Canberra, 9 December 2013

Vassal Kingdoms and Republican Tribes

The concept of feudalism has been defined in various ways in different times and contexts and has connoted different meanings in diverse nations of the world. The understanding of feudalism in its various nuances are not pertinent to this discussion and therefore, the chapter is being confined to detailing the distinctions in the idea of feudalism as it was practised in the ancient and medieval kingdoms of India. In the early historical period in India a system of overlordship existed in a fairly open and informal manner. This evolved in the later Vedic period into a structure wherein lesser chiefs normally became tributaries of the greater ones for a number of varied reasons. The underlying reason was of course the fear of attack and absorption into the larger kingdom, thereby losing even the slightly restricted independence that the tributary status provided. In this system, the term ‘Samrat’ (loosely translatable as Emperor) implied the overlordship of a number of feudatories, held together by reasons of kinship and/or for mutual security reasons.

The first attempt at creating a centralised realm in the Indian context was undertaken by the Mauryas, and they succeeded admirably for a limited period of time. However, even the great Mauryan Empire had an outer ring of vassal kingdoms ruled by semi-autonomous kings who accepted, at times reluctantly, the ultimate suzerainty of the central Mauryan court. After the fall of the Maurya dynasty, a pan-Indian empire did not come up for a number of centuries and most of the subsequent dynasties that rose could only directly rule or administer the central core. These kingdoms were surrounded by vassal kings whose degree of subordination to the central king/emperor varied with their own importance and status. In many cases, the vassals had their own circle of vassals, mainly petty chieftains who were at times given the title of ‘raja’. This system is similar to what existed in Europe in a superficial manner, but is not exactly the same. The vassal system in Europe was the result of a contract between the states concerned. In India a vassal became one only because of being defeated in battle and being forced thereafter to pay homage to the victor in return for which the defeated king was allowed to continue on the throne. The concept of ‘dharma vijaya’ or lawful conquest did not involve the absorption of the conquered kingdom into the holding of the victor but its reduction to vassal status. Although some kings in later days ignored this tradition and annexed the defeated kingdom in direct rule, fundamental custom was against such action.

The control over vassal kings also varied a great deal, dependent upon the circumstances of the defeat and the stature of the conquered king, as well as the strategic importance of the vassal kingdom to the security and prosperity of the victorious kingdom. The ideal situation was when the vassal king paid regular tribute of a mutually agreed upon amount of treasure; raised and sustained an army with the required number of men at arms when needed; provided funds to support the war being undertaken by the suzerain; and attended the superior’s court on ceremonial occasions. Some important vassals even maintained a resident representative in the court of the controlling king in what could, in a vague manner, be considered the beginning of the practice of having ambassadors in other countries. In some cases, the education of the princes of the vassal kingdom was undertaken in the principal’s court. However, it is certain that this custom was not merely an effort at bettering the education of the vassal princes, but a calculated move to ensure that the vassal kingdom did not act against the principal by tacitly keeping the princes as hostages.

Some kings set up their ministers or senior courtiers as vassal kings of conquered lands, mostly in the outlying areas, as reward for their services to the crown. They essentially held office at the pleasure of the king. There are two other aspects that need to be mentioned regarding the concept of vassal kings. First, the vassal, especially if he became one because of a battlefield defeat, would always be looking to avenge the downfall. This could take the form of direct attacks or forming alliances and creating subterfuge against the principal king, a situation tailor made to create a sense of uncertainty all around. In cases where the vassal king was appointed by the king, it could become possible for the vassal to become powerful enough to mount a challenge for supremacy over the entire kingdom. This was one of the greatest threats faced by large empires with outlying vassal kingdoms. There have been innumerable instances of successful revolts where the vassal kingdom has declared independence and subsequently become even more powerful than the principal. This accounts for some of the dynasties controlling the outer provinces through the appointment of members of the royal family as governors, presumably because their loyalty to the king would be greater than that of an ambitious minister or courtier. The Maurya dynasty seems to have practised this pattern of governance. Second, the independence of the tributaries or vassal kingdoms increased in direct proportion to its distance from the centre of power of the principal kingdom. Some of them were almost completely independent and even indifferent to maintaining any mandatory relationship with the main kingdom. Even a cursory examination of such cases reveals that the principal king was incapable of enforcing the conditions imposed on the vassal in the first place. This situation must be taken into account to temper the proclamation of many emperors regarding the physical extent of their kingdoms. In dynasties that spanned few centuries, even if some far away kingdom had been conquered at some time in the past, it was more than likely that there was no control over those areas and that the claims of that kingdom being a vassal was just not rooted in reality.

