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Chapter 5

Mahabharata English - SABHAKRIYA PARVA

“Vaisampayana said,–“While the illustrious Pandavas were seated in thatSabha along with the principal Gandharvas, there came, O Bharata, untothat assembly the celestial Rishi Narada, conversant with the Vedas and Upanishadas, worshipped by the celestials acquainted with histories and Puranas, well-versed in all that occurred in ancient kalpas (cycles), conversant with Nyaya (logic) and the truth of moral science, possessinga complete knowledge of the six Angas (viz., pronunciation, grammar,prosody, explanation of basic terms, description of religious rites, andastronomy).

He was a perfect master in reconciling contradictory textsand differentiating in applying general principles to particular cases,as also in interpreting contraries by reference to differences insituation, eloquent, resolute, intelligent, possessed of powerful memory.He was acquainted with the science of morals and politics, learned,proficient in distinguishing inferior things from superior ones, skilledin drawing inference from evidence, competent to judge of the correctnessor incorrectness of syllogistic statements consisting of fivepropositions. He was capable of answering successively Vrihaspati himselfwhile arguing, with definite conclusions properly framed about religion,wealth, pleasure and salvation, of great soul and beholding this wholeuniverse, above, below, and around, as if it were present before hiseyes. He was master of both the Sankhya and Yoga systems of philosophy,ever desirous of humbling the celestials and Asuras by fomenting quarrelsamong them, conversant with the sciences of war and treaty, proficient indrawing conclusions by judging of things not within direct ken, as alsoin the six sciences of treaty, war, military campaigns, maintenance ofposts against the enemy and stratagems by ambuscades and reserves. He wasa thorough master of every branch of learning, fond of war and music,incapable of being repulsed by any science or any course, of action, andpossessed of these and numberless other accomplishments. The Rishi,having wandered over the different worlds, came into that Sabha. And thecelestial Rishi  of immeasurable splendour, endued with great energy wasaccompanied, O monarch, by Parijata and the intelligent Raivata andSaumya and Sumukha. Possessing the speed of the mind, the Rishi camethither and was filled with gladness upon beholding the Pandavas. TheBrahmana, on arriving there, paid homage unto Yudhishthira by utteringblessings on him and wishing him victory. Beholding the learned Rishiarrive, the eldest of the Pandavas, conversant with all rules of duty,quickly stood up with his younger brothers. Bending low with humility,the monarch cheerfully saluted the Rishi, and gave with due ceremonies abefitting seat unto him. The king also gave him kine and the usualofferings of the Arghya including honey and the other ingredients.Conversant with every duty the monarch also worshipped the Rishi withgems and jewels with a whole heart. Receiving that worship fromYudhishthira in proper form, the Rishi became gratified. Thus worshippedby the Pandavas and the great Rishis, Narada possessing a completemastery over the Vedas, said unto Yudhishthira the following wordsbearing upon religion, wealth, pleasures and salvation.

