The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'That person, O king, who would protect the good and punish the wicked, should be appointed as his priest by the king. In this connection is cited the old story about the discourse between Pururavas, the son of Aila and Matariswan.'
"Pururavas said, 'Whence has the Brahmana sprung and whence the three other orders? For what reason also has the Brahmana become the foremost? It behoveth thee to tell me all this.'
"Matariswan answered, 'The Brahmana, O best of kings, has sprung from the mouth of Brahman. The Kshatriya has sprung from his two arms, and the Vaisya from his two thighs. For waiting upon these three orders, O ruler of men, a fourth order, viz., the Sudra, sprung into life, being created from the feet (of Brahman). Originally created thus, the Brahmana takes birth on earth as the lord of all creatures, his duty being the keep of the Vedas and the other scriptures. 1 Then, for ruling the earth and wielding the rod of chastisement and protecting all creatures, the second order, viz., the Kshatriya was created. The Vaisya was created for supporting the two other orders and himself by cultivation and trade, and finally, it was ordained by Brahman that the Sudra should serve the three orders as a menial.'
"Pururavas said, 'Tell me truly, O god of Winds, to whom, this earth righteously belong. Does it belong to the Brahmana or to the Kshatriya?'
"The god of Winds said, 'Everything that exists in the universe belongs to the Brahmana in consequence of his birth and precedence. Persons conversant with morality say this. What the Brahmana eats is his own. The place he inhabits is his own. What he gives away is his own. He deserves the veneration of all the (other) orders. He is the first-born and the foremost. As a woman, in the absence of her husband, accepts his younger brother for him, even so the earth, in consequence of the refusal of the Brahmana, has accepted his next-born, viz., the Kshatriya, for her lord. This is the first rule. In times, however, of distress, there is an exception of this. If thou seekest to
discharge the duties of the order and wishest to obtain the highest place in heaven, then give unto the Brahmana all the land thou mayst succeed in conquering, unto him that is possessed of learning and virtuous conduct, that is conversant with duties and observant of penances, that is satisfied with the duties of his order and not covetous of wealth. The well-born Brahmana, possessed of wisdom and humility, guides the king in every matter by his own great intelligence. By means of sound counsels he causes the king to earn prosperity. The Brahmana points out to the king the duties the latter is to observe. As long as a wise king, observant of the duties of his order, and bereft of pride, is desirous of listening to the instructions of the Brahmana, so long is he honoured and so long does he enjoy fame. The priest of the king, therefore, has a share in the merit that the king acquires. When the king behaves himself thus, all his subjects, relying upon him, become virtuous in their behaviour, attentive to their duties, and freed from every fear. The king obtains a fourth part of those righteous acts which his subjects, properly protected by him, perform in his kingdom. The gods, men, Pitris, Gandharvas, Uragas, and Rakshasas, all depend upon sacrifices for their support. In a country destitute of a king, there can be no sacrifice. The gods and the Pitris subsist on the offerings made in sacrifices. Sacrifice, however, depends upon the king. In the season of summer, men desire comfort from the shade of trees, cool water, and cool breezes. In the season of winter they derive comfort from fire, warm clothes, and the sun. The heart of man may find pleasure in sound, touch, taste, vision, and scent. The man, however, who is inspired with fear, finds no pleasure in all these things. That person who dispels the fears of men obtains great merit. There is no gift so valuable in the three worlds as the gift of life. The king is Indra. The king is Yama. The king is Dharma. The king assumes different forms. The king sustains and supports everything.'"
159:1 Dharmakosha literally means the 'repository of all duties.'
Next: Section LXXIII