The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'The king, with an eye to both religious merit and profit whose considerations are often very intricate, should, without delay, appoint a priest possessed of learning and intimate acquaintance with the Vedas and the (other) scriptures. Those kings that have priests possessed of virtuous souls and conversant with policy, and that are themselves possessed of such attributes, enjoy prosperity in every direction. Both the priest and the king should have such qualities as are worthy of regard and should be observant of vows and penances. They would then succeed in supporting and aggrandising the subjects and the deities, the Pitris and the children. 1 It is laid down
that they should be possessed of similar hearts and should be each other's friends. In consequence of such friendship between Brahmana and Kshatriya, the subjects become happy. If they do not regard each other, destruction would overtake the people. The Brahmana and the Kshatriya are said to be the progenitors of all men. In this connection is cited the old story about the discourse between Aila's son and Kasyapa. Listen to it, O Yudhishthira.'
"Aila said, 'When the Brahmana forsakes the Kshatriya or the Kshatriya forsakes the Brahmana, who amongst them should be regarded superior and upon whom do the other orders rely and maintain themselves?'
"Kasyapa said, 'Ruin overtakes the kingdom of the Kshatriya when the Brahmana and Kshatriya contend with each other. Robbers infest that kingdom in which confusion prevails, and all good men regard the ruler to be a Mlechcha. Their oxen do not thrive, nor their children. Their pots (of milk) are not churned, and no sacrifices are performed there. The children do not study the Vedas in kingdoms where Brahmanas abandon Kshatriyas. In their houses wealth does not increase. Their children do not become good and do not study the scriptures and perform sacrifices. Those Kshatriyas that abandon Brahmanas become impure in blood and assume the nature of robbers. The Brahmana and the Kshatriya are connected with each other naturally, and each protects the other. The Kshatriya is the cause of the Brahmana's growth and the Brahmana is the cause of the Kshatriya's growth. When each helps the other, both attain to great prosperity. If their friendship, existing from days of old, breaks, a confusion sets over everything. No person desirous of crossing the ocean of life succeeds in his task even as a small boat floating on the bosom of the sea. The four orders of men become confounded and destruction overtakes all. If the Brahmana. who is like a tree is protected, gold and honey are showered. If, on the other hand, he is not protected, it then tears and sins are showered, When Brahmanas fall away from the Vedas and (in the absence of a Kshatriya ruler) seek protection from the scriptures, then Indra does not pour rain seasonably and diverse kinds of calamities ceaselessly afflict the kingdom. When a sinful wretch having slain a woman or a Brahmana does not incur obloquy in assemblies of fellowmen and has not to stand in fear of the king, then danger threatens the Kshatriya ruler. In consequence of the sins perpetrated by sinful men, the god Rudra appears in the kingdom. Indeed, the sinful by their sins bring upon them that god of vengeance. He then destroys all, the honest and the wicked alike (without making any distinction).'
"Aila said, 'Whence does Rudra spring? What also is his form? Creatures are seen to be destroyed by creatures. Tell me all this, O Kasyapa! Whence does the god Rudra spring?'
"Kasyapa said, 'Rudra exists in the hearts of men. He destroys the bodies themselves in which he dwells as also the bodies of others. Rudra has been said to be like atmospheric visitations and his form is like that of the wind-gods.'
"Aila said, 'The Wind does not, by blowing, visibly destroy men on all occasions, nor does the deity of the clouds do so by pouring rain. On the
other hand, it is seen among men that they lose their senses and are slain through lust and malice.'
"Kasyapa said, 'Fire, blazing forth in one house, burneth a whole quarter or an entire village. Similarly, this deity stupefies the senses of some one and then that stupefaction touches all, the honest and the wicked alike, without any distinction.'
"Aila said, 'If chastisement touches all viz., the honest and the wicked alike, in consequence of the sins perpetrated by the sinful, why should men, in that case, do acts that are good? Indeed, why should they not perform wicked acts?'
"Kasyapa said, 'By avoiding all connection with the sinful, one becomes pure and stainless. In consequence, however, of their being mixed with the sinful, the sinless are overtaken by chastisement. Wood that is wet, if mixed with wood that is dry, is consumed by fire in consequence of such co-existence. The sinless, therefore, should never mingle with the sinful.'
"Aila said, 'The earth holds the honest and the wicked. The sun warms the honest and the wicked. The wind blows equally for them. Water cleanses them equally.'
"Kasyapa said, 'Such, indeed, is the course of this world, O prince! It is not so, however, hereafter. In the other world, there is great difference of condition between the person that acts righteously and him that acts sinfully. The regions that meritorious men acquire are full of honey and possessed of the splendour of gold or of a fire upon which clarified butter has been poured. Those regions also are likened to the navel of ambrosia. The meritorious person enjoys great felicity there. Death, decrepitude, and sorrow, are not there. The region for the sinful is hell. Darkness and ceaseless pain are there, and it is full of sorrow. Sinking in infamy, the man of sinful deeds wrung with remorse there for many years. In consequence of a disunion between Brahmanas and Kshatriyas, unbearable griefs afflict the people. Knowing this, a king should appoint a (Brahmana) priest possessed of experience and wide knowledge. A king should first install the priest in his office, and then cause his own coronation. This has been laid down in the ordinance. The ordinances declare that the Brahmana is the foremost of all creatures. Men acquainted with the Vedas say that the Brahmana was created first. In consequence of the precedence of his birth, all things that are good in this world are vested in him. The rightful owner of all the best things that have flowed from the Creator, the Brahmana is also, for such precedence, worthy of the respect and the worship of all creatures. A king, however powerful, should, according to the dictates of the scriptures, bestow upon the Brahmana whatever is best and distinguished above others. The Brahmana contributes to the aggrandisement of the Kshatriya, and the Kshatriya to the aggrandisement of the Brahmana. Brahmanas should, therefore, be especially and always worshipped by kings.'"
160:1 Children is a euphemism for subjects, suggested by the word pitris to which it is antithetical.
Next: Section LXXIV