The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'What other special duties remain for the king to discharge? How should he protect his kingdom and how subdue his foes? How should he employ his spies? How should he inspire confidence in the four orders of his subjects, his own servants, wives, and sons, O Bharata?'
"Bhishma said, 'Listen, O monarch, with attention to the diverse duties
of kings,--to those acts which the king or one that is in the position of a king should first do. The king should first subdue himself and then seek to subdue his foes. How should a king who has not been able to conquer his own self be able to conquer his foes? The conquest of these, viz., the aggregate of five, is regarded as the conquest of self. The king that has succeeded in subduing his senses is competent to resist his foes. He should place bodies of foot-soldiers in his forts, frontiers, towns, parks, and pleasure gardens, O delighter of the Kurus, as also in all places where he himself goes, and within his own palace, O tiger among men! He should employ as spies men looking like idiots or like those that are blind and deaf. Those should all be persons who have been thoroughly examined (in respect of their ability), who are possessed of wisdom, and who are able to endure hunger and thirst. With proper attention, the king should set his spies upon all his counsellors and friends and sons, in his city and the provinces, and in dominions of the chiefs under him. His spies should be so employed that they may not know one another. He should also, O bull of Bharata's race, know the spies of his foes by himself setting spies in shops and places of amusement, and concourses of people, among beggars, in his pleasure gardens and parks, in meetings and conclaves of the learned, in the country, in public places, in places where he holds his own court, and in the houses of the citizens. The king possessed of intelligence may thus ascertain the spies despatched by his foes. If these be known, the king may derive much benefit, O son of Pandu! When the king, by a survey of his own, finds himself weak, he should then, consulting with his counsellors make peace with a foe that is stronger. The king that is wise should speedily make peace with a foe, even when he knows that he is not weak, if any advantage is to be derived from it. Engaged in protecting his kingdom with righteousness, the king should make peace with those that are possessed of every accomplishment, capable of great exertion, virtuous, and honest. When the king finds himself threatened with danger and about to be overtaken by ruin, he should slay all offenders whom he had overlooked before and all such persons as are pointed at by the people. A king should have nothing to do with that person who can neither benefit nor injure him, or with one who cannot rescue himself from distress. As regards military operations a king who is confident of his own strength, should, at the head of a large force, cheerfully and with courage give the order to march, without proclaiming his destination against one destitute of allies and friends or already at war with another and (therefore) heedless (of danger from other quarters), or one weaker than himself, having first made arrangements for the protection of his own capital. 1 A king should not for ever live in subjection to another possessed of greater prowess. Though weak, he should seek to afflict the stronger, and resolved upon this, continue to rule his own. 2 He should afflict the kingdom of the stronger one by means of weapons, fire and application
of poison. He should also cause dissensions amongst his counsellors and servants. Vrihaspati has said that a king possessed of intelligence should always avoid war for acquisition of territory. The acquisition of dominion should be made by the three well-known means (of conciliation, gift, and disunion). The king that is possessed of wisdom should be gratified with those acquisition that are made by means of conciliation, gift, and disunion. The king, O delighter of the Kurus, should take a sixth of the incomes of his subjects as tribute for meeting the expenses of protecting them. He should also forcibly take away wealth, much or little (as the case may require), from the ten kinds of offenders mentioned in the scriptures, for the protection of his subjects. A king should, without doubt, look upon his subjects as his own children. In determining their disputes, however, he should not show compassion. For hearing the complaints and answers of disputants in judicial suits, the king should always appoint persons possessed of wisdom and a knowledge of the affairs of the world, for the state really rests upon a proper administration of justice. The king should set honest and trustworthy men over his mines, salt, grain, ferries, and elephant corps. The king who always wields with propriety the rod of chastisement earns great merit. The proper regulation of chastisement is the high duty of kings and deserves great applause. The king should be conversant with the Vedas and their branches, possessed of wisdom, engaged in penances, charitable, and devoted to the performance of sacrifices. All these qualities should permanently reside in a king. If the king fails to administer justice, he can neither have heaven nor fame. If a king be afflicted by a stronger one, the former, if possessed of intelligence, should seek refuge in a fort. Assembling his friends for consultation, he should devise proper means. Adopting the policy of conciliation and of producing dissensions, he should devise means for waging war with the assailant. He should set the inhabitants of the woods on the high roads, and, if necessary, cause whole villages to be removed, transplanting all the inhabitants to minor towns or the outskirts of great cities. Repeatedly assuring his wealthy subjects and the principal officers of the army, he should cause the inhabitants of the open country to take refuge in such forts as are well-protected. He should himself withdraw all stores of grain (from the open country into his forts). If that becomes impossible, he should destroy them completely by fire. He should set men for destroying the crops on the fields of the enemy (by producing disunion among the enemy's subjects). Failing to do this, he should destroy those crops by means of his own troops. He should destroy all the bridges over the rivers in his kingdom. He should bale out the waters of all the tanks in his dominions, or, if incapable of baling them out, cause them to be poisoned. Disregarding the duty of protecting his friends, he should, in view of both present and future circumstances, seek the protection of the ruler of another kingdom who may happen to be the foe of his foe and who may be competent to deal with his foe on the field of battle. 