The Mahabharata Home
Vaisampayana said, "Rising from their beds the next day and performing the morning rites laid down in the scriptures, the Pandavas and the Yadavas set out (for the spot where Bhishma lay) on their cars resembling fortified towns. Proceeding to the field of Kuru and approaching the sinless Bhishma, they enquired of that foremost of car-warriors if he had passed the night happily. Saluting all the Rishis, and blessed by them in return, the princes took their seats around Bhishma. Then king Yudhishthira the just possessed of great energy, having worshipped Bhishma duly, said these words with joined hands.
"Yudhishthira said, 'Whence arose the word Rajan (King), that is used, O Bharata, on earth? Tell me this, O scorcher of foes! Possessed of hands and arms and neck like others, having understanding and senses like those of others, subject like others to the same kinds of joy and grief, endued with back, mouth, and stomach similar to those of the rest of the world, having vital fluids and bones and marrow and flesh and blood similar to those of, the rest of the world, inhaling and exhaling breaths like others, possessed of life-breaths and bodies like other men, resembling others in birth and death,
in fact, similar to others in respect of all attributes of humanity, for what reason does one man, viz., the king, govern the rest of the world numbering many men possessed of great intelligence and bravery? Whence is it that one man rules the wide world teeming with brave and energetic and high-born men of good behaviour? Why do all men seek to obtain his favour? Why is it that if one man becomes delighted, the whole world becomes delighted, and if that one man is troubled, the whole world becomes troubled? I desire to hear this in detail, O bull of Bharata's race! O foremost of speakers, discourse to me on this fully. O king, there cannot but be a grave reason for all this since it is seen that the whole world bows down to one man as to a god.
"Bhishma said, 'With concentrated attention, O tiger among kings, listen to it in detail as to how in the Krita age sovereignty first began. At first there was no sovereignty, no king, no chastisement, and no chastiser. All men used to protect one another righteously. As they thus lived, O Bharata, righteously protecting one another, they found the task (after some time) to be painful. Error then began to assail their hearts. Having become subject to error, the perceptions of men, O prince, came to be clouded, and thence their virtue began to decline. When their perceptions were dimmed and when men became subject to error, all of them became covetous. O chief of the Bharatas! And because men sought to obtain objects, which they did not possess, another passion called lust (of acquisition) got hold of them. When they became subject to lust, another passion, named anger, soon soiled them. Once subject to wrath, they lost all consideration of what should be done and what should not. Unrestrained sexual indulgence set in. Men began to utter what they chose. All distinctions between food that is clean and unclean and between virtue and vice disappeared. When this confusion set in amongst men, the Vedas disappeared. Upon the disappearance of the Vedas, Righteousness was lost. When both the Vedas and righteousness were lost, the gods were possessed by fear. Overcome with fear, O tiger among men, they sought the protection of Brahmana. Having gratified the divine Grandsire of the universe, the gods, afflicted with grief, said unto him, with joined hands, 'O god, the eternal Vedas have been afflicted in the world of men by covetousness and error. For this, we have been struck with fear. Through loss of the Vedas, O Supreme Lord, righteousness also has been lost. For this, O Lord of the three worlds, we are about to descend to the level of human beings. Men used to pour libations upwards while we used to pour rain downwards. 1 In consequence, however, of the cessation of all pious rites among men, great distress will be our lot. Do thou then, O Grandsire, think of that which would benefit us, so that the universe, created by thy power, may not meet with destruction.' Thus addressed, the Self-born and divine Lord said unto them, 'I shall think of what will do good to all. Ye foremost of gods, let your fears be
dispelled!' The Grandsire then composed by his own intelligence a treatise consisting of a hundred thousand chapters. In it were treated the subject of Virtue, Profit, and Pleasure. Which the Self-born designated as the triple aggregate. He treated of a fourth subject called Emancipation with opposite meaning and attributes. The triple aggregate in respect of emancipation, viz., to the attributes of Goodness, Passion, and Darkness, and another, (a fourth, viz., the practice of duty without hope of bliss or reward in this or the other world), were treated in it. Another triple aggregate connected with Chastisement, viz., Conversation, Growth, and Destruction, was treated in it. 1 Another aggregate of six consisting of the hearts of men, place, time, means, overt acts, and alliances, and causes, were treated in it. The religious rites laid down in the three Vedas, knowledge, and the acts necessary for the support of life, (viz., agriculture, trade, &c.), O bull of Bharata's race, and the very extensive branch of learning called punitive legislation, were laid down in it. The subjects also of behaviour towards counsellors, of spies, the indications of princes, of secret agents possessed of diverse means, of envoys and agents of other kinds, conciliation, fomenting discord, gifts, and chastisement, O king, with toleration as the fifth, were fully treated therein. Deliberation