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Ideal Society Of The Ramayana - Sister Nivedita

The ideal society of the Ramayana, Sister Nivedita points out, is based on dharma. In the society that Valmiki contemplates, ‘the severity of social discipline increases towards the summit: those who have the greatest power must practice the greatest self-restraint, partly because of noblesse obligepartly because such austere discipline is the necessary condition without which power would rapidly melt away’.

Over against this human world of the silver age is drawn the sinful and inhuman world of the rakshasas, where greed and lust and violence and deceit replace generosity and self-restraint and gentleness and truth. But these evil passions are outwardly directed against men and gods and all those who are, for the rakshasas, aliens: amongst themselves there are filial affection and the uttermost of wifely devotion, there are indomitable courage and the truest loyalty. The city of the rakshasas is pre-eminently fair, built by Vishvakarman himself; they practice all the arts; they worship the gods, and by austerity and penance win great gifts of them: in other words, they flourish like the bay-tree, and if they are evil, at least they are not ignoble. Amongst them are found some, like Vibhishana, not evil at all. After all, then, these rakshasas are not inhuman at all, but their estate is the image of the adharmic, unrighteous, aspect of human society — an allegory which we should all understand were it presented to us today for the first time, like the Penguins of Anatole France.