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Western and Indian Political Thought :

A Comparative Analysis
B.A., LL.B 2nd Semester

Submitted to- Submitted by-

Shveta Dhaliwal Ankita Mittal ( 427 )
Assistant Professor Debarati Dey ( 427 )
RGNUL Prakhar Deep ( 437 )
Anshul Gupta ( 439 )


This project is purely based on the bonafide research work carried out
under the guidance and supervision of Mrs. Shveta Dhaliwal and the same has
not been submitted anywhere for any purposes whatsoever.
Ankita Mittal

Debarati Dey

Prakhar Deep

Anshul Gupta


We take this opportunity to express our humble gratitude and personal regards to Ms.
Shveta Dhaliwal for inspiring us and guiding us during the course of this project work. We
also extend our sincere thanks to our parents and friends for the inspiration and guidance
given to us from time to time during the progress of this project work. And we also want to
extend our regards to the library staff of our university as without their help this project was
not possible.
Ankita Mittal

Debarati Dey

Prakhar Deep

Anshul Gupta

Table of Contents


TABLE OF CONTENTS...........................................................................4


CHAPTER 1.........................................................................................5


CHAPTER 2.........................................................................................7

WESTERN POLITICAL THOUGHT............................................................7


CHAPTER 3.......................................................................................13

INDIAN POLITICAL THOUGHT..............................................................13


CHAPTER 4.......................................................................................16

INDIAN POLITICAL THINKERS.............................................................16

MEDIEVAL POLITICAL THOUGHT.........................................................20

CHAPTER 5.......................................................................................27

WESTERN POLITICAL THOUGHT..........................................................27

CHAPTER 6.......................................................................................35


CHAPTER 7.......................................................................................38




Political Thought is the thought of the whole community. 1 Political Theory answers

the questions like:

a. Are all the individuals equal?

b. What comes first – ‘The State’ or ‘The Individual’?

c. How does one justify violence employed by the state?

d. Is the minority justified in dictating terms to the majority and vice versa?

These four questions would be taken up to study the theories mentioned in this project in the

later chapters but only with respect to the contemporary world.

1.1 Political Theory as a Technique of Analysis

When Aristotle remarked that the individual is a political animal, he indicated the

primacy of politics and the fact that political thinking takes place at various levels and in

variety of ways. Political theory is used either to defend or question the status quo. It is a way

to analysis the present scenario and to understand the loopholes and positive points in order to

form a mechanism which deals with the state for a step towards welfare state. Some

commentators like Goodwin emphasize the centrality of the power paradigm whereas others

like Talcott Parsons downgrade it, comparing it to money in modern politics which is very

true in case of contemporary world. Recent works by John Rawls and Robert Nozick do not

emphasize on ‘power’ at all.2 It is however interesting that Rawls talks about justice, well-
A history of political thought Plato to Marx(book), Subrata Mukherjee and Sushila
Ramaswamy (Authors), Prentice Hall of India, New Delhi(Publishers), February, 2007 (8th
edition) page no.4
page 6

ordered society, stability and efficiency without any attempt to speak about ‘Power’.

1.2 Political Theory as Conceptual Clarification

Political Theory helps to understand the concepts and terms used in a political

argument and analysis. For example: the meaning of freedom, equality, democracy, justice,

rights etc. these terms are used in daily routine and as well as in the subject. An understanding

to all these terms helps us to know the way they have been employed and distinguished from

one another, which would make the concepts and issues involved easily

1.3 Political Theory as Formal Model Building

Few theories given by the Thinkers are of great importance and could be used as a

devise to formulate a model for social working and upliftment and thereby, producing the

product of welfare state. And many theories could be used for formulation of foreign

policies or economic policies. Political Theory can help in a number of ways, e.g., Joseph

Schumpeter’s Elitist Theory of Democracy was based on the assumption that a human being

takes his economic life more seriously than the political one.

1.4 Political Theory as Theoretical Political Science

The emergence of political science in the twentieth century has led to some political

scientists to look upon political theory as a mere theoretical branch of the discipline. It is

more of an attempt made to understand the empirical structure of the society and its impact on

the individual surviving therein and hence, the world on the greater scale.



The pioneer of modern state was Machiavelli. The modern states are different from
ancient Greek city-states, Janapadas (as in Indian political vocabulary), river valley
civilizations, and political organizations. Unlike the modern states, the ancient Greek city-
states are more like city- community. The Roman used the term ‘civitas’ which means a
community who enjoys full civil rights. But some political philosophers also justify the
concept of slave-master relationship. The concept of modern state is also seen to be
nonexistence for the greatest part of the middle ages. The modern state as defined and
designed by Machiavelli, comes in a particular socioeconomic conditions. It comprises the
spirit of nation state, trade and commerce, technological development and scientific
inventions and discoveries.3

Garner defines state as ‘a community of persons, more or less numerous, permanently

occupying a definite proportion of territory, independent or nearly so, of external control and
possessing an organised government to which the great body of inhabitants render habitual

MacIver said, “the state is an association which, acting through law as promulgated by
a Government endowed to this end with coercive power, maintains within a community
territorially demarcated the universal external conditions of social order. ”

Both pluralist and international very often criticize the national state and absolute
sovereignty of the state. The pluralist believe that like any other organisation state is a plural
organisation, so the sovereign power should not be exclusively enjoyed by the particular
organisation i.e. the state. They see, that importance of other organizations, associations, their
relations with citizens as members contribute no less towards the development of the
individual and the state. Hence, the decentralization of the sovereignty.

The internationalist also argues that the absolute sovereignty of the state is a
dangerous concept. It is the root cause of international disturbances including wars. The states


should surrender their absolute sovereign power for the promotion of international peace,
international law, brotherhood and humane values of civilization.

