King and Kingcraft
Santi Parva, Section LIX
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Santi Parva, Section XC
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Acting in the interests of righteousness
Bhishma said: That foremost of all persons conversant with the Vedas, viz., Utathya of Angirasa’s race, discoursed cheerfully (on former occasion) unto Yuvanaswa’s son Mandhatri. I shall now, O Yudhishthira, recite to thee everything that Utathya, that foremost of all persons conversant with the Vedas, had said unto that king.
Utathya said: One becomes a king for acting in the interests of righteousness and not for conducting himself capriciously.Know this, O Mandhatri; the king is, indeed, the protector of this world. If the king acts righteously, he attains to the position of a god (i.e., goes to heaven). On the other hand, if he acts unrighteously, he sinks into hell. All creatures rest upon righteousness. Righteousness, in its turn, rests upon the king. That king, therefore, who upholds righteousness, is truly a king. That king who is endued with a righteous soul and with every kind of grace is said to be an embodiment of virtue. If a king fails to chastise unrighteousness, the gods desert his mansion and he incurs obloquy among men. The efforts of men who are observant of their own duties are always crowned with success. For this reason all men seek to obey the dictates of righteousness, which are productive of prosperity.
When sinfulness is not restrained, righteous behaviour comes to an end and unrighteous behaviour increases greatly. When sinfulness is not restrained, no one can, according to the rights of prosperity as laid down in the scriptures, say: ‘This thing is mine and this is not mine.’ When sinfulness prevails in the world, men cannot own and enjoy their own wives and animals and fields and houses. The deities receive no worship, the Pitris no offerings in Shraddhas, and guests no hospitality, when sinfulness is not restrained. The regenerate classes do not study the Vedas, or observe high vows, or spread out sacrifices, when sinfulness is not restrained.
The minds of men, o king, become weak and confounded like those of persons wounded with weapons, when sinfulness is not restrained. Casting their eyes on both the worlds, the Rishis made the king, that superior being, intending that he should be the embodiment of righteousness on earth.
[Note: Bhishma says that this discourse is very old. Probably this verse has reference to the writer’s idea of the motives that impelled the Rishis of Brahmavarta when they devised for their Indian colony the kingly form of government.]
He is called RAJAN in whom righteousness shines. That king, again, in whom there is no righteousness, is called a Vrishala.
[Note: This verse gives the etymology of the word RAJAN and VRISHALA. He in whom righteousness shines (rajate) is a Rajan; and he, in whom righteousness, called Vrisha, disappears, is a Vrishala. Vide next verse.]
The divine Dharma (righteousness) has another name, viz., Vrisha. He who weakens Vrisha is known by the name of Vrishala. A king should, therefore, advance the cause of righteousness. All creatures grow in the growth of righteousness, and decay with its decay. Righteousness, therefore, should never be permitted to decay. Righteousness is called Dharma because it aids the acquisition and preservation of wealth (Dhana). The sages, O king, have declared that Dharma restrains and set bounds to all evil acts of men. The self-born (Brahman) created Dharma for the advancement and growth of creatures. For this reason, a king should act according to the dictates of Dharma for benefiting his subjects. For this reason also, O tiger among kings, Dharma has been said to be the foremost of all things. That foremost of men who rules his subjects righteously is called a king.
Disregarding lust and wrath, observe thou the dictates of righteousness. Among all things, O chief of Bharata’s race, that conduce to the prosperity of kings, righteousness is the foremost. Dharma, again, has sprung from the Brahmana. For this reason, the Brahmana should always be worshipped. Thou shouldst, O Mandhatri, gratify the wishes of Brahmanas. By neglecting to gratify the wishes of Brahmanas, the king brings danger on himself. In consequence of such neglect, he fails to obtain any accession of friends while his foes increase in number. In consequence of malice towards the Brahmanas springing from his folly, the goddess of prosperity who had formerly dwelt with him became enraged and deserted the Asura (demon) Vali, the son of Virochana. Deserting the Asura she repaired to Indra, the chief of the deities. Beholding the goddess living with Purandra, Vali indulged in many vain regrets. This, O puissant one, is the result of malice and pride. Be thou awakened, O Mandhatri, so that the goddess of prosperity may not in wrath desert thee.
The Srutis (scriptures) declare that Unrighteousness begot a son named Pride upon the goddess of prosperity. This Pride, O king, led many among the gods and the Asuras to ruin. Many royal sages also have suffered destruction on his account. Do thou, therefore, awaken, O king! He, on the other hand, who suffers himself to be conquered by him, becomes a slave. If, O Mandhatri, thou wishest for an eternal life (of felicity), live as a king should that does not indulge in these two, viz., Pride and Unrighteousness! Abstain from companionship with him that is intoxicated (with pride), him that is heedless (of the dictates of honesty), him that is scoffer of religion, him that is insensate, and forbear to pay court to all of them when united. Keep thyself aloof from the company of ministers whom thou hast once punished and especially of women, as also from mountains and uneven lands and inaccessible fastness and elephants and horses and (noxious) reptiles.
Thou shouldst also give up wandering in the night, and avoid the faults of stinginess and vanity and boastfulness and wrath. Thou shouldst never have intercourse with unknown women, or those of equivocal sex, or those that are lewd, or those that are the wives of other men, or those that are virgins. When the king does not restrain vice, a confusion of castes follows, and sinful Rakshasas, and persons of neutral sex, and children destitute of limbs or possessed of thick tongues, and idiots, begin to take birth in even respectable families. Therefore, the king should take particular care to act righteously, for the benefit of his subjects. If a king acts heedlessly, a great evil becomes the consequence.
