The origin of the state is shrouded in mystery. It lies in the limbs of the obscure past. History does not help authentically in tracing the origin of the state, why and when it came into existence.
It is because of the lack of historical evidence that a political thinker has to depend upon sociology, biology, ethnology and anthropology for any suggestion as to the circumstances and conditions under which the state came into being. But the material at our disposal is so inadequate that we have to depend upon conjectures and generalizations to explain the origin of the stale.
In this chapter we shall discuss the main theories put forward by the political philosophers regarding the origin of the state. Among them, the most important theories are (a) the theory of Divine Origin, (b) the Force theory, (c) the Patriarchal and Matriarchal theory, and (d) the Social Contract theory. It is important to discuss these theories bccause they have a profound influence on political thought.
The theory which holds the field as the most plausible is known as the Evolutionary theory.
This is the oldest theory regarding the origin of the state. It is Pore familiarly known as the theory of Divine Right of Kings. According to this theory, the state did not come into existence as a result of human.
It is divine creation. God founded the stale. The ruler of state is the deputy of God or his vice-regent or viceroy on earth. He derives his Authority from Him and is responsible for his actions to Him alone.Obedience to the dictates and orders of the king is an unpardonable sin.
The theme of the theory is that a king is above law. He is not subject to the authority of any person or persons other than God.
The Divine Origin or theocratic conception is as old as the state itself. It was universally popular among the early people. The earliest rulers combined in them both the political and religious power and they were known as priest kings.
The idea of Divine Origin of the stat is practically found in every religion. In some religions, it is explicit and in others it is implicit.
The chief exponents of this theory were the Jews. In the Old Testament, there are repeated references to the conception that God selects, appoints, dismisses and even slays rulers. The king is treated as owing responsibility to God alone for his acts.
The following statement of St. Paul is a clear indication of the Christian belief in Divine Origin of State: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers; for there is no power but of God; the powers that be, arc ordained by God. Whosoever resistant the power, resistant the ordinance of God and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”
Filmer in his book Patriarcha (1680) argues that Adam was the first king and present kings are His heirs. In ancient Hindu mythology, similar views regarding the origin of state are found scattered here and there Reference to this theory is found in Mahabharata in the following words: “When the world was in the state of anarchy, the people approached God and requested him to provide a remedy.
“Without a chief’ they said, “0 Lord! we are perishing. Give us a chief, O Lord! whom we shall worship in concert and who will protect us. God, thus appointed Manu to rule over them”. The theory as such held sway in primitive age. Obedience to the state and kings was both a religious and civil duty and disobedience was sacrilege. Religion and politics then were inseparable.
As a rule the religious head was the political head as well. The Pope of Rome till the early Middle ages, combined in him both spiritual and political authority. He was the emperor of the Christian world.
So was the case with the Caliph of Islam who was considered to be not only the religious head of the Islamic world but also their emperor. The kings in ancient India ruled over the people according to laws of ‘Dharma’ which implied both religion and politics.
True justice was administered according to what Shastras would say. Priest used to be the Judge and administrator. Religious places were the seats of authority, centers of learning, so on and so forth. Thus religion was the chief medium through which people were ruled over.
The theory was exploited by the rival parties during middle ages in the controversy between the church and the state. Some used the Divine Origin Theory to establish the supremacy of the church over the state, whereas others used it to prove the supremacy of the state over the church. The theory was made use of by James in his struggle with Parliament In his book entitled.
“The Law of Free Monarchies” James I claimed that the king had derived his authority directly from God. He assumed that kings were wise and good, but the subjects were weak and ignorant. A king, he declared, was a great school master for the whole land.
Even if the king was wicked, the subjects had no right to rebel against.him. A wicked king was to be regarded as a plague for people’s sins sent by God. Even as late as 1815, the king of Prussia, Austria and Russia, when forming the Holy Alliance declared that they were appointed by God to rule their subjects.
It is, however, interesting to note that according to ancient Hindu mythology the Divine Right theory was not stretched to include the view that the bad as well as the good ruler was the representative of God and ns such entitled to unconditional obedience.
The ancient Hindus believed that since kingship has divine origin, the king must have a virtuous life and must exhibit godly qualities. If a king were to be bad and vicious, he Should be done away with. The two great Epics of Hindus, namely Ramayana and Mahabharata lend support to the view.
The victory of Rama over Ravana was the victory of good over evil. The battle of Mahabharata was fought for protection of dharma and uphold of righteousness. The theory of Divine Right of kings in ancient India was different from what it was understood to be in rest of the world. The theory was exploited in Europe by the kings to defend their dictatorial powers.
The theory was equally supported by the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers. In the words of Plutarch “the city might more easily be tended without territory than a state without belief in God”. Even the Realist philosophers of 18th Century used the theory of Divine Origin of cate to justify the importance of the State. In the words of Hegel, “the is the march of God on earth”.
Bluntschli said that “the state was the ‘mediate work of God, the direct revelation upon earth of the divine power”. In his opinion God manifested himself on earth in the form and shape of State.
Although the Idealist philosophers used this theory for the glorification of the state, yet in practical sense since state is represented by the Government or a King, it inevitably lends divine authority kings.
We may conclude with the remarks of Gettle that “during a of human history the state was viewed as direct divine creation theocratic in nature”. The theory remained popular as long as religion was considered to be the chief motivating force of human activity.
It is only in the recent past that theory has been challenged to be as an incorrect explanation regarding the origin of state. With development of scientific outlook and consequent decline of religious influence, the theory is being relegated into oblivion.
Today the Divine Origin Theory has support among political thinkers. To refute it in great details is to flog a dead horse. There is now unanimity of opinion that the state is an historical growth. It came into existence to meet various needs kind. The causes of the decline of the theory may be discussed as
Causes of decline:
1. The first great setback to the them given by the theory of social contract which proved that the state was a, human creation, a hand work of man and not a divine creation.
The of social contract was the first materialistic approach as opposed religious approach to explain the origin of state.
The voice of people became the voice of God. Democracy glorifies the individual as opposed to authority. The belief that man is the I of his own destiny got strengthened.
Individual growth and happiness according to Democratic ideology is the end and the state is considered just to be a means to that end. Since the theory of Divine Original defended absolute authority, the democrats all the world over attacked from right and left.
2. The growth of democratic ideas further gave a shock to the which defended in its ultimate sense the absolute powers of the king Democracy glorifies the individual.
3. The separation of the church and the state also led to the decline of the theory. In the modern period sphere of religion has been from the sphere of the state.
Times are gone by when all politics was religious politics. Now religion is considered to be merely an individual conscience and state and politics arc matters which touch or and all.
4. Growth of scientific knowledge and purely materialistic approach further given a rude shock to the theory of Divine Origin of State.
Blind faith and unfounded superstitions have no appeal to a modern mind. Reason and logic have taken the place of faith.