human rights available in a democratic country, and after death goes to hell, where everything is extremely sadistic.

The essence of "Divine Guidance" is that it ranks as the Eternal Law. Thus, man is deprived of legislating for himself though it is the major feature of democracy. He must do what is laid down in the Scriptures, which may be centuries old, and thus lose all relevance to the modern problems. This is the reason that the Koran lays down:

"And fear the Fire prepared for the unbelievers, and
obey God and the Messenger; haply so you will find
mercy." (lhe House of Imran III: 125)

The Islamic code of law is constituted by obedience to Allah and Muhammad (the Messenger) as depicted in the Koran and Hadith. Those who do not follow this Guidance, and make their own laws, they are the unbelievers, who will eternally roast in the Fire especially prepared for them.
Allah's way is absolutism, and therefore, He clearly declares:

"He (Allah) associates in His government no one."
(The Cave XVIII: 25)

All, Allah allows is the setting up of a consultative body, which cannot come to binding conclusions or pass any laws:

"And (O Prophet) take counsel with them
in the affair; and when thou art resolved
put thy trust in God."
(The House of Imran III: 150)

The Muslim exegetists pretend that this verse is the foundation of the Muslim democracy. The truth is that all a Muslim ruler (the Caliph), who is technically, the lieutenant of Allah, can allow is the formation of a consultative body, whose verdicts are not binding on him; he takes counsel from its members only to resolve himself and not to follow them. He must put his trust in God, that is, do what he thinks fit as Allah's representative.

This is the true meaning of this verse, and is attested by the fact that the Prophet Muhammad himself was not an elected leader of the people; he ruled as the Messenger, appointed by God, and God is God because He is Absolute, and therefore not bound by anybody's advice. In fact, it is absolutism, which makes one God by freeing him from all sorts of accountability.

Absolutism is the basis of Islam because it places entire power in the hands of one person. Allah is All- powerful, therefore, Muhammad, who is His representative, possesses similar authority in relation to mankind; nobody can be a Muslim without believing in Muhammad; faith in God alone is as useless as an eye is without vision, cloud without rain or land without fertility. In fact, "one" is the major word in Islam; millions of Muslims, even if they all be extremely pious, cannot achieve salvation without the agency of one man, called Muhammad. This is the reason that there is no room in Islam for democracy, which is a form of pluralism, that is, distribution of power among several individuals and bodies.

When we look at history, we find no democratic principle in Islam. The. Prophet Muhammad claimed to be the Divine Model of Behaviour. Since he did not offer himself for election, he repudiated democracy as the form of government. He left no instructions for electing his successors. The Shia sect of Islam has always claimed that the Prophet had appointed Ali, his son- in-law, as his successor, and this contention eventually proved to be the bane of Islam. Abu Bakr, the first Caliph, who succeeded the Prophet Muhammad got appointed through the political skill of Umr, the Great, but the faithful call it an election. In fact, it was an inter-tribal dispute to settle the right of succession. The second Caliph, Umr, the Great was an appointee of Abu Bakr; Uthman, the Third Caliph was given this dignity by a small committee nominated by Umr. At the death of Uthman, war broke out between Ali and Muaawia to settle the issue of succession; the latter won, and thereafter monarchy became the fundamental rule of governrnent, which is compatible with the spirit of Koran:

"God gives the kingship to whom He will."
(The Cow II: 245)

Again, democracy is a national affair, but the Prophet Muhammad confined the right to rule to his own tribe i.e. the Quresh, and thus disqualified the rest of the Arabs to hold this honour:

1. "The prerogative to rule shall remain vested in the Quresh, and whoever is hostile to them Allah shall destroy him .." (Sahih Bokhari, vol. 4)

2. "The Quresh are the rulers of men in vice and virtue until the Day of Judgement." (Sahih Tirmzi, vol. 1 )

3. "The right to rule shall belong to the Quresh even if two men existed." (Sahih Bokhari vol. 9)


So far, I have concentrated on the fact that democracy is no part of the Semitic Sciptures i.e. the Bible or the Koran. Since Judaism, Christianity and Islam preach monotheism, that is, oneness of God, who is jealous, All-powerful and Absolute, the system of government they advocate, cannot be anything but monarchical or dictatorial. It is only a religion or philosophy that believes in pluralism, can advocate the principle of power-sharing called democracy.
There are three major centres of pluralism known to the ancient history, namely, Greece, Rome and India. It is naturally these territories where the doctrine of democracy flourished; the people who were free from the absolutism of one God, had the natural desire to be free from the absolutism of one ruler. I salute all these hubs of freedom but it is interesting to know which of these is the fountain of democracy. This honour is usually ascribed to Greece, but is it the whole truth? With a view to finding out the size of the Indian contribution to democracy, I may further enquire into the political forms of:

1. Greece,
2. Rome, and
3. India.

1. GREECE

Polytheism is the fountain of pluralism, which gave birth to the doctrine of democracy. Greece was one of the lands of antiquity, which ranked as one of the major centres of polytheism; it gave birth to certain democratic traditions but it was not the fountain of polytheism, also known as paganism. This principle encourages belief in several gods, each having control over a separate phenomenon of nature, yet being part of the Final Unity. This doctrine is also known as "One-in-all and all-in-one." Apart from its mystical connotations, it also means that the administration of state cannot be left in the autocratic control of one person: the political power must be shared by all its members.