Unrighteousness increases causing a confusion of castes. Cold sets in during the summer months, and disappears when its proper season comes. Drought and floods and pestilence afflict the people. Ominous stars arise and awful comets appear on such occasions. Diverse other portents, indicating destruction of the kingdom, make their appearance. If the king does not take measures for his own safety and does not protect his subjects, the latter first meet with destruction and then destruction seizes the king himself. Two persons combining together snatch the wealth of one, and many acting in concert rob the two. Maidens are deflowered. Such a state of things is said to arise from the king’s faults. All rights of property come to an end among men, when the king, abandoning righteousness, acts heedlessly.
Santi Parva, Section XCI
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Utathya said: If the deity of the clouds pours rain seasonably and the king acts virtuously, the prosperity that ensues maintain the subjects in felicity. That washerman who does not know how to wash away the filth of cloth without taking away its dye, is very unskilful in his profession. That person among Brahmanas or Kshatriyas or Vaisyas who, having fallen away from the proper duties of his order, has become a Sudra, is truly to be compared to such a washerman. Menial service attaches to the Sudra; agriculture to the Vaisya; the science of chastisement (punishment) to the kshatriya, and Brahmacharya, penances, Mantras, and truth, attach to the Brahmana. That Kshatriya who knows how to correct the faults of behaviour of the other orders and to wash them clean like a washerman is really their father and deserves to be their king.
It is the king who constitutes the age.
The respective ages called Krita, Treta, Dwapara and Kali, O bull of Bharata’s race, are all dependent on the conduct of the king. It is the king who constitutes the age.
[Note: The sense of the verse is that it is the king who causes the age, for if he acts righteously, the age that sets in is Krita; if, on the other hand, he acts sinfully, he causes the Kali age to set in; etc. etc.]
The four orders (Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras), the Vedas and the duties in respect of the four modes of life (Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vanprastha and Sannyasa), all become confused and weakened when the king becomes heedless. The three kinds of fire, the three Vedas (Rik, Sama, Yajur), and sacrifices with dakshina, all become lost when the king becomes heedless. The king is the creator of all creatures, and the king is their destroyer. That king who is of righteous soul is regarded as the creator, while he that is sinful is regarded as the destroyer. The king’s wives, sons, kinsmen, and friends, all become unhappy and grieve when the king becomes heedless. Elephants and steeds and kine (cows) and camels and mules and asses and other animals all lose their vigour when the king becomes unrighteous.
Weakness is more powerful than even the greatest Power
It is said, O Mandhatri, that the Creator created Power (represented by the king) for the object of protecting Weakness. Weakness is, indeed, a great being, for everything depends upon it.
[Note: He who protects weakness wins heaven, while he who persecutes it goes to hell. Weakness, thus, is a great thing. Its power, so to say, is such that it can lead to heaven and hell everyone with whom it may come into contact.]
All creatures worship a king. All creatures are the children of the king. If, therefore, O monarch, the king becomes unrighteous, all creatures come to grief. The eyes of the weak, of the Muni, and of the snake of virulent poison, should be regarded as unbearable. Do not, therefore, come into (hostile) contact with the weak. Thou shouldst regard the weak as always subject to humiliation. Take care that the eyes of the Weak do not burn thee with thy kinsmen. In a race scorched by the eyes of the weak, no children take birth. Such eyes burn the race to its very roots. Do not, therefore, come into (hostile) contact with the weak. Weakness is more powerful than even the greatest Power, for that power which is scorched by Weakness becomes totally exterminated. If a person, who has been humiliated or struck, fails, while shrieking for assistance, to obtain a protector, divine chastisement overtakes the king and brings about his destruction. Do not, O sire, while in enjoyment of Power, take wealth from those that are Weak. Take care that the eyes of the Weak do not burn thee like a blazing fire. The tears shed by weeping men afflicted with falsehood slay the children and animals of those that have uttered those falsehoods. Like a cow a sinful act perpetrated does not produce immediate fruits.
[Note; the keeper of the cow has to wait, till it calves, for milk.]
If the fruit is not seen in the perpetrator himself, it is seen in his son or in his son’s son, or daughter’s son. When a weak person fails to find a rescuer, the great rod of divine chastisement falls (upon the king). When all subjects of a king (are obliged by distress to) live like Brahmanas, by mendicancy, such mendicancy brings destruction upon the king. When all the officers of the king posted in the provinces unite together and act with injustice, the king is then said to bring about a state of unmixed evil upon his kingdom. When the officers of the king extort wealth, by unjust means or acting from lust or avarice, from persons piteously soliciting mercy, a great destruction then is sure to overtake the king. A mighty tree, first starting into life, grows into large proportions. Numerous creatures then come and seek its shelter. When, however, it is cut down or consumed in a conflagration, those that had recourse to it for shelter all become homeless.
[Note: The commentator states: The sense is, I suppose, that if the king be overtaken by destruction, his officers also do not escape.]
When the residents of a kingdom perform acts of righteousness and all religious rites, and applaud the good qualities of the king, the latter reaps an accession of affluence. When, on the other hand, the residents, moved by ignorance, abandon righteousness and act unrighteously, the king becomes overtaken by misery. When sinful men whose acts are known are allowed to move among the righteous (without being punished for their misdeeds), Kali then overtakes the rulers of those realms. When the king causes chastisement to overtake all wicked people, the kingdom thrives in prosperity. The kingdom of that king certainly thrives who pays proper honours to his ministers and employs them in measures of policy and in battles. Such a ruler enjoys the wide earth forever.
That king who duly honours all good acts and good speeches succeeds in earning great merit. The enjoyment of good things after sharing them with others, paying proper honours to the ministers, and subjugation of persons intoxicated with strength, are said to constitute the great duty of a king. Protecting all men by words, body, and deeds, and never forgiving his son himself (if he has offended), constitute the great duty of the king. The maintenance of those that are weak by sharing with them the things he has, and thereby increasing their strength constitute the duty of the king. Protection of the kingdom, extermination of robbers, and conquering in battle, constitute the duty of the king. Never to forgive a person however dear, if he has committed an offence by act or word, constitutes the duty of the king. Protecting those that solicit shelter, as he would protect his own children, and never depriving one of the honours to which he is entitled constitute the duty of the king.
