ASSEMBLIES OF DIFFERENT OFFICIALS OF THE VEDIC TIMES
Yudhishtira promised the teacher, Narada, that he would try to follow his teachings but was not sure that he would be able to follow them rigorously. Narada had brought out the subtleties of the rules and principles underlying social laws, dharma, as they were incorporated in the code (sastra) and as they were expedient they suited the different contexts (yuktiyukta). Yudhishtira requested Narada on behalf of the kings and administrators assembled there to tell him whether the sage had seen such an assembly as his anywhere else during his travel among the different social worlds and whether there could be one better than his in the future.
Narada agreed that Yudhishtiras assembly of elders and representatives of the people, scholars, administrators and jurists was the best in the social world of commonalty (manushyaloka). This assembly, which he presided over as Dharmaraja, the head of a five-member oligarchy, heard civil disputes and rendered justice in public. Neither that political group nor the king had the right to override the decisions of that large assembly. It was a new system introduced by Yudhishtira. He did not expect it to be superseded by a better system. Narada would however like the king to know the features of the assemblies presided over by officials like Brahma, Indra, Yama, Varuna and Kubera.
In his opinion, Brahmasabha, the assembly of jurists, had the best of the characteristics of all the other bodies. It had as its members, liberal nobles (devas), elders including former feudal lords, who had retired to the forests and had the status of devatas, next only to devas, saddhyas (the perfect), those who performed sacrifices after conquering their sensual desires, saints who were un-agitated ascetics, and those who had won a higher social status by their study of Vedas and performance of sacrifices. Yudhishtira wanted to know who the members of the assemblies were when Indra or Yama or Varuna or Kubera presided over it. (Ch.6 Sabhaparva)
INDRASABHA AND GOVERNANCE BY ARISTOCRATS
In Indrasabha, besides Indras consorts, the seven Maruts, siddhas, devarshis, saddhyas, cadres of nobles, those who were entitled to the status of Indra and Adityas were present. [It is significant that Vasus and Rudras are not mentioned here. Vasus appear to have been treated as members of the bourgeoisie of the agro-pastoral commonalty and denied representation in the house of aristocrats. Rudras were treated as chiefs of the peoples of forests and mountains, especially its sober but puritanical intelligentsia. Maruts who were not in the good books of the Upanishadic scholars were powerful storm troopers and controllers of the different sections of the larger core society.]
It included representatives of the people of the open space, council of administrators (kshatras) headed by Aditya, council of intellectuals headed by Soma, bourgeoisie who were non-combatants (nakshatras) and not entitled to use arms, powerful autonomous rulers (grahas), council of seven sages and the central authority (dhruva).
Those who had the status of civil judges (Agni) and those who were entitled to a place in the intellectual aristocracy, that is, fearless and austere sages like Parasara, Parvata, Manu Savarni, Galava, Ekata, Dvita, Trita, Samkara, Likita, Gaurasiras, Durvasa, Dirghatamas, Yajnavalkya, Uddalaka, Svetaketu, King Hariscandra, Tvashta, Visvakarma, Vyasa, Sandilya, and Tumburu etc. were present. They were all great scholars. In the integrated assembly of nobles, sages and scholars like Sahadeva, Sunita, Valmiki, Samika, Pracetas, Medhatithi, Vamadeva, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Marici, Sthanu, Kakshivan, Gautama, Samvarta, King Marutta, etc. were members.
Vaishampayana kept in mind that Galava, Narada, Parvata and Vyasa were associated with Manu Savarni who was a contemporary of Parikshit who was succeeded by Janamejaya. This list of sages does not include Kashyapa, Bhrgu, Vasishta and Visvamitra and Atri and Angirasa. We have to note who were present and who were not present if we have to determine when this assembly met. It belonged to the period of Manu Savarni and it appears that scholars and personages associated with Manu Vaivasvata scrupulously avoided this session. I have pointed out elsewhere that Savarnis was a council of exiles.
Narada mentions the presence of nobles who looked after centres of knowledge (tirthas), medicine (aushadi), pursuit of the three values of life, dharma, artha and kama, and the twenty-seven stars (agnis) orcivil judges drawn from the upper crust of the commonalty and their assistants (agnisthomas), and the two major officials, Indra and Agni, who during the Vedic times represented the nobility and commonalty of the core society, and the other officials, Mitra, Savita, Aryama and Bhaga.
He also refers to the presence of Visvedevas and Saddhyas who had been given the status of nobles (devas) and also the great socio-political thinkers, Brhaspati and Sukra (Usanas) and the great Gandharva chieftain, Visvavasu. Narada draws attention to the presence of the famous apsarases, Rambha, Urvasi, Menaka, Viprachitti, Krdasi, etc who delighted Indra. The assembly was open to Brahmarshis who were eminent jurists and to Rajarshis, royal sages.
Brhaspati and Sukra (Usanas) were permanent members of the house of nobles. They were expected to guide the house of nobles on issues pertaining to economy and polity respectively. Bhrgu (the chief editor of Manava Dharmasastra) and the seven members of the council of sages (of Manu Vaivasvata) attended the meetings of Indrasabha when required. These sages could attend this session of nobles only if Brahma, the head of the judiciary, directed them to do so. Narada told Yudhishtira that he had visited this Indrasabha beside the lake (pushkara), Malini.
