Yesterday, India celebrated its 75th Republic Day, marking the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect. When the country gained independence in 1947, its laws were based on British colonial legislation. On 26 January 1950, the Constitution became the governing document of the country.
Why do countries need a constitution? A constitution helps establish a legal system that provides a basis for law and order. It also includes provisions that limit the powers of the government, to prevent the abuse of power and protect individual rights. It establishes the rules and principles that underpin the relationship between the state and its citizens.
But not all countries have a formal, written constitution. In some countries, religious texts serve as a source of legal authority, while in others, laws, traditions, and customary practices form the basis of the legal and political framework. The absence of a constitution does not imply a lack of governance or legal structure. In fact, there was certainly a time when written constitutions did not exist. How did societies then function and govern themselves?
Many of us would have seen or experienced in the workplace or in other organised groups that the need for written or codified rules is felt when people fail to adhere to unwritten rules or norms, or they do not act in accordance with generally accepted principles. When even written rules are violated, it becomes necessary to introduce penalties for doing so. And when the threat of punishment fails to have a deterrent effect, the time comes to enforce the penalty. If the frequency or severity of the violations grows, the enforcement structures have to be expanded and strengthened to maintain law and order.
In other words, formal arrangements to ensure the smooth functioning of societies have evolved in response to people’s inability or unwillingness to accept and adhere to norms. That does not mean the people alone are at fault. The rules themselves may be seen by some as unjust, benefiting some people at the expense of others. This may well be the case if those who make the rules are unscrupulous.
The spiral of increasing laws and violations has brought us to present stage where we have elaborate law enforcement systems and, at the same time, societies rife with crime of all sorts.
The root of the problem is spiritual, as is the solution. In every society there are people who follow all the rules, because they recognise the benefit in doing so. Even where a rule needs to be changed, they try to get it done through proper procedure. This is because they cherish certain values, such as peace, truth, and compassion, and choose to live by them.
These qualities are innate to every human soul. When we live in alignment with them, we are peaceful, happy, contented. But when we go against these values, the soul becomes uneasy, upset, and unhappy. These feelings, if not addressed, may trigger further actions that go against spiritual and temporal laws.
The remedy is to recognise and live by the fact that we are souls – pure, immortal beings of light endowed with all the qualities we need to be happy. We are children of the Supreme Soul, who is an inexhaustible source of the same qualities, which we can draw from Him simply by remembering Him. When we regularly remind ourselves of who we are originally, and tap into the peace and purity within, then the delusions and disappointments born of our external circumstances slowly melt away. We develop the inner resources needed to face challenges – courage, patience, truth, determination and more. The soul then acts according to its core values, because it recognises the wisdom in doing so. Such a person naturally abides by laws.
This is the spiritual method of creating a peaceful and just society where law and order are maintained naturally and voluntarily, without the need for
B.K. Sheilu is a Rajyoga teacher at the Brahma Kumaris headquarters in Mount Abu, Rajasthan.