Adoring the deities, with a devoted heart, in sacrifices completed by presents, and subduing lust and envy, constitute the duty of the king. Wiping the tears of the distressed, the helpless, and the old, and inspiring them with joy, constitute the duty of the king. Aggrandizing friends, weakening foes, and honouring the good, constitute the duty of the king. Cheerfully observing the obligations of truth, always making gifts of land, entertaining guests, and supporting dependents, constitute the duty of the king. That king who favours those that deserve favours and chastises those that deserve chastisement earns great merit both here and hereafter. The king is Yama (god of death) himself. He is, O Mandhatri, the god (incarnate) unto all that are righteous. By subduing his senses he succeeds in acquiring great affluence. By not subduing them he incurs sin.
[Note: The king is god (incarnate) unto all righteous men, because they may expect everything from him. As regards the second line, the meaning depends upon bharati, which as the commentator explains means: ‘obtains affluence or prosperity.]
Paying proper honours unto Ritwijas and priests and preceptors, and doing good offices unto them constitute the duty of the king. Yama (God of death) governs all creatures without observing distinctions. The king should imitate him in his behaviour by restraining all his subjects duly. The king is said to resemble the Thousand-eyed (Indra) in every respect. That, O bull among men, should be regarded as righteousness which is regarded as such by him. Thou shouldst, without being heedless, cultivate forgiveness, intelligence, patience, and the love of all creatures. Thou shouldst also ascertain the strength and weakness of all men and learn to distinguish between right and wrong. Thou shouldst conduct thyself with propriety towards all creatures, make gifts and utter agreeable and sweet words.
Thou shouldst maintain the residents of thy city and the provinces in happiness. A king, who is not clever, never succeeds in protecting his subjects. Sovereignty, O sire, is a very happy burden to bear. Only that king who is possessed of wisdom and courage, and who is conversant with the science of chastisement, can protect a kingdom. He, on the other hand, who is without energy and intelligence, and who is not versed in the great science, is incompetent to bear the burden of sovereignty. Aided by ministers of handsome features and good birth, clever in business, devoted to their master, and possessed of great learning, thou shouldst examine the hearts and acts of all men including the very ascetics in the forests. Conducting thyself thus, thou wilt be able to learn the duties of all orders of men. That will aid thee in observing thy own duties, whether when thou art in the country or when thou repairest to other realms. Amongst these three objects, viz., Virtue, Profit and Pleasure, Virtue is the foremost. He that is of virtuous soul obtains great happiness both here and hereafter. If men be treated with honour, they can abandon (for the sake of the honour thou mayst give them) their very wives and sons.
By attaching good men to himself (by doing good offices unto them), by gifts, sweet words, heedfulness and purity of behaviour, a king may win great prosperity. Do not, therefore, O Mandhatri, be heedless to these qualities and acts. The king should never be heedless in looking after his own laches, as also after those of his foes. He should act in such a way that his foes may not be able to detect his laches, and he should himself assail them when theirs are visible. This is the way in which Vasava, and Yama, and Varuna, and all the great royal sages have acted. Do thou observe the same conduct. Do thou, O great king, adopt this behaviour which was followed by those royal sages. Do thou soon, O bull of Bharata’s race, adopt this heavenly rod. The gods, the Rishis, the Pitris, and the Gandharvas, possessed of great energy, sing the praises, both here and hereafter, of that king whose conduct is righteous.
Bhishma continued: Thus addressed by Utathya, O Bharata, Mandhatri, unhesitatingly did as he was directed, and became the sole lord of the wide earth. Do thou also, O king, act righteously like Mandhatri. Thou wilt then, after ruling the earth, obtain an abode in heaven.
Duties of a Kingdom
Santi Parva, Section LXVII
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Santi Parva, Section LXVII
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Yudhishthira said: Tell me O grandsire, what are the principal duties of a kingdom?
Anarchy – There is no evil greater than anarchy
Bhishma said: The (election and) coronation of a king is the first duty of a kingdom. A kingdom in which anarchy prevails becomes weak and is soon afflicted by robbers.
[Note: The Sanskrit word ‘Anidram’ is explained by Nilakantha as a kingdom where anarchy prevails, sleeplessness being its certain indication.]
In kingdom torn by anarchy, righteousness cannot dwell. The inhabitants devour one another. An anarchy is the worst possible of states. The Srutis (scriptures) declare that in crowning a king, it is Indra (king of gods) that is crowned (in the person of the king). A person who is desirous of prosperity should worship the king as he should worship Indra himself. No one should dwell in kingdoms torn by anarchy. Agni (sacred fire) does not convey (to the gods) the libations that are poured upon him in kingdoms where anarchy prevails. If a powerful king approaches kingdoms weakened by anarchy, from desire of annexing them to his dominions, the people should go forward and receive the invader with respect. Such conduct would be consistent with wise counsels. There is no evil greater than anarchy.
If the powerful invader were inclined to equity, everything will be right. If, on the other hand, he be engaged, he may exterminate all. That cow which cannot be easily milked has to suffer much torture. On the other hand, that cow which is capable of being easily milked, has not to suffer any torture whatever. The wood that bends easily does not require to be heated. The tree that bends easily has not to suffer any torture (at the hands of the gardener). Guided by these instances, O hero, men should bend before those that are powerful. The man that bends his head to a powerful person really bends his head to Indra. For these reasons, men desirous of prosperity should (elect and) crown some person as their king. They who live in countries where anarchy prevails cannot enjoy their wealth and wives. During times of anarchy, the sinful man derives great pleasure by robbing the wealth of other people. When, however, his (ill-gotten) wealth is snatched by others, he wishes for a king. It is evident, therefore, that in times of anarchy the very wicked even cannot be happy. The wealth of one is snatched away by two. That of those two is snatched away by many acting together. He who is not a slave is made a slave.
