The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'O grandsire, thou hast now finished thy discourse upon the duties of kings. From what thou hast said it seems that Chastisement occupies a high position and is the lord of everything for everything depends upon Chastisement. It seems, O puissant one, that Chastisement, which is possessed of great energy and which is present everywhere, is the foremost of all beings among either gods and Rishis and high-souled Pitris and Yakshas and Rakshasas and Pisachas and Sadhyas, or living beings in this world including beasts and birds. Thou hast said that the entire universe, mobile and immobile, including gods, Asuras, and men, may be seen to depend upon Chastisement. I now desire, O bull of Bharata's race, to know truly who Chastisement is. Of what kind is he? What is his form? What is his disposition? Of what is he made? Whence is his origin? What are his features? What is his splendour? How does he remain wakeful among living creatures so heedfully? Who is he that remains eternally wakeful, protecting this universe? Who is he that is known to be the foremost of all things? Who, indeed, is that high personage called Chastisement? What is that upon which Chastisement depends? And what is his course?'
"Bhishma said, 'Listen, O descendent of Kuru, who Chastisement is and why he is called also Vyavahara! That upon whom all things depend is called Chastisement. Chastisement is that by which righteousness is kept up. He is sometimes called Vyavahara. In order that the righteousness of a king that is heedfully awake may not suffer extinction (Chastisement has come to be called by that name). It is for this reason that the name Vyavahara becomes applicable to it. 2 In olden days Manu, O king, declared first of all this truth, viz.,--'He who protects all creatures, the loved and the odious equally, by impartially wielding the lord of Chastisement, is said to be the embodiment of righteousness.'--These words that I have said were, O king first, uttered in days of old by Manu. They represent the high words of Brahman. And because these words were spoken first, therefore, they are known as the first words. And since it is by Chastisement that the misappropriation of other people's possessions is stopped, therefore Chastisement has come to be called by the name of Vyavahara. The aggregate of three always rests on well applied Chastisement. Chastisement is a great god. In form he looks
like a blazing fire. His complexion is dark like that of the petals of the blue lotus. He is equipt with four teeth, has four arms and eight legs and many eyes. His cars are pointed like shafts and his hair stands upright. He has matted locks and two tongues. His face has the hue of copper, and he is clad in a lion's skin. 1 That irresistible deity assumes such a fierce shape. Assuming again the form of the sword, the bow, the mace, the dart, the trident, the mallet, the arrow, the thick and short club, the battle-axe, the discus, the noose, the heavy bludgeon, the rapier, the lance, and in fact of every kind of weapon that exists on earth. Chastisement moves in the world. Indeed, Chastisement moves on earth, piercing and cutting and afflicting and lopping off and dividing and striking and slaying and rushing against its victims. These, O Yudhishthira, are some of the names which Chastisement bears, viz., Sword, Sabre, Righteousness, Fury, the Irresistible, the Parent of prosperity, Victory, Punisher, Checker, the Eternal, the Scriptures, Brahmana, Mantra, Avenger, the Foremost of first Legislators, Judge, the Undecaying, God, the individual whose course is irresistible, the Ever-agoing, the First. born, the individual without affections, the Soul of Rudra, the eldest Manu and the great Benefactor Chastisement is the holy Vishnu. He is the puissant Narayana. And because he always assumes a terrible form, therefore he is called Mahapurusha. His wife Morality is also known by the names of Brahmana's Daughter, Lakshmi, Vriti, Saraswati, and Mother of the universe. Chastisement thus has many forms. Blessings and curse, pleasure and pain, righteousness and unrighteousness, strength and weakness, fortune and misfortune, merit and demerit, virtue and vice, desire and aversion, season and month, night and day, and hour, heedfulness and heedlessness, joy and anger, peace and self-restraint, destiny and exertion, salvation and condemnation, fear and fearlessness, injury and abstention from injury, penances and sacrifice and rigid abstinence, poison and healthy food, the beginning, the middle, and the end, the result of all murderous acts, insolence, insanity, arrogance, pride, patience, policy, impolicy, powerlessness and power, respect, disrespect, decay and stability, humility, charity, fitness of time and unfitness of time, falsehood, wisdom, truth, belief, disbelief, impotence, trade, profit, loss, success, defeat, fierceness, mildness, death, acquisition and non-acquisition, agreement and disagreement, that which should be done and that which should not be done, strength and weakness, malice and goodwill, righteousness and unrighteousness, shame and shamelessness, modesty, prosperity and adversity, energy, acts, learning, eloquence, keenness of Understanding,--all these, O Yudhishthira, are forms of Chastisement in this world. Hence, Chastisement is exceedingly multiform. If Chastisement had not existed, all creatures would have ground one another. Through fear of Chastisement. O Yudhisthira, living creatures do not slay one another. The subjects, O king, always protected by Chastisement, enhance the might of
their ruler. It is for this that Chastisement is regarded as the foremost refuge of all. Chastisement, O king, quickly sets the world on the path of righteousness. Dependent upon truth, righteousness exists in the Brahmanas. Endued with righteousness, foremost of Brahmanas became attached to the Vedas. From the Vedas the sacrifices flow. Sacrifices gratify the deities. The deities, being gratified, commend the denizens of the earth to Indra. For benefiting the denizens of the earth, Indra gives them food (in the form of rain without which crops and vegetation would fail). The life of all creatures depends upon food. From food creatures derive their support and growth. Chastisement (in the form of the Kshatriya ruler) remains wakeful amongst them. For serving this object, Chastisement assumes the form of a Kshatriya among men. Protecting men, he remains awake, always heedful and never decaying. Chastisement has again these other eight names, viz., God, Man, Life, Power, Heart, the Lord of all creatures, the Soul of all things, and the Living creature. God gave both affluence and the rod of chastisement to the king who is possessed of strength (in the form of military forces) and who is a combination of five ingredients. 1 Nobility of blood, ministers of great wealth, knowledge, the different kinds of forces (such as strength of body, energy of mind, etc.), with the eight objects mentioned below, and the other force (viz., that which depends upon a well-filled treasury), should be sought for the king, O Yudhishthira. Those eight objects are elephants, horses, cars, foot soldiers, boats, impressed labourers (for following the camp and doing other work), increase of population, and cattle (such as sheep, etc.). Of the army equipped in mail and with other accoutrements, car-warriors, elephant-warriors, cavalry, Infantry, officers, and surgeons constitute the limbs. Beggars, principal judges, astrologers, performers of propitiatory and Atharvan rites, treasury, allies, grain, and all other requisites, constitute the body, composed of seven attributes and eight limbs, of a kingdom. Chastisement is another powerful limb of a kingdom. Chastisement (in the form of an army) is the author of a kingdom. God himself has, with great care, sent Chastisement for the use of the Kshatriya. This eternal universe is impartial Chastisement's self. There is nothing more worthy of respect by kings than Chastisement by which the ways of Righteousness are pointed out. Brahman himself, for the protection of the world and for establishing the duties of different individuals, sent down (or created) Chastisement. There is another kind of Vyavahara arising out of the dispute of litigants which also has sprung from Brahman. Principally characterised by a belief in either of the two parties, that Vyavahara is seen to be productive of good. There is another kind of Vyavahara which has the Veda for its soul. It is also said to have the Veda for its cause. There is, O tiger, among kings, a (third) kind of Vyavahara which is connected with family customs but which is consistent with the scriptures. 2 That Vyavahara which has, as above, been said to be characterised by a belief in either of two litigant
parties, should be known by us as inhering in the king. It should be also known by the name of Chastisement, as also by the name of Evidence. Although Chastisement is seen to be regulated by Evidence, yet it has been said to have its soul in Vyavahara. That which has been called Vyavahara is really based upon Vedic precepts. That Vyavahara which has been indicated to have the Vedas for its soul is Morality or duty. It is also productive of good unto persons believing in duty and morality, men of cleansed souls have spoken of that Vyavahara as they have done of ordinary law. 1 The third kind of Vyavahara is also a preceptor of men, and it has also its roots in the Veda, O Yudhishthira! It upholds the three worlds. It has Truth for its soul and it is productive of prosperity. That which is Chastisement has been seen by us to be eternal Vyavahara. That which has been said to be Vyavahara is verily the Veda. That which is the Veda is morality, duty. That which is morality and duty is the path of Righteousness. This last it was which in the beginning had been Grandsire Brahman, that Lord of all creatures. Brahman is the Creator of the entire universe with the gods and Asura and Rakshasas and human beings and snakes, and of every other thing. Hence that Vyavahara which is characterised by a belief in either of two litigant parties has also flowed from him. For this reason He has laid down the following in respect of Vyavahara: Neither mother, nor father, nor brother, nor wife, nor priest, is unpunishable with that king who rules agreeably to his duty.
261:2 Vyavahara is vi and avahara, hence that through which all kinds of misappropriation are stopped. It is a name applied to Law and administration of justice.
262:1 The commentator, in a long note, gives very fanciful explanations touching every one of these peculiarities of form. He understands Mrigaraja to mean the black antelope. I cannot reject the obvious meaning of the word. The object of the poet is simply to create a form that is frightful.
263:1 These are Righteousness, Law, Chastisement, God, and Living Creature.
263:2 The nearest approach in English to what is meant here by Vyavahara is Law. Three kinds of Vyavahara or Law are here spoken of. The first is the ordinary Law, according to p. 264 which the disputes of litigants are decided, it includes booth civil and criminal law, it is quaintly described here as Vattripratyayalakskana, i.e., 'characterised by a belief in either of two litigant parties.' When a suit, civil or criminal, is instituted, the king or those that act in the king's name must call for Evidence and decide the matter by believing either of the two parties. Then follows restoration or punishment. In either case, it is a form of Chastisement The second kind of Vyavahara or Law is the ecclesiastical law of the Vedas. These are the precepts or injunctions laid down in those sacred books for regulating every part of human duty. The third kind of Vyavahara or Law is the particular customs of families or races. It is also called kulachara. Where Kulachara is not inconsistent or in open variance with the established civil or criminal Law, or is not opposed to the spirit of the ecclesiastical law as laid down in the Vedas, it is upheld. (Even the British courts of law uphold Kulachara, interpreting it very strictly). What Bhishma says here is that even Kulachara should not be regarded as inconsistent with the scriptures (Vedas and Smritis).
264:1 In the verse 52 Bhishma says that the first kind of Vyavahara or Law, i.e., the ordinary civil and criminal law of a realm, must be regarded as resting on the king. But as this kind of law has the Veda for its soul and has originally flowed from Brahman, a king incurs no sin by administering it and by inflicting chastisement in its administration. The purport in brief, of verse 54 is that Manu and others, in speaking of Morality and duty have said that it is as binding as the ordinary law that is administered by kings.
Next: Section CXXII