For proper understanding of the Greek contribulion to democracy, we ought to realise that the period c. 900 to 700 B.C. is called the Geometric period (The World of Homer). Historians have surmised that this is the period when elements from the arts of the Near East entered the Greek culture as a result of her trading ventures in the eastern Mediterranean introduction of iron and writing, which brought Greece into the light of history, belongs to this era, and corresponds to the dawn of Upanishads in India. What is known as the classical period of Greece, associated with arts and sciences, starts circa 500 B.C. i.e. when the Geometric or Archaic period ends. However, the period of three centuries preceding the great migrations of c. 1100-c.1000 B.C. is often referred to as Ihe Greek "dark ages" because little is known about it. These migrations are termed as "the Dorian Invasion" but the ancient cultural history of Greece defies this assumption because the migrants practised the same polytheistic traditions as did the people of India. Even if these migrants did not come direct from India, they must have migrated from a place, which had been originally colonised by the Indians. This concept of Greek "dark ages" has proved very convenient to hide this fact.

A special feature of the Archaic period was the growth of urban life and political institutions. Each polis or urban settlement had a political institution consisting of a king, a council and an assembly. To check the autocratic powers of the king, each city annually elected dignitaries, who existed alongside the kingship. The king was not necessarily a hereditary ruler: even he could be the subject of election in some places, including Athens. Of course, we hear of "tyranny and tyrant" in the Archaic Greece. A tyrant was not always a cruel ruler; he was someone who exercised unhindered political influence without any legal title. This condition, gradually dwindled. Even in Sparta, where two hereditary kings were drawn from two royal families, had to decide foreign policies in the public assembly, by the later decades of the 5th century. In home affairs, the kings were themselves members of the council.

The council consisted of thirty members. The other twenty-eight councillors had to be at least sixty years old. They enjoyed life-long membership. Any male adult could attend the public assembly. In addition to councillors, the public assembly also elected Ephors, who exercised ultimate choice on questions of legislation and policy. The method of voting has been described as acclamation: this procedure occasionally allowed some discretion to the presiding officer.

Rhetra or enactment provided that the measures were to be introduced by the council but the final decision had to be made by the assembly. It has been argued that this two- tier procedure for making decisions was not necessarily a Spartan invention; it was found in other Greek states, and similar procedures were also found in the Roman Republic where all measures were brought to the Senate before they were presented to the assembly. More or less the same situation existed among the ancient Germans. It shows that the old democratic institutions had a common origin, but where did it lie?

Democratic traditions flourished better in Athens, which had been once ruled by kings. Eventually, the major political institutions of Athens comprised an executive board, which consisted of "nine archons," a council and a public assembly. One of the archons continued to be called "king" in accordance with the old tradition. However, it is Cleisthenes, who came to be regarded as the founder of democracy in the second half of the 5th Century B.C. owing to the reforms that he had introduced into the political and social life of Athens.

Like the Indian culture, the Athenian society was also divided into four classes according to ownership of property; the class-divisions were hereditary and the social conditions were no better than what prevailed in India owing to the Caste System. The reforms of Cleisthenes abolished the old Class (tribal) system, which was governed by the religious element. The corner-stone of his reform was what is called the deme i.e. a village or a parish. His reformative genius enabled the different classes to mingle together as citizens of different districts and thus broke down the social and local barriers.

The other major reform of Cleisthenes was the Council of Five Hundred. The members of this Council were chosen by lot and were entitled to hold office for one year. Each tribe supplied fifty members to the council.

However, it should be remembered that the Athenian democracy had a very limited scope. It was for the Athenians only; their colonials had no share in it. Even the Athenian women and slaves, who formed at least three- quarters of the population, could not participate in this system of government.

2. ROME

When the Gauls burnt down the city of Rome in 390 B.C. the patriotic zeal of its citizens assumed a new flight of imagination to award it a historical origin, which the art of history itself cannot acknowledge as the truth.

When Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome, completed his services to the city through a long reign, one day, a mighty whirlwind carried him to heaven, where he became the god that was to be worshipped as Quirinus by the people of Rome. As the story goes, Romulus was succeeded by a member of the Sabine tribe, namely, Numa Pompilius; he is said to have been chosen by the city-elders, who belonged to the important tribes and have also been referred to as Senatories.

Numa ruled for forty years. He brought unity and stability to his people through religious devices. According to a tradition, Lucius Tarquinius, supposed to have been chosen to rule the city by a coalition of Etruscan families, was the first, who desired hereditary kingship and openly canvassed for it. His thirty-years rule, did increase the kingly powers over the patricians, who arranged his assassination to nip the evil in the bud, but their attempt did not succeed in securing its goal. Servius Tullius Servius, who ascended the throne through the efforts of his mother, was the first person to hold royal power without being chosen by the people. Even Servius was not an autocrat; he was bound by the law. When he was accused of ruling illegally, he called for a plebiscite and secured a unanimous vote of approval. As the Romans did not like monarchy, he was assassinated.

As the patricians (aristocracy) thought of the rex (king) as the chief priest of religion, members of the senate, were unnerved by the fact that under Tarquinius Superbus ( "the Proud" ), monarchy had become absolute. However, when another Tarquinius became king of Rome, the Senate was able to dismiss him in 508 B,.C. and took over the reins of power.

This is a short history of royal Rome, but it is devoid of credibility. The struggle for establishing democracy that started in 508 B.C. and lasted until 264 B.C. is too long to be described in this article. However, I may call it a great human triumph because it demonstrates man's burning desire for liberty and human rights, which can be acquired only by keeping under check the domineering evils of despotism whether it is exercised through totalitarianism, by a king, a dictator, or God.

With a view to completing this narrative, I ought to add that the Roman Senate was the supreme governing body. In fact, it was executive, legislature and judiciary in one. Yet power was exercised through a system of checks and balances. There were three Assemblies, namely, Curial, Centurial and Tribal with various prerogatives and functions. Then there were consuls, censors and tribunes, having authority, discretion and the will to maintain the integrity of freedom, justice and public weal.