Women, again, are forcibly abducted. For these reasons the gods created kings for protecting the people. If there were no king on earth for wielding the rod of chastisement, the strong would then have preyed on the weak after the manner of the fish in water. It hath been heard by us that men, in days of old, in consequence of anarchy, met with destruction, devouring one another like stronger fish devouring the weaker ones in the water. It hath been heard by us that a few amongst them then, assembling together, made certain compacts, saying, ‘He who becomes harsh in speech, or violent in temper, he who seduces or abducts other people’s wives or robs the wealth that belongs to others, should be cast off by us.’ For inspiring confidence among all classes of the people, they made such a compact and lived for some time. Assembling after sometime they proceeded in affliction to the Grandsire (the Creator), saying, without a king, O divine lord, we are going to destruction. Appoint someone as our king. All of us shall worship him and he shall protect us.’ Thus solicited, the Grandsire asked Manu. Manu, however, did not assent to the proposal.
Manu said: ‘I fear all sinful acts. To govern a kingdom is exceedingly difficult, especially among men who are always false and deceitful in their behaviour.’
Bhishma continued: The inhabitants of the earth said unto him, ‘Do not fear. The sins that men commit will touch those only that commit them (without staining thee in the least). For the increase of thy treasury, we will give thee a fiftieth part of our animals and precious metals and a tenth part of our grain. When our maidens also will become desirous of wedding, we shall, when the question comes up, give thee the most beautiful ones among them. Those amongst men, who will become the foremost of all in the use of weapons and in riding animals and driving vehicles, shall proceed behind thee like the deities behind Indra. With thy strength enhanced in this way, and becoming invincible and possessed of great prowess, thou wilt be our king and protect us happily like Kuvera and Yakshas and the Rakshasas. A fourth part of the merit which men will earn under thy protection will be thine. Strengthened by that merit so easily obtained by thee, do thou protect us, O king, like He of a hundred sacrifices protecting the deities. Like the sun scorching everything with his rays, go out for winning victories. Crush the pride of foes and let righteousness always triumph (in the world).’
Thus addressed by those inhabitants of the earth, Manu, possessed of great energy, proceeded, accompanied by a large force. Of high descent, he seemed then to blaze with prowess. Beholding the might of Manu, like the gods eyeing the might of Indra, the inhabitants of the earth became inspired with fear and set their hearts upon their respective duties. Manu then made his round through the world, checking everywhere all acts of wickedness and setting all men to their respective duties, like a rain-charged cloud (in its mission of beneficence).
Those, O Yudhishthira, those men on earth, who desire prosperity should first elect and crown a king for the protection of all. Like disciples humbling themselves, all men should humble themselves before the king. One that is honoured by his own people becomes an object of regard with his foes also, while one that is disregarded by his own is overridden by foes. If the king were overridden by his foes, all his subjects become unhappy. Therefore, umbrellas and vehicles and outward ornaments, and viands, and drinks, and mansions, and seats, and beds, and all utensils for use and show, should be assigned to the king. By such means the king will succeed in discharging his duties of protection and become irresistible. He should speak with smiles. Addressed sweetly by others, he should address others sweetly. Grateful (to those that serve him), firmly devoted (to those that deserve his respect), and with passions under control, he should give unto others their due. Looked upon by others he should look at them mildly, sweetly, and handsomely.
Santi Parva, Section LXVII
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Santi Parva, Section LXVII
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Yudhishthira said: Why, O bull of Bharata’s race, have the Brahmanas said that the king, that ruler of men, is a god?
Bhishma said: In this connection is cited the old story, O Bharata, of the discourse of Vrihaspati unto Vasumanas.
There was a king of Kosala possessed of great intelligence, named Vasumanas. On a certain occasion he questioned the great sage Vrihaspati of much wisdom. Conversant with the requirements of humility, king Vasumanas, ever devoted to the welfare of all, having observed the proper humilities and having circumambulated the great sage and bowed unto him duly, enquired of the virtuous Vrihaspati about the ordinances in respect of a kingdom, moved by the desire of securing the happiness of men.
Vasumanas said: By what means do creatures grow and by what means are they destroyed? O thou of great wisdom, by adoring whom do they succeed in obtaining eternal happiness?
Thus questioned by the Kosala king of immeasurable energy, Vrihaspati of great wisdom discoursed unto him coolly about the respect that should be paid to kings.
Vrihaspati said: The duties of all men, O thou of great wisdom, may be seen to have their root in the king. It is through fear of the king only that men do not devour one another. It is the king that brings peace on earth, through due observance of duties, by checking all disregard for wholesome restraints and all kinds of lust. Achieving this, he shines in glory. As, O king, all creatures become unable to see one another and sink in utter darkness if the sun and the moon do not rise, as fishes in shallow water and birds in a spot safe from danger dart and rove as they please (for a time) and repeatedly attack and grind one another with force and then meet with certain destruction even so men sink in utter darkness and meet with destruction if they have no king to protect them, like a herd of cattle without the herdsman to look after them.
If the king did not exercise the duty of protection, the strong would forcibly appropriate the possessions of the weak, and if the latter refused to surrender them with ease, their very lives would be taken. Nobody then, with reference to any article in his possession, would be able to say ‘This is mine.’ Wives, sons, food, and other kinds of property would not then exist. Ruin would overtake everything if the king did not exercise the duty of protection. Wicked men would forcibly appropriate the vehicles and robes and ornaments and precious stones and other kinds of property belonging to others, if the king did not protect. In the absence of protection by the king, diverse kinds of weapons would fall upon those that are righteous in their practices, and unrighteousness would be adopted by all. In the absence of royal protection men would disregard or even injure their very mothers and fathers if aged, their very preceptors and guests and seniors. If the king did not protect, all persons possessed of wealth would have to encounter death, confinement, and persecution, and the very idea of property would disappear. If the king did not protect, everything would be exterminated prematurely, and robbers would overrun every part of the country, and everybody would fall into terrible hell. If the king did not protect, all restrictions about marriage and intercourse (due to consanguinity and other kinds of relationship) would cease; all affairs relating to agriculture and trade would fall into confusion; morality would sink and be lost; and the three Vedas would disappear.
