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Monday, April 03, 2006

 

The Purpose and Function of Government According to Mahabharata

Purpose and Function of Government According to Mahabharata By Stephen Knapp By studying this information we will understand how our present governments areinefficient in various methods of operation that they employ, or in the idealistic foundation uponwhich they build the country. We should also be able to perceive how to improve them.Furthermore, these Vedic principles that are found in the ancient text of the Mahabharata areapplicable for any leaders, whether they be local, state or national. First, before any ruler should take any position of authority, there should be a properconstitution which the king or leader must follow and upon which the whole country must baseitself. This constitution must outline the real purpose of government and the ruler of the country,which is to protect Dharma and all those Truth seekers who follow the principles of Dharma.Dharma means the path that helps bring and maintain harmony, balance and peace, bothindividually and socially, and the Truth which can free us from illusion and bring us to thetopmost reality, the spiritual strata. PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT The government's purpose should first be outlined in order to establish the direction itwill take for the citizens of the country. This is the reason for having a constitution. It isexplained that the main objective of the constitution of the country must be for the protection ofDharma and the propagation of righteousness among the subjects according to the law ofDharma. The citizens must know how to live in an atmosphere of goodness or with a sattvikmindset [that which is in the mode of goodness and is beneficial for everyone]. A constitution must be written only after a thorough review of the holy Vedic texts whichcontain a universal standard for spiritual development and an uplifting society. Only such aconstitution in which Dharma is protected can there be the manifestation of a progressivecountry. By progressive we mean in consciousness where humanity is reaching their highestpotential in growth, maturity, morals and spiritual knowledge and awareness. In the Vedicstandards this is called Ramarajya, or the kingdom of Lord Rama's rule of righteousness. This isconsidered a time when the ruler, namely Lord Rama, worked for everyone's ultimate benefit,and everyone cooperated together in progressive harmony. When the constitution and the countryare based on righteousness, the probability of it being affected by calamities, crime anddiscontent are low. But a country devoid of righteousness (Dharma) is lifeless, like a corpse,meaning that the deterioration of such a country is practically guaranteed. Without thepreservation of Dharma through educational programs, then the positive future of the state isdestroyed. It may go through the motions of existence, but its real purpose, values, and heart areempty. The citizens themselves will become like hollow shells compared to what they could be ifthey could reach their true potential in a spiritually advanced society. This is the importance offollowing the path of Dharma and that the rulers observe and protect it. HOW THERE BECAME A NEED FOR A KING In ancient times, king Yudhishthira asked how there ever came to be a need to have aking. He asked: "How did the word 'RAJAN' come into use when a king is addressed? A king islike any other human being on the earth. His body and limbs are like those of anyone else. Hisunderstanding and his senses are similar to those of many others. He has the same joys and griefs,the same number of years to live on the earth, like anybody else. How then did it happen that heis considered different? This world is made up of men who are far superior to him in intelligence,bravery and all accomplishments. And yet, this one man rules the others: though they are superiorto him. Why should it be the rule that one man is worshipped by all the others?" Bhishma replied: "I will tell you. In the beginning there was no king. There was nopunishment. These two were not needed then. Men were all righteous and each man protected theother. As time passed on, however, the hearts of men began to be invaded by errors. Once errorenters the heart, the mind gets clouded and the sense of right and wrong begins to wane. It waseven so with the men of distant times. "Covetousness was the first guest in their hearts. When covetous-ness came into life, menbegan to want things which did not belong to them. The next passion to be born was lust. Lustcan never exist alone. It has to have a companion and so wrath came into existence. As soon asthese terrible passions found places in the hearts of men, righteousness had to beat a hasty retreat.Along with this confusion happened another great calamity. The Vedas disappeared.Righteousness was completely lost to the world. The gods were then overcome with fear. Theywent to Brahma Pitamaha [great father] and said: 'Look on the world you have created, my lord!It is threatened with destruction. Please save it and save us!' "Brahma assured them that he would find a way. He then composed a treatise of ahundred thousand lessons. He treated [on the subjects] of Dharma [righteousness], Artha[economic development], Kama [sensual enjoyment] and Moksha [spiritual liberation]. He dealtwith them in great detail. He formulated the rules for chastisement. The main features of thistreatise on chastisement dealt with punishment of two kinds: open and secret punishment. Ittreated of conservation of wealth by traders and merchants, growth of penance of the ascetics,destruction of thieves and wicked men. There was a branch dealing with all the religiousobservances, and another dealt with the extensive subject of legislation and the behavior that isexpected of counselors, of spies, of secret agents, envoys, and conciliation. All the many waysand means by which men may be prevented from deviating from the path of righteousness andhonesty were described in it. "After composing it, Brahma said: 'For the good of the world and for the establishmentand propagation of Dharma, Artha and Kama I have composed this. Assisted by chastisement thiswill protect the world. Men are mostly led by chastisement and so this treatise will be calledDandaneeti.' "It was studied and abridged by several of the gods, the first of them being Shankara.Finally, when it was to be given to the world, Sukra of great wisdom thought of the brevity of thelife of men on earth and made the work much shorter. It contained just a thousand lessons. Thegods then appeared before Vishnu and said: 'Lord! Indicate to us a man on the world whodeserves to be superior to the rest'. "Narayana said: 'I will enter the body of one man and he, as well as all those who areborn in his line, will be lords of the world'. "There was a king called Vena. From his right arm was born a man who was like asecond Indra [King of heaven] in his looks and godliness. He was born with a coat of mail and allthe weapons. He was proficient in all the arts and the Vedas. The rishis made him the ruler of theworld. Sukra was his priest. There was current among men the feeling that he was the eighth sonof Vishnu himself. "His name was Prithu. He made the surface of the earth level. Vishnu and the deitiesassembled to crown Prithu king. The earth took a form and came to him with tributes of gemsand jewels. Prithu milked the earth in the form of a cow and made her yield seven kinds of cropsfor the food of all living creatures. He made all men regard Dharma as the foremost of all things. "Because he pleased all the people he was called 'RAJAN'. Because he healed thewounds of afflicted people he was called 'KSHAT-RIYA'. And again, because the earth becamecelebrated for the prevalence of virtue during his reign, she was called 'PRITHIVI'. "Vishnu entered the body of that monarch. A pure man, when his punya [karmic merit]becomes exhausted, descends from heaven to earth and is born as a king. Such a person is indeedgreat and is a portion of Vishnu on earth. He has a heritage of divine intelligence and he issuperior to all the others. He is established by the gods and he is not to be slighted. This is thereason why the world cannot command him but he can command the world. This is why themultitude has to obey his words of command though he is like anybody else." In this regard, even the great Greek philosopher Plato recognized that the ideal ruler oradministrator is the philosopher king. In such ancient cultures found in North and SouthAmerica, or Egypt and Japan and many others, it was the sun that was worshiped and wasconsidered the ultimate