Raja (also spelled rajah, from Sanskrit राजा rājā-) is an Indian term for a monarch, or princely ruler of the Kshatriya varna. The female form, the word for "queen", mainly used for a raja's wife, is rani (sometimes spelled ranee), from Sanskrit राज्ञी rājñī, or ratu, dato, datuk, or datu in Southeast Asia. The title has a long history in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, being attested from the Rigveda, where a rājan- is a ruler, see for example the (dāśarājñá), the "battle of ten kings".
Sanskrit rājan- is cognate to Latin rēx (genitive rēgis), Gaulish rīx, Gaelic rí (genitive ríg), etc., originally denoting heads of petty kingdoms and city states. It is believed to be ultimately derived from a PIE *h3rēǵs, a vrddhi formation to the root *h3reǵ- "to straighten, to order, to rule". The Sanskrit n-stem is secondary in the male title, apparently adapted from the female counterpart rājñī which also has an -n- suffix in related languages, compare Old Irish rígain and Latin regina. Cognates of the word Raja in other Indo-European languages include English reign and German reich. www.dlis.du.ac.in Rather common variants in Rajasthani, Marathi and Hindi, used for the same royal rank in parts of India include Rana, Rao, Raol, Rawal and Rawat.
Raja, the top title Thakore and many variations, compounds and derivations including either of these were used in and around South Asia by most Sinhalese Hindu, Muslim and some Buddhist and Sikh rulers, while Muslims also used Nawab or Sultan, and still is commonly used in India.
Raja රජ the title means King in Sri Lanka and has entire power an island wide. Rajamanthri රාජමන්ත්රී is the Prince රජ කුමරැ lineage of King's generation in Sri Lanka. Rajamanthri title is aristocracy of the Kandiyan Kingdom මහනුවර in Sri Lanka.
Usage outside India 
- In Sinhalese, the title 'Raja' means King of the Sri Lanka and has the entire power and the equal status in an island wide. Rajamanthri is the Prince lineage of King's generation especially Rajamanthri is aristocracy of the Kingdom of Kandy in Sri Lanka history. These native Royal Family in Sri Lanka.
- Indonesian has the word raja for "king". Leaders of local tribes and old kingdoms had that title before Indonesia became an independent nation. Various traditional princely states in Indonesia still style their ruler Raja, or did so until their abolition.
- In the Malay language, the word raja also means "king". In Malaysia, the ruler of the state of Perlis is titled the Raja of Perlis, which literally means the 'King of Perlis'. Most of the other state rulers are titled sultans. Nevertheless, the raja has an equal status with the other rulers and is one of the electors who designate one of their number as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong every five years. In the state of Perak, the title 'Raja' means 'Prince'. The White Rajahs (Raja Putih) of Sarawak in Borneo were James Brooke and his dynasty.
- In the Philippines, the title is a mostly historic one, with only the Moro peoples retaining the titles Rajah, Maharajah, and Sultan. Italian historian Antonio Pigafetta relates in his account of the first circumnavigation that when the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan reached the island-port of Mazaua in Mindanao on 28 March 1521, he was met by Raja Siaiu, the King of Mazaua, and Raja Calambu, the King of Butuan. Magellan entered into the first recorded blood compact (cassi cassi was the Malayan term Magellan used) with Raja Siaiu. When the Spanish fleet led by Miguel López de Legazpi arrived in the Kingdom of Maynila, they were met by Rajah Sulaiman III.
- All major Ethnic groups in the Philippines including kingdoms and principalities in Luzon, the Visayas and some parts of Mindanao (excluding the Sultanate of Maguindanao) and the Cordillera were annexed by the Spanish Empire in the 16th century. Upon Christianisation of the islands, the Rajahs and Datus of pre-Hispanic realms retained their right to govern territory through a law signed 11 June 1594. The Spanish King Philipp II commanded colonial officials of the Spanish East Indies to accord native royalty and nobility the same respect and privileges that they had enjoyed prior to conversion, and this indigenous nobility later formed part of the elite ruling class known as the Principalía.