Sacrifices, duly completed with presents according to the ordinance, would no longer be performed; no marriage would take place; society itself would cease to exist, if the king did not exercise the duty of protection. The very bulls would not cover cows and milk-jars would not be churned, and men living by rearing kine (cows) would meet with destruction, if the king did not exercise the duty of protection. In the absence of royal protection, all things, inspired with fear and anxiety and becoming senseless and uttering cries of woe, would meet with destruction in no time. No sacrifices extending for a year and completed with presents according to the ordinances would occur if the king did not exercise the duty of protection. In the absence of royal protection Brahmanas would never study the four Vedas or undergo austerities or be cleansed by knowledge and rigid vows. In the absence of royal protection, the slayer of a person guilty of the slaughter of a Brahmana would not obtain any reward; on the other hand the person guilty of Brahminicide would enjoy perfect immunity. In the absence of royal protection, men would snatch other people’s wealth from their very hands, and all wholesome barriers would be swept away, and everybody, inspired with fear, would seek safety in flight. In the absence of royal protection, all kinds of injustice would set in; an intermixture of castes would take place; and famine would ravage the kingdom.
In consequence again of royal protection, men can everywhere sleep fearlessly, and at their ease without shutting their houses and doors with bolts and bars. Nobody would hear the evil speeches of others, far less actual assaults, if the king did not righteously protect the earth.
[Note: The sense seems to be that men patiently bear the injuries inflicted upon them by others, without seeking to right themselves by force, because they can invoke the king to punish the offenders. If there were no kings, immediate vengeance for even the slightest injuries would be the universal practice.]
If the king exercises the duty of protection, women decked with ornaments may fearlessly wander everywhere without male relatives to attend upon them. Men become righteous and without injuring serve one another because the king exercises the duty of protection. In consequence of royal protection the members of the three orders are enabled to perform high sacrifices and devote themselves to the acquisition of learning with attention. The world depends upon agriculture and trade and is protected by the Vedas. All these again are duly protected by the king exercising his principal duty. Since the king, taking a heavy load upon himself, protects his subjects with the aid of a mighty force, it is for this that the people are able to live in happiness. Who is there who will not worship him in whose existence the people exist and in whose destruction the people are destroyed? That person who does what is agreeable and beneficial to the king and who bears (a share of) the burden of kingly duties that strike every caste with fear, conquers both this and the other world (i.e., becoming foremost and happy here, attains to blessedness hereafter).
That man, who even thinks of doing an injury to the king, without doubt meets with grief here and goes to hell hereafter. No one should disregard the king by taking him for a man, for he is really a high divinity in human form. The king assumes five different forms according to five different occasions. He becomes Agni, Aditya, Mrityu, Vaisravana and Yama. When the king, deceived by falsehood, burns with his fierce energy the sinful offenders before him, he is then said to assume the form of Agni. When he observes through his spies the acts of all persons and does what is for the general good, he is then said to assume the form of Aditya. When he destroys in wrath hundreds of wicked men with their sons, grandsons, and relatives, he is then said to assume the form of the Destroyer (Mrityu or death). When he restrains the wicked by inflicting upon them severe punishments and favours the righteous by bestowing rewards upon them, he is then said to assume the form of Yama. When he gratifies with profuse gifts of wealth those that have rendered him valuable services, and snatches away the wealth and precious stones of those that have offended him, indeed, when he bestows prosperity upon some and takes it away from others, he is then, O king, said to assume the form of Kuvera on earth. No person who is possessed of cleverness, who is capable of work, who desires the acquisition of virtue, and who is free from malice, should ever spread evil reports about the king. No man, by acting against the king can ever make himself happy, even if he happens to be the king’s son or brother or companion or one whom the king regards as his second self. Fire, having the wind for his urger, blazing forth (among articles that are inflammable), may leave a remnant.
[Note: The wind is said to be the charioteer of Fire, because whenever there is a conflagration, the wind, appearing, aids in extending it.]
The wrath of the king, however, leaves not anything to the person that incurs it. Whatever belongs to the king should be avoided from distance (i.e., no one should covet the possessions of the king). One should turn away from what belongs to the king as he would from death itself. A person by appropriating what belongs to the king speedily meets with destruction like a deer upon touching poison. The man of intelligence should protect as his own what belongs to the king. They that appropriate wealth belonging to the king sink senseless into deep hell of eternal gloom and infamy.
Who is there that will not worship the king who is adored by such terms as delighter of the people, giver of happiness, possessor of prosperity, the foremost of all, healer of injuries, lord of earth, and protector of men? That man, therefore, who desires his own prosperity, who observes all wholesome restraints, who has his soul under control, who is the master of his passions, who is possessed of intelligence and memory, and who is clever (in the transaction of business), should always be attached to the king. The king should duly honour the minister who is grateful, endued with wisdom, large-hearted, loyal, possessed of mastery over his senses, virtuous, and observant of the dictates of policy. The king should entertain the man who is loyal, grateful, virtuous, possessed of self-control, brave, magnanimous in his acts, and competent to accomplish tasks without the assistance of others. Knowledge makes men proud. The king makes men humble. The man who is afflicted by the king can never obtain happiness. On the other hand, the man who is favoured by the king becomes happy. The king is the heart of his people; he is their great refuge; he is their glory; and he is their highest happiness. Those men, O monarch, who are attached to the king, succeed in conquering both this and the other world. Having governed the earth with the aid of the qualities of self-restraint, truth, and friendship, and having adored the gods by great sacrifices, the king, earning great glory, obtains an eternal abode in heaven.
