The Ideal King
Puranas are histories that focus on saintly individuals and nations. This is an excerpt from Srila Prabhupada’s commentary on a paragraph from the Bhagavata Purana, 1.16.1.
King Pariksit, a transcendentalist of the highest stature, used to consult sages and learned brahmanas, who could advise him how to execute the state administration. Such great kings were more responsible than modern elected executive heads because they obliged the great authorities by following their instructions left in Vedic literatures. There was no need for impractical fools to enact daily a new legislative bill and to conveniently alter it again and again to serve some ulterior purpose. The rules and regulations were already set forth by great sages and the enactments were suitable for all ages in all places. Therefore the rules and regulations were standard and without flaw or defect.
Kings like Pariksit had their council of advisers, and all the members of that council were either sages or brahmanas of the first order. They did not accept any salary, nor had they any necessity for such salaries. The state would get the best advice without expenditure. They were themselves equal to everyone, both humans and animals. They would not advise the king to give protection to humans while also instructing him to kill the poor animals. Such council members were not fools or representatives seeking to create a fool’s paradise. They were all self-realized souls, and they knew perfectly well how all living beings would be happy, both in this life and in the next. They were not concerned with the hedonistic philosophy of eat, drink, be merry, and enjoy. They were philosophers in the real sense, and they knew well what the mission of human life is. Under all these obligations, the advisory council of the king would give correct directions, and the king or executive head would scrutinizingly follow them for the welfare of the state. The state in the days of King Pariksit was a welfare state in the real sense of the term because the king made sure no one was unhappy, be they humans or animals. That is an ideal political administrator.