Membership of the Senate was unique: though it was for life, a corrupt member could be dismissed. Its eminence lay in the fact that it was not elected by the people but the excellence of the member's character thal had distinguished him by his services to the community. Most of the Senators were the men, who had served in the past as magistrates, administrators, commanders and proconsuls. The Senate was also a great place for teaching virtues of administration, justice, law-making, and the art of democracy because the Senators were allowed to bring to its sessions their sons who would sit quietly and attentively, absorbing the wisdom collected over a period of centuries.

There is no democracy without law. The Roman Law was based on the Twelve Tablets which lasted for nine hundred years. As in Greece, Caste System was also found in Rome and was preserved by law which forbade the marriage of a patrician with a plebeian.

After briefly tracing the roots of the Greek and Roman democracy, I may add that democracy, particularly, the doctrine of election, is not indigenous to Greece or Rome but to India. According to a broad agreement between the historians, which I shall discuss later, the people of India, Rome and Greece belong to the same racial stock. In view of the size and population of India, it is reasonable to assume that the Romans and Greeks must have migrated from India to these tiny city-states. It is obviously famines or local strifes that forced people leave their homeland and seek settlements abroad. Again, the religious beliefs and cultural practices of the three groups clearly demonstrate that the Greeks and Romans received their polytheistic culture and the doctrine of democracy from India.

It is absurd to call the Romans as the Etruscan migrants and the Greeks as the Dorian Invaders. Let me explain this truth with reference to the paganism that prevailed in the three countries.

Like many great things such as steel, mathematics, cotton, rice, mysticism etc., paganism is yet another Indian contribution to civilisation but the followers of monotheism - the despotic way of life - have presented it in the worst possible form; they call it idolatry whereas, in fact, it is symbolic nature-worship based on a sound philosophy, seeking to raise the dignity of humanity to that of divinity.

3. INDIA

India is the fountain of paganism, which was the ascendant faith of mankind until the advent of the Semitic concept of monotheism. However, Greece may be mistaken as another contender for this honour. Of course, Hellenism or Greek culture has made a fair contribution to the world's way of life, but it has remained unacknowledged that Greece herself drew cultural inspiration from India. This is a tragedy of history for which the Indians themselves are chiefly responsible. The truth is that India is the origin of paganism and any Greek claim can be refuted by examining the (a) mythology and (b) philosophy of the two countries:

a. Mythology

As a general proof, I may add that paganism is as indigenous to India as Magna Carta is to England. It is because belief in gods and goddesses in Greece ceased to exist many centuries ago but it is still as prevalent in India as ever. When we realise that one thousand years of determined persecution by the Islamic tyrants failed to eradicate it in this land of the Vedas, one cannot ascribe the origin of paganism to any country but India.

Again, the Rgveda is the oldest Scripture known to mankind but it is dedicated to the pagan philosophy through the adoration of several gods and goddesses, and it is these Vedic deities that appear in the Greek and Roman mythologies. Let us enumerate a few to establish the truth:

Sky (heaven) and earth have been the greatest source of awe and wonder to the early man. It is the Vedas that called sky or dyaus as Dyaus-Pitar, who had a female counterpart (earth). In India, they named her Aditi (the Infinite Expanse) which eventually became the mother of all gods. Following the Indian principle, the Greek deities were male or female and had consorts. The Middle Eastern countries were equally indebted to the Vedas for the adoption of this principle.

The Indian Dyaus-Pitar (I: LIV - 2) also called Indra, became the Zeus of Greece and Jupiter Pluvius of Rome. Agni, the Vedic god of fire appears as Ignis in Rome, and the Vedic Surya as Helios in Greece; the Vedic Usha, the goddess of dawn, was remembered as Eos in Greece, and the Vedic Yama, god of the departed, assumed the title of Pluto, who commanded the Greek hades.

The Rgveda ( I: XIII - 9) mentions three goddesses, namely Ila, Saraswati and Mahi, who preside over the fine arts such as poetry, music, drama, dance, painting and sculpture. In Greece they became the Three Graces, namely Aglaia (Brightness), Euphrosyne (Joyfulness) and Thalia (Bloom). They were considered the patrons of arts, beauty and charm. Thus, all the Western arts are actually rooted in the Indian paganism.

Tvastar of the Vedic pantheon (I: XIII - 10) is the Hephaisto or Vulcan of the Greek mythology. He is an ideal artist and workman of divine qualities, which enable him to indulge in most wonderful contrivances.

In the Rgveda (I: XXIII - 19) we find Amrit, which is repeated frequently. It has a great healing power and also confers immortality. In Greece it is called Ambrosia.

Zeus, the chief god of Greece like its Indian prototype, Indra, also uses thunderbolt as his weapon to subdue the disobedient. (Rg. Book I: GXXX - 4).

Atharvan, the priest of the Rgveda (I. Vl: XV: 17) becomes the Greek god, Prometheus, who stole fire from heaven to benefit mankind.

In Greek mythology appears the dogs of Pluto, the god of the underworld; they are in fact, the watch-dogs of Yama, the god of the dead. (Rg. 7: LIBV - 2).

Varuna, the Vedic Law Lord, appears as Ouranos in the Greek mythology. (Again, it is Varuna's counterpart, Mitra, who appears as Mithra in the Persian mythology.)

Lord Kama, who holds a significant position in the Rgveda, appears as Eros in Greece and as Cupid in Rome with the same function of producing love with his amorous arrows.

Dionysus also called Bacchus, is a minicopy of the Vedic god Siva for his rituals of the phallus, which was celebrated in Greece with the same fervour as the Sivities still do in India.