That best of monarchs, viz., the heroic Vasumanas, ruler of Kosala, thus instructed by Vrihaspati the son of Angiras, began thenceforth to protect his subjects.
Santi Parva, Section LXIX
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Yudhishthira said: What other special duties remain for the king to discharge? How should he protect his kingdom and how subdue his foes? How should he employ his spies? How should he inspire his confidence in the four orders of his subjects, his own servants, wives and servants, O Bharata?
Bhishma said: Listen, O monarch, with attention to the diverse duties of kings and to those acts which the king or one that is in the position of a king should first do. The king should first subdue himself and then seek to subdue his foes. How should a king who has not been able to conquer his own self be able to conquer his foes?
The conquest of these, viz., the aggregate of five, is regarded as the conquest of self. The king that has succeeded in subduing his senses is competent to resist his foes. He should place bodies of foot-soldiers in his forts, frontiers, towns, parks, and pleasure gardens, O delighter of the Kurus, as also in all places where he himself goes, and within his own palace, O tiger among men!
He should employ as spies men looking like idiots or like those that are blind and deaf. Those should all be persons who have been thoroughly examined (in respect of their ability), who are possessed of wisdom, and who are able to endure hunger and thirst. With proper attention, the king should set his spies upon all his counsellors and friends and sons, in his city and the provinces, and in dominions of the chiefs under him.
His spies should be so employed that they may not know one another. He should also, O bull of Bharata’s race, know the spies of his foes by himself setting spies in shops and places of amusements, and concourses of people, among beggars, in his pleasure gardens and parks, in meetings and conclaves of the learned, in the country, in public places, in places where he holds his own court, and in the houses of the citizens. The king possessed of intelligence may thus ascertain the spies despatched by his foes. If these were known, the king may derive much benefit, O son of Pandu!
When the king, by a survey of his own, finds himself weak, he should then, consulting with his counsellors, make peace with a foe that is stronger. The king that is wise should speedily make peace with a foe, even when he knows that he is not weak, if any advantage is to be derived from it. Engaged in protecting his kingdom with righteousness, the king should make peace with those that are possessed of every accomplishment, capable of great exertion, virtuous, and honest. When the king finds himself threatened with danger and about to be overtaken by ruin, he should slay all offenders whom he had overlooked before and all such persons as are pointed at by the people. A king should have nothing to do with that person who can neither benefit nor injure him, or with one who cannot rescue himself from distress.
As regards military operations a king who is confident of his own strength, should at the head of a large force, cheerfully and with courage give the order to march, without proclaiming his destination against one destitute of allies and friends or already at war with another and (therefore) heedless (of danger from other quarters), or one weaker than himself, having first made arrangements for the protection of his own capital.
[Note: ‘Kalya’ means able or strong; ‘Anakrandam’ is ‘without allies’; ‘Anantaram’ means without friends; and ‘Vyasaktam’ is ‘engaged at war with another.’]
A king should not forever live in subjection to another possessed of greater prowess. Though weak, he should seek to afflict the stronger, and resolved upon this, continue to rule his own. He should afflict the kingdom of the stronger one by means of weapons, fire and application of poison. He should also cause dissensions amongst his counsellors and servants. Vrihaspati has said that a king possessed of intelligence should always avoid war for acquisition of territory. The acquisition of dominion should be made by the three well-known means (of conciliation, gift and disunion). The king that is possessed of wisdom should be gratified with those acquisitions that are made by means of conciliation, gift and disunion.
The king, O delighter of the Kurus, should take a sixth of the incomes of his subjects as tribute for meeting the expenses of protecting them. He should also forcibly take away wealth, much or little (as the case may require), from the ten kinds of offenders mentioned in the scriptures for the protection of his subjects. A king should, without doubt, look upon his subjects as his own children. In determining their disputes, however, he should not show compassion. For hearing the complaints and answers of disputants in judicial suits, the king should always appoint persons possessed of wisdom and a knowledge of the affairs of the world, for the state really rests upon a proper administration of justice.
The king should set honest and trustworthy men over his mines, salt, grain, ferries, and elephant corps. The king who always wields with propriety the rod of chastisement earns great merit. The proper regulation of chastisement is the high duty of kings and deserves great applause. The king should be conversant with the Vedas and their branches, possessed of wisdom, engaged in penances, charitable, and devoted to the performance of sacrifices. All these qualities should permanently reside in a king. If the king fails to administer justice, he can neither have heaven nor fame. If a king were afflicted by a stronger one, the former, if possessed of intelligence, should seek refuge in a fort. Assembling his friends for consultation, he should devise proper means. Adopting the policy of conciliation and of producing dissensions, he should devise means for waging war with the assailant. He should set the inhabitants of the woods on the high roads, and, if necessary, cause whole villages to be removed, transplanting all the inhabitants to minor towns or the outskirts of great cities. Repeatedly assuring his wealthy subjects and the principal officers of the army, he should cause the inhabitants of the open country to take refuge in such forts as are well protected.
He should himself withdraw all stores of grain (from the open country into his forts). If that becomes impossible, he should destroy them completely by fire. He should set men for destroying the crops on the fields of the enemy (by producing disunion among the enemy’s subjects). Failing to do this, he should destroy those crops by means of his own troops. He should destroy all the bridges over the rivers in his kingdom. He should bale out the waters of all the water tanks in his dominions, or, if incapable of baling them out, cause them to be poisoned. Disregarding the duty of protecting his friends, he should, in view of both present and future circumstances, seek the protection of the ruler of another kingdom who may happen to be the foe of his foe and who may be competent to deal with his foes on the field of battle.
