The Mahabharata Home
"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. 3 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.
[paragraph continues] 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. 1 He is called Rajan in whom righteousness shines. That king, again in whom there is no righteousness, is called a Vrishala. 2 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.'"
196:3 i.e., goes to heaven.
197:1 Bhishma says that this discourse is very old. Probably this verse has reference to the writer's idea of the motives that impelled the Rishis of Brahmavarta when they devised for their Indian colony the kingly form of government.
197:2 This verse gives the etymology of the word Rajan and Vrishala. He in whom righteousness, shines (rajate) is a Rajan; and he in whom righteousness, called Vrisha, disappear, is a Vrishala. Vide next verse.
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