Yatha Raja Tatha Praja

This is in continuation of  my previous post, about what factors a  government keeps in mind, while formulating policies. An idea gaining importance currently is, that improving the quality of life of citizens is desirable. The government should  not just focus on increasing Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

This is not really a new idea, at least not in the Indian context.

In the Mahabharata Vidura advises  Dhritarashtra to levy only that amount of taxes as his subjects could easily pay.

यथा मधु समादत्ते रक्षन् पुष्पाणि षट्पदः l
तद्वत् अर्थान् मनुष्येभ्यः आदद्यात् अविहिंसया ll

Just as a Bee gently extracts honey from  flowers without destroying them, so must a ruler take only that amount as taxes from the people, as will not cause them harm.

What a great guideline for levying taxes!

Elsewhere in the Mahabharata, Narada questions the newly coronated Yudhisthira

कच्चित् राष्ट्रे ताडागानि पूर्णानि च बृहन्ति च l
भागशो विनिविष्टानि न कृषिर् देवमात्रुका ll

‘The crops in your land do not solely depend upon the rains, do they?  There are large lakes/reservoirs, filled with water and dug at numerous places, aren’t there?’

Narada well knows how fickle the monsoon rains could be, and he suggests to Yudhisthira the necessity of having alternate sources of water supply.

Kautilya in his Nitishastra underscores the importance of a ruler setting a good example for his subjects. He says-

राज्ञि  धर्मिणि धर्मिष्ठाः पापे पापाः समे समाः l
राजानमनुवर्तन्ते यथा राजा तथा प्रजाः ll 
If a  ruler acts according to Dharma, so will his subjects. If he does not, neither will they. If a ruler does not differentiate between Dharma-Adharma or virtues and sins, the citizens will not do so either.
As the ruler does, so do the citizens of his country.
This is advice that today’s leaders would do well to remember!
Kautilya also explains the proper way in which a nation may increase its riches. He says-
मूर्खा यत्र पूज्यन्ते धान्यं यत्र सुसञ्चितम् l
दम्पत्ये कलहो नास्ति तत्र श्री स्वयमागता ll
 Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth herself, will come to reside in a land where ignorant persons are not honoured, where there is proper storage of foodgrains, and where there is harmony between husbands and wives. In short, where the people are content!

There are many more examples it would be possible to mention. But since I am quite aware that most of my blogging friends must be finding it tedious to read this, I will stop here!

 Many thanks to those who read this entire post!

 After reading the news reports I mentioned in the previous post, I did want to mention that the idea of ‘maximizing well-being of citizens’ or of ‘elevating quality of life’ is not new to Indian society.

 Rulers in this country since ancient times kept this in mind while formulating policies.

Present leaders in positions of power in our country seem to have forgotten this though!



  1. The problem is we are paying taxes for those who do not declare their correct income!! That includes so many of the rulers . How can we have justice?


    1. Yes, the rulers of today are very different from those of earlier times. They do not think of improving the quality of life for ordinary citizens, only for themselves! Slim chance of any kind of justice in this scenario…


  2. now I know from where the phrase ‘yatha raja thatha praja’ comes, even though I have been hearing and using it for ages. That was an interesting post. Only if people would believe that Mahabharatha was not just a myth but history!


    1. Thanks, zephyr!

      There is another verse with this phrase, too, but I’m not sure who the author is-
      यथा भूमिस्तथा तोयं, यथा बीजं तथाऽङ्कुरः ।
      यथा देशस्तथा भाषा, यथा राजा तथा प्रजाः ॥

      Yes, there is a wealth of knowledge in our epics and other writings of earlier times, but sadly not many are interested nowadays.


  3. Your posts are always a delight to me, nevr tedious.

    Even if we know our epics, what is the use, unless we apply it..today we have reached the nadir in corruption and shamelessness.


    1. Thank you, Renu!

      So true, leaders are often corrupt and shameless.

      And it is the responsibility of the Indian public to elect leaders who will appy the values written in our epics.

      Unfortunately we (citizens) do not seem to care- there is low turnout at voting time and even criminals get elected. 😦


  4. We have mother -son combo enjoying all the perks at our cost without any responsibility towards the people of the country.
    It happens because, PRAJA is already divided on caste lines.