Rajadharma is the dharma which applies to the king, or the Raja. Dharma is that which upholds, supports, or maintains the order of the universe and is based on truth. It is of central importance in achieving order and balance within the world and does this by demanding certain necessary behaviors from people.
The king served two main functions as the Raja: Secular and Religious. The religious functions involved certain acts for propitiating gods, removing dangers, and guarding dharma, among other things. The secular functions involved helping prosperity (such as during times of famine), dealing out even-handed justice, and protecting people and their property.
Protection of his subjects was seen as the first and foremost duty of the king. This was achieved by punishing internal aggression, such as thieves among his people, and meeting external aggression, such as attacks by foreign entities. Moreover, the king possessed executive, judicial, and legislative dharmas, which he was responsible for carrying out. If he did so wisely, the king believed that he would be rewarded by reaching the pinnacle of the abode of the sun, or heaven. However, if the king carried out his office poorly, he feared that he would suffer hell or be struck down by a deity. As scholar Charles Drekmeier notes, "dharma stood above the king, and his failure to preserve it must accordingly have disastrous consequences". Because the king's power had to be employed subject to the requirements of the various castes' dharma, failure to "enforce the code" transferred guilt on to the ruler, and according to Drekmeier some texts went so far as to justify revolt against a ruler who abused his power or inadequately performed his dharma. In other words, Danda as both the king's tool of coercion and power, yet also his potential downfall, "was a two-edged sword".
The executive duty of the king was primarily to carry out punishment, or Danda (Hindu Punishment). For instance, a judge who would give an incorrect verdict out of passion, ignorance, or greed is not worthy of the office, and the king should punish him harshly. Another executive dharma of the king is correcting the behavior of brahmanas that have strayed from their dharma, or duties, through the use of strict punishment. These two examples demonstrated how the king was responsible for enforcing the dharmas of his subjects, but also was in charge of enforcing rulings in more civil disputes. Such as if a man is able to repay a creditor but does not do so out of mean-spiritedness, the king should make him pay the money and take five percent for himself.
The judicial duty of the king was deciding any disputes that arose in his kingdom and any conflicts that arose between dharmasastra and practices at the time or between dharmasastra and any secular transactions. When he took the judgment seat, the king was to abandon all selfishness and be neutral to all things. The king would hear cases, such as thefts, and would use dharma to come to a decision. He was also responsible for making sure that the witnesses were honest and truthful by way of testing them. If the king conducted these trials according to dharma, he would be rewarded with wealth, fame, respect, and an eternal place in heaven, among other things. However, not all cases fell upon the shoulders of the king. It was also the king's duty to appoint judges that would decide cases with the same integrity as the king.
The king also had a legislative duty, which was utilized when he would enact different decrees, such as announcing a festival or a day of rest for the kingdom.
Rajadharma largely portrayed the king as an administrator above all else. The main purpose for the king executing punishment, or danda, was to ensure that all of his subjects were carrying out their own particular dharmas. For this reason, rajadharma was often seen as the root of all dharma and was the highest goal. The whole purpose of the king was to make everything and everyone prosper. If they were not prospering, the king was not fulfilling his dharma. He had to carry out his duties as laid down in the science of government and "not act at his sweet will." Indeed, in the major writings on dharma (i.e. dharmasastra, etc.), the dharma of the king was regarded as the "capstone" of the other castes' dharma both due to the king's goal of securing the happiness and prosperity of his people as well as his ability to act as the "guarantor" of the whole social structure through the enforcement of Danda (Hindu Punishment).
In contemporary India, an idea pervades various levels of Hindu society: the "Ramrajya", or a kind of Hindu Golden Age in which through his strict adherence to rajadharma as outline in the Hindu epics and elsewhere, Rama serves as the ideal model of the perfect Hindu king. As Derrett put it, "everyone lives at peace" because "everyone knows his place" and could easily be forced into that place if necessary. Ram's actions with regards to his wife Sita at the end of the Ramayana arguably serve as the best example of his utmost regard for his dharma as king, although other actions of his both before and after his defeat of Ravana are equally revered.
