Indo-European Guide to Presidential Elections (excerpts, #1)

Three Virtues of President

…What should be the ideal qualities of the successful King-President from the Indo-European point of view? Georges Dumezil, in his “The Destiny of a King” founds the exact answer in Irish myths. It’s said that the court plays its King, but it’s even more true that the King is played by his Queen. Tales about queen Medb of Cruachan, daughter of the Ireland’s supreme king Eochaid Feidlech, tell us about how she literally made four kings of other provinces, then her father’s main central province, by marring worthy candidates, sequentially, one after another. She had very strict and well-defined criteria for selecting and judging wannabe kings by their moral characters. According to queen Medb, the King should be “without jealousy, without fear, and without avarice” (Dumezil 1973, 86).

If the fearless requirement points to the core virtue for representatives of Warrior-Rajana caste, two others – absence of jealousy and avarice focus on two flank virtues of neighboring castes – Judge-Magician-Brahmana and Producer-Procreator-Vasja, of course from the point of view of the primary Warrior-King function. Jealousy here means a morbid fear of rivals, checks, and counterchecks, which could spur either anemic leadership, paralyzed by the inability to step on anybody’s tows, or an opposite, but having the same roots, rule of a tyrant (Dumezil 1973, 91).

The “no jealousy” rule not only highlights fatal flaws in qualifications of the Presidents who high-jacked Congressional right to declare a war, which became a bad fashion starting from Truman’s Korea war, and proceed through other wars of XX and XXI century; but also inability of some Presidents to hold their position and stand up against obstruction of the Congress in times of “divided government”, unlike Franklin Delano Roosevelt who faced his political opposition with the iconic speech:

“We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace – business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob. Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me – and I welcome their hatred.”

 As well, FDR had a will to stand up against the actions of Supreme Court, which were undermining his New Deal.

Similar to the duality of Indo-European casts, in particular Rajana, or Kingly cast, leadership position of the Executive branch is also not a singular one, but a tandem – President and Vice-President. Vice-President is not only a spare President, an idle figure, needed only if something happens with President, as well as he does not only share a mere quantitative part of Presidential power. Vice-President has affinity with the Legislative branch of power, and has another title, too – a President of the Congress. He has his vote in Congress, though does not use it in usual circumstances. His vote is supposed to be a tiebreaker if a Senate vote results in 50-50 vote gridlock. Unlike President-proper, who has more association to the Judicial-Brahmana branch by having powers to appoint Supreme Court Judges, Vice-President has an obvious connection to the Legislative-Vasja branch. For him, in addition to usual fearless virtue of a Raja, a Vasja-associated requirement of having “no avarice” is important.

As “jealousy”, in either form – weak will, or tyranny – disqualifies King or President because it makes them incapable to carry out well their secondary function of Jurist, an “avarice”, in the form of promoting special interests of particular businesses, for example either oil or media, which became a habit for Vice-Presidents lately, makes them unfit for the position.

We find the idea of a need for a Ruler to combine beneficial for his task qualities of all three castes of the society, not only in Irish folklore, but through-out whole Indo-European culture, Dumezil mentions:

“Such was mission of “Queen Medb”, of Royalty personified: to see to it that the king, each new king, would have the assortment of qualities which had been demonstrated by a very early analysis – already present in the Indo-European tradition – to be an absolute necessity for the equilibrium of a society and the success of a reign; and also, once those qualities were ascertained in a prince, to give him the throne.” (Dumezil 1973, 92)

We can discover a story with the similar intrigue in Hindu mythology. The story about princess Madhavi, daughter of the “first king” Yayati also tells us about her four subsequent marriages on childless kings (thus, without an ability to protract their dynasty, they appear unfit for their title) and bearing them a so desired and awaited son, making them real kings. The story is not a mere replica of Irish tale, and it couldn’t be considering so vast temporal and spatial isolation of the cultures; the Hindu story adds one more lesson on King’s destiny, worth to ponder upon. It also has a fascinating and an utmost unusual, for the person of contemporary European culture, twist of a very familiar story.

