The Mahabharata Home
"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. 1 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. 1 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. 2 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. 1 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.'"
187:1 Water-citadels are those that are surrounded on all sides by a river or rivers, or the sea. Earth-citadels are those that are built, on plains fortified with high walls and encircled with trenches all around. Human-citadels are unfortified cities properly protected by guards and a loyal population.
188:1 Nilakantha says that this has reference to the second variety of citadels mentioned in the previous verse.
188:2 Such as banian, peepul, etc. These afford refreshing shade to sunburnt travellers.
189:1 'Take wisdom,' i.e., consult with them. 'Should not always wait upon them, etc.' lest robbers should kill them, suspecting them to be depositories of the king's wealth.
Next: Section LXXXVII