The Mahabharata Home
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,
[paragraph continues] 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. 1 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. 2 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.
[paragraph continues] 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. 1 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. 2 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.'
43:1 Adadana is explained as a robber or one who forcibly takes other people's property. Some texts read nareswarah. The sense should remain unaltered.
43:2 Manu also mentions a sixth of the produce as the king's share.
Next: Section XXV