Narada then described the assembly of the Vedic official, Yama. He notes that its members did not suffer from sorrow and old age, thirst and hunger, disgust and pessimism, tiredness and injury. They enjoyed all the comforts available to nobles (devas) and commoners (manushyas), the two strata of the Vedic core society. In that assembly both Rajarshis who had performed noble deeds and Brahmarshis who were pure, followed the instructions of Yama, son of Vivasvan. Narada then mentioned the names of the great rulers who were predecessors of Yudhishtira. Not all of them were flawless.
These rulers had a status almost equal to nobles (devas) though they were only commoners (manushyas). In the Vedic polity, Yama was the judge who implemented the provisions of social laws, dharma, and watched that none violated the laws (yamas) that prohibited certain acts. Later he was known as Dharmaraja.
Yayati, Nahusha, Puru, Mamdhata, Somaka, Krtavirya, Nimi, Pradartana, Sibi, Prthulaksha, Brhadratha, Marutta, Kusika, Dhruva, Bharata, Kartavirya, Suratha, Divodasa, Ambarisha, Bhagiratha, Dilipa, Usinara, Pundarika, Saryati, Vena, Prthu, Dushyanta, Srnjaya, Karamdama, Bahlika, Ila, Sasabindhu, Alarka, Rama and Lakshmana, Nabhaga, Sagara, Parasurama, Janaka, Uparicara Vasu, Indradyumna, Muchukunda, Prasenajit etc. feature in this list.
This list also mentions the name of Janamejaya. [Later annotators must have presumed that there were two persons with this name]. Narada must have pooled together the several rulers who might have been summoned to appear before the court of justice presided over by the Vedic official, Yama, to answer his queries on their acts and exonerated. [Yama is not to be presumed as having been the God of Death. Such visualisation came into vogue only far later.]
Narada also took into account the practice of governance by a huge assembly of one hundred Rajanyas ruling a country. It was so among Matsyas, Nibas, Hayas and Dhrtarashtras. Brahmadattas, Janamejayas, Bhishmas, Bhimas, Prativindhyas and Nagas too were such huge oligarchies. To be precise these were designations worn by certain rulers, generals and administrators in different countries to flaunt their importance and prowess. Among others who were members of this gallery of past kings was Pandu.
Narada did not attempt to judge who among these rulers were good and who were bad. Most of these rulers were on the scene during the decades immediately preceding Yudhishtiras assumption of the post of Dharmaraja. Among those ascetics, saints and sages who visited the assembly of Yama was Agastya. These sages were still on the scene when Narada described the Dharmarajasabha to Yudhishtira who was a Dharmaraja. This assembly was open to gandharvas and apsarases. Narada refers to Yama also as the king of elders or ancestors (pitrraja). Narada might have visited this assembly more than once. It does not seem to have been convened at Pushkara Malini.
VARUNASABHA AND STATE UNDER TECHNOCRATS
Narada then acquainted Yudhishtira with the constitution of Varunas assembly. His hall was built under water in the pond, Malini. There, the Adityas, the administrators, functioned under Varuna who had the status of devata. Chiefs of mariners and other artisans like Vasuki, Takshaka, Airavata, Lohita, Dhrtarashtra, Maniman, Karkotaka, Dhananjaya and Janamejaya attended the sessions convened by Varuna. Many of them had the status of independent kings, Rajas, and they were classified as Nagas.
Persons representing the three values of life, dharma, artha and kama attended his sessions. Kapila, the exponent of samkhya dialectics too was present there to guide the proceedings held under Varuna, the ombudsman of the Vedic social polity. Adisesha who had the status of Nagaraja, the king of the technocrats, attended the sessions. He was the guide of the entrepreneurs of the Vedic times. Varuna would commence the proceedings after Vasuki and others had saluted him and Adisesha had given permission.
Besides the nagas, Garuda (son of Vinata), Varunas servant assisted Varuna unceasingly. Varuna represented the interests not only of the technocrats, Nagas, but also of the feudal lords, Asuras. Narada enumerates among them Bali, son of Virocana, Visvarupa (a manufacturer of weapons who was killed by Sakra Indra), Naraka (who was killed by Krshna), Vali (who was killed by Rama) and Dasagriva. These feudal lords must have been deposed (rather than killed) and allowed to lead a life of repentance and admitted to this assembly later, for Bali was yet alive when Narada counselled Yudhishtira. Representatives of the regions irrigated by the different rivers from north to south and the coastal areas attended the sessions held by Varuna (the god of waters, in common parlance). Gandharvas and apsarases too had access to these sessions, Narada said. (Ch.9 Sabhaparva)
KUBERASABHA AND GOVERNANCE BY PLUTOCRATS
Kubera, a plutocrat (yaksha) represented the industrial frontier society of forests and mountains. In the later Vedic polity when the core society based on agro-pastoral economy came in contact with the frontier society based on industrial economy, the liberal aristocrats (devas) and the plutocrats (yakshas) enjoyed almost equal status. The wealth, which the frontier society headed by Kubera had earned, was through its own relentless endeavour (tapas). The plutocrats (yakshas) of the frontier society did wade in conspicuous consumption of their open and secret but honest earnings unlike the aristocrats (devas) of the core society whom the hard-working commoners (manushyas who were mostly poor manual workers) maintained from their earnings.