ruler. The king was considered the earthly representative of the sun, andhis dynasty was the solar dynasty. It is a fundamental principle of government that the authority of the ruler is ultimatelyderived from God. The form of government that is the oldest, most prevalent down through theages, and most widely found around the globe is that of the divine monarchy. These were foundin India, China, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Babylonia, Mesopotamia, Sumer, Ur, Egypt, Ethiopia, theSudan, in ancient Greece, as well as in Scandinavia and Celtic Europe. In all these civilizationsthe king was spoken of as divine representatives. Thereafter, Yudhishthira asked: "What are the principal duties of the subjects?" Bhishma responded: "Their first duty is to elect a [properly qualified] king and performhis coronation. For the sake of the treasury, the subjects should give one fiftieth of their animalsand precious metals and a tenth part of their grains. From among them they should choose thosewho are proficient in the use of weapons, and help the king in the maintenance of the army. Afourth part of the merits of the people will go to the king and a fourth part of their evil also. Adisciple behaves with humility in the presence of his preceptor. Even so a subject should humblehimself before his king. A king who is honored by his subjects will naturally be respected andfeared by his foes." 1 ANARCHY WITHOUT A PROPER RULER As the morality of humanity declined through the ages, the need for proper rulers becameincreasingly evident. As it is further explained, when there is no ruler or proper administratorover a country, there will be anarchy in the region. In this regard the Ramayana (2.67.18) says:"In a state without a king the wealthy are insecure. Even farmers and cowherds cannot sleeppeacefully with their doors open." So the above description is a sure sign of improper leadership, or when a ruler has noability to handle the situation in the appropriate way. When there is an abundance of crime andthievery, then the wealthy are especially vulnerable because those with less or who are in needwill look at them with envy. Of course, the poor are even more vulnerable because they havelittle means to defend themselves from marauders and vandals who come through to do as theywish. Thus, the property of the weak will be forcefully taken away by those who are morepowerful or clever. And the abduction of women will become common. Without goodleadership, then even the police will not come forward to protect the people in an efficientmanner. Furthermore, on a social level, religious principles will disappear, relationships likemarriage will begin to become extinct, and crime and chaos will manifest even in the areas ofbusiness, banking, agriculture, and health care or pharmaceuticals. Even a simple and peacefullife will be increasingly difficult to find. This is further elaborated in the Ramayana (2.67.17): "In a state where anarchy prevails a group of young women embellished with goldornaments do not go to the garden in the evening for recreation." This may have been the sign ofanarchy in the times of the Ramayana, but where I live in Detroit a group of women simply donot go out, embellished with gold or not. And in Africa and other parts of the world , the samesituation is there that if any women are seen, they are vulnerable to rape, torture and murder. Isthis not anarchy? So, according to these descriptions from the Vedic texts, a country with acrooked ruler where anarchy prevails is as good as a country with no ruler at all. "No soul is peaceful in a state without a ruler. In such a state men exploit one another likefish who swallow each other." (Ramayana 2.67.31) So a good government and qualified leader is essential for a progressive society. But whois a good leader? WHO CAN RULE THE COUNTRY In the Vedic system, a king is called a Raja. This means one who shines. But it alsomeans one who rids his subjects of obstacles. This indicates that only one who ideally considersthe welfare of his subjects should be a king or ruler. If the ideal king follows the laws of Dharma, then the people will also follow.(Mahabharata abbreviated as Mb.12.75.4) This also means that if the king is unrighteous, he willhave little ability to lead people and keep them from crime and dishonesty. They will follow hisown character. Thus, as rulers become more and more crooked, the same character will naturallytrickle down to the general populace. This illustrates why corruption is so rampant today. Theonly way to escape from this situation is to have moralistic and righteous leaders, if there are anywho can be found. Crowning an ideal person as a king is the chief duty of a nation because eventually if astate is without a proper administrator, it becomes weak and subject to the attack of its enemies.(Mb.12.67.2) This means that a dynamic country and the code of punishment for wrongdoers canonly blossom with strong leadership. When the code of punishment deteriorates or when rulersbegin to behave unjustly, then corruption will spread unabated. Consequently people will becomeunhappy and social unrest will increase. The nurturing of the subjects, and displaying the means to endow them with happinessand contentment, protecting the righteous, and giving the citizens the means of prosperity and topunish the wrongdoers, are the chief duties of a king. (Vishnusmriti) "The kingdom of that monarch who looks on while a Sudra [those who are unqualified orill-trained for positions of rulership] settles the law, will sink (low), like a cow in a morass. Thatkingdom where Sudras are very numerous, which is infested by atheists and destitute of thetwice-born (inhabitants) [those born a second time by spiritual knowledge], soon entirelyperishes, afflicted by famine and disease." (Manu-samhita, 8.21-22) Recognizing the Character of a Proper Leader The prime protector of the citizens in the Sanskrit language is called a Kshatriya. Thisword means warrior, but primarily as one who protects people from kshat or unhappiness. Such a Kshatriya is said to display the characteristics of bravery, courage, vigilance,charity, the ability to display his prowess, and not retreating from battle. (Mb. 6.42.43) A proper kshatriya has the ultimate duty to protect all beings (Mb. 12.120.3) along withfostering the righteous, destroying those who are cruel, and not fleeing from the enemy.(Mb.12.14.16) Kshatriyas should take up their weapons only to protect others, such as individuals andthe community at large. (Ramayana 3.10.3) However, a Kshatriya who does not display his strength according to his capacity due tofear of losing his life deserves to be called a thief. (Mb.5.134.2) A Kshatriya must exhibit the appropriate conduct toward his subordinates. He canexercise control of the other classes in society and is thus called a statesman. He thus mustexhibit impartiality in executing his duties without favoritism or disdain toward anyone. He musthave consideration for the benefit of all. He naturally must personally follow the laws as set byothers. He must be able to punish evildoers regardless of their own status or position in society.He must be willing to seek counsel from others who are able to advise him. A Kshatriya's own spiritual progress is determined by his ability to protect the saintly anddestroy evildoers. Philosophers have stated that a warrior who is brave enough to be killed on the battlefieldacquires the state of an ascetic who has been devoted to the practice of yoga. In other words, heattains heaven after this earthly life. Again it is emphasized that only the rulers who can always protect the righteous and driveaway the evildoers should be crowned as king. The entire universe lives on his support.