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Chapter 102

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“Yudhishthira said. ‘What are the well-known indications, O bull ofBharata’s race, of the (future) success of an army? I desire to knowthem.’

“Bhishma said, ‘I shall tell thee, O bull of Bharata’s race, all thewell-known indications of the (future) success of an army. When the godsbecome angry and inert are urged by fate, persons of learning, beholdingeverything with the eye of heavenly knowledge, perform diverse auspiciousacts and expiatory rites including homa and the silent recitation ofmantras, and thus allay all evils.[304] That army in which the troops andthe animals are all undepressed and cheerful. O Bharata, is sure to win adecided victory. The wind blows favourably from behind such troops.Rainbows appear in the sky. The clouds cast their shadows upon them andat times the sun shines upon them. The jackals become auspicious to them,and ravens and vultures as well. When these show such regard to the army,high success is sure to be won by it. Their (sacrificial) fires blaze upwith a pure splendour, the light going upwards and the smokeless flamesslightly bending towards the south. The libations poured thereon emit anagreeable fragrance. These have been said to be the indications of futuresuccess. The conchs and drums, blown and beat, send forth loud and deeppeals. The combatants become filled with alacrity. These have been saidto be the indications of future success. If deer and other quadrupeds beseen behind or to the left of those that have already set out for battleor of those that are about to set out, they are regarded auspicious. Ifthey appear to the right of the warriors while about to engage inslaughter, that is regarded as an indication of success. If, however,they make their appearance in the van of such persons, they indicatedisaster and defeat. If these birds, viz., swans and cranes andSatapatras and Chashas utter auspicious cries, and all the able-bodiedcombatants become cheerful, these are regarded as indications of futuresuccess. They whose array blazes forth with splendour and becomesterrible to look at in consequence of the sheen of their weapons,machines, armour, and standards as also of the radiant complexion of thefaces of the vigorous men that stand within it, always succeed invanquishing their foes. If the combatants of a host be of pure behaviourand modest deportment and attend to one another in loving-kindness, thatis regarded as an indication of future success. If agreeable sounds andorders and sensations of touch prevail, and if the combatants becomeinspired with gratitude and patience, that is regarded as the root ofsuccess. The crow on the left of a person engaged in battle and on theright of him who is about to engage in it, is regarded auspicious.Appearing at the back, it indicates non-fulfilment of the objects inview, while its appearance in the front forebodes danger. Even afterenlisting a large army consisting of the four kinds of forces, thoushouldst, O Yudhishthira, first behave peacefully. If thy endeavoursafter peace fail, then mayst thou engage in battle. The victory, OBharata, that one acquired by battle is very inferior. Victory in battle,it seems, is dependent on caprice or destiny. When a large army breaksand the troops begin to fly away, it is exceedingly difficult to checktheir flight. The impetuosity of the flight resembles that of a mightycurrent of water or of a frightened herd of deer. Some have broken. Forthis, without adequate cause, others break, even they that are brave andskilled in fight. A large army, consisting of even brave soldiers, islike a large herd of Ruru deer.[305] Sometimes again it may be seen thateven fifty men, resolute and relying upon one another, cheerful andprepared to lay down their lives, succeed in grinding enemies numericallymuch superior. Sometimes even five, or six, or seven men, resolute andstanding close together, of high descent and enjoying the esteem of thosethat know them, vanquish foes much superior to them in number. Thecollision of battle is not desirable as long as it can be avoided. Thepolicy of conciliation, or producing disunion, and making gifts shouldfirst be tried, the battle, it is said, should come after these. At thevery sight of a (hostile) force, fear paralyses the timid, even as at thesight of the blazing bolt of heaven they ask, ‘Oh, upon what would itfall?'[306] Having ascertained that a battle is raging, the limbs ofthose that go to join it, as also of him that is conquering, perspireprofusely.[307] The entire country. O king, (that is the seat of war),becomes agitated and afflicted with all its mobile and immobilepopulation. The very marrow of embodied creatures scorched with the heatof weapons, languishes with pain. A king should, therefore, on alloccasions, apply the arts of conciliation, mixing them with measures ofseverity. When people are afflicted by foes, they always show adisposition to come to terms.[308] Secret agents should be sent forproducing disunion amongst the allies of the foe. Having produceddisunion, it is very desirable that peace should then be made with thatking who happens to be more powerful than the foe (sought to be crushed).If the invader does not proceed in the way, he can never succeed incompletely crushing his foe. In dealing with the foe, care should betaken for hemming him in from all sides. Forgiveness always comes tothose that are good. It never comes to those that are bad. Listen now, OPartha, to the uses of forgiveness and of severity. The fame of a kingwho displays forgiveness after conquest spreads more widely. The veryfoes of a person that is of a forgiving disposition trust him even whenhe becomes guilty of a grave transgression. Samvara has said that havingafflicted a foe first, forgiveness should be shown afterwards, for awooden pole, if made straight without the application of heat in thefirst instance, very soon assumes its former state. Persons skilled inthe scriptures do not, however, applaud this. Nor do they regard this asan indication of a good king. On the other hand, they say that a foeshould be subdued and checked, like a sire subduing and checking a son,without anger and without destroying him. If, O Yudhishthira, a kingbecomes severe, he becomes an object of hatred with all creatures. If, onthe other hand, he becomes mild, he becomes disregarded by all. Do thou,therefore, practise both severity and mildness. Before smiting, OBharata, and while smiting, utter sweet words; and having smitten, showthem compassion and let them understand that thou art grieving andweeping for them. Having vanquished an army, the kind should address thesurvivors saying, ‘I am not at all glad that so many have been slain bymy troops. Alas, the latter, though repeatedly dissuaded by me, have notobeyed my direction. I wish they .(that are slain) were all alive. Theydo not deserve such death. They were all good men and true, andunretreating from battle. Such men, indeed, are rare. He that has slainsuch a hero in battle, has surely done that which is not agreeable tome.’ Having uttered such speeches before the survivors of the vanquishedfoe, the king should in secret honour those amongst his own troops thathave bravely slain the foe. For soothing the wounded slayers for theirsufferings at the hand of the foe, the king, desirous of attaching themto himself, should even weep, seizing their hands affectionately. Theking should thus, under all circumstances, behave with conciliation. Aking that is fearless and virtuous, becomes the beloved of all creatures.All creatures, also, O Bharata, trust such a ruler. Winning their trust,he succeeds in enjoying the earth as he pleases. The king should,therefore, by abandoning deceitfulness, seek to obtain the trust of allcreatures. He should also seek to protect his subjects from all fears ifhe seek to enjoy the earth.'”

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