“Narada said–‘Is the wealth thou art earning being spent on properobjects? Doth thy mind take pleasure in virtue? Art thou enjoying thepleasures of life? Doth not thy mind sink under their weight? O chief ofmen, continuest thou in the noble conduct consistent with religion andwealth practised by thy ancestors towards the three classes of subjects,(viz., good, indifferent, and bad)? Never injurest thou religion for thesake of wealth, or both religion and wealth for the sake of pleasure thateasily seduces? O thou foremost of victorious men ever devoted to thegood of all, conversant as thou art with the timeliness of everything,followest thou religion, wealth, pleasure and salvation dividing thy timejudiciously? O sinless one, with the six attributes of kings (viz.,cleverness of speech, readiness in providing means, intelligence indealing with the foe, memory, and acquaintance with morals and politics),dost thou attend to the seven means (viz., sowing dissensions,chastisement, conciliation, gifts, incantations, medicine and magic)?Examinest thou also, after a survey of thy own strength and weakness, thefourteen possessions of thy foes? These are the country, forts, cars,elephants, cavalry, foot-soldiers, the principal officials of state, thezenana, food supply, computations of the army and income, the religioustreatises in force, the accounts of state, the revenue, wine-shops andother secret enemies. Attendest thou to the eight occupations (ofagriculture, trade, &c), having examined, O thou foremost of victoriousmonarchs, thy own and thy enemy’s means, and having made peace with thyenemies? O bull of the Bharata race, thy seven principal officers ofstate (viz., the governor of the citadel, the commander of forces, thechief judge, the general in interior command, the chief priest, the chiefphysician, and the chief astrologer), have not, I hope, succumbed to theinfluence of thy foes, nor have they, I hope, become idle in consequenceof the wealth they have earned? They are, I hope, all obedient to thee.Thy counsels, I hope, are never divulged by thy trusted spies indisguise, by thyself or by thy ministers? Thou ascertainest, I hope, whatthy friends, foes and strangers are about? Makest thou peace and makestthou war at proper times? Observest thou neutrality towards strangers andpersons that are neutral towards thee? And, O hero, hast thou madepersons like thyself, persons that are old, continent in behaviour,capable of understanding what should be done and what should not, pure asregards birth and blood, and devoted to thee, thy ministers? O Bharata,the victories of kings can be attributed to good counsels. O child, isthy kingdom protected by ministers learned in Sastras, keeping theircounsels close? Are thy foes unable to injure it? Thou hast not becomethe slave of sleep? Wakest thou at the proper time? Conversant withpursuits yielding profit, thinkest thou, during the small hours of night,as to what thou shouldst do and what thou shouldst not do the next day?Thou settlest nothing alone, nor takest counsels with many? The counselsthou hast resolved upon, do not become known all over thy kingdom?Commencest thou soon to accomplish measures of great utility that areeasy of accomplishment? Such measures are never obstructed? Keepest thouthe agriculturists not out of thy sight? They do not fear to approachthee? Achievest thou thy measures through persons that are trustedincorruptible, and possessed of practical experience? And, O brave king.I hope, people only know the measures already accomplished by thee andthose that have been partially accomplished and are awaiting completion,but not those that are only in contemplation and uncommenced? Haveexperienced teachers capable of explaining the causes of things andlearned in the science of morals and every branch of learning, beenappointed to instruct the princes and the chiefs of the army? Buyest thoua single learned man by giving in exchange a thousand ignorantindividuals? The man that is learned conferreth the greatest benefit inseasons of distress. Are thy forts always filled with treasure, food,weapons, water, engines and instruments, as also with engineers andbowmen? Even a single minister that is intelligent, brave, with hispassions under complete control, and possessed of wisdom and judgment, iscapable of conferring the highest prosperity on a king or a king’s son. Iask thee, therefore, whether there is even one such minister with thee?Seekest thou to know everything about the eighteen Tirthas of the foe andfifteen of thy own by means of three and three spies all unacquaintedwith one another? O slayer of all foes, watchest thou all thy enemieswith care and attention, and unknown to them? Is the priest thouhonourest, possessed of humility, and purity of blood, and renown, andwithout jealousy and illiberality? Hath any well-behaved, intelligent,and guileless Brahmana, well-up in the ordinance, been employed by theein the performance of thy daily rites before the sacred fire, and doth heremind thee in proper time as to when thy homa should be performed? Isthe astrologer thou hast employed skilled in reading physiognomy, capableof interpreting omens, and competent to neutralise the effect of thedisturbances of nature? Have respectable servants been employed by theein offices that are respectable, indifferent ones in indifferent offices,and low ones in offices that are low? Hast thou appointed to high officesministers that are guileless