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Chapter 64

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“Bhishma said, ‘The duties in respect of all the four modes of life,those of yatis, O son of Pandu, and the customs relating to the conductof men in general, are all included in kingly duties. All these acts, Ochief of the Bharatas, occur in Kshatriya duties. If the functions ofroyalty are disturbed, all creatures are overtaken by evil. The duties ofmen are not obvious. They have, again, many outlets.[200] Led by many(false) systems, their eternal nature is sometimes offended against.Others who pin their faith to the conclusions arrived at by men, withoutreally knowing anything about the truths of duties (as declared in thescriptures), find themselves at last landed and confounded on faithswhose ultimate ends are unknown. The duties imposed upon Kshatriyas areplain, productive of great happiness, evident in respect of theirresults, free from deceit, and beneficial to the whole world. As theduties of the three orders, as also of Brahmanas and of those that haveretired from the world, O Yudhishthira, have before this been said to beall included within those of that sacred mode of life (calledGarhasthya), even so, the whole world, with all good actions, are subjectto kingly duties. I have told thee, O monarch, how many brave kings had,in days of old, repaired to that lord of all creatures, viz., the divineand puissant Vishnu of great prowess, for resolving their doubts aboutthe science of chastisement. Those kings, mindful of the declarations ofthe scriptures enforced by examples, waited in days of old upon Narayana,after having weighed each of their acts against the duties of each of themodes of life.[201] Those deities, viz., the Sadhyas, the Vasus, theAswins, the Rudras, the Viswas, the Maruts, and the Siddhas, created indays of old by the first of gods, are all observant of Kshatriya duties.I shall now recite to thee a history fraught with the conclusions of bothmorality and profit. In days of old when the Danavas had multiplied andswept away all barriers and distinctions[202] the powerful Mandhatri, Omonarch, became king. That ruler of the earth, viz., king Mandhatri,performed a great sacrifice from desire of beholding the puissantNarayana, that god of gods, without beginning, middle, and end. In thatsacrifice he worshipped with humility the great Vishnu.[203] The SupremeLord, assuming the form of Indra, showed himself unto him. Accompanied bymany good kings he offered his adorations to that puissant deity. Thehigh discourse took place between that lion among kings and thatillustrious god in the form of Indra, touching Vishnu of greateffulgence.’

“Indra said, ‘What is your object, O foremost of virtuous persons, inthus seeking to behold that Ancient and First of gods, viz., Narayana, ofinconceivable energy, and infinite illusions? Neither myself, nor Brahmanhimself, can obtain a sight of that god of universal form. I shall grantthee what other objects may be in thy heart, for thou art the foremost ofmortals. Thy soul abides in peace; thou art devoted to righteousness;thou hast thy senses under control; and thou art possessed of heroism.Thou seekest unflinchingly to do what is agreeable to the gods. For thesake also of thy intelligence, devotion, and high faith, I shall grantthee whatsoever boons may be desired by thee.’

“Mandhatri said, I bend my head for gratifying thee. Without doubt,however, I desire to see the first of gods. O divine Lord! Casting offall (earthly) desires, I wish to earn religious merit, and to lead theforemost mode of life, that path of the good, highly regarded by all. Byexercising the high duties of a Kshatriya, I have earned many regions ofinexhaustible merit in the other world, and I have also, through thoseduties, spread my fame. I do not, however, know how to discharge thoseduties, the foremost in the world, that have flowed from the first ofgods.’

“Indra said, ‘They that are not kings, however observant they may be oftheir duties, cannot easily attain the highest rewards of duty. Kinglyduties first flowed from the original god. Other duties flowed afterwardsfrom his body. Infinite were the other duties, with those of theVanaprastha mode of life, that were created afterwards. The fruits of allthose are exhaustible. Kingly duties, however, are distinguished abovethem. In them are included all other duties. For this reason Kshatriyaduties are said to be the foremost of all. In days of old, Vishnu, byacting according to Kshatriya duties, forcibly suppressed and destroyedhis foes and thereby afforded relief to the gods and the Rishis ofimmeasurable energy. If the divine Vishnu of inconceivable energy had notslain all his foes among the Asuras, then the Brahmanas, and (Brahman)the Creator of the worlds and Kshatriya duties, and the duties that firstflowed from the Supreme deity, would all have been destroyed. If thatfirst and foremost of gods had not, by putting forth his prowess,subjugated the earth with all her Asuras, then all the duties, of thefour orders and all the duties in respect of the four modes of life wouldall have been destroyed in consequence of the destruction of Brahmanas.The eternal duties (of men) had all suffered destruction. It was by theexercise of Kshatriya duties that they were revived.[204] In every Yuga,the duties of Brahmanas in respect of attaining to Brahma first set in.These, however, are all protected by kingly duties. The latter, on thisaccount, are regarded as the foremost. Casting away life in battle,compassion for all creatures, knowledge of the affairs of the world,protection of men, rescuing them from danger, relieving the distressedand the oppressed, all these occur among Kshatriya duties practised byKings. Persons that do not regard wholesome restraints and that aregoverned by lust and wrath, do not commit overt acts of sin from fear ofkings. Others that are docile and of righteous behaviour succeed, inconsequence of the same influence, in performing all their duties. Forthis reason Kshatriya duties are regarded to be righteous. Without doubt,all creatures live happily in the world, protected by kings exercisingKshatriya duties like children protected by their parents. Kshatriyaduties are the foremost of all duties. Those eternal duties, regarded asthe first in the world, embrace the protection of every creature.Themselves eternal, they lead to eternal emancipation.'”



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