The Mahabharata Home
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. 1 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?'
12:1 Because wealth enables its possessor to practise the rites of religion.
Next: Section IX