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Chapter 100

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Tell me, O grandsire, how kings desirous of victoryshould, O bull of Bharata’s race, lead their troops to battle even byoffending slightly against the rules of righteousness!’

“Bhishma said: ‘Some say that righteousness is made stable by truth;some, by reasoning: so me, by good behaviour; and some, by theapplication of means and contrivances.[294] I shall presently tell theewhat the means and contrivances, productive of immediate fruit, are.Robbers, transgressing all wholesome bounds, very often become destroyersof property and religious merit. For resisting and restraining them. Ishall tell thee what the contrivances are, as indicated in thescriptures. Listen to me as I speak of those means for the success of allacts. Both kinds of wisdom, straight and crooked, should be within callof the king. Though acquainted with it, he should not, however, applythat wisdom which is crooked (for injuring others). He may use it forresisting the dangers that may overtake him. Enemies frequently injure aking by producing disunion (among his ministers or troops or allies orsubjects). The king, conversant with deceit, may, by the aid of deceit,counteract those enemies. Leathern armour for protecting the bodies ofelephants, armour of the same material for bovine bulls, bones, thorns,and keen-pointed weapons made of iron, coats of mail, yak-tails, sharpand well-tempered weapons, all kinds of armour, yellow and red, bannersand standards of diverse hues, swords, and lances and scimitars of greatsharpness and battle-axes, and spears and shields, should be manufacturedand stored in abundance. The weapons should all be properly whetted. Thesoldiers should be inspired with courage and resolution. It is proper toset the troops in motion in the month of Chaitra or Agrahayana. The cropsripen about that time and water also does not become scarce. That time ofthe year, O Bharata, is neither very cold nor very hot. Troops should,therefore, be moved at that time. If the enemy, however, be overtaken bydistress, troops should immediately be set in motion (without waiting forsuch a favourable time). These (two) are the best occasions for themotion of troops with a view to subjugate foes. That road which hasabundance of water and grass along it, which is level and easy of march,should be adopted (in moving the troops). The regions lying near the road(on both its sides) should previously be well ascertained through spiespossessed of skill and having an intimate knowledge of the woods. Thetroops must not, like animals, be marched through woody regions. Kingsdesirous of victory should, therefore, adopt good roads for marchingtheir troops. In the van should be placed a division of brave men, enduedwith strength and high birth. As regards forts, that which has walls anda trench full of water on every side and only one entrance, is worthy ofpraise. In respect of invading foes, resistance may be offered fromwithin it. In pitching the camp, a region lying near the woods isregarded as much better than one under the open sky by men conversantwith war and possessed of military accomplishments. The camp should bepitched for the troops not far from such a wood. Pitching the camp atsuch a place, planting the foot-soldiers in a position of safety, andcollision with the foe as soon as he comes, are the means for warding offdanger and distress. Keeping the constellation called Ursa Major[295]behind them, the troops should fight taking up their stand like hills. Bythis means, one may vanquish even foes that are irresistible. The troopsshould be placed in such a position that the wind, the sun, and theplanet Sukra[296] should blow and shine from behind them. As means forensuing victory the wind is superior to the Sun, and the Sun is superiorto Sukra, O Yudhishthira. Men conversant with war approve of a regionthat is not miry, not watery, not uneven, and not abounding with bricksand stone, as well-fitted for the operations of cavalry. A field that isfree from mire and holes is fitted for car-warriors. A region that isovergrown with bushes and large trees and that is under water is fittedfor elephant-warriors. A region that has many inaccessible spots, that isovergrown with large trees and topes of cane bushes, as also amountainous or woody tract, is well-fitted for the operations ofinfantry. An army, O Bharata, which has a large infantry force, isregarded very strong. An army in which cars and horsemen predominate isregarded to be very effective in a clear (unrainy) day. An army, again;in which footsoldiers and elephants predominate becomes effective in therainy season. Having attended to these points (about the characters ofthe different kinds of forces and the manner of marching, quartering, andleading them), the king