Before the tale leads us to Yayati and his bellowed daughter Madhavi, it starts with the usual Hindu anecdote-style humor and a bit afar scene. Once lived a king named Visvamitra, happy with his social status, but during one of his adventures he found out that Brahmana caste is superior to Rajana, austerity is greater then arms. He decided to earn a rare and unusual privilege of changing the caste. When he started living among ascetics, god Dharma revealed himself before Visvamitra and gave him a test telling that he was hungry. Visvamitra quickly started cooking rice, milk and sugar; but that takes time. When he finally brought a freshly prepared pudding to Dharma, the latter, already being attended by other ascetics, gave Visvamitra the only thanks: “I have already eaten, wait here!” and disappeared. Visvamitra froze in the pose he stood, with a pudding dish on his head, and he was standing so, heroically, for many years, waiting for Dharma to return. Young ascetic Galava recognized an opportunity here to earn great merits serving and caring for this live column.

When Dharma returned after hundred years, the dish Visvamitra was holding was still miraculously warm and testy. Dharma ate it, and being satisfied, gave Visvamitra what he wished for – promoted him into Brahmana caste. Being quite pleased with Galava’s service, Visvamitra released him from the duty. Galava knew well the corpus of religious law – at the end of apprenticeship he had to give his Teacher an appreciation gift. He asked Visvamitra for what kind of gift he wanted to receive. Considering that one hundred years of service is quite enough of gratitude, Visvamitra said he needs nothing from Galava. And here Galava made a huge mistake – he started insisting on giving his final apprenticeship gift. Getting irritated, Visvamitra asked for “eight hundred steeds, each of moonlike whiteness with one black ear apiece. Go, hurry up!”

Galava was overwhelmed by such an unrealistically huge price – no king in whole world could have such a bounty – remember, there were those days when king’s riches were counted in cattle heads, and for Indo-Europeans – in the most valuable horse heads. At the moment god Vishnu stepped in to help the ascetic in such despair. He send and celestial bird Garuda so he could carry Galava in every corner of the Earth to help to fulfill his promise. Galava and Garuda travel the world and experience number of adventures accompanied by comic scenes, when Galava, being airborne for the first time in his life was so scared and shouted and cried so loud that people on the ground were hearing his screams coming from clouds, and Garuda, being a bird, was making fun on Galava, or, once, staying for a night in a tavern owned by a Brahmin woman, after Garuda was having some explicit fantasies about her, he lost all his feathers, and was able to recover them only after apologizing before her.

At the end Garuda found who might help them – king Yayati. When Galava and Garuda finally found their way to the king, the latter wasn’t able to help them directly to acquire what they are looking for, but being an ideal king by Queen Medb standards: pious, brave and generous – he gives Galava the most precious treasure he had – his daughter. Neither Yayati, nor Galava, now protector of princess Madhavi, knew how she can help Galava in his noble quest of gratitude and oath keeping. But divine bird Garuda knows: “She is the key to your horses”!

Indeed she was, in a peculiar and a disturbing for a today’s European way. Galava travels with princess Madhavi to different kingdoms and offers her as a contract bride to childless kings to bear them a son – an ideal heir for their throne. Though, unlike their grandfather who possess all three queen Medb virtues, in Hundu variant – four: riches (vasu), heroism (sura), devotion to truth and virtue (satya and dharma), observance of sacrifices (yajna), his grandsons inherit only one of his virtues each.

In exchange, as a payment Galava asks for 800 moonlight horses with one black ear. No one possessed such a treasure. Kings were able to offer Galava only 200 such a spectacular horses at a time, so princess consecutively marries each king to fulfill the promised – to give birth to kings’ sons. That may look like a sex trafficking by nowadays standards, but princess Madhavi was doing that service of a surrogate mother as a self-renouncing, secret act to help her owner-protector holy man.

Motif of a holy virgin mother is common in Indo-European folklore. Technical details of that idea may differ, but in Hindu interpretation, if a holy virgin gives a grace of her embraces to divinity or a holy person, her virginity gets restored immediately after her gift is received, or after the childbirth if these embraces were fruitful. After accomplishing her service, princess Madhavi, virgin again, was given an opportunity to choose her real husband, not from any human on earth, but from any divine being on heavens also. She has chosen to “marry” a forest, living a simple, close to nature hermit life. (Dumezil 1973 70-8)…

To be continued…


Dumezil, Georges, 1973. The Destiny of a King, The Univercity of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL

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