The post-Maurya period saw the beginning of a different arrangement in the general administration of kingdoms. The king began to allocate land, in terms of a number of villages, to individuals to collect revenue on his behalf. By virtue of this important role, this position carried many other implied privileges. Fundamentally this arrangement made the individual holding the grant the intermediary between the king and the tax payer, thereby investing him in a de facto manner with the power exercised by the king. There were two fallouts from this—the individual had the opportunity to misuse the power of his position to further personal ambitions and interests; and it contributed to a gradual decentralisation of the administration, leading to instability in the long term.

The Republican Tribes

Ancient India also practised a different system of governance based on the concept of oligarchy. Although not accepted by some scholars, the term ‘republic’ has been used to describe this system. In this system a large number of people had a say in the governance of the state, and therefore it is perhaps correct to consider them republics, as much as the term oligarchy also fits them. Primarily the ‘ganas’ or tribes, found mostly in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas and in northern Bihar were ruled by council. These tribes were known for their martial ability and arrogance but were inept in dealing with the pragmatic and practical aspects of ruling a state. Although most of these tribes paid tribute to the great kingdoms of the day, they were by and large internally autonomous. The Sakya tribe, whose chieftain was the father of Gautama the Buddha, was one such.

A number of these ‘republican’ tribes came together to form confederacies, the most powerful one being the Vrijjian confederacy. The Licchavi tribe that formed the powerful foundation of this confederacy resisted the attacks and invasion of Ajatashatru for a long period of time before coming to mutually agreeable terms with him. The Licchavi tribe is reported to have had 7707 ‘rajas’, obviously the heads of the households that formed the tribe, indicating the ‘republican’ nature of the tribe’s government. The confederacies were led by a ‘raja-in-chief’ who acted as the executive head. Three different ways of how this ‘executive head’ could have been appointed have been reported. The position could have been held by any of the tribal chiefs on a rotational basis; it could have been a lifelong appointment of one chief, being passed over to another chief on the demise of the incumbent; and in some cases the position could have been hereditary to one of the more important tribes. It is interesting that the organisation of the Buddhist monastic system, thought to have been laid down by Buddha himself, is roughly based on this model. This is not surprising since he would have drawn on his experience, knowledge and understanding of this somewhat egalitarian ‘republican’ system gained while he was still a prince in the Sakya tribe. Since their system of governance was fundamentally more transparent, the confederacies must have posed a constant threat to the established kingdoms. Such a challenge is confirmed by the Arthasastra devoting an entire chapter delineating the ways in which confederacies or republican tribes could be overcome. True to form, the Arthasastra recommends sowing the seeds of discord and dissention amongst the tribal leaders as an optimum way to divide and defeat the confederacy that is being targeted. The republican organisations in the east and north of the sub-continent petered away by the time of the Buddha’s death, gradually succumbing to the greater power of more established and ambitious kingdoms.

The republican tribal tradition continued in Western India for much longer and according to coins that have been unearthed, must have been practised as late as 5th century A.D. The prevalence of republics in the west is also attested in the Mahabharata that devotes short inscriptions to their mention. The Mallava republic is mentioned as the ‘Malloi’ of Punjab in the history of Alexander’s invasion of India. They seem to have moved southwards over the centuries and established themselves in the area north of the River Narmada. This is corroborated by the coins that have been excavated in the region. An inscription in the region alludes to an ‘era handed down by the Mallava tribe’, raising the possibility that they could have been the founders of an era that was labelled Vikrama Era in later years. In Western India, the most important confederacy was that of the Yaudheyas in North Rajasthan, although details regarding their rule is scanty. By around the 4th century A.D. most of the Western tribes, confederacies and republics had succumbed to the Gupta onslaught, becoming vassal holdings and never regaining their erstwhile stature.


The king, while considered all-powerful, was exhorted to appoint councillors to assist in the administration of the kingdom. This aspect of the king being sort of ‘duty-bound’ to appoint an advisory council is further elaborated in the Arthasastra. The apex body of advisors was a small council of elder statesmen, the ‘Mantri Parishad’ or Privy Council, which was an advisory body not involved in the actual day-to-day governance of the kingdom. The number of these advisors varied but never exceeded 10 and the Parishad conducted its business in secret, providing free and open advice to the king on all matters of national importance. The Mantri Parishad could often exert great influence on the strategic decision-making process of the kingdom. In the early days when the institution was still evolving, appointment to the Mantri Parishad was based on merit and a process of selection by the incumbent members. However, over the years this process lapsed into the council membership becoming hereditary, which weakened the independence of its advice. Even then, instances wherein the Mantri Parishad was more powerful than the king, eclipsing his administrative efforts, have been reported.

