Hamro dharma

Mahabht 12 Santi P.



(Rajadharmanusasana Parva)

OM! HAVING BOWED down to Narayana, and Nara, the foremost of male beings, and unto the goddess Saraswati, must the word Jaya be uttered.

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Having offered oblations, of water unto all their
friends and kinsmen, the sons of Pandu, and Vidura, and Dhritarashtra,
and all the Bharata ladies, continued to dwell there (on the banks of the
sacred stream). The high-souled sons of Pandu desired to pass the period
of mourning,[1] which extended for a month, outside the Kuru city. After
king Yudhishthira the just had performed the water-rites, many
high-souled sages crowned with ascetic success and many foremost of
regenerate Rishis came there to see the monarch. Among them were the
Island-born (Vyasa), and Narada, and the great Rishi Devala, and
Devasthana, and Kanwa. They were all accompanied by best of their pupils.
Many other members of the regenerate order, possessed of wisdom and
accomplished in the Vedas, leading lives of domesticity or belonging to
the Snataka class, came to behold the Kuru king. Those high-souled ones,
as they came, were duly worshipped by Yudhishthira. The great Rishis then
took their seats on costly carpets. Accepting the worship suited to that
period (of mourning and impurity) that was offered them, they sat in due
order around the king. Thousands of Brahmanas offered consolation and
comfort to that king of kings residing on the sacred banks of the
Bhagirathi with heart exceedingly agitated by grief. Then Narada, after
having accosted the Rishis with the Island-born for their first, in due
time, addressed Yudhishthira, the son of Dharma, saying, ‘Through the
might of thy arms and the grace of Madhava, the whole Earth, O
Yudhishthira, hath been righteously won by thee. By good luck, thou hast
escaped with life from this dreadful battle. Observant as thou art o f
the duties of a Kshatriya, dost thou not rejoice, O son of Pandu? Having
slain all thy foes, shalt thou not gratify thy friends, O king? Having
obtained this prosperity, I hope, grief doth not afflict thee still.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Indeed the whole Earth hath been subjugated by me
through my reliance on the might of Krishna’s arms, through the grace of
the Brahmanas, and through the strength of Bhima and Arjuna. This heavy
grief, however, is always sitting in my heart, viz., that through
covetousness I have caused this dreadful carnage of kinsmen. Having
caused the death of the dear son of Subhadra, and of the sons of
Draupadi, this victory, O holy one, appears to me in the light of a
defeat. What wilt Subhadra of Vrishni’s race, that sister-in-law of mine,
say unto me? What also will the people residing in Dwaraka say unto the
slayer of Madhu when he goes thither from this place? This Draupadi,
again, who is ever engaged in doing what is agreeable to us, bereaved of
sons and kinsmen, is paining me exceedingly. This is another topic, O
holy Narada, about which I will speak to thee. In consequence of Kunti
having kept her counsels close in respect of a very important matter,
great has been my grief. That hero who had the strength of ten thousand
elephants, who in this world was an unrivalled car-warrior, who was
possessed of leonine pride and gait, who was endued with great
intelligence and compassion, whose liberality was very great, who
practised many high vows, who was the refuge of the Dhartarashtras, who
was sensitive about his honour, whose prowess was irresistible, who was
ready to pay off all injuries and was always wrathful (in battle), who
overthrew us in repeated encounters, who was quick in the use of weapons,
conversant with every mode of warfare, possessed of great skill, and
endued with wonderful valour (that Karna) was a son of Kunti, born
secretly of her, and therefore, a uterine brother of ours. Whilst we were
offering oblations of water unto the dead, Kunti spoke of him as the son
of Surya. Possessed of every virtue, that child had been cast into the
water. Having placed him in a basket made of light materials, Kunti
committed him to the current of Ganga. He who was regarded by the world
as a Suta’s child born of Radha, was really the eldest son of Kunti and,
therefore, our uterine brother. Covetous of kingdom, alas, I have
unwittingly caused that brother of mine to be slain. It is this that is
burning my limbs like a fire burning a heap of cotton. The white-steeded
Arjuna knew him not for a brother. Neither I, nor Bhima, nor the twins,
knew him for such. He, however, of excellent bow, knew us (for his
brothers). We have heard that on one occasion Pritha went to him for
seeking our good and addressed him, saying, ‘Thou art my son!’ That
illustrious hero, however, refused to obey Pritha’s wishes. Subsequently,
we are informed, he said unto his mother these words, ‘I am unable to
desert Duryodhana in battle! If I do so, it would be a dishonourable,
cruel, and ungrateful act. If, yielding to thy wishes, I make peace with
Yudhishthira, people will say that I am afraid of the white-steeded
Arjuna. Having vanquished Arjuna with Kesava, therefore, in battle, I
will subsequently make peace with Dharma’s son.’ Even these were his
words as we have heard. Thus answered, Pritha once more addressed her son
of broad chest and said, ‘Fight Phalguna then, but spare my four other
sons.’ The intelligent Karna, with joined hands, then replied unto his
trembling mother, saying, ‘If I get thy four other sons even under my
power, I will not slay them. Without doubt, O goddess, thou shalt
continue to have five sons. If Karna be slain with Arjuna, thou shalt
have five! If, on the other hand, Arjuna be slain, thou shalt have five,
numbering me.’ Desirous of the good of her children, his mother once more
said unto him, ‘Go, O Karna, do good unto those brothers of thine whose
good thou always seekest.’ Having said these words, Pritha took his leave
and came back to her abode. That hero has been slain by Arjuna,–the
uterine brother by the brother! Neither Pritha, nor he, had ever
disclosed the secret, O lord! That hero and great bowman was therefore
slain by Arjuna in battle. Subsequently I have come to know, O best of
regenerate ones, that he was my uterine brother. Indeed, at Pritha’s
words I have come to know that Karna was the eldest born! Having caused
my brother to be slain, my heart is burning exceedingly. If I had both
Karna and Arjuna for aiding me, I could have vanquished Vasudeva himself.
Whilst I was tortured in the midst of the assembly by the wicked-souled
sons of Dhritarashtra, my wrath, suddenly provoked, became cooled at
sight of Karna. Even while listening to the harsh and bitter words of
Karna himself on that occasion of our match at dice, to the words, that
Karna uttered from desire of doing what was agreeable to Duryodhana, my
wrath became cooled at sight of Karna’s feet. It seemed to me that
Karna’s feet resembled the feet of our mother Kunti. Desirous of finding
out the reason of that resemblance between him and our mother, I
reflected for a long time. With even my best exertions I failed to find
the cause. Why, indeed, did the earth swallow up the wheels of his car at
the time of battle? Why was my brother cursed? It behoveth thee to recite
all this to me. I desire to hear everything from thee, O holy one! Thou
art acquainted with everything in this world and thou knowest both the
past and the future!’


“Vaisampayana said, ‘That foremost of speakers, the sage Narada, thus
questioned, narrated everything about the manner in which he who was
believed to be a Suta’s son had been cursed (in former days).’

“Narada said, ‘It is even so, O mighty armed one, as thou sayest, O
Bharata! Nothing could resist Karna and Arjuna in battle. This, O sinless
one, that I am about to tell thee is unknown to the very gods. Listen to
me, O mighty-armed one, as it befell in former days. How all the
Kshatriyas, cleansed by weapons should attain to regions of bliss, was
the question. For this, a child was conceived by Kunti in her maidenhood,
capable of provoking a general war. Endued with great energy, that child
came to have the status of a Suta. He subsequently acquired the science
of weapons from the preceptor (Drona), that foremost descendant of
Angirasa’s race. Thinking of the might of Bhimasena, the quickness of
Arjuna in the use of weapons, the intelligence of thyself, O king, the
humility of the twins, the friendship, from earliest years, between
Vasudeva and the wielder of Gandiva, and the affection of the people for
you all, that young man burnt with envy. In early age he made friends
with king Duryodhana, led by an accident and his own nature and the hate
he bore towards you all. Beholding that Dhananjaya was superior to every
one in the science of weapons, Karna. one day approached Drona in private
and said these words unto him, ‘I desire to be acquainted with the Brahma
weapon, with all its mantras and the power of withdrawing it, for I
desire to fight Arjuna. Without doubt, the affection thou bearest to
every one of thy pupils is equal to what thou bearest to thy own son. I
pray that all the masters of the science of weapons may, through thy
grace, regard me as one accomplished in weapons!’ Thus addressed by him,
Drona, from partiality for Phalguna, as also from his knowledge of the
wickedness of Karna, said, ‘None but a Brahmana, who has duly observed
all vows, should be acquainted with the Brahma weapon, or a Kshatriya
that has practised austere penances, and no other.’ When Drona had
answered thus, Karna, having worshipped him, obtained his leave, and
proceeded without delay to Rama then residing on the Mahendra mountains.
Approaching Rama, he bent his head unto him and said, ‘I am a Brahmana of
Bhrigu’s race.’ This procured honour for him. With this knowledge about
his birth and family, Rama received him kindly and said, ‘Thou art
welcome!’ at which Karna became highly glad. While residing on the
Mahendra mountains that resembled heaven itself, Karna met and mixed with
many Gandharvas, Yakshas, and gods. Residing there he acquired all the
weapons duly, and became a great favourite of the gods, the Gandharvas,
and the Rakshasas. One day he roved on the sea-coast by the side of that
asylum. Indeed, Surya’s son, armed with bow and sword, wandered alone,
While thus employed, O Partha, he inadvertently slew, without witting it,
the Homa cow of a certain utterer of Brahma who daily performed his
Agnihotra rite. Knowing that he had perpetrated that act from
inadvertence, he informed the Brahmana of it. Indeed Karna, for the
object of gratifying the owner, repeatedly said, ‘O holy one, I have
killed this thy cow without wilting it. Forgive me the act!’ Filled with
wrath, the Brahmana, rebuking him, said these words, ‘O thou of wicked
conduct, thou deservest to be killed. Let the fruit of this act be thine,
O thou of wicked soul. While fighting him, O wretch whom thou always
challengest, and for whose sake thou strivest so much every day, the
earth shall swallow the wheel of thy car! And while the wheel of thy car
shall thus be swallowed up by the earth, thy foe, putting forth his
prowess, will cut off thy head, thyself being stupefied the while! Leave
me, O vile man! As thou hast heedlessly slain this my cow, even so wilt
thy foe cut off thy head while thou shalt be heedless!’ Though cursed,
Karna still sought to gratify that foremost of Brahmanas by offering him
kine and wealth and gems. The latter, however, once more answered him,
‘All the words will not succeed in falsifying the words spoken by me! Go
hence or remain, do whatever thou likest.’ Thus addressed by the
Brahmana, Karna, hanging down his head from cheerlessness, returned
timidly to Rama, reflecting on that matter.’


“Narada said, ‘That tiger of Bhrigu’s race (viz., Rama), was well-pleased
with the might of Karna’s arms, his affection (for him), his
self-restraint, and the services he did unto his preceptor. Observant of
ascetic penances, Rama cheerfully communicated, with due forms, unto his
penance-observing disciple, everything about the Brahma weapon with the
mantras for withdrawing it. Having acquired a knowledge of that weapon,
Karna began to pass his days happily in Bhrigu’s retreat, and endued with
wonderful prowess, he devoted himself with great ardour to the science of
weapons. One day Rama of great intelligence, while roving with Karna in
the vicinity or his retreat, felt very weak in consequence of the fasts
he had undergone. From affection begotten by confidence, the tired son of
Jamadagni placing his head on Karna’s lap, slept soundly, White his
preceptor was thus sleeping (with head) on his lap, a frightful worm,
whose bite was very painful and which subsisted on phlegm and fat and
flesh and blood, approached the presence of Karna. That blood-sucking
worm, approaching Karna’s thigh, began to pierce it. Through fear of
(awaking) his preceptor, Karna became unable to either throw away or kill
that worm. Though his limb was bored through by that worm, O Bharata, the
son of Surya, lest his preceptor should awake, suffered it to do its
pleasure. Though the pain was intolerable, Karna bore it with heroic
patience, and continued to hold Bhrigu’s son on his lap, without
quivering in the least and without manifesting any sign of pain. When at
last Karna’s blood touched the body of Rama of great energy, the latter
awoke and said these words in fear, ‘Alas, I have been made impure! What
is this that thou art doing, Tell me, casting off all fear, what is the
truth of this matter!’ Then Karna informed him of that worm’s bite. Rama
saw that worm which resembled a hog in shape. It had eight feet and very
keen teeth, and it was covered with bristles that were all pointed like
needles. Called by the name of Alarka, its limbs were then shrunk (with
fear). As soon as Rama cast his, eyes on it, the worm gave up its
life-breath, melting in that blood which it had drawn. All this seemed
wonderful. Then in the welkin was seen a Rakshasa of terrible form, dark
in hue, of a red neck, capable of assuming any form at wilt, and staying
on the clouds,–his object fulfilled, the Rakshasa, with joined hands,
addressed Rama, saying, ‘O best of ascetics, thou hast rescued me from
this hell! Blessed be thou, I adore thee, thou hast done me good!’
Possessed of great energy, the mighty-armed son of Jamadagni said unto
him, ‘Who art thou? And why also didst thou fall into hell? Tell me all
about it.’ He answered, ‘Formerly I was a great Asura of the name of
Dansa. In the Krita period, O sire, I was of the same age with Bhrigu. I
ravished the dearly-loved spouse of that sage. Through his curse I felt
down on the earth in the form of a worm. In anger thy ancestors said unto
me, ‘Subsisting on urine and phlegm, O wretch, thou shalt lead a life of
hell.’ I then besought him, saying, ‘When, O Brahmana, shall this curse
end?’ Bhrigu replied unto me, saying. ‘This curse shall end through Rama
of my race. It was for this that I had obtained such a course of life
like one of uncleansed soul. O righteous one, by thee, however, I have
been rescued from that sinful life.’ Having said these words, the great
Asura, bending his head unto Rama went away. Then Rama wrathfully
addressed Karna, saying, ‘O fool, no Brahmana could endure such agony.
Thy patience is like that of a Kshatriya. Tell me the truth, without
fear.’ Thus asked, Karna, fearing to be cursed, and seeking to gratify
him, said these words, ‘O thou of Bhrigu’s race, know me for a Suta, a
race that has sprung from the intermixture of Brahmanas with Kshatriyas.
People call me Karna the son of Radha. O thou of Bhrigu’s race, be
gratified with my poor self that has acted from the desire of obtaining
weapons. There is no doubt in this that a reverend preceptor in the Vedas
and other branches of knowledge is one’s father. It was for this that I
introduced myself to thee as a person of thy own race.’ Unto the
cheerless and trembling Karna, prostrated with joined hands upon earth,
that foremost one of Bhrigu’s race, smiling though filled with wrath,
answered, ‘Since thou hast, from avarice of weapons, behaved here with
falsehood, therefore, O wretch, this Brahma weapon shalt not dwell in thy
remembrance[2]. Since thou art not a Brahmana, truly this Brahma weapon
shall not, up to the time of thy death, dwell in thee when thou shalt be
engaged with a warrior equal to thyself![3] Go hence, this is no place
for a person of such false behaviour as thou! On earth, no Kshatriya will
be thy equal in battle.’ Thus addressed by Rama, Karna came away, having
duty taken his leave. Arriving then before Duryodhana, he informed him,
saying, ‘I have mastered all weapons!'”


“Narada said, ‘Having thus obtained weapons from him of Bhrigu’s race,
Karna began to pass his days in great joy, in the company of Duryodhana,
O bull of Bharata’s race! Once on a time, O monarch, many kings repaired
to a self-choice at the capital of Chitrangada, the ruler of the country
of the Kalingas. The city, O Bharata, full of opulence, was known by the
name of Rajapura. Hundreds of rulers repaired thither for obtaining the
hand of the maiden. Hearing that diverse kings had assembled there,
Duryodhana. also, on his golden car, proceeded thither, accompanied by
Karna. When the festivities commenced in that self-choice, diverse
rulers, O best of kings, came thither for the hand of the maiden. There
were amongst them Sisupala and Jarasandha and Bhishmaka and Vakra, and
Kapotaroman and Nila and Rukmi of steady prowess, and Sringa who was
ruler of the kingdom females, and Asoka and Satadhanwan and the heroic
ruler of the Bhojas. Besides these, many others who dwelt in the
countries of the South, and many preceptors (in arms) of the mlechcha
tribes, and many rulers from the East and the North, O Bharata, came
there. All of them were adorned with golden Angadas, and possessed of the
splendour of pure gold. Of effulgent bodies, they were like tigers of
fierce might. After all those kings had taken their seats, O Bharata, the
maiden entered the arena, accompanied by her nurse and a guard of
eunuchs. Whilst being informed of the names of the kings (as she made her
round), that maiden of the fairest complexion passed by the son of
Dhritarashtra (as she had passed others before him). Duryodhana, however,
of Kuru’s race, could not tolerate that rejection of himself.
Disregarding all the kings, he commanded the maiden to stop. Intoxicated
with the pride of energy, and relying upon Bhishma and Drona, king
Duryodhana, taking up that maiden on his car, abducted her with force.
Armed with sword, clad in mail, and his fingers cased in leathern fences,
Karna, that foremost of all wielders of weapons riding on his car,
proceeded along Duryodhana’s rear. A great uproar then took place among
the kings, all of whom were actuated by the desire for fight, ‘Put on
your coats of mail! Let the cars be made ready!’ (These were the sounds
that were heard). Filled with wrath, they pursued Karna and Duryodhana,
showering their arrows upon them like masses of clouds pouring rain upon
a couple of hills. As they thus pursued them, Karna felled their bows and
arrows on the ground, each with a single arrow. Amongst them some became
bowless, some rushed bow in hand, some were on the point of shooting
their shafts, and some pursued them, armed with darts and maces.
Possessed of great lightness of hands, Karna, that foremost of all
smiters, afflicted them all. He deprived many kings of their drivers and
thus vanquished all those lords of earth. They then themselves took up
the reins of their steeds, and saying, ‘Go away, go away’, turned away
from the battle with cheerless hearts. Protected by Karna, Duryodhana
also came away, with a joyous heart, bringing with him the maiden to the
city called after the elephant.'”


“Narada said, ‘Hearing of the fame of Karna’s might, the ruler of the
Magadhas, king Jarasandha, challenged him to a single combat. Both
conversant with the celestial weapons, a fierce battle took place between
them in which they struck each other with diverse kinds of arms. At last
when their arrows were exhausted and bows and swords were broken and they
both became carless, they began, possessed of might as they were, to
fight with bare arms. While engaged with him in mortal combat with bare
arms, Karna was about to sever the two portions of his antagonist’s body
that had been united together by Jara. The king (of Magadha), then after
feeling himself very much pained, cast off all desire of hostility and
addressed Karna, saying, ‘I am gratified.’ From friendship he then gave
unto Karna the town Malini. Before this, that tiger among men and
subjugator of all foes (viz., Karna) had been king of the Angas only, but
from that time the grinder of hostile forces began to rule over Champa
also, agreeably to the wishes of Duryodhana, as thou knowest. Thus Karna
became famous on earth for the valour of his arms. When, for thy good,
the Lord of the celestials begged of him his (natural) coat of mail and
ear-rings, stupefied by celestial illusion, he gave away those precious
possessions. Deprived of his car-rings and divested of his natural
armour, he was slain by Arjuna in Vasudeva’s presence. In consequence of
a Brahmana’s curse, as also of the curse of the illustrious Rama, of the
boon granted to Kunti and the illusion practised on him by Indra, of his
depreciation by Bhishma as only half a car-warrior, at the tale of Rathas
and Atirathas, of the destruction of his energy caused by Salya (with his
keen speeches), of Vasudeva’s policy, and, lastly of the celestial
weapons obtained by Arjuna from Rudra and Indra and Yama and Varuna and
Kuvera and Drona and the illustrious Kripa, the wielder of Gandiva
succeeded in slaying Vikartana’s son Karna of effulgence like that of
Surya himself. Even thus had thy brother been cursed and beguiled by
many. As, however, he has fallen in battle, thou shouldst not grieve for
that tiger among men!'”


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Having said these words, the celestial Rishi Narada
became silent. The royal sage Yudhishthira, filled with grief, became
plunged in meditation. Beholding that hero cheerless and unmanned by
sorrow, sighing like a snake and shedding copious tears, Kunti, herself
filled with grief and almost deprived of her senses by sorrow, addressed
him in these sweet words of grave import and well-suited to the occasion,
‘O mighty-armed Yudhishthira, it behoveth thee not to give way to sorrow
thus. O thou of great wisdom, kill this grief of thine, and listen to
what I say. I tried in past times to apprise Karna of his brothership
with thee. The god Surya also, O foremost of all righteous persons, did
the same. All that a well-wishing friend, from desire of good, should say
unto one, was said unto Karna by that god in a dream and once more in my
presence. Neither by affliction nor by reasons could Surya or myself
succeed in pacifying him or inducing him to unite himself with thee.
Succumbing to the influence of Time, he became resolved upon wreaking his
enmity on thee. As he was bent upon doing injuries upon you all, I myself
gave up the attempt.’ Thus addressed by his mother, king Yudhishthira,
with tearful eyes and heart agitated by grief, said these words, ‘In
consequence of thyself having concealed thy counsels, this great
affliction has overtaken me!’ Possessed of great energy, the righteous
king, then, in sorrow, cursed all the women of the world, saying,
‘Henceforth no woman shall succeed in keeping a secret.’ The king, then,
recollecting his sons and grandsons and kinsmen and friends, became
filled with anxiety and grief. Afflicted with sorrow, the intelligent
king, resembling a fire covered with smoke, became overwhelmed with


Vaisampayana said, “The righteous-souled Yudhishthira, with an agitated
heart and burning with sorrow, began to grieve for that mighty
car-warrior Karna. Sighing repeatedly, he addressed Arjuna, saying, ‘If,
O Arjuna, we had led a life of mendicancy in the cities of the Vrishnis
and the Andhakas, then this miserable end would not have been ours in
consequence of having exterminated our kinsmen. Our foes, the Kurus, have
gained in prosperity, while we have become divested of all the objects of
life, for what fruits of righteousness can be ours when we have been
guilty of self-slaughter?[4] Fie on the usages of Kshatriyas, fie on
might and valour, and fie on wrath, since through these such a calamity
hath overtaken us. Blessed are forgiveness, and self-restraint, and
purity, with renunciation and humility, and abstention from injury, and
truthfulness of speech on all occasions, which are all practised by
forest-recluses. Full of pride and arrogance, ourselves, however, through
covetousness and folly and from desire of enjoying the sweets of
sovereignty, have fallen into this plight. Beholding those kinsmen of
ours that were bent on acquiring the sovereignty of the world slain on
the field of battle, such grief hath been ours that one cannot gladden us
by giving the sovereignty of even the three worlds. Alas, having slain,
for the sake of the earth, such lords of earth as deserved not to be
slain by us, we are bearing the weight of existence, deprived of friends
and reft of the very objects of life. Like a pack of dogs fighting one
another for a piece of meat, a great disaster has overtaken us! That
piece of meat is no longer dear to us. On the other hand, it shall be
thrown aside. They that have been slain should not have been slain for
the sake of even the whole earth or mountains of gold, or all the horses
and kine in this world. Filled with envy and a hankering for all earthly
objects, and influenced by wrath and pleasure, all of them, betaking
themselves to the highway of Death, have repaired to the regions of Yama.
Practising asceticism and Brahmacharya and truth and renunciation, sires
wish for sons endued with every kind of prosperity. Similarly, by fasts
and sacrifices and vows and sacred rites and auspicious ceremonies
mothers conceive. They then hold the foetus for ten months. Passing their
time in misery and in expectation of fruit, they always ask themselves in
anxiety, ‘Shall these come out of the womb safely? Shall these live after
birth? Shall they grow in might and be objects of regard on earth? Shall
they be able to give us happiness in this and the other world?’ Alas,
since their sons, youthful in years and resplendent with ear-rings, have
been slain, therefore, those expectations of theirs rendered fruitless,
have been abandoned by them. Without having enjoyed the pleasure of this
world, and without having paid off the debts they owed to their sires and
the gods, they have repaired to Yama’s abode. Alas, O mother, those kings
have been slain just at that time when their parents expected to reap the
fruits of their might and wealth.[5] They were always fitted with envy
and a hankering after earthly objects, and were exceedingly subject to
anger and joy. For this, they could not be expected to enjoy at any time
or any place the fruits of victory.[6] I think that they among the
Panchalas and the Kurus that have fallen (in this battle) have been lost,
otherwise he that has slain would, by that act of his, obtain all regions
of bliss.[7] We are regarded as the cause of the destruction that has
overtaken the world. The fault, however, is really ascribable to the sons
of Dhritarashtra. Duryodhana’s heart was always set upon guile. Always
cherishing malice, he was addicted to deception. Although we never
offended him, yet he always behaved falsely towards us. We have not
gained our object, nor have they gained theirs. We have not vanquished
them, nor have they vanquished us. The Dhartarashtras could not enjoy
this earth, nor could they enjoy women and music. They did not listen to
the counsels of ministers and friends and men learned in the scriptures.
They could not, indeed, enjoy their costly gems and well-filled treasury
and vast territories. Burning with the hate they bore us, they could not
obtain happiness and peace. Beholding our aggrandisement, Duryodhana
became colourless, pale and emaciated. Suvala’s son informed king
Dhritarashtra of this. As a father full of affection for his son,
Dhritarashtra tolerated the evil policy his son pursued. Without doubt,
by disregarding Vidura and the high-souled son of Ganga, and in
consequence of his neglect in restraining his wicked and covetous son,
entirely governed by his passions, the king has met with destruction like
my poor self. Without doubt, Suyodhana, having caused his uterine
brothers to be slain and having east this couple into burning grief, hath
fallen off from his blazing fame. Burning with the hate he bore to us
Duryodhana was always of a sinful heart. What other kinsman of high birth
could use such language towards kinsmen as he, from desire of battle,
actually used in the presence of Krishna? We also have, through
Duryodhana’s fault, been lost for eternity, like suns burning everything
around them with their own energy. That wicked-souled wight, that
embodiment of hostility, was our evil star. Alas, for Duryodhana’s acts
alone, this race of ours has been exterminated. Having slain those whom
we should never have slain, we have incurred the censures of the world.
King Dhritarashtra, having installed that wicked-souled prince of sinful
deeds, that exterminator of his race, in the sovereignty, is obliged to
grieve today. Our heroic foes have been slain. We have committed sin. His
possessions and kingdom are gone. Having slain them, our wrath has been
pacified. But grief is stupefying me. O Dhananjaya, a perpetrated sin is
expiated by auspicious acts, by publishing it wildly, by repentance, by
alms-giving, by penances, by trips to tirthas after renunciation of
everything, by constant meditation on the scriptures. Of all these, he
that has practised renunciation is believed to be incapable of committing
sins anew. The Srutis declare that he that practises renunciation escapes
from birth and death, and obtaining the right rood, that person of fixed
soul attains to Brahma. I shall, therefore, O Dhananjaya, go to the
woods, with your leave, O scorcher of foes, disregarding all the pairs of
opposites, adopting the vow of taciturnity, and walking in the way
pointed out by knowledge.[8] O slayer of foes, the Srutis declare it and
I myself have seen it with my eyes, that one who is wedded to this earth
can never obtain every kind Of religious merit. Desirous of obtaining the
things of this earth, I have committed sin, through which, as the Srutis
declare, birth and death are brought about. Abandoning the whole of my
kingdom, therefore, and the things of this earth, I shall go to the
woods, escaping from the ties of the world, freed from grief, and without
affection for anything. Do thou govern this earth, on which peace has
been restored, and which has been divested of all its thorns. O best of
Kuru’s race, I have no need for kingdom or for pleasure.’ Having said
these words, king Yudhishthira the just stopped. His younger brother
Arjuna then addressed him in the following words.


Vaisampayana said, “Like a person unwilling to forgive an insult, Arjuna
of keen speech and prowess, and possessed of energy, betraying great
fierceness and licking the Corners of his mouth, said these words of
grave import, smiling the while: ‘Oh, how painful, how distressing! I
grieve to see this great agitation of thy heart, since having achieved
such a superhuman feat, thou art bent upon forsaking this great
prosperity. Having slain thy foes, and having acquired the sovereignty of
the earth which has been won through observance of the duties of thy own
order, why shouldst thou abandon everything through fickleness of heart?
Where on earth hath a eunuch or a person of procrastination ever acquired
sovereignty? Why then didst thou, insensate with rage, slay all the kings
of the earth? He that would live by mendicancy, cannot, by any act of
his, enjoy the good things of the earth. Divested of prosperity and
without resources, he can never win fame on earth or acquire sons and
animals. If, O king, abandoning this swelling kingdom, thou livest in the
observance of the wretched mode of life led by a mendicant, what will the
world say of thee? Why dost thou say that abandoning all the good things
of the earth, divested of prosperity, and reft of resources, thou wilt
lead a life of mendicancy like a vulgar person? Thou art born in this
race of kings. Having won by conquest the whole earth, wishest thou from
folly to live in the woods after abandoning everything of virtue and
profit? If thou retirest into the woods, in thy absence, dishonest men
will destroy sacrifices. That sin will certainly pollute thee. King
Nahusha, having done many wicked acts in a state of poverty, cried fie on
that state and said that poverty is for recluses. Making no provision for
the morrow is a practice that suits Rishis. Thou knowest this well. That,
however, which has been called the religion of royalty depends entirely
on wealth. One who robs another of wealth, robs him of his religion as
well.[9] Who amongst us, therefore, O king, would forgive an act of
spoliation that is practised on us? It is seen that a poor man, even when
he stands near, is accused falsely. Poverty is a state of sinfulness. It
behoveth thee not to applaud poverty, therefore. The man that is fallen,
O king, grieveth, as also he that is poor. I do not see the difference
between a fallen man and a poor man. All kinds of meritorious acts flow
from the possession of great wealth like a mountain. From wealth spring
all religious acts, all pleasures, and heaven itself, O king! Without
wealth, a man cannot find the very means of sustaining his life. The acts
of a person who, possessed of little intelligence, suffers himself to be
divested of wealth, are all dried up like shallow streams in the summer
season. He that has wealth has friends. He that has wealth has kinsmen.
He that has wealth is regarded as a true man in the world. He that has
wealth is regarded as a learned man. If a person who hath no wealth
desires to achieve a particular purpose, he meets with failure. Wealth
brings about accessions of wealth, like elephants capturing (wild)
elephants. Religious acts, pleasures, joy, courage, wrath, learning, and
sense of dignity, all these proceed from wealth, O king! From wealth one
acquires family honour. From wealth, one’s religious merit increases. He
that is without wealth hath neither this world, nor the next, O best of
men! The man that hath no wealth succeeds not in performing religious
acts, for these latter spring from wealth, like rivers from a mountain.
He that is lean in respect of (his possession of) steeds and kine and
servants and guests, is truly lean and not he whose limbs alone are so.
Judge truly, O king, and look at the conduct of the gods and the Danavas.
O king, do the gods ever wish for anything else than the slaughter of
their kinsmen (the Asuras)? If the appropriation of wealth belonging to
others be not regarded as righteous, how, O monarch, will kings practise
virtue on this earth? Learned men have, in the Vedas, laid down this
conclusion. The learned have laid it down that kings should live,
reciting every day the three Vedas, seeking to acquire wealth, and
carefully performing sacrifices with the wealth thus acquired. The gods,
through internecine quarrels, have obtained footing in heaven. When, the
very gods have won their prosperity through internecine quarrels, what
fault can there be in such quarrels? The gods, thou seest, act in this
way. The eternal precepts of the Vedas also sanction it. To learn, teach,
sacrifice, and assist at other’s sacrifices,–these are our principal
duties. The wealth that kings take from others becomes the means of their
prosperity. We never see wealth that has been earned without doing some
injury to others. It is even thus that kings conquer this world. Having
conquered, they call that wealth theirs, just as sons speak of the wealth
of their sires as their own. The royal sages that have gone to heaven
have declared this to be the duty of kings. Like water flowing on every
direction from a swollen ocean, that wealth runs on every direction from
the treasuries of kings. This earth formerly belonged to king Dilipa,
Nahusha, Amvarisha, and Mandhatri. She now belongs to thee! A great
sacrifice, therefore, with profuse presents of every kind and requiring a
vast heap of the earth’s produce, awaits thee. If thou dost not perform
that sacrifice, O king, then the sins of this kingdom shall all be thine.
Those subjects whose king performs a horse-sacrifice with profuse
presents, become all cleansed and sanctified by beholding the ablutions
at the end of the sacrifice. Mahadeva himself, of universal form, in a
great sacrifice requiring libations of all kinds of flesh, poured all
creatures as sacrificial libations and then his own self. Eternal is this
auspicious path. Its fruits are never destroyed. This is the great path
called Dasaratha. Abandoning it, O king, to what other path wouldst thou
betake thyself?’


“Yudhishthira said, ‘For a little while, O Arjuna, concentrate thy
attention and fix thy mind and hearing on thy inner soul. If thou
listenest to my words in such a frame of mind, they will meet with thy
approbation. Abandoning all worldly pleasures, I shall betake myself to
that path which is trod by the righteous. I shall not, for thy sake,
tread along the path thou recommendest. If thou askest me what path is
auspicious that one should tread alone, I shall tell thee. If thou dost
not desire to ask me, I shall yet, unasked by thee, tell thee of it.
Abandoning the pleasures and observance of men of the world, engaged in
performing the austerest of penances, I shall wander in the forest, with
the animals that have their home there, living on fruit and roots.
Pouring libations on the: fire at due hours, and performing ablutions at
morn and eve, I shall thin myself by reduced diet, and covering myself
with skins, bear matted locks on my head. Enduring cold, wind, and heat
as also hunger and thirst and toil, I shall emaciate my body by penances
as laid down in the ordinance. Charming to the heart and the ear, I shall
daily listen to the clear strains of, cheerful birds and animals residing
in the woods. I shall enjoy the fragrance of flower-burthened trees and
creepers, and see diverse kinds of charming products that grow in the
forest. I shall also see many excellent recluses of the forest. I shall
not do the slightest injury to any creature, what need be said then of
those that dwell in villages and towns?[10] Leading a retired life and
devoting myself to contemplation, I shall live upon ripe and unripe
fruits and gratify the Pitris and the deities with offerings of wild
fruits and spring water and grateful hymns. Observing in this way the
austere regulations of a forest life, I shall pass my days, calmly
awaiting the dissolution of my body. Or, living alone and observing the
vow of taciturnity, with my head shaved clean, I shall derive my
sustenance by begging each day of only one tree.[11] Smearing my body
with ashes, and availing of the shelter of abandoned houses, or lying at
the foot of trees, I shall live, casting off all things dear or hateful.
Without indulging in grief or joy, and regarding censure and applause,
hope and affliction, equally, and prevailing over every couple of
opposites, I shall live casting off all the things of the world. Without
conversing with anybody, I shall assume the outward form of a blind and
deaf idiot, while living in contentment and deriving happiness from my
own soul. Without doing the least injury to the four kinds of movable and
immovable creatures, I shall behave equally towards all creatures whether
mindful of their duties or following only the dictates of the senses. I
shall not jeer at any one, nor shall I frown at anybody. Restraining all
my senses, I shall always be of a cheerful face. Without asking anybody
about the way, proceeding along any route that I may happen to meet with,
I shall go on, without taking note of the country or the point of the
compass to which or towards which I may go. Regardless of whither I may
proceed, I shall not look behind. Divesting myself of desire and wrath,
and turning my gaze inwards, I shall go on, casting off pride of soul and
body. Nature always walks ahead; hence, food and drink will somehow be
accomplished. I shall not think of those pairs of opposites that stand in
the way of such a life. If pure food in even a small measure be not
obtainable in the first house (to which I may go), I shalt get it by
going to other houses. If I fail to procure it by even such a round, I
shall proceed to seven houses in succession and fill my craving. When the
smoke of houses will cease, their hearth-fires having been extinguished,
when husking-rods will be kept aside, and all the inmates will have taken
their food, when mendicants and guests Will cease to wander, I shall
select a moment for my round of mendicancy and solicit alms at two,
three, or five houses at the most. I shall wander over the earth, after
breaking the bonds of desire. Preserving equability in success and
failure, I shall earn great ascetic merit. I shall behave neither like
one that is fond of life nor like one that is about to die. I shall not
manifest any liking for life or dislike for death. If one strikes off one
arm of mine and another smears the other arm with sandal-paste, I shall
not wish evil to the one or good to the other. Discarding all those acts
conducive to prosperity that one can do in life, the only acts I shall
perform will be to open and shut my eyes and take as much food and drink
as will barely keep up life. Without ever being attached to action, and
always restraining the functions of the senses, I shall give up all
desires and purify the soul of all impurities. Freed from all attachments
and tearing off all bonds and ties, I shall live free as the wind. Living
in such freedom from affections, everlasting contentment will be mine.
Through desire, I have, from ignorance, committed great sins. A certain
class of men, doing both auspicious and inauspicious acts here, maintain
their wives, children, and kinsmen, all bound to them in relations of
cause and effect.[12] When the period of their life runs out, casting off
their weakened bodies, they take upon themselves all the effects of their
sinful acts, for none but the actor is burdened with the consequences of
his acts.[13] Even thus, endued with actions, creatures come into this
wheel of life that is continually turning like the wheel of a car, and
even thus, coming thither, they meet with their fellow-creatures. He,
however, who abandons the worldly course of life, which is really a
fleeting illusion although it looks eternal, and which is afflicted by
birth, death, decrepitude, disease, and pain, is sure to obtain
happiness. When again, the very gods fall down from heaven and great
Rishis from their respective positions of eminence who, that is
acquainted with truths of causes (and effects) would wish to have even
heavenly prosperity?[14] Insignificant kings, having performed diverse
acts relating to the diverse means of kingcraft (known by the means of
conciliation, gift, &c.) often slay a king through some contrivance.
Reflecting on these circumstances, this nectar of wisdom hath come to me.
Having attained it, I desire to get a permanent, eternal, and
unchangeable place (for myself). Always (conducting myself) with such
wisdom and acting in this way, I shall, by betaking myself to that
fearless path of life, terminate this physical frame that is subject to
birth, death, decrepitude, disease, and pain.'”


Bhimasena said, “Thy understanding, O king, has become blind to the
truth, like that of a foolish and unintelligent reciter of the Veda in
consequence of his repeated recitation of those scriptures. If censuring
the duties of kings thou wouldst lead a life of idleness, then, O bull of
Bharata’s race, this destruction of the Dhartarashtras was perfectly
uncalled for. Are forgiveness and compassion and pity and abstention from
injury not to be found in anybody walking along the path of Kshatriya
duties? If we Knew that this was thy intention, we would then have never
taken up arms and slain a single creature. We would then have lived by
mendicancy till the destruction of this body. This terrible battle
between the rulers of the earth would also have never taken place. The
learned have said this all that we see is food for the strong. Indeed,
this mobile and immobile world is our object of enjoyment for the person
that is strong. Wise men acquainted with Kshatriya duties have declared
that they who stand in the way of the person taking the sovereignty of
the earth, should be slain. Guilty of that fault, those that stood as
enemies of our kingdom have all been slain by us. Having slain them, O
Yudhishthira, righteously govern this earth. This our act (in refusing
the kingdom) is like that of a person who having dug a well stops in his
work before obtaining water and comes up smutted with mire. Or, this our
act is like that of a person who having climbed up a tall tree and taken
honey there from meets with death before tasting it. Or, it is like that
of a person who having set out on a long way comes back in despair
without having reached his destination. Or, it is like that of a person
who having slain all his foes, O thou of Kuru’s race, at last Falls by
his own hand. Or, it is like that of a person afflicted with hunger, who
having obtained food, refuses to take it, or of a person under the
influence of desire, who having obtained a woman reciprocating his
passion, refuses to meet with her. We have become objects of censure, O
Bharata, because, O king, we follow thee that art of feeble
understanding, in consequence of thyself being our eldest brother. We are
possessed of mighty arms; we are accomplished in knowledge and endued
with great energy. Yet we are obedient to the words of a eunuch as if we
were entirely helpless. We are the refuge of all helpless persons. Yet,
when people see us so, why would they not say that in respect of the
acquisition of our objects we are entirely powerless? Reflect on this
that I say. It has been laid down that (a life of) renunciation should be
adopted, only in times of distress, by kings overcome with decrepitude or
defeated by foes. Men of wisdom, therefore, do not applaud renunciation
as the duty of a Kshatriya. On the other hand, they that are of clear
sight think that the adoption of that course of life (by a Kshatriya)
involves even the loss of virtue. How can those that have sprung from
that order, that are devoted to the practices of that order, and that
have refuge in them, censure those duties? Indeed, if those duties be
censurable, then why should not the Supreme Ordainer be censured?[15] It
is only those persons that are reft of prosperity and wealth and that are
infidels in faith, that have promulgated this precept of the Vedas (about
the propriety of a Kshatriya’s adoption of a life of renunciation) as the
truth. In reality, however, it is never proper for a Kshatriya to do so.
He who is competent to support life by prowess, he who can support
himself by his own exertions, does not live, but really falls away from
his duty, by the hypocritical externals of a life of renunciation. That
man only is capable of leading a solitary life of happiness in the woods
who is unable to support sons and grandsons and the deities and Rishis
and guests and Pitris. As the deer and boars and birds (though they lead
a forest life) cannot attain to heaven, even so those Kshatriyas that are
not bereft of prowess yet not given to doing good turns cannot attain to
heaven by leading only a forest life. They should acquire religious merit
by other ways. If, O king, anybody were to obtain success from
renunciation, then mountains and trees would surely obtain it! These
latter are always seen to lead lives of renunciation. They do not injure
any one. They are, again, always aloof from a life of worldliness and are
all Brahmacharins. If it be the truth that a person’s success depends
upon his own lot in life and not upon that of other, then (as a person
born in the Kshatriya order) thou shouldst betake thyself to action. He
that is reft of action can never have success. If they that fill only
their own stomachs could attain to success, then all aquatic creatures
would obtain it, for these have none else to support save their own
selves. Behold, the world moves on, with every creature on it employed in
acts proper to its nature. Therefore, one should betake oneself to
action. The man reft of action can never obtain success.'”


“Arjuna said, ‘In this connection an old history is cited, viz., the
discourse between certain ascetics and Sakra, O bull of Bharata’s race! A
number of well-born Brahmana youth of little understanding, without the
hirsute honours of manhood, abandoning their homes, came to the woods for
leading a forest life. Regarding that to be virtue, those youths of
abundant resources became desirous of living as Brahmacharins, having
abandoned their brothers and sires. It so happened that Indra became
compassionate towards them. Assuming the form of a golden bird, the holy
Sakra addressed them, saying, ‘That which is done by persons that eat the
remnants of a sacrifice is the most difficult of acts that men can
achieve.[16] Such an act is highly meritorious. The lives of such men are
worthy of every praise. Having attained the object of life, those men,
devoted to virtue obtain the highest end.’ Hearing these words, the
Rishis said, ‘Lo, this bird applauds those that subsist upon the remnants
of sacrifices. He informs us of it, for we live upon such remnants.’ The
bird then said, ‘I do not applaud you.’ Ye are stationed with mire and
very impure. Living upon offals, ye are wicked. Ye are not persons
subsisting upon the remnants of sacrifice.’

“The Rishis said, ‘We regard this our course of life to be highly
blessed. Tell us, O bird, what is for our good. Thy words inspire us with
great faith.’

“The bird said, ‘If you do not refuse me your faith by arraying
yourselves against your better selves, then I shall tell you words that
are true and beneficial.’

“The Rishis said, ‘We shall listen to thy words, O sire, for the
different paths are all known to thee. O thou of righteous soul, we
desire also to obey thy commands. Instruct us now.’

“The bird said, ‘Among quadrupeds the cow is the foremost. Of metals,
gold is the foremost. Of words, mantras, and of bipeds, the Brahmanas,
are the foremost. These mantras regulate all the rites of a Brahmana’s
life beginning with those appertaining to birth and the period after it,
and ending with those appertaining to death and the crematorium. These
Vedic rites are his heaven, path, and foremost of sacrifices. If it were
otherwise, how could I find the acts (of persons in quest of heaven)
become successful through mantras? He who, in this world, adores his
soul, firmly regarding it to be a deity of a particular kind, obtains
success consistent with the nature of that particular deity.[17] The
seasons measured by half the months lead to the Sun, the Moon, or the
Stars.[18] These three kinds of success, depending upon action are
desired by every creature. The domestic mode of life is very superior and
sacred and is called the field (for the cultivation) of success. By what
path do those men go that censure action? Of little understanding and
deprived of wealth, they incur sin. And since those men of little
understanding live by abandoning the eternal paths of the gods, the paths
of the Rishis, and the paths of Brahma, therefore, they attain to paths
disapproved of by the Srutis.[19] There is an ordinance in the mantras
which says, ‘Ye sacrificer, perform the sacrifice represented by gifts of
valuable things. I wilt give thee happiness represented by sons, animals,
and heaven!’–To live, therefore, in accordance with ordinance is said to
be the highest asceticism of the ascetics. Therefore, ye should perform
such sacrifices and such penances in the shape of gifts. The due
performance of these eternal duties, viz., the worship of the gods, the
study of the Vedas, and the gratification of the Pitris, as also
regardful services unto the preceptors–these are called the austerest of
penances. The gods, by performing such exceedingly difficult penances,
have obtained the highest glory and power. I, therefore, tell you to bear
the very heavy burthen of the duties of domesticity. Without doubt,
penances are the foremost of all things and are the root of all
creatures. Asceticism, however, is to be obtained by leading a life of
domesticity, upon which depends everything. They that eat the remnants of
feasts, after duly apportioning the food morning and evening among
kinsmen, attain to ends that are exceedingly difficult of attainment.
They are called eater of the remnants of feasts who eat after having
served guests and gods and Rishis and kinsmen. Therefore, those persons
that are observant of their own duties, that practise excellent vows and
are truthful in speech, become objects of great respect in the world,
with their own faith exceedingly strengthened. Free from pride, those
achievers of the most difficult feats attain to heaven and live for
unending time in the regions of Sakra.’

“Arjuna continued, ‘Those ascetics then, hearing these words that were
beneficial and fraught with righteousness, abandoned the religion of
renunciation, saying, ‘There is nothing in it,’ and betook themselves to
a life of domesticity. Therefore, O thou that are conversant with
righteousness, calling to thy aid that eternal wisdom, rule the wide
world, O monarch that is now destitute of foes.’


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Hearing these words of Arjuna, O chastiser of foes,
Nakula of mighty arms and a broad chest, temperate in speech and
possessed of great wisdom, with face whose colour then resembled that of
copper, looked at the king, that foremost of all righteous persons, and
spoke these words, besieging his brother’s heart (with reason).’

“Nakula said, ‘The very gods had established their fires in the region
called Visakha-yupa. Know, therefore, O king, that the gods themselves
depend upon the fruits of action.[20] The Pitris, that support (by rain)
the lives of even all disbelievers, observing the ordinances (of the
Creator as declared in the Vedas), are, O king, engaged in action.[21]
Know them for downright atheists that reject the declaration of the Vedas
(which inculcate action). The person that is learned in the Vedas, by
following their declarations in all his acts, attains, O Bharata, to the
highest region of heaven by the way of the deities.[22]

This (domestic mode of life again) has been said by all persons
acquainted with Vedic truths to be superior to all the (other) modes of
life. Knowing this, O king, that the person who in sacrifices gives away
his righteously acquired wealth unto those Brahmanas that are well
conversant with the Vedas, and restrains his soul, is, O monarch,
regarded as the true renouncer. He, however, who, disregarding (a life of
domesticity, that is) the source of much happiness, jumps to the next
mode of life,–that renouncer of his own self,[23] O monarch, is a
renouncer labouring under the quality of darkness. That man who is
homeless, who roves over the world (in his mendicant rounds), who has the
foot of a tree for his shelter, who observes the vow of taciturnity,
never cooks for himself, and seeks to restrain all the functions of his
senses, is, O Partha, a renouncer in the observance of the vow of
mendicancy.[24] That Brahmana who, disregarding wrath and joy, and
especially deceitfulness, always employs his time in the study of the
Vedas, is a renouncer in the observance of the vow of mendicancy.[25] The
four different modes of life were at one time weighed in the balance. The
wise have said, O king, that when domesticity was placed on one scale, it
required the three others to be placed on the other for balancing it.
Beholding the result of this examination by scales, O Partha, and seeing
further, O Bharata, that domesticity alone contained both heaven and
pleasure, that became the way of the great Rishis and the refuge of all
persons conversant with the ways of the world. He, therefore, O bull of
Bharata’s race, who betakes himself to this mode of life, thinking it to
be his duty and abandoning all desire for fruit, is a real renouncer, and
not that man of clouded understanding who goes to the woods, abandoning
home and its surroundings. A person, again, who under the hypocritical
garb of righteousness, fails to forget his desires (even while living in
the woods), is bound by the grim King of death with his deadly fetters
round the neck. Those acts that are done from vanity, are said to be
unproductive of fruit. Those acts, on the other hand, O monarch I that
are done from a spirit of renunciation, always bear abundant fruits.[26]
Tranquillity, self-restraint, fortitude, truth, purity, simplicity,
sacrifices, perseverance, and righteousness,–these are always regarded
as virtues recommended by the Rishis. In domesticity, it is said, are
acts intended for Pitris, gods, guests. In this mode of life alone, O
monarch, are the threefold aims to be attained.[27] The renouncer that
rigidly adheres to this mode of life, in which one is free to do all
acts, has not to encounter ruin either here or hereafter. The sinless
Lord of all creatures, of righteous soul, created creatures, with the
intention that they would adore him by sacrifices with profuse presents.
Creepers and trees and deciduous herbs, and animals that are clean, and
clarified butter, were created as ingredients of sacrifice. For one in
the observance of domesticity the performance of sacrifice is fraught
with impediments. For this, that mode of life has been said to be
exceedingly difficult and unattainable. Those persons, therefore, in the
observance of the domestic mode of life, who, possessed of wealth and
corn and animals, do not perform sacrifices, earn, O monarch, eternal
sin. Amongst Rishis, there are some that regard the study of the Vedas to
be a sacrifice: and some that regard contemplation to be a great
sacrifice which they perform in their minds. The very gods, O monarch,
covet the companionship of a regenerate person like this, who in
consequence of his treading along such a way which consists in the
concentration of the mind, has become equal to Brahma. By refusing to
spend in sacrifice the diverse kinds of wealth that thou hast taken from
thy foes, thou art only displaying thy want of faith. I have never seen,
O monarch, a king in the observance of a life of domesticity renouncing
his wealth in any other way except in the Rajasuya, the Astwamedha, and
other kinds of sacrifice. Like Sakra, the chief of the celestial, O sire,
perform those other sacrifices that are praised by the Brahmanas. That
king, through whose heedlessness the subjects are plunged by robbers, and
who does not offer protection to those whom he is called upon to govern,
is said to be the very embodiment of Kati. If, without giving away
steeds, and kine, and female slaves, and elephants adorned with
trappings, and villages, and populous regions, and fields, and houses,
unto Brahmanas, we retire into the woods with hearts not harbouring
friendly feeling towards kinsmen, even we shall be, O monarch, such Kalis
of the kingly order. Those members of the kingly order that do not
practise charity and give protection (to others), incur sin. Woe is their
portion hereafter and not bliss. If, O lord, without performing great
sacrifices and the rites in honour of thy deceased ancestors, and it,
without bathing in sacred waters, thou betakest thyself to a wandering
life, thou shalt then meet with destruction like a small cloud separated
from a mass and dashed by the winds. Thou shalt then fall off from both
worlds and have to take thy birth in the Pisacha order.[28] A person
becomes a true renouncer by casting off every internal and external
attachment, and not simply by abandoning home for dwelling in the woods.
A Brahmana that lives in the observance of these ordinances in which
there are no impediments, does not fall off from this or the other world.
Observant of the duties of one’s own order,–duties respected by the
ancients and practised by the best of men, who is there, O Partha, that
would grieve, O king, for having in a trice stain in battle his foes that
swelled with prosperity, like Sakra slaying the forces of the Daityas?
Having in the observance of Kshatriya duties subjugated the world by the
aid of thy prowess, and having made presents unto persons conversant with
the Vedas, thou canst, O monarch, go to regions higher than heaven. It
behoves thee not, O Partha, to indulge in grief.”


“Sahadeva said, ‘By casting off all external objects only, O Bharata, one
does not attain to success. By casting off even mental attachments, the
attainment of success is doubtful.[29] Let that religious merit and that
happiness which are his who has cast off external objects but whose mind
still internally covets them, be the portion of our foes! On the other
hand, let that religious merit and that happiness which are his who
governs the earth, having cast off all internal attachments also, be the
portion of our friends. The word mama (mine), consisting of two letters,
is Death’s self; white the opposite word na-mama (not mine), consisting
of three letters, is eternal Brahma.[30] Brahma and death, O king,
entering invisibly into every soul, without doubt, cause all creatures to
act. If this being, O Bharata, that is called Soul, be not ever subject
to destruction, then by destroying the bodies of creatures one cannot be
guilty of slaughter. If, on the other hand, the soul and the body of a
being are born or destroyed together, so that when the body is destroyed
the soul also is destroyed, then the way (prescribed in the scriptures)
of rites and acts would be futile. Therefore, driving away all doubts
about the immortality of the soul, the man of intelligence should adopt
that path which has been trodden by the righteous of old and older times.
The life of that king is certainly fruitless who having acquired the
entire earth with her mobile and immobile creatures, does not enjoy her.
As regards the man again who lives in the forest upon wild fruits and
roots, but whose attachment to things of the earth has not ceased, such a
one, O king, lives within the jaws of Death. Behold, O Bharata, the
hearts and the outward forms of all creatures to be but manifestations of
thy own. They that look upon all creatures as their own selves escape
from the great fear (of destruction).[31] Thou art my sire, thou art my
protector, thou art my brother, and thou art my senior and preceptor. It
behoveth thee, therefore, to forgive these incoherent utterances in
sorrow of a woe-stricken person. True or false, this that has been
uttered by are, O lord of earth, has been uttered from a due regard for
thee, O best of Bharatas, that I entertain!”


Vaisampayana said, “When Kunti’s son, king Yudhishthira the just,
remained speechless after listening to his brothers who were telling
these truths of the Vedas, that foremost of women, viz., Draupadi, of
large eyes and great beauty, and noble descent, O monarch, said these
words unto that bull among kings seated in the midst of his brothers that
resembled so many lions and tigers, and like the leader in the midst of a
herd of elephants. Ever expectant of loving regards from all her husbands
but especially from Yudhishthira, she was always treated with affection
and indulgence by the king. Conversant with duties and observant of them
in practice, that lady of large hips, casting her eyes on her lord,
desired his attention in shooting and sweet words and said as follows.

“Draupadi said, These thy brothers, O Partha, are crying and drying their
palates like chatakas but thou dost not gladden them.. O monarch, gladden
these thy brothers, that resemble infuriated elephants (in prowess), with
proper words,–these heroes that have always drunk of the cup of misery.
Why, O king, while living by the side of the Dwaita lake, didst thou say
unto these thy brothers then residing with thee, and suffering from cold
and wind and sun, even these words, viz.,–‘ rushing to battle from.
desire of victory, we will slay Duryodhana and enjoy the earth that is
capable of granting every wish. Depriving great car-warriors of their
cars and slaying huge elephants, and strewing the field of battle with
the bodies of car-warriors and horsemen and heroes, ye chastisers of
foes, ye will perform great sacrifices of diverse kinds with presents in
profusion. All these sufferings, due to a life of exile in the woods,
will then end in happiness.’ O foremost of all practisers of virtue,
having thyself said these words unto thy brothers then, why, O hero, dost
thou depress our hearts now? A eunuch can never enjoy wealth. A eunuch
can never have children even as there can be no fish in a mire (destitute
of water). A Kshatriya without the rod of chastisement can never shine. A
Kshatriya without the rod of chastisement can never enjoy the earth. The
subjects of a king that is without the rod of chastisement can never have
happiness. Friendship for all creatures, charity, study of the Vedas,
penances,–these constitute the duties of a Brahmana and not of a king, O
best of kings! Restraining the wicked, cherishing the honest, and never
retreating from battle,–these are the highest duties of kings. He is
said to be conversant with duties in whom are forgiveness and wrath,
giving and taking, terrors and fearlessness, and chastisement and reward.
It was not by study, or gift, or mendicancy, that thou hast acquired the
earth. That force of the enemy, O hero, ready to burst upon thee with all
its might, abounding with elephants and horse and cars, strong with three
kinds of strength[32] protected by Drona and Karna and Aswatthaman and
Kripa, has been defeated and slain by thee, O hero! It is for this that I
ask thee to enjoy the earth. Formerly, O puissant one, thou hadst, O
monarch, swayed with might,[33] the region called Jambu, O tiger among
men, abounding with populous districts. Thou hadst also, O ruler of men,
swayed with might that other region called Kraunchadwipa situate on the
west of the great Meru and equal unto Jambu-dwipa itself. Thou hadst
swayed with might, O king, that other region called Sakadwipa on the east
of the great Meru and equal to Krauncha-dwipa itself. The region called
Bhadraswa, on the north of the great Meru and equal to Sakadwipa was also
swayed by thee, O tiger, among men! Thou hadst even penetrated the ocean
and swayed with might other regions, too, O hero, and the very islands
begirt by the sea and containing many populous provinces. Having, O
Bharata, achieved such immeasurable feats, and having obtained (through
them) the adorations of the Brahmanas, how is it that thy soul is not
gratified? Seeing these brothers of thine before thee, O Bharata,–these
heroes swelling with might and resembling bulls or infuriated elephants
(in prowess),–why dost thou not address them in delightful words? All of
you are like celestials. All of you are capable of resisting foes. All of
you are competent to scorch your enemies. If only one of you had become
my husband, my happiness would even then have been very great. What need
I say then, O tiger among men, when all of you, numbering five, are my
husbands (and look after me) like the five senses inspiring the physical
frame? The words of my mother-in-law who is possessed of great knowledge
and great foresight, cannot be untrue. Addressing me, she said, ‘O
princess of Panchala, Yudhishthira will ever keep you in happiness, O
excellent lady! Having slain many thousands of kings possessed of active
prowess, I see, O monarch, that through thy folly thou art about to make
that feat futile. They whose eldest brother becomes mad, have all to
follow him in madness. Through thy madness, O king, all the Pandavas are
about to become mad. If, O monarch, these thy brothers were in their
senses, they would then have immured thee with all unbelievers (in a
prison) and taken upon themselves the government of the earth. That
person who from dullness of intellect acts in this way never succeeds in
winning prosperity. The man that treads along the path of madness should
be subjected to medical treatment by the aid of incense and collyrium, of
drugs applied through the nose, and of other medicines. O best of the
Bharatas, I am the worst of all my sex, since I desire to live on even
though I am bereaved of my children. Thou shouldst not disregard the
words spoken by me and by these brothers of thine that are endeavouring
thus (to dissuade thee from thy purpose). Indeed, abandoning the whole
earth, thou art inviting adversity and danger to come upon thee. Thou
shinest now, O monarch, even as those two best of kings, viz., Mandhatri
and Amvarisha, regarded by all the lords of earth, did in former days.
Protecting thy subjects righteously, govern the goddess Earth with her
mountains and forests and islands. Do not, O king, become cheerless.
Adore the gods in diverse sacrifices. Fight thy foes. Make gifts of
wealth and clothes and other objects of enjoyment unto the Brahmanas, O
best of kings!’


Vaisampayana said, “Hearing these words of Yajnasena’s daughter, Arjuna
once more spoke, showing proper regard for his mighty-armed eldest
brother of unfading glory.

“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, O king! For this, the rod of
chastisement is identified with the triple objects of life. Corn and
wealth are both protected by the rod of chastisement. Knowing this, O
thou that art possessed of learning, take up the rod of chastisement and
observe the course of the world. One class of sinful men desist from sin
through fear of the rod of chastisement in the king’s bands. Another
class desist from similar acts through fear of Yama’s rod, and yet
another from fear of the next world. Another class of persons desist from
sinful acts through fear of society. Thus, O king, 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, The chastisement of
Brahmanas should be by word of mouth; of Kshatriyas, by giving them only
that much of food as would suffice for the support of life; of Vaisyas,
by the imposition of fines and forfeitures of property, while for Sudras
there is no punishment.[34] For keeping men awake (to their duties) and
for the protection of property, ordinances, O king, have been established
in the world, under the name of chastisement (or punitive legislation).
Thither where chastisement, of dark complexion and red eyes, stands in an
attitude of readiness (to grapple with every offender) and the king is of
righteous vision, the subjects never forget themselves. The Brahmacharin
and the house-holder, the recluse in the forest and the religious
mendicant, all these walk in their respective ways through fear of
chastisement alone. He that is without any fear, O king, never performs a
sacrifice. He that is without fear never giveth away. The man that is
without any fear never desires to adhere to any engagement or compact.
Without piercing the vitals of others, without achieving the most
difficult feats and without staying creatures like a fisherman (slaying
fish), no person can obtain great prosperity.[35] Without slaughter, no
man has been able to achieve fame in this world or acquire wealth or
subjects. Indra himself, by the slaughter of Vritra, became the great
Indra. Those amongst the gods that are given to slaughtering others are
adored much more by men. Rudra, Skanda, Sakra, Agni, Varuna, are all
slaughterers. Kala and Mrityu and Vayu and Kuvera and Surya, the Vasus,
the Maruts, the Sadhyas, and the Viswadevas, O Bharata, are all
slaughterers. Humbled by their prowess, all people bend to those gods,
but not to Brahman or Dhatri or Pushan at any time. Only a few men that
are noble of disposition adore in all their acts those among the gods
that are equally disposed towards all creatures and that are
self-restrained and peaceful. I do not behold the creature in this world
that supports life without doing any act of injury to others. Animals
live upon animals, the stronger upon the weaker. The mongoose devours
mice; the cat devours the mongoose; the dog devours the cat; the dog
again is devoured by the spotted leopard. Behold all things again are
devoured by the Destroyer when he comes! This mobile and immobile
universe is food for living creatures. This has, been ordained by the
gods. The man of knowledge, therefore, is never stupefied at it. It
behoveth thee, O great king, to become that which thou art by birth.
Foolish (Kshatriyas) alone, restraining wrath and joy take refuge in the
woods. The very ascetics cannot support their lives without killing
creatures. In water, on earth, and fruits, there are innumerable
creatures. It is not true that one does not slaughter them. What higher
duty is there than supporting one’s life?[36] There are many creatures
that are so minute that their existence can only be inferred. With the
failing of the eyelids alone, they are destroyed. There are men who
subduing wrath and pride betake themselves to ascetic courses of life and
leaving village and towns repair to the woods. Arrived there, those men
may be seen to be so stupefied as to adopt the domestic mode of life once
more. Others may be seen, who (in the observance of domesticity) tilling
the soil, uprooting herbs, cutting off trees and killing birds and
animals, perform sacrifices and at last attain to heaven. O son of Kunti,
I have no doubt in this that 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 wood soon be
destroyed. Like fishes in the water, stronger animals prey on the weaker.
This truth was formerly spoken by Brahmana himself, viz., that
chastisement, properly applied upholds creatures. Behold, the very fires,
when extinguished, blaze up again, in fright, when blown. This is due to
the fear of force or chastisement. 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.[37] Everyone in this world is kept
straight by chastisement. A person naturally pure and righteous is
scarce. Yielding to the 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
could not inspire fear, then ravens and beasts of prey would have eaten
up all other animals and men and the clarified butter intended for
sacrifice. If chastisement did not uphold and protect, then nobody would
have studied the Vedas, nobody would have milked a milch cow, and no
maiden would have married.[38] 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. If chastisement did not uphold and protect, people
could never duly perform annual sacrifices with large presents. If
chastisement did not uphold and protect, no one, to whatever mode of life
he might belong, would observe the duties of that mode as declared (in
the scriptures), and no one would have succeeded in acquiring
knowledge.[39] Neither camels, nor oxen, nor horses, nor mules, nor
asses, would, even if yoked thereto, drag cars and carriages, if
chastisement did not uphold and protect. 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. Thither where foe-destroying chastisement is
well applied, no sin, no deception, and no wickedness, is to be seen. If
the rod of ‘chastisement be not uplifted, the dog will lick the
sacrificial butter. The crow also would take away the first (sacrificial)
offering, if that rod were not kept uplifted. Righteously or
unrighteously, this kingdom hath now become ours. Our duty now is to
abandon grief. Do thou, therefore, enjoy it and perform sacrifices. 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. Duties have been declared for only the maintenance of the
relations of the world. There are two things here, viz., abstention from
injury and injury prompted by righteous motives. Of these, two, that is
superior by which righteousness may be acquired.[40] There is no act that
is wholly meritorious, nor any that is wholly wicked. Right or wrong, in
all acts, something of both is seen. Subjecting animals to castration,
their horns again are cut off. They are then made to bear weights, are
tethered, and chastised. In this world that is unsubstantial and rotten
with abuses and rendered painful, O monarch, do thou practise the ancient
customs of men, following the rules and analogies cited above. Perform
sacrifices, give alms, protect thy subjects, and practise righteousness.
Slay thy foes, O son of Kunti, and protect thy friends. Let no
cheerlessness be thine. O king, while slaying foes. He that does it, O
Bharata, does not incur the slightest sin. He that takes up a weapon and
slays an armed foe advancing against him, does not incur the sin of
killing a foetus, for it is the wrath of the advancing foe that provokes
the wrath of the slayer. The inner soul of every creature is incapable of
being slain. When the soul is incapable of being slain, how then can one
be slain by another? As a person enters a new house, even so a creature
enters successive bodies. Abandoning forms that are worn out, a creature
acquires new forms. People capable of seeing the truth regard this
transformation to be death.'”


Vaisampayana said, “After the conclusion of Arjuna’s speech, Bhimasena of
great wrath and energy, mustering all his patience, said these words unto
his eldest brother, ‘Thou art, O monarch, conversant with all duties.
There is nothing unknown to thee. We always wish to imitate thy conduct,
but, alas, we cannot do it!–“I will not say anything! I will not say
anything–! Even this is what I had wished! Impelled, however, by great
grief I am constrained to say something. Listen to these words of mine, O
ruler of men! Through the stupefaction of thy faculties, everything is
endangered, and ourselves are being made cheerless and weak. How is it
that thou that art the ruler of the world, thou that art conversant with
all branches of knowledge, sufferest thy understanding to be clouded, in
consequence of cheerlessness, like a coward? The righteous and
unrighteous paths of the world are known to thee. There is nothing
belonging either to the future or the present that is also unknown to
thee, O puissant one! When such is the case, O monarch, I will indicate,
O ruler of men, the reasons in favour of your assuming sovereignty.
Listen to me with undivided attention. There are two kinds of diseases,
viz., physical and mental. Each springs from the other. None of them can
be seen existing independently. Without doubt, mental diseases spring
from physical ones. Similarly physical diseases spring from mental ones.
This is the truth. He that indulgeth in regrets on account of past
physical or mental woes, reapeth woe from woe and suffereth double woe.
Cold, heat, and wind,–these three are the attributes of the body.[41]
Their existence in harmony is the sign of health. If one of the three
prevails over the rest, remedies have been laid down. Cold is checked by
heat, and heat is checked by cold. Goodness, passion, and darkness are
the three attributes of the mind. The existence of these three in harmony
is the sign of (mental) health. If one of these prevails over the rest,
remedies have been prescribed. Grief is checked by joy, and joy is
checked by grief. One, living in the present enjoyment of this, wishes to
recollect his past woes. Another, living in the present suffering of woe,
wishes to recollect his past bliss. Thou, however, wert never sad in
grief or glad in bliss.[42] Thou, shouldst not, therefore, use thy memory
for becoming sad during times of bliss, or glad during times of woe. It
seems that Destiny is all-powerful. Or, if it be thy nature, in
consequence of which thou art thus afflicted, how is it that it does not
behove thee to recollect the sight thou sawest before, viz., the
scantily-clad Krishna dragged, while in her season, before the
assembly.[43] Why does it not behove thee to recollect our expulsion from
the (Kuru) city and our exile (into the woods) dressed in deerskins, as
also our living in the great forests? Why hast thou forgotten the woes
inflicted by Jatasura, the battle with Chitrasena, and the distress
suffered at the hands of the Sindhu king? Why hast thou forgotten the
kick received by the princess Draupadi from Kichaka white we were living
in concealment? A fierce battle, O chastiser of foes, like that which
thou hast fought with Bhishma and Drona is now before thee, to be fought
(however) with thy mind alone. In deed, that battle is now before thee in
which there is no need of arrows, of friends, of relatives and kinsmen,
but which will have to be fought with thy mind alone. If thou givest up
thy life-breath before conquering in this battle, then, assuming another
body, thou shalt have to fight these very foes again.[44] Therefore,
fight that battle this very day, O bull of Bharata’s race, disregarding
the concerns of thy body, and aided by thy own acts, conquer and identify
with thy mind’s foe.[45] If thou canst not win that battle, what wilt be
thy condition? On the other hand, by winning it, O monarch, thou shalt
have attained the great end of life. Applying thy intellect to this, and
ascertaining the right and the wrong paths of creatures, follow thou the
course adopted by thy sire before thee and govern properly thy kingdom.
By good luck, O king, the sinful Duryodhana hath been stain with all his
followers. By good luck, thou too hast attained to the condition of
Draupadi’s locks.[46] Perform with due rites and profuse presents the
horse-sacrifice. We, are thy servants, O son of Pritha, as also Vasudeva
of great energy!'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘Discontent, heedless attachment to earthly goods,
the absence of tranquillity, might, folly, vanity, and anxiety,–affected
by these sins, O Bhima, thou covetest sovereignty. Freed from desire,
prevailing over joy and grief and attaining to tranquillity, strive thou
to be happy. That peerless monarch who will govern this unbounded earth,
will have but one stomach. Why dost thou then applaud this course of
life? One’s desires, O bull of Bharata’s race, are incapable of being
filled in a day, or in many months. Desire, which is incapable of
gratification, cannot, indeed, be fitted in course of one’s whole life.
Fire, when fed with fuel, blazeth forth; when not so fed, it is
extinguished. Do thou, therefore, extinguish with little food the fire in
thy stomach when it appears. He that is bereft of wisdom seeks much food
for his stomach. Conquer thy stomach first. (Thou shalt then be able to
conquer the Earth). The earth being conquered, that which is for thy
permanent good will then be won by thee. Thou applaudest desires and
enjoyments and prosperity. They, however, that have renounced all
enjoyments and reduced their bodies by penances, attain to regions of
beatitude. The acquisition and preservation of kingdom is attended with
both righteousness and unrighteousness. The desire for them exists in
thee. Free thyself, however, from thy great burthens, and adopt
renunciation. The tiger, for filling one stomach of his, slaughters many
animals. Other animals destitute of strength and moved by covetousness
live upon the tiger’s prey.[47] If kings, accepting earthly possessions,
practise renunciation, they can never have contentment. Behold the loss
of understanding that is noticeable in them. As a matter of fact,
however, they who subsist on leaves of trees, or use two stones only or
their teeth alone for husking their grain, or live upon water only or air
alone, succeed in conquering hell.[48] That king who rules this wide
unbounded earth, and that person who regards gold and pebbles equally,
amongst these two, the latter is said to have attained the object of his
life and not the former. Depending, therefore, upon that which is the
eternal refuge of joy both here and hereafter, cease thou to act and hope
with respect to thy wishes and cease to bear attachment to them. They
that have given up desire and enjoyment have never to grieve. Thou,
however, grievest for enjoyments.[49] Discarding desire and enjoyment,
thou mayst succeed in liberating thyself from false speech.[50] There are
two well-known paths (for us), viz., the path of the Pitris and the path
of the gods. They that perform sacrifices go by the Pitri-path, while
they that are for salvation, go by the god-path.[51] By penances, by
Brahmacharya, by study (of the Vedas), the great Rishis, casting off
their bodies, proceeded to regions that are above the power of Death.
Worldly enjoyments have been styled as bonds, They have also been called
Action. Liberated from those two sins (viz., bonds and action), one
attains to the highest end. Mention is made of a verse sung (of old) by
Janaka who was freed from the pairs of opposites, liberated from desire
and enjoyments, and observant of the religion of Moksha. That verse runs
thus: ‘My treasures are immense, yet I have nothing! If again the whole
of Mithila were burnt and reduced to ashes, nothing of mine will be
burnt!’ As a person on the hill-top looketh down upon men on the plain
below, so he that has got up on the top of the mansion of knowledge,
seeth people grieving for things that do not call for grief. He, however,
that is of foolish understanding, does not see this. He who, casting his
eyes on visible things, really seeth them, is said to have eyes and
understanding. The faculty called understanding is so called because of
the knowledge and comprehension it gives of unknown and incomprehensible
things. He who is acquainted with the words of persons that are learned,
that are of cleansed souls, and that have attained to a state of Brahma,
succeeds in obtaining great honours. When one seeth creatures of infinite
diversity to be all one and the same and to be but diversified emanations
from the same essence, one is then said to have attained Brahma.[52]
Those who reach this high state of culture attain to that supreme and
blissful end, and not they who are without knowledge, or they who are of
little and narrow souls, or they who are bereft of understanding, or they
who are without penances. Indeed, everything rests on the (cultivated)


Vaisampayana said, “When Yudhishthira, after saying these words, became
silent, Arjuna, afflicted by that speech of the king, and burning with
sorrow and grief, once more addressed his eldest brother, saying, ‘People
recite this old history, O Bharata, about the discourse between the ruler
of the Videhas and his queen. That history has reference to the words
which the grief-stricken spouse of the ruler of the Videhas had said to
her lord when the latter, abandoning his kingdom, had resolved to lead a
life of mendicancy. Casting off wealth and children and wives and
precious possessions of various kinds and the established path for
acquiring religious merit and fire itself.[53] King Janaka shaved his
head (and assumed the garb of a mendicant). His dear spouse beheld him
deprived of wealth, installed in the observance of the vow of mendicancy,
resolved to abstain from inflicting any kind of injury on others, free
from vanity of every kind, and prepared to subsist upon a handful of
barley fallen off from the stalk and to be got by picking the grains from
crevices in the field. Approaching her lord at a time when no one was
with him, the queen, endued with great strength of mind, fearlessly and
in wrath, told him these words fraught with reason: ‘Why hast thou
adopted a life of mendicancy, abandoning thy kingdom full of wealth and
corn? A handful of fallen off barley cannot be proper for thee. Thy
resolution tallies not with thy acts,[54] since abandoning thy large
kingdom thou covetest, O king, a handful of grain! With this handful of
barley, O king, wilt thou succeed in gratifying thy guests, gods. Rishis
and Pitris? This thy labour, therefore, is bootless. Alas, abandoned by
all these, viz., gods, guest and Pitris, thou leadest a life, of
wandering mendicancy, O king, having cast off all action. Thou wert,
before this, the supporter of thousands of Brahmanas versed in the three
Vedas and of many more besides. How canst thou desire to beg of them thy
own food today? Abandoning thy blazing prosperity, thou castest thy eyes
around like a dog (for his food). Thy mother hath today been made sonless
by thee, and thy spouse, the princess of Kosala, a widow. These helpless
Kshatriyas, expectant of fruit and religious merit, wait upon thee,
placing all their hopes on thee. By killing those hopes of theirs, to
what regions shalt thou go, O king, especially when salvation is doubtful
and creatures are dependent on actions?[55] Sinful as thou art, thou hast
neither this world nor the other, since thou wishest to live, having cast
off thy wedded wife?[56] Why, indeed, dost thou lead a life of wandering
mendicancy, abstaining from all actions, after having abandoned garlands
and perfumes and ornaments and robes of diverse kinds? Having been, as it
were, a large and sacred take unto all creatures, having been a mighty
tree worthy of adoration and granting its shelter unto all, alas, how
canst thou wait upon and worship others? If even an elephant desists from
all work, carnivorous creatures coming in packs and innumerable worms
would eat it up. What need be said of thyself that art so powerless?[57]
How couldst thy heart be set on that mode of life which recommends an
earthen pot, and a triple-headed stick, and which forces one to abandon
his very clothes and which permits the acceptance of only a handful of
barley after abandonment of everything? If, again, thou sayest that
kingdom and a handful of barley are the same to thee, then why dost thou
abandon the former! If, again, a handful of barley becomes an object of
attachment with thee, then, thy original resolution (of abandoning
everything) falls to the ground, If, again, thou canst act up to thy
resolution of abandoning everything! then who am I to thee, who art thou
to me, and what can be thy grace to me?[58] If thou beest inclined to
grace, rule then this Earth! They that are desirous of happiness but are
very poor and indigent and abandoned by friends may adopt renunciation.
But he who imitates those men by abandoning palatial mansions and beds
and vehicles and robes and ornaments, acts improperly, indeed. One always
accepts gifts made by others; another always makes gifts. Thou knowest
the difference between the two. Who, indeed, of these two shouldst be
regarded the superior? If a gift be made to one who always accepts gifts,
or to one that is possessed of pride, that gift becomes bootless like the
clarified butter that is poured upon a forest-conflagration.[59] As a
fire, O king, never dies till it has consumed all that has been thrown
into it, even so a beggar can never be silenced tilt he receives a
donative. In this world, the food that is given by a charitable person is
the sure support of the pious. If, therefore, the king does not give
(food) where will the pious that are desirous of salvation go?[60] They
that have food (in their houses) are house-holders. Mendicants are
supported by them. Life flows from food. Therefore, the giver of food is
the giver of life. Coming out from among those that lead a domestic mode
of life, mendicants depend upon those very persons from whom they come.
Those self-restrained men, by doing this, acquire and enjoy fame and
power. One is not to be called a mendicant for his having only renounced
his possessions, or for his having only adopted a life of dependence on
eleemosynary charity. He who renounces the possessions and pleasures of
the world in a sincere frame of mind is to be regarded a true
mendicant.[61] Unattached at heart, though attached in outward show,
standing aloof from the world, having broken all his bonds, and regarding
friend and foe equally, such a man, O king, is regarded to be
emancipated! Having shaved their heads clean and adopted the brown robe,
men may be seen to betake themselves to a life of wandering mendicancy,
though bound by various ties and though ever on the lookout for bootless
wealth. They who, casting off the three Vedas, their usual occupations,
and children, adopt a life or mendicancy by taking up the triple-headed
crutch and the brown robe, are really persons of little understanding.
Without having cast off anger and other faults, the adoption of only the
brown robe, know, O king, is due to the desire of earning the means of
sustenance. Those persons of clean-shaven heads that have set up the
banner of virtue, have this only (viz., the acquisition of sustenance)
for their object in life. Therefore, O king, keeping thy passions under
control, do thou win regions of bliss hereafter by supporting them that
are truly pious amongst men of matted locks or clean-shaven heads, naked
or clad in rags, or skins or brown robes. Who is there that is more
virtuous than he who maintains his sacred fire, who performs sacrifices
with presents of animals and Dakshina, and who practises charity day and

“Arjuna continued, ‘King Janaka is regarded to have been a truth-knowing
person in this world. Even he, in this matter (viz., the ascertainment of
duty) had become stupefied. Do not yield to stupefaction! Even thus the
duties of Domesticity are observed by persons practising charity. By
abstaining from injuries of all kinds, by casting off desire and wrath,
by being engaged in protecting all creatures, by observing the excellent
duty of charity, and lastly by cherishing superiors and persons of age,
we shall succeed in attaining such regions of bliss as we like. By duly
gratifying gods, guests, and all creatures, by worshipping Brahmanas, and
by truthfulness of speech, we shall certainly attain to desirable regions
of bliss.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘I am conversant with both the Vedas and the
scriptures that lead to the attainment of Brahma. In the Vedas there are
precepts of both kinds, viz., those that inculcate action and those that
inculcate renouncement of action. The scriptures are confounding and
their conclusions are based upon reasons. The truth, however, that is in
the Mantras, is duly known to me. Thou art conversant only with weapons
and observant of the practices of heroes. Thou art unable to understand
truly the sense of the scriptures. If thou wert really acquainted with
duty, then thou couldst have understood that words such as these ought
not to have been addressed to me by even one possessed of the clearest
insight into the meaning of the scriptures and acquainted with the truths
of religion. That, however, which thou hast said unto me, induced by
fraternal affection, has been fit and proper, O son of Kunti! I am, for
that, pleased with thee, O Arjuna! There is no one equal to thee in the
three worlds in all duties connected with battle and in skill in respect
of diverse kinds of acts. Thou mayst, therefore, speak of the subtleties
connected with those subjects,–subtleties, that is, that are
impenetrable by others. It behoveth thee not, however, O Dhananjaya, to
doubt my intelligence. Thou art conversant with the science of battle,
but thou hast never waited upon the aged. Thou knowest not the
conclusions arrived at by those that have studied the subject in brief
and detail. Even this is the conclusion of intelligent men whose
understanding are bent on achieving salvation, viz., that amongst ascetic
penances, renunciation, and knowledge of Brahma, the second is superior
to the first, and the third is superior to the second. This, however,
that thou thinkest, viz., that there is nothing superior to wealth, is an
error. I will convince thee of it, so that wealth may not again appear to
thee in that light. All men that are righteous are seen to be devoted to
ascetic penances and the study of the Vedas. The Rishis also, that have
many eternal regions for them, have the merit of penances. Others
possessed of tranquillity of soul, having no enemies, and dwelling in the
woods, have, through penances and study of the Vedas, proceeded to
heaven. Pious men, by restraining desire for worldly possessions, and
casting off that darkness which is born of folly, proceed northward
(i.e., by luminous paths) to the regions reserved for practisers of
renunciation. The path that lies to the south and that leads to regions
of light (i.e., lunar regions), are reserved for men devoted to action.
These are attained by persons subject to birth and death. That end,
however, which persons desirous of salvation have before their eyes, is
indescribable. Yoga is the best means for attaining to it. It is not easy
to explain it (to thee). Those that are learned live, reflecting on the
scriptures from desire of finding what is unreal. They are, however,
often led away to this and to that in the belief that the object of their
search exists in this and that. Having mastered, however, the Vedas, the
Aranyakas, and the other scriptures, they miss the real, like men failing
to find solid timber in an uprooted banana plant. Some there are who.,
disbelieving in its unity, regard the Soul, that dwells in this physical
frame consisting of the five elements, to be possessed of the attributes
of desire and aversion (and others).[62] Incapable of being seen by the
eye, exceedingly subtle, and inexpressible by words, it revolves in a
round (of re-births) among the creatures of the earth, keeping before it
that which is the root of action.[63] Having made the Soul advance
towards itself which is the spring of every kind of blessedness, having
restrained all desires of the mind, and having cast off all kinds of
action, one may become perfectly independent and happy. When there is
such a path that is trod by the righteous and that is attainable by
Knowledge, why, O Arjuna, dost thou applaud wealth which is full of every
kind of calamity? Men of olden times that were conversant with the
scriptures, O Bharata,–men that were always engaged in gifts and
sacrifice and action, were of this opinion. O Bharata! There are some
fools who, accomplished in the science of argumentation, deny the
existence of the Soul, in consequence of the strength of their
convictions of a previous life. It is very difficult to make them accept
this truth about final emancipation.[64] Those wicked men, though
possessed of great learning, travel all over the earth, making speeches
in assemblies, and deprecating the true doctrine about emancipation. O
Partha, who else will succeed in understanding that which we do not
understand?’ Indeed, (as those men cannot understand the true meaning of
the scriptures), similarly they cannot succeed in knowing those wise and
pious persons that are truly great and that have deep acquaintance with
the scriptures. O son of Kunti, men acquainted with truth obtain Brahma
by asceticism and intelligence, and great happiness by renunciation.’


Vaisampayana said, “After Yudhishthira had stopped, the great ascetic
Devasthana, possessed of eloquence, said these words, fraught with
reason, unto the king.”

“Devasthana said, ‘Phalguna has told thee that there is nothing superior
to wealth. I shall discourse to thee on that subject. Listen to me with
undivided attention, O Ajatasatru, thou hast righteously won the earth.
Having won her, it behoves thee not, O king, to abandon her without
cause. Four modes of life are indicated in the Vedas. Do thou, O king,
duly pass through them, one after another. At present thou shouldst,
therefore, perform great sacrifices with profuse presents. Amongst the
very Rishis, some are engaged in the sacrifice represented by Vedic
study, and some in that presented by knowledge. Therefore, O Bharata,
thou must know that the very ascetics also are addicted to action. The
Vaikhanasas, however, are said to preach that he who does not seek for
wealth is superior to him that seeks for it.[65] I think that he who
would follow that precept would incur many faults. Men collect together
diverse things (for the performance of sacrifices) simply because of the
(Vedic) ordinance. He who, tainted by his own understanding, giveth away
wealth to an undeserving person without giving it to the deserving, doth
not know that he incurs the sin of killing a foetus.[66] The exercise of
the duty of charity after discriminating the deserving from the
undeserving is not easy. The Supreme Ordainer created wealth for
sacrifice, and He created man also for taking care of that wealth and for
performing sacrifice. For this reason the whole of one’s wealth should be
applied to sacrifice. Pleasure would follow from it as a natural
consequence. Possessed of abundant energy, Indra, by the performance of
diverse sacrifices with profuse gifts of valuables, surpassed all the
gods. Having got their chiefship by that means, he shineth in heaven.
Therefore, everything should be applied to sacrifices. Clad in
deer-skins, the high-souled Mahadeva, having poured his own self as a
libation in the sacrifice called Sarva, became the first of gods, and
surpassing all creatures in the universe and prevailing over them by
means of that achievement, shines in resplendence. King Marutta, the son
of Avikshit, by the profusion of his wealth, vanquished Sakra himself,
the chief of the gods. In the great sacrifice he performed, all the
vessels were of gold, and Sree herself came in person. Thou hast heard
that the great king Harischandra, having performed sacrifices, earned
great merit and great happiness. Though a man, he nevertheless vanquished
Sakra by his wealth. For this reason everything should be applied to


“Devasthana said, ‘In this connection is cited an old history, viz., the
discourse that Vrihaspati, asked by Indra, delivered unto him. Vrihaspati
said, ‘Contentment is the highest heaven, contentment is the highest
bliss. There is nothing higher than contentment. Contentment stands as
the highest. When one draws away all his desires like a tortoise drawing
in all it limbs, then the natural resplendence of his soul soon manifests
itself. When one does not fear any creature, nor any creature is
frightened at one, when one conquers one’s desire and aversion, then is
one said to behold one’s soul. When one, indeed, in word and thought,
seeks to injure nobody and cherishes no desire, one is said to attain to
Brahma. Thus, O son of Kunti, whatever religion is followed by creatures,
they obtain corresponding fruits. Awaken thyself by this consideration, O
Bharata![67] Some praise Peacefulness, some praise Exertion; some there
are that praise Contemplation; and some praise both Peacefulness and
Exertion.[68] Some praise sacrifice; others, renunciation. Some praise
gifts; others, acceptance. Some, abandoning everything, live in silent
meditation. Some praise sovereignty and the cherishing, of subjects,
after slaving, cutting and piercing (foes). Some are for passing their
days in retirement. Observing all this, the conclusion of the learned is
that that religion which consists in not injuring any creature is worthy
of the approbation of the righteous. Abstention from injury, truthfulness
of speech, justice, compassion, self-restraint, procreation (of
offspring) upon one’s own wives, amiability, modesty, patience,–the
practice of these is the best of a religions as said by the self-create
Manu himself. Therefore, O son of Kunti, do thou observe this religion
with care. That Kshatriya, who, conversant with the truths or royal
duties, takes sovereignty upon himself, restraining his soul at all
times, equally regarding that which is dear and that which is not, and
subsisting upon the remains of sacrificial feasts, who is engaged in
restraining the wicked and cherishing the righteous, who obliges his
subjects to tread in the path of virtue and who himself treads in that
path, who at last transmits his crown to his son and betakes himself to
the woods, there to live on the products of the wilderness and act
according to the ordinances or the Vedas after having cast off all
idleness, that Kshatriya who conducts himself thus, conforming in
everything to the well-known duties of kings, is sure to obtain excellent
fruits in both this world and the next. That final emancipation, of which
thou speakest, is exceedingly difficult to obtain, and its pursuit is
attended with many impediments. They that adopt such duties and practise
charity and ascetic penances, that are possessed of the quality of
compassion and are freed from desire and wrath, that are engaged in
ruling their subjects with righteousness and fighting for the sake of
kine and Brahmanas, attain hereafter to a high end. For the Rudras with
the Vasus and the Adityas, O scorcher of foes, and the Sadhyas and hosts
of kings adopt this religion. Practising without heedlessness the duties
inculcated by that religion, they attain to heaven through those acts of


Vaisampayana said, “After this, Arjuna once more addressed his eldest
brother of unfading glory, viz., king Yudhishthira of cheerless heart,
and said these words: ‘O thou that art conversant with every kind of
duty, having by the practice of Kshatriya duties obtained sovereignty
that is so very difficult of acquisition, and having conquered all thy
foes, why dost thou burn in grief? O king, as regards Kshatriyas, death
in battle is regarded more meritorious for them than the performance of
diverse sacrifices. It is so declared in the ordinance that lays down the
duties of Kshatriyas. Penances and Renunciation are the duties of
Brahmanas. Even this is the ordinance (affecting the two orders) about
the next world. Indeed, O puissant one, death in battle is laid down for
Kshatriyas. The duties of Kshatriyas are exceedingly fierce and are
always connected with the use of weapons, and it has been laid down, O
chief of the Bharatas, that they should, when the time comes, perish by
weapons on the field of battle. The life of even a Brahmana, O king, that
lives in the observance of Kshatriya duties, is not censurable, for
Kshatriyas also have sprung from Brahmana. Neither Renunciation, nor
Sacrifice, nor Penances, nor dependence on the wealth of others, O ruler
of men, has been ordained for Kshatriyas. Thou art acquainted with all
duties, and thou art of righteous soul, O bull of Bharata’s race! Thou
art a wise king, skilled in all acts. Thou canst distinguish what is
right in this world from what is wrong. Casting off this cheerlessness by
repentance, address thyself with a strong will to action. The heart of a
Kshatriya especially is hard as thunder. Having by the exercise of
Kshatriya duties vanquished thy foes and acquired empire without a thorn
in its side, conquer thy soul, O ruler of men, and be engaged in the
performance of sacrifices and the practice of charity. Indra himself,
though a Brahmana, became a Kshatriya in his acts, and battled with his
sinful kinsfolk for eight hundred and ten times. Those acts of his, O
monarch, are adorable and worthy of praise. Through them he obtained, as
we have heard, the chiefship of the gods. Do thou, therefore, O monarch,
perform sacrifices with profuse presents even as Indra did, O ruler of
men, and thereby free thyself from thy fever. Do not, O bull among
Kshatriyas, grieve thus for what is past. They that have been slain have
attained to the highest end, sanctified by weapons and agreeably to the
ordinances of the Kshatriya religion. That which has happened was
ordained to happen. Destiny, O tiger among kings, is incapable of being


Vaisampayana said, “Thus addressed by Arjuna of curly hair, the Kuru king
born of Kunti remained speechless. Then the island-born (Vyasa) said
these words.

“Vyasa said, ‘The words of Arjuna, O amiable Yudhishthira, are true. The
highest religion, as declared by the scriptures, depends on the duties of
domesticity. Thou art acquainted with all duties. Do thou then duly
practise the duties prescribed for thee (viz., the duties of
domesticity). A life of retirement in the woods, casting off the duties
of domesticity, has not been laid down for thee. The gods, Pitris,
guests, and servants, all depend (for their sustenance) upon the person
leading a life of domesticity. Do thou then support all these, O lord of
the earth! Birds and animals and various other creatures, O ruler of men,
are supported by men leading domestic lives. He, therefore, that belongs
to that mode of life is superior (to all others). A life of domesticity
is the most difficult of all the four modes of life. Do thou practise
that mode of life then, O Partha, which is difficult of being practised
by persons of unrestrained sense. Thou hast a good knowledge of all the
Vedas. Thou hast earned great ascetic merit. It behoveth thee, therefore,
to bear like an ox the burthen of thy ancestral kingdom. Penances,
sacrifices, forgiveness, learning, mendicancy, keeping the senses under
control, contemplation, living in solitude, contentment, and knowledge
(of Brahma), should, O king, be striven after by Brahmanas to the best of
their ability for the attainment of success. I shall now tell thee the
duties of Kshatriyas. They are not unknown to thee. Sacrifice, learning,
exertion, ambition,[69] wielding ‘the rod of punishment,’ fierceness,
protection of subjects., knowledge of the Vedas, practise of all kinds of
penances, goodness of conduct, acquisition of wealth, and gifts to
deserving persons,–these, O king, well performed and acquired by persons
of the royal order, secure for them both this world and the next, as
heard by us. Amongst these, O son of Kunti, wielding the rod of
chastisement has been said to be the foremost. Strength must always
reside in a Kshatriya, and upon strength depends chastisement. Those
duties that I have mentioned are, O king, the principal ones for
Kshatriyas and contribute greatly to their success. Vrihaspati, in this
connection, sang this verse: ‘Like a snake devouring a mouse, the Earth
devours a king that is inclined to peace and a Brahmana that is
exceedingly attached to a life of domesticity.’ It is heard again that
the royal sage Sudyumna, only by wielding the rod of chastisement,
obtained the highest success, like Daksha himself, the son of Prachetas.’