State as Organism: This theory starts from the premise that the individual is to the state what
a bodily organ like the leg is to the human body. The bodily organ can exist and function only
in relation to the whole human body. Similarly the citizens by themselves are insufficient and
can have real existence, and function only in relation to a state. In other words the state is
prior to the individual and that the individual as a part has any meaning only in relation to the
whole i.e. the state. So a man is not man unless he is attached to a state and therefore, it is the
state that gives man his existence and makes him what he is. In short, state is the creator of
social man.

Plato and Aristotle are mainly responsible for developing the organic theory of the
State. Later, the stoics apply it to including humanity as a whole. Then this theory is adopted
by the Christian forefathers and continues to reign supreme throughout the middle ages. But
due to scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, the theory receives challenge from the
newly developed mechanistic theory of the state which comes to dominate the scene during
the period of enlightenment. However, assault on the theory comes from Rousseau and the
German Romantics during the Nineteenth Century. They reject the concept that the state is a
machine. They reiterate and reemphasize the vitality of the organic theory as against the
bloodless and soulless mechanist theory of the state. Influenced by nineteenth century
biological and twentieth century totalitarian practices, the organic theory of the State becomes
very popular with political leaders.

Thus state as an organism implies three things:

a. A close relationship of parts to the whole,

b. That the organism develops from within and

c. That the organism is an end in its own self or in the organism produced by it.4


Hegel compares the state with the Spirit, the Divine Idea on its way to Self-Knowledge. He
believes that the Spirit progresses from the inorganic world to the organic world of plants,
animals and finds its ultimate evolution in man and state.

T.H.Green, the idealistic thinker, supports this concept and regards man as partial and the
state as the fullest embodiment of the Divine Spirit.5

The State as Machine:

According to this theory the State is nothing but a creation of man. It is made as a machine to
sub serve human social ends. State is viewed as a contrivance or mechanism and man is the
artist who creates this machine. The mechanistic theory of the state assumes that the
individual is sovereign over himself. He can and does exist in his fullness without the state
which is his handiwork. The chief exponents of the concept of the state as a machine are
Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Bentham. But this theory is as old as the Greek Political
Thought itself. We find it reflected in the Sophist who believes that there are no ideal models
to copy down and the justice is made by man himself. Cicero too subscribes to it.

Hobbes, one of its strongest proponents, holds that there exists a state of nature prior
to the civil society in which the life of man is, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
Haunted by an acute sense of insecurity, man is willing to pay any price to get out of this hell
like state guided by his reason and will which man retains even in the state of nature. Despite
all deficiencies, Hobbes, therefore, decides to enter into perpetual and irrevocable contract to
form a civil society and an absolute state.

Contrasted with Hobbesian state of nature, Lockes’ state of nature in inhabited by men
who are equal, free and enjoy right to life, right to property and right to liberty. For Bentham,
the state is an artificial creation. Its aim is to promote happiness or pleasure of all its citizens
and fulfil the possible utilitarian needs. In his view societal institutions are the result of the
ever conscious will, design and planning. The state is formed to provide law and order to
human beings.

State as a Class

The state as class or class theory of the state, the state is the based on the Marxian conception
of history. The latter treats human progress as the outcome of the confrontation of opposites


in series of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. According to Marx and Engels, at every stage of
history following the stage of the primitive communism, a particular class gets controlled and
exploits the rest ‘freeman and slave, partition and plebeian, lord and serf, guild master and
journeyman’, in a word.

Thus, class theory of the state is an invitation to man to discover himself as a creature
as well as creator of needs. It aims at wiping out human misery by establishing a perfect
economic system, and perfect human being by realising all his innate potentialities.

In the contemporary western countries, the power and authority are dispersed
rather than concentrated in one sovereign. Hence, it becomes difficult to locate the source of
authority. For example, in a federal system where we shall find the ultimate authority? So, in
contemporary writings, less attention is given to legal sovereignty and coercive power as the
crucial element of political life.

But despite the absence of coercive powers, it will be erroneous to assume that the
world societies like U.N. lack political life. Both so-called stateless and world societies reveal
political structure to regulate political life of their people. But nonetheless they lack concrete
structures having binding authority over the whole society.

Modern Idealists like Rousseau, Emanuel, Kant, Hegel, T.H.Green, like Plato and
Aristotle regarded the state as an ethical institution which is indispensible for the full moral
development of the man. According to Hegel, “the state is the world, the spirit made for
itself.” The individualists hold the view that the state limits the natural freedom of the
individual and therefore, is a necessary evil.

The concept of a ‘right’ is derived from the Latin, jus or Justus meaning ‘just’ and ‘justice’.
The concept of rights has been given different meanings throughout history. Bentham and
Hobbes define rights as claims recognized by the state. These rights are maintained by the
orders of the state based on the interpretation of the judiciary. According to Laski, Right are
those conditions of social life without which no man can seek in general to be himself at his

Theory of rights

The believers of the social contract theory of the origin of state argue that certain rights are

inalienable, i.e. prior to the state. These rights are right to life, liberty and property. The
people in order to protect their rights go for the social contract amongst themselves. They
create state to protect their rights. Hobbes and Locke, the early pioneers of rights state that
rights are the gift of nature and claim of an individual. To Hobbes natural rights means the
liberty of each men to oppress the weak through the concept of that sense
he advocates only one natural right i.e. the right to life whereas John Locke, the champion of
natural rights admits that there are three fundamental rights i.e. right to life, liberty and

Rousseau in his book The Social Contract(1762) glorifies the concept of natural rights.
Rousseau and Hobbes argue in favour of surrender of natural rights for civil. The concept of
natural rights is based on laws of nature.

Theory of Legal Rights

The advocates of legal theory of rights are Betham, Hegal and Austin. They believe that rights
are granted by state and no right, as the theory of natural rights believes exist before the state.
Hobbes recognises only one fundamental right i.e. Right to self-preservation. He admits that
right can be better preserved by state than individual.

