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Chapter 95

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘If a Kshatriya desires to subjugate anotherKshatriya in battle, how should the former act in the matter of thatvictory? Questioned by me, do thou answer it.’

“Bhishma said, ‘The king, with or without an army at his back, enteringthe dominions of the king he would subjugate, should say unto all thepeople, ‘I am your king. I shall always protect you. Give me the justtribute or encounter me in battle.’ If the people accept him for theirking, there need not be any fighting. If, without being Kshatriyas bybirth, they show signs of hostility, they should then, observant as theyare of practices not laid down for them, be sought to be restrained byevery means. People of the other orders do take up arms (for resistingthe invader) if they behold the Kshatriya unarmed for fight, incapable ofprotecting himself, and making too much of the enemy.'[279]

“Yudhishthira said ‘Tell me, O grandsire, how that Kshatriya king shouldconduct himself in fight who advances against another Kshatriya king.’

“Bhishma said, ‘A Kshatriya must not put on armour for fighting aKshatriya unclad in mail. One should fight one, and abandon the opponentwhen the latter becomes disabled.[280] If the enemy comes clad in mail,his opponent also should put on mail. If the enemy advances backed by anarmy, one should, backed by an army, challenge him to battle. If theenemy fights aided by deceit, he should be met with the aid of deceit.If, on the other hand, he fights fairly, he should be resisted with fairmeans. One should not on horseback proceed against a car-warrior. Acar-warrior should proceed against a car-warrior. When an antagonist hasfallen into distress, he should not be struck; nor should one that hasbeen frightened, nor one that has been vanquished.[281] Neither poisonednor barbed arrows should be used. These are the weapons of the wicked.One should fight righteously, without yielding to wrath or desiring toslay. A weak or wounded man should not be slain, or one that is sonless;or one whose weapon has been broken; or one that has fallen intodistress; or one whose bow-string has been cut; or one that has lost hisvehicle. A wounded opponent should either be sent to his own home, or, ifbrought to the victor’s quarters, should have his wounds attended to byskilful surgeons. When in consequence of a quarrel between righteouskings, a righteous warrior falls into distress, (his wounds should beattended to and) when cured he should be set at liberty. This is theeternal duty. Manu himself, the son of the Self-born (Brahman), has saidthat battles should be fought fairly. The righteous should always actrighteously towards those that are righteous. They should adhere torighteousness without destroying it. If a Kshatriya, whose duty it is tofight righteously, wins a victory by unrighteous means, he becomessinful. Of deceitful conduct, such a person is said to slay his own self.Such is the practice of those that are wicked. Even he that is wickedshould be subdued by fair means. It is better to lay down life itself inthe observance of righteousness than to win victory by sinful means. Likea cow, O king, perpetrated sin does not immediately produce its fruits.That sin overwhelms the perpetrator after consuming his roots andbranches. A sinful person, acquiring wealth by sinful means, rejoicesgreatly. But the sinner, gaining advancement by sinful ways, becomeswedded to sin. Thinking that virtue has no efficacy, he jeers at men ofrighteous behaviour. Disbelieving in virtue, he at last meets withdestruction. Though enmeshed in the noose of Varuna, he still regardshimself immortal. Like unto a large leathern bag puffed up with wind, thesinner dissociates himself entirely from virtue. Soon, however, hedisappears like a tree on the riverside washed away with its very roots.Then people, beholding him resemble an earthen pot broken on a stonysurface, speak of him as he deserves. The king should, therefore, seekboth victory and the enhancement of his resources, by righteous means.'”

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