Yudhishthira said, ‘O holy one, by what acts did Sudyumna, that lord of
the earth, obtain the highest success? I desire to hear the history of
that king!’

“Vyasa said, ‘In this connection is cited this old history. There were
two brothers, viz., Sankha and Likhita, of rigid vows. The two brothers
had two separate dwellings both of which were beautiful. Situate by the
bank of the stream called Vahuda, both of those residences were adorned
with trees that were always burthened with flowers and fruits. Once on a
time Likhita came to the residence of his brother Sankha. At that time,
however, Sankha had gone out of his asylum on no fixed purpose. Arrived
at the asylum of his brother, Likhita plucked many ripe fruits. Obtaining
them the regenerate Likhita began to eat them without any qualms of
conscience. While still employed in the act of eating, Sankha came back
to his retreat. Beholding him eating, Sankha addressed his brother,
saying, ‘Whence have these fruits been obtained and for what reason art
thou eating them?’ Approaching his elder brother and saluting him,
Likhita smilingly replied, saying, ‘I have taken them even from this
retreat.’ Filled with great rage, Sankha said unto him, ‘Thou hast
committed theft by thyself taking these fruits. Go and approaching the
king confess to him what thou hast done. Tell him, O best of kings, I
have committed the offence of approaching what was not given to me.
Knowing me for a thief and observing the duty of thy order, do thou soon
inflict upon me, O ruler of men, the punishment of a thief.’ Thus
addressed, the highly blessed Likhita of rigid vows, at the command of
his brother, proceeded to king Sudyumna. Hearing from his gate-keepers
that Likhita had come, king Sudyumna, with his counsellors, advanced (for
receiving the sage). Meeting him, the king addressed that foremost of all
persons conversant with duties, saying, ‘Tell me, O revered one, the
reason of thy coming. Regard it as already accomplished.’ Thus
questioned, that regenerate sage said unto Sudyumna, ‘Do thou promise
first that thou wilt achieve it. It will then behove thee, after hearing
me, to accomplish that promise. O bull among men, I ate some fruits that
had not been given me by my elder brother. Do thou, O monarch, punish me
for it without delay.’ Sudyumna answered, ‘If the king be regarded as
competent to wield the rod of chastisement, he should be regarded, O bull
among Brahmanas, as equally competent to pardon. Purified in respect of
thy act, O thou of high vows, consider thyself as pardoned. Tell me now
what other wishes thou hast. I shall certainly accomplish those commands
of thine!’

“Vyasa continued, ‘Thus honoured by the high-souled king, the regenerate
sage Likhita, however, did not solicit him for any other favour. Then
that ruler of the earth caused the two hands of the high-souled Likhita
to be cut off, whereupon the latter, bearing the punishment, went away.
Returning to his brother Sankha, Likhita, in great affection, said, ‘It
behoveth thee now to pardon this wretch that hath been duly punished (for
what he did).’ Sankha said, I am not angry with thee, nor hast thou
injured me, O foremost of all persons conversant with duties. Thy virtue,
however, had suffered a shock. I have rescued thee from that plight.
Proceed without delay to the river Vahuda and gratify duly, with
oblations of water, the gods, Rishis and the Pitris, and never again set
thy heart on sin.’ Hearing these words of Sankha, Likhita performed his
ablutions in the sacred stream and set about for commencing the
water-rite. Upon this, two hands, resembling two lotuses, appeared at the
extremities of his stumps. Filled with wonder he came back to his brother
and showed him the two hands. Sankha said unto him, ‘All this has been
accomplished by me through my penances. Do not be surprised at it.
Providence hath been the instrument here.’ Likhita answered, ‘O thou of
great splendour, why didst thou not purify me at first, when, O best of
regenerate ones, such was the energy of thy penances?’ Sankha, said, ‘I
should not have acted otherwise. I am not thy chastiser. The ruler (who
has punished thee) has been himself purified, as also thyself, along with
the Pitris!’

“Vyasa continued, ‘That king, O eldest son of Pandu, became eminent by
this act and obtained the highest success like the lord Daksha himself!
Even this is the duty of Kshatriyas, viz., the ruling of subjects. Any
other, O monarch, would be regarded as a wrong path for them. Do not give
way to grief. O best of all persons conversant with duty, listen to the
beneficial words of this thy brother. Wielding the rod of chastisement, O
king, is the duty of kings and not the shaving of the head.'”


Vaisampayana said, “Once more the great sage Krishna-Dwaipayana said
these words unto Ajatasatru, the son of Kunti: ‘Let these great
car-warriors of abundant energy of mind, O monarch, let these brothers of
thine, O Yudhishthira, the chief of the Bharatas, obtain those wishes of
theirs that they cherished while dwelling in the woods. Rule thou the
earth, O son of Pritha, like (another) Yayati, the son of Nahusha. Before
now misery was yours while ye dwelt in the woods in the observance of
ascetic penances. That misery is ended, O tiger among men! Enjoy
happiness, therefore, for some time. Having O Bharata, earned and enjoyed
religious merit and wealth and pleasure for some time with thy brothers,
thou mayst then, O king, retire into the woods. Be freed first, O
Bharata, from the debt thou owest to persons that may beg of thee, to the
Pitris, and to the gods. Thou mayst then, O son of Kunti, practise all
the other modes of life (that come afterwards). Do thou, O son of Kuru’s
race, perform the sacrifices of Sarvamedha and Aswamedha. Thou shalt then
attain, O monarch, to the highest end hereafter. Installing thy brothers
also in great sacrifices with plentiful presents (to the Brahmanas), thou
shalt, O son of Pandu, acquire great fame. There is a saying, O tiger
among men and best of the Kurus! Listen to it, for by acting according to
it, O king, thou shalt not swerve from virtue. Those men only, O
Yudhishthira, whose practices resemble those of robbers, cause a king by
their counsels to take to a career of war and victory.[70] That king who,
guided by considerations of place and time and moved by an understanding
dependent on the scriptures, pardons even a number of robbers, incurs no
sin. That king who, realising his tribute of a sixth, doth not protect
his kingdom, taketh a fourth part of the sins of his kingdom.[71] Listen
also to that by which a king may not swerve from virtue. By transgressing
the scriptures (one incurs sill), while by obeying them one may live
fearlessly. That king who, guided by an understanding based upon the
scriptures and disregarding lust and wrath, behaves impartially, like a
father, towards all his subjects, never incurs sin. O thou of great
splendour, if a king, afflicted by destiny, fails to accomplish an act
which he should, such failure would not be called a trespass. By force
and policy should the king put down his foes. He must not suffer sin to
be perpetrated in his kingdom but should cause virtue to be practised.
Brave men, those that are respectable in their practices, they that are
virtuous in their acts, they that are possessed of learning, O
Yudhishthira, Brahmanas conversant with Vedic texts and rites, and men of
wealth, should especially be protected. In determining suits and
accomplishing religious acts, they that are possessed of great learning
should alone be employed. A prudent king will never repose his confidence
upon one individual, however accomplished. That king who does not protect
his subjects, whose passions are ungovernable, who is full of vanity, who
is stained with haughtiness and malice, incurs sin and earns the reproach
of tyranny. If the subjects of a king, O monarch, waste away from want of
protection and are afflicted by the gods and ground down by robbers, the
sin of all this stains the king himself. There is no sin, O Yudhishthira,
in doing an act with heartiness, after full deliberation, and
consultation with men capable of offering good advice. Our tasks fail or
succeed through destiny. If exertion, however, be applied, sin would not
touch the king. I shall recite to thee, O tiger among kings, the story of
what happened to an ancient king of the name of Hayagriva, O son of
Pandu,–the story, viz., of the heroic Hayagriva of unstained deeds, who
after having slain a large number of his foes in battle, was himself
defeated and slain while without a follower by his side. Having achieved
all that should be done for keeping foes under check and adopted all
those foremost of means by which men may be protected. Hayagriva acquired
great fame from the battles he fought and is now enjoying great bliss in
heaven. Mangled by robbers with weapons, boldly fighting with them, and
casting off his life in battle, the high-souled Hayagriva, ever attentive
to his (kingly) duties, achieved the object of his life and is now
enjoying great bliss in heaven. The bow was his (sacrificial) stake and
the bowstring was the cord for tying the victims. Shafts constituted the
smaller ladle and the sword the large one, and blood was the clarified
butter that he poured. The car was the altar and the wrath he felt in
battle was the fire, and the four foremost of steeds yoked unto his
vehicle were the four Hotris. Having poured upon that sacrificial fire
his foes as libations and then his own life-breaths at the completion of
the sacrifice, that vigorous lion among kings, viz., Hayagriva, became
freed from sin and is now sporting in the regions of the gods. Having
protected his kingdom with policy and intelligence, the high-souled
Hayagriva of resigned self and great strength of mind and accustomed to
the performance of sacrifices filled all the worlds with his fame and is
now sporting in the region of the gods.[72] Having obtained the merit
dependent on the performance of sacrifices as also every kind of merit
that is connected with human affairs, he wielded the rod of chastisement
and ruled the Earth with vigour and without pride. For this the virtuous
and high-souled Hayagriva is sporting in the region of the gods.[73]
Possessed of learning, practising renunciation, actuated by faith, and
full of gratitude, that king, having performed diverse acts, left this
world of men and won the regions that are reserved for the intelligent
and the wise and those that are of approved usages and behaviour and
prepared to cast off their lives in battle. Having studied the Vedas well
and the other scriptures also, having ruled his kingdom properly and
caused all the four orders to adhere to their respective duties, the
high-souled Hayagriva is sporting in joy the regions of the gods. Having
won many battles and cherished his subjects, having drunk the Soma juice
in sacrifices and gratified the foremost of Brahmanas with presents and
judiciously wielded the rod of chastisement over those placed under his
sway and at last cast off his life in battle, that king is living happily
in heaven. His life was worthy of every praise. Learned and honest men
applaud it, deserving as it is of every applause. Having won heaven and
acquired the regions reserved for heroes, that high-souled monarch of
virtuous deeds became crowned with success.’


Vaisampayana said, “Hearing the words of the Island-born Rishi and seeing
Dhananjaya angry, Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, saluted Vyasa and made
the following answer.

“Yudhishthira said, ‘This earthly sovereignty and the diverse enjoyments
(appertaining thereto) fail to give any joy to my heart. On the other
hand, this poignant grief (consequent upon the loss of my kinsmen) is
eating away its core. Hearing the lamentations of these women who have
lost their heroic husbands and children, I fail to attain peace, O

Vaisampayana continued, “Thus addressed, the virtuous Vyasa that foremost
of all persons conversant with Yoga, possessed of great wisdom and
intimately acquainted with the Vedas, said unto Yudhisthira (the
following words).

“Vyasa said, ‘No man can acquire anything by his own acts or by
sacrifices and worship. No man can give anything to a fellow man. Man
acquires everything through Time. The Supreme Ordainer has made the
course of Time the means of acquisition. By mere intelligence or study of
the scriptures, men, if Time be unfavourable, cannot acquire any earthly
possession. Sometimes an ignorant fool may succeed in winning wealth.
Time is the efficacious means for the accomplishment of all acts. During
times of adversity, neither science, nor incantations, nor drugs, yield
any fruits. In times, however, of prosperity, those very things, properly
applied, become efficacious and bear success. By Time the winds blow
violently: by Time the clouds become rain-charged; by Time tanks become
adorned with lotuses of different kinds; by Time trees in the forest
become decked with flowers. By Time nights become dark or lighted. By
Time the Moon becomes full. If the Time for it does not come, trees do
not bear flowers and fruits. If the Time for it does not come, the
currents of rivers do not become fierce. Birds and snakes and deer and
elephants and other animals never become excited when the Time for it
does not come. If the Time for it does not come, women do not conceive.
It is with Time that winter, and summer, and the rainy season come. If
the Time for it does not come, no one is born and no one dies. If the
Time does not come, the infant does not acquire power of speech. If the
Time does not come, one does not acquire youth. It is with Time that the
seed sown puts forth its sprouts. If the Time does not come, the Sun does
not appear above the horizon, nor, when the Time for it does not come,
does he repair to the Asta hills. If the Time for it does not come, the
Moon does not wax nor wane, nor the ocean, with its high billows, rise
and ebb. In this connection is instanced the old story recited, O
Yudhishthira, by king Senajit in grief. The irresistible course of Time
affects all mortals. All earthly things, ripened by Time, suffer
destruction. Some, O king, slay some men. The slayers, again, are slain
by others. This is the language of the world. Really, however, no one
stays and no one is slain. Some one thinks men slay (their fellow-men).
Another thinks men do not slay. The truth is that the birth and
destruction of all creatures have been ordained to happen in consequence
of their very nature. Upon the loss of one’s wealth or the death of one’s
wife or son or sire, one cries out, saying ‘Alas, what grief!’ and
dwelling upon that sorrow always enhances it. Why do you, like a foolish
person, indulge in grief? Why do you grieve for them that are subject to
grief?[74] Behold, grief is increased by indulgence as fear is by
yielding to. This body even is not mine. Nothing in this earth is mine.
Or, the things of this earth belong as much to others as to me. The wise,
seeing, this, do not suffer themselves to be deluded. There are thousands
of causes for sorrow, and hundreds of causes for joy. These every day
affect the ignorant only, but not him that is wise. These, in course of
Time. become objects of affection or aversion, and appearing as bliss or
woe revolve (as if in a wheel) for affecting living creatures. There is
only sorrow in this world but no happiness. It is for this that sorrow
only is felt. Indeed, sorrow springs from that affliction called desire,
and happiness springs from the affliction called sorrow. Sorrow comes
after happiness, and happiness after sorrow. One does not always suffer
sorrow or always enjoy happiness. Happiness always ends in sorrow, and
sometimes proceeds from sorrow itself. He, therefore, that desires
eternal happiness must abandon both. When sorrow must arise upon the
expiration of happiness, and happiness upon the expiration of sorrow, one
should, for that, cast off, like a (snake-bit) limb of one’s body, that
from which one experiences sorrow or that heart-burning which is nurtured
by sorrow or that which is the root of his anxiety.[75] Be it happiness
or sorrow, be it agreeable or disagreeable, whatever comes should be
borne with an unaffected heart. O amiable one, if thou abstainest, in
even a slight measure, from doing what is agreeable to your wives and
children, thou shalt then know who is whose and why so and for what. They
that are highly stupid and they that are masters of their souls enjoy
happiness here. They however, that occupy an intermediate place suffer
misery. This, O Yudhishthira, is what Senajit of great wisdom said, that
person who was conversant with what is good or bad in this world, with
duties, and with happiness and misery. He who is grieved at other
people’s griefs can never be happy. There is no end of grief, and grief
arises from happiness itself. Happiness and misery, prosperity and
adversity, gain and loss, death and life, in their turn, wait upon all
creatures. For this reason the wise man of tranquil soul should neither
be elated with joy nor be depressed with sorrow. To be engaged in battle
has been said to be the Sacrifice for a king; a due observance of the
science of chastisement is his Yoga; and the gift of wealth in sacrifices
in the form of Dakshina is his Renunciation. All these should be regarded
as acts that sanctify him. By governing the kingdom with intelligence and
policy, casting off pride, performing sacrifices, and looking at
everything and all persons with kindness and impartiality, a high-souled
king, after death, sports in the region of the gods. By winning battles,
protecting his kingdom, drinking the Soma juice, advancing his subjects,
wielding judiciously the rod of Chastisement, and casting off his body at
last in fight, a king enjoys happiness in heaven. Having studied all the
Vedas and the other scriptures duty, having protected the kingdom
properly, and having caused all the four orders to adhere to their
respective duties, a king becomes sanctified and finally sports in
heaven. He is the best of kings whose conduct, even after his death, is
applauded by the inhabitants of city and country and by his counsellors
and friends.”


Vaisampayana said, “In this connection, the high-souled Yudhishthira said
unto Arjuna these words fraught with reason. ‘Thou thinkest, O Partha,
that there is nothing superior to wealth, and that the poor man can
neither have heaven, nor happiness, nor the acquisition of his wishes.
This, however, is not true. Many persons are seen that have been crowned
with success through sacrifice in the shape of Vedic study. Many sages
are seen by devotion to penances to have acquired eternal regions of
bliss. They, O Dhananjaya, who always observe the practices of the Rishis
by betaking themselves to Brahmacharya and who become acquainted with all
duties, are regarded by the gods as Brahmanas. O Dhananjaya, thou
shouldst always regard those Rishis that are devoted to the study of the
Vedas and those that are devoted to the pursuit of true knowledge as
persons that are truly virtuous. O son of Pandu, all our acts depend upon
those that are devoted to the acquisition of true knowledge.[76] We know
this to be the opinion of the Vaikhanasas, O puissant one! The Ajas, the
Prishnis, the Sikatas, O Bharata, the Arunas, and the Kitavas, have all
gone to heaven through the merit of Vedic study. By performing those
acts, O Dhananjaya, that are indicated in the Vedas, viz., battle, study
of the Vedas, sacrifices, the restraint of passion that is so difficult,
one goes to heaven by the southern path of the Sun (Dakshinayana). I
have, before this, told thee that those very regions belong to persons
that are observant of (Vedic) acts. Thou shalt see, however, that the
northern path (Uttarayana) is travelled by those that are devoted to Yoga
penances. Those eternal and bright regions to which that path leads
belong to men of Yoga. Of these two, the northern path is much applauded
by those conversant with the Puranas. Thou shouldst know that one
acquires heaven through contentment. From contentment springs great
happiness. There is nothing higher than contentment. Unto the Yogin who
has controlled wrath and joy, contentment is his high praise and success.
In this connection is cited the discourse by Yayati of old. Listening to
that discourse one may succeed in withdrawing all his desires like a
tortoise drawing in all his limbs. When one cherishes no fear of
anything, when one is not feared by anything, when one cherishes no
desire, when one bears no hate, then is one said to have attained to the
state of Brahma. When one does not bear sinfully towards any creature, in
act, thought, or word, one is then said to have attained to Brahma. When
one has controlled his pride and folly, and withdrawn himself from all
attachments, it is then that that pious man of irradiated soul becomes
fit for attaining to that salvation which consists in the annihilation of
separate existence. Listen now to me with concentrated attention, O son
of Pritha, as I say it unto thee. Some desire virtue; some, good conduct;
and some wealth. One may desire wealth ( as a means for the acquisition
of virtue). The abandonment, however, of such desire would be better for
him.[77] There are many faults attached to wealth and consequently to
those religious acts that are performed with wealth. We have seen it with
our own eyes. It behoveth thee also to see this. He that desires wealth
finds it very difficult to abandon that which should by every means be
abandoned. Good deeds are very rare in those that amass riches. It is
said that wealth can never be acquired without injuring others, and that,
when earned, it brings numerous troubles. A person of narrow heart,
setting at naught the fear of repentance, commits acts of aggression
towards others, tempted by even a little wealth, unconscious all the
while of the sin of Brahmanicide that he incurs by his acts. Obtaining
wealth which is so difficult of acquisition, one burns with grief if one
has to give a portion of it to one’s servants,–with grief, that is,
which is equal to what one would feet if one is actually robbed by
depredators. If, on the other hand, one does not part with one’s wealth,
obloquy becomes one’s share. One, however, that has no wealth, never
becomes the subject of censure. Withdrawn from all attachments, such a
person can become happy in all respects by supporting life upon what
little he may obtain as alms. No one, however, can be happy by the
acquisition of wealth. In this connection certain verses relating to
sacrifices are recited by persons conversant with ancient scriptures.
Wealth was created by the Creator for the sake of sacrifices, and man was
created by him for protecting that wealth and performing sacrifices. For
this, all wealth should be applied to sacrifices. It is not proper that
it should be spent for the gratification of desire of enjoyment. The
Creator then confers wealth upon mortals for the sake of sacrifices. Know
this, O son of Kunti, thou that art the foremost of all wealthy persons!
It is for this that the wise think that wealth, without doubt, is
nobody’s on earth. One should perform sacrifices with it and give it away
with a trustful heart. One should spend (in gift) what one has acquired,
and not waste or spend it in gratifying one’s desire of enjoyment. What
use is there in amassing wealth when such proper objects exist in which
to spend it? Those persons of little understanding that give away
(wealth) unto men that have swerved from the duties of their order, have
to subsist hereafter for a hundred years on ordure and dirt. That men
give unto the undeserving and refrain from giving unto the deserving is
due to inability to discriminate between the deserving and the
undeserving. For this reason the practice of even the virtue of charity
is difficult. These are the two faults connected with wealth even when
acquired, viz., gift to an undeserving person and abstaining from giving
unto him that is deserving.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘In consequence of the fall Abhimanyu of tender
years, of the sons of Draupadi, of Dhrishtadyumna, of Virata, of king
Drupada, of Vasusena conversant with every duty, of the royal
Dhrishtaketu, and of diverse other kings hailing from diverse regions, in
battle, grief does not forsake my wretched self that am a slayer of
kinsmen. Indeed, I am inordinately covetous of kingdom and am an
exterminator of my own race. He upon whose breast and limbs I used to
roll in sport, alas, that Ganga’s son has been slain by me in battle
through lust of sovereignty. When I beheld that lion among men, viz., our
grandsire, assailed by Sikhandin and trembling and reeling in consequence
of Partha’s shafts that resembled thunder-bolts in energy, when I beheld
his tall form pierced all over with blazing arrows and himself become
weak like an aged lion, my heart was deeply pained. When I beheld that
afflictor of hostile cars reel like a mountain summit and fall down
strengthless on the terrace of his own vehicle with his face turned
towards the east, my senses were stupefied. That scion of Kuru’s race who
with bow and shaft in hand had contended in fierce battle for many days
with Rama himself of Bhrigu’s line on the field sanctified by Kuru, that
son of Ganga, that hero, who, at Baranasi, for the sake of brides, had,
on a single car, challenged to battle the assembled Kshatriyas of the
world, he who had burnt by the energy of his weapons that irresistible
and foremost of kings, viz., Ugrayudha, alas, that hero has been caused
by me to be slain in battle. Knowing full well that Sikhandin the prince
of Panchala was his destroyer, that hero still refrained from slaying the
prince with his shafts. Alas, such a magnanimous warrior was slain by
Arjuna. O best of sages, at that moment when I beheld the grandsire
stretched on the earth and covered with blood, a violent fever afflicted
my heart. He who had protected and reared us when we were children, alas,
he was caused to be slain by my sinful self that am covetous of kingdom,
that am a slayer of reverend seniors, and a perfect fool, for the sake of
sovereignty that would last but a few days. Our preceptor, the great
archer Drona, adored by all the kings, was approached by me and addressed
falsely in respect of his son. The memory of that act of mine is burning
all my limbs. The preceptor said unto me, ‘Tell me truly, O king, whether
my son liveth still. Expecting truth from me, the Brahmana asked me of
all others. By silently uttering the word elephant, I behaved falsely
towards him. Sinful that I am exceedingly covetous of kingdom, and a
slayer of my reverend seniors, I behaved even thus towards my preceptor
in battle, throwing off the garb of truth (which I was believed to wear),
for I said unto him that Aswatthaman had been killed when, in fact, an
elephant of that name had been slain. To what regions shall I go
(thereafter), having perpetrated such infamous deeds? I caused also my
eldest brother Karna to be slain, that terrible warrior who never
retreated from battle. Who is there more sinful than I? Through
covetousness I caused Abhimanyu of tender years, that hero who resembled
a lion born in the hills, to penetrate into the array that was protected
by Drona himself. I am like one guilty of infanticide. Sinful as I am, I
have not since then, been able to look Arjuna or the lotus-eyed Krishna
in the face. I grieve also few Draupadi who is bereft of her five sons
like the Earth bereft of her five mountains. I am a great offender, a
great sinner, and a destroyer of the earth! Without rising from this seat
that I now occupy, I will weaken my body (by starvation) and meet with
death. Know me who am the slayer of my preceptor as one that has sat down
here in the observance of the Praya vow. An exterminator of my race, I
must do so in order that I may not he reborn in any of other orders of
beings![78] I shall forgo all food and drink, and without moving from
this place, O great ascetic, shall dry up my life-breaths that are so
dear. I pray you with humility, grant me permission in this and go
whithersoever you please. Let every one grant me permission. I shall cast
off this body of mine.’

Vaisampayana continued, “Restraining Pritha’s son who, stupefied by
sorrow on account of his kinsmen, uttered such words, Vyasa, that best of
ascetics, spoke as follows, first telling him, ‘This can not be!’

“Vyasa said, ‘It behoveth thee not, O monarch, to indulge in such
poignant grief. I shall repeat what I have once said. All this is
Destiny, O puissant one! Without doubt, all creatures that are born
display at first a union (of diverse materials and forces). Dissolution.
however, overtakes them at the end. Like bubbles in the water they rise
and disappear. All things massed together are sure to crumble away and
all things that rise must fall down. Union ends in dissolution and life
ends in death. Idleness, though temporarily agreeable, ends in misery,
and labour with skill, though temporarily painful, ends in happiness.
Affluence, Prosperity, Modesty, Contentment, and Fame dwell in labour and
skill but not in idleness. Friends are not competent to bestow happiness,
nor foes competent to inflict misery. Similarly wisdom does not bring
wealth nor does wealth bring happiness. Since, O son of Kunti, thou hast
been created by the Maker to engage thyself in Work. Success springs from
Work. Thou art not fit, O king, to avoid Work.'”


Vaisampayana said, “Vyasa then dispelled the grief of the eldest son of
Pandu., who, burning with sorrow on account of the slaughter of his
kinsmen, had resolved to make an end of himself.”

Vyasa said, ‘In this connection is cited the old story, O tiger among
men, that is known by the name of Asma’s discourse. Listen to it, O
Yudhishthira! Janaka the ruler of the Videhas, O king, filled with sorrow
and grief, questioned a wise Brahmana of the name of Asma for the
resolution of his doubts.’

“Janaka said, ‘How should a man desirous of his own good behave upon
occasions of the accession and the destruction of both kinsmen and

“Asma said, ‘Immediately after the formation of a man’s body, joys and
griefs attach themselves to it. Although there is a possibility of either
of the two overtaking the person, yet whichever actually overtakes him
quickly robs him of his reason like the wind driving away gathering
clouds. (In times of prosperity) one thinks in this strain, viz., ‘I am
of high birth! I can do whatever I like!–I am not an ordinary man!’ His
mind becomes soaked with such triple vanity. Addicted to all earthly
enjoyments, he begins to waste the wealth hoarded by his ancestors.
Impoverished in course of time, he regards the appropriation of what
belongs to others as even laudable. Like a hunter piercing a deer with
his shafts, the king then punishes that wicked wight that robber of other
people’s possessions, that transgressor of law and rule. Without
attaining to a hundred years (the usual period of human life), such men
scarcely live beyond twenty or thirty years. Carefully observing the
behaviour of all creatures, a king should, by the exercise of his
intelligence, apply remedies for alleviating the great sorrows of his
subjects. The causes of all mental sorrow are two, viz., delusion of the
mind and the accession of distress. No third cause exists. All these
diverse kinds of woe as also those arising from attachment to earthly
enjoyments, that overtake man, are even such.[79] Decrepitude and Death,
like a pair of wolves, devour all creatures, strong or weak, short or
tall. No man can escape decrepitude and death, not even the subjugator of
the whole earth girt by the sea. Be it happiness or be it sorrow that
comes upon creatures., it should be enjoyed or borne without elation or
depression. There is no method of escape from them. The evils of life, O
king, overtake one in early or middle or old age. They can never he
avoided, while those (sources of bliss) that are coveted never come.[80]
The absence, of what is agreeable, the presence of what is disagreeable,
good and evil, bliss and woe, follow Destiny. Similarly, the birth of
creatures and their death, and the accessions of gain and loss, are all
pre-ordained. Even as scent, colour, taste, and touch spring naturally,
happiness and misery arise from what has been pre-ordained. Seats and
beds and vehicles, prosperity and drink and food, ever approach leaving
creatures according to Time’s course.[81] Physicians even get ill. The
strong become weak. They that are in the enjoyment of prosperity lose all
and become indigent. The course of Time is very wonderful. High birth,
health, beauty, prosperity, and objects of enjoyment, are all won through
Destiny. The indigent, although they may not desire it, have many
children. The affluent again are seen to be childless. Wonderful is the
course of Destiny. The evils caused by disease, fire, water, weapons,
hunger, poison, fever, and death, and falls from high places, overtake a
man according to the Destiny under which he is born. It is seen in this
world that somebody without sinning, suffers diverse ills, while another,
having sinned, is not borne down by the weight of calamity. It is seen
that somebody in the enjoyment of wealth perishes in youth; while some
one that is poor drags on his existence, borne down by decrepitude, for a
hundred years. One borne in an ignoble race may have a very long life,
while one sprung from a noble line perishes soon like an insect. In this
world, it is very common that persons in affluent circumstances have no
appetite, while they that are indigent can digest chips of wood. Impelled
by destiny, whatever sins the man of wicked soul, discontented with his
condition, commits, saying, ‘I am the doer,’ he regards to be all for his
good. Hunting, dice, women, wine, brawls, these are censured by the wise.
Many persons, however, possessed of even extensive knowledge of the
scriptures are seen to be addicted to them. Objects, whether coveted or
otherwise, come upon creatures in consequence of Time’s course. No other
cause can be traced. Air, space, fire, moon, sun, day, night, the
luminous bodies (in the firmament), rivers, and mountains,–who makes
them and who supports them? Cold, and heat, and rain, come one after
another in consequence of Time’s course. It is even so, O bull among men,
with the happiness and the misery of mankind. Neither medicines, nor
incantations, can rescue the man assailed by decrepitude or overtaken by
death. As two logs of wood floating on the great ocean, come together and
are again (when the time comes) separated, even so creatures come
together and are again (when the time comes) separated. Time acts equally
towards those men that (are in affluent circumstances and that) enjoy the
pleasures of song and dance in the company of women and those helpless
men that live upon the food that others supply. In this world a thousand
kinds of relationship are contracted, such as mother and father and son
and wife. In reality, however, whose are they and whose are we? No one
can become anyone’s own, nor can anyone become anybody else’s own. Our
union herewith wives and kinsfolk and well-wishers is like that of
travellers at a road-side inn. Where am I? Where shall go? Who am I? How
come I here! What for and whom I grieve? Reflecting on these questions
one obtains tranquillity. Life and its environments are constantly
revolving like a wheel, and the companionship of those that are dear is
transitory. The union with brother, mother, father, and friend is like
that of travellers in an inn. Men of knowledge behold, as if with
corporeal eyes, the next world that is unseen. Without disregarding the
scriptures, one desirous of knowledge should have faith. One possessed of
knowledge should perform the rites laid down in respect of the Pitris and
the gods, practise all religious duties, perform sacrifices, judiciously
pursue virtue, profit, and pleasure. Alas, no one understands that the
world is sinking on the ocean of Time that is so very deep and that is
infested with those huge crocodiles called decrepitude and death. Many
physicians may be seen afflicted with all the members of their families,
although they have carefully studied the science of Medicine.[82] Taking
bitters and diverse kinds of oily drugs, these succeed not in escaping
death, like ocean in transcending its continents. Men well-versed in
chemistry, notwithstanding chemical compounds applied judiciously, are
seen to be broken down by decrepitude like trees broken down by
elephants. Similarly, persons possessed of ascetic merit, devoted to
study of the Vedas, practising charity, and frequently performing
sacrifices, succeed not in escaping decrepitude and death. As regards all
creatures that have taken birth, neither years, nor months, nor
fortnights, nor days, nor nights, that have once passed, do ever return.
Man, whose existence is so transitory, is forced, in course of Time,
whether he will or not, to come upon this inevitable and broad path that
has to be trodden by every creature.[83] Whether the body springs from
the creature or the creature springs from the body, one’s union however,
with wives and other friends is like that of travellers in an inn.[84]
one cannot obtain a lasting companionship with anyone. One cannot obtain
such companionship with one’s own body. How then it can be had with
anyone else? Where, O king, is thy sire today and where thy grandsire?
Thou beholdst them not today and they do not behold thee. O sinless one!
No person can see either heaven or hell. The scriptures, however, are the
eyes of the virtuous. O king, frame thy conduct according to the
scriptures. What pure heart, one should practise first the vow of
Brahmacharya and then beget children and then perform sacrifices, for
paying off the debt one owes to the Pitris, the gods, and men. Performing
sacrifices and engaged in procreating (children), after having first
observed the vow of Brahmacharya, one who bath wisdom for his eyes,
casting off all anxiety of heart, should pay court to heaven, this world,
and his own soul.[85] That king bent upon the practice of virtue who
strives judiciously for acquiring Heaven and Earth and who takes of
earthly goods just what is ordained (as the king’s share) in the
scriptures, wins a reputation that spread over all the worlds and among
all creatures, mobile and immobile. The ruler of the Videhas, of clear
understanding, having heard these words full of reason, become freed from
grief, and taking Asma’s leave proceeded towards his abode, O thou of
unfading glory, cast off thy grief and rise up. Thou art equal to Sakra
himself. Suffer thy soul to be gladdened. The earth has been won by thee
in the exercise of Kshatriya duties. Enjoy her, O son of Kunti, and do
not disregard my words.'”


Vaisampayana said, “The foremost of kings, viz., Yudhishthira the son of
Dharma, still remaining speechless, Pandu’s son Arjuna addressed Krishna
and spoke as follows:

“Arjuna said, ‘This scorcher of foes, viz., Dharma’s son, is burning with
grief on account of his (slaughtered) kinsfolk. Comfort him, O Madhava I
Once more, O Janardana, all of us have fallen into great danger. It
behoveth thee! O mighty-armed one, to dispel his grief.'”

Vaisampayana continued, “Thus addressed by the high-souled Arjuna, the
lotus-eyed Govinda of unfading glory turned his face towards the king.
Kesava could not by any means be disregarded by Yudhishthira. From the
earliest years Govinda was dearer to Yudhishthira than Arjuna himself.
Taking up the king’s hand adorned with sandal-paste and looking like a
column of marble, the mighty-armed Saurin began to speak, gladdening (the
hearts of all who listened to him). His face, adorned with teeth and eyes
that were very beautiful, shone brightly like a full-blown lotus at

“Vasudeva said, “Do not, O tiger among men, indulge in such grief that
emaciates thy body. They who have been slain in this battle will on no
account be got back. Those Kshatriyas, O king, that have fallen in this
great battle, are even, like objects that one acquires in one’s dreams
and that vanish when one awakes. All of them were heroes and ornaments of
battle. They were vanquished while rushing with faces towards their foes.
No one amongst them was slain with wounds on the back or while flying
away. All of them, having contended with heroes in great battle and
having cast off their life-breaths then, have, sanctified by weapons,
proceeded to heaven. It behoveth thee not to grieve for them. Devoted to
the duties of Kshatriyas, possessed of courage, perfectly conversant with
the Vedas and their branches, all of them have attained to that blissful
end which is obtainable by heroes. It behoveth thee not to grieve for
them after hearing of those high-souled lords of the earth, of ancient
days, that departed from this world. In this connection is cited the old
discourse of Narada before Srinjaya when the latter was deeply afflicted
with grief on account of the death of his son. (Narada said),–Subject to
happiness and misery, myself, thyself and all creatures, O Srinjaya,
shall have to die. What cause then is there for sorrow. Listen to me as I
recite the great blessedness of (some) ancient king. Hear me with
concentrated attention. Thou shalt then, O king, cast off thy grief.
Listening to the story of those high-souled lords of the earth, abate thy
sorrow. O, hear me as I recite their stories to thee in detail. By
listening to the charming and delightful history of those kings of
ancient times, malignant stars may be propitiated and the period of one’s
life be increased. We hear, O Srinjaya, that there was a king of the name
of Marutta who was the son of Avikshit. Even he fell a prey to death. The
gods with Indra and Varuna and Vrihaspati at their head came to
sacrifice, called Viswasrij, performed by that high-souled monarch.[86]
Challenging Sakra, the chief of the gods, that king vanquished him in
battle. The learned Vrihaspati, from desire of doing good unto Indra, had
refused to officiate at Marutta’s sacrifice. Thereupon Samvarta, the
younger brother of Vrihaspati, acceded to the king’s request. During the
rule of that king, O best of monarchs, the earth yielded crops without
being tilled and was adorned with diverse kinds of ornaments. In the
sacrifice of that king, the Viswedevas sat as courtiers, the Maruts acted
as distributors (of food and presents) and the high-souled Sadhyas were
also present. In that sacrifice of Marutta, the Maruts drank Soma. The
sacrificial presents the king made surpassed (in value) those ever made
by the gods, the Gandharvas, and men. When even that king, O Srinjaya,
who transcended thee in religious merit, knowledge, renunciation, and
affluence, and who was purer than thy son, felt a prey to death, do not
grieve for thy son. There was another king of the name of Suhotra the son
of Atithi. We hear, O Srinjaya, that even he fell a prey to death. During
his rule, Maghavat showered gold for one whole year upon his kingdom.
Obtaining that king for her lord, the earth became in reality (and not in
name only as before) Vasumati.[87] The rivers, during the sway of that
king, bore golden tortoises, crabs, alligators, sharks, and porpoises,
for the adorable Indra, O king, had showered these upon them. Beholding
those golden fishes and sharks and tortoises in hundreds and thousands,
Atithi’s son became filled with wonder. Collecting that vast wealth of
gold that covered the earth, Suhotra performed a sacrifice at Kurujangala
and gave it away unto the Brahmanas, When that king, O Srinjaya, who
transcended thee in the four attributes of religious merit, knowledge,
renunciation, and affluence, and who was purer than thy son, felt a prey
to death, do not grieve for thy son (that is dead). Thy son never
performed a sacrifice and never made gifts. Knowing this, pacify thy mind
and do not give away to grief.[88] We hear also, O Srinjaya, that
Vrihadratha the king of the Angas, fell a prey to death. He gave away I
hundred thousand steeds. A hundred thousand maidens also, adorned with
golden ornaments, he gave away as presents in a sacrifice he performed. A
hundred thousand elephants also of the best breed, he gave away as
presents in another sacrifice performed by him. A hundred millions also
of bulls, adorned with golden chains, with thousands of kine accompanying
them, he gave away as sacrificial presents. While the king of Anga
performed his sacrifice by the hill called Vishnupada, Indra became
intoxicated with the Soma he drank, and the Brahmanas with the presents
they received. In the sacrifices, O monarch, numbering by hundreds, that
this king performed of old, the presents he made far surpassed those ever
made by the gods, the Gandharvas, and men. No other man was born, or will
ever be born, that gave or will give away so much wealth as was given
away by the king of the Angas in the seven sacrifices he performed, each
of which was characterised by the consecration of the Soma.[89] When, O
Srinjaya, this Vrihadratha even, who was thy superior in the four
attributes and who was purer than thy son, fell a prey to death, do not
grieve for thy son that is dead. We hear also, O Srinjaya, that Sivi, the
son of Usinara, fell a prey to death. That king swayed the whole earth as
one sways the leathern shield in his hand. Riding on a single car that
proved victorious in every battle, king Sivi caused the whole earth to
resound with the rattle of his wheels and subjugated all monarchs.[90]
Usinara’s son Sivi gave away, in a sacrifice, all the kine and horses he
had, both domestic and wild. The Creator himself thought that no one
amongst the kings of the past or the future had or would have the ability
to bear the burthen, O Srinjaya, that Usinara’s son Sivi, that foremost
of kings, that hero who was possessed of prowess equal to that of Indra
himself, bore. Do not, therefore, grieve or thy son who never performed
any sacrifice nor made any gift. Indeed, O Srinjaya, when Sivi, who was
far superior to thee in the four attributes and who was purer than thy
son, fell a prey to death, do not grieve for thy son that is dead. We
hear, O Srinjaya, that the high-souled Bharata also, the son of Dushmanta
and Sakuntala, who had a vast and well-filled treasury, fell a prey to
death. Devoting three hundred horses unto the gods on the banks of the
Yamuna, twenty on the banks of the Saraswati, and fourteen on the banks
of Ganga, that king of great energy, in days of old, performed (in this
order) a thousand Horse-sacrifices and a hundred Rajasuyas. No one
amongst the kings of the earth can imitate the great deeds of Bharata,
even as no man can, by the might of his arms, soar into the welkin.
Erecting numerous sacrificial altars, he gave away innumerable horses and
untold wealth unto the sage Kanwa.[91] When even he, O Srinjaya, who was
far superior to thee in the four attributes and who was purer than thy
son, fell a prey to death, do not grieve for thy son that is dead. We
hear, O Srinjaya, that Rama also, the son of Dasaratha, fell a prey to
death. He always cherished his subjects as if they were the sons of his
own loins. In his dominions there were no widows and none that was
helpless. Indeed, Rama in governing his kingdom always acted like his
father Dasaratha. The clouds, yielding showers season ably, caused the
crops to grow abundantly. During the period of his rule, food was always
abundant in his kingdom. No death occurred by drowning or by fire. As
long as Rama governed it, there was no fear in his kingdom of any
disease. Every man lived for a thousand years, and every man was blessed
with a thousand children. During the period of Rama’s sway, all men were
whole and all men attained the fruition of their wishes. The very women
did not quarrel with one another, what need then be said of the men?
During his rule his subjects were always devoted to virtue. Contented,
crowned with fruition in respect of all the objects of their desire,
fearless, free, and wedded to the vow of truth, were all the people when
Rama governed the kingdom. The trees always bore flowers and fruit and
were subject to no accidents. Every cow yielded milk filling a drona to
the brim. Having dwelt, in the observance of severe penances, for four
and ten years in the woods, Rama performed ten Horse-sacrifices of great
splendour[92] and to them the freest access was given to all. Possessed
of youth, of a dark complexion, with red eyes, he looked like the leader
of an elephantine herd. With aims stretching down to his knees and of
handsome face, his shoulders were like those of a lion and the might of
his arms great. Ascending upon the throne of Ayodhya, he ruled for ten
thousand and ten hundred years. When, he O Srinjaya, who transcended thee
in the four principal attributes and who was purer than thy son, fell a
prey to death, do not grieve for thy son that is dead. We hear, O
Srinjaya, that king Bhagiratha also died. In one of the sacrifices of
that king, intoxicated with the Soma he had drunk, Indra, the adorable
chastiser of Paka and the chief of the gods, vanquished, by putting forth
the might of his arms, many thousands of Asuras. King Bhagiratha, in one
of the sacrifices he performed, gave away a million of maidens adorned
with ornaments of gold. Each of those maidens sat upon a car and unto
each car were attached four steeds. With each car were a hundred
elephants, all of the foremost breed and decked with chains of gold.
Behind each elephant were a thousand steeds, and behind each steed a
thousand kine, and behind each cow a thousand goats and sheep. (The
river-goddess) Ganga, named (from before) Bhagirathi, sat upon the lap of
this king dwelling near (her stream), and from this incident she came to
be called Urvasi.[93] The triple-coursed Ganga had agreed to be the
daughter of Bhagiratha of Ikshvaku’s race, that monarch ever engaged in
the performance of sacrifices with presents in profusion unto the
Brahmanas.[94] When he, O Srinjaya, who transcended thee in respect of
the four principal attributes and who was purer than thy son, fell a prey
to death, do not grieve for thy son. We hear, O Srinjaya, that the
high-souled Dilipa also fell a prey to death. The Brahmanas love to
recite his innumerable deeds. In one of his great sacrifices that king,
with heart fully assenting, gave away the entire earth, abounding with
wealth, unto the Brahmanas. In each sacrifice performed by him, the chief
priest received as sacrificial fee a thousand elephants made of gold. In
one of his sacrifices, the stake (set up for slaughtering the victims)
was made of gold and looked exceedingly beautiful. Discharging the duties
assigned to them, the gods having Sakra for their chief, used to seek the
protection of that king. Upon that golden stake possessed of great
effulgence and decked with a ring, six thousand Gods and Gandharvas
danced in joy, and Viswavasu himself, in their midst played on his Vina
the seven notes according to the rules that regulate their combinations.
Such was the character of Viswavasu’s music that every creature (whatever
he might be) thought that the great Gandharva was playing to him alone.
No other monarch could imitate this achievement of king Dilipa. The
elephants of that king, intoxicated and adorned with housings of gold,
used to lie down on the roads.[95] Those men proceeded to heaven that
succeeded in obtaining a sight even of the high-souled king Dilipa who
was ever truthful in speech and whose bow could bear a hundred foes equal
in energy to a hundred Anantas.[96] These three sounds never ceased in
Dilipa’s abode, viz., the voice of Vedic recitations, the twang of bows,
and cries of Let it be given. When he, O Srinjaya, who transcended thee
in the four principal attributes and who was purer than thy son, fell a
prey to death, do not grieve for thy son that is dead. Yuvanaswa’s son
Mandhatri also, O Sanjaya, we have heard, fell a prey to death. The
deities named Maruts extracted that child from his sire’s stomach through
one of its sides. Sprung from a quantity of clarified butter that had
been sanctified by mantras (and that had by mistake been quaffed by his
sire instead of his sire’s spouse) Mandhatri was born in the stomach of
the high-souled Yuvanaswa. Possessed of great prosperity, king Mandhatri
conquered the three worlds. Beholding that child of celestial beauty
lying on the lap of his sire, the God asked one another, ‘From whom shall
this child obtain suck?’ Then Indra approached him, saying, ‘He shall
obtain stick even from me!’ From this circumstance, the chief of the
deities came to call the child by the name of Mandhatri.[97] From the
nourishment of that high-souled child of Yuvanaswa, the finger of Indra,
placed in his mouth, began to yield a jet of milk. Sucking Indra’s
finger, he grew up into a stout youth in a hundred days, In twelve days
he looked like one of twelve years. The whole earth in one day came under
the sway of that high-souled and virtuous and brave king who resembled
Indra himself for prowess in battle. He vanquished king Angada, Marutta,
Asita, Gaya, and Vrihadratha the king of the Angas.[98] When Yuvanaswa’s
son fought in battle with Angada, the Gods thought that the firmament was
breaking with the twang of his how. The whole earth from where the Sun
rises to where he sets is said to be the field of Mandhatri. Having
performed Horse-sacrifices and a hundred Rajasuyas, he gave unto the
Brahmanas many Rohita fishes. Those fishes were each ten Yojanas in
length and one in breadth. Those that remained after gratifying the
Brahmanas were divided amongst themselves by the other classes. When he,
O Srinjaya, who transcended thee in respect of the four principal
attributes and who was purer than thy son, fell a prey to death, do not
grieve for thy son that is dead. We hear, O Sanjaya, that Yayati, the son
of Nahusha, also fell a prey to death. Having subjugated the whole world
with its seas, he journeyed through it, decking it with successive
sacrificial altars the intervals between which were measured by throws of
a heavy piece of wood. Indeed, he reached the very shores of the sea as
he proceeded performing great sacrifices (on those altars along his
way).[99] Having performed a thousand sacrifices and a hundred Vajapeyas,
he gratified the foremost of Brahmanas with three mountains of gold.
Having slain many Daityas and Danavas duly arrayed in battle, Nahusha’s
son, Yayati, divided the whole earth (among his children). At last
discarding his other sons headed by Yadu and Drahyu, he installed (his
youngest son) Puru on his throne and then entered the woods accompanied
by his wife, When he, O Srinjaya, who far surpassed thee in the four
principal attributes and who was purer than thy son, fell a prey to
death, do not grieve for thy son that is dead. We hear, O Srinjaya, that
Amvarisha also, the son of Nabhaga, fell a prey to death. That protector
(of the world) and foremost of kings was regarded by his subjects as the
embodiment of virtue. That monarch, in one of his sacrifices, assigned to
the Brahmanas, for waiting upon them, a million of kings who had
themselves performed thousands of sacrifices each. Men of piety praised
Amvarisha, the son of Nabhaga, saying that such feats had never been
achieved before nor would their like be achieved in the future.[100]
Those hundreds upon hundreds and thousands upon thousands of kings (that
had at the command of Amvarisha waited at his sacrifices upon the
Brahmanas that came there) became (through Amvarisha’s merits) crowned
with the fruits of the Horse-sacrifice, and followed their lord by the
Southern-path (to regions or brightness and bliss). When he, O Srinjaya,
who far surpassed thee in the four principal attributes and who was purer
than thy son, fell a prey to death, do not grieve for thy child that is
dead. We hear, O Srinjaya, that Sasavindu also, the son of Chitrasena,
felt a prey to death. That high-souled king had a hundred thousand wives,
and million of sorts. All of them used to wear golden armour and all of
them were excellent bowmen. Each of those princes married a hundred
princesses, and each princess brought a hundred elephants. With each of
those elephants were a hundred cars. With each car were a hundred steeds,
all of good breed and all decked with trappings of gold. With each steed
were a hundred kine, and with each cow were a hundred sheep and goats.
This countless wealth, O monarch, Sasavindu gave away, in a
Horse-sacrifice, unto the Brahmanas. When he, O Srinjaya, who far
surpassed thee in the four principal attributes and who was purer than
thy son, fell a prey to death, do not grieve for thy child that is dead.
We hear, O Srinjaya, that Gaya also, the son of Amurtarayas, fell a prey
to death. For a hundred years, that king subsisted upon the remains of
sacrificial food. (Pleased with such devotion) Agni desired to give him
boons. The boons solicited by Gaya were, ‘Let my wealth be inexhaustible
even if I give ceaselessly. Let my regard for virtue exist for ever. Let
my heart ever take pleasure in Truth, through thy grace, O cater of
sacrificial libations.’ It hath been heard by us that king Gaya obtained
all those wishes from Agni. On days of the new moon, on those of the full
moon, and on every fourth month, for a thousand years, Gaya repeatedly
performed the Horse-sacrifice. Rising (at the completion of every
sacrifice) he gave away a hundred thousand kine and hundreds of mules
(unto the Brahmanas) during this period. That bull among men gratified
the gods with Soma, the Brahmanas with wealth, the Pitris with Swadha,
and the women with the accomplishment of all their wishes. In his great
Horse-sacrifice, king Gaya caused a golden ground to be made, measuring a
hundred cubits in length and fifty in breadth, and gave it away as the
sacrificial fee. That foremost of men, viz., Gaya, the son of
Amurtarayas, gave away as many kine as there are sand grains, O king, in
the river Ganga. When he, O Srinjaya, who far surpassed thee in the four
principal attributes and who was purer than thy son, fell a prey to
death, do not grieve for thy son that is dead. We hear, O Srinjaya, that
Sankriti’s son Rantideva also fell a prey to death. Having undergone the
austerest of penances and adored him with great reverence, he obtained
these boons from Sakra, having solicited them, saying ‘Let us have
abundant food and numerous guests. Let not my faith sustain any
diminution, and let us not have to ask anything of any person.’ The
animals, both domestic and wild, slaughtered in his sacrifice, used to
come to him, viz., the high-souled Rantideva of rigid vows and great
fame, of their own accord. The secretions that flowed from the skins of
the animals (slaughtered in his sacrifices), produced a mighty and
celebrated river which to this day is known by the name of Charmanwati.
King Rantideva used to make gifts unto the Brahmanas in an extensive
enclosure. When the king said, ‘Unto thee I give a hundred nishkas! Unto
thee I give a hundred,’ the Brahmanas (without accepting what was
offered) made a noise (expressive of refusal). When, however, the king
would say, ‘I give a thousand nishkas,’ the gifts were all accepted. All
the vessels and plates, in Rantideva’s palace, for holding food and other
articles, all the jugs and pots, the pans and plates and cups, were of
gold. On those nights during which the guests used to live in Rantideva’s
abode, twenty thousand and one hundred kine had to be slaughtered. Yet
even on such occasions, the cooks, decked in ear-rings, used to proclaim
(amongst those that sat down to supper): ‘There is abundant soup, take as
much as ye wish; but of flesh we have not as much today as on former
occasions.’ When he, O Srinjaya, who far surpassed thee in the four
principal attributes and who was purer than thy son, fell a prey to
death, do not grieve for thy son that is dead. We hear, O Srinjaya, that
the high-souled Sagara also fell a prey to death. He was of Ikshvaku’s
race, a tiger among men, and of superhuman prowess. Sixty thousand sons
used to walk behind him, like myriads upon myriads of stars waiting upon
the Moon in the cloudless firmament of autumn. His sway extended over the
whole of this earth.[101] He gratified the gods by performing a thousand
Horse-sacrifices. He gave away unto deserving Brahmanas palatial mansions
with columns of gold and (other parts) made entirely of that precious
metal, containing costly beds and bevies of beautiful ladies with eyes
resembling petals of the lotus, and diverse other kinds of valuable
objects. At his command, the Brahmanas divided those gifts among
themselves. Through anger that king caused the earth to be excavated
whereupon she came to have the ocean on her bosom, and for this, the
ocean has come to be called Sagara after his name. When he, O Srinjaya,
who far surpassed thee in the four principal attributes and who was purer
than thy son, fell a prey to death, do not grieve for thy son that is
dead. We hear, O Srinjaya, that king Prithu also, the son of Vena, fell a
prey to death. The great Rishis, assembling together in the great forest,
installed him in the sovereignty of the earth. And because it was thought
that he would advance all mankind, he was, for that reason, called Prithu
(the advancer). And because also he protected people from injuries
(Kshata), he was, for that reason, called a Kshatriya (protector from
injuries). Beholding Prithu the son of Vena, all the creatures of the
earth exclaimed, ‘We have been lovingly attached to him.’ From this
circumstance of the loving attachment (to him of all creatures), he came
to be called a Raja (one that can inspire attachment). The earth, during
his sway, yielded crops without being tilled, every leaf that the trees
had bore honey; and every cow yielded a jugful of milk. All men were hale
and all their wishes used to be crowned with fruition. They had no fear
of any kind. They used to live, as they pleased, in fields or in
(sheltered) houses. When Prithu desired to go over the sea, the waters
became solidified. The rivers also never swelled up when he had to cross
them but remained perfectly calm. The standard on his car moved freely
everywhere (without being obstructed by any impediment). King Prithu, in
one of his grand Horse-sacrifices, gave away unto the Brahman as one and
twenty mountains of gold, each measuring three nalwas.[102] When he, O
Srinjaya, who far surpassed thee in the four principal attributes and who
was purer than thy son, fell a prey to death, do not grieve for thy son
that is dead. Upon what, O Srinjaya, dost thou reflect in silence? It
seems, O king, that thou hearest not these words of mine. If thou hast
not heard them, then this discourse of mine has been a fruitless
rhapsody, like medicine or diet, to a person on the point of death.’

“Srinjaya said, ‘I am attending, O Narada, to this discourse of thine, of
excellent import and perfumed like a garland of flowers,–this discourse
upon the conduct of high-souled royal sages of meritorious deeds and
great fame, that can certainly dispel grief. Thy discourse, O great sage,
has not been a fruitless rhapsody. I have been freed from grief at thy
very sight. Like one never satiated with drinking nectar, I am not
satiated with thy words. O thou of true sight, if thou, O lord, be
inclined to show thy grace towards this person burning on account of the
death of his son, then that son, through that grace of thine, is sure to
be revived and to mingle once more with me (in this life).

“Narada said, ‘I will give back to thee that son of thine, named
Suvarnashthivin, whom Parvata gave thee and who has been bereft of life.
Of the splendour of gold, that child shall have a thousand years.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘How did the son of Srinjaya become
Suvarnashthivin?[103] Why also did Parvata give Srinjaya that child? And
why did he die? When the lives of all men in those days extended for a
thousand years, why did Srinjaya’s son die in infancy? Or, was he in name
only Suvarnashthivin? How also did he come to be so? I desire to know all

“Krishna said, “I will recite to thee, O king, the facts as they
happened. There are two Rishis, the foremost ones in the world, named
Narada and Parvata. Narada is the maternal uncle and Parvata is his
sister’s son. With cheerful hearts, the uncle Narada and the nephew
Parvata had, in days of old, O king, left heaven for a pleasant ramble on
earth for tasting clarified butter and rice. Both of them, possessed of
great ascetic merit, wandered over the earth, subsisting on food taken by
human beings. Filled with joy and entertaining great affection for each
other, they entered into a compact that, whatever wish, good or bad,
would be entertained by one should be disclosed to the other, but on the
event of one of them acting otherwise, he should be subject to the
other’s curse. Agreeing to that understanding, those two great Rishis,
adored of all the worlds, repaired to king Srinjaya, the son of Sitya and
said unto him, ‘We two, for thy good, shall dwell with thee for a few
days. O lord of earth, do thou attend to all our wants duly.’ The king,
saying, So be it, set himself to attend upon them hospitably. After a
while, one day, the king filled with joy, introduced to those illustrious
ascetics his daughter of the fairest complexion, saying, ‘This my
daughter will wait upon you both. Bright as the filaments of the lotus,
she is beautiful and of faultless limbs, accomplished and of sweet
manners, and is called Sukumari by name.’ ‘Very well,’ said the Rishis in
reply, upon which the king directed his daughter, telling her, ‘O child,
attend upon these two Brahmanas as thou wouldst upon the gods or thy
sire.’ The virtuous princess, saying, ‘So be it’ began to attend upon
them in obedience to her father’s behest. Her dutiful services and her
unrivalled beauty very soon inspired Narada with a tender flame towards
her. That tender sentiment began to grow in the heart of the illustrious
saint like the moon gradually waxing on the accession of the lighted
fortnight. The virtuous Narada, however, overwhelmed by shame, could not
disclose that burning attachment to his sister’s son, the high-souled
Parvata. By his ascetic power, as also by signs, Parvata understood all.
Inflamed with rage, the latter thereupon resolved to curse the
love-afflicted Narada. And he said, ‘Having of thy own accord made a
compact with me that, whatever wish, good or bad, would be cherished by
either of us should be disclosed to the other, thou hast violated it.
These were thy own words. O Brahmana! It is for this that I shall curse
thee. Thou didst not tell me before that thy heart has been pierced by
the charms of the maiden Sukumari! It is for this that I shall curse
thee. Thou art a Brahmacharin. Thou art my preceptor. Thou art an ascetic
and a Brahmana. Yet hast thou broken the compact thou hadst made with me.
Fitted with rage I shall, for this, curse even thee. Listen to me. This
Sukumari shall, without doubt, become thy wife. From the time of thy
marriage, however, O puissant one, both she and all men shall behold thee
an ape, for thy true features having disappeared, an ape shalt thou
appear unto all.’ Hearing these words of his, the uncle Narada, filled
with wrath, cursed his nephew Parvata in return, saying, ‘Although thou
hast ascetic merit and Brahmacharya and truth and self-restraint, and
although thou art ever devoted to virtue, thou shalt not yet succeed in
proceeding to heaven.’ Filled with rage and desire of vengeance, they
thus cursed and flamed against each other like a couple of infuriated
elephants. From that time the high-souled Parvata began to wander over
the earth, respected as he deserved, O Bharata, for his own energy.
Narada then, that foremost of Brahmanas, obtained according to due rites
the hand of Srinjaya’s daughter, the faultless Sukumari. The princess,
however, beheld Narada exactly as the curse had said. Indeed, just after
the last of the wedding mantras had been recited, Sukumari beheld the
celestial Rishi to have a face like that of an ape. She, however, did not
on that account, disregard her lord. On the other hand, she dedicated her
love to him. Indeed, the princess, chaste as she was, devoted herself
entirely to her lord and did not in her heart even desire any one else
among the gods, Munis, and Yakshas for a husband. One day, as the
illustrious Parvata, in course of his wanderings, entered a solitary
forest, he beheld Narada there. Saluting him, Parvata said, ‘Show thy
grace unto me by permitting me, O puissant one, to co to heaven.’ Seeing
the cheerless Parvata kneeling before him with joined hands, Narada,
himself mere cheerless, said unto him, ‘Thou hadst cursed me first,
saying, ‘Be thou an ape!’ After thou hadst said so unto me, I cursed thee
from anger, saying, ‘From this day thou shalt not dwell in heaven!’ It
was not well of thee, since thou art like a son unto me.’ The two saints
then freed each other from their mutual curses. Beholding her husband
possessed of celestial form and blazing with beauty, Sukumari fled from
him, taking him to be somebody other than her lord. Seeing the beautiful
princess flying away from her lord, Parvata addressed her, saying, ‘This
one is even thy husband. Do not entertain any scruple. This one is the
illustrious and puissant Rishi Narada, that foremost of virtuous persons.
He is thy lord, of one soul with thee. Do not have any doubt.’ Assured in
diverse ways by the high Parvata and formed also of the curse on her
lord, the princess regained her equanimity. Then Parvata proceeded to
heaven and Narada to his home.”

“Vasudeva continued, ‘The illustrious Rishi Narada, who was himself an
actor in this matter, is here. O best of men, asked by thee, he will tell
thee everything that happened.'”


Vaisampayana said, “The royal son of Pandu then addressed Narada, saying,
‘O holy one, I desire to hear of the birth of the child whose excreta
were gold.’ Thus addressed by king Yudhishthira the just, the sage Narada
began to narrate to him all that had occurred in connection with that
child of golden excreta.

“Narada said, ‘It is even so, O thou of mighty arms, as Kesava here hath
said. Asked by thee I shall now recite the portion that remains of this
story. Myself, and my sister’s son, the great ascetic Parvata, came (on
one occasion) unto Srinjaya that foremost of all victorious kings, for
dwelling with him. Honoured by him with due rites, and with every wish of
ours gratified, we took up our residence in his abode. After the season
of rains had gone, and when the time came for our own departure, Parvata
said unto me those words of grave import suitable to the hour: ‘We have,
O Brahmana, dwelt in the abode of this king for some time, highly
honoured by him. Think of what return we should make.’ I then, O monarch,
addressed Parvata of blessed aspect, saying, ‘O nephew, this becomes
thee, and, O thou of great power, all this depends upon thyself. Through
thy boons let the king be made happy and let him obtain his wishes. Or,
if thou choosest, let him be crowned with success through the ascetic
merits of both of us.’ After this, Parvata having called king Srinjaya,
that foremost of victorious persons, said unto him these words O bull of
Kuru’s race, ‘We have been exceedingly gratified, O king, with thy
hospitable attentions given to us with every sincerity. With our
permission, O foremost of men, think of the boon thou shouldst solicit.
Let the boon, however, be such that it may not imply enmity to the gods
or destruction to men! Accept then, O king, a boon, for thou deservest
one as we think.’ Hearing these words, Srinjaya replied, ‘If ye have been
gratified with me, my object then has been gained, for that of itself has
been my greatest gain and that is regarded by me as the fruition of all
my desire.’ Unto Srinjaya who said so, Parvata again said, ‘Solicit, O
king, the fruition of that wish which thou art cherishing in thy heart,
for a long time.’ Srinjaya answered, ‘I desire a son that shall be heroic
and possessed of great energy, firm in his vows and of long life, highly
blessed and possessed of splendour equal to that of the Chief himself of
the deities.’ At this, Parvata said, ‘This thy desire shall be fulfilled.
Thy child, however, shall not be long-lived, for thy wish for such a son
is even for prevailing over the Chief of the gods. Thy son shall be known
by the name of Suvarnashthivin. He shall be possessed of splendour like
that of the Chief of the gods but take care to protect him always from
that deity.’ Hearing these words of the high-souled Parvata, Srinjaya
began to beseech that saint for ordaining otherwise, saying, ‘Let my son
be long-lived, O Muni, through thy ascetic merit.’ Parvata, however, said
nothing, through partiality for Indra. Beholding the king very cheerless,
I said unto him, ‘Think of me, O king, (in thy distress), and I shall
promise to come when thought of by thee. Do not grieve, O lord of earth!
I will give thee back thy beloved child, even if he be dead, in his
living form.’ Having said so unto that monarch, both of us left his
presence for coming to where we wished, and Srinjaya returned to his
abode as he pleased. After some time had elapsed, the royal sage Srinjaya
had born unto him a son of great prowess and blazing forth with energy.
The child grew up like a large lotus in a lake, and became
Suvarnashthivin in reality as in name. This extraordinary fact, O best of
the Kurus, soon became widely known over the world. The Chief of the gods
also came to know it as the result of Parvata’s boon. Fearing humiliation
(at the hands of the child when he would grow up), the slayer of Vala and
Vritra began to watch for the laches of the prince. He commanded his
celestial weapon Thunder, standing before him in embodied shape, saying,
‘Go, O puissant one, and assuming the form of a tiger slay this prince.
When grown up, this child of Srinjaya may, by his achievements, humiliate
me, O Thunder, as Parvata said.’ Thus addressed by Sakra, the celestial
weapon Thunder, that subjugator of hostile towns, began from that day to
continually watch for the laches of the prince. Srinjaya, meanwhile,
having obtained that child whose splendour resembled that of Indra
himself, became filled with joy. The king, accompanied by his wives, and
the other ladies of his household, took up his residence in the midst of
a forest. One day, on the shores of the Bhagirathi, the boy, accompanied
by his nurse, ran hither and thither in play. Though only five years of
age, his prowess, even then, resembled that of a mighty elephant. While
thus employed, the child met a powerful tiger that came upon him
suddenly. The infant prince trembled violently as he was being crushed by
the tiger and soon fell down lifeless on the earth. At this sight the
nurse uttered loud cries of grief. Having slain the prince, the tiger,
through Indra’s powers of delusion, vanished there and then. Hearing the
voice of the crying nurse, the king, in great anxiety, ran to the spot.
He beheld his son there, his blood quaffed off, and lying lifeless on the
ground like the moon dropped from the firmament. Taking up on his lap the
boy covered with blood, the king, with heart stricken by grief, began to
lament piteously. The royal ladies then, afflicted with grief and crying,
quickly ran to the spot where king Srinjaya was. In that situation the
king thought of me with concentrated attention. Knowing that the king was
thinking of me I appeared before him. Stricken with grief as the king
was, I recited to him all those stories, O monarch, that hero of Yadu’s
race has already recited to thee. I brought Srinjaya’s child back to
life, with Indra’s permission. That which is ordained must occur. It is
impossible that it should be otherwise. After this, prince
Suvarnashthivin of great fame and energy began to delight the hearts of
his parents. Of great prowess, he ascended the throne of his father after
the latter had repaired to heaven, and ruled for a period of one thousand
and one hundred years. He worshipped the gods in many great sacrifices
characterised by profuse presents. Possessed of great splendour, he
gratified the gods and the Pitris. Having procreated many sons, all of
whom by their issues multiplied the race, he went the way of all nature,
O king, after many years. Do thou, O foremost of kings dispel this grief
born in thy heart, even as Kesava has counselled thee, as also Vyasa of
austere penances. Rise up, O king, and bear the burthen of this thy
ancestral kingdom, and perform high and great sacrifices so that thou
mayst obtain (hereafter) whatever regions may be desired by thee!'”


Vaisampayana said, “Unto king Yudhishthira who still remained speechless
and plunged in grief, the island-born Vyasa, that great ascetic,
conversant with truths of religion, spoke again.”

“Vyasa said, ‘O thou of eyes like lotus petals, the protection of
subjects is the duty of kings. Those men that are always observant of
duty regard duty to be all powerful. Do thou, therefore, O king, walk in
the steps of thy ancestors. With. Brahmanas, penances are a duty. This is
the eternal ordinance of the Vedas. Penances, therefore, O bull of
Bharata’s race, constitute the eternal duty of Brahmanas. A Kshatriya is
the protector of all persons in respect of their duties.[104] That man
who, addicted to earthly possessions, transgresses wholesome restraints,
that offender against social harmony, should be chastised with a strong
hand. 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 king who
conducts himself otherwise incurs sin. He who does not protect morality
when it is being disregarded is himself a trespasser against morality.
The Kauravas were trespassers against morality. They have, with their
followers, been slain by thee. Thou hast been observant of the duties of
thy own order. Why then, O son of Pandu, dost thou indulge in such grief?
The king should slay those that deserve death, make gifts to persons
deserving of charity, and protect his subjects according to the

“Yudhishthira said, ‘I do not doubt the words that fall from thy lips, O
thou of great ascetic merit! Everything appertaining to morality and duty
is well known to thee, O foremost of all persons conversant with morality
and duty! I have, however, for the sake of kingdom, caused many persons
to be slain! Those deeds, O Brahmana, are burning and consuming me!’

“Vyasa said, ‘O Bharata, is the Supreme Being the doer, or is man the
doer? Is everything the result of Chance in the world, or are the fruits
that we enjoy or suffer, the results of (previous) action? If man, O
Bharata, does all acts, good or bad, being urged thereto by the Supreme
Being, then the fruits of those acts should attach to the Supreme being
himself. If a person cuts down, with an axe, a tree in forest, it is the
person that incurs the sin and not the axe by any means. Or, if it be
said that, the axe being only the material cause, the consequence of the
act (of cutting) should attach to the animate agent (and not to the
inanimate tool), then the sin may be said to belong to the person that
has made the axe. This, however, can scarcely be true. If this be not
reasonable, O son of Kunti, that one man should incur the consequence of
an act done by another, then, guided by this, thou shouldst throw all
responsibility upon the Supreme Being.[105] If, again, man be himself the
agent of all his acts virtuous and sinful, then Supreme Director there is
none, and, therefore, whatever thou hast done cannot bring evil
consequences on thee.[106] No one, O king, can ever turn away from that
which is destined. If, again, Destiny be the result of the acts of former
lives, then no sin can attach to one in this life even as the sin of
cutting down a tree cannot touch the maker of the axe.[107] If thou
thinkest it is chance only that acts in the world, then such an act of
destruction could never happen nor will ever happen.[108] If it is
necessary to ascertain what is good and what is evil in the world, attend
to the scriptures. In those scriptures it has been laid down that kings
should stand with the rod of chastisement uplifted in their hands. I
think, O Bharata, that acts, good and bad, are continually revolving here
as a wheel, and men obtain the fruits of those acts, good or bad, that
they do. One sinful act proceeds from another. Therefore, O tiger among
kings, avoid all evil acts and do not thus set thy heart upon grief. Thou
shouldst adhere, O Bharata, to the duties, even if reproachable, of thy
own order. This self-destruction, O king, does not look well in thee.
Expiations, O king, have been ordained for (evil) acts. He that is alive
can perform them, but he that dies fails in their performance. Therefore,
O king without laying down thy life, perform those expiatory acts. If
thou dost not perform them thou mayst have to repent in the next world.’


“Yudhishthira said, ‘Sons and grandsons and brothers and sires and
fathers-in-law and preceptors and maternal uncles and grandsires, many
high-souled Kshatriyas, many relatives (by marriage), friends,
companions, sister’s sons, and kinsmen, O grandsire, and many foremost of
men coming from diverse countries, have fallen. All these, O grandsire,
have been caused to be slain by myself alone, from desire of kingdom.
Having caused so many heroic kings who were always devoted to
righteousness and all of whom had quaffed Soma in sacrifices, what end
shall I attain, O great ascetic! Thinking that this earth has been bereft
of many lions among kings, all of whom were in the enjoyment of great
prosperity, I burn continually to this day. Having witnessed this
slaughter of kinsmen and millions of other men, I burn with grief, O
grandsire! Oh, what will be the plight of those foremost of ladies who
have been deprived of sons, of husbands, and of brothers. Reproaching the
Pandavas and the Vrishnis as cruel murderers, those ladies, with
emaciated features and plunged in grief, will throw themselves on the
earth! Not beholding their sires and brothers and husbands and sons,
those ladies, through affliction, casting off their life-breath, will go
to the abode of Yama, O foremost of Brahmanas! I have no doubt of this.
The course of morality is very subtle. It is plain that we shall be
stained with the guilt of slaughtering women for this. Having slain our
kinsmen and friends and thereby committed an inexpiable sin, we shall
have to fall into hell with heads downwards. O best of men, we shall,
therefore, waste our limbs with the austerest of penances. Tell me, O
grandsire, to what mode of life I should betake myself then.'”

Vaisampayana continued, “Hearing these words of Yudhishthira, the
Island-born Rishi, having reflected keenly for some time, addressed the
son of Pandu as follows:

“Vyasa said, ‘Remembering the duties of a Kshatriya, O king, do not give
way to grief. All those Kshatriyas, O bull among Kshatriyas, have fallen
in the observance of their proper duties. In the pursuit of great
prosperity and of great fame on earth, those foremost of men, all of whom
were liable to death,[109] have perished through the influence of Time.
Thou hast not been their slayer, nor this Bhima, nor Arjuna, nor the
twins. It is Time that took away their life-breaths according to the
great law of change. Time hath neither mother, nor father, nor anybody
for whom he is disposed to show any favour. He is the witness of the acts
of all creatures. By him have they been taken away. This battle, O bull
of Bharata’s race, was only an occasion ordained by him. He causes
creatures to be slain through the instrumentality of creatures. This is
the manner in which it puts forth its irresistible power. Know that Time
(in his dealings with creatures) is dependent upon the bond of action and
is the witness of all actions good and bad. It is Time that brings about
the fruits, fraught with bliss or woe, of our actions. Think, O
mighty-armed one, of the acts of those Kshatriyas that have fallen. Those
acts were the causes of their destruction and it is in consequence of
them that they have perished. Think also of thy own acts consisting of
observances of vows with restrained soul. And think also how thou hast
been forced by the Supreme Ordainer to do such an act (as the slaughter
of so many human beings). As a weapon made by a smith or carpenter is
under the control of the person that is handling it, and moves as he
moves it, similarly this universe, controlled by actions done in Time,
moves as those actions move it. Seeing that the births and deaths of
creatures take place without any (assignable) cause and in perfect
wantonness, grief and joy are perfectly needless. Although this
entanglement of thy heart is a mere delusion, still, if it pleaseth thee,
O king, perform expiatory rites (for washing thyself free of thy
so-called sin). It is heard, O Partha, that the gods and the Asuras
fought against each other. The Asuras were the elder, and the gods the
younger brothers. Covetous of prosperity, fierce was the battle fought
between them. The fight lasted for two and thirty thousand years. Making
the earth one vast expanse of blood, the gods slew the Daityas and gained
possession of heaven. Having obtained possession of the earth, a (large)
number of Brahmanas, conversant with the Vedas, armed themselves,
stupefied with pride, with the Danavas for giving them help in the fight.
They were known by the name of Salavrika and numbered eight and eighty
thousand. All of them, however, were slain by the gods. Those
wicked-souled persons who desire the extinction of virtue and who set
sinfulness agoing deserve to be slain even as the furious Daityas were
slain by the gods. If by slaying a single individual a family may be
saved, or, if by slaying a single family the whole kingdom may be saved,
such an act of slaughter will not be a transgression. Sin, O king,
sometimes assumes the form of virtue, and virtue sometimes assumes the
form of sin. They, however, that are learned, know which is which.
Therefore, console thyself, O son of Pandu, for thou art well versed in
the scriptures. Thou hast, O Bharata, only followed the path formerly
trodden by the very gods. Men like yourselves never go to hell, O bull of
Pandu’s race! Comfort these thy brothers and all thy friends, O scorcher
of foes! He who deliberately engages himself in sinful acts, and
committing sinful acts feels no shame but continues the same as before,
is called (in the scripture) a great sinner. There is no expiation for
him and his sins know no diminution. Thou art born in noble race. Forced
by the faults of others, thou hast most unwillingly done this, and having
done this thou repentest of it. The Horse-sacrifice, that grand rite, has
been indicated as an expiation for thee. Make preparations for that
sacrifice, O monarch, and thou shalt be freed from thy sins. The divine
chastiser of Paka, having vanquished his foes with the assistance of the
Maruts, gradually performed a hundred sacrifices and became
Satakratu.[110] Freed from sin, possessed of heaven, and having obtained
many regions of bliss and great happiness and prosperity, Sakra,
surrounded by the Maruts, is shining in beauty, and illuminating all the
quarters with his splendour. The lord of Sachi is adored in the heavens
by the Apsaras. The Rishis and the other gods all worship him with
reverence. Thou hast got the earth through thy prowess. All the kings
have been vanquished by thee, O sinless one, through thy prowess.
Proceeding with thy friends to their kingdom, O king, install their
brothers, sons, or grandsons on their thrones. Behaving with kindness
towards even the children in the womb, make thy subjects glad and happy,
and rule the earth. Install on their thrones the daughters of those that
have no sons. Women are fond of pleasure and power. Through this means
they will castoff their sorrows and become happy. Having comforted the
whole empire in this way, O Bharata, adore the gods in a Horse-sacrifice
as the virtuous Indra did in days of old. It is not proper for us to
grieve for those high-souled Kshatriyas, O bull of thy order (that have
fallen in battle). Stupefied by the power of the destroyer, they have
perished in the observance of the duties of their own order. Thou hast
discharged the duties of a Kshatriya and obtained the earth without a
thorn in it. Observe thy own duties, O son of Kunti, for then, O Bharata,
thou shalt be able to obtain happiness in the other world.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘After doing what acts does a man become liable to
perform expiation? And what are those acts which he must do for being
freed from sin? Tell me this, O grandsire.’

“Vyasa said, ‘Having omitted to do those acts that have been ordained,
and done those that have been interdicted, and having behaved
deceitfully, a man becomes liable to perform expiation. The person in the
observance of the Brahmacharya vow, who rises from bed after the sun has
risen or goes to bed while the sun is setting, one who has a rotten nail
or black teeth, one whose younger brother weds first, one who weds before
his elder brother is wedded, one who has been guilty of the slaughter of
a Brahmana, one who speaks ill of others, one who weds a younger sister
before the elder sister has been wedded, one who weds an elder sister
after having wedded a younger one, one who falls away from a vow, one who
slays any one of the regenerate classes, one who imparts a knowledge of
the Vedas to a person unworthy of it, one who does not impart a knowledge
thereof to a person that is worthy of it, one who takes many lives, one
who sells flesh, one who has abandoned his (sacred) fire, one who sells a
knowledge of the Vedas,[111] one who slays his preceptor or a woman, one
born in a sinful family, one who slays an animal wilfully,[112] one who
sets fire to a dwelling house, one who lives by deceit, one who acts in
opposition to his preceptor, and one who has violated a compact,–these
all are guilty of sins requiring expiation. I shall now mention other
acts that men should not do, viz., acts that are interdicted by both the
world and the Vedas. Listen to me with concentrated attention. The
rejection of one’s own creed, the practice of other people’s creed,
assisting at the sacrifice or the religious rites of one that is not
worthy of such assistance, eating of food that is forbidden, deserting
one that craves protection, neglect in maintaining servants and
dependants, selling salt and treacle (and similar other substances),
killing of birds and animals, refusal, though competent, to procreate
upon a soliciting woman, omission to present the daily gifts (of handfuls
of grass to kine and the like), omission to present the dakshina,
humiliating a Brahmana,–these all have been pronounced by persons
conversant with duty to be acts that no one should do. The son that
quarrels with the father, the person that violates the bed of his
preceptor, one that neglects to produce offspring in one’s wedded wife,
are all sinful, O tiger among men! I have now declared to thee, in brief
as also in detail, those acts and omissions by which a man becomes liable
to perform expiation. Listen now to the circumstances under which men, by
even committing these acts, do not become stained with sin. If a Brahmana
well acquainted with the Vedas takes up arms and rushes against thee in
battle for killing thee, thou mayst proceed against him for taking his
life. By such an act the slayer does not become guilty of the slaughter
of a Brahmana.[113] There is a mantra in the Vedas, O son of Kunti, that
lays this down, I declare unto thee only those practices that are
sanctioned by the authority of the Vedas. One who slays a Brahmana that
has fallen away from his own duties and that advances, weapon in hand,
with intent to slaughter, does not truly become the slayer of a Brahmana.
In such a case it is the wrath of the slayer that proceeds against the
wrath of the slain. A person by drinking alcoholic stimulants in
ignorance or upon the advice of a virtuous physician when his life is at
peril, should have the regenerating ceremonies performed once more in his
case. All that I have told thee, O son of Kunti, about the eating of
interdicted food, may be cleansed by such expiatory rites. Connection
with the preceptor’s wife at the preceptor’s command does not stain the
pupil. The sage Uddalaka caused his son Swetaketu to be begotten by a
disciple. A person by committing theft for the sake of his preceptor in a
season of distress is not stained with sin. One, however, that takes to
thieving for procuring enjoyments for himself becomes stained. One is not
stained by stealing from other than Brahmanas (in a season of distress
and for the sake of one’s preceptor). Only one that steals under such
circumstances without himself appropriating any portion thereof is
untouched by sin. A falsehood may be spoken for saving one’s own life or
that of another, or for the sake of one’s preceptor, or for gratifying a
woman, or for bringing about a marriage. One’s vow of Brahmacharya is not
broken by having wet dreams. In such cases the expiation laid down
consists in the pouring of libations of clarified butter on the blazing
fire. If the elder brother be fallen or has renounced the world, the
younger brother does not incur sin by marrying. Solicited by a woman,
connection with her is not destructive of virtue. One should not slay or
cause to be slain an animal except in a sacrifice. Animals have become
sacred (fit for sacrifice) through the kindness manifested towards them
by the Creator himself in the ordinance laid down by him. By making a
gift in ignorance to an undeserving Brahmana one does not incur sin. The
omission (through ignorance) to behave with liberality towards a
deserving person does not lead to sin. By casting off an adulterous wife
one does not incur sin. By such treatment the woman herself may be purged
while the husband may avoid sin. One who knows the true use of the Soma
juice, does not incur sin by selling it.[114] By dismissing a servant who
is incompetent to render service one is not touched by sin. I have now
said unto thee those acts by doing which one does not incur sin. I shall
now speak to thee of expiation in detail.'”


“Vyasa said, ‘By penances, religious rites, and gifts, O Bharata, a man
may wash off his sins if he does not commit them again. By subsisting
upon only one meal a day, and that procured by mendicancy, by doing all
his acts himself (without relying on the aid of a servant), by making his
round of mendicancy with a human skull in one hand and a khattanga in
another, by becoming a Brahmacharin and always ready for exertion, by
casting off all malice, by sleeping on the bare ground, by publishing his
offence to the world, by doing all this for full twelve years, a person
can cleanse himself from the sin of having slain a Brahmana. By perishing
upon the weapon of a person living by the use of arms, of one’s own will
and upon the advice of persons learned in the scriptures, or by throwing
one’s self down, for three times, with head downwards, upon a blazing
fire, or by walking a hundred Yojanas all the while reciting the Vedas,
or by giving away one’s whole property to a Brahmana conversant with the
Vedas, or at least so much as would secure to him a competence for life,
or a house properly furnished, and by protecting kine and Brahmanas, one
may be cleansed of the sin of having slain a Brahmana. By living upon the
scantiest meal every day for a space of six years, a person may be
cleansed of that sin.[115] By observing a harder vow with regard to food
one may be cleansed in three years.[116] By living upon one meal a month,
one may be cleansed in course of only a year. By observing, again, an
absolute fast, one may be cleansed within a very short time. There is no
doubt again that: one is cleansed by a Horse-sacrifice. Men that have
been guilty of having slain a Brahmana and that have succeeded in taking
the final bath at the completion of the Horse-sacrifice, become cleansed
of all their sins. This is an injunction of great authority in the
Srutis. One again, by slaying down his life in a battle undertaken for
the sake of a Brahmana, becomes cleansed of the sin of having slain a
Brahmana. By giving away a hundred thousand kine unto persons deserving
of gifts, one becomes cleansed of the sin of having slain a Brahmana as
also, indeed, of all his sins. One that gives away five and twenty
thousand kine of the Kapila species and while all of them have calved,
becomes cleansed of all his sins. One who, at the point of death, gives
away a thousand kine with calves unto poor but deserving persons, becomes
freed from sin. That man, O king, who gives away a hundred steeds of the
Kamvoja breed unto Brahmanas of regulated behaviour, becomes freed from
sin. That man. O Bharata, who gives unto even one person all that he asks
for, and who, having given it, does not speak of his act to any one,
becomes freed from sin. If a person who has once taken alcohol drinks (as
expiation) hot liquor, he sanctifies himself both here and hereafter. By
falling from the summit of a mountain or entering a blazing fire, or by
going on an everlasting journey after renouncing the world, one is freed
from all sins. By performing the sacrifice laid down by Vrihaspati, a
Brahmana who drinks alcoholic liquors may succeed in attaining to the
region of Brahman. This has been said by Brahman himself. If a person,
after having drunk alcoholic liquor, becomes humble and makes a gift of
land, and abstains from it ever afterwards, he becomes sanctified and
cleansed. The person that has violated his preceptor’s bed, should lie
down on a sheet of iron having heated it, and having cut off the emblem
of his sex should leave the world for a life in the woods, with eyes
always turned upwards. By casting off one’s body, one becomes cleansed of
all his evil acts. Women, by leading a regulated life for one year,
become cleansed of all their sins. The person who observes a very rigid
vow, or gives away the whole of his wealth, or perishes in a battle
fought for the sake of his preceptor, becomes cleansed of all his sins.
One who uses falsehood before one’s preceptor or acts in opposition to
him, becomes cleansed of that sin by doing something agreeable to one’s
preceptor. One who has fallen off from the vow (of Brahmacharya ), may
become cleansed of that sin by wearing the hide of a cow for six months
and observing the penances laid down in the case of the slaughter of a
Brahmana. One who has been guilty of adultery, or of theft, may become
cleansed by observing rigid vows for a year. When one steals another’s
property, one should, by every means in his power, return to that other
property of the value of what has been stolen. One may then be cleansed
of the sin (of theft). The younger brother who has married before the
marriage of the elder brother, as also the elder brother whose Younger
brother has married before him, becomes cleansed by observing a rigid
vow, with collected soul, for twelve nights. The younger brother,
however, should wed again for rescuing his deceased ancestors. Upon such
second wedding, the first wife becomes cleansed and her husband himself
would not incur sin by taking her. Men conversant with the scriptures
declare that women may be cleansed of even the greatest sins by observing
the vow of chaturmasya, all the while living upon scanty and cleansing
food. Persons conversant with the scriptures do not take into account the
sins that women may commit at heart. Whatever their sins (of this
description), they are cleansed by their menstrual course like a metallic
plate that is scoured with ashes. Plates (made of the alloy of brass and
copper) stained by a Sudra eating off it, or a vessel of the same metal
that has been smelt by a cow, or stained by a Brahmana’s Gandusha, may be
cleansed by means of the ten purifying substances.[117] It has been laid
down that a Brahmana should acquire and practise the full measure of
virtue. For a person at the kingly order it has been laid down that he
should acquire and practise a measure of virtue less by a fourth part.
So, a Vaisya should acquire a measure less (than a Kshatriya’s) by a
fourth and a Sudra less (than a Vaisya’s) by a fourth. The heaviness or
lightness of sins (for purposes of expiation) of each of the four orders,
should be determined upon this principle. Having slain a bird or an
animal, or cut down living trees, a person should publish his sin and
fast for three nights. By having intercourse with one with whom
intercourse is prohibited, the expiation for one is wandering in wet
clothes and sleeping on a bed of ashes. These, O king, are the expiations
for sinful acts, according to precedent and reason and scriptures and the
ordinances. A Brahmana may be cleansed of all sins by reciting the
Gayatri in a sacred place, all the while living upon frugal fare, casting
off malice, abandoning wrath and hate, unmoved by praise and blame, and
abstaining from speech. He should during the day-time be under shelter of
the sky and should lie down at night even at such a place. Thrice during
the day, and thrice during the night, he should also plunge with his
clothes into a stream or lake for performing his ablutions. Observant of
rigid vows, he should abstain from speech with women, Sudras, and fallen
persons. A Brahmana by observing such regulations may be cleansed of all
sins unconsciously committed by him. A person obtains in the other world
the fruits, good or bad, of his acts here which are all witnessed by the
elements. Be it virtue or be it vice, according to the true measure that
one acquires of either, one enjoys or suffers the consequences (even
here). By knowledge, by penances, and by righteous acts, therefore, one
enhances his weal (even here). One, therefore may similarly enhance his
misery by committing unrighteous acts. One should, therefore, always
achieve acts that are righteous and abstain altogether from those that
are unrighteous. I have now indicated what the expiations are of the sins
that have been mentioned. There is expiation for every sin except those
that are called Mahapatakas (highly heinous sins). As regards sins in
respect of unclean food and the like, and improper speeches, etc., they
are of two classes, viz., those committed consciously and those that are
committed unconsciously. All sins that are committed consciously are
grave, while those that are committed unconsciously are trivial or light.
There is expiation for both. Indeed sin is capable of being washed away
by (observance of) the ordinances spoken of. Those ordinances, however,
have been laid down only for believers (in God) and those that have
faith. They are not for atheists or those that have no faith, or those in
whom pride and malice predominate. A person, O tiger among men, that is
desirous of weal both here and hereafter, should, O foremost of virtuous
men, have recourse to righteous behaviour, to (the counsels of) men that
are righteous, and to the duties that have been ordained for him.
Therefore, for the reasons already advanced (by me), thou, O king, shalt
be cleansed of all thy sins for thou hast slain thy foes in the discharge
of thy duties as a king and for the protection of thy life-breath and thy
inheritance. Or, if not withstanding this, thou still regardest thyself
to be sinful, perform expiation. Do not cast away thy life in consequence
of such grief that is not becoming a wise man.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by the holy Rishi, king
Yudhishthira the just, having reflected for a short while, said these
words unto the sage.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘Tell me, O grandfather, what food is clean and what
unclean, what gift is praiseworthy, and who should be considered
deserving and who undeserving (of gifts).’