(Mb.12.78.44) The strength of the downtrodden and the desolate lies in the king. (Ramayana7.59) This means that those who are poor depend on the king for their welfare. Without that theyare forever doomed to poverty and without condolence. A Qualified King Must Be Self-Controlled "A wise man should learn good behavior, good words and good acts from every side, as agleaner collects grains of corn from the field abandoned by the reapers. Virtue is preserved bytruthfulness: learning by application: beauty by cleansing the body: high lineage by goodcharacter. Mere lineage, in the case of one whose behavior is not good, cannot command respect.A king or a man who envies another's wealth, beauty, might, high lineage, happiness, goodfortune and honor, suffers from an incurable disease. Good behavior is essential to man.Intoxication of wealth is much more to be censured than wine; for a man intoxicated withprosperity can never be brought to his senses unless and until he meets with a fall."Like the moon during the lighted fortnight, calamities increase for him who is a slave to hissenses. The king who wishes to control his counselors before controlling his own self, or the kingwho wishes to subdue his adversaries before controlling his counselors, fights a losing battle,losing his strength. A king should first subdue his own self, regarding it as his foe. He will thennever fail to subdue his counselors and later his enemies. Great prosperity waits upon him whohas subjugated his senses, or controlled his soul, or who is capable of punishing all offenders, orwho acts with discernment, or who is blessed with patience. "One's body is the chariot: the soul within is the driver; and the senses are its steeds.Drawn by those excellent steeds when they are well trained, the wise man pleasantly goesthrough the journey of life in peace. The horses, however, if unbroken and incapable of beingcontrolled, lead the unskilled driver to destruction in the course of the journey. Many evil-mindedkings, because of their want of mastery over the senses are ruined by acts of their own, lust forkingdom being the cause of their sin." 2 The Strengths Kings Should Have "Kings are said to have five different kinds of strength. Of these the strength of arms isconsidered to be the most inferior kind. The acquisition of good counselors is regarded as thesecond kind of strength. The acquisition of wealth is the third kind of strength. The strength ofbirth which one naturally acquires from one's sires and grandsires is the fourth kind of strength.That, however, by which all these are won, and which is the foremost of all kinds of strength, iscalled the strength of the intellect. "Illustrious and mighty kings have ruled this mighty earth so full of wealth and glory andjoy. All of them have become victims of the Universal Destroyer. They went away leavingbehind them their kingdoms and their immense pleasures. The son, brought up with anxious care,when dead, is taken up and carried away by men to the burning grounds. With disheveled hairand with piteous cries they cast the body into the funeral pyre as though it were a piece of wood.Others enjoy the wealth of a dead man while birds and fire feast on the elements of his body.Only two things go with him to the other world: his merits and his sins. Throwing away the body,relatives, friends, and sons retrace their steps like birds abandoning the tree without flowers orfruits. The man cast into the funeral pyre is followed only by his own actions. Therefore shouldmen, carefully and gradually, earn the merit of righteousness." 3 Yudhishthira further asked: "How should a king behave?" Bhishma answered: "Righteousness is the watchword of a king. Nothing is greater thanthat in this world. A righteous king can easily conquer the entire world. His counselors should allbe pure in heart and pure in mind. Malice should have no place in the heart of a king. His sensesshould be perfectly under control. He should use his intelligence and he will then be glorious:swelling in greatness like the ocean fed with the waters of a thousand rivers."4 Characteristics That A King Should Possess "Poison kills but one man: so does a weapon. But wicked counsels destroy an entirekingdom with kings and subjects. The highest good is righteousness. The one supreme peace isforgiveness. Supreme contentment is knowledge. Supreme happiness is benevolence. A king caneasily become great by doing just two things: refraining from harsh speech and disregardingthose that are wicked. Three crimes are considered to be terrible: theft of another's property,outrage of another man's wives and breach with friends. Three things destroy the soul: lust, angerand covetousness. Three are essential: a follower, one who seeks protection and one who hascome to your abode. These should be protected. A king, although powerful, should never conferwith these four: men of small sense, men that procrastinate, men who are indolent and men whoflatter. Five things have to be worshiped: father, mother, fire, the preceptor and the soul. Sixfaults should be avoided by a king who wishes to be great: sleep, drowsiness, fear, anger,indolence and procrastination. These six should not be forsaken: truth, charity, diligence,benevolence, forgiveness and patience. A king should renounce the seven faults [which arewomen, dice, hunting, harshness of speech, drinking, severity of punishment, and waste ofwealth]. Eight things glorify a king: wisdom, high birth, self-restraint, learning, prowess,moderation in speech, gifts given with discrimination, and gratitude. This human body is a housewith nine doors, three pillars, and five witnesses. It is presided over by the soul. The king whoknows this is wise. These ten do not know what virtue is: the intoxicated, the inattentive, theraving, the fatigued, the angry, the starving, the dejected, the covetous, the frightened and thelustful." 5Further Descriptions of the Character and Duties of a King Here is the advice given for one to be a proper Dharmic king: Bhishma was immensely pleased with the humility and eagerness of Yudhishthira. Hesmiled at him and said: "My child, I am only too eager to tell you all that you want to know. Aking's first duty is to worship the gods and the brahmins [those spiritually advanced individualswho are meant to work selflessly for the spiritual upliftment of all others]. A king shouldessentially be a man of action. You might have heard from many that destiny rules a king. It is afallacy in reasoning if you think so. Destiny does play a part. I grant that. But without action aking can never help destiny to play her part. Destiny is powerful but action is equally powerful.Both are potent. But to me, it seems that action is the more potent of the two. It is action whichshapes the destiny. "The next equally important duty of a king is Truth. If you want to inspire confidence inthe minds of your subjects, you should always be truthful. "All accomplishments find a home in a king. His behavior should be above reproach.Self-restraint, humility and righteousness are qualities which you have to look for in a king if hehas to be successful. He should have his passions under perfect control. "Justice should be the second nature of a king. There are three more things which a kingshould cultivate. He should know how to conceal his own weaknesses carefully. By weakness ismeant the weaknesses in his kingdom. He should take the trouble to find out the weaknesses inhis enemies and he should be very careful to be secretive about his plans. "A king's conduct should be straight forward. Another danger for a king is mildness. Heshould not be too mild. He will then be disregarded. The subjects will not have enough respectfor him and his words. Again, he should avoid the other extreme. He should not be too fiercebecause then the subjects will be afraid of him, and that is not a happy state of affairs. "A king should know the art of choosing servants. He should have compassion as part ofhis mental make-up, but he should guard against too forgiving a nature. The lowest of men willtake advantage of him and his nature if they are considered weak. "Alertness is a great necessity for a king. He should study his foes and his friends too,incessantly." "Skill, cleverness and truth are all three necessary in a king. Old and fallen buildings andliving-houses should be renovated by him if he has to win the good opinion of his subjects. Heshould know how to use his powers in inflicting corporal punishments and fines on miscreants."6 A KING MUST PROTECT HIS SUBJECTS Time and again the Mahabharata and other Vedic texts stress that a ruler must be able toprotect and care for the citizens. This is done in a variety of ways, which are briefly explained inthe many quotes that follow. But if a ruler cannot look after his subjects with concern andfirmness, then it is obvious that such a person is unfit to continue in any position of leadership.As it is described: "Having thus arranged all the affairs (of) his (government), he shall zealously andcarefully protect his subjects. That (monarch) whose subjects are carried off by robbers (Dasyu)from his kingdom, while they loudly call (for help), and he and his servants are quietly lookingon, is a dead and not a living (king). The highest duty of a Kshtriya is to protect his subjects, forthe king who enjoys the rewards is bound to (discharge that) duty. (Manu-samhita 8.142-144) "A king should protect his subjects just as a pregnant women nurtures the foetus in herwomb." (Mb.12.56.44) In this way, as a pregnant woman sacrifices her own interests for the sakeof the child in her womb, so also a king should be able to give up his own interests to address theneeds of the citizens. "Just as a father helps his son rise over a crisis, so also a king should deliver his subjectsfrom difficulties." (Bhagavata Purana 11.17.45) "If a king is too gentle, then people disobey him. And if he is authoritarian they fear him.Hence, depending on the situation he should be authoritarian or gentle." (Mb.12.140.65) "Keeping the subjects happy on this earth itself is the code of righteousness (Santana-Dharma) of a king." (Mb.12.57.11) "Punishing evildoers, honoring the righteous, enriching the treasury lawfully, deciding thecases of petitioners, and protecting the nation are the five sacrificial fires (yajnas) or spiritualduties of a king." (Atrismruti 28) "The king who nurtures his subjects on the best possible way is certainly knowledgeablein righteousness. Why does such a king require penance? Why at all does he need to performsacrificial fires?" (Mb.12.69.73) The feeble and downtrodden, blind, dumb, crippled, orphaned, old, widowed, diseasedand distressed should be provided with food, clothing, medicines, shelter, etc. (Mb.12.86.24) Provisions of facilities such as lakes and water canals, distribution of seeds, control ofrodents, elephants, and those things which destroy harvests, augmenting farming by developingmeadows for cattle to graze, etc., are all part of the assortment of ways meant to be overseen bythe king and his government for the protection and continued development of the citizens. "A king must consider that his first duty is to his subjects. He should guard them as amother guards the child in her womb. Will any mother have thoughts of pleasing herself whenher child is in her womb? All her thoughts will be bent only on the child and its welfare. Even so,a king should subordinate his desires and wishes to those of his subjects. Their welfare should behis only concern." "The best king is one whose subjects live in freedom and happiness as they do in theirfather's house. Peace will be theirs, and contentment. There will then be no wickedness, nopretense, no dishonesty and no envy. "The very core of a king's duty is the protection of his subjects and their happiness. It isnot easy. To secure the happiness of his people he should use diverse methods." 7 Taxes One of the primary functions of a ruler is to oversee and design the development of hiscountry, and one of the means he uses for this is taxes. But how he collects tax must besystematic and with proper consideration of his subjects. As it is described: "Just as a bumble-bee sucks nectar from flowers without harming them, so also a king should collect money fromhis subjects without hurting them." (Mb.5.34.17) "Just as a bumble-bee sucks nectar from flowers delicately without harming the plant soalso a king should collect money by levying taxes on his subjects, without hurting them. Onewho milks a cow does not milk it dry but takes care to see that some milk is left for its calf.Similarly a king should levy taxes on the people carefully after considering that they will besufficiently provided for." (Mb.12.88.4) "Like a leech, a king should gently take money from the state by levying taxes. A tigresslifts its cubs with its teeth yet does not harm them. Similarly a king should levy taxes on hissubjects without causing them distress." (Mb.12.88.5) "O king, it is the ruler's great folly if despite taking one sixth of the income of hissubjects he does not nurture them like his children." (Ramayana 3.6.11) "It is said that a king who without protecting his subjects takes one sixth of their income(in the form of taxes) acquires their sins." (Mb.1.213.9) "A king should become a gardener, not a coal manufacturer. A gardener takes care ofplants to obtain flowers and fruits from them. Similarly a king should guide his subjects towardsprosperity and then secure one fourth of their income from them in the form of taxes. A coaltrader uproots a tree and then chars it completely. A king should not uproot his subjects likewiseplundering their wealth totally." (Mb.) "Just as one who cuts off the udders of a cow with the hope of getting milk never acquiresit, so also a state in which taxes are levied inappropriately, thus harrassing the subjects, does notprosper." (Mb.12.71.16) "Most of the authors of the Smritis have stated that taxes should not be levied upon theBrahmanas (priests) who have mastered the Vedas. This is because the king gets one sixth of themerits acquired by a Brahmana following the righteous path." (Vishnu Dharmasutra 3.26-27) The point is that it is the duty of the king to support and look after the worldly andspiritual needs of learned Brahmanas, ascetics and scholars and teaching institutions. This wouldaugment a king's prestige. The king would treat them with a great respect since they are meant toassist in the preservation of Dharma and social balance whereby the whole society can work inharmony and continue their spiritual development by which all can be content and happy. . "The king should levy taxes, but they should never be so high as to hurt the subjects. Heshould know how to milk his kingdom. He should be like a bee gathering honey from theflowers. He should be a leech which draws blood mildly without the victim being conscious of it.He should behave like a tigress with her cubs while handling his subjects: she catches them withher teeth and yet never hurts them." 8Therefore, the king must also adopt the attitude that he is the servitor of the citizens. Acrooked government must fear the citizens who will sooner or later revolt against a dishonestleader. Otherwise, what value is there in the citizens paying high taxes to a crooked leader who isnot ruling them properly, and not being able to protect them, either militarily, economically,educationally, etc. A leader is meant to get a salary from the taxes collected only when he or shecan do the proper job. Otherwise the taxes collected for such purposes are wasted. Use of the Treasury The main purpose of how a king is meant to use the treasury is also explained: "Thetreasury of a king is meant for the protection of the army, his subjects and of righteousness(Dharma). If it is used for these purposes, it will prove beneficial. On the other hand, if thetreasury is misused, it will prove disastrous. Should the king use the royal treasury for his wifeand children and to fulfill his own sensual pursuits, it will bring him unhappiness and he willattain hell." (Shukraniti 4.2.3-5) The ruler must use only his personal account for any of his own interests, but must neverdivert any administrative accounts and finances for inappropriate purposes. Not only will heaccrue the bad karma that will take him to hell, but often his own life, private and political, alongwith the future of his subjects and country, becomes doomed in due time. "The king should remember that his treasury should always be full. Supervision of thework of all his officers should be done by the king himself. He should never trust the guardiansof the city or fort implicitly." 9 Defending the Country Being Aware of the Enemy In protecting the citizens from obstacles, overseeing the safety of the country fromenemies is certainly a prime concern that must be addressed by the ruler. Herein it is furtheradvised: "O king, it is neither written on one's countenance nor engraved in words that so-and-sois an enemy or a friend. The one from whom one experiences harassment is termed as an enemy."(Mb.2.55.10) "Despite being feeble those who are cautious are not slain by the enemy, as against this isa powerful one who is not vigilant about the enemy is annihilated even by a weak enemy."(Mb.12.138.198) "Even if an enemy is weak when its strength rises, even a powerful man cannot afford toignore it." (Mb.5.9.22) "Even if one is powerful one should not consider a weak enemy inferior because though aflame is small it is sufficient to burn, and even a minute quantity of poison is enough to snuff outlife." (Mb.12.58.17) "In this world there is nothing more dangerous than being inadvertent. All wealth desertssuch a careless individual and then he has to face catastrophes." (Mb.10.10.19)Dealing with an Enemy Once an enemy has been recognized, there are specific ways of dealing with them,according to one's position. "One should befriend an enemy by conciliation with a false air offriendship but should fear him constantly like a snake that has entered the house."(Mb.12.140.15) "One should speak (to the enemy) meekly but should actually be heartless. One shouldspeak with a smile but never reveal one's true nature by performing a harsh act." (Mb.1.140.66) "One should win the enemy's trust by convincing him with valid reasons and aftersometime when his position becomes unstable, one should attack him." (Mb.12.140.44) Lord Vishnu told the deities before the churning of the ocean of milk, "O deities, toaccomplish a great task, you may even have to befriend the enemy. Do that and once youaccomplish your mission, just as a rattlesnake swallows rodents, destroy the demons."(Bhagavata Purana 8.6.20) "A king who does not annihilate his enemy will not gain fame on this earth, will notacquire wealth and his subjects too will remain insecure. Even Indra was accorded the status ofMahendra after he slew the demon Vritrasua." (Mb.12.15.15) "A person who foolishly disregards a flourishing enemy is totally vanquished by it, akinto an ailment in its terminal stage." (Mb.2.55.16) "One should not let an enemy realize one's weaknesses. However, one should certainlyfind out the enemy's weaknesses. Just as a tortoise keeps all parts of its body hidden beneath itsshell, a king should keep all the strategies of the state a secret and should be careful about hisweaknesses." (Mb.12.140.24) "One who trusts an enemy and sleeps peacefully after making a truce with the latter isakin to a man sleeping on a treetop who wakes up only after he falls down." (Mb.12.140.37) "One does not acquire the great Lakshmi bestowing governance (Rajalakshmi) withoutstriking the enemy at its strategic points, exhibiting tremendous valiance and without slaying theenemy like a fisherman kills his catch." (Mb.12.140.50) "When the enemy becomes weak, wise men do not hesitate even for a moment to destroyit. An enemy should be slain specially when it is facing a calamity. If a clever one annihilates anenemy in such circumstances, not only is he called righteous but he also becomes famous."(Mb.8.90.71) An enemy in this regard is also considered to be an enemy of Dharma, thedestruction of which destroys all means of peace and stability in society. Thus, Dharma must bedefended at all times. Sri Krishna to Yudhisthira explains: "O Dharmaraja, vanquisher of enemies, so long asyou continue to reconcile with them (the enemies of the Kauravas) they will continue to rule yourkingdom." (Mb.5.73.8) "Despite being intelligent, if a king does not attack his enemies, then like a non-venomous snake he will always fall prey to his enemy." (Mb.12.58.16) "If one finds an enemy who deserves to be killed, then one should never let him go."(Mb.5.38.29) "Just as a debt keeps growing even if a fraction of it is unpaid, if the lives of yourenemies are spared, then because they have been insulted, in the future they will generate terrorjust as neglected diseases become dreadful later." (Mb.12.140.59) "Even if the enemy who charges with a weapon on the battlefield is a scholar of theVedanta, a king who observes righteousness (Dharma) should wage a righteous war and defeathim." (Mb.12.56.29) "One should speak to him (the enemy) sweetly both when contemplating an attack on himand also during the attack. In fact, even after the attack one should show sympathy and grief andshed tears as well." (Mb.1.140.56) "One should not fight several enemies alone. One should resort to the four methods ofreconciliation, compromise with money, breaking the amity of allies and punishmentappropriately and annihilate them one by one. Even if very powerful, the wise should never makethe folly of fighting several enemies simultaneously." (Mb.3.52.22) "Do not attempt to swim across when the opposite bank is beyond one's reach. Neverseize anything that will later be snatched away by someone else. Never dig at something whichcannot be uprooted. Never strike one who cannot be beheaded." (Mb12.140.69) "A king should first win over his own mind, then it becomes easier to gain victory overhis enemy. How will one who has not won over his own mind vanquish his enemies?"(Mb.12.69.4) "A king should be wise in dealing with six problems. The first is making peace with a foewho is stronger. The next consideration is making war on one who is equal to him in strength.Invading the country of one who is weaker in his next problem. He should use his discriminationwhen he makes a decision about these things. He should be prepared to seek protection in his fortif his position is weak. The most important work of a king is to cause dissensions among thechief office-bearers in his enemy's country. He should have clever spies at his service and findout the secrets of the enemy. He should bribe and cajole the officers of the enemy and win themover to his side. "A king should be pleasant in speech. He should have about him men who are all like himin nature and in noble qualities. The only difference between the king and his officers should bethe white umbrella. 10 "He [the king] must produce disloyalty among the people in a hostile country and he musthave friends and allies there. "He should amass troops, and this should be done in secret. A king can never protect hiskingdom by candor and by simplicity. A king should be both candid and crooked. He mustemploy crookedness and wrong acts when he wants to subdue the enemy. All these things shouldbe concealed behind a candid and open exterior." 11 The king is expected to have control over his mind and senses if he is to have control overhis enemies and subjects. He must rise above the influence of the six defects, namely desire,anger, greed, pride, and the desires for fame and happiness. Otherwise both the king and hiskingdom are doomed. We have often seen that rulers who exhibit weaknesses, whether towardwomen, liquor, gambling, or hunting and other vices which stem from desire; or otherunbalanced mindset regarding criticism, misappropriation of money, or being overly cruel withpunishment, etc., all of which originate from excessive anger and pride, lead to a downfall ordisaster. Thus he must avoid these issues and weaknesses in order to rule pleasantly over hissubjects. In this age of Kali-yuga, rulers in any part of the world fail to lead properly because theyare filled with their own weaknesses and unable to control their own minds and senses properly.The leader must be focused without the distractions of the senses, or the tendency to giveprivileges to political groups because of an attraction to the money they offer. When the senses ofa ruler are controlled, then the state can become prosperous in all aspects and as a result, wealthy.When the ruler is not able to control his senses, then the citizens suffer the results of a leader whois too easily swayed and distracted with the result of a lack of impartial justice and leadership.Thus, the government itself becomes the home of corruption and thieves. When the leaderbecomes a thief, then the citizens become beggars.The Army The army is, of course, the main agency through which the king handles enemies. Hereinare a few statements in how the army must be guided, not necessarily by the king himself, butthrough farsighted military leaders. "A military organization functions best if it is well guided. The army is blind andignorant. Hence farsighted leaders should guide it appropriately." (Mb.2.20.16) "Soldiers brimming with enthusiasm for battle is the prime sign of achieving victory."(Mb.6.3.75) Responding Rather Than Reacting Herein it is explained that any response by a king to an enemy or someone in the worldwho should be curbed should be done after a well thought out plan, rather than merely by anemotional reaction, which is often based on an impulsive and prideful basis rather than wisdomand focus. [As Bhishma said to Yudhisthira] "Great men do not express hostility towards those whoinsult them all at once. Nevertheless they display their prowess gradually, with time."(Mb.12.157.10) DUTIES OF A KING IN DISTRESS There are times and circumstances in which a ruler will find himself in a weaker positionthan another, or in comparison with an enemy. Thus, the situation may dictate a different strategyfor the survival of the country, or for maintaining peace among neighboring countries. In thisregard, Bhishma explained: "I will tell you about the duties of a king when in distress. A foe thenbecomes a friend, and a friend will most probably turn out to be a foe. Circumstances will soconspire that the course of human actions becomes uncertain. This is where intelligence comes toone's rescue It helps you to decide whether one should make war on the foe or make peace withhim. It all depends on the time and place, and, at times, it is even necessary to make friends withthe enemy. You should make friends with intelligent men who are desirous of your welfare. Ifyour life cannot otherwise be saved, then you should certainly make peace with the enemy. If youare foolish enough not to consider this, then you will never succeed in achieving things for whicheveryone strives so hard. A king, who makes a truce with the enemy, and quarrels with hiserstwhile friends after considering the situation to the utmost, its pros and its cons, will certainlybe able to succeed. "Friends should be examined to the utmost before accepting them as friends. Foes should bewell studied and their strength and weakness known. Friends appear as foes, and foes assume theguise of friends. When friendly compacts are undertaken, it is not possible to be sure if thefeelings of the other are really friendly or if it is just selfishness which prompts him to accept thepact. The words 'friend' and 'foe' are, after all, relative terms. A man considers another to be hisfriend so long as he is assured that his interests are safe; so long as he is sure that it is profitablefor him to do so. If he is sure that this state of things will continue as long as the other man isalive, he allows the friendship to continue for life. "Self-interest [the instinct to survive] is the most powerful factor in the life of everyone. Theentire world is pivoted round only this one factor and it ever revolves around it. No one is dear toanother unless there is some gain involved. No affection is evident unless there is a motive ofself-interest. One man is popular because he is very liberal-minded, another because he speakssweetly and a third because he is very religious. Generally it is the rule rather than the exceptionthat a man is dear because of the purpose he serves: nothing more. The friendship terminates assoon as the reason for the friendship dies. "An intelligent man should know when to make peace with a foe. Remember, when twopersons who were once enemies become friends it is obvious that each is only biding his timewhen he can get the better of the other. The wiser of the two will necessarily succeed. The policyis that, while you are afraid of the other man, you should appear as though you are not. Youshould appear as though you trust him implicitly and all the time you should be mistrusting him.When the time demands it you should make peace with your foe and at the earliest opportunityyou must wage war. This rule should apply even for a friend." 12 A KING SHOULD TRUST NO ONE Unfortunately, a king or ruler, due to his position, must be careful regarding who he trusts. There may be so many who are envious, or who are enemies set to take over the ruler's position,or who are enemies who wish to take control over the country. Thus, placing trust in the wrongpeople can have devastating effects. Thus, confidentiality must be observed in many areas of theruler's activities. Future plans must not be jeopardized by allowing too many or the wrong peopleto know too much. "A king should be careful not to place implicit confidence in anyone. His innermost thoughtsmust be concealed from even his nearest and dearest and he should not tell anyone about hisdecisions." 13 "One should always attempt to make others trust in oneself. However, one should not trustothers." (Mb.12.138.195) "One should acquire the trust of others but should never trust anyone. O King, never trusteven one's own son completely." (Mb.12.85.33) "One should not undertake a mission depending on another's strength as opinions of twopeople generally do not match." (Mb.2.56.8) In determining what kind of person a king can trust, Yudhishthira asked: "Nothing, not eventhe smallest act can be accomplished by a single man. He has to have assistance. This is all themore true when one thinks of ruling a kingdom. So much of it depends on the minister of theking. Tell me, what are the characteristics of a minister and his duties? Which kind of mandeserves the king's entire confidence?" Bhishma replied: "A king has friends and these can be classified into four types. The first isthe man whose object coincides with that of the king. The second is the man who is devoted tothe king. The third is one related to the king by birth. The fourth is one whom the king hasplacated by gifts. There is a fifth and that is a righteous man who firmly serves one and not bothsides. He belongs to the side where there is righteousness. To this man the king should neverconfide plans which are in danger of being disapproved. A king who wants to be successful hasto be righteous and unrighteous too according to circumstances. And so, he cannot be too carefulin regard to these friends. A wicked man may appear to be honest and an honest man is likely tobecome dishonest. No man can always be of the same mind all the time. No one should betrusted completely. Entire reliance on the ministers is not wise. And again, a want of trust is alsowrong. A king's policy, therefore, should be trust as well as mistrust. "A king should fear his kinsmen as he would death himself. A kinsman can never bear to seethe prosperity of the king. At the same time, a king without kinsmen is unfortunate indeed. Thepolicy is: mistrusting them at heart, but behaving with them as though he trusts themcompletely."14 A KING SHOULD TAKE COUNSEL The power of government should be overseen and monitored by different people ororganizations because if only one person or class controls it, it will create a monopoly thatgenerates fear and suspicion in the general mass of people. Furthermore, a ruler is never meant tomake unilateral decisions without counsel as this leads to tyranny and dictatorship. [Rama asked Bharat] "Do you take decisions by yourself or do you seek the counsel ofseveral others? Does your policy get published much before it is implemented?" (Ramayana2.100.18) A ruler, no matter how clever or intelligent he may be, is never meant to make decisions onhis own without consulting his ministers. It has been seen time and time again that any leaderwho draws his own designs without consultation with his advisors is soon on his way to ruin. As it is explained: "The one who judges the strength of the enemy and that of his own state,who contemplates intelligently on the present status, growth and destruction of his army and thatof the enemy's army and suggests the required measures for the welfare of his master can truly becalled a minister." (Ramayana 6.14.22) "A king should be proficient in the art of choosing honest men to hold important offices." 15 Character of the Legislators Yudhishthira asked: "What should be the characteristics of the legislators, the ministers ofwar, the courtier, and the counselors of a king?" Bhishma responded: "The legislators should be men who are modest, self-restrained, truthfuland sincere, and they should have the courage to speak what is proper. The ministers for warshould be those who are always by the side of the king. They should be very brave. They shouldbelong to the higher caste, and be learned and affectionate to a fault as far as the king isconcerned. A courtier should be of high lineage. He should always be honored by the king. Heshould be a man who has the king's interests always at heart. He should never abandon the kingwhatever the circumstances may be. "The officers of the army should again be of high lineage, born in the country of the king;possessed of wisdom, great learning, and beauty of form and features. They should be ofexcellent behavior, and they should be devoted to the king." 16 The Need for Secrecy "Both poison and a weapon kill only one person at a time, but discrepancy in a king's planbecomes the cause for destruction of all the subjects along with the king." (Mb.5.33.45) "Just as a peacock maintains silence in autumn, so also a king should always keep his policiesa secret." (Mb.12.120.7) [Sage Narada explains to Yudhisthira] "The main cause for victory of a king is secretcounsel." (Mb.2.5.27) Spies A ruler must hear of the intentions and actions of the people, both within and outside hiscountry, and of both honest and dishonest people. Not that this is expected to take away the rightsof the people, but only so the king will understand how things are going on amongst his subjects.By understanding the intentions of the citizens, a king can propose proper plans to his legislatorsfor counsel. Herein it is explained: "A king keeps an eye on his subjects through his spies."(Mb.5.34.34) "It is said that spies are the support of a state and secret counsel is its strength."(Mb.12.83.51) A KING SHOULD UNDERSTAND CHARACTERISTICS OF A WISE MAN AND FOOL The Mahabharata also explains how a king should understand the characteristics of both awise man and a fool. This would also have an affect on the character of the king. This is from theVidura-neeti section of the Mahabharata in which Vidura addresses King Dhritarasthra. Vidura said: "I will tell you what a wise man should be like. A man should aspire for thehigher things, ideals, in life. The assets of such a man are self-knowledge, exertion, forbearanceand steadiness in virtue. Such a man is wise. Neither anger, nor joy, nor pride, nor false modesty,nor vanity, can distract him from his purpose. His actions are always done with the thought thatthey should serve both the worlds. Desire does not tinge his actions. Honest deeds delight himand he loves what is good. He is unaffected either by honors or by slights. Like a lake in thecourse of the river Ganga, he is calm, cool and unagitated. "On the other hand, the qualities of a fool are also easy to enumerate. Scripture is a closedbook as far as he is concerned. He is vain: he is proud and, when he wants to have something, hewill never hesitate to employ unfair means. He has a knack of desiring what he has no right todesire. Those who are powerful make him envious. Let me tell you about a peculiar attribute ofsin. One man commits a sin and several reap the fruits resulting from his sin. But in the end, thesin attaches itself ONLY to the one man, while those many who enjoyed the fruits of his sinescape unscathed! "A wise king should discriminate the TWO with the help of the ONE. He must control theTHREE by means of the FOUR. He has to conquer the FIVE. Know the SIX. Abstain from theSEVEN and be happy. By ONE is meant the intellect: by TWO, right and wrong: by THREEfriend, stranger and enemy; by FOUR is meant gift, conciliation, disunion and severity: by FIVEthe senses: by SIX, treaty, war, etc.: by SEVEN, women, dice, hunting, harshness of speech,drinking, severity of punishment, and waste of wealth. This means that one should know how todiscriminate between right and wrong by the use of the intellect. Friend, foe or stranger can bewon over by one of the four: gift, etc. The senses must be under control and a king should hefamiliar with treaty, etc., which are essential. The seven have naturally to be avoided if a kingaspires to be wise." 17 DEALING WITH CRIMINALS There is definitely a need for a king and ruler in any position to take a stern stance oncriminals. Outlaws and wrongdoers are a prime source for fear and disruption in the lives ofhonest citizens. So, they must be dealt with firmly. However, the king must also be of soundcharacter or he will not possess a mental disposition in which he will be able to take a proper orpowerful stand against such criminals. This is why from the very start, a suitable king must beput into office and not someone who is ill-suited for the position. "Whether he be punished or pardoned, the thief is freed from the (guilt of) theft; but the king,if he punishes not, takes upon himself the guilt of the thief." (Manu-samhita 8.316) "But men who have committed crimes and have been punished by the king, go to heaven,being pure like those who performed meritorious deeds." (Manu-samhita 8.318) If one who has acted unrighteously is slain, then it does not amount to unrighteousness [forthe slayer]. (Ramayana 2.96.24) No sin arises out of killing a terrorizing enemy. On the contrary, pleading before it for mercyor tolerance is unrighteous and a stigma on one's reputation. (Mb.5.3.21) One who has to protect his subjects should not hesitate if sometimes he is compelled to bea little cruel or to perform slightly wrong actions in order to protect them. (Ramayana 1.25.18) Purpose of Punishment Without punishment in the universe, the subjects would have become extinct, just as big fishin the water swallow the small ones, powerful people would have destroyed the weak. (Mb.1215.30) Due to fear of punishment some animals do not devour each other. If people are not protectedby the experience of punishment, then they would bring about darkness through the destructionof each other. (Mb.12.15.7) It is punishment alone which disciplines all subjects and protects everyone. It remainsvigilant even when all are asleep. That is why learned men have opined that punishments arewhat maintains Dharma. (Mb.12.15.2) Everyone keeps themselves under control because of the threat of punishment. A basicallypure individual is rarely found. It is the fear of punishment that makes one act properly andperform the task allotted to him. (Mb.12.15.34) If there was no protection by the means of punishment, then everything would be reducedto ashes, all rules would be violated and no one would own anything. (Mb.12.15.8) Learned men consider that it is punishment that brings unethical people onto the righteouspath and punishes those who are uncivilized because of its two characteristics of control andmeting out punishment. (Mb.12.15) When the punishing authority is highly efficient, people are very cautious. Hence, a kingshould keep all beings in his control through the code of punishment. (Mb.12.140.8) "Punishment should be given to offenders according to the immensity of the offence. Thewealthy should be fined and their property should be confiscated, while loss of liberty should bethe punishment for the poor offender. Wicked conduct should be punished by inflicting corporalpunishment." 18 CONSEQUENCES FOR THE KING A ruler can never do whatever he wants, whether it be in acting overly harsh, or in not beingfirm and decisive enough, or in being too liberal and soft. There are always consequences if aruler does not act appropriately or if he neglects his duties. If he proves to be unfit, he is and mustbe rejected by the people. But there are also karmic consequences for someone who is a ruler butdoes not govern the people with a spiritual regard. For example, it is explained that a king wholevies taxes on his subjects without teaching them about righteousness (Dharma) has to suffer fortheir sins and loses his opulence. (Bhagavata Purana 4.21.24) This is why, especially in this ageof Kali-yuga, it is said that hardly any ruler attains anything but a dark future after death. Unableto direct his subjects properly, or even being infected with crooked desires himself, a ruler isforced to endure a hellish afterlife because of not being able to lead his subjects properly or allowthem to be trained in the ways of Dharma. Such understanding of Dharma is what frees themfrom sinful life, and which also frees the king from accepting one-sixth of the reactions of hissubjects. "An arrogant king in whose kingdom innocent people are tormented by evildoers loses hisfame, longevity, fortune and a meritorious place after death." (Bhagavata Purana 1.17.10) "Undoubtedly a king who does not perform his duties toward his subjects regularly goes tohell, a place which is devoid of air." (Ramayana 7.53.6) "A king who (duly) protects (his subjects) receives from each and all the sixth part of theirspiritual merit; if he does not protect them, the sixth part of their demerit also (will fall on him).Whatever (merit a man gains by) reading the Vedas, by spiritual practice, by charitable gifts, (orby) worshiping (God), the king obtains a sixth part of that in consequence of his duly protecting(his kingdom)." (Manu-samhita 8.304-5) "A king who protects the created beings in accordance with the sacred law and smites thoseworthy of corporal punishment, daily offers (as it were) sacrifices at which a hundred thousands(are given as) fees." (Manu-samhita 8.306) "A king who does not afford protection, (yet) takes his share in kind, his taxes, tolls andduties, daily presents and fines, will (after death) soon sink into hell. They declare that a kingwho affords no protection, (yet) receives the sixth part of the produce, takes upon himself all thefoulness of his whole people. Know that a king who heeds not the rules (of the law), who is anatheist, and rapacious, who does not protect (his subjects, but) devours them, will sink low (afterdeath)." (Manu-samhita 8.307-9) "The subjects reject a king whose administration is faulty." (Yogavasistha 6.84.27) "None, not even his kith and kin rush to the rescue of a king who behaves cruelly (with hisministers, etc.), pays them very low emoluments, behaves arrogantly, is conceited and secretlyharms people in times of a calamity." (Ramayana 3.33.15) "Even if the one who harasses living beings is cruel and a sinner becomes the master of allthe three regions, he does not remain in power for long." (Ramayana 3.29.3) "The king who does not organize a network of spies (to get news about the kingdom), or doesnot grant the subjects an opportunity to express their woes to him, who is controlled by others(whether by women for sense enjoyment or by political groups), is rejected by the people just aselephants abandon a river seeing the mud in it." (Ramayana 3.33.5) The Manu-samhita (7.46-52) also explains that "For a king who is attached to the vicesspringing from love of pleasure, loses his wealth and his virtue, but (he who is given) to thosearising from anger (loses) even his life. Hunting, gambling, sleeping by