although the world credits the Greeks with having created democracy? But as usual History is recorded through the prism of the Western world and is very selective indeed. Republican forms of government however existed in many parts of India long before the Greeks! In some cases these “Republics” appear to have been governed by a democratic assembly and some came out of a revolution; in other cases, they seem to have had an oligarchic senate.The Buddha’s father for instance, was a king elected by its own people. These republics enjoyed throughout India a solid reputation for the excellence of their civil administration and the redoubtable efficiency of their armies. One should also add that none of these Indian republics developed an aggressive colonising spirit and that they were content to defend themselves and forge alliances amongst them.
On this Republic day, let us listen to the wisdom of Sri Aurobindo: “India, shut into a separate existence by the Himalayas and the ocean, has always been the home of a peculiar people with characteristics of its own, with its own distinct civilisation, way of life, way of the spirit, a separate culture, arts, building of society. it has absorbed all that has entered into it, put upon all the Indian stamp, welded the most diverse elements into its fundamental unity. but it has also been throughout, a congeries of diverse people, lands, kingdoms and in earlier times republics also, diverse races, sub-nations, with a marked character of their own, developing different brands or forms of civilisation and culture…India’s history throughout has been marked by a tendency, a constant effort to unite all this diversity of elements into a single political whole under a central imperial rule, so that India might be politically as well as culturally one…
the ancient diversities of the country carried in them great advantages as well as drawbacks. by these differences the country was made the home of many living and pulsating centres of life, culture, a richly and brilliantly coloured diversity in unity; all was not drawn up into a few provincial capitals, or an imperial metropolis, other towns and regions remaining subordinated and indistinct or even culturally asleep. the whole nation lived with a full life in its many parts and this increased enormously the creative energy of the whole. there is no possibility any longer that this diversity will endanger or diminish the unity of India. those vast spaces which kept her people from closeness and a full interplay have been abolished in their separating effect by the march of science and the swiftness of the means of communication. the idea of a federation and a complete machinery for its perfect working have been discovered and will be at full work. above all, the spirit of patriotic unity has been too firmly established in the people to be easily effaced or diminished and it would be more endangered by refusing to allow the natural play of life of the sub-nations than by satisfying their natural aspirations… India’s national life will then be founded on her natural strength and the principle of unity in diversity which has always been normal to her and its fulfilment the fundamental course of her being and its very nature the many in one would place her on the sure foundation of her swabhava and swadharma…a union of states and regional people would again be the form of a united India”
happy Republic Day again boys and girls! Spread this post of Sri Aurobindo and let us resolve to carry in our hearts the aspiration for a truer Indian more in tune with what all the great rishis, saints, avatars, kings and queens, poets, singers, have strived and fought for since 5000 years