He should destroy all the smaller forts in his kingdom. He should also cut down all the smaller trees excepting those that are called Chaitya.
[Note: Chaitya trees are those that are regarded holy and unto which the people offer worship.]
He should cause the branches of all the larger trees to be lopped off, but he should not touch the very leaves of those called Chaitya. He should raise outer ramparts round his forts, with enclosures in them, and fill his trenches with water, driving pointed stakes at their bottom and filling them with crocodiles and sharks. He should keep small openings in his walls for making sallies from his fort, and carefully make arrangements for their defense like that of the greater gates. In all his gates he should plant destructive engines. He should plant on the ramparts (of his forts) Sataghnis and other weapons. He should store wood for fuel and dig and repair wells for supply of water to the garrison.
He should cause all houses made of grass and straw to be plastered over with mud, and if it is the summer month, he should, from fear of fire, withdraw (into a place of safety) all the stores of grass and straw. He should order all food to be cooked at night. No fire should be ignited during the day, except for the daily homa (sacred fire ceremony). Particular care should be taken of the fires in smithies and lying-in rooms. Fires kept within the houses of the inhabitants should be well covered. For the effectual protection of the city, it should be proclaimed that condign punishment would overtake the person who lights fires by the daytime. During such times, all beggars, eunuchs, lunatics, and mimes should, O foremost of men, be driven out of town, for if they are permitted to remain, evil will follow.
In places of public resort, in tirthas, in assemblies, and in the houses of the citizens, the king should set competent spies.
[Note: The ‘tirthas’ are eighteen in number, such as the council-room etc.]
The king should cause wide roads to be constructed and order shops, and places for the distribution of water, to be opened at proper stations. Depots (of diverse necessaries), arsenals, camps and quarters for soldiers, stations for the keeping of horses and elephants, encampments of soldiers, trenches, streets and bypaths, houses and gardens for retirement and pleasure, should be so ordered that their sites may not be known to others, O Yudhishthira. A king who is afflicted by a hostile army should gather wealth, and store oil and fat and honey, and clarified butter, and medicines of all kinds, and charcoal and munja grass, leaves, arrows, scribes and draftsmen, grass fuel, poisoned arrows, weapons of every kind such as darts, swords, lances and others. The king should store such articles. He should especially keep ready drugs of every kind, roots and fruits, the four kinds of physicians, actors and dancers, athletes and persons capable of assuming diverse disguises. He should decorate his capital and gladden all his subjects.
The king should lose no time in bringing under his control such persons as may happen to inspire him with fear, be they his servants or counsellors or citizens or neighbouring monarchs. After any task of the king has been accomplished, he should reward those that have aided in its accomplishment with wealth and other proportionate gifts and thankful speeches. It has been laid down in the scriptures, O delighter of the Kurus, that a king pays off his debt when he discomfits his foe or slays him outright.
[Note: ‘Pays off his debt’ i.e., discharges his obligations to his subjects.]
A king should take care of seven things
A king should take care of seven things. Listen to me as I recite them.
They are his own self, his counsellors, his treasury, his machinery for awarding punishments, his friends, his provinces, and his capital.
He should with care protect his kingdom, which consists of these seven limbs.
That king, O tiger among men, who is conversant with the aggregate of six, the triple aggregate, and the high aggregate of three, succeeds in winning the sovereignty of the whole earth. Listen, O Yudhishthira, to what has been called the aggregate of six. These are ruling in peace after concluding a treaty (with the foe), marching to battle, producing disunion among the foe, concentration of forces for inspiring the foe with fear, preparedness for war with readiness for peace, and alliance with others.
Listen now with attention to what has been called the triple aggregate. They are decrease, maintenance of what is, and growth.
The high aggregate of three consists of Virtue, Profit and Pleasure. These should be pursued judiciously. By the aid of virtue, a king succeeds in ruling the earth forever. Touching this matter, Angirasa’s son Vrihaspati himself has sung two verses: ‘Having discharged all his duties and having protected the earth, and having also protected his cities, a king attains to great happiness in haven. What are penances to that king, and what need has he of sacrifices who protects his people properly? Such a king should be regarded as one conversant with every virtue!’
If chastisement did not uphold and protect,
then no body would have studied the Vedas,
and no maiden would have married.
"The highest merit a king (or the president and
the government) can acquire is acquaintance
with the great science of chastisement
(punishment) and administering it properly."
The Mahabharata, Santi Parva, LXIX.
The science of chastisement (punishment)Yudhishthira said: There is the science of chastisement, there is the king, and there are the subjects. Tell me, O grandsire, what advantage is derived by one of these from the others.
Bhishma said: Listen to me, O king, as I describe, O Bharata, the great blessedness of the science of chastisement, in sacred words of grave import.
The science of chastisement forces all men to the observance of the duties of their respective orders. Duly administered, it forces people to virtuous acts.
[Note; The ablative has here the sense of ‘towards’.]
When the four orders attend to their respective duties, when all wholesome barriers are maintained, when peace and happiness are made to flow from the science of chastisement, when the people become freed from all fear, and the three higher orders endeavour according to their respective duties, to maintain harmony, know that men become truly happy at such times.
The king makes the age
Bhishma said: Whether it is the king that makes the age, or it is the age that makes the king, is a question about which you should not entertain any doubt. The truth is that the king makes the age. When the king rules with a complete and strict reliance on the science of chastisement, the foremost of ages called Krita is then said to set in. Righteousness sets in the Krita age. Nothing of unrighteousness exists then. The hearts of men belonging to all the four orders do not take any pleasure in unrighteousness. Without doubt, all men succeed in acquiring the objects they desire and preserving those that have been acquired. All the Vedic rites become productive of merit. All the seasons become delightful and free from evil. The voice, pronunciation, and minds of all men become clear and cheerful. Diseases disappear and all men become long-lived. Wives do not become widows, and no person becomes a miser. The earth yields crops without being tilled, and herbs and plants grow in luxuriance. Barks, leaves, fruits and roots become vigorous and abundant. No unrighteousness is seen. Nothing but righteousness exists. Know these to be the characteristics , O Yuthishthira, of the Krita age.
