Monday, August 15, 2005

Separation of Church / Temple and State / Rashtra

In The Clash of Civilizations, Samuel Huntington observes that the separation of spiritual and temporal authority appears to be a practice and belief that both Western and Hindu civilizations have in common: (Emphasis added.)
Throughout Western history first the Church and then many churches existed apart from the state. God and Caesar, church and state, spiritual authority and temporal authority, have been a prevailing dualism in Western culture. Only in Hindu civilization were religion and politics also so distinctly separated. In Islam, God is Caesar; in China and Japan, Caesar is God; in Orthodoxy, God is Caesar's junior partner. The separation and recurring clashes between chruch and state that typify Western civilization have existed in no other civilization. This division of authority contributed immeasurably to the development of freedom in the West. (Huntington 70)
Clashes between spiritual and temporal authority are also to be found in the history of Hindu civilization. Two scriptural references from the Bhagavata Purana include the destruction of the kshatriya (warrior) order (all the kings in the world) by Parashurama, a brahmana (priest) and incarnation of Vishnu. Then there is also the killing of King Vena by the brahmanas on account of Vena's atrocities. Probably the best known example in recorded history was the successful dethronement of King Dhananand of the Nanda dynasty by Chanakya Pandit (a brahmana scholar). The Nandas were the rulers of Magadha, a powerful kingdom in what is now Bihar, India. In Dhananand's place, Chanakya Pandit installed Chandragupta Maurya, who was also Chanakya's student from boyhood.

Works Cited

Huntington, Samuel. The Clash of Civilizations. First trade paperback edition. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003.
Prabhupada, A.C. Bhaktivedanta. Srimad-Bhagavatam. 4 Jul 2004. Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network. 14 August 2005. <http://vedabase.net/sb/4/14/en1>
Prabhupada, A.C. Bhaktivedanta. Srimad-Bhagavatam. 4 Jul 2004. Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network. 14 August 2005. <http://vedabase.net/sb/9/16/en1>
Wikipedia. "Magadha." 12 Aug 2005. Wikipedia. 14 Aug 2005. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magadha>
Rao, B.N. Gunda. Chanakya. "I Will Dethrone You." Freeindia.org. 14 Aug 2005. <http://www.freeindia.org/biographies/greatpersonalities/chanakya/page6.htm>

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