Normally there was a ‘Mahamantrin’, the Great Counsellor, who headed the treasury and foreign affairs both in peace and war; and was also the judge and senior legal advisor to the king. He was also the General of the Army and led the forces in war. In effect he was the most important person in the state after the king. The Mahamantrin led an organised bureaucracy, which in most part was efficient. The public officials who ran the different departments were appointed, not elected, paid for their services, and were transferred regularly to avoid nepotism and corruption. However, like any other bureaucratic process unavoidable red tape was also part of the system. This drawback was further accentuated in later times by the king giving senior bureaucrats grants of land, at times in perpetuity, in lieu of payment leading to entrenched interests being protected at the cost of national interest and inefficiencies becoming normal.

The nation was ruled according to Dharma (an unwritten handed-down code that can be very broadly translated to mean sustained righteousness in this case, although there can be no single word that can convey the nuances that the term ‘dharma’ evokes) and established custom, which were sacrosanct and almost never violated. By and large the king did not proclaim new laws, limiting his decrees to decisions on individual cases that needed judgement. These decrees were vetted carefully before promulgation for the accuracy of the transcript and were signed by a number of witnesses, the number depending on the importance of the case and the severity of the decree. Records of all kingly decrees as well as other transactions authorised by him were diligently maintained by a dedicated team of bureaucrats.

Local Government

The kingdom was divided into provinces and further into districts for ease of administration. In early times the Provincial Government was headed by a Governor appointed directly by the king and normally belonged to inner circle of the royal family. This ensured steadfast loyalty to the king. The Governor was assisted by a council that replicated the function of the Mantri Parishad. In later years even non-royal persons were appointed to the position and the Governorship gradually became hereditary. Further, the Governors morphed into vassal kings when the central control became weak or when the Governor became too powerful for the central administration could contain. There have been instances of hereditary Governors declaring independence from the principal king who was unable to bring the errant province back into the fold.

The Provincial Governors in turn appointed District Governors who combined the judicial and administrative functions. The appointment was normally done after consultations with the leading residents of the district and taking into account their preferences and opinions. Large cities had their own councils, headed by the Nagar Palika, the City Governor, who exercised considerable autonomy in local matters. He was held responsible for all aspects of the administration of the city.

The Indian Village

The village was the basic unit of governance in ancient India. [It continues to be so even today. In some basic ways the Indian village has stayed steady at the same status and with the same functioning ethos even after two millennia have passed.] In ancient times there was no clear distinction made between village and town, with tiny settlements of a few houses as well large gatherings or groupings of even a thousand households both being officially considered a village. The village headman, assisted by a village council, was the last link in the chain of governance that had the king at the apex. The institutions of the headman and the village council continue to this day in India. The Headman, customarily a hereditary position, was normally a rich peasant of the village and was responsible for the defence of the village. Defence of the village was an important requirement since cattle-raiding was considered an ‘accepted’ activity, being given almost the same status as that of an honourable sport. However, village cattle-raids and the robust defences that were mounted to protect the herds could also lead to actual battles between villages. These minor skirmishes explain the numerous ‘Veeragal’ or ‘hero stones’ that dot the country side, especially in the Deccan, denoting the place a village warrior fell in battle ‘defending the cattle’.

While the Headman was accorded recognised power, the village council was not a formal part of the official machinery. However, it influenced all activities of the village including the decisions of the Headman. It is also believed that the council may not have been a consistently prevalent form of informal guidance in the villages of North India in ancient times. In the Peninsula and South India at times the heads of all families in the village attended the council meeting and thereafter chose a committee, normally through the drawing of lots, to address a particular issue. Similarly, it is seen that the Headman also appointed committees at his discretion to investigate challenges to the village and to recommend remedial measures. There were strict rules regarding the selection of council members: they served voluntarily in an unpaid capacity; the age limit for a councillor was fixed between 35 and 70, thereby excluding youth and extreme old age; and the normal tenure was of one year following which the person was ineligible to be part of the council for the next three years, ensuring that the role was rotated and unhealthy competition was avoided.

