Maharaja Agarsen Teach us CSR: A Tribute on Birth Anniversary

To commemorate Agarsen Jayanti on October 10, 2018, not only as an annual ritual such as holiday by the governments in states like Haryana, we should imbibe the spirit of social service with altruism as per his guidance. Maharaja Agarsen was a Suryavanshi King at Agroha (Haryana) in Dwapar Yuga contemporary to Lord Krishna.

The  business community of today must learn Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)   from Maharaja Agarsen as a necessary and sufficient condition for inclusive growth which means to care for the cared less (not care less) and use of the used less (not use less) manpower.

The amended Companies Act 2013 made the provision of 2 per cent of the average net profit (with a rider of Rs 5 crore or more profit in the past three years) of the companies be spent on CSR. They are required to spend on CSR with self-regulation, transparency and compliance may be acceptable to the stakeholders. But, let them feel motivated from Maharaja Agarsen who was a strong protagonist of spending 25 percent of the incomes on the welfare of living beings in the society. He also made a case for 25 percent savings for future which is necessary and sufficient condition for coping up the financial crisis of any kind as in present times when quality of life is becoming expensive with inflation beyond control.

We should respect humanity without prejudice to anyone on considerations of caste, community, wealth, occupation and religion. Farming community producing food grains were respected in his kingdom. The service of cow was the best service. To provide relief to one and all was the honest goal for him. The marvellous tradition of giving one coin and brick to any new comer for starting new business to earn a living is worth replicating in present times of unemployment and under employment. He never discriminated against anyone and the subjects were very pleased with the way he conducted himself.

The Agrawal community with 18 gotras (sub caste) of India traces its origin to King Agarsen.-a legendary Indian king of Agroha , a city of traders now in Haryana. near Hissar. He is credited with the establishment of a kingdom of traders in North India , and is known for his compassion in refusing to slaughter animals in yajnas. The Government of India issued a postage stamp in honour of Maharaja Agarsen in 1976.

An icon of non-violence , messenger of peace, Maharaja Agarsen was an embodiment of sacrifice, compassion, non-violence, peace, progress , prosperity and a true socialist.. He was the eldest son. of King Ballabh of Pratapnagar during the last stages of Dvaapar Yug. According to current calendar the birth of Maharaj Agrasen took place about 5185 years ago. King Ballabh was a Suryavamshi (lineage from the Sun). Even when he was very young, Prince Agarsen was very well known for his compassion.

Agarsen was a vysya king of the Solar Dynasty who adopted Vanika dharma for the benefit of his people. Literally, Agrawal means the "children of Agarsen" . Noted Hindi author Bharatendu Harishchandra (himself an Agrawal) wrote Agarwalon ki Utpatti (The origin of Agrawals) in 1871. Based on an account in the Mahalaksmi Vrat Katha manuscript.. According to this account, Maharaja Agrasena was a Suryavanshi Kshatriya king, born during the last stages of Dwapar Yuga in the Mahabharat epic era, he was contemporaneous to Lord Krishna. He was the eldest son of the King Ballabh of Pratapnagar. Agrasena fathered 18 children, from whom the Agrawal gotras came into being.

Agrasen attended the swayamvara of Madhavi, the daughter of the King Nagaraj. However, Indra, the God of Heaven and also the Lord of storms and rainfall, wanted to marry Madhavi, but she chose Agrasen as her husband. A furious Indra decided to take revenge by making sure that Pratapnagar did not receive any rain. As a result, a famine struck Agrasen's kingdom, who then decided to wage a war against Indra. Sage Narada was approached by Indra, who mediated peace between Agrasena and Indra. 

According to Vachanakosha of Bulakhichand (1680 AD), Agar Rishi married a naga-kanya and had 18 children.. A similar account is given in 1885 Bombay Presidency Gazetteer, Rishi Agrasena married 17 naga-kanyas..

For the prosperity, progress and peace of the people, Maharaja Agarsen performed many yagnas ( sacrifice). In those days, performing a yagna was a symbol of prosperity. During one such yagna, Maharaja Agarsen noticed that a horse that had been brought to be sacrificed was trying hard to get away from the sacrificial altar. Seeing this Maharaja Agarsen was filled with pity and then thought as to what prosperity can be achieved by sacrificing mute animals. The idea of Ahimsa grabbed Maharaja Agarsen's mind. The King then discussed it with his ministers. The ministers then said if Maharaja Agarsen turned towards ahimsa, the neighbouring kingdoms might consider it a sign of weakness and feel brave enough to attack Agroha. At this, Maharaja Agarsen mentioned that putting an end to violence and injustice does not mean weakness. He then proclaimed that there should be no violence and killing of animals in his kingdom. It is said that, the way Maharaja Agarsen used to deal with business problems was really great. And this is the reason why King Akbar had two Agarwal in his group of ministers. One was Todarmal, who introduced the land systems and another one was Madhushai who have made us proud in history.

We need to learn from his memorable life of compassion with sermons of cooperation and coexistence in present world of competition which is both healthy as well as unhealthy. Even if weak we have to become unique to survive in the rat race of the survival of the fittest in present times. Let the business community of present era feel motivated for CSR from Maharaja Agarsen. There is a strong case for income tax exemption for the expenditure on increased domain of CSR including sports and youth development in New India vision.

* The writer is Vice- Chancellor, Jagan Nath University, Jaipur. The views are personal.