Saturday, 11 November 2017

Dharampal 'Civil Disobedience in Indian Tradition'

J.Ps Foreward

"... No matter how one defines a nation—and it has not been found easy to do so—its essence seems to lie not in its outward attributes but in the mental world of those who comprise it. Of the ingredients of this inner world, the most important is self-image, that is, the image that the people comprising a nation have of themselves and their forefathers.

During the British period, the needs of imperialist rule dictated that Indians be pictured as an inferior people in respect to material, moral and intellectual accomplishments. This deliberate denigration of the Indian nation was furthered by the incapacity of the foreigner to understand properly a civilisation so different from his own. So, in course of time, as our political subjugation became complete, we happened to accept as real the distorted image of ourselves that we saw reflected in the mirror the British held to us.

... The behaviour of the five hundred and odd princes towards their people during British rule had created the general impression that the king in Hindu polity was a tyrant and there was no limit to his power as far as it related to his subjects, who were supposed to be traditionally docile and submissive. Foreign and Indian studies of Hindu polity, no doubt, had revealed quite a different type of relationship, which allowed even for the de-position of an unworthy king by his people. But that was consid-ered to be a mere idealistic formulation, true more in theory than in practice. The fact that texts on Hindu polity were agreed that the king was never conceived to possess absolute power and that he was in practice limited by dharma, that is, the system of duties, responsibilities and privileges that had evolved through the ages and come to be accepted by all concerned, was also not taken seriously. Instances of autocratic monarchs who defied the established dharma and got away with it were looked upon not as exceptions but as the rule.

The material brought together by Shri Dharampal in this volume throws quite a different light on the subject."

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