The village council arbitrated in disputes between individuals, families and even groups and managed the social affairs of the village, enforcing the accepted societal norms with an even hand. Their fundamental role was to ensure the status quo of the class, caste and social standing within the entire village as laid down in the ‘sacred’ laws. The village council was also responsible for recording the transactions that took place between members of the village and also between two villages. These recordings, which were normally done on the walls of the village temples, can still be seen in some places. The surviving inscriptions are a veritable treasure trove of information regarding the nitty-gritty of village life that provide a deep insight into the lives of the common people. The village council, when it was administered as it was meant to be and functioning well, can be considered the best part of ancient Indian political process and governance.

Law and the Administration of Justice in Ancient India

The Basis of Law

There is almost no information available to create a knowledge base for the understanding of the legal system that was prevalent in the Rig Vedic period. The concept of living peaceably with nature was constructed on the idea of a divine cosmic order that itself was based on the acceptance of Rta that denoted the regularity of the universal process. This belief was the forerunner of the concept of Dharma around which the entire interpretation of the Sanatana Dharma evolved. In later Vedic times, the primary basis for the creation of law was the clear understanding of Dharma. The meaning of the term Dharma is not easily translatable and could have different connotations in a contextual manner. Circumstantially it can mean righteousness, a divinely ordered norm of good conduct, or sacred law. For a number of centuries the laws governing life in the Indian sub-continent was based only on the past and currently prevailing concept of Dharma. However, as mankind ‘progressed’ there was acceptance, even if reluctant, that decadence would take place and that Dharma was not as pure as it ought to be in order to be the sole basis for the creation of law. The need for other sources of law was felt as clans and kingdoms emerged and contests for control of people and land became more intrinsic. The other bases for the development of law—contract, custom, and royal decree—had been ignored in the early years and given only limited importance even later. However, the Arthasastra iterates that royal ordnance overrides all other obligatory laws and is considered a doctrine meant to support the totalitarian rule that the Maurya dynasty tried to perpetuate.

In practice the king was considered the protector of Dharma and in some cases powerful kings were considered Dharma incarnate. Since the king was directly involved in meting out punishment to wrong-doers in accordance with Dharma, the king was also called Dharmaraja, which is also another name for Yama the God of death and the departed. The later day laws also permitted the practice of ‘danda’, literal meaning stick, but in this concept taking on the nuanced meanings of coercion, punishment, justice, fine, and even the employment of military forces, based on the context of its use. The king was therefore charged with maintaining Dharma within the status quo situation through the employment of the concept of danda. He was supposed to collect demerit points for every criminal who escaped punishment during his rule, making the capture and punishment of evil-doers and perpetrators of any sort of anti-social activity a necessity for the king’s personal salvation. It was therefore, imperative for the king to dispense justice that was impartial and timely. Even in the early days of the Indian civilisation, it was accepted that justice delayed was justice denied, with the king being held responsible for the delay in administering appropriate justice.

Incidence of Crime

Accounts written by Arab travellers, the Chinese Fa-Hsien, as well as Megasthenes unanimously claim that Indians were remarkably law abiding citizens. Megasthenes further goes on to state that the Indian society was not prone to litigation. [This is in direct contrast to the state of the Indian society now, where litigation has become the bane of any progressive action] In ancient times there were no professional pleaders and learned people of the society assisted in settling disputes, mostly out of court. The practice of employing lawyers as proxies to argue ones point of view in civil litigations was a later development. These ‘lawyers’ were paid a share of the money involved in the dispute, much like the system in place even today! While lack of litigation and reluctance to go to court could be considered the hallmarks of a peaceful and settled society in harmony with the prevailing societal norms, especially when viewed by an outsider; Indian sources mention that there was a profound sense of insecurity of life and property within the society. This could be attributed to the uncertainties brought about by nations, clans and tribes being in a constant state of war or being perpetually prepared for the next invasion.

Irrespective of what utopian accounts say regarding the ‘absence’ of crime in ancient India, it is certain that crime was part and parcel of society. Very broadly ‘crime’ could be defined as an action or even an instance of negligence that is deemed by the norms of society to be injurious to an individual, public welfare or morals or the interests of the state, and actions that are legally prohibited. Even before the advent of the Mauryan rule, there was a noticeable trend in migration from the rural areas towards the cities and towns as part of the process of poverty alleviation. Like in modern times, this migratory movement, even though miniscule in comparison, provided a natural gravitation for criminal activity to be concentrated in the areas where newcomers coalesced.

