Order and stability are two very vital aspects of peace and economic development in any given society, whether modern or ancient. In this essay, we will endeavor to explain how ancient Indian and Chinese societies used either laws or government to attain order and stability.
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In ancient India, the Kshatriya judges undertook the role of administering justice under advice from the Brahman evaluators. There were set standards to be met to qualify as a judicial appraiser. The administration structure existed in various levels, for example, in the villages, all the resolutions were taken by the village council, and such decisions would bind all the villagers as required under dharma.
The villagers, however, were dormant figures in the village parliament with limited rights of speech at meetings. They were expected to obey the raja, their religious father with whom they had less religious ties. The raja was expected to record and enforce laws and decisions arrived at with sternness. The villagers could also propose laws for passage by the king if such laws were viewed as capable of promoting order among the subjects.
Ancient India had various forms of government with many kingdoms with diverse forms of governance. Archaeological and historical evidence depict a highly developed civilization in ancient India that flourished in the third millennium BC. The civilization brought concern about people’s welfare and good governance, especially as the population began to increase. Since the ancient government was simple in structure, there was a need to cope with the increase in population to ensure sanity in public life, and this is where laws came in handy.
Concepts of ancient Chinese laws and orders are categorized as lizhi and fazhi, shortened to li and fa respectively. The difference in the two beliefs is in the perspective of li and fa: while li customarily stood for rite or ritual, fa was identified as the absolute law. However, the dissimilarity between li and fa was considered trivial as both laws were considered core to the progress of the society and in maintaining law and order.
The two belief systems used different approaches in ensuring order among members of the ancient Chinese society. While one system used the approach of traditional beliefs and standards, the other one concerned with the legal approach where set laws were followed in delivering justice, the authorities also used psychological tacts to instill order were people who disobeyed the authorities would be put to shame. The authority also used religious approaches to maintain peace by making sure that appropriate religious virtues were inculcated among the population to eliminate immoral practices and social conflicts. The government used legal processes that seemed friendly to their subjects to increase its influence and to implement policies. As the population increased, the government developed a system that aimed at perfecting the appropriate laws and policies affecting service delivery to society and reinforce all the arms of the government.
Consequently, the government tried to improve economic development, promote people’s living standards, and develop an efficient legal system. Legal and traditional approaches based on ritual observations were used alternately to ensure that there was no loophole in leadership in the ancient Chinese government. Where one method looked unsuitable, the other would be imposed without delay and in this way, the authority can be said to have succeeded in ensuring that order and stability prevailed.