of all kinds, counsels for producing disunion, the errors of deliberation, the results of the success or failure of counsels, treaties of three kinds, viz., bad, middling, and good, made through fear, good offices, and gifts of wealth, were described in detail. The four kinds of time for making journeys, the details of the aggregate of three, the three kinds of victory, viz., that secured righteously, that won by wealth, and that obtained by deceitful ways, were described in detail. The three kinds of attributes, viz., bad, middling, and good, of the aggregate of five (viz., counsellors, kingdom, fort, army, and treasury,) were also treated in it. Chastisements of two kinds, viz., open and secret, were indicated. The eight kinds of open chastisement, as also the eight kinds of secret chastisement, were dealt with in detail. Cars, elephants, horses, and foot-soldiers, O son of Pandu, impressed labourers, crews, and paid attendants (of armies), and guides taken from the country which is the seat of war, these are the eight instruments, O Kauravya, of open chastisement or forces acting openly. The use and administration of movable and immovable poison were also mentioned in respect of the three kinds of things, viz., wearing apparel, food, and incantations. Enemies, allies, and neutrals,--these also were described. The diverse characteristics of roads (to be taken, as dependent on stars and planets, etc.), the attributes of the soil (on which to encamp), protection of self, superintendence of the construction of cars and other utensils of war and use, the diverse means for protecting and improving men, elephants, cars, and steeds, the diverse kinds of battle array, strategies, and manoeuvres in war, planetary conjunctions foreboding evil, calamitous visitations (such
as earthquakes), skilful methods of warfare and retreat, knowledge of weapons and their proper keep, the disorders of troops and how to get rid of them, the means of inspiring the army with joy and confidence, diseases, times of distress and danger, knowledge of guiding foot-soldiers in battle, the methods of sounding alarms and notifying orders, inspiring the enemy with fear by display of standards, the diverse methods of afflicting the enemy's kingdom by means of robbers and fierce wild-tribes, and fire-raisers and poisoners and forgers by producing disunion among the chief officers of hostile armies, by cutting down crops and plants, by destroying the efficiency of the enemy's elephants, by producing alarms, by honouring those among the enemy's subjects that are well disposed towards the invader, and by inspiring the enemy with confidence, the waste, growth, and harmony of the seven essential requisites of sovereignty, capacity for (projected) works, the means for accomplishing them, the methods of extending the kingdom, the means of winning over persons residing in the enemy's territory, the chastisement and destruction of those that are strong, the exact administration of justice, the extermination of the wicked, wrestling, shooting and throwing and hurling of weapons, the methods of making presents and of storing requisite things, feeding the unfed and supervision over those that have been fed, gifts of wealth in season, freedom from the vices called Vyasanas, the attributes of kings, the qualifications of military officers, the sources of the aggregate of three and its merits and faults, the diverse kinds of evil intents, the behaviour of dependents, suspicion against every one, the avoidance of heedlessness, the acquisition of objects unattained, the improving of objects already acquired, gifts to deserving persons of what has thus been improved, expenditure of wealth for pious purposes, for acquiring objects of desire, and for dispelling danger and distress, were all treated in that work. The fierce vices, O chief of the Kurus, born of temper, and those born of lust, in all of ten kinds, were mentioned in that treatise. The four kinds of vices which the learned say are born of lust, viz., hunting, gambling, drinking, and sexual indulgence, were mentioned by the Self-born in that work. Rudeness of speech, fierceness, severity of chastisement, infliction of pain on the body, suicide, and frustrating one's own objects, these are the six kinds of faults born of wrath, that have also been mentioned. Diverse kinds of machines and their actions have been described there. Devastation of the enemy's territories, attacks upon foes, the destruction and removal of landmarks and other indications, the cutting down of large trees (for depriving the enemy and the enemy's subjects of their refreshing shade), siege of forts, supervision of agriculture and other useful operations, the storage of necessaries, robes and attire (of troops), and the best means of manufacturing them, were all described. The characteristics and uses of Panavas, Anakas, conchs, and drums. O Yudhishthira, the six kinds of articles (viz., gems, animals, lands, robes, female slaves, and gold) and the means of acquiring them (for one's one self) and of destroying them (for injuring the foe), pacification of newly acquired territories, honouring the good, cultivating friendship with the learned, knowledge of the rules in respect of gifts and
religious rites such as homa, the touch of auspicious articles, attention to the adornment of the body, the manner of preparing and using food, piety of behaviour, the attainment of prosperity by following in one path, truthfulness of speech, sweetness of speech, observance of acts done on occasions of festivity and social gatherings and those done within the household, the open and secret acts of persons in all places of meeting, the constant supervision of the behaviour of men, the immunity of Brahmanas from punishment, the reasonable infliction of punishment, honours paid to dependants in consideration of kinship and merit, the protection of subjects and the means of extending the kingdom, the counsels that a king who lives in the midst of a dozen of kings, should pursue in respect of the four kinds of foes, the four kinds of allies, and the four kinds of neutrals, the two and seventy acts laid down in medical works about the protection, exercise, and improvements of the body, and the practices of particular countries, tribes, and families, were all duty treated in that work. Virtue, Profit, and Pleasure, and Emancipation, were also described in it. The diverse means of acquisition, the desire for diverse kinds of wealth. O giver of profuse presents, the methods of agriculture and other operations that form the chief source of the revenue, and the various means for producing and applying illusions, the methods by which stagnant water is rendered foul, were laid down in it. All those means, O tiger among kings, by which men might be prevented from deviating from the path of righteousness and honesty, were all described in it. Having composed that highly beneficial treatise, the divine Lord cheerfully said unto the deities having Indra for their head, those words: 'For the good of the world and for establishing the triple aggregate (viz., Virtue, Profit, and Pleasure), I have composed this science representing the very cheese of speech. Assisted by chastisement, this science will protect the world. Dealing rewards and punishments, this science will operate among men. And because men are led (to the acquisition of the objects of their existence) by chastisement, or, in other words, chastisement leads or governs everything, therefore will this science be known in the three worlds as Dandaniti (science of chastisement). 1 Containing the essence of all the attributes of the aggregate of six, this science will always be much regarded by all high-souled persons. Virtue, Profit, Pleasure, and Salvation have all been treated in it.' After this, the lord of Uma,--the divine and multiform Siva of large eyes, the Source of all blessings, first studied and mastered it. In view, however, of the gradual decrease of the period of life of human beings, the divine Siva abridged that science of grave import compiled by Brahman. The abridgment, called Vaisalakasha, consisting of ten thousand lessons, was then received by Indra devoted to Brahman
and endued with great ascetic merit. The divine Indra also abridged it into a treatise consisting of five thousand lessons and called it Vahudantaka. Afterwards the puissant Vrihaspati, by his intelligence, further abridged the work into a treatise consisting of three thousand lessons and called it Varhaspatya. Next, that preceptor of Yoga, of great celebrity, viz., Kavi of immeasurable wisdom, reduced it further into a work of a thousand lessons. In view of the period of men's lives and the general decrease (of everything), great Rishis did thus, for benefiting the world, abridge that science. The gods then, approaching that lord of creatures, viz., Vishnu, said unto him, 'Indicate, O god, that one among mortals who deserves to have superiority over the rest.' The divine and puissant Narayana, reflecting a little, created, by a fiat of his will, a son born of his energy, named Virajas. The highly blessed Virajas, however, did not desire sovereignty on earth. His mind, O son of Pandu, inclined to a life of renunciation. Virajas had a son named Krittimat. He too renounced pleasure and enjoyment. 1 Krittimat had a son named Kardama. Kardama also practised severe austerities. The lord of creatures, Kardama, begot a son named Ananga. Ananga became a protector of creatures, pious in behaviour, and fully conversant with the science of chastisement. Ananga begot a son named Ativala, well versed in policy. Obtaining extensive empire after the demise of his sire, he became a slave of his passions. Mrityu, O king, had a daughter born of his mind, named Sunita and celebrated over the three worlds. She was married to Ativala and gave birth to a son named Vena. Vena, a slave of wrath and malice, became unrighteous in his conduct towards all creatures. The Rishis, those utterers of Brahma, slew him with Kusa blades (as their weapon) inspired with mantras. Uttering mantras the while, those Rishis pierced the right thigh of Vena. Thereupon, from that thigh, came out a short-limbed person on earth, resembling a charred brand, with blood-red eyes and black hair. Those utterers of Brahma said unto him, 'Nishida (sit) here!' From him have sprung the Nishadas, viz., those wicked tribes that have the hills and the forests for their abode, as also those hundreds and thousands of others called Mlechchhas, residing on the Vindhya mountains. The great Rishis then pierced the right arm of Vena. Thence sprang a person who was a second Indra in form. Clad in mail, armed with scimitars, bows, and arrows, and well-versed in the science of weapons, he was fully acquainted with the Vedas and their branches. All the ordinances of the science of chastisement, O king, (in their embodied forms) came to that best of men. The son of Vena then, with joined hands, said unto those great Rishis, 'I have attained an understanding that is very keen and that is observant of righteousness. Tell me in detail what I shall do with it. That useful task which you will be pleased to indicate, I shall accomplish without hesitation.' Thus addressed, the gods that were present there, as also the Rishis, said unto him. 'Do thou fearlessly accomplish all those tasks in which righteousness even resides.