Hsuan-Tsang, the Chinese pilgrim-traveller, mentions the existence of large bandit gangs resident in villages who roved the countryside attacking unwary people and travelling groups. He goes on to state that these were hereditary bands who carried out ritual murder of the victims. [With the benefit of knowing the future in this case, these roving bandits could be considered the forefathers of later-day ‘thugs’ who practised the art of ritual murder on unsuspecting travellers as a mode of worship of Goddess Kali.] The existence of bandit groups is also mentioned in other Buddhist writings. It can be ascertained from different sources with some surety that ancient Indian kingdoms faced a serious crime challenge. However, effective kings coped with the scourge through ruthless suppression of criminal activities. This was achieved through a system of devolved responsibility that created a combined network of the military, secret service and an element of watch and ward, the precursors of today’s police force.

The Administration of Justice

In the smaller kingdoms of ancient India, the king was the sole source of justice, acting as the judge, jury and executioner. Obviously justice was swift. Over time, the delivery of justice was delegated to appointed officials with the king and the central court being used for appeal and directly dealing only with serious crimes against the state. In these circumstances the king normally appointed a legal adviser who could also double as a judge if required. The court system that emerged was flexible, but a court with a bench of judges was generally preferred rather than a single presiding judge. The judges themselves were selected from the higher rungs of society and were invariably men of great learning. They were also religious, not prone to anger and completely impartial. The judges were expected to maintain very high standards in their official and personal conduct. Ancient sources often mention the lure of bribery and of corruption amongst the judges and the steps that kings initiated to avoid such situations. The concept of divine punishment was also introduced to ensure that judges remained incorruptible.

The presentation of evidence in any case depended on the ruling by the panel of judges with only serious crimes rating the examination of all available evidence. The evidence could normally be presented only by men of good standing in society with Brahmins and government officials being exempt from giving evidence in court. The evidence given by an individual could be considered null and void if contrary evidence was provided by a person of a higher caste. Although the king had the authority to overrule this practice, it seems that this prerogative was seldom exercised. Torture of the accused to extract a confession was permitted but does not seem to have been a common practice. Similarly, ordeals by fire and immersion in water have been reported but were not common practice. [The trial by ordeals is similar to what was commonly practiced in medieval Europe and the concept may have had the same origin in the remote past. It is also mentioned in the Ramayana when princess Sita was made to undergo the fire ordeal in order to prove her innocence after being in captivity in Ravana’s palace.]

Punishments and Penalties

The origin of the concept of imposing punishment and penalties for committing a crime can be traced to two ancient customs. One, the practice of doing religious penance for ritual offences, and two, ‘wergeld’ the doctrine of paying pecuniary compensation to the victim or the next-of-kin of a crime. The early Sutras laid down in detail the fine for committing murder—1000 cows for killing a Kshatriya, 100 for a Vaisya, and 10 for killing a Sudra or a woman. [The degradation of the status of women that plagues the Indian society is not of recent origin!] Only the killing of a Brahmin was not expiated by paying a fine and the perpetrator was punished. The concept of paying compensation had the obvious advantage of buying off the vengeance of the kith and kin of the murdered person, thereby stopping further bloodshed. It is seen in later history that when the process of paying compensation was not followed rigidly, blood vendettas were carried forward for generations weakening the entire social structure. In ancient India fines atoned for almost all crimes and it is entirely possible that this system was encouraged because fines were also a great source of revenue for the state.

Although fines were the generally accepted mode of punishment, imprisonment was also a common practice. Physical mutilation and forced labour for a prescribed time in state mines was also common punishment. By the time of the Maurya Empire was established, death penalty was accepted and a number of serious offences which would be punished by death was listed. The death penalty was carried out by a number of means like beheading, hanging, burning, drowning, shot by arrows [the equivalent of present day firing squads], trampling to death by an elephant, being torn apart by oxen etc. The most common method of execution seems to have been impalement. The concept of accepting punishment was aided by the belief of rebirth and that by undergoing the prescribed punishment in this life, the evil consequences of the crime did not follow into the next life. It is noteworthy that even under Asoka’s benign rule, wherein he preached the concept of ahimsa (non-violence) even towards animals, the death penalty was not abolished. Clearly the doctrine of non-violence is not opposed to the conduct of a just war or the imposition of capital punishment to maintain law and order. [Perhaps this is something that the vociferous supporters of non-violence must understand] The opposition to the death penalty on humanitarian grounds started to be recorded and became significant only around 500 A.D. and later. Around the same time, executions started to become rare and even for murder lenient sentences were passed. This change could have been the result of two factors—the crime rate could have fallen with the rise in prosperity of the state; and perhaps more likely, this could have been the time that pacifist religions like Buddhism began to show their influence.