When Narada visited Kuberas assembly at Pushkara Malini, he noticed Kubera being honoured by nobles (devas) and by the free intelligentsia (gandharvas and apsarases) who moved amidst all social worlds. Later annotators have presented this free intelligentsia as cadres of musicians and danseuses who entertained the gods. This stereotype needs to be shed. The lower ranks of the gandharvas were known as naras and kinnaras. While the higher ranks had access to the aristocrats and plutocrats, naras and kinnaras were closer to the commonalty. They were not engaged in productive economy but were drafted for other social and political purposes by the ruling elite. Later annotators have used the term, kinnaras, to refer to eunuchs and retained the terms, naras and naris, to refer to men and women. To be precise naras and naris were free men and free women who were distinguished from commoners, manushyas, who could not but obey their masters. Kinnaras served as messengers and reporters mainly of the rich plutocrats. They too were free like gandharvas.
Vibhishana was among the yakshas (plutocrats) present in Kuberas assembly, Narada notices. Vibhishana took over the administration of Lanka after the fall of its Rakshasa ruler, Ravana. Narada himself was its permanent member. He was both a gandharva and devarshi. He also noticed the presence there of Devarshis (sages who guided the nobles, devas) and Brahmarshis (sages who interpreted the socio-political constitution, Brahma). The services of these two cadres were not restricted to the nobility and commonalty of the core society. Gandharvas and rakshasas attended the assembly as free intellectuals and guards to honour Kubera, the chief of the plutocrats.
At Kuberas assembly, Samkara (also known as Siva, Umapati or Mahadeva, and Pasupati), the great socio-political thinker and activist who was associated with the frontier society (antariksham) of the forests and mountains and the discrete individuals (bhutas) of the social periphery was present. He had a status equal to the head of that assembly, Kubera. Visvavasu, Haha, Huhu, Tumburu, Parvata, Chitrasena, Chitraratha and other Gandharva chieftains too were present to pay homage to Kubera (Danesvara) and be recipients of his generosity for loyalty to him. The chief of the Vidyadharas, a cadre of youths who held that knowledge was power was present in that assembly. The Vidyadharas were against hedonism and were bold and adventurous.
Leaders of Kinnaras, Kimpurushas (assertive men of the forest) and Rakshasas and representatives of the peoples of the forests and mountains were present at the assembly to pay homage to Kubera. It was only after saluting his friend, Umapati (Samkara, Siva, Mahadeva), and obtaining his permission Kubera began to conduct the proceedings of the assembly. Narada explained to Yudhishtira the hold that Kubera had over the free intelligentsia and the different sectors of the frontier society which was however limited because of the influence that Siva had there.
DESCRIPTION OF BRAHMASABHA
Narada told Yudhishtira that it was not easy to describe the form, the composition of the assembly presided over by Brahma. Narada said that when the commonalty was governed by the nobles (devas), Surya or Aditya who had the status of a noble, had come down personally from his high abode to observe the activities of the commoners (manushyas). Narada who met that great head (bhagavan) of the academy of nobles requested him to enable him to observe the proceedings of the academy of jurists, Brahmasabha. Surya advised him to observe rigorously the austerities (brahma vrata) prescribed for entry to that assembly. After he had completed that course, Narada was escorted to the hall. Narada noted that its composition was constantly changing.
The influence of its head, Brahma, exceeded that, which Soma had as the head of the sober intelligentsia of the forests, Aditya had as the head of the administration under the nobles (devas) and Agni, the head of the commonalty (manushyas) of the core society and its intelligentsia had. Brahmasabha (the assembly of jurists) appeared to be superior to, and have more authority than the assembly (sabha) of the nobles (devas). It could threaten and coerce the latter and its head, Surya, to its directives. When Narada visited Brahmasabha, the head of that assembly, Brahma, who had the status of Isvara and Deva and was a benefactor (dhata) of all the social worlds (lokas), was presiding over an academic session.
By the side of Brahma were the fourteen great social organisers (srshtikartas), Daksha, Pracetas, Pulaha, Marici, Kashyapa, Bhrgu, Atri, Vasishta, Gautama, Angiras, Pulastya, Kratu, Prahlada and Kardama, and also the sages, Maricipa, Atharvangiras and Valakhilya. Daksha and Kardama were highly influential personages who were members of the board of Prajapatis. They selected its member who was in charge of Dharma as the first Manu, Svayambhuva.