Recent Developments in Liberal-individualistic Theory of rights.

The influence of John Rawls and Robert Nozick has been crucial on the liberal-individualistic
theory of rights. They are dominant voices of the liberal tradition. They have also influenced
other contemporary writers like Dworkin, Galstone, Ackerman, Barry and like to propound
their own theories of rights. Rawls Nozick represent two dominant socioeconomic
perspectives. Nozick symbolises the classical liberal view of free market. He is a votary of
free trade capitalism and minimal state, whereas Rawls represents the Keynesian tradition of
liberal egalitarianism.6

Madan G. Gandhi, Political Theory and Thought, Pragati Publication, 2007, page 127.

Marx claims that democracy is the resolved enigma of all political constitutions, and by
democracy what he means is that in true democracy the political state as a formal apparatus
operated by the bureaucratic class, who are the universal class, disappears and what takes its
place is a conception of democracy as democratic self-determination, what he calls the
Selbstbestimmung des Volks. This leads him to a critique of Hegel’s idea of the people as
what he calls a formless mass, a sort of constitutive outside to the space of the state, it leads
Marx against Hegel to a defence of popular sovereignty and to an argument for universal
suffrage. From here, in the extraordinarily rich and speedily formulated texts of 1843 and
1844, this idea of popular democratic self-determination receives the name ‘communism’ and
I have already expressed by reservations about that name. But the thought that I want to retain
is the idea of true democracy as not being incarnated in the state, but rather enacted or even
simply acted – practically, locally, situationally – at a distance from the state. I am trying to
think of democracy as a movement of disincarnation that works concretely beneath the state’s
abstraction. It calls the state into question, it calls the established order to account, not in
order to do away with the state, desirable though that might well be in some utopian sense,
but in order to better it or attenuate its malicious effects.



Ancient Indian Political Thought has been significantly represented by the Vedas, the
Upnishads, and the other religious writings. The Manusmriti along with other Smritis, dealt
with every political institution and the entire panorama of human life vertically and
horizontally. The vertical perspective led to the concept of the state. The horizontal
perspective led to the concept of Dharma. Both these concepts were supported equally by
philosophy and science.

One of the meaning of the term ‘Dharma’ is culture. Therefore, all the characteristics of
Indian culture are the characteristics of Dharma in India. The fundamental characteristics of
Indian Culture are: religious orientation, spirituality, religious tolerance, synthetic spirit,
adaptability, freedom of thought, integral approach and most of all, unity in diversity. Dharma
is cultural organization and and spirituality. It has been equated with self-knowledge.
According to Sri Aurobindo, spirituality is the key to the Indian mind.


According to Manu, the origin of the state is marked when the creatures were dispersed in
various directions out of fear from each other, the Lord created a King for the protection of
the whole creation. He gave the idea of state of nature and the ruler being the religious figure.
Kautilya is indeed one of the earliest known political thinkers, economists, and king-makers.
For Kautilya the elements of sovereign state are the king, the minister, the country, the fort,
the treasury, the army and its ally, and the enemy. Kautilya tells that wealth and its security is
dependent on peace and industry. The traditional six forms of state policy are peace, war,
neutrality, marching, alliance, and the double policy of making peace with one and waging
war against another.

Like Vedas and the Upanishads the Gita maintains identity between man, nature and God.
This identity in the form of Brahman is the basis of harmony, integrality and justice in the
individual, society and humanity. Ultimately God is the material as well as the efficient cause
of the universe. Both man and Nature aim at realisation of divine values.

Gandhi said non-violence society will be stateless. Gandhi was opposed to the state as it was
neither natural, nor necessary institution. He rejected the state like a philosophical anarchist
on the following grounds:

1. The state is rooted in violence in concentrated and organized form. The state is a soulless
machine which can hardly be weaned from violence, to which it owes its very existence.

2. State’s coercive authority is destructive of individual’s freedom and personality.

3. In a non-violent society, state will be superfluous.

He stated “to me, political power is not an end but one of the means of aiding people
to better their condition in every department of life.” If national life becomes as perfect as to
become self-regulated, no representation is necessary. There is thus a state of lightened
anarchy. In such a state, everyone is his own ruler. He rules himself in such a manner that he
is never hindrance to his neighbor. In the ideal state, therefore, there is no political power
because there is no state.”

Secondly, Gandhian society a stateless and classless society will be composed of a number of
self-contained and self regulated village communities. Every village will have a panchayat,
having full powers of administration and capable of meeting all its essential needs to the
extent of defending itself.7


Manu’s ruler is the religious figure and the subjects obey their ruler, however, the ruler acts
with justice in his state.


However, one great slur on Indian penology is the favouritism of the higher castes and lack of
justice towards the lower castes. Different types of punishment were prescribed for the same
offences. According to Manusmriti, a kshatriya or a vaisya or shudra abusing or defaming a
Brahmin was to be respectively punished with the fine of 100 panas, 150 panas and with
corporal punishment while a Brahmin defaming a kshatriya, vaishya or shudra was to be
fined 50, 25 and 20 panas respectively or nothing in the last caste. 8 In the middle ages the
social setup was divided in accordance to the religion and then the castes in the religions. And
Manusmriti, VIII. 267-268, Yaj. II 206-07

also the modern thinkers with the idea of equality and justice for all gave the theory of equal
rights and duties.


According to Dharmashatra a king has to dispense justice, being free from anger and avarice
and in accordance to law, even though be may lose the friendship of person if his decision
goes against the latter. According to Manusmriti, the king, protecting his subject and meeting
out punishment to those who deserve it, performs every day sacrifices in which the fees are
one hundred thousand cows. Yajnavalkya also supports this view. Pointing out the duties of a
king, Manu maintains that king, when protecting his subjects against invasion, should not run
away from the battle. The kings who die fighting in battle go to heaven.

