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Ram Navmi - Statecraft & Governance by Lord Ram

Updated: Apr 18

He who reads the Ramayana is absolved of all his sins. The expression is not a delusion of fancy. This great epic teaches us many lessons, not only for an individual but also for the globe. If implemented properly, it will pave the way for the establishment of a global Ramayana, similar to what Mahatma Gandhi envisaged.”

An Illustration on Ram Navmi - Statecraft and Governance

Illustration by The Geostrata

While works like Mahabharat and Kautaliya's Arthshastra are commonly studied in international relations, the story of Ramayan also provides an insightful source of wisdom and principles for statecraft and governance as well as contemporary issues. Examining Ramayan beyond its religious and literary significance is important, as it offers governance principles across its 24,000 verses.

Shree Ram, the 7th incarnation of Lord Vishnu, a Kshatriya, was born Suryavanshi into the Ikshavaku Dynasty in Ayodhya. Ram Navami is celebrated on the auspicious birth of Lord Ram. The eldest son of Kausalya and Dasharatha, Ram is portrayed in the Ramayan as the epitome of ethical and righteous leadership, embodying the ideal qualities of a ruler.

Ram is worshipped as a prominent god in the South and Southeast Asian regions by a large mass. The idea of Ramrajya has found its way into Indian society as a popular notion of an ideal state and governance which is also found in Valmiki’s Ramayan on the return of Ram to Ayodhya.

The Epic of Ramayan gives the field of strategic studies and international relations a rich source on statecraft and governance through many dialogues recorded throughout the whole narrative between Ram and other individuals of the Epic. In every dialogue, a special element of Lord Ram’s character is showcased as a model leader or king.


The dialogue occurs when Vishwamitra approaches King Dasharatha and requests that young Ram and young Lakshman accompany him to protect his sacred yagna (fire sacrifice) from being disrupted by demonic forces. With his father’s permission, Ram accompanies the sage and helps him succeed in the ritual by defeating the demons Maareecha and Subaahu.

The dialogue highlights the principles of respect for authority, adherence to Dharm (righteousness), capacity to serve & sacrifice and lastly sense of duty and responsibility of an ideal leader.



Some might call this dialogue the start of Ramayan story, it occurs when the second mother of Ram demands that Ram be exiled to the forest for 14 years, so that her son, Bharata can be crowned as the heir to the throne. This was a boon granted by Dashrath to Kaikey.

Ram knowing the dilemma troubling the king commits to fulfilling his father’s vows by replying “Mother, my father's word is sacred to me. I will not go against his decree, even if it means my own exile. This is the path of dharma, and I shall follow it without hesitation.”

The dialogue represents the essence of sacrifice & selflessness, trust & faith in the system (trusting Bharat’s ability to rule and peaceful power succession), and finally grace (he accepts the decree, setting a model for leaders to handle adversity with equanimity).


The dialogue takes place after Bharata learns of Ram’s exile to the forest, as per the demand of their stepmother, Kaikeyi. Bharata is deeply distressed and comes to plead with Ram to return and assume the throne. It is the most insightful dialogue on statecraft delivered by Ram when he sees his younger brother Bharat as a renunciate rather than a prince or appointed regent.

One of the best explanations of realpolitik available is this one, which is easily comparable to the works of statecraft masters like Machiavelli's, Sun Tzu, and Kautilya's Arthashastra. The dialogue showcases Ram as a paragon of ethical leadership, provides a comprehensive framework of statecraft that encompasses both moral principles and pragmatic considerations. 

Ram provides Bharat with extensive knowledge of the governance of the state by pointing out key aspects. Emphasis on respecting different authorities & stakeholders from gods and elders to ministers to soldiers to doctors and teachers. Then comes Ram’s criteria for the selection of capable and ethical ministers defining qualities of nobility, incorruptable, integrity, adherence to sacred texts, honesty and transcendence of greed.

Ram then pronounces the qualities befitting a king, he lists 14 of them as “non-belief, falsehood, anger, distraction, procrastination, disregard for the learned, laziness, pursuit of the five senses, single-minded devotion to artha, seeking counsel of those who don’t know the objectives, failure to start projects that have been decided, failure to protect secrets, failure to observe auspicious signs and a readiness to rise from one’s seat for everyone” (Bibek 2017).

Finally, Ram advises Bharat (a Kshatriya king) to command a battle-ready army ensuring adequate remuneration and loyalty of soldiers, and employing a sophisticated intelligence network. The discourse highlights the best elements of statecraft and governance in Valmiki’s Ramayan.


The dialogue occurs when Ram and Laksham reach the hills of Rushyamukha Parwat in search of Sita. Sugrive, the leader of the monkey tribe was terrified when Ram and Lakshman approached his hiding place, so he dispatched Hanuman in disguise as a sanyasi to determine their true intentions.

Hanuman approached Ram and Lakshman and asked “ You resemble Rajarshis and Taapasis but are armed with swords, bows, and arrows. Animals in this forest are scared because of your presence. Your eyes seem like lotus petals, and you have a big chest. You appear to be unbeatable in combat and to have saved many people's lives. But you appear to be gods masquerading as people. These contradictory observations astonish me” & tell them about him being a convoy of Sugrive.