Marici, Atri, Angirasa, Pulastya, Pulaha, Pracetas and Kratu were members of the council of seven sages during the tenure of Manu Svayambhuva. These seven, along with Bhrgu, Vasishta and Narada were on the editorial board that drafted Manava Dharmasastra. Kashyapa, Atri, Vasishta and Gautama along with Visvamitra, Jamadagni and Bharadvaja were members of the council of seven sages during the tenure of Vaivasvata. The above account brings together chiefs of the people and legislators of the periods before, during and after the times of Manu Svayambhuva. Inclusion of Prahlada, a student of Narada and a reformed daitya (asura) is noteworthy. Bhishma had great respect for him.
Narada told Yudhishtira that eminent sages like the great Agastya, Markandeya (noted for his tapas), Jamadagni, Bharadvaja, Samvarta, Chyavana, (the highly experienced) Durvasa and Rshyasrnga (who was devoted to Dharma) and the teacher of yogasastra and tapasvi, Sanatkumara, Asita, Devala and others were present at that session. [Who was the teacher of Yoga? Was it a reference to Ghora Angirasa?]
They ranked lower than Daksha, Marici, Bhrgu and other social legislators and organisers. The exponent of Ayurveda (with eight branches) attended the session. Among those attending the session were scholars who were experts in different aspects of human skills and physical nature and distortions of basic nature (mulaprakrti) and geological developments that are responsible for the then present features of the earth (bhumi).
Narada noted that the Vedic officials, Soma and Surya (who represented the intellectuals and the administrators) and the spokesmen of the non-combatants (nakshatras) and of various areas and functions like yajnas and sciences (dharma, artha and kama) attended the session. Representatives of twenty groups of gandharvas and apsarases and their seven leaders were present, Narada noted. He also noticed the presence of the guardians of the different directions.
Also present were the officials, Sukra, Brhaspati, Budha, Angaraka, Sani and Rahu (who have later been treated as satellites (grahas) of Surya). [Ketu had not yet been included in this list.] He noticed the presence of the twelve Adityas (administrators) with Surya as their head. Agni and Soma were two officers in charge of the integrated intelligentsia and Mitra and Varuna were similarly two officials in charge of civil judiciary. They too were present at the academic session of Brahma.
Seven Maruts and eight Vasus represented their respective areas and Visvakarma too was present. All the Vedas and their branches and the codes and accounts of past and current events (itihasa) were represented in the session. All the nobles (devas) and advocates of the concepts of Savitri (the famous Gayatrimantra) and Sarasvati (the seven aspects of which were imagination or kalpana, memory, oration, knowledge of all the three times, past, present and future, knowledge of worldly affairs, extolling and patience) too were present at the session.
The ladies of the larger aristocracy like Aditi, Diti and Danu were present. Significant among them was Arundati, consort of Vasishta. The commentator says that prominent ladies from among the feudal lords (asuras) and technocrats (nagas) were included in the list of the consorts of nobles (devas). Narada noticed the different groups of nobles, Adityas, Vasus, Maruts, Rudras, Visvedevas, Asvins and Saddhyas worshipping Brahma, the head of the academy and judiciary.
Narada told Yudhishtira that among the cadres of aristocrats present at the academic session in Brahmasabha were seven groups of elders who had gained the status of nobles (pitrdevas). The ancestors of the four social classes, which came into existence by the end of the Vedic era, had secured this status and hence were worshipped by them. Soma, the head of the intelligentsia under whose jurisdiction these elders who stayed in the forests were, would be satisfied if their descendants met the needs of these elders.
The new socio-political constitution, Brahma, was respected not only by the nobles and the intellectuals but also by cadres and sectors of the society like rakshasas, paisacas, asuras, yakshas, nagas, garudas and others, who were not part of the core society. [These were social groups and cadres that have later being presented as undesirable demons.]
Narada said that Indra, Varuna, Kubera, Yama and Mahadeva (and his consort) attended the Brahmasabha regularly. He told the king that Subrahmanya (who has been visualised as the son of Mahadeva and Parvati) too revered Brahma, the chief of the academy and judiciary. He said that Narayana and all sages, celibates as well as others, revered him.
Brahma gave all the members and visitors the respect due to their ranks whether they were nobles (devas) or feudal lords (asuras) or plutocrats (yakshas) or technocrats (nagas) or their enemies (garudas) or jurists (Brahmans) or members of the free intelligentsia (gandharvas and apsarases). He was kind to all of them and fulfilled their requests and pleased them all. But commoners (manushyas), most of whom were manual workers did not have access to that assembly, Brahmasabha. He told Yudhishtira that his Dharmasabha, which catered to the needs of the social world of commonalty (manushyaloka), resembled the sabhas in the higher social worlds and that among the sabhas in the commonalty, his was the best.
Narada had mentioned the names of several former rulers, including Pandu while listing those present in the Dharmarajasabha, the assembly of Yama. (The chronicler had included the names of only those prominent rulers who had died or retired among the invitees to that assembly.) But, in the other assemblies there were no kings, past or present. Only the name of Hariscandra featured in the Indrasabha. The Pandava ruler wanted to know why the name of that great king featured there rather than with the other rulers.
