There is the story of a loyal monkey that used a sword to cut a fly troubling his monarch. As in most such tales, the actual event in this story could be a trifle exaggerated in order to make readers learn an easy lesson: blind loyalty hurts.
Loyals like to believe that they protect royals. "Long live the King" is a line from our national anthem, so there is nothing wrong in chanting it. The trouble is those who chant it loudest are sometimes the ones who are doing royalty the most harm. And for them anyone who doesn't chant in the right way, or loud enough, is somehow less loyal.
The second type of loyalist is the one who ends up hurting the real longterm interests of the monarchy without actually meaning to do so. This type lives in the glory of the past, and refuses to accept that things have changed. In the old days reality could be manufactured, and they think it can still be done. Unfortunately, airbrushing history doesn't work anymore. And sure enough, it is because of loyalists like these that Paras has come back these that Paras has come back to haunt the Palace. Last week we were greeted by the unprecedented sight of royalty being brought in effigy to the gates of the palace, accompanied by a kharpan carrying more than half a million signatures. When the silent speak, the sound is too loud to be ignored.
On the other side are the tooclever- by-half, self-professed prot?g?s of Mao Zedong who keep raising the bogey of republicanism. It is an empty threat: absolute monarchs invite the wrath of their subjects, citizens in a constitutional monarchy actually value that institution too much to be disrespectful towards it.
I may not believe in absolute monarchy, but I respect your right to defend it if you want to. Ditto for republicanism. As long as you don't pick up a gun. Freedom of faith is an integral part of democracy. A healthy debate between the two can only help evolve balanced and moderate views to prevail over extremism.
There is something in our fatalistically know-it-all culture that prevents learning. We believe that whatever is worth knowing was already known to our ancestors, therefore there is no need for us to learn anymore. Panchayat ideologues espoused the "Land and Climate Theory" of a system suited to our soil. They prophesised that the monarchy would fall after becoming constitutional. Actually, it has become stronger. There should be no shame in admitting it or learning from the experiences of constitutional monarchies elsewhere in the world. (Why should the minions of our royalty snigger at the kings of other countries just because they are egalitarian enough to ride bicycles or raise water buffaloes?) So, there is
no reason why King Birendra should not try to resolve the controversy swirling
around his nephew. The public is convinced that it was Paras who killed Praveen Gurung. Finding a fall-guy, persuading a grieving widow to silence, and subverting the legal system may offer temporary relief. But there is no doubt that the more justice is delayed, the deeper it will dent the credibility of the institution that Paras represents.
As one deeply concerned reader has so rightly pointed out in a letter to the editor of this newspaper (#5), the real issue in the Paras episode is not of a person anymore, nor of legal fine print, it is that of justice. For those who still swear by scriptures in matters related to monarchy, here is what Manu has to say in his canons on the Hindu way of life, Manusmriti: "The King should not
leave an offender unpunished, whatever may be his relationship with him.
Neither father, nor a teacher, not a friend, not mother, nor wife, nor a son, nor a priest should go unpunished for the offence committed."
Rather than leave the fate of royalty in the hands of sycophantic loyalists, it is preferable to have every conscious citizen in this country rise up in defence of the real interests of the king. That is why the monarchy's role should become a topic of healthy andmature public debate. Thick walls, high fences and black limousines may offer privacy, but real security and genuine devotion can only be found in the company of subjects who don't have to be forced to be loyal. Perhaps no one knows that better than the king himself. Long live the constitutional monarchy.