Monday 9 June 2014

Matsyanyaya in Uttar Pradesh

Our ancient thinkers were of the view that the worst state of affairs possible in society is a state of lawlessness. When the rule of law collapses it is replaced by matsyanyaya, which means the law of the jungle. In Sanskrit the word 'matsya' means fish, and matsyanyaya means the state of affairs when the big fish devours the smaller one. All our ancient thinkers havecondemned matsyanyaya ( see 'History of the Dharmashastras' by P.V. Kane, Volume 3 page 21).

This idea of matsyanyaya ( the maxim of the larger fish devouring the smaller ones or the strong despoiling the weak) was frequently dwelt upon by Kautilya, the Mahabharata, and other works. It can be traced back to the Shatapath Brahman (Chapter 11,1.6.24) where it is said "Whenever there is drought then the stronger seizes upon the weaker, for the waters are the law", which probably means that when there is no rain the reign of law comes to an end, and matsyanyaya begins to operate.

Kautilya says " If danda be not employed, it gives rise to the condition of matsyanyaya, for in the absence of a chastiser the strong devour the weak". That in the absence of a king (arajaka) or when there is no fear of punishment the condition of matsyanyaya follows has been declared by several works e.g.Ramayana,( Chapter 67), Shantiparva of Mahabharata, (15.30 and 67.16), Kamandaka (@.40), Matsyapurana (225.9), Manasollasa ( 2.20.1295), etc.

Thus in the Shantiparva of Mahabharata it is stated :
" Raja chenna bhavelloke prithivyaam dandadharaka
Shule Matsyanivapakshyun durbalaat balvattarah"

which means

" When the king carrying the rod of punishment does not protect the earth, then the strong persons destroy the weaker ones, just like in water the big fish eat the smaller ones".

In the Shantiparva of Mahabharata Bheeshma Pitamah tells Yudhishthir that there is nothing worse in the world than lawlessness, for in a state of matsyanyaya nobody, not even the evil doers, are safe, for even the evil doers will sooner or later be swallowed up by other evil doers.

Is Uttar Pradesh descending into a state of matsyanyya ? The facts certainly indicate in that direction. The National Crime Records Bureau gives U.P. the dubious distinction of being the worst state in India in terms of law and order. The Badaun gang rape and hanging of two sisters by a gang which included police personnel, the murder in Dadri of Vijay Pandit, the attempted rape in Aligarh of a lady Judge in her apparently well protected home in a high security area, etc, etc certainly creates that impression. The state of affairs in U.P. even drew the attention of the U.N. Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki Moon who in a speech delivered in New York, criticized Mulayam Singh Yadav for his 'boys will be boys' remark'. Crimes against women, particularly, seem to be escalating in U.P. 

It is high time the U.P. Govt reverses this trend, otherwise it may become too late, and a full bloom state of matsyanyaya may then engulf the whole state.


  1. Wonderful article explaining importance of law, UP is heading towards the condition like Pakistan.

  2. Indian ancient history has a wealth of information on all aspects of public and private life. Justice Katju has cited one very apt illustration from our ancient texts. It's a pity our 'rulers' are themselves so delinquent that one hardly hopes for better conduct from people in general. As the old saying goes - yatha raja, tatha praja !

    1. /// yatha raja, tatha praja ! ///

      No. In a democracy it is "yatha praja, tatha raja..!!"

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  4. The ills of UP stem from caste politics. The day people of UP overcome caste barriers and treat fellow human beings as individuals, these crimes would end without even the danda. There is no logic if the Yadav chieftains decide to have only Yadavs in all key positions and even the police force is stuffed with members of one single community. If one Modi could win the hearts and minds of UP walas cutting across caste and relgion, UP leaders too can do it if they have the political will. Parites in UP which cater to such narrow and parochial caste interests would be facing rout in the near future. People too have begun to realise that their daily bread and livelihood are more important the caste tag. SP and BSP should better change their social justice equations. Lalu and Nitish in Bihar are facing identity crisis because of this outdated and negative politics. Muslims have already begun to understand the vote-bank politics of the Congress and the Bukharis.

  5. जब दण्‍डाधिकारी का चुनाव ही सबकी रक्षा करने के बजाय जाति या पंथ या कहें कि समुदाय विशेष की स्‍वार्थपूर्ति के लिए किया गया हो, वहां मत्‍स्‍य न्‍याय की ही उम्‍मीद की जा सकती है...

    यह उत्‍तरप्रदेश के लोगों द्वारा किए गए गलत चुनाव का नतीता है।

  6. सर -मुझे लगता है अगर ला आफ टार्ट को अधिनियमित किया जाय और भारतीय संदर्भों में लागू किया जाय तो काफी समस्याओं का समाधान होगा, इस विषय पर आपसे अधिक जानकारी की अपेक्षा है. अब जब हम वैश्विक युग में है, हमें इस विषय पर भी विचार करना होगा,आपसे इस विषय पर अधिक जानकारी की अपेक्षा है

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  8. Nice article sir, I love to read this types of articles. Thanks a lot to share with us...... Click here for Latest Govt Jobs, Tech news, Blogging Tiricks, Earning Tips and more....