In Varuna's assembly, technocrats, Nagas, and feudal lords, Asuras, featured prominently while in Kuberas assembly, Yakshas, Rakshasas, Gandharvas and Apsarases did and in Brahmasabha, the sages and nobles did. But only while describing Indrasabha, he mentioned the names of the nobles present. What was the achievement of Harischandra that gave him a place in Indrasabha?
Narada said that Trisanku, a ruler of the Ikshvaku lineage, had married Satyavati, a princess of Kekaya. Harischandra was their son. [Narada noted that Trisanku enjoyed the support of Visvamitra.] Narada had to answer the doubts raised about Harischandras parents and his birth. Satyavati might have resorted to niyoga, a practice permitted by the then prevailing social laws, dharma, and conceived by a duly appointed person and given birth to a son, Harischandra. The claim that he was the son of Trisanku was disputed.
Narada asserted that no fault could be attributed to Harischandra. According to Narada, Harischandra was a great emperor and had by his personal prowess conquered all the seven great regions (dvipas) and performed the rajasuya sacrifice attended by all his vassals. It granted him the right to be the final arbiter on all disputes among them or between them and their subjects. They brought the wealth needed for it and personally served food to the jurists (Brahmans).
A king who performed the rajasuya sacrifice was entitled to be called a samrat. He was entitled to be treated as one closer to the cadre of the nobles headed by Indra and attend the assembly convened by him. Of course those who kept away from their social groups and were engaged in noble causes that required strenuous endeavour (tapas) could gain a place there. [Indraloka or svarga has been described as a place assigned for those who did good deeds or died in battles.] Narada did not dwell on the careers of Trisanku and Harischandra.
He told Yudhishtira that when he told Pandu about his meeting with that famous ruler, Pandu who was like other former rulers in Yamas assembly, Dharmarajasabha, learning that Narada proposed to visit the social world of commoners (manushyas) asked him to convey to his son his desire that he should perform rajasuya sacrifice and join the company of Harischandra. It would lead to his ancestors also being treated as having been nobles and members of the Indrasabha.
While exhorting Yudhishtira to perform that sacrifice and meet the expectations of his father, Narada cautioned him against the guardians of the socio-political constitution, Brahmarakshas, who were in search of procedural errors to frustrate such emergence of an ordinary king as a samrat and becoming the final arbiter of all disputes and thereby setting the importance of the highest judiciary at naught. He also warned that during the performance of rajasuya sacrifice some cause might arise that would lead to destruction of the cadres of warriors, kshatriyas, and the commonalty (bhumi) and a war in which many would die. Narada advised the king to always protect (all) the four social classes (varnas) and to assist the Brahmans with liberal gifts. Yudhishtira who was a Dharmaraja then began to deliberate with his brothers on performing the rajasuya sacrifice.
YUDHISHTIRA'S RAJASUYA SACRIFICE AND JARASAMDHA
YUDHISHTIRA AND DHARMARAJYA
Retired Dharmarajas had place in Dharmarajasbha
Yudhishtira realised that kings who functioned as Dharmarajas had only limited powers (as interpreters of social laws, dharmas, and as rulers entitled to implement those findings impartially). They could on retirement have a place only in the galaxy of Dharmarajasabha as many prominent rulers including Bharata, Bhagiratha, Marutta, Mamdhata, Dushyanta, Pandu, Rama, Prthu and others had. He had to adopt the Rajarshi constitution to be able to function as the head of the executive as well as of the legislature. Harischandra had performed rajasuya sacrifice in accordance with the rules prescribed in the code (sastra) governing the conduct of a Rajarshi. Yudhishtira wanted to follow that procedure and perform the rajasuya sacrifice under the provisions of the Rajarshi constitution.
Vaishampayana told Janamejaya who had many kings functioning under his suzerainty but had not performed that sacrifice that Dharmaraja (Yudhishtira) after scrutinising the constitutions and codes decided to embark on this project that required him to go beyond his then authority and powers and be a successful conqueror first. But he needed time to plan that project. Meanwhile, he continued to function as a Dharmaraja, administering all his subjects (prajas) without discriminating amongst them and protecting dharma and helping all. He had no enemies among the native population (jana), especially of the rural areas.
While the king extended liberal grants (anugraha), Bhimasena looked after the security of the people and Arjuna after destroying the enemies. Nakula collected the tributes from the vassals and Sahadeva prescribed the duties of the various peoples and individuals. Nakulas humility kept out revolt in the rural areas (desa). While the people pursued their respective vocations, direct administration by the king helped the (new) economy of money lending, offering of special sacrifices, protection of cattle, agriculture and trade to flourish. The rural areas were under the vassals who paid tributes (bali) regularly without afflicting the subjects adversely and keeping out diseases and fire. The king ensured that no harm was done on account of theft and deception and quarrels among the kings vassals or by his favourites.
As the vassals wanted to please the king who resorted to the six-fold policy (shadguna) to control his circle of states and paid the tributes due to him to show that their efforts in administration were fruitful, they kept good relations with the traders of different social origins (communities, jatis). Vaishampayana told Janamejaya that all peoples of all the ten directions loved Yudhishtira as they would love their parents. While the king was established in administering according to the principles of dharma, the peoples were free to improve their economic lot and enjoy their wealth, as they liked.
