Science of Governance by Swami Dayanand Saraswati

  • By Swami Dayanand Saraswati
  • March 2001

Qualifications & Duties of Ministers, Members of Assembly  

Qualifications of Members of the Political Assembly

Manu -  “Those men alone are fit to fill such high offices, as of the President or a member of the Political Assembly, who have learnt the three kinds of knowledge, of good deeds and their practice, of elevation of mind by meditation, and contemplation of abstruse subjects, and of that superior wisdom that results from the first two-from the scholars of the four Vedas,-the true system of Government, the science of Logic, the Divine science which consists of the knowledge of the nature, character and attributes of God and the arts of education and debate. Let all members and leaders always walk in the path of rectitude, keep the sense under perfect control and keep aloof from sin. Let them always practice yoga, and meditate on God morning and evening, for he who cannot control his mind and sense-which are subjects of the soul-can never keep the people under control.

 Let a man, therefore, most diligently shun (and help others to do the same) eighteen vices-vices from which a man once entangled into them can hardly escape-ten of which proceed from love of pleasure and eight from anger.

 A king addicted to vices arising from the love of pleasure loses his kingdom, wealth and power and even his character. Whilst one who is addicted to vices arising from anger may even lose his life. The ten vices proceeding from love of pleasure are:-

(1) Hunting, (2) gaming-playing with dices, gambling, etc., (3) sleeping by day, (4) gossiping or talking of sensual subjects, (5) excess with women, (6) use intoxicants such as alcohol, opium, cannabis India and its products, etc., (7) excessive indulgence in singing, playing and dancing or hearing and seeing other people do so, (8) and useless wandering about from place to place.

The vices that proceed from anger are:-

(1) Tale-hearing, (2) violence, such as outraging another man’s wife, (3) Malevolence, (4) Envy, i.e., mortification excited by the sight of another person’s superiority or success, (5) detraction from one’s character, (6) expenditure of money, etc., for sinful purposes, (7) saying unkind or hard words, (8) infliction of punishment without any offence.

Let him assiduously shun self-love that all wise men hold to be the roof of all evils that are born of the love of pleasure and anger, it is through the love of self that a man contracts all these vices.

 The use of intoxicants, gaming, excess with women, and hunting-these four are the most pernicious vices that arise from the love of pleasure.

 Infliction of punishment without offence, the use of slanderous language, the expenditure of money for unrighteous purpose-these three are the great vices born of anger that bring extreme suffering on the possessor thereof.

 Out of these seven vices proceeding from the love of pleasure and anger the one preceding is worse than the one following. In other words, the use of slanderous language worse than the abuse of money, punishing the innocent worse than the use of slanderous language. Hunting is worse than punishing the innocent, excess with women worse than hunting and the use of intoxicants worse still.

 It is certain that it is better to die than to be addicted to vices, since the longer a wicked man lives, the more sins he will commit and consequently lower and lower will he sink and thereby the more will he suffer. Whilst he who is free from vices enjoys happiness even if he dies.”

 Therefore, it behoves all men, especially the king, to keep aloof from hunting drinking, and other vices, and instead, to develop a good character and a noble disposition, and to devote themselves to the practice of virtuous deeds.


Manu - “Let a king appoint seven or eight good, righteous and clever ministers who are natives of the country, are thoroughly conversant with the Vedas and the Shastras, are very brave and courageous, whose judgment seldom errs, who come from good family and are well-tried men-

 Even an act easy in itself becomes difficult to be accomplished by a man when single-handed. How much more so then, is the great work of the government of a country by a man single-handed. It is, therefore, a most dangerous thing to make one man a despotic ruler, or entrust a single man with the sole management of the affairs of the State.
 Let the Head of a State, then, constantly consult with his clever and learned ministers on the affairs of the State, such as (1) Peace, (2) War, (3) Defence-quietly protecting his own country against a foreign attack and a waiting for an opportunity, (4) Offence, i.e., attacking a wicked enemy when he finds himself strong enough to do, (5) proper management of the internal affairs of the State, the exchequer and the Army; (6) Pacification of the newly conquered countries by freeing them from all kinds of disturbance. Let him daily reflect on the six subjects.

 Having ascertained the individual opinion of each of his ministers and other members of the Assembly let him abide by the decision of the majority and do what is beneficial for him as well as for others.

 Let him likewise appoint other ministers who are men of great integrity, highly intellectual, of resolute minds, of great organizing power and of vast experience.

 Let him appoint good, energetic, strong, and clever officers, as many as he requires, for the due transaction strong men of great integrity and of noble lineage fill positions involving great responsibility and risk, whilst let timid and faint-hearted men be employed for the administration of internal affairs. ( I like this statement very practical).

 Let him also appoint an Ambassador who comes from a good family. Is very clever, perfectly honest, able to read the inmost thoughts of others and to foretell future developments and events by observing the expression of faces and other significant signs and acts, and is well versed in all the Shastras-branches of knowledge.

 He alone is a fit person to be appointed an Ambassador who is very much devoted to politics, loves his country with all his heart, is of irreproachable character, pure in heart, highly intelligent and endowed with an excellent memory, who can adapt himself to the manners and customs of different countries and different times, is good looking, fearless and a master of elocution.”


Manu - “The power to enforce the law should be vested in a minister who should see that the law is administered justly, treasury and other affairs of the State should be under the control of the king, peace and war under that of the Ambassador, and everything under the control of the Assembly. It is the Ambassador alone who can make peace between enemies, or war between friends. He should so strive as to divide enemies united against his country.
Thus having learnt the designs of his enemy let a king-the President of the Assembly (as well as members of the Assembly, Ambassadors and others)-endeavor to guard himself against all danger from him.

In a thickly wooded country, where the soil is rich, let him build himself a town surrounded by a fortress of earth, or one protected by water ,or one surrounded by a thick wood on all sides, or a fortress of armed men, or one surrounded by a mountain. Let him build a wall round the city, because one brave, well-armed soldier placed inside it is a match for a hundred, and a hundred for thousands. It is therefore, extremely necessary to build a fort. Let the fort be well-supplied with arms and ammunitions, with various kinds of grain and other food stuffs, with conveyances and beasts of burden, etc., with teachers and preachers, artisans, various kinds of machines, with grass and grain, etc., for animals and with water, etc In the centre of the town let him build for himself a Government house, well-protected from wind, etc., suited to all weathers, with well-provided parks and gardens round it, and well-supplied with water. It should be big for all the state functions

My Comments - (This strategy of getting into a Fort, like Chittor might have been sensible in the ancient times but during the Muslim invasion it proved to be counter productive. After all for how long can a group of people survive in a fort of they are faced with attack from all sides.)

 Having done so far, that is having completed his studies in the order of Brahmacharya and settled the affairs of the State, let him choose a consort of Kshatriya Class, born of a high family, endowed with beauty and other excellent qualities, dearest to his, blessed with charming manners, etc., and equal to him in knowledge, acquisitions, accomplishments and of like temperament. Let him take one wife and one only, and consider all other women as unapproachable, therefore let him not even look at another woman (with the eye of lust).

 Let him retain a chaplain and a spiritual teacher to perform Homa and Yajnas suitable for different seasons and other religious duties for him in the palaces, and let him always devote himself to the business of the State. To devote himself day and night to the affairs of the State without allowing anything to go out of order is the highest duty of a king, aye, this is his worship, this is his communion.”

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