Chapter 4


Background of Indian Political Thought (Ancient)

Dharamshastra, Puranas, Vedas.

“Constitutional or Social Advancement is not a monopoly of any particular race.” - Dr. K.P.


1. Manu (Manusmriti)

a. Contents of Manusmriti : Contents of Manusmriti : Manusmriti unlike earlier Smritis

propounds not only one but four ends of life: Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.

b. Concept of the State : Its origin is marked when the creatures were dispersed in

various directions out of fear from each other, the Lord created a King for the

protection of the whole creation. Manu’s ruler is the religious figure and the

subjects obey their ruler, however, the ruler acts with justice in his state.

c. Organic Theory of State: In his Saptanga Theory he mentioned seven limbs:

i. King

ii. Minister

iii. Capital

iv. Rashtra

v. Treasure

vi. Army

vii. Ally

d. Concept of Kingship: Manu made his king, the divine itself. Manu wanted his king

to be divine and an embodiment of certain qualities:

i. Worshipper of aged Brahmans

ii. Well versed in Vedas

iii. Conquer his own senses

iv. Immune from ten vices springing from love of pleasure

v. Not to be avaricious

e. Functions of the King: According to Manu, the King has to perform executive,

judicial, ecclesiastical, revenue, military and enlightened functions.

f.Aims of the Government : The attitude of ancient political thinkers like Manu were

pragmatic as it avoided extreme of western political thought expounded by the

anarchists and the totalitarians. Manu spelled out the aims of the Government as:

i. To help the people in the accomplishment of moral righteousness

ii. To acquire wealth

iii. To help in deriving of pleasure

g. Ambassador: The ambassador conducted negotiations regarding war and peace.

h. Judicial Administration: he assigned the job of interpreting the laws to a Brahmana

though at king’s pleasure. Such a right was derived by Manu to a sudra. He stressed

that the kingdom of Monarch where sudra settled the law will ‘sink low like a cow

in a morass’.

i. Punishment: Even the punishments have been specified in Manusmriti, admonition

followed by reproof, fine and corporal punishment and banishment. Manu suggests

unjust and discriminating punishments towards lower classes.

j. Inter-State Relations

k. Role of Diplomats

l. Six fold Foreign Policy

Comparison: Manu’s views in his king were quiet similar to that of Plato’s as he made his

ruler a philosophical king and Manu’s king also had all the knowledge as he made sure that

his King was well versed with Vedas and Upnishads.

2. Kautilya (Arthashastra)

a. Concept of State

Kautilya is indeed one of the earliest known political thinkers, economists, and

king-makers. He wrote down his thought in Arthasastra.. It contains all components to

establish a strong state. For Kautilya the elements of sovereign state are the king, the

minister, the country, the fort, the treasury, the army and its ally, and the enemy. A good

king is described as born of a high family, he is godly, virtuous, courageous, truthful,

grateful, ambitious and enthusiastic. Kautilya tells that wealth and its security is

dependent on peace and industry. The traditional six forms of state policy are peace, war,

neutrality, marching, alliance, and the double policy of making peace with one and

waging war against another. He believes that peace dependent on honesty or oath.

Kautilya values wealth most of all, for with money one can bye treasure and an army. He

also says that king should follow the will of the people. According to Kautilya spies

should be used to persuade the local leaders of the hurt inflicted on enemies in contrast to

the god treatment they received from their conqueror.

b. Saptang Theory: The seven theories as enumerated by Kautilya represent all the

four essential features of the state; territory, population, unity and organization. The

king heads the list of seven constituent elements of the state. The king of Kautaliya

should be enthusiastic, morally correct, grateful, man of his words. Next Kautilya

mentions the intellectual qualities such as ability to learn understand and reflect and

discuss.. Kautilya for the first time formulates and integrated scheme of education,

for the simultaneous development of the king’s intellect and character, he is the

guardian of law not its maker, and Plato’s idea of Philosopher King can be related to

Kautliya’s idea of educating his King but Kautilya did not give the lawmaking

powers to his King whereas Plato’s Philosopher was had absolute power and was

not even bound by any law, his King was higher then the law. According to

Kautilya, the foremost duty of a king is protection of the people. The duties of king

include ensuring yogakshema to the subjects. The word yogakshema as acquisition

of what has not acquired(yoga), and preservation of what has been

acquired(kshema). The word yogakshema implies the material welfare, prosperity

and happiness of the people. It is the duty of the state to maintain minors, aged

persons and in distress when they have no one to look after them.

c. Origin of the State: Kautilya is indeed one of the earliest known political thinkers,

economists, and king-makers. His writing contains all components to establish a

strong state. For Kautilya the elements of sovereign state are the king, the minister,

the country, the fort, the treasury, the army and its ally, and the enemy. A good king

is described as born of a high family, he is godly, virtuous, courageous, truthful,

grateful, ambitious and enthusiastic. Kautilya tells that wealth and its security is

dependent on peace and industry. The traditional six forms of state policy are peace,

war, neutrality, marching, alliance, and the double policy of making peace with one

and waging war against another. He believes that peace dependent on honesty or

oath. Kautilya values wealth most of all, for with money one can bye treasure and an



“In the whole would there is no other country like India. We are sometimes world teachers....”

Is there Gandhism?

Mahatma Gandhi well known as the Father of the Nation, live in this age of Cross-egoism and

strong Manchestarism as a messiah of peace and love. Being a man of action, he coined

certain principles which he rigidly followed to attain swaraj, the most cherished dream of his

life. All these principles put together, have been described by some of his admires as his

political philosophy. Mahatma Gandhi did not like these principles to be attributed to him, as

his political philosophy or thinking. His ideas were not rigid. He avoided extremes and with

an open mind accepted other’s view if he found them appealing and convincing. Gandhi

learnt from Islam also the lesson of no-violence. The very word Islam meant peace, safety and

salvation. Besides, some secular writers like Thoreau, Ruskin and Tolstoy influenced

Gandhiji a great deal.