Dharmarajya provided just governance while ensuring economic freedom for all sections of the population and for all individuals. Vaishampayana implied that the state under Yudhishtira did not collect taxes from or regulate the expenses of the people. Its main sources of income were the tributes (bali) paid by the vassals, voluntary contributions made at the sacrifices (yajna) by the rich and the interest collected on loans advanced by the state.
Dharmarajya was not a theocratic state. It preceded the contractual state envisaged by Manu Vaivasvata according to which every one had to pay one sixth of his earnings as tax (kara) to be eligible for protection of his life and property by the state. Manu Vaivasvatas state removed the practice of compulsory levy (bali) of one-fifth of ones earnings to be collected by the local administrators who were vassals of the king and enjoyed considerable freedom in collecting the tributes and surrendering them to the king.
When the people, especially the rich, offered to pay the contributions voluntarily to the state through sacrifices (yajna), the amount to be parted with was nearly one-fourth of their earnings. But the beneficiaries were not only the ruling elite of nobles (devas) but also the sages (rshis) and the senior citizens (pitaras) who had retired to their forest abodes.
Yajna and bali
Both systems, yajna and bali were in vogue during the regime of Yudhishtira. He however gave away three-fourth of the collections by these two sources as advances (anugraha) to the commoners, especially agriculturists, who were in need of financial assistance and collected not more than fifteen percent of the loan as interest. Traders and artisans would have been required to pay a higher rate of interest. Yudhishtiras regime was post-feudal but it was not a rational economic state.
FROM DHARMARAJYA TO SAMRAJYA
Yudhishtira consulted his brothers and his ministers several times about his plan to perform a rajasuya sacrifice. The ministers endorsed his plan, which would give him the status and powers of the Vedic official, Varuna, who as ombudsman determined which social or political act was a valid and pronounced verdict on disputes pertaining to them. Varuna could take into custody those who did not obey his verdict. One who completed the rajasuya sacrifice as prescribed was called sarvajit, one who had conquered all. It of course required the use of his kshatriya prowess. The conquered rulers promised to obey his directives. The friends of the king too gave advice individually and jointly. His brothers too supported him. Yudhishtira reassessed his strength and decided to perform that act, rajasuya, which was in accordance with the provisions of dharma (rajadharma).
Yudhishtira (though highly powerful) wanted to consult his brothers and ministers and officials and his political guides, Dhoumya and Vyasa. He consulted also the king of Virata and Drupada, Satyaki, Yudhamanyu and Uttamoja and Abhimanyu (son of Subhadra) and the sons of Draupadi. Members of his assembly told him enthusiastically that he was competent to perform the rajasuya sacrifice. But he decided to consult Krshna who as Janardana was capable of arousing the enthusiasm of the people. He sent a messenger to Krshna, according him the status of his teacher (acarya). Then Krshna arrived at Indraprastha with his general, Indrasena. Yudhishtira told him his proposal and sought his guidance, for friends and brothers and even ministers did not pay attention to the faults likely to be present in the project. (Ch.13 Sabhaparva)
Krshna agreed that Yudhishtira was eligible to perform the rajasuya sacrifice but he would ask him to ponder over one aspect. Those who were then recognized, as Kshatriyas, were the descendants of those Kshatriyas who had been spared by Parasurama, son of Jamadagni. They had accepted a certain counsel so that their lineages could continue without being wiped out. Yudhishtira was aware of it, Krshna said.
The Kshatriyas who were rulers of the agro-pastoral plains (bhumi) deemed themselves to be subjects of either the Puru lineage or the Ikshvaku lineage. [These were known as lunar (soma) and solar (surya) lineages.] There were one hundred and one lineages of kings belonging to these two groups. The Bhojas who were descendants of Yayati were then flourishing and had spread in all directions, Krshna pointed out. All the Kshatriyas agreed to recognise their lordship as Isvaras in accordance with the agreement that had been arrived at to stop Parasurama from killing the remaining kings.
Krshna told Yudhishtira that only recently then Jarasamdha had by his prowess subordinated the lordship (aisvarya) of all the Bhojas (who were essentially agriculturist chieftains) and got crowned as their chief. Ruling the Madhyadesa (the area between Sindhu and Yamuna and north of Narmada) he planned to create dissensions among the rulers there. Krshna said that a ruler who through his wealth and army gained the power of sovereignty (prabhusakti) and controlled the social world (loka) of commonalty secured an empire (samrajya) by his power. It was not enough to have charismatic appeal and traditional legitimacy to become an emperor.
JARASAMDHA AND RETIREMENT OF THE FIVE GREAT EMPERORS
Even Sisupala (of Cedi) joined Jarasamdha (of Magadha) and became his general, Krshna pointed out. Dantavakra, the ruler of Karusa, who was known for the war of deception, had to accept Jarasamdha as his teacher and wait on him! Several other powerful generals and kings had accepted Jarasamdha as their leader. Bhagadatta, a friend of Pandu, who had a soft corner for the Pandavas, was then serving Jarasamdha. Only Purujit who ruled Kuntidesa was a supporter of Yudhishtira. The odds were then against the Pandavas. Jarasamdha had set up in the eastern states like Pundra, Vanga and Kirata, PaundraVasudeva who wore arms and dressed like the latter and claimed that he was Purushottama, as a rival to Vasudeva Krshna. He had also set up a Bhoja ruler as a rival to Bhishma with the title, Bhishmaka. Eighteen Bhoja clans had aligned with Jarasamdha.
