A Ruler's Role

Meeting Regal Obligations

In India, rulers were expected to exercise rajadharma, meaning the duties and behaviors appropriate to a king, which included:

Military and Hunting Skills: In ancient Indian texts, rulers belonged to the warrior social group, whose primary duty was to fight in order to protect the kingdom; sometimes even royal women were trained in martial arts. Hunting provided the king with practical experience for war.

Administrative and Diplomatic Duties: A ruler conducted state business in the form of a durbar (royal assembly). Official and nobles attended, and the proceedings were governed by strict protocol that varied slightly by region. Many royal courts also held public audiences at which ordinary citizens could present petitions, disputes, and other matters directly to the ruler.

Religious Rituals: To meet the needs of his people, a ruler might build places of worship in support of other faiths, and donate funds to maintain shrines dedicated to saints and holy men.

Artistic Endeavors: Royal responsibilities were also met through the patronage of poets, musicians, architects, artists, and craftsmen.

Through these acts, the ideal ruler created a stable environment in which his people could fulfill their individual obligations to perform religious duties, earn an honest living, enjoy the pleasures of life, and attain salvation, as prescribed in the ancient texts.