Finally, to demonstrate that the Greek mythology is an extension of the Indian mythology, I invite a comparison between the unvedic Indian legend of Indra in relation to Ahalya, and of Zeus concerning Alcemene. Both Indra and Zeus are chief gods, both use thunderbolt as their chief weapons and both are held as womanisers.

In the tales referred to above, semblance between the two is so great that, apart from difference of names, they both look one and the same person.

In a nutshell, Ahalya was wife of the Saint Gautama. She was the most beautiful woman ever born. Indra fancied her. Assuming the form of Gautama, he pretended to be Ahalya's husband and thus succeeded in seducing her.

Alcemene was the wife of Amphitryon. She was an extraordinary beauty of olive complexion and large, intoxicating black eyes. Zeus fancied her. He did exactly what Indra had done. He changed his form to look like her husband, and thus deceptively became her bed-mate for a whole (extended) night.

This brief description of mythologies should establish the truth that the Greek mythology, in essence, is a copy of the Indian mythology, and thus the Greeks actually worshipped the Indian gods. This is further borne out by the Greek philosophy, which is very much like the Vedic philosophy. Here is a brief comparison of the philosophical development in the two countries:

b. Philosophy of the two countries

It has been remarked that the Greek philosophical speculation led to the pantheistic nature of the universe i.e. the world is a unity through myriads of form.

However, the early Greek philosophy tends towards plurality and not unity; it is because the divine is held as an element, which is destined to animate the other elements that constitute the world. This attitude is known as Hylozoistic pantheism (Greek hyle "matter" and zoe "life"). Thus divine being immanent in the universe, provides the motivating force for movement and change. Finding matter and life as inseparable, the hylozoistic thinkers, such as Thales, proposed water as the fountain of life.

Gradually, the Greek speculation moves from plurality to immanentistic pantheism. It means that, though God is only a part of the world, He is immanent in it and thus His power extends throughout everything that exists. Zenophanes, the first Greek thinker, provides a reflection of monistic pantheism because he suggests the existence of the Absolute God with a changing world, believing that it does not attenuate reality of either.

Anaxagoras believed in Nous (or Mind) as the principle of order for all things as well as the principal of their movement. Nous, he held, is the finest and purest of things and is diffused throughout the entire cosmos. This point of view is a further annotation of the immanentistic pantheism.

Plato is said to have believed in an absolute and eternal God, whose perfection is not affected ty his relationship with the world of forms, along with a World- Soul which is responsible for containing and animating the universe. He emphasised that this World-Soul is as divine as a changing thing can be. This attitude is interpreted to mean that Plato held "a dual principle of the divine, uniting both being and becoming, absoluteness and relativity, permanence and change, in a single context."

The Stoics adored the principle of reason, the logos, which provides order as well as animation to all things. In addition, they advocated the role of a World-Soul which permeates everything in the world. Since the Stoics were materialits, their World-Soul is held as an extended form of subtle matter. As the universal reason is the supreme theme running through everything, the Stoic philosophy is also held pantheistic.

This brief sketch clearly states that the Greek philosophy is mainly pantheistic i.e. revolving round the principle of unity through diversity. However, I cannot see how Plato could believe in an absolute God, who is obliged to create according to the Forms or eternal prototypes. Since He has no inventive choice, He is not the Creator but the procreator; his Theory of Forms is a copy of the Vedic doctrine of existence and becoming:

"He of whom all this world is but the copy who
shakes things moveless, He, O men,
is Indra." (Rg. II. XII - 9)
Again, "In every figure he hath been the model:
this is his only form for us to look on.
Indra moves multiform by his illusions;
for his Bay Steeds are yoked, ten times
a hundred." (Rg. VI: XLVII - 18)

Also:

"Kindled in many a spot, till One is Agni;
Surya is One though high over all he
shineth.
Illumining this All, still One is Usas,*
That which is One hath into All
developed." (Valakhilya X: 2)

The last quotation proves the oneness of the universe through diversity of forms. It is this Vedic principle that appears in Greece as the Parmenedian doctrine: One-in-all and all-in-One. This, along with the Platonic idea of Forms, conclusively proves the Indian origin of the Greek philosophy.

To understand the meaning of these references one ought to realise that Plato is famous for his Theory of Forms or Ideas. It means that everything that exists is a reflection of the Forms i.e. the eternal prototypes. For example, when we say that rose is beautiful, it means that the rose partakes of the form beauty. Since rose withers away, its beauty is not real but the Form-beauty is real. Therefore, one must strive for the Reality that lies behind a thing, and not the thing itself, which is just an illusion for being transitory.

When we delve into the above quotations, we find that Greece inherited from the Vedas, the philosophy that Plato and his predecessors had developed:

The Rgvedic quotation: "Indra moves multiform by his illusions" clearly shows that Indra is the reality behind everything, and the thing that exists is a reflection of the Forms i.e. the eternal prototypes. For example motion and direction itself is no more than an illusion. It also means that he is the animating force of everything that supplies motion and direction. Plato adapted this Vedic Theory to gain the international fame. It might have been his spontaneous thinking but considering that the Greek mythology is an offshoot of the Indian mythology, it is likely that he had direct or indirect knowledge of the Vedas.

Thale's speculation that life started from water is also an extension of the Vedic statement:

"The deathless Waters, born in Law, receiving,
protected all the germ in the beginning -
Waters divine who had the God above them ...."
(A.V. IV: 2, 6)

It is a candid assertion of the fact that, not only life springs from water but, also the "water (is) born in Law," that is, Water is water only becasue it obeys that Law of Nature, which is known as H2O. Considering the antiquity of this statement, the Biblical and Koranic declarations to this effect, are only of secondary importance.

