The Mahabharata Home
"Vaisampayana said, 'Having received the king's permission, king Dhritarashtra of great energy then proceeded to his own palace, followed by Gandhari. With weakened strength and slow motion, that king of great intelligence walked with difficulty, like the leader, worn out with age, of an elephantine herd. He was followed by Vidura of great learning, and his charioteer Sanjaya, as also that mighty bowman Kripa, the son of Saradwata. Entering his mansion, O king, he went through the morning rites and after gratifying many foremost of Brahmanas he took some food. Gandhari conversant with every duty, as also Kunti of great intelligence, worshipped with offers of various articles by their daughters-in-law, then took some
food, O Bharata. After Dhritarashtra had eaten, and Vidura also and others had done the same, the Pandavas, having finished their meals, approached and sat around the old king. Then the son of Amvika, O monarch, addressing Kunti's son who was seated near him and touching his back with his hand, said, 'Thou shouldst always, O delighter of the Kurus, act without heedlessness as regards everything connected with thy kingdom consisting of eight limbs, O foremost of rulers, and in which the claims of righteousness should ever be kept foremost. 1 Thou art possessed, O son of Kunti, of intelligence and learning. Listen to me, O king, as I tell thee what the means are by which, O son of Pandu, the kingdom is capable of being righteously protected. Thou shouldst always, O Yudhishthira, honour those persons that are old in learning. Thou shouldst listen to what they would say, and act accordingly without any scruple. Rising at dawn, O king, worship them with due rites, and when the time comes for action, thou shouldst consult them about thy (intended) acts. When, led by the desire of knowing what would be beneficial to thee in respect of thy measures, thou honourest them; they will, O son, always declare what is for thy good, O Bharata. Thou shouldst always keep thy senses, as thou keepest thy horses. They will then prove beneficial to thee, like wealth that is not wasted. Thou shouldst employ only such ministers as have passed the tests of honesty, (i.e., as are possessed of loyalty, disinterestedness, continence, and courage), as are hereditary officers of state, possessed of pure conduct, self-restrained, clever in the discharge of business, and endued with righteous conduct. Thou shouldst always collect information through spies in diverse disguises, whose faithfulness have been tasted, who are natives of thy kingdom, and who should not be known to thy foes. Thy citadel should be properly protected with strong walls and arched gates. On every side the walls, with watch-towers on them standing close to one another, should be such as to admit of six persons walking side by side on their top. 2 The gates should all be large and sufficiently strong. Kept in proper places those gates should be carefully guarded. Let thy purposes be accomplished through men whose families and conduct are well known. Thou shouldst always protect thy person also with care, in matters connected with thy food, O Bharata, as also in the hours of sport and eating and in matters connected with the garlands thou wearest and the beds thou liest upon. The ladies of thy household should be properly protected, looked over by aged and trusted servitors, of good behaviour, well-born, and possessed of learning, O Yudhishthira. Thou shouldst make ministers of Brahmanas possessed of learning, endued with humility, well-born, conversant with religion and wealth, and adorned with simplicity of behaviour. Thou shouldst hold consultations with them. Thou shouldst not, however, admit many persons into thy consultations. On particular occasions thou mayst consult with the whole of thy council or with a portion of it. Entering a chamber or spot that is well protected (from intruders) thou shouldst hold thy consultation. Thou mayst hold thy consultation
in a forest that is divested of grass. Thou shouldst never consult at night time. 1 Apes and birds and other animals that can imitate human beings should all be excluded from the council chamber, as also idiots and lame and palsied individuals. I think that the evils that flow from the divulgence of the counsels of kings are such that they cannot be remedied. Thou shouldst repeatedly refer, in the midst of thy counsellors, to the evils that arise from the divulgence of counsels, O chastiser of foes, and to the merits that flow from counsels properly kept. Thou shouldst, O Yudhishthira, act in such a manner as to ascertain the merits and faults of the inhabitants of thy city and the provinces. Let thy laws, O king, be always administered by trusted judges placed in charge thereof, who should also be contented and of good behaviour. Their acts should also be ascertained by thee through spies. Let thy judicial officers, O Yudhishthira, inflict punishments, according to the law, on offenders after careful ascertainment of the gravity of the offences. They that are disposed to take bribes, they that are the violators of the chastity of other people's wives, they that inflict heavy punishments, they that are utterers of false speeches, they that are revilers, they that are stained by cupidity, they that are murderers, they that are doers of rash deeds, they that are disturbers of assemblies and the sports of others, and they that bring about a confusion of castes, should, agreeably to considerations of time and place, be punished with either fines or death. 2 In the morning thou shouldst see those that are employed in making thy disbursements. After that thou shouldst look to thy toilet and then to thy food. Thou shouldst next supervise thy forces, gladdening them on every occasion. Thy evenings should be set apart for envoys and spies. The latter end of the night should be devoted by thee to settle what acts should be done by thee in the day. Mid-nights and mid-days should be devoted to thy amusements and sports. At all times, however thou shouldst think of the means for accomplishing thy purposes. At the proper time, adorning thy person, thou shouldst sit prepared to make gifts in profusion. The turns for different acts, O son, ceaselessly revolve like wheels. Thou shouldst always exert thyself to fill thy treasuries of various kinds by lawful means. Thou shouldst avoid all unlawful means towards that end. Ascertaining through thy spies who thy foes are that are bent on finding out thy laches, thou shouldst, through trusted agents, cause them to be destroyed from a distance. Examining their conduct, thou shouldst O perpetuator of Kuru's race, appoint thy servants. Thou shouldst cause all thy acts to be accomplished through thy servitors: whether they are appointed for those acts or not. The commandant of thy forces should be of firm conduct, courageous, capable of bearing hardships, loyal, and devoted to thy good. Artisans and mechanics, O son of Pandu, dwelling in thy provinces, should always do thy acts like kine
and asses. 1 Thou shouldst always, O Yudhishthira, be careful to ascertain thy own laches as also those of thy foes. The laches also of thy own men as also of the men of thy foes should equally be ascertained. Those men of thy kingdom, that are well skilled in their respective vocations, and are devoted to thy good, should be favoured by thee with adequate means of support. A wise king, O ruler of men, should always see that the accomplishments of his accomplished subjects might be kept up. They would then be firmly devoted to thee, seeing that they did not fall away from their skill.'"
10:1 The eight limbs of a kingdom are the law, the judge, the assessors, the scribe, the astrologer, gold, fire, and water.
10:2 Atta is explained by Nilakantha as the space kept for the soldiers to tread upon.
11:1 Grass may conceal the spies of foes. The darkness of night also may do the same.
11:2 Adanaruchi is a very civil way of indicating corrupt officials and thieves. Inflictors of severe punishments were looked upon as tyrants deserving of being put down. Heavy fines were at one time interdicted in England. Sahasapriya is a doer of rash deeds, such as culpable homicide not amounting to murder, to adopt the terminology of the Indian Penal Code.
12:1 i.e., content to work on receiving their food only. Their wages should not be higher that' what is needed to feed them.
Next: Section VI