and of well conduct for generations andabove the common run? Oppressest thou not thy people with cruel andsevere punishment? And, O bull of the Bharata race, do thy ministers rulethy kingdom under thy orders? Do thy ministers ever slight thee likesacrificial priests slighting men that are fallen (and incapable ofperforming any more sacrifices) or like wives slighting husbands that areproud and incontinent in their behaviour? Is the commander of thy forcespossessed of sufficient confidence, brave, intelligent, patient,well-conducted, of good birth, devoted to thee, and competent? Treatestthou with consideration and regard the chief officers of thy army thatare skilled in every kind of welfare, are forward, well-behaved, andendued with prowess? Givest thou to thy troops their sanctioned rationsand pay in the appointed time? Thou dost not oppress them by withholdingthese? Knowest thou that the misery caused by arrears of pay andirregularity in the distribution of rations driveth the troops to mutiny,and that is called by the learned to be one of the greatest of mischiefs?Are all the principal high-born men devoted to thee, and ready withcheerfulness to lay down their lives in battle for thy sake? I hope nosingle individual of passions uncontrolled is ever permitted by thee torule as he likes a number of concerns at the same time appertaining tothe army? Is any servant of thine, who hath accomplished well aparticular business by the employment of special ability, disappointed inobtaining from thee a little more regard, and an increase of food andpay? I hope thou rewardest persons of learning and humility, and skill inevery kind of knowledge with gifts of wealth and honour proportionate totheir qualifications. Dost thou support, O bull in the Bharata race, thewives and children of men that have given their lives for thee and havebeen distressed on thy account? Cherishest thou, O son of Pritha, withpaternal affection the foe that hath been weakened, or him also that hathsought thy shelter, having been vanquished in battle? O lord of Earth,art thou equal unto all men, and can every one approach thee withoutfear, as if thou wert their mother and father? And O bull of the Bharatarace, marchest thou, without loss of time, and reflecting well upon threekinds of forces, against thy foe when thou hearest that he is indistress? O subjugator of all foes beginnest thou thy march when the timecometh, having taken into consideration all the omens you might see, theresolutions thou hast made, and that the ultimate victory depends uponthe twelve mandalas (such as reserves, ambuscades, &c, and payment of payto the troops in advance)? And, O persecutor of all foes, givest thougems and jewels, unto the principal officers of enemy, as they deserve,without thy enemy’s knowledge? O son of Pritha, seekest thou to conquerthy incensed foes that are slaves to their passions, having firstconquered thy own soul and obtained the mastery over thy own senses?Before thou marchest out against thy foes, dost thou properly employ thefour arts of reconciliation, gift (of wealth) producing disunion, andapplication of force? O monarch, goest thou out against thy enemies,having first strengthened thy own kingdom? And having gone out againstthem, exertest thou to the utmost to obtain victory over them? And havingconquered them, seekest thou to protect them with care? Are thy armyconsisting of four kinds of forces, viz., the regular troops, the allies,the mercenaries, and the irregulars, each furnished with the eightingredients, viz., cars, elephants, horses, offices, infantry,camp-followers, spies possessing a thorough knowledge of the country, andensigns led out against thy enemies after having been well trained bysuperior officers? O oppressor of all foes, O great king, I hope thouslayest thy foes without regarding their seasons of reaping and offamine? O king, I hope thy servants and agents in thy own kingdom and inthe kingdoms of thy foes continue to look after their respective dutiesand to protect one another. O monarch, I hope trusted servants have beenemployed by thee to look after thy food, the robes thou wearest and theperfumes thou usest. I hope, O king, thy treasury, barns, stablesarsenals, and women’s apartments, are all protected by servants devotedto thee and ever seeking thy welfare. I hope, O monarch, thou protectestfirst thyself from thy domestic and public servants, then from thoseservants of thy relatives and from one another. Do thy servants, O king,ever speak to thee in the forenoon regarding thy extravagant expenditurein respect of thy drinks, sports, and women? Is thy expenditure alwayscovered by a fourth, a third or a half of thy income? Cherishest thoualways, with food and wealth, relatives, superiors, merchants, the aged,and other proteges, and the distressed? Do the accountants and clerksemployed by thee in looking after thy income and expenditure, alwaysappraise thee every day in the forenoon of thy income and expenditure?Dismissest thou without fault servants accomplished in business andpopular and devoted to thy welfare? O Bharata, dost thou employ superior,indifferent, and low men, after examining them well in offices theydeserve? O monarch, employest thou in thy business persons that arethievish or open to temptation, or hostile, or minors? Persecutest thouthy kingdom by the help of thievish or covetous men, or minors, or women?Are the agriculturists in thy kingdom contented. Are large