Law is the king of kings; nothing is superior to law;
The law aided by the power of the king enables the weak to prevail over the strong.
Commenting on the above provision, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan observes-
“Even Kings are Subordinate to Dharama, to the Rule of Law.”
Having evolved the concept of enforceability of the law through the institution of kingship, ancient Indian jurist proceeded to define the law. Law was recognized as a mighty instrument necessary for the protection of individual rights and liberties. Whenever the right or liberty of an individual was encroached by another, the injured individual could seek the protection of the law with the assistance of the king, however powerful the opponent (wrong doer) might be. The power of the king (State) to enforce the law or to punish the wrong doer was recognized as the force (sanctions) behind the law which could compel implicit obedience to the law.
There is hardly an individual in this world, who on his own, is pure in his conduct.
King’s (Sovereign’s) power to punish, keeps the people in righteous path. Fear of punishment (by the king) only yields worldly happiness and enjoyment.
Surereshwaracharya, the first head of Sringeri Mutt established by Sankara, defines Sovereignty thus-
Here (in this world) he who has none else as his king and who is himself the king is the sovereign. And his status here is described as sovereignty.
While Dharama touches on wide varieties of topics, the essence of Dharma is also declared by the various works.
Mahabharatha Shanti Parava: 60, 7-8:
Truthfulness, to be free from anger, sharing one’s wealth with others, forgiveness, procreation of children from one’s wife alone, purity, absence of enmity, straightforwardness, maintaining persons dependent on oneself are the nine Dharamas of persons belonging to all the varnas. (Yaj. 1-122 is similar).
Manu Smriti- 63:
Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non coveting the property of others), Shoucham (purity), and Indriyanigraha (control of senses) are, in brief, the common Dharma for all the varnas. (Vasishta, p. 26-4, Vishnu, p. 13-17 are similar)
The principles set out above are fundamental and have manifested themselves through various provisions meant to sustain the life of the individual and the society.
It is for this reason, all the works on Dharma declare with one voice that Dharma is that which sustains the world.
Every act or conduct which was in disobedience to rules of Dharma was called Adharma and was declared to be injurious to society and the individual.
In this regard Taitiriya Samhita states:
Dharma constitutes the foundation of all affairs in the world. People respect on who adheres to Dharma. Dharma insulates (man) against sinful thoughts and actions. Everything in this world is founded on Dharma. Dharama, therefore, is considered supreme.
With all above discussion being a teacher of Law we convey the message for all concern:
“Dharma protects those who protect it. Those who destroy Dharma get destroyed. Therefore Dharma should not be destroyed so that we may not be destroyed as a consequence thereof.”
Manu Smriti VIII-15