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Chapter 121

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘O grandsire, thou hast now finished thy discourseupon the duties of kings. From what thou hast said it seems thatChastisement occupies a high position and is the lord of everything foreverything depends upon Chastisement. It seems, O puissant one, thatChastisement, which is possessed of great energy and which is presenteverywhere, is the foremost of all beings among either gods and Rishisand high-souled Pitris and Yakshas and Rakshasas and Pisachas andSadhyas, or living beings in this world including beasts and birds. Thouhast said that the entire universe, mobile and immobile, including gods,Asuras, and men, may be seen to depend upon Chastisement. I now desire, Obull of Bharata’s race, to know truly who Chastisement is. Of what kindis he? What is his form? What is his disposition? Of what is he made?Whence is his origin? What are his features? What is his splendour? Howdoes he remain wakeful among living creatures so heedfully? Who is hethat remains eternally wakeful, protecting this universe? Who is he thatis known to be the foremost of all things? Who, indeed, is that highpersonage called Chastisement? What is that upon which Chastisementdepends? And what is his course?’

“Bhishma said, ‘Listen, O descendent of Kuru, who Chastisement is and whyhe is called also Vyavahara! That upon whom all things depend is calledChastisement. Chastisement is that by which righteousness is kept up. Heis sometimes called Vyavahara. In order that the righteousness of a kingthat is heedfully awake may not suffer extinction (Chastisement has cometo be called by that name). It is for this reason that the name Vyavaharabecomes applicable to it.[362] In olden days Manu, O king, declared firstof all this truth, viz.,–‘He who protects all creatures, the loved andthe odious equally, by impartially wielding the lord of Chastisement, issaid to be the embodiment of righteousness.’–These words that I havesaid were, O king first, uttered in days of old by Manu. They representthe high words of Brahman. And because these words were spoken first,therefore, they are known as the first words. And since it is byChastisement that the misappropriation of other people’s possessions isstopped, therefore Chastisement has come to be called by the name ofVyavahara. The aggregate of three always rests on well appliedChastisement. Chastisement is a great god. In form he looks like ablazing fire. His complexion is dark like that of the petals of the bluelotus. He is equipt with four teeth, has four arms and eight legs andmany eyes. His cars are pointed like shafts and his hair stands upright.He has matted locks and two tongues. His face has the hue of copper, andhe is clad in a lion’s skin.[363] That irresistible deity assumes such afierce shape. Assuming again the form of the sword, the bow, the mace,the dart, the trident, the mallet, the arrow, the thick and short club,the battle-axe, the discus, the noose, the heavy bludgeon, the rapier,the lance, and in fact of every kind of weapon that exists on earth.Chastisement moves in the world. Indeed, Chastisement moves on earth,piercing and cutting and afflicting and lopping off and dividing andstriking and slaying and rushing against its victims. These, OYudhishthira, are some of the names which Chastisement bears, viz.,Sword, Sabre, Righteousness, Fury, the Irresistible, the Parent ofprosperity, Victory, Punisher, Checker, the Eternal, the Scriptures,Brahmana, Mantra, Avenger, the Foremost of first Legislators, Judge, theUndecaying, God, the individual whose course is irresistible, theEver-agoing, the First. born, the individual without affections, the Soulof Rudra, the eldest Manu and the great Benefactor Chastisement is theholy Vishnu. He is the puissant Narayana. And because he always assumes aterrible form, therefore he is called Mahapurusha. His wife Morality isalso known by the names of Brahmana’s Daughter, Lakshmi, Vriti,Saraswati, and Mother of the universe. Chastisement thus has many forms.Blessings and curse, pleasure and pain, righteousness andunrighteousness, strength and weakness, fortune and misfortune, merit anddemerit, virtue and vice, desire and aversion, season and month, nightand day, and hour, heedfulness and heedlessness, joy and anger, peace andself-restraint, destiny and exertion, salvation and condemnation, fearand fearlessness, injury and abstention from injury, penances andsacrifice and rigid abstinence, poison and healthy food, the beginning,the middle, and the end, the result of all murderous acts, insolence,insanity, arrogance, pride, patience, policy, impolicy, powerlessness andpower, respect, disrespect, decay and stability, humility, charity,fitness of time and unfitness of time, falsehood, wisdom, truth, belief,disbelief, impotence, trade, profit, loss, success, defeat, fierceness,mildness, death, acquisition and non-acquisition, agreement anddisagreement, that which should be done and that which should not bedone, strength and weakness, malice and goodwill, righteousness andunrighteousness, shame and shamelessness, modesty, prosperity