Anaxagoras' Nous (Mind) and Stoics' Logos (Reason), which provide animation, movement or order to things, are nothing but differently stated the Vedic principle called Rta: it is the nature, as well as the natural law, which governs the universe with complete force, wisdom and authority, necessary for successful accomplishment of the Cosmic Order, and has been referred to in the Rgveda some 130 times.

The Greek thinkers also borrowed their Concept of the World Soul from the Rgveda: Hymn XC (Purusa) states that the universe came into being "from that great general sacrifice" of Purusa. What is Purusa? "The Purusa is all that yet hath been and all that is to be ( 2 ) ." This is the germ and the motivating force of the world, which cannot be increased or decreased, and has been referred to as the Universal Soul.

This is only a glimpse of the Vedic influence: it shows that Greece received from India its pagan culture, which had spread in the East and West through the Indian migration and conquest. It persisted so long in these lands that it began to look as a native doctrine, though it had originated in India; it is still practised in its land of birth with increasing fervour. This is yet another proof of its Indian nativity. It died in Greece because it was not a Greek baby: only its true mother, India, would not part with it despite the 1000 years' persistent cruelty of the monotheistic snatchers.

Pluralism is the practical manifestation of paganism i.e. polytheism.

As polytheism is the division of power among gods, democracy is the distribution of authority among humans. Wherever the Indian paganism was ascendant, the political tendencies of the people were towards democracy, which is abhorred by those whose behaviour is motivated by the Urge of Dominance: they desperately need a concept, which may enable them to justify personal or dynastic despotism. Monotheism is such a concept, which is in fact, a revolt against democracy, signifying usurpation of human rights by God, who wants to be obeyed to the letter and tolerates no participation in His government, which may be based on the laws, made totally irrelevant by the passage of time. Here is the trick: since God, the Absolute, cannot be contacted, His power is wielded by one man, who claims to be His representative on earth i.e. the Prophet, the Messiah or the Imam.

Monotheism is essentially the method of government by one man in the name of one God, according to "His" laws, which lose their relevance to man's social needs over a period of time, and become the source of superstition, sorrow and slavish attitudes. This concept was born in the Arabian peninsula as a revolt against paganism, which had travelled from India and became deeply rooted in the Middle Eastern countries. How did it happen? Here is the short description of this historical event, which is substantiated by the Encyclopaedia Britannica:

The Kassites penetrated Mesopotamia in early part of the second millenium, but were repulsed by Hammurabi's son. However, they succeeded in securing a foothold in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley on the northern frontiers but later established the second Babylonian dynasty. Thus, their rule started in the heart of the Semitic civilisation about the middle of the 18th century B.C. and lasted for 576 years.

Nobody knows with certainty the real home of the Kassites but there can be no doubt about their cultural and religious identity. Their gods were called Indas, Surias and Maruttas (which in the Vedic language are: Indra, Surya and Marutah); they were a Kshatriya clan for being members of a small military aristocracy. It is they who introduced the horse in Babylonia, and showed reverence to this animal, which dragged their war-chariots.

Again, a treaty between the Hittites and the Mittannis was signed c. 1400 B.C. The latter invoked the Vedic gods: Indara, Unuvna, Mitira and Nasatiya i.e. the Vedic Indra, Varuna, Mitra and Naksatras. One should also remember that the clay tablets dating back to c. 1400 B.C. written at Tell-EI-A Marna in Babylonian cuneiform, describe the names of princes as Biridashva and Artmanya, which betray their Indian origin.

Also noteworthy are the old Indian technical terms of horse-breeding, which are to be found in the records of these dynasties along with the war chariots. The aforementioned gods and their chariots drawn by splendid horses are the special feature of the Rgveda: Indra's chariot was pulled by 100 horses of the greatest magnificence. Irrespective of what the Western and Arab historians say, this is the irrefutable evidence of the Vedic culture in the Arabian peninsula; it was ascendant there until the advent of the Prophet Muhammad. It means that the Vedic paganism had ruled the Middle Eastern mind at least for 2,000 years. No wonder that the stern Mosaic monotheism could not dislodge the traditions of the Vedic paganism.

The modern scholarship has established that the Patriarchal Age, which refers to Abraham Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, dates back to early 2nd millenium, which is coextensive with the arrival of the Kassites. This is the time when Abraham, the acknowledged leader of the three major monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam, appears in the pages of history, protesting against paganism to establish himself as the first monotheistic pioneer. His strong protests against idols indicate the significance of the Indian influence on the Middle Eastern countries but the modern scholarship does not acknowledge him as a monotheist because of the pagan traditions in which he grew up. Though he confessed to being a monotheist, he practised monolatry, which means worship of one among many gods. This is quite compatible with the Vedic tradition, which holds that there are several gods but a person can elect one of them to suit his own inclinations.

According to the Koranic tradition, Aazar, Abraham's father, was an idolator. Though he rebelled against his paternal faith i.e. paganism, he could not completely free himself from it. The most he could do was, to become monolatrous, that is, choose one god for worship out of many that a person believes in. The Bible is quite frank on the subject. Yahwe, the Jewish God says:

"Thou shalt not revile Gods, nor curse the rulers of
thy people." (Exodus 22: 18)

On polytheism, the Bible contradicts the Koran because the former clearly states that Solomon, acknowledged as a major Prophet by Islam, worshipped many gods.

"For it came to pass, when Solomon was old that his wives turned away his heart after other gods .." "And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord and went not fully after the Lord, as did his father." "Then did Solomon build an high place for (god) Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for (god) Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon."
"And likewise did he (Solomon) for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. "

"And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice."
(I Kings II, 11: 6-9)

This was the influence of the Vedic polytheism on the Middle Eastern mind, exerted by the Kassite and Mittanni warriors' who practised the Indian cultural traditions, which show that if they did not come directly from India, they must have migrated from this country to settle elsewhere whence they raided the Mesopotamian lands. It has a striking analogy with the Arabs who made incursions into European lands from Spain.