Gandhi, religion and politics

Gandhi was not a politician, in the Machiavellian sense. Religion is alien to the politicians

who cherish materialistic values and are imbued with the ideas of domination and control over

economically underdeveloped peoples. Gandhi spiritualized politics. He did not separate


religion from politics. “In fact he made successful attempt to provide synthesis of religion and

politics. He based all the social and political doctrines on the spiritual and religious view of

life. He stood for a life of strenuous, dynamic, morally oriented activity which involved quest

of the good of one’s soul and mankind and the eradication of wrong and injustice.

Non-violence (Ahimsa)

The greatest contribution to politics in particular and life in general was his interpretation of

Non-violence and its applicability in the modern age of incessant wars and bloodshed. To

Gandhi, “Non-violence is not a mere philosophical principle, it is the rule and breath of my

life… it is a matter not of the intellect but of the heart.” His non-violence is rooted in Indian

doctrine of Ahimsa. A harsh speech is a form of non-violence. To think badly of others is

non-violence. A non-violent man does not consider anyone his enemy. He bears no ill-will

against anyone. “Non-violence is the law of our species as violence is the law of brute. The

spirit lies dormant in the brute and he knows no law but that of physical force. It is the goal

towards which all mankind moves naturally, though unconsciously.”

Non-violence is the creed of the brave and not of the timid. It does not mean meek surrender

or submission to the will of the evil-doer. Satyagraha which means resistance to evil with the

moral and spiritual force. Moral force or firmness in the vindication of truth.

Requisites of Ahimsa (Non-violence)

1. Truth

2. Inner purity

3. Fasting

4. Fearlessness

5. Non-possession

6. Perseverance

Non-violence, Satyagraha and passive resistance

Gandhiji’s philosophy of Non-violence has passed through four phases. There is a

marked difference between Satyagraha as a component Non-violence and passive

resistance. First passive resistant is not completely Non-violent. Secondly passive

resistance may mean use of compulsion against a person for whom it is to be resorted to,

while Satyagraha believes in infliction of self-suffering. Thirdly Satyagraha aims at the

change of heart of the opponent but passive resistance aims at embarrassing his opponent

into submission. Fourthly Satyagraha is actuated by the principles of love and charity

whereas passive resistance may be motivated by jealousy. Fifthly Satyagraha is a weapon

of the brave and is positive whereas passive resistance is an instrument of the timid and is

as such negative.


The idea and practice of Satyagraha constitutes the heart and soul of Gandhism and is in

fact Gandhi’s unique contribution. It inculcates ‘agraha’ or mortal pressure for the sake of

truth. It is technique of resisting all that is evil, unjust, impure or untrue by love, self-

suffering, self-purification and by appealing to the divine spark in the soul of opponent.

Gandhi’s theory of Satyagraha is based on the concept of sufferings. Sufferings,

according to him serve these purposes-1. It purifies the sufferer 2. It intensifies favorable

public opinion. 3. It makes a direct appeal to the soul of the oppressor. According to

Gandhi, no country has ever risen without being purified by the fire of suffering. Gandhi

prefers the term “Satyagraha” to passive resistance as the designation of his instrument

for political transformation. He is prepared to suffer physical injury at the hands of the

opponent so that the spirit of self sacrifice may away the conscience of the opponent and

make him see the truth.

Forms of Satyagraha

Satyagraha can be resorted through non-cooperation, civil disobedience, fasting,

peaceful picketing, strike etc.


Gandhi was of the view that a government can perpetuate injustice only when the

people of a country co-operate with it. Non-cooperation of the people is apt to

paralyze government. Non-cooperation may be resorted to in the form of hartal, social

ostracism or picketing. Though it seems a mid technique, it can prove to be a potent

one when undertaken on a mass scale.

Civil Disobedience

Gandhiji made significant contributions to making Civil Disobedience recognizable

subject in political theory. He defined Civil Disobedience as the breach of unmoral

statutory enactments. He regarded it as a complete effective and bloodless substitute

for armed revolt. According to him, “Disobedience” to be civil must be sincere,

respectful, restrained, never defiant, must be based upon some well-understood

principle, must not be capricious and must have no ill-will or hatred behind it.

Ends and Means

An end is something we want to secure and the means represent the ways in which we

Endeavour to attain it. Gandhiji was an ethical absolutist. Closely connected with his

insistence on non-violence is his emphasis on the requirement that our means must be

moral. He was of the view that immoral means cannot lead to truth and justice. As the

means so the end. Moral means will inevitably lead to a moral end. He was of the

view that if one takes care of the means, the ends will take care of themselves. He

emphasized that the attempt made to win Swaraj is Swaraj itself.

Relating means to ends is the greatest contribution of Gandhi to political theory.

According to Horace “to the world as a whole Gandhi stands as the prophetic voice of

his generation, indeed of this century who consistently advocated non-violent action

as the right means to use in combating every injustice, for righting every wrong”.

Prior to Gandhi, Plato and green also established an intimate connection between

politics and ethics. They also viewed the state as moral association aiming at the

moral good of the citizens who are moral agents. But neither of the two idealist

thinkers had gone so far as Gandhiji is holding the view that not only the ideal form

of social organizations but our daily social and political conduct should be based on

truth and non-violence.


