The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'In this connection, viz., the method by which a king should fill his treasury, persons acquainted with the scriptures of olden days cite the following verses sung by Brahman himself. The wealth of persons who are given to the performance of sacrifices, as also the wealth dedicated to the deities, should never be taken. A Kshatriya should take the wealth of such persons as never perform religious rites and sacrifices as are on that account regarded to be equal to robbers. All the creatures that inhabit the earth and all the enjoyments that appertain to sovereignty, O Bharata, belong to the Kshatriyas. All the wealth of the earth belongs to the Kshatriya, and not to any person else. That wealth the Kshatriya should use for keeping up his army and for the performance of sacrifice. Tearing up such creepers and plants as are not of any use, men burn them for cooking such vegetables as serve for food. 1 Men conversant with duty have said that his wealth is useless who does not, with libations of clarified butter, feed the gods, the Pitris, and men. A virtuous ruler, O king, should take away such wealth. By that wealth a large number of good people can be gratified. He should not, however, hoard that wealth in his treasury. He who makes himself an instrument of acquisition and taking away wealth from the wicked gives them to those that are good is said to be conversant with the whole science of morality. A king should extend his conquests in the next world according to the measure of his power, and as gradually as vegetable products are seen to grow. As some ants are seen to grow from no adequate cause, even so sacrifice spring from no adequate
cause. 1 As flies and gnats and ants are driven off from the bodies of kine and other domestic cattle (at the time of milking them), even so should persons who are averse to the performance of sacrifices should be similarly driven off from the kingdom. This is consistent with morality. As the dust that lies on the earth, if pounded between two stones, becomes finer and finer, even so questions of morality, the more they are reflected upon and discussed, become finer and finer.'"
290:1 The king should similarly, by punishing the wicked, cherish the good.
291:1 The sense seems to be that sacrifice proceeds more from an internal desire than from a large sum of money lying in the treasury. If the desire exists, money comes gradually for accomplishing it. The force of the simile consists in the fact that ants (probably white ants) are seen to gather and multiply from no ostensible cause.
Next: Section CXXXVII