Raja Rishi (Sage King)

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Kautilya has clearly specified the rules for an Ideal King.

Such ideal kings were called Raja Rishis (Sage King).

Extract below from The Arthashastra translated by LN Rangarajan.

A Raja Rishi is one who:

  • Has self-control having conquered the the six enemies:
    • Kama(Lust), Krodha(Anger), Lobha(Greed), Mana(Pride), Mada(Arrogance or Conceit) and Amarsha (Fool hardiness).
  • Cultivates intellect by association with wise men and elders
  • Keeps his eyes open through spies
  • Is ever active in promoting the security and welfare of the people
  • Ensures the observance of Dharma by the people, by setting a personal example and authority.
  • Improves his own discipline by continuing his learning in all branches of knowledge
  • Endears himself to his people by enriching them and doing good to them.

Such a Raja Rishi should:

  • Keep away from another’s wife
  • Not covet another’s property
  • Practice Ahimsa(non-violence) towards all living beings
  • Avoid daydreaming, capriciousness, falsehood and extravagance
  • Avoid association with harmful persons indulging in harmful activities

There is no need for such a king to lead a life of total austerity and deprive himself of all sensual pleasures, so long as he does not infringe his Dharma or harms his own material well-being.

Some teachers say that the three objectives of human endeavour [Dharma, Kama(Desire) and Artha(Wealth)] are interdependent and must be pursued equally.  Excessive importance to any one brings harm not only to that objective but to others as well.

Kautilya, however, says: Artha (Wealth or Sound economics) is the most important; for, Dharma and Kama are both dependent on it.

A Raja Rishi shall always respect those councillors and purohitas(wise scholars) who warn him of the dangers of transgressing the limits of good conduct, reminding him sharply (as with a goad) of the times prescribed for various duties and caution him even when he errs in private.

Only a just king commands the loyalty of people.

The subjects of a just king attacked by another will follow him until death, even if he is weak.

On the other hand, when a strong but unjust king is attacked, his people will either topple him or go over to the enemy.