Firstly his non-violence society will be stateless. Gandhi was opposed to the state as it

was neither natural, nor necessary institution. He rejected the state like a

philosophical anarchist on the following grounds: 1. The state is rooted in violence in

concentrated and organized form. The state is a soulless machine which can hardly be

weaned from violence, to which it owes its very existence. 2. State’s coercive

authority is destructive of individual’s freedom and personality. 3. In a non-violent

society, state will be superfluous. He stated “to me, political power is not an end but

one of the means of aiding people to better their condition in every department of

life.” If national life becomes as perfect as to become self-regulated, no representation

is necessary. There is thus a state of lightened anarchy. In such a state, everyone is his

own ruler. He rules himself in such a manner that he is never hindrance to his

neighbor. In the ideal state, therefore, there is no political power because there is no


Secondly, Gandhian society a stateless and classless society will be composed of a

number of self-contained and self regulated village communities. Every village will

have a panchayat, having full powers of administration and capable of meeting all its

essential needs to the extent of defending itself.10

1. M.N. Roy: M.N. Roy was India’s first communist theorist who attempted to apply

Marxism liberation from foreign rule. Roy's approach is summarised by Justice

Tarkunde: "A humanist revolution, which is designed to achieve the ideal of

comprehensive democracy, must necessarily partake of the character of the ideal. A

humanist revolution is also a path to be traversed rather than a goal to be achieved. A

Radical Humanist who traverses the way to a humanist revolution is, therefore,

succeeding all the time".11

a. Radical Humanism: To began with Roy was a Marxist. But later he

transformed into a radicalism. So, he started opposing Marx on the following

grounds: firstly, Roy did not regard surplus value as a peculiar characteristic of

capitalist society. Secondly, he did not accept Marxian interpretation of history

as it made inadequate allowance for the role of mental activity in the historical
Indian Political Thought, N Jayapalan, Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi,
2003, p. 203.

process. Thirdly, he regarded ethical foundations of Marxism weak as they are

dogmatic and their religious basis is untenable. Fourthly, he denounced Karl

Marx’s liberal concept of individualism. 12

Comprehensive History of Political Thought, N.Jayapalan, Atlantic Publishers and
Distributors, 2001, page 355



The earliest philosophers are Thales according to whom water was the origin of the world,

Anaximander (6th century BC) who maintained that the origin was the Indefinite and

Anaximenes (6th century BC) who maintained that air was the source of the world.

Pythagoras maintained that the origin of the universe is Number. Reason, is therefore the

source of the world for mathematics is the subject of pure reason apart from sense.

According to Heraclitus (5th century BC) sleep is better than life and death. This reminds us

of the Mandukya Upanishad which says that the soul becomes prajna in deep sleep,

consciousness solid, integrated and is full of bliss.


According to Barker, “Political thought begins with the Greeks. Its origin in connected with

the calm and clear rationalisation of Greek mind,”

According to Maxey, “It cannot be said about Hindu political thought, but the extent of their

influence upon the past and present, and possibly upon the future, political life of India, no

western mind is wholly competent to measure.”

Greece is called ‘a laboratory of political experiment’, due to the following reasons:

1. Greece abounded with city-states

2. Ancient Greece presented a picture of flux

3. Greek outlook was rational


Greek Thinkers laid their main attention towards nature of the state and to man as a political

animal, man can realize himself only through membership of the state. Greek thinkers

discussed liberty, education and fundamental questions of political obligations and revolution

etc. They examined carefully the various grounds on which different social classes based their

claims to political authority. They also tried to find out the ways by which government can be


6.1. Nature of City- State: About 1500 B.C., Aryan nomads conquered the region of Aegean.

As military masters, the Aryan raiders settled down upon the pre-Hellenic social order. The

rivalry of kinsmen did not encourage voluntary unification. Hence, separation became the

very keynote of their behaviour. Greek state was a community, a true commonwealth or


6.2. Common Life: A modern city like Calcutta, Bombay, Delhi or Chennai or New York is a

huge congregation of men living in a given area brought together mainly due to economic

needs. In such cities persons living in the same building do not know one another. But in a

Greek city state citizens used to share a common life or purpose.

6.3. Institution of Slavery: after the completion of the conquest, Aryan conquerors became

free citizens while the conquered aboriginal population was reduced to the status of serfdom

or slavery. No slave could be a part of a public assembly, cast a vote, hold an office, appear in

a court of law or enjoy any privileges of membership in the body politic. Aristotle explicitly

justifies slavery as a necessary institution. Plato nowhere condemned it. As labour, it was

performed by slaves .

1. Plato : Plato has been generally regarded as the founder of philosophical idealism by

virtue of his conviction that there is a universal idea in the world of eternal reality

beyond the world of the senses. He was the first to formulate and define political ideas

within a larger framework of a philosophical idea of Good.13

a. Philosopher Ruler: Plato’s head of the state was a philosopher ruler, who had

the knowledge, intellect and training to govern. According to him, ruling like

any other task requires skill and qualifications as its aim was general well

being of all. On Glaucon’s insistence, Socrates defined a philosopher as one

who loved wisdom, had passion for knowledge, was always curious and eager

to learn. Following Socrates, Plato believed that the Ideal was Real. A

philosopher by his grasp of the Idea of Good was best qualified to rule. A

philosopher should be devoid of any emotional ties and economic

considerations, which is elaborated in his Theory of Communism of Wives and

Property, dealt later in the chapter.

b. Justice: An Ideal State for Plato possessed the four cardinal virtues of wisdom,

courage, discipline and justice. It would have wisdom because its rulers were

persons of knowledge, courage because its warriors were brave, self-discipline

because of the harmony that pervaded the societal matrix due to a common

agreement as to who ought to rule.

c. Theory of Three Classes: Plato divided his State into three classes, first being

the Philosopher King, the second being, the auxiliaries and the third stage were

the workers who producers of the consumable goods. He also discriminated

among the upper two classes and lower class. The upper two classes were

given a chance to education but the lower had no privilege to be educated and

A history of political thought Plato to Marx, Subrata Mukherjee and Sushila Ramaswamy ,
Prentice Hall of India, New Delhi, February, 2007, p.49.

they cannot participate in any public meetings.

d. Community of Wives and Property: Plato abolished private family and

property among the guardian class, for they encouraged nepotism, favouritism,

factionalism and other corrupt practices. Plato proposed strict regulation of

sexual intercourse, which was to be performed in the interest of the state by

ensuring that the best and fittest of the human stock was made available. The

philosopher ruler who decide on sexual unions.

