Let us see how in the ancient world these principles, or the denial of these principles, has worked. Now the ancient ideal of Kingship is drawn from the perfect example in the great White Brotherhood of the Ṛṣhis of the race, wherein you find a graded order. They call themselves the “Elder Brothers” of mankind. Those whom we call Masters, because of Their greatness, They love better the name of Elder Brothers on whom lies the duty of guidance, of protection, of helping, in order that the younger brothers of our Humanity may come to stand where They are standing. There is the perfect Brotherhood. These, older in evolution than ourselves, wiser because of that longer evolution, these Jīvanmukṭas, these liberated Spirits, They, who are free by right, become bound to our earth by love. They remain waiting for the growth of Their younger brethren; They use Their wisdom to guide them; They use Their power to protect them; They use Their age to strengthen and sustain them. There is the ideal of Brotherhood, where Brother means the Servant of mankind.
And from that early recognition of the Elders in the childhood of the Root Races of the world, you come to the first great historical exemplification, the Divine Dynasties, the Divine Kings, as you find them in Egypt, as you find them in India, to go no further back to that earlier civilisation of the fourth Race, where in the City of the Golden Gate, of which the Chinese tell us, the Divine Emperor ruled with mighty power, and built the great Toltec race into a world-wide dominion. I will not go back so far, nor will I pause on Egypt, because here, in India, we have in the still living literature of the ancient days, the duties laid down which fall upon the Elder Brother in a Nation, who in those ancient days was the recognised King of the people. You find ideal Kings, like Shrī Rāmachanḍra, and you can see in His life, as you can see in the description of the duty of the King, what, from the standpoint of the Elder Brothers of the race, was meant by the position of the King. His life is not a life of enjoyment, but of service and of sacrifice. It is written, that the King remains awake, in order that his subjects may sleep; that the King toils, in order that his subjects may enjoy; that the King faces danger, in order that his people may be protected; that he is the Supporter of the State, the Guardian of the weak, the Dispenser of Justice to his people, the Father of the fatherless, and the Husband of the widow. And so in early days the Ṛṣhi comes to the court of the King, and questions him how he is ruling his younger brothers. “Have you seen,” asked Nāraḍa, when He came to a later dynasty, no longer divine; “have you seen that the artisans are provided with all the materials that they need for their manufactures and industries? Have you seen that the agriculturists have a store of seeds, that they are provided with water, and with agricultural implements? Do you take care that your soldiers receive their wages? Do you take care that the widows and orphans of those who have died for you in battle are well provided for and carefully tended?” And so, this Elder Brother of the race, coming to this man, divine no longer, but only a human copy of the once manifested Divine King, pressed on him the duties of his station, and demanded whether those duties were being rightly exercised. Out of that great ideal of Kingship has grown the reverence for the modern King, though he be of smaller stature, and has not often fulfilled his duties well; for that ideal has printed itself on the heart of mankind, and the passionate love, the intense loyalty, that go out to a King, who is in any sense worthy of Kingship, show how the human heart loves to reverence and to honour, where high power and great position are in any way worthy of the privileges enjoyed.
And always one great warning went out to those ancient Kings, as spoken by Bhīṣhma, the Master of Ḍharma, when the blameless King Yuḍhiṣhthira went to him to ask as to the duties of the Elder Brother of the Nation. He bade him remember that behind the King was the Law, the Divine Law, which none might break with impunity. And then those famous words were spoken that every King should daily remember: “Take care, O King, of the weak, not of the strong; take care of the weak, for the tears of the weak undermine the throne of Kings.” That is the great lesson for modern rulers. You may have enemies, you can fight them and conquer them; you may have difficulties, you can surmount them and turn them into steps upwards; but take care of the poor, take care of the miserable, take care of the starving of your realm. For of these, said Bhīṣhma, to whose cry no man listens, the cry enters into the ears of God, who calls on His representative to give account for the miseries of the poor, and who avenges their wrongs by the destruction of the careless King. Now there lies the old ideal.