When the king relies upon only three of the four parts of the science of chastisement leaving out a fourth, the age called Treta sets in. A fourth part of unrighteousness follows in the train of such observance (of the great science of chastisement) by three-fourths. The earth yields crops but waits for tillage. The herbs and plants grow(depending upon tillage).
When the king observes the great science of chastisement by only a half, leaving out the other half, then the age that sets in is called Dwapara. A moiety of unrighteousness follows in the train of such observance of the great science by half. The earth requires tillage and yields crops by half.
When the king, abandoning the great science of chastisement totally, oppresses his subjects by evil means of diverse kinds, the age that sets in is called Kali. During the age called Kali, unrighteousness becomes full and nothing of righteousness is seen. The hearts of men, of all the four orders (Brahman,Kshatriya,Vaishya,Sudra), fall away from their respective duties.Sudras live by abandoning lives of mendicancy, and Brahmanas live by serving others.Men fail to acquire the objects they desire and preserve those already acquired. Intermixture of the four orders takes place. Vedic rites fail to produce fruits. All the seasons cease to be delightful and become fraught with evil. The voice, pronunciation, and minds of men lose vigour. Diseases appear and men die prematurely. Wives become widows and many cruel men are seen. The clouds do not pour seasonably, and crops fail.
Listen to me,O Yudhishthira, the great blessedness of the science of chastisement, in sacred words of great import. The science of chastisement forces all men to the observance of the duties of their respective orders. Duly administered, it forces people to virtuous acts. When the four orders (Brahman,Kshtriya,Vaishya,Sudra) attend to their respective duties, when all wholesome barriers are maintained, when peace and happiness are made to flow from the science of chastisement, when the people become freed from all fear, and the three higher orders endeavour, according to their respective duties to maintain harmony, know that people become truly happy at such times.
The science of chastisement, which establishes all men in the observance of their respective duties, which is the groundwork of all wholesome distinctions, and which truly upholds the world and sets it a going, if properly administered, protects all people like the mother and the father protecting their children. Know,O bull among men, that the very lives of creatures depend upon it. The highest merit a king can acquire is acquaintance with the science of chastisement and administering it properly. Therefore, O thou of Kuru's race, protect thy subjects righteously with the aid of that great science of chastisement. By protecting the subjects and adopting such a conduct, thou wilt surely attain to such blessedness in heaven as is difficult of acquisition.
From the Mahabharat
Santi Parva Section XXXII
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
That insensate person who seeks to transgress authority, be he an attendant, a son, or even a saint, indeed, -all men of such sinful nature, should by every means be chastised or even killed. That man who, addicted to earthly possessions, transgresses wholesome restraints, that offender against social harmony, should be chastised with a strong hand. That king who conducts himself otherwise incurs sin.
From The Mahabharata
Santi Parva Section XV
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Arjuna said: The man armed with the rod of chastisement governs all subjects and protects them. The rod of chastisement is awake when all else is sleep. For this, the wise have characterised the rod of chastisement to be Righteousness itself. The rod of chastisement protects Righteousness and Profit .It protects also.
One class of sinful men desist from sin through fear of the rod of chastisement in the king's hands. Another class desist from similar acts through fear of Yama's rod (death penalty), and yet another from fear of the next world. Another class of persons desist from sinful acts through fear of society. Thus, in this world, whose course is such, everything is dependent on the rod of chastisement.
There is a class of persons who are restrained by only the rod of chastisement from devouring one another. If the rod of chastisement did not protect people, they would have sunk in the darkness of hell. The rod of chastisement (danda) has been so named by the wise because it restrains the ungovernable and punishes the wicked.
For keeping men awake (to their duties) and for the protection of property, ordinances have been established in the world, under the name of chastisement (or punitive legislation). There, where chastisement, of dark complexion and red eyes, stands in an attitude of readyness(to grapple with every offender) and the king is of righteous vision, the subjects never forget themselves. The student and the householder, the recluse in the forest and the religious mendicant, all these walk in their respective ways through fear of chastisement alone. The acts of all creatures become crowned with success only when the policy of chastisement is properly applied.If chastisement were abolished from the world, creatures would soon be destroyed. like fishes in the water, stronger animals prey on the weaker. This truth was formerly spoken by Brahma himself, viz., the chastisement, properly applied upholds creatures.
If there were no chastisement in the world distinguishing the good from the bad, then the whole world would have been enveloped in utter darkness and all things would have been confounded. Even they that are breakers of rules, that are atheists and scoffers of the Vedas, afflicted by chastisement, soon become disposed to observe rules and restrictions. Everyone in this world is kept straight by chastisement. A person naturally pure and righteous is scarce. Yielding to fear of chastisement, man becomes disposed to observe rules and restraints. Chastisement was ordained by the Creator himself for protecting religion and profit, for the happiness of all the four orders, and for making them righteous and modest
If chastisement did not uphold and protect, then nobody would have studied the Vedas, and no maiden would have married.If chastisement did not uphold and protect, then ravage and confusion would have set in on every side, and all barriers would have been swept away, and the idea of property would have disappeared.
Upon chastisement depend all creatures. The learned, therefore, say that chastisement is the root of everything. Upon chastisement rests the heaven that men desire, and upon it rests this world also.There, where foe-destroying chastisement is well applied, no sin, no deception, and no wickedness is to be seen. Men that are fortunate, living with their dear wives and children, eat good food, wear excellent clothes, and cheerfully acquire virtue. All our acts, without doubt, are dependent on wealth; that wealth again is dependent on chastisement.Behold, therefore, the importance of chastisement.
Om Tat Sat