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Chapter 107

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Thou hast, O scorcher of foes, described the courseof duties, the general conduct, the means of livelihood, with theirresults, of Brahmanas and Kshatriyas and Vaisyas and Sudras. Thou hastdiscoursed also on the duties of kings, the subject of their treasuries,the means of filling them, and the topic of conquest and victory. Thouhast spoken also of the characteristics of ministers, the measures, thatlead to the advancement of the subjects, the characteristics of thesixfold limbs of a kingdom, the qualities of armies, the means ofdistinguishing the wicked, and the marks of those that are good, theattributes of those that are equal, those that are inferior, and thosethat are superior, the behaviour which a king desirous of advancementshould adopt towards the masses, and the manner in which the weak shouldbe protected and cherished. Thou hast discoursed on all these subjects, OBharata, laying down instructions that are plain according to what hasbeen inculcated hi sacred treatise. Thou hast spoken also of thebehaviour that should be adopted by kings desirous of conquering theirfoes. I desire now, O foremost of intelligent men, to listen to thebehaviour that one should observe towards the multitude of courageous menthat assemble round a king![327] I desire to hear how these may grow, howthey may be attached to the king, O Bharata, how may they succeed insubjugating their foes and in acquiring friends. It seems to me thatdisunion alone can bring about their destruction. I think it is alwaysdifficult to keep counsels secret when many are concerned. I desire tohear all this in detail, O scorcher of foes! Tell me also, O king, themeans by which they may be prevented from falling out with the king.’

“Bhishma said, ‘Between the aristocracy on the one side and the kings onthe other, avarice and wrath, O monarch, are the causes that produceenmity.[328] One of these parties (viz., the king,) yields to avarice. Asa consequence, wrath takes possession of the other (the aristocracy).Each intent upon weakening and wasting the other, they both meet withdestruction. By employing spies, contrivances of policy, and physicalforce, and adopting the arts of conciliation, gifts, and disunion andapplying other methods for producing weakness, waste, and fear, theparties assail each other. The aristocracy of a kingdom, having thecharacteristics of a compact body, become dissociated from the king ifthe latter seeks to take too much from them. Dissociated from the king,all of them become dissatisfied, and acting from fear, side with theenemies of their ruler. If again the aristocracy of a kingdom bedisunited amongst themselves, they meet with destruction. Disunited, theyfall an easy prey to foes. The nobles, therefore, should always act inconcert. If they be united together, they may earn acquisitions of valueby means of their strength and prowess. Indeed, when they are thusunited, many outsiders seek their alliance. Men of knowledge applaudthose nobles that art united with one another in bonds of love. If unitedin purpose, all of them can be happy. They can (by their example)establish righteous courses of conduct. By behaving properly, theyadvance in prosperity. By restraining their sons and brothers andteaching them their duties, and by behaving kindly towards all personswhose pride has been quelled by knowledge,[329] the aristocracy advancein prosperity. By always attending to the duties of setting spies anddevising means of policy, as also to the matter of filling theirtreasuries, the aristocracy, O thou of mighty arms, advance inprosperity. By showing proper reverence for them that are possessed ofwisdom and courage and perseverance and that display steady prowess inall kinds of work, the aristocracy advance in prosperity. Possessed ofwealth and resources, of knowledge of the scriptures and all arts andsciences, the aristocracy rescue the ignorant masses from every kind ofdistress and danger. Wrath (on the of part the king), rupture,[330]terror, chastisement, persecution, oppression, and executions, O chief ofthe Bharatas, speedily cause the aristocracy to fall away from the kingand side with the king’s enemies. They, therefore, that are the leadersof the aristocracy should be honoured by the king. The affairs of thekingdom, O king, depend to a great extent upon them. Consultations shouldbe held with only those that are the leaders of the aristocracy, andsecret agents should be placed, O crusher of foes, with them only. Theking should not, O Bharata, consult with every member of the aristocracy.The king, acting in concert with the leaders, should do what is for thegood of the whole order. When, however, the aristocracy becomes separatedand disunited and destitute of leaders, other courses of action should befollowed. If the members of the aristocracy quarrel with one another andact, each according to his own resources, without combination, theirprosperity dwindles away and diverse kinds of evil occur. Those amongstthem that are possessed of learning and wisdom should tread down adispute as soon as it happens. Indeed, if the seniors of a race look onwith indifference, quarrels break out amongst the members. Such quarrelsbring about the destruction of a race and produce disunion among the(entire order of the) nobles. Protect thyself, O king, from all fearsthat arise from within. Fears, however, that arise from outside are oflittle consequence. The first kind of fear, O king, may cut thy roots ina single day. Persons that are equal to one another in family and blood,influenced by wrath or folly or covetousness arising from their verynatures, cease to speak with one another. This is an indication ofdefeat. It is not by courage, nor by intelligence, nor by beauty, nor bywealth, that enemies succeed in destroying the aristocracy. It is only bydisunion and gifts that it can be reduced to subjugation. For thisreason, combination has been said to be the great refuge of thearistocracy.'”[331]

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