In fact, the impact of the Indian culture on the Arabian peninsula has been more persistent than the stammering tongue of the ancient history can reveal. This truth is demonstrated by the Vedic principle of Triad (Trimurti) that originally prevailed in southern Arabia i.e. Yemen. It refers to the tradition which represents one god in three figures, and three-in-one. The Christian Trinity is a good example of this fact. Again, the people of Yemen believed in a triad of astral deities representing the Moon god, the Sun goddess and the Venus god; a triad of gods was also found in Palmyra: it consisted of Bell, Yarhibol (a solar deity) and Aglibol (a lunar deity).

This triadic tradition of the south travelled to Mecca and is testified by the Koran, which describes the triad of three goddesses, namely, al-Lat, al-Uzza and Manat! This is the reason that Kaaba was a temple of the Indian style where these goddesses along with many deities were worshipped regularly. One of these idols was called Allah. Small wonder that democratic traditions prevailed in pre-Islamic Mecca.

Democracy is the expression of man's natural urge for freedom. It is associated with paganism the same way as rays are with the sun, stars with the sky and sweetness with honey. It is because paganism is the belief in many gods, each having power within his own sphere of the natural phenomena, yet constituting a part of the Final Truth or Power. This Divine power-sharing acts as an inspiration for humans to have share in the political power-structure of the community. This is what democracy is all about. There are plenty of people who yell at the weakness of this system, but forget that democracy requires certain moral standards backed by the force of law. This is not the way of life suitable for crooks, criminals and charlatans.

Since the Vedas are the product of India and happen to be the oldest Scriptures of mankind, it is reasonable to assume that polytheism i.e. mythology as a formal faith originated in India. From the observation of the natural phenomena such as the sky, the sun, the stars, the wind, the fire, the water, the dawn, the sunset, etc., the Indian sages came to the conclusion that there was a controlling power behind each phenomenon; this is what they termed as god. They further realised, as all these natural forces were well disciplined, they must be under the binding rule of natural law. This is the polytheistic message of the Vedas, which was spread by the Indians as they migrated to the foreign lands. I have already narrated this fact in a previous article: "India in Europe."

Now, I may describe the Vedic principle of:

1. The Democratic theory, and
2. Practice.

1. The Democratic theory

The Vedas do not hold man as product of sin, nor do they advocate that man is the slave of God:

"O undivided Heaven and Earth, preserve
us, us the Lofty Ones, your nobly-born
descendants." (Rg. VII: LXII - 4)

Here "us" means man who being "nobly born" is not mean, malovelent and miscreant but magnificent, majestic and masterful despite being erroneous occasionally.
The Vedic man is not a slave of gods:

''Ye, O ye gods, are verily our kinsmen;
as such be kind to me who now implore you."
(Rg. II: XXVIII: 4)

Gods are man's relatives, and it is in this capacity, he implores their help and, not as a menial.
Man implores and shows devotion to gods because:

"That we with simple hearts may wait upon the
gods, we ask for freedom and complete felictiy."
(Rg. X: C - 3)

Here it is made clear that freedom is happiness and happiness is freedom, and securing this blessing is the reason for man's devotion and praying to gods. Again, the concept of happiness is not exclusive to one person but everyone is entitled to be happy:

"Our God, make all of us to dwell in happy
habitations." (Rg. VIII: LXX iii - 6)

Here, habitation means people of a locality. They all deserve to be happy through freedom, which is possible by practising the Elective Principle only: Here is the Elective Doctrine, described in a way that admits no interpretation. It should also be remembered that the Vedas are the only Scriptures that make monarch subject to election and strict laws of governance:

"The tribesmen shall elect thee for the Kingship."
(A.V. III, IV: 2)

Of course, it is the tribesmen who elect the King, but "women and their sons" must also be favourably inclined to the person to be elected as the King. It is surely a family check on the voters, who must consult their women and sons before exercising their choice:

"Let women and their sons be friendly. Thou mighty
one, shalt see abundant tribute."
(A.V. III, IV: 3)

Again, it should be noted that a Vedic king is not an appointee of God but being an elected monarch is treated as human:

"Guard and protect this man, all Gods .... Over him
keep ye watch and ward ...." (A.V. I - XXX: I)

The Rgveda in chapter X: GXXIV: 8 gives impression that the Elective Principle was an integral part of the faith of the Indian people:

"And they, like people who elect their ruler,
have in abhorrence turned away from Vrtra."

Vrtra means the chief cloud demon and refers to the sources of evil as the word "Satan" in the Koranic mythology alludes to wickedness. This verse makes it clear that those who believe in the Elective Principle, are the pious people because it is tantamount to turning away from the horrors of Vrtra i.e. the atrocities of despotism.

In ancient India, tribe was the basic political unit, and the kingdoms were usually small in size like the city- states of Rome and Athens, though the Rgveda also provides evidence of bigger states, which might have come into existence through conquest or confedracy.

To check the despotic tendencies, there came into being three institutions:

a. Sabha
b. Samiti and
c. Brhamanism.

a. Sabha ( Council ) as an integral part of the government appears in the Rgveda (VI. 28-6; Viii 4-9). It refers to a hall of meeting where more important members of the community such as Brahmans and rich people were convened for deliberations. When the hall was not required for the state purposes, it could be used for other functions such as the game of dice. The elected Chief or president (Ganapati, Ganaraja) ruled with the advice of the council elders.

b. Samiti had a wider scope of reference than Sabha because it consisted of both the elite, and ordinary people, who commanded majority. I shall discuss "Parisad" in its Buddhist context, later. Its members were summoned by the sound of kettledrum.