It was around the same time that the killing of a cow became a punishable offence and gradually became the most serious crime in almost all kingdoms. It can be reasonably assumed that such a concept was instituted to ensure that the people did not slaughter cows during times of famine and hardship because the wealth of a nation was calculated to a great extent upon the number of cattle that it owned. Killing off the cows would have therefore done permanent damage to the prosperity and status of the nation, especially after the famine was over. Over a period of time, the nexus between the king and the priest—the executive and the temporal—combined to make killing of a cow not only a legal offence but also a religious taboo. This taboo continues to this day in the practice of the Hindu religion.

The concept of equality of all human beings before the law seems to be a comparatively new idea and was not practised in ancient India. The Smritis provided detailed explanations of graduated punishments based on caste and it is clear that Asoka’s instructions about ‘Samata’ did not mean equality under the law but consistency of the law. Towards the later Vedic period, the preferential treatment of Brahmins had reached a stage wherein they claimed and got exemption from the law. Even the lower priestly class demanded and received preferential treatment under the law and justice of the land. They were not executed or tortured, irrespective of the crime that had been committed. However, in some sort of a reversal of the system, the upper classes, excluding the Brahmins, were fined progressively more for the same crime in comparison to the commoners or lower castes, as an indication of their responsibility to maintain a higher standard of conduct.


Ancient India was definitely feudal in its outlook but had developed its own unique ethos regarding the functioning of the hierarchy. The first concerted attempt at creating a centralised administration to rule a large and united kingdom that was under the effective control of a single dynasty was that of the Mauryas. For a number of years the tribes of the north and the west followed a republican system which had both advantages and disadvantages. However, in the absence of any serious validation of the concept and because of the inherent propensity of the collective leadership to be divisive through individualistic tendencies of the leaders, the Republican Tribes were driven to extinction through assimilation with larger and more powerful kingdoms.

It is noteworthy that the Indian village was the basic unit of administration in ancient times, much like it is in todays ‘modern’ India. Even the administration of the village has remained almost the same with the elders of the village forming a council to lay down the norms that are acceptable and to arbitrate in non-criminal disagreements. In ancient times, this village council was also responsible for upholding the status quo of the caste and class structure in the society. This may be one of the reasons for the Indian rural ethos to still have vestiges of the same class and caste structure, even in the 21st century, where equality of human beings is a universally accepted concept. On the other hand, breaking up the existing village structure would have disastrous consequences for the well-being of the society as a whole. Caste and class divisions still prevail in the most rural of areas in India and the answer to changing the ethos of the people lies in educating the village councils (panchayats) through calculated intervention.

Law and order was an area of great interest and importance to all ancient kings and chiefs, powerful or otherwise. A ruler was at the fundamental level responsible for the well-being of his subjects and could break this covenant only at the risk of a revolt that could lead to the loss of life of the ruler himself. Most capable kings therefore enforced fairly strict laws and also went to extreme limits to create ‘examples’ of people who went against the laws of the land or against the king’s personal commandments. Although foreign travellers have depicted Indians as being peace loving, it is more than possible that the love of peace was imposed rather than the result of greater evolution from within. The enforcement of justice was a primary role of the ruler and whoever was unable to do so found their kingdom unravelling in front of their eyes, becoming easy pickings for more competent and ambitious rulers. Ancient India was not a place for the charitable ruler to hold sway.

© [Sanu Kainikara] [2013]
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About Sanu Kainikara

Sainik School Kazhakuttam (Kerala), National Defence Academy 39/A, 108 Pilot's Course IAF, fighter pilot, QFI, FCL, psc, HACC, Voluntary Retirement as Wing Commander. Canberra-based Political and Defence Analyst specialising in military strategy, national security, and international politics. PhD in International Politics from University of Adelaide Executive Masters in Public Adminsitration (ANZSOG) Adjunct Professor, University of New South Wales, Distinguished Fellow Institute For Regional Security (IFRS) Distinguished Fellow Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS)

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