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 

Oldest Democracy in the World! Oldest Female MP in the World!!

Written by London swaminathan

Research Article No.1858; Dated 11 May 2015.

Uploaded in London at 21-07


India is the oldest democratic country in the world. Rig Veda, the oldest book in the world, confirms it. Not only that but also the two words used by the Vedic Hindus are used until today from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari and throughout the world. They had two assemblies: Sabha and Samiti. Sabha is used in all the states of India (Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Vidhan Sabha etc) Since Tolkappiam, the oldest Tamil book banned the use of letter ‘Sa’ in Tamil,  Sabha is changed as Avai (Sabhai) in Tamil Nadu. Samiti is used throughout the world as Committee (C=S; samiti=committee).

Several hundred words from the Rig Veda are being used throughout the country. Tamils have been using them for 2000 years! Sanskrit will never die! All the major languages of the world have Sanskrit words!

Bihar Vidhan Sabha


Oldest female MP or MLA was also from India! Rig Veda mentioned female members of the Sabha as sabhavati (RV 1-167-3). It says female member utters fitting words in the sabha!! They were the best speakers! It also said that a woman who protects law (rta) comes thrice to the Sabha (RV 3-56-5). I have already given one proof where Miss Gargi Vachaknavi attended the Religious Conference convened by Janaka. She stood up in the conference and challenged the greatest scholar of the period Yajnavalkya! All this happened before Homer wrote the first book in Greek!

The words regarding Sabha, its activities, its members and its uses show that Rig Vedic society was the most advanced civilization in the world.

Tamil Nadu Assembly

ROLE OF SABHA (Avai in Tamil; S becomes ‘a’ and B becomes ‘v’; sabha=avai)

Sabha was an assembly where important members met and discussed matters of public interest (RV.6-28-6; 8-4-9; 10-34-6; 7-12-1; 8-10-5; 12-1-56; 19-55-6 etc). It is also mentioned in the later Samhitas and Brahmanas. The members were called sabhasaha like we call MLA or MP. Its director was called sabhasthanu; may be compared to Chief Secretary or the Speaker. The word literally meant Pillar of the Assembly.

The hall was used for social intercourse. General conversations and debates were also held there (RV2-24-13). Disputes were also solved and mitigated in the Sabha according to Mahidhara. He mentioned it in his commentary on Vajasaneyi Samhita (20-27). Financial affairs like wealth of the cattle were also discussed and settled in the sabha (RV6-28-6). Atharva Veda says that higher subjects were also discussed there (AV 7-12-3).

It looks like they performed various functions like enacting new laws, solving the problems. Another suggestion is that it was the assembly of the affluent (maghavan), like the House of Lords.

It was the meeting place of Village council. Domestic use of the sabha was confirmed in several passages of the later Samhita and Brahmanas (AV 8-10-5; TS 3-4-8-6; TB 1-1-10-3

Rajasthan Assembly

Dignity and Decorum of the House

Care was taken to maintain the standard of speech in the Sabha. No unparliamentarily words were allowed. Important participants were called ‘sabheya’ or fit for assembly (RV 2-24-13; AV 20-12-8; VS 22-22

Chandogya Upanishad says that the king attended the sabha (53-6). Chairperson of the Sabha was known as Sabhapala. Members were also known as sabhachara (TB 3-7-46)

Both Sabha and Samiti are described as the Twin Daughters of Prajapati (AV 7-12; SB 4-1-4-1)

Tamil Nadu Assemly

ROLE OF SAMITI (Comiti=Committee)

Samiti means a collective body (RV 9-92-6). Kings attended the samiti (RV 10-97-6)

Atharva Veda which described Samiti and Sabha as twin daughters of Prajapati says they are deliberative bodies (712). RV shows its importance and the business transacted there in 10-193-3.

AV gives more information about the Samiti

a)Courtly men coming as guests 8-10

b)Samiti’s praise sung in all gatherings of men 12-1-56

c)It was an assembly of people and its consent is essential for the King 5-19

Sayana says that Samiti was a War Council, where kings or tribal chiefs assembled to discuss the course of action.

It was conveyed to elect and accept the king or to approve of his acts (RV 1-95-8;9-92-6; 10-97-6.

Compared to Sabha, it was a smaller assembly.

Picture of Lok Sabha

Dasaratha’s Consultation

Even in Valmiki Ramayana we read that Dasaratha called the assembly of ministers and VIP.s and asked their opinion and consent to appoint Rama as the next king. Manu in his Smrti says how bad kings were thrown out of power. We read about Vijaya’s banishment from Kalinga/Bengal region who established a new dynasty in Sri Lanka. Later literature gives us information about Council of Five and Council of Eight people. So we have a continuous history of democratic institutions. The king was decorative post without much power.