1 He should destroy all the smaller forts in his kingdom. He should also cut
down all the smaller trees excepting those that are called Chaitya. 1 He should cause the branches of all the larger trees to be lopped off, but he should not touch the very leaves of those called Chaitya. He should raise outer ramparts round his forts, with enclosures in them, and fill his trenches with water, driving pointed stakes at their bottom and filling them with crocodiles and sharks. He should keep small openings in his walls for making sallies from his fort, and carefully make arrangements for their defence like that of the greater gates. 2 In all his gates he should plant destructive engines. He should plant on the ramparts (of his forts) Sataghnis and other weapons. He should store wood for fuel and dig and repair wells for supply of water to the garrison. He should cause all houses made of grass and straw to be plastered over with mud, and if it is the summer month, he should, from fear of fire, withdraw (into a place of safety) all the stores of grass and straw. He should order all food to be cooked at night. No fire should be ignited during the day, except for the daily homa. Particular care should be taken of the fires in smithies and lying-in rooms. Fires kept within the houses of the inhabitants should be well covered. For the effectual protection of the city, it should be proclaimed that condign punishment will overtake the person who lights fires by the day time. During such times, all beggars, eunuchs, lunatics, and mimes, should, O foremost of men, be driven out of the town, for if they are permitted to remain, evil will follow. In places of public resort, in tirthas, in assemblies, and in the houses of the citizens, the king should set competent spies. 3 The king should cause wide roads to be constructed and order shops, and places for the distribution of water, to be opened at proper stations. Depots (of diverse necessaries), arsenals, camps and quarters for soldiers, stations for the keeping of horses and elephants, encampments of soldiers, trenches, streets and bypaths, houses and gardens for retirement and pleasure, should be so ordered that their sites may not be known to others, O Yudhishthira. A king who is afflicted by a hostile army should gather wealth, and store oil and fat and honey, and clarified butter, and medicines of all kinds, and charcoal and munja grass, leaves, arrows, scribes and draftsmen, grass, fuel, poisoned arrows, weapons of every kind such as darts, swords, lances, and others. The king should store such articles. He should especially keep ready drugs of every kind, roots and fruits, the four kinds of physicians, actors and dancers, athletes, and persons capable of assuming diverse disguises. He should decorate his capital and gladden all his subjects. The king should lose no time in bringing under his control such persons as may happen to inspire him with fear, be they his servants or counsellors or citizens or neighbouring monarchs. After any task of the king has been accomplished, he should reward that those that have aided in its accomplishment with wealth and other proportionate gifts and thankful speeches. It has been laid down in the scriptures, O delighter
of the Kurus, that a king pays off his debt when he discomfits his foe or slays him outright. 1 A king should take care of seven things. Listen to me as I recite them. They are his own self, his counsellors, his treasury, his machinery for awarding punishments, his friends, his provinces, and his capital. He should with care protect his kingdom which consists of these seven limbs. That king, O tiger among men, who is conversant with the aggregate of six, the triple aggregate, and the high aggregate of three, succeeds in winning the sovereignty of the whole earth. Listen, O Yudhishthira, to what has been called the aggregate of six. These are ruling in peace after concluding a treaty (with the foe), marching to battle, producing disunion among the foe, concentration of forces, for inspiring the foe with fear, preparedness for war with readiness for peace, and alliance with others. Listen now with attention to what has been called the triple aggregate. They are decrease, maintenance of what is, and growth. The high aggregate of three consists of Virtue, Profit and Pleasure. These should be pursued judiciously. By the aid of virtue, a king succeeds in ruling the earth for ever. Touching this matter, Angirasa's son: Vrihaspati himself has sung two verses. Blessed be thou, O son of Devaki, it behoveth thee to hear them. 'Having discharged all his duties and having protected the earth, and having also protected his cities, a king attains to great happiness in heaven. What are penances to that king, and what need has he of sacrifices who protects his people properly? Such a king should be regarded as one conversant with every virtue!'
Yudhishthira said, 'There is the science of chastisement, there is the king, and there are the subjects. Tell me, O grandsire, what advantage is derived by one of these from the others.'
