January 26, 2023 ☼ Nitopadesha ☼ book ☼ public policy
On Republic Day. This is an unedited excerpt from the Epilogue to the First Book of *The Nitopadesha* on the essence of citizenship.
After Rajnidatta had finished, the two crows sat in silence for a while. Then Chandramani said ’Generously you have told me many things from the lands you visited. For your kindness I am grateful. For in so short a time I have learned so much about the affairs of this world. Still I wonder if there is a bigger lesson, a deeper truth and if there is a more profound meaning in this narrative of yours. Tell me O Rajnidatta, what is the essence of it all?’
The context is that Rajnidatta the crow is woeing his beloved, the intelligent and beautiful Chandramani. In the process he sets off on a quest for a navaratna gem. This dialogue occurs after he returns from his adventures.
Rajnidatta replied. ’A hundred days have I travelled across forests, rivers, deserts, lakes, mountains and seas; and from what I have observed, perceived, heard, inferred, deduced and analogised, this is what I have learned:
One must choose a realm to live where there is rule of law;
Where people strive for a balance between selfishness and altruism;
Where mutual trust paves the way for cooperation big and small;
Where there is a lasting harmony from playing one’s assigned roles;
Where thoughtful rules fairly applied strengthen society’s morals;
Where constant vigilance and critical voice protects all citizens;
Where actions are judged according to their consequences;
And where conversations are polite, civil and mindful.
For in such a realm there sure will be happiness, well-being and prosperity.’
Chandramani asked ‘Why is that so?’,
This was Rajnidatta’s response
‘For these are what hold a realm together, and constitute the dharma of the citizenship (praja dharma). And citizens who protect these principles, duties, values and actions are in turn protected by them. My learnings merely confirm the truth of the old saying “dharma rakshati rakshitah” in the domain of citizencraft. For indeed, prajadharma protects the praja who protect it, and thus must always be protected. It is the way for a land, for a people and for a society to achieve yogakshema.’
The story continues…read the rest in the book.
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