See also 
- “It is not right that the Indian chiefs of Filipinas be in a worse condition after conversion; rather they should have such treatment that would gain their affection and keep them loyal, so that with the spiritual blessings that God has communicated to them by calling them to His true knowledge, the temporal blessings may be added and they may live contentedly and comfortably. Therefore, we order the governors of those islands to show them good treatment and entrust them, in our name, with the government of the Indians, of whom they were formerly lords. In all else the governors shall see that the chiefs are benefited justly, and the Indians shall pay them something as a recognition, as they did during the period of their paganism, provided it be without prejudice to the tributes that are to be paid us, or prejudicial to that which pertains to their encomenderos.” Felipe II, Ley de Junio 11, 1594 in Recapilación de leyes, lib. vi, tit. VII, ley xvi. Also cf. Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, The Philippine Islands (1493-1898), Cleveland: The A.H. Clark Company, 1903, Vol. XVI, pp. 155-156.The original text in Spanish (Recapilación de leyes) says: No es justo, que los Indios Principales de Filipinas sean de peor condición, después de haberse convertido, ántes de les debe hacer tratamiento, que los aficione, y mantenga en felicidad, para que con los bienes espirituales, que Dios les ha comunicado llamándolos a su verdadero conocimiento, se junten los temporales, y vivan con gusto y conveniencia. Por lo qua mandamos a los Gobernadores de aquellas Islas, que les hagan buen tratamiento, y encomienden en nuestro nombre el gobierno de los Indios, de que eran Señores, y en todo lo demás procuren, que justamente se aprovechen haciéndoles los Indios algún reconocimiento en la forma que corría el tiempo de su Gentilidad, con que esto sin perjuicio de los tributos, que á Nos han de pagar, ni de lo que á sus Encomenderos. Juan de Ariztia, ed., Recapilación de leyes, Madrid (1723), lib. vi, tit. VII, ley xvi. This reference can be found at the library of the Estudio Teologico Agustiniano de Valladolid in Spain.
- Lariviere, 1989
- Kane, p.101
- Kane, p.101
- Kane, p.56
- Lariviere, p.19
- Kane, p.96
- Drekmeier, p.10
- Kane, p.21
- Lariviere, p.18
- Lariviere, p.48
- Derrett, p.598
- Lariviere, p.67
- Kane, p.9
- Lariviere, p.10
- Lariviere, p.8
- Lariviere, p.18
- Lariviere, p.9
- Lariviere, p.20
- Kane, p.98
- Kane, p.31
- Kane, p.21
- Kane, p.3
- Kane, p.11
- Kane, p.62
- Kane, p.31
- Derret, p.599
- Drekmeier, p.10-11
- Derrett, p.598
- Derrett, J.D.M. "Rajadharma." The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 35, No. 4 (Aug., 1976), pp. 597–609
- Drekmeier, Charles. Kingship and Community in Early India. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1962.
- Kane, Pandurang Vaman. 1968. History of Dharmaśāstra: (ancient and Mediæval Religious and Civil Law In India). [2d ed.] rev. and enl. Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.
- Lariviere, Richard W. 1989. "The Naradasmrti." University of Pennsylvania Studies on South Asia.
Famous Personalities 
- Raja Parvaiz Ashraf (Prime Minister, Pakistan)
- Rameez Raja (Cricketer)
- Raja Zafar ul Haq (Pakistani Politician)
- Raja Zulqarnain Khan (Former President of Pakistan Adm. Kashmir)
- Indian Princely States, the most comprehensive, specialised site on (princely) (e)states in British India
- Royal Ark - India (more elaborate, on a smaller number of dynasties)
- WorldStatesmen- Indian princely states, here K-Z