According to Plato only a perfect type of education may create perfect state. The

political authority should be blended with broadest knowledge and culture and the

philosopher should be the embodiment of highest political virtue, spirit, swiftness and

strength. He should represent the knowledge in action. The guardians must be given

special training. The system of education outlined above was meant to produce such a

selfless ruling class.14

2. Aristotle: Aristotle has been regarded as the “Father of Political Science” as he was

the first to analyse critically and systematically, the then existing constitutions and

classify them. Aristotle regarded political science as the master science. Plato was an

idealist and radical, whereas Aristotle is realist and a moderate.

a. Origin of the State: Aristotle attempts at tracing it from two angles:

i. Historical: He first talks of family. To him family is an association of

husband, wife, children and slaves. They have no doubt a natural desire to

continue their race by leaving “behind them on image of themselves.” The

union of families with the purpose of aiming at something more then the

supply of daily needs makes a village. Similarly, when several villages

come together to the extent of making self-sufficient and continuing its

existence for the sake of good life, the state is born.

ii. Psychological: Man is a political animal by nature. He has an end to

achieve good life- physically, mentally and morally – since he is distinct

from other beings by virtue of his rational nature. His rationality drives

him to form a state.

b. Constitution of the State: Aristotle, like Plato, gave three division of state.

They are citizens, middle class, and slaves. The citizens own land and enjoy

political rights. The middle class practices industry and commerce and enjoy

civil rights. The slaves have neither civil nor political rights.

c. Education: The realization of education is as old as knowledge itself. Aristotle

who realizes that end of the state is the good life of its citizens, says good life

can be attained with the help of education as well. So education must be the

monopoly of the state.

d. Private Property: Aristotle has a strong defense in favour of private property

system. Aristotle says that property is an instrument and a necessary

instrument to good life. He strongly pleads that the citizens must be owners of

property for such a status enables them to develop their personality and good

life. However, he proposes that each citizen should have that much of property

which enables him to live temperately.

e. International Relations: Aristotle is conscious that his state cannot exist alone;

on the other hand it should co-exist with other states while doing so war is

inevitable. However, he says that war is not the end of the state; on the

contrary it is only a means of peace and good life of the state. His aim is

internal and international peace.

3. Thomas Aquinas

By profession, Aquinas was a theologian rather than a philosopher. Indeed he

nowhere characterises himself as a philosopher, and the references to philosophers

found in his own work refer to pagans rather than Christians. Nonetheless much of his

work bears upon philosophical topics, and in this sense may be characterized as

philosophical. Aquinas' philosophical thought has exerted enormous influence on

subsequent Christian theology, especially that of the Roman Catholic Church,

extending to Western philosophy in general. Aquinas stands as a vehicle and modifier

of Aristotelianism, Augustinian Neoplatonism and Proclean Neoplatonism.15

a. Theory of Knowledge: Thomas Aquinas was the first to recognize the fact that

Aristotelian intellectualism would be of great help for the study of philosophy

as well as theology. But the introduction of Aristotle's works involved the

solution of the disputed question of the relationship between philosophy and

theology. There are two different types of knowledge: sense knowledge and

intellectual knowledge. Sense experience is the beginning for all of man's

natural knowledge. It begins in the senses, and is completed in the intellect.16

b. Theology: Aquinas viewed theology, or the sacred doctrine, as a science, the

raw material data of which consists of written scripture and the tradition of the

Catholic Church. These sources of data were produced by the self-revelation of

God to individuals and groups of people throughout history. Faith and reason,

while distinct but related, are the two primary tools for processing the data of

theology. Aquinas believed both were necessary — or, rather, that the

confluence of both was necessary — for one to obtain true knowledge of God.

Aquinas blended Greek philosophy and Christian doctrine by suggesting that

rational thinking and the study of nature, like revelation, were valid ways to

understand truths pertaining to God. According to Aquinas, God reveals

himself through nature, so to study nature is to study God. The ultimate goals

of theology, in Aquinas’ mind, are to use reason to grasp the truth about God

and to experience salvation through that truth.

c. Law and Justice: According to Aquinas, there is a four fold classification of

law: eternal, natural, human and divine. The eternal law is the controlling plan

of the universe existing in the mind of God. Natural law is the participation of

ma, as a rational creature in the eternal law through which he distinguishes

between good and evil and seeks his true end. Human law is the application, by

human reason of the precepts of natural law to particular earthly conditions.

The Divine law is that through which the limitations and imperfection of

human reason are supplemented and man is infallible and directed to super

mundane end eternal blessedness; it is the ‘Law of Revealation’.

4. Montesquieu: He believed political freedom could be created by separating political

powers into different branches, and he developed the political theory of 'checks and

balances' that became an important part of the American Constitution.

a. His views on Law: Montesquieu does not believe in abstract justice. He,

however believes that the basic principle of law and justice exist in nature. But

he is of the opinion that the teaching of nature are to be found “not in


deduction from assumption based on reason, but in the facts of history of the

actual working of political life.” Man is governed by two different sets of law:

i. Law established by God or Natural Laws.

ii. Laws made by man or Positive Laws:

1. International Law: International Law arises out of the relation

of one state with other states.

2. Political Law: Law governing the relation between the

individuals and the government is called political.

