The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'Having once more assumed his proper form, the dog became very cheerless. The Rishi, reproving him, drove the sinful creature from his
hermitage. An intelligent king should, guided by this precedent, appoint servants, each fit for the office assigned to him, and exercise proper supervision over them, having first ascertained their qualifications in respect of truthfulness and purity, sincerity, general disposition, knowledge of the scripture, conduct, birth, self-restraint, compassion, strength, energy, dignity, and forgiveness. A king should never take a minister without first having examined him. If a king gathers round him persons of low birth, he can never be happy. A person of high birth, even if persecuted without any fault by his royal master, never sets his heart, in consequence of the respectability of his blood, upon injuring his master. An individual, however, that is mean and of low birth, having obtained even great affluence from his connection with some honest man, becomes an enemy of the latter if only he is reproached in words. 1 A minister should be possessed of high birth and strength; he should be forgiving and self-restrained, and have all his sense under control; he should be free from the vice of rapacity, contented with his just acquisitions, delighted with the prosperity of his master and friends, conversant with the requirements of place and time, ever employed in attaching men to himself or his master by doing good offices to them, always attentive to his duties, desiring the good of his master, always heedful, faithful in the discharge of his own duties., a thorough master of the art of war and peace, conversant with the king's requirements in respect of the great aggregate of three, beloved by both the citizens and the inhabitants of the provinces, acquainted with all kinds of battle-array for piercing and breaking the enemy's ranks, competent to inspire the forces of his master with cheerfulness and joy, capable of reading signs and gestures, acquainted with all requirements in respect of march, skilled in the art of training elephants, free from pride, confident of his own powers, clever in the transaction of business, always doing what is right, of righteous conduct, surrounded by righteous friends, of sweet speech, possessed of agreeable features, capable of leading men, well-versed in policy, possessed of accomplishments, energetic in action, active, possessed of ingenuity, of a sweet temper, modest in address, patient, brave, rich, and capable of adapting his measures to the requirement of place and time. That king who succeeds in obtaining such a minister can never be humiliated or overpowered by any one. Indeed, his kingdom gradually spreads over the earth like the light of the moon. A king, again, who is conversant with the scriptures, who regards righteousness to be superior to everything, who is always engaged in protecting his subjects, and who is possessed of the following virtues, obtains the love of all. He should be patient, forgiving, pure in conduct, severe when the occasion requires it acquainted with the efficacy of exertion, respectful in his behaviour towards all his seniors, possessed of a knowledge of the scriptures, ready to listen to the instructions and counsels of those that are competent to instruct and give counsel, capable of judging correctly amid different or opposite courses of
action suggested to him, intelligent, of a retentive memory, ready to do what is just, self-restrained, always sweet-speeched, forgiving even unto enemies, practising charity personally, possessed of faith, of agreeable features, ready to extend the hand of succour to persons plunged in distress, possessed of ministers that always seek his good, free from the fault of egoism, never without a wife, 1 and undisposed to do anything with haste. He should always reward his ministers when they achieve anything signal. He should love those that are devoted to him. Avoiding idleness, he should always attract men to himself by doing good to them. His face should always be cheerful. He should always be attentive to the wants of his servants and never give way to wrath. He should, besides, be magnanimous. Without lying aside the lord of chastisement, he should wield it with propriety. He should make all men about him act righteously. Having spies for his eyes, he should always supervise the concerns of his subjects, and should be conversant in all matters connected with virtue and wealth. A king that is possessed of these hundred qualifications earns the love of all. Every ruler should strive to be such. The king should also, O monarch, search for good warriors (to enlist in his army) that should all be possessed of the necessary qualifications, for aiding him in protecting his kingdom. A king that desires his own advancement should never disregard his army. That king whose soldiers are brave in battle, grateful, and versed in the scriptures, whose army consists of foot-soldiers conversant with the treatises on religion and duty, whose elephant-warriors are fearless, whose car-warriors are skilled in their own mode of fighting and well-versed in shooting arrows and in wielding other weapons, succeeds in subjugating the whole earth. That king who is always employed in attaching all men to himself, who is ready for exertion, who is rich in friends and allies, becomes the foremost of rulers. A king who has succeeded in attaching all men unto himself, may, O Bharata, with the aid of even a thousand horsemen of courage, succeed in conquering the whole earth.'"
254:1 The antithesis consists, as pointed out by Nilakantha, is this, viz., the man of high birth, even if ruined undeservedly, would not injure his master. The man however, that is of low birth, would become the foe of oven a kind master if only a few words of censure be addressed to him.
255:1 Nilakantha explains that na nirddandvah means na nishparigrahah.
Next: Section CXIX