“Vyasa said, ‘In this connection is cited the old account of a discourse
between the ascetics and that lord of creation, viz., Manu. In the Krita
age, an assembly of Rishis, of rigid vows, having approached the great
and puissant lord of creation, Manu, while seated at his ease, solicited
him to discourse on duties, saying, ‘What food should be taken, who is to
be regarded a deserving person (for gifts), what gifts should be made,
how should a person study, and what penances should one perform and how,
and what acts should be done and what acts should not be done, O lord of
creation, tell us everything about all this.’ Thus addressed by them, the
divine and self-born Manu said unto them, ‘Listen to me as I expound the
duties in brief and in detail. In regions which have not been
interdicted, silent recitation (of sacred mantras, homa), fasts,
knowledge of self, sacred rivers, regions inhabited by men devoted to
this pious acts,–these have been laid down as acts and objects that are
cleansing. Certain mountains also are cleansing, as also the eating of
gold and bathing in waters into which have been dipped gems and precious
stones. Sojourn to holy places, and eating of sanctified butter–these
also, without doubt speedily cleanse a man. No man would ever be called
wise if he is indulged in pride. If he wishes to be long-lived, he should
for three nights drink hot water (as an expiation for having indulged in
pride). Refusal to appropriate what is not given, gift, study (of
scriptures), penance, abstention from injury, truth, freedom from wrath,
and worship of the gods in sacrifices,–these are the characteristics of
virtue. That again which is virtue may, according to time and place, be
sin. Thus appropriation (of what belongs to others), untruth, and injury
and killing, may under special circumstances, become virtue. With respect
to persons capable of judging, acts are of two kinds, viz., virtuous and
sinful. From the worldly and the Vedic points of view again, virtue and
sin are good or bad (according to their consequences). From the Vedic
point of view, virtue and sin (i.e., everything a man may do or not do),
would be classed under action and inaction. Inaction (i.e., abstention
from Vedic rites and adoption of a life of contemplation) leads to
emancipation (from rebirth); while the consequences of action (i.e.,
practice of Vedic rites) are repeated death and rebirth. From the worldly
point of view, acts that are evil lead to evil and those that are good to
consequences that are good. From the worldly point of view, therefore,
virtue and sin are to be distinguished by the good and the evil character
of their consequences.[118] Acts that are (apparently) evil, when
undertaken from considerations connected with the gods, the scriptures,
life itself, and the means by which life is sustained, produce
consequences that are good. When an act is undertaken from the
expectation, however doubtful, that it will produce mischief (to some
one) in the future, or when an act is done whose consequence is visibly
mischievous, expiation has been laid down. When an act is done from wrath
or clouded judgment, then expiation should be performed by giving pain to
the body, guided by precedent, by scriptures, and by reason. When
anything, again, is done for pleasing or displeasing the mind, the sin
arising therefrom may be cleansed by sanctified food and recitation of
mantras. The king who lays aside (in a particular case) the rod of
chastisement, should fast for one night. The priest who (in a particular
case) abstains from advising the king to inflict punishment, should fast
for three nights as an expiation. The person who, from grief, attempts to
commit suicide by means of weapons, should fast for three nights. There
is no expiation for them that cast off the duties and practices of their
order and class, country, and family, and that abandon their very creed.
When an occasion for doubt respecting what should be done arises, that
should be regarded as the injunction of the scriptures which ten persons
versed in Vedic scriptures or three of those that frequently recite them
may declare.[119] The bull, earth, little ants, worms generated in dirt,
and poison, should not be eaten by Brahmanas. They should not also eat
fishes that have no scales, and four-footed aquatic animals like frogs
and others, except the tortoise. Water-fowls called Bhasas, ducks,
Suparnas, Chakravakas, diving ducks, cranes, crows, shags, vultures,
hawks, owls, as also all four-footed animals that are carnivorous and
that have sharp and long teeth, and birds, and animals having two teeth
and those having four teeth, as also the milk of the sheep, the she-ass,
the she-camel, the newly-calved cow, woman and deer, should not be taken
by a Brahmana. Besides this, the food that has been offered to the man,
that which has been cooked by a woman who has recently brought forth a
child, and food cooked by an unknown person, should not be eaten. The
milk also of a cow that has recently calved should not be taken. If a
Brahmana takes food that has been cooked by a Kshatriya, it diminishes
his energy; if he takes the food provided by a Sudra, it dims his
Brahmanic lustre; and if he takes the food provided by a goldsmith or a
woman who has neither husband nor children it lessens the period of his
life. The food provided by a usurer is equivalent to dirt, while that
provided by a woman living by prostitution is equivalent to semen. The
food also provided by persons that tolerate the unchastity of their
wives, and by persons that are ruled by their spouses, is forbidden. The
food provided by a person selected (for receiving gifts) at a certain
stage of a sacrifice, by one who does not enjoy his wealth or make any
gifts, that provided by one who sells Soma, or one who is a shoe-maker,
by an unchaste woman, by a washerman, by a physician, by persons serving
as watchmen, by a multitude of persons, by one who is pointed at by a
whole village, by one deriving his support from keep of dancing girls, by
persons wedding before their elder brothers are wedded, by professional
panegyrists and bards, and by those that are gamblers, the food also
which is brought with the left hand or which is stale, the food which is
mixed with alcohol, the food a portion of which has been already tasted,
and the food that forms the remnant of a feast, should not be taken (by a
Brahmana). Cakes, sugarcanes, potherbs, and rice boiled in sugared milk,
if they have lost their relish, should not be taken. The powder of fried
barley and of other kinds of fried grain, mixed with curds, if become
stale with age, should not be taken. Rice boiled in sugared milk, food
mixed with the tila seed, meat, and cakes, that have not been dedicated
to the gods, should not be taken by Brahmanas leading a domestic mode of
life, Having first gratified the gods, Rishis, guests, Pitris, and the
household deities, a Brahmana leading a domestic mode of life should then
take his food. A householder by living thus in his own house becomes like
a person of the Bhikshu order that has renounced the world. A man of such
behaviour, living with his wives in domesticity, earns great religious
merit. No one should make a gift for the sake of acquiring fame, or from
fear (of censure and the like) or unto a benefactor. A virtuous man would
not make gifts unto persons living by singing and dancing or unto those
that are professional jesters, or unto a person that is intoxicated, or
unto one that is insane, or unto a thief, or unto a slanderer, or unto an
idiot, or unto one that is pale of hue, or unto one that is defective of
a limb, or unto a dwarf, or unto a wicked person, or unto one born in a
low and wicked family, or unto one that has not been sanctified by the
observance of vows. No gift should be made to a Brahmana destitute of
knowledge of the Vedas. Gifts should be made unto him only that is a
Srotriya.[120] An improper gift and an improper acceptance produce evil
consequences unto both the giver and the acceptor. As a person who seeks
to cross the ocean with the aid of a rock or a mass of catechu sinks
along with his support, even so the giver and the acceptor (in such a
case) both sink together. As a fire that is covered with wet fuel does
not blaze forth, even so the acceptor of a gift who is bereft of penances
and study and piety cannot confer any benefit (upon the giver). As water
in a (human skull) and milk in a bag made of dog-skin become unclean in
consequence of the uncleanliness of the vessels in which they are kept
even so the Vedas become fruitless in a person who is not of good
behaviour. One may give from compassion unto a low Brahmana who is
without mantras and vows, who is ignorant of the scriptures and who
harbours envy. One may, from compassion, give unto a person that is poor
or afflicted or ill. But he should not give unto such a person in the
belief that he would derive any (spiritual) benefit from it or that he
would earn any religious merit by it. There is no doubt that a gift made
to Brahmana bereft of the Vedas becomes perfectly fruitless in
consequence of the fault of the recipient. As an elephant made of wood or
an antelope made of leather, even so is a Brahmana that has not studied
the Vedas. All the three have nothing but names.[121] As a eunuch is
unproductive with women, as a cow is unproductive with a cow, as a bird
lives in vain that is featherless, even so is a Brahmana that is without
mantras. As grain without kernel, as a well without water, as libations
poured on ashes, even so is a gift to a Brahmana void of learning. An
unlearned Brahmana is an enemy (to all) and is the destroyer of the food
that is presented to the gods and Pitris. A gift made to such a person
goes for nothing. He is, therefore, like unto a robber (of other people’s
wealth). He can never succeed in acquiring regions of bliss hereafter. I
have now told thee in brief, O Yudhishthira, all that was said (by Manu
on that occasion). This high discourse should be listened to by all, O
bull of Bharata’s race.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘O holy and great ascetic, I desire to hear in detail
what the duties of kings are and what the duties, in full, of all the
four orders. I desire also to hear, O foremost of Brahmanas, what
behaviour should be adopted in seasons of distress, and how I may
subjugate the world by treading along the path of morality. This
discourse on expiation, treating (at the same time) of fasts and capable
of exciting great curiosity, fills me with joy. The practice of virtue
and the discharge of kingly duties are always inconsistent with each
other. For always thinking of how one may reconcile the two, my mind is
constantly stupefied.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then Vyasa, O monarch, that foremost of all
persons conversant with the Vedas, casting his eyes upon that ancient and
all-knowing person, viz., Narada, said, If, O king, thou wishest to hear
of duties and morality in full, then ask Bhishma, O mighty-armed one,
that old grandsire of the Kurus. Conversant with all duties and possessed
of universal knowledge, that son of Bhagirathi will remove all the doubts
in thy heart on the difficult subject of duties. That goddess, viz., the
genius of the celestial river of three courses brought him forth. He saw
with his physical eyes all the gods with Indra at their head. Having
gratified with his dutiful services the celestial Rishis having
Vrihaspati at their head, he acquired a knowledge of the duties of kings.
That foremost one among the Kurus obtained a knowledge also of that
science, with its interpretations, with Usanas and that regenerate one
who is the preceptor of the celestials know. Having practised rigid vows,
that mighty-armed one acquired a knowledge of all the Vedas and their
branches, from Vasishtha and from Chyavana of Bhrigu’s race. In olden
days he studied under the eldest-born son of the Grandsire himself, viz.,
Sanatkumara of blazing splendour, well conversant with the truths of
mental and spiritual science. He learnt the duties in full of the Yatis
from the lips of Markandeya. The bull among men obtained all weapons from
Rama and Sakra. Although born among human beings, his death itself is
still under his own control. Although childless, yet he has many regions
of bliss hereafter as heard by us. Regenerate Rishis of great merit were
always his courtiers. There is nothing among objects that should be known
that is unknown to him. Conversant with all duties and acquainted with
all the subtle truths of morality, even he will discourse to thee upon
duty and morality. Go unto him before he abandons his life breath. Thus
addressed by him, the high-souled son of Kunti, of great wisdom, said the
following words unto Satyavati’s son Vyasa, that first of eloquent men.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Having caused a great and horrid slaughter of
kinsmen, I have become an offender against all and a destroyer of the
earth. Having caused that Bhishma himself, that warrior who always fought
fairly, to be slain by the aid of deceit, how shall I approach him for
asking him (about duties and morality)?’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Moved by the desire of benefiting all the four
orders, the mighty armed and high-souled chief of Yadu’s race once more
addressed that foremost of kings (in the following words).’

“Vasudeva said, ‘It behoveth thee not to show such pertinacity in grief.
Do that, O best of kings, which the holy Vyasa has said. The Brahmanas, O
mighty-armed one, and these thy brothers of great energy, stand before
thee beseechingly like persons beseeching the deity of the clouds at the
close of summer. The unslain remnant of the assembled kings, and the
people belonging to all the four orders of thy kingdom of Kurujangala, O
king, are here. For the sake of doing what is agreeable to these
high-souled Brahmanas, in obedience also to the command of thy revered
senior Vyasa of immeasurable energy, and at the request of out-selves
that are thy well-wishers, and of Draupadi, O scorcher of foes, do what
is agreeable to us, O slayer of foes, and what is beneficial to the

“Vaisampayana continued. ‘Thus addressed by Krishna, the high-souled king
(Yudhishthira) of eyes like lotus petals, rose from his seat for the good
of the whole world. The tiger among men, viz., Yudhishthira of great
fame, besought by Krishna himself, by the Island-born (Vyasa), by
Devasthana, by Jishnu, by these and many others, cast off his grief and
anxiety. Fully conversant with the declarations of the Srutis, with the
science that treats of the interpretation of those declarations, and with
all that men usually hear and all that deserve to be heard, the son of
Pandu obtained peace of mind and resolved upon that he should next do.
Surrounded by all of them like the moon by the stars, the king, placing
Dhritarashtra at the head of the train, set out for entering the city.
Desirous of entering the city, Kunti’s son Yudhishthira, conversant with
every duty, offered worship unto the gods and thousands of Brahmanas. He
then ascended a new and white car covered with blankets and deerskins,
and unto which were yoked sixteen white bullocks possessed of auspicious
marks, and which had been sanctified with Vedic mantras. Adored by
panegyrists and bards, the king mounted upon that car like Soma riding
upon his own ambrosial vehicle. His brother Bhima of terrible prowess
took the reins. Arjuna held over his head a white umbrella of great
effulgence. That white umbrella held upon the car looked beautiful like a
star-decked white cloud in the firmament. The two heroic sons of Madri,
viz., Nakula and Sahadeva, took up two yak-tails white as the rays of the
moon and adorned with gems for fanning the king. The five brothers decked
with ornaments, having ascended the car, O king, looked like the five
elements (that enter into the composition of everybody). Riding upon
another white car unto which were yoked steeds fleet as thought, Yuyutsu,
O king, followed the eldest son of Pandu behind. Upon his own brilliant
car of gold unto which were yoked Saivya and Sugriva, Krishna, with
Satyaki, followed the Kurus. The eldest uncle of Pritha’s son, O Bharata,
accompanied by Gandhari, proceeded at the head of the train, upon a
vehicle borne on the shoulders of men. The other ladies of the Kuru
household, as also Kunti and Krishna, all proceeded on excellent
vehicles, headed by Vidura. Behind followed a large number of cars and
elephants decked with ornaments, and foot-soldiers and steeds. His
praises chanted by sweet-voiced panegyrists and bards, the king proceeded
towards the city called after the elephant. The progress, O mighty-armed
one, of king Yudhishthira, became so beautiful that its like had never
been on earth. Teeming with healthy and cheerful men, thy busy hum of
innumerable voices was heard there. During the progress of Pritha’s son,
the city and its streets were adorned with gay citizens (all of whom had
come out for honouring the king). The spot through which the king passed
had been decked with festoons of flowers and innumerable banners. The
streets of the city were perfumed with incense. The place was overlaid
with powdered perfumes and flowers and fragrant plants, and hung over
with garlands and wreaths. New metallic jars, full of water to the brim,
were kept at the door of every house, and bevies of beautiful maidens of
the fairest complexion stood at the particular spots. Accompanied by his
friends, the son of Pandu, adored with sweet speeches, entered the city
through its well-adorned gate.'”


“Vaisampayana said, ‘At the time the Parthas entered the city, thousands
upon thousands of the citizens came out to behold the sight. The
well-adorned squares and streets, with crowd swelling at each moment
looked beautiful like the ocean swelling at the rise of the moon. The
large mansions that stood on the street-sides, decked with every ornament
and full of ladies, seemed to shake, O Bharata, with their weight. With
soft and modest voices they uttered the praises of Yudhishthira, of Bhima
and Arjuna, and of the two sons of Madri. And they said, ‘Worthy of all
praise art thou. O blessed princess of Panchala, that waitest by the side
of those foremost of men even like Gautami by the side of the (seven)
Rishis. Thy acts and vows have borne their fruits, O lady!’ In this
strain, O monarch, the ladies praised the princess Krishna. In
consequence of those praises, O Bharata, and their speeches with one
another, and the shouts of joy (uttered by the men’ ), the city became
filled with a loud uproar. Having passed through the streets with such
behaviour as befitted him, Yudhishthira then entered the beautiful palace
(of the Kurus) adorned with every ornament. The people belonging to the
city and the provinces, approaching the palace, uttered speeches that
were agreeable to his ears, ‘By good luck, O foremost of kings, thou hast
vanquished thy enemies, O slayer of foes! By good luck, thou hast
recovered thy kingdom through virtue and prowess. Be, O foremost of
kings, our monarch for a hundred years, and protect thy subjects
virtuously like Indra protecting the denizens of heaven.’ Thus adored at
the palace-gate with blessed speeches, and accepting the benedictions
uttered by the Brahmanas from every side, the king, graced with victory
and the blessings of the people, entered the palace that resembled the
mansion of Indra himself, and then descended from his car. Entering the
apartments, blessed Yudhishthira approached the household gods and
worshipped them with gems and scents and floral wreaths. Possessed of
great fame and prosperity, the king came out once more and beheld a
number of Brahmanas waiting with auspicious articles in their hands (for
pronouncing benedictions on him). Surrounded by those Brahmanas desirous
of uttering benedictions on him, the king looked beautiful like the
spotless moon in the midst of the stars. Accompanied by his priest
Dhaumya and his eldest uncle, the son of Kunti cheerfully worshipped,
with due rites, those Brahmanas with (gift of) sweets, gems, and gold in
profusion, and kine and robes, O monarch, and with diverse other articles
that each desired. Then loud shouts of ‘This is a blessed day’ arose,
filling the entire welkin, O Bharata. Sweet to the ear, that sacred sound
was highly gratifying to the friends and well-wishers (of the Pandavas).
The king heard that sound uttered by those learned Brahmanas and that was
as loud and clear as the sound of a flock of swans. He listened also to
the speeches, fraught with melodious words and grave import, of those
persons well conversant with the Vedas. Then, O king, the peal of drums
and the delightful blare of conchs, indicative of triumph, arose. A
little while after when the Brahmanas had become silent, a Rakshasa of
the name of Charvaka, who had disguised himself as a Brahmana, addressed
the king. He was a friend of Duryodhana and stood therein the garb of a
religious mendicant. With a rosary, with a tuft of hair on his head, and
with the triple staff in his hand, he stood proudly and fearlessly in the
midst of all those Brahmanas that had come there for pronouncing
benedictions (upon the king), numbering by thousands, O king, and all of
whom were devoted to penances and vows. That wicked wight, desirous of
evil unto the high-souled Pandavas and without having consulted those
Brahmanas, said these words unto the king.’

“Charvaka said, ‘All these Brahmanas, making me their spokesman, are
saying, ‘Fie on thee! Thou art a wicked king. Thou art a slayer of
kinsmen. What shalt thou gain, O son of Kunti, by having thus
exterminated thy race? Having slain also thy superiors and preceptor, it
is proper for thee to cast away thy life.’ Hearing these words of that
wicked Rakshasa the Brahmanas there became deeply agitated. Stung by that
speech, they made a loud uproar. And all of them, with king Yudhishthira.
O monarch, became speechless from anxiety and shame.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘I bow down to you and beseech you humbly, be
gratified with me. It doth not behove you to cry fie on me. I shall soon
lay down my life.'[122]

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then all those Brahmanas, O king, loudly said,
‘These are not our words. Prosperity to thee, O monarch!’ Those
high-souled persons, conversant with the Vedas, with understanding
rendered clear by penances, then penetrated the disguise of the speaker
by means of their spiritual sight.’ And they said, ‘This is the Rakshasa
Charvaka, the friend of Duryodhana. Having put on the garb of a religious
mendicant, he seeks the good of his friend Duryodhana. We have not, O
thou of righteous soul, said anything of the kind. Let this anxiety of
thine be dispelled. Let prosperity attend upon thee with thy brothers.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘These Brahmanas then, insensate with rage,
uttered the sound Hun. Cleansed of all sins, they censured the sinful
Rakshasa and slew him there (with that very sound). Consumed by the
energy of those utterers of Brahma, Charvaka fell down dead, like a tree
with all its sprouts blasted by the thunder of Indra. Duly worshipped,
the Brahmanas went away, having gladdened the king with their
benedictions. The royal son of Pandu also, with all his friends, felt
great happiness.


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then Devaki’s son Janardana of universal knowledge
addressed king Yudhishthira who stood there with his brothers, saying,
‘In this world, O sire, Brahmanas are always the objects of worship with
me. They are gods on earth having poison in their speech, and are
exceedingly easy to gratify. Formerly, in the Krita age, O king, a
Rakshasa of the name of Charvaka, O mighty-armed one, performed austere
penances for many years in Vadari. Brahman repeatedly solicited him to
ask for boons. At last the Rakshasa solicited the boon, O Bharata, of
immunity from fear at the hand of every being in the universe. The Lord
of the universe gave that high boon of immunity from fear at the hands of
all creatures, subject to the only limitation that he should be careful
of how he offended the Brahmanas. Having obtained that boon, the sinful
and mighty Rakshasa of fierce deeds and great prowess began to give pain
to the gods. The gods, persecuted by the might of the Rakshasa,
assembling together, approached Brahman, for compassing their foe’s
destruction. The eternal and unchangeable god answered them, O Bharata,
saying, ‘I have already arranged the means by which the death of this
Rakshasa may soon be brought about. There will be a king of the name of
Duryodhana. Among men, he will be the friend of this wight. Bound by
affection towards him, the Rakshasa will insult the Brahmanas. Stung by
the wrong he will inflict upon them, the Brahmanas, whose might consists
in speech, will in wrath censure him at which he will meet with
destruction. Even that Rakshasa Charvaka, O foremost of kings, slain by
the curse of the Brahmanas, lies there deprived of life. Do not, O bull
of Bharata’s race, give way to grief. The kinsmen, O king, have all
perished in the observance of Kshatriya duties. Those butts among
Kshatriyas, those high-souled heroes, have all gone to heaven. Do thou
attend to thy duties now. O thou of unfading glory, let no grief be
thine. Stay thy foes, protect thy subjects, and worship the Brahmanas.'”


“Vaisampayana said, ‘The royal son of Kunti, freed from grief and the
fever of his heart, took his seat, with face eastwards, on excellent seat
made of gold. On another seat, beautiful and blazing and made of gold,
sat with face directed towards him, those two chastisers of foes, viz.,
Satyaki and Vasudeva. Placing the king in their midst, on his two sides
sat Bhima and Arjuna upon two beautiful seats adorned with gems. Upon a
white throne of ivory, decked with gold, sat Pritha with Sahadeva and
Nakula. Sudharman,[123] and Vidura, and Dhaumya, and the Kuru king
Dhritarashtra, each sat separately on separate seats that blazed with the
effulgence of fire. Yuyutsu and Sanjaya and Gandhari of great fame, all
sat down where king Dhritarashtra had taken his seat. The
righteous-souled king, seated there, touched the beautiful white flowers,
Swastikas, vessels full of diverse articles, earth, gold, silver, and
gems, (that were placed before him). Then all the subjects, headed by the
priest, came to see king Yudhishthira, bringing with them diverse kinds
of auspicious articles. Then earth, and gold, and many kinds of gems, and
all the things in profusion that were necessary for the performance of
the coronation rite, were brought there. There were golden jars full to
the brim (with water), and those made of copper and silver and earth, and
flowers, and fried paddy, and Kusa grass, and cow’s milk, and
(sacrificial) fuel consisting of the wood of Sami, Pippala, and Palasa,
and honey and clarified butter and (sacrificial) ladles made of Udumvara,
and conches adorned with gold.[124] Then the priest Dhaumya, at the
request of Krishna, constructed, according to rule, an altar gradually
inclining towards the cast and the north. Causing the high-souled
Yudhishthira then, with Krishna the daughter of Drupada, to be seated
upon a handsome seat, called Sarvatobhadra, with firm feet and covered
with tiger-skin and blazing with effulgence, began to pour libations of
clarified butter (upon the sacrificial fire) with proper mantras. Then he
of Dasaratha’s race, rising from his seat, took up the sanctified conch,
poured the water it contained upon the head of that lord of earth, viz.,
Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti. The royal sage Dhritarashtra and all the
subjects also did the same at the request of Krishna. The son of Pandu
then, with his brothers, thus bathed with the sanctified water of the
conch, looked exceedingly beautiful. Then Panavas and Anakas and drums
were beaten. King Yudhishthira the just duly accepted the gifts made unto
him by the subjects. Always giving away presents in profusion in all his
sacrifices, the king honoured his subjects in return. He gave a thousand
nishkas unto the Brahmanas that uttered (especial) benedictions on him.
All of them had studied the Vedas and were endued with wisdom and good
behaviour. Gratified (with gifts), the Brahmanas, O king, wished him
prosperity and victory, and with voice melodious like that of swans,
uttered his praises, saying, ‘O Yudhishthira of mighty arms, by good
luck, O son of Pandu, victory has been thine. By good luck, O thou of
great splendour, thou hast recovered thy position through prowess. By
good luck, the wielder of Gandiva, and Bhimasena, and thyself, O king,
and the two sons of Madri, are all well, having slain your foes and
escaped with life from the battle, so destructive of heroes. Do thou, O
Bharata, attend without delay to those acts that should next be done.’
Thus adored by those pious men, king Yudhishthira the just, with his
friends, became installed on the throne of a large kingdom, O Bharata!'”


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Having heard those words, suitable to time and
place, of his subjects, king Yudhishthira answered them in the following
words, ‘Great must be the sons of Pandu, in sooth, whose merits, true or
false, are thus recited by such foremost of Brahmanas assembled together.
Without doubt, we are all objects of favour with you since you so freely
describe us to be possessed of such attributes. King Dhritarashtra,
however, is our father and god. If ye desire to do what is agreeable to
me, always render your obedience to him and what is agreeable to him.
Having slaughtered all my kinsmen, I live for him alone. My great duty is
to always serve him in every respect with watchfulness. If ye, as also my
friends, think that I should be an object of favour with you and them,
let me then request you all to show the same behaviour towards
Dhritarashtra as ye used to show before. He is the lord of the world, of
yourselves, and of myself. The whole world, with the Pandavas, belongs to
him. Ye should always bear these words of mine in your minds.’ The king
then told them to go whithersoever they liked. Having dismissed the
citizens and the people of the provinces, the delighter of the Kurus
appointed his brother Bhimasena as Yuvaraja. And he cheerfully appointed
Vidura of great intelligence for assisting him with his deliberations and
for overlooking the sixfold requirements of the state.[125] And he
appointed Sanjaya of mature years and possessed of every accomplishment,
as general director and supervisor of the finances. And the king
appointed Nakula for keeping the register of the forces, for giving them
food and pay and for supervising other affairs of the army. And king
Yudhishthira appointed Phalguna for resisting hostile forces and
chastising the wicked. And he appointed Dhaumya, the foremost of priests,
to attend daily to the Brahmanas and all rites in honour of the gods and
other acts of a religious kind. And he appointed Sahadeva to always
remain by his side, for the king thought, O monarch, that he should under
all circumstances be protected by that brother of his. And the king
cheerfully employed others in other acts according as he deemed them fit.
That slayer of hostile heroes, viz., the righteous-souled king
Yudhishthira, ever devoted to virtue, commanded Vidura and the
high-souled Yuyutsu, saying, ‘You should always with alacrity and
attention do everything that my royal father Dhritarashthra wishes.
Whatever also should be done in respect of the citizens and the residents
of the provinces should be accomplished by you in your respective
departments, after taking the king’s permission.'”


“Vaisampayana said, ‘After this king Yudhishthira of magnanimous soul
caused the Sraddha rites to be performed of every one of his kinsmen
slain in battle. King Dhritarashtra also of great fame, gave away, for
the good of his sons in the other world, excellent food, and kine, and
much wealth, and many beautiful and costly gems (unto the Brahmanas).
Yudhishthira accompanied by Draupadi, gave much wealth for the sake of
Drona and the high-souled Karna, of Dhrishtadyumna and Abhimanyu, of the
Rakshasa Ghatotkacha, the son of Hidimva, and of Virata, and his other
well-wishers that had served him loyally, and of Drupada and the five
sons of Draupadi. For the sake of each of these, the king gratified
thousands of Brahmanas with gifts of wealth and gems, and kine and
clothes. The king performed the Sraddha rite for the good in the next
world, of every one of those kings also who had fallen in the battle
without leaving kinsmen or friends behind. And the king also, for the
good of the souls of all his friends, caused houses to be founded for the
distribution of food, and places for the distribution of water, and tanks
to be excavated in their names. Thus paying off the debt he owed to them
and avoiding the chance of censure in the world,[126] the king became
happy and continued to protect his subjects religiously. He showed due
honour, as before, unto Dhritarashtra, and Gandhari, and Vidura, and unto
all the superior Kauravas and unto all the officers. Full of kindness,
the Kuru king honoured and protected all those ladies also who had, in
consequence of the battle, been deprived of their heroic husbands and
sons. The puissant king, with great compassion, extended his favours to
the destitute and the blind and the helpless by giving them food, clothes
and shelter. Freed from foes and having conquered the whole Earth, king
Yudhishthira began to enjoy great happiness.'”


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Having got back the kingdom, king Yudhishthira of
great wisdom and purity, after the ceremony of installation had been
over, joining his hands together, addressed the lotus-eyed Krishna of
Dasarha’s race, saying, ‘Through thy grace, O Krishna, through thy policy
and might and intelligence and prowess, O tiger among the Yadus, I have
got back this ancestral kingdom of mine. O thou of eyes like lotus
leaves, I repeatedly bow to thee, O chastiser of foes! Thou hast been
called the One only Being. Thou hast been said to be the refuge of all
worshippers. The regenerate ones adore thee under innumerable names.[127]
Salutations to thee, O Creator of the Universe! Thou art the soul of the
Universe and the Universe hath sprung from thee. Thou art Vishnu, thou
art Jishnu, thou art Hari, thou art Krishna, thou art Vaikuntha, and thou
art the foremost of all beings. Thou hast, as said in the Puranas, taken
thy birth seven times in the womb of Aditi. It was thou that tookest
birth in the womb of Prishni.[128] The learned say that thou art the
three Yugas.[129] All thy achievements are sacred. Thou art the lord of
our senses. Thou art the great Lord worshipped in sacrifices. Thou art
called the great swan. Thou art three-eyed Sambhu. Thou art One, though
known as Vibhu and Damodara. Thou art the great Boar, thou art Fire, thou
art the Sun, thou hast the bull for the device on thy banner, and thou
hast Garuda also as thy device. Thou art the grinder of hostile hosts,
thou art the Being that pervadest every form in the universe and thou art
of irresistible prowess. Thou art the foremost of all things, thou art
fierce, thou art the generalissimo in battle, thou art the Truth, thou
art the giver of food, and thou art Guha (the celestial generalissimo);
Thyself unfading, thou causest thy foes to fade and waste. Thou art the
Brahmana of pure blood, and thou art those that have sprung from
intermixture. Thou art great. Thou walkest on high, thou art the
mountains, and thou art called Vrishadarbha and Vrishakapi. Thou art the
Ocean, thou art without attributes, thou hast three humps, thou hast
three abodes, and thou takest human forms on earth, descending from
heaven. Thou art Emperor, thou art Virat, and thou art Swarat.[130] Thou
art the Chief of the celestials, and thou art the cause whence the
Universe has sprung. Thou art Almighty, thou art existence in every form,
thou art without form, thou art Krishna, and thou art fire. Thou art the
Creator, thou art the sire of the celestial physicians, thou art (the
sage) Kapila, and thou art the Dwarf.[131] Thou art Sacrifice embodied,
thou art Dhruva,[132] thou art Garuda, and thou art called Yajnasena.
Thou art Sikhandin, thou art Nahusha, and thou art Vabhru. Thou art the
constellation Punarvasu extended in the firmament, Thou art exceedingly
tawny in hue, thou art the sacrifice known by the name of Uktha, thou art
Sushena, thou art the drum (that sends forth its sound on every side).
The track of thy car-wheels is light. Thou art the lotus of Prosperity,
thou art the cloud called Pushkara, and thou art decked with floral
wreaths. Thou art affluent, thou art puissant, thou art the most subtle,
and it is thou whom the Vedas describe. Thou art the great receptacle of
waters, thou art Brahman, thou art the sacred refuge, and thou knowest
the abodes of all. Thou art called Hiranyagarbha, thou art the sacred
mantras swadha and swaha, thou art Kesava. Thou art the cause whence all
this hath sprung, and thou art its dissolution. In the beginning it is
thou that createst the universe. This universe is under thy control, O
Creator of the universe! Salutations to thee, O wielder of Sarnga, discus
and sword!’ Thus hymned by king Yudhishthira the just in the midst of the
court, the lotus-eyed Krishna became pleased. That foremost one of the
Yadavas then began to gladden the eldest son of Pandu with many agreeable


“Vaisampayana said, ‘The king dismissed all his subjects, who, commanded
by the monarch, returned to their respective homes. Comforting his
brothers, Yudhishthira, blazing with beauty, then addressed his brothers
Bhima of terrible prowess and Arjuna and the twins, saying, ‘Your bodies
have, in the great battle, been mangled with diverse kinds of weapons by
the foe. Ye are greatly fatigued, grief and anger have scorched your
hearts. Through my fault, ye bulls of Bharata’s race, ye have suffered
the miseries of an exile in the forests like vulgar men. In delight and
in happy ease enjoy this victory (that ye have won). After resting
yourselves and regaining the full use of your faculties, meet me again in
the morning.’ After this, the mighty-armed Vrikodara like Maghavat
entering his own beautiful fane, entered the palace of Duryodhana, that
was adorned with many excellent buildings and rooms, that adorned with
gems of diverse kinds, that teemed with servants, male and female, and
that Yudhishthira assigned to him with the approval of Dhritarashtra. The
mighty-armed Arjuna also, at the command of the king, obtained the palace
of Dussasana which was not inferior to Duryodhana’s and which consisted
of many excellent structures and was adorned with a gate-way of gold, and
which abounded in wealth and was full of attendants of both sexes. The
palace of Durmarshana was even superior to that of Dussasana. Looking
like the mansion of Kuvera himself, it was adorned with gold and every
kind of gem. King Yudhishthira gladly gave it to Nakula who deserved it
best and who had been emaciated (with the miseries of a life) in the
great forest. The foremost of palaces belonging to Durmukha was
exceedingly beautiful and adorned with gold. It abounded in beds and
beautiful women, with eyes like lotus-petals. The king gave it unto
Sahadeva who was ever employed in doing what was agreeable to him.
Obtaining it, Sahadeva became delighted as the Lord of treasures upon
obtaining Kailasa. Yuyutsu and Vidura and Sanjaya, O monarch, and
Sudharman and Dhaumya, proceeded to the abodes they had owned
before.[133] Like a tiger entering his cave in the hills, that tiger
among men, viz., Saurin, accompanied by Satyaki, entered the palace of
Arjuna. Feasting on the viands and drinks (that had been kept ready for
them), the princes passed the night happily. Awaking in the morning with
well pleased hearts, they presented themselves before king Yudhishthira.'”


“Janamejaya said, ‘It behoveth thee, O learned Brahmana, to tell me what
was next done by Yudhishthira the mighty-armed son of Dharma after he had
regained his kingdom. It behoveth thee to tell me also, O Rishi, what the
heroic Hrishikesa, the supreme master of the three worlds did after this.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Listen to me, O king, as I narrate in detail, O
sinless one, what the Pandavas, headed by Vasudeva, did after this.
Having obtained his kingdom, O monarch, Kunti’s son Yudhishthira
appointed each of the four orders of men to their respective duties. The
(eldest) son of Pandu gave unto a thousand high-souled Brahmanas of the
Snataka order a thousand Nishkas each. He then gratified the servants
that were dependant on him and the guests that came to him, including
persons that were undeserving and those that held heterodox views, by
fulfilling their wishes. Unto his priest Dhaumya he gave kine in
thousands and much wealth and gold and silver and robes of diverse kinds.
Towards Kripa, O monarch, the king behaved in the way one should towards
one’s preceptor. Observant of vows, the king continued to honour Vidura
greatly. That foremost of charitable men gratified all persons with gifts
of food and drink and robes of diverse kinds and beds and seats. Having
restored peace to his kingdom, the king, O best of monarchs, possessed of
great fame, paid due honour unto Yuyutsu and Dhritarashtra. Placing his
kingdom, at the disposal of Dhritarashtra, of Gandhari, and of Vidura,
king Yudhishthira continued to pass his days happily. Having gratified
everybody, including the citizens, in this way, Yudhishthira, O bull of
Bharata’s race, then proceeded with joined hands to the presence of the
high-souled Vasudeva. He beheld Krishna, of the hue of a blue cloud,
seated on a large sofa adorned with gold and gems. Attired in yellow
robes of silk and decked with celestial ornaments, his person blazed with
splendour like a Jewel set on gold. His bosom adorned with the Kaustubha
gem, he looked like the Udaya mountain that decked the rising Sun. So
beautiful did he look that there is no simile in the three worlds.
Approaching the high-souled one who was Vishnu himself in incarnate form,
king Yudhishthira addressed him sweetly and smilingly, saying, ‘O
foremost of intelligent men, hast thou passed the night happily? O thou
of unfading glory, are all thy faculties in their full vigour? O foremost
of intelligent persons, is it all right with thy understanding? We have
got back our kingdom and the whole earth has come under our control, O
divine lord, through thy grace, O refuge of the three worlds and, O thou
of three steps,[134] through thy grace have we won victory and obtained
great fame and have not fallen away from the duties of our order!’ Unto
that chastiser of foes, viz., king Yudhishthira the just who addressed
him in that strain the divine Krishna said not a word, for he was then
rapt in meditation.”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘How wonderful is this, O thou of immeasurable
prowess, that thou art rapt in meditation! O great refuge of the
universe, is it all right with the three worlds? When thou hast, O God,
withdrawn thyself (from the world), having, O bull among men, adopted the
fourth, state, my mind has been filled with wonder.[135] The five
life-breaths that act within the body have been controlled by thee into
stillness. Thy delighted senses thou hast concentrated within thy mind.
Both speech and mind, O Govinda, have been concentrated within thy
understanding. All thy senses, indeed, have been withdrawn into thy
soul.[136] The hair on thy body stands erect. Thy mind and understanding
are both still. Thou art as immobile now, O Madhava, as a wooden post or
a stone. O illustrious God, thou art as still as the flame of a lamp
burning in a place where there is no wind. Thou art as immobile as a mass
of rock. If I am fit to hear the cause, if it is no secret of thine,
dispel, O god, my doubt for I beg of thee and solicit it as a favour.
Thou art the Creator and thou art the Destroyer. Thou art destructible
and thou art indestructible. Thou art without beginning and thou art
without end. Thou art the first and the foremost of Beings. O foremost of
righteous persons, tell me the cause of this (Yoga) abstraction. I
solicit thy favour, and am thy devoted worshipper, and bow to thee,
bending my head.’ Thus addressed, the illustrious younger brother of
Vasava, recalling his mind, understanding, and the senses to their usual
sphere, said these words with a soft smile.’

“Vasudeva said, ‘That tiger among men, Bhishma, who is now lying on a bed
of arrows, and who is now like unto a fire that is about to go out, is
thinking of me. Hence my mind also was concentrated on him. My mind was
concentrated upon him, the twang of whose bowstring and the sound of
whose palms Indra himself was unable to bear. I was thinking of him who
having vanquished in a trice all the assembled kings (at the Self-choice
of the daughters of the king of Kasi) abducted the three princesses for
the marriage of his brother Vichitravirya. I was thinking of him who
fought continually for three and twenty days with Rama himself of
Bhrigu’s race and whom Rama was unable to overcome. Collecting all his
senses and concentrating his mind by the aid of his understanding, he
sought my refuge (by thinking of me). It was for this that I had centered
my mind upon him. I was thinking of him whom Ganga conceived and brought
forth according to ordinary human laws and whom Vasishtha took as a
pupil. I was thinking of that hero of mighty energy and great
intelligence who possesses a knowledge of all the celestial weapons as
also of the four Vedas with all their branches. I was thinking of him, O
son of Pandu, who is the favourite disciple of Rama, the son of
Jamadagni, and who is the receptacle of the sciences. I was thinking of
that foremost of all persons conversant with morality and duty, of him, O
bull of Bharata’s race, who knows the Past, the Future, and the Present.
After that tiger among kings shall have, in consequences of his own
achievements, ascended to heaven, the earth, O son of Pritha, will look
like a moonless night. Therefore, O Yudhishthira, submissively
approaching Ganga’s son, viz., Bhishma of terrible prowess, question him
about what thou mayst desire to learn. O lord of the earth, enquire of
him about the four branches of knowledge (in respect of morality,
profit., pleasure and salvation), about the sacrifices and the rites laid
down for the four orders, about the four modes of life, and about the
kingly duties in full. When Bhishma, that foremost one of Kuru’s race,
will disappear from the world, every kind of knowledge will disappear
with him. It is for this that I urge thee (to go to him now).’ Hearing
these beneficial words of high import from Vasudeva, the righteous
Yudhishthira, with voice choked in tears, answered Janardana, saying,
‘What thou hast said, O Madhava, about the eminence of Bhishma, is
perfectly true. I have not the slightest doubt regarding it. Indeed, I
had heard of the high blessedness, as also the greatness, of the
illustrious Bhishma from high-souled Brahmanas discoursing upon it. Thou,
O slayer of foes, art the Creator of all the worlds. There cannot,
therefore, O delighter of the Yadavas, be the slightest doubt in what
thou sayest. If thy heart be inclined to show grace, O Madhava, then we
shall go unto Bhishma with thyself at our head. When the divine Surya
shall have turned towards the north, Bhishma will leave (this world), for
those regions of bliss that he has won. That descendant of Kuru’s race,
therefore, O mighty-armed one, deserves to have a sight of thee. (If thou
grantest my prayer), Bhishma will then obtain a sight of thee that art
the first of Gods, of thee that art destructible and indestructible.
Indeed, O lord, thou it is that art the vast receptacle of Brahma.'”

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these words of king Yudhishthira the
just, the slayer of Madhu addressed Satyaki who was sitting beside him,
saying, ‘Let my car be yoked.’ At this, Satyaki quickly left Kesava’s
presence and going out, commanded Daruka, saying, ‘Let Krishna’s car be
made ready.’ Hearing the words of Satyaki, Daruka speedily yoked
Krishna’s car. That foremost of vehicles, adorned with gold, decked with
a profusion of emeralds, and moon-gems and sun-gems, furnished with
wheels covered with gold, possessed of effulgence, fleet as the wind, set
in the middle with diverse other kinds of jewels, beautiful as the
morning sun, equipped with a beautiful standard topped by Garuda, and gay
with numerous banners, had those foremost of steeds, fleet as thought,
viz., Sugriva and Saivya and the other two, in trappings of gold, yoked
unto it. Having yoked it, O tiger, among kings, Daruka, with joined
hands, informed Krishna of the fact.’


“Janamejaya said, ‘How did the grandsire of the Bharatas, who lay on a
bed of arrows, cast off his body and what kind of Yoga did he adopt?’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Listen, O king, with pure heart and concentrated
attention, as to how, O tiger among the Kurus, the high-souled Bhishma
cast off his body. As soon as the Sun, passing the solstitial point,
entered in his northerly course, Bhishma, with concentrated attention,
caused his soul (as connected with and independent of the body) to enter
his soul (in its independent and absolute state). Surrounded by many
foremost of Brahmanas, that hero, his body pierced with innumerable
arrows, blazed forth in great beauty like Surya himself with his
innumerable rays. Surrounded by Vyasa conversant with the Vedas by the
celestial Rishi Narada, by Devasthana, by Asmaka Sumantu, by Jaimini, by
the high-souled Paila, by Sandilya, by Devarata, by Maitreya of great
intelligence, by Asita and Vasishtha and the high-souled Kausika, by
Harita and Lomasa and Atri’s son of great intelligence, by Vrihaspati and
Sukra and the great sage Chyavana, by Sanatkumara and Kapila and Valmiki
and Tumvuru and Kuru, by Maudgalya and Rama of Bhrigu’s race, and the
great sage Trinavindu, by Pippalada and Vayu and Samvarta and Pulaha and
Katha, by Kasyapa and Pulastya and Kratu and Daksha and Parasara, by
Marichi and Angiras and Kasmya and Gautama and the sage Galava, by
Dhaumya and Vibhanda and Mandavya and Dhaumra and Krishnanubhautika, by
Uluka, that foremost of Brahmanas and the great sage Markandeya, by
Bhaskari and Purana and Krishna and Suta,–that foremost of virtuous
persons, surrounded by these and many other highly-blessed sages of great
souls and possessed of faith and self-restraint and tranquillity of mind,
the Kuru hero looked like the Moon in the midst of the planets and the
stars. Stretched on his bed of arrows, that tiger among men, Bhishma,
with pure heart and joined palms, thought of Krishna in mind, word, and
act. With a cheerful and strong voice he hymned the praise of the slayer
of Madhu, that master of yoga, with the lotus in his navel, that lord of
the universe, called Vishnu and Jishnu. With joined hands, that foremost
of eloquent men, that puissant one, viz., Bhishma of highly virtuous
soul, thus praised Vasudeva.

“Bhishma said, ‘O Krishna, O foremost of Beings, be thou pleased with
these words which I utter, in brief and in detail, from desire of hymning
thy praises. Thou art pure and purity’s self. Thou transcendest all. Thou
art what people say to be THAT. Thou art the Supreme Lord. With my whole
heart I seek thy refuge, O universal Soul and Lord of all creatures![137]
Thou art without beginning and without end. Thou art the highest of the
high and Brahma. Neither the gods nor the Rishis know thee. The divine
Creator, called Narayana or Hari, alone knows thee. Through Narayana, the
Rishis, the Siddhas, the great Nagas, the gods, and the celestial Rishis
know a little of thee. Thou art the highest of the high and knowest no
deterioration. The gods, the Danavas, the Gandharvas, the Yakshas, the
Pannagas, do not know who thou art and whence art thou. All the worlds
and all created things live in thee, and enter thee (when the dissolution
comes). Like gems strung together in a thread, all things that have
attributes reside in thee, the Supreme Lord.'[138] Having the universe
for thy work and the universe for thy limbs, this universe consisting of
mind and matter resides in thy eternal and all-pervading soul like a
number of flowers strung together in a strong thread. Thou art called
Hari, of a thousand heads, a thousand feet, a thousand eyes, a thousand
arms, a thousand crowns, and a thousand faces of great splendour. Thou
art called Narayana, divinity, and the refuge of the universe. Thou art
the subtlest of the subtle, grossest of the gross, the heaviest of the
heavy and the highest of the high. In the Vaks, the Anuvaks, the Nishads,
and Upanishads, thou art regarded as the Supreme Being of irresistible
force. In the Samans also, whose declarations are always true, thou art
regarded as Truth’s self![139] Thou art of quadruple soul. Thou art
displayed in only the understanding (of all creatures). Thou art the Lord
of those that are bound to thee in faith. O God, thou art adored (by the
faithful) under four excellent, high, and secret names.[140] Penances are
ever present in thee. Performed (by other creatures for gratifying thee),
penances live in thy form. Thou art the Universal Soul. Thou art of
universal knowledge. Thou art the universe. Thou art omniscient. Thou art
the creator of everything in the universe.[141] Like a couple of sticks
generating a blazing fire, thou hast been born of the divine Devaki and
Vasudeva for the protection of Brahma on earth.[142] For this eternal
salvation, the devout worshipper, with mind withdrawn from everything
else and casting off all desires, beholds thee, O Govinda, that art the
pure Soul, in his own soul. Thou transcendest Surya in glory. Thou art
beyond the ken of the senses and the understanding. O Lord of all
creatures, I place myself in thy hands. In the Puranas thou hast been
spoken as Purusha (all-pervading spirit). On occasions of the
commencement of the Yugas, thou art said to be Brahma, while on occasions
of universal dissolution thou art spoken of as Sankarshana. Adorable thou
art, and therefore I adore thee. Though one, thou hast yet been born in
innumerable forms. Thou hast thy passions under complete control. Thy
devout worshippers, faithfully performing the rites laid down in the
scriptures, sacrifice to thee, O giver of every wish! Thou art called the
sheath within which the universe lies. All created things live in thee.
Like swans and ducks swimming on the water, all the worlds that we see
float in thee. Thou art Truth. Thou art One and undeteriorating. Thou art
Brahma, Thou art That which is beyond Mind and Matter. Thou art without
beginning, middle, and end. Neither the gods nor the Rishis know thee.
The gods, the Asuras, the Gandharvas, the Siddhas, the Rishis, and the
great Uragas with concentrated souls, always adore thee. Thou art the
great panacea for all sorrow. Thou art without birth and death. Thou art
Divine. Thou art self-created. Thou art eternal. Thou art invisible and
beyond ken. Thou art called Hari and Narayana, O puissant one. The Vedas
declare thee to be the Creator of the universe and the Lord of everything
existing in the universe. Thou art the Supreme protector of the universe.
Thou knowest no deterioration and thou art that which is called the
highest. Thou art of the complexion of gold. Thou art the slayer of
Asuras. Though One, Aditi brought thee forth in twelve forms.[143]
Salutations to thee that art the soul of the Sun. Salutations to thee in
thy form of Soma that is spoken of as the chief of all the regenerate
ones and that gratifies with nectar the gods in the lighted fortnight and
the Pitris in the dark fortnight. Thou art the One Being of transcendent
effulgence dwelling on the other side of thick darkness. Knowing thee one
ceases to have any fear of death. Salutations to thee in that form which
is an object of knowledge.[144] In the grand Uktha sacrifice, the
Brahmanas adore thee as the great Rich. In the great fire-sacrifice, they
sing thee as the chief Adhyaryu (priest). Thou art the soul of the Vedas.
Salutations to thee. The Richs, the Yajus, and the Samans are thy abode.
Thou art the five kinds of sanctified libations (used in sacrifices).
Thou art the seven woofs used in the Vedas. Salutations to thee in thy
form of Sacrifice.[145] Libations are poured on the Homa fire in
accompaniment with the seventeen monosyllabic sounds. Thou art the soul
of the Homa. Salutations to thee! Thou art that Purusha whom the Vedas
sing. Thy name is Yajus. The Vedic metres are thy limbs. The sacrifices
laid down in the three Vedas are thy three heads. The great sacrifice
called Rathantara is thy voice expressive of gratification. Salutation to
thee in thy form of sacred hymns! Thou art the Rishi that hadst appeared
in the great sacrifice extending for a thousand years performed by the
creators of the universe. Thou art the great swan with wings of gold.
Salutations to thee in thy form of a swan.[146] Roots with all kinds of
affixes and suffixes are thy limbs. The Sandhis are thy joints. The
consonants and the vowels are thy ornaments. The Vedas have declared thee
to be the divine word. Salutations to thee in thy form as the word![147]
Assuming the form of a boar whose limbs were constituted by sacrifice,
thou hadst raised the submerged earth for the benefit of the three
worlds. Salutations to thee in thy form of infinite prowess! Thou
sleepest in Yoga on thy snake-decked sofa constituted by the thousand
hoods (of the Naga). Salutations to thee in thy form of sleep! Thou
buildest the bridge for the good (to cross the sea of life) with Truth,
with those means by which emancipation may be obtained, and with the
means by which the senses may be controlled. Salutations to thee in thy
form of Truth! Men practising diverse creeds, actuated by desire of
diverse fruits worship thee with diverse rites. Salutations to thee in
thy form of Creed! From thee have all things sprung. It is thou that
excitest all creatures having physical frames containing the principle of
desire. Salutations to thee in thy form of Excitement. The great Rishis
seek thy unmanifest self within the manifest. Called Kshetrajna, thou
sittest in Kshetra. Salutations to thee in thy form of Kshetra![148] Thou
always conscious and present in self, the Sankhyas still describe thee as
existing in the three states of wakefulness, dream, and sound sleep. They
further speak of thee as possessed of sixteen attributes and representing
the number seventeen. Salutations to thy form as conceived by the
Sankhyas![149] Casting off sleep, restraining breath, withdrawn into
their own selves, Yogins of restrained senses behold thee as eternal
light. Salutations to thee in thy Yoga form! Peaceful Sannyasins, freed
from fear of rebirth in consequence of the destruction of all their sins
and merits, obtain thee. Salutations to thee in thy form of
emancipation![150] At the end of a thousand Yugas, thou assumest the form
of a fire with blazing flames and consumest all creatures. Salutations to
thee in thy form of fierceness! Having consumed all creatures and making
the universe one vast expanse of water, thou sleepest on the waters in
the form of a child. Salutations to thee in thy form as Maya (illusion)!
From the navel of the Self-born of eyes like lotus leaves, sprang a
lotus. On that lotus is established this universe. Salutations to thee in
thy form as lotus! Thou hast a thousand heads. Thou pervadest everything.
Thou art of immeasurable soul. Thou hast subjugated the four kinds of
desire that are as vast as the four oceans. Salutations to thee in thy
form of Yoga-sleep! The clouds are in the hair of thy head. The rivers
are in the several joints of thy limbs. The four oceans are in thy
stomach. Salutations to thee in thy form as water! Birth and the change
represented by death spring from thee. All things, again, at the
universal dissolution dissolve away in thee. Salutations to thy form as
cause! Thou sleepest not in the night. Thou art occupied in day time
also. Thou observest the good and the bad actions (of all). Salutations
to thee in thy form of (universal) observer! There is no act which thou
canst not do. Thou art, again, ever ready to accomplish acts that are
righteous. Salutations to thee in thy form of Work, the form, viz., which
is called Vaikuntha! In wrath thou hadst, in battle, exterminated thrice
seven times the Kshatriyas who had trampled virtue and authority under
their feet. Salutations to thee in thy form of Cruelty! Dividing thyself
into five portions thou hast become the five vital breaths that act
within everybody and cause every living creature to move. Salutations to
thee in thy form of air! Thou appearest in every Yuga in the form called
month and season and half-year and year, and art the cause of both
creation and dissolution. Salutations to thee in thy form of Time!
Brahmanas are thy mouth, Kshatriyas are thy two arms, Vaisyas are thy
stomach and thighs, and Sudras live in thy feet. Salutations to thee in
thy form of caste! Fire constitute thy mouth. The heavens are the crown
of thy head. The sky is thy navel. The earth is thy feet. The Sun is thy
eye. The points of the compass are thy ears. Salutations to thee in thy
form as the (three) worlds! Thou art superior to Time. Thou art superior
to Sacrifice. Thou art higher than the highest. Thyself without origin,
thou art the origin of the universe. Salutations to thee in thy form as
Universe! Men of the world, according to the attributes ascribed to thee
by the Vaiseshika theory, regard thee as the Protector of the world.
Salutations to thee in thy form of Protector! Assuming the forms of food,
drink, and fuel, thou increasest the humours and the life-breaths of
creatures and upholdest their existence. Salutations to thee in thy form
of life! For supporting the life-breaths thou eatest the four kinds of
food.[151] Assuming also the form of Agni within the stomach, thou
digestest that food. Salutations to thee in the form of digesting heat!
Assuming the form of half-man and half-lion, with tawny eyes and tawny
manes, with teeth and claws for thy weapons, thou hadst taken the life of
the chief of the Asuras. Salutations to thee in thy form of swelling
might! Neither the gods, nor the Gandharvas, nor the Daityas, nor the
Danavas, know thee truly. Salutations to thy form of exceeding subtility!
Assuming the form of the handsome, illustrious, and puissant Ananta in
the nether region, thou upholdest the world. Salutations to thy form of
Might! Thou stupefiest all creatures by the bonds of affection and love
for the continuance of the creation. Salutations to thee in thy form of
stupefaction.[152] Regarding that knowledge which is conversant with the
five elements to be the true Self-knowledge (for which yogins strive),
people approach thee by knowledge! Salutations to thee in thy form of
Knowledge! Thy body is immeasurable. Thy understanding and eyes are
devoted to everything. Thou art infinite, being beyond all measures.
Salutations to thee in thy form of vastness! Thou hadst assumed the form
of a recluse with matted locks on head, staff in hand, a long stomach,
and having thy begging bowl for thy quiver. Salutations to thee in thy
form of Brahma.[153] Thou bearest the trident, thou art the lord of the
celestials, thou hast three eyes, and thou art high-souled. Thy body is
always besmeared with ashes, and thy phallic emblem is always turned
upwards. Salutations to thee in thy form of Rudra! The half-moon forms
the ornament of thy forehead. Thou hast snakes for the holy thread
circling thy neck. Thou art armed with Pinaka and trident. Salutations to
thy form of Fierceness! Thou art the soul of all creatures. Thou art the
Creator and the Destroyer of all creatures. Thou art without wrath,
without enmity, without affection. Salutations to thee in thy form of
Peace! Everything is in thee. Everything is from thee. Thyself art
Everything. Everywhere art thou. Thou art always the All. Salutations to
thee in thy form as Everything! Salutations to thee whose work is the
universe, to thee that art the soul of the universe, to thee from whom
hath sprung the universe, to thee that art the dissolution of all things,
to thee that are beyond the five (elements that constitute all things)!
Salutations to thee that art the three worlds, to thee that art above the
three worlds! Salutations to thee that art all the directions! Thou art
all and thou art the one receptacle of All. Salutations to thee, O divine
Lord, O Vishnu, and O eternal origin of all the worlds! Thou, O
Hrishikesa, art the Creator, thou art the Destroyer, and thou art
invincible. I cannot behold that heavenly form in which thou art
displayed in the Past, Present, and the Future. I can, however, behold
truly thy eternal form (as manifest in thy works). Thou hast filled
heaven with thy head, and the earth with thy feet: with thy prowess thou
hast filled the three worlds. Thou art Eternal and thou pervadest
everything in the universe. The directions are thy arms, the Sun is thy
eye, and prowess is thy vital fluid. Thou art the lord of all creatures.
Thou standest, shutting up the seven paths of the Wind whose energy is
immeasurable. They are freed from all feats that worship thee, O Govinda
of unfading prowess, thee that art attired in yellow robes of the colour
of the Atasi flower.[154] Even one bending of the head unto thee, O
Krishna, is equal to the completion of ten Horse-sacrifices. The man that
has performed ten Horse-sacrifices is not freed from the obligation of
rebirth. The man, however, that bows to Krishna escapes rebirth. They
that have Krishna for their vow, they that think of Krishna in the night,
and upon rising from sleep, may be said to have Krishna for their body.
Those people (after death) enter Krishna’s self even as libations of
clarified butter sanctified with mantras enter the blazing fire.
Salutations to thee that dispellest the fear of hell, to thee, O Vishnu,
that art a boat unto them that are plunged amid the eddies of the ocean
represented by worldly life! Salutations to thee, O God, that art the
Brahmana’s self, to thee that art the benefactor of Brahmanas and kine,
to thee that art the benefactor of the universe, to thee that art Krishna
and Govinda! The two syllables Hari constitute the pecuniary stock of
those that sojourn through the wilderness of life and the medicine that
effectually cures all worldly, predilections, besides being the means
that alleviate sorrow and grief.[155] As truth is full of Vishnu, as the
universe is full of Vishnu, as everything is full of Vishnu, so let my
soul be full of Vishnu and my sins be destroyed! I seek thy protection
and am devoted to thee, desirous of obtaining a happy end O thou of eyes
like lotus petals, O best of gods, do thou think of what will be for my
good! Thyself without origin, O Vishnu, thou art the origin of Knowledge
and Penances. Thus art thou praised! O Janardana, thus worshipped by me
in the Sacrifice constituted by speech (alone), be, O god, gratified with
me! The Vedas are devoted to Narayana. Penances are devoted to Narayana.
The gods are devoted to Narayana. Everything is always Narayana!'”

Vaisampayana continued, “Having uttered these words, Bhishma, with mind
concentrated upon Krishna, said, ‘Salutations to Krishna!’ and bowed unto
him. Learning by his Yoga prowess of the devotion of Bhishma, Madhava,
otherwise called Hari, (entering his body) bestowed upon him heavenly
knowledge compassing the Past, the Present, and the Future, and went
away. When Bhishma became silent, those utterers of Brahma (that sat
around him), with voices choked in tears, adored that high-souled chief
of the Kurus in excellent words. Those foremost of Brahmanas uttered the
praises of Krishna also, that first of Beings, and then continued in soft
voices to commend Bhishma repeatedly. Learning (by his Yoga powers) of
the devotion of Bhishma towards him, that foremost of Beings, viz.,
Madhava, suddenly rose from his seat and ascended on his car, Kesava and
Satyaki proceeded on one car. On another proceeded those two illustrious
princes, viz., Yudhishthira and Dhananjaya. Bhimasena and the twins rode
on a third; while those bulls among men, Kripa and Yuyutsu, and that
scorcher of foes, Sanjaya of the Suta caste, proceeded on their
respective cars, each of which looked like a town. And all of them
proceeded, causing the earth to tremble with the rattle of their
chariot-wheels. That foremost of men, as he proceeded, cheerfully
listened to the speeches, fraught with his praise, that were uttered by
the Brahmanas. The slayer of Kesi, with gladdened heart, saluted the
people that waited (along the streets) with joined hands and bent heads.”


Vaisampayana said, “Then Hrishikesa and king Yudhishthira, and all those
persons headed by Kripa, and the four Pandavas, riding on those cars
looking like fortified cities and decked with standards and banners,
speedily proceeded to Kurukshetra with the aid of their fleet steeds.
They descended on that field which was covered with hair and marrow and
bones and where millions of high-souled Kshatriyas had cast away their
bodies. It abounded also with many a hill formed of the bodies and bones
of elephants and steeds, and human heads and skulls lay stretched over it
like conch-shells. Variegated with thousands of funeral pyres and teeming
with heaps of armour and weapons, the vast plain looked like the drinking
garden of the Destroyer himself used and abandoned recently. The mighty
car-warriors quickly proceeded, viewing the field of battle haunted by
crowds of spirits and thronged with Rakshasas. While proceeding, the
mighty-armed Kesava, that delighter of all the Yadavas, spoke unto
Yudhishthira about the prowess of Jamadagni’s son, ‘Yonder, at a
distance, O Partha, are seen the five lakes of Rama! There Rama offered
oblations of Kshatriya blood unto the manes of his ancestors. It was
hither that the puissant Rama, having freed the earth of Kshatriya for
thrice seven times, gave up his task.”

“Yudhishthira said,–‘I have great doubts in what thou sayest about
Rama’s having thrice seven times exterminated the Kshatriyas in days of
old. When the very Kshatriya seed was burnt by Rama, O bull among the
Yadus, how was the Kshatriya order revived, O thou of immeasurable
prowess? How, O bull of the Yadus, was the Kshatriya order exterminated
by the illustrious and high-souled Rama, and how did it again grow? In
frightful car-encounters millions of Kshatriyas were slain. The earth, O
foremost of eloquent men, was strewn with the corpses of Kshatriyas. For
what reason was the Kshatriya order thus exterminated in days of yore by
Rama, the high-souled descendant of Bhrigu, O tiger among the Yadus? O
thou of Vrishni’s race, remove this doubt of mine, O bird-bannered hero!
O Krishna, O younger brother of Baladeva, the highest knowledge is from

Vaisampayana said,–“The puissant elder brother of Gada then narrated
unto Yudhishthira of incomparable prowess everything that happened, in
full detail, as to how the earth had become filled with Kshatriyas.”


“Vasudeva said, ‘Listen, O son of Kunti, to the story of Rama’s energy
and powers and birth as heard by me from great Rishis discoursing upon
the subject. Listen to the story of how millions of Kshatriyas were slain
by Jamadagni’s son and how those that sprung again in the diverse royal.
races in Bharata were again slaughtered. Jadu had a son named Rajas.
Rajas had a son named Valakaswa. King Valakaswa had a son named Kusika of
righteous behaviour. Resembling the thousand-eyed Indra on earth, Kusika
underwent the austerest of penances from desire of attaining the chief of
the three worlds for a son. Beholding him engaged in the austerest of
penances and competent to beget a son, the thousand-eyed Purandara
himself inspired the king (with his force). The great lord of the three
worlds, the chastiser of Paka, O king, then became Kusika’s son known by
the name of Gadhi. Gadhi had a daughter, O monarch, of the name of
Satyavati. The puissant Gadhi gave her (for wife) unto Richika, a
descendant of Bhrigu. Her lord of Bhrigu’s race, O delighter of the
Kurus, became highly gratified with her for the purity of her behaviour.
He cooked the sacrificial food consisting of milk and rice for giving
unto Gadhi (her sire) a son. Calling his wife, Richika of Bhrigu’s race
said, ‘This portion of the sanctified food should be taken by thee, and
this (other) portion by thy mother. A son will be born of her that will
blaze with energy and be a bull among Kshatriyas. Invincible by
Kshatriyas on earth, he will be the slayer of the foremost of Kshatriyas.
As regards thee, O blessed lady, this portion of the food will give thee
a son of great wisdom, an embodiment of tranquillity, endued with ascetic
penances, and the foremost of Brahmanas. Having said these words unto his
wife, the blessed Richika of Bhrigu’s race, setting his heart on
penances, proceeded to the woods. About this time, king Gadhi, resolved
upon a pilgrimage to the holy waters, arrived with his queen at the
retreat, of Richika. Satyavati, upon this, O king, taking the two
portions of the sanctified food, cheerfully and in great haste,
represented the worlds of her lord unto her mother. The queen-mother, O
son of Kunti, gave the portion intended for herself unto her daughter,
and herself took from ignorance the portion intended for the latter. Upon
this, Satyavati, her body blazing with lustre, conceived a child of
terrible form intended to become the exterminator of the Kshatriyas.
Beholding a Brahmana child lying within her womb, that tiger among the
Bhrigus said unto his wife of celestial beauty these words: ‘Thou hast
been deceived by the, mother, O blessed lady, in consequence of the
substitution of the sanctified morsels. Thy son will become a person of
cruel deeds and vindictive heart. Thy brother again (born of thy mother)
will be a Brahmana devoted to ascetic penances. Into the sanctified food
intended for thee had been placed the seed of the supreme and universal
Brahma, while into that intended for thy mother had been placed the sum
total of Kshatriya energy. In consequence, however, of the substitution
of the two portions, O blessed lady, that which had been intended will
not happen. Thy mother will obtain a Brahmana child while thou wilt
obtain a son that will become a Kshatriya.’ Thus addressed by her lord,
the highly blessed Satyavati prostrated herself and placing her head at
his feet, trembling, said, ‘It behoveth thee not, O holy one, to speak
such words unto me, viz., ‘Thou shalt obtain a wretch among Brahmanas
(for thy son).’

“Richika said, ‘This was not intended by me, O blessed lady, in respect
of thee. A son of fierce deeds has been conceived by thee simply in
consequence of the substitution of the sanctified morsels.’

“Satyavati replied saying, ‘If thou wishest, O sage, thou canst create
other worlds, what need then be said of a child? It behoveth thee, O
puissant one, to give me a son that shall be righteous and devoted to

“Richika said, ‘Never was falsehood spoken by me before, O blessed lady,
even in jest. What need then be said of (such a solemn occasion as)
preparing sanctified food with the aid of Vedic formulae after igniting
t. fire? It was ordained of yore by Destiny, O amiable one! I have
ascertained it all by my penances. All the descendants of thy father will
be possessed of Brahmanic virtues.’

“Satyavati said, ‘O puissant one, let our grandson be such, but, O
foremost of ascetics, let me have a son of tranquil pursuits.’

“Richika said, ‘O thou of the fairest complexion, there is no
distinction, I conceive, between a son and a grandson. It will be, O
amiable one, as thou sayest.’

“Vasudeva continued, ‘Then Satyavati brought forth a son in Bhrigu’s race
who was devoted to penances and characterised by tranquil pursuits, viz.,
Jamadagni of regulated vows. Kusika’s son Gadhi begot a son named
Viswamitra. Possessed of every attribute of a Brahmana, that son (though
born in the Kshatriya order) was equal to a Brahmana. Richika (thus)
begot Jamadagni, that ocean of penances. Jamadagni begot a son of fierce
deeds. The foremost of men, that son mastered the sciences, including the
science of arms. Like unto a blazing fire, that son was Rama, the
exterminator of the Kshatriyas. Having gratified Mahadeva on the
mountains of Gandhamadana, he begged weapons of that great god,
especially the axe of fierce energy in his hands. In consequence of that
unrivalled axe of fiery splendour and irresistible sharpness, he became
unrivalled on earth. Meanwhile the mighty son of Kritavirya, viz., Arjuna
of the Kshatriya order and ruler of the Haihayas, endued with great
energy, highly virtuous in behaviour, and possessed of a thousand arms
through the grace of (the great Rishi) Dattatreya, having subjugated in
battle, by the might of his own arms, the whole earth with her mountains
and seven islands, became a very powerful emperor and (at last) gave away
the earth unto the Brahmanas in a horse-sacrifice. On a certain occasion,
solicited by the thirsty god of fire, O son of Kunti, the thousand-armed
monarch of great prowess gave alms unto that deity. Springing from the
point of his shafts, the god of fire, possessed of great energy, desirous
of consuming (what was offered), burnt villages and towns and kingdoms
and hamlets of cowherds. Through the prowess of that foremost of men,
viz., Kritavirya of great energy, the god of fire burnt mountains and
great forests. Assisted by the king of the Haihayas, the god of fire,
caused by the wind to blaze forth with energy consumed the uninhabited
but delightful retreat of the high-souled Apava. Possessed of great
energy, Apava, O mighty-armed king, seeing his retreat consumed by the
powerful Kshatriya, cursed that monarch in wrath, saying, ‘Since, O
Arjuna, without excepting these my specious woods, thou hast burnt them,
therefore, Rama (of Bhrigu’s race) will lop off thy (thousand) arm. The
mighty Arjuna, however, of great prowess, always devoted to peace, ever
regardful of Brahmanas and disposed to grant protection (unto all class),
and charitable and brave, O Bharata, did not think of that curse
denounced on him by that high-souled Rishis. His powerful sons, always
haughty and cruel, in consequence of that course, became the indirect
cause of his death. The princes, O bull of Bharata’s race, seize and
brought away the calf of Jamadagni’s homa cow, without the knowledge of
Kritavirya, the ruler of the Haihayas. For this reason a dispute took
place between the high-souled Jamadagni (and the Haihayas). The puissant
Rama, the son of Jamadagni, filled with wrath, lopped off the arms of
Arjuna and brought back, O monarch, his sire’s calf which was wandering
within the inner enclosures of the king’s palace. Then the foolish son of
Arjuna, repairing together to the retreat of the high-souled Jamadagni,
felled with the points of their lances, O king, the head of the Rishi
from off his trunk while the celebrated Rama was out for fetching sacred
fuel and grass. Inflamed with wrath at the death of his father and
inspired with vengeance, Rama vowed to free the earth of Kshatriyas and
took up arms. Then that tiger among the Bhrigus, possessed of great
energy, putting forth his prowess, speedily slaughtered all the sons and
grandsons of Kritavirya. Slaughtering thousands of Haihayas in rage, the
descendent of Bhrigu, O king, made the earth miry with blood. Possessed
of great energy, he quickly reft the earth of all Kshatriyas. Filled then
with compassion, he retired into the woods. Afterwards, when some
thousands of years had passed away, the puissant Rama, who was wrathful
by nature, had imputations cast upon him (of cowardice). The grandson of
Viswamitra and son of Raivya, possessed of great ascetic merit, named
Paravasu, O monarch, began to cast imputations on Rama in public, saying,
‘O Rama, were not those righteous men, viz., Pratardana and others, who
were assembled at a sacrifice at the time of Yayati’s fall, Kshatriyas by
birth? Thou art not of true vows, O Rama! Thine is an empty boast among
people. Through fear of Kshatriya heroes thou hast betaken thyself to the
mountains. The descendant of Bhrigu, hearing these words of Paravasu,
once more took up arms and once more strewed the earth with hundreds of
Kshatriya bodies. Those Kshatriyas, however, O king, counting by
hundreds, that were spared by Rama, multiplied (in time) and became
mighty monarchs on earth. Rama once more slaughtered them quickly, not
sparing the very children, O king! Indeed, the earth became once more
strewn with the bodies of Kshatriya children of premature birth. As soon
as Kshatriya children were born, Rama slaughtered them. Some Kshatriya
ladies, however, succeeded in protecting their children (from Rama’s
wrath). Having made the earth destitute of Kshatriyas for thrice seven
times, the puissant Bhargava, at the completion of a horse-sacrifice,
gave away the earth as sacrificial present unto Kasyapa. For preserving
the remnant of the Kshatriyas, Kasyapa, O king, pointing with his hand
that still held the sacrificial ladle, said these words, O great sage,
repair to the shores of the southern ocean. It behoveth thee not, O Rama,
to reside within (what is) my dominion.’ At these words, Ocean suddenly
created for Jamadagni’s son, on his other shore, a region called
Surparaka. Kasyapa also, O monarch, having accepted the earth in gift,
and made a present of it unto the Brahmanas, entered the great forest.
Then Sudras and Vaisyas, acting most wilfully, began to unite themselves,
O bull of Bharata’s race, with the wives of Brahmanas. When anarchy sets
in on earth, the weak are oppressed by the strong, and no man is master
of his own property. Unprotected duly by Kshatriyas observant of virtue,
and oppressed by the wicked in consequence of that disorder, the earth
quickly sank to the lowest depths. Beholding the earth sinking from fear,
the high-souled Kasyapa held her on his lap; and since the great Rishi
held her on his lap (uru) therefore is the earth known by the name of
Urvi. The goddess earth, for protection’s sake, gratified Kasyapa and
begged of him a king.

“The Earth said, ‘There are, O, regenerate one, some foremost of
Kshatriyas concealed by me among women. They were born in the race of
Haihayas. Let them, O sage, protect me. There is another person of Puru’s
race, viz., Viduratha’s son, O puissant one, who has been brought up
among bears in the Rikshavat mountains. Another, viz., the son of
Saudasa, has been protected, through compassion, by Parasara of
immeasurable energy and ever engaged in sacrifices. Though born in one of
the regenerate orders, yet like a Sudra he does everything for that Rishi
and has, therefore, been named Sarvakarman (servant of all work). Sivi’s
son of great energy, viz., Gopati by name, has been brought up in the
forest among kine. Let him, O sage, protect me. Pratardana’s son, named
Vatsa of great might, has been brought up among calves in a cowpen. Let
that one of the royal order protect me. Dadhivahana’s grandson and
Diviratha’s son was concealed and protected on the banks of Ganga by the
sage Gautama. His name is Vrihadratha. Possessed of great energy and
adorned with numerous blessed qualities, that blessed prince has been
protected by wolves and the mountains of Gridhrakuta. Many Kshatriyas
belonging to the race of Maratta have been protected. Equal unto the lord
of Maruts in energy, they have been brought up by Ocean. These children
of the Kshatriya order have been heard of as existing in different
places. They are living among artisans and goldsmiths. If they protect me
I shall then stay unmoved. Their sires and grandsires have been slain for
my sake by Rama Of great prowess. It is my duty, O great sage, to see
that their funeral rites are duly performed. I do not desire that I
should be protected by my present rulers. Do thou, O sage, speedily make
such arrangements that I may exist (as before).’

“Vasudeva continued, ‘The sage Kasyapa then, seeking out those Kshatriyas
of great energy whom the goddess had indicated, installed them duly as
kings (for protecting her). Those Kshatriya races that are now extent are
the progeny of those princes. That which thou hast questioned me, O son
of Panda, happened in days of yore even thus.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Conversing thus with Yudhishthira, that
foremost of righteous persons, the high-souled Yadava hero proceeded
quickly on that car, illumining all the points of the compass like the
divine Surya himself.'”


“Vaisampayana said, ‘King Yudhishthira, hearing of those feats of Rama,
became filled with wonder and said unto Janardana, O thou of Vrishni’s
race, the prowess of the high-souled Rama, who in wrath had freed the
earth of Kshatriyas, was like that of Sakra himself. The scions of
Kshatriyas, troubled with the fear of Rama, were concealed (and brought
up) by kine, Ocean, leopards, bears and apes. Worthy of every praise is
this world of men and fortunate are they that reside in it where a feat,
that, was again so righteous, was accomplished by a. Brahmana.’ After
this discourse was ended, those two illustrious persons, viz., Krishna of
unfading glory and Yudhishthira proceeded thither where the puissant son
of Ganga lay on his bed of arrows. They then beheld Bhishma stretched on
his arrowy bed and resembling in splendour the evening San covered with
his own rays. The Kuru hero was surrounded by many ascetics like he of a
hundred sacrifices by the deities of heaven. The spot on which he lay was
highly sacred, being situate on the banks of the river Oghavati.
Beholding him from a distance, Krishna and Dharma’s royal son, and the
four Pandavas, and the other headed by Saradwat, alighted from their
vehicles and collecting their restless minds and concentrating all their
senses, approached the great Rishis. Saluting those foremost of Rishis
headed by Vyasa. Govinda and Satyaki and the others approached the son of
Ganga. Beholding Ganga’s son of great ascetic merit, the Yadu and Kuru
princes, those foremost of men, took their seats, surrounding him. Seeing
Bhishma looking like a fire about to die out, Kesava with a rather
cheerless heart addressed him as follows.’

“Kesava said, ‘Are thy perceptions now as clear as before? I hope thy
understanding, O foremost of eloquent men, is not clouded. I hope thy
limbs are not tortured by the pain arising from the wounds by shafts.
From mental grief also the body becomes weak. In consequences of the boon
granted to thee by thy sire, the righteous Santanu, thy death, O puissant
hero, depends on thy own will. I myself have not that merit in
consequence of which thou hast obtained this boon. The minutest pin
(inserted) within the body produces pain. What need then be said, O king,
of hundreds of arrows that have pierced thee? Surely, pain cannot be said
to afflict thee. Thou art competent, O Bharata, to instruct the very gods
regarding the origin and dissolution of living creatures. Possessed of
great knowledge, everything belonging to the Past, the Future, and the
Present, is well known to thee. The dissolution of created beings and the
reward of righteousness are well known to thee, O thou of great wisdom,
for thou art an ocean of virtue and duty. While living in the enjoyment
of swelling sovereignty, I beheld thee forgo female intercourse though
sound of limbs and perfectly hale and though surrounded by female
companions. Except Santanu’s son Bhishma of great energy and firmly
devoted to righteousness, possessed of heroism and having virtue for the
only object of his pursuit, we have never heard of any other person in
the three worlds that could, by his ascetic power, though lying on a bed
of arrows and at the point of death, still have such a complete mastery
over death (as to keep it thus at bay). We have never heard of anybody
else that was so devoted to truth, to penances, to gifts, to the
performances of sacrifices, to the science of arms, to the Vedas, and to
the protection of persons soliciting protection, and that was so harmless
to all creatures, so pure in behaviour, so self-restrained, and so bent
upon the good of all creatures, and that was also so great a car-warrior
as thee. Without doubt, thou art competent to subjugate, on a single car,
the gods, Gandharvas, Asuras, Yakshas, and Rakshasas. O mighty-armed
Bhishma, thou art always spoken of by the Brahmanas as the ninth of the
Vasus. By thy virtues, however, thou hast surpassed them all and art
equal unto Vasava himself. I know, O best of persons, that thou art
celebrated for thy prowess, O foremost of beings, among even the very
gods. Among men on earth, O foremost of men, we have never seen nor heard
of any one possessed of such attributes as thee. O thou of the royal
order, thou surpassest the gods themselves in respect of every attribute.
By thy ascetic power thou canst create a universe of mobile and immobile
creatures. What need then be said of thy having acquired many blessed
regions by means of thy foremost of virtues? Dispel now the grief of the
eldest son of Panda who is burning with sorrow on account of the
slaughter of his kinsmen. All the duties that have been declared in
respect of the four orders about the four modes of life are well known to
thee. Everything again that is indicated in the four branches of
knowledge, in the four Hotras, O Bharata, as also those eternal duties
that are laid down in Yoga and Sankhya philosophy, the duties too of the
four orders and these duties that are not inconsistent with their
declared practices,–all these, along with their interpretations, O son
of Ganga, are known to thee. The duties that have been laid down for
those sprang from an intermixture of the four orders and those laid down
for particular countries and tribes and families, and those declared by
the Vedas and by men of wisdom, are all well known to thee. The subjects
of histories and the Puranas are all known to thee. All the scriptures
treating of duty and practice dwell in thy mind. Save thee, O bull among
men, there is no other person that can remove the doubts that may arise
in respect of those subjects of knowledge that are studied in the world.
With the aid of thy intelligence, do thou, O prince of men, drive the
sorrow felt by the son of Pandu. Persons possessed of so great and such
varied knowledge live only for comforting men whose minds have been

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Hearing those words of Vasudeva of great
intelligence, Bhishma, raising his head a little, said these words with
joined hands.’

“Bhishma said, ‘Salutations to thee, O divine Krishna! Thou art the
origin and thou art the dissolution of all the worlds. Thou art the
Creator and thou art the Destroyer. Thou, O Hrishikesa, art incapable of
being vanquished by any one. The universe is the handiwork. Thou art the
soul of the universe and the universe hath sprung from thee. Salutations
to thee! Thou art the end of all created things. Thou art above the five
elements. Salutations to thee that art the three worlds and that art
again above the three worlds. O lord of Yogins, salutations to thee that
art the refuge of everything. O foremost of beings, those words which
thou hast said regarding me have enabled me to behold thy divine
attributes as manifest in the three worlds. (In consequence of that
kindness), O Govinda, I also behold thy eternal form. Thou standest
shutting up the seven paths of the Wind possessed of immeasurable energy.
The firmament is occupied by thy head, and the earth by thy feet. The
points of the compass are thy two arms, and the Sun is thy eye, and Sakra
constitutes thy prowess. O thou of unfading glory, thy Person, attired in
yellow robes that resemble the hue of the Atasi flower, seem to us to be
like a cloud charged with flashing of lightning. Think of that, O best of
gods, which would be good, O thou of lotus eyes, for my humble self, that
am devoted to thee, that seek thy protection, and that am desirous of
obtaining a blissful end.’

“Vasudeva said, ‘Since, O bull among men, thy devotion to me is very
great, for this, O prince, I have displayed my celestial form to thee. I
do not, O foremost of kings, display myself unto one that is not devoted
to me, or unto a devotee that is not sincere, or unto one, O Bharata,
that is not of restrained soul. Thou art devoted to me and art always
observant of righteousness. Of a pure heart, thou art always
self-restrained and ever observant of penances and gifts. Through thy own
penances, O Bhishma, thou art competent to behold me. Those regions, O
king, are ready for thee whence there is no return.[156] Six and fifty
days, O foremost one of Kuru’s race, still remain for thee to live!
Casting off thy body, thou shalt then, O Bhishma, obtain the blessed
reward of thy acts. Behold, those deities and the Vasus, all endued with
forms of fiery splendour, riding on their cars, are waiting for thee
invisibly till the moment of the sun’s entering on northerly course.
Subject to universal time, when the divine Surya turns to his northerly
course, thou, O foremost of men, shalt go to those regions whence no man
of knowledge ever returns to this earth! When thou, O Bhishma, wilt leave
this world for that, all Knowledge, O hero, will expire with thee. It is
for this, that all these persons, assembled together, have approached
thee for listening to discourses on duty and morality. Do thou then speak
words of truth, fraught with morality and Yoga, unto Yudhishthira who as
firm in truth but whose learning has been clouded by grief on account of
the slaughter of his kinsmen, and do thou, by this, quickly dispel that
grief of his!’


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Hearing these words of Krishna fraught with Morality
and profit, Santanu’s Bhishma, answered him in the following words.

“Bhishma said, ‘O master of all the worlds, O mighty-armed one, O Siva, O
Narayana, O thou of unfading glory, hearing the words spoken by thee I
have been filled with joy. But what words (of instruction), O master of
speech, can I say in thy presence, when especially in all the subjects of
speech have been dealt with in the speech?[157] Whatever in either world
should be done or is done, proceeds from thy intelligent self, O god!
That person who is competent to discourse on the subject of heaven in the
presence of the chief of the gods himself is competent to discourse on
the interpretation of morality and pleasure and profit and salvation in
thy presence. My mind, O slayer of Madhu, is exceedingly agitated by the
pain of arrow-wounds. My limbs are weak. My understanding is not clear. I
am so afflicted, O Govinda, by these shafts resembling poison or fire
that I have not power to utter anything. My strength is abandoning me. My
life-breaths are hastening to leave me. The very vitals of my body are
burning. My understanding is clouded. From weakness my utterance is
becoming indistinct. How then can I venture to speak? O enhancer of (the
glory of) Dasarha’s race, be gratified with me. O mighty-armed one, I
will not say anything. Pardon me (for my unwillingness). The very master
of speech (Vrihaspati), in speaking in thy presence, will be overcome by
hesitation. I cannot any longer distinguish the points of the compass,
nor the sky from the earth! Through thy energy, O slayer of Madhu, I am
only barely alive. Do thou, therefore, thyself speak for the good of king
Yudhishthira the just, for thou art the ordainer of all the ordinances.
How, O Krishna, when thou, the eternal creator of the universe, art
present, can one like me speak (on such subjects) like a disciple in the
presence of the preceptor?’

“Vasudeva said, ‘The words spoken by thee are worthy of thee that art the
foremost one of Kuru’s race, thee that art endued with great energy, thee
that art of great soul, and thee that art possessed of great patience and
conversant with every subject. Regarding what hast thou said unto me
about the pain of thy arrow-wounds, receive, O Bhishma, this boon that I
grant thee, O puissant one, from my grace. Discomfort and stupefaction
and burning and pain and hunger and thirst shall not, O son of Ganga,
overcome thee, O thou of unfading glory! Thy perceptions and memory, O
sinless one, shall be unclouded.[158] The understanding shall not fail
thee. The mind, O Bhishma, freed from the qualities of passion and
darkness, will always be subject to the quality of goodness, like the
moon emerged from the clouds. Thy understanding will penetrate whatever
subject connected with duty, morality, or profit, thou wilt think upon. O
tiger among kings, obtaining celestial vision, thou wilt, O thou of
immeasurable prowess, succeed in beholding the four orders of created
things. Endued with the eye of knowledge, thou wilt, O Bhishma, behold,
like fishes in a limpid stream, all created things that thou mayst
endeavour to recollect!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then those great Rishis, with Vyasa amongst
them, adored Krishna with hymns from the Richs, the Yajuses, and the
Samans. A celestial shower of flowers belonging to every season fell on
that spot where he of Vrishni’s race, with Ganga’s son and the son of
Pandu were. Celestial instruments of every kind played in the welkin and
the tribes of Apsaras began to sing. Nothing of evil and no portent of
any evil kind were seen there. An auspicious, pleasant, and pure breeze,
bearing every kind of fragrance, began to blow. All the points of the
compass became clear and quiet, and all the animals and birds began to
rove in peace. Soon after, like a fire at the extremity of a great
forest, the divine Surya of a thousand rays was seen to descend to the
west. The great Rishis then, rising up, saluted Janardana and Bhishma and
king Yudhishthira. Upon this, Kesava, and the sons of Pandu, and Satyaki,
and Sanjaya, and Saradwata’s son Kripa, bowed in reverence to those
sages. Devoted to the practice of righteousness, those sages, thus
worshipped by Kesava and others, speedily proceeded to their respective
abodes, saying, ‘We will return tomorrow.’ After this, Kesava and the
Pandavas, saluting Bhishma and circumambulating him, ascended their
handsome cars. Those heroes then proceeded, accompanied by many other
cars decked with golden Kuvaras, and infuriated elephants looking like
mountains and steeds fleet as Garudas, and foot-soldiers armed with bows
and weapons. That army, moving with great speed, proceeded in two
divisions, one in the van and the other in the rear of those princes. The
scene resembled the two currents of the great river Narmada at the point
where it is divided by the Rikshavat mountains standing across it.
Gladdening that great host, the divine Chandramas rose before it in the
firmament, once more inspiring with moisture, by his own force, the
terrestrial herbs and plants whose juice had been sucked up by the Sun.
Then that bull of Yadu’s race and the sons of Pandu, entering the (Kuru)
city whose splendour resembled that of the city of Indra itself,
proceeded to their respective mansions like tired lions seeking their


“Vaisampayana said, ‘The slayer of Madhu, retiring to his bed, slept
happily. Awaking when half a Yama was wanting to usher in the day, he
addressed himself to contemplation. Fixing all his senses, he meditated
on the eternal Brahma. Then a batch of well-trained and sweet-voiced
persons, conversant with hymns and the Puranas, began to utter the
praises of Vasudeva, that lord of all creatures and creator of the
universe. Others, marking time by clapping of hands, began to recite
sweet hymns, and vocalists began to sing. Conch-shells and drums were
blown and beaten by thousands. The delightful sound of Vinas, Panavas,
and bamboo flutes was heard. The spacious mansion of Krishna, in
consequence thereof, seemed to laugh with music. In the palace of king
Yudhishthira also sweet voices were heard, uttering auspicious wishes,
and the sound of songs too and musical instruments. Then he of Dasarha’s
race performed his ablutions. Joining his hands, the mighty-armed hero of
unfading glory silently recited his secret mantras, and kindling a fire
poured libations of clarified butter upon it. Giving away a thousand kine
unto a thousand Brahmanas all of whom were fully conversant with the four
Vedas, he caused them to utter benedictions upon him. Touching next
diverse kinds of auspicious articles and beholding himself in a clear
mirror, Krishna addressed Satyaki, saying, ‘Go, O descendant of Sini, and
repairing to Yudhishthira’s abode, ascertain whether that king of great
energy is dressed for visiting Bhishma.’ At these words of Krishna,
Satyaki, proceeding quickly to the royal son of Pandu, said unto him,
‘The foremost of cars, belonging to Vasudeva of great intelligence,
stands ready, O king, for Janardana will go to see Ganga’s son. O
righteous king of great splendour, he is waiting for thee. It behoveth
thee now to do what should be done next.’ Thus addressed, Dharma’s son
Yudhishthira answered as follows.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘O Phalguna of unrivalled splendour, let my foremost
of cars be made ready. We should not be accompanied (today) by the
soldiers, but we shall proceed ourselves. That foremost of righteous
persons, Bhishma, should not be vexed. Let the guards, therefore, O
Dhananjaya, stop today. From this day Ganga’s son will speak of things
that are great mysteries. I do not therefore, O son of Kunti, wish that
there should be a miscellaneous gathering (in Bhishma’s presence).’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these words of the king, Kunti’s son
Dhananjaya, that foremost of men (went out and coming back) represented
unto him that his best of cars stood harnessed for him. King
Yudhishthira, and the twins, and Bhima and Arjuna, the five resembling
the five elements, then proceeded towards Krishna’s abode. While the
high-souled Pandavas were coming, Krishna of great intelligence,
accompanied by the grandson of Sini, mounted on his car. Saluting one
another from their cars and each enquiring of the other whether the night
had been passed happily by him, those bulls among men proceeded, without
stopping on those foremost of cars whose rattle resembled the roar of the
clouds. Krishna’s steeds, viz., Valahaka and Meghapushpa and Saivya and
Sugriva were urged by Daruka. The animals, urged by him, O king,
proceeded, indenting the earth with their hoofs. Endued with great
strength and great speed, they flew onwards, devouring the very skies.
Traversing the sacred field of Kuru, the princes proceeded to that spot
where the puissant Bhishma on his bed of arrows was lying, surrounded by
those great Rishis, like Brahman himself in the midst of the gods. Then
Govinda and Yudhishthira and Bhima and the wielder of Gandiva and the
twins and Satyaki, alighting from their vehicles, saluted the Rishis by
raising their right hands. Surrounded by them, king Yudhishthira like the
moon in the midst of the stars approached Ganga’s son like Vasava
proceeding towards Brahman. Overcome with fear, the king timidly cast his
eyes on the mighty-armed hero lying on his bed of arrows like the Sun
himself dropped from the firmament.'”


“Janamejaya said, ‘When that tiger among men, of righteous soul and great
energy, firmly adhering to truth and with passions under complete
control, viz., the son of Santanu and Ganga, named Devavrata or Bhishma
of unfading glory, lay on a hero’s bed with the sons of Pandu sitting
around him, tell me, O great sage, what converse ensued in that meeting
of heroes after the slaughter of the troops.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘When Bhishma that chief of the Kurus, lay on his bed
of arrows, many Rishis and Siddhas, O king, headed by Narada, came to
that spot. The unslain remnant of the (assembled) kings with Yudhishthira
at their head, and Dhritarashtra and Krishna and Bhima and Arjuna and the
twins also came there. Those high-souled persons, approaching the
grandsire of the Bharatas who looked like the Sun himself dropped from
the firmament, indulged in lamentations for him. Then Narada of godlike
features reflecting for a short while, addressed all the Pandavas and the
unslain remnant of the kings saying, ‘The time, I think, has come for you
to question Bhishma (on subject of morality and religion), for Ganga’s
son is about to expire like the Sun that is on the point of setting. He
is about to cast off his life-breaths. Do you all, therefore, solicit him
to discourse to you? He is acquainted with the varied duties of all the
four orders. Old in years, after abandoning his body he will obtain high
regions of bliss. Solicit him, therefore, without delay, to clear the
doubts that exists in your minds.’ Thus addressed by Narada, those
princes approached Bhishma, but unable to ask him anything, looked at one
another. Then Yudhishthira the son of Pandu, addressing Hrishikesa said,
“There is no one else than Devaki’s son that can question the grandsire.
O foremost one of Yadu’s race, do thou, therefore, O slayer of Madhu,
speak first. Thou, O sire, art the foremost of us all and thou art
conversant with every duty and practice.” Thus addressed by the son of
Pandu, the illustrious Kesava of unfading glory, approaching the
unconquerable Bhishma, spoke unto him as follows.’

“Vasudeva said, ‘Hast thou, O best of kings, passed the night happily?
Has thy understanding become unclouded? Does thy knowledge, O sinless
one, shine in thee by inward light? I hope thy heart no longer feels pain
and thy mind is no longer agitated.’

“Bhishma said, ‘Burning, stupefaction, fatigue, exhaustion, illness, and
pain, through thy grace, O thou of Vrishni’s race, have all left me in a
single day. O thou of incomparable splendour, all that is past, all that
is future, and all that is present, I behold as clearly as a fruit placed
in my hands. All the duties declared in the Vedas, all those laid down in
the Vedantas, I behold clearly, O thou of unfading glory, in consequence
of the boon thou hast granted to me. The duties that have been declared
by persons of learning and righteous behaviour, dwell in my remembrance.
I am conversant also, O Janardana, with the duties and practices
prevailing in particular countries and among particular tribes and
families. Everything relating again to the four modes of life has come
back to my recollection. I am acquainted also, O Kesava, with the duties
that relate to king-craft. Whatever should at whatever time be said, I
would say, O Janardana! Through thy grace, I have acquired an auspicious
understanding. Strengthened by meditation on thee, feel as if I have
become a young man again. Through thy favour, O Janardana, I have become
competent to discourse on what is beneficial (for the world). Why,
however, O holy one, dost thou not thyself discourse to Pandu’s son upon
all that is good? What explanation hast thou to give in respect of this?
Tell me quickly, O Madhava!’

“Vasudeva said, ‘Know, O thou of Kuru’s race, that I am the root of fame
and of everything that leads to good. All things, good or bad, proceed
from me. Who on earth will wonder if the moon be said to be of cool rays?
Similarly, who will wonder if I were described as one possessed of the
full measure of fame?[159] I have, however, resolved to enhance thy fame,
O thou of great splendour! It is for this, O Bhishma, that I have just
inspired thee with great intelligence. As long, O lord of earth, as the
earth will last, so long will thy fame travel with undiminished lustre
through all the worlds. Whatever, O Bhishma, thou wilt say unto the
inquiring son of Pandu, will be regarded on earth to be as authoritative
as the declarations of that Vedas. That person who will conduct himself
here according to the authority of thy declarations, will obtain
hereafter the reward of every meritorious act. For this reason, O
Bhishma, I have imparted to thee celestial understanding so that thy fame
maybe enhanced on earth. As long as a man’s fame lasts in the world, so
long are his achievements said to live. The unslain remnant of the
(assembled) kings are sitting around thee, desirous of listening to thy
discourses on morality and duty. Do thou speak unto them, O Bharata! Thou
art old in years and thy behaviour is consistent with the ordinance of
the Srutis. Thou art well conversant with the duties of kings and with
every other science of duty. No one has ever noticed the slightest
transgression in thee from thy every birth. All the kings know thee to be
conversant with all the sciences of morality and duty. Like a sire unto
his sons do thou, therefore, O king, discourse unto them of high
morality. Thou hast always worshipped the Rishis and the gods. It is
obligatory on thee to discourse on these subjects in detail unto persons
desirous of listening to discourse on morality and duty. A learned
person, especially when solicited by the righteous, should discourse on
the same. The sages have declared this to be a duty. O puissant one, if
thou dost not speak on such subjects, thou wilt incur sin. Therefore,
questioned by thy sons and grandsons, O learned one, about the eternal
duties (of men), do thou, O bull among the Bharatas, discourse upon them
on the subject.'”