tanks andlakes constructed all over thy kingdom at proper distances, withoutagriculture being in thy realm entirely dependent on the showers ofheaven? Are the agriculturists in thy kingdom wanting in either seed orfood? Grantest thou with kindness loans (of seed-grains) unto thetillers, taking only a fourth in excess of every measure by the hundred?O child, are the four professions of agriculture, trade, cattle-rearing,and lending at interest, carried on by honest men? Upon these O monarch,depends the happiness of thy people. O king, do the five brave and wisemen, employed in the five offices of protecting the city, the citadel,the merchants, and the agriculturists, and punishing the criminals,always benefit thy kingdom by working in union with one another? For theprotection of thy city, have the villages been made like towns, and thehamlets and outskirts of villages like villages? Are all these entirelyunder thy supervision and sway? Are thieves and robbers that sack thytown pursued by thy police over the even and uneven parts of thy kingdom?Consolest thou women and are they protected in thy realm? I hope thouplacest not any confidence in them, nor divulgest any secret before anyof them? O monarch, having heard of any danger and having reflected on italso, liest thou in the inner apartments enjoying every agreeable object?Having slept during the second and the third divisions of the night,thinkest thou of religion and profit in the fourth division wakefully. Oson of Pandu, rising from bed at the proper time and dressing thyselfwell, showest thou thyself to thy people, accompanied by ministersconversant with the auspiciousness or otherwise of moments? O represserof all foes, do men dressed in red and armed with swords and adorned withornaments stand by thy side to protect thy person? O monarch! behavestthou like the god of justice himself unto those that deserve punishmentand those that deserve worship, unto those that are dear to thee andthose that thou likest not? O son of Pritha, seekest thou to cure bodilydiseases by medicines and fasts, and mental illness with the advice ofthe aged? I hope that the physicians engaged in looking after thy healthare well conversant with the eight kinds of treatment and are allattached and devoted to thee. Happeneth it ever, O monarch, that fromcovetousness or folly or pride thou failest to decide between theplaintiff and the defendant who have come to thee? Deprivest thou,through covetousness or folly, of their pensions the proteges who havesought thy shelter from trustfulness or love? Do the people that inhabitthy realm, bought by thy foes, ever seek to raise disputes with thee,uniting themselves with one another? Are those amongst thy foes that arefeeble always repressed by the help of troops that are strong, by thehelp of both counsels and troops? Are all the principal chieftains (ofthy empire) all devoted to thee? Are they ready to lay down their livesfor thy sake, commanded by thee? Dost thou worship Brahmanas and wise menaccording to their merits in respect of various branches of learning? Itell thee, such worship is without doubt, highly beneficial to thee. Hastthou faith in the religion based on the three Vedas and practised by menwho have gone before thee? Dost thou carefully follow the practices thatwere followed by them? Are accomplished Brahmanas entertained in thyhouse and in thy presence with nutritive and excellent food, and do theyalso obtain pecuniary gifts at the conclusion of those feasts? Dost thou,with passions under complete control and with singleness of mind, striveto perform the sacrifices called Vajapeya and Pundarika with their fullcomplement of rites? Bowest thou unto thy relatives and superiors, theaged, the gods, the ascetics, the Brahmanas, and the tall trees (banian)in villages, that are of so much benefit to people? O sinless one,causest thou ever grief or anger in any one? Do priests capable ofgranting thee auspicious fruits ever stand by thy side? O sinless one,are thy inclinations and practices such as I have described them, and asalways enhance the duration of life and spread one’s renown and as alwayshelp the cause of religion, pleasure, and profit? He who conductethhimself according to this way, never findeth his kingdom distressed orafflicted; and that monarch, subjugating the whole earth, enjoyeth a highdegree of felicity. O monarch, I hope, no well-behaved, pure-souled, andrespected person is ever ruined and his life taken, on a false charge ortheft, by thy ministers ignorant of Sastras and acting from greed? And, Obull among men, I hope thy ministers never from covetousness set free areal thief, knowing him to be such and having apprehended him with thebooty about him? O Bharata, I hope, thy ministers are never won over bybribes, nor do they wrongly decide the disputes that arise between therich and the poor. Dost thou keep thyself free from the fourteen vices ofkings, viz., atheism, untruthfulness, anger, incautiousness,procrastination, non-visit to the wise, idleness, restlessness of mind,taking counsels with only one man, consultation with persons unacquaintedwith the science of profit, abandonment of a settled plan, divulgence ofcounsels, non-accomplishment of beneficial projects, and undertakingeverything without reflection? By these, O king, even monarchs firmlyseated on their thrones are ruined. Hath thy study of the Vedas, thywealth and knowledge of the Sastras and marriage been fruitful?

