Assembly Membership 2700 years ago- Panini Titbits-1 (Post No.9527)


Post No. 9527

Date uploaded in London – –24 APRIL  2021     

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Panini in his grammar work Ashtadhyayi gives interesting information about citizenship, patriotism, and qualifications of an assembly member

Classmates are called ‘sa brahmachar’i by Panini. In the same way citizens of a particular Janapada/ country were called ‘sa Janapada’(Sutra 6-3-85)

Socrates of Greece, talks about loyalty to his country

“As to his parents and his master , so to the laws and his country, he must not return injury for injury, nor blow for blow. Country is more than a mother. For her sake all things must be endured”.

Whatever Socrates said was from the ancient Hindu scriptures; in other words ‘un Greek’ principles. That is why he was hated and accused of poisoning the youths.

‘Matha pitha guru deivam’ is a Vedic tenet. He repeated this in the above quote.

Don’t return injury for injury is in Buddha’s Dhammapada and Valluvar’s Tirukkural

Concept of Motherland is in the Atharva Veda-

Maataah bhuumih upto aham prithivyah

—Atharva Veda 12-1-12

Earth is my Mother, I am the son of the earth

Laws of the Janapada must be obeyed and Panini called it Bhakti, i.e. the political and moral allegiance of the citizens both to the Janapada and Janapadins (Sutra 4-3-100)

A citizen of the Anga Janapada was called ‘Aangaka’ with reference to his Bhakti to the Anga state .

The two fold Bhakti is here significantly distinguished, viz. to the state in theory and to his government in practical life.

Mahabharata says

Namo Dharmaya mahate dharmo dharayati prajah

—Udyoga parva 137-9

Dharma or the law is the foundation.

Panini used ‘Dhaarmiika’, ‘Dharmam charati’ where ‘charati’ is explained as ‘aasevaa’ habitual moral conduct or practice of virtue.

The ideal of the Janapada state was the highest development of virtue and its object was to produce the perfect citizen.

This ideal is embodied in the famous words of King Asvapati of Kekaya which he uttered in the presence of such citizens as were house holders posessing magnificent mansions, (Mahaa  saalaa) supplied with all the luxuries that Janapada life would provide, but who still chose the path of virtue and learning, (Mahaa srotriya )

“Within my realm ( Janapada ) there is no thief

No miser, nor a drinking man,

None altarless, none ignorant,

No man unchaste, no wife unchaste”

–Chandogya Upanishad 5-11-5

We see such principles, statements In Vidura Niti, Chanakya Niti and even in the writings of Chinese traveller Fahiyan . He said there were no thieves in India and people left the doors open duing night time.

Buddha in dhammapada says

“For hate is not conquered by hate;

Hate is conquered by love. This is a law eternal”

Dhammapada 5

Valluvar in Tirukkural 314 says ,

“The best way to punish those who harm you is to make them feel abashed by doing them good and thinking no more of it”—Kural 314

“Of what avail is perfection if it does not do good even to them that have done evil?” Kural 987


Assembly in the Vedas

Each Janapada/State had its assembly / Sabhaa and a governing council / Parishad.

In Greece 20 year old youths became assembly membeSr after two year military training.  Panini also refers to such qualification with the word Sabhya which means he can attend the ‘ Sabhaa’.

‘Sabhaayaa yah’ 4-4-105

‘Sabhaayaam saaduh’ where ‘saaduh’ means yogya/qualified.

A Kshatriya young man, when eighteen years of age acquired the privilege of becoming a ‘kavacha hara’/ fit for military duty (3-2-10)

And at the age of 21, became privileged for all political rights and duties.

The new word ‘Sabhya’ was equivalent in meaning to the Vedic  ‘sabheya’ which Panini himself records as an old chandasa/ Vedic term (4-4-106)

Sabhaa had a two -fold meaning i.e. the assembly and the assembly hall (Saalaa 2-4-23, 24)

Till this day Sabha is used for assembly in all Indian languages including Tamil (Sabha- Avai; Sa is banned by Tolkaappiyar. So AVAI; B=V)

Thousands of years later than Vedas , Uttaramerur Inscription in Tamil Nadu gives more details about the qualification to contest for a council post.

India is the oldest democracy in the world. Before Greeks started writing, we had Sabhas/Assembly!

SOURCE- INDIA AS KNOWN TO PANINI BY V S AGRAWALA, with my inputs from Tamil literature


tags- Sabha, Membership, Assembly, Citizenship, Panini, Desa Bhakti 

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