Even Panchalas and Kuntis were afraid of him and fled even before his first batch of troops moved out of his capital, Girivraja, in the eastern province of south Magadha. He had arrived at a political pact with Kamsa, son of Ugrasena through marital alliance. This deal led to the defensive alliance between Ahuka and Akrura, leaders of two Yadava clans and their alliance with Krshna. Krshna and his brother, Samkarshana, killed Kamsa and his associate, Sunama. They organised the eighteen clans against Jarasamdha but failed to defeat him as the latter had the services of two powerful generals, Hamsa and Dimbhaka.
Fear of Jarasamdha had led to the migration of the Yadavas from Mathura to the west where they constructed Kusasthali, a highly fortified town on the Raivataka hills near Dwaraka. As long as Jarasamdha was alive it was not proper for the Kshatriyas to declare Yudhishtira as king of kings. Besides, Yudhishtira would have to defeat Bhishma, Duryodhana, Karna, Sisupala, Ekalavya, Rukmi and others before performing Rajasuya sacrifice.
In Krshna's opinion, it would be impossible for the Pandavas to perform this sacrifice as long as Jarasamdha who enjoyed the patronage of Umapati Mahadeva was alive. Jarasamdha had captured several kings and imprisoned them in his capital, which he renamed as Purushavraja to mark his prowess. If Yudhishtira wanted to perform the rajasuya sacrifice, he should plan to kill Jarasamdha and free the imprisoned kings, Krshna said.
Yudhishtira reflecting on Krshna's account of the then political alignments said that it was better not to aspire for the status of an emperor, samrat. He knew that all political deliberations about acquisition of inhabited land (bhumi) dealt with a vast field covering several stages dealing with risks, means and valuable gains. Only after acquisition of favourable factors and avoiding the unfavourable ones, a commoner could gain profit, according to the theory dealing with acquisition of lands. As it took a long time to observe tangible gains in ones endeavours, he opted to give up striving. Yudhishtira felt that by such withdrawal from his aim to gain honour and immediate gains he would get real benefit (sreyas).
In his view real greatness could not be achieved by performing rajasuya sacrifice. But his brothers wanted that one of them should become superior to other kings. Yudhishtira did not think that he was in a position to kill Jarasamdha. But he wondered whether one of them, Krshna, Balarama, Bhimasena and Arjuna could kill that overlord. Bhima flinging a broadside against Yudhishtira said that only a king who did not endeavour and a weak king who opposed a stronger one without proper means and was beaten withdrew.
Even a weak king by using the means correctly without indolence according to the principles of political policy (rajaniti) would be able to overcome a stronger king and achieve his objectives, Bhima asserted. He said that Krshna knew the means while he had the strength and Arjuna had victory on his side. The three together could destroy Jarasamdha, he said. Krshna remarked that the young embarked on projects without foresight. Kshatriyas would not tolerate such ambitious youths who opposed them, he said. Hence Bhima should not be hasty, Krshna advised him.
Mamdhata, Kartavirya, Marutta
Mamdhata became a great emperor as he conquered the internal and external enemies, who could be conquered. Bhagiratha did so by good administration of his subjects; Kartavirya Arjuna by power of persistence (tapas) in his endeavours, Bharata by the strength of his political policy (niti) and Marutta by his wealth. Krshna was pointing out the different means by which empires had been set up. These great emperors carried with them their clans. They did not make it appear that it was their personal achievement. They had charismatic appeal. Not all kings who had annexed the territories of others could be called emperors, samrats. Not all empires could be accused of having been exploitative.
Yudhishtira wanted his empire to have all the five traits. It had to be militarily strong so that all those who had to be subjugated were conquered. Most rulers consented not to oppose the stronger ruler and entered into treaties of peace with him. But there were some who would not follow this policy and would come in conflict with the aspirant to the status of king of kings. Such rulers had to be put down by military might. The fame of Mamdhata was because of his ability to put down resistance to his authority.
The empire had to provide good administration and treat all its citizens (subjects, prajas) as eligible for equal rights, as Bhagiratha did. Krshna envisaged the empire as a social welfare state and not as a pure power structure. It had to be a progressive state with its rulers, peoples and administrators engaged in positive endeavours for discovering of new knowledge and new means to harness the forces of nature.
[Krshna had admiration for Kartavirya Arjuna though Parasurama and the Bhrgus were against his regime. The annotators appear to have erred in attributing to Kartavirya the traits that Bhagiratha was known for.] An empire need not be built by and sustained on the basis of the military prowess of the overlord. It could follow the policy sciences (nitisastra) and expand its domain step by step using the four means (sama, dana, bheda and danda) and the six-fold policy (shadguna, samdhi, vigraha, yana, asana, dvaidibhava and samasraya) and the dual policy of encouragement and suppression (anugraha and nigraha) as the great emperor, Bharata, did.