Though later corrupted by autocrats, the original Indian system of government was based on the elective principle, which was a part of the religious faith. This fact is fully attested by the Rgveda.

"Let every mortal man elect the friendship
of the guiding god." (V.L - 1 )

It is clear that God cannot impose himself on any man; as there are several gods, man should elect one of them to guide him. This is why polytheism is the root of democracy. It is this sanctity of the Elective Principle that makes it the guiding principle in political affairs.
To strengthen the elective Principle, the ancient Indian code of law, Manusmrti, lays down:

1. The King must be humble. (7: 39)
2. The King must give a deep bow to his councillors. (8: 23 )
3. The King is more subject to law than ordinary people. If a layman is fined a "scratch-penny" for theft, he should be fined a thousand. (8-336)
4. The King should appoint seven or eight hereditary advisers who must be highly knowledgeable. (7: 54)
5. The King must know the Scriptures, science of politics, punishment, philosophy and psyche. (7 - 43)

c. Brahmanism.
The Vedas bestow extraordinary privileges on Brahmans, who restrict the authority of the King:

"To him, the people with free will pay homage, the King with whom the Brahman hath precedence.
The Gods uphold that King with their protection who helps the Brahman when he seeks his (King's) protection." (Rg. IV, 50: 8-9)

The Manusmrti adds:

1. The King must be guided by a Brahmn (chief minister). ( 7: 58 )

2. The Brahman is the best of all classes of men. (10-1 )

3. "A ten-year-old priest and a hundred-year-old ruler should be regarded as father and son, and of the two of them, the priest is father." (2: 136)

This is what strikes King's mind with Brahman's superiority and he begins to believe in the immensity of his spiritual powers, which can guide him in ordinary life, give him victory in the battlefield, save him from vicious friends, multiply his progeny and reward him with health, wealth, long life, happiness, and ultimately, the heavenly bliss.
This discussion ought to explain why the political system of India had to be democratic. Of course, there are instances of despotism but they mark nadir of the system and not its zenith:

2. Practice

Having explained the theory of the Indian democracy, now I may add briefly that democracy in India has not just been a mental attitude but a genuine practice since inception of civilisation.
In fact, the idea of Social Contract is of the Indian origin though erroneously or wilfully ascribed to the modern European philosophers, namely, Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau. Thomas Hobbes, an English political absolutist held that "state of nature was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." Therefore, it amounted to a state of war, which could be ended only if men entered into a social contract to hand their liberty to sovereign, who was thence forward absolute provided he guarded his subjects' life and property. Jean Jacques Rousseau believed that in the state of nature, man was unwarlike and somewhat undeveloped. However, when men agreed for mutual protection to surrender individual freedom of action and establish government, they acquired a sense of moral and civic obligation.

Kautilya, the Indian sage, held that as a consequence of the fact that the bigger fish swallows the smaller fish, the people were affected with the evils of anarchy. They, including hermits, banded together and first elected Manu, son of Vivasvat, to be their king, and allotted him one-sixth of their grains and one-tenth of their merchandise as his share. They declared: " It is a tax payable to him who protects us."

It is quite clear that an Indian King was an elected guardian, who was paid taxes to serve his people.

The Buddhist philosophy states that in the beginning, man was righteous but became corrupt as time went by. So, men entered into a contract to elect a king to punish, revile and exile those who deserved it. The man elected was called Mahasammata, and because he delighted others through righteousness, he was called Rajan.

In both the above instances, the state of nature became corrupt and had to be put right by common consent, which was 1he real source of power. The ruler was, therefore, an elected appointee, who was there to protect people's life, property and all those rights, which guarantee happiness.

India had several republics during the 7th and 6th centuries before the advent of Christ. Some of them were known as Koliyas, Moriyas, Jnatrkas, Sakyas and Licchavis. The Lord Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, belonged to the republic: of Jnatrkas and the Lord Buddha came from the republic of Sakyas.

Rgveda, the oldest Scripture of mankind, is the first to describe the Elective Principle. So great is its significance that it applies even to the choice of a God, who is not allowed to impose himself on man. To popularise the doctrine of democracy, the Rgveda lays stress on consultation and consensus:

1. "Assemble, speak together; let your minds be all of one accord. "

2. "The place is common, common the assembly, common the mind, so be their thoughts united."

3. "One and the same be your resolve, and be your minds of one accord. "

4. "United be the thought of all that may happily agree."

Since the Rgveda was composed in the Punjab, it is reasonable to assume that the democratic ideal first emerged in this territory, and it is from here that it spread to the other parts of the world. Its Indian journey has been revealed by professor D. R. Bhandarkar. According to him, the Pandyas were a Punjabi tribe. By the time of Magesthenes, they had settled down in Jumna and Mathura. Their capital was known as Moddura. i.e. Madura, which was also "the principal town of the district of the same name in the Madras Presidency; the fact that the Pandyas of the south called their capital Madhura clearly shows that they came from the North from some country whose capital was Mathura.

These Pandu or Pandya were highly adventurous people. They kept moving in the South; wherever they went, they called their capital city Mathura. This is the reason that there was a third Matura in Ceylon and a fourth in the Eastern Archipelago.

During 900 B.C. to 600 A.D. India was a conglomeration of villages, towns and provincial corporations, each managing its own affairs almost autonomously. Besides, there were trade and craft guilds. Some of them were so powerful that they had their own armies and even lent money to the king.

These guilds or Srenis ranked as republics, and sovereignty was vested not in any individual but in the whole body. Panini, the grammarian, has mentioned several of them, some situated in Vahika and Trigarta, both parts of the Punjab. It is such independent and semi-independent institutions that served as a check on despotism. This is the reason that the king of Takshasila (Taxila), who had madly fallen in love with a Yakshini (a beautiful sorceress), could not oblige her when she asked him to give her authority over whole of his kingdom. He replied "My love, I have no power over the subjects of my kingdom, I am not their Lord and Master. I have only jurisdiction over those who revolt or do wrong."