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Endued with great energy, the delighter of the Kurus
(viz., Bhishma), said, ‘I shall discourse on the subject of duty. My
speech and mind have become steady, through thy grace, O Govinda, since
thou art the eternal soul of every being. Let the righteous-souled
Yudhishthira question me about morality and duty. I shall then be much
gratified and shall speak of all duties. Let the son of Pandu, that royal
sage of virtuous and great soul, upon whose birth all the Vrishnis were
filled with joy, question me. Let the son of Pandu, who has no equal
among all the Kurus, among all persons of righteous behaviour, and among
men of great celebrity, put questions to me. Let the son of Pandu, in
whom are intelligence, self-restraint, Brahmacharya, forgiveness,
righteousness, mental vigour and energy, put questions to me. Let the son
of Pandu, who always by his good offices honours his relatives and guests
and servants and others that are dependent on him, put questions to me.
Let the son of Pandu, in whom are truth and charity and penances,
heroism, peacefulness, cleverness, and fearlessness, put questions to me.
Let the righteous-souled son of Pandu, who would never commit a sin
influenced by desire of Pleasure or Profit or from fear put questions to
me. Let the son of Pandu, who is ever devoted to truth, to forgiveness,
to knowledge and to guests, and who always makes gifts unto the
righteous, put questions to me. Let the son of Pandu, who is ever engaged
in sacrifices and study of the Vedas and the practice of morality and
duty who is ever peaceful and who has heard all mysteries, put questions
to me.’

“Vasudeva said, ‘King Yudhishthira the just, overcome with great shame
and fearful of (thy) curse, does not venture to approach thee. That lord
of earth, O monarch, having caused a great slaughter, ventures not to
approach thee from fear of (thy) curse. Having pierced with shafts those
that deserved his worship, those that were devoted to him, those that
were his preceptors, those that were his relatives and kinsmen and those
that were worthy of his highest regard, he ventures not to approach thee.’

“Bhishma said, ‘As the duty of the Brahmanas consists of the practice of
charity, study, and penances, so the duty of Kshatriyas is to cast away
their bodies, O Krishna, in battle. A Kshatriya should stay sires and
grandsires and brothers and preceptors and relatives and kinsmen that may
engage with him in unjust battle. This is their declared duty. That
Kshatriya, O Kesava, is said to be acquainted with his duty who slays in
battle his very preceptors if they happen to be sinful and covetous and
disregardful of restraints and vows. That Kshatriya is said to be
acquainted with his duty who slays in battle the person that from
covetousness disregards the eternal barriers of virtue.[160] That
Kshatriya is said to be acquainted with duty who in battle makes the
earth a lake of blood, having the hair of slain warriors for the grass
and straw floating on it, and having elephants for its rocks, and
standards for the trees on its banks. A Kshatriya, when challenged,
should always fight in battle, since Manu has said that a righteous
battle (in the case of a Kshatriya) leads to both heaven and fame on

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘After Bhishma had spoken thus, Dharma’s son
Yudhishthira, with great humility, approached the Kuru hero and stood in
his sight. He seized the feet of Bhishma who in return gladdened him with
affectionate words. Smelling his head, Bhishma asked Yudhishthira to take
his seat. Then Ganga’s son, that foremost of bowmen, addressed
Yudhishthira, saying, ‘Do not fear, O best of the Kurus! Ask me, O child,
without any anxiety.'”


Vaisampayana said, ‘Having bowed unto Hrishikesa, and saluted Bhishma,
and taken the permission of all the seniors assembled there, Yudhishthira
began to put questions unto Bhishma.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Persons conversant with duty and morality say that
kingly duties constitute the highest science of duty. I also think that
the burden of those duties is exceedingly onerous. Do thou, therefore, O
king, discourse on those duties. O grandsire, do thou speak in detail on
the duties of kings. The science of kingly duties is the refuge of the
whole world of life. O thou of Kuru’s race, Morality, Profit, and
Pleasure are dependent on kingly duties. It is also clear that the
practices that lead to emancipation are equally dependent on them. As the
reins are in respect of the steed or the iron hook in respect of the
elephant, even so the science of kingly duties constitutes the reins for
checking the world. If one becomes stupefied in respect of the duties
observed by royal sages, disorder would set in on the earth and
everything will become confused. As the Sun, rising, dispels inauspicious
darkness, so this science destroys every kind of evil consequence in
respect of the world. Therefore, O grandsire, do thou, for my sake,
discourse on kingly duties in the first instance, for thou, O chief of
the Bharatas, art the foremost of all persons conversant with duties. O
scorcher of foes, Vasudeva regards thee as the first of all intelligent
persons. Therefore, all of us expect the highest knowledge from thee.’

“Bhishma said, ‘Bowing unto Dharma who is Supreme, unto Krishna who is
Brahma in full, and unto the Brahmanas, I shall discourse on the eternal
duties (of men). Hear from me, O Yudhishthira, with concentrated
attention, the whole range of kingly duties described with accurate
details, and other duties that you mayst desire to know. In the first
place, O foremost one of Kuru’s race, the king should, from desire of
pleasing (his subjects), wait with humility upon the gods and the
Brahmanas, always bearing himself agreeably to the ordinance. By
worshipping the deities and the Brahmanas, O perpetuator of Kuru’s race,
the king pays off his debt to duty and morality, and receives the respect
of his subjects. O son, thou shouldst always exert with promptitude, O
Yudhishthira, for without promptitude of exertion mere destiny never
accomplishes the objects cherished by kings. These two, viz., exertion
and destiny, are equal (in their operation). Of them, I regard exertion
to be superior, for destiny is ascertained from the results of what is
begun with exertion. Do not indulge in grief if what is commenced ends
disastrously, for thou shouldst then exert thyself in the same act with
redoubled attention. This is the high duty of kings. There is nothing
which contributes so much to the success of kings as Truth. The king who
is devoted to Truth finds happiness both here and hereafter. As regards
Rishis also, O king, Truth is their great wealth. Similarly, as regards
kings, there is nothing that so much inspires confidence in them as
Truth. The king that is possessed of every accomplishment and good
behaviour, that is self-restrained, humble, and righteous, that has his
passions under control, that is of handsome features and not too
enquiring,[161] never loses prosperity. By administering justice, by
attending to these three, viz., concealment of his own weaknesses,
ascertainment of the weaknesses of foes, and keeping his own counsels, as
also by the observance of conduct that is straightforward, the king, O
delighter of the Kurus, obtains prosperity. If the king becomes mild,
everybody disregards him On the other hand, if he becomes fierce, his
subjects then become troubled.

Therefore, do thou observe both kinds of behaviour. O foremost of liberal
men, the Brahmanas should never be punished by thee, for the Brahmana, O
son of Pandu, is the foremost of beings on the Earth. The high-souled
Manu, O king of kings, that sung two Slokas. In respect of thy duties, O
thou of Kuru’s race, thou shouldst always bear them in mind. Fire hath
sprung from water, the Kshatriya from the Brahmana, and iron from stone.
The three (viz., fire, Kshatriya and iron) can exert their force on every
other thing, but coming into contact with their respective progenitors,
their force becomes neutralised. When iron strikes stone, or fire battles
with water, or Kshatriya cherishes enmity towards Brahmana, these three
soon become weak. When this is so, O monarch, (you will see that) the
Brahmanas are worthy of worship. They that are foremost among the
Brahmanas are gods on earth. Duly worshipped, they uphold the Vedas and
the Sacrifices. But they, O tiger among kings, that desire to have such
honour however much they may be impediments to the three worlds, should
ever be repressed by the might of thy arms. The great Rishi Usanas, O
son, sang two Slokas in days of old. Listen to them, O king, with
concentrated attention. The righteous Kshatriya, mindful of his duties,
should chastise a Brahmana that may be a very master of the Vedas if he
rushes to battle with an uplifted weapon. The Kshatriya, conversant with
duties, that upholds righteousness when it is trespassed against, does
not, by that act, become a sinner, for the wrath of the assailant
justifies the wrath of the chastiser. Subject to these restrictions, O
tiger among kings, the Brahmanas should be protected. If they become
offenders, they should then be exiled beyond thy dominions. Even when
deserving of punishment, thou shouldst, O kings, show them compassion. If
a Brahmana becomes guilty of Brahmanicide, or of violating the bed of his
preceptor or other revered senior, or of causing miscarriage, or of
treason against the king, his punishment should be banishment from thy
dominions. No corporal chastisement is laid down for them. Those persons
that show respect towards the Brahmanas should be favoured by thee (with
offices in the state). There is no treasure more valuable to kings than
that which consists in the selection and assemblage of servants. Among
the six kinds of citadels indicated in the scriptures, indeed among every
kind of citadel, that which consists of (the ready service and the love
of the) subjects is the most impregnable. Therefore, the king who is
possessed of wisdom should always show compassion towards the four orders
of his subjects. The king who is of righteous soul and truthful speech
succeeds in gratifying his subjects. Thou must not, however, O son always
behave with forgiveness towards everybody, for the king that is mild is
regarded as the worst of his kind like an elephant that is reft of
fierceness. In the scriptures composed by Vrihaspati, a Sloka was in days
of old applicable to the present matter. Hear it, O king as I recite it.
‘If the king happens to be always forgiving, the lowest of persons
prevails over him, even as the driver who sits on the head of the
elephant he guides.’ The king, therefore, should not always be mild. Nor
should he always be fierce. He should be like the vernal Sun, neither
cold nor so hot as to produce perspiration. By the direct evidence of the
senses, by conjecture, by comparisons, and by the canons, of the
scriptures O monarch, the king should Study friends and foes. O thou of
great liberality, thou shouldst avoid all those evil practices that are
called Vyasanas. It is not necessary that thou shouldst never indulge in
them. What, however, is needed is that thou shouldst not be attached to
them. He that is attached to those practices is prevailed over by
everyone. The king who cherishes no love for his people inspires the
latter with anxiety. The king should always bear himself towards his
subjects as a mother towards the child of her womb. Hear, O monarch, the
reason why this becomes desirable. As the mother, disregarding those
objects that are most cherished by her, seeks the good of her child
alone, even so, without doubt, should kings conduct themselves (towards
their subjects). The king that is righteous, O foremost one of Kuru’s
race, should always behave in such a manner as to a\ old what is dear to
him, for the sake of doing that which would benefit his people. Thou
shouldst not ever, O son of Pandu, abandon fortitude. The king that is
possessed of fortitude and who is known to inflict chastisement on
wrong-doers, has no cause of fear. O foremost of speakers, thou shouldst
not indulge in jests with thy servants. O tiger among kings, listen to
the faults of such conduct. If the master mingles too freely with them,
dependents begin to disregard him. They forget their own position and
most truly transcend that of the master. Ordered to do a thing, they
hesitate, and divulge the master’s secrets. They ask for things that
should not be asked for, and take the food that is intended for the
master. They go to the length of displaying their wrath and seek to
outshine the master. They even seek to predominate over the king, and
accepting bribes and practising deceit, obstruct the business of the
state. They cause the state to rot with abuses by falsifications and
forgeries. They make love with the female guards of the palace and dress
in the same style as their master. They become so shameless as to indulge
in eructations and the like, and expectorate in the very presence of
their master, O tiger among kings, and they do not fear to even speak of
him with levity before others. If the king becomes mild and disposed to
jest, his servants, disregarding him, ride on steeds and elephants and
cars as good as the king’s.[162] His counsellors, assembled in court,
openly indulge in such speeches as: ‘This is beyond thy power. This is a
wicked attempt.’ If the king becomes angry, they laugh; nor are they
gladdened if favours be bestowed upon them, though they may express joy
for other reasons. They disclose the secret counsels of their master and
bruit his evil acts. Without the least anxiety they set at naught the
king’s commands. If the king’s jewels, or food, or the necessaries of his
bath, or unguents, be not forthcoming, the servants, in his very
presence, do not show the least anxiety. They do not take what rightfully
belongs to them. On the other hand, without being content with what has
been assigned to them, they appropriate what belongs to the king. They
wish to sport with the king as with a bird tied with a string, And always
give the people to understand that the king is very intimate with them
and loves them dearly. If the king becomes mild and disposed to jest, O
Yudhishthira, these and many other evils spring from it.'”


“Bhishma said, ‘The king, O Yudhishthira, should always be ready for
action. That king is not worth of praise who, like a woman, is destitute
of exertion. In this connection, the holy Usanas has sting a Sloka, O
monarch. Listen to it with attention, O king, as I recite it to thee:
‘Like a snake swallowing up mice, the earth swallows tip these two, the
king that is averse to battle and the Brahmana that is exceedingly
attached to wives and children.[163] It behoveth thee, O tiger among
kings, to bear this always in thy heart. Make peace with those foes with
whom (according to the ordinance) peace should be made, and wage war with
them with whom war should be waged. Be he thy preceptor or be he thy
friend, he that acts inimically towards thy kingdom consisting of seven
limbs, should be slain.[164] There is an ancient Sloka sung by king
Marutta, agreeable to Vrihaspati’s opinion, O monarch, about the duty of
kings. According to the eternal provision, there is punishment for even
the preceptor if he becomes haughty and disregardful of what should be
done and what should not, and if he transgresses all restraints. Jadu’s
son, king Sagara, of great intelligence, from desire of doing good to the
citizens, exiled his own eldest son Asamanjas. Asamanjas, O king, used to
drown the children of the citizens in the Sarayu. His sire, therefore,
rebuked him and sent him to exile. The Rishi Uddalaka cast off his
favourite son Swetaketu (afterwards) of rigid penances, because the
latter used to invite Brahmanas with deceptive promises of entertainment.
The happiness of their subjects, observance of truth, and sincerity of
behaviour are the eternal duty of kings. The king should not covet the
wealth of others. He should in time give what should be given, If the
king becomes possessed of prowess, truthful in speech, and forgiving in
temper, he would never fall away from prosperity. With soul cleansed of
vices, the king should be able to govern his wrath, and all his
conclusions should be conformable to the scriptures. He should also
always pursue morality and profit and pleasure and salvation
(judiciously). The king should always conceal his counsels in respect of
these three, (viz., morality, profit, and pleasure). No greater evil can
befall the king than the disclosure of his counsels. Kings should protect
the four orders in the discharge of their duties. It is the eternal duty
of kings to prevent a confusion of duties in respect of the different
orders. The king should not repose confidence (on others than his own
servants), nor should he repose full confidence (on even his servants).
He should, by his own intelligence, took after the merits and defects of
the six essential requisites of sovereignty.[165] The king who is
observant of the laches of his foes, and judicious in the pursuit of
morality, profit, and pleasure, who sets clever spies for ascertaining
secrets and seeks to wean away the officers of his enemies by presents of
wealth, deserves applause. The king should administer justice like Yama
and amass wealth like Kuvera. He should also be observant of the merits
and defects of his own acquisitions and losses and of his own dominions.
He should feed those that have not been fed, and enquire after those that
have been fed. Possessed of sweet speech, he could speak with a smiling
(and not with a sour) countenance. He should always wait upon those that
are old in years and repress procrastination. He should never covet what
belongs to others. He should firmly follow the behaviour of the righteous
and, therefore, observe that behaviour carefully. He should never take
wealth from those that are righteous. Taking the wealth of those that are
not righteous he should give it unto them that are righteous. The king
should himself be skilful in smiting. He should practise liberality. He
Should have his soul under control. He should dress himself with
splendour. He should make gifts in season and regular in his meals. He
should also be of good behaviour. The king desirous of obtaining
prosperity should always bind to his service men that are brave, devoted,
incapable of being deceived by foes,[166] well-born, healthy,
well-behaved, and connected with families that are well-behaved,
respectable, never inclined to insult others, conversant with all the
sciences, possessing a knowledge of the world and its affairs, unmindful
of the future state of existence, always observant of their duties,
honest, and steadfast like mountains. There should be no difference
between him and them as regards objects of enjoyment. The only
distinction should consist in his umbrella and his power or passing
orders. His conduct towards them, before or behind, should be the same.
The king who behaves in this way never comes to grief. That crooked and
covetous king who suspects everybody and who taxes his subjects heavily,
is soon deprived of life by his own servants and relatives. That king,
however, who is of righteous behaviour and who is ever engaged in
attracting the hearts of his people, never sinks when attacked by foes.
If overcome, he soon regains his position. If the king is not wrathful,
if he is not addicted to evil practices and not severe in his
punishments, if he succeeds in keeping his passions under control, he
then becomes an object of confidence unto all like the Himavat mountains
(unto all creatures). He is the best of kings who hath wisdom, who is
possessed of liberality, who is ready to take advantage of the laches of
foes, who has agreeable features, who is conversant with what is bad for
each of the four orders of his subjects, who is prompt in action, who has
his wrath under control, who is not vindictive, who is high-minded, who
is not irascible by disposition, who is equal engaged in sacrifices and
other religious acts, who is not given to boasting, and who vigorously
prosecutes to completion all works commenced by him. He is the best of
kings in whose dominions men live fearlessly like sons in the house of
their sire. He is the best of kings whose subjects have not to hide their
wealth and are conversant with what is good and what is bad for them. He,
indeed, is a king whose subjects are engaged in their respective duties
and do not fear to cast off their bodies when duty calls for it; whose
people, protected duly, are all of peaceful behaviour, obedient, docile,
tractable, unwilling to be engaged in disputes, and inclined to
liberality. That king earns eternal merit in whose dominions there is no
wickedness and dissimulation and deception and envy. That king truly
deserves to rule who honours knowledge, who is devoted to the scriptures
and the good of his people, who treads in the path of the righteous, and
who is liberal. That king deserves to rule, whose spies and counsels and
acts, accomplished and unaccomplished, remain unknown to his enemies. The
following verse was sung in days of old by Usanas of Bhrigu’s race, in
the narrative called Ramacharita, on the subject, O Bharata, of kingly
duties: ‘One should first select a king (in whose dominions to live).
Then should he select a wife, and then earn wealth. If there be no king,
what would become of his wife and acquisition’?’ Regarding those that are
desirous of kingdom, there is no other eternal duty more obligatory than
the protection (of subjects). The protection the king grants to his
subjects upholds the world.[167] Manu, the son of Prachetas, sang these
two verses respecting the duties of kings. Listen to them with attention:
‘These six persons should be avoided like a leaky boat on the sea, viz.,
a preceptor that does not speak, a priest that has not studied the
scriptures, a king that does not grant protection, a wife that utters
what is disagreeable, a cow-herd that likes to rove within the village,
and a barber that is desirous of going to the woods.'”[168]


“Bhishma said, ‘Protection of the subject, O Yudhishthira, is the very
cheese of kingly duties. The divine Vrihaspati does not applaud any other
duty (so much as this one). The divine Kavi (Usanas) of large eyes and
austere penances, the thousand-eyed Indra, and Manu the son of Prachetas,
the divine Bharadwaja, and the saga Gaurasiras, all devoted to Brahma and
utterers of Brahma, have composed treatises on the duties of kings. All
of them praise the duty of protection, O foremost of virtuous persons, in
respect of kings. O thou of eyes like lotus leaves and of the hue of
copper, listen to the means by which protection may be secured. Those
means consist of the employment of spies and servants, giving them their
just dues without haughtiness, the realisation of taxes with
considerateness, never taking anything (from the subject) capriciously
and without cause, O Yudhishthira, the selection of honest men (for the
discharge of administrative functions), heroism, skill, and cleverness
(in the transaction of business), truth, seeking the good of the people,
producing discord and disunion among the enemy by fair or unfair means,
the repair of buildings that are old or on the point of falling away, the
infliction of corporal punishments and fines regulated by observance of
the occasion, never abandoning the honest, granting employment and
protection to persons of respectable birth, the storing of what should be
stored, companionship with persons of intelligence, always gratifying the
soldiery, supervision over the subjects, steadiness in the transaction of
business, filling the treasury, absence of blind confidence on the guards
of the city, producing disloyalty among the citizens of a hostile town,
carefully looking after the friends and allies living in the midst of the
enemy’s country, strictly watching the servants and officers of the
state, personal observation of the city, distrust of servants, comforting
the enemy with assurances, steadily observing the dictates of policy,
readiness for action, never disregarding an enemy, and casting off those
that are wicked. Readiness for exertion in kings is the root of kingly
duties. This has been said by Vrihaspati. Listen to the verses sung by
him: ‘By exertion the amrita was obtained; by exertion the Asuras were
slain, by exertion Indra himself obtained sovereignty in heaven and on
earth. The hero of exertion is superior to the heroes of speech. The
heroes of speech gratify and worship the heroes of exertion.[169]’ The
king that is destitute of exertion, even if possessed of intelligence, is
always overcome by foes like a snake that is bereft of poison. The king,
even if possessed of strength, should not disregard a foe, however weak.
A spark of fire can produce a conflagration and a particle of poison can
kill. With only one kind of force, an enemy from within a fort, can
afflict the whole country of even a powerful and prosperous king. The
secret speeches of a king, the amassing of troops for obtaining victory,
the crooked purposes in his heart, similar intents for accomplishing
particular objects, and the wrong acts he does or intends to do, should
be concealed by putting on an appearance of candour. He should act
righteously for keeping his people under subjection. Persons of crooked
minds cannot bear the burden of extensive empire. A king who is mild
cannot obtain superior rank, the acquisition of which depends upon
labour. A kingdom, coveted by all like meat, can never be protected by
candour and simplicity. A king, O Yudhishthira, should, therefore, always
conduct himself with both candour and crookedness. If in protecting his
subjects a king falls into danger, he earns great merit. Even such should
be the conduct of kings. I have now told thee a portion only of the
duties of kings. Tell me, O best of the Kurus, what more you wish to

Vaisampayana continued, “The illustrious Vyasa and Devasthana and Aswa,
and Vasudeva and Kripa and Satyaki and Sanjaya, filled with joy, and with
faces resembling full-blown flowers, said, ‘Excellent! Excellent!’ and
hymned the praises of that tiger among men, viz., Bhishma, that foremost
of virtuous persons. Then Yudhishthira, that chief of Kuru’s race, with a
cheerless heart and eyes bathed in tears, gently touched Bhishma’s feet
and said, ‘O grandsire, I shall to-morrow enquire after those points
about which I have my doubts, for today, the sun, having sucked the
moisture of all terrestrial objects, is about to set.’ Then Kesava and
Kripa and Yudhishthira and others, saluting the Brahmanas (assembled
there) and circumambulating the son of the great river, cheerfully
ascended their cars. All of them observant of excellent vows then bathed
in the current of the Drishadwati. Having offered oblations of water unto
their ancestors and silently recited the sacred mantras and done other
auspicious acts, and having performed the evening prayer with due rites,
those scorchers of foes entered the city called after the elephant.”


Vaisampayana said, “Rising from their beds the next day and performing
the morning rites laid down in the scriptures, the Pandavas and the
Yadavas set out (for the spot where Bhishma lay) on their cars resembling
fortified towns. Proceeding to the field of Kuru and approaching the
sinless Bhishma, they enquired of that foremost of car-warriors if he had
passed the night happily. Saluting all the Rishis, and blessed by them in
return, the princes took their seats around Bhishma. Then king
Yudhishthira the just possessed of great energy, having worshipped
Bhishma duly, said these words with joined hands.

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Whence arose the word Rajan (King), that is used, O
Bharata, on earth? Tell me this, O scorcher of foes! Possessed of hands
and arms and neck like others, having understanding and senses like those
of others, subject like others to the same kinds of joy and grief, endued
with back, mouth, and stomach similar to those of the rest of the world,
having vital fluids and bones and marrow and flesh and blood similar to
those of, the rest of the world, inhaling and exhaling breaths like
others, possessed of life-breaths and bodies like other men, resembling
others in birth and death, in fact, similar to others in respect of all
attributes of humanity, for what reason does one man, viz., the king,
govern the rest of the world numbering many men possessed of great
intelligence and bravery? Whence is it that one man rules the wide world
teeming with brave and energetic and high-born men of good behaviour? Why
do all men seek to obtain his favour? Why is it that if one man becomes
delighted, the whole world becomes delighted, and if that one man is
troubled, the whole world becomes troubled? I desire to hear this in
detail, O bull of Bharata’s race! O foremost of speakers, discourse to me
on this fully. O king, there cannot but be a grave reason for all this
since it is seen that the whole world bows down to one man as to a god.

“Bhishma said, ‘With concentrated attention, O tiger among kings, listen
to it in detail as to how in the Krita age sovereignty first began. At
first there was no sovereignty, no king, no chastisement, and no
chastiser. All men used to protect one another righteously. As they thus
lived, O Bharata, righteously protecting one another, they found the task
(after some time) to be painful. Error then began to assail their hearts.
Having become subject to error, the perceptions of men, O prince, came to
be clouded, and thence their virtue began to decline. When their
perceptions were dimmed and when men became subject to error, all of them
became covetous. O chief of the Bharatas! And because men sought to
obtain objects, which they did not possess, another passion called lust
(of acquisition) got hold of them. When they became subject to lust,
another passion, named anger, soon soiled them. Once subject to wrath,
they lost all consideration of what should be done and what should not.
Unrestrained sexual indulgence set in. Men began to utter what they
chose. All distinctions between food that is clean and unclean and
between virtue and vice disappeared. When this confusion set in amongst
men, the Vedas disappeared. Upon the disappearance of the Vedas,
Righteousness was lost. When both the Vedas and righteousness were lost,
the gods were possessed by fear. Overcome with fear, O tiger among men,
they sought the protection of Brahmana. Having gratified the divine
Grandsire of the universe, the gods, afflicted with grief, said unto him,
with joined hands, ‘O god, the eternal Vedas have been afflicted in the
world of men by covetousness and error. For this, we have been struck
with fear. Through loss of the Vedas, O Supreme Lord, righteousness also
has been lost. For this, O Lord of the three worlds, we are about to
descend to the level of human beings. Men used to pour libations upwards
while we used to pour rain downwards.[170] In consequence, however, of
the cessation of all pious rites among men, great distress will be our
lot. Do thou then, O Grandsire, think of that which would benefit us, so
that the universe, created by thy power, may not meet with destruction.’
Thus addressed, the Self-born and divine Lord said unto them, ‘I shall
think of what will do good to all. Ye foremost of gods, let your fears be
dispelled!’ The Grandsire then composed by his own intelligence a
treatise consisting of a hundred thousand chapters. In it were treated
the subject of Virtue, Profit, and Pleasure. Which the Self-born
designated as the triple aggregate. He treated of a fourth subject called
Emancipation with opposite meaning and attributes. The triple aggregate
in respect of emancipation, viz., to the attributes of Goodness, Passion,
and Darkness, and another, (a fourth, viz., the practice of duty without
hope of bliss or reward in this or the other world), were treated in it.
Another triple aggregate connected with Chastisement, viz., Conversation,
Growth, and Destruction, was treated in it.[171] Another aggregate of six
consisting of the hearts of men, place, time, means, overt acts, and
alliances, and causes, were treated in it. The religious rites laid down
in the three Vedas, knowledge, and the acts necessary for the support of
life, (viz., agriculture, trade, &c.), O bull of Bharata’s race, and the
very extensive branch of learning called punitive legislation, were laid
down in it. The subjects also of behaviour towards counsellors, of spies,
the indications of princes, of secret agents possessed of diverse means,
of envoys and agents of other kinds, conciliation, fomenting discord,
gifts, and chastisement, O king, with toleration as the fifth, were fully
treated therein. Deliberation of all kinds, counsels for producing
disunion, the errors of deliberation, the results of the success or
failure of counsels, treaties of three kinds, viz., bad, middling, and
good, made through fear, good offices, and gifts of wealth, were
described in detail. The four kinds of time for making journeys, the
details of the aggregate of three, the three kinds of victory, viz., that
secured righteously, that won by wealth, and that obtained by deceitful
ways, were described in detail. The three kinds of attributes, viz., bad,
middling, and good, of the aggregate of five (viz., counsellors, kingdom,
fort, army, and treasury,) were also treated in it. Chastisements of two
kinds, viz., open and secret, were indicated. The eight kinds of open
chastisement, as also the eight kinds of secret chastisement, were dealt
with in detail. Cars, elephants, horses, and foot-soldiers, O son of
Pandu, impressed labourers, crews, and paid attendants (of armies), and
guides taken from the country which is the seat of war, these are the
eight instruments, O Kauravya, of open chastisement or forces acting
openly. The use and administration of movable and immovable poison were
also mentioned in respect of the three kinds of things, viz., wearing
apparel, food, and incantations. Enemies, allies, and neutrals,–these
also were described. The diverse characteristics of roads (to be taken,
as dependent on stars and planets, etc.), the attributes of the soil (on
which to encamp), protection of self, superintendence of the construction
of cars and other utensils of war and use, the diverse means for
protecting and improving men, elephants, cars, and steeds, the diverse
kinds of battle array, strategies, and manoeuvres in war, planetary
conjunctions foreboding evil, calamitous visitations (such as
earthquakes), skilful methods of warfare and retreat, knowledge of
weapons and their proper keep, the disorders of troops and how to get rid
of them, the means of inspiring the army with joy and confidence,
diseases, times of distress and danger, knowledge of guiding
foot-soldiers in battle, the methods of sounding alarms and notifying
orders, inspiring the enemy with fear by display of standards, the
diverse methods of afflicting the enemy’s kingdom by means of robbers and
fierce wild-tribes, and fire-raisers and poisoners and forgers by
producing disunion among the chief officers of hostile armies, by cutting
down crops and plants, by destroying the efficiency of the enemy’s
elephants, by producing alarms, by honouring those among the enemy’s
subjects that are well disposed towards the invader, and by inspiring the
enemy with confidence, the waste, growth, and harmony of the seven
essential requisites of sovereignty, capacity for (projected) works, the
means for accomplishing them, the methods of extending the kingdom, the
means of winning over persons residing in the enemy’s territory, the
chastisement and destruction of those that are strong, the exact
administration of justice, the extermination of the wicked, wrestling,
shooting and throwing and hurling of weapons, the methods of making
presents and of storing requisite things, feeding the unfed and
supervision over those that have been fed, gifts of wealth in season,
freedom from the vices called Vyasanas, the attributes of kings, the
qualifications of military officers, the sources of the aggregate of
three and its merits and faults, the diverse kinds of evil intents, the
behaviour of dependents, suspicion against every one, the avoidance of
heedlessness, the acquisition of objects unattained, the improving of
objects already acquired, gifts to deserving persons of what has thus
been improved, expenditure of wealth for pious purposes, for acquiring
objects of desire, and for dispelling danger and distress, were all
treated in that work. The fierce vices, O chief of the Kurus, born of
temper, and those born of lust, in all of ten kinds, were mentioned in
that treatise. The four kinds of vices which the learned say are born of
lust, viz., hunting, gambling, drinking, and sexual indulgence, were
mentioned by the Self-born in that work. Rudeness of speech, fierceness,
severity of chastisement, infliction of pain on the body, suicide, and
frustrating one’s own objects, these are the six kinds of faults born of
wrath, that have also been mentioned. Diverse kinds of machines and their
actions have been described there. Devastation of the enemy’s
territories, attacks upon foes, the destruction and removal of landmarks
and other indications, the cutting down of large trees (for depriving the
enemy and the enemy’s subjects of their refreshing shade), siege of
forts, supervision of agriculture and other useful operations, the
storage of necessaries, robes and attire (of troops), and the best means
of manufacturing them, were all described. The characteristics and uses
of Panavas, Anakas, conchs, and drums. O Yudhishthira, the six kinds of
articles (viz., gems, animals, lands, robes, female slaves, and gold) and
the means of acquiring them (for one’s one self) and of destroying them
(for injuring the foe), pacification of newly acquired territories,
honouring the good, cultivating friendship with the learned, knowledge of
the rules in respect of gifts and religious rites such as homa, the touch
of auspicious articles, attention to the adornment of the body, the
manner of preparing and using food, piety of behaviour, the attainment of
prosperity by following in one path, truthfulness of speech, sweetness of
speech, observance of acts done on occasions of festivity and social
gatherings and those done within the household, the open and secret acts
of persons in all places of meeting, the constant supervision of the
behaviour of men, the immunity of Brahmanas from punishment, the
reasonable infliction of punishment, honours paid to dependants in
consideration of kinship and merit, the protection of subjects and the
means of extending the kingdom, the counsels that a king who lives in the
midst of a dozen of kings, should pursue in respect of the four kinds of
foes, the four kinds of allies, and the four kinds of neutrals, the two
and seventy acts laid down in medical works about the protection,
exercise, and improvements of the body, and the practices of particular
countries, tribes, and families, were all duty treated in that work.
Virtue, Profit, and Pleasure, and Emancipation, were also described in
it. The diverse means of acquisition, the desire for diverse kinds of
wealth. O giver of profuse presents, the methods of agriculture and other
operations that form the chief source of the revenue, and the various
means for producing and applying illusions, the methods by which stagnant
water is rendered foul, were laid down in it. All those means, O tiger
among kings, by which men might be prevented from deviating from the path
of righteousness and honesty, were all described in it. Having composed
that highly beneficial treatise, the divine Lord cheerfully said unto the
deities having Indra for their head, those words: ‘For the good of the
world and for establishing the triple aggregate (viz., Virtue, Profit,
and Pleasure), I have composed this science representing the very cheese
of speech. Assisted by chastisement, this science will protect the world.
Dealing rewards and punishments, this science will operate among men. And
because men are led (to the acquisition of the objects of their
existence) by chastisement, or, in other words, chastisement leads or
governs everything, therefore will this science be known in the three
worlds as Dandaniti (science of chastisement).[172] Containing the
essence of all the attributes of the aggregate of six, this science will
always be much regarded by all high-souled persons. Virtue, Profit,
Pleasure, and Salvation have all been treated in it.’ After this, the
lord of Uma,–the divine and multiform Siva of large eyes, the Source of
all blessings, first studied and mastered it. In view, however, of the
gradual decrease of the period of life of human beings, the divine Siva
abridged that science of grave import compiled by Brahman. The
abridgment, called Vaisalakasha, consisting of ten thousand lessons, was
then received by Indra devoted to Brahman and endued with great ascetic
merit. The divine Indra also abridged it into a treatise consisting of
five thousand lessons and called it Vahudantaka. Afterwards the puissant
Vrihaspati, by his intelligence, further abridged the work into a
treatise consisting of three thousand lessons and called it Varhaspatya.
Next, that preceptor of Yoga, of great celebrity, viz., Kavi of
immeasurable wisdom, reduced it further into a work of a thousand
lessons. In view of the period of men’s lives and the general decrease
(of everything), great Rishis did thus, for benefiting the world, abridge
that science. The gods then, approaching that lord of creatures, viz.,
Vishnu, said unto him, ‘Indicate, O god, that one among mortals who
deserves to have superiority over the rest.’ The divine and puissant
Narayana, reflecting a little, created, by a fiat of his will, a son born
of his energy, named Virajas. The highly blessed Virajas, however, did
not desire sovereignty on earth. His mind, O son of Pandu, inclined to a
life of renunciation. Virajas had a son named Krittimat. He too renounced
pleasure and enjoyment.[173] Krittimat had a son named Kardama. Kardama
also practised severe austerities. The lord of creatures, Kardama, begot
a son named Ananga. Ananga became a protector of creatures, pious in
behaviour, and fully conversant with the science of chastisement. Ananga
begot a son named Ativala, well versed in policy. Obtaining extensive
empire after the demise of his sire, he became a slave of his passions.
Mrityu, O king, had a daughter born of his mind, named Sunita and
celebrated over the three worlds. She was married to Ativala and gave
birth to a son named Vena. Vena, a slave of wrath and malice, became
unrighteous in his conduct towards all creatures. The Rishis, those
utterers of Brahma, slew him with Kusa blades (as their weapon) inspired
with mantras. Uttering mantras the while, those Rishis pierced the right
thigh of Vena. Thereupon, from that thigh, came out a short-limbed person
on earth, resembling a charred brand, with blood-red eyes and black hair.
Those utterers of Brahma said unto him, ‘Nishida (sit) here!’ From him
have sprung the Nishadas, viz., those wicked tribes that have the hills
and the forests for their abode, as also those hundreds and thousands of
others called Mlechchhas, residing on the Vindhya mountains. The great
Rishis then pierced the right arm of Vena. Thence sprang a person who was
a second Indra in form. Clad in mail, armed with scimitars, bows, and
arrows, and well-versed in the science of weapons, he was fully
acquainted with the Vedas and their branches. All the ordinances of the
science of chastisement, O king, (in their embodied forms) came to that
best of men. The son of Vena then, with joined hands, said unto those
great Rishis, ‘I have attained an understanding that is very keen and
that is observant of righteousness. Tell me in detail what I shall do
with it. That useful task which you will be pleased to indicate, I shall
accomplish without hesitation.’ Thus addressed, the gods that were
present there, as also the Rishis, said unto him. ‘Do thou fearlessly
accomplish all those tasks in which righteousness even resides.
Disregarding what is dear and what not so, look upon all creatures with
an equal eye. Castoff at a distance Just and wrath and covetousness and
honour, and, always observing the dictates of righteousness, do thou
punish with thy own hands the man, whoever he may be, that deviates from
the path of duty. Do thou also swear that thou wouldst, in thought, word,
and deed, always maintain the religion inculcated on earth by the Vedas.
Do thou further swear that thou wouldst fearlessly maintain the duties
laid down in the Vedas with the aid of the science of chastisement, and
that thou wouldst never act with caprice. O puissant one, know that
Brahmanas are exempt from chastisement, and pledge further that thou
wouldst protect the world from an intermixture of castes.’ Thus
addressed, Vena’s son replied unto the deities headed by the Rishis,
saying, ‘Those bulls among men, viz., the highly blessed Brahmanas, shall
ever be worshipped by me.’ Those utterers of Brahma then said unto him,
‘Let it be so!’ Then Sukra, that vast receptacle of Brahma, became his
priest. The Valakhilyas became his counsellors, and the Saraswatas his
companions. The great and illustrious Rishi Garga became his astrologer.
This high declaration of the Srutis is current among men that Prithu is
the eighth from Vishnu. A little before, the two persons named Suta and
Magadha had come into existence. They became his bards and panegyrists.
Gratified, Prithu, the royal son of Vena, possessed of great prowess,
gave unto Suta the land lying on the sea-coast, and unto Magadha the
country since known as Magadha. We have heard that the surface of the
earth had before been very uneven. It was Prithu who made the terrestrial
surface level. In every Manwantara, the earth becomes uneven.[174] Vena’s
son removed the rocks and rocky masses lying all around, O monarch, with
the horn of his bow. By this means the hills and mountains became
enlarged. Then Vishnu, and the deities of Indra, and the Rishis, and the
Regents of the world, and the Brahmanas, assembled together for crowning
Prithu (as the king of the world). The earth herself, O son of Pandu, in
her embodied form, came to him, with a tribute of gems and jewels. Ocean,
that lord of rivers, and Himavat, the king of mountains, and Sakra, O
Yudhishthira, bestowed upon him inexhaustible wealth. The great Meru,
that mountain of gold, gave unto him heaps of that precious metal. The
divine Kuvera, borne on the shoulders of human beings, that lord of
Yakshas and Rakshasas, gave him wealth enough for gratifying the needs of
religion, profit, and pleasure. Steeds, cars, elephants, and men, by
millions, O son of Pandu, started into life as soon as Vena’s son thought
of them. At that time there was neither decrepitude, nor famine, nor
calamity, nor disease (on earth). In consequence of the protection
afforded by that king, nobody had any fear from reptiles and thieves or
from any other source. When he proceeded to the sea, the waters used to
be solidified. The mountains gave him way, and his standard was never
obstructed anywhere. He drew from the earth, as a milcher from a cow,
seven and ten kinds of crops for the food of Yakshas, and Rakshasas, and
Nagas, and other creatures. That high-souled king caused all creatures to
regard righteousness as the foremost of all things; and because he
gratified all the people, therefore, was he called Rajan (king). And
because he also healed the wounds of Brahmanas, therefore, he earned the
name of Kshatriya. And because the earth (in his region) became
celebrated for the practice of virtue, therefore, she came to be called
by many as Prithvi. The eternal Vishnu himself, O Bharata, confirmed his
power, telling him, ‘No one, O king, shall transcend thee.’ The divine
Vishnu entered the body of that monarch in consequence of his penances.
For this reason, the entire universe offered divine worship unto Prithu,
numbered among human gods.[175] O king, thy kingdom should always be
protected by the aid of the science of chastisement. Thou shouldst also,
by careful observation made through the movements of thy spies, protect
it in such a way that no one may be able to injure it.[176] All good
acts, O king, lead to the good (of the monarch). The conduct of a king
should be regulated by his own intelligence, as also by the opportunities
and means that may offer themselves.[177] What other cause is there in
consequence of which the multitude live in obedience to one, save the
divinity of the monarch? At that time a golden lotus was born from
Vishnu’s brow. The goddess Sree was born of that lotus. She became the
spouse of Dharma of great intelligence upon Sree, O son of Pandu, Dharma
begot Artha. All the three, viz., Dharma, and Artha and Sree, were
established in sovereignty. A person upon the exhaustion of his merit,
comes down from heaven to earth, and takes birth as a king conversant
with the science of chastisement. Such a person becomes endued with
greatness and is really a portion of Vishnu on earth. He becomes
possessed of great intelligence and obtains superiority over others.
Established by the gods, no one transcends him. It is for this reason
that everybody acts in obedience to one, and it is for this that the
world cannot command him. Good acts, O king, lead to good. It is for this
that the multitude obey his words of command, though he belongs to the
same world and is possessed of similar limbs. He who once beheld Prithu’s
amiable face became obedient to him. Thenceforth he began to regard him
as handsome, wealthy, and highly blessed.[178] In consequence of the
might of his sceptre, the practice of morality and just behaviour became
so visible on earth. It is through that reason that the earth became
overspread with virtue.’

“Thus, O Yudhishthira, the histories of all past events, the origin of
the great Rishis, the holy waters, the planets and stars and asterisms,
the duties in respect of the four modes of life, the four kinds of Homa,
the characteristics of the four orders of men, and the four branches of
learning, were all treated of in that work (of the Grandsire). Whatever
objects or things, O son of Pandu, there are on earth, were all included
in that treatise of the Grandsire. Histories and the Vedas and the
science of Nyaya were all treated in it, as also penances, knowledge,
abstention from injury in respect of all creatures, truth, falsehood, and
high morality. Worship of persons old in years, gifts, purity of
behaviour, readiness for exertion, and compassion towards all creatures,
were very fully described in it. There is no doubt in this. Since that
time, O monarch, the learned have begun to say that there is no
difference between a god and a king. I have now told thee everything
about the greatness of kings. What other subject is there, O chief of the
Bharatas, upon which I shall next have to discourse?”


Vaisampayana said, “After this, Yudhishthira, saluted his grandsire, viz.
the son of Ganga, and with joined hands and concentrated attention, once
more asked him, saying, ‘What are the general duties of the four orders
of men, and what the special duties of each order? What mode of life
should be adopted by which order? What duties are especially called the
duties of kings? By what means does a kingdom grow, and what are those
means by which the king himself grows? How also, O bull of Bharata’s
race, do the citizens and the servants of the king grow? What sorts of
treasuries, punishments, forts, allies, counsellors, priests, and
preceptors, should a king avoid?[179] Whom should the king trust in what
kinds of distress and danger? From what evils should the king guard
himself firmly? Tell me all this, O grandsire!’

“Bhishma said, ‘I bow down to Dharma who is great, and to Krishna who is
Brahma. Having bowed down also unto the Brahmanas (assembled here), I
shall discourse on duties that are eternal. The suppression of wrath,
truthfulness of speech, justice, forgiveness, begetting children upon
one’s own wedded wives, purity of conduct, avoidance of quarrel,
simplicity, and maintenance of dependants, these nine duties belong to
all the four orders (equally). Those duties, however, which belong
exclusively to Brahmanas, I shall now tell thee. Self-restraint, O king,
has been declared to be the first duty of Brahmanas. Study of the Vedas,
and patience in undergoing austerities, (are also their other duties). By
practising these two, all their acts are accomplished. If while engaged
in the observance of his own duties, without doing any improper act,
wealth comes to a peaceful Brahmana possessed of knowledge, he should
then marry and seek to beget children and should also practise charity
and perform sacrifices. It has been declared by the wise that wealth thus
obtained should be enjoyed by distributing it (among deserving persons
and relatives). By his study of the Vedas all the pious acts (laid down
for the Brahmana) are accomplished. Whether he does or does not achieve
anything else, if he devotes himself to the study of the Vedas, he
becomes (by that) known as a Brahmana or the friend of all creatures. I
shall also tell thee, O Bharata, what the duties are of a Kshatriya. A
Kshatriya, O king, should give but not beg, should himself perform
sacrifices but not officiate as a priest in the sacrifices of others. He
should never teach (the Vedas) but study (them with a Brahmana
preceptor). He should protect the people. Always exerting himself for the
destruction of robbers and wicked people, he should put forth his prowess
in battle. Those among Kshatriya rulers who perform great sacrifices, who
are possessed of a knowledge of the Vedas, and who gain victories in
battle, become foremost of those that acquire many blessed regions
hereafter by their merit. Persons conversant with the old scriptures do
not applaud that Kshatriya who returns unwounded from battle. This has
been declared to be the conduct of a wretched Kshatriya.[180] There is no
higher duty for him than the suppression of robbers. Gifts, study, and
sacrifices, bring prosperity to kings. Therefore, a king who desires to
acquire religious merit should engage in battle.[181] Establishing all
his subjects in the observance of their respective duties, it king should
cause all of them to do everything according to the dictates of
righteousness. Whether he does or does not do any other act, if only he
protects his subjects, he is regarded to accomplish all religious acts
and is called a Kshatriya and the foremost of men. I shall now tell thee,
O Yudhishthira, what the eternal duties of the Vaisya are. A Vaisya
should make gifts, study the Vedas, perform sacrifices, and acquire
wealth by fair means. With proper attention he should also protect and
rear all (domestic) animals as a sire protecting his sons. Anything else
that he will do will be regarded as improper for him. By protecting the
(domestic) animals, he would obtain great happiness. The Creator, having
created the (domestic) animals, bestowed their care upon the Vaisya. Upon
the Brahmana and the Kshatriya he conferred (the care of) all creatures.
I shall tell thee what the Vaisya’s profession is and how he is to earn
the means of his sustenance. If he keeps (for others) six kine, he may
take the milk of one cow as his remuneration; and if he keeps (for
others) a hundred kine, he may take a single pair as such fee. If he
trades with other’s wealth, he may take a seventh part of the profits (as
his share). A seventh also is his share in the profits arising from the
trade in horns, but he should take a sixteenth if the trade be in hoofs.
If he engages in cultivation with seeds supplied by others, he may take a
seventh part of the yield. This should be his annual remuneration. A
Vaisya should never desire that he should not tend cattle. If a Vaisya
desires to tend cattle, no one else should be employed in that task. I
should tell thee, O Bharata, what the duties of a Sudra are. The Creator
intended the Sudra to become the servant of the other three orders. For
this, the service of the three other classes is the duty of Sudra. By
such service of the other three, a Sudra may obtain great happiness. He
should wait upon the three other classes according to their order of
seniority. A Sudra should never amass wealth, lest, by his wealth, he
makes the members of the three superior classes obedient to him. By this
he would incur sin. With the king’s permission, however, a Sudra, for
performing religious acts, may earn wealth. I shall now tell thee the
profession he should follow and the means by which he may earn his
livelihood. It is said that Sudras should certainly be maintained by the
(three) other orders. Worn-out umbrellas, turbans, beds and seats, shoes,
and fans, should be given to the Sudra servants.[182] Torn clothes which
are no longer fit for wear, should be given away by the regenerate
classes unto the Sudra. These are the latter’s lawful acquisitions. Men
conversant with morality say that if the Sudra approaches any one
belonging to the three regenerate orders from desire of doing menial
service, the latter should assign him proper work. Unto the sonless Sudra
his master should offer the funeral cake. The weak and the old amongst
them should be maintained.[183] The Sudra should never abandon his
master, whatever the nature or degree of the distress into which the
latter may fall. If the master loses his wealth, he should with excessive
zeal be supported by the Sudra servant. A Sudra cannot have any wealth
that is his own. Whatever he possesses belongs lawfully to his
master.[184] Sacrifice has been laid down as a duty of the three other
orders. It has been ordained for the Sudra also, O Bharata! A Sudra,
however, is not competent to titter swaha and swadha or any other Vedic
mantra. For this reason, the Sudra, without observing the vows laid down
in the Vedas, should worship the gods in minor sacrifices called
Paka-yajnas. The gift called Purna-patra is declared to be the Dakshina
of such sacrifices.[185] It has been heard by us that in days of old a
Sudra of the name of Paijavana gave a Dakshina (in one of his sacrifices)
consisting of a hundred thousand Purnapatras, according to the ordinance
called Aindragni.[186] Sacrifice (as has been already said), is as much
laid down for the Sudra as for the three other classes. Of all
sacrifices, devotion has been laid down to be the foremost.[187] Devotion
is a high deity. It cleanses all sacrificers. Then again Brahmanas are
the foremost of gods unto their respective Sudra attendants. They worship
the gods in sacrifices, for obtaining the fruition of various wishes. The
members of the three other classes have all sprung from the
Brahmanas.[188] The Brahmanas are the gods of the very gods. Whatever
they would say would be for thy great good. Therefore, all kinds of
sacrifices naturally appertain to all the four orders. The obligation is
not one whose discharge is optional. The Brahmana, who is conversant with
Richs, Yajuses, and Samans, should always be worshipped as a god. The
Sudra, who is without Richs and Yajuses and Samans, has Prajapati for his
god.[189] Mental sacrifice. O sire, is laid down for all the orders, O
Bharata! It is not true that the gods and other (Superior) persons do not
manifest a desire to share the offerings in such sacrifices of even the
Sudra.[190] For, this reason, the sacrifice that consists in devotion is
laid down for all the classes.[191] The Brahmana is the foremost of gods.
It is not true that they that belong to that order do not perform the
sacrifices of the other orders. The fire called Vitana, though procured
from Vaisyas and inspired with mantras, is still inferior.[192] The
Brahmana is the performer or the sacrifices of the three other orders.
For this reason all the four orders are holy. All the orders bear towards
one another to relation of consanguinity, through the intermediate
classes. They have all sprung from Brahmanas. In ascertaining (the
priority or subsequence of men in respect of their creation) it will
appear that amongst all the orders the Brahmana was created first.
Originally Saman was one; Yajus was one, and Rich was one.[193] In this
connection, persons conversant with ancient histories cite a verse, O
king, sung in praise of sacrifice by the Vaikhanasa Munis on the occasion
of performing a sacrifice of theirs. Before or after sunrise a person of
subdued senses, with heart filled with devotion, poureth libations on the
(sacrificial) fire according to the ordinance. Devotion is a mighty
agent. With regard to homas again, that variety which is called skanna is
the initial one, while that which is called askanna is the last (but
foremost in point of merit). Sacrifices are multifarious. Their rites and
fruits again are multifarious. The Brahmana possessed of devotion who,
endued with scriptural learning, who is acquainted with them all, is
competent to perform sacrifices. That person who desires to perform a
sacrifice is regarded as righteous even if he happens to be a thief, a
sinner, or the worst of sinners. The Rishis applaud such a man. Without
doubt they are right. This then is the conclusion that all the orders
should always and by every means in their power perform sacrifices. There
is nothing in the three worlds equal to sacrifice. Therefore, it has been
said that every one with heart free from malice, should perform
sacrifices, aided by devotion which is sacred, to the best of his power
and according as he pleases.'”


“Bhishma said, ‘O mighty-armed one, listen now to me, O thou of prowess
incapable of being baffled, as I mention the names of the four modes of
life and the duties in respect of each. The four modes are Vanaprastha,
Bhaikshya, Garhasthya of great merit, and Brahmacharya which is adopted
by Brahmanas. Undergoing the purificatory rite in respect of bearing
matted locks, after having gone through the rite of regeneration and
performed for some time the rites in respect of the sacred fire and
studied the Vedas, one should, with cleansed soul and senses under
restraint, having first carefully performed all the duties of the mode
called Garhasthya, proceed, with or without his wife, to the woods for
adoption of the mode called Vanaprastha. Having studied the scriptures
called Aranyakas, having drawn up his vital fluid and having retired from
all worldly affairs, the virtuous recluse may then attain to an
absorption with the eternal Soul knowing no decay. These are the
indications of Munis that have drawn up their vital fluid. A learned
Brahmana, O king, should first practise and perform them. The Brahmana, O
king, that is desirous of emancipation, it is well known, is competent to
adopt the Bhaikshya mode after having gone through the mode called
Brahmacharya. Sleeping at that place (in the course of the wanderings)
where evening overtakes him, without desire of bettering his situation,
without a home, subsisting on whatever food is obtained (in charity),
given to contemplation, practising self-restraint, with the senses under
control, without desire, regarding all creatures equally, without
enjoyments, without dislike to anything, the Brahmana possessed of
learning, by adopting this mode of life, attains to absorption with the
eternal Soul that knows no decay. The person leading the Garhasthya mode
of life should, after studying the Vedas, accomplish all the religious
acts laid down for him. He should beget children and enjoy pleasures and
comforts. With careful attention he should accomplish all the duties of
this mode of life that is applauded by ascetics and that is extremely
difficult to go through (without transgressions). He should be satisfied
with his own wedded wife and should never approach her except her season.
He should observe the ordinances of the scriptures, should not be cunning
and deceitful. He should be abstemious in diet, devoted to the gods,
grateful, mild, destitute of cruelty, and forgiving. He should be of a
tranquil heart, tractable and attentive in making offerings to the gods
and the Pitris. He should always be hospitable to the Brahmanas. He
should be without pride, and his charity should not be confined to any
one sect. He should also be always devoted to the performance of the
Vedic rites. In this connection, the illustrious and great Rishis cite a
verse sung by Narayana himself, of grave import and endued with high
ascetic merit. Listen to me as I repeat it.–‘By truth, simplicity,
worship of guests, acquisition of morality and profit, and enjoyment of
one’s own wedded wives, one should enjoy diverse kinds of happiness both
here and hereafter.’ The great Rishis have said that support of sons and
wives, and study of the Vedas, form the duties of those that lead this
high mode of life. That Brahmana who, always engaged in the performance
of sacrifices, duly goes through this mode of life and properly
discharges all its duties, obtains blessed rewards in heaven. Upon his
death, the rewards desired by him became deathless. Indeed, these wait
upon him for eternity like menials ever on the alert to execute the
commands of their master.[194] Always attending to the Vedas, silently
reciting the mantras obtained from his preceptor, worshipping all the
deities, O Yudhishthira, dutifully waiting upon and serving his preceptor
with his own body smeared with clay and filth, the person leading the
Brahmacharya mode of life should always observe rigid vows and, with
senses under control, should always pay attention to the instructions he
has received. Reflecting on the Vedas and discharging all the duties (in
respect of contemplation and overt acts), he should live, dutifully
waiting upon his preceptor and always bowing unto him. Unengaged in the
six kinds of work (such as officiating in the sacrifices of others), and
never engaged with attachment to any kind of acts, never showing favour
or disfavour to any one, doing good even unto his enemies, these, O sire,
are the duties laid down for a Brahmacharin!’


“Yudhishthira said, ‘Tell his those duties in respect of persons like
ourselves which are auspicious, productive of happiness in the future,
benevolent, approved by all, pleasant, and agreeable.’

“Bhishma said, ‘The four modes of life, O puissant one, have been laid
down for the Brahmana. The other three orders do not adopt them, O best
of the Bharatas! Many acts, O king, leading to heaven and especially fit
for the kingly order, have already been declared. Those, however, cannot
be referred to in reply to thy present query, for all of them have been
duly laid down for such Kshatriyas as are not disinclined to
pitilessness. The Brahmana who is addicted to the practices of Kshatriyas
and Vaisyas and Sudras, incurs censure in this world as a person of
wicked soul and goes to hell in the next world. Those names which are
applied among men to slaves and dogs and wolves and (other) beasts, are
applied, O son of Pandu, to the Brahmana who is engaged in pursuits that
are improper for him. That Brahmana who, in all the four modes of life.
is duly engaged in the six-fold acts (of regulating the breath,
contemplation, etc.), who performs all his duties, who is not restless,
who has his passions under control, whose heart is pure and who is ever
engaged in penances, who has no desire of bettering his prospects, and
who is charitable, has inexhaustible regions of bliss in the other world.
Everyone derives his own nature from the nature of his acts, in respect
of their circumstances, place, and means and motives. Thou shouldst,
therefore, O king, regard the study of the Vedas, which is fraught with
such high merit, to be equal with the exertion of kingly power, or the
pursuits of agriculture, trade, and hunting. The world is set agoing by
Time. Its operations are settled by the course of Time. Man does all his
acts, good, bad, and indifferent, entirely influenced by Time.[195] Those
amongst the good acts of a man’s past life that exert the greatest
influence on the next, are liable to be exhausted. Men, however, are
always engaged in those acts to which their propensities lead. Those
propensities, again, lead a living being to every direction.'”[196]


“Bhishma said, ‘Drawing the bow-string, destruction of foes, agriculture,
trade, tending cattle, and serving others for wealth, these are improper
for a Brahmana. An intelligent Brahmana, leading a domestic mode of life,
should duly perform the six Vedic acts. The retirement of a Brahmana into
the woods, after having duly discharged all the duties of the domestic
mode of life, is applauded. A Brahmana should avoid service of the king,
wealth obtained by agriculture, sustenance derived from trade, all kinds
of crooked behaviour, companionship with any but his wedded wives, and
usury. That wretched Brahmana who falls away from his duties and whose
behaviour becomes wicked, becomes, O king, a Sudra. The Brahmana who weds
a Sudra woman, who becomes vile in conduct or a dancer or a village
servant or does other improper acts, becomes a Sudra. Whether he recites
the Vedas or not, O king, if he does such improper acts, he becomes equal
to a Sudra and on occasions of feeding he should be assigned a place
amongst Sudras. Such Brahmanas become equal to Sudras, O king, and should
be discarded on occasions of worshipping the Gods.[197] Whatever presents
of food dedicated to the gods and the Pitris are made unto Brahmanas that
have transgressed all restraints or become impure in behaviour or
addicted to wicked pursuits and cruel acts or fallen away from their
legitimate duties, confer no merit (on the giver). For this reason, O
king, self-restraint and purity and simplicity have been laid down as the
duties of a Brahmana. Besides these, O monarch, all the four modes, of
life were laid down by Brahman For him. He that is self-restrained, has
drunk the Soma in sacrifices, is of good behaviour, has compassion for
all creatures and patience to bear everything, has no desire of bettering
his position by acquisition of wealth, is frank and simple, mild, free
from cruelty, and forgiving, is truly a Brahmana and not he that is
sinful in acts. Men desirous of acquiring virtue, seek the assistance, O
king, of Sudras and Vaisyas and Kshatriyas. If, therefore, the members of
these (three) orders do not adopt peaceful duties (so as to be able to
assist others in the acquisition of virtue), Vishnu, O son of Pandu,
never extends his grace to them. If Vishnu be not pleased, the happiness
of all men in heaven, the merit arising from the duties laid down for the
four orders, the declarations of the Vedas, all kinds of sacrifices, and
all other religious acts of men, and all the duties in respect of the
several modes of life, become lost.

“‘Listen now, O son of Pandu, to those duties that should be observed in
the four modes of life. These should be known by the Kshatriya who
desires the members of the three (other) orders (in his kingdom) to
strictly adhere to the respective duties of those modes. For a Sudra who
is desirous of hearing (Such scriptures as are not forbidden in his
case),[198] who has accomplished his duties, who has begotten a son,
between whom and the superior orders there is not Much difference in
consequence of the purity of his conduct, all the modes of life have been
laid down excepting the observance of universal peacefulness and
self-restraint (which are not necessary for him). For a Sudra practising
all these duties as also for a Vaisya, O king, and a Kshatriya, the
Bhikshu mode of life has been laid down. Having discharged the duties of
his order, and having also served the kin, a Vaisya of venerable years,
with the king’s permission, may betake himself to another mode of life.
Having studied the Vedas duly and the treatises on the duties of kings, O
sinless one, having begotten children and performed other acts of a like
nature, having quaffed the Soma and ruled over and protected all his
subjects righteously, O foremost of speakers, having performed the
Rajasuya, the horse sacrifice, and other great sacrifices, having invited
learned Brahmanas for reciting the scriptures and made presents unto them
according to their desires, having obtained victories small or great in
battle, having placed on his throne the son of his loins or some
Kshatriya of good birth for the protection of subjects, having worshipped
the Pitris by performing with due rites the sacrifices laid down for
honouring them, having attentively worshipped the gods by performing
sacrifices and the Rishis by studying the Vedas, the Kshatriya, who in
old age desires another mode of life, may, O king, adopt it by leaving
that one which immediately precedes it, and by that means he is sure to
obtain (ascetic) success. A Kshatriya, for leading the life of a Rishi, O
king, may adopt the Bhikshu mode of life; but he should never do so for
the sake of enjoying the pleasures of the world. Having left the domestic
mode of life, he may adopt the life of mendicancy by begging, what would
barely support his life. A life of mendicancy is not obligatory upon the
three orders (viz. Kshatriyas, Vaisyas. and Sudras), O giver of profuse
presents! Inasmuch, however, as they can adopt it if they choose, this
mode of life, therefore, is open to the four orders. Amongst men, the
highest duties are those which are practised by Kshatriyas. The whole
world is subject to the might of their arms. All the duties, principal
and subordinate, of the three other orders, are dependent (for their
observance) upon the duties of the Kshatriya. The Vedas have declared
this. Know that as the footprints of all other animals are engulfed in
those of the elephant, even so all the duties of the other orders, under
every circumstance, are engulfed, in those of the Kshatriya. Men
conversant with the scriptures say that the duties of the other three
orders afford small relief or protection, and produce small rewards. The
learned have said that the duties of the Kshatriya afford great relief
and produce great rewards. All duties have kingly duties for their
foremost. All the orders are protected by them. Every kind of
renunciation occurs in kingly duties, O monarch, and renunciation has
been said to be in eternal virtue and the foremost of all.[199] If the
science of chastisement disappears, the Vedas will disappear. All those
scriptures also that inculcate the duties of men become lost. Indeed, if
these ancient duties belonging to the Kshatriyas be abandoned, all the
duties in respect of all the modes of life, become lost. All kinds of
renunciation are seen in kingly duties: all kinds or initiation occur in
them; all kinds of learning are connected with them; and all kinds of
worldly behaviour enter into them. As animals, if slaughtered by the
vulgar, become the means of destroying the virtue and the religious acts
of the slaughterers, even so all other duties, if deprived of the
protection given by kingly duties, become liable to attack and
destruction, and men, full of anxiety, disregard the practices laid down
for them.'”


“Bhishma said, ‘The duties in respect of all the four modes of life,
those of yatis, O son of Pandu, and the customs relating to the conduct
of men in general, are all included in kingly duties. All these acts, O
chief of the Bharatas, occur in Kshatriya duties. If the functions of
royalty are disturbed, all creatures are overtaken by evil. The duties of
men are not obvious. They have, again, many outlets.[200] Led by many
(false) systems, their eternal nature is sometimes offended against.
Others who pin their faith to the conclusions arrived at by men, without
really knowing anything about the truths of duties (as declared in the
scriptures), find themselves at last landed and confounded on faiths
whose ultimate ends are unknown. The duties imposed upon Kshatriyas are
plain, productive of great happiness, evident in respect of their
results, free from deceit, and beneficial to the whole world. As the
duties of the three orders, as also of Brahmanas and of those that have
retired from the world, O Yudhishthira, have before this been said to be
all included within those of that sacred mode of life (called
Garhasthya), even so, the whole world, with all good actions, are subject
to kingly duties. I have told thee, O monarch, how many brave kings had,
in days of old, repaired to that lord of all creatures, viz., the divine
and puissant Vishnu of great prowess, for resolving their doubts about
the science of chastisement. Those kings, mindful of the declarations of
the scriptures enforced by examples, waited in days of old upon Narayana,
after having weighed each of their acts against the duties of each of the
modes of life.[201] Those deities, viz., the Sadhyas, the Vasus, the
Aswins, the Rudras, the Viswas, the Maruts, and the Siddhas, created in
days of old by the first of gods, are all observant of Kshatriya duties.
I shall now recite to thee a history fraught with the conclusions of both
morality and profit. In days of old when the Danavas had multiplied and
swept away all barriers and distinctions[202] the powerful Mandhatri, O
monarch, became king. That ruler of the earth, viz., king Mandhatri,
performed a great sacrifice from desire of beholding the puissant
Narayana, that god of gods, without beginning, middle, and end. In that
sacrifice he worshipped with humility the great Vishnu.[203] The Supreme
Lord, assuming the form of Indra, showed himself unto him. Accompanied by
many good kings he offered his adorations to that puissant deity. The
high discourse took place between that lion among kings and that
illustrious god in the form of Indra, touching Vishnu of great

“Indra said, ‘What is your object, O foremost of virtuous persons, in
thus seeking to behold that Ancient and First of gods, viz., Narayana, of
inconceivable energy, and infinite illusions? Neither myself, nor Brahman
himself, can obtain a sight of that god of universal form. I shall grant
thee what other objects may be in thy heart, for thou art the foremost of
mortals. Thy soul abides in peace; thou art devoted to righteousness;
thou hast thy senses under control; and thou art possessed of heroism.
Thou seekest unflinchingly to do what is agreeable to the gods. For the
sake also of thy intelligence, devotion, and high faith, I shall grant
thee whatsoever boons may be desired by thee.’

“Mandhatri said, I bend my head for gratifying thee. Without doubt,
however, I desire to see the first of gods. O divine Lord! Casting off
all (earthly) desires, I wish to earn religious merit, and to lead the
foremost mode of life, that path of the good, highly regarded by all. By
exercising the high duties of a Kshatriya, I have earned many regions of
inexhaustible merit in the other world, and I have also, through those
duties, spread my fame. I do not, however, know how to discharge those
duties, the foremost in the world, that have flowed from the first of

“Indra said, ‘They that are not kings, however observant they may be of
their duties, cannot easily attain the highest rewards of duty. Kingly
duties first flowed from the original god. Other duties flowed afterwards
from his body. Infinite were the other duties, with those of the
Vanaprastha mode of life, that were created afterwards. The fruits of all
those are exhaustible. Kingly duties, however, are distinguished above
them. In them are included all other duties. For this reason Kshatriya
duties are said to be the foremost of all. In days of old, Vishnu, by
acting according to Kshatriya duties, forcibly suppressed and destroyed
his foes and thereby afforded relief to the gods and the Rishis of
immeasurable energy. If the divine Vishnu of inconceivable energy had not
slain all his foes among the Asuras, then the Brahmanas, and (Brahman)
the Creator of the worlds and Kshatriya duties, and the duties that first
flowed from the Supreme deity, would all have been destroyed. If that
first and foremost of gods had not, by putting forth his prowess,
subjugated the earth with all her Asuras, then all the duties, of the
four orders and all the duties in respect of the four modes of life would
all have been destroyed in consequence of the destruction of Brahmanas.
The eternal duties (of men) had all suffered destruction. It was by the
exercise of Kshatriya duties that they were revived.[204] In every Yuga,
the duties of Brahmanas in respect of attaining to Brahma first set in.
These, however, are all protected by kingly duties. The latter, on this
account, are regarded as the foremost. Casting away life in battle,
compassion for all creatures, knowledge of the affairs of the world,
protection of men, rescuing them from danger, relieving the distressed
and the oppressed, all these occur among Kshatriya duties practised by
Kings. Persons that do not regard wholesome restraints and that are
governed by lust and wrath, do not commit overt acts of sin from fear of
kings. Others that are docile and of righteous behaviour succeed, in
consequence of the same influence, in performing all their duties. For
this reason Kshatriya duties are regarded to be righteous. Without doubt,
all creatures live happily in the world, protected by kings exercising
Kshatriya duties like children protected by their parents. Kshatriya
duties are the foremost of all duties. Those eternal duties, regarded as
the first in the world, embrace the protection of every creature.
Themselves eternal, they lead to eternal emancipation.'”


“Indra said, ‘Kshatriya duties, O king, which are possessed of such
energy, which include in their exercise all other duties, and which are
the foremost of all duties, should be observed by persons that are, like
thee, so high-souled and so employed in seeking the good of the world. If
those duties are not properly discharged, all creatures would be
overtaken by ruin. The kings possessed of compassion for all creatures,
should regard these to be the foremost of his duties, reclaiming the land
for cultivation and fertilizing it, performance of great sacrifices for
cleansing himself, a disregard for begging, and protection of subjects.
Abandonment (gift) is said by the sages to be the foremost of virtues. Of
all kinds of abandonment, again, that of the body in battle, is the
foremost. Thou hast seen with thy eyes how the rulers of the earth, ever
observant of Kshatriya duties, having duly waited upon their preceptors
and acquired great learning, at last cast off their bodies, engaged in
battle with one another. The Kshatriya, desirous of acquiring religious
merit, should, after having gone through the Brahmacharya mode, should
lead a life of domesticity which is always meritorious. In adjudicating
upon ordinary questions of right (between his subjects), he should be
thoroughly impartial. For causing all the orders to be observant of their
respective duties, for the protection they afford to all, for the diverse
contrivances and means and the prowess and exertion (with which they seek
the accomplishment of their objects). Kshatriya duties, which include all
other duties within their scope, are said to be the foremost. The other
orders are able to observe their respective duties in consequence of
kingly duties. For this reason the former are said to be dependent upon
the latter in respect of the merit they produce.[205] Those men who
disregard all wholesome restraints and who are too much attached to the
pursuit of worldly objects are said to be of the nature of brutes. They
are compelled to act with justice by the exercise of kingly duties. Those
duties, therefore, are said to be the foremost of all. That course of
conduct which has been prescribed for Brahmanas who follow the three
Vedas, and those modes of life that have been laid down for Brahmanas,
should, before everything else, be observed by every Brahmana. If a
Brahmana acts otherwise, he should be punished like a Sudra. The duties
of the four modes of life and the ritual prescribed in the Vedas, O king,
should ever be followed by a Brahmana. Know that he has no other duties.
For a Brahmana acting otherwise, a Kshatriya should not make any
arrangement for sustenance. His religious merit grows in consequence of
his acts. A Brahmana, indeed, is like Dharma’s self. That Brahmana who is
employed in acts that are not laid down for him, deserves no respect. If
not engaged in his proper acts, he should not be trusted. These are the
duties that appertain to the several orders. Kshatriyas should take care
of them so that their observance may be improved. Even these are the
duties of Kshatriyas. For these reasons also, kingly duties and no other,
are the foremost of all. They are, as I believe, the duties of heroes,
and they that are heroes are foremost in practising them.’

“Mandhatri said, ‘What duties should be performed by the Yavanas, the
Kiratas, the Gandharvas, the Chinas, the Savaras, the Barbaras, the
Sakas, the Tusharas, the Kankas, the Pathavas, the Andhras, the Madrakas,
the Paundras, the Pulindas, the Ramathas, the Kamvojas, the several
castes that have sprung Lip from Brahmanas and Kshatriyas, the Vaisyas,
and the Sudras, that reside in the dominions of (Arya) kings? What are
those duties again to the observance of which kings like ourselves should
force those tribes that subsist by robbery? I desire to hear all this. O
illustrious god, instruct me. O chief of all the deities, thou art the
friend of us Kshatriyas.’

“Indra said, ‘All the robber tribes should serve their mothers and
fathers, their preceptors and other seniors, and recluses living in the
woods. All the robber tribes should also serve their kings. The duties
and rites inculcated in the Vedas should also be followed by them. They
should perform sacrifices in honour of the Pitris, dig wells, (and
dedicate them to universal service), give water to thirsty travellers,
give away beds and make other seasonable presents unto Brahmanas.
Abstention from injury, truth, suppression of wrath, supporting Brahmanas
and kinsmen by giving them their dues, maintenance of wives and children,
purity, peacefulness, making presents to Brahmanas at sacrifices of every
kind, are duties that should be practised by every person of this class
who desire his own prosperity. Such a person should also perform all
kinds of Paka-yajnas with costly presents of food and wealth. These and
similar duties, O sinless one, were laid down in olden days for persons
of this class. All these acts which have been laid down for all others
should be done by persons of also the robber class, O king.’

“Mandhatri said, ‘In the world of men, such wicked men may be seen living
in disguise among all the four orders and in all the four modes of life.’

“Indra said, ‘Upon the disappearance of kingly duties and of the science
of chastisement, all creatures became exceedingly afflicted, O sinless
one, in consequence of the tyranny of kings. After the expiry of this the
Krita age, a confusion will set in, regarding the different modes of
life, and innumerable Bhikshus will appear with sectarian marks of
different kinds. Disregarding the Puranas and the high truths of
religion, men, urged by lust and wrath, will deviate into Wrong paths.
When sinful men are rest rained (from wicked acts) by high-souled persons
with the aid of the science of chastisement, then religion, which is
superior to everything and eternal, and which is the source of everything
good, becomes firmly established. The gifts, and libations, and offerings
to the Pitris of the man that disregards the king who is superior to
every one, become fruitless. The very gods do not disregard a virtuous
king who is truly an eternal god. The divine Lord of all creatures,
having created the universe, intended the Kshatriya to rule men regarding
their inclinations and disinclinations in respect of duties. I respect
and worship that person who, aided by his understanding, watches the
course of the duties performed by men. Upon such supervision rest
Kshatriya duties.’

“Bhishma continued, ‘Having said these words, the divine and puissant
Narayana in the form of Indra, accompanied by the Maruts, repaired to his
eternal abode of inexhaustible felicity. When, O sinless one, duties as
practised by the good had such a course in days of old, what man of
cleansed soul and learning is there that would disregard the Kshatriya?
Like blind men lost on the way, creatures acting and abstaining
unrighteously meet with destruction. O tiger among men, do thou adhere to
that circle (of duties) that was first set agoing and to which the
ancients had recourse. I know, O sinless one, that thou art quite
competent to do this.’


“Yudhishthira said, ‘Thou hast spoken to me about the four modes of human
life. I desire to know more of-them. Do thou discourse on them in detail.’

“Bhishma said, ‘O Yudhishthira of mighty arms, all the duties that are
practised in this world by the righteous are known to thee as they are
known to me. O foremost of virtuous persons, listen now to me about what
thou askest, viz. the merit (that a king acquires) in consequence of the
duties practised by others leading other modes of life.[206] All the
merits, O son of Kunti, that belong to persons practising the duties of
the four modes of life, attach, O foremost of men, to righteous kings. A
king who is not governed by lust and hate, who rules with the aid of the
science of chastisement, and who looks equally on all creatures, O
Yudhishthira, attains to the object of the Bhaikshya mode of life.[207]
That king who is possessed of knowledge, who makes gifts to deserving
persons on proper occasions, who knows how to favour and punish, who
conducts himself in all things according to the injunctions of the
scriptures, and who has tranquillity of soul, attains to the object of
the Garhasthya mode of life. That king who always worships those that are
deserving of worship by giving them their due, completely attains, O son
of Kunti, to the object of the Bhaikshya mode of life. That king, O
Yudhishthira, who rescues from distress, to the best of his power, his
kinsmen and relatives and friends, attains to the object of the
Vanaprashtha mode of life. That king who on every occasion honours those
that are foremost among men and those that are foremost among Yatis,
attains, O son of Kunti, to the object of the Vanaprashtha mode of life.
That king, O Partha, who daily makes offerings unto the Pitris and large
offerings unto all living creatures including men, attains to the object
of the same mode of life. That king, O tiger among men, who grinds the
kingdoms of others for protecting the righteous, attains to the object of
the same mode of life. In consequence of the protection of all creatures
as also of the proper protection of his own kingdom, a king earns the
merit of as many sacrifices as the number of creatures protected, and
accordingly attains to the object of the Sannyasa mode of life. Study of
the Vedas every day, forgiveness, and worship of preceptors, and services
rendered to one’s own teacher, lead to the attainment of the object of
Brahmacharya. That king who silently recites his mantras every day and
who always worships the gods according to the ordinance, attains, O tiger
among men, to the object of the Garhasthya mode of life. That king who
engages in battle with the resolve of protecting his kingdom or meeting
with death, attains to the object of the Vanaprastha mode of life. That
king who gives unto persons leading a Vanaprastha mode of life and unto
Brahmanas versed in the three Vedas attains to the object of the
Vanaprastha mode of life. That king who displays compassion towards all
creatures and abstains entirely from cruelty, attains to the objects of
all the modes of life. That king, O Yudhishthira, who shows compassion to
the young and the old, O son of Kunti, under every circumstance, attains
to the objects of every mode of life. That king, O perpetuator of Kuru’s
race, who affords relief to all oppressed people that seek his
protection, attains to the object of the Garhasthya mode of life. That
king who protects all creatures mobile and immobile, and honours them is
they deserve, attains to the object of the Garhasthya mode of life.
Bestowing favours and inflicting punishments upon the wives and brothers,
elder and younger, and upon their sons and grandsons, are the domestic
duties of a king and these constitute his best penances. By honouring
those that are righteous and deserving of worship and protecting those
that have (by their penances) acquired it knowledge of self, a king, O
tiger among men, attains to the object of the Garhasthya mode of life.
Inviting to this home, O Bharata, persons that have betaken themselves to
that Vanaprastha and other modes of life, and treating them with food,
constitute the domestic duties of a king. That king who duly adheres to
the duties laid down by the Creator, obtains the blessed merits of all
the modes of life. That king, O son of Kunti, in whom no virtue is
wanting, that foremost of men, O Yudhishthira, is said by the learned to
be a person in the observance of the Vanaprastha and all the other modes
of life. That king who duly honours the office or rank which deserves
honour, the race or family which deserves honour, and those old men that
deserve honour is said, O Yudhishthira, to live in all the modes of
life.[208] A king, O son of Kunti, by observing the duties of his country
and those of his family, acquires, O tiger among men, the merits of all
the modes of life. That king who at proper seasons bestows upon righteous
persons affluence or gifts of value, earns the merits, O king, of all the
modes of life. That king, O son of Kunti, who while overcome with danger
and fear still keeps his eye on the duties of all men,[209] earns the
merits of all the modes of life. The king obtains a share of the merits
earned under his protection by righteous people in his dominions. On the
other hand, if kings, O tiger among men, do not protect the righteous
people within their dominions, they then take the sins of the latter (of
omission and commission). Those men also, O Yudhishthira. who assist
kings (in protecting their subjects), become equally entitled, O sinless
one, to a share of the merits earned by others (in consequence of that
protection). The learned say that the Garhasthya, which we have adopted,
is superior to all the other modes of life. The conclusions in respect of
it are very clear. It is certainly sacred, O tiger among men. That man
who regards all creatures to be like his own self, who never does any
harm and has his wrath under control, obtains great happiness both here
and hereafter.[210] A king can easily cross the ocean of the world, with
kingly duties as his boat passed of great speed, urged on by the breeze
of gifts, having the scriptures for its tackle and intelligence for the
strength of its helmsman, and kept afloat by the power of righteousness.
When the principle of desire in his heart is withdrawn from every earthly
object, he is then regarded as one resting on his understanding alone. In
this state he soon attains to Brahma.[211] Becoming cheerful by
meditation and by restraining desire and other passions of the heart, O
tiger among men, it king, engaged in discharging the dully of protection,
succeeds in obtaining great merit. Do thou, therefore, O Yudhishthira,
exert thyself carefully in protecting Brahmanas of pious deeds and
devoted to the study of the Vedas, as also all other men. By exercising
the duty of protection only, O Bharata, the king earns merit that is a
hundred times greater than what is earned by recluses in their asylums
within the wood.’

“I have now described, O eldest son of Pandu, the diverse duties of men.
Do thou adhere to kingly duties that are eternal and that have been
practised by great men since days of old. If thou employest thyself with
concentrated attention to the duty of protecting (thy subjects), O tiger
among men, thou mayst then, O son of Pandu, obtain the merits of all the
four modes of life and of all the four orders of men!”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘Thou hast said what the duties are of the four modes
of the life and the four orders. Tell me now, O grandsire, what are the
principal duties of a kingdom.’

“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.[212] In kingdoms torn by anarchy,
righteousness cannot dwell. The inhabitants devour one another. An
anarchy is the worst possible of states. The Srutis declare that in
crowning a king, it is Indra 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 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. Some conduct would be consistent with wise counsels. There is no
evil greater than anarchy. If the powerful invader be 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 derive great pleasure by robbing the wealth of other
people. When, however, his (ill-got) 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 fishes in the
water. In hath been heard by us that men, in days of old, in consequence
of anarchy, met with destruction, devouring one another like stronger
fishes 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 some time they proceeded in affliction to the Grandsire,
saying, ‘Without a king, O divine lord, we are going to destruction.
Appoint some one 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 then 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
protecting the 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 in the presence of the preceptors or the gods in the
presence of Indra, 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 be 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 (the better) 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.’


“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 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 every
part of the country would be overrun by robbers, 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 agricultures 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 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 Brahmanicide
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 case 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.[213] If the king exercises the duty of
protection, women decked with ornament 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 that 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.[214] 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. 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.[215] 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.[216] 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 kin.. They that appropriate wealth
belonging to the king sink senseless into a 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.”


“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 confidence in the four
orders of his subjects, his own servants, wives, and sons, O Bharata?’

“Bhishma said, ‘Listen, O monarch, with attention to the diverse duties
of kings,–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 amusement, 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 be 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.[217] A king should not for ever 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.[218] 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 acquisition 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 be
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 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 foe on the
field of battle.[219] 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.[220] 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 defence like
that of the greater gates.[221] 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. 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 will overtake the person who
lights fires by the day time. During such times, all beggars, eunuchs,
lunatics, and mimes, should, O foremost of men, be driven out of the
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.[222] 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 that 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.[223] 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 for ever. Touching this matter, Angirasa’s son:
Vrihaspati himself has sung two verses. Blessed be thou, O son of Devaki,
it behoveth thee to hear them. ‘Having discharged all his duties and
having protected the earth, and having also protected his cities, a king
attains to great happiness in heaven. 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!’

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.[224] 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. Whether it is the king that makes the
age, or, it is the age that makes the king, is a question about which
thou shouldst 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.[225] 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
Yudhishthira, 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) 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 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
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 orders, fall away from their respective duties. Sudras live by
adopting 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. All kinds of moisture also fail, when the king does not, with
proper attention to the great science, protect the subjects. The king is
the creator of the Krita age, of the Treta, and of the Dwapara. The king
is the cause of the fourth age (called Kali). If he causes the Krita age,
he attains to everlasting heaven. If he causes the Treta age, he acquires
heaven for a period that is limited. If he causes the Dwapara, he attains
to blessedness in heaven according to the measure of his merits. By
causing the Kali age, the king incurs a heavy load of sin. Stained by
wickedness, he rots in hell for innumerable years, for sinking in the
sins of his subjects, he incurs great sin and infamy himself. Keeping the
great science in his view, the Kshatriya possessed of learning should
strive to acquire those objects which he desires and protect those that
have been already acquired. 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 agoing, if properly administered, protects all men
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. By
protecting the subjects and adopting such a conduct, thou wilt surely
attain to such blessedness in heaven as is difficult of acquisition.”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘By adopting that conduct, O thou that art conversant
with every kind of behaviour, can a king succeed in easily acquiring,
both here and hereafter, objects productive of happiness in the end?’

“Bhishma said, ‘There are these thirty-six virtues (which a king should
observe). They are connected with thirty-six others. A virtuous person,
by attending to those qualities, can certainly acquire great merit. The
king should observe his duties without wrath and malice. He should not
abandon kindness. He should have faith. He should acquire wealth without
persecution and cruelty. He should pursue pleasure without attachments.
He should, with cheerfulness, utter what is the agreeable, and be brave
without brag. He should be liberal but should not make gifts to persons
that are unobserving. He should have prowess without cruelty. He should
make alliance, avoiding those that are wicked. He should not act with
hostility towards friends. He should never employ persons not devoted to
him as his spies and secret agents. He should never accomplish his
objects by persecution. He should never, disclose his purposes before
persons that are wicked. He should speak of the merits of others but
never his own. He should take wealth from his subjects but never from
those that are good. He should never employ or take the assistance of
persons that are wicked. He should never inflict punishment without
careful enquiry. He should never disclose his counsels. He should give
away, but not to persons that are covetous. He should repose confidence
on others but never on those that have injured him. He should not cherish
malice. He should protect his wedded wives. He should be pure and should
not always be melted by compassion. He should not indulge much in female
companionship. He should take food that is wholesome and never that which
is otherwise. He should without pride pay regards to those that deserve
them, and serve his preceptors and seniors with sincerity. He should
worship the gods without pride. He should seek prosperity, but never do
anything that brings infamy. He should wait (upon his seniors) with
humility. He should be clever in business but should always wait for the
proper time. He should comfort men and never send them away with empty
speeches. Having favoured a person, he should not abandon him. He should
never strike in ignorance. Having slain his foe he should never indulge
in sorrow. He should display temper, but should never do so when there is
no occasion. He should be mild, but never to those that have offended.
Conduct thyself thus while ruling thy kingdom if thou wishest to have
prosperity. The king that behaves otherwise incurs great danger. That
king who observes all these virtues that I have mentioned, reaps many
blessings on earth and great rewards in heaven.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these words of Santanu’s son, king
Yudhishthira, docile in receiving instructions, possessed of great
intelligence, and protected by Bhima and others, then worshipped his
grandsire and from that time began to rule according to that teaching.'”


Yudhishthira said, ‘Tell me, O grand sire, in what way should the king
protect his subjects so as to be able to avoid grief and so as not to
offend against righteousness?’

“Bhishma said, ‘I shall recite, O king, those eternal duties in brief,
for if I were to mention them in detail, I would never attain to their
end. Thou shouldst worship those Brahmanas that are devoted to their
duties, possessed of learning, regular in worshipping the gods, observant
of high vows, and endued with other accomplishments, when they come to
thy abode, and employ them in officiating in thy sacrifices. With thy
priest accompanying thee, thou shouldst rise up when they approach, and
touch and worship their feet, and do every other act that is necessary.
Doing these acts of piety and discharging other acts that are for thy own
good, thou shouldst (by presents) cause those Brahmanas to utter
benedictions on thee for the success of thy purposes. Endued with
sincerity, and wisdom and intelligence, O Bharata, thou shouldst adopt
truth and avoid lust and wrath. That foolish king who pursues Profit
without driving away lust and wrath, fails to acquire virtue and
ultimately sacrifices Profit as well. Never employ those that are
covetous and foolish in matters connected with Pleasure and Profit. Thou
shouldst always employ in all thy acts those that are free from
covetousness and possessed of intelligence. Stained with lust and wrath
and unskilled in the transaction of business foolish persons, if vested
with authority in matters of Profit, always oppress the people by diverse
contrivances productive of mischief. With a sixth part upon fair
calculation, of the yield of the soil as his tribute, with fines and
forfeitures levied upon offenders, with the imposts, according to the
scriptures, upon merchants and traders in return for the protection
granted to them, a king should fill his treasury.[226] Realising this
just tribute and governing the kingdom properly the king should, with
heedfulness, act in such a way that his subjects may not feel the
pressure of want. Men become deeply devoted to that king who discharges
the duty of protection properly, who is endued with liberality, who is
steady in the observance of righteousness, who is vigilant, and who is
free from Just and hate. Never desire to fill thy treasury by acting
unrighteously or from covetousness. That king who does not act in
accordance with the scriptures fails to earn wealth and religious merit.
That king who is mindful only of the means of acquiring wealth, never
succeeds in acquiring both religious merit and wealth. The wealth again
that he acquires (by such means) is seen to be lavished on unworthy
objects.[227] That avaricious king who through folly oppresses his
subjects by levying taxes not sanctioned by the scriptures, is said to
wrong his own self. As a person desirous of milk never obtains any by
cutting off the udders of a cow, similarly a kingdom afflicted by
improper means, never yields any profit to the king.[228] He who treats a
milch cow with tenderness always obtains milk from it. Similarly, the
king who rules his kingdom by the aid of proper means, reaps much fruit
from it. By protecting a kingdom properly and ruling it by the aid of
judicious means, a king, O Yudhishthira, may succeed in always obtaining
much wealth. The earth, well protected by the king, yields crops and gold
(to the ruler and the ruled) even like a gratified mother yielding milk
to her child. Imitate the example, O king, of the flowerman and not of
the charcoal-maker. Becoming such and discharging, the duty of
protection, thou mayst be able to enjoy the earth for ever.[229] If in
attacking an enemy’s kingdom thy treasury becomes exhausted, thou mayst
refill it by taking wealth from all except Brahmanas. Let not thy heart
be moved, even when thou art in great distress, upon seeing Brahmanas
possessed of wealth. I need not speak then of what thou shouldst do when
thou art in affluence. Thou shouldst give them wealth to the best of thy
power and as they deserve and protect them, comforting them on all
occasions. By conducting thyself in this way, thou mayst acquire such
regions hereafter as are most difficult of acquisition. Adopting such
virtuous behaviour, do thou protect thy subjects. Thou mayst then obtain,
O delighter of the Kurus, fame that is everlasting, high, and pure.
Protect thy subjects righteously, O son of Pandu, for no regret or pain
will then be thine. Protection of the subject is the highest duty of the
king, since compassion to all creatures and protecting them from injury
has been said to be the highest merit. Persons conversant with duties
regard that to be the highest merit of the king, when, engaged in
protecting all creatures, the king displays compassion towards them. The
sin a king incurs by neglecting for a single day to protect his subjects
from fear is such that he does not attain to end of his sufferings (for
it) in hell till after a thousand years. The merit a king earns by
protecting his subjects righteously for a single day is such that he
enjoys its reward in heaven for ten thousand years. All those regions
that are acquired by persons leading duly the Garhasthya, the
Brahmacharya, and the Vanaprastha modes of life, are soon acquired by a
king by only protecting his subjects righteously. Do thou, O son of
Kunti, observe with great care this duty (of protection). Thou shalt then
obtain the reward of righteousness and no grief and pain will be thine.
Thou shalt, O son of Pandu, obtain great prosperity in heaven. Merit like
this is impossible to be acquired by persons that are not kings. A
person, therefore, who is a king, and no other, can succeed in earning
such reward of virtue. Possessed of intelligence, thou hast obtained a
kingdom. Do thou protect thy subjects righteously. Gratify Indra with
offerings of Soma and the friends and well-wishers with the objects of
their wishes.'”


“Bhishma said, ‘That person, O king, who would protect the good and
punish the wicked, should be appointed as his priest by the king. In this
connection is cited the old story about the discourse between Pururavas,
the son of Aila and Matariswan.’

“Pururavas said, ‘Whence has the Brahmana sprung and whence the three
other orders? For what reason also has the Brahmana become the foremost?
It behoveth thee to tell me all this.’

“Matariswan answered, ‘The Brahmana, O best of kings, has sprung from the
mouth of Brahman. The Kshatriya has sprung from his two arms, and the
Vaisya from his two thighs. For waiting upon these three orders, O ruler
of men, a fourth order, viz., the Sudra, sprung into life, being created
from the feet (of Brahman). Originally created thus, the Brahmana takes
birth on earth as the lord of all creatures, his duty being the keep of
the Vedas and the other scriptures.[230] Then, for ruling the earth and
wielding the rod of chastisement and protecting all creatures, the second
order, viz., the Kshatriya was created. The Vaisya was created for
supporting the two other orders and himself by cultivation and trade, and
finally, it was ordained by Brahman that the Sudra should serve the three
orders as a menial.’

“Pururavas said, ‘Tell me truly, O god of Winds, to whom, this earth
righteously belong. Does it belong to the Brahmana or to the Kshatriya?’

“The god of Winds said, ‘Everything that exists in the universe belongs
to the Brahmana in consequence of his birth and precedence. Persons
conversant with morality say this. What the Brahmana eats is his own. The
place he inhabits is his own. What he gives away is his own. He deserves
the veneration of all the (other) orders. He is the first-born and the
foremost. As a woman, in the absence of her husband, accepts his younger
brother for him, even so the earth, in consequence of the refusal of the
Brahmana, has accepted his next-born, viz., the Kshatriya, for her lord.
This is the first rule. In times, however, of distress, there is an
exception of this. If thou seekest to discharge the duties of the order
and wishest to obtain the highest place in heaven, then give unto the
Brahmana all the land thou mayst succeed in conquering, unto him that is
possessed of learning and virtuous conduct, that is conversant with
duties and observant of penances, that is satisfied with the duties of
his order and not covetous of wealth. The well-born Brahmana, possessed
of wisdom and humility, guides the king in every matter by his own great
intelligence. By means of sound counsels he causes the king to earn
prosperity. The Brahmana points out to the king the duties the latter is
to observe. As long as a wise king, observant of the duties of his order,
and bereft of pride, is desirous of listening to the instructions of the
Brahmana, so long is he honoured and so long does he enjoy fame. The
priest of the king, therefore, has a share in the merit that the king
acquires. When the king behaves himself thus, all his subjects, relying
upon him, become virtuous in their behaviour, attentive to their duties,
and freed from every fear. The king obtains a fourth part of those
righteous acts which his subjects, properly protected by him, perform in
his kingdom. The gods, men, Pitris, Gandharvas, Uragas, and Rakshasas,
all depend upon sacrifices for their support. In a country destitute of a
king, there can be no sacrifice. The gods and the Pitris subsist on the
offerings made in sacrifices. Sacrifice, however, depends upon the king.
In the season of summer, men desire comfort from the shade of trees, cool
water, and cool breezes. In the season of winter they derive comfort from
fire, warm clothes, and the sun. The heart of man may find pleasure in
sound, touch, taste, vision, and scent. The man, however, who is inspired
with fear, finds no pleasure in all these things. That person who dispels
the fears of men obtains great merit. There is no gift so valuable in the
three worlds as the gift of life. The king is Indra. The king is Yama.
The king is Dharma. The king assumes different forms. The king sustains
and supports everything.'”


“Bhishma said, ‘The king, with an eye to both religious merit and profit
whose considerations are often very intricate, should, without delay,
appoint a priest possessed of learning and intimate acquaintance with the
Vedas and the (other) scriptures. Those kings that have priests possessed
of virtuous souls and conversant with policy, and that are themselves
possessed of such attributes, enjoy prosperity in every direction. Both
the priest and the king should have such qualities as are worthy of
regard and should be observant of vows and penances. They would then
succeed in supporting and aggrandising the subjects and the deities, the
Pitris and the children.[231] It is laid down that they should be
possessed of similar hearts and should be each other’s friends. In
consequence of such friendship between Brahmana and Kshatriya, the
subjects become happy. If they do not regard each other, destruction
would overtake the people. The Brahmana and the Kshatriya are said to be
the progenitors of all men. In this connection is cited the old story
about the discourse between Aila’s son and Kasyapa. Listen to it, O

“Aila said, ‘When the Brahmana forsakes the Kshatriya or the Kshatriya
forsakes the Brahmana, who amongst them should be regarded superior and
upon whom do the other orders rely and maintain themselves?’

“Kasyapa said, ‘Ruin overtakes the kingdom of the Kshatriya when the
Brahmana and Kshatriya contend with each other. Robbers infest that
kingdom in which confusion prevails, and all good men regard the ruler to
be a Mlechcha. Their oxen do not thrive, nor their children. Their pots
(of milk) are not churned, and no sacrifices are performed there. The
children do not study the Vedas in kingdoms where Brahmanas abandon
Kshatriyas. In their houses wealth does not increase. Their children do
not become good and do not study the scriptures and perform sacrifices.
Those Kshatriyas that abandon Brahmanas become impure in blood and assume
the nature of robbers. The Brahmana and the Kshatriya are connected with
each other naturally, and each protects the other. The Kshatriya is the
cause of the Brahmana’s growth and the Brahmana is the cause of the
Kshatriya’s growth. When each helps the other, both attain to great
prosperity. If their friendship, existing from days of old, breaks, a
confusion sets over everything. No person desirous of crossing the ocean
of life succeeds in his task even as a small boat floating on the bosom
of the sea. The four orders of men become confounded and destruction
overtakes all. If the Brahmana. who is like a tree is protected, gold and
honey are showered. If, on the other hand, he is not protected, it then
tears and sins are showered, When Brahmanas fall away from the Vedas and
(in the absence of a Kshatriya ruler) seek protection from the
scriptures, then Indra does not pour rain seasonably and diverse kinds of
calamities ceaselessly afflict the kingdom. When a sinful wretch having
slain a woman or a Brahmana does not incur obloquy in assemblies of
fellowmen and has not to stand in fear of the king, then danger threatens
the Kshatriya ruler. In consequence of the sins perpetrated by sinful
men, the god Rudra appears in the kingdom. Indeed, the sinful by their
sins bring upon them that god of vengeance. He then destroys all, the
honest and the wicked alike (without making any distinction).’

“Aila said, ‘Whence does Rudra spring? What also is his form? Creatures
are seen to be destroyed by creatures. Tell me all this, O Kasyapa!
Whence does the god Rudra spring?’

“Kasyapa said, ‘Rudra exists in the hearts of men. He destroys the bodies
themselves in which he dwells as also the bodies of others. Rudra has
been said to be like atmospheric visitations and his form is like that of
the wind-gods.’

“Aila said, ‘The Wind does not, by blowing, visibly destroy men on all
occasions, nor does the deity of the clouds do so by pouring rain. On the
other hand, it is seen among men that they lose their senses and are
slain through lust and malice.’

“Kasyapa said, ‘Fire, blazing forth in one house, burneth a whole quarter
or an entire village. Similarly, this deity stupefies the senses of some
one and then that stupefaction touches all, the honest and the wicked
alike, without any distinction.’

“Aila said, ‘If chastisement touches all viz., the honest and the wicked
alike, in consequence of the sins perpetrated by the sinful, why should
men, in that case, do acts that are good? Indeed, why should they not
perform wicked acts?’

“Kasyapa said, ‘By avoiding all connection with the sinful, one becomes
pure and stainless. In consequence, however, of their being mixed with
the sinful, the sinless are overtaken by chastisement. Wood that is wet,
if mixed with wood that is dry, is consumed by fire in consequence of
such co-existence. The sinless, therefore, should never mingle with the

“Aila said, ‘The earth holds the honest and the wicked. The sun warms the
honest and the wicked. The wind blows equally for them. Water cleanses
them equally.’

“Kasyapa said, ‘Such, indeed, is the course of this world, O prince! It
is not so, however, hereafter. In the other world, there is great
difference of condition between the person that acts righteously and him
that acts sinfully. The regions that meritorious men acquire are full of
honey and possessed of the splendour of gold or of a fire upon which
clarified butter has been poured. Those regions also are likened to the
navel of ambrosia. The meritorious person enjoys great felicity there.
Death, decrepitude, and sorrow, are not there. The region for the sinful
is hell. Darkness and ceaseless pain are there, and it is full of sorrow.
Sinking in infamy, the man of sinful deeds wrung with remorse there for
many years. In consequence of a disunion between Brahmanas and
Kshatriyas, unbearable griefs afflict the people. Knowing this, a king
should appoint a (Brahmana) priest possessed of experience and wide
knowledge. A king should first install the priest in his office, and then
cause his own coronation. This has been laid down in the ordinance. The
ordinances declare that the Brahmana is the foremost of all creatures.
Men acquainted with the Vedas say that the Brahmana was created first. In
consequence of the precedence of his birth, all things that are good in
this world are vested in him. The rightful owner of all the best things
that have flowed from the Creator, the Brahmana is also, for such
precedence, worthy of the respect and the worship of all creatures. A
king, however powerful, should, according to the dictates of the
scriptures, bestow upon the Brahmana whatever is best and distinguished
above others. The Brahmana contributes to the aggrandisement of the
Kshatriya, and the Kshatriya to the aggrandisement of the Brahmana.
Brahmanas should, therefore, be especially and always worshipped by


“Bhishma said, ‘It is said that the preservation and growth of the
kingdom rest upon the king. The preservation and growth of the king rest
upon the king’s priest. That kingdom enjoys true felicity where the
invisible fears of the subjects are dispelled by the Brahmana and all
visible fears are dispelled by the king with the might of his arms. In
this connection is cited the old narrative of the discourse between king
Muchukunda and Vaisravana. King Muchukunda, having subjugated the whole
earth, repaired to the lord of Alaka for testing his strength. King
Vaisravana created (by ascetic power) a large force of Rakshasas. These
ground the forces led by Muchukunda. Beholding the slaughter of his army,
king Muchukunda, O chastiser of foes, began to rebuke his own learned
priest (Vasishtha). Thereupon that foremost of righteous persons viz.,
Vasishtha, underwent very severe penances and, causing those Rakshasas to
be slain, ascertained the true course upon which Muchukunda was bent.
When king Vaisravana’s troops were being slaughtered, he showed himself
unto Muchukunda and said these words.’

“The Lord of treasures said, ‘Many kings of old, more powerful than thou
art, aided by their priests, had never approached me thus? All of them
were skilled in weapons and all of them were possessed of might.
Regarding me as the grantor of weal and woe, they approached me for
offering worship. In truth, if thou hast might of arms, it behoves thee
to display it. Why dost thou act so proudly, aided by Brahmana might?’
Enraged at these words, Muchukunda, without pride and fear, said unto the
lord of treasures these words fraught with reason and justice, ‘The
self-born Brahman created the Brahmana and the Kshatriya. They have a
common origin. If they apply their forces separately, they would never be
able to uphold the world. The power of penances and mantras was bestowed
upon Brahmanas; the might of arms and of weapons was bestowed upon
Kshatriyas. Aggrandised by both kinds of might, kings should protect
their subjects. I am acting in that way. Why dost thou, O lord of Alaka,
rebuke me then?’ Thus addressed, Vaisravana said unto Muchukunda and his
priest, ‘I never, without being ordered by the (self-created) bestow
sovereignty upon any one. Nor do I ever, without being ordered, take it
away from any one. Know this, O king! Do thou rule then the whole earth
without bounds.’ Thus addressed, king Muchukunda replied, saying, ‘I do
not, O king, desire to enjoy sovereignty obtained as gift from thee! I
desire to enjoy sovereignty obtained by the might of my own arms.’

“Bhishma continued, ‘At these words of Muchukunda, Vaisravana, seeing the
king fearless in the observance of Kshatriya duties, became filled with
surprise. King Muchukunda, devoted to Kshatriya duties, continued to rule
the entire earth obtained by the might of his own arms. That virtuous
king who rules his kingdom, aided by and yielding precedence to the
Brahmana, succeeds in subjugating the whole earth and achieving great
fame. The Brahmana should every day perform his religious rites and the
Kshatriya should always be armed with weapons. Between them they are the
rightful owners of everything in the universe.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘Tell me, O grandsire, that conduct by which a king
succeeds in aggrandising his subjects and earning regions of felicity in
the other world.’

“Bhishma said, ‘The king should be liberal and should perform sacrifices,
O Bharata! He should be observant of vows and penances, and should be
devoted to the duty of protecting his subjects. Righteously protecting
all his subjects, he should honour all righteous persons by standing up
when they come and by making gifts unto them. If the king regards it,
righteousness becomes regarded everywhere. Whatever acts and things are
liked by the king are liked by his subjects. Unto his foes the king
should always be like Death, with the rod of chastisement uplifted in his
hands. He should exterminate robbers everywhere in his kingdom and never
pardon any one from caprice. The king, O Bharata, earns a fourth part of
the merit that his subjects earn under his protection. By only protecting
his subjects the king acquires a fourth part of the merit that his
subjects acquire by study, by gifts, by pouring libations, and by
worshipping the gods. The king acquires a fourth part also of the sin
that his subjects commit in consequence of any distress in the kingdom
arising from the king’s neglect in discharging the duty of protection.
Some say that the king earns a moiety, and some say the full measure, of
whatever sin is caused by his becoming cruel and untruthful in speech.
Listen now to the means by which the king may be cleansed of such sins.
If the king fails to restore to a subject the wealth that has been stolen
away by thieves, he should then compensate the injured from his own
treasury, or, in case of inability, with wealth obtained from his
dependents. All the orders should protect the wealth of a Brahmana even
as they should the Brahmana’s boy or life. The person that offends
against Brahmanas should be exiled from the kingdom. Everything is
protected by protecting the Brahmana’s wealth. Through the grace of the
Brahmana, which may thus be secured, the king becomes crowned with
success. Men seek the protection of a competent king like creatures
seeking relief from the clouds or birds seeking refuge in a large tree. A
cruel and covetous king, with lustful soul and ever seeking the
gratification of his desire never succeeds in protecting his subjects.’

“Yudhishthira, said, ‘I do not, for a moment, desire the happiness that
sovereignty bestows or sovereignty itself for its own sake. I desire it,
however, for the sake of the merit one may acquire from it. It seems to
me that no merit is attached to it. No need for sovereignty then by which
no merit can be acquired. I shall, therefore, retire into the woods from
desire of earning merit. Laying aside the rod of chastisement, and
subduing my senses, I shall go to the woods which are sacred and seek to
acquire the merit of righteousness by becoming an ascetic subsisting upon
fruit and roots.’

“Bhishma said, ‘I know, O Yudhishthira, what the nature of thy heart is,
and how inoffensive is thy disposition. Thou wilt not, however, by
inoffensiveness alone, succeed in ruling thy kingdom. Thy heart is
inclined to mildness, thou art compassionate, and thou art exceedingly
righteous. Thou art without energy, and thou art virtuous and full of
mercy. People, therefore, do not regard thee much. Follow the conduct of
thy sire and grandsire. Kings should never adopt that conduct which thou
desirest to adopt. Never be touched by such anxiety (after doing thy
duty), and never adopt such inoffensiveness of conduct. By becoming so,
thou wouldst not succeed in earning that merit of righteousness which
arises from protecting subjects. The behaviour thou wishest to adopt,
impelled by thy own intelligence and wisdom, is not consistent with those
blessings which thy sire Pandu or thy mother Kunti used to solicit for
thee. Thy sire always solicited for thee courage, might, and truth. Kunti
always solicited for thee high-mindedness and liberality. The offerings
with Swaha and Swadha in Sraddhas and sacrifices are always asked from
children by the Pitris and the deities. Whether gifts and study and
sacrifices and the protection of subjects be meritorious or sinful, thou
hast been born to practise and perform them. The fame, O son of Kunti, is
never tarnished of men that even fail in bearing the burdens which are
placed on them and unto which they are yoked in life. Even a horse, if
properly trained, succeeds in bearing, without falling down, a burden.
(What need then be said of thee that art a human being?) One incurs no
censure if only one’s acts and words be proper, for success is said to
depend upon acts (and words). No person, be he a man virtuously following
the domestic mode of life, or be he a king, or be he a Brahmacharin, has
ever succeeded in conducting himself without tripping. It is better to do
an act which is good and in which there is small merit than to totally
abstain from all acts, for total abstention from acts is very sinful.
When a high-born and righteous person succeeds in obtaining affluence,
the king then succeeds in obtaining prosperity in all his affairs. A
virtuous king, having obtained a kingdom, should seek to subdue some by
gifts, some by force, and some by sweet words. There is no one more
virtuous than he upon whom high-born and learned persons rely from fear
of losing their means of sustenance and depending upon whom they live in

“Yudhishthira said, ‘What acts, O sire, are conductive to heaven? What is
the nature of the great felicity that is derived from them? What also is
the high prosperity that may be obtained thence? Tell me all this, if
thou knowest.,

“Bhishma said, ‘That man from whom a person afflicted with fear obtains
relief even for a moment, is the most worthy of heaven amongst us. This
that I tell thee is very true. Be thou cheerfully the king of the Kurus,
O foremost one of Kuru’s race, acquire heaven, protect the good and slay
the wicked. Let thy friends, together with all honest men, derive their
support from thee, like all creatures from the deity of the clouds and
like birds from a large tree with delicious fruits. Men seek the
protection of that person who is dignified, courageous, capable of
smiting, compassionate, with senses under control, affectionate towards
all, and equitable, and just.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘O grandsire, amongst Brahmanas some are engaged in
the duties proper to their order, while others are engaged in other
duties. Tell me the difference between these two classes!’

“Bhishma said, ‘Those Brahmanas, O king, that are possessed of learning
and beneficent features, and that look upon all creatures with an equal
eye, are said to be equal to Brahma. They that are conversant with the
Riches, the Yajuses and the Samans, and who are devoted to the practices
of their order, are, O king, equal to the very gods. Those, however,
amongst them that are not well-born and not devoted to the duties of
their order, and are, besides wedded to evil practices, are like Sudras.
A virtuous king should realise tribute from and impress without pay into
the public service those Brahmanas that are not possessed of Vedic lore
and that have not their own fires to worship. They that are employed in
courts of justice for summoning people, they that perform worship for
others for a fee, they that perform the sacrifices of Vaisyas and Sudras,
they that officiate in sacrifices on behalf of a whole village, and they
that make voyages on the ocean,–these five are regarded as Chandalas
among Brahmanas.[232] They amongst them that become Ritwikas, Purohitas,
counsellors, envoys, and messengers, become, O king, equal to
Kshatriyas.[233] They amongst them that ride horses or elephants or cars
or become foot-soldiers, become, O king, equal to Vaisyas. If the king’s
treasury is not full, he may realise tribute from these. In realising
tribute, the king, however, should exclude those Brahmanas that are (for
their conduct) equal to the gods or Brahma. The Vedas say that the king
is the lord of the wealth belonging to all the orders except Brahmanas.
He can take the wealth of those Brahmanas also that have fallen away from
their legitimate duties. The king should never be indifferent towards
those Brahmanas that are not observant of their duties. For the sake of
making his people virtuous, he should punish and separate them from their
superiors. That king, O monarch, in whose territories a Brahmana becomes
a thief, is regarded by the learned to be the author of that misdeed.
Persons conversant with the Vedas declare that if a Brahmana versed in
the Vedas and observant of vows becomes, through want of sustenance, a
thief, it is the duty of the king to provide for his support. If, after
provision has been made for his support, he does not abstain from theft
he should then, O scorcher of foes be banished from the kingdom with all
his kinsmen.'”‘


“Yudhishthira said, ‘Of whose wealth, O bull of Bharata’s race, is the
king regarded to be the lord? And what conduct also should the king
adopt? Discourse to me on this, O grandsire.’

“Bhishma said, ‘The Vedas declare that the king is the lord of the wealth
that belongs to all persons except Brahmanas, as also of those Brahmanas
that are not observant of their proper duties. The king should not spare
those Brahmanas that are not observant of their duties. The righteous say
that this is the ancient custom of kings. That king, O monarch, in whose
dominion a Brahmana becomes a thief, is regarded to be the author of that
misdeed. It is the king that becomes sinful on that account. In
consequence of such a circumstance, kings regard themselves to be worthy
of reproach. All righteous kings, therefore, provide Brahmanas with the
means of support. In this connection is cited the old narrative of the
speech made by the king of the Kaikeyas unto a Rakshasa while the latter
was about to abduct him away. Of rigid vows and possessed of Vedic lore,
the king of the Kaikeyas, O monarch, while living in the woods, was
forcibly seized on a certain occasion by a Rakshasa.’

“The king said, ‘There is no thief in my territories, nor any person of
wicked behaviour, nor any one that drinks alcohol. There is no one in my
dominions who has not his sacred fire or who does not perform sacrifices.
How then hast thou been able to possess my heart? There is no Brahmana in
my dominions who is not possessed of learning or who is not observant of
vows or who has not drunk Soma. There is no one who has not his sacred
fire or who does not perform sacrifices. How then hast thou been able to
possess my soul? In my dominions no sacrifice has been performed without
completing it by Dakshina. No one in my dominions studies the Vedas who
is not observant of vows. How then hast thou been able to possess my
soul? The Brahmanas in my kingdom teach, study, sacrifice, officiate at
other’s sacrifices, give, and receive gifts. All of them are observant of
those six acts. The Brahmanas in my kingdom are all devoted to the
performance of the duties of their order. Worshipped and provided for,
they are mild, and truthful in speech. How then hast thou been able to
possess my soul? The Kshatriyas in my kingdom are all devoted to the
duties or their order. They never beg but give, and are conversant with
truth and virtue. They never teach but study, and perform sacrifices but
never officiate at the sacrifices of others. They protect the Brahmanas
and never fly from battle. How then hast thou been able to possess my
soul? The Vaisyas in my dominion are all observant of the duties of their
order. With simplicity and without deceit they derive their sustenance
from agriculture, cattle-keeping, and trade. They are all heedful,
observant of religious rites and excellent vows, and truthful in speech.
They give to guests what is their due, and self-restrained, and pure, and
attached to their relative and kinsmen. How then hast thou been able to
possess my heart? The Sudras in my kingdom, observant of the duties of
their order, humbly and duly serve and wait upon the other three orders
without entertaining any malice towards them. How then hast thou been
able to possess my heart? I support the helpless and the old, the weak,
the ill, and women (without guardians), by supplying them with all their
necessaries. How then hast thou been able to possess my heart? I am never
an exterminator of the special customs of families and of countries
existing duly from days of old. How then hast thou been able to possess
my heart? The ascetics in my kingdom are protected and worshipped. They
are always honoured and entertained with food. How then hast thou been
able to possess my heart? I never eat without feeding others from my
dishes. I never go to other people’s wives. I never sport or recreate
alone. How then hast thou been able to possess my heart? No one in my
kingdom who is not a Brahmacharin begs his food, and no one who leads the
Bhikshu mode of life desires to be a Brahmacharin. No one who is not a
Ritwij pours libations (of clarified butter) upon the sacrificial fire.
How then hast thou been able to possess my soul? I never disregard the
learned or the old or those that are engaged in penances. When the whole
population sleeps, I keep myself awake (for watching and protecting). How
then hast thou been able to possess my heart? My priest possesses
knowledge of self. He is given to penances, and is conversant with all
duties. Possessed of great intelligence, he has the fullest power over my
kingdom. By gifts I desire to acquire knowledge, and by truth and the
protection of Brahmanas, I desire to attain regions of blessedness in
heaven. By service I attach myself to my preceptors, I have no fear of
Rakshasas. In my kingdom there are no widows, no wicked Brahmanas, no
Brahmana that has fallen away from his duties, no deceitful person, no
thief, no Brahmana that officiates in the sacrifices of people for whom
he should never officiate, and no perpetrator of sinful deeds. I have no
fear of Rakshasas. There is no space in my body, of even two fingers’
breadth, that does not bear the scar of a weapon-wound. I always fight
for the sake of righteousness. How hast thou been able to possess my
heart? The people of my kingdom always invoke blessings upon me in order
that I may always be able to protect kine and Brahmanas and perform
sacrifices. How then hast thou been able to possess me?’

“The Rakshasa said, ‘Since thou art observant of the duties under all
circumstances, therefore, O king of the Kaikeyas, go back to thy abode.
Blessed be thou, I leave thee. They, O king of the Kaikeyas, who protect
kine and Brahmanas and all their subjects, have nothing to fear from
Rakshasas, and much less from sinful persons. Those kings that give the
lead to Brahmanas and whose might depends upon that of the Brahmanas, and
whose subjects discharge the duties of hospitality, always succeeds in
acquiring heaven.’

“Bhishma continued, ‘Thou shouldst, therefore, protect the Brahmanas.
Protected by thee, they will protect thee in return. Their blessings, O
king, would surely descend upon kings of righteous behaviour. For the
sake of righteousness, those Brahmanas that are not observant of the
duties of their order should be chastised and separated (into a distinct
class) from their superiors. A king who conducts himself in this way
towards the people of his city and the provinces, obtains prosperity here
and residence in heaven with Indra.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘It has been said that in seasons of distress a
Brahmana may support himself by the practice of Kshatriya duties. Can he,
however, at any time, support himself by the practice of the duties laid
down for the Vaisyas?’

“Bhishma said, ‘When a Brahmana loses his means of support and falls into
distress, he may certainly betake himself to the practices of a Vaisya
and derive his support by agriculture and keeping cattle, if, of course,
he is incompetent for Kshatriya duties.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘If a Brahmana, O bull of Bharata’s race, betakes
himself to the duties of a Vaisya, what articles may he sell without
losing his prospect of heaven?’

“Bhishma said, ‘Wines, salt, sesamum seeds, animals having manes, bulls,
honey, meat, and cooked food, O Yudhishthira, under all circumstances, a
Brahmana should avoid. A Brahmana, by selling these, would sink into
hell. A Brahmana, by selling a goat, incurs the sin of selling the god of
fire; by selling a sheep, the sin of selling the god of water; by selling
a horse, the sin of selling the god of the sun; by selling cooked food,
the sin of selling land; and by selling a cow, the sin of selling
sacrifice and the Soma juice. These, therefore, should not be sold (by a
Brahmana). They that are good do not applaud the purchase of uncooked
food by giving cooked food in exchange. Uncooked food, however, may be
given for procuring cooked food, O Bharata![234] ‘We will eat this cooked
food of thine. Thou mayst cook these raw things (that we give in
exchange).’–In a compact of this kind there is no sin. Listen, O
Yudhishthira, I shall speak to thee of the eternal practice, existing
from days of old, of persons conducting themselves according to approved
usages. ‘I give thee this. Give me this other thing in return.’ Exchange
by such agreement is righteous. To take things by force, however, is
sinful. Even such is the course of the usage followed by the Rishis and
others. Without doubt, this is righteous.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘When, O sire, all the orders, giving up their
respective duties, take up arms against the king, then, of course, the
power of the king decreases.–By what means should the king then become
the protector and refuge of the people? Resolve this doubt of mine, O
king, by speaking to me in detail.’

“Bhishma said, ‘By gifts, by penances, by sacrifices, by peacefulness,
and by self-restraint, all the orders headed by the Brahmanas should, on
such occasions, seek their own good. Those amongst them that are endued
with Vedic strength, should rise up on every side and like the gods
strengthening Indra contribute (by Vedic rites) to enhancing the strength
of the king. Brahmanas are said to be the refuge of the king while his
power suffers decay. A wise king seeks the enhancement of his power by
means of the power of the Brahmanas. When the king, crowned with victory,
seeks the re-establishment of peace, all the orders then betake
themselves to their respective duties. When robbers, breaking through all
restraints, spread devastation around, all the orders may take up arms.
By so doing they incur no sin, O Yudhishthira!’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘If all the Kshatriyas become hostile towards the
Brahmanas, who then will protect the Brahmanas and their Vedas? What then
should be the duty of the Brahmanas and who will be their refuge?’

“Bhishma said, ‘By penances, by Brahmacharya, by weapons, and by
(physical) might, applied with or without the aid of deceit, the
Kshatriyas should be subjugated. If the Kshatriya misconducts himself,
especially towards Brahmanas, the Vedas themselves will subjugate them.
The Kshatriyas have sprung from the Brahmanas. Fire has sprung from
water; the Kshatriya from the Brahmana; and iron from stone. The energy
of fire, the Kshatriya, and iron, are irresistible. But when these come
into contact with the sources of their origin, their force becomes
neutralised. When iron strikes stone, or fire battles with water, or the
Kshatriya becomes hostile to the Brahmana, then the strength of each of
those three becomes destroyed. Thus, O Yudhishthira, the energy and
might, howsoever great and irresistible, of Kshatriyas become quelled as
soon as they are directed against the Brahmanas. When the energy of the
Brahmanas becomes mild, when Kshatriya energy becomes weak, when all men
misbehave themselves towards the Brahmanas, they that engage in battle
then, casting off all fear of death, for protecting the Brahmanas,
morality, and their own selves,–those persons, moved by righteous
indignation and possessed of great strength of mind, succeed in winning
high regions of bliss hereafter. All persons should take up arms for the
sake of Brahmanas. Those brave persons that fight for Brahmanas attain to
those felicitous region in heaven that are reserved for persons that have
always studied the Vedas with attention, that have performed the
austerest of penances, and that have, after fasting, cast off their
bodies into blazing fires. The Brahmana, by taking up arms for the three
orders, does not incur sin. People say that there is no higher duty than
casting off life under such circumstances. I bow to them and blessed be
they that thus lay down their lives in seeking to chastise the enemies of
Brahmanas. Let us attain to that region which is intended for them. Manu
himself has said that those heroes repair to the region of Brahman. As
persons become cleansed of all their sins by undergoing the final bath on
a horse-sacrifice even so they that die at the edge of weapons while
fighting wicked people, become cleansed of their sins. Righteousness
becomes unrighteousness, and unrighteousness becomes righteousness,
according to place and time. Such is the power of place and time (in
determining the character of human acts). The friends of humanity, by
doing even acts of cruelty, have attained to high heaven. Righteous
Kshatriyas, by doing even sinful acts, have attained to blessed
ends.[235] The Brahmana, by taking up arms on these three occasions, does
not incur sin, viz., for protecting himself, for compelling the other
orders to betake themselves to their duties, and for chastising robbers.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘If when robbers raise their heads and an
inter-mixture of the orders begins to take place in consequence of
confusion, and Kshatriyas become incompetent, some powerful person other
than a Kshatriya seeks to subdue those robbers for the sake of protecting
the people,[236] indeed, O best of kings, if that powerful person happens
to be a Brahmana or a Vaisya or a Sudra, and if he succeeds in protecting
the people by righteously wielding the rod of chastisement is he
justified in doing what he does or is he restrained by the ordinances
from accomplishing that duty? It seems that others, when the Kshatriyas
prove so wretched, should take up weapons.’

“Bhishma said, ‘Be he a Sudra or be he the member of any other orders, he
that becomes a raft on a raftless current, or a means of crossing where
means there are none, certainly deserves respect in every way. That
person, O king, relying upon whom helpless men, oppressed and made
miserable by robbers, live happily, deserve to be lovingly worshipped by
all as if he were a near kinsman. The person, O thou of Kuru’s race, that
dispels the fears of others, always deserves respect. What use is there
of bulls that would not bear burthens, or of kine that would not yield
milk, or of a wife that is barren? Similarly, what need is there for a
king that is not competent to grant protection? As an elephant made of
wood, or a deer made of leather, as a person without wealth, or one that
is a eunuch, or a field that is sterile, even so is a Brahmana that is
void of Vedic lore and a king incapable of granting protection? Both of
them are like a cloud that does not pour rain. That person who always
protects the good and restrains the wicked deserves to become a king and
to govern the world.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘What, O grandsire, should be the acts and what the
behaviour of persons employed as priests in our sacrifices? What sort of
persons should they be, O king? Tell me all this, O foremost of speakers.’

“Bhishma said, ‘It is laid down from those Brahmanas that are eligible as
priests that they should be conversant with the Chhandas including the
Samans, and all the rites inculcated in the Srutis, and that they should
be able to perform all such religious acts as lead to the prosperity of
the king. They should be devotedly loyal and utter agreeable speeches in
addressing kings. They should also be friendly towards one another, and
cast equal eyes on all. They should be devoid of cruelty, and truthful in
speech. They should never be usurers, and should always be simple and
sincere. One that is peaceful in temper, destitute of vanity, modest,
charitable, self-restrained, and contented, possessed of intelligence,
truthful, observant of vows, and harmless to all creatures, without lust
and malice, and endued with the three excellent qualities, devoid of envy
and possessed of knowledge, deserves the seat of Brahman himself. Persons
with such qualities, O sire, are the best of priests and deserve every

“Yudhishthira said, ‘There are Vedic texts about the gift of Dakshina in
sacrifices. There is no ordinance, however, which lays down that so much
should be given. This ordinance (about the gift of Dakshina) has not
proceeded from motives connected with the distribution of wealth. The
command of the ordinance, in consequence of the provision in cases of
incapacity, is terrible. That command is blind to the competence of the
sacrificer.[237] The audition occurs in the Vedas that a person should,
with devotion, perform a sacrifice. But what can devotion do when the
sacrificer is stained by falsehood?[238]

“Bhishma said, ‘No man acquires blessedness or merit by disregarding the
Vedas or by deceit or falsehood. Never think that it is otherwise.
Dakshina constitutes one of the limbs of sacrifice and conduces to the
nourishment of the Vedas. A sacrifice without Dakshina can never lead to
salvation. The efficacy, however, of a single Purnapatra is equal to that
of any Dakshina, however rich. Therefore, O sire, everyone belonging to
the three orders should perform sacrifices.[239] The Vedas have settled
that Soma is as the king himself to the Brahmanas. Yet they desire to
sell it for the sake of performing sacrifices, though they never wish to
sell it for gaining a livelihood. Rishis of righteous behaviour have
declared, agreeably to the dictates of morality, that a sacrifice
performed with the proceeds of the sale of Soma serves to extend
sacrifices.[240] These three, viz., a person, a sacrifice and Soma, must
be of good character. A person that is of bad character is neither for
this nor for the other world. This audition has been heard by us that the
sacrifice which high-souled Brahmanas perform by wealth earned by
excessive physical labour, is not productive of great merit. There is a
declaration in the Vedas that penances are higher than sacrifices. I
shall now speak to thee of penances. O learned prince, listen to me.
Abstention from injury, truthfulness of speech, benevolence,
compassion,–these are regarded as penances by the wise and not the
emaciation of the body. Disregard of the Vedas, disobedience to the
dictates of the scriptures, and violation of all wholesome restraints,
are productive of self-destruction. Listen, O son of Pritha, to what has
been laid down by those that pour ten libations upon the fire at ten
times of the day.–For them that perform the sacrifice of penance, the
Yoga they endeavour to effect with Brahma is their ladle; the heart is
their clarified butter; and high knowledge constitutes their
Pavitra.[241] All kinds of crookedness mean death, and all kinds of
sincerity are called Brahma. This constitutes the subject of knowledge.
The rhapsodies of system-builders cannot affect this.–‘”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘The most trifling act, O grandsire, cannot be
accomplished by any man if unaided. What then need be said of the king
(who has to govern a kingdom)? What should be the behaviour and what the
acts of the king’s minister? Upon whom should the king repose confidence
and upon whom should he not?’

“Bhishma said, ‘Kings, O monarch, have four kinds of friends. They are he
that has the same object, he that is devoted, he that is related by
birth, and he that has been won over (by gifts and kindness). A person of
righteous soul, who would serve one and not both sides, is the fifth in
the enumeration of the king’s friends. Such a person adopts that side on
which righteousness is, and accordingly acts righteously. With respect to
such a person, the king should never disclose such purposes of his as
would not enlist his sympathy. Kings desirous of success are obliged to
adopt both kinds of paths, righteous and unrighteous. Of the four kinds
of friends, the second and the third are superior, while the first and
the fourth should ever be regarded with suspicion. In view, however, of
those acts which the king should do in person, he should always regard
with suspicion all the four. The king should never act heedlessly in the
matter of watching his friends. A king that is heedless is always
overpowered by others. A wicked man assumes the garb of honesty, and he
that is honest becomes otherwise. A foe may become a friend and a friend
may become a foe. A man cannot always be of the same mind. Who is there
that would trust him completely? All the chief acts, therefore, of a king
he should accomplish in his own presence. A complete reliance (on his
ministers) is destructive of both morality and profit. A want of trust
again in respect of all is worse than death. Trustfulness is premature
death. One incurs danger by truthfulness. If one trusts another
completely, he is said to live by the sufferance of the trusted person.
For this reason every one should be trusted as also mistrusted. This
eternal rule of policy, O sire, should be kept in view. One should always
mistrust that person who would, upon one’s desire, obtain one’s wealth.
The wise declare such a person to be one’s enemy. A person whose joy
knows no bounds upon beholding the aggrandisement of the king and who
feels miserable upon seeing the king’s decay, furnishes the indications
of one of the best friends of the king. He whose fall would be brought
about by thy fall, should be trusted by thee completely even as thou
shouldst trust thy sire. Thou shouldst, to the best of thy power,
aggrandise him as thou winnest aggrandisement for thyself. One who, in
even thy religious rites, seeks to rescue thee from harm, would seek to
rescue thee from harm’s way in every other business. Such a one should be
regarded as thy best friend. They, on the other hand, that wish one harm
are one’s foes. That friend is said to be like thy own self who is
inspired with fear when calamity overtakes thee and with joy when
prosperity shines on thee. A person possessed of beauty, fair complexion,
excellent voice, liberality, benevolence, and good birth, cannot be such
a friend. That person who is possessed of intelligence and memory, who is
clever in the transaction of business, who is naturally averse from
cruelty, who never indulges in wrath, and who, whether regarded or
disregarded is never dissatisfied, be he thy priest or preceptor or
honoured friend should always receive thy worship if he accepts the
office of thy counsellor and resides in thy abode. Such a person may be
informed of thy most secret counsels and the true state of all thy
affairs religious or pertaining to matters of profit. Thou mayst confide
in him as in thy own sire. One person should be appointed to one task,
and not two or three. Those may not tolerate each other. It is always
seen that several persons, if set to one task, disagree with one another.
That person who achieves celebrity, who observes all restraints, who
never feels jealous of others that are able and competent, who never does
any evil act, who never abandons righteousness from lust or fear or
covetousness or wrath, who is clever in the transaction of business, and
who is possessed of wise and weighty speech, should be thy foremost of
ministers. Persons possessed of good birth and good behaviour, who are
liberal and who never indulge in brag, who are brave and respectable, and
learned and full of resources, should be appointed as ministers for
supervising all thy affairs. Honoured by thee and gratified with wealth,
they would act for thy good and be of great help to thee. Appointed to
offices connected with profit and other important matters they always
bring about great prosperity. Moved by a feeling of healthy rivalry, they
discharge all duties connected with profit, holding consultations with
one another when necessary. Thou shouldst fear thy kinsmen as thou
shouldst death itself. A kinsman can never bear a kinsman’s prosperity
even as a feudatory chief cannot bear to see the prosperity of his
overlord. None but a kinsman can feel joy at the destruction of a kinsman
adorned with sincerity, mildness, liberality, modesty, and truthfulness
of speech. They, again, that have no kinsmen, cannot be happy. No men can
be more contemptible than they that are destitute of kinsmen. A person
that has no kinsmen is easily overridden by foes. Kinsmen constitute the
refuge of one that is afflicted by other men, for kinsmen can never bear
to see a kinsman afflicted by other people. When a kinsman is persecuted
by even his friends, every kinsman of the persecuted regards the injury
to be inflicted upon himself. In kinsmen, therefore, there are both
merits and faults. A person destitute of kinsmen never shows favours to
any one nor humbles himself to any one. In kinsmen, therefore both merit
and demerit may be marked. One should, for this reason, always honour and
worship his kinsmen in words and acts, and do them agreeable offices
without injuring them at any time. Mistrusting them at heart, one should
behave towards them as if he trusted them completely. Reflecting upon
their nature, it seems that they have neither faults nor merits. A person
who heedfully conducts himself in this way finds his very foes disarmed
of hostility and converted into friends. One who always conducts himself
in this way amid kinsmen and relatives and bears himself thus towards
friends and foes, succeeds in winning everlasting fame.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘If one does not succeed in winning over one’s
kinsmen and relatives (by this course), they that are intended for
becoming friends become foes. How should one, then, conduct one’s self so
that the hearts of both friends and foes may be won?’

“Bhishma said, ‘In this connection is cited the old history of a
discourse between Vasudeva and the celestial sage Narada. On a certain
occasion Vasudeva said, ‘Neither an illiterate and foolish friend, nor a
learned friend of fickle soul, deserves, O Narada, to know one’s secret
counsels. Relying on thy friendship for me, I shall say something to
thee, O sage! O thou that canst go to heaven at thy pleasure, one should
speak to another if one be convinced of the intelligence of that other. I
never behave with slavish obsequiousness towards my kinsmen by flattering
speeches about their prosperity. I give them half of what I have, and
forgive their evil speeches. As a fire-stick is grinded by a person
desirous of obtaining fire, even so my heart is ground by my kinsmen with
their cruel speeches. Indeed, O celestial Rishi, those cruel speeches
burn my heart every day. Might resides in Sankarshana; mildness in Gada;
and as regards Pradyumna, he surpasses even myself in beauty of person.
(Although I have all these on my side) yet I am helpless, O Narada! Many
others among the Andhakas and the Vrishnis are possessed of great
prosperity and might, and during courage and constant perseverance. He on
whose side they do not range themselves meets with destruction. He, on
the other hand, on whose side they do range themselves, achieves
everything. Dissuaded (in turns) by both (viz., Ahuka and Akrura,) I do
not side either of them. What can be more painful for a person than to
have both Ahuka and Akrura on his side? What, again, can be more painful
for one than not to have both of them on his side?[242] I am like the
mother of two brothers gambling against each other, invoking victory to
both. I am thus, O Narada, afflicted by both. It behoveth thee to tell me
that which is for the good of both myself and my kinsmen.’

“Narada said, ‘Calamities, O Krishna, are of two kinds, viz., external
and internal. They arise, O thou of Vrishni’s race, from one’s own acts
or from the acts of others. The calamity that has now overtaken thee is
an internal one and is born of thy own acts. Valadeva and others of the
Bhoja race are partisans of Akrura, and have taken up his side either for
the sake of wealth, or mere caprice, or moved by words or by hate. As
regards thyself, thou hast given away wealth obtained by thee to another.
Though possessed of men who should be your friends, thou hast, however,
by thy own act, brought calamity over thy head. Thou canst not take back
that wealth, even as one cannot swallow again the food that he has
vomited himself. The kingdom cannot be taken back from Babhu and Ugrasena
(unto whom it has been given). Thyself, O Krishna, cannot, in particular,
take it back (from them) from fear of producing intestine dissensions.
Supposing the endeavour succeeds, it will do so after much trouble and
after the accomplishment of the most difficult feats. A great slaughter
and a great loss of wealth will ensue, perhaps, even total destruction.
Use then a weapon that is not made of steel, that is very mild and yet
capable of piercing all hearts. Sharpening and resharpening that weapon
correct the tongues of thy kinsmen.’

“Vasudeva said, ‘What is that weapon, O sage, which is not made of steel,
which is mild, which still pierces all hearts, and which I must use for
correcting the tongues of my kinsmen?’

“Narada said, ‘The giving of food to the best of thy power, forgiveness,
sincerity, mildness, and honour to whom honour is due, these constitute a
weapon that is not made of steel. With soft words alone turn away the
anger of kinsmen about the utter cruel speeches, and mollify their hearts
and minds and slanderous tongues. None who is not a great man with
cleansed soul and possessed of accomplishments and friends can bear a
heavy burthen. Take up this great weight (of governing the Vrishnis) and
bear it on thy shoulders. All oxen can bear heavy burthens on a level
road. The stronger ones only among them can bear such burthens on a
difficult road. From disunion destruction will spring and overtake all
the Bhojas and the Vrishnis. Thou, O Kesava, art the foremost one among
them. Do thou act in such a manner that the Bhojas and the Vrishnis may
not meet with destruction. Nothing but intelligence and forgiveness,
restraint of the senses, and liberality are present in a person of
wisdom. Advancing one’s own race is always praiseworthy and glorious and
conducive to long life. Do thou, O Krishna, act in such a way that
destruction may not overtake thy kinsmen. There is nothing unknown to
thee in respect of policy and the art of war, O Lord! The Yadavas, the
Kukuras, the Bhojas, the Andhakas, and the Vrishnis, are all dependent on
thee even as all the worlds and all the regents of those worlds, O
mighty-armed one! The Rishis, O Madhava, always pray for thy advancement.
Thou art the lord of all creatures. Thou knowest the past, the present,
and the future. Thou art the foremost one among all the Yadavas. Relying
on thee, they expect to live in happiness.'”


“Bhishma said, ‘This that I have told thee constitutes the first means.
Listen now, O Bharata to the second means. That man who seeks to advance
the interests of the king should always be protected by the king. If a
person, O Yudhishthira, that is paid or unpaid, comes to thee for telling
thee of the damage done to thy treasury when its resources are being
embezzled by a minister, thou shouldst grant him an audience in private
and protect him also from the (impeached) minister. The ministers guilty
of peculation seek, O Bharata, to slay such informants. They who plunder
the royal treasury combine together for opposing the person who seeks to
protect it, and if the latter be left unprotected, he is sure to be
ruined. In this connection also an old story is cited of what the sage
Kalakavrikshiya had said unto the king of Kosala. It hath been heard by
us that once on a time the sage Kalakavrikshiya came to Kshemadarsin who
had ascended the throne of the kingdom of Kosala. Desirous of examining
the conduct of all the officers of Kshemadarsin, the sage, with a crow
kept within a cage in his hand, repeatedly travelled through every part
of that king’s dominions. And he spoke unto all the men and said, ‘Study,
ye the corvine science. The crows tell me the present, the past, and the
future.’ Proclaiming this in the kingdom, the sage, accompanied by a
large number of men, began to observe the misdeeds of all the officers of
the king. Having ascertained all the affairs in respect of that kingdom,
and having learnt that all the officers appointed by the king were guilty
of malversation, the sage, with his crow, came to see the king. Of rigid
vows, he said unto the king, ‘I know everything (about thy kingdom).’
Arrived at the presence of the king, he said unto his minister adorned
with the insignia of his office that he had been informed by his crow
that the minister had done such a misdeed in such a place, and that such
and such persons know that he had plundered the royal treasury. ‘My crow
tells me this. Admit or prove the falsehood of the accusation quickly.’
The sage then proclaimed the names of other officers who had similarly
been guilty of embezzlement, adding, ‘My crow never says anything that is
false.’ Thus accused and injured by the sage, all the officers of the
king, O thou of Kuru’s race, (united together and) pierced his crow,
while the sage slept, at night. Beholding his crow pierced with a shaft
within the cage, the regenerate Rishi, repairing to Kshemadarsin in the
morning said unto him, ‘O king, I seek thy protection. Thou art
all-powerful and thou art the master of the lives and wealth of all. If I
receive thy command I can then say what is for thy good. Grieved on
account of thee whom I regard as a friend have come to thee, impelled by
my devotion and ready to serve thee with my whole heart. Thou art being
robbed of thy wealth, I have come to thee for disclosing it without
showing any consideration for the robbers. Like a driver that urges a
good steed, I have come hither for awakening thee whom I regard as a
friend. A friend who is alive to his own interests and desirous of his
own prosperity and aggrandisement, should forgive a friend that intrudes
himself forcibly, impelled by devotion and wrath, for doing what is
beneficial.’ The king replied unto him, saying, ‘Why should I not bear
anything thou wilt say, since I am not blind to what is for my good? I
grant thee permission, O regenerate one! Tell me what thou pleasest, I
shall certainly obey the instructions thou wilt give me, O Brahman,’

“The sage said, ‘Ascertaining the merits and faults of thy servants, as
also the: dangers thou incurrest at their hands, I have come to thee,
impelled by my devotion, for representing everything to thee. The
teachers (of mankind) have of old declared what the curses are, O king,
of those that serve others. The lot of those that serve the king is very
painful and wretched. He who has any connection with kings is to have
connection with snakes of virulent poison. Kings have many friends as
also many enemies. They that serve kings have to fear all of them. Every
moment, again, they have fear from the king himself, O monarch. A person
serving the king cannot (with impunity) be guilty of heedlessness in
doing the king’s work. Indeed, a servant who desires to win prosperity
should never display heedlessness in the discharge of his duties. His
heedlessness may move the king to wrath, and such wrath may bring down
destruction (on the servant). Carefully learning how to behave himself,
one should sit in the presence of the king as he should in the presence
of a blazing fire. Prepared to lay down life itself at every moment, one
should serve the king attentively, for the king is all-powerful and
master of the lives and the wealth of all, and therefore, like unto a
snake of virulent poison. He should always fear to indulge in evil
speeches before the king, or to sit cheerlessly or in irreverent
postures, or to wait in attitudes of disrespect or to walk disdainfully
or display insolent gestures and disrespectful motions of the limbs. If
the king becomes gratified, he can shower prosperity like god. If he
becomes enraged, he can consume to the very roots like a blazing fire.
This, O king, was said by Yama. Its truth is seen in the affairs of the
world. I shall now (acting according to these precepts) do that which
would enhance thy prosperity. Friends like ourselves can give unto
friends like thee the aid of their intelligence in seasons of peril. This
crow of mine, O king, has been slain for doing thy business. I cannot,
however, blame thee for this. Thou art not loved by those (that have
slain this bird). Ascertain who are thy friends and who thy foes. Do
everything thyself without surrendering thy intelligence to others. They
who are on thy establishment are all peculators. They do not desire the
good of thy subjects. I have incurred their hostility. Conspiring with
those servants that have constant access to thee they covet the kingdom
after thee by compassing thy destruction. Their plans, however, do not
succeed in consequence of unforeseen circumstances. Through fear of those
men, O king, I shall leave this kingdom for some other asylum. I have no
worldly desire, yet those persons of deceitful intentions have shot this
shaft at my crow, and have, O lord, despatched the bird to Yama’s abode.
I have seen this, O king, with eyes whose vision has been improved by
penances. With the assistance of this single crow I have crossed this
kingdom of thine that is like a river abounding with alligators and
sharks and crocodiles and whales. Indeed, with the assistance of that
bird, I have passed through thy dominions like unto a Himalayan valley,
impenetrable and inaccessible in consequence of trunks of (fallen) trees
and scattered rocks and thorny shrubs and lions and tigers and other
beasts of prey. The learned say that a region inaccessible in consequence
of gloom can be passed through with the aid of a light, and a river that
is unfordable can be crossed by means of a boat. No means, however, exist
for penetrating or passing through the labyrinth of kingly affairs. Thy
kingdom is like an inaccessible forest enveloped with gloom. Thou (that
art the lord of it) canst not trust it. How then can I? Good and evil are
regarded here in the same light. Residence here cannot, therefore, be
safe. Here a person of righteous deeds meets with death, while one of
unrighteous deeds incurs no danger. According to the requirements of
justice, a person of unrighteous deeds should be slain but never one who
is righteous in his acts. It is not proper, therefore, for one to stay in
this kingdom long. A man of sense should leave this country soon. There
is a river, O king, of the name of Sita. Boats sink in it. This thy
kingdom is like that river. An all-destructive net seems to have been
cast around it. Thou art like the fall that awaits collectors of honey,
or like attractive food containing poison. Thy nature now resembles that
of dishonest men and not that of the good. Thou art like a pit, O king,
abounding with snakes of virulent poison. Thou resemblest, O king, a
river full of sweet water but exceedingly difficult of access, With steep
banks overgrown with Kariras and thorny canes. Thou art like a swan in
the midst of dogs, vultures and jackals. Grassy parasites, deriving their
sustenance from a mighty tree, swell into luxuriant growth, and at last
covering the tree itself overshadow it completely. A forest conflagration
sets in, and catching those grassy plants first, consumes the lordly tree
with them. Thy ministers, O king, resemble those grassy parasites of
which I speak. Do thou check and correct them. They have been nourished
by thee. But conspiring against thee, they are destroying thy prosperity.
Concealing (from thee) the faults of thy servants, I am living in thy
abode in constant dread of danger, even like a person living in a room
with a snake within it or like the lover of a hero’s wife. My object is
to ascertain the behaviour of the king who is my fellow-lodger. I wish to
know whether the king has his passions under control, whether his
servants are obedient to him, whether he is loved by them, and whether he
loves his subjects. For the object of ascertaining all these points, O
best of kings, I have come to thee. Like food to a hungry person, thou
hast become dear to me. I dislike thy ministers, however, as a person
whose thirst has been slaked dislikes drink. They have found fault with
me because I seek thy good. I have no doubt that there is no other cause
for that hostility of theirs to me. I do not cherish any hostile
intentions towards them. I am engaged in only marking their faults. As
one should fear a wounded snake, every one should fear a foe of wicked

“The king said, ‘Reside in my palace, O Brahmana! I shall always treat
thee with respect and honour, and always worship thee. They that will
dislike thee shall not dwell with me. Do thou thyself do what should be
done next unto those persons (of whom thou hast spoken). Do thou see, O
holy one, that the rod of chastisement is wielded properly and that
everything is done well in my kingdom. Reflecting upon everything, do
thou guide me in such a way that I may obtain prosperity.’

“The sage said, ‘Shutting thy eyes in the first instance to this offence
of theirs (viz., the slaughter of the crow), do thou weaken them one by
one. Prove their faults then and strike them one after another. When many
persons become guilty of the same offence, they can, by acting together,
soften the very points of thorns. Lest thy ministers (being suspected,
act against thee and) disclose thy secret counsels, I advise thee to
proceed with such caution. As regards ourselves, we are Brahmanas,
naturally compassionate and unwilling to give pain to any one. We desire
thy good as also the good of others, even as we wish the good of
ourselves. I speak of myself, O king! I am thy friend. I am known as the
sage Kalakavrikshiya. I always adhere to truth. Thy sire regarded me
lovingly as his friend. When distress overtook this kingdom during the
region of thy sire, O king, I performed many penances (for driving it
off), abandoning every other business. From my affection for thee I say
this unto thee so that thou mayst not again commit the fault (of reposing
confidence on undeserving persons). Thou hast obtained a kingdom without
trouble. Reflect upon everything connected with its weal and woe. Thou
hast ministers in thy kingdom. But why, O king, shouldst thou be guilty
of heedlessness?’ After this, the king of Kosala took a minister from the
Kshatriya order, and appointed that bull among Brahmanas (viz., the sage
Kalakavrikshiya) as his Purohita. After these changes had been effected,
the king of Kosala subjugated the whole earth and acquired great fame.
The sage Kalakavrikshiya worshipped the gods in many grand sacrifices
performed for the king. Having listened to his beneficial counsels, the
king of Kosala conquered the whole earth and conducted himself in every
respect as the sage directed.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘What should be the characteristics, O grandsire, of
the legislators, the ministers of war, the courtiers, the generalissimos,
and the counsellors of a king!’

“Bhishma said, ‘Such persons as are possessed of modesty, self-restraint,
truth, sincerity, and courage to say what is proper, should be thy
legislators. They that are always by thy side, that are possessed of
great courage, that are of the regenerate caste, possessed of great
learning, well pleased with thee, and endued with perseverance in all
acts, should, O son of Kunti, be desired by thee for becoming thy
ministers of war at all seasons of distress, O Bharata! One who is of
high descent, who, treated with honour by thee, always exerts his powers
to the utmost on thy behalf, and who will never abandon thee in weal or
woe, illness or death, should be entertained by thee as a courtier. They
that are of high birth, that are born in thy kingdom, that have wisdom,
beauty of form and features, great learning, and dignity of behaviour,
and that are, besides, devoted to thee, should be employed as officers of
thy army. Persons of tow descent and covetous dispositions, who are cruet
and shameless would court thee, O sire, as long as their hands would
remain wet.[244] They that are of good birth and good behaviour, that can
read all signs and gestures, that are destitute of cruelty, that know
what the requirements are of place and time, that always seek the good of
their master in all acts, should be appointed as ministers by the king in
all his affairs. They that have been won over with gifts of wealth,
honours, regardful receptions, and means of procuring felicity, and who
on that account may be regarded by thee as persons inclined to benefit
thee in all thy affairs, should always be made sharers of thy happiness.
They that are unchangeable in conduct, possessed of learning and good
behaviour, observant of excellent vows, large-hearted, and truthful in
speech, will always be attentive to thy affairs and will never abandon
thee, They, on the other hand, that are disrespectable, that are not
observant of restraints, that are of wicked souls, and that have fallen
away from good practices, should always be compelled by thee to observe
all wholesome restraints. When the question is which of two sides should
be adopted, thou shouldst not abandon the many for adopting the side of
one. When, however, that one person transcends the many in consequence of
the possession of many accomplishments, then thou shouldst, for that one,
abandon the many. These are regarded as marks of superiority, viz.,
prowess, devotion to pursuits that bring fame, and observance of
wholesome restraints. He, again, that honours all persons possessed of
ability, that never indulges in feelings of rivalry with persons
possessed of no merit, that never abandons righteousness from lust or
fear or wrath or covetousness, that is adorned with humility, that is
truthful in speech and forgiving in temper, that has his soul under
control, that has a sense of dignity, and that has been tried in every
situation, should be employed by thee as thy counsellor. High descent,
purity of blood, forgiveness, cleverness, and purity of soul, bravery,
gratefulness, and truth, are, O son of Pritha marks of superiority and
goodness. A wise man who conducts himself in this way,[245] succeeds in
disarming his very foes of their hostility and converting them into
friend. A king that has his soul under restraint, that is possessed of
wisdom, and that is desirous of prosperity, should carefully examine the
merits and demerits of his ministers. A king desirous of prosperity and
of shining in the midst of his contemporaries, should have for ministers
persons connected with his trusted friends, possessed of high birth born
in his own kingdom, incapable of being corrupted, unstained by adultery
and similar vices, well tested, belonging to good families, possessed of
learning, sprung from sires and grandsires that held similar offices, and
adorned with humility. The king should employ five such persons to look
after his affairs as are possessed of intelligence unstained by pride, a
disposition that is good, energy, patience, forgiveness, purity, loyalty,
firmness, and courage, whose merits and faults have been well tested, who
are of mature years, who are capable of bearing burthens, and who are
free from deceit. Men that are wise in speech, that are possessed of
heroism, that are full of resources under difficulties, that are of high
birth, that are truthful, that can read signs, that are free from
cruelty, that are conversant with the requirements of place and time, and
that desire the good of their masters, should be employed by the king as
his ministers in all affairs of the kingdom. One who is bereft of energy
and who has been abandoned by friends can never work with perseverance.
Such a man, if employed, fails in almost every business. A minister
possessed of little learning, even if blessed with high birth and
attentive to virtue, profit, and pleasure, becomes incompetent in
choosing proper courses of action. Similarly, a person of low descent,
even if possessed of great learning, always errs, like a blind man
without a guide, in all acts requiring dexterity and foresight. A person,
again, who is of infirm purposes, even if possessed of intelligence and
learning, and even if conversant with means, cannot long act with
success. A man of wicked heart and possessed of no learning may set his
hand to work but he fails to ascertain what the results will be of his
work. A king should never repose trust on a minister that is not devoted
to him. He should, therefore, never disclose his counsels to a minister
that is not devoted to him. Such a wicked minister, combining with the
other ministers of the king, may ruin his master, like a fire consuming a
tree by entering its entrails through the holes in its body with the aid
of the wind. Giving way to wrath, a master may one day pull down a
servant from his office or reprove him, from rage, in harsh words, and
restore him to power again. None but a servant devoted to the master can
bear and forgive such treatment. Ministers also become sometime highly
offended with their royal masters. That one, however, amongst them, who
subdues his wrath from desire of doing good to his master,–that person
who is a sharer with the king of his weal and woe,–should be consulted
by the king in all his affairs. A person who is of crooked heart, even if
he be devoted to his master and possessed of wisdom and adorned with.
numerous virtues, should never be consulted by the king. One who is
allied with foes and who does not regard the interests of the king’s
subjects, should be known as an enemy. The king should never consult with
him. One who is possessed of no learning, who is not pure, who is stained
with pride, who pays court to the king’s enemies, who indulges in brag,
who is unfriendly, wrathful, and covetous should not be consulted by the
king. One who is a stranger, even if he be devoted to the king and
possessed of great learning, may be honoured by the king and gratified
with assignment of the means of sustenance, but the king should never
consult him in his affairs. A person whose sire was unjustly banished by
royal edict should not be consulted by the king even if the king may have
subsequently bestowed honours upon him and assigned to him the means of
sustenance. A well-wisher whose property was once confiscated for a
slight transgression, even if he be possessed of every accomplishment
should not still be consulted by the king. A person possessed of wisdom,
intelligence, and learning, who is born within the kingdom, who is pure
and righteous in all his acts, deserves to be consulted by the king. One
who is endued with knowledge and wisdom, who is acquainted with the
dispositions of his friends and foes, who is such a friend of the king as
to be his second self, deserves to be consulted. One who is truthful in
speech and modest and mild and who is a hereditary servant of the king,
deserves to be consulted. One who is contented and honoured, who is
truthful and dignified, who hates wickedness and wicked men, who is
conversant with policy and the requirements of time, and who is
courageous, deserves to be consulted by the king. One who is competent to
win over all men by conciliation should be consulted, O monarch, by the
king that is desirous of ruling according to the dictates of the science
of chastisement. One upon whom the inhabitants of both the capital and
the provinces repose confidence for his righteous conduct, who is
competent to fight and conversant with the rules of policy, deserves to
be consulted by the king. Therefore, men possessed of such qualities, men
conversant with the dispositions of all and desirous of achieving high
acts, should be honoured by the king and made his ministers. Their number
also should not be less than three.[246] Ministers should be employed in
observing the laches of their masters, of themselves, of the subjects,
and of the foes of their master. The kingdom has its root in the counsels
of policy that flow from ministers, and its growth proceeds from the same
source. Ministers should act in such a way that the enemies of their
master may not be able to detect his laches. On the other hand, when
their laches become visible, they should then be assailed. Like the
tortoise protecting its limbs by withdrawing them within its shell,
ministers should protect their own counsels. They should, even thus,
conceal their own laches. Those ministers of a kingdom that succeed in
concealing their counsels are said to be possessed of wisdom. Counsels
constitute the armour of a king, and the limbs of his subjects and
officers. A kingdom is said to have its roots in spies and secret agents,
and its strength is said to lie in counsels of policy. If masters and
ministers follow each other for deriving support from each other,
subduing pride and wrath, and vanity and envy, they may then both become
happy. A king should also consult with such ministers as are free from
the five kinds of deceit. Ascertaining well, in the first instance, the
different opinions of the three amongst them whom he has consulted, the
king should, for subsequent deliberation, repair to his preceptor for
informing him of those opinions and his own. His preceptor should be a
Brahmana well versed in all matters of virtue, profit, and pleasure.
Repairing, for such subsequent deliberation, to him, the king should,
with collected mind, ask his opinion. When a decision is arrived at after
deliberation with him, the king should then, without attachment, carry it
out into practice. They that are conversant with the conclusions of the
science of consultation say that kings should always hold consultation in
this way. Having settled counsels in this way, they should then be
reduced to practice, for then they will be able to win over all the
subjects. There should be no dwarfs, no humpbacked persons, no one of an
emaciated constitution, no one who is lame or blind, no one who is an
idiot, no woman, and no eunuch, at the spot where the king holds his
consultations. Nothing should move there before or behind, above or
below, or in transverse directions. Getting up on a boat, or repairing to
an open space destitute of grass or grassy bushes and whence the
surrounding land may be clearly seen, the king should hold consultations
at the proper time, avoiding faults of speech and gestures.'”


“‘Bhishma said, ‘In this connection, O Yudhishthira, the old account of a
conversation between Vrihaspati and Sakra is cited.’

“Sakra said, ‘What is that one act, O regenerate one, by accomplishing
which with care, a person may become the object of regard with all
creatures and acquire great celebrity?’

“Vrihaspati said, ‘Agreeableness of speech, O Sakra, is the one thing by
practising which a person may become an object of regard with all
creatures and acquire great celebrity. This is the one thing, O Sakra,
which gives happiness to all. By practising it, one may always obtain the
love of all creatures. The person who does not speak a word and whose
face is always furrowed with frowns, becomes an object of hatred with all
creatures. Abstention from agreeable speeches makes him so. That person
who, upon beholding others, addresses them first and does so with smiles
succeeds in making everyone gratified with him. Even gifts, if not made
with agreeable speeches, do not delight the recipients, like rice without
curry. If even the possessions of men, O Sakra, be taken away with sweet
speeches, such sweetness of behaviour succeeds in reconciling the robbed.
A king, therefore, that is desirous of even inflicting chastisement
should utter sweet words. Sweetness of speech never fails of its purpose,
while, at the same time it never pains any heart. A person of good acts
and good, agreeable, and sweet speeches, has no equal.’

“Bhishma continued, ‘Thus addressed by his priest, Sakra began to act
according to those instructions. Do thou also, O son of Kunti, practise
this virtue.”‘


“Yudhishthira said, ‘O foremost of kings, what is that method by which a
king ruling his subjects may, in consequence of it, obtain great
blessedness and eternal fame?’

“Bhishma said, ‘A king of cleansed soul and attentive to the duty of
protecting his subjects earns merit and fame, both here and hereafter, by
conducting himself righteously.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘With whom should the king behave in what way? Asked
by me, O thou of great wisdom, it behoveth thee to tell me everything
duly. Those virtues of which thou hast already spoken with respect to a
person, cannot, it is my belief, be found to exist in any single

“Bhishma said, ‘Thou art endued with great intelligence, O Yudhishthira!
It is even so as thou sayest. The person is very rare who is possessed of
all those good qualities. To be brief, conduct like this (viz., the
presence of all the virtues spoken of), is very difficult to be met with
even upon careful search. I shall, however, tell thee what kinds of
ministers should be appointed by thee. Four Brahmanas, learned in the
Vedas, possessed of a sense of dignity, belonging to the Snataka order,
and of pure behaviour, and eight Kshatriyas, all of whom should be
possessed of physical strength and capable of wielding weapons, and one
and twenty Vaisyas, all of whom should be possessed of wealth, and three
Sudras, everyone of whom should be humble and of pure conduct and devoted
to his daily duties, and one man of the Suta caste, possessed of a
knowledge of the Puranas and the eight cardinal virtues, should be thy
ministers. Every one of them should be fifty years of age, possessed of a
sense of dignity, free from envy, conversant with the Srutis and the
Smritis, humble, impartial, competent to readily decide in the midst of
disputants urging different courses of action, free from covetousness,
and from the seven dreadful vices called Vyasanas. The king should
consult with those eight ministers and hold the lead among them. He
should then publish in his kingdom, for the information of his subjects,
the results of such deliberation. Thou shouldst always, adopting such a
conduct, watch over thy people. Thou shouldst never confiscate what is
deposited with thee or appropriate as thine the thing about whose
ownership two persons may dispute. Conduct such as this would spoil the
administration of justice. If the administration of justice be thus
injured, sin will afflict thee, and afflict thy kingdom as well, and
inspire thy people with fear as little birds at the sight of the hawk.
Thy kingdom will then melt away like a boat wrecked on the sea. If a king
governs his subjects with unrighteousness, fear takes possession of his
heart and the door of heaven is closed against him. A kingdom, O bull
among men, has its root in righteousness. That minister, or king’s son,
who acts unrighteously, occupying the seat of justice, and those officers
who having accepted the charge of affairs, act unjustly, moved by
self-interest, all sink in hell along with the king himself. Those
helpless men who are oppressed by the powerful and who indulge on that
account in piteous and copious lamentations, have their protector in the
king. In cases of dispute between two parties the decision should be
based upon the evidence of witnesses. If one of the disputants has no
witnesses and is helpless, the king should give the case his best
consideration. The king should cause chastisement to be meted out to
offenders according to the measure of their offences. They that are
wealthy should be punished with fines and confiscations; they that are
poor, with loss of liberty. Those that are of very wicked conduct should
be chastised by the king with even corporal inflictions. The king should
cherish all good men with agreeable speeches and gifts of wealth. He who
seeks to compass the death of the king should be punished with death to
be effected by diverse means. The same should be the punishment of one
who becomes guilty of arson or theft or such co-habitation with women as
may lead to a confusion of castes. A king, O monarch, who inflicts
punishments duly and conformably to the dictates of the science of
chastisement, incurs no sin by the act. On the other hand, he earns merit
that is eternal. That foolish king who inflicts punishments capriciously,
earns infamy here and sinks into hell hereafter. One should not be
punished for the fault of another, Reflecting well upon the (criminal)
code, a person should be convicted or acquitted. A king should never slay
an envoy under any circumstances. That king who slays art envoy sinks
into hell with all his ministers. That king observant of Kshatriya
practices who slays an envoy that faithfully utters the message with
which he is charged, causes the manes of his deceased ancestors to be
stained with the sin of killing a foetus. An envoy should possess these
seven accomplishments, viz., he should be high-born, of a good family,
eloquent, clever, sweet-speeched, faithful in delivering the message with
which he is charged, and endued with a good memory. The aid-de-camp of
the king that protects his person should be endued with similar
qualities. The officer also that guards his capital or citadel should
possess the same accomplishments. The king’s minister should be
conversant with the conclusions of the scriptures and competent in
directing wars and making treaties. He should, further, be intelligent,
possessed of courage, modest, and capable of keeping secrets. He should
also be of high birth endued with strength of mind, and pure in conduct.
If possessed of these qualities, he should be regarded worthy. The
commander of the king’s forces should be possessed of similar
accomplishments. He should also be conversant with the different kinds of
battle array and with the uses of engines and weapons. He should be able
to bear exposure to rain, cold, heat, and wind, and watchful of the
laches of foes. The king, O monarch, should be able to lull his foes into
a sense of security. He should not, however, himself trust anyone. The
reposing of confidence on even his own son is not to be approved of. I
have now, O sinless one, declared to thee what the conclusions of the
scriptures are. Refusal to trust anyone has been said to be one of the
highest mysteries of king-craft.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘What should be the kind of city within which the
king should himself dwell? Should he select one already made or should he
cause one to be especially constructed? Tell me this O grandsire!’

“Bhishma said, ‘It is proper, O Bharata, to enquire about the conduct
that should be followed and the defences that should be adopted with
respect to the city in which, O son of Kunti, a king should reside. I
shall, therefore, discourse to thee on the subject, referring especially
to the defences of citadels. Having listened to me, thou shouldst make
the arrangements required and conduct thyself attentively as directed.
Keeping his eye on the six different kinds of citadels, the king should
build his cities containing every kind of affluence and every other
article of use in abundance. Those six varieties are water-citadels,
earth-citadels, hill-citadels, human-citadels, mud-citadels, and
forest-citadels.[247] The king, with his ministers and the army
thoroughly loyal to him, should reside in that city which is defended by
a citadel which contains an abundant stock of rice and weapons,–which is
protected with impenetrable walls and a trench, which teems with
elephants and steeds and cars, which is inhabited by men possessed of
learning and versed in the mechanical arts, where provisions of every
kind have been well stored, whose population is virtuous in conduct and
clever in business and consists of strong and energetic men and animals,
which is adorned with many open squares and rows of shops, where the
behaviour of all persons is righteous, where peace prevails, where no
danger exists, which blazes with beauty and resounds with music and
songs, where the houses are all spacious, were the residents number among
them many brave and wealthy individuals, which echoes with the chant of
Vedic hymns, where festivities and rejoicings frequently take place, and
where the deities are always worshipped.[248] Residing there, the king
should be employed in filling his treasury, increasing his forces,
enhancing the number of his friends, and establishing courts of justice.
He should cheek all abuses and evils in both his cities and his
provinces. He should be employed in collecting provisions of every kind
and in filling his arsenals with care. He should also increase his stores
of rice and other grain, and strengthen his counsels (with wisdom). He
should further, enhance his stores of fuel, iron, chaff, charcoal,
timber, horns, bones, bamboos, marrow, oils and ghee, fat, honey,
medicines, flax, resinous exudations, rice, weapons, shafts, leather
catgut (for bow-strings), caries, and strings and cords made of munja
grass and other plants and creepers. He should also increase the number
of tanks and well, containing large quantities of water, and should
protect all juicy trees.[249] He should entertain with honour and
attention preceptors (of different sciences), Ritwijas, and priests,
mighty bowmen, persons skilled in architecture, astronomers and
astrologers, and physicians, as also all men possessed of wisdom and
intelligence and self-restraint and cleverness and courage and learning
and high birth and energy of mind, and capable of close application to
all kinds of work. The king should honour the righteous and chastise the
unrighteous. He should, acting with resolution, set the several orders to
their respective duties. Ascertaining properly, by means of spies, the
outward behaviour and the state of mind of the inhabitants of his city
and provinces, he should adopt those measures that may be required. The
king should himself supervise his spies and counsels, his treasury, and
the agencies for inflicting chastisements. Upon these everything may be
said to depend. With spies constituting his sight, the king should
ascertain all the acts and intentions of his foes, friends, and neutrals.
He should then, with heedfulness, devise his own measures, honouring
those that are loyal to him and punishing those that are hostile. The
king should always adore the gods in sacrifices and make gifts without
giving pain to anybody. He should protect his subjects, never doing
anything that may obstruct or thwart righteousness. He should always
maintain and protect the helpless, the masterless, and the old, and women
that are widows. The king should always honour the ascetics and make unto
them gifts, at proper seasons of cloths and vessels and food. The king
should, with attentive care, inform the ascetics (within his dominions)
of the state of his own self, of all his measures, and of the kingdom,
and should always behave with humility in their presence. When he sees
ascetics of high birth and great learning that have abandoned all earthly
objects, he should honour them with gifts of beds and seats and food.
Whatever the nature of the distress into which he may fall, he should
confide in an ascetic. The very robbers repose confidence upon persons of
that character. The king should place his wealth in charge of an ascetic
and should take wisdom from him. He should not, however, always wait upon
them or worship them on all occasions.[250] From among those residing in
his own kingdom, he should select one for friendship. Similarly, he
should select another from among those that reside in the kingdom of his
foe. He should select a third from among those residing in the forests,
and a fourth from among those dwelling in the kingdoms paying tribute to
him. He should show hospitality towards and bestow honours upon them and
assign them the means of sustenance. He should behave towards the
ascetics dwelling in the kingdoms of foes and in the forests in the same
way as towards those that reside in his own kingdom. Engaged in penances
and of rigid vows they would, if calamity overtakes the king and if he
solicits protection, grant him what he wants. I have now told thee in
brief the indications of the city in which the king should reside.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘How, O king, may a kingdom be consolidated, and how
should it be protected? I desire to know this. Tell me all this, O bull
of Bharata’s race!’

“Bhishma said, ‘Listen to me with concentrated attention. I shall tell
thee how a kingdom may be consolidated, and how also it may be protected.
A headman should be selected for each village. Over ten villages (or ten
headmen) there should be cone superintendent. Over two such
superintendents there should be one officer (having the control,
therefore, of twenty villages). Above the latter should be appointed
persons under each of whom should be a century of villages; and above the
last kind of officers, should be appointed men each of whom should have a
thousand villages under his control. The headman should ascertain the
characteristics of every person in the village and all the faults also
that need correction. He should report everything to the officer (who is
above him and is) in charge of ten villages. The latter, again, should
report the same to the officer (who is above him and is) in charge of
twenty villages. The latter, in his turn, should report the conduct of
all the persons within his dominion to the officer (who is above him and
is) in charge of a hundred villages. The village headman should have
control over all the produce and the possessions of the village. Every
headman should contribute his share for maintaining the lord of ten
villages, and the latter should do the same for supporting the lord of
twenty villages. The lord of a hundred villages should receive every
honour from the king and should have for his support a large village, O
chief of the Bharatas, populous and teeming with wealth. Such a village,
so assigned to a lord of hundred villages, should be, however, within the
control of the lord of a thousand villages. That high officer, again,
viz., the lord of a thousand villages, should have a minor town for his
support. He should enjoy the grain and gold and other possessions
derivable from it. He should perform all the duties of its wars and other
internal affairs pertaining to it. Some virtuous minister, with
wrathfulness should exercise supervision over the administration affairs
and mutual relations of those officers. In every town, again, there
should be an officer for attending to every matter relating to his
jurisdiction. Like some planet of dreadful form moving above all the
asterisms below, the officer (with plenary powers) mentioned last should
move and act above all the officers subordinate to him. Such an officer
should ascertain the conduct of those under him through his spies. Such
high officers should protect the people from all persons of murderous
disposition, all men of wicked deeds, all who rob other people of their
wealth, and all who are full of deceit, and all of whom are regarded to
be possessed by the devil. Taking note of the sales and the purchases,
the state of the roads, the food and dress, and the stocks and profits of
those that are engaged in trade, the king should levy taxes on them.
Ascertaining on all occasions the extent of the manufactures, the
receipts and expenses of those that are engaged in them, and the state of
the arts, the king should levy taxes upon the artisans in respect of the
arts they follow. The king, O Yudhishthira, may take high taxes, but he
should never levy such taxes as would emasculate his people. No tax
should be levied without ascertaining the outturn and the amount of
labour that has been necessary to produce it. Nobody would work or seek
for outturns without sufficient cause.[251] The king should, after
reflection, levy taxes in such a way that he and the person who labours
to produce the article taxed may both share the value. The king should
not, by his thirst, destroy his own foundations as also those of others.
He should always avoid those acts in consequence of which he may become
an object of hatred to his people. Indeed, by acting in this way he may
succeed in winning popularity. The subjects hate that king who earns a
notoriety for voraciousness of appetite (in the matter of taxes and
imposts). Whence can a king who becomes an object of hatred have
prosperity? Such a king can never acquire what is for his good. A king
who is possessed of sound intelligence should milk his kingdom after the
analogy of (men acting in the matter of) calves. If the calf be permitted
to suck, it grows strong, O Bharata, and bears heavy burthens. If, on the
other hand, O Yudhishthira, the cow be milked too much, the calf becomes
lean and fails to do much service to the owner. Similarly, if the kingdom
be drained much, the subjects fail to achieve any act that is great. That
king who protects his kingdom himself and shows favour to his subjects
(in the matter of taxes and imposts) and supports himself upon what is
easily obtained, succeeds in earning many grand results. Does not the
king then obtain wealth sufficient for enabling him to cope with his
wants?[252] The entire kingdom, in that case, becomes to him his
treasury, while that which is his treasury becomes his bed chamber. If
the inhabitants of the cities and the provinces be poor, the king should,
whether they depend upon him immediately or mediately, show them
compassion to the best of his power. Chastising all robbers that infest
the outskirts, the king should protect the people of his villages and
make them happy. The subjects, in the case, becoming sharers of the
king’s weal and woe, feel exceedingly gratified with him. Thinking, in
the first instance, of collecting wealth, the king should repair to the
chief centres of his kingdom one after another and endeavour to inspire
his people with fright. He should say unto them, ‘Here, calamity
threatens us. A great danger has arisen in consequence of the acts of the
foe. There is every reason, however, to hope that the danger will pass
away, for the enemy, like a bamboo that has flowered, will very soon meet
with destruction. Many foes of mine, having risen up and combined with a
large number of robbers, desire to put our kingdom into difficulties, for
meeting with destruction themselves. In view of this great calamity
fraught with dreadful danger, I solicit your wealth for devising the
means of your protection. When the danger passes away, I will give you
what I now take. Our foes, however, will not give back what they (if
unopposed) will take from you by force. On the other hand (if unopposed),
they will even slay all your relatives beginning with your very spouses.
You certainly desire wealth for the sake of your children and wives. I am
glad at your prosperity, and I beseech you as I would my own children. I
shall take from you what it may be within your power to give me. I do not
wish to give pain to any one. In seasons of calamity, you should, like
strong bulls, bear such burthens. In seasons of distress, wealth should
not be so dear to you. A king conversant with the considerations relating
to Time should, with such agreeable, sweet, and complimentary words, send
his agents and collect imposts from his people. Pointing out to them the
necessity of repairing his fortifications and of defraying the expenses
of his establishment and other heads, inspiring them with the fear of
foreign invasion, and impressing them with the necessity that exists for
protecting them and enabling them to ensure the means of living in peace,
the king should levy imposts upon the Vaisyas of his realm. If the king
disregards the Vaisyas, they become lost to him, and abandoning his
dominions remove themselves to the woods. The king should, therefore,
behave with leniency towards them. The king, O son of Pritha, should
always conciliate and protect the Vaisyas, adopt measures for inspiring
them with a sense of security and for ensuring them in the enjoyment of
what they possess, and always do what is agreeable to them. The king, O
Bharata, should always act in such a way towards the Vaisyas that their
productive powers may be enhanced. The Vaisyas increase the strength of a
kingdom, improve its agriculture, and develop its trade. A wise king,
therefore, should always gratify them. Acting with heedfulness and
leniency, he should levy mild imposts upon them. It is always easy to
behave with goodness towards the Vaisyas. There is nothing productive of
greater good to a kingdom, O Yudhishthira, then the adoption of such
behaviour towards the Vaisyas of the realm.'”


“Yudhishthira said: ‘Tell me, O grandsire, how should the king should
behave if, notwithstanding his great wealth, he desires for more.’

“Bhishma said, ‘A king, desirous of earning religious merit, should
devote himself to the good of his subjects and protect them according to
considerations of place and time and to the best of his intelligence and
power. He should, in his dominions, adopt all such measures as would in
his estimation secure their good as also his own. A king should milk his
kingdom like a bee gathering honey from plants.[253] He should act like
the keeper of a cow who draws milk from her without boring her udders and
without starving the calf. The king should (in the matter of taxes) act
like the leech drawing blood mildly. He should conduct himself towards
his subjects like a tigress in the matter of carrying her cubs, touching
them with her teeth but never piercing them therewith. He should behave
like a mouse which though possessed of sharp and pointed teeth still cuts
the feet of sleeping animals in such a manner that they do not at all
become conscious of it. A little by little should be taken from a growing
subject and by this means should he be shorn. The demand should then be
increased gradually till what is taken assumes a fair proportion. The
king should enhance the burthens of his subjects gradually like a person
gradually increasing the burthens of a young bullock. Acting with care
and mildness, he should at last put the reins on them. If the reins are
thus put, they would not become intractable. Indeed, adequate measures
should be employed for making them obedient. Mere entreaties to reduce
them to subjection would not do. It is impossible to behave equally
towards all men. Conciliating those that are foremost, the common people
should be reduced to obedience. Producing disunion (through the agency of
their leaders) among the common people who are to bear the burthens, the
king should himself come forward to conciliate them and then enjoy in
happiness what he will succeed in drawing from them. The king should
never impose taxes unseasonably and on persons unable to bear them. He
should impose them gradually and with conciliation, in proper season and
according to due forms. These contrivances that I declare unto thee are
legitimate means of king-craft. They are not reckoned as methods fraught
with deceit. One who seeks to govern steeds by improper methods only
makes them furious. Drinking-shops, public women, pimps, actors, gamblers
and keepers of gaining houses, and other persons of this kind, who are
sources of disorder to the state, should all be checked. Residing within
the realm, these afflict and injure the better classes of the subjects.
Nobody should ask anything of anyone when there is no distress. Manu
himself in days of old has laid down this injunction in respect of all
men.[254] If all men were to live by asking or begging and abstain from
work, the world would doubtless come to an end. The king alone is
competent to restrain and check. That king who does not restrain his
subjects (from sin) earns a fourth part of the sins committed by his
people (in consequence of the absence of royal protection). This is the
declaration of the Srutis. Since the king shares the sins of his subjects
like their merits, he should, therefore, O monarch, restrain those
subjects of his that are sinful. The king that neglects to restrain them
becomes himself sinful. He earns (as already said) a fourth part of their
sins as he does a fourth part of their merits. The following faults of
which I speak should be checked. They are such as impoverish everyone.
What wicked act is there that a person governed by passion would not do?
A person governed by passion indulges in stimulants and meat, and
appropriates the wives and the wealth of other people, and sets a bad
example (for imitation by others). They that do not live upon alms may
beg in seasons of distress. The king should, observant of righteousness,
make gifts unto them from compassion but not from fear. Let there be no
beggars in thy kingdom, nor robbers. It is the robbers (and not virtuous
men) that give unto beggars. Such givers are not real benefactors of men.
Let such men reside in thy dominions as advance the interests of others
and do them good, but not such as exterminate others. Those officers, O
king, that take from the subjects more than what is due should be
punished. Thou shouldst then appoint others so that these will take only
what is due. Agriculture, rearing of cattle, trade and other acts of a
similar nature, should be caused to be carried on by many persons on the
principle of division of labour.[255] If a person engaged in agriculture,
cattle-rearing, or trade, becomes inspired with a sense of insecurity (in
consequence of thieves and tyrannical officers), the king, as a
consequence, incurs infamy. The king should always honour those subjects
of his that are rich and should say unto them, ‘Do ye, with me, advance
the interest of the people.’ In every kingdom, they that are wealthy
constitute an estate in the realm. Without doubt, a wealthy person is the
foremost of men.[256] He that is wise, or courageous, or wealthy or
influential, or righteous, or engaged in penances, or truthful in speech,
or gifted with intelligence, assists in protecting (his fellow subjects).

For these reasons, O monarch, do thou love all creatures, and display the
qualities of truth, sincerity, absence of wrath, and abstention from
injury! Thou shouldst thus wield the rod of chastisement, and enhance thy
treasury and support thy friends and consolidate thy kingdom thus,
practising the qualities of truthfulness and sincerity and supported by
thy friends, treasury and forces!'”


“Bhishma said, ‘Let not such trees as yield edible fruits be cut down in
thy dominions. Fruits and roots constitute the property of the Brahmanas.
The sages have declared this to be an ordinance of religion. The surplus,
after supporting the Brahmanas, should go to the support of other people.
Nobody should take anything by doing an injury to the Brahmanas.[257] If
a Brahmana, afflicted for want of support, desires to abandon a kingdom
for obtaining livelihood (elsewhere), the king, O monarch, should, with
affection and respect, assign unto him the means of sustenance. If he
does not still abstain (from leaving the kingdom), the king should repair
to an assembly of Brahmanas and say, ‘Such a Brahmana is leaving the
kingdom. In whom shall my people then find an authority for guiding
them?'[258] If after this, he does not give up his intention of leaving,
and says anything, the king should say unto him, ‘Forget the past.’ This,
O son of Kunti, is the eternal way of royal duty.[259] The king should
further say unto him, ‘Indeed, O Brahmana, people say that that only
should be assigned to a Brahmana which would be just sufficient for
maintaining him. I, however, do not accept that opinion. On the other
hand, I think that if a Brahmana seeks to leave a kingdom for the king’s
neglect in providing him with means of support, such means should be
assigned to him, and, further, if he intends to take that step for
procuring the means of luxury, he should still be requested to stay and
supplied with ever those means.[260] Agriculture, cattle-rearing, and
trade, provide all men with the means of living. A knowledge of the
Vedas, however, provide them with the means of obtaining heaven. They,
therefore, that obstruct the study of the Vedas and the cause of Vedic
practices, are to be regarded as enemies of society.[261] It is for the
extermination of these that Brahman created Kshatriyas. Subdue thy foes,
protect thy subjects, worship the deities in sacrifices, and fight
battles with courage, O delighter of the Kurus! A king should protect
those that deserve protection. The king who does this is the best of
rulers. Those kings that do not exercise the duty of protection live a
vain life. For the benefit of all his subjects the king should always
seek to ascertain the acts and thoughts of all, O Yudhishthira; and for
that reason fie should set spies and secret agents.[262] Protecting
others from thy own, and thy own from others, as also others from others,
and thy own from thy own, do thou always cherish thy people. Protecting
his own self first from every one, the king should protect the earth. Men
of knowledge have said that everything has its root in self. The king
should always reflect upon these, viz., What are his laches, to what evil
habits he is addicted, what are the sources of his weakness, and what are
the sources of his faults. The king should cause secret and trusted
agents to wander through the kingdom for ascertaining whether his conduct
as displayed on the previous day has or has not met with the approbation
of the people. Indeed, he should ascertain whether his conduct is or is
not generally praised, or, is or is not acceptable to the people of the
provinces, and whether he has or has not succeeded in earning a good name
in his kingdom. Amongst those that are virtuous and possessed of wisdom,
those that never retreat from battle, and those that do not reside in thy
kingdom, those that are dependent on thee, and those that are thy
ministers, as well as those that are independent of party, they that
praise or blame thee should never be objects of disregard with thee, O
Yudhishthira![263] No man, O sire, can succeed in earning the good
opinion of all persons in the world. All persons have friends, foes, and
neutrals, O Bharata!’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Among persons all of whom are equal in might of arms
and accomplishments, whence does one acquire superiority over all the
rest, and whence does that one succeed in ruling over them?’

“Bhishma said, ‘Creatures that are mobile devour things that are
immobile; animals again that have teeth devour those that have no teeth;
wrathful snakes of virulent poison devour smaller ones of their own
species. (Upon this principle), among human beings also, the king, who is
strong, preys upon those that are weak. The king, O Yudhishthira, should
always be heedful of his subjects as also of his foes. If he becomes
heedless, they fall upon him like vultures (on carrion). Take care, O
king, that the traders in thy kingdom who purchase articles at prices
high and low (for sale), and who in course of their journeys have to
sleep or take rest in forest and inaccessible regions,[264] be not
afflicted by the imposition of heavy taxes. Let not the agriculturists in
thy kingdom leave it through oppression; they, who bear the burthens of
the king, support the other residents also of the kingdom.[265] The gifts
made by thee in this world support the gods, Pitris, men, Nagas,
Rakshasas, birds, and animals. These, O Bharata, are the means of
governing a kingdom and protecting its rulers. I shall again discourse to
thee on the subject, O son of Pandu!'”


“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 the world. If the king
acts righteously, he attains to the position of a god.[266] On the other
hand, if fie 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 property 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 Sraddhas, 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.[267] He is called Rajan in whom righteousness shines. That king,
again in whom there is no righteousness, is called a Vrishala.[268] The
divine Dharma (righteousness) has another name, viz., Vrisha. He who
weakens Vrisha is called 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 with humility 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 Vali, the
son of Virochana. Deserting the Asura she repaired to Indra, the chief of
the deities. Beholding the goddess living with Purandara, Vali indulged
in many vain regrets. This, O puissant one, is the results of malice and
pride. Be thou awakened, O Mandhatri, so that the goddess of prosperity
may not in wrath desert thee. The Srutis declare that Unrighteousness
begat 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 who succeeds in conquering him becomes a 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 thy self aloof from the company of
ministers whom thou hast once punished and especially of women, as also
from mountains and uneven lands and inaccessible fastnesses 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 flood 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.'”


“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 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 deserve to be their king. 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.[269]
The four orders, the Vedas and the duties in respect of the four modes of
life, all become confused and weakened when the king becomes heedless.
The three kinds of Fire, the three Vedas, 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 and camels and mules and asses and other animals all
lose their vigour when the king becomes unrighteous. 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.[270] All creatures worship the 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 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.[271] 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.[272] 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.[273] When the king causes chastisement to overtake all
wicked people, his 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 for ever. 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 or 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.[274] 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. Aggrandising 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 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.[275] Paying proper honours unto Ritwijas and priests and preceptors,
and doing good offices unto them constitute the duty of the king. Yama
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 burthen 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 burthen 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 thy 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,
adept this heavenly road. 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.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘How should a righteous king, who is desirous of
adhering to a course of righteousness, behave? I ask thee this, O
foremost of men! Answer me, O Grandsire!’

“Bhishma said, ‘In this connection is cited the old story of what
Vamadeva gifted with great intelligence and acquainted with the true
import of everything sang in ancient time. Once upon a time, king
Vasumanas, possessed of knowledge and fortitude and purity of behaviour,
asked the great Rishi Vamadeva of high ascetic merit, saying, ‘Instruct
me, O holy one, in words fraught with righteousness and of grave impart,
as to the conduct to be observed by me so that I may not fall away from
the duties prescribed for me.’ Unto him of a golden complexion and seated
at his ease like Yayati, son of Nahusha, that foremost of ascetics, viz.,
Vamadeva, of great energy, said as follows:

“Vamadeva said, ‘Do thou act righteously. There is nothing superior to
righteousness. Those kings that are observant of righteousness, succeed
in conquering the whole earth. That king who regards righteousness to be
the most efficacious means for accomplishing his objects, and who acts
according to the counsels of those that are righteous, blazes forth with
righteousness. That king who disregards righteousness and desires to act
with brute force, soon falls away from righteousness and loses both
Righteousness and Profit. That king who acts according to the counsels of
a vicious and sinful minister becomes a destroyer of righteousness and
deserves to be slain by his subjects with all his family. Indeed, he very
soon meets with destruction. That king who is incompetent to discharge
the duties of state-craft, who is governed by caprice in all his acts,
and who indulges in brag, soon meets with destruction even if he happens
to be ruler of the whole earth. That king, on the other hand, who is
desirous of prosperity, who is free from malice, who has his senses under
control, and who is gifted with intelligence, thrives in affluence like
the ocean swelling with the waters discharged into it by a hundred
streams. He should never consider himself to have a sufficiency of
virtue, enjoyments, wealth, intelligence, and friends. Upon these depends
the conduct of the world. By listening to these counsels, a king obtains
fame’, achievements, prosperity, and subjects. Devoted to virtue, that
king who seeks the acquisition of virtue and wealth by such means, and
who begins all his measures after reflecting upon their objects, succeeds
in obtaining great prosperity. That king who is illiberal, and without
affection, who afflicts his subjects by undue chastisements, and who is
rash in his acts, soon meets with destruction. That king who is not
gifted with intelligence fails to see his own faults. Covered with infamy
here, he sinks into hell hereafter. If the king gives proper honour to
them that deserve it, makes gifts, and recognises the value of sweet
speeches by himself uttering them on all occasions, his subjects then
dispel the calamities that overtake him, as if these had fallen upon
themselves. That king who has no instructor in the ways of righteousness
and who never asks others for counsels, and who seeks to acquire wealth
by means that caprice suggests, never succeeds in enjoying happiness
long. That king, on the other hand, who listens to the instructions of
his preceptors in matters connected with virtue, who supervises the
affairs of his kingdom himself, and who in all his acquisitions is guided
by considerations of virtue, succeed in enjoying happiness for a long


“Vamadeva continued, ‘When the king, who is powerful, acts unrighteously
towards the weak, they who take their birth in his race imitate the same
conduct. Others, again, imitate that wretch who sets sin agoing. Such
imitation of the man ungoverned by restraints soon brings destruction
upon the kingdom. The conduct of a king who is observant of his proper
duties, is accepted by men in general as a model for imitation. The
conduct, however, of a king who falls away from his duties, is not
tolerated by his very kinsfolk. That rash king who, disregarding the
injunctions laid down in the scriptures, acts with highhandedness in his
kingdom, very soon meets with destruction. That Kshatriya who does not
follow the conduct observed from days of old by other Kshatriyas.
conquered or unconquered, is said to fall away from Kshatriya duties.
Having seized in battle a royal foe that did some good to the conqueror
on a former occasion, that king who does not, actuated by malice, pay him
honours, is said to fall away from Kshatriya duties. The king should
display his power, live cheerfully, and do what is necessary in seasons
of danger. Such a ruler becomes the beloved of all creatures and never
falls away from prosperity. If thou doest disservice to any person, thou
shouldst, when the turn comes, do him service. One who is not loved
becomes an object of love, if he does what is agreeable. Untruthful
speeches should be avoided. Thou shouldst do good to others without being
solicited. Thou shouldst never abandon righteousness from lust or wrath
or malice. Do not give harsh answers when questioned by anybody. Do not
utter undignified speeches. Never be in a hurry to do anything. Never
indulge in malice. By such means is a foe won over. Do not give way to
exclusive joy when anything agreeable occurs, nor suffer thyself to be
overwhelmed with sorrow when anything disagreeable occurs. Never indulge
in grief when thy pecuniary resources are exhausted, and always remember
the duty of doing good to thy subjects. That king who always does what is
agreeable by virtue of his disposition achieves success in all his
measures and is never shorn of prosperity. The king should always, with
heedfulness, cherish that devoted servant who abstains from doing what is
injurious to his master and who always does what is for his good. He
should appoint in all great affairs persons that have subjugated their
senses, that are devotedly loyal and of pure behaviour, and that are
possessed of ability. That person, who by the possession of such
qualifications pleases the king and who is never heedless in taking care
of the interests of his master should be appointed by the king in the
affairs of his kingdom. On the other hand, the king becomes divested of
prosperity by appointing to important offices men that are fools and
slaves of their senses, that are covetous and of disrespectable conduct,
that are deceitful and hypocritical, that are malicious, wicked-souled,
and ignorant, that are low-minded, and addicted to drink, gambling,
women, and hunting. That king, who, first protecting his own self,
protects others that deserve protection, feels the satisfaction of
finding his subjects growing in prosperity. Such a king succeeds also in
obtaining greatness. A king should, by secret agents that are devoted to
him, watch the conduct and acts of other kings. By such means can he
obtain superiority. Having injured a powerful king, one should not
comfort himself with the thought that he (the injurer) lives at a great
distance from the injured. Such a king when injured falls upon the
injurer like the hawk swooping down upon its prey, in moments of
heedlessness. A king whose power has been consolidated and who is
confident of his own strength, should assail a neighbour who is weaker
than himself but never one that is stronger. A king who is devoted to
virtue, having acquired the sovereignty of the earth by prowess, should
protect his subjects righteously and slaughter foes in battle. Everything
belonging to this world is destined to destruction. Nothing here is
durable. For this reason, the king, adhering to righteousness, should
protect his subjects righteously. The defence of forts, battle,
administration of justice, consultations on questions of policy, and
keeping the subjects in happiness, these five acts contribute to enlarge
the dominions of a king. That king who takes proper care of these is
regarded to be the best of kings. By always attending to these, a king
succeeds in protecting his kingdom. It is impossible, however, for one
man to supervise all these matters at all times. Making over such
supervision to his ministers, a King may govern the earth for ever.[277]
The people make such a person their king who is liberal, who shares all
objects of enjoyment with others, who is possessed of a mild disposition,
who is of pure behaviour, and who will never abandon his subjects. He is
obeyed in the world who, having listened to counsels of wisdom, accepts
them, abandoning his own opinions. That king who does not tolerate the
counsels of a well-wisher in consequence of their opposition to his own
views, who listens with inattention to what is said unto him in
opposition to his views, and who does not always follow the conduct of
high and noble persons conquered or unconquered, is said to fall away
from the duties of Kshatriyas. From ministers that have once been
chastised, from women in especial, from mountains and inaccessible
regions, from elephants and horses and reptiles, the king should always,
with heedfulness, protect his own self.[278] That king who, abandoning
his chief ministers, makes favourites of low persons, soon falls into
distress, and never succeeds in compassing the (intended) ends of his
measures. That king of infirm soul, who, yielding to the influence of
wrath and malice, does not love and honour those amongst his kinsmen that
are possessed of good qualities, is said to live on the very verge of
destruction. That king, who attaches to himself accomplished persons by
doing good to them even though he may not like them at heart, succeeds in
enjoying fame for ever. Thou shouldst never impose taxes unseasonably.
Thou shouldst not be grieved at the occurrence of anything disagreeable,
nor rejoice exceedingly at anything agreeable. Thou shouldst always set
thyself to the accomplishment of good acts. Who amongst the dependent
kings is truly devoted to thee, and who is loyal to thee from fear, and
who amongst them has faults, should always be ascertained by thee. The
king, even if he be powerful, should trust them that are weak, for in
moments of heedlessness the weak may assail the powerful like a flock of
vultures seizing their prey. A man of sinful soul seeks to injure his
master even if the latter be sweet-speeched and possessed of every
accomplishment. Do not, therefore, place thy confidence upon such men.
Nahusha’s son Yayati, in declaring the mysteries of king-craft, said that
a person engaged in ruling men should slay even foes that are


“Vamadeva said, ‘The king should win victories without battles. Victories
achieved by battles are not spoken of highly. O monarch, by the wise.
When the sovereign’s own power has not been confirmed, he should not seek
to make new acquisitions. It is not proper that a king whose power has
not been consolidated should seek to make such acquisitions. The power of
that king whose dominions are wide and abound with wealth, whose subjects
are loyal and contented, and who has a large number of officers, is said
to be confirmed. That king whose soldiery are contented, gratified (with
pay and prize), and competent to deceive foes can with even a small force
subjugate the whole earth. The power of that king whose subjects, whether
belonging to the cities or the provinces, have compassion for all
creatures, and possessed of wealth and grain, is said to be confirmed.
When the king thinks that his power is greater than that of a foe, he
should then, aided by his intelligence, seek to acquire the latter’s
territories and wealth. A king whose resources are increasing, who is
compassionate unto all creatures, who never loses any time by
procrastination, and who is careful in protecting, his own self, succeeds
in earning advancement. That king who behaves deceitfully towards his own
people that have not been guilty of any fault, shears his own self like a
person cutting down a forest with an axe. If the king does not always
attend to the task of slaying his foes, the latter do not diminish. That
king, again, who knows how to kill his own temper finds no enemies. If
the king be possessed of wisdom, he would never do any act that is
disapproved by good men. He would, on the other hand, always engage
himself in such acts as would lead to his own benefit and that of others.
That king who, having accomplished all his duties, becomes happy in the
approbation of his own conscience, has never to incur the reproach of
others and indulge in regrets. That king who observes such conduct
towards men succeeds in subjugating both the worlds and enjoy the fruits
of victory.’

“Bhishma continued, ‘Thus addressed by Vamadeva, king Vasumana did as he
was directed. Without doubt, thyself also, following these counsels,
shalt succeed in conquering both the worlds.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘If a Kshatriya desires to subjugate another
Kshatriya in battle, how should the former act in the matter of that
victory? Questioned by me, do thou answer it.’

“Bhishma said, ‘The king, with or without an army at his back, entering
the dominions of the king he would subjugate, should say unto all the
people, ‘I am your king. I shall always protect you. Give me the just
tribute or encounter me in battle.’ If the people accept him for their
king, there need not be any fighting. If, without being Kshatriyas by
birth, they show signs of hostility, they should then, observant as they
are of practices not laid down for them, be sought to be restrained by
every means. People of the other orders do take up arms (for resisting
the invader) if they behold the Kshatriya unarmed for fight, incapable of
protecting himself, and making too much of the enemy.'[279]

“Yudhishthira said ‘Tell me, O grandsire, how that Kshatriya king should
conduct himself in fight who advances against another Kshatriya king.’

“Bhishma said, ‘A Kshatriya must not put on armour for fighting a
Kshatriya unclad in mail. One should fight one, and abandon the opponent
when the latter becomes disabled.[280] If the enemy comes clad in mail,
his opponent also should put on mail. If the enemy advances backed by an
army, one should, backed by an army, challenge him to battle. If the
enemy fights aided by deceit, he should be met with the aid of deceit.
If, on the other hand, he fights fairly, he should be resisted with fair
means. One should not on horseback proceed against a car-warrior. A
car-warrior should proceed against a car-warrior. When an antagonist has
fallen into distress, he should not be struck; nor should one that has
been frightened, nor one that has been vanquished.[281] Neither poisoned
nor barbed arrows should be used. These are the weapons of the wicked.
One should fight righteously, without yielding to wrath or desiring to
slay. A weak or wounded man should not be slain, or one that is sonless;
or one whose weapon has been broken; or one that has fallen into
distress; or one whose bow-string has been cut; or one that has lost his
vehicle. A wounded opponent should either be sent to his own home, or, if
brought to the victor’s quarters, should have his wounds attended to by
skilful surgeons. When in consequence of a quarrel between righteous
kings, a righteous warrior falls into distress, (his wounds should be
attended to and) when cured he should be set at liberty. This is the
eternal duty. Manu himself, the son of the Self-born (Brahman), has said
that battles should be fought fairly. The righteous should always act
righteously towards those that are righteous. They should adhere to
righteousness without destroying it. If a Kshatriya, whose duty it is to
fight righteously, wins a victory by unrighteous means, he becomes
sinful. Of deceitful conduct, such a person is said to slay his own self.
Such is the practice of those that are wicked. Even he that is wicked
should be subdued by fair means. It is better to lay down life itself in
the observance of righteousness than to win victory by sinful means. Like
a cow, O king, perpetrated sin does not immediately produce its fruits.
That sin overwhelms the perpetrator after consuming his roots and
branches. A sinful person, acquiring wealth by sinful means, rejoices
greatly. But the sinner, gaining advancement by sinful ways, becomes
wedded to sin. Thinking that virtue has no efficacy, he jeers at men of
righteous behaviour. Disbelieving in virtue, he at last meets with
destruction. Though enmeshed in the noose of Varuna, he still regards
himself immortal. Like unto a large leathern bag puffed up with wind, the
sinner dissociates himself entirely from virtue. Soon, however, he
disappears like a tree on the riverside washed away with its very roots.
Then people, beholding him resemble an earthen pot broken on a stony
surface, speak of him as he deserves. The king should, therefore, seek
both victory and the enhancement of his resources, by righteous means.'”


“Bhishma said, ‘A king should never desire to subjugate the earth by
unrighteous means, even if such subjugation would make him the sovereign
of the whole earth. What king is there that would rejoice after obtaining
victory by unfair means? A victory stained by unrighteousness is
uncertain and never leads to heaven. Such a victory, O bull of Bharata’s
race, weakens both the king and the earth. A warrior whose armour has
fallen off, or who begs for quarter, saying, ‘I am thine’ or joining his
hands, or who has laid aside his weapon, may simply be seized but never
slain. If a hostile king be vanquished by the troops of the invader, the
latter should not himself fight his vanquished foe. On the other hand, he
should bring him to his palace and persuade him for a whole year to say,
‘I am thy slave!’ Whether he says or does not say this, the vanquished
foe, by living for a year in the house of his victor, gains a new lease
of life.[282] If a king succeeds in bringing by force a maiden from the
house of his vanquished foe, he should keep her for a year and ask her
whether she would wed him or any one else. If she does not agree, she
should then be sent back. He should behave similarly in respect of all
other kinds of wealth (such as slave) that are acquired by force. The
king should never appropriate the wealth confiscated from thieves and
others awaiting execution. The kine taken front the enemy by force should
be given away to the Brahmanas so that they may drink the milk of those
animals. The bulls taken from the enemy should be set to agriculture work
or returned to the enemy.[283] It is laid down that a king should fight
one that is a king. One that is not a king should never strike one that
is a king. If a Brahmana, desirous of peace, fearlessly goes between two
contending armies, both should immediately abstain from fight. He would
break an eternal rule that would slay or wound a Brahmana. If any
Kshatriya breaks that rule, he would become a wretch of his order. In
addition to this, that Kshatriya who destroys righteousness and
transgresses all wholesome barriers does not deserve to be reckoned as a
Kshatriya and should be driven from society. A king desirous of obtaining
victory should never follow such conduct. What gain can be greater than
victory won righteously? The excitable classes (of a kingdom recently
conquered) should, without delay, be conciliated with soothing speeches
and gifts. This is a good policy for the king to adopt. If instead of
doing this, these men be sought to be governed with impolicy, they would
then leave the kingdom and side with (the victor’s) foes and wait for the
accession of calamities (in order that they may then make head against
the victor). Discontented men, watching for the calamities of the king,
promptly side with the latter’s foes. O monarch, in times of danger. An
enemy should not be deceived by unfair means, nor should be wounded
mortally. For, if struck mortally, his very life may pass away.[284] If a
king possessed of little resources be gratified therewith, he would
regard life alone to be much.[285] That king whose dominions are
extensive and full of wealth, whose subjects are loyal, whose servants
and officers are all contented, is said to have his roots firm. That king
whose Ritwijas and priests and preceptors and others about him that are
well-versed in all scriptures and deserving of honours are duly
respected, is said to be conversant with the ways of the world. It was by
such behaviour that Indra got the sovereignty of the world. It is by this
behaviour that earthly kings succeed in obtaining the status of Indra.
King Pratardana, subjugating his foes in a great battle, took all their
wealth, including their very grain and medicinal herbs, but left their
land untouched. King Divodasa, after subjugating his foes, brought away
the very remnants of their sacrificial fires, their clarified butter
(intended for libations), and their food. For this reason he was deprived
of the merit of his conquests.[286] King Nabhaga (after his conquests)
gave away whole kingdoms with their rulers as sacrificial presents unto
the Brahmanas, excepting the wealth of learned Brahmanas and ascetics.
The behaviour, O Yudhishthira, of all the righteous kings of old, was
excellent, and I approve of it wholly. That king who desires his own
prosperity should seek for conquests by the aid of every kind of
excellence but never with that of deceit or with pride.'”


“Yudhishthira said. ‘There are no practices, O king, more sinful than
those of the Kshatriyas. In marching or in battle, the king slays large
multitudes.[287] By what acts then does the king win regions of felicity?
O bull of Bharata’s race, tell this, O learned one, unto me that desire
to know.’

“Bhishma said, ‘By chastising the wicked, by attaching and cherishing the
good, by sacrifices and gifts, kings become pure and cleansed. It is
true, kings desirous of victory afflict many creatures, but after victory
they advance and aggrandise all. By the power of gifts, sacrifices, and
penances, they destroy their sins, and their merit increases in order
that they may be able to do good to all creatures. The reclaimer of a
field, for reclaiming it, takes up both paddy-blades and weeds. His
action, however, instead of destroying the blades or paddy, makes them
grow more vigorously. They that wield weapons, destroy many that deserve
destruction. Such extensive destruction, however, causes the growth and
advancement of those that remain. He who protects people from plunder,
slaughter, and affliction, in consequence of thus protecting their lives
from robbers, comes to be regarded as the giver of wealth, of life, and
of food. The king, therefore, by thus adoring the deities by means of a
union of all sacrifices whose Dakshina is the dispelling of everybody’s
fear, enjoys every kind of felicity here and attains to a residence in
Indra’s heaven hereafter.[288] That king who, going out, fights his foes
in battles that have arisen for the sake of Brahmanas and lays down his
life, comes to be regarded as the embodiment of a sacrifice with
illimitable presents. If a king, with his quivers full of shafts, shoots
them fearlessly at his foes, the very gods do not see anyone on earth
that is superior to him. In such a case, equal to the number of shafts
with which he pierces the bodies of his enemies, is the number of regions
that he enjoys, eternal and capable of granting every wish. The blood
that flows from his body cleanses him of All his sins along with the very
pain that he feels on the occasion. Persons conversant with the
scriptures say that the pains a Kshatriya suffers in battle operate as
penances for enhancing his merit. Righteous persons, inspired with fear,
stay in the rear, soliciting life from heroes that have rushed to battle,
even as men solicit rain from the clouds. If those heroes, without
permitting the beseechers to incur the dangers of battle, keep them in
the rear by themselves facing those dangers and defend them at that time
of fear, great becomes their merit. If, again, those timid p sons,
appreciating that deed of bravery, always respect those defenders, they
do what is proper and just. By acting otherwise they cannot free
themselves from fear. There is great difference between men apparently
equal. Some rush to battle, amid its terrible din, against armed ranks of
foes. Indeed, the hero rushes against crowds of foes, adopting the road
to heaven. He, however, who is inspired with dastardly fear, seeks safety
in flight, deserting his comrades in danger. Let not such wretches among
men be born in thy race. The very gods with Indra at their head send
calamities unto them that desert their comrades in battle and come with
unwounded limbs. He who desires to save his own life-breaths by deserting
his comrades, should be slain with sticks or stones or rolled in a mat of
dry grass for being burnt to death. Those amongst the Kshatriyas that
would be guilty of such conduct should be killed after the manner of
killing animals.[289] Death on a bed of repose, after ejecting phlegm and
urine and uttering piteous cries, is sinful for a Kshatriya. Persons
acquainted with the scriptures do not applaud the death which a Kshatriya
encounters with unwounded body. The death of a Kshatriya, O sire, at home
is not praiseworthy. They are heroes. Any unheroic act of theirs is
sinful and inglorious. In disease, one may be heard to cry, saying, ‘What
sorrow! How painful! I must be a great sinner.’ With face emaciated and
stench issuing fro in his body and clothes, the sick man plunges his
relatives into grief. Coveting the condition of those that are hale, such
a man (amidst his tortures) repeatedly desires for death itself. One that
is a hero, having dignity and pride, does not deserve such in inglorious
death. Surrounded by kinsmen and slaughtering his foes in battle, a
Kshatriya should die at the edge of keen weapons. Moved by desire of
enjoyment and filled with rage, a hero fights furiously and does not feel
the wounds inflicted on his limbs by foes. Encountering death in battle,
he earns that high merit fraught with fame and respect of the world which
belongs to his or her and ultimately obtains a residence in Indra’s
heaven. The hero, by not showing his back in fight and contending by
every means in his power, in utter recklessness of life itself, at the
van of battle, obtains the companionship of Indra. Wherever the hero
encountered death in the midst, of foes without displaying ignoble fear
or cheerlessness, he has succeeded in earning regions hereafter of
eternal bliss.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘Tell me, O grand-sire, what regions are earned by
unreturning heroes by encountering death in battle.”

“Bhishma, said, ‘In this connection, O Yudhishthira, is cited the old
story of the discourse between Amvarisha and Indra. Amvarisha, the son of
Nabhaga, having repaired to heaven that is so difficult of acquisition,
beheld his own generalissimo in those celestial regions in the company of
Indra. The king saw his puissant general blazing with every kind of
energy, endued with celestial form, seated on a very beautiful car, and
journeying (in that vehicle) up and up towards still higher regions.
Beholding the prosperity of his general Sudeva, and observing how he
traversed regions that were still higher, the high-souled Amvarisha,
filled with surprise, addressed Vasava, in the following words.’

“Amvarisha said, ‘Having duly governed the whole earth bounded by the
seas, having from desire of earning religious merit practised all those
duties that are common to the four orders as declared by the scriptures,
having practised with rigid austerity all the duties of the Brahmacharya
mode, having waited with dutiful obedience upon my preceptors and other
reverend seniors, having studied with due observances the Vedas and the
scriptures on kingly duties, having gratified guests with food and drink,
the Pitris with offerings in Sraddhas, the Rishis with attentive study of
the scriptures and with initiation (under proper forms into the mysteries
of religion), and the gods with many excellent and high sacrifices,
having duly observed Kshatriya duties according to the injunctions of the
scriptures, having cast my eyes fearlessly upon hostile troops, I won
many victories in battle, O Vasava! This Sudeva, O chief of the deities,
was formerly the generalissimo of my forces. It is true. He was a warrior
of tranquil soul. For what reason, however, has he succeeded in
transcending me? He never worshipped the gods in high and great
sacrifices. He never gratified the Brahmanas (by frequent and costly
presents) according to the ordinance. For what reason, then, has he
succeeded in transcending me?’

“Indra said, ‘Regarding this Sudeva, O sire, the great sacrifice of
battle had often been spread out by him. The same becomes the case with
every other man that engages in fight. Every warrior accoutred in armour,
by advancing against foes in battle array, becomes installed in that
sacrifice. Indeed, it is a settled conclusion that such a person, by
acting in this way, comes to be regarded as the performer of the
sacrifice of battle.’

“Amvarisha said, ‘What constitutes the libations in that sacrifice? What
constitutes its liquid offerings? What is its Dakshina? Who, again, are
regarded its Ritwijas? Tell me all this, O performer of a hundred

“Indra said, ‘Elephants constitute the Ritwijas of that sacrifice, and
steeds are its Audharyus. The flesh of foes constitutes ifs libations,
and blood is its liquid offering.[290] Jackals and vultures and ravens,
as also winged shafts, constitute its Sadasyas. These drink the remnants
left of the liquid offering in this sacrifice and eat the remnants of its
libations. Heaps of lances and spears, of swords and darts and axes,
blazing, sharp, and well-tempered, constitute the ladles of the
sacrificer. Straight, sharp, and well-tempered arrows, with keen points
and capable of piercing the bodies of foes, impelled from well-stretched
bows, constitute its large double-mouthed ladles. Sheathed in scabbards
made of tiger-skin and equipped with handles made of ivory, and capable
of cutting off the elephant’s trunk, the swords form the Sphises of this
sacrifice.[291] The strokes inflicted with blazing and keen lances and
darts and swords and axes, all made of hard iron, constitute its profuse
wealth procured from the respectable people by agreement in respect of
the amount and period. The blood that runs over the field in consequence
of the fury of the attack, constitutes the final libation, fraught with
great merit and capable of granting every wish, in the Homa of this
sacrifice. Cut, Pierce, and such other sounds, that are heard in the
front ranks of the array, constitute the Samans sung by its Vedic
chanters in the abode of Yama. The front ranks of the enemy’s array
constitute the vessel for the keep of its libations. The crowd of
elephants and steeds and men equipped with shields are regarded to
constitute the Syenachit fire of that sacrifice. The headless trunks that
rise up after thousands have been slaughtered constitute the octagonal
stake, made of Khadira wood, for the hero who performs that sacrifice.
The shrieks that elephants utter when urged on with hooks, constitute its
Ida mantras. The kettle-drums, with the slaps of palms forming the
Vashats, O king, are its Trisaman Udgatri. When the property or a
Brahmana is being taken away, he who casts off his body that is so dear
for protecting that property, does, by that act of self-devotion, acquire
the merit or a sacrifice with infinite presents. That hero who, for the
sake of his master, displays prowess at the van of the array and shows
not his back through fear, earns those regions of felicity that are mine.
He who strews the altar of the sacrifice constituted by battle, with
swords cased in blue scabbards and severed arms resembling heavy
bludgeons, succeeds in winning regions of felicity like mine. That
warrior who, resolved upon obtaining victory, penetrates into the midst
of the enemy’s ranks without waiting for any assistance, succeeds in
winning regions of felicity like mine. That warrior who in battle, causes
a river of blood to flow, terrible and difficult to cross, having
kettle-drums for its frogs and tortoises, the bones of heroes for its
sands, blood and flesh for its mire, swords and shields for its rafts,
the hair of slain warriors for its floating weeds and moss, the crowds of
steeds and elephants and cars for its bridges, standards and banners for
its bushes of cane, the bodies or slain elephants for its boats and huge
alligators, swords and scimitars for its larger vessels, vultures and
Kankas and ravens for the rafts that float upon it, that warrior who
causes such a river, difficult of being crossed by even those that are
possessed of courage and power and which inspires all timid men with
dread, is said to complete the sacrifice by performing the final
ablutions. That hero whose altar (in such a sacrifice) is strewn over
with the (severed) heads of foes, of steeds, and of elephants, obtains
regions of felicity like mine. The sages have said that that warrior who
regards the van of the hostile army as the chambers of his wives, who
looks upon the van of his own army as the vessel for the keep of
sacrificial offering, who takes the combatants standing to his south for
his Sadasyas and those to his north as his Agnidhras, and who looks upon
the hostile forces as his wedded wife, succeeds in winning all regions of
felicity.[292] The open space lying between two hosts drawn up for fight
constitutes the altar of such a sacrificer, and the three Vedas are his
three sacrificial fires. Upon that altar, aided by the recollection of
the Vedas, he performs his sacrifice. The inglorious warrior who, turning
away from the fight in fear, is slain by foes, sinks into hell. There is
no doubt in this. That warrior, on the other hand, whose blood drenches
the sacrificial altar already strewn with hair and flesh and bones,
certainly succeeds in attaining a high end. That powerful warrior who,
having slain the commander of the hostile army, mounts the vehicle of his
fallen antagonist, comes to be regarded as possessed of the prowess of
Vishnu himself and the intelligence of Vrihaspati, the preceptor of the
celestials. That warrior who call seize alive the commander of the
hostile army or his son or some other respected leader, succeeds in
winning regions of felicity like mine. One should never grieve for a hero
slain in battle. A slain hero, if nobody grieves for him, goes to heaven
and earns the respect of its denizens. Men do not desire to dedicate (for
his salvation) food and drink. Nor do they bathe (after receiving the
intelligence), nor go into mourning for him. Listen to me as I enumerate
the felicity that is in store for such a person. Foremost of Apsaras,
numbering by thousands, go out with great speed (for receiving the spirit
of the slain hero) coveting him for their lord. That Kshatriya who duly
observes his duty in battle, acquires by that act the merit of penances
and of righteousness. Indeed, such conduct on his part conforms with the
eternal path of duty. Such a man obtains the merits of all the four modes
of life. The aged and the children should not be slain; nor one that is a
woman; not one that is flying, away; nor one that holds a straw in his
lips[293]; nor one that says. ‘I am thine.’ Having slain in battle
Jambha, Vritra, Vala, Paka, Satamaya, Virochana, the irresistible
Namuchi, Samvara of innumerable illusions, Viprachitti,–all these sons
of Diti and Danu, as also Prahlada, I myself have become the chief of the

‘Bhishma continued, ‘Hearing these words of Sakra and approving of them,
king Amvarisha comprehended how warriors succeed, (by battle as their
means) in compassing success for themselves (in respect of winning
regions of beatitude in heaven).'”


“Bhishma said, ‘In this connection is cited the old story of the battle
between Pratardana and the ruler of Mithila. The ruler of Mithila, viz.,
Janaka, after installation in the sacrifice of battle, gladdened all his
troops (on the eve of fight). Listen to me, O as I recite the story.
Janaka, the high souled king of Mithila, conversant with the truth of
everything, showed both heaven and hell unto his own warriors. He
addressed them, saying, ‘Behold, these are the regions, endued with great
splendour, for those that fight fearlessly. Full of Gandharva girls,
those regions are eternal and capable of granting every wish. There, on
the other side, are the regions of hell, intended for those that fly away
from battle. They would have to rot there for eternity in everlasting
ingloriousness. Resolved upon casting away your very lives, do ye conquer
your foes. Do not fall into inglorious hell. The laying down of life, (in
battle) constitutes, in respect of heroes, their happy door of heaven.’
Thus addressed by their king, O subjugator of hostile towns, the warriors
of Mithila, gladdening their rulers, vanquished their foes in battle.
They that are of firm souls should take their stand in the van of battle.
The car-warriors should be placed in the midst of elephants. Behind the
car-warriors should stand the horsemen. Behind the last should be placed
the foot-soldiers all accoutred in mail. That king who forms his array in
this manner always succeeds in vanquishing his foes. Therefore, O
Yudhishthira, the array of battle should always be thus formed. Filled
with rage, heroes desire to will blessedness in heaven by fighting
fairly. Like Makaras agitating the ocean, they agitate the ranks of the
foe. Assuring one another, they should gladden those (amongst them) that
are cheerless. The victor should protect the land newly conquered (from
acts of aggression). He should not cause his troops to pursue too much
the routed foe. The onset is irresistible of persons that rally after the
rout and that, despairing of safety, assail their pursuers. For this
reason, O king, thou shouldst not cause thy troops to pursue too much the
routed roe. Warriors of courage do not wish to strike them that run away
with speed. That is another reason why the routed foe should not be
pursued hotly. Things that are immobile are devoured by those that are
mobile; creatures that are toothless are devoured by those that have
teeth; water is drunk by the thirsty; cowards are devoured by heroes.
Cowards sustain defeat though they have, like the victors, similar backs
and stomachs and arms and legs. They that are afflicted with fear bend
their heads and joining their hands stay before those that are possessed
of courage. This world rests on the arms of heroes like a son on those of
his sire. He, therefore, that is a hero deserves respect under every
circumstance. There is nothing higher in the three worlds than heroism.
The hero protects and cherishes all, and all things depend upon the


“Yudhishthira said, ‘Tell me, O grandsire, how kings desirous of victory
should, O bull of Bharata’s race, lead their troops to battle even by
offending slightly against the rules of righteousness!’

“Bhishma said: ‘Some say that righteousness is made stable by truth;
some, by reasoning: so me, by good behaviour; and some, by the
application of means and contrivances.[294] I shall presently tell thee
what the means and contrivances, productive of immediate fruit, are.
Robbers, transgressing all wholesome bounds, very often become destroyers
of property and religious merit. For resisting and restraining them. I
shall tell thee what the contrivances are, as indicated in the
scriptures. Listen to me as I speak of those means for the success of all
acts. Both kinds of wisdom, straight and crooked, should be within call
of the king. Though acquainted with it, he should not, however, apply
that wisdom which is crooked (for injuring others). He may use it for
resisting the dangers that may overtake him. Enemies frequently injure a
king by producing disunion (among his ministers or troops or allies or
subjects). The king, conversant with deceit, may, by the aid of deceit,
counteract those enemies. Leathern armour for protecting the bodies of
elephants, armour of the same material for bovine bulls, bones, thorns,
and keen-pointed weapons made of iron, coats of mail, yak-tails, sharp
and well-tempered weapons, all kinds of armour, yellow and red, banners
and standards of diverse hues, swords, and lances and scimitars of great
sharpness and battle-axes, and spears and shields, should be manufactured
and stored in abundance. The weapons should all be properly whetted. The
soldiers should be inspired with courage and resolution. It is proper to
set the troops in motion in the month of Chaitra or Agrahayana. The crops
ripen about that time and water also does not become scarce. That time of
the year, O Bharata, is neither very cold nor very hot. Troops should,
therefore, be moved at that time. If the enemy, however, be overtaken by
distress, troops should immediately be set in motion (without waiting for
such a favourable time). These (two) are the best occasions for the
motion of troops with a view to subjugate foes. That road which has
abundance of water and grass along it, which is level and easy of march,
should be adopted (in moving the troops). The regions lying near the road
(on both its sides) should previously be well ascertained through spies
possessed of skill and having an intimate knowledge of the woods. The
troops must not, like animals, be marched through woody regions. Kings
desirous of victory should, therefore, adopt good roads for marching
their troops. In the van should be placed a division of brave men, endued
with strength and high birth. As regards forts, that which has walls and
a trench full of water on every side and only one entrance, is worthy of
praise. In respect of invading foes, resistance may be offered from
within it. In pitching the camp, a region lying near the woods is
regarded as much better than one under the open sky by men conversant
with war and possessed of military accomplishments. The camp should be
pitched for the troops not far from such a wood. Pitching the camp at
such a place, planting the foot-soldiers in a position of safety, and
collision with the foe as soon as he comes, are the means for warding off
danger and distress. Keeping the constellation called Ursa Major[295]
behind them, the troops should fight taking up their stand like hills. By
this means, one may vanquish even foes that are irresistible. The troops
should be placed in such a position that the wind, the sun, and the
planet Sukra[296] should blow and shine from behind them. As means for
ensuing victory the wind is superior to the Sun, and the Sun is superior
to Sukra, O Yudhishthira. Men conversant with war approve of a region
that is not miry, not watery, not uneven, and not abounding with bricks
and stone, as well-fitted for the operations of cavalry. A field that is
free from mire and holes is fitted for car-warriors. A region that is
overgrown with bushes and large trees and that is under water is fitted
for elephant-warriors. A region that has many inaccessible spots, that is
overgrown with large trees and topes of cane bushes, as also a
mountainous or woody tract, is well-fitted for the operations of
infantry. An army, O Bharata, which has a large infantry force, is
regarded very strong. An army in which cars and horsemen predominate is
regarded to be very effective in a clear (unrainy) day. An army, again;
in which footsoldiers and elephants predominate becomes effective in the
rainy season. Having attended to these points (about the characters of
the different kinds of forces and the manner of marching, quartering, and
leading them), the king should turn his attention to the characteristics
of place and time. That king, who having attended to all these
considerations, sets out under a proper constellation and on an
auspicious lunation, always succeeds in obtaining victory by properly
leading his troops. No one should slay those that are asleep or thirsty
or fatigued, or those whose accoutrements have fallen away, or one that
has set his heart on final emancipation,[297] or one that is flying away,
or one that is walking (unprepared) along a road, or one engaged in
drinking or eating, or one that is mad, or one that is insane, or one
that has been wounded mortally, or one that has been exceedingly weakened
by his wounds, or one that is staying trustfully, or one that has begun
any task without having been able to complete it,[298] or one that is
skilled in some especial art (as mining, etc.), or one that is in grief,
or one that goes out of the camp for procuring forage or fodder, or men
who set up camps or are camp-followers, or those that wait at the gates
of the king or of his ministers, or those that do menial services (unto
the chiefs of the army), or those that are chiefs of such servants. Those
amongst thy warriors that break the rank of foes, or rally thy retreating
troops, should have their pay doubled and should be honoured by thee with
food, drink, and seats equal to thy own. Those amongst such that are
chiefs of ten soldiers should be made chiefs of a hundred. That heedful
hero again (amongst them) who is the chief of a hundred soldiers should
be made the chief of a thousand. Collecting together the principal
warriors, they should be addressed, thus: ‘Let us swear to conquer, and
never to desert one another. Let those that are inspired with fear stay
here. Let those also stay here that would cause their chiefs to be slain
by themselves neglecting to act heroically in the press of battle. Let
such men come as would never break away from battle or cause their own
comrades to be slain. Protecting their own selves as also their comrades,
they are certain to slay the enemy in fight. The consequence of flying
away from battle are loss of wealth, death, infamy, and reproach.
Disagreeable and cutting speeches have to be heard by that man who flies
away from battle, who loses his lips and teeth,[299] who throws away all
his weapons, or who suffers himself to be taken as a captive by the foe.
Let such evil consequences always overtake the warriors of our foes.
Those that fly away from battle are wretches among men. They simply swell
the tale of human beings on earth. For true manhood, however, they are
neither here nor hereafter. Victorious foes, O sire, proceed cheerfully.
Their praises recited the while by bards, in pursuit of the flying
combatants. When enemies, coming to battle tarnish the fame of a person,
the misery the latter feels is more poignant, I think, than that of death
itself. Know that victory is the root of religious merit and of every
kind of happiness. That which is regarded as the highest misery by
cowards is cheerfully borne by those that are heroes.[300] Resolved upon
acquiring heaven, we should fight, regardless of life itself, and
determined to conquer or die, attain a blessed end in heaven. Having
taken such an oath, and prepared to throwaway life itself, heroes should
courageously rush against the enemy’s ranks. In the van should be placed
a division of men armed with swords and shields. In the rear should be
placed the car-division. In the space intervening should be placed other
classes of combatants. This should be the arrangement made for assailing
the foe. Those combatants in the army that are veterans should fight in
the van. They would protect their comrades behind them. Those amongst the
army that would be regarded as foremost for strength and courage, should
be placed in the van. The others should stand behind them. They that are
inspired with fear should, with care, be comforted and encouraged. These
weaker combatants should be placed on the field (without being withdrawn)
for at least showing the number of the army (to the foe).[301] If the
troops are few, they should be drawn close together for the fight. At
times, if their leader wishes, the close array may be extended wide. When
a small number of troops is to fight with a great army, the array called
Suchimukha should be formed.[302] When a small force is engaged with a
large one, the leader of the former may shake hands with his men and
utter loud cries to effect, ‘The enemy has broken! The enemy has broken!’
Those among them that are endued with strength should resist the enemy,
loudly unto their comrades, ‘Fresh friends have arrived! Fearlessly
strike at your foes!’ Those that are in advance of the rest should utter
loud shouts and make diverse kinds of noises, and should blow and beat
Krakachas, cow-horns, drums, cymbals, and kettle-drums.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘Of what disposition, of what behaviour, of what
form, how acoutred, and how armed should the combatants be in order that
they may be competent for battle?’

“Bhishma said, ‘It is proper that those weapons and vehicles should be
adopted (by particular bodies of combatants) with which they have become
familiar by use. Brave soldiers, adopting those weapons and vehicles,
engage in battle. The Gandharvas, the Sindhus, and the Sauviras fight
best with their nails and lances. They are brave and endued with great
strength. Their armies are capable of vanquishing all forces, The
Usinaras are possessed of great strength and skilled in all kinds of
weapons. The Easterners are skilled in fighting from the backs of
elephants and are conversant with all the ways of unfair fight. The
Yavanas, the Kamvojas, and those that dwell around Mathura are well
skilled in fighting with bare arms. The Southerners are skilled in
fighting sword in hand. It is well-known that persons possessed of great
strength and great courage are born in almost every country. Listen to me
as I describe their indications. They that have voices and eyes like
those of the lion or the tiger, they that have a gait like that of the
lion and the tiger, and they that have eyes like those of the pigeon or
the snake, are all heroes capable of grinding hostile ranks.[303] They
that have a voice like deer, and eyes like those of the leopard or the
bull, are possessed of great activity. They whose voice resembles that of
bells, are excitable, wicked, and wrathful. They that have a voice deep
as that of the clouds, that have wrathful face, or faces like those of
camels, they that have hooked noses and tongues, are possessed of great
speed and can shoot or hurl their weapons to a great distance. They that
have bodies curved like that of the cat, and thin hair and thin skin,
become endued with great speed and restlessness and almost invincible in
battle. Some that are possessed of eyes closed like those of the iguana,
disposition that is mild, and speed and voice like the horses, are
competent to fight all foes. They that are of well-knit and handsome and
symmetrical frames, and broad chests, that become angry upon hearing the
enemy’s drum or trumpet, that take delight in affrays of every kind, that
have eyes indicative of gravity, or eyes that seem to shoot out, or eyes
that are green, they that have faces darkened with frowns, or eyes like
those of the mongoose, are all brave and capable of casting away their
lives in battle. They that have crooked eyes and broad foreheads and
cheek-bones not covered with flesh and arms strong as thunder-bolts and
fingers bearing circular marks, and that are lean with arteries and
nerves that are visible, rush with great speed when the collision of
battle takes place. Resembling infuriated elephants, they become
irresistible. They that have greenish hair ending in curls, that have
flanks, cheeks, and faces fat and full of flesh, that have elevated
shoulders and broad necks, that have fearful visages and fat calves, that
are fiery like (Vasudeva’s horse) Sugriva or like the offspring of
Garuda, the son of Vinata, that have round heads, large mouths, faces
like those of cats, shrill voice and wrathful temper, that rush to
battle, guided by its din, that are wicked in behaviour and full of
haughtiness, that are of terrible countenances, and that live in the
outlying districts, are all reckless of their lives and never flyaway
from battle. Such troops should always be placed in the van. They always
slay their foes in fight and suffer themselves to be slain without
retreating. Of wicked behaviour and outlandish manners, they regard soft
speeches as indications of defeat. If treated with mildness, they always
exhibit wrath against their sovereign.'”


“Yudhishthira said. ‘What are the well-known indications, O bull of
Bharata’s race, of the (future) success of an army? I desire to know

“Bhishma said, ‘I shall tell thee, O bull of Bharata’s race, all the
well-known indications of the (future) success of an army. When the gods
become angry and inert are urged by fate, persons of learning, beholding
everything with the eye of heavenly knowledge, perform diverse auspicious
acts and expiatory rites including homa and the silent recitation of
mantras, and thus allay all evils.[304] That army in which the troops and
the animals are all undepressed and cheerful. O Bharata, is sure to win a
decided victory. The wind blows favourably from behind such troops.
Rainbows appear in the sky. The clouds cast their shadows upon them and
at times the sun shines upon them. The jackals become auspicious to them,
and ravens and vultures as well. When these show such regard to the army,
high success is sure to be won by it. Their (sacrificial) fires blaze up
with a pure splendour, the light going upwards and the smokeless flames
slightly bending towards the south. The libations poured thereon emit an
agreeable fragrance. These have been said to be the indications of future
success. The conchs and drums, blown and beat, send forth loud and deep
peals. The combatants become filled with alacrity. These have been said
to be the indications of future success. If deer and other quadrupeds be
seen behind or to the left of those that have already set out for battle
or of those that are about to set out, they are regarded auspicious. If
they appear to the right of the warriors while about to engage in
slaughter, that is regarded as an indication of success. If, however,
they make their appearance in the van of such persons, they indicate
disaster and defeat. If these birds, viz., swans and cranes and
Satapatras and Chashas utter auspicious cries, and all the able-bodied
combatants become cheerful, these are regarded as indications of future
success. They whose array blazes forth with splendour and becomes
terrible to look at in consequence of the sheen of their weapons,
machines, armour, and standards as also of the radiant complexion of the
faces of the vigorous men that stand within it, always succeed in
vanquishing their foes. If the combatants of a host be of pure behaviour
and modest deportment and attend to one another in loving-kindness, that
is regarded as an indication of future success. If agreeable sounds and
orders and sensations of touch prevail, and if the combatants become
inspired with gratitude and patience, that is regarded as the root of
success. The crow on the left of a person engaged in battle and on the
right of him who is about to engage in it, is regarded auspicious.
Appearing at the back, it indicates non-fulfilment of the objects in
view, while its appearance in the front forebodes danger. Even after
enlisting a large army consisting of the four kinds of forces, thou
shouldst, O Yudhishthira, first behave peacefully. If thy endeavours
after peace fail, then mayst thou engage in battle. The victory, O
Bharata, that one acquired by battle is very inferior. Victory in battle,
it seems, is dependent on caprice or destiny. When a large army breaks
and the troops begin to fly away, it is exceedingly difficult to check
their flight. The impetuosity of the flight resembles that of a mighty
current of water or of a frightened herd of deer. Some have broken. For
this, without adequate cause, others break, even they that are brave and
skilled in fight. A large army, consisting of even brave soldiers, is
like a large herd of Ruru deer.[305] Sometimes again it may be seen that
even fifty men, resolute and relying upon one another, cheerful and
prepared to lay down their lives, succeed in grinding enemies numerically
much superior. Sometimes even five, or six, or seven men, resolute and
standing close together, of high descent and enjoying the esteem of those
that know them, vanquish foes much superior to them in number. The
collision of battle is not desirable as long as it can be avoided. The
policy of conciliation, or producing disunion, and making gifts should
first be tried, the battle, it is said, should come after these. At the
very sight of a (hostile) force, fear paralyses the timid, even as at the
sight of the blazing bolt of heaven they ask, ‘Oh, upon what would it
fall?'[306] Having ascertained that a battle is raging, the limbs of
those that go to join it, as also of him that is conquering, perspire
profusely.[307] The entire country. O king, (that is the seat of war),
becomes agitated and afflicted with all its mobile and immobile
population. The very marrow of embodied creatures scorched with the heat
of weapons, languishes with pain. A king should, therefore, on all
occasions, apply the arts of conciliation, mixing them with measures of
severity. When people are afflicted by foes, they always show a
disposition to come to terms.[308] Secret agents should be sent for
producing disunion amongst the allies of the foe. Having produced
disunion, it is very desirable that peace should then be made with that
king who happens to be more powerful than the foe (sought to be crushed).
If the invader does not proceed in the way, he can never succeed in
completely crushing his foe. In dealing with the foe, care should be
taken for hemming him in from all sides. Forgiveness always comes to
those that are good. It never comes to those that are bad. Listen now, O
Partha, to the uses of forgiveness and of severity. The fame of a king
who displays forgiveness after conquest spreads more widely. The very
foes of a person that is of a forgiving disposition trust him even when
he becomes guilty of a grave transgression. Samvara has said that having
afflicted a foe first, forgiveness should be shown afterwards, for a
wooden pole, if made straight without the application of heat in the
first instance, very soon assumes its former state. Persons skilled in
the scriptures do not, however, applaud this. Nor do they regard this as
an indication of a good king. On the other hand, they say that a foe
should be subdued and checked, like a sire subduing and checking a son,
without anger and without destroying him. If, O Yudhishthira, a king
becomes severe, he becomes an object of hatred with all creatures. If, on
the other hand, he becomes mild, he becomes disregarded by all. Do thou,
therefore, practise both severity and mildness. Before smiting, O
Bharata, and while smiting, utter sweet words; and having smitten, show
them compassion and let them understand that thou art grieving and
weeping for them. Having vanquished an army, the kind should address the
survivors saying, ‘I am not at all glad that so many have been slain by
my troops. Alas, the latter, though repeatedly dissuaded by me, have not
obeyed my direction. I wish they .(that are slain) were all alive. They
do not deserve such death. They were all good men and true, and
unretreating from battle. Such men, indeed, are rare. He that has slain
such a hero in battle, has surely done that which is not agreeable to
me.’ Having uttered such speeches before the survivors of the vanquished
foe, the king should in secret honour those amongst his own troops that
have bravely slain the foe. For soothing the wounded slayers for their
sufferings at the hand of the foe, the king, desirous of attaching them
to himself, should even weep, seizing their hands affectionately. The
king should thus, under all circumstances, behave with conciliation. A
king that is fearless and virtuous, becomes the beloved of all creatures.
All creatures, also, O Bharata, trust such a ruler. Winning their trust,
he succeeds in enjoying the earth as he pleases. The king should,
therefore, by abandoning deceitfulness, seek to obtain the trust of all
creatures. He should also seek to protect his subjects from all fears if
he seek to enjoy the earth.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘Tell me, O grandsire, how a kin should behave
towards foe that is mild, towards one that is fierce, and towards one
that has many allies and a large force.’

“Bhishma said, ‘In this connection is cited, O Yudhishthira. the old
narrative of the discourse between Vrihaspati and Indra. Once on a time,
that slayer of hostile heroes, viz., Vasava, the chief of the celestials,
joining his palms, approached Vrihaspati, and saluting him, said these

“Indra said. ‘How, O regenerate one, should I behave towards my foes? Row
should I subdue them by means of contrivances, without exterminating
them? In a collision between two armies, victory may be won by either
side. In what way should I behave so that this blazing prosperity that I
have won and that scorches all my enemies may not desert me?’ Thus
addressed, Vrihaspati, skilled in Virtue, Profit, and Pleasure, possessed
of a knowledge of kingly duties, and endued with great intelligence,
answered Indra in the following words.’

“Vrihaspati said, ‘One should never wish to subdue one’s foes by quarrel.
Excited with wrath and bereft of forgiveness, boys only seek quarrel. One
that desires the destruction of a foe should not put that foe on his
guard. On the other hand, one should never exhibit one’s ire or fear or
joy. He should conceal these within his own bosom. Without trusting one’s
foe in reality, one should behave towards him as if one trusted him
completely. One should always speak sweet words unto one’s foes and never
do anything that is disagreeable. One should abstain from fruitless acts
of hostility as also from insolence of speech. As a fowler, carefully
uttering cries similar to those of the birds he wishes to seize or kill.
captures and brings them under his power, even so should a king, O
Purandara, bring his foes under subjection and then slay them if he
likes. Having overcome one’s foes, one should not sleep at ease. A foe
that is wicked raises his head again like afire carelessly put out making
its appearance again. When victory may be won by either side, a hostile
collision of arms should be avoided. Having lulled a foe into security,
one should reduce him into subjection and gain one’s object. Having
consulted with his ministers and with intelligent persons conversant with
policy, a foe that is disregarded and neglected, being all along
unsubdued at heart, smites at the proper season, especially when the
enemy makes a false step. By employing trusted agents of his own, such a
foe would also render the other’s forces inefficient by producing
disunion. Ascertaining the beginning, the middle and the end of his
foes,[309] a king should in secret cherish feelings of hostility towards
them. He should corrupt the forces of his foe, ascertaining everything by
positive proof, using the arts of producing disunion, making gifts, and
applying poison. A king should never live in companionship with his foes.
A king should wait long and then slay his foes. Indeed, he should wait,
expecting the opportunity, so that he might come down upon his foe at a
time when the latter would not expect him in the least. A king should
never slay a large number of the troops of his foe, although he should
certainly do that which would make his victory decisive. The king should
never do such an injury to his foe as would rankle in the latter’s
heart.[310] Nor should he cause wounds by wordy darts and shafts. If the
opportunity comes, he should strike at him, without letting it slip.
Such, O chief of the gods, should be the conduct of a king desirous of
slaying his foes towards those that are his foes. If an opportunity, with
respect to the man who waits for it, once passes away, it can never be
had again by the person desirous of acting. Acting according to the
opinions of the wise, a king should only break the strength of his foe.
He should never, when the opportunity is not favourable, seek to
accomplish his objects. Nor should he, when the opportunity is at hand,
persecute his foe.[311] Giving up lust and wrath and pride, the king
should, acting with heedfulness, continually watch for the laches of his
foes. His own mildness, the severity of his punishments, his inactivity
and heedlessness, O chief of the gods, and the deceitful contrivances
well applied (by his foes), ruin a foolish ruler. That king who can
conquer these four faults and counteract the deceitful contrivances of
his enemies succeeds, without doubt, in smiting them all. When only one
minister (without needing any help) is competent to accomplish a secret
object (of the king), the king should consult with that one minister only
in respect of such object. Many ministers, if consulted, endeavour to
throw the burden of the task upon one another’s shoulders and even give
publicity to that object which should be kept secret. If consultation
with one be not proper, then only should the king consult with many. When
foes are unseen, divine chastisement should be invoked upon them; when
seen, the army, consisting of four kinds of forces, should be moved.[312]
The king should first use the arts of producing disunion, as also those
of conciliation. When the time for each particular means comes, that
particular means should be applied. At times, the king should even
prostrate himself before a powerful foe. It is again desirable that
acting heedfully himself, he should seek to compass the victor’s
destruction when the latter becomes heedless. By prostrating one’s self,
by gift of tribute, by uttering sweet words, one should humble one’s self
before a more powerful king. One should (when the occasion for such acts
comes) never do anything that may arouse the suspicions of one’s powerful
foe. The weaker ruler should, under such circumstances, carefully avoid
every act that may awaken suspicion. A victorious king, again, should not
trust his vanquished foes, for they that are vanquished always remain
wakeful. There is nothing, O best of duties, that is more difficult of
accomplishment than the acquisition of prosperity, O ruler of the
immortals, by persons of a restless disposition. The very existence of
persons of restless disposition is fraught with danger. Kings should,
therefore, with close attention, ascertain their friends and foes. If a
king becomes mild, he is disregarded. If he becomes fierce, he inspires
people with dread. Therefore, do not be fierce. Do, not, again, be mild.
But be both fierce and mild. As a rapid current ceaselessly cats away the
high bank and causes large landslips, even so heedlessness and error
cause a kingdom to be ruined. Never attack many foes at the same time. By
applying the arts of conciliation, or gift, or production of disunion, O
Purandara, they should be ground one by one. As regards the remnant,
(being few in number,) the victor may behave peacefully towards them. An
intelligent king, even if competent for it, should not begin to crush all
(his foes) at once.[313] When a king happens to have a large army
consisting of sixfold forces[314] and teeming with horse, elephants,
cars, foot, and engines, all devoted to him, when he thinks himself
superior to his foe in many respects upon a fair comparison, then should
he openly smite the foe without hesitation. If the foe be strong, the
adoption of a policy of conciliation (towards him) is not worthy of
approbation. On the other hand, chastisement by secret means is the
policy that should be adopted. Nor should mildness of behaviour be
adopted towards such foes, nor repeated expedition, for loss of crops,
poisoning of wells and tanks, and suspicion in respect of the seven
branches of administration, should be avoided.[315] The king should, on
such occasions, apply diverse kinds of deception, diverse contrivances
for setting his foes against one another, and different kinds of
hypocritical behaviour. He should also, through trusted agents, ascertain
the doings of his foes in their cities and provinces. Kings, O slayer of
Vala and Vritra, pursuing their foes and entering their towers, seize and
appropriate the best things that are obtainable there, and devise proper
measures of policy in their own cities and dominions. Making gifts of
wealth unto them in private, and confiscating their possessions publicly,
without, however, injuring them materially, and proclaiming that they are
all wicked men that have suffered for their own misdeeds, kings should
send their agents to the cities and provinces of their foes. At the same
time, in their own cities, they should, through other persons conversant
with the scriptures, adorned with every accomplishment, acquainted with
the ordinances of the sacred books and possessed of learning cause
incantations and foe-killing rites to be performed.’

“Indra said, ‘What are the indications, O best of regenerate ones, of a
wicked person? Questioned by me, tell me how I am to know who is wicked.’

“Vrihaspati said, A wicked person is he who proclaims the faults of
others at their back, who is inspired with envy at the accomplishments of
others, and who remains silent when the merits of other people are
proclaimed in his presence, feeling a reluctance to join in the chorus.
Mere silence on such occasions is no indication of wickedness. A wicked
person, however, at such times breathe heavily, bites his lips, and
shakes his head. Such a person always mixes in society and speaks
irrelevantly.[316] Such a man never does what he promises, when the eye
of the person to whom he has given the assurance is not upon him. When
the eye of the person assured is on him, the wicked man does not even
allude to the subject. The wicked man eats by himself (and not with
others on the same board), and finds fault with the food placed before
him, saying, ‘All is not right today as on other days.’ His disposition
shows itself in the circumstances connected with his sitting, lying, and
riding. Sorrowing on occasions of sorrow and rejoicing on occasions of
joy, are the indications of a friend. An opposite behaviour furnishes the
indications of an enemy. Keep in thy heart these sayings, O ruler of the
gods! The disposition of wicked men can never be concealed. I have now
told thee, O foremost of deities, what the indications of a wicked person
are. Having listened to the truths laid down in the scriptures, follow
them duly, O ruler of the celestials!’

“Bhishma continued, ‘Having heard these words of Vrihaspati, Purandara,
employed in subduing his foes, acted strictly according to them. Bent
upon victory, that slayer of foes, when the opportunity came, obeyed
these instructions and reduced all his enemies to subjection.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘How should a righteous king, who is opposed by his
own officers, whose treasury and army are no longer under his control,
and who has no wealth, conduct himself for acquiring happiness?’

“Bhishma said, ‘In this connection, the story of Kshemadarsin is often
recited. I shall narrate that story to thee. Listen to it, O
Yudhishthira! It has been heard by us that in days of old, when prince
Kshemadarsin became weak in strength and fell into great distress, he
repaired to the sage Kalakavrikshiya, and saluting him humbly, said unto
him these words.'[317]

“The king said, ‘What should a person like me who deserves wealth but who
has, after repeated efforts, failed to recover his kingdom, do, O
Brahmana, excepting suicide, thieving and robbery, acceptance of refuge
with others, and other acts of meanness of a similar kind? O best of men,
tell me this. One like thee that is conversant with morality and full of
gratefulness is the refuge of a person afflicted by disease either mental
or physical. Man should cast off his desires. By acting in that way, by
abandoning joy and sorrow, and earning the wealth of knowledge, he
succeeds in obtaining felicity.[318] I grieve for them that adhere to
worldly happiness as dependent on wealth. All that, however, vanishes
like a dream. They that can abandon vast wealth achieve a very difficult
feat. As regards ourselves we are unable to abandon that wealth which is
even no longer existent.[319] I am divested of prosperity and have fallen
into a miserable and joyless plight. Instruct me, O Brahmana, what
happiness I may yet strive for.’ Thus addressed by the intelligent prince
of Kosala, the sage Kalakavrikshiya of great splendour made the following

“The sage said, ‘Thou hast, it seems, already understood it. Possessed of
knowledge as thou art, thou shouldst act as thou thinkest. Thy belief is
right, viz., All this that I see is unstable, myself as also everything
that I have. Know, O prince, that those things which thou regardest as
existing are in reality non-existent. The man of wisdom knows this, and
accordingly is never pained whatever the distress that may overwhelm him.
Whatever has taken place and whatever will take place are all unreal.
When thou wilt know this which should be known by all, thou shalt be
freed from unrighteousness. Whatever things had been earned and acquired
by those that came before, and whatever was earned and acquired by those
that succeeded them, have all perished. Reflecting on this, who is there
that will yield to grief? Things that were, are no more. Things that are,
will again be (no more). Grief has no power to restore them. One should
not, therefore, indulge in grief. Where, O king, is thy sire to-day, and
where thy grandsire? Thou seest them not today, nor do they see thee now.
Reflecting on thy own instability, who dost thou grieve for them? Reflect
with the aid of thy intelligence, and thou wilt understand that verily
thou shalt cease to be. Myself, thyself, O king, thy friends, and thy
foes, shall, without doubt, cease to be. Indeed, everything will cease to
be. Those men that are now of twenty or thirty years of age will, without
doubt, all die within the next hundred years. If a man cannot have the
heart to give up his vast possessions, he should then endeavour to think
his possessions are not his own and by that means seek to do good to
himself.[320] Acquisitions that are future should be regarded by one as
not one’s own. Acquisitions that have disappeared, should also be
regarded by one as not one’s own. Destiny should be regarded as all
powerful. They that think in this strain are said to be possessed of
wisdom. Such a habit of looking at things is an attribute of the good.
Many persons who are equal or superior to thee in intelligence and
exertion, though deprived of wealth, are not only alive but are never
ruling kingdoms. They are not, like thee. They do not indulge in grief
like thee. Therefore, cease thou to grieve in this way. Art thou not
Superior to those men, or at least equal to them in intelligence and
exertion?'” The king said, ‘I regard the kingdom which I had with all its
appendages to have been won by me without any exertion. All-powerful
Time, however, O regenerate one, has swept it away. The consequence,
however, that I see, of my kingdom having been swept away by Time as by a
stream, is that I am obliged to support upon whatever I obtain (by

“The sage said, ‘Moved by the knowledge of what is true (in life) one
should never grieve for either the past or the future. Be thou of such a
frame of mind. O prince of Kosala, in respect of every affair that may
engage thy attention. Desiring to obtain only that which is obtainable
and not that which is unobtainable, do thou enjoy thy present possessions
and never grieved for that which is absent. Be thou delighted, O prince
of Kosala, with whatever thou succeedest in winning with ease. Even if
divested of prosperity, do not grieve for Abut seek to preserve a pure
disposition. Only an unfortunate man who is of a foolish understanding,
when deprived of former prosperity, censures the supreme Ordainer,
without being contented with his present possessions. Such a person
regards others, however undeserving, as men blessed with prosperity. For
this reason, they that are possessed of malice and vanity and filled with
a sense of their own importance, suffer more misery still. Thou however,
O king, art not stained by such vices. Endure the prosperity of others
although thou art thyself divested of prosperity. They that are possessed
of dexterity succeed in enjoying that prosperity which is vested in
others.[321] Prosperity leaves the person that hates others. Men
possessed of righteous behaviour and wisdom and conversant with the
duties of Yoga renounce prosperity and sons and grandsons of their own
accord. Others, regarding earthly wealth to be exceedingly unstable and
unattainable, dependent as it is upon ceaseless action and effort, are
also seen to renounce it.[322] Thou seemest to be possessed of wisdom.
Why dost thou then grieve so piteously, desiring things that should not
be desired, that are unstable, and that are dependent on others? Thou
desirest to enquire after that particular frame of mind (which would
enable thee to enjoy felicity notwithstanding the loss of thy
possessions). The advice I give thee is to renounce all those objects of
desire. Objects that should be avoided appear in the guise of those that
should be striven for, while those that should be striven for appear in
the guise of objects that should be avoided. Some lose their wealth in
the pursuit of wealth. Others regard wealth as the root of infinite
happiness, and, therefore pursue it eagerly. Some again, delighted with
wealth, think that there is nothing superior to it. In his eager desire
for the acquisition of wealth, such a person loses all other objects of
life. If, O prince of Kosala, a person loses that wealth which had been
earned with difficulty and which had been proportionate to his desires,
he then, overcome by the inactivity of despair, gives up all desire of
wealth. Some persons of righteous souls and high birth betake themselves
to the acquisition of virtue. These renounce every kind of worldly
happiness from desire of winning felicity in the other world. Some
persons lay down life itself, moved by the desire of acquiring wealth.
These do not think that life has any use if dissociated from wealth.
Behold their pitiable condition. Behold their foolishness. When life is
so short and uncertain, these men, moved by ignorance, set their eyes on
wealth. Who is there that would set his heart upon hoarding when
destruction is its end, upon life when death is its end, and upon union
when separation is its end? sometimes man renounces wealth, and sometimes
wealth renounces man. What man possessed of knowledge is there that would
feel grieved at the loss of wealth? There are many other persons in the
world that lose wealth and friends. Behold, O king, with thy
intelligence, and thou wilt understand that the calamities which overtake
men are all due to the conduct of men themselves. Do thou, therefore, (as
a remedy), restrain thy senses and mind and speech. For, if those become
weak and productive of evil there is no man who can keep himself free
from temptation of external objects by which he is always surrounded. As
no one can form an adequate idea of the past nor can foresee the future,
there being many intervals of time and place, a person like thee who is
possessed of such wisdom and such prowess, never indulges in grief for
union and separation, for good or evil. A person of such mildness of
disposition, well-restrained soul, and settled conclusions, and observant
of Brahmacharya vows, never indulges in grief and never becomes restless
from desire of acquiring or fear of losing anything of small value. It is
not fit that such a man should adopt a deceitful life of mendicancy, a
life that is sinful and wicked and cruel and worthy of only a wretch
among men. Do thou repair to the great forest and lead a life of
happiness there, all alone and subsisting upon fruit and roots,
restraining speech and soul, and filled with compassion for all
creatures. He that cheerfully leads such a life in the forest, with
large-tusked elephants for companions, with no human being by his side,
and contented with the produce of the wilderness, is said to act after
the manner of the wise. A large lake when it becomes turbid, resumes its
tranquillity of itself. Similarly, a man of wisdom, when disturbed in
such matters, becomes tranquil of himself. I see that a person that has
fallen into such a plight as thine may live happily even thus. When thy
prosperity is almost impossible to recover, and when thou art without
ministers and counsellors, such a course is open to thee. Dost thou hope
to reap any benefit by depending upon destiny?'”


“The sage said, ‘If, on the other hand, O Kshatriya, thou thinkest that
thou hast any prowess still, I shall discourse to thee about that line of
policy which thou mayst adopt for recovering thy kingdom. If thou canst
follow that line of policy and seek to exert thyself, thou canst still
recover thy prosperity. Listen attentively to all that I say unto thee in
detail. If thou canst act according to those counsels, thou mayst yet
obtain vast wealth, indeed, thy kingdom and kingly power and great
prosperity. If thou likest it, O king, tell me, for then I shall speak to
thee of that policy.’

“The king said, ‘Tell me, O holy one, what thou wishest to say. I am
willing to hear and act according to thy counsels. Let this my meeting
with thee today be fruitful of consequences (to myself).’

“The sage said, ‘Renouncing pride and desire and ire and joy and fear,
wait upon thy very foes, humbling thyself and joining thy hands. Do thou
serve Janaka the ruler of Mithila, always performing good and pure deeds.
Firmly devoted to truth, the king of Videha will certainly give thee
great wealth. Thou shalt then become the right arm of that king and
obtain the trust of all persons. As a consequence of this, thou shalt
then succeed in obtaining many allies possessed of courage and
perseverance, pure in behaviour, and free from the seven principal
faults. A person of restrained soul and having his senses under control,
by adhering to his duties, succeeds in raising himself and gladdening
others. Honoured by Janaka possessed of intelligence and prosperity, thou
shalt certainly become the right arm of that ruler and enjoy the
confidence of all. Having then mustered a large force and held
consultations with good ministers, do thou cause disunion among thy foes
and, setting them against one another, break them all like a person
breaking a vilwa with a vilwa. Or, making peace with the foes of thy foe,
destroy the latter’s power.[323] Thou shalt then cause thy foe to be
attached to such good things as are not easily attainable, to beautiful
women and cloths, beds and seats and vehicles, all of very costly kinds,
and houses, and birds and animals of diverse species, and juices and
perfumes and fruits, so that thy foe may be ruined of himself.[324] If
one’s foe be thus managed, or if indifference is to be shown towards him,
one that is desirous of acting according to good policy, should never
suffer that foe to know it at all. Following the behaviour that is
approved by the wise, do thou enjoy every kind of pleasure in the
dominions of thy foe, and imitating the conduct of the dog, the deer, and
the crow, behave, with apparent friendship, towards thy enemies. Cause
them to undertake achievements that are mighty and difficult to
accomplish. See also that they engage in hostilities with powerful
enemies. Drawing their attention to pleasant gardens and costly beds and
seats, do thou, by offering such objects of enjoyment, drain thy enemy’s
treasury. Advising thy enemy to perform sacrifices and make gifts, do
thou gratify the Brahmanas. The latter, (having received those presents
through thy hands), will do good to thee in return (by performing
penances and Vedic rites), and devour thy enemy like wolves. Without
doubt, a person of righteous deeds obtains a high end. By such deeds men
succeed in earning regions of the most felicity in heaven. If the
treasury of thy foes be exhausted (by either righteous or unrighteous
deeds), every one of them, O prince of Kosala, may be reduced to
subjection. The treasury is the root of felicity in heaven and victory on
earth. It is in consequence of their treasuries that the foes enjoy such
happiness. The treasury, therefore, should by every means be drained. Do
not applaud Exertion in the presence of thy foe but speak highly of
Destiny. Without doubt, the man who relies too much on acts appertaining
to the worship of the gods soon meets with destruction. Cause thy enemy
to perform the great sacrifice called Viswajit and divest him by that
means of all his possessions. Through this thy object will be fulfilled.
Thou mayst then inform thy enemy of the fact that the best men in his
kingdom are being oppressed (with exactions for refilling the exhausted
treasury), and indicate some eminent ascetic conversant with the duties
of Yoga (who will wean thy foe from all earthly possessions). The enemy
will then desire to adopt renunciation and retire into the woods,
solicitous of salvation. Thou shall then, with the aid of drugs prepared
by boiling highly efficacious herbs and plants, and of artificial salts,
destroy the elephants and steeds and men (of thy enemy’s dominions).
These and many other well-devised schemes are available, all connected
with fraud. An intelligent person can thus destroy the population of a
hostile kingdom with poison.'”


“The king said, ‘I do not desire, O Brahmana, to support life by deceit
or fraud. I do not desire wealth, however great, which is to be earned by
unrighteous means. At the very outset of our present discourse I excepted
these means. By the adoption of only such means as would not lead to
censure, of such means as would benefit me in every respect, by
practising only such acts as are not harmful in their consequences, I
desire to live in this world.. I am incapable of adopting these ways that
thou pointest out to me. Indeed, these instructions do not become thee.’

“The sage said, ‘These words, O Kshatriya, that thou speakest indicate
thee to be possessed of righteous feelings. Indeed, thou art righteous in
disposition and understanding, O thou of great experience. I shall strive
for the good of you both, viz., for thyself and him.[325] I shall cause a
union, eternal and incapable of breach, to be brought about between thee
and that king. Who is there that would not like to have a minister like
thee that art born of noble race, that abstainest from all acts of
unrighteousness and cruelty, that art possessed of great learning, and
that art well versed in the art of government and of conciliating all
persons? I say this because, O Kshatriya, though divested of kingdom and
plunged into great misery, thou still desirest to live adopting a
behaviour that is righteous. The ruler of the Videhas, firmly adhering to
truth, will come to my abode soon. Without doubt, he will do what I will
urge to do.’

“Bhishma continued, “The sage, after this, inviting the ruler of the
Videhas, said these words unto him: ‘This personage is of royal birth. I
know his very heart. His soul is as pure as the surface of mirror or the
disc of the autumnal moon. He has been examined by me in every way. I do
not see any fault in him. Let there be friendship between him and thee.
Do thou repose confidence on him as on myself. A king who is without a
(competent) minister cannot govern his kingdom even for three days. The
minister should be courageous as also possessed of great intelligence. By
these two qualities one may conquer both the worlds. Behold, O king,
these two qualities are necessary for ruling a kingdom. Righteous kings
have no such refuge as a minister possessed of such attributes. The
high-souled person is of royal descent. He walketh along, the path of the
righteous. This one who always keeps righteousness in view has been a
valuable acquisition. If treated by thee with honour, he will reduce all
thy foes to subjection. If he engages in battle with thee, he will do
what as a Kshatriya he should do. Indeed, if after the manner of his
sires and grandsires he fights for conquering thee, it will be thy duty
to fight him, observant as thou art of the Kshatriya duty of conquering
antagonists. Without engaging in battle, however, do thou, at my command,
employ him under thee from desire of benefiting thyself. Cast thy eyes on
righteousness, giving up covetousness that is improper. It behoveth thee
not to abandon the duties of thy order from lust or desire of battle.
Victory O sire, is not certain. Defeat also is not certain. Remembering
this, peace should be made with an enemy by giving him food and other
articles of enjoyment. One may see victory and defeat in his own case.
They that seek to exterminate a foe are sometimes exterminated themselves
in course of their efforts.’ Thus addressed, king Janaka, properly
saluting and honouring that bull among Brahmanas who deserved every
honour, replied unto him, saying, ‘Thou art of great learning and great
wisdom. That which thou hast said from desire of benefiting us, is
certainly advantageous for both of us. Such a course of conduct is highly
beneficial (to us). I have no hesitation in saying this. The ruler of
Videha then, addressing the prince of Kosala, said these words: ‘In
observance of Kshatriya duties as also with aid of Policy, I have
conquered the world. I have, however, O best of kings, been conquered by
thee with thy good qualities. Without cherishing any sense of humiliation
(if thou remainest by my side), live thou with me as a victor.[326] I
honour thy intelligence, and I honour thy prowess. I do not disregard
thee, saying that I have conquered thee. On the other hand, live thou
with me as a victor. Honoured duly by me, O king, thou wilt go to my
abode. Both the kings then worshipped that Brahmana, and trusting each
other, proceeded to the capital of Mithila. The ruler of the Videhas,
causing the prince of Kosala to enter his abode, honoured him, who
deserved every honour, with offerings of water to wash his feet, honey
and curds and the usual articles. King Janaka also bestowed upon his
guest his own daughter and diverse kinds of gems and jewels. This (the
establishment of peace) is the high duty of kings; victory and defeat are
both uncertain.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘Thou hast, O scorcher of foes, described the course
of duties, the general conduct, the means of livelihood, with their
results, of Brahmanas and Kshatriyas and Vaisyas and Sudras. Thou hast
discoursed also on the duties of kings, the subject of their treasuries,
the means of filling them, and the topic of conquest and victory. Thou
hast spoken also of the characteristics of ministers, the measures, that
lead to the advancement of the subjects, the characteristics of the
sixfold limbs of a kingdom, the qualities of armies, the means of
distinguishing the wicked, and the marks of those that are good, the
attributes of those that are equal, those that are inferior, and those
that are superior, the behaviour which a king desirous of advancement
should adopt towards the masses, and the manner in which the weak should
be protected and cherished. Thou hast discoursed on all these subjects, O
Bharata, laying down instructions that are plain according to what has
been inculcated hi sacred treatise. Thou hast spoken also of the
behaviour that should be adopted by kings desirous of conquering their
foes. I desire now, O foremost of intelligent men, to listen to the
behaviour that one should observe towards the multitude of courageous men
that assemble round a king![327] I desire to hear how these may grow, how
they may be attached to the king, O Bharata, how may they succeed in
subjugating their foes and in acquiring friends. It seems to me that
disunion alone can bring about their destruction. I think it is always
difficult to keep counsels secret when many are concerned. I desire to
hear all this in detail, O scorcher of foes! Tell me also, O king, the
means by which they may be prevented from falling out with the king.’

“Bhishma said, ‘Between the aristocracy on the one side and the kings on
the other, avarice and wrath, O monarch, are the causes that produce
enmity.[328] One of these parties (viz., the king,) yields to avarice. As
a consequence, wrath takes possession of the other (the aristocracy).
Each intent upon weakening and wasting the other, they both meet with
destruction. By employing spies, contrivances of policy, and physical
force, and adopting the arts of conciliation, gifts, and disunion and
applying other methods for producing weakness, waste, and fear, the
parties assail each other. The aristocracy of a kingdom, having the
characteristics of a compact body, become dissociated from the king if
the latter seeks to take too much from them. Dissociated from the king,
all of them become dissatisfied, and acting from fear, side with the
enemies of their ruler. If again the aristocracy of a kingdom be
disunited amongst themselves, they meet with destruction. Disunited, they
fall an easy prey to foes. The nobles, therefore, should always act in
concert. If they be united together, they may earn acquisitions of value
by means of their strength and prowess. Indeed, when they are thus
united, many outsiders seek their alliance. Men of knowledge applaud
those nobles that art united with one another in bonds of love. If united
in purpose, all of them can be happy. They can (by their example)
establish righteous courses of conduct. By behaving properly, they
advance in prosperity. By restraining their sons and brothers and
teaching them their duties, and by behaving kindly towards all persons
whose pride has been quelled by knowledge,[329] the aristocracy advance
in prosperity. By always attending to the duties of setting spies and
devising means of policy, as also to the matter of filling their
treasuries, the aristocracy, O thou of mighty arms, advance in
prosperity. By showing proper reverence for them that are possessed of
wisdom and courage and perseverance and that display steady prowess in
all kinds of work, the aristocracy advance in prosperity. Possessed of
wealth and resources, of knowledge of the scriptures and all arts and
sciences, the aristocracy rescue the ignorant masses from every kind of
distress and danger. Wrath (on the of part the king), rupture,[330]
terror, chastisement, persecution, oppression, and executions, O chief of
the Bharatas, speedily cause the aristocracy to fall away from the king
and side with the king’s enemies. They, therefore, that are the leaders
of the aristocracy should be honoured by the king. The affairs of the
kingdom, O king, depend to a great extent upon them. Consultations should
be held with only those that are the leaders of the aristocracy, and
secret agents should be placed, O crusher of foes, with them only. The
king should not, O Bharata, consult with every member of the aristocracy.
The king, acting in concert with the leaders, should do what is for the
good of the whole order. When, however, the aristocracy becomes separated
and disunited and destitute of leaders, other courses of action should be
followed. If the members of the aristocracy quarrel with one another and
act, each according to his own resources, without combination, their
prosperity dwindles away and diverse kinds of evil occur. Those amongst
them that are possessed of learning and wisdom should tread down a
dispute as soon as it happens. Indeed, if the seniors of a race look on
with indifference, quarrels break out amongst the members. Such quarrels
bring about the destruction of a race and produce disunion among the
(entire order of the) nobles. Protect thyself, O king, from all fears
that arise from within. Fears, however, that arise from outside are of
little consequence. The first kind of fear, O king, may cut thy roots in
a single day. Persons that are equal to one another in family and blood,
influenced by wrath or folly or covetousness arising from their very
natures, cease to speak with one another. This is an indication of
defeat. It is not by courage, nor by intelligence, nor by beauty, nor by
wealth, that enemies succeed in destroying the aristocracy. It is only by
disunion and gifts that it can be reduced to subjugation. For this
reason, combination has been said to be the great refuge of the


“Yudhishthira said, ‘The path of duty is long. It has also, O Bharata,
many branches. What, however, according to thee, are those duties that
most deserve to be practised? What acts, according to thee, are the most
important among all duties, by the practice of which I may earn the
highest merit both here and hereafter?’

“Bhishma said, ‘The worship of mother, father, and preceptor is most
important according to me. The man who attends to that duty here,
succeeds in acquiring great fame and many regions of felicity. Worshipped
with respect by thee, whatever they will command thee, be it consistent
with righteousness or in consistent with it, should be done
unhesitatingly, O Yudhishthira! One should never do what they forbid.
Without doubt, that which they command should always be done.[332] They
are the three worlds. They are the three modes of life. They are the
three Vedas. They are the three sacred fires. The father is said to be
the Garhapatya fire; the mother, the Dakshina fire, and the preceptor is
that fire upon which libations are poured. These three fires are, of
course, the most eminent. If thou attendest with heedfulness to these
three fires, thou wilt succeed in conquering the three worlds. By serving
the father with regularity, one may cross this world. By serving the
mother in the same way, one may attain to regions of felicity in the
next. By serving the preceptor with regularity one may obtain the region
of Brahma. Behave properly towards these three, O Bharata, thou shalt
then obtain great fame in the three worlds, and blessed be thou, great
will be thy merit and reward. Never transgress them in any act. Never eat
before they eat, nor eat anything that is better than what thy eat. Never
impute any fault to them. One should always serve them with humility.
That is an act of high merit. By acting in that way, O best of kings,
thou mayst obtain fame, merit, honour, and regions of felicity hereafter.
He who honours these three is honoured in all the worlds. He, on the
other hand, who disregards these three, falls to obtain any merit from
any of his acts. Such a man, O scorcher of foes, acquires merit neither
in this world nor in the next. He who always disregards these three
seniors never obtains fame either here or hereafter. Such a man never
earns any good in the next world. All that I have given away in honour of
those three has become a hundredfold or a thousandfold of its actual
measure. It is in consequence of that merit that even now, O
Yudhishthira, the three worlds are clearly before my eyes. One Acharya is
superior to ten Brahmanas learned in the Vedas. One Upadhyaya is again
superior to ten Acharyas. The father, again, is superior to ten
Upadhyayas. The mother again, is superior to ten fathers, or perhaps, the
whole world, in importance. There is no one that deserves such reverence
as the mother. In my opinion, however, the preceptor is worthy of greater
reverence than the father or even the mother. The father and the mother
are authors of one’s being. The father and the mother, O Bharata, only
create the body. The life, on the other hand, that one obtains from one’s
preceptor, is heavenly. That life is subject to no decay and is immortal.
The father and the mother, however much they may offend, should never be
slain. By not punishing a father and a mother, (even if they deserve
punishment), one does not incur sin. Indeed, such reverend persons, by
enjoying impunity, do not stain the king. The gods and the Rishis do not
withhold their favours from such persons as strive to cherish even their
sinful fathers with reverence. He who favours a person by imparting to
him true instruction, by communicating the Vedas, and giving knowledge
which is immortal, should be regarded as both a father and a mother. The
disciple, in grateful recognition of what the instructor has done, should
never do anything that would injure the latter. They that do not
reverence their preceptors after receiving instruction from them by
obeying them dutifully in thought and deed, incur the sin of killing a
foetus. There is no sinner in this world like them.[333] Preceptors
always show great affection for their disciples. The latter should,
therefore, show their preceptors commensurate reverence. He, therefore,
that wishes to earn that high merit which has existed from ancient days,
should worship and adore his preceptors and cheerfully share with them
every object of enjoyment. With him who pleases his father is pleased
Prajapati himself. He who pleases his mother gratifies the earth herself.
He who pleases his preceptor gratifies Brahma by his act. For this
reason, the preceptor is worthy of greater reverence than either the
father or the mother. If preceptors are worshipped, the very Rishis, and
the gods, together with the Pitris, are all pleased. Therefore, the
preceptor is worthy of the highest reverence. The preceptor should never
be disregarded in any manner by the disciple. Neither the mother nor the
father deserves such regard as the preceptor. The father, the mother, and
the preceptor, should never be insulted. No act of theirs should be found
fault with. The gods and the great Rishis are pleased with him that
behaves with reverence towards his preceptors. They that injure in
thought and deed their preceptors, or fathers, or mothers, incur the sin
of killing a foetus. There is no sinner in the world equal to them. That
son of the sire’s loins and the mother’s womb, who, being brought up by
them and when he comes to age, does not support them in his turn, incurs
the sin of killing a foetus. There is no sinner in the world like unto
him. We have never heard that these four, viz., he who injures a friend,
he who is ungrateful, he who slays a woman, and he who slays a preceptor,
ever succeed in cleansing themselves. I have now told thee generally all
that a person should do in this world. Besides those duties that I have
indicated, there is nothing productive of greater felicity. Thinking of
all duties, I have told thee their essence.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘How, O Bharata, should a person act who desires to
adhere to virtue? O bull of Bharata’s race, possessed as thou art of
learning, tell me this, questioned by me. Truth and falsehood exist,
covering all the worlds. Which of these two, O king, should a person
adopt that is firm in virtue? What again is truth? What is falsehood?
What, again, is eternal virtue? On what occasions should a person tell
the truth, and on what occasions should he tell an untruth?’

“Bhishma said, ‘To tell the truth is consistent with righteousness. There
is nothing higher than truth. I shall now, O Bharata, say unto thee that
which is not generally known to men. There where falsehood would assume
the aspect of truth, truth should not be said. There, again, where truth
would assume the aspect of falsehood, even falsehood should be said. That
ignorant person incurs sin who says truth which is dissociated from
righteousness. That person is said to be conversant with duties who can
distinguish truth from falsehood.[334] Even a person that is
disrespectable, that is of uncleansed soul, and that is very cruel, may
succeed in earning great merit as the hunter Valaka by slaying the blind
beast (that threatened to destroy all creatures).[335] How extraordinary
it is that a person of foolish understanding, though desirous of
acquiring merit (by austere penances) still committed a sinful act![336]
An owl again, on the banks of the Ganges, (by doing an unrighteous deed)
obtained great merit.[337] The question thou hast asked me is a difficult
one, since it is difficult to say what righteousness is. It is not easy
to indicate it. No one in discoursing upon righteousness, can indicate it
accurately. Righteousness was declared (by Brahman) for the advancement
and growth of all creatures. Therefore, that which leads to advancement
and growth is righteousness. Righteousness was declared for restraining
creatures from injuring one another. Therefore, that is Righteousness
which prevents injury to creatures. Righteousness (Dharma) is so called
because it upholds all creatures. In fact, all creatures are upheld by
righteousness. Therefore, that is righteousness which is capable of
upholding all creatures. Some say that righteousness consists in what has
been inculcated in the Srutis. Others do not agree to this. I would not
censure them that say so. Everything, again, has not been laid down in
the Srutis.[338] Sometimes men (robbers), desirous of obtaining the
wealth of some one, make enquiries (for facilitating the act of plunder).
One should never answer such enquiries. That is a settled duty. If by
maintaining silence, one succeeds in escaping, one should remain silent.
If, on the other hand, one’s silence at a time when one must speak rouses
suspicion, it would be better on such an occasion to say what is untrue
than what is true. This is a settled conclusion. If one can escape from
sinful men by even a (false) oath, one may take it without incurring sin.
One should not, even if one be able, giveaway his wealth to sinful men.
Wealth given to sinful men afflicts even the giver. If a creditor desires
to make his debtor pay off the loan by rendering bodily service, the
witnesses would all be liars, if, summoned by the creditor for
establishing the truth of the contract, they did not say what should be
said. When life is at risk, or on occasion of marriage, one may say an
untruth. One that seeks for virtue, does not commit a sin by saying an
untruth, if that untruth be said to save the wealth and prosperity of
others or for the religious purposes. Having promised to pay, one becomes
bound to fulfil his promise. Upon failure, let the self-appropriator be
forcibly enslaved. If a person without fulfilling a righteous engagement
acts with impropriety, he should certainly be afflicted with the rod of
chastisement for having adopted such behaviour.[339] A deceitful person,
falling away from all duties and abandoning those of his own order,
always wishes to betake himself to the practices of Asuras for supporting
life. Such a sinful wretch living by deceit should be slain by every
means. Such sinful men think that there is nothing in this world higher
than wealth. Such men should never be tolerated. No one should eat with
them. They should be regarded to have fallen down in consequence of their
sins. Indeed, fallen away from the condition of humanity and shut out
from the grace of the gods, they are even like evil genii. Without
sacrifices and without penances as they are, forbear from their
companionship. If their wealth be lost, they commit even suicide which is
exceedingly pitiable. Among those sinful men there is no one to whom thou
canst say, ‘This is thy duty. Let thy heart turn to it.’ Their settled
convictions are that there is nothing in this world that is equal to
wealth. The person that would slay such a creature would incur no sin. He
who kills him kills one that has been already killed by his own acts. If
slain, it is the dead that is slain. He who vows to destroy those persons
of lost senses should keep his vows.[340] Such sinners are, like the crow
and the vulture, dependent on deceit for their living. After the
dissolution of their (human) bodies, they take rebirth as crows and
vultures. One should, in any matter, behave towards another as that other
behaves in that matter. He who practises deceit should be resisted with
deceit while one that is honest should be treated with honesty.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘Creatures are seen to be afflicted by diverse means
and almost continually. Tell me, O grandsire, in what way can one
overcome all those difficulties.’

“Bhishma said, ‘Those members of the regenerate class that duly practise,
with restrained souls, the duties that have been laid down in the
scriptures for the several modes of life, succeed in overcoming all these
difficulties. They that never practise deceit, they whose behaviour is
restrained by salutary restrictions, and they that control all worldly
desires, succeed in overcoming all difficulties. They that do not speak
when, addressed in evil language, they that do not injure others when
themselves injured, they that give but do not take, succeed in overcoming
all difficulties. They that always give hospitable shelter to guests,
they that do not indulge in malice, they that are constantly engaged in
the study of the Vedas, succeed in overcoming all difficulties. Those
persons who, being conversant with duties, adopt that behaviour towards
parents which they should, they that abstain from sleeping during the
day, succeed in overcoming all difficulties. They that do not commit any
kind of sin in thought, word, and deed, they that never injure any
creature, succeed in overcoming all difficulties. Those kings that do
not, under the influence of passion and covetousness, levy oppressive
taxes, and those that protect their own dominions, succeed in overcoming
all difficulties. They that go to their own wedded wives in season
without seeking the companionship of other women, they that are honest
and attentive to their Agni-hotras, succeed in overcoming all
difficulties. They that are possessed of courage and that, casting away
all fear of death, engage in battle, desirous of victory by fair means,
succeed in overcoming all difficulties. They that always speak truth in
this world even when life is at stake, and that are exemplars for all
creatures to imitate succeed in overcoming all difficulties. They whose
acts never deceive, whose words are always agreeable, and whose wealth is
always well spent, succeed in, overcoming all difficulties. Those
Brahmanas that never study the Vedas at hours not intended for study, and
that practise penances with devotion, succeed in overcoming all
difficulties. Those Brahmanas that betake themselves to a life of
celibacy and Brahmacharya, that perform penances, and that are cleansed
by learning, Vedic knowledge, and proper vows, succeed in overcoming all
difficulties. They that have checked all the qualities that appertain to
Passion and Darkness, that are possessed of high souls, and that practise
the qualities that are called Good, succeed in overcoming all
difficulties. They of whom no creature stands in fear and those that do
not fear any creature themselves, they that look upon all creatures as
their own selves, succeed in overcoming all difficulties. Those bulls
among men that are good, that are never inspired with grief at the sight
of other people’s prosperity, and that abstain from all kinds of ignoble
behaviour, succeed in overcoming all difficulties. They that bow to all
the gods, that listen to the doctrines of all creeds, that have faith,
and that are endued with tranquil souls, succeed in overcoming all
difficulties. They that do not desire honour for themselves, that give
honours unto others, that bow down unto those that deserve their worship,
succeed in overcoming all difficulties. They that perform Sraddhas on the
proper lunar days, with pure minds, from desire of offspring, succeed in
overcoming all difficulties. They that restrain their own wrath and
pacify the wrath of others, and that never get angry with any creature,
succeed in overcoming all difficulties. They that abstain, from their
birth, from honey and meat and intoxicating drinks, succeed in overcoming
all difficulties. They that eat for only supporting life, that seek the
companionship of women for the sake only of offspring and that open their
lips for only speaking what is true, succeed in overcoming all
difficulties. They that worship with devotion the god Narayana, that
Supreme Lord of all creatures, that origin and destruction of the
universe, succeed in overcoming all difficulties. This Krishna here, of
eyes red as the lotus, clad in yellow robes, endued with mighty
arms,–this Krishna who is our well-wisher, brother, friend, and
relative,–is Narayana of unfading glory. He covers all the worlds like a
leathern case, at his own pleasure. He is the puissant Lord, of
inconceivable soul. He is Govinda, the foremost of all beings. This
Krishna who is ever engaged in doing what is agreeable and beneficial to
Jishnu, as also to thee, O king, is that foremost of all beings, that
irresistible one, that abode of eternal felicity. They that with devotion
seek the refuge of this Narayana, called also Hari, succeed in overcoming
all difficulties. They that read these verses about the overcoming of
difficulties, that recite them to others, and that speak of them unto
Brahmanas, succeed in overcoming all difficulties. I have now, O sinless
one, told thee all those acts by which men may overcome all difficulties
both here and hereafter.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘Many persons here that are not really of tranquil
souls appear in outward form as men of tranquil souls. There are again
others that are really of tranquil souls but that appear to be otherwise.
How, O sire, shall we succeed in knowing these people?’

“Bhishma said, ‘In this connection is recited the old story of the
discourse between a tiger and a jackal. Listen to it, O Yudhishthira! In
ancient times, in a city called Purika, full of affluence, there was a
king named Paurika. That worst of beings was exceedingly cruel and took
delight in injuring others. On the expiry of the period of his life he
obtained an undesirable end. In fact, stained by the evil acts of his
human life, he was reborn as a jackal. Remembering his former prosperity,
he became filled with grief and abstained from meat even when brought
before him by others. And he became compassionate unto all creatures, and
truthful in speech, and firm in the observance of austere vows. At the
appointed time he took food which consisted of fruit that had dropped
from the trees. That jackal dwelt in a vast crematorium and liked to
dwell there. And as it was his birth place, he never wished to change it
for a finer locality. Unable to endure the purity of his behaviour, the
other members of his species, endeavoured to make him alter his resolve
by addressing him in the following words fraught with humility: ‘Though
residing in this terrible crematorium, thou desirest yet to live in such
purity of behaviour. Is not this a perversity of understanding on thy
part, since thou art by nature an cater of carrion? Be thou our like. All
of us will give thee food. Eat that which ought always to be thy food,
abandoning such purity of conduct. Hearing these words of theirs, the
jackal replied unto them, with rapt attention, in these sweet words
fraught with reason and inculcating harmlessness to all: ‘My birth has
been low. It is conduct, however, that determines the race.[341] I desire
to behave in such a way that my fame may spread. Although my habitation
is this crematorium, yet listen to my vows in respect of behaviour. One’s
own self is the cause of one’s acts. The mode of life to which one may
betake oneself is not the cause of one’s religious acts. If one, while in
the observance of a particular mode of life, slays a Brahmana, will not
the sin of Brahmanicide attach to him? If, on the other hand, one gives
away a cow while one is not in the observance of any particular mode of
life, will that pious gift produce no merit? Moved by the desire of
getting what is agreeable, ye are engaged in only filling your stomachs.
Stupefied by folly ye do not see the three faults that are in the end. I
do not like to adopt the life led by you, fraught as it is with evil both
here and hereafter, and characterised as it is by such censurable loss of
virtue occasioned by discontentment and temptation.’ A tiger, celebrated
for prowess, happened to overhear this conversation, and accordingly,
taking the jackal for a learned person of pure behaviour, offered him
such respectful worship as was suited to his own self and then expressed
a wish for appointing him his minister.’

“The tiger said, ‘O righteous personage, I know what thou art. Do thou
attend to the duties of government with myself. Enjoy whatever articles
may be desired by thee, abandoning whatever may not suit thy taste.[342]
As regards ourselves, we are known to be of a fierce disposition. We
inform thee beforehand of this. If thou behavest with mildness, thou wilt
be benefited and reap advantages for thyself.’–Honouring these words of
that high-souled lord of all animals, the jackal, hanging down his head a
little, said these words fraught with humility.’

“The jackal said, ‘O king of beasts, these words of thine with reference
to myself are such as befit thee. It is also worthy of thee that thou
shouldst seek for ministers of pure behaviour and conversant with duties
and worldly affairs. Thou canst not maintain thy greatness without a
pious minister, O hero, or with a wicked minister that is on the look-out
for putting an end to the very life. Thou shouldst, O highly blessed one,
regard those amongst thy ministers that are devoted to thee, that are
conversant with policy, that are independent of one another, desirous of
crowning thee with victory, unstained by covetousness, free from deceit,
possessed of wisdom ever engaged in thy good, and endued with great
mental vigour, even as thou regardest thy preceptors or parents. But, O
king of beasts, as I am perfectly contented with my present position, I
do not desire to change it for anything else. I do not covet luxurious
enjoyments or the happiness that arises from them. My conduct, again, may
not agree with that of thy old servants. If they happen to be of wicked
conduct, they will produce disunion between thee and me. Dependence upon
another, even if that other happens to be possessed of splendour, is not
desirable or praiseworthy. I am of cleansed soul, I am highly blessed. I
am incapable of showing severity to even sinners. I am of great
foresight. I have capacity for great exertion. I do not look at small
things. I am possessed of great strength. I am successful in acts. I
never act fruitlessly. I am adorned with every object of enjoyment. I am
never satisfied with a little. I have never served another. I am,
besides, unskilled in serving. I live according to my pleasure in the
woods. All who live by the side of kings have to endure great pain in
consequence of evil speeches against themselves. Those, however, that
reside in the woods pass their days, fearlessly and without anxiety, in
the observance of vows. The fear that arises in the heart of a person who
is summoned by the king is unknown to persons passing their days
contentedly in the woods, supporting life upon fruits and roots. Simple
food and drink obtained without effort, and luxurious food procured with
fear, widely differ from each other. Reflecting upon these two, I am of
opinion that there is happiness where there is no anxiety. A few only
amongst those that serve kings are justly punished for their offences. A
large number of them, however, suffer death under false accusations. If,
notwithstanding all this, thou appointest me, O king of beasts, as thy
minister, I wish to make a compact with thee in respect of the behaviour
thou shouldst always adopt towards me. Those words that I shall speak for
thy good should be listened to and regarded by thee. The provision which
thou wilt make for me shall not be interfered with by thee. I shall never
consult with thy other ministers. If I do, desirous of superiority as
they are they will then impute diverse kinds of faults to me. Meeting
with thee alone and in secret I shall say what is for thy good. In all
matters connected with thy kinsmen, thou shalt not ask me what is for thy
good or what is otherwise. Having consulted with me thou shalt not punish
thy other ministers afterwards, yielding to rage thou shalt not punish my
followers and dependants.’ Thus addressed by the jackal, the king of
beasts answered him, saying, ‘Let it be so,’ and showed him every honour.
The jackal then accepted the ministership of the tiger. Beholding the
jackal treated with respect and honoured in all his acts, the old
servants of the king, conspiring together, began ceaselessly to display
their hatred towards him. Those wicked persons at first strove to gratify
and win him over with friendly behaviour and make him tolerate the
diverse abuses that existed in the taste. Despoilers of other people’s
property, they had long lived in the enjoyment of their perquisites. Now,
however, being ruled by the jackal, they were unable to appropriate
anything belonging to others. Desirous of advancement and prosperity,
they began to tempt him with sweet speeches. Indeed, large bribes even
were offered to allure his heart. Possessed of great wisdom, the jackal
showed no signs of yielding to those temptations. Then some amongst them,
making a compact amongst themselves for effecting his destruction, took
away the well-dressed meat that was intended for and much desired by the
king of beasts, and placed it secretly in the house of the jackal. The
jackal knew who had stolen the meat and who had conspired to do it. But
though he knew everything, he tolerated it for a particular object. He
had made a compact with the king at the time of his accepting the
ministership, saying, ‘Thou desirest my friendship, but thou shalt not, O
monarch, mistrust me without cause.’

“Bhishma continued, ‘When the king of beasts, feeling hungry, came to
eat, he saw not the meat that was to have been kept ready for his dinner.
The king then ordered, ‘Let the thief be found out.’ His deceitful
ministers represented unto him that the meat kept for him had been stolen
away by his learned minister, the jackal, that was so proud of his own
wisdom. Rearing Of this injudicious act on the part of the jackal, the
tiger became filled with rage. Indeed, the king, giving way to his wrath,
ordered his minister to be slain. Beholding the opportunity, the former
ministers addressed the king, saying, ‘The jackal is ever ready to take
away from all of us the means of sustenance.’ Having represented this
they once more spoke of the jackal’s act of robbing the king of his food.
And they said, ‘Such then is his act! What is there that he would not
venture to do? He is not as thou hadst heard. He is righteous in speech
but his real disposition is sinful. A wretch in reality, he has disguised
himself by putting on a garb of virtue. His behaviour is really sinful.
For serving his own ends he had practised austerities in the matter of
diet and of vows. If thou disbelievest this, we will give thee ocular
proof.’ Having said this, they immediately caused that meat to be
discovered by entering the jackal’s abode. Ascertaining that the meat was
brought back from the jackal’s house and hearing all those
representations of his old servants, the king ordered, saying, ‘Let the
jackal be slain.’ Hearing these words of the tiger, his mother came to
that spot for awakening son’s good sense with beneficial counsels. The
venerable dame said, ‘O son, thou shouldst not accept this accusation
fraught with deceit. Wicked individuals impute faults to even an honest
person, moved by envy and rivalry. Enemies desirous of a quarrel cannot
endure the elevation of an enemy brought about by his high feats. Faults
are ascribed to even a person of pure soul engaged in penances. With
respect to even an ascetic living in the woods and employed in his own
(harmless) acts, are raised three parties, viz., friends, neutrals, and
foes. They that are rapacious hate them that are pure. The idle hate the
active. The unlearned hate the learned. The poor hate the rich. The
unrighteous hate the righteous. The ugly hate the beautiful. Many amongst
the learned, the unlearned, the rapacious, and the deceitful, would
falsely accuse an innocent person even if the latter happens to be
possessed of the virtues and intelligence of Vrihaspati himself. If meat
had really been stolen from thy house in thy absence, remember, the
jackal refuses to take any meat that is even given to him. Let this fact
be well considered (in finding out the thief). Wicked persons sometimes
put on the semblance of the good, and they that are good sometimes wear
the semblance of the wicked. Diverse kinds of aspect are noticeable in
creatures. It is, therefore, necessary to examine which is which. The
firmament seems to be like the solid base of a vessel. The fire-fly seems
to be like the actual spark of fire. In reality, however, the sky has no
base and there is no fire in the fire-fly. You see, there is necessity.
therefore, for scrutiny in respect of even such things as are addressed
to the eye. If a person ascertains everything after scrutiny, he is never
called upon to indulge in any kind of regret afterwards. It is not at all
difficult, O son, for a master to put his servant to death. Forgiveness,
however, in persons possessed of power, is always praiseworthy and
productive of renown. Thou hadst made the jackal thy first minister. In
consequence of that act, thou hadst earned great fame among all
neighbouring chiefs. A good minister cannot be obtained easily. The
jackal is thy well-wisher. Let him, therefore, be supported. The king who
regards a really innocent person falsely accused by his enemies to be
guilty, soon meets the destruction in consequence of the wicked ministers
that lead him to that conviction.’ After the tiger’s mother had concluded
her speech, a righteous agent of the jackal, stepping out of that phalanx
of his foes, discovered everything about the manner in which that false
accusation had been made. The jackal’s innocence being made manifest, he
was acquitted and honoured by his master. The king of beasts
affectionately embraced him again and again. The jackal, however, who was
conversant with the science of policy, burning with grief, saluted the
king of beasts and solicited his permission for throwing away his life by
observing the Praya vow. The tiger, casting upon the virtuous jackal his
eyes expanded with affection and honouring hit’ with reverential worship,
sought to dissuade him from the accomplishment of his wishes. The jackal,
beholding his master agitated with affection, bowed down to him and in a
voice choked with tears said these words: ‘Honoured by thee first, I have
afterwards been insulted by thee. Thy behaviour towards me is calculated
to make me an enemy of thine. It is not proper therefore, that I should
any longer dwell with thee. Servants that are discontented, that have
been driven from their offices, or degraded from the honours that were
theirs, that have brought destitution upon themselves, or have been
ruined by their enemies (through the wrath of their master). that have
been weakened, that are rapacious, or enraged, or alarmed, or deceived
(in respect of their employers), that have suffered confiscation, that
are proud and desirous of achieving great feats but deprived of the means
or earning wealth, and that burn with grief or rage in consequence of any
injury done to them, always wait for calamities to overtake their
masters. Deceived, ‘they leave their masters and become effective
instruments in the hands of foes.[343] I have been insulted by thee and
pulled down from my place. How wilt thou trust me again? How shall I (on
my part) continue to dwell with thee? Thinking me to be competent thou
tookest me, and having examined me thou hadst placed me in office.
Violating the compact then made (between us) thou hast insulted me. If
one speaks of a certain person before others as possessed of righteous
behaviour, one should not, if desirous of maintaining one’s consistency.
afterwards describe the same person as wicked. I who have thus been
disregarded by thee cannot any longer enjoy thy confidence. On my part,
when I shall see thee withdraw thy confidence from me, I shalt be filled
with alarm and anxiety. Thyself suspicious and myself in alarm, our
enemies will be on the look-out for opportunities for injuring us. Thy
subjects will, as a consequence, become anxious and discontented. Such a
state of things has many faults. The wise do not regard that situation
happy in which there is honour first and dishonour afterwards. It is
difficult to reunite the two that have been separated, as, indeed, it is
difficult to separate the two that are united. If persons reunited after
separation approach one another again, their behaviour cannot be
affectionate. No servant is to be seen who is moved (in what he does) by
only the desire of benefiting his master. Service proceeds from the
motive of doing good to the master as also one’s own self. All acts are
undertaken from selfish motives. Unselfish acts or motives are very rare.
Those kings whose hearts are restless and unquiet cannot acquire a true
knowledge of men. Only one in a hundred can be found who is either able
or fearless. The prosperity of men, as also their fall, comes of itself.
Prosperity and adversity, and greatness, all proceed from weakness of

“Bhishma continued, ‘Having said these conciliatory words fraught with
virtue, pleasure, and profit, and having gratified the king, the jackal
retired to the forest. Without listening to the entreaties of the king of
beasts, the intelligent jackal cast off his body by sitting in praya and
proceeded to heaven (as the reward of his good deeds on earth).'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘What acts should be done by a king, and what are
those acts by doing which a king may become happy? Tell me this in
detail, O thou that art the foremost of all persons acquainted with

“Bhishma said, ‘I shall tell thee what thou wishest to know. Listen to
the settled truth about what should be done in this world by a king and
what those acts are by doing which a king may become happy. A king should
not behave after the manner disclosed in the high history of a camel of
which we have heard. Listen to that history then, O Yudhishthira! There
was, in the Krita age, a huge camel who had recollection of all the acts
of his former life. Observing the most rigid vows, that camel practised
very severe austerities in the forest. Towards the conclusion of his
penances, the puissant Brahman became gratified with him. The Grandsire,
therefore, desired to grant him boons.’

“The camel said, ‘Let my neck, O holy one, become long through thy grace,
so that, O puissant lord, I may be able to seize any food that may lie
even at the end of even a hundred Yojanas.’ The high-souled giver of
boons said, ‘Let it be so.’ The camel then, having obtained the boon,
returned to his own forest. The foolish animal, from the day of obtaining
the boon, became idle. Indeed, the wretch, stupefied by fate, did not
from that day go out for grazing. One day, while extending his long neck
of a hundred Yojanas, the animal was engaged in picking his food without
any labour, a great storm arose. The camel, placing his head and a
portion of the neck within the cave of a mountain, resolved to wait till
the storm would be over. Meanwhile it began to pour in torrents, deluging
the whole earth. A jackal, with his wife, drenched by the rain and
shivering with cold, dragged himself with difficulty towards that very
cave and entered it quickly for shelter. Living as he did upon meat, and
exceedingly hungry and tired as he was, O bull of Bharata’s race, the
jackal, seeing the camel’s neck, began to eat as much of it as he could.
The camel, when he perceived that his neck was being eaten, strove in
sorrow to shorten it. But as he moved it up and down, the jackal and his
wife, without losing their hold of it, continued to eat it away. Within a
short time the camel was deprived of life. The jackal then, having (thus)
slain and eaten the camel, came out of the cave after the storm and
shower had ceased. Thus did that foolish camel meet with his death.
Behold, what a great evil followed in the train of idleness. As regards
thyself, avoiding idleness and restraining thy senses, do everything in
the world with proper means. Manu himself has said that victory depends
upon intelligence. All acts that are accomplished with the aid of
intelligence are regarded as the foremost, those achieved with the aid of
arms are middling, those achieved with the aid of feet are inferior,
while those done by carrying loads are the lowest. If the king is clever
in the transaction of business and restrains his senses, his kingdom
endures. Manu himself has said that it is with the aid of the
intelligence that an ambitious person succeeds in achieving victories. In
this world, O Yudhishthira, they who listen to wise counsels that are not
generally known, that are, O sinless one, possessed of allies, and that
act after proper scrutiny, succeed in achieving all their objects. A
person possessed of such aids succeeds in ruling the entire earth. O thou
that art possessed of prowess like that of Indra himself, this has been
said by wise men of ancient times conversant with the ordinances laid
down in the scriptures. I, also, with sight directed to the scriptures,
have said the same to thee. Exercising thy intelligence, do thou act in
this world, O king!'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘Tell me O bull of Bharata’s race, how a king,
without the usual aids, having obtained a kingdom that is so precious a
possession, behave himself towards a powerful foe.’

“Bhishma said, In this connection is cited the old story of the discourse
between the Ocean and the Rivers. In days of old, eternal Ocean, that
lord of Rivers, that refuge of the foes of the celestials, asked all the
Rivers for resolving this doubt that had arisen in his mind.’

“The Ocean said, ‘Ye Rivers, I see that all of you, with your full
currents, bring away trees of large trunks, tearing them off with their
roots and branches. Ye do not, however, ever bring to me a cane. The
canes that grow on your banks are of mean stems and destitute of
strength. Do you refuse to wash them down through contempt, or are they
of any use to you? I desire, therefore, to hear what the motive is that
inspires all of you. Indeed, why is it that canes are not washed down by
any of you, uprooted from the banks where they grow?’ Thus addressed, the
River Ganga, replied unto Ocean, that lord of all Rivers, in these words
of grave import, fraught with reason, and, therefore, acceptable to all.’

“Ganga said, ‘Trees stand in one and the same place and are unyielding in
respect of the spot where they stand. In consequence of this disposition
of theirs to resist our currents, they are obliged to leave the place of
their growth. Canes, however, act differently. The cane, beholding the
advancing current, bends to it. The others do not act in that way. After
the current has passed away, the cane resumes its former posture. The
cane knows the virtues of Time and opportunity. It is docile and
obedient. It is yielding, without being stiff. For these reasons, it
stands where it grows, without having to come with us. Those plants,
trees, and creepers that bend and rise before the force of wind and
water, have never to suffer discomfiture (by being taken up by the

“Bhishma continued, ‘That person who does not yield to the power of a foe
that has advanced in might and that is competent to imprison or kill,
soon meets with destruction.[345] That man of wisdom who acts after
ascertaining fully the strength and weakness, the might and energy, of
himself and his foe, has never to suffer discomfiture. An intelligent
man, therefore, when he sees his enemy to be more powerful than himself,
should adopt the behaviour of the cane. That is an indication of wisdom.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘How, O Bharata, should a learned man adorned with
modesty behave, O chastiser of foes, when assailed with harsh speeches in
the midst of assemblies by an ignorant person swelling with conceit?'[346]

“Bhishma said, ‘Listen, O lord of earth, how the subject has been treated
of (in the scriptures), how a person of good soul should endure in this
world the abusive speeches of persons of little intelligence. If a
person, when abused by another, do not yield to wrath, he is then sure to
take away (the merit of) all the good deeds that have been done by the
abuser. The endurer, in such a case, communicates the demerit of all his
own bad acts to the person who under the influence of wrath indulges in
abuse. An intelligent man should disregard an abusive language who
resembles, after all, only a Tittibha uttering dissonant cries.[347] One
who yields to hate is said to live in vain. A fool may often be heard to
say, ‘Such a respectable man was addressed by me in such words amid such
an assembly of men,’ and to even boast of that wicked act. He would add,
‘Abused by me, the man remained silent as if dead with shame. Even thus
does a shameless man boast of an act about which no one should boast.
Such a wretch among men should carefully be disregarded. The man of
wisdom should endure everything that such a person of little intelligence
may say. What can a vulgar fellow do by either his praise or his blame?
He is even like a crow that caws uselessly in the woods. If those who
accuse others by only their words could establish those accusations by
such means, then, perhaps, their words would have been regarded to be of
some value. As a fact, however, these words are as effective as those
uttered by fools invoking death upon them with whom they quarrel.[348]
That man simply proclaims his bastardy who indulges in such conduct and
words. Indeed, he is even like a peacock that dances while showing such a
part of his body as should be ever concealed from the view.[349] A person
of pure conduct should never even speak with that wight of sinful conduct
who does not scruple to utter anything or do anything. That man who speak
of one’s merits when one’s eye is upon him and who speaks ill of one when
one’s eye is withdrawn from him, is really like a dog. Such a person
loses all his regions in heaven and the fruits of any knowledge and
virtue that he may have.[350] The man who speaks ill of one when one’s
eye is not upon him, loses without delay the fruits of all his libations
on fire and of the gifts he may make unto even a hundred persons. A man
of wisdom, therefore, should unhesitatingly avoid a person of such sinful
heart who deserves to be avoided by all honest men, as he would avoid the
flesh of the dog. That wicked-souled wretch who proclaims the faults of a
high-souled person, really publishes (by that act) his own evil nature
even as a snake displays his hood (when interfered with by others). The
man of sense who seeks to counteract such a back-biter ever engaged in an
occupation congenial to himself, finds himself in the painful condition
of a stupid ass sunk in a heap of ashes. A man who is ever engaged in
speaking ill of others should be avoided like a furious wolf, or an
infuriated elephant roaring in madness, or a fierce dog. Fie on that
sinful wretch who has betaken himself to the path of the foolish and has
fallen away from all wholesome restraints and modesty, who is always
engaged in doing what is injurious to others, and who is regardless of
his own prosperity. If an honest man wishes to exchange words with such
wretches when they seek to humiliate him, he should be counselled in
these words: Do not suffer thyself to be afflicted. A wordy encounter
between a high and a low person is always disapproved by persons of
tranquil intelligence. A slanderous wretch, when enraged, may strike
another with his palms, or throw dust or chaff at another, or frighten
another by showing or grinding his teeth. All this is well known. That
man who endures the reproaches and slanders of wicked-souled wights
uttered in assemblies, or who reads frequently these instructions, never
suffers any pain occasioned by speech.’


“Yudhishthira said, ‘O grandsire, O thou that art possessed of great
wisdom, I have one great doubt that perplexes me. Thou shouldst, O king,
resolve it. Thou art an advancer of our family. Thou hast discoursed to
us upon the slanderous speeches uttered by wicked-souled wretches of bad
conduct. I desire, however, to question thee further. That which is
beneficial to a kingdom, that which is productive of the happiness of the
royal line, that which is productive of good and advancement in the
future and the present, that which is good in respect of food and drink
and as regards also the body, are topics upon which I wish thee to
discourse. How should a king who has been placed on the throne and who
continues to occupy it, surrounded by friends, ministers, and servants
gratify his people. That king who, led away by his affections and
predilections, becomes devoted to evil associates, and who pays court to
wicked men in consequence of his being enthralled by his senses, finds
all servants of good birth and blood disaffected towards him. Such a king
never succeeds in obtaining those objects the accomplishment of which
depends upon one’s having a number of good servants about him. It
behoveth thee that art equal to Vrihaspati himself in intelligence to
discourse to me upon these duties of kings which are difficult to be
ascertained and thereby remove my doubts. Thou, O tiger among men, art
ever engaged in accomplishing the good of our race. For this reason thou
always discoursest to us on the duties of king-craft. Kshatri (Vidura)
also, possessed of great wisdom, always gives us valuable instruction.
Hearing instructions from thee that are productive of good to our race
and kingdom, I shall be able to pass my days in happiness like a person
gratified with having quaffed the deathless Amrita. What classes of
servants are to be regarded as inferior and what is possessed of every
accomplishment? Aided by what class of servants or by servants of what
kind of birth, is it advisable to discharge the duties of ruling? If the
king choose to act alone and without servants, he can never succeed in
protecting his people. All persons, however, of high birth covet the
acquisition of sovereignty.’

“Bhishma said, ‘The king, O Bharata, cannot alone rule his kingdom.
Without servants to aid him, he cannot succeed in accomplishing any
object. Even if he succeeds in gaining any object, he cannot (if alone),
retain it. That king whose servants are all possessed of knowledge and
wisdom, who are all devoted to the good of their master, and who are of
high birth and tranquil disposition, succeeds in enjoying the happiness
connected with sovereignty. That king whose ministers are all well born,
incapable of being weaned away from him (by means of bribes and other
influences), who always live with him, who are engaged in giving advice
to their master, who are possessed of wisdom and goodness, who have a
knowledge of the relations of things, who can provide for future events
and contingencies, who have a good knowledge of the virtues of time, and
who never grieve for what is past, succeeds in enjoying the happiness
that attaches to sovereignty. That king whose servants share with him his
griefs and joys, who always do what is agreeable to him, who always
direct their attention to the accomplishment of their master’s objects,
and all of whom are faithful, succeeds in enjoying the happiness that
attaches to sovereignty. The king whose subjects are always cheerful, and
high minded, and who always tread in the path of the righteousness,
succeeds in enjoying the happiness attached to sovereignty. He is the
best of kings all the sources of whose income are managed and supervised
by contented and trustworthy men well acquainted with the means of
increasing the finances. That king succeeds in obtaining affluence and
great merit whose repositories and barns are supervised by incorruptible,
trust-worthy, devoted, and uncovetous servants always bent upon
gathering. That king in whose city justice is administered properly with
the result of such administration leading to the well known results of
fining the plaintiff or the defendant if his case is untrue, and in which
criminal laws are administered even after the manner of Sankha and
Likhita, succeeds in earning the merit that attaches to sovereignty. That
king who attaches his subjects to himself by kindness, who is conversant
with the duties of kings, and who attends to the aggregate of six.
succeeds in earning the merit that attaches to sovereignty.'”


“Bhishma said, ‘In this connection is cited the following history of
olden times. That history is regarded as a high precedent amongst good
and wise men. That history has connection with the present topic. I heard
it in the hermitage of Rama, the son of Jamadagni, recited by many
foremost of Rishis. In a certain large forest uninhabited by human
beings, there lived an ascetic upon fruit and roots observing rigid vows,
and with his senses under control. Observant also of stringent
regulations and self-restraint, of tranquil and pure soul, always
attentive to Vedic recitations, and of heart cleansed by fasts, he
adopted a life of goodness towards all creatures. Possessed of great
intelligence, as he sat on his seat, the goodness of his behaviour having
been known to all the creatures that lived in that forest, they used to
approach him with affection. Fierce lions and tigers, infuriated
elephants of huge size, leopards, rhinoceroses, bears, and other animals
of fierce aspect, subsisting upon blood, used to come to the Rishi and
address him the usual questions of polite enquiry. Indeed, all of them
behaved towards him like disciples and slaves and always did unto him
what was agreeable. Coming to him they addressed the usual enquiries, and
then went away to their respective quarters. One domestic animal,
however, lived there permanently, never leaving the Muni at any time. He
was devoted to the sage and exceedingly attached to him. Weak and
emaciated with fasts, he subsisted upon fruit and roots and water, and
was tranquil and Of inoffensive aspect. Lying at the feet of that
high-souled Rishi as the latter sat, the dog, with a heart like that of a
human being, became exceedingly attached to him in consequence of the
affection with which he was treated. One day a leopard of great strength
came there, subsisting upon blood. Of a cruel disposition and always
filled with delight at the prospect of prey, the fierce animal looked
like a second Yama. Licking the corners of his mouth With the tongue, and
lashing his tail furiously, the leopard came there, hungry and thirsty,
with wide open jaws, desirous of seizing the dog as his prey. Beholding
that fierce beast coming, O king, the dog, in fear of his life, addressed
the Muni in these words. Listen unto them, O monarch! ‘O holy one, this
leopard is a foe of the dogs. It wishes to slay me. O great sage, do thou
act in such a way that all my fears from this animal may be dispelled
through thy grace. O thou of mighty arms, without doubt thou art
possessed of omniscience.’ Acquainted with the thoughts of all creatures,
the sage felt that the dog had ample cause for fear. Possessed of the six
attributes and capable of reading the voices of all animals, the sage
said the following words.’

“The sage said, ‘Thou shalt have no fear of death from leopards any
longer. Let thy natural form disappear and be thou a leopard, O son!’ At
these words, the dog was transformed into a leopard with skin bright as
gold. With stripes on his body and with large teeth, thenceforth he began
to live in that forest fearlessly. Meanwhile, the leopard, seeing before
him an animal of his own species, immediately forsook all feelings of
animosity towards it. Some time after, there came into the hermitage a
fierce and hungry tiger with open mouth. Licking the corners of his mouth
with the tongue, and eagerly desirous of drinking blood, that tiger began
to approach towards the animal that had been transformed into a leopard.
Beholding the hungry tiger of terrible teeth approach that forest, the
(transformed) leopard sought the Rishi’s protection for saving his life.
The sage, who showed great affection for the leopard in consequence of
the latter’s living in the same place with him, forthwith transformed his
leopard into a tiger powerful for all foes. The tiger seeing a beast of
his own species did him no injury, O king. The dog, having in course of
time been transformed into a powerful tiger subsisting upon flesh and
blood, abstained from his former food which had consisted of fruit and
roots. Indeed, from that time, O monarch, the transformed tiger lived,
subsisting upon the other animals of the forest, like a true king of


“Bhishma said, ‘The dog transformed into a tiger, gratified with the
flesh of slain beasts, slept at his ease. One day as he lay on the yard
of the hermitage, an infuriated elephant came there, looking like a risen
cloud. Of huge stature, with rent cheeks, having signs of the lotus on
his body, and with broad frontal globes, the animal had long tusks and a
voice deep as that of the clouds. Beholding that infuriated elephant,
proud of his strength, approaching towards him, the tiger agitated with
fear, sought the protection of the Rishi. That best of sages thereupon
transformed the tiger into an elephant. The real elephant, seeing an
individual of his own species, huge as mass of clouds, became terrified.
The Rishi’s elephant then, freckled with the dust of lotus filaments,
dived delightfully into lakes overgrown with lotuses and wandered by
their banks indented with rabbit holes. A considerable time elapsed in
this way. One day as the elephant was cheerfully striding along the
vicinity of the hermitage, there came before him unto that spot a maned
lion born in a mountain cave and accustomed to slay elephants. Beholding
the lion coming, the Rishi’s elephant, from fear of life, began to
tremble and sought the protection of the sage. The sage thereupon
transformed that prince of elephants into a lion. As the wild lion was an
animal of same species with himself, the Rishi’s lion no longer feared
him. On the other hand, the wild lion seeing a stronger beast of his own
species before him, became terrified. The Rishi’s lion began to dwell in
that hermitage within the forest. Through fear of that animal, the other
animals no longer ventured to approach the hermitage. Indeed, they all
seemed to be inspired with fear about the safety of their lives. Some
time after one day, a slayer of all animals, possessed of great strength
inspiring all creatures with fright, having eight legs and eyes on the
forehead, viz., a Sarabha, came to that spot. Indeed he came to that very
hermitage for the object of slaying the Rishi’s lion. Seeing this, the
sage transformed his lion into a Sarabha of great strength. The wild
Sarabha, beholding the Rishi’s Sarabha before him to be fiercer and more
powerful, quickly fled away, from that forest. Having been thus
transformed into a Sarabha by the sage, the animal lived happily by the
side of his transformer. All the animals then that dwelt in the vicinity
became inspired with the fear of that Sarabha. Their fear and the desire
of saving their lives led them all to fly away from that forest. Filled
with delight, the Sarabha continued every day to slay animals for his
food. Transformed into a carnivorous beast, he no longer affected fruit
and roots upon which he had formerly lived. One day that ungrateful beast
who had first been a dog but who was now transformed into a Sarabha,
eagerly thirsting for blood, wished to slay the sage. The latter, by
ascetic power, saw it all by his spiritual knowledge. Possessed of great
wisdom, the sage, having ascertained the intentions of the beast,
addressed him in these words.’

“The sage said, ‘O dog, thou wert first transformed into a leopard. From
a leopard thou wert then made a tiger. From a tiger thou wert next
transformed into an elephant with the temporal juice trickling down thy
cheeks. Thy next transformation was into a lion. From a mighty lion thou
wert then transformed into a Sarabha. Filled with affection for thee, it
was I that transformed thee into these diverse shapes. Thou didst not,
and dost not, belong by birth, to any of those species. Since, however, O
sinful wretch, thou desirest to stay me who have done thee no injury,
thou shalt return to thy own species and be a dog again.’ After this,
that mean and foolish animal of wicked soul, transformed into a Sarabha
once more assumed, in consequence of the Rishi’s curse, his own proper
form of a dog.'”


“Bhishma said, ‘Having once more assumed his proper form, the dog became
very cheerless. The Rishi, reproving him, drove the sinful creature from
his hermitage. An intelligent king should, guided by this precedent,
appoint servants, each fit for the office assigned to him, and exercise
proper supervision over them, having first ascertained their
qualifications in respect of truthfulness and purity, sincerity, general
disposition, knowledge of the scripture, conduct, birth, self-restraint,
compassion, strength, energy, dignity, and forgiveness. A king should
never take a minister without first having examined him. If a king
gathers round him persons of low birth, he can never be happy. A person
of high birth, even if persecuted without any fault by his royal master,
never sets his heart, in consequence of the respectability of his blood,
upon injuring his master. An individual, however, that is mean and of low
birth, having obtained even great affluence from his connection with some
honest man, becomes an enemy of the latter if only he is reproached in
words.[351] A minister should be possessed of high birth and strength; he
should be forgiving and self-restrained, and have all his sense under
control; he should be free from the vice of rapacity, contented with his
just acquisitions, delighted with the prosperity of his master and
friends, conversant with the requirements of place and time, ever
employed in attaching men to himself or his master by doing good offices
to them, always attentive to his duties, desiring the good of his master,
always heedful, faithful in the discharge of his own duties., a thorough
master of the art of war and peace, conversant with the king’s
requirements in respect of the great aggregate of three, beloved by both
the citizens and the inhabitants of the provinces, acquainted with all
kinds of battle-array for piercing and breaking the enemy’s ranks,
competent to inspire the forces of his master with cheerfulness and joy,
capable of reading signs and gestures, acquainted with all requirements
in respect of march, skilled in the art of training elephants, free from
pride, confident of his own powers, clever in the transaction of
business, always doing what is right, of righteous conduct, surrounded by
righteous friends, of sweet speech, possessed of agreeable features,
capable of leading men, well-versed in policy, possessed of
accomplishments, energetic in action, active, possessed of ingenuity, of
a sweet temper, modest in address, patient, brave, rich, and capable of
adapting his measures to the requirement of place and time. That king who
succeeds in obtaining such a minister can never be humiliated or
overpowered by any one. Indeed, his kingdom gradually spreads over the
earth like the light of the moon. A king, again, who is conversant with
the scriptures, who regards righteousness to be superior to everything,
who is always engaged in protecting his subjects, and who is possessed of
the following virtues, obtains the love of all. He should be patient,
forgiving, pure in conduct, severe when the occasion requires it
acquainted with the efficacy of exertion, respectful in his behaviour
towards all his seniors, possessed of a knowledge of the scriptures,
ready to listen to the instructions and counsels of those that are
competent to instruct and give counsel, capable of judging correctly amid
different or opposite courses of action suggested to him, intelligent, of
a retentive memory, ready to do what is just, self-restrained, always
sweet-speeched, forgiving even unto enemies, practising charity
personally, possessed of faith, of agreeable features, ready to extend
the hand of succour to persons plunged in distress, possessed of
ministers that always seek his good, free from the fault of egoism, never
without a wife,[352] and undisposed to do anything with haste. He should
always reward his ministers when they achieve anything signal. He should
love those that are devoted to him. Avoiding idleness, he should always
attract men to himself by doing good to them. His face should always be
cheerful. He should always be attentive to the wants of his servants and
never give way to wrath. He should, besides, be magnanimous. Without
lying aside the lord of chastisement, he should wield it with propriety.
He should make all men about him act righteously. Having spies for his
eyes, he should always supervise the concerns of his subjects, and should
be conversant in all matters connected with virtue and wealth. A king
that is possessed of these hundred qualifications earns the love of all.
Every ruler should strive to be such. The king should also, O monarch,
search for good warriors (to enlist in his army) that should all be
possessed of the necessary qualifications, for aiding him in protecting
his kingdom. A king that desires his own advancement should never
disregard his army. That king whose soldiers are brave in battle,
grateful, and versed in the scriptures, whose army consists of
foot-soldiers conversant with the treatises on religion and duty, whose
elephant-warriors are fearless, whose car-warriors are skilled in their
own mode of fighting and well-versed in shooting arrows and in wielding
other weapons, succeeds in subjugating the whole earth. That king who is
always employed in attaching all men to himself, who is ready for
exertion, who is rich in friends and allies, becomes the foremost of
rulers. A king who has succeeded in attaching all men unto himself, may,
O Bharata, with the aid of even a thousand horsemen of courage, succeed
in conquering the whole earth.'”


“Bhishma said, ‘That king who, guided by the lesson to be drawn from the
story of the dog, appoints his servants to offices for which each is fit,
succeeds in enjoying the happiness that is attached to sovereignty. A dog
should not, with honours, be placed in a position above that for which he
is fit. If a dog be placed above the situation which is fit for him, he
becomes intoxicated with pride. Ministers should be appointed to offices
for which they are fit and should possess such qualifications as are
needed for their respective occupations. Appointments on unfit persons
are not at all approved. That king who confers on his servants offices
for which each is fit, succeeds, in consequence of such merit, to enjoy
the happiness attaching to sovereignty. A Sarabha should occupy the
position of a Sarabha; a lion should swell with the might of a lion; a
tiger should be placed in the position of a tiger; and a leopard should
be placed as a leopard. Servants should, according to the ordinance, be
appointed to offices for which each is fit. If thou wishest to achieve
success, thou shouldst never appoint servants in situations higher than
what they deserve. That foolish king who, transgressing precedent,
appoints servants to offices for which they are not fit, fails to gratify
his people. A king that desires to possess accomplished servants should
never appoint persons that are destitute of intelligence, that are
low-minded, that are without wisdom, that are not masters of their
senses, and that are not of high birth. Men that are honest, possessed of
high birth, brave, learned, destitute of malice and envy, high-minded,
pure in behaviour, and clever in the transaction of business, deserve to
be appointed as ministers. Persons that are possessed of humility, ready
in the performance of their duties, tranquil in disposition, pure in
mind, adorned with diverse other gifts of nature and are never the
objects of calumny in respect of the offices they hold should be the
intimate associates of the king. A lion should always make a companion of
a lion. If one that is not a lion becomes the companion of a lion, one
earns all the advantages that belong to a lion. That lion, however who,
while engaged in discharging the duties of a lion, has a pack of dogs
only for his associates, never succeeds in consequence of such
companionship, in accomplishing those duties. Even thus, O ruler of men,
may a king succeed in subjugating the whole earth if he has for his
ministers men possessed of courage, wisdom, great learning, and high
birth. O foremost of royal masters, kings should never entertain a
servant that is destitute of learning and sincerity and wisdom and great
wealth. These men that are devoted to the services of their master are
never slopped by any impediments. Kings should always speak in soothing
terms unto those servants that are always engaged in doing good to their
masters. Kings should always, with great care, look after their
treasuries. Indeed, kings have their roots in their treasuries. A king
should always seek to swell his treasury. Let thy barns, O king, be
fitted with corn. And let their keep be entrusted to honest servants. Do
thou seek to increase thy wealth and corn. Let thy servants, skilled in
battle, be always attentive to their duties. It is desirable that they
should be skilful in the management of steeds. O delighter of the Kurus,
attend to the wants of thy kinsmen and friends. Be thou surrounded with
friends and relatives. Seek thou the good of thy city. By citing the
precedent of the dog I have instructed thee about the duties thou
shouldst adopt towards thy subjects. What further dost thou wish to


“Yudhishthira said, ‘Thou hast, O Bharata, discoursed upon the many
duties of king-craft that were observed and laid down in days of old by
persons of ancient times conversant with kingly duties. Thou hast,
indeed, spoken in detail of those duties as approved by the wise. Do
thou, however, O bull of Bharata’s race, speak of them in such a way that
one may succeed in retaining them in memory.”[353]

“Bhishma said, ‘The protection of all creatures is regarded as the
highest duty of the Kshatriya. Listen now to me, O king, as to how the
duty of protection is to be exercised. A king conversant with his duties
should assume many forms even as the peacock puts forth plumes of diverse
hues. Keenness, crookedness, truth, and sincerity, are the qualities that
should be present in him. With thorough impartiality, he should practise
the qualities of goodness if he is to earn felicity. He must assume that
particular hue or form which is beneficial in view of the particular
object which he seeks to accomplish.[354] A king who can assume diverse
forms succeeds in accomplishing even the most subtle objects. Dumb like
the peacock in autumn, he should conceal his counsel. He should speak
little, and the little he speaks should be sweet. He should be of good
features and well versed in the scriptures. He should always be heedful
in respect of those gates through which dangers may come and overtake
him, like men taking care of breaks in embankments through which the
waters of large tanks may rush and flood their fields and houses. He
should seek the refuge of Brahmanas crowned with ascetic success even as
men seek the refuge or loudly rivers generated by the rain-water
collected within mountain lakes. That king who desires to amass wealth
should act like religious hypocrites in the matter of keeping a coronal
lock.[355] The king should always have the rod of chastisement uplifted
in his hands. He should always act heedfully (in the matter of levying
his taxes) after examining the incomes and expenses of his subjects like
men repairing to a full-grown palmyra for drawing its juice.[356] He
should act equitably towards his own subjects; cause the crops of his
enemies to be crushed by the tread of his cavalry, march against foes
when his own wings have become strong; and observe all the sources of his
own weakness. He should proclaim the faults of his foes; crush those that
are their partisans; and collect wealth from outside like a person
plucking flowers from the woods. He should destroy those foremost of
monarchs that swell with might and stand with uplifted heads like
mountains, by seeking the shelter of unknown shades[357] and by
ambuscades and sudden attacks. Like the peacock in the season of rains,
he should enter his nightly quarters alone and unseen. Indeed, he should
enjoy, after the manner of the peacock, within his inner apartments, the
companionship of his wives. He should not put off his mail. He should
himself protect his own self, and avoid the nets spread out for him by
the spies and secret agents of his foes. He should also win over the
affections of the spies of his enemies, but extirpate them when
opportunity occurs. Like the peacocks the king should kill his powerful
and angry foes of crooked policy, and destroy their force and drive them
away from home. The king should also like the peacock do what is good to
him, and glean wisdom from everywhere as they collect insects even from
the forest. A wise and peacock-like king should thus rule his kingdom and
adopt a policy which is beneficial to him. By exercising his own
intelligence, he should settle what he is to do. By consulting with
others he should either abandon or confirm such resolution. Aided by that
intelligence which is sharpened by the scriptures, one can settle his
courses of action. In this consists the usefulness of the scriptures. By
practising the arts of conciliation, he should inspire confidence in the
hearts of his enemies. He should display his own strength. By judging of
different courses of action in his own mind he should, by exercising his
own intelligence, arrive at conclusions. The king should be well-versed
in the arts of conciliatory policy, he should be possessed of wisdom; and
should be able to do what should be done and avoid what should not. A
person of wisdom and deep intelligence does not stand in need of counsels
or instruction. A wise man who is possessed of intelligence like
Vrihaspati, if he incurs obloquy, goon regains his disposition like
heated iron dipped in water. A king should accomplish all objects, of his
own or of others, according to the means laid down in the scriptures. A
king conversant with the ways of acquiring wealth should always employ in
his acts such men as are mild indisposition, possessed of wisdom and
courage and great strength. Beholding his servants employed in acts for
which each is fit, the king should act in conformity with all of them
like the strings of a musical instrument, stretched to proper tension,
according with their intended notes. The king should do good to all
persons without transgressing the dictates of righteousness. That king
stands immovable as a hill whom everybody regards–‘He is mine.’ Having
set himself to the task of adjudicating between litigants, the king,
without making any difference between persons that are liked and those
that are disliked by him, should uphold justice. The king should appoint
in all his offices such men as are conversant with the characteristics of
particular families, of the masses of the people, and of different
countries; as are mild in speech; as are of middle age; as have no
faults; as are devoted to good act; as are never heedless; as are free
from rapacity; as are possessed of learning and self-restraint; as are
firm in virtue and always prepared to uphold the interests of both virtue
and profit. In this way, having ascertained the course of actions and
their final objects the king should accomplish them heedfully; and
instructed in all matters by his spies, he may live in cheerfulness. The
king who never gives way to wrath and joy without sufficient cause, who
supervises all his acts himself, and who looks after his income and
expenditure with his own eyes, succeeds in obtaining great wealth from
the earth. That king is said to be conversant with the duties of
king-craft who rewards his officers and subjects publicly (for any good
they do), who chastises those that deserve chastisement, who protects his
own self, and who protects his kingdom from every evil. Like the Sun
shedding his rays upon everything below, the king should always look
after his kingdom himself, and aided by his intelligence he should
supervise all his spies and officers. The king should take wealth from
his subjects at the proper time. He should never proclaim what he does.
Like an intelligent man milking his cow every day, the king should milk
his kingdom every day. As the bee collects honey from flowers gradually,
the king should draw wealth gradually from his kingdom for storing it.
Having kept apart a sufficient portion, that which remains should be
spent upon acquisition of religious merit and the gratification of the
desire for pleasure. That king who is acquainted with duties and who is
possessed of intelligence would never waste what has been stored. The
king should never disregard any wealth for its littleness; he should
never disregard foes for their powerlessness; he should, by exercising
his own intelligence, examine his own self; he should never repose
confidence upon persons destitute of intelligence. Steadiness,
cleverness, self-restraint, intelligence, health, patience, bravery, and
attention to the requirements of time and place,–these eight qualities
lead to the increase of wealth, be it small or be it much. A little fire,
fed with clarified butter, may blaze forth into a conflagration. A single
seed may produce a thousand trees. A king, therefore, even when he hears
that his income and expenditure are great, should not disregard the
smaller items. A foe, whether he happens to be a child, a young man, or
an aged one, succeeds in staying a person who is heedless. An
insignificant foe, when he becomes powerful, may exterminate a king. A
king, therefore, who is conversant with the requirements of time is the
foremost of all rulers. A foe, strong or weak, guided by malice, may very
soon destroy the fame of a king, obstruct the acquisition of religious
merit by him; and deprive him of even his energy. Therefore, a king that
is of regulated mind should never be heedless when he has a foe. If a
king possessed of intelligence desire affluence and victory, he should,
after surveying his expenditure, income, savings, and administration,
make either peace or war. For this reason the king should seek the aid of
an intelligent minister. Blazing intelligence weakens even a mighty
person; by intelligence may power that is growing be protected; a growing
foe is weakened by the aid of intelligence; therefore, every act that is
undertaken conformably to the dictates of intelligence is deserving of
praise. A king possessed of patience and without any fault, may, if he
likes, obtain the fruition of all his wishes, with the aid of even a
small force. That king, however, who wishes to be surrounded by a train
of self-seeking flatterers,[358] never succeeds in winning even the
smallest benefit. For these reasons.. the king should act with mildness
in taking wealth from his subjects. If a king continually oppresses his
people, he meets with extinction like a flash of lightening that blazes
forth only for a second. Learning, penances, vast wealth, indeed,
everything, can be earned by exertion. Exertion, as it occurs in embodied
creatures, is governed by intelligence. Exertion, therefore, should be
regarded as the foremost of all things. The human body is the residence
of many intelligent creatures of great energy, of Sakra, of Vishnu, of
Saraswati, and of other beings. A man of knowledge, therefore, should
never disregard the body.[359] A covetous man should be subjugated by
constant gifts. He that is covetous is never satiated with appropriating
other people’s wealth. Every one, however, becomes covetous in the matter
of enjoying happiness. If a person, therefore, becomes destitute of
wealth, he becomes destitute of virtue and pleasure (which are objects
attainable by wealth). A covetous man seeks to appropriate the wealth,
the enjoyments, the sons and daughters, and the affluence of others. In
covetous men every kind of fault may be seen. The king, therefore, should
never take a covetous man for his minister or officer. A king (in the
absence of proper agents) should despatch even a low person for
ascertaining the disposition and acts of foes. A ruler possessed of
wisdom should frustrate all the endeavours and objects of his enemies.
That trustful and high-born king who seeks instruction from learned and
virtuous Brahmanas and who is protected by his ministers, succeeds in
keeping all his tributary chiefs under proper control. O prince of men, I
have briefly discoursed to thee of all the duties laid down in the
scriptures. Attend to them, aided by thy intelligence. That king who, in
obedience to his preceptor, attends to these, succeeds in ruling the
whole earth. That king who disregards the happiness that is derivable
from policy and seeks for that which chance may bring, never succeeds in
enjoying the happiness that attaches to sovereignty or in winning regions
of bliss hereafter.[360] A king that is heedful, by properly attending to
the requirements of war and peace, succeeds in slaying even such foes as
are eminent for wealth, worshipped for intelligence and good conduct,
possessed of accomplishments, brave in battle, and ready for exertion.
The king should discover those means which are furnished by different
kinds of acts and measures. He should never depend upon destiny. One that
sees faults in faultless persons never succeeds in winning prosperity and
fame. When two friends engage in accomplishing one and the same act, a
wise man always applauds him among the two that takes upon himself the
heavier share of the work. Do thou practise these duties of kings that I
have told thee. Set thy heart upon the duty of protecting men. Thou mayst
then easily obtain the reward of virtue. All the regions of felicity
hereafter are dependent upon merit!'”[361]


“Yudhishthira said, ‘O grandsire, thou hast now finished thy discourse
upon the duties of kings. From what thou hast said it seems that
Chastisement occupies a high position and is the lord of everything for
everything depends upon Chastisement. It seems, O puissant one, that
Chastisement, which is possessed of great energy and which is present
everywhere, is the foremost of all beings among either gods and Rishis
and high-souled Pitris and Yakshas and Rakshasas and Pisachas and
Sadhyas, or living beings in this world including beasts and birds. Thou
hast said that the entire universe, mobile and immobile, including gods,
Asuras, and men, may be seen to depend upon Chastisement. I now desire, O
bull of Bharata’s race, to know truly who Chastisement is. Of what kind
is he? What is his form? What is his disposition? Of what is he made?
Whence is his origin? What are his features? What is his splendour? How
does he remain wakeful among living creatures so heedfully? Who is he
that remains eternally wakeful, protecting this universe? Who is he that
is known to be the foremost of all things? Who, indeed, is that high
personage called Chastisement? What is that upon which Chastisement
depends? And what is his course?’

“Bhishma said, ‘Listen, O descendent of Kuru, who Chastisement is and why
he is called also Vyavahara! That upon whom all things depend is called
Chastisement. Chastisement is that by which righteousness is kept up. He
is sometimes called Vyavahara. In order that the righteousness of a king
that is heedfully awake may not suffer extinction (Chastisement has come
to be called by that name). It is for this reason that the name Vyavahara
becomes applicable to it.[362] In olden days Manu, O king, declared first
of all this truth, viz.,–‘He who protects all creatures, the loved and
the odious equally, by impartially wielding the lord of Chastisement, is
said to be the embodiment of righteousness.’–These words that I have
said were, O king first, uttered in days of old by Manu. They represent
the high words of Brahman. And because these words were spoken first,
therefore, they are known as the first words. And since it is by
Chastisement that the misappropriation of other people’s possessions is
stopped, therefore Chastisement has come to be called by the name of
Vyavahara. The aggregate of three always rests on well applied
Chastisement. Chastisement is a great god. In form he looks like a
blazing fire. His complexion is dark like that of the petals of the blue
lotus. He is equipt with four teeth, has four arms and eight legs and
many eyes. His cars are pointed like shafts and his hair stands upright.
He has matted locks and two tongues. His face has the hue of copper, and
he is clad in a lion’s skin.[363] That irresistible deity assumes such a
fierce shape. Assuming again the form of the sword, the bow, the mace,
the dart, the trident, the mallet, the arrow, the thick and short club,
the battle-axe, the discus, the noose, the heavy bludgeon, the rapier,
the lance, and in fact of every kind of weapon that exists on earth.
Chastisement moves in the world. Indeed, Chastisement moves on earth,
piercing and cutting and afflicting and lopping off and dividing and
striking and slaying and rushing against its victims. These, O
Yudhishthira, are some of the names which Chastisement bears, viz.,
Sword, Sabre, Righteousness, Fury, the Irresistible, the Parent of
prosperity, Victory, Punisher, Checker, the Eternal, the Scriptures,
Brahmana, Mantra, Avenger, the Foremost of first Legislators, Judge, the
Undecaying, God, the individual whose course is irresistible, the
Ever-agoing, the First. born, the individual without affections, the Soul
of Rudra, the eldest Manu and the great Benefactor Chastisement is the
holy Vishnu. He is the puissant Narayana. And because he always assumes a
terrible form, therefore he is called Mahapurusha. His wife Morality is
also known by the names of Brahmana’s Daughter, Lakshmi, Vriti,
Saraswati, and Mother of the universe. Chastisement thus has many forms.
Blessings and curse, pleasure and pain, righteousness and
unrighteousness, strength and weakness, fortune and misfortune, merit and
demerit, virtue and vice, desire and aversion, season and month, night
and day, and hour, heedfulness and heedlessness, joy and anger, peace and
self-restraint, destiny and exertion, salvation and condemnation, fear
and fearlessness, injury and abstention from injury, penances and
sacrifice and rigid abstinence, poison and healthy food, the beginning,
the middle, and the end, the result of all murderous acts, insolence,
insanity, arrogance, pride, patience, policy, impolicy, powerlessness and
power, respect, disrespect, decay and stability, humility, charity,
fitness of time and unfitness of time, falsehood, wisdom, truth, belief,
disbelief, impotence, trade, profit, loss, success, defeat, fierceness,
mildness, death, acquisition and non-acquisition, agreement and
disagreement, that which should be done and that which should not be
done, strength and weakness, malice and goodwill, righteousness and
unrighteousness, shame and shamelessness, modesty, prosperity and
adversity, energy, acts, learning, eloquence, keenness of
Understanding,–all these, O Yudhishthira, are forms of Chastisement in
this world. Hence, Chastisement is exceedingly multiform. If Chastisement
had not existed, all creatures would have ground one another. Through
fear of Chastisement. O Yudhisthira, living creatures do not slay one
another. The subjects, O king, always protected by Chastisement, enhance
the might of their ruler. It is for this that Chastisement is regarded as
the foremost refuge of all. Chastisement, O king, quickly sets the world
on the path of righteousness. Dependent upon truth, righteousness exists
in the Brahmanas. Endued with righteousness, foremost of Brahmanas became
attached to the Vedas. From the Vedas the sacrifices flow. Sacrifices
gratify the deities. The deities, being gratified, commend the denizens
of the earth to Indra. For benefiting the denizens of the earth, Indra
gives them food (in the form of rain without which crops and vegetation
would fail). The life of all creatures depends upon food. From food
creatures derive their support and growth. Chastisement (in the form of
the Kshatriya ruler) remains wakeful amongst them. For serving this
object, Chastisement assumes the form of a Kshatriya among men.
Protecting men, he remains awake, always heedful and never decaying.
Chastisement has again these other eight names, viz., God, Man, Life,
Power, Heart, the Lord of all creatures, the Soul of all things, and the
Living creature. God gave both affluence and the rod of chastisement to
the king who is possessed of strength (in the form of military forces)
and who is a combination of five ingredients.[364] Nobility of blood,
ministers of great wealth, knowledge, the different kinds of forces (such
as strength of body, energy of mind, etc.), with the eight objects
mentioned below, and the other force (viz., that which depends upon a
well-filled treasury), should be sought for the king, O Yudhishthira.
Those eight objects are elephants, horses, cars, foot soldiers, boats,
impressed labourers (for following the camp and doing other work),
increase of population, and cattle (such as sheep, etc.). Of the army
equipped in mail and with other accoutrements, car-warriors,
elephant-warriors, cavalry, Infantry, officers, and surgeons constitute
the limbs. Beggars, principal judges, astrologers, performers of
propitiatory and Atharvan rites, treasury, allies, grain, and all other
requisites, constitute the body, composed of seven attributes and eight
limbs, of a kingdom. Chastisement is another powerful limb of a kingdom.
Chastisement (in the form of an army) is the author of a kingdom. God
himself has, with great care, sent Chastisement for the use of the
Kshatriya. This eternal universe is impartial Chastisement’s self. There
is nothing more worthy of respect by kings than Chastisement by which the
ways of Righteousness are pointed out. Brahman himself, for the
protection of the world and for establishing the duties of different
individuals, sent down (or created) Chastisement. There is another kind
of Vyavahara arising out of the dispute of litigants which also has
sprung from Brahman. Principally characterised by a belief in either of
the two parties, that Vyavahara is seen to be productive of good. There
is another kind of Vyavahara which has the Veda for its soul. It is also
said to have the Veda for its cause. There is, O tiger, among kings, a
(third) kind of Vyavahara which is connected with family customs but
which is consistent with the scriptures.[365] That Vyavahara which has,
as above, been said to be characterised by a belief in either of two
litigant parties, should be known by us as inhering in the king. It
should be also known by the name of Chastisement, as also by the name of
Evidence. Although Chastisement is seen to be regulated by Evidence, yet
it has been said to have its soul in Vyavahara. That which has been
called Vyavahara is really based upon Vedic precepts. That Vyavahara
which has been indicated to have the Vedas for its soul is Morality or
duty. It is also productive of good unto persons believing in duty and
morality, men of cleansed souls have spoken of that Vyavahara as they
have done of ordinary law.[366] The third kind of Vyavahara is also a
preceptor of men, and it has also its roots in the Veda, O Yudhishthira!
It upholds the three worlds. It has Truth for its soul and it is
productive of prosperity. That which is Chastisement has been seen by us
to be eternal Vyavahara. That which has been said to be Vyavahara is
verily the Veda. That which is the Veda is morality, duty. That which is
morality and duty is the path of Righteousness. This last it was which in
the beginning had been Grandsire Brahman, that Lord of all creatures.
Brahman is the Creator of the entire universe with the gods and Asura and
Rakshasas and human beings and snakes, and of every other thing. Hence
that Vyavahara which is characterised by a belief in either of two
litigant parties has also flowed from him. For this reason He has laid
down the following in respect of Vyavahara: Neither mother, nor father,
nor brother, nor wife, nor priest, is unpunishable with that king who
rules agreeably to his duty.


“Bhishma said, ‘In this connection is cited the old story that follows.
There was among the Angas a king of great splendour, called Vasuhoma.
That king was always engaged in acts of piety, and accompanied by his
spouse he always practiced the most rigid penances. He repaired to the
spot called Munjaprishtha held in high esteem by the Pitris and the
celestial Rishis. There, on that peak of Himavat, near the golden
mountains of Merit, (the great Brahmana here) Rama, sitting under the
shade of a well-known banian, had tied his matted locks together.[367]
From that time, O monarch, the spot, which is a favourite haunt of Rudra,
came to be called Munjaprishtha by Rishis of rigid vows. King Vasuhoma,
residing in that spot, acquired many pious attributes and, having gained
the esteem of the Brahmanas, came to be regarded as a celestial Rishi in
holiness. One day, that crusher of foes, that friend of Sakra, viz., king
Mandhatri of great soul, came to Vasuhoma on his mountain retreat.
Arrived there, Mandhatri, beholding king Vasuhoma of austere penances
stood before the latter in an attitude of humility. Vasuhoma offered unto
his guest water to wash his feet, and the Arghya consisting of the usual
articles, and enquired of him about the well-being or otherwise of his
kingdom consisting of seven limbs. After this, Vasuhoma addressed his
royal guest who faithfully followed the practices of the righteous men of
old, saying, ‘What, O king, shall I do for thee?’ Thus addressed, O
delighter of the Kurus, Mandhatri, that best of kings, highly gratified,
answered Vasuhoma of great wisdom seated at his ease, in the following

“Mandhatri said, ‘Thou hast, O king, studied all the doctrines of
Vrihaspati. O best of men, the doctrines laid down by Usanas also are
known to thee. I desire to know what is the origin of Chastisement. What
was awake before Chastisement? What also is said to be its end? How came
Chastisement to depend upon the Kshatriya? Tell me all this. O thou of
great wisdom! I come to thee as a disciple ready to give thee the
tutorial fee.'[368]

“Vasuhoma said, ‘Listen, O king, as to how Chastisement, that upholder of
the world, arose. The soul of righteousness, it is eternal, and was
created for maintaining the due government of all creatures. It hath been
heard by us that once upon a time, the Grandsire of all the worlds, viz.,
the divine Brahman desiring to perform a sacrifice, failed to find a
priest possessed of qualifications like himself. For this reason he
conceived in his brain and held the foetus there for many long years.
After a thousand years had passed away, the great god sneezed. In that
act, the foetus fell from his head. The divine being, O chastiser of
foes, that thus took birth from Brahman was called by the name of Kshupa.
Possessed of great powers, he became a lord of creatures. That Kshupa
became the priest, O king, in the sacrifice of the high-souled Grandsire.
Upon the commencement of that sacrifice, of Brahman, O best of kings.
Chastisement disappeared in consequence of the visible form that the
Grandsire was then obliged to assume.[369] Chastisement having
disappeared, a great confusion set in among all creatures. There was no
longer any distinction between what should be done and what should not.
All distinction, again, between clean and unclean food ceased. Men ceased
to distinguish between what drink was allowable and what drink was
otherwise. All creatures began to injure one another. There were no
restraints in the matter of the union of the sexes. All idea of property
ceased. All creatures began to rob, and snatching meat from one another.
The strong began to slay the weak. Nobody cherished the slightest
consideration for his neighbour. The Grandsire then, having worshipped
the divine and eternal Vishnu, addressed that great boon-giving god,
saying, ‘It behoveth thee, O Kesava, to show mercy on the present
occasion. Let it be so ordained by thee that the confusion that has
occurred may disappear.’ Thus addressed, that foremost of deities, armed
with an enormous Sula,[370] having reflected long, created his ownself
into the form of Chastisement. From that form, having Righteousness for
its legs, the goddess Saraswati created Danda-niti (Science of
Chastisement) which very soon became celebrated over the world. After
this the great god armed with the enormous Sula, having again reflected
for some time, appointed a few among the gods as the lords or rulers of
their respective classes. It was then that he made the divine Indra of a
thousand eyes the ruler of the deities. Yama the son of Vivaswat was made
the lord of the Pitris. Kuvera was made the lord of treasures and of all
the Rakshasas. Meru was made the king of the mountains, and Ocean was
made the lord of the rivers. The puissant Varuna was installed into the
sovereignty of the waters and the Asuras. Death was made the lord of life
and all living things, and Fire was appointed as the lord of all things
possessed of energy. The puissant Isana the high-souled and eternal
Mahadeva, of three eyes, was made the lord of the Rudras. Vasishtha was
made the lord of the Brahmanas, and Jatavedas was made the chief of the
Vasus. Surya was made the lord of all luminous bodies, and Chandramas was
made the king of Stars and constellations. Ansumat was made the lord of
all herbs, and the puissant and foremost of deities, viz., Kumara or
Skanda, of twelve arms, was made the chief of all the spirits and ghostly
beings (that wait upon Mahadeva). Time, possessing the seeds of both
destruction and growth, was made the sovereign of all creatures as also
of the four portions of Death (viz., weapons, diseases, Yama, and acts)
and lastly of grief and joy. The Srutis declare that the supreme god
Mahadeva, that lord of lords, O king, armed with Sula, is the chief of
the Rudras. The rod of chastisement was given to Brahmana’s son of
subsequent birth, viz., Kshupa, that lord of all creatures and the
foremost one of all virtuous persons. Upon the completion of that
sacrifice according to due rites, Mahadeva, after doing proper reverence
made over Chastisement, that protector of Righteousness, unto
Vishnu.[371] Vishnu gave it to Angiras; and Angiras, that foremost of
ascetics, made it over to Indra and Marichi. Marichi gave it to Bhrigu.
Bhrigu gave that rod intended for the protection of righteousness, unto
all the Rishis. The Rishis gave it unto the Regents of the world, and the
Regents made it over again to Kshupa. Kshupa then made it over to Manu
the son of Surya. The deity of Sraddhas (viz., Manu), gave it unto his
sons for the sake of true righteousness and wealth. Chastisement should
be inflicted with discrimination, guided by righteousness and not by
caprice. It is intended for restraining the wicked. Fines and forfeitures
are intended for striking alarm, and not for filling the king’s treasury.
The maiming of one’s body or the infliction of death should not proceed
from trivial causes. The infliction of physical pain by diverse means,
hurling from tops of mountains, and banishment also, should not proceed
from similar causes. Surya’s son Manu gave the rod of chastisement (to
his sons) for the protection of the world. Chastisement, in the hands of
successive holders, remains awake, protecting all creatures. At the top
of the scale, the divine Indra is awake (with the rod of chastisement);
after him, Agni of blazing flames; after him, Varuna; after Varuna,
Prajapati; after Prajapati, Righteousness whose essence consists of
restraint,[372] after Righteousness the son of Brahman, viz., the eternal
Law; after Law, Energy is awake, employed in the act of protection; after
Energy, the herbs (offered in sacrifices for supporting the gods and used
as food and medicines); after the herbs, the mountains; after the
mountains, all kinds of juices and their attributes; after these, the
goddess Niriti; after Niriti, the planets and the luminous bodies in
heaven; after these, the Vedas; after the Vedas, the puissant form of
Vishnu with equine head; after him, the almighty and eternal Grandsire,
viz., Brahman; after the Grandsire, the divine and blessed Mahadeva;
after Mahadeva, the Viswedevas; after them, the great Rishis; after the
Rishis the divine Soma; after Soma, the deities who are all eternal;
after the deities, know that the Brahmanas are awake. After the
Brahmanas, the Kshatriyas are righteously protecting all creatures. The
eternal universe, consisting of mobile and immobile creatures, is kept
awake by the Kshatriyas. Creatures are kept awake in this world, and
Chastisement is awake among them. Possessed of splendour resembling that
of the Grandsire himself, Chastisement keeps together and upholds
everything.[373] Time, O Bharata, is always awake, in the beginning, the
middle, and the end. The master of all the worlds, the lord of all
creatures, the puissant and blessed Mahadeva, the god of gods, is always
awake. He is called by these names also, viz., Kapardin, Sankara, Rudra,
Bhava, Sthanu and the lord of Uma. Thus Chastisement also keeps awake in
the beginning, the middle, and the end. A virtuous king should rule
properly, guided by Chastisement.’

“Bhishma continued, ‘That person who listens to this teaching of
Vasuhoma, and having listened to it conducts himself according to its
tenure, is sure to obtain the fruition of all his wishes. I have now, O
bull among men, told thee everything as to who Chastisement is, that
restrainer of the universe which is governed by righteousness.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘I wish, O sire, to hear the settled conclusions on
the subject of Virtue, Wealth, and Pleasure. Depending upon which of
these does the course of life proceed? What are the respective roots of
Virtue, Wealth, and Pleasure? What are again the results of those three?
They are sometimes see n to mingle with one another, and sometimes to
exist separately and independently of one another.’

“Bhishma said, ‘When men in this world endeavour with good hearts to
achieve Wealth with the aid of Virtue, then those three, viz., Virtue,
Wealth, and Pleasure, may be seen to co-exist in a state of union in
respect of time, cause, and action.[374] Wealth has its root in Virtue,
and Pleasure is said to be the fruit of Wealth. All the three again have
their root in Will. Will is concerned with objects. All objects, again,
in their entirety, exist for gratifying the desire of enjoyment. Upon
these then does the aggregate of three depend. Entire abstraction from
all objects is Emancipation. It is said that Virtue is sought for the
protection of the body, and Wealth is for the acquisition of Virtue.
Pleasure is only the gratification of the senses. All the three have,
therefore, the quality of Passion.[375] Virtue, Wealth, and Pleasure,
when sought for the sake of heaven or such other rewards, are said to be
remote because the rewards themselves are remote. When sought, however,
for the sake of Knowledge of Self, they are said to be proximate. One
should seek them when they are of such a character.[376] One should not
cast them off even mentally. If Virtue, Wealth, and Pleasure are to be
abandoned, one should abandon them when one has freed one’s self by
ascetic penances.[377] The aim of the triple aggregate is towards
emancipation. Would that man could obtain it! One’s acts, undertaken and
completed with eve tithe aid of intelligence may or may not lead to the
expected results. Virtue is not always the root of Wealth, for other
things than Virtue lead to Wealth (such as service, agriculture, &c).
There is again a contrary opinion (for some say that Wealth is earned
through chance or birth or like causes). In some instances, Wealth
acquired has been productive of evil. Other things again that Wealth
(such as fasts and vows) have led to the acquisition of Virtue. As
regards this topic, therefore, a dullard whose understanding has been
debased by ignorance, never succeeds in acquiring the highest aim of
Virtue and Wealth, viz., Emancipation. Virtue’s dross consists in the
desire of reward; the dross of Wealth consists in hoarding it; when
purged of these impurities, they are productive of great results. In this
connection is cited the narrative of the discourse that look place in
days of old between Kamandaka and Angaristha. One day, king Angaristha,
having waited for the opportunity, saluted the Rishi Kamandaka as he was
seated at his ease and asked him the following questions, ‘If a king,
forced by lust and folly, commits sin for which he afterwards repents, by
what acts, O Rishi, can those sins be destroyed? If again a man impelled
by ignorance, does what is sinful in the belief that he is acting
righteously, how shall the king put a stop to that sin come into vogue
among men?’

“Kamandaka said, ‘That man who, abandoning Virtue and Wealth pursues only
Pleasure, reaps as the consequence of such conduct the destruction of his
intelligence. The destruction of intelligence is followed by heedlessness
that is at once destructive of both Virtue and Wealth. From such
heedlessness proceed dire atheism and systematic wickedness of conduct.
If the king does not restrain those wicked men of sinful conduct, all
good subjects then live in fear of him like the inmate of a room within
which a snake has concealed itself. The subjects do not follow such a
king. Brahmanas and all pious persons also act in the same way. As a
consequence the king incurs great danger, and ultimately the risk of
destruction itself. Overtaken by infamy and insult, he has to drag on a
miserable existence. A life of infamy, however, is equal to death. Men
learned in the scriptures have indicated the following means for checking
sin. The king should always devote himself to the study of the three
Vedas. He should respect the Brahmanas and do good offices unto them. He
should be devoted to righteousness. He should make alliance (of marriage)
with high families. He should wait upon high-minded Brahmanas adorned
with the virtue of forgiveness. He should perform ablutions and recite
sacred mantras and thus pass his time happily. Banishing all wicked
subjects from himself and his kingdom, he should seek the companionship
of virtuous men. He should gratify all persons by speeches or good acts.
He should say unto all–‘I am yours,’–proclaim the virtues of even his
foes. By pursuing such conduct he may soon cleanse himself of his sins
and win the high regard of all. Without doubt, by conduct such as this
all his sins will be destroyed. Thou shouldst accomplish all those high
duties which thy seniors and preceptors would indicate. Thou art sure to
obtain great blessing through the grace of thy seniors and preceptors.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘All persons on earth, O foremost of men, applaud
virtuous behaviour. I have, however, great doubts with respect to this
object of their praise. If the topic be capable of being understood by
us, O foremost of virtuous men, I desire to hear everything about the way
in which virtuous behaviour can be acquired. How indeed, is that
behaviour acquired, O Bharata! I desire to hear it. Tell me also, O
foremost of speakers, what has been said to be the characteristics of
that behaviour.’

“Bhishma said, Formerly, O giver of honours, Duryodhana while burning
with grief at sight of that well-known prosperity belonging to thee and
thy brothers at Indraprastha and for the jeers he received in consequence
of his mistakes at the grand mansion, had asked his father Dhritarashtra
the same question. Listen to what transpired on that occasion, O Bharata!
Having seen that grand mansion of thine and that high prosperity of which
thou wert master, Duryodhana, while sitting before his father, spake of
what he had seen to the latter. Having heard the words of Duryodhana,
Dhritarashtra, addressing his son and Karna, replied unto him as follows.

Dhritarashtra said, ‘Why dost thou grieve, O son! I desire to hear the
cause in detail. If after ascertaining the reason they appear to be
adequate, I shall then endeavour to instruct thee. O subjugator of
hostile towns, thou too hast obtained great affluence. All thy brothers
are ever obedient to thee, as also all thy friends and relatives. Thou
coverest thy limbs with the best robes. Thou eatest the richest
food.[378] Steeds of the best kind bear thee. Why then hast thou become
pale and emaciated?’

Duryodhana said, ‘Ten thousands of high-souled Snataka Brahmanas daily
eat at Yudhishthira’s palace off plates of gold. Beholding his excellent
mansion adorned with excellent flowers and fruit, his steeds of the
Tittiri and the Kalmasha breeds, his robes of diverse kinds, indeed,
beholding that high prosperity of my enemies viz., the sons of Pandu, a
prosperity that resembles the high affluence of Vaisravana himself, I am
burning with grief, O Bharata!’

Dhritarashtra said, ‘If thou wishest, O sire, to win prosperity like that
of Yudhishthira or that which is even superior to it, do thou then, O
son, endeavour to be of virtuous behaviour. Without doubt, one may, by
behaviour alone, conquer the three worlds. There is nothing impossible of
attainment by persons of virtuous behaviour. Mandhatri conquered the
whole world in course of only one night, Janamejaya, in course of three;
and Nabhaga, in course of seven. All these kings were possessed of
compassion and of virtuous behaviour. For this reason the earth came to
them of their own accord, won over by their virtue.

“Duryodhana said, ‘I desire to hear, O Bharata, how that behaviour may be
acquired, that behaviour, viz., in consequence of which the earth was won
so speedily (by the kings named by thee).

“‘Dhritarashtra said, ‘In this connection, the following old narrative is
cited. It was formerly recited by Narada on the subject of virtuous
behaviour. In days of yore, the Daitya Prahlada, by the merit of his
behaviour, snatched from the high-souled Indra his sovereignty and
reduced the three worlds to subjection. Sukra then, with joined hands,
approached Vrihaspati. Possessed of great wisdom, the chief of the
celestials addressed the great preceptor, saying, ‘I desire thee to tell
me what is the source of felicity. Thus addressed, Vrihaspati said unto
him that Knowledge (leading to emancipation) is the source of the highest
felicity. Indeed, Vrihaspati indicated Knowledge to be the source of
supreme felicity. Indra, however, once more asked him as to whether there
was anything higher than that.

“Vrihaspati said, ‘There is something, O son, that is still higher. The
high-souled Bhargava (Usanas) will instruct thee better. Repair to him,
blessed be thou, and enquire of him, O chief of the celestials!’
Possessed of great ascetic merit and endued with great splendour, the
chief of the celestials then repaired to Bhargava and obtained from him
with a ratified heart, a knowledge of what was for his great good.
Obtaining the permission of the high-souled Bhargava, the performer of a
hundred sacrifices once more asked the sage as to whether there was
anything higher (as the means for the acquisition of felicity) than what
the sage had already told him. The omniscient Bhargava said, ‘The
high-souled Prahlada has better knowledge.’ Learning this, Indra became
highly delighted. The chastiser of Paka, possessed of great intelligence,
assumed the form of a Brahmana, and repairing to Prahlada, asked him,
saying, ‘I desire to hear what conduces to felicity. Prahlada answered
the Brahmana, saying, ‘O chief of regenerate ones, I have no time, being
wholly occupied in the task of ruling the three worlds, I cannot,
therefore, instruct thee.’ The Brahmana said, ‘O king, when thou mayst
have leisure, I desire to listen to thy instructions about what course of
conduct is productive of good. At this answer, king Prahlada. became
delighted with that utterer of Brahma. Saying, ‘So be it!’ he availed of
a favourable opportunity for imparting to the Brahmana the truths of
knowledge. The Brahma na duly observed towards Prahlada the conduct which
a disciple should observe towards his preceptor, and began with his whole
heart to do what Prahlada desired. Many a time the Brahmana enquired,
saying, ‘O chastiser of foes, by what means hast thou been able to win
the sovereignty of the three worlds? Tell me, O righteous king, ‘What
those means are.’ Prahlada, O monarch, answered the question the Brahmana

“Prahlada said, ‘I do not, O regenerate one, feel any pride in
consequence of my being a king, nor do I cherish any hostile feelings
towards the Brahmanas. On the other hand, I accept and follow the
counsels of policy they declare unto Me based upon the teachings of
Sukra. In complete trustfulness they say unto me what they wish to say,
and restrain me from courses that are unrighteous or improper. I am ever
obedient to the teachings of Sukra. I wait upon and serve the Brahmanas
and my seniors. I bear no malice. I am of righteous soul. I have
conquered wrath. I am self-restrained, and all my senses are under my
control. These regenerate ones that are my instructors pour beneficial
instructions upon me like bees dropping honey into the cells of their
comb. I taste the nectar dropped by those learned men, and like the Moon
among the constellations I live among the members of my race.[379] Even
this is nectar on earth, even this is the clearest eye, viz., listening
to the teaching of Sukra from the lips of Brahmanas and acting according
to them. In these consists the good of a man.’ Thus said Prahlada unto
that utterer of Brahma. Served dutifully by him, the chief of the Daityas
once more said, ‘O foremost of regenerate ones, I am exceedingly
gratified with thee in consequence of thy dutiful behaviour towards me.
Ask of me the boon thou desirest, blessed be thou, for verily I shall
grant thee what thou wilt ask. The Brahmana answered the chief of the
Daityas saying, ‘Very well. I will obey thee.’ Prahlada, gratified with
him, said, ‘Take what thou wishest.’

“The Brahmana said, ‘If, the king, thou hast been gratified with me and
if thou wishest to do what is agreeable to me, I desire then to acquire
thy behaviour. Even this is the boon that I solicit.[380] At this, though
delighted, Prahlada became filled with a great fear. Indeed, when this
boon was indicated by the Brahmana, the Daitya chief thought the
solicitor could not be a person of ordinary energy. Wondering much,
Prahlada at last said, ‘Let it be so.’ Having, however, granted the boon,
the Daitya chief became filled with grief. The Brahmana, having received
the boon, went away, but Prahlada, O king, became penetrated by a deep
anxiety and knew not what to do. While the Daitya chief sat brooding over
the matter, a flame of light issued out of his body. It had a shadowy
form of great splendour and huge proportions. Prahlada asked the form,
saying, ‘Who art thou?’ The form answered, saying, ‘I am the embodiment
of thy Behaviour. Cast off by thee I am going away. I shall henceforth, O
king, dwell in that faultless and foremost of Brahmanas who had become
thy devoted disciple.’ Having said these words, the form disappeared and
soon after entered the body of Sakra. After the disappearance of that
form, another of similar shape issued out of Prahlada’s body. The Daitya
chief addressed it, saying, ‘Who art thou?’ The form answered, saying,
‘Know me, O Prahlada, for the embodiment of Righteousness. I shall go
there where that foremost of Brahmanas is, for, O chief of the Daityas, I
reside there where Behaviour dwells.’ Upon the disappearance of
Righteousness, a third form, O monarch, blazing with splendour, issued
out of the body of the high souled Prahlada. Asked by Prahlada as to who
he was, that form possessed of great effulgence answered, saying, ‘Know,
O chief of the Daityas, that I am Truth. I shall leave thee, following
the way of Righteousness.’ After Truth had left Prahlada, following in
the wake of Righteousness, another great person issued out of Prahlada’s
body. Asked by the Daityas king, the mighty being answered, ‘I am the
embodiment of Good deeds. Know, O Prahlada, that 1 live there where Truth
lives.’ After this one had left Prahlada, another being came out,
uttering loud and deep cries. Addressed by Prahlada, he answered, ‘Know
that I am Might. I dwell there where Good deeds are.’ ‘Having said these
words, Might went away to that place whither Good deeds had gone. After
this, a goddess of great effulgence issued out of Prahlada’s body. The
Daitya chief asked her and she answered him saying that she was the
embodiment of Prosperity, adding, ‘I dwelt in thee, O hero, O thou of
prowess incapable of being baffled! Cast off by thee, I shall follow in
the wake of Might.’ The high-souled Prahlada, penetrated, with great
fear, once more asked the goddess, saying, ‘Where dost thou go, O
goddess, O thou that dwellest amid lotuses? Thou art ever devoted to
truth, O goddess, and thou art the first of deities. Who is that foremost
of Brahmanas (who was my disciple)? I desire to know the truth.’

The goddess of Prosperity said, ‘Devoted to the vow of Brahmacharya, that
Brahmana who was instructed by thee was Sukra. O puissant one, he robbed
thee of that sovereignty which thou hadst over the three worlds. O
righteous one, it was by thy behaviour that thou hadst reduced the three
worlds to subjection. Knowing this, the chief of the celestials robbed
thee of thy behaviour. Righteousness and Truth and Good deeds and Might
and myself, O thou of great wisdom, all have our root verily in

“Bhishma continued, ‘Having said these words, the goddess of Prosperity
went away, as also all the rest, O Yudhishthira! Duryodhana, once more
addressing his father, said these words: ‘O delighter of the Kurus, I
wish to know the truth about Behaviour. Tell me the means by which it may
be acquired.’

“Dhritarashtra said, ‘Those means were indicated by the high-souled
Prahlada while discoursing unto Indra. Listen, however, O ruler of men,
as how in brief Behaviour may be acquired. Abstention from injury, by
act, thought, and word, in respect of all creatures, compassion, and
gift, constitute behaviour that is worthy of praise. That act or exertion
by which others are not benefited, or that act in consequence of which
one has to feel shame, should never be done. That act, on the other hand,
should be done in consequence of which o tie may win praise in society. O
best of the Kurus, I have now told thee in brief as to what Behaviour is.
If O king, persons of wicked behaviour do ever win prosperity, they do
not enjoy it long, O son, and are seen to be exterminated by the root.’

“Dhritarashtra continued, ‘Knowing all this truly, do thou, O son, be of
good behaviour, if thou desirest to obtain prosperity greater than that
of Yudhishthira.’

“Bhishma continued, ‘Even this was what king Dhritarashtra said unto his
son. Do thou act according, to these instructions, O son of Kunti, and
thou wilt then surely obtain their fruit.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘Thou hast said, O grandsire, that behaviour is the
first (of requisites for a man). Whence, however, does Hope arise? Tell
me what it is. This great doubt has taken possession of my mind. There is
no other person than thee, O subjugator of hostile towns, who can remove
it. O grandsire, I had great hope in respect of Suyodhana that when, a
battle was about to ensue (in consequence of his own obstinacy), he
would, O lord, do what was proper. In every man hope is great. When that
hope is destroyed, great is the grief that succeeds, and which, without
doubt, is equal to almost death itself. Fool that I am, Dhritarashtra’s
wicked-souled son, Duryodhana, destroyed the hope I had cherished.
Behold, O king, the foolishness of my mind! I think that hope is vaster
than a mountain with all its trees. Or, perhaps, it is vaster than the
firmament itself. Or, perhaps, O king, it is really immeasurable. Hope, O
chief of the Kurus, is exceedingly difficult of being understood and
equally difficult of being subdued. Beholding this last attribute of
Hope, I ask, what else is so unconquerable as this?’

“Bhishma said, ‘I shall narrate to thee, O Yudhishthira, in this
connection, the discourse between Sumitra and Rishabha that took place in
olden times. Listen to it. A royal sage of the Haihaya race, Sumitra by
name, went out a hunting. He pursued a deer, having pierced it with a
straight shaft. Possessed of great strength, the deer ran ahead, with the
arrow sticking to him. The king was possessed of great strength, and
accordingly pursued with great speed his prey. The animal, endued with
fleetness, quickly cleared a low ground and then a level plain. The king,
young, active and strong, and armed with bow and sword and cased in mail,
still pursued it. Unaccompanied by anybody, in chasing the animal through
the forest the king crossed many rivers and streams and lakes and copses.
Endued with great speed, the animal, at its will, showing itself now and
then to the king, ran on with great speed. Pierced with many shafts by
the king, that denizen of wilderness, O monarch, as if in sport,
repeatedly lessened the distance between itself and the pursuer.
Repeatedly putting forth its speed and traversing one forest after
another, it now and then showed itself to the king at a near point. At
last that crusher of foes, taking a very superior shaft, sharp, terrible,
and capable of penetrating into the very vitals, fixed it on his
bowstring. The animal then, of huge proportions, as if laughing at the
pursuer’s efforts suddenly distanced him by reaching a point full four
miles ahead of the range of the shaft. That arrow of blazing splendour
accordingly fell on the ground. The deer entered a large forest but the
king still continued the chase.'”


“Bhishma said, ‘The king, having entered that large forest, came upon an
asylum of ascetics. Fatigued with the toil he had undergone, he sat
himself down for rest. Beholding him armed with bow, worn out with toil,
and hungry, the ascetics approached him and honoured him in due form.
Accepting the honours offered by the Rishis, the king enquired of them
about the progress and advancement of their penances. Having duly
answered the enquiries of the king, those Rishis endued with wealth of
asceticism asked that tiger among rulers about the reason that led his
steps to that retreat. And they said, ‘Blessed be thou, in pursuit of
what delightful object hast thou, O king, come to this asylum, walking on
foot and armed with sword and bow and arrows? We wish to hear whence thou
art coming, O giver of honours. Tell us also in what race thou art born
and what thy name is.’ Thus addressed, O bull among men, the king
proceeded to duly give unto all those Brahmanas an account of himself, O
Bharata, saying, ‘I am born in the race of the Haihayas. By name I am
Sumitra, and I am the son of Mitra. I chase herds of deer, slaying them
in thousands with my arrows. Accompanied by a large force and my
ministers and the ladies of my household, I came out on a hunting
expedition. I pierced a deer with an arrow, but the animal with the shaft
sticking to his body ran with great speed. In chasing it I have, without
a set purpose, arrived at this forest and find myself in your presence,
shorn of splendour, toil-worn, and with hope disappointed. What can be
more pitiable than this, viz., that I have arrived at this asylum, spent
with fatigue, shorn of the signs of royalty, and disappointed of my
hopes. I am not at all sorry, ye ascetics, at my being now shorn of the
signs of royalty or at my being now at a distance from my capital. I
feel, however, a poignant grief in consequence of my hope having been
disappointed. The prince of mountains, viz., Himavat, and that vast
receptacle of waters, viz., the ocean, cannot, for its vastness, measure
the extent of the firmament. Ye ascetics, similarly, I also cannot
discern the limit of hope. Ye that are endued with wealth of penances are
omniscient. There is nothing unknown to you. You are also highly blessed.
I therefore, solicit you for resolving my doubt. Hope as cherished by
man, and the wide firmament, which of these two appears vaster to you? I
desire to hear in detail what is so unconquerable to hope. If the topic
be one upon which it is not improper for ye to discourse, then tell me
all about it without delay. I do not wish, ye foremost of regenerate
ones, to hear anything from You that may be a mystery improper to
discourse upon. If again the discourse be injurious to your penances, I
would not wish you to speak. If the question asked by me be a worthy
topic of discourse, I would then wish to hear the cause in detail.
Devoted to penances as ye are, do ye all instruct me on the subject.'”


“Bhishma said, ‘Then that best of Rishis, viz., the regenerate Rishabha,
sitting in the midst of all those Rishis, smiled a little and said these
words: ‘Formerly, O tiger among kings, while travelling among sacred
places, I arrived, O lord, at the beautiful asylum of Nara and Narayana.
There lies the delightful spot called Vadri, and there also is that lake
in the firmament (whence the sacred Ganga takes her rise).[381] There the
sage Aswasiras, O king, (always) reads the eternal Vedas. Having
performed my ablutions in that lake and offered with due rites oblations
of water unto the Pitris and the dogs, I entered the asylum. Within that
retreat the Rishis Nara and Narayana always pass their time in true
pleasure.[382] Not far from that spot I repaired to another retreat for
taking up my abode. While seated there I beheld a very tall and emaciated
Rishi, clad in rags and skins, approaching towards me. Possessed of the
wealth of penances, he was named Tanu. Compared, O mighty-armed one, with
other men, his height seemed to be eight times greater. As regards his
leanness, O royal sage, I can say that I have never beheld its like. His
body, O king, was as thin as one’s little finger. His neck and arms and
legs and hair were all of extra-ordinary aspect. His head was
proportionate to his body, and his cars and eyes also were the same. His
speech, O best of kings, and his movements were exceedingly feeble.
Beholding that exceedingly emaciated Brahmana I became very cheerless and
frightened. Saluting his feet, I stood before him with joined hands.
Having informed him of my name and family, and having told him also the
name of my father, O bull among men, I slowly sat myself down on a seat
that was indicated by him. Then, O monarch, that foremost of virtuous
men, viz., Tanu, began to discourse in the midst of the Rishis dwelling
in that asylum upon topics connected with Righteousness and Profit. While
engaged in discourse, a king, possessed of eyes like lotus petals and
accompanied by his forces and the ladies of his household, came to that
spot on a car drawn by fleet steeds. The name of that king was
Viradyumna. Of handsome features, he was possessed of great fame. His
son’s name was Bhuridyumna. The child had been missing, and the sire,
exceedingly cheerless, came there in course of his wanderings amid the
forest in pursuit of the missing one. ‘I shall find my son here!’ ‘I
shall find my son here!’ Dragged on by hope in this way, the king
wandered through that forest in those days. Addressing the emaciated
Rishi he said, ‘Without doubt that highly virtuous son of mine is
exceedingly difficult to be traced by me. Alas he was my only child. He
is lost and can nowhere be found! Though incapable of being found out, my
hope, however, of finding him is very great. Filled with that hope (which
is being constantly disappointed), I am verily on the point of death.’
Hearing these words of the king, that foremost of Munis, viz., the holy
Tanu, remained for a short while with head hanging down and himself
buried in contemplation. Beholding him buried in contemplation, the king
became exceedingly cheerless. In great grief he began to say slowly and
softly, ‘What, O celestial Rishi, is unconquerable and what is greater
than hope? O holy one, tell me this if I may hear it without impropriety.’

“The Muni said, ‘A holy and great Rishi had been insulted by thy son. He
had done it through ill-luck, moved by his foolish understanding. The
Rishi had asked thy son for a golden jar and vegetable barks. Thy son
contemptuously refused to gratify the ascetic. Thus treated by thy son,
the great sage became disappointed. Thus addressed, the king worshipped
that ascetic who was worshipped by all the world. Of virtuous soul,
Viradyumna sat there, spent with fatigue even as thou, O best of men, now
art. The great Rishi, in return, offered the king according to the rites
observed by the dwellers of the forests water to wash his feet and the
usual ingredients that make up the Arghya. Then all the Rishis, O tiger
among kings, sat there, surrounding that bull among men like the stars of
the constellation of Ursa Major surrounding the Pole star. And they asked
the unvanquished king as to the cause of his arrival at that asylum.'”


“The king said, ‘I am a king called by the name of Viradyumna. My fame
has spread in all directions. My son Bhuridyumna hath been lost. It is in
quest of him that I have come to this forest. Ye foremost of Brahmanas,
that child was my only son and, ye sinless ones, he is of very tender
years. He cannot, however, be found here. I am wandering everywhere for
finding him out.’

“Rishabha continued, ‘After the king had said these words, the ascetic
Tanu hung down his head. He remained perfectly silent, without uttering a
single word in answer. In former days that Brahmana had not been much
honoured by the king. In disappointment, O monarch, he had for that
reason practised austere penances for a longtime, resolving in his mind
that he should never accept anything in gift from either kings or members
of any other order. And he said to himself, ‘Hope agitates every man of
foolish understanding. I shall drive away hope from my mind.’ Even such
had been his determination. Viradyumna once more questioned that foremost
of ascetics in these words:

“The king said, ‘What is the measure of the thinness of Hope? What on
earth is exceedingly difficult of acquisition? Tell me this, O holy one,
for thou art well conversant with morality and profit.”

“Rishabha continued, ‘Himself recollecting all the past incidents (about
his own disregard at the hands of the king) and calling them back to the
recollection of the king also, that holy Brahmana of emaciated body
addressed the king and said the following words:

“The sage said, ‘There is nothing, O king, that equals Hope in
slenderness. I had solicited many kings and found that nothing is so
difficult of acquisition as an image that Hope sets before the mind.’

“The king said, ‘At thy words, O Brahmana, I understand what is slender
and what is not so.[383] I understand also how difficult of acquisition
are the images set by Hope before the mind. I regard these words of thine
as utterances of Sruti. O thou of great wisdom, one doubt, however, has
arisen in my-mind. It behoveth thee, O sage, to explain it in detail unto
me that ask thee. What is more slender than thy body? Tell me this, O
holy one, if, of course, O best of sages, the topic be one which may be
discoursed upon without impropriety.’

“The emaciated sage said, ‘A contented applicant is exceedingly difficult
to meet with. Perhaps, there is none such in the world. Something rarer
still, O sire, is the person that never disregards an applicant. The hope
that rests upon such persons as do not, after passing their promises, do
good to others according to the best of their powers and according as the
applicants deserve, is slenderer than even my body.[384] The hope that
rests upon an ungrateful man, or upon one that is cruel, or one that is
idle, or one that injures others, is slenderer than even my body.[384]
The hope cherished by a sire that has but one son, of once more seeing
that son after he has been lost or missed, is slenderer than even my
body. The hope that old women entertain of bringing forth sons, O king,
and that is cherished by rich men, is slenderer than even my body. The
hope that springs up in the hearts of grown up maidens of marriage when
they hear anybody only talk of it in their presence, is slenderer than
even my body.'[385] Hearing these words, O monarch, king Viradyumna, and
the ladies of his household, prostrated themselves before that bull among
Brahmanas and touched his feet with their bent heads.’

“The king said, ‘I beg thy grace, O holy one! I wish to meet with my
child. What thou hast said, O best of Brahmanas, is very true. There is
no doubt of the truth of thy utterances.’

“Rishabha continued, ‘The holy Tanu, that foremost of virtuous persons,
smiling, caused, by means of his learning and his penances the king’s son
to be brought to that spot. Having caused the prince to be brought
thither, the sage rebuked the king (his father).[386] That foremost of
virtuous persons then displayed himself to be the god of righteousness.
Indeed, having displayed his own wonderful and celestial form, he entered
an adjacent forest, with heart freed from wrath and the desire of
revenge. I saw all this, O king, and heard the words I have said. Drive
off thy hope, that is even slenderer (than any of those which the sage

“Bhishma continued ‘Thus addressed, O monarch, by the high-souled
Rishabha, king Sumitra speedily cast off the hope that was in his heart
and which was slenderer (than any of the kinds of hope indicated by the
emaciated Rishi). Do thou also, O son of Kunti, hearing these words of
mine, be calm and collected like Himavat. Overcome with distress,[387]
thou hast questioned me and heard my answer. Having heard it. O monarch,
it behoves thee to dispel these regrets of thine!’


“Yudhishthira said, ‘Like one that drinks nectar I am never satiated with
listening to thee as thou speakest. As a person possessing a knowledge of
self is never satiated with meditation, even so I am never satiated with
hearing thee. Do thou, therefore, O grandsire, discourse once more upon
morality. I am never satiated with drinking the nectar of thy discourse
upon morality.’

“Bhishma said, ‘In this connection is cited the old narrative of the
discourse between Gotama and the illustrious Yama. Gotama owned a wide
retreat on the Paripatra hills. Listen to me as to how many years he
dwelt in that abode. For sixty thousand years that sage underwent ascetic
austerities in that asylum. One day, the Regent of the world, Yama, O
tiger among men, repaired to that great sage of cleansed soul while he
was engaged in the severest austerities. Yama beheld the great ascetic
Gotama of rigid penances. The regenerate sage understanding that it was
Yama who had come, speedily saluted him and sat with joined hands in an
attentive attitude (waiting for his commands). The royal Dharma,
beholding that bull among Brahmanas, duly saluted him (in return) and
addressing him asked what he was to do for him.’

“Gotama said, “By doing what acts does one liberate one’s self from the
debt One owes to one’s mother and father? How also does one succeed in
winning regions of pure bliss that are so difficult of attainment?’

“Yama said, ‘Devoting one’s self to the duty of truth, and practising
purity and penances one should ceaselessly worship one’s mother and
father. One should also perform Horse-sacrifices with presents in
profusion unto the Brahmanas. By such acts one wins many regions (of
felicity) of wonderful aspect.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘What course of conduct should be adopted by a king
shorn of friends, having many enemies, possessed of an exhausted
treasury, and destitute of troops, O Bharata! What, indeed, should be his
conduct when he is surrounded by wicked ministers, when his counsels are
all divulged, when he does not see his way clearly before him, when he
assails another kingdom, when he is engaged in grinding a hostile
kingdom, and when though weak he is at war with a stronger ruler? What,
indeed, should be the conduct of a king the affairs of whose kingdom are
ill-regulated, and who disregards the requirements of place and time, who
is unable, in consequence of his oppressions, to bring about peace and
cause disunion among his foes? Should he seek the acquisition of wealth
by evil means, or should he lay down his life without seeking wealth?’

“Bhishma said, ‘Conversant as thou art with duties, thou hast, O bull of
Bharata’s race, asked me a question relating to mystery (in connection
with duties).[388] Without being questioned, O Yudhishthira, I could not
venture to discourse upon this duty. Morality is very subtle. One
understands it, O bull of Bharata’s race, by the aid of the texts of
scriptures. By remembering what one has heard and by practising good
acts, some one in some place may become a righteous person. By acting
with intelligence the king may or may not succeed in acquiring
wealth.[389] Aided by thy own intelligence do thou think what answer
should be given to thy question on this head. Listen, O Bharata, to the
means, fraught with great merit, by which kings may conduct themselves
(during seasons of distress). For the sake of true morality, however, I
would not call those means righteous. If the treasury be filled by
oppression, conduct like this brings the king to the verge of
destruction. Even this is the conclusion of all intelligent men who have
thought upon the subject. The kind of scriptures or science which one
always studies gives him the kind of knowledge which it is capable of
giving. Such Knowledge verily becomes agreeable to him. Ignorance leads
to barrenness of invention in respect of means. Contrivance of means,
again, through the aid of knowledge, becomes the source of great
felicity. Without entertaining any scruples and any malice,[390] listen
to these instructions. Through the decrease of the treasury, the king’s
forces are decreased. The king should, therefore, fill his treasury (by
any means) like to one creating water in a wilderness which is without
water. Agreeably to this code of quasi-morality practised by the
ancients, the king should, when the time for it comes,[391] show
compassion to his people. This is eternal duty. For men that are able and
competent,[392] the duties are of one kind. In seasons of distress,
however, one’s duties are of a different kind. Without wealth a king may
(by penances and the like) acquire religious merit. Life, however, is
much more important than religious merit. (And as life cannot be
supported without wealth, no such merit should be sought which stands in
the way of the acquisition of wealth). A king that is weak, by acquiring
only religious merit, never succeeds in obtaining just and proper means
for sustenance; and since he cannot, by even his best exertions, acquire
power by the aid of only religious merit, therefore the practices in
seasons of distress are sometimes regarded as not inconsistent with
morality. The learned, however, are of opinion that those practices lead
to sinfulness. After the season of distress is over, what should the
Kshatriya do? He should (at such a time) conduct himself in such a way
that his merit may not be destroyed. He should also act in such a way
that he may not have to succumb to his enemies.[393] Even these have been
declared to be his duties. He should not sink in despondency. He should
not (in times of distress) seek to rescue (from the peril of destruction)
the merit of others or of himself. On the other hand, he should rescue
his own self. This is the settled conclusion.[394] There is this Sruti,
viz., that it is settled that Brahmanas, who are conversant with duties,
should have proficiency in respect of duties. Similarly, as regards the
Kshatriya, his proficiency should consist in exertion, since might of
arms is his great possession. When a Kshatriya’s means of support are
gone, what should he not take excepting what belongs to ascetics and what
is owned by Brahmanas? Even as a Brahmana in a season of distress may
officiate at the sacrifice of a person for whom he should never officiate
(at other and ordinary times) and eat forbidden food, so there is no
doubt that a Kshatriya (in distress) may take wealth from every one
except ascetics and Brahmanas. For one afflicted (by an enemy and seeking
the means of escape) what can be an improper outlet? For a person immured
(within a dungeon and seeking escape) what can be an improper path? When
a person becomes afflicted, he escapes by even an improper outlet. For a
Kshatriya that has, in consequence of the weakness of his treasury and
army, become exceedingly humiliated, neither a life of mendicancy nor the
profession of a Vaisya or that of a Sudra has been laid down. The
profession ordained for a Kshatriya is the acquisition of wealth by
battle and victory. He should never beg of a member of his own order. The
person who supports himself at ordinary times by following the practices
primarily laid for him, may in seasons of distress support himself by
following the practices laid down in the alternative. In a season of
distress, when ordinary practices cannot be followed, a Kshatriya may
live by even unjust and improper means. The very Brahmanas, it is seen,
do the same when their means of living are destroyed. When the Brahmanas
(at such times) conduct themselves thus, what doubt is there in respect
of Kshatriyas? This is, indeed, settled. Without sinking into despondency
and yielding to destruction, a Kshatriya may (by force) take what he can
from persons that are rich. Know that the Kshatriya is the protector and
the destroyer of the people, Therefore, a Kshatriya in distress should
take (by force) what he can, with a view to (ultimately) protect the
people. No person in this world, O king, can support life without
injuring other creatures. The very ascetic leading a solitary life in the
depths of the forest is no exception. A Kshatriya should not live,
relying upon destiny,[395] especially he, O chief of the Kurus, who is
desirous of ruling. The king and the kingdom should always mutually
protect each other. This is an eternal duty. As the king protects, by
spending all his possessions, the kingdom when it sinks into distress,
even so should the kingdom protect the king when he sinks into distress.
The king even at the extremity of distress, should never give up[396] his
treasury, his machinery for chastising the wicked, his army, his friends
and allies and other necessary institutions and the chiefs existing in
his kingdom. Men conversant with duty say that one must keep one’s seeds,
deducting them from one’s very food. This is a truth cited from the
treatise of Samvara well-known for his great powers of illusion, Fie on
the life of that king whose kingdom languishes. Fie on the life of that
man who from want of means goes to a foreign country for a living. The
king’s roots are his treasury and army. His army, again, has its roots in
his treasury. His army is the root of all his religious merits. His
religious merits, again are the root of his subjects. The treasury can
never be filled without oppressing others. How ‘then can the army be kept
without oppression? The king, therefore, in seasons of distress, incurs
no fault by oppressing his subjects for filling the treasury. For
performing sacrifices many improper acts are done. For this reason a king
incurs no fault by doing improper acts (when the object is to fill his
treasury in a season of distress). For the sake of wealth practices other
than those which are proper are followed (in seasons of distress). If (at
such times) such improper practices be not adopted, evil is certain to
result. All those institutions that are kept up for working destruction
and misery exist for the sake of collecting wealth.[397] Guided by such
considerations, all intelligent king should settle his course (at such
times). As animals and other things are necessary for sacrifices, as
sacrifices are for purifying the heart, and as animals, sacrifices, and
purity of the heart are all for final emancipation, even so policy and
chastisement exist for the treasury, the treasury exists for the army,
and policy and treasury and army all the three exist for vanquishing foes
and protecting or enlarging the kingdom. I shall here cite an example
illustrating the true ways of morality. A large tree is cut down for
making of it a sacrificial stake. In cutting it, other trees that stand
in its way have also to be cut down. These also, in falling down, kill
others standing on the spot. Even so they that stand in the way of making
a well-filled treasury must have to be slain. I do not see how else
success can be had. By wealth, both the worlds, viz., this and the other,
can be had, as also Truth and religious merit. A person without wealth is
more dead than alive. Wealth for the performance of sacrifices should be
acquired by every means. The demerit that attaches to an act done in a
season of distress is not equal to that which attaches to the same act if
done at other times, O Bharata! The acquisition of wealth and its
abandonment cannot both be possibly seen in the same person, O king! I do
not see a rich man in the forest. With respect to every wealth that is
seen in this world, every one contends with every one else, saying, ‘This
shall be mine,’ ‘This shall be mine!’ This is nothing, O scorcher of
foes, that is so meritorious for a king as the possession of a kingdom.
It is sinful for a king to oppress his subjects with heavy impositions at
ordinary times. In a season, however, of distress, it is quite different.
Some acquire wealth by gifts and sacrifices; some who have a liking for
penances acquire wealth by penances; some acquire it by the aid of their
intelligence and cleverness. A person without wealth is said to be weak,
while he that has wealth become powerful. A man of wealth may acquire
everything. A king that has well-filled treasury succeeds in
accomplishing everything. By his treasury a king may earn religious
merit, gratify his desire for pleasure, obtain the next world, and this
also. The treasury, however, should be filled by the aid of righteousness
and never by unrighteous practices, such, that is, as pass for righteous
in times of distress.


(Apaddharmanusasana Parva)

“Yudhishthira said, ‘What, besides this, should be done by a king that is
weak and procrastinating, that does not engage in battle from anxiety for
the lives of his friends, that is always under the influence of fear, and
that cannot keep his counsels secret? What, indeed, should that king do
whose cities and kingdom have been partitioned and appropriated by foes,
who is divested of wealth, who is incapable (through such poverty) of
honouring his friends and attaching them to himself, whose ministers are
disunited or bought over by his enemies, who is obliged to stand in the
face of foes, whose army has dwindled away, and whose heart has been
agitated by some strong enemy?’

“Bhishma said, ‘If the invading enemy be of pure heart and if he be
conversant with both morality and profit, a king of the kind you have
indicated should, with no loss of time, make peace with the invader and
bring about the restoration of those portions of the kingdom that have
already been conquered. If, again, the invader be strong and sinful and
seek to obtain victory by unrighteous means, the king should make peace
with him, too, by abandoning a portion of his territories. If the invader
be unwilling to make peace, the king should then abandon his very capital
and all his possessions for escaping from danger. If he can save his life
he may hope for similar acquisitions in future. What man conversant with
morality is there that would sacrifice his own self, which is a more
valuable possession, for encountering that danger from which escape can
be had by the abandonment of his treasury and army? A king should protect
the ladies of his household. If these fall into the hands of the enemy,
he should not show any compassion for them (by incurring the risk of his
own arrest in delivering them). As long as it is in his power, he should
never surrender his own self to the enemy.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘When his own people are dissatisfied with him, when
he is oppressed by invaders, when his treasury is exhausted, and when his
counsels are divulged, what should the king then do?’

“Bhishma said, ‘A king, under such circumstances, should (if his enemy be
righteous) seek to make peace with him. If the enemy be unrighteous, he
should then put forth his valour. He should, by such means, seek to cause
the foe to withdraw from his kingdom; or fighting bravely, he should lay
down his life and ascend to heaven. A king can conquer the whole earth
with the help of even a small force if that force be loyal, cheerful, and
devoted to his good. If slain in battle, he is sure to ascend to heaven.
If he succeeds in slaying (his enemies), he is sure to enjoy the earth.
By laying down one’s life in battle, one obtains the companionship of
Indra himself.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘When practices fraught with high morality and
beneficial to the world, (viz., those that appertain to righteous rule)
disappear, when all the means and resources for the support of life fall
into the hands of robbers, when, indeed, such a calamitous time sets in,
by what means should a Brahmana, O grandsire, who from affection is
unable to desert his sons and grandsons, subsist?’

“Bhishma said, ‘When such a time sets in, the Brahmana should live by the
aid of knowledge. Everything in this world is for them that are good.
Nothing here is for them that are wicked. He who making himself an
instrument of acquisition, takes wealth from the wicked and gives it unto
them that are good, is said to be conversant with the morality of
adversity. Desirous of maintaining his rule, the king, O monarch, without
driving his subjects to indignation and rebellion, may take what is not
freely given by the owner, saying, ‘This is mine!’ That wise man who,
cleansed by the possession of knowledge and might and of righteous
conduct at other times, acts censurably in such season, does not really
deserve to be censured. They who always support themselves by putting
forth their might never like any other method of living. They that are
endued with might, O Yudhishthira, always live by the aid of prowess. The
ordinary scriptures, that exist (for seasons of distress) without
exceptions of any kind, should be practised by a king (at such times). A
king, however, that is endued with intelligence, while following those
scriptures, would do something more.[398] At such times, however, the
king should not oppress, Ritwijas, and Purohitas and preceptors and
Brahmanas, all of whom are honoured and held in high esteem. By
oppressing them, even at such times, he incurs reproach and sin. This
that I tell thee is regarded as an authority in the world. Indeed, this
is the eternal eye (by which practices in seasons of distress are to be
viewed). One should be guided by his authority. By this is to be judged
whether a king is to be called good or wicked. It is seen that many
persons residing in villages and towns, actuated by jealousy and wrath,
accuse one another. The king should never, at their words, honour or
punish anybody. Slander should never be spoken. If spoken, it should
never be heard. When slanderous converse goes on, one should close one’s
ears or leave the place outright. Slanderous converse is the
characteristic of wicked men. It is an indication of depravity. They, on
the other hand, O king, who speak of the virtues of others in assemblies
of the good, are good men. As a pair of sweet-tempered bulls governable
and well-broken and used to bear burthens, put their necks to the yoke
and drag the cart willingly, even so should the king bear his burthens
(in seasons of distress). Others say that a king (at such times) should
conduct himself in such a way that he may succeed in gaining a large
number of allies. Some regard ancient usage as the highest indication of
righteousness. Others, viz., they that are in favour of the conduct
pursued by Sankha, towards Likhita, do not hold this opinion. They do not
advance such an opinion through either malice or covetousness[399].
Examples are seen of even great Rishis who have laid down that even
preceptors, if addicted to evil practices, should be punished. But
approvable authority there is none for such a proposition. The gods may
be left to punish such men when they happen to be vile and guilty of
wicked practices. The king who fills his treasury by having recourse to
fraudulent devices, certainly falls away from righteousness. The code of
morality which is honoured in every respect by those that are good and in
affluent circumstances, and which is approved by every honest heart,
should be followed. He is said to be conversant with duty who knows duty
as depending on all the four foundations. It is difficult to find out the
reasons on which duties stand even as it is difficult to find out the
legs of the snake.[400] As a hunter of beasts discovers the track of a
shaft-struck deer by observing spots of blood on the ground, even so
should one seek to discover the reasons of duties. This should a man
tread with humility along the path trod by the good. Such, indeed, was
the conduct of the great royal sages of old, O Yudhishthira!'”


“Bhishma said, ‘The king should, by drawing wealth from his own kingdom
as also from the kingdoms of his foes, fill his treasury. From the
treasury springs his religious merit, O son of Kunti, and it is in
consequence of the treasury that the roots of his kingdom extend. For
these reasons the treasury must be filled; and when filled; it should be
carefully protected (by putting a stop to all useless expenditure), and
even sought to be increased. This is the eternal practice. The treasury
cannot be filled by (acting with) purity and righteousness, nor by
(acting with) heartless cruelty. It should be filled by adopting a middle
course. How can a weak king have a treasury? How again can a king who has
no treasury have strength? How can a weak man have kingdom? Whence again
can one without a kingdom obtain prosperity? For a person of high rank,
adversity is like death. For this reason the king should always increase
his treasury, and army, and allies and friends. All men disregard a king
with an empty treasury. Without being gratified with the little that such
a king can give, his servants never express any alacrity in his business.
In consequence of his affluence, the king succeeds in obtaining great
honours. Indeed, affluence conceals his very sins, like robes concealing
such parts of a feminine form as should not be exposed to the view. Those
with whom the king has formerly quarrelled become filled with grief at
the sight of his new affluence. Like dogs they once more take service
under him, and though they wait only for an opportunity to slay him, he
takes to them as if nothing has happened. How, O Bharata, can such a king
obtain happiness? The king should always exert for acquiring greatness.
He should never bend down in humility.[401] Exertion is manliness. He
should rather break at an unfavourable opportunity than bend before any
one. He should rather repair to the forest and live therewith the wild
animals. But he should not still live in the midst of ministers and
officers who have like robbers broken through all restraints. Even the
robbers of the forest may furnish a large number of soldiers for the
accomplishment of the fiercest of deeds. O Bharata! If the king
transgresses all wholesome restraints, all people become filled with
alarm. The very robbers who know not what compassion is, dread such a
king.[402] For this reason, the king: should always establish rules and
restraints for gladdening the hearts of his people. Rules in respect of
even very trivial matters are hailed with delight by the people. There
are men who think that this world is nothing and the future also is a
myth. He that is an atheist of this type, though his heart is agitated by
secret fears, should never be trusted. If the robbers of the forest,
while observing other virtues, commit depredations in respect only of
property, those depredations may be regarded as harmless. The lives of
thousands of creatures are protected in consequence of robbers observing
such restraints. Slaying an enemy who is flying away from battle,
ravishment of wives, ingratitude, plundering the property of a Brahmana,
depriving a person of the whole of his property, violation of maidens,
continued occupation of villages and towns as their lawful lords, and
adulterous congress with other people’s wives–these are regarded as
wicked acts among even robbers, and robbers should always abstain from
them. It is again certain that those kings who strive (by making peace)
to inspire confidence upon themselves in the hearts of the robbers,
succeed, after watching all their ins and outs, in exterminating them.
For this reason, in dealing with robbers, it is necessary that they
should not be exterminated outright.[403] They should be sought to be
brought under the king’s way. The king should never behave with cruelty
towards them, thinking that he is more powerful than they. Those kings
that do not exterminate them outright have no fear of extermination to
themselves. They, however, that do exterminate them have always to live
in fear in consequence of that act.'”


“Bhishma said, ‘In this connection, persons acquainted with the
scriptures declare this text in respect of duty, viz., for a Kshatriya
possessed of intelligence and knowledge, (the earning of) religious merit
and (the acquisition of) wealth, constitute his obvious duties. He should
not, by subtle discussions on duty and unseen consequences in respect of
a future world, abstain from accomplishing those two duties. As it is
useless to argue, upon seeing certain foot-prints on the ground, whether
they are wolf’s or not, even so is all discussion upon the nature of
righteousness and the reverse. Nobody in this world ever sees the fruits
of righteousness and unrighteousness. A Kshatriya, therefore, should seek
the acquisition of power. He that is powerful is master of everything.
Wealth leads to the possession of an army. He that is powerful[404]
obtains intelligent advisers. He that is without wealth is truly fallen.
A little (of anything in the world) is regarded as the dirty remnant of a
feast.[405] If a strong man does even many bad acts, nobody, through
fear, says or does anything (for censuring or checking him). If
righteousness and Power be associated with Truth, they can then rescue
men from great perils. If, however, the two be compared, Power will
appear to be superior to Righteousness. It is from Power that
Righteousness springs. Righteousness rests upon Power as all immobile
things upon the earth. As smoke depends upon the wind (for its motion),
even so Righteousness depends upon Power. Righteousness which is the
weaker of the two depends for its support upon a tree. Righteousness is
dependent on them that are powerful even as pleasure is dependent upon
them that are given to enjoyment. There is nothing that powerful men
cannot do. Everything is pure with them that are powerful. A powerless
man, by committing evil acts can never escape. Men feel alarmed at his
conduct even as they are alarmed at the appearance of a wolf. One fallen
away from a state of affluence leads a life of humiliation and sorrow. A
life of humiliation and reproach is like death itself The learned have
said that when in consequence of one’s sinful conduct one is cast off by
friends and companions, one is pierced repeatedly by the wordy darts of
others and one has to burn with grief on that account. Professors of
scriptures have said with respect to the expiation of sinfulness that one
should (if stained with sinfulness) study the three Vedas, wait upon and
worship the Brahmanas, gratify all men by looks, words, and acts, cast
off all meanness, marry in high families, proclaim the praises of others
while confessing one’s own worthlessness, recite mantras, perform the
usual water-rites, assume a mildness of behaviour, and abstain from
speaking much, and perform austere penances, seek the refuge of Brahmanas
and Kshatriyas. Indeed, one who has committed many evil acts, should do
all this, without being angry at the reproaches uttered by men. By
conducting one’s self in this way, one may soon become cleansed of all
his sins and regain the regard of the world. Indeed, one wins great
respect in this world and great rewards in the next, and enjoys diverse
kinds of happiness here by following such conduct and by sharing his
wealth with others.'”


“Bhishma said, ‘In this connection is cited the old story of a robber who
having in this would been observant of restraints did not meet with
destruction in the next. There was a robber of the name of Kayavya, born
of a Kshatriya father and a Nishada mother. Kayavya was a practiser of
Kshatriya duties. Capable of smiting, possessed of intelligence and
courage, conversant with the scriptures, destitute of cruelty, devoted to
the Brahmanas, and worshipping his seniors and preceptors with reverence,
he protected the ascetics in the observance of their practices. Though a
robber, he still succeeded in winning felicity in heaven. Morning and
evening he used to excite the wrath of the deer by chasing them. He was
well conversant with all the practices of the Nishadas as also of all
animals living in the forest. Well acquainted with the requirements of
time and place, he roved over the mountains. Acquainted as he was with
the habits of all animals, his arrows never missed their aim, and his
weapons were strong. Alone, he could vanquish many hundreds of troops. He
worshipped his old, blind, and deaf parents in the forest every day. With
honey and flesh and fruits and roots and other kinds of excellent food,
he hospitably entertained all persons deserving of honour and did them
many good offices. He showed great respect for those Brahmanas that had
retired from the world for taking up their residence in the woods.
Killing the deer, he often took flesh to them. As regards those that were
unwilling, from fear of others, to accept gifts from him because of the
profession he followed, he used to go to their abodes before dawn and
leave flesh at their doors.[406] One day many thousands of robbers,
destitute of compassion in their conduct and regardless of all
restraints, desired to elect him as their leader.’

“The robbers said, ‘Thou art acquainted with the requirements of place
and time. Thou hast wisdom and courage. Thy firmness also is great in
everything thou undertakest. Be thou our foremost of leaders, respected
by us all, We will do as thou wilt direct. Protect us duly, even as a
father or mother.’

“Kayavya said, ‘Never kill ye a woman, or one that from fear keeps away
from the fight, or one that is a child, or one that is an ascetic. One
that abstains from fight should never be slain, nor should women be
seized or brought away with force. None of you should ever slay a woman
amongst all creatures. Let Brahmanas be always blessed and you should
always fight for their good. Truth should never be sacrificed. The
marriages of men should never be obstructed. No injury should be
inflicted on those houses in which the deities, the Pitris, and guests
are worshipped. Amongst creatures, Brahmanas deserve to be exempted by
you in your plundering excursions. By giving away even your all, you
should worship them. He who incurs the wrath of the Brahmanas, he for
whose discomfiture they wish, fails to find a rescuer in the three
worlds. He who speaks ill of the Brahmanas and wishes for their
destruction, himself meets with destruction like darkness at sunrise.
Residing here, ye shall acquire the fruits of your valour. Troops shall
be sent against those that will refuse to give us our dues. The rod of
chastisement is intended for the wicked. It is not intended for
self-aggrandisement. They who oppress the god deserve death, it is said.
They who seek to aggrandise their fortunes by afflicting kingdoms in
unscrupulous ways, very soon come to be regarded as vermin in a dead
body. Those robbers again that would conduct themselves by conforming to
these restraints of the scriptures, would soon win salvation although
leading a plundering life.’

“Bhishma continued, ‘Those robbers, thus addressed, obeyed all the
commands of Kayavya. By desisting from sin, they obtained great
prosperity. By behaving himself in such a way by thus doing good to the
honest and by thus restraining the robbers from bad practices, Kayavya
won great success (in the next world). He who always thinks of this
narrative of Kayavya will not have any fear from the denizens of the
forest, in fact, from any earthly creature. Such a man will have no fear
from any creature, O Bharata! He will have no fear from wicked men. If
such a man goes to the forest, he will be able to live there with the
security of a king.'”


“Bhishma said, ‘In this connection, viz., the method by which a king
should fill his treasury, persons acquainted with the scriptures of olden
days cite the following verses sung by Brahman himself. The wealth of
persons who are given to the performance of sacrifices, as also the
wealth dedicated to the deities, should never be taken. A Kshatriya
should take the wealth of such persons as never perform religious rites
and sacrifices as are on that account regarded to be equal to robbers.
All the creatures that inhabit the earth and all the enjoyments that
appertain to sovereignty, O Bharata, belong to the Kshatriyas. All the
wealth of the earth belongs to the Kshatriya, and not to any person else.
That wealth the Kshatriya should use for keeping up his army and for the
performance of sacrifice. Tearing up such creepers and plants as are not
of any use, men burn them for cooking such vegetables as serve for
food.[407] Men conversant with duty have said that his wealth is useless
who does not, with libations of clarified butter, feed the gods, the
Pitris, and men. A virtuous ruler, O king, should take away such wealth.
By that wealth a large number of good people can be gratified. He should
not, however, hoard that wealth in his treasury. He who makes himself an
instrument of acquisition and taking away wealth from the wicked gives
them to those that are good is said to be conversant with the whole
science of morality. A king should extend his conquests in the next world
according to the measure of his power, and as gradually as vegetable
products are seen to grow. As some ants are seen to grow from no adequate
cause, even so sacrifice spring from no adequate cause.[408] As flies and
gnats and ants are driven off from the bodies of kine and other domestic
cattle (at the time of milking them), even so should persons who are
averse to the performance of sacrifices should be similarly driven off
from the kingdom. This is consistent with morality. As the dust that lies
on the earth, if pounded between two stones, becomes finer and finer,
even so questions of morality, the more they are reflected upon and
discussed, become finer and finer.'”


“Bhishma said, ‘These two, viz., one that provides for the future, and
one possessed of presence of mind, always enjoy happiness. The man of
procrastination, however, is lost. In this connection, listen attentively
to the following excellent story of a procrastinating person in the
matter of settling his course of action. In a lake that was not very deep
and which abounded with fishes, there lived three Sakula fishes that were
friends and constant companions. Amongst those three one had much
forethought and always liked to provide for what was coming. Another was
possessed of great presence of mind. The third was procrastinating. One
day certain fishermen coming to that lake began to bale out its waters to
a lower ground through diverse outlets. Beholding the water of the lake
gradually decreasing, the fish that had much foresight, addressing his
two companions on that occasion of danger, said, ‘A great danger is about
to overtake all the aquatic creatures living in this lake. Let us
speedily go to some other place before our path becomes obstructed. He
that resists future evil by the aid of good policy, never incurs serious
danger. Let my counsels prevail with you. Let us all leave this place’
That one amongst the three who was procrastinating then answered, ‘It is
well said. There is, however, no need of such haste. This is my
deliberate opinion.’ Then the other fish, who was noted for presence of
mind, addressed his procrastinating companion and said, ‘When the time
for anything comes, I never fail to provide for it according to policy.’
Hearing the answers of his two companions, he of great forethought and
considerable intelligence immediately set out by a current and reached
another deep lake. The fishermen, Seeing that all the water had been
baled out, shut in the fishes that remained, by diverse means. Then they
began to agitate the little water that remained, and as they began to
catch the fish, the procrastinating Sakula was caught with many others.
When the fisherman began to tie to a long string the fishes they had
caught, the Sakula who was noted for presence of mind thrust himself into
the company of those that had been so tied and remained quietly among
them, biting the string, for he thought that he should do it to give the
appearance of being caught. The fishermen believed that all the fishes
attached to the string had been caught. They then removed them to a piece
of deep water for washing them. Just at that time the Sakula noted for
presence of mind, leaving the string, quickly escaped. That fish,
however, who had been procrastinating, foolish and senseless and without
intelligence as he was, and, therefore, unable to escape, met with death.

“‘Thus every one meets with destruction, like the procrastinating fish,
who from want of intelligence cannot divine the hour of danger. That man,
again, who regarding himself clever does not seek his own good in proper
time, incurs great danger like the Sakula who had presence of mind. Hence
these two only, viz., he that has much forethought and he that has
presence of mind, succeed in obtaining happiness. He, however, that is
procrastinating meets with destruction. Diverse are the divisions of
time, such as Kashtha, Kala, Muhurta, day, night, Lava, month, fortnight,
the six seasons, Kalpa, year. The divisions of the earth are called
place. Time cannot be seen. As regards the success of any object or
purpose, it is achieved or not achieved according to the manner in which
the mind is set to think of it. These two, viz., the person of
forethought and the person of presence of mind, have been declared by the
Rishis to be the foremost of men in all treatises on morality and profit
and in those dealing with emancipation. One, however, that does
everything after reflection and scrutiny, one that avails oneself of
proper means for the accomplishment of one’s objects, always succeeds in
achieving much. Those again that act with due regard to time and place
succeed in winning results better than the mere man of foresight and the
man of presence of mind.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘Thou hast, O bull of Bharata’s race, said that that
intelligence which provides against the future, as well as that which can
meet present emergencies, is everywhere superior, while procrastination
brings about destruction. I desire, O grandsire, to hear of that superior
intelligence aided by which a king, conversant with the scriptures and
well versed with morality and profit, may not be stupefied even when
surrounded by many foes. I ask thee this, O chief of Kuru’s race! It
behoveth thee to discourse to me on I his. I desire to hear everything,
comfortable to what has been laid down in the scriptures, about the
manner in which a king should conduct himself when he is assailed by many
foes. When a king falls into distress, a large number of foes, provoked
by his past acts, range themselves against him and seek to vanquish him.
How may, a king, weak and alone, succeed in holding up his head when he
is challenged on all sides by many powerful kings leagued together? How
does a king at such times make friends and foes? How should he, O bull of
Bharata’s race, behave at such a time towards both friends and foes? When
those that have indications of friends really become his foes, what
should the king then do if he is to obtain happiness? With whom should he
make war and with whom should he make peace? Even if he be strong, how
should he behave in the midst of foes? O scorcher of foes, this I regard
to be the highest of all questions connected with the discharge of kingly
duties. There are few men for listening to the answer of this question
and none to answer it save Santanu’s son, Bhishma, firmly wedded to truth
and having all his senses under control. O thou that art highly blessed
reflect upon it and discourse to me on it!’

“Bhishma said, ‘O Yudhishthira, this question is certainly worthy of
thee. Its answer is fraught with great happiness. Listen to me, O son, as
I declare to thee, O Bharata, all the duties generally known that should
be practised in seasons of distress. A foe becomes a friend and a friend
also becomes a foe. The course of human actions, through the combination
of circumstances, becomes very uncertain. As regards, therefore, what
should be done and what should not, it is necessary that paying heed to
the requirements of time and place, one should either trust one’s foes or
make war. One should, even exerting, one’s self to one’s best, make
friends with men of intelligence and knowledge that desire one’s welfare.
One should make peace with even one’s foes, when, O Bharata, one’s life
cannot otherwise be saved. That foolish man who never makes peace with
foes, never succeeds in winning any gain or acquiring any of those fruits
for which others endeavour. He again who makes peace with foes and
quarrels with even friends after a full consideration of circumstances,
succeeds in obtaining great fruits. In this connection is cited the old
story of the discourse between a cat and a mouse at the foot of a banian.’

“Bhishma continued, ‘There was a large banian in the midst of an
extensive forest. Covered with many kinds of creepers, it was the resort
of diverse kinds of birds. It had a large trunk from which numerous
branches extended in all directions. Delightful to look at, the shade it
afforded was very refreshing. It stood in the midst of the forest, and
animals of diverse species lived on it. A mouse of great wisdom, named
Palita, lived at the foot of that tree, having made a hole there with a
hundred outlets. On the branches of the tree there lived a cat, of the
name of Lomasa, in great happiness, daily devouring a large number of
birds. Some time after, a Chandala came into the forest and built a hut
for himself. Every evening after sunset he spread his traps. Indeed,
spreading his nets made of leathern strings he went back to his hut, and
happily passing the night in sleep, returned to the spot at the dawn of
day. Diverse kinds of animals fell into his traps every night. And it so
happened that one day the cat, in a moment of heedlessness, was caught in
the snare. O thou of great wisdom, when his foe the cat who was at all
times an enemy of the mouse species was thus caught in the net, the mouse
Palita came out of his hole and began to rove about fearlessly. While
trustfully roving through the forest in search of food, the mouse after a
little while saw the meat (that the Chandala had spread there as lure).
Getting upon the trap, the little animal began to eat the flesh. Laughing
mentally, he even got upon his enemy entangled helplessly in the net.
Intent on eating the flesh, he did not mark his own danger, for as he
suddenly cast his eyes he saw a terrible foe of his arrived at that spot.
That foe was none else than a restless mongoose of coppery eyes, of the
name of Harita. Living in underground holes, its body resembled the
flower of a reed. Allured to that spot by the scent of the mouse, the
animal came there with great speed for devouring his prey. And he stood
on his haunches, with head upraised, licking the corners of his mouth
with his tongue. The mouse beheld at the same time another foe living in
the trees, then sitting on the branch of the banian. It was a
night-prowling owl of the name of Chandraka of sharp beaks. Having become
an object of sight with both the mongoose and the owl, the mouse, in
great alarm, began to think in this strain: ‘At such a season of great
danger, when death itself is staring me in the face, when there is fear
on every side, how should one act that wishes for one’s good? Encompassed
on all sides by danger, seeing fear in every direction, the mouse, filled
with alarm for his safety, made a high resolution. Warding off even
innumerable dangers by hundreds of means, one should always save one’s
life. Danger, at the present moment, encompasses me on every side. If I
were to descend from this trap on the ground, without adequate
precautions, the mongoose will surely seize and devour me. If I remain on
this trap, the owl will surely seize me. If, again, that cat succeeds in
disentangling himself from the net, he also is certain to devour me. It
is not proper, however, that a person of our intelligence should lose his
wits. I shall, therefore, strive my best to save my life, aided by proper
means and intelligence. A person possessed of intelligence and wisdom and
conversant with the science of policy never sinks, however great and
terrible the danger that threatens him. At present, however, I do not
behold any other refuge than this cat. He is an enemy. But he is in
distress. The service that I can do him is very great. Sought to be made
a prey by three foes, how should I now act for saving my life? I should
now seek the protection of one of those foes, viz., the cat. Taking the
aid of the science of policy, let me counsel the cat for his good, so
that I may, with my intelligence, escape from all the three. The cat is
my great foe, but the distress into which he has fallen is very great.
Let me try whether I can succeed in making this foolish creature
understand his own interests. Having fallen into such distress, he may
make peace with me. A person when afflicted by a stronger one should make
peace with even an enemy. Professors of the science of policy say that
even this should be the conduct of one who having fallen into distress
seeks the safety of his life. It is better to have a learned person for
an enemy than a fool for a friend. As regards myself, my life now rests
entirely in the hands of my enemy the cat. I shall now address the cat on
the subject of his own liberation. Perhaps, at this moment, it would not
be wrong to take the cat for an intelligent and learned foe.’ Even thus
did that mouse, surrounded by foes, pursue his reflections. Having
reflected in this strain, the mouse, conversant with the science of
Profit and well acquainted with occasions when war should be declared and
peace made, gently addressed the cat, saying, ‘I address thee in
friendship, O cat! Art thou alive? I wish thee to live! I desire the good
of us both. O amiable one, thou hast no cause for fear. Thou shalt live
in happiness. I shall rescue thee, if, indeed, thou dost not slay me.
There is an excellent expedient in this case, which suggests itself to
me, and by which you may obtain your escape and I may obtain great
benefit. By reflecting earnestly I have hit upon that expedient for thy
sake and for my sake, for it will benefit both of us. There are the
mongoose and the owl, both waiting with evil intent. Only so long, O cat,
as they do not attack me, is my life safe. There that wretched owl with
restless glances and horrid cries is eyeing me from the branch of that
tree. I am exceedingly frightened by it. Friendship, as regards the good,
is seven-paced.[409] Possessed of wisdom as thou art, thou art my friend.
I, shall act towards thee as a friend. Thou needst have no fear now.
Without my help, O cat, thou wilt not succeed in tearing the net. I,
however, shall cut the net for serving thee, if thou abstain from killing
me. Thou hast lived on this tree and I have lived at its foot. Both of us
have dwelt here for many long years. All this is known to thee. He upon
whom nobody places his trust, and he who never trusts another, are never
applauded by the wise. Both of them are unhappy. For this reason, let our
love for each other increase, and let there be union amongst us two. Men
of wisdom never applaud the endeavour to do an act when its opportunity
has passed away. Know that this is the proper time for such an
understanding amongst us. I wish that thou shouldst live, and thou also
wishest that I should live. A man crosses a deep and large river by a
piece of wood. It is seen that the man takes the piece of wood to the
other side, and the piece of wood also takes the man to the other side.
Like this, our compact, also will bring happiness to both of us. I will
rescue thee, and thou also wilt rescue me.’ Having said these words that
were beneficial to both of them, that were fraught with reason and on
that account highly acceptable, the mouse Palita waited in expectation of
an answer.

“‘Hearing these well-chosen words, fraught with reason and highly
acceptable, that the mouse said, the mouse’s foe possessed of judgment
and forethought, viz., the cat spoke in reply. Endued with great
intelligence, and possessed of eloquence, the cat, reflecting upon his
own state, praised the Words of the speaker and honoured him by gentle
words in return. Possessed of sharp foreteeth and having eyes that
resembled the stones called lapis lazuli, the cat called Lomasa, gentle
eyeing the mouse, answered as follows: I am delighted with thee, O
amiable one! Blessed be thou that wishest me to live! Do that, without
hesitation, which thou thinkest to be of beneficial consequences. I am
certainly in great distress. Thou art, if possible, in greater distress
still. Let there be a compact between us without delay. I will do that
which is opportune and necessary for the accomplishment of our business,
O Puissant one! If thou rescuest me, the service will go for nothing I
place myself in thy hands. I am devoted to thee. I shall wait upon and
serve thee like a disciple. I seek thy protection and shall always obey
thy behests,’ Thus addressed, the mouse Palita, addressing in return the
cat who was completely under his control, said these words of grave
import and high wisdom: ‘Thou hast spoken most magnanimously. It could
scarcely be unexpected from one like thee. Listen to me as I disclose the
expedient I have hit upon for benefiting both of us. I will crouch myself
beneath thy body. I am exceedingly frightened at the mongoose. Do thou
save me. Kill me not. I am competent to rescue thee. Protect me also from
the owl, for that wretch too wishes to seize me for his prey. I shall cut
the noose that entangles thee. I swear by Truth, O friend!’ Hearing these
judicious words fraught with reason, Lomasa, filled with delight, cast
his eyes upon Palita and applauded him with exclamations of welcome.
Having applauded Palita, the cat, disposed to friendliness, reflected for
a moment, and gladly said without losing any time, ‘Come quickly to me!
Blessed be thou, thou art, indeed, a friend dear to me as life. O thou of
great I wisdom, through thy grace I have almost got back my life.
Whatever it is in my power to do for thee now, tell me and I shall do it.
Let there be peace between us, O friend! Liberated from this danger, I
shall, with all my friends and relatives, do all that may be agreeable
and beneficial to thee. O amiable one, freed from this distress, I shall
certainly seek to gladden thee, and worship and honour thee on every
occasion in return for thy services. A person by doing even abundant
services in return never becomes equal to the person that did him good in
the first instance. The former does those services for the sake of
services received. The latter, however, should be held to have acted
without any such motive.’

“Bhishma continued, ‘The mouse, having thus made the cat understand his
own interests, trustfully crouched beneath his enemy’s body. Possessed of
learning, and thus assured by the cat, the mouse trustfully laid himself
thus under the breast of the cat as if it were the lap of his father or
mother. Beholding him thus ensconced within the body of the cat, the
mongoose and the owl both became hopeless of seizing their prey. Indeed,
seeing that close intimacy between the mouse and the cat, both Harita and
Chandraka became alarmed and filled with wonder. Both of them had
strength and intelligence. Clever in seizing their prey, though near, the
mongoose and the owl felt unable to wean the mouse and the cat from that
compact. Indeed, beholding the cat and the mouse make that covenant for
accomplishing their mutual ends, the mongoose and the owl both left that
spot and went away to their respective abodes. After this, the mouse
Palita, conversant with the requirements of time and place, began, as he
lay under the body of the cat, to cut strings of the noose slowly,
waiting for the proper time to finish his work. Distressed by the strings
that entangled him, the cat became impatient upon seeing the mouse slowly
cutting away the noose. Beholding the mouse employed so slowly in the
work, the cat wishing to expedite him in the task, said: ‘How is it, O
amiable one, that thou dost not proceed with haste in thy work? Dost thou
disregard me now, having thyself succeeded in thy object? O slayer of
foes, do thou cut these strings quickly. The hunter will soon come here.’
Thus addressed by the cat who had become impatient, the mouse possessed
of intelligence said these beneficial words fraught with his own good
unto the cat who did not seem to possess much wisdom: ‘Wait in silence, O
amiable one! Expedition is not necessary. Drive all thy fears. We know
the requirements of time. We are not wasting time. When an act is begun
at an improper time, it never becomes profitable when accomplished. That
act, on the other hand, which is begun at the proper time, always
produces splendid fruits. If thou be freed at an improper time, I shall
have to stand in great fear of thee. Therefore, do thou wait for the
proper time. Do not be impatient, O friend! When I shall see the hunter
approach towards this spot armed with weapons, I shall cut the strings at
that moment of fear to both of us. Freed then, thou wilt ascend the tree.
At that time thou wilt not think of anything else save the safety of thy
life. And when thou, O Lomasa, wilt fly away in fear, I shall enter my
hole and thou wilt get upon the tree.’ Thus addressed by the mouse in
words that were beneficial to him, the cat, possessed of intelligence and
eloquence, and impatient of saving his life, replied unto the mouse in
the following words. Indeed, the cat, who had quickly and properly done
his own part of the covenant, addressing the mouse who was not
expeditious in discharging his part, said, ‘I rescued thee from a great
danger with considerable promptness. Alas! honest persons never do the
business of their friends in this way. Filled with delight while doing
it, they do it otherwise. Thou shouldst do what is for my good with
greater expedition. O thou of great wisdom, do thou exert a little so
that good may be done to both of us. If, on the other hand, remembering
our former hostility thou art only suffering the time to slip away, know,
O wicked wight, that the consequence of this act of thine will surely be
to lessen the duration of thy own life![410] If I have ever, before this,
unconsciously done thee any wrong, thou shouldst not bear it in
remembrance. I beg thy forgiveness. Be gratified with me.’ After the cat
had said these words, the mouse, possessed of intelligence and wisdom and
knowledge of the scriptures, said these excellent words unto him: ‘I
have, O cat, heard what thou hast said in furtherance of thy own object.
Listen, however, to me as I tell thee what is consistent with my own
objects. That friendship in which there is fear and which cannot be kept
up without fear, should be maintained with great caution like the hand
(of the snake-charmer) from the snake’s fangs. The person that does not
protect himself after having made a covenant with a stronger individual,
finds that covenant to be productive of injury instead of benefit. Nobody
is anybody’s friend; nobody is anybody’s well-wisher; persons become
friends or foes only from motives of interest. Interest enlists interest
even as tame elephants catch wild individuals of their species. After,
again, an act has been accomplished, the doer is scarcely regarded. For
this reason, all acts should be so done that something may remain to be
done. When I shall set thee free, thou wilt, afflicted by the fear of the
hunter, fly away for thy life without ever thinking of seizing me.
Behold, all the strings of this net have been cut by me. Only one remains
to be cut. I will cut that also with haste. Be comforted, O Lomasa!’
While the mouse and the cat were thus talking with each other, both in
serious danger, the night gradually wore away. A great fear, however,
penetrated the heart of the cat. When at last morning came, the Chandala,
whose name was Parigha, appeared on the scene. His visage was frightful.
His hair was black and tawny. His hips were very, large and his aspect
was very fierce. Of a large mouth that extended from car to car, and
exceedingly filthy, his ears were very long. Armed with weapons and
accompanied by a pack of dogs, the grim-looking man appeared on the
scene. Beholding the individual who resembled a messenger of Yama, the
cat became filled with fear. Penetrated with fright, he addressed Palita
and said, ‘What shalt thou do now?’ The mouse very quickly cut the
remaining string that held fast the cat. Freed from the noose, the cat
ran with speed and got upon the banian. Palita also, freed from that
situation of danger and from the presence of a terrible foe, quickly fled
and entered his hole. Lomasa meanwhile had climbed the high tree. The
hunter, seeing everything, took tip his net. His hopes frustrated, he
also quickly left that spot. Indeed, O bull of Bharata’s race, the
Chandala returned to his abode. Liberated from that great peril, and
having obtained back his life which is so very valuable, the cat from the
branches of that tree addressed the mouse Palita then staying within the
hole, and said, ‘Without having conversed with me, thou hast suddenly run
away. I hope thou dost not suspect me of any evil intent. I am certainly
grateful and thou hast done me a great service. Having inspired me with
trustfulness and having given me my life, why dost thou not approach me
at a time when friends should enjoy the sweetness of friendship? Having
made friends, he that forgets them afterwards, is regarded a wicked
person and never succeeds in obtaining friends at times of danger and
need. I have been, O friend, honoured and served by thee to the best of
thy power. It behoveth thee to enjoy the company of my poor self who has
become thy friend. Like disciples worshipping their preceptor, all the
friends I have, all my relatives and kinsmen, will honour and worship
thee. I myself too shall worship thee with all thy friends and kinsmen.
What grateful person is there that will not worship the giver of his
life? Be thou the lord of both my body and home. Be thou the disposer of
all my wealth and possessions. Be thou my honoured counsellor and do thou
rule me like a father. I swear by my life that thou hast no fear from us.
In intelligence thou art Usanas himself. By the power of thy
understanding thou hast conquered us. Possessed of the strength of
policy, thou hast given us our life.’ Addressed in such soothing words by
the cat, the mouse, conversant with all that is productive of the highest
good, replied in these sweet words that were beneficial to himself: ‘I
have heard, O Lomasa, all that thou hast said. Listen now as I say what
appears to me. Friends should be well examined. Foes also should be well
studied. In this world, a task like this is regarded by even the learned
as a difficult one depending upon acute intelligence. Friends assume the
guise of foes, and foes assume the guise of friends. When compacts of
friendship are formed, it is difficult for the parties to understand
whether the other parties are really moved by lust and wrath. There is no
such thing as a foe. There is no such thing in existence as a friend. It
is force of circumstances that creates friends and foes. He who regards
his own interests ensured as long as another person lives and thinks them
endangered when that other person will cease to live, takes that other
person for a friend and considers him so as long as those interests of
his are not clashed against. There is no condition that deserves
permanently the name either of friendship or hostility. Both friends and
foes arise from considerations of interest and gain. Friendship becomes
changed into enmity in the course of time. A foe also becomes a friend.
Self-interest is very powerful. He who reposes blind trust on friends and
always behaves with mistrust towards foes without paying any regard to
considerations of policy, finds his life to be unsafe. He who,
disregarding all considerations of policy, sets his heart upon an
affectionate union with either friends or foes, comes to be regarded as a
person whose understanding has been unhinged. One should not repose trust
upon a person undeserving of trust, nor should one trust too much a
person deserving of trust. The danger that arises from blind reposing of
confidence is such that it cuts the very roots (of the person that
reposes such confidence). The father, the mother, the son, the maternal
uncle, the sister’s son, other relatives and kinsmen, are all guided by
considerations of interest and profit. Father and mother may be seen to
discard the dear son if fallen.[411] People take care of their own
selves. Behold the efficacy of self-interest. O thou that art possessed
of great wisdom, his escape is very difficult who immediately after he is
freed from danger seeks the means of his enemy’s happiness. Thou camest
down from the tree-top to this very spot. Thou couldst not, from levity
of understanding, ascertain that a net had been spread here. A person,
possessed of levity of understanding, fails to protect his own self. How
can he protect others? Such a person, without doubt, ruins all his acts.
Thou tellest me in sweet words that I am very dear to thee. Hear me,
however, O friend, the reasons that exist on my side. One becomes dear
from an adequate cause. One becomes a foe from an adequate cause. This
whole world of creatures is moved by the desire of gain (in some form or
other). One never becomes dear to another (without cause). The friendship
between two uterine brothers, the love between husband and wife, depends
upon interest. I do not know any kind of affection between any persons
that does not rest upon some motive of self-interest. If, as is sometimes
seen, uterine brothers or husband and wife having quarrelled reunite
together from a natural affection, such a thing is not to be seen in
persons unconnected with one another. One becomes dear for one’s
liberality. Another becomes dear for his sweet words. A third becomes so
in consequence of his religious acts. Generally, a person becomes dear
for the purpose he serves. The affection between us arose from a
sufficient cause. That cause exists no longer. On the other hand, from
adequate reason, that affection between us has come to an end. What is
that reason, I ask, for which I have become so dear to thee, besides thy
desire of making me thy prey? Thou shouldst know that I am not forgetful
of this. Time spoils reasons. Thou seekest thy own interests. Others,
however, Possessed of wisdom, understand their own interests. The world
rests upon the example of the wise. Thou shouldst not address such words
to a person possessed of learning and competent to understand his own
interests. Thou art powerful. The reason of this affection that thou
showest for me now is ill-timed. Guided, however, by my own interests, I
myself am firm in peace and war that are themselves very unstable. The
circumstances under which peace is to be made or war declared are changed
as quickly as the clouds change their form. This very day thou wert my
foe. This very day, again, thou wert my friend. This very day thou hast
once more become my enemy. Behold the levity of the considerations that
move living creatures. There was friendship between us as long as there
was reason for its existence. That reason, dependant upon time, has
passed away. Without it, that friendship also has passed away. Thou art
by nature my foe. From circumstances thou becomest my friend. That state
of things has passed away. The old state of enmity that is natural has
come back. Thoroughly conversant as I am with the dictates of policy that
have been thus laid down, tell me, why I should enter today, for thy
sake, the net that is spread for me. Through thy power I was freed from a
great danger. Through my power thou hast been freed from a similar
danger. Each of us has served the other. There is no need of uniting
ourselves again in friendly intercourse. O amiable one, the object thou
hadst hath been accomplished. The object I had has also been
accomplished. Thou hast now no use for me except to make me your meal. I
am thy food. Thou art the eater. I am weak. Thou art strong. There cannot
be a friendly union between us when we are situated so unequally. I
understand thy wisdom. Having been rescued from the net, thou applaudest
me so that thou mayst succeed in easily making a meal of me. Thou wert
entangled in the net for the sake of food. Thou hast been freed from it.
Thou feelest now the pangs of hunger. Having recourse to that wisdom
which arises from a study of the scriptures, thou seekest verily to eat
me up today. I know that thou art hungry. I know that this is thy hour
for taking food. Thou art seeking for thy prey, with thy eyes directed
towards me. Thou hast sons and wives. Thou seekest still friendly union
with me and wishest to treat me with affection and do me services. O
friend, I am incapable of acceding to this proposal. Seeing me with thee,
why will not thy dear spouse and thy loving children cheerfully eat me
up? I shall not, therefore, unite with thee in friendship. The reason no
longer exists for such a union. If, indeed, thou dost not forget my good
offices, think of what will be beneficial to me and be comfortable. What
person is there possessed of any wisdom that will place himself under the
power of a foe that is not distinguished for righteousness, that is in
pangs of hunger, and that is on the look-out for a prey? Be happy then, I
will presently leave thee. I am filled with alarm even if I behold thee
from a distance. I shall not mingle with thee, cease in thy attempts, O
Lomasa! If thou thinkest that I have done thee a service, follow then the
dictates of friendship when I may happen to rove trustfully or
heedlessly. Even that will be gratitude in thee. A residence near a
person possessed of strength and power is never applauded, even if the
danger that existed be regarded to have passed away. I should always
stand in fear of one more powerful than myself. If thou dost not seek thy
own interests (of the kind indicated), tell me then what is there that I
should do for thee. I shall certainly give thee everything except my
life. For protecting one’s own self one should give up one’s very
children, and kingdom, and jewels, and wealth. One should sacrifice one’s
all for protecting one’s own self. If a person lives he can recover all
the affluence that he may have to give unto foes for protecting his life.
It is not desirable to give up life like one’s wealth. Indeed, one’s own
self should always be protected by, as I have already said, giving up
one’s wives and wealth. Persons who are mindful of protecting their own
selves and who do all their acts after a proper consideration and survey,
never incur danger as the consequence of their acts. They that are weak
always know him for a foe who is possessed of greater strength. Their
understanding, firm in the truths of the scriptures, never loses its

“Thus rebuked soundly by the mouse Palita, the cat, blushing with shame,
addressed the mouse and said the following words.”

“Lomasa said, ‘Truly I swear by thee that to injure a friend is in my
estimation very censurable. I know thy wisdom. I know also that thou art
devoted to my good. Guided by the science of Profit, thou said that there
is cause for a breach between thee and me. It doth not behove thee,
however, O good friend, to take me for what I am not. I cherish a great
friendship for thee in consequence of thy having granted me my life. I
am, again, acquainted with duties. I am all appreciator of other people’s
merits. I am very grateful for services received. I am devoted to the
service of friends. I am, again, especially devoted to thee. For these
reasons, O good friend, it behoveth thee to reunite thyself with me. If I
am commanded by thee, I can, with all my kinsmen and relatives, lay down
my very life. They that are possessed of learning and wisdom see ample
reason for placing their trust in persons of such mental disposition as
ourselves. O thou that art acquainted with the truths of morality, it
behoveth thee not to cherish any suspicion in respect of me.’ Thus
addressed by the cat, the mouse reflecting a little, said these words of
grave import unto the former, ‘Thou art exceedingly good. I have heard
all that thou hast said and am glad to hear thee. For all that, however,
I cannot trust thee. It is impossible for thee, by such eulogies or by
gifts of great wealth, to induce me to unite with thee again. I tell
thee, O friend, that they who are possessed of wisdom never place
themselves, when there is not sufficient reason, under the power of a
foe. A weak person having made a compact with a stronger one when both
are threatened by foes, should (when that common danger passes away)
conduct himself heedfully and by considerations of policy. Having gained
his object, the weaker of the two parties should not again repose
confidence on the stronger. One, should never trust a person who does not
deserve to be trusted. Nor should one repose blind confidence upon a
person deserving of trust. One should always endeavour to inspire others
with confidence in himself-. One should not, however, himself repose
confidence in foes. For these reasons one should, under all
circumstances, protect his own self. One’s possessions and children and
everything are so long valuable as one is alive. In brief, the highest
truth of all treatises on policy is mistrust. For this reason, mistrust
of all is productive of the greatest good. However weak people may be, if
they mistrust their foes, the latter, even if strong, never succeed in
getting them under power. O cat, one like myself should always guard ones
life from persons like thee. Do thou also protect thy own life from the
Chandala whose rage has been excited.'[412] While the mouse thus spake,
the cat, frightened at the mention of the hunter, hastily leaving the
branch of the tree, ran away with great speed. Having thus displayed his
power of understanding, the mouse Palita also, conversant with the truths
of scripture and possessed of wisdom, entered another hole.’

“Bhishma continued, ‘Even thus the mouse Palita, possessed of wisdom,
though weak and alone, succeeded in baffling many powerful foes. One
possessed of intelligence and learning should make peace with a powerful
foe. The mouse and the cat owed their escape to their reliance upon each
other’s services. I have thus pointed out to thee the course of Kshatriya
duties at great length. Listen now to me in brief. When two persons who
were once engaged in hostilities make peace with each other, it is
certain that each of them has it in his heart to over-reach the other. In
such a case he that is possessed of wisdom succeeds by the power of his
understanding in over-reaching the other. He, on the other hand, who is
destitute of wisdom suffers himself, in consequence of his heedlessness,
to be over-reached by the wise. It is necessary, therefore, that, in fear
one should seem to be fearless, and while really mistrusting others one
should seem to be trustful. One who acts with such heedfulness never
trips, or tripping, is never ruined. When the time comes for it, one
should make peace with an enemy; and when the time comes, one should wage
war with even a friend. Even thus should one conduct oneself, O king, as
they have said that are conversant with the considerations of peace (and
war). Knowing this, O monarch, and bearing the truths of scripture in
mind, one should, with all his senses about one and without heedfulness,
act like a person in fear before the cause of fear actually presents
itself. One should, before the cause of fear has actually come, act like
a person in fear, and make peace with foes. Such fear and heedfulness
lead to keenness of understanding. If one acts like a man in fear before
the cause of fear is at hand, one is never filled with fear when that
cause is actually present. From the fear, however, of a person who always
acts with fearlessness, very great fear is seen to arise.[413] ‘Never
cherish fear’–such a counsel should never be given to any one. The
person that cherishes fear moved by a consciousness of his weakness,
always seeks ‘the counsel of wise and experienced men. For these reasons,
one should, when in fear, seem to be fearless, and when mistrusting
(others) should seem to be trustful. One should not, in view of even the
gravest acts, behave towards others with falsehood. Thus have I recited
to thee, O Yudhishthira, the old story (of the mouse and the cat). Having
listened to it, do thou act duly in the midst of thy friends and kinsmen.
Deriving from that story a high understanding, and learning the
difference between friend and foe and the proper time for war and peace,
thou wilt discover means of escape when overwhelmed with danger. Making
peace, at a time of common danger, with one that is powerful, thou
shouldst act with proper consideration in the matter of uniting thyself
with the foe (when the common danger has passed away). Indeed, having
gained thy object, thou shouldst not trust the foe again. This path of
policy is consistent with the aggregate of three (viz., Virtue, Profit,
and Pleasure), O king! Guided by this Sruti, do thou win prosperity by
once more protecting thy subjects. O son of Pandu, always seek the
companionship of Brahmanas in all thy acts. Brahmans constitute the great
source of benefit both in this world and the next. They are teachers of
duty and morality. They are always grateful, O puissant one! If
worshipped, they are sure to do thee good. Therefore, O king, thou
shouldst always worship them. Thou wilt then, O king, duly obtain
kingdom, great good, fame, achievement’s and progeny in their proper
order. With eyes directed to this history of peace and war between the
mouse and the cat, this history couched in excellent words and capable of
sharpening the intelligence, a king should always conduct himself in the
midst of his foes.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘Thou hast laid it down, O mighty one, that no trust
should be placed upon foes. But how would the king maintain himself if he
were not to trust anybody? From trust, O king, thou hast said, great
danger arises to kings. But how, O monarch, can a king, without trusting
others, conquer his foes? Kindly remove this doubt of mine. My mind has
become confused, O grandsire, at what I have heard thee say on the
subject of mistrust.’

“Bhishma said, ‘Listen, O king, to what happened at the abode of
Brahmadatta, viz., the conversation between Pujani and king Brahmadatta.
There was a bird named Pujani who lived for a long time with king
Brahmadatta in the inner apartments of his palace at Kampilya. Like the
bird Jivajivaka, Pujani could mimic the cries of all animals. Though a
bird by birth, she had great knowledge and was conversant with every
truth. While living there, she brought forth an offspring of great
splendour. At the very same time the king also got by his queen a son.
Pujani, who was grateful for the shelter of the king’s roof, used every
day to go to the shores of the ocean and bring a couple of fruits for the
nourishment of her own young one and the infant prince. One of those
fruits she gave to her own child and the other she gave to the prince.
The fruits she brought were sweet as nectar, and capable of increasing
strength and energy. Every day she brought them and everyday she disposed
of them in the same way. The infant prince derived great strength from
the fruit of Pujani’s giving that he ate. One day the infant prince,
while borne on the arms of his nurse, saw the little offspring of Pujani.
Getting down from the nurse’s arms, the child ran towards the bird, and
moved by childish impulse, began to Play with it, relishing the sport
highly. At length, raising the bird which was of the same age with
himself in his hands, the prince pressed out its young life and then came
back to his nurse. The dam, O king, who had been out in her search after
the accustomed fruits, returning to the palace, beheld her young one
lying on the ground, killed by the prince. Beholding her son deprived of
life, Pujani, with tears gushing down her cheeks, and heart burning with
grief, wept bitterly and said, ‘Alas, nobody should live with a Kshatriya
or make friends with him or take delight in any intercourse with him.
When they have any object to serve, they behave with courtesy. When that
object has been served they cast off the instrument. The Kshatriyas do
evil unto all. They should never be trusted. Even after doing an injury
they always seek to soothe and assure the injured for nothing. I shall
certainly take due vengeance, for this act of hostility, upon this cruel
and ungrateful betrayer of confidence. He has been guilty of a triple sin
in taking the life of one that was horn on the same day with him and that
was being reared with him in the same place, that used to eat with him,
and that was dependent on him for protection.’ Having said these words
unto herself, Pujani, with her talons, pierced the eyes of the prince,
and deriving some comfort from that act of vengeance, once more said, ‘A
sinful act, perpetrated deliberately, assails the doer without any loss
of time. They. on the other hand, who avenge themselves of an injury,
never lose their merit by such conduct. If the consequence of a sinful
act be not seen in the perpetrator himself, they would certainly be seen,
O king, in his sons or son’s sons or daughter’s sons. Brahmadatta,
beholding his son blinded by Pujani and regarding the act to have been a
proper vengeance for what his son had done, said these words unto Pujani.’

“Brahmadatta said, ‘An injury was done by us to thee. Thou hast avenged
it by doing an injury in return. The account has been squared. Do not
leave thy present abode. On the other hand, continue to dwell here, O

“Pujani said, ‘If a person having once injured another continues to
reside with that other, they that are possessed of learning never applaud
his conduct. Under such circumstances it is always better for the injurer
to leave his old place. One should never place one’s trust upon the
soothing assurances received from an injured party. The fool that trusts
such assurances soon meets with destruction. Animosity is not quickly
cooled. The very sons and grandsons of persons that have injured each
other meet with destruction (in consequence of the quarrel descending
like an inheritance). In consequence again of such destruction of their
offspring, they lose the next world also. Amongst men that have injured
one another, mistrust would be productive of happiness. One that has
betrayed confidence should never be trusted in the least. One who is not
deserving of trust should not be trusted; nor should too much trust be
placed upon a person deserving of trust. The danger that arises from
blind confidence brings about a destruction that is complete. One should
seek to inspire others with confidence in one’s self. One, however,
should never repose confidence on others. The father and the mother only
are the foremost of friends. The wife is merely a vessel for drawing the
seeds. The son is only one’s seed. The brother is a foe. The friend or
companion requires to have his palms oiled if he is to remain so. One’s
own self it is that enjoys or suffers one’s happiness or misery. Amongst
persons that have injured one another, it is not advisable there should
be (real) peace. The reasons no longer exists for which I lived here. The
mind of a person who has once injured another becomes naturally filled
with mistrust, if he sees the injured person worshipping him with gifts
and honours. Such conduct, especially when displayed by those that are
strong, always fills the weak with alarm. A person possessed of
intelligence should leave that place where he first meets with honour in
order to meet only with dishonour and injury next. In spite of any
subsequent honour that he might obtain from his enemy, he should behave
in this way. I have dwelt in thy abode for a longtime, all along honoured
by thee. A cause of enmity, however, has at last arisen. I should,
therefore, leave this place without any hesitation.’

“Brahmadatta said, ‘One who does an injury in return for an injury
received is never regarded as offending. Indeed, the avenger squares his
account by such conduct. Therefore, O Pujani, continue to reside here
without leaving this place.’

“Pujani said, ‘No friendship can once more be cemented between a person
that has injured and him that has inflicted an injury in return. The
hearts of neither can forget what has happened.’

“Brahmadatta said, ‘It is necessary that a union should take place
between an injurer and the avenger of that injury. Mutual animosity, upon
such a union, has been seen to cool. No fresh injury also has followed in
such cases.’

“Pujani said, ‘Animosity (springing from mutual injuries) can never die.
The person injured should never trust his foes, thinking, ‘O, I have been
soothed with assurances of goodwill.’ In this world, men frequently meet
with destruction in consequence of (misplaced) confidence. For this
reason it is necessary that we should no longer meet each other. They who
cannot be reduced to subjection by the application of even force and
sharp weapons, can be conquered by (insincere) conciliation like (wild)
elephants through a (tame) she-elephant.’

“Brahmadatta said, ‘From the fact of two persons residing together, even
if one inflicts upon the other deadly injury, an affection arises
naturally between them, as also mutual trust as in the case, of the
Chandala and the dog. Amongst persons that have injured one another,
co-residence blunts the keenness of animosity. Indeed, that animosity
does not last long, but disappears quickly like water poured upon the
leaf of a lotus.’

“Pujani said, ‘Hostility springs from five causes. Persons possessed of
learning know it. Those five causes are woman, land, harsh words, natural
incompatibility, and injury.[414] When the person with whom hostility
occurs happens to be a man of liberality, he should never be slain,
particularly by a Kshatriya, openly or by covert means. In such a case,
the man’s fault should be properly weighed.[415] When hostility has
arisen with even a friend, no further confidence should be reposed upon
him. Feelings of animosity lie hid like fire in wood. Like the Aurvya
fire within the waters of the ocean, the fire of animosity can never be
extinguished by gifts of wealth, by display of prowess, by conciliation,
or by scriptural learning. The fire of animosity, once ignited, the
result of an injury once inflicted, is never extinguished, O king,
without consuming out the right one of the parties. One, having injured a
person, should never trust him again as one’s friend, even though one
might have (after the infliction of the injury) worshipped him with
wealth and honours. The fact of the injury inflicted fills the injurer
with fear. I never injured thee. Thou also didst never do me an injury.
For this reason I dwelt in thy abode. All that is changed, and at present
I cannot trust thee.’

“Brahmadatta said, ‘It is Time that does every act, Acts are of diverse
kinds, and all of them proceed from Time. Who, therefore, injures
whom?[416] Birth and Death happen in the same way. Creatures act (i.e.,
take birth and live) in consequence of Time, and it is in consequence
also of Time that they cease to live. Some are seen to die at once. Some
die one at a time. Some are seen to live for long periods. Like fire
consuming the fuel, Time consumes all creatures. O blessed lady, I am,
therefore, not the cause of your sorrow, nor art thou the cause of mine.
It is Time that always ordains the weal and woe of embodied creatures. Do
thou then continue to dwell here according to thy pleasure, with
affection for me and without fear of any injury from me. What thou hast
done has been forgiven by me. Do thou also forgive me, O Pujani!’

“Pujani said, ‘If Time, according to thee, be the cause of all acts, then
of course nobody can cherish feelings of animosity towards anybody on
earth. I ask, however, why friends and kinsmen, seek to avenge themselves
the slain. Why also did the gods and the Asuras in days of your smite
each other in battle? If it is Time that causes weal and woe and birth
and death, why do physicians, then seek, to administer medicines to the
sick? If it is Time that is moulding everything, what need is there of
medicines? Why do people, deprived of their senses by grief, indulge in
such delirious rhapsodies? If Time, according to thee, be the cause of
acts, how can religious merit be acquired by persons performing religious
acts? Thy son killed my child. I have injured him for that. I have by
that act, O king, become liable to be slain by thee. Moved by grief for
my son, I have done this injury to thy son. Listen now to the reason why
I have become liable to be killed by thee. Men wish for birds either to
kill them for food or to keep them in cages for sport. There is no third
reason besides such slaughter or immurement for which men would seek
individuals of our species. Birds, again, from fear of being either
killed or immured by men seek safety in Right. Persons conversant with
the Vedas have said that death and immurement are both painful. Life is
dear unto all. All creatures are made miserable by grief and pain. All
creatures wish for happiness. Misery arises from various sources.
Decrepitude, O Brahmadatta, is misery. The loss of wealth is misery. The
adjacence of anything disagreeable or evil is misery. Separation or
dissociation from friends and agreeable objects is misery. Misery arises
from death and immurement. Misery arises from causes connected with women
and from other natural causes. The misery that arises from the death of
children alters and afflicts all creatures very greatly. Some foolish
persons say that there is no misery in others’ misery.[417] Only he who
has not felt any misery himself can say so in the midst of men. He,
however, that has felt sorrow and misery, would never venture to say so.
One that has felt the pangs of every kind of misery feels the misery of
others as one’s own. What I have done to thee, O king, and what thou has
done to me, cannot be washed away by even a hundred years After what we
have done to each other, there cannot be a reconciliation. As often as
thou wilt happen to think of thy son, thy animosity towards me will
become fresh. If a person after avenging oneself of an injury, desires to
make peace with the injured, the parties cannot be properly reunited even
like the fragments of an earthen vessel. Men conversant with scriptures
have laid it down that trust never produces happiness Usanas himself sang
two verses unto Prahlada in days of old. He who trusts the words, true or
false, of a foe, meets with destruction like a seeker of honey, in a pit
covered with dry grass.[418] Animosities are seen to survive the very
death of enemies, for persons would speak of the previous quarrels of
their deceased sires before their surviving children. Kings extinguish
animosities by having recourse to conciliation but, when the opportunity
comes, break their foes into pieces like earthen jars full of water
dashed upon stone. If the king does injury to any one, he should never
trust him again. By trusting a person who has been injured, one has to
suffer great misery.

“Brahmadatta said, ‘No man can obtain the fruition of any object by
withholding his trust (from others). By cherishing fear one is always
obliged to live as a dead person.’

“Pujani said, ‘He whose feet have become sore, certainly meets with a
fall if he seeks to move, move he may howsoever cautiously. A man who has
got sore eyes, by opening them against the wind, finds them exceedingly
pained by the wind. He who, without knowing his own strength, sets foot
on a wicked path and persists in walking along it, soon loses his very
life as the consequence. The man who, destitute of exertion, tills his
land, disregarding the season of rain, never succeeds in obtaining a
harvest. He who takes every day food that is nutritive, be it bitter or
astringent or palatable or sweet, enjoys a long life. He, on the other
hand, who disregards wholesome food and takes that which is injurious
without an eye to consequences, soon meets with death. Destiny and
Exertion exist, depending upon each other. They that are of high souls
achieve good and great feats, while eunuchs only pay court to Destiny. Be
it harsh or mild, an act that is beneficial should be done. The
unfortunate man of inaction, however, is always overwhelmed by all sorts
of calamity. Therefore, abandoning everything else, one should put forth
his energy. Indeed, disregarding everything, men should do what is
productive of good to themselves. Knowledge, courage, cleverness,
strength, and patience are said to be one’s natural friends. They that
are possessed of wisdom pass their lives in this world with the aid of
these five. Houses, precious metals, land, wife, and friends,–these are
said by the learned to be secondary sources of good. A man may obtain
them everywhere. A person possessed of wisdom may be delighted
everywhere. Such a man shines everywhere. He never inspires anybody with
fear. If sought to be frightened, he never yields to fear himself. The
wealth, however little, that is possessed at any time by an intelligent
man is certain to increase. Such a man does every act with cleverness. In
consequence of self-restraint, he succeeds in winning great fame.
Home-keeping men of little understanding have to put up with termagant
wives that eat up their flesh like the progeny of a crab eating up their
dam. There are men who through loss of understanding become very
cheerless at the prospect of leaving home. They say unto
themselves,–These are our friends! This is our country! Alas, how shall
we leave these?–One should certainly leave the country of one’s birth,
if it be afflicted by plague or famine. One should live in one’s own
country, respected by all, or repair to a foreign country for living
there. I shall, for this reason, repair to some other region. I do not
venture to live any longer in this place, for I have done a great wrong
to thy child, O king, one should from a distance abandon a bad wife, a
bad son, a bad king, a bad friend, a bad alliance, and a bad country. One
should not place any trust on a bad son. What joy can one have in a bad
wife? There cannot be any happiness in a bad kingdom. In a bad country
one cannot hope to obtain a livelihood. There can be no lasting
companionship with a bad friend whose attachment is very uncertain. In a
bad alliance, when there is no necessity for it, there is disgrace. She
indeed, is a wife who speaks only what is agreeable. He is a son who
makes the sire happy. He is a friend in whom one can trust. That indeed,
is one’s country where one earns one’s living. He is a king of strict
rule who does not oppress, who cherishes the poor and in whose
territories there is no fear. Wife, country, friends, son, kinsmen, and
relatives, all these one can have if the king happens to be possessed of
accomplishments and virtuous eyes. If the king happens to be sinful, his
subjects, inconsequence of his oppressions, meet with destruction. The
king is the root of one’s triple aggregate (i.e., Virtue, Wealth, and
Pleasure). He should protect his subjects with heedfulness. Taking from
his subjects a sixth share of their wealth, he should protect them all.
That king who does not protect his subjects is truly a thief. That king
who, after giving assurances of protection, does not, from rapacity,
fulfil them,–that ruler of sinful soul,–takes upon himself the sins of
all hi subjects and ultimately sinks into hell. That king, on the other
hand, who, having given assurances of protection, fulfils them, comes to
be regarded as a universal benefactor in consequence of protecting all
his subjects. The lord of all creatures, viz., Manu, has said that the
king has seven attributes: he is mother, father, preceptor, protector,
fire, Vaisravana and Yama. The king by behaving with compassion towards
his people is called their father. The subject that behaves falsely
towards him takes birth in his next life as an animal or a bird. By doing
good to them and by cherishing the poor, the king becomes a mother unto
his people. By scorching the wicked he comes to be regarded as fire, and
by restraining the sinful he comes to be called Yama. By making gifts of
wealth unto those that are dear to him, the king comes to be regarded as
Kuvera, the grantor of wishes. By giving instruction in morality and
virtue, he becomes a preceptor, and by exercising the duty of protection
he becomes the protector. That king who delights the people of his cities
and provinces by means of his accomplishments, is never divested of his
kingdom in consequence of such observance of duty. That king who knows
how to honour his subjects never suffers misery either here or hereafter.
That king whose subjects are always filled with anxiety or overburdened
with taxes, and overwhelmed by evils of every kind, meets with defeat at
the hands of his enemies. That king, on the other hand, whose subjects
grow like a large lotus in a lake succeeds in obtaining every reward here
and at last meets with honour in heaven. Hostility with a person that is
powerful is, O king, never applauded. That king who has incurred the
hostility of one more powerful than himself, loses both kingdom and

“Bhishma continued, ‘The bird, having said these words, O monarch, unto
king Brahmadatta, took the king’s leave and proceeded to the region she
chose. I have thus recited to thee, O foremost of kings, the discourse
between Brahmadatta and Pujani. What else dost thou wish to hear?’


“Yudhishthira said, ‘When both righteousness and men, O Bharata, decay in
consequence of the gradual lapse of Yuga, and when the world becomes
afflicted by robbers, how, O Grandsire, should a king then behave?'[419]

“Bhishma said, ‘I shall tell thee, O Bharata, the policy the king should
Pursue at such distressful times. I shall tell thee how he should bear
himself at such a time, casting off compassion. In this connection is
cited the old story of the discourse between Bharadwaja and king
Satrunjaya. There was a king named Satrunjaya among the Sauviras. He was
a great car-warrior. Repairing to Bharadwaja, he asked the Rishi about
the truths of the science of Profit,–saying,–How can an unacquired
object be acquired? How again, when acquired, can it be increased? How
also, when increased, can it be protected? And how, when protected,
should it be used?–Thus questioned about the truths of the science of
Profit, the regenerate Rishi said the following words fraught with
excellent reason unto that ruler for explaining those truths.

“The Rishi said, ‘The king should always stay with the rod of
chastisement uplifted in his hand. He should always display his prowess.
Himself without laches, he should mark the laches of his foes. Indeed,
his eyes should ever be used for that purpose. At the sight of a king who
has the rod of chastisement ever uplifted in his hand, every one is
struck with fear. For this reason, the king should rule all creatures
with the rod of chastisement. Men possessed of learning and knowledge of
truth applaud Chastisement. Hence, of the four requisites of rule, viz.,
Conciliation, Gift, Disunion, and Chastisement, Chastisement is said to
be the foremost. When the foundation of that which serves for a refuge is
cut away, all the refugees perish. When the roots of a tree are cut away,
how would the branches live? A king possessed of wisdom should cut away
the very roots of his foe. He should then win over and bring under his
sway the allies and partisans of that foe. When calamities overtake the
king, he should without losing time, counsel wisely, display his prowess
properly, fight with ability, and even retreat with wisdom. In speech
only should the king exhibit his humility, but at heart he should be
sharp as a razor. He should cast off lust and wrath, and speak sweetly
and mildly. When the occasion comes for intercourse with an enemy, a king
possessed of foresight should make peace, without reposing blind trust on
him. When the business is over, he should quickly turn away from the new
ally. One should conciliate a foe with sweet assurances as if he were a
friend. One, however, should always stand in fear of that foe as living
in a room within which there is a snake. He whose understanding is to be
dominated by thee (with the aid of thine intellect) should be comforted
by assurances given in the past. He who is of wicked understanding should
be assured by promises of future good. The person, however, that is
possessed of wisdom, should be assured by present services. The person
who is desirous of achieving prosperity should join hands, swear, use
sweet words, worship by bending down his head, and shed tears.[420] One
should bear one’s foe on one’s shoulders as long as time is unfavourable.
When however, the opportunity has come, one should break him into
fragments like an earthen jar on a stone. It is better, O monarch that a
king should blaze up for a moment like charcoal of ebony-wood than that
he should smoulder and smoke like chaff for many years. A man who has
many purposes to serve should not scruple to deal with even an ungrateful
person. If successful, one can enjoy happiness. If unsuccessful, one
loses esteem. Therefore in accomplishing the acts of such persons, one
should, without doing them completely, always keep something unfinished.
A king should do what is for his good, imitating a cuckoo, a boar, the
mountains of Meru, an empty chamber, an actor, and a devoted friend.[421]
The king should frequently, with heedful application, repair to the
houses of his foes, and even if calamities befall them, ask them about
their good. They that are idle never win affluence; nor they that are
destitute of manliness and exertion; nor they that are stained by vanity;
nor they that fear unpopularity; nor they that are always
procrastinating. The king should act in such a way that his foe may not
succeed in detecting his laches. He should, however, himself mark the
laches of his foes. He should imitate the tortoise which conceals its
limbs. Indeed, he should always conceal his own holes. He should think of
all matters connected with finance like a crane.[422] He should put forth
his prowess like a lion. He should lie in wait like a wolf and fall upon
and pierce his foes like a shaft. Drink, dice, women, hunting, and
music,–these he should enjoy judiciously. Addiction to these is
productive of evil. He should make bows with bamboos, etc.; he should
sleep cautiously like the deer; he should be blind when it is necessary
that he should be so, or he should even be deaf when it is necessary to
be deaf. The king possessed of wisdom should put forth his prowess,
regardful of time and place. If these are not favourable, prowess becomes
futile. Marking timeliness and untimeliness reflecting upon his own
strength and weakness, and improving his own strength by comparing it
with that of the enemy, the king should address himself to action. That
king who does not crush a foe reduced to subjection by military force,
provides for his own death like the crab when she conceives. A tree with
beautiful blossoms may be lacking in strength. A tree carrying fruits may
be difficult of climbing; and sometimes trees with unripe fruits look
like trees with ripe fruits. Seeing all these facts a king should not
allow himself to be depressed. If he conducts himself in such a way, then
he would succeed in upholding himself against all foes. The king should
first strengthen the hopes (of those that approach him as suitors). He
should then put obstacles in the way of the fulfilment of those hopes. He
should say that those obstacles are merely due to occasion. He should
next represent that those occasions are really the results of grave
causes. As long as the cause of fear does not actually come, the king
should make all his arrangements like a person inspired with fear. When,
however, the cause of fear comes upon him, he should smite fearlessly. No
man can reap good without incurring danger. If, again, he succeeds in
preserving his life amid danger, he is sure to earn great benefits.[423]
A king should ascertain all future dangers; when they are present, he
should conquer them; and lest they grow again, he should, even after
conquering them, think them to be unconquered. The abandonment of present
happiness and the pursuit of that which is future, is never the policy of
a person possessed Of intelligence. The king who having made peace with a
foe sleeps happily in truthfulness is like a man who sleeping on the top
of a tree awakes after a fall. When one falls into distress, one should
raise one’s self by all means in one’s power, mild or stern; and after
such rise, when competent, one should practise righteousness. The king
should always honour the foes of his foes. He should take his own spies
as agents employed by his foes. The king should see that his own spies
are not recognised by his foe. He should make spies of atheists and
ascetics and send them to the territories of his enemies. Sinful thieves,
who offend against the laws of righteousness and who are thorns in the
side of every person, enter gardens and places of amusement and houses
set up for giving drinking water to thirsty travellers and public inns
and drinking spots and houses of ill fame and holy places and public
assemblies. These should be recognised and arrested and put down. The
king should not trust the person that does not deserve to be trusted nor
should he trust too much the person that is deserving of trust. Danger
springs from trust. Trust should never be placed without previous
examination. Having by plausible reasons inspired confidence in the
enemy, the king should smite him when he makes a false step. The king
should fear him, from whom there is no fear; he should also always fear
them that should be feared. Fear that arises from an unfeared one may
lead to total extermination. By attention (to the acquisition of
religious merit), by taciturnity, by the reddish garb of ascetics, and
wearing matted locks and skins, one should inspire confidence in one’s
foe, and then (when the opportunity comes) one should jump upon him like
the wolf. A king desirous of prosperity should not scruple to slay son or
brother or father or friend, if any of these seek to thwart his objects.
The very preceptor, if he happens to be arrogant, ignorant of what should
be done and, what should not, and a treader of unrighteous paths,
deserves to be restrained by chastisement. Even as certain insects of
sharp stings cut off all flowers and fruits of the trees on which they
sit, the king should, after having inspired confidence in his foe by
honours and salutations and gifts, turn against him and shear him of
everything. Without piercing the very vitals of others, without
accomplishing many stern deeds, without slaughtering living creatures
after the manner of the fisherman, one cannot acquire great prosperity.
There is no separate species of creatures called foes or friends. Persons
become friends or foes according to the force of circumstances. The king
should never allow his foe to escape even if the foe should indulge
piteous lamentations. He should never be moved by these; on the other
hand, it is his duty to destroy the person that has done him an injury. A
king desirous of prosperity should take care to attach to himself as many
men as he can, and to do them good. In behaving towards his subjects he
should always be free from malice. He should also, with great care,
punish and check the wicked and disaffected. When he intends to take
wealth, he should say what is agreeable. Having taken wealth, he should
say similar things. Having struck off one’s head with his sword, he
should grieve and shed tears. A king desirous of prosperity should draw
others unto himself by means of sweet words, honours, and gifts. Even
thus should he bind men unto his service. The king should never engage in
fruitless disputes. He should never cross a river with the aid only of
his two arms. To eat cow-horns is fruitless and never invigorating. By,
eating them one’s teeth are broken while the taste is not gratified. The
triple aggregate has three disadvantages with three Inseparable adjuncts.
Carefully considering those adjuncts, the disadvantages should be
avoided.[424] The unpaid balance of a debt, the unquenched remnant of a
fire, and the unslain remnant of foes, repeatedly grow and increase.
Therefore, all those should be completely extinguished and exterminated.
Debt, which always grows, is certain to remain unless wholly
extinguished. The same is the cause with defeated foes and neglected
maladies. These always produce great feat. (One should, therefore, always
eradicate them). Every act should be done thoroughly One should be always
heedful. Such a minute thing as a thorn, if extracted badly, leads to
obstinate gangrene. By slaughtering its population, by tearing up its
roads and otherwise injuring them, and by burning and pulling down its
houses, a king should destroy a hostile kingdom. A kings should be
far-sighted like the vulture, motionless like a crane, vigilant like a
dog, valiant like a lion, fearful like a crow, and penetrate the
territories of his foes like a snake with ease and without anxiety. A
king should win over a hero by joining his palms, a coward by inspiring
him with fear, and a covetous man by gifts of wealth while with an equal
he should wage war. He should be mindful of producing disunion among the
leaders of sects and of conciliating those that are dear to him. He
should protect his ministers from disunion and destructions. If the king
becomes mild, the people disregard him. If he becomes stern, the people
feel it as an affliction. The rule is that he should be stern when the
occasion requires sternness, and mild when the occasion requires
mildness. By mildness should the mild be cut. By mildness one may destroy
that which is fierce. There is nothing that mildness cannot effect. For
this reason, mildness is said to be sharper than fierceness. That king
who becomes mild when the occasion requires mildness and who becomes
stern when sternness is required, succeeds in accomplishing all his
objects, and in putting down his foes. Having incurred the animosity of a
person possessed of knowledge and wisdom, one should not draw comfort
from the conviction that one is at a distance (from one’s foe).
Far-reaching are the arms of an intelligent man by which he injures when
injured. That should not be sought to be crossed which is really
uncrossable. That should not be snatched from the foe which the foe would
be able to recover. One should not seek to dig at all if by digging one
would not succeed in getting at the root of the thing for which one digs.
One should never strike him whose head one would not cut off. A king
should not always act in this way. This course of conduct that I have
laid down should be pursued only in seasons of distress. Inspired by the
motive of doing thee good I have said this for instructing thee as to how
thou shouldst bear thyself when assailed by foes.

“Bhishma continued, ‘The ruler of the kingdom of the Sauviras, hearing
these words spoken by that Brahmana inspired with the desire of doing him
good, obeyed those instructions cheerfully and obtained with his kinsmen
and friends blazing prosperity.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘When the high righteousness suffers decay and is
transgressed by all, when unrighteousness becomes righteousness, and
righteousness assumes the form of its reverse, when all wholesome
restraints disappear, and all truths in respect of righteousness are
disturbed and confounded, when people are oppressed by kings and robbers,
when men of all the four modes of life become stupefied in respect of
their duties, and all acts lose their merit, when men see cause of fear
on every direction in consequence of lust and covetousness and folly,
when all creatures cease to trust one another, when they slay one another
by deceitful means and deceive one another in their mutual dealings, when
houses are burnt down throughout the country, when the Brahmanas become
exceedingly afflicted, when the clouds do not pour a drop of rain, when
every one’s hand is turned against every one’s neighbour, when all the
necessaries of life fall under the power of robbers, when, indeed, such a
season of terrible distress sets in, by what means should a Brahmana live
who is unwilling to cast off compassion and his children? How, indeed,
should a Brahmana maintain himself at such a time? Tell me this, O
grandsire! How also should the king live at such a time when sinfulness
overtakes the world? How, O scorcher of foes, should the king live so
that he might not fall away from both righteousness and profit?’

“Bhishma said, ‘O mighty-armed one, the peace and prosperity of
subjects,[425] sufficiency and seasonableness of rain, disease, death and
other fears, are all dependent on the king.[426] I have no doubt also in
this. O bull of Bharata’s race, that Krita, Treta, Dwapara, and Kali, as
regards their setting in, are all dependent on the king’s conduct. When
such a season of misery as has been described by thee sets in, the
righteous should support life by the aid of judgment. In this connection
is cited the old story of the discourse between Viswamitra and the
Chandala in a hamlet inhabited by Chandalas. Towards the end of Treta and
the beginning of Dwapara, a frightful drought occurred, extending over
twelve years, in consequence of what the gods had ordained. At that time
which was the end of Treta and the commencement of Dwapara, when the
period came for many creatures superannuated by age to lay down their
lives, the thousand-eyed deity of heaven poured no rain. The planet
Vrihaspati began to move in a retrograde course, and Soma abandoning his
own orbit, receded towards the south. Not even could a dew-drop be seen,
what need then be said of clouds gathering together? The rivers all
shrank into narrow streamlets. Everywhere lakes and wells and springs
disappeared and lost their beauty in consequence of that order of things
which the gods brought about. Water having become scarce, the places set
up by charity for its distribution became desolate.[427] The Brahmanas
abstained from sacrifices and recitation of the Vedas. They no longer
uttered Vashats and performed other propitiatory rites. Agriculture and
keep of cattle were given up. Markets and shops were abandoned. Stakes
for tethering sacrificial animals disappeared. People no longer collected
diverse kinds of articles for sacrifices. All festivals and amusements
perished. Everywhere heaps of bones were visible and every place
resounded with the shrill cries and yells of fierce creatures.[428] The
cities and towns of the earth became empty of inhabitants. Villages and
hamlets were burnt down. Some afflicted by robbers, some by weapons, and
some by bad kings, and in fear of one another, began to fly away. Temples
and places of worship became desolate. They that were aged were forcibly
turned out of their houses. Kine and goats and sheep and buffaloes fought
(for food) and perished in large numbers. The Brahmanas began to die on
all sides. Protection was at an end. Herbs and plants were dried up. The
earth became shorn of all her beauty and exceedingly awful like the trees
in a crematorium. In that period of terror, when righteousness was
nowhere, O Yudhishthira, men in hunger lost their senses and began to eat
one another. The very Rishis, giving up their vows and abandoning their
fires and deities, and deserting their retreats in woods, began to wander
hither and thither (in search of food). The holy and great Rishi
Viswamitra, possessed of great intelligence, wandered homeless and
afflicted with hunger. Leaving his wife and son in some place of shelter,
the Rishi wandered, fireless[429] and homeless, and regardless of food
clean and unclean. One day he came upon a hamlet, in the midst of a
forest, inhabited by cruel hunters addicted to the slaughter of living
creatures. The little hamlet abounded with broken jars and pots made of
earth. Dog-skins were spread here and there. Bones and skulls, gathered
in heaps, of boars and asses, lay in different places. Cloths stripped
from the dead lay here and there, and the huts were adorned with garlands
of used up flowers.[430] Many of the habitations again were filled with
sloughs cast off by snakes. The place resounded with the loud crowing of
cocks and hens and the dissonant bray of asses. Here and there the
inhabitants disputed with one another, uttering harsh words in shrill
voices. Here and there were temples of gods bearing devices of owls and
other birds. Resounding with the tinkle of iron bells, the hamlet
abounded with canine packs standing or lying on every side. The great
Rishi Viswamitra, urged by pangs of hunger and engaged in search after
food, entered that hamlet and endeavoured his best to find something to
eat. Though the son of Kusika begged repeatedly, yet he failed to obtain
any meat or rice or fruit or root or any other kind of food. He then,
exclaiming, ‘Alas, great is the distress that has overtaken me!’ fell
down from weakness in that hamlet of the Chandalas. The sage began to
reflect, saying to himself, ‘What is best for me to do now?’ Indeed, O
best of kings, the thought that occupied him was of the means by which he
could avoid immediate death. He beheld, O king, a large piece of flesh,
of a dog that had recently been slain with a weapon, spread on the floor
of a Chandala’s hut. The sage reflected and arrived at the conclusion
that he should steal that meat. And he said unto himself, ‘I have no
means now of sustaining life. Theft is allowable in a season of distress
for even an eminent person. It will not detract from his glory. Even a
Brahmana for saving his life may do it. This is certain. In the first
place one should steal from a low person. Failing such a person one may
steal from one’s equal. Failing an equal, one may steal from even an
eminent and righteous man. I shall then, at this time when my life itself
is ebbing away, steal this meat. I do not see demerit in such theft. I
shall, therefore, rob this haunch of dog’s meat.’ Having formed this
resolution, the great sage Viswamitra laid himself down for sleep in that
place where the Chandala was. Seeing some time after that the night had
advanced and that the whole Chandala hamlet had fallen asleep, the holy
Viswamitra, quietly rising up, entered that hut. The Chandala who owned
it, with eyes covered with phlegm, was lying like one asleep. Of
disagreeable visage, he said these harsh words in a broken and dissonant

“The Chandala said, ‘Who is there, engaged in undoing the latch? The
whole Chandala hamlet is asleep. I, however, am awake and not asleep.
Whoever thou art, thou art about to be slain.’ These were the harsh words
that greeted the sage’s ears. Filled with fear, his face crimson with
blushes of shame, and his heart agitated by anxiety caused by that act of
theft which he had attempted, he answered, saying, ‘O thou that art blest
with a long life, I am Viswamitra. I have come here oppressed by the
pangs of hunger. O thou of righteous understanding, do not slay me, if
thy sight be clear.’ Hearing these words of that great Rishi of cleansed
soul, the Chandala rose up in terror from his bed and approached the
sage. Joining his palms from reverence and with eyes bathed in tears, he
addressed Kusika’s son, saying, ‘What do you seek here in the night, O
Brahmana?’ Conciliating the Chandala, Viswamitra said, ‘I am exceedingly
hungry and about to die of starvation. I desire to take away that haunch
of dog’s meat. Being hungry, I have become sinful. One solicitous of food
has no shame. It is hunger that is urging me to this misdeed. It is for
this that I desire to take away that haunch of dog’s meat. My
life-breaths are languishing. Hunger has destroyed my Vedic lore. I am
weak and have lost my senses. I have no scruple about clean or unclean
food. Although I know that it is sinful, still I wish to take away that
haunch of dog’s meat. After I had filed to obtain any alms, having
wandered from house to house in this your hamlet, I set my heart upon
this sinful act of taking away this haunch of dog’s meat. Fire is the
mouth of the gods. He is also their priest. He should, therefore, take
nothing save things that are pure and clean. At times, however, that
great god becomes a consumer of everything. Know that I have now become
even like him in that respect.’ Hearing these words of the great Rishi,
the Chandala answered him, saying, ‘Listen to me. Having heard the words
of truth that I say, act in such a way that thy religious merit may not
perish. Hear, O regenerate Rishi, what I say unto thee about thy duty.
The wise say that a dog is less clean than a jackal. The haunch, again,
of a dog is a much worse part than other parts of his body. This was not
wisely resolved by thee, therefore, O great Rishi, this act that is
inconsistent with righteousness, this theft of what belongs to a
Chandala, this theft, besides, of food that is unclean. Blessed be thou,
do thou look for some other means for preserving thy life. O great sage,
let not thy penances suffer destruction in consequence of this thy strong
desire for dog’s meat. Knowing as thou dost the duties laid down in the
scriptures, thou shouldst not do an act whose consequence is a confusion
of duties.[431] Do not cast off righteousness, for thou art the foremost
of all persons observant of righteousness.’ Thus addressed, O king, the
great Rishi Viswamitra, afflicted by hunger, O bull of Bharata’s race,
once more said, ‘A long time has passed away without my having taken any
food. I do not see any means again for preserving my life. One should,
when one is dying, preserve one’s life by any means in one’s power
without judging of their character. Afterwards, when competent, one
should seek the acquisition of merit. The Kshatriyas should observe the
practices of Indra. It is the duty of the Brahmanas to behave like Agni.
The Vedas are fire. They constitute my strength. I shall, therefore, eat
even this unclean food for appeasing my hunger. That by which life may be
preserved should certainly be accomplished without scruple. Life is
better than death. Living, one may acquire virtue. Solicitous of
preserving my life, I desire, with the full exercise of my understanding,
to eat this unclean food. Let me receive thy permission. Continuing to
live I shall seek the acquisition of virtue and shall destroy by penances
and by knowledge the calamities consequent on my present conduct, like
the luminaries of the firmament destroying even the thickest gloom.’

“The Chandala said, ‘By eating this food one (like thee) cannot obtain
long life. Nor can one (like thee) obtain strength (from such food), nor
that gratification which ambrosia offers. Do thou seek for some other
kind of alms. Let not thy heart incline towards eating dog’s meat. The
dog is certainly an unclean food to members of the regenerate classes.’

“Viswamitra said, ‘Any other kind of meat is not to be easily had during
a famine like this. Besides, O Chandala, I have no wealth (wherewith to
buy food). I am exceedingly hungry. I cannot move any longer. I am
utterly hopeless. I think that al