Or the king may be so rich that he bought off all the seven units (angas) of the other state by his economic power without using coercive tactics, as Marutta did. Many welcomed it, as no blood was shed. Like Kartavirya, Marutta too was not approved by the Bhrgus for he did not use just (dharma) methods to become an emperor. It was achieving political power through economic power. Yudhishtira wanted to be an emperor who had conquered all those who deserved to be subjugated, administered his country properly, made strenuous endeavour to gain new knowledge and new skills and means, increased his wealth and followed the policy sciences as, Mamdhata, Kartavirya, Bhagiratha, Marutta and Bharata respectively did.
Emperors did not emerge in every epoch. For most of the centuries there have been no emperors who could bring the entire subcontinent together under the reign of one suzerain. Every region or district had its own mild titular king or oligarchy, which had no dynamism though it could defend itself successfully against aggressors. In the political vacuum caused by the death or retirement of these emperors, Jarasamdha had stepped in.
Krshna asked Yudhishtira to note that Jarasamdha was then ruling as an invincible emperor. More than one hundred recognised Kshatriya clans failed to fight against him. Hence by his physical prowess he was administering his empire, Krshna said.
Jarasamdha's was purely a military empire. The vassals went with huge tributes to wait on him. He was not a mature king and did not adhere to the prescribed political policy (niti). Jarasamdha who had the status of only the first among the commoners (manushyas) carried away even those kings who were duly crowned as autonomous rulers (rajas) and were according to the political constitution superior to him in rank. None among the commoners refrained from being on his side. Within his country he had no opposition. On the other hand all members of the commonalty opted to back him. He was conducting himself as a leader with total popular support bent on putting under arrest all rulers whether autonomous kings or not.
Krshna did not know how to overcome Jarasamdha who was then at Tandulaprastha (granary) worshipping (seeking the counsel of) Siva (Mahadeva). Yudhishtira and other Kshatriyas should fight for their honour and die on the battlefield and not be captured and marked for sacrifice. Jarasamdha had not yet captured all the kings. With the help of the few free kings they should stand against Jarasamdha. If these kings too were captured Jarasamdha would have gained total power and there would be total suppression. Krshna told Yudhishtira that he who conquered Jarasamdha could surely become an emperor.
Yudhishtira did not want to lose his two brothers, Bhima and Arjuna who were for him like his two eyes and his counsellor, Krshna, dying for his sake in their battle against Jarasamdha. He would rather give up his plan to perform the rajasuya sacrifice and forget his ambition to become an emperor. But Arjuna offered to undertake the task of facing Jarasamdha. He said that he had acquired besides a highly powerful bow and arrows and missiles, valour and assistance and inhabited lands and fame and skill that stood good for him. Those who had mastered the skills attributed that mastery to birth in a high clan. Arjuna did not agree with that claim. He was not boasting of having been born in a high (Kshatriya) clan. He would value only prowess.
Utsaha, enthusiasm not enough
Arjuna knew that though born in a family of valorous persons some were not valorous while some were valorous though not born in such families. He held that one who was bent on conquering the enemies would succeed though he might not have other traits. All noble traits were connected with the valorous. For victory, one needed zeal (utsaha), he pointed out. But it was not enough; enthusiasm required to be aided by deed and fortune, he held. It was not enough to have the implements; one had to have the zeal to put them to use, lest he should be defeated by the enemies. Often one had the strength but lost the battle against the enemy for lack of zeal and lack of awareness of his strength.
A king who desired to win should get these weaknesses removed, Arjuna said in a broadside against Yudhishtira. He was for destroying Jarasamdha and freeing the kings captured by him to be able to perform the rajasuya sacrifice. Only if it was certain that they were not competent to embark on the project they might refrain from it. But as they were in every way eligible to perform that sacrifice why should they think that they were not fit to be conquerors. Later they might easily give up all attachments and become ascetics but they were then capable of becoming emperors and should go to war with the enemies.
Krshna agreed that what Arjuna said befitted one who belonged to the lineage of Bharata. He said that none could avoid death or foretell when he would die. Krshna pointed out that one could not escape death by not fighting. Commoners (manushyas) could only resort to the means suggested in the policy sciences (nitisastras) and satisfy their minds. Avoiding the harmful means and adding the good ones enhanced the merit of the commencement of a project. Support of associates did give special advantage and altered the balance of power. One who did not have the advantage of the (four) means (sama, dana, bheda and danda) and of deliberations in council was bound to fail, Krshna warned. If both were equal in power it was uncertain who would win.
Hence they should secretly enter the enemys territory and maintaining secrecy of their identity and purposes learn the strength of the enemy, he suggested. Not to fight with an enemy who was stronger was the policy of the clever, he agreed. Only the best of leaders (purushas) guarded the wealth of the state (rajyalakshmi) that had five organs (ministry, city, rural areas, treasury and army) even as the (human) body composed of five elements (bhutas) