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Chapter 5

Mahabharata English - ASRAMAVASIKA PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Having received the king’s permission, kingDhritarashtra of great energy then proceeded to his own palace, followedby Gandhari. With weakened strength and slow motion, that king of greatintelligence walked with difficulty, like the leader, worn out with age,of an elephantine herd. He was followed by Vidura of great learning, andhis charioteer Sanjaya, as also that mighty bowman Kripa, the son ofSaradwata. Entering his mansion, O king, he went through the morningrites 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 Viduraalso and others had done the same, the Pandavas, having finished theirmeals, approached and sat around the old king. Then the son of Amvika, Omonarch, addressing Kunti’s son who was seated near him and touching hisback with his hand, said, ‘Thou shouldst always, O delighter of theKurus, act without heedlessness as regards everything connected with thykingdom consisting of eight limbs, O foremost of rulers, and in which theclaims of righteousness should ever be kept foremost.[7] Thou artpossessed, O son of Kunti, of intelligence and learning. Listen to me, Oking, as I tell thee what the means are by which, O son of Pandu, thekingdom is capable of being righteously protected. Thou shouldst always,O Yudhishthira, honour those persons that are old in learning. Thoushouldst listen to what they would say, and act accordingly without anyscruple. Rising at dawn, O king, worship them with due rites, and whenthe time comes for action, thou shouldst consult them about thy(intended) acts. When, led by the desire of knowing what would bebeneficial to thee in respect of thy measures, thou honourest them; theywill, O son, always declare what is for thy good, O Bharata. Thoushouldst always keep thy senses, as thou keepest thy horses. They willthen prove beneficial to thee, like wealth that is not wasted. Thoushouldst employ only such ministers as have passed the tests of honesty,(i.e., as are possessed of loyalty, disinterestedness, continence, andcourage), as are hereditary officers of state, possessed of pure conduct,self-restrained, clever in the discharge of business, and endued withrighteous conduct. Thou shouldst always collect information through spiesin diverse disguises, whose faithfulness have been tasted, who arenatives of thy kingdom, and who should not be known to thy foes. Thycitadel should be properly protected with strong walls and arched gates.On every side the walls, with watch-towers on them standing close to oneanother, should be such as to admit of six persons walking side by sideon their top.[8] The gates should all be large and sufficiently strong.Kept in proper places those gates should be carefully guarded. Let thypurposes be accomplished through men whose families and conduct are wellknown. Thou shouldst always protect thy person also with care, in mattersconnected with thy food, O Bharata, as also in the hours of sport andeating and in matters connected with the garlands thou wearest and thebeds thou liest upon. The ladies of thy household should be properlyprotected, looked over by aged and trusted servitors, of good behaviour,well-born, and possessed of learning, O Yudhishthira. Thou shouldst makeministers of Brahmanas possessed of learning, endued with humility,well-born, conversant with religion and wealth, and adorned withsimplicity of behaviour. Thou shouldst hold consultations with them. Thoushouldst not, however, admit many persons into thy consultations. Onparticular occasions thou mayst consult with the whole of thy council orwith a portion of it. Entering a chamber or spot that is well protected(from intruders) thou shouldst hold thy consultation. Thou mayst hold thyconsultation in a forest that is divested of grass. Thou shouldst neverconsult at night time.[9] Apes and birds and other animals that canimitate human beings should all be excluded from the council chamber, asalso idiots and lame and palsied individuals. I think that the evils thatflow from the divulgence of the counsels of kings are such that theycannot be remedied. Thou shouldst repeatedly refer, in the midst of thycounsellors, to the evils that arise from the divulgence of counsels, Ochastiser of foes, and to the merits that flow from counsels properlykept. Thou shouldst, O Yudhishthira, act in such a manner as to ascertainthe merits and faults of the inhabitants of thy city and the provinces.Let thy laws, O king, be always administered by trusted judges placed incharge thereof, who should also be contented and of good behaviour. Theiracts should also be ascertained by thee through spies. Let thy judicialofficers, O Yudhishthira, inflict punishments, according to the law, onoffenders after careful ascertainment of the gravity of the offences.They that are disposed to take bribes, they that are the violators of thechastity of other people’s wives, they that inflict heavy punishments,they that are utterers of false speeches, they that are revilers, theythat are stained by cupidity, they that are murderers, they that aredoers of rash deeds, they that are disturbers of assemblies and thesports of others, and they that bring about a confusion of castes,should, agreeably to considerations of time and place, be punished witheither fines or death.[10] In the morning thou shouldst see those thatare employed in making thy disbursements. After that thou shouldst lookto thy toilet and then to thy food. Thou shouldst next supervise thyforces, gladdening them on every occasion. Thy evenings should be setapart for envoys and spies. The latter end of the night should be devotedby thee to settle what acts should be done by thee in the day. Mid-nightsand mid-days should be devoted to thy amusements and sports. At alltimes, however thou shouldst think of the means for accomplishing thypurposes. At the proper time, adorning thy person, thou shouldst sitprepared to make gifts in profusion. The turns for different acts, O son,ceaselessly revolve like wheels. Thou shouldst always exert thyself tofill thy treasuries of various kinds by lawful means. Thou shouldst avoidall unlawful means towards that end. Ascertaining through thy spies whothy 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 accomplishedthrough 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. Artisansand mechanics, O son of Pandu, dwelling in thy provinces, should alwaysdo thy acts like kine and asses.[11] Thou shouldst always, OYudhishthira, be careful to ascertain thy own laches as also those of thyfoes. The laches also of thy own men as also of the men of thy foesshould equally be ascertained. Those men of thy kingdom, that are wellskilled in their respective vocations, and are devoted to thy good,should be favoured by thee with adequate means of support. A wise king, Oruler of men, should always see that the accomplishments of hisaccomplished subjects might be kept up. They would then be firmly devotedto thee, seeing that they did not fall away from their skill.'”

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