andadversity, energy, acts, learning, eloquence, keenness ofUnderstanding,–all these, O Yudhishthira, are forms of Chastisement inthis world. Hence, Chastisement is exceedingly multiform. If Chastisementhad not existed, all creatures would have ground one another. Throughfear of Chastisement. O Yudhisthira, living creatures do not slay oneanother. The subjects, O king, always protected by Chastisement, enhancethe might of their ruler. It is for this that Chastisement is regarded asthe foremost refuge of all. Chastisement, O king, quickly sets the worldon the path of righteousness. Dependent upon truth, righteousness existsin the Brahmanas. Endued with righteousness, foremost of Brahmanas becameattached to the Vedas. From the Vedas the sacrifices flow. Sacrificesgratify the deities. The deities, being gratified, commend the denizensof the earth to Indra. For benefiting the denizens of the earth, Indragives them food (in the form of rain without which crops and vegetationwould fail). The life of all creatures depends upon food. From foodcreatures derive their support and growth. Chastisement (in the form ofthe Kshatriya ruler) remains wakeful amongst them. For serving thisobject, Chastisement assumes the form of a Kshatriya among men.Protecting men, he remains awake, always heedful and never decaying.Chastisement has again these other eight names, viz., God, Man, Life,Power, Heart, the Lord of all creatures, the Soul of all things, and theLiving creature. God gave both affluence and the rod of chastisement tothe king who is possessed of strength (in the form of military forces)and who is a combination of five ingredients.[364] Nobility of blood,ministers of great wealth, knowledge, the different kinds of forces (suchas strength of body, energy of mind, etc.), with the eight objectsmentioned below, and the other force (viz., that which depends upon awell-filled treasury), should be sought for the king, O Yudhishthira.Those eight objects are elephants, horses, cars, foot soldiers, boats,impressed labourers (for following the camp and doing other work),increase of population, and cattle (such as sheep, etc.). Of the armyequipped in mail and with other accoutrements, car-warriors,elephant-warriors, cavalry, Infantry, officers, and surgeons constitutethe limbs. Beggars, principal judges, astrologers, performers ofpropitiatory and Atharvan rites, treasury, allies, grain, and all otherrequisites, constitute the body, composed of seven attributes and eightlimbs, of a kingdom. Chastisement is another powerful limb of a kingdom.Chastisement (in the form of an army) is the author of a kingdom. Godhimself has, with great care, sent Chastisement for the use of theKshatriya. This eternal universe is impartial Chastisement’s self. Thereis nothing more worthy of respect by kings than Chastisement by which theways of Righteousness are pointed out. Brahman himself, for theprotection of the world and for establishing the duties of differentindividuals, sent down (or created) Chastisement. There is another kindof Vyavahara arising out of the dispute of litigants which also hassprung from Brahman. Principally characterised by a belief in either ofthe two parties, that Vyavahara is seen to be productive of good. Thereis another kind of Vyavahara which has the Veda for its soul. It is alsosaid to have the Veda for its cause. There is, O tiger, among kings, a(third) kind of Vyavahara which is connected with family customs butwhich is consistent with the scriptures.[365] That Vyavahara which has,as above, been said to be characterised by a belief in either of twolitigant parties, should be known by us as inhering in the king. Itshould be also known by the name of Chastisement, as also by the name ofEvidence. Although Chastisement is seen to be regulated by Evidence, yetit has been said to have its soul in Vyavahara. That which has beencalled Vyavahara is really based upon Vedic precepts. That Vyavaharawhich has been indicated to have the Vedas for its soul is Morality orduty. It is also productive of good unto persons believing in duty andmorality, men of cleansed souls have spoken of that Vyavahara as theyhave done of ordinary law.[366] The third kind of Vyavahara is also apreceptor of men, and it has also its roots in the Veda, O Yudhishthira!It upholds the three worlds. It has Truth for its soul and it isproductive of prosperity. That which is Chastisement has been seen by usto be eternal Vyavahara. That which has been said to be Vyavahara isverily the Veda. That which is the Veda is morality, duty. That which ismorality and duty is the path of Righteousness. This last it was which inthe beginning had been Grandsire Brahman, that Lord of all creatures.Brahman is the Creator of the entire universe with the gods and Asura andRakshasas and human beings and snakes, and of every other thing. Hencethat Vyavahara which is characterised by a belief in either of twolitigant parties has also flowed from him. For this reason He has laiddown the following in respect of Vyavahara: Neither mother, nor father,nor brother, nor wife, nor priest, is unpunishable with that king whorules agreeably to his duty.

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