The Mahabharata Home
"Indra said, 'Kshatriya duties, O king, which are possessed of such energy, which include in their exercise all other duties, and which are the foremost of all duties, should be observed by persons that are, like thee, so high-souled and so employed in seeking the good of the world. If those duties are not properly discharged, all creatures would be overtaken by ruin. The kings possessed of compassion for all creatures, should regard these to be the foremost of his duties, reclaiming the land for cultivation and fertilizing it, performance of great sacrifices for cleansing himself, a disregard for begging, and protection of subjects. Abandonment (gift) is said by the sages to be the foremost of virtues. Of all kinds of abandonment, again, that of the body in battle, is the foremost. Thou hast seen with thy eyes how the rulers of the earth, ever observant of Kshatriya duties, having duly waited upon their preceptors and acquired great learning, at last cast off their bodies, engaged in battle with one another. The Kshatriya, desirous of acquiring religious merit, should, after having gone through the Brahmacharya mode, should lead a life of domesticity which is always meritorious. In adjudicating upon ordinary questions of right (between his subjects), he should be thoroughly impartial. For causing all the orders to be observant of their respective duties, for the protection they afford to all, for the diverse contrivances and means and the prowess and exertion (with which they seek the accomplishment of their
objects). Kshatriya duties, which include all other duties within their scope, are said to be the foremost. The other orders are able to observe their respective duties in consequence of kingly duties. For this reason the former are said to be dependent upon the latter in respect of the merit they produce. 1 Those men who disregard all wholesome restraints and who are too much attached to the pursuit of worldly objects are said to be of the nature of brutes. They are compelled to act with justice by the exercise of kingly duties. Those duties, therefore, are said to be the foremost of all. That course of conduct which has been prescribed for Brahmanas who follow the three Vedas, and those modes of life that have been laid down for Brahmanas, should, before everything else, be observed by every Brahmana. If a Brahmana acts otherwise, he should be punished like a Sudra. The duties of the four modes of life and the ritual prescribed in the Vedas, O king, should ever be followed by a Brahmana. Know that he has no other duties. For a Brahmana acting otherwise, a Kshatriya should not make any arrangement for sustenance. His religious merit grows in consequence of his acts. A Brahmana, indeed, is like Dharma's self. That Brahmana who is employed in acts that are not laid down for him, deserves no respect. If not engaged in his proper acts, he should not be trusted. These are the duties that appertain to the several orders. Kshatriyas should take care of them so that their observance may be improved. Even these are the duties of Kshatriyas. For these reasons also, kingly duties and no other, are the foremost of all. They are, as I believe, the duties of heroes, and they that are heroes are foremost in practising them.'
"Mandhatri said, 'What duties should be performed by the Yavanas, the Kiratas, the Gandharvas, the Chinas, the Savaras, the Barbaras, the Sakas, the Tusharas, the Kankas, the Pathavas, the Andhras, the Madrakas, the Paundras, the Pulindas, the Ramathas, the Kamvojas, the several castes that have sprung Lip from Brahmanas and Kshatriyas, the Vaisyas, and the Sudras, that reside in the dominions of (Arya) kings? What are those duties again to the observance of which kings like ourselves should force those tribes that subsist by robbery? I desire to hear all this. O illustrious god, instruct me. O chief of all the deities, thou art the friend of us Kshatriyas.'
"Indra said, 'All the robber tribes should serve their mothers and fathers, their preceptors and other seniors, and recluses living in the woods. All the robber tribes should also serve their kings. The duties and rites inculcated in the Vedas should also be followed by them. They should perform sacrifices in honour of the Pitris, dig wells, (and dedicate them to universal service), give water to thirsty travellers, give away beds and make other seasonable presents unto Brahmanas. Abstention from injury, truth, suppression of wrath, supporting Brahmanas and kinsmen by giving them their dues, maintenance of wives and children, purity, peacefulness, making presents to Brahmanas at sacrifices of every kind, are duties that should be practised by every person of this class who desire his own prosperity. Such a person should also perform all kinds of Paka-yajnas with costly presents of food and wealth. These and
similar duties, O sinless one, were laid down in olden days for persons of this class. All these acts which have been laid down for all others should be done by persons of also the robber class, O king.'
"Mandhatri said, 'In the world of men, such wicked men may be seen living in disguise among all the four orders and in all the four modes of life.'
"Indra said, 'Upon the disappearance of kingly duties and of the science of chastisement, all creatures became exceedingly afflicted, O sinless one, in consequence of the tyranny of kings. After the expiry of this the Krita age, a confusion will set in, regarding the different modes of life, and innumerable Bhikshus will appear with sectarian marks of different kinds. Disregarding the Puranas and the high truths of religion, men, urged by lust and wrath, will deviate into Wrong paths. When sinful men are rest rained (from wicked acts) by high-souled persons with the aid of the science of chastisement, then religion, which is superior to everything and eternal, and which is the source of everything good, becomes firmly established. The gifts, and libations, and offerings to the Pitris of the man that disregards the king who is superior to every one, become fruitless. The very gods do not disregard a virtuous king who is truly an eternal god. The divine Lord of all creatures, having created the universe, intended the Kshatriya to rule men regarding their inclinations and disinclinations in respect of duties. I respect and worship that person who, aided by his understanding, watches the course of the duties performed by men. Upon such supervision rest Kshatriya duties.'
"Bhishma continued, 'Having said these words, the divine and puissant Narayana in the form of Indra, accompanied by the Maruts, repaired to his eternal abode of inexhaustible felicity. When, O sinless one, duties as practised by the good had such a course in days of old, what man of cleansed soul and learning is there that would disregard the Kshatriya? Like blind men lost on the way, creatures acting and abstaining unrighteously meet with destruction. O tiger among men, do thou adhere to that circle (of duties) that was first set agoing and to which the ancients had recourse. I know, O sinless one, that thou art quite competent to do this.'
141:1 Yama is explained by Nilakantha to mean Kshatriya dharmena.
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