Vedic Anarchism

Once upon a time in India, voluntaryist societies existed. A voluntaristic society is that community where people transact, socialise and trade without fearing any coercion, hierarchy and taxtortion. In such a liberal society, people live tranquilly, responsibly and rationally because it empowers the cultural scope of spontaneous order and catallactic actions of all the participants or members. In today’s scenario, excluding the black markets, it is very rare to spot such open, free and transparent societies. Thanks to the government.

I am not an Indologist but I live in India. In this article, I do not intend to divulge the marketing skills of my authorship but helping my international amigos to know the features of Vedic anarchism. To begin with, the Vedas are a large body of knowledge texts originating in the ancient Indian subcontinent.

The Vedas are ancient Sanskrit texts of Hinduism. Above: A page from the Atharvaveda.

Composed in the Sanskrit language, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. Hindus consider the Vedas to be apauruṣeya, which means “not of a man, superhuman” and “impersonal, authorless”. Vedic anarchism period existed in Bhaarat (India) between 4000 BC – 500 BC. But, in today’s time, in India as elsewhere, the anarchist thought is widely misunderstood. As Bhagat Singh (1907–1931), one of the few Indian revolutionaries who had explicit anarchist leanings, put it:

The people are scared of the word anarchism. The word anarchism has been abused so much that even in India revolutionaries have been called anarchist to make them unpopular.”

Vedic anarchism is a fearless trek into the unknown. Since it throws out the imposed normative ideals of other political philosophies, Vedic anarchism prescribes complete sacrifice of the ego of a politically-driven mind. It forebodes the usual prescriptions and solutions for society’s ills and trusts the forces of cooperative effort, mutual respect, and mutualism will do better. It’s the respect for the limits of human reason, the fallibility of human power, the unlikely, but unsurpassed, power of unconscious design, the appreciation of innovation and progress brought about by forces completely out of our control and, above all, humility – the recognition of one’s own mistakes, flaws, ignorance, and inability to know the unknown.

Vedic anarchism is the “spiritual recognition” of our ultimately unprivileged position in the world, the acknowledgement of the fact that we are systematically ignorant of the crucial forces that the fabric of social life depends on, and to embrace this dynamism of life is to live happily and freely. To reject the conservatism of coercion, hierarchy, and central planning, to see that only a virtuous, impassioned people are capable of developing and maintaining the peaceful emergent orders that allow humanity to flourish requires the humility that only honest and everlasting introspective analysis can provide. Vedic anarchism emphasises that only constant self-questioning accompanied with self-improvement will reveal what our lives and our happiness ultimately count on.

Unlike the modern Western Anarchist theories, the Vedic Anarchism is a time tested and successfully established anarchist model of the ancients. The rishis (saints) who have given Vedas are the first founders of Vedic anarchist societies. They dwelled in forests outside the control of any state or governments or monarchies and enforced a values-based living through the knowledge on Rta (principle of self-regulation and universal coordination) and dharma (right way of living is achievable through non-aggression).

Unlike the Western anarchism that emphasises priority to anti-state and anti-rulers policies, Vedic Anarchism primarily deals with self-consciousness, non-hierarchical and decentralised polity, community living, and ecologically sustainable lifestyles through its varna, ashrama, dharma, and janapada system.

The term “Janapada” literally means the foothold of the people.  The Janapada system created a non-hierarchical and decentralised polity of root-level democracy.

The dharma system is wisdom in action. The wisdom that brought awareness about natural and social powers is known as Rta. This system attempted values-based living and brought ecologically sustainable lifestyles.

The dharma system is wisdom in action. The wisdom that brought awareness about natural and social powers is known as Rta. This system attempted values-based living and brought ecologically sustainable lifestyles.

The ashrama system empowered individual freedom and independent expressions. Based on the biological age, the needs and behavior of individuals are categorized as:

1) Student life,

2) Householder life,

3) Retiring life, and

4) Renouncing life.

The Vedic varna system ensured swadharma-based entitlements that brought flexibility, non-hierarchical and decentralised distribution of powers among all the communities for a balanced society, smooth inter-dependency, as well as deals with social responsibilities.

From these Vedic systems, arose the Mahajanapada system that formed the basis of all kingdoms and republics of India. This system administered the root-level distribution of political, technological, economic, and social powers.

All of the ancient Vedic period states followed grass-root democracy raising from the village communities. The Vedic polity of root-level democracy has turned the entire India as a community and village-based society. These villages were, in Vedic times, completely self-sufficient, self-governing, cooperative, nature bound and ensured complete independence from the state and its politics.

Thomas Munroe, Charles Metcalfe, and Mark Wilks are a few of the Orientalists who have eloquently described these importance village communities held in India. Because of the Janapada system, anarchism ruled the roots and roosts of India, irrespective of kings and other types of rulers. C.F. W. Hegel finds that this system ensured the whole of India and her societies not yielding to despotism, subjection, or subjugation of any rulers. Its influence is very strong and far reaching, even in the colonial period, the colonialists found that the establishment of Vedic anarchism through its village communities as the most difficult barrier to break and could not completely enforce their hegemony.

To know more about Indian anarchist thinkers, please read my reblog on Anarchy India portal.

About the author

Prof. Jaimine Vaishnav is an anarcho-capitalist based in Mumbai, India. His hobbies are about defending the liberties of all his dissents without charging any fee.

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