The word loyalty encapsulates a variety of meanings rooted in different generations, religions and human experiences. As a concept, it has been responsible for setting up empires, having shaped gigantic monuments, sparked war and, sometimes, even threatening the existence of Mankind.
The Ancient Romans can be considered fore-runners in architectural developments. In the year 55 B.C. Julius Caesar was on the Rhine River, on the border with Germania. He wanted to become the first Roman General to lead his army in the conquest of Germania. Though it was possible to cross the natural barrier constituted by the Rhine River using boats, Caesar preferred to show off the strength of his Empire. He ordered his 40,000 soldiers to build a bridge. The bridge was ready in only 10 days, and it is still an example of what 40,000 loyal people can do in handful of days. Without even questioning their leader, soldiers destroyed the same bridge after 3 weeks on their way back to Rome. A loyal soldier never questions his leader, he just does what he has been asked to. The bridge is still considered a marvel in engineering. Nowadays someone affirms that it would be almost impossible to build something similar in 10 days.
Loyalty made people sacrifice themselves to an extent unimagined by us. Here is a moving story from Ancient India. Mewar Empire (currently Mewar region, state of Rajasthan, India) is known for people’s love for their motherland. Kings got a status that make them similar to God and everything that can be done to save them is considered as an honor for ordinary people. The story of maid Panna Dhai is a moving case-study.
Panna Dhai was taking custody of the Prince Udai Singh II. The father of Udai Singh II died during the battle leaving the Kingdom in chaos. His elder brothers took charge of the Kingdom but they were assassinated subsequently leaving him the only survivor of royal family to become the next King. A person named Banvir took advantage of the situation and tried to revolt against the royal family. His purpose was to kill the prince removing any obstacles in his way to become the King. Panna Dhai sacrificed her own son to save the prince, changing his clothes to make him look exactly like the prince. Panna Dhai’s son was killed in front of her eyes. Later she carried the Prince in a safe place and guaranteed the stability of the kingdom to be reinstated. Is this temperance acceptable today?
In the early 19th century, loyalty took another name, nationalism. Leaders infused nationalism song in the minds of people and used it to create hatred against other nations. Not only the war, the entire world still cries reading about the crimes against POW (Prisoners of Wars). On the other hand, it is undeniable that it was nationalism to help ending colonial regimes, creating union and solidarity among different people.
In the 21st century, since borders have broken and globalization is gaining room, loyalty is becoming a fragmented concept and it is taking different directions. For corporate companies, it is known as Work Culture, meaning the way through which they keep their employees stuck to companies. In the field of marketing, it is known as brand loyalty: how they keep customers happy. With the progressive rise of individual freedom, it is almost impossible to forecast which shape the concept of loyalty will take in the future.
*Ankit Khandelwal is a chemical engineer, born in India, with study and work experiences in Denmark. He has different interests, such as history, psychology and cultures. He tries to include different backgrounds in writing as a freelance blogger and author, particularly with The Times of India.