[paragraph continues] Disregarding what is dear and what not so, look upon all creatures with an equal eye. Castoff at a distance Just and wrath and covetousness and honour, and, always observing the dictates of righteousness, do thou punish with thy own hands the man, whoever he may be, that deviates from the path of duty. Do thou also swear that thou wouldst, in thought, word, and deed, always maintain the religion inculcated on earth by the Vedas. Do thou further swear that thou wouldst fearlessly maintain the duties laid down in the Vedas with the aid of the science of chastisement, and that thou wouldst never act with caprice. O puissant one, know that Brahmanas are exempt from chastisement, and pledge further that thou wouldst protect the world from an intermixture of castes.' Thus addressed, Vena's son replied unto the deities headed by the Rishis, saying, 'Those bulls among men, viz., the highly blessed Brahmanas, shall ever be worshipped by me.' Those utterers of Brahma then said unto him, 'Let it be so!' Then Sukra, that vast receptacle of Brahma, became his priest. The Valakhilyas became his counsellors, and the Saraswatas his companions. The great and illustrious Rishi Garga became his astrologer. This high declaration of the Srutis is current among men that Prithu is the eighth from Vishnu. A little before, the two persons named Suta and Magadha had come into existence. They became his bards and panegyrists. Gratified, Prithu, the royal son of Vena, possessed of great prowess, gave unto Suta the land lying on the sea-coast, and unto Magadha the country since known as Magadha. We have heard that the surface of the earth had before been very uneven. It was Prithu who made the terrestrial surface level. In every Manwantara, the earth becomes uneven. 1 Vena's son removed the rocks and rocky masses lying all around, O monarch, with the horn of his bow. By this means the hills and mountains became enlarged. Then Vishnu, and the deities of Indra, and the Rishis, and the Regents of the world, and the Brahmanas, assembled together for crowning Prithu (as the king of the world). The earth herself, O son of Pandu, in her embodied form, came to him, with a tribute of gems and jewels. Ocean, that lord of rivers, and Himavat, the king of mountains, and Sakra, O Yudhishthira, bestowed upon him inexhaustible wealth. The great Meru, that mountain of gold, gave unto him heaps of that precious metal. The divine Kuvera, borne on the shoulders of human beings, that lord of Yakshas and Rakshasas, gave him wealth enough for gratifying the needs of religion, profit, and pleasure. Steeds, cars, elephants, and men, by millions, O son of Pandu, started into life as soon as Vena's son thought of them. At that time there was neither decrepitude, nor famine, nor calamity, nor disease (on earth). In consequence of the protection afforded by that king, nobody had any fear from reptiles and thieves or from any other source. When he proceeded to the sea, the waters used to be solidified. The mountains gave him way, and his standard was never obstructed anywhere. He drew from the earth, as a milcher from a cow, seven and ten kinds of crops for the food of Yakshas, and Rakshasas, and Nagas, and
other creatures. That high-souled king caused all creatures to regard righteousness as the foremost of all things; and because he gratified all the people, therefore, was he called Rajan (king). And because he also healed the wounds of Brahmanas, therefore, he earned the name of Kshatriya. And because the earth (in his region) became celebrated for the practice of virtue, therefore, she came to be called by many as Prithvi. The eternal Vishnu himself, O Bharata, confirmed his power, telling him, 'No one, O king, shall transcend thee.' The divine Vishnu entered the body of that monarch in consequence of his penances. For this reason, the entire universe offered divine worship unto Prithu, numbered among human gods. 1 O king, thy kingdom should always be protected by the aid of the science of chastisement. Thou shouldst also, by careful observation made through the movements of thy spies, protect it in such a way that no one may be able to injure it. 2 All good acts, O king, lead to the good (of the monarch). The conduct of a king should be regulated by his own intelligence, as also by the opportunities and means that may offer themselves. 