day, censoriousness,(excess with) women (or illicit sex), drunkenness (intoxication), (an inordinate love for) dancing,singing, and music, and useless travel are the tenfold set (of vices) springing from love ofpleasure. Telling of tall tales, violence, treachery, envy, slandering, (unjust) seizure of property,reviling, and assault are the eightfold set (of vices) produced by wrath. That greediness which allwise men declare to be the root even of both these (sets), let carefully conquer; both sets (ofvices) are produced by that. Drinking (intoxication), playing dice (gambling), (illicit connectionwith) women, and hunting (unnecessary killing and eating of animals), these four in succession,he must know to be the most pernicious in the set that springs from love of pleasure. Doingbodily injury, reviling, and the seizure of property, these three he must know to be the mostpernicious in the set produced by wrath. A self-controlled (king) should know that in this set ofseven, which prevails everywhere, each earlier-named vice is more abominable (than thosenamed later)." MORE DUTIES OF THE KING Yudhishthira asked: "What other special duties should a king discharge?" Bhishma replied: "A king should first know how to bring himself under subjugation. Whenhe has achieved this he should then try to subdue his foes. The conquest of the five senses isconsidered to be the greatest victory. It is only such a king that is capable of conquering hisenemies. "A king should have an immense number of soldiers in his forts, cities, frontiers and allimportant spots. "A king's thoughts, actions, decisions and spies should be kept secret from everyone,specially the enemy. His spies should look like imbeciles. Or they should seem as though they areblind and deaf. They should be capable and they should be wise. The king should ascertain thatbefore employing them. They should be hardy, able to bear privations like cold, heat and hunger.Theking should set spies on his counselors, on his friends and even on his sons. His spies should bestrangers to each other. The moment a king realizes that his foe is stronger, he should strive tomake peace. If he is sure of his strength, he should collect a large army and march against theperson who has no allies and friends or who is engaged in war against another. The king shouldknow how to take them by surprise. He should not hesitate to afflict the kingdom of the enemywith weapons, fire and poison. "The king should take a sixth of the income of his subjects. This is for the maintenance ofthe army for their protection. A king's subjects are his children. But he should guard againstcompassion while punishing them for their wrong behavior. "Honest men who are absolutely trustworthy should be appointed to administer justice. Thestate has her strong foundation only upon the proper administration of justice. "There need be no doubt whatever about the truth that it is the king that makes the age [oryuga] and not the age which makes the king. When a king rules relying entirely and strictly onthe science of chastisement, Kritayuga or Satyayuga, the foremost of ages, is said to set in.Righteousness is prevalent during Kritayuga. Unrighteousness does not even exist then. The earthyields crops without even waiting to be tilled. Herbs and plants grow luxuriantly and inabundance. Diseases are not found at all and all men live long. The seasons are all delightful.There is peace and nothing but peace on earth. When the king relies on three of the four parts ofthis Dandaneeti [the treatise of a hundred thousand lessons composed by Brahma that deals withthe subjects of Dharma (righteousness), Artha (economic development), Kama (sensualenjoyment) and Moksha (spiritual liberation)] Tretayuga sets in. A fourth part of Dharma is goneand an equal portion of Adharma sets in. The earth does yield crops but she waits for the tillage.The herbs and plants need to be nurtured. The yield is not spontaneous. When the king followsthe Dandaneeti only by half, the age that sets in is Dwaparayuga. [At that time] Righteousness isdiminished by half and the void is filled up by unrighteousness. The earth, even when tilled,yields only half her crop. When the king ignores the edict of Brahma and begins to oppress hispeople, the age is Kali. Unrighteousness becomes rampant and nothing of righteousness is seen.The world becomes the home of anarchy. Diseases appear and men die prematurely. The cloudsdo not rain in season and the crops fail. The king is the cause of the yugas." Yudhishthira again asked: "Of whose wealth is the king said to be the lord?" Bhishma replied: "The Vedas have declared that the wealth of all persons belongs to the king,with the exception of the brahmins. The king's duty is to support all the brahmins." 19 A KING'S PRACTICE OF WORSHIP Without a doubt, a ruler must also practice the ways of Dharma like anyone else. He is notfree to avoid it or do without it. Besides the basic ways of Dharma that have been discussed, hereare a few more that are outlined in the Mahabharata: Yudhishthira asked: "The path of duty is very long. It has a hundred branches. Tell me, whatare the duties that have to be practiced?" Bhishma answered: "The worship of mother, father and preceptor: these are the mostimportant duties. Attending to this duty fits a king to acquire great fame and the heavens. Thesethree should be worshiped and their commands should be obeyed implicitly. They are like thethree fires that have to be worshiped daily. Serving the father helps one to cross this world.Serving the mother transports him to the heavens. Serving the preceptor one attains the region[the heavenly planetary system] of Brahma." 20 "The person, to whom the gods ordain defeat, has his senses taken away from him and itis because of this that he stoops to ignoble deeds. When the intellect becomes dim anddestruction is near, wrong, looking like right, strikes the heart firmly. The clouded intellectcauses defeat. "Ablution in all the holy spots and kindness to all creatures: these two are equal. Perhapskindness to creatures surpasses the former. As long as man's good deeds are spoken of in thisworld, so long is he glorified in heaven. "The gods do not protect men taking up clubs in their hands after the fashion ofherdsmen. Unto them they wish to protect, they grant intelligence. There is no doubt that one'sdesires meet with success in proportion to the attention he pays to righteousness and morality.The Vedas never rescue a deceitful man from sin. Gold is tested by fire: a well-born person istested by his deportment: an honest man by his conduct: and a brave man is tested during aseason of panic: he who is self-controlled, in times of poverty: and friends and foes are tested intimes of calamity and danger. Sacrifice, study, asceticism, gift, truth, forgiveness, mercy andcontentment constitute the eight different paths of righteousness. The first four of these may bepracticed from motives of pride but the latter four can exist only in them that are truly great. "Do that during the day which may enable you to pass the night in happiness; do thatduring the eight months of the year which may enable you to pass the rainy seasons happily. Dothat during youth which may ensure a happy old age: do that during your whole life here whichwill enable you to live happily in the hereafter. "Untying all the knots of the heart by the aid of tranquility, mastering all the passions,observing true religion, one should learn to regard both the agreeable and the disagreeable likehis own self. One should not return the slanders or reproaches of others. Strange to say, when asilent man suffers these reproaches, it is the slanderer that is consumed and the virtues, if any, ofthe slanderer find a home in the other man." 21 These are just a few of the additional ways of continuing to travel the road of Dharma.And within this article is the brief guidelines of how a king should conduct himself and how agovernment must act for the benefit of the people. NOTESMahabharata is abbreviated as Mb throughout the article. 1. Mahabharata, translated by Kamala Subramaniam, published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan,Bombay, 1982, pages 710-12 2. Ibid., pages 354-355 3. Ibid., page 357 4. Ibid., page 714 5. Ibid., page 354 6. Ibid., pages 708-709 7. Ibid., pages 7098. Ibid., page 709 9. Ibid., page 70910. Ibid., page 709 11. Ibid., pages 709-10 12. Ibid., pages 715-16 13. Ibid., page 70914. Ibid., page 712-13 15. Ibid., page 709 16. Ibid., page 714 17. Ibid., page 353 18. Ibid., page 714 19. Ibid., pages 712-13 20. Ibid., page 715 21. Ibid., pages 355-6 [This article is available at http://www.stephen-knapp.com]

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