3. Civil Law: The relations between the citizens of the same state

are regulated by civil law.17

b. Separation of Powers: According to Montesquieu, separation of governmental

powers into executive, legislations and judicial organs is the best guarantee for


Comprehensive History of Political Thought, N.Jayapalan, Atlantic Publishers and
Distributors, 2001, p.166



2.1. Naturalism: Greek philosophy started as a kind of naturalism as the distinction between

mind and matter was not clearly recognized that time, now called Materialism by some

philosophers with a scientific basis. But we must note that a naturalism that does not

distinguish between mind and matter has an equal possibility of developing into materialism

or spiritualism. Indians and the Chinese worshipped elements of nature too. The Greek Gods

were natural Gods (like the early Indian Gods). The Water of Thales was considered God.

Hercaclitus said that reality is change and identified it with fire, which he treated as God. Fire

is one of the five elements of nature worshipped by the Vedic people, is a part of most Indian

marriages. And also the first lawgiver, according to Hindu Mythology, ‘Manu’ is progenitor

of Gods of the land.

2.2. Equality: Looking at life from a materialistic perspective, the West felt the need to find

a tool to unify its people, so was enunciated the concept of Equality. In India, it is believed

that there is an eternal consciousness in man that is common to every individual, rich or poor.

Man’s physical existence is a result of his Karmas and Samskaras.Since every human being

has a soul, equality is an essential part of Indian philosophy.

2.3. Theology: In the early scriptures of both Ancient Greece and India, God appears merely

as the personification of atmospheric phenomenon. The life of the early communities of

herdsmen and of the agriculture community was chiefly influenced by those elemental facts of

Nature on which they depended: the alternation of day and night; the visible signs of which

are sun, moon and stars; favourable or adverse weather conditions, thunderstroms and winds,

rain and drought. These external phenomena, on which depended the prosperity and often,

indeed, the very fate of Man, could not be altered and directly modified by primitive Man.

The feeling that he was completely dependent on these outward processes, therefore, rendered

Man humble in the face of the uncontrollable forces of Nature. Prompted by a powerful

instinct of self-preservation, however, Man attempted to establish some sway over them by

worshipping and placating the mighty being which, he believed, were incorporated in

atmospheric forces, by the acknowledgment of their dominion, resigned submission to their

authority and perhaps the utilitarian desire to gain their assistance and favour by satisfying

and strengthening them by means of libations. It is this attitude, then, that we invariably find

underlying all primitive worship.

Another mode of divine worship practised in ancient Greece, and preserved also for

ages in India, is the veneration, allied however with fear, of powerful beasts; and thus the

Gods in animal form, the Greek Satyr, a combination of Man and animal, have had their

equivalents in Indian religions at all times; the elephant-god, the snake gods and goddesses,

the vulture-god, or the more beneficent deities who assumed the shape of a bull, a cow or

monkey; in the main, symbols of wealth and fertility.

But while this conception of diety maintained its dominance over India, in the West it

was soon abandoned. For at the very period when the Sophistic outlook was developing, that

is about 500 B.C a single paramount principle was postulated as ruling the Universe, at least

by the more advanced Greek thinkers, although the masses remained much longer content

with an indiscriminate diversity of Gods.

2.4. Ethics: In the first place we must consider two different concepts of Individuality: that of

India’s cosmic Philosophy and that of the anthropologically determined West. In India, then

the individual is always part and parcel of the Whole. Man, most closely woven into the

Universal Cosmic network, is subject to precisely the same biological laws of growth and

decay as all other forms. According to India’s Cosmic outlook the individual does not stand in

splendid isolation; he is not the all powerful Man, of ancient Greece.

2.5. Dharma: The Indian Dharma be identified with none of the Western concepts of duty.

For while it imposes on Man obligations towards non-human beings, it is by no means akin to

the Christian idea of obedience and humility towards Deity, since Dharma prescribes not only

the acknowledgment of obligations towards higher, a supreme Being, but also towards lower

beings, and this again not as a mode of indirect worship of a creator. Dharma, moreover, is

not only negative obligation, in the guise of the restraints of duty, but is equally the sustaining

influence of right.

2.6. Liberty: Raja Ram Mohan Roy was a passionate lover of liberty in all the sphere of life

like Voltaire, Montesquieu and Rousseau. He declared the essential divinity of man as man.

Man was by his nature and constitution, ‘eternally free’. To deny this freedom was an out rage

upon his nature and a sin against his maker.




In these dark times, in these times of war, in this period of the increasingly desperate shoring
up of the imperium as the provinces burn and our leaders see enemies everywhere, even in
their sleep; in these dark times, we can no longer trust our political destiny to quasi-automatic
inner contradictions of socio-economic laws of motion, a spontaneously emerging social
movement that would lead to the overthrow of the state. Nor can our guide in politics be some
set of ontological or metaphysical presuppositions, whether Marx’s notion of species-being or
Negri’s idea of the emancipatory effulgence of the multitude. The revolution is not going to
be generated out of systemic or structural laws. We are on our own and what we do we have
to do for ourselves. Politics requires subjective invention. No ontology or eschatological
philosophy of history is going to do it for us. Working at a distance from the state, a distance
that I have tried to describe as democratic, we need to construct political subjectivities in
specific situations, subjectivities that are not arbitrary or relativistic, but which are
articulations of an ethical demand whose scope is universal and whose evidence is faced in a
situation. This is dirty, detailed, local, practical and largely unthrilling work. It is time we
made a start.

1. Chopra .J.K, Contemporary Political Thought, Book Enclave, Jaipur 2003

2. Gandhi.G Madan, Political Theory and Thought, Daryaganj, New Delhi, 2007.

3. Jayapalan.N, Indian Political Thinkers, Mhera Offset Press, Delhi, 2000.

4. Ramaswamy, Rama, Political Theory Ideas and Concepts, Daryaganj, New Delhi,

5. Sharma Urmila, Indian Political Thought, Delhi, 2006.

6. Varma.V.P, Ancient and Medieval Indian Political Thought,Agra,2006.