Jayary 360

One last Jayary about sacrifice.

Let's consider the most violent institution that's ever been invented by humans: the state. Paradoxically, the state conducts its violent affairs by asserting its monopoly over violence. That means I can't kill my neighbour for murdering my son: it's the state's job to do so.

The current consensus is in agreement with the state: we wouldn't want to take matters into our own hands would we? The law backs the state's monopoly, which is underwritten by a constitution that supposedly documents our collective assent to the state's rule. Every constitution I know starts with some form of "we the people...." What does "we the people" even mean?

Anyway, now that the people have signed over their rights to the state, it's the only entity with legal recourse to violence. That's why it can float an army; that's why it can create a police force. The state is the sovereign. Our granting of monopoly rights to the state is the ultimate blank cheque.

What's interesting about the Jaya is how sacrifice replaces the law or a constitution as the legitimizing entity. Jarasandha is able to justify keeping ninety eight kings captive because he's going to sacrifice them one day. Yudhisthira is able to send his brothers in four directions to conquer the earth because that's what he needs to do to conduct the Rajasuya.

What would a state look like if sacrifice was its basis, not a constitution? By the way, I am not saying it will be better or worse. It's pure speculation: what's the shape of governance grounded in sacrifice?

Rajesh Kasturirangan

Rajesh Kasturirangan

I think. I write. I meditate. I agitate.