In this sutta the Buddha gives a story of how society evolved with the people at one point electing a ruler to maintain law and order in society. Interestingly the reason given for this is that economic inequalities developed and became causes for conflicts and violence. The ruler is referred to as Mahā Sammata which the text explains as “chosen by the whole people” thus suggesting the concept of democracy.
- ‘Then, Vasettha, one greedy-natured being, while watching over his own plot, took another plot that was not given to him, and enjoyed the fruits of it. So they seized hold of him and said: “You’ve done a wicked thing, taking another’s plot like that! Don’t ever do such a thing again!” “I won’t”, he said, but he did the same thing a second and a third time. Again he was seized and rebuked, and some hit him with their fists, some with stones, and some with sticks. And in this way, Vasettha, taking what was not given, and censuring, and lying, and punishment, took their origin.
- ‘Then those beings came together and lamented the arising of these evil things among them: taking what was not given, censuring, lying and punishment. And they thought: “Suppose we were to appoint a certain being who would show anger where anger was due, censure those who deserved it, and banish those who deserved banishment! And in return, we would grant him a share of the rice.” So they went to the one among them who was the handsomest, the best-looking, the most pleasant and capable, and asked him to do this for them in return for a share of the rice, and he agreed.