Ram is impressed and says there is nothing that a king with such a minister cannot accomplish. Even an opponent who has come to murder them is unable to act after hearing Hanuman speak. A ruler is extremely fortunate to have a minister like him; analyzing his statements, he appears to be well acquainted with the Rigved, Yajurved, Samaved, Vyakaran (Grammar), and the essence of the Upanishads. Without the information, it is impossible to speak in this manner.

His brows and forehead did not twitch unduly. His voice wasn't overly loud, nor was it a mumble or whisper. He began, continued, and ended his comments in a single tone. He is extremely adept at spelling every phrase. Sugriva is immensely fortunate to have Hanuman as his minister. 

Various dialogues of Ramayana represent first, the concept of diplomacy and delegation, Ram praises Hanuman’s diplomatic skills and later seeks his help for a delegation to Sita in Lanka. Secondly, the idea of Just war by gathering information and acting consequently on that has much importance.

Finally, forging coalitions and alliances is highlighted in the dialogue to overcome a common opponent and maintain security, which is also prevalent in contemporary times. 


The dialogue happens when Bali, the king of the monkeys was shot an arrow by Ram from behind due to his misdeeds done towards his younger brother Sugrive. Bali accuses Ram on being a person who is a manifestation of dharm, was it fair to shoot him from behind a tree. Ram reasons that Bali was eliminated for abducting Sugriv's wife, an act considered despicable and deserving of death penalty.

Ram acted as the representative of Ikshavaku dynasty with their King, Bharat, who had the right to protect dharm and punish wrongdoers. Bali questioned Shri Ram's authority, but he explained that Bali's behaviour towards Sugriv as his elder brother and king was wrong and he had to intervene as Sugriv's elder brother and friend.

Bali argued that as an animal, he couldn't be punished, but Ram explained that being a kshatriya any harm to an animal did not exempt him from holding the dharm. The exchange between Ram and Bali highlights the complexities of statecraft, where moral principles, political realities, and the need for decisive action often collide.

Ram’s handling of this delicate situation serves as a valuable lesson in ethical leadership and the nuances of conflict resolution. Ram's adherence to Dharm, impartiality, diplomatic discourse, and Bali's respect for authority are demonstrated in his confrontation with Bali.


The dialogue occurs when Ram humbly requests the ocean to let him and his army pass through to reach Lanka, but after three unsuccessful nights of persuasion, he becomes frustrated. Ram believed that individuals lacking virtuous qualities and displaying arrogance should not receive respect. He claimed that the only way to gain recognition in the world is to be ruthless and realistic to be pragmatic and indulge in all sorts of excesses.

Ram believed that being humble and considerable would not lead to success in life and later decided to demonstrate his martial prowess as a lesson to the ocean.

This is a fine example of practising realpolitik, Samundar complimented Ram for sticking to his principles while suggesting a way to help him without sacrificing them. They discussed the possibility of constructing a bridge over the ocean, a feat that Ram's army accomplished through teamwork.

Ram dealt with Samudra diplomatically by acknowledging his concerns and limitations, listening to his suggestions, and finding a mutually agreeable solution. Ram was an outstanding leader who continued practising moral leadership, making principled decisions to the core of dharm. His commitment stands as a model for adhering to principles and ethics in action.


Vibhishana seeks solace with Ram expressing his exhaustion, from serving under Ravan’s regime. Ram exercises caution requesting assurance that Vibhishan's intentions are genuine. Vibhishan solemnly pledges his loyalty to uphold righteousness and offers to demonstrate his sincerity.

After consideration, Ram welcomes Vibhishan as an ally sensing his honesty and dedication to righteousness. Ram attentively listens to Vibhishan’s worries. Decides to provide him with protection despite their enmity. This demonstrates Ram’s perceptiveness, astuteness and virtues for a fair and suitable leader.  An important aspect of this conversation is the trust placed in sources of wisdom and the need, for action recognizing that valuable assistance can come from unforeseen quarters.


The various dialogues in the epic of Valmiki’s Ramayan represent Ram as an ideal (मर्यादा पुरुषोत्तम राम), Ram is often described as a patient listener who is receptive to advice from a diverse range of sources, including priests, kings, lower social groups, nature, and even God. 

His strategies and leadership traits when managing the state upholding order and handling relations remain applicable, to present-day leaders. Ram's teachings provide guidance for individuals to lead a virtuous life. 

As India (or Bharat) emerges as a global power, it is crucial to remember and uphold its traditional history and values. Ram Rajya should be looked at from a broader perspective outside political connotations, Ram's character offers a wealth of 'ethical and practical principles' that can guide and motivate contemporary leaders in their quest for competent and virtuous governance. 

By closely understanding Ram's approach establishing multilateral relationships is comprehensive and strategic. It includes engaging with key sectors, building connections with different societal groups, leveraging regional and global forums, using cultural diplomacy, and emphasizing the importance of people-to-people contacts.





Apr 17

An absolutely delightful and captivating read that draws you in!


well articulated article on the importance of diplomacy from a cultural perspective.


such an insightful article which is well supported by instances from the Ramayana! it was an absolute delight to read this


Very beautiful take on Ramayan, loved it


Apr 17

Absolutely Fantastic at an important time linking scriptures to contemporary times helps statecraft and diplomacy

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