“Vaisampayana continued,–After the Rishi had finished, Yudhishthiraasked,–“How, O Rishi, do the Vedas, wealth, wife, and knowledge of theSastras bear fruit?”

“The Rishi answered,–“The Vedas are said to bear fruit when he that hathstudied them performeth the Agnihotra and other sacrifices. Wealth issaid to bear fruit when he that hath it enjoyeth it himself and giveth itaway in charity. A wife is said to bear fruit when she is useful and whenshe beareth children. Knowledge of the Sastras is said to bear fruit whenit resulteth in humility and good behaviour.”

“Vaisampayana continued,–The great ascetic Narada, having answeredYudhishthira thus, again asked that just ruler,-“Do the officers of thygovernment, O king, that are paid from the taxes levied on the community,take only their just dues from the merchants that come to thy territoriesfrom distant lands impelled by the desire of gain? Are the merchants, Oking, treated with consideration in thy capital and kingdom, capable ofbringing their goods thither without being deceived by the false pretextsof (both the buyers and the officers of government)?

Listenest thou always, O monarch, to the words, fraught with instructionsin religion and wealth, of old men acquainted with economic doctrines?Are gifts of honey and clarified butter made to the Brahmanas intendedfor the increase of agricultural produce, of kine, of fruits and flowers,and for the sake of virtue? Givest thou always, O king, regularly untoall the artisans and artists employed by thee the materials of theirworks and their wages for periods not more than four months? Examinestthou the works executed by those that are employed by thee, andapplaudest thou them before good men, and rewardest thou them, havingshewn them proper respect? O bull of the Bharata race, followest thou theaphorisms (of the sage) in respect of every concern particularly thoserelating to elephants, horses, and cars? O bull of the Bharata race, arethe aphorisms relating to the science of arms, as also those that relateto the practice of engines in warfare–so useful to towns and fortifiedplaces, studied in thy court? O sinless one, art thou acquainted with allmysterious incantations, and with the secrets of poisons destructive ofall foes? Protectest thou thy kingdom from the fear of fire, of snakesand other animals destructive of life, of disease, and Rakshasas? Asacquainted thou art with every duty, cherishest thou like a father, theblind, the dumb, the lame, the deformed, the friendless, and asceticsthat have no homes. Hast thou banished these six evils, O monarch, viz.,sleep, idleness, fear, anger, weakness of mind, and procrastination?’

“Vaisampayana continued,–The illustrious bull among the Kurus, havingheard these words of that best of Brahmanas, bowed down unto him andworshipped his feet. And gratified with everything he heard, the monarchsaid unto Narada of celestial form,–“I shall do all that thou hastdirected, for my knowledge hath expanded under thy advice!’ Having saidthis the king acted conformably to that advice, and gained in time thewhole Earth bounded by her belt of seas. Narada again spoke,saying,–“That king who is thus employed in the protection of fourorders, Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Sudras, passeth his dayshere happily and attaineth hereafter to the region of Sakra (heaven).'”

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