The Mahabharata Home
"Dhritarashtra said, 'O best of kings, thou shouldst also reflect properly on war and peace. Each is of two kinds. The means are various, and the circumstances also, under which war or peace may be made, are various, O Yudhishthira. 1 O thou of Kuru's race, thou shouldst, with coolness, reflect on the two (viz., thy strength and weakness) with regard to thyself. Thou shouldst not suddenly march against a foe that is possessed of contented and healthy soldiers, and that is endued with intelligence. On the other hand, thou shouldst think carefully of the means of vanquishing him. 2 Thou shouldst march against a foe that is not provided with contented and healthy combatants. When everything is favourable, the foe may be beaten. After that, however, the victor should retire (and stay in a strong position). He should next cause the foe to be plunged into various calamities, and sow dissensions among his allies. He should afflict the foe and inspire terror in his heart, and attacking him weaken his forces. The king, conversant with the scriptures that marches against a foe, should think of the three kinds of strength, and, indeed, reflect on his own strength and of his foe. 3 Only that king, O Bharata, who is endued with alacrity, discipline, and strength of counsels, should march against a foe. When his position is otherwise, he should avoid defensive operations. 4 The king should provide himself with power of wealth, power of allies, power of foresters, power of paid soldiery, and power of the mechanical and trading classes, O puissant one. 5 Among all these, power of allies and power of wealth are superior to the rest. The power of classes and that of the standing army are equal. The power of spies is regarded by the king as equal in efficacy to either of the above, on many occasions, when the time comes for applying each. Calamity, O king, as it overtakes rulers should be regarded as of many forms. Listen, O thou of Kuru's race, as to what those diverge forms are. Verily of various kinds are calamities, O son of Pandu. Thou shouldst always count them, distinguishing their forms, O king, and strive to meet them by applying the well-known ways of conciliation and the rest (without concealing them through idleness). The king should, when
equipt with a good force, march (out against a foe), O scorcher of enemies. He should attend also to the considerations of time and place, while preparing to march, as also to the forces he has collected and his own merits (in other respects). That king who is attentive to his own growth and advancement should not march unless equipt with cheerful and healthy warriors. When strong, O son of Pandu, he may march in even an unfavourable season. The king should make a river having quivers for its stones, steeds and cars for its current, and standards for the trees that cover its banks, and which is miry with foot-soldiers and elephants. Even such a river should the king apply for the destruction of his foe. Agreeably to the science known to Usanas, arrays called Sakata, Padma, and Vijra, should be formed, O Bharata, for fighting the enemy. 1 Knowing everything about the enemy's strength through spies, and examining his own strength himself the king should commence war either within his own territories or within those of his foe. 2 The king should always gratify his army, and hurl all his strongest warriors (against the enemy). First ascertaining the state of his kingdom, he should apply conciliation or the other well-known means. By all means, O king, should the body be protected. One should do that which is highly beneficial for one both here and hereafter. The king, O monarch, by behaving duly according to these ways, attains to Heaven hereafter, after ruling his subjects righteously in this world. O foremost one of Kuru's race, it is even thus that thou shouldst always seek the good of thy subjects for attaining to both the worlds. 3 Thou hast been instructed in all duties by Bhishma, by Krishna, and by Vidura, I should also, O best of kings, from the affection I bear thee, give thee these instructions. O giver of profuse presents in sacrifices, thou shouldst do all this duly. Thou shalt, by conducting thyself in this way, become dear to thy subjects and attain to felicity in Heaven. That king who adores the deities in a hundred horse-sacrifices, and he who rules his subjects righteously, acquire merit that is equal.'"
14:1 War and peace are each of two kinds, i.e., war with a strong foe and that with a weak foe: peace with a strong foe and that with a weak foe. The Bengal texts wrongly read dividhopayam or vividhopayam.
14:2 I expand this verse a little, following the commentator.
14:3 Strength is of three kinds, as explained in the next verse.
14:4 Utsaha is readiness or alacrity, of the forces to attack the foe: prabhusakti is the complete mastery of the king over his forces, i.e., through discipline. By strength of counsels, in this connection, is meant well-formed plans of attack and defence.
14:5 Maulam is explained as the strength of money. In modern warfare also, money is called 'the sinews of war'. Atavivala or the force consisting of foresters, was, perhaps, the body of Irregulars that supported a regular army of combatants. Bhritavala implies the regular army, drawing pay from the state at all times. In India, standing armies have existed from remote times. Sreni-vala is, perhaps, the forces of artisans, mechanics, and engineers, who looked after the roads and the transport, as also of traders who supplied the army with provision.
Next: Section VIII