[Sri Aurobindo on the nature of true democracy
by Paulette Auroville Today August 2004
Sri Aurobindo saw history as unfolding cycles... Ancient India was the repository of the highest form of democracy: the Sacred determined the political and social order... Before the sixth century B.C there were republican states as well, contemporary to the Greek city-states; those with a strong organisation lasted until the beginning of the Christian era. Afterwards these too were replaced by the monarchical state. In the simpler as in the complex polities none of the social orders was predominant; nor was uniformity needed. The social, political and economic dharma and its artha shastra harmonised the pre-existent patterns with newly evolved ones. The State stood for co-ordination, with no right of infringing on the autonomous functioning of the varnas (social classes), kulas (clan families), sanghas (spiritual communities) or any polity. From king to servant, all were bound to maintain the dharma.
At a latter stage the rishis envisaged a unifying political rule by a universal emperor (cakravartin), yet without destroying the self-governance of the autonomous polities; although there is no evidence of its application. ]
Such neat visualisations evoke suspicion. [TNM]