Bhishma said, 'Listen to me, O king, as I describe, O Bharata, the great blessedness of the science of chastisement, in sacred words of grave import. The science of chastisement forces all men to the observance of the duties of their respective orders. Duly administered, it forces people to virtuous acts. 2 When the four orders attend to their respective duties, when all wholesome barriers are maintained, when peace and happiness are made to flow from the science of chastisement, when the people become freed from all fear, and the three higher orders endeavour, according to their respective duties, to maintain harmony, know that men become truly happy at such times. Whether it is the king that makes the age, or, it is the age that makes the king, is a question about which thou shouldst not entertain any doubt. The truth is that the king makes the age. When, the king rules with a complete and strict reliance on the science of chastisement, the foremost of ages called Krita is then said to set in. 3 Righteousness sets in the Krita age. Nothing of unrighteousness exists then. The hearts of men belonging to all the four orders do not take any pleasure in unrighteousness. Without doubt, all men succeed in acquiring the objects
they desire and preserving those that have been acquired. All the Vedic rites become productive of merit. All the seasons become delightful and free from evil. The voice, pronunciation, and minds of all men become clear and cheerful. Diseases disappear and all men become long-lived. Wives do not become widows, and no person becomes a miser. The earth yields crops without being tilled, and herbs and plants grow in luxuriance. Barks, leaves, fruits, and roots, become vigorous and abundant. No unrighteousness is seen. Nothing but righteousness exists. Know these to be the characteristics, O Yudhishthira, of the Krita age. When the king relies upon only three of the four parts of the science of chastisement leaving out a fourth, the age called Treta sets in. A fourth part of unrighteousness follows in the train of such observance (of the great science) by three-fourths. The earth yields crops but waits for tillage. The herbs and plants grow (depending upon tillage). When the king observes the great science by only a half, leaving out the other half, then the age that sets in is called Dwapara. A moiety of unrighteousness follows in the train of such observance of the great science by half. The earth requires tillage and yields crops by half. When the king, abandoning the great science totally, oppresses his subjects by evil means of diverse kinds, the age that sets in is called Kali. During the age called Kali, unrighteousness becomes full and nothing of righteousness is seen. The hearts of men, of all the orders, fall away from their respective duties. Sudras live by adopting lives of mendicancy, and Brahmanas live by serving others. Men fail to acquire the objects they desire and preserve those already acquired. Intermixture of the four orders takes place. Vedic rites fail to produce fruits. All the seasons cease to be delightful and become fraught with evil. The voice, pronunciation, and minds of men lose vigour. Diseases appear, and men die prematurely. Wives become widows, and many cruel men are seen. The clouds do not pour seasonably, and crops fail. All kinds of moisture also fail, when the king does not, with proper attention to the great science, protect the subjects. The king is the creator of the Krita age, of the Treta, and of the Dwapara. The king is the cause of the fourth age (called Kali). If he causes the Krita age, he attains to everlasting heaven. If he causes the Treta age, he acquires heaven for a period that is limited. If he causes the Dwapara, he attains to blessedness in heaven according to the measure of his merits. By causing the Kali age, the king incurs a heavy load of sin. Stained by wickedness, he rots in hell for innumerable years, for sinking in the sins of his subjects, he incurs great sin and infamy himself. Keeping the great science in his view, the Kshatriya possessed of learning should strive to acquire those objects which he desires and protect those that have been already acquired. The science of chastisement, which establishes all men in the observance of their respective duties, which is the groundwork of all wholesome distinctions, and which truly upholds the world and sets it agoing, if properly administered, protects all men like the mother and the father protecting their children. Know, O bull among men, that the very lives of creatures depend upon it. The highest merit a king can acquire is acquaintance with the science of chastisement and administering it properly. Therefore, O thou of Kuru's race, protect thy subjects righteously,
with the aid of that great science. By protecting the subjects and adopting such a conduct, thou wilt surely attain to such blessedness in heaven as is difficult of acquisition."
151:1 Kalya means able or strong; anakrandam is 'without allies'; anantaram means, 'without friends'; and Vyasaktam is 'engaged at war with another.'
151:2 Tatparah is explained by Nilakantha as Karshanaparah.
152:1 I follow Nilakantha in reading this verse.
153:1 Chaitya trees are those that are regarded holy and unto which worship is offered by the people.
153:2 Nilakantha thinks that ucchvasa means breath or air. The small doors, he thinks, are directed to be kept for the admission of air.
153:3 The tirthas are eighteen in number, such as the council-room etc.
154:1 Pays off his debt, i.e., discharges his obligations to the subjects.
154:2 The ablative has here the sense of "towards."
154:3 The correct reading seems to be sreshtham and not srishtam. If the latter reading be preferred, it would mean "the age called Krita that comes in Time's course."
Next: Section LXX