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THE EFFECTS OF LOW-CLASS RULERS
The deterioration of the system of proper government began with the disappearance ofLord Krishna in 3102 B.C. In Srimad-Bhagavatam (12.1.1-8) we find a description of some of the dynasties that will rule in the age of Kali and what will happen to them. Therein we see the first assassination of a king, Puranjaya, by his minister, Sunaka, so that the minister can install his own son, Pradyota, as the king. Thereafter, the kings that follow will consist of eleven generations of descendants of Pradyota, ending with King Nanda, who is estimated to have existed about 1150 years after the age of Kali began, or after the reign of King Pariksit. It was predicted that King Nanda, born of a low-class shudra woman, would rule over the world and wreak havoc among the other kings. He would be the master of millions of soldiers, obtaining fabulous wealth. From him onward all kings and rulers would be irreligious and low-class shudras. The Vishnu Purana (Book Four, Chapter 24) and the Srimad-Bhagavatam (12.2.32) also state that it is from the time of this King Nanda that the influence of Kali-yuga will increase. It is then predicted that the greatly learned brahmana Canakya Pandit will deceive Nanda in order to destroy his dynasty and enthrone Candragupta, thus paving the way for the Maurya dynasty to rule. These events are now found in recorded history.
Continuing with the descriptions of the Bhagavatam, we find that more rulers follow with fewer and fewer good qualities. In fact, we find it predicted that more and more impious and uncultured men will make their way into government with little to show but greater levels of impiety and confusion, which expands throughout society. Giving up the path of Vedic or spiritually oriented civilization, society will lose all spiritual strength. The rulers who will appear during Kali-yuga will be uncivilized, uncharitable, have fierce tempers, and be devoted to the ways of irreligion and falsity. The world will see many such rulers simultaneously on this planet. They will be the equivalent of barbarians, exploiting or killing innocent women, children, brahmanas (the priestly class), and cows. They will lust and covet after the wives and property of other men. In this way, it is described that the lawmakers themselves will plunder and devour the citizens. They will have little strength of character and have erratic moods. Because of their activities, they are short-lived. The citizens ruled by such leaders will imitate their behavior and, thus, harassed by their rulers and each other, will feel no relief and suffer ruination.
The Vayu Purana (58.67) further elaborates that low-class kings will perform no spiritually meritorious activities. Thus, their subjects will slaughter cows and murder women, or allow such things to happen. People will fight and kill one another, and in this way try to accomplish their goals. The Linga Purana (40.9 & 11) goes on to say that in Kali-yuga thieves will function as kings and kings will be as good as thieves. Kings will confiscate and misappropriate public property, and will cease to be protectors. The Padma Purana(7.2635) confirms that low-class mlecchas, addicted to sins, will be kings.
The Narada Purana (1.41.37,71,81) goes on to say that in the age of Kali the rulers are greedily absorbed in wealth, are tyrannous, and will inflict pain on their subjects by imposing heavy taxes. After the advent of the Kali Age, uncultured men and outcastes will become kings. Being panic-stricken with the fear of robbers, etc., people will adopt wooden contrivances as a security measure. [This may mean simple wood weapons during a time when high technology has already disappeared or when guns or sophisticated weapons are no longer allowed.] People will be extremely harassed by droughts and heavy taxation.
The Vidyeshvarasamhita of the Shiva Purana (1.17-21) explains that the rulers, warriors, and politicians will discard their duties, indulge in selfish acts, associate with evil men, and aim toward debauchery. They will flee the battlefield and refuse to engage in virtuous warfare for the good of others. They follow the ways of thieves and are mentally enslaved by their base passions, always engaging in brutish sexual dalliances with their women. They do not really care to protect the people or those who seek refuge. They give up the virtue of protecting the citizens and rejoice in what they gain by harassing others [through high taxes, political intrigue, exploitation, etc.J. Thus, they are wicked annihilators of their own people. We should understand herein that when criminals and miscreants flourish in society it is only due to cowardly and impotent leaders. Rogues and thieves will flourish when there are no proper leaders to curb their activities, as stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (4.13.20). Without a proper government, a degraded civilization results. Even if anyone is homeless or starving it is because of government mismanagement, as explained in the Bhagavatam (4.17.10-11). As further related (Bhag. 1.18.43-45), without strict and proper leaders the world becomes filled with rogues who take advantage of the unprotected citizens like wolves who go after defenseless lambs. When miscreants plunder the wealth of the people, social disruptions occur; people are killed, women and property are stolen. What is even worse is when the leaders and politicians act as thieves to plunder and usurp the property and money of the citizens. Then the people will fall from the path of progressive civilization and will be attracted to getting money for nothing but gratifying their senses, which will be their way of trying to escape from the constant flow of problems. This is what leads the way to unwanted population on the level of animals.
The problem is that weak rulers have no strength to extinguish the rogues and thieves, especially if they are of the same caliber. So corrupt activity spreads throughout society and begins to multiply. This manifests in the form of leaders who are more and more crooked with each successive generation. Such leaders also become implicated by the results of the nefarious activities of the citizens. As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (4.20.14 & 4.21.24) and in Manu-samhita (8.304-309), a good king who protects the people receives one-sixth of the rewards of all pious activities performed by his citizens. But a king who collects his share of taxes, duties, and fines from the citizens and does not give them proper protection will accept one-sixth of the results or total karma of his subjects' bad activities and will sink into hell. Therefore, it will be difficult for a ruler in the age of Kali not to have a dark future in his next life. The Srimad-Bhagavatam (4.14.17) also relates that a government that cannot protect its citizens should not collect taxes. The Bhagavatam (12.2.7-11) goes on to say that among the crowded and corrupt population that will cover the earth in Kali-yuga, whoever shows himself to be the strongest can gain political power. We can see today that many politicians gain office by a show of financial power through advertising and propaganda. The predictions continue to explain that due to losing their wives and properties to rulers who show no mercy on their citizens, people in general will be forced to flee to the mountains and forests. While there, famine will harass and force them to eat leaves, roots, flesh, fruits, flowers, seeds, and honey. However, they are completely ruined when hit by drought. They will also have to contend with wind, rain, heat, cold, and snow. Further troubles will be in dealing with hunger, thirst, disease, quarrels, and intense distress. In this situation people will live a maximum of fifty years.
This is further elaborated in the Vishnu Purana (Book Four, Chapter 24) where it states that as the age of Kali continues, the monarchs and rulers will have violent tempers and be addicted to falsehood and wickedness. They will cause the death of women and children. They will seize the property of their subjects, and their rule will quickly rise and fall. They will have little piety and insatiable desires. The citizens will imitate their actions and the barbaric tribes will gain power by patronizing these rulers and the purer tribes will be ignored. In the distant years ahead, the people, unable to bear the burdens of the avaricious leaders, will take refuge in the mountains and will be glad to eat the herbs, fruits, roots, honey, and leaves or vegetables. They will wear only the bark of trees. Exposed to cold, wind, sun, and rain, the oldest any man will become is twenty-three years of age. In Kali-yuga decay will continuously spread until humankind approaches its annihilation. And (Book Four, Chapter 38) rulers will plunder citizens rather than protecting them, robbing businessmen and shopkeepers of their merchandise under the pretext of collecting taxes.
Notice that there are a few differences in this description in the Vishnu Purana compared with the Bhagavatam, especially regarding the maximum age to which the people will live. As Kali-yuga advances, things get rougher. It becomes more difficult to survive. People die at increasingly younger ages. It is further explained that if the quality of our leaders does not change, demoniac and low-class men, dressed like sophisticated government officials, will take control of the government. They will be motivated to develop large military forces and fight with one another using the lives of innocent men they send off to battle. Proper kings or rulers should lead the charge in battle, but kings and rulers today never visit the battlefield. As numerous wars spring up, such wars will decrease the earth's burden of so many demoniac leaders. Eventually, however, the kings, rulers, and governments will not be able to collect all of its needed taxes from the poor citizens to meet its huge military and operational expenses. Then the government and military will collapse, and chaos and terror will reign all over the country.
In this way, as stated (BhagA. 14.1), without a proper leader to look after the interests of the citizens, people become degraded and unruly like animals. No one is happy. Furthermore (BhagA. 14.3), as society becomes more and more godless, people give up whatever moral standards they may have and become destined to ruin. It is further related in the Manu-samhita (7.142-144) that a king who does not protect his citizens is a dead king. When leaders are strong and punish criminals in an exemplary way, then such miscreants cannot flourish and society can live peacefully. It is the duty of the king or ruler to give protection to the citizens. The Bhagavatam (4.14.18) also explains that the duty of the state is that everyone's situation should be so nicely arranged that everyone can make spiritual progress in their own situation. The Manu-samhita (8.21-22) more clearly puts things into perspective, saying that a kingdom controlled by low-class men, infested with atheists and shudras (the low-class and brutish), soon perishes, afflicted by famine and disease. In this way, we can understand that when men are not ruled by God or God's laws through pious and qualified leaders, the citizens will be ruled by godless tyrants and their lives will become increasingly miserable.