About the time of the rise of Buddhism, the democratic form of government that existed side by side with monarchy in North India, is known as Sangha or Gana. It means a "corporate collection, an aggregation of individuals for a definite purpose." Since in a Sangha or Gana, sovereignty belongs to the whole body and not to any particular individual, it is also a form of guild with a special purpose.

Various historians of antiquity such as Arrian, Diodorus, Curtius and Orosius have described with different names a tribe of Gujrat, which inhabited the lower Akesines (the river: Chenab) in the Punjab. Curtius says "they were a powerful Indian tribe where the form of government was democratic and not regal."

Arrian mentions another three tribes of the Punjab, namely, Kathanians, Oxydrakai and Malloi. They all were independent republics. As Malloi surrendered to Alexander, the Great, they inform him, "they were attached more than any others to freedom and autonomy, and that their freedom they had preserved intact from the time Dionysos came to India until Alexander's invasion."

Arrian has described another Punjabi tribe which was settled in Nyasa. As the Nyasians surrendered, "they sent out to him (Alexander) their President whose name was Akouphis and along with him thirty deputies of their most eminent citizens to entreat him to spare the city .... when he enquired about their laws, he praised them because the government of their state was in the hands of the aristocracy. "

When we look at the Buddhist form of Sangha, we realise that the Indian system of democracy was far ahead of what was practised in Greece and Rome. This is no fairy tale but the truth based on theVinaya-Pitaka of the Buddhist Scriptures, which have preserved the code of procedure that regulated the meetings of the Buddhist congregation. Here is a glimpse of it:

1. Seats in the assembly hall were arranged in the order of precedence, that is, the attendants sat according to their dignity and seniority. There was a special officer whose duty it was to carry out these arrangements.

2. There was a Speaker of the assembly. His job was to announce the proposed motion. All questions to the Sangha had to be channelled through him.

3. During the debate, any difference of opinion was resolved through the majority vote. This procedure was called Yebhuyyasika. What is amazing is the principle of confidentiality. The members were given tickets (Salakas) for this purpose and were collected by the Bhikshu (monk) known as Salaka-Gahapaka.

4. The member, who could not attend the meeting owing to a genuine reason such as illness or a pre-engagement, was entitled to an absentee vote known as Chhanda.

5. The meeting could not take place without the necessary quorum. For this prupose, there was an officer called Ganapuraka, the equivalent of modern "whip."

The most important point to remember is that the Buddhists had adopted many things from the local customs that had existed in India long before the advent of the Lord Buddha. The democratic vocabulary of the Buddhists such as Salakas, Vebhuyyasika, Chhanda, Ganapuraka, etc., were not coined by the Buddhist Sanghas but had been inherited by them from the Vedic Age. This shows the antiquity of the democratic traditions in India.

The "Village Pancayat" is an ancient form of grass- root democracy in the Indian subcontinent. It is a local assembly of the villagers, consisting of five members who are usually elected but sometime hereditary. The Pancayat ( Panchayat ) was the local forum for discussing communal problems and pronouncing decisions, which carried authority of the law.

The Pancayat System came to an end in Pakistan, but it is still a part of the rural life in India. The gypsies, who originated in the Punjab and spread all over the world, might have carried this democratic tradition to the other parts of the world as they did the Indian iron technology.

Previously, I have argued that both Greece and Rome received their polytheistic traditions from India, where they are as much alive today as they were in antiquity. Now, I may add another dimension to this discussion:

The advancement of a culture may be judged by the level of the language that acts as its medium of expression. Sanskrit is the language of the Rgveda, which was composed in the Punjab. Therefore, it is an Indian language, and it is a false attempt to shift its origin to Europe on the pretext that it belongs to the Indo-European group of languages. According to Sir William Jones, Sanskrit is "More perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either." It establishes the precedence of Sanskrit over both the Greek and the Latin, which represent the Greek and Roman cultures.

During the 18th century, the European scholars were struck by the grammatical similarities found in the said three languages. Thus, they came to the conclusion that the people of India, Greece and Rome belong to the same racial stock. Obviously, the new settlers of Greece and Rome migrated from India and took their polytheistic and democratic traditions with them. This conclusion cannot lack the truth because during the period 500 B.C. the populations of Rome and Athens hardly reached the 200,000 mark whereas India housed fifty million people. It is mad to think that people moved from these two tiny city-states to India. The migration must have taken place from India to Greece and Rome.

Unfortunately, it has become customary to believe that India has always been a primitive country. The truth is quite the opposite. India is the fountain of civilisation, and this fact can be easily verified from the study of the Rgveda, which represents the Indian way of life simmering with a warrior's zest, love of adventure and appetite for learning.

This is the heritage of all Indians whether they live in Bharat, Pakistan or Bangladesh.

* * *

* The Greek Eos, the goddess of dawn in none else but the Vedic USAS, who represents the doctrine of unity in diversity. Considering the ancient means of communications, she could not have enetered the Greek culture unless the Greek had migrated from India. It should be borne in mind that the geographic descriptions of the Rgveda prove it beyond a shadow of doubt that it was composed in the Punjab (India). Next page

Chapter 6
Back to English Library Index
Back to Library Index
Back to Islam Index
Back to Anwar Shaikh Index

       
Support IPC
 
 
 
IPC operating since March 30, 2000
 
   
 
   
    Duplication of contents are allowed, only by naming the source & link to IPC
All rights are protected & reserved by Iran Politics Club © 2000 IPC