    1. As you say- PRAJA is already divided on caste lines.

      The political leaders divide us, and we- the citizens- accept it meekly. When will we realise that our strength lies in unity?.


  5. I had read this post early and commented too, but my internet connection was not steady. It might not have got published.

    I was not able to open this post today morning, Manju! Some ‘protected site’ window popped up.

    Yatha Raja thatha Praja…so apt for the current situation in our country, Manju! When there is corruption at the top most level, how can anyone control the lower level?

    As you said in reply to Renu’s comment, unless the educated people come out and vote, no change is going to happen.

    I am happy about the Bihar results! At last the Biharis have become sensible and an example for all the other states. Hope the other leaders take a leaf out of Nitish Kumar’s sincere act in upgrading Bihar to this level and taking the confidence of his people to vote for him again now. He has not dolled out TVs but spent the tax payers’ money on other more useful reforms.


    1. That is the tragedy in our country- there is corruption at the highest level!

      Yes, I’m also very glad the the Nitish Kumar govt. has been elected again. Good for Bihar!

      I was not able to open this post today morning, Manju! Some ‘protected site’ window popped up.
      Sorry about that- I was editing some posts which I imported from my earlier blog, so changed the permission settings to ‘private’.
      While transferring from Blogspot to WordPress, the separate paragraphs were all combined into one big paragraph- don’t know why…


  6. like king like citizens
    sorry i do not agree regarding our India and mainly India politics and democracy.

    Saying like this is nothing but lack of knowledge regarding politics, democracy.


    1. Sorry, sm, didn’t get the meaning of your comment. Could you explain?

      Do you mean that political leaders in Democratic India today are not the same as kings in a Monarchy?

      If so, yes, I know that. I am talking in general of whoever is in a position of power to implement policies.


  7. India did have great leaders/rulers.. wish our present leaders would turn back the pages of history instead of choosing to ignore them.
    Some media is still not happy with Nithish and I cant seem to find a reason.. conspiracy?


    1. Nitishkumar has proved that people do want development and good governance. Perhaps the media which supports the UPA writes against him?


  8. when there is informal money ( in the country) and some of them they convert it from black to white – what we say is the GDP – Is it really the GDP ?

    2. they say greater the fortune , greater the crime –

    for eg in saudi arabia , it is the 6 families that owns the oil of the country. so is the same with india .
    Who owns the oil revenues in india – when it is a central government enterprise and is headquartered in delhi – who earns its revenues – i recently read about one indus gas (head quartered in UK) who has laid a new oil line somewhere in the rajasthan border ( who are they and how did they make this pipeline in the last 3-4 years. raises eye brow ) – they have their nexus in havala – they also own large industries – agro processing, it, scrap metal, , phoenix international shoes ( reebok scandal – suppliers to premium italian shoe industries ), metro shoes in agra – their roots lie in the havala and are the henchmen ( killing ) for the congress government in delhi and are protected by the gandhi family , they have citizenships rooted in UK and US – They are not written in forbes or fortune or business week or india – who is collecting their taxes ? The father of all these companies is D. N kalsi ( but he has put these in his childrens and mistresses name ) and though they stay in india their businesses are spread out in canada and UK (energy sector) Delhi and perhaps the US – Do they pay taxes ? or do they pay it to the Sonia Gandhi’s family ? How many such kalsi’s out there ?

    the entire tinsel town received their income from the underworlds of bombay in the earlier years , chota rajan, haji mastan, dawood ibrahim gandhi/nehru/farooq abudullah family. The stars who grazed the screen of the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s , 80s, 90s and even the earlier part of 2000’s earned their bread and butter from these underworlds who make the black money white through financing movies. So what is the GDP ?

    the first edition of the polyster prince gives you an eye view of how business is conducted. every business have a spy in some company – do we know who we are hiring. what is written in media is to rub the mascara into the eyes of the people. The real pilferators of money are never written about. the corruptions of kalamadi that we hear are a nip in the bud. the whole iceburg lies somewhere.

    So what is the real GDP ?


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