3 What other cause is there in consequence of which the multitude live in obedience to one, save the divinity of the monarch? At that time a golden lotus was born from Vishnu's brow. The goddess Sree was born of that lotus. She became the spouse of Dharma of great intelligence upon Sree, O son of Pandu, Dharma begot Artha. All the three, viz., Dharma, and Artha and Sree, were established in sovereignty. A person upon the exhaustion of his merit, comes down from heaven to earth, and takes birth as a king conversant with the science of chastisement. Such a person becomes endued with greatness and is really a portion of Vishnu on earth. He becomes possessed of great intelligence and obtains superiority over others. Established by the gods, no one transcends him. It is for this reason that everybody acts in obedience to one, and it is for this that the world cannot command him. Good acts, O king, lead to good. It is for this that the multitude obey his words of command, though he belongs to the same world and is possessed of similar limbs. He who once beheld Prithu's amiable face became obedient to him. Thenceforth he began to regard him as handsome, wealthy, and highly blessed. 4 In consequence of the might of his sceptre, the practice of morality and just behaviour became so visible on earth. It is through that reason that the earth became overspread with virtue.'
"Thus, O Yudhishthira, the histories of all past events, the origin of the
great Rishis, the holy waters, the planets and stars and asterisms, the duties in respect of the four modes of life, the four kinds of Homa, the characteristics of the four orders of men, and the four branches of learning, were all treated of in that work (of the Grandsire). Whatever objects or things, O son of Pandu, there are on earth, were all included in that treatise of the Grandsire. Histories and the Vedas and the science of Nyaya were all treated in it, as also penances, knowledge, abstention from injury in respect of all creatures, truth, falsehood, and high morality. Worship of persons old in years, gifts, purity of behaviour, readiness for exertion, and compassion towards all creatures, were very fully described in it. There is no doubt in this. Since that time, O monarch, the learned have begun to say that there is no difference between a god and a king. I have now told thee everything about the greatness of kings. What other subject is there, O chief of the Bharatas, upon which I shall next have to discourse?"
122:1 Men, by pouring libations of clarified butter on sacrificial fires, feed the gods. The latter, fed by those libations, pour rain on the earth whence men derive their sustenance. Men. therefore are said to pour upwards and the gods pour downwards.
123:1 Conversation in respect of the wealth of traders and merchants; Growth in respect of the penances of ascetics; and Destruction in respect of thieves and wicked men. All these depend upon Chastisement.
125:1 The Burdwan Pundits have been very careless in translating the Santi Parva. Their version is replete with errors in almost every page. They have rendered verse 78 in a most ridiculous way. The first line of the verse merely explains the etymology of the word Dandaniti, the verb ni being used first in the passive and then in the active voice. The idam refers to the world, i.e., men in general. K.P. Singha's version of the Santi is better, and, of course, gives the correct sense of this verse.
126:1 Literally, rose above the five in the sense of having renounced the world. The Burdwan Pundits erroneously render it "died."
127:1 A Manwantara is a very long period of time, not unequal to a geological age.
128:1 "Numbered among human gods," i.e., among kings.
128:2 The correct reading is charanishpanda as given in the Bombay edition.
128:3 In both the vernacular versions the second line of 130 has been rendered wrongly. The two lines are quite unconnected with each other. Nilakantha rightly supposes that Karyam is understood after Mahikshitah. Karana, however, is not kriya as explained by Nilakantha but opportunities and means.
128:4 Nilakantha explains this verse erroneously. He thinks that the meaning is--"The king becomes obedient to that person who beholds his face to be amiable, etc., etc." It should be borne in mind that Bhishma is answering Yudhishthira's query as to why the whole world adores one man. One of the reasons is a mysterious influence which induces every man who beholds the amiable face of the king to render him homage.
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