should turn his attention to the characteristicsof place and time. That king, who having attended to all theseconsiderations, sets out under a proper constellation and on anauspicious lunation, always succeeds in obtaining victory by properlyleading his troops. No one should slay those that are asleep or thirstyor fatigued, or those whose accoutrements have fallen away, or one thathas set his heart on final emancipation,[297] or one that is flying away,or one that is walking (unprepared) along a road, or one engaged indrinking or eating, or one that is mad, or one that is insane, or onethat has been wounded mortally, or one that has been exceedingly weakenedby his wounds, or one that is staying trustfully, or one that has begunany task without having been able to complete it,[298] or one that isskilled in some especial art (as mining, etc.), or one that is in grief,or one that goes out of the camp for procuring forage or fodder, or menwho set up camps or are camp-followers, or those that wait at the gatesof the king or of his ministers, or those that do menial services (untothe chiefs of the army), or those that are chiefs of such servants. Thoseamongst thy warriors that break the rank of foes, or rally thy retreatingtroops, should have their pay doubled and should be honoured by thee withfood, drink, and seats equal to thy own. Those amongst such that arechiefs of ten soldiers should be made chiefs of a hundred. That heedfulhero again (amongst them) who is the chief of a hundred soldiers shouldbe made the chief of a thousand. Collecting together the principalwarriors, they should be addressed, thus: ‘Let us swear to conquer, andnever to desert one another. Let those that are inspired with fear stayhere. Let those also stay here that would cause their chiefs to be slainby themselves neglecting to act heroically in the press of battle. Letsuch men come as would never break away from battle or cause their owncomrades to be slain. Protecting their own selves as also their comrades,they are certain to slay the enemy in fight. The consequence of flyingaway from battle are loss of wealth, death, infamy, and reproach.Disagreeable and cutting speeches have to be heard by that man who fliesaway from battle, who loses his lips and teeth,[299] who throws away allhis weapons, or who suffers himself to be taken as a captive by the foe.Let such evil consequences always overtake the warriors of our foes.Those that fly away from battle are wretches among men. They simply swellthe tale of human beings on earth. For true manhood, however, they areneither here nor hereafter. Victorious foes, O sire, proceed cheerfully.Their praises recited the while by bards, in pursuit of the flyingcombatants. When enemies, coming to battle tarnish the fame of a person,the misery the latter feels is more poignant, I think, than that of deathitself. Know that victory is the root of religious merit and of everykind of happiness. That which is regarded as the highest misery bycowards is cheerfully borne by those that are heroes.[300] Resolved uponacquiring heaven, we should fight, regardless of life itself, anddetermined to conquer or die, attain a blessed end in heaven. Havingtaken such an oath, and prepared to throwaway life itself, heroes shouldcourageously rush against the enemy’s ranks. In the van should be placeda division of men armed with swords and shields. In the rear should beplaced the car-division. In the space intervening should be placed otherclasses of combatants. This should be the arrangement made for assailingthe foe. Those combatants in the army that are veterans should fight inthe van. They would protect their comrades behind them. Those amongst thearmy that would be regarded as foremost for strength and courage, shouldbe placed in the van. The others should stand behind them. They that areinspired with fear should, with care, be comforted and encouraged. Theseweaker combatants should be placed on the field (without being withdrawn)for at least showing the number of the army (to the foe).[301] If thetroops are few, they should be drawn close together for the fight. Attimes, if their leader wishes, the close array may be extended wide. Whena small number of troops is to fight with a great army, the array calledSuchimukha should be formed.[302] When a small force is engaged with alarge one, the leader of the former may shake hands with his men andutter loud cries to effect, ‘The enemy has broken! The enemy has broken!’Those among them that are endued with strength should resist the enemy,loudly unto their comrades, ‘Fresh friends have arrived! Fearlesslystrike at your foes!’ Those that are in advance of the rest should utterloud shouts and make diverse kinds of noises, and should blow and beatKrakachas, cow-horns, drums, cymbals, and kettle-drums.'”

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