The Mahabharata Home
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. 1 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 ordinance.'
"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. 1 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. 2 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. 3 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. 4 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.'
66:1 A Kshatriya should protect a Brahmana in respect of his penances and a Vaisya in respect of the duties of his order. Whatever impediments a Brahmana or a Vaisya might encounter in the discharge of his duties, must be removed by a Kshatriya.
67:1 i.e., thou shouldst think that the consequences of all acts must attach to the Supreme Being himself, he being the urger of us all.
67:2 Na Para etc., i.e., there is no Supreme Being and no next world.
67:3 No one being free in this life, all one's acts being the result of previous acts, there can be no responsibility for the acts of this life.
67:4 The manner in which this great battle has been brought about shows evidence of design and not mere Chance. Nilakantha reads hatam which is evidently wrong. There can be no doubt that the correct reading is hatham.
Next: Section XXXIII