Satyarth Prakash has a total of 14 chapters. First 5 are dedicated to the various aspects of life, including the subjects of God, education, the 4 stages of life. The sixth chapter provides insight into governance. Swami ji has taken most of the material in this chapter from the four Vedas, 7th through 9th chapters of Manusmriti, Brahman scriptures, Shukra neeti, Vidur prajagar and the shantiparva of Mahabharat.
Suffering in society truly arises from ignorance, injustice, and poverty. The purpose of government should be for the protection and advancement of people’s freedom, happiness, and welfare with knowledge and education to create justice, security, peace and economic well-being. Therefore, the government can be successful only if it guarantees people freedom from these ill factors. Swami ji has emphasized that the ruler and the entire governing bodies follow the law of nature, or dharma. He has stressed that no part of the governing body, neither the king, the chief of army, nor any part of the government be independent(autonomous) from the rest. The ruler should be selected only when he or she possess certain high-quality characteristics as well as knowledge of Vedic Scriptures and follows them in his/her life through his high-level code of ethics. It should be clear in the mind of the ruler that he/she is not the master, rather just a servant to those he or she has been elected by.
The laws laid down by Vedic teachings should be strictly followed. There should be three different governing councils:
- Education (Vidyarya Sabha),
- Legislative (Dharmarya Sabha),
- Administrative branch (Rajya Sabha).
The chief of army should also be a person with very high morals and integrity. Swami ji has quoted from Shatpath Brahmana that if a ruler operates independently of the will of citizens, the country is doomed for destruction and will not survive.
Some qualities that should be possessed by a ruler are as follows:
- He should be able to conquer and remain undefeated. Be able to govern and balance his/her own thoughts with the advice of other individuals.
- Rulers should be fast like Indra, be liked by the people, and have the ability to sense like Vayu, be just (Yam), spread true knowledge (Surya), be able to destroy the wicked (Agni), be able to control the wicked (Varun), be blissful toward honorable souls (Chandra), and bring the country in the direction of ever-increasing prosperity (Dhanaadyaksh). No one can look at a ruler with such qualities with a bad eye.
- The ruler should have a very strict and disciplined life. He/she should have only one spouse, get up early in morning and after doing personal chores, does exercise such as long walk and Yoga, prayer and then begins his/her day by greeting the waiting public. Then should discuss what needs to be done on a daily basis and also in future with his close associates Then, should daily inspect the various establishments including the arm factory and ammunition storage area to ensure the readiness of the army personnel and the equipment for war. The food ingested by the king should be rich and wholesome so that he/she is in the best of health.
- A ruler, who can judge benefits and flaws of the upcoming possible decisions, can be decisive in problems at hand and understands the deficiencies in the actions that have already been taken will never fail. Impartiality in face of friendship, foe and indifferent people is the virtue of a successful ruler.
- There should be nothing secret about the ruler. All actions taken in office affect the kingdom and, therefore, all his actions should be publicized on a day to day basis, of course leaving out those matters related to national security which should be openly stated only when appropriate.
- There should be a decentralization of authority in a pyramidal manner, meaning small groups of people in charge of each village, followed by higher levels of governance until the highest level.
Manusmriti further states that:
- A ruler who follows dharma will be impartial and will be able to maintain lawfulness in society and the nation.
- A ruler who does not have these qualities, cannot govern the country for very long.
- the chiefs of army, governing council, the chief justice- all of these have to be knowledgeable in Vedic scriptures, be just, have self-control on all senses, and be able to govern. These three councils should have at least ten people each. These should include people from all 3 stages (aashrams) of life, namely Brahmcharya, Grihastha, Vanprastha aashrams. Brahmacharya includes those who have taken a lifelong vow of celibacy, Grihastha refers to those involved in the stage of family life, and Vanprastha are those who have accumulated experience after undertaking the educational and familial portions of life.
Manusmriti also clearly defines the existence and role of an ambassador as one who is intelligent, can sense the desires and intentions of other rulers/societies, be knowledgeable in the scriptures, as well as have a clean heart. A person in this role should aim to reduce animosity among different nations and when needed, should be able to create differences among various national leaders when advantageous to his or her own nation (i.e. diplomacy).
There is also a description of the location and details of the capital of the state. The location should be in the middle of a forest, be well fortified and self-contained with appropriate personnel of all needs, there be source of food and water as well. This would allow both the efficient functioning and strong defense when needed.
There should a guru, or spiritual advisor (Raj Guru), to the ruler as well. Needless to say, that this individual has to have intense knowledge of Vedic Scriptures and follow dharma and have the capacity to advise the ruler and the 3 counsels regularly.
Swami ji also discusses that a tax structure should be in place. Taxes levied should be of a progressive level taking in consideration of the trade/income of the person/family and be collected annually. Enough Tax should be collected to ensure revenue for the functioning of the society/country while ensuring that it be fair. If tax is excessive and makes the various segments of society unhappy, eventually the public will lose faith in the governance and it will be detrimental to the while kingdom. Besides all the other expenditure of the state, it is imperative that a good amount of money be reserve for the spread of proper education including the full care of the intellectuals who follow Dharma. It has been stressed that no matter how sweet it may appear; no foreign government can provide as fair a tax system as a ruler of the same nation.
Rules the war:
- The king should always be ready and fight with the aggressor and take the challenge for war seriously.
- Never attack or kill or hurt a receding army, a person who is disarmed, wounded and has surrendered. Be respectful to the defeated, specially the women and children. If there is slightest possibility that the forgiven enemy may attack again, they be put in jail and kept there till it is certain that they will not attack again. However, even while in jail, they be treated with respect. Defeated king be treated with respect and not teased or harassed. A promissory note be taken for him/her that he will never be aggressor again and if possible, some close relative or another able person be given that kingdom.
- Every effort be made to ensure secrecy about the key foreign matters. Enemy should not be able to know the future move.
- King should himself be expert and also seek advice of experts in foreign policy matters. When avoidance of war is the right thing to do, should not hesitate to seek peace agreement with the enemy.
- If some ruler of another kingdom is just and follows dharma, the ruler should seek friendship and association as well.
- While preparing to go in the battlefield, it is essential that there be full preparation with necessary arms, food, fighters etc. There also be an arrangement to ensure safety of those who will be left behind. The preparation for war should including the army, navy and air force as well since the attack could come in any form.
If there are dacoits in the kingdom, they should be dealt with all means (saam, daam, danda and bhed), including association, gifts or creating division among each other. If there be punishment, it be severe. This is similar to someone becoming a state witness if they co-operate. Also, some of these people are quite intelligent and can be useful. They should be employed at certain level, but their moves should be secretly monitored at all times. This brings in the role of Secret service. This is essential to maintain the governance. Secret service does not mean spying on the public as a while to ensure dictatorship.
There should be a full provision for providing pension and health care to the elderly.
Court system and punishment: The level of punishment should be based on the level of education and status of the person in society. As opposed to the common belief, sage Manu has clearly advocated that for the same crime, higher the status of the person, higher be the punishment, both monitory and criminal as well. Dharma be strictly followed since the dead dharma kill those who destroy it and it protects those who protect dharma. In other words, basics duties and rules nature, be followed. There is also some discussion about the court witness. If it appears that someone is giving a false witness due to greed, fear, friendship, anger, ignorance or immaturity, it be treated as a false witness and appropriate punishment be given to the person who is giving such a witness.
Overall, in the entire chapter, which is mostly from Vedas and Manu smriti, emphasis has been placed on following Dharma through Vedic teachings. It is clear from this short essay that if these rules were followed all along, there would have been no wars including Mahabharat war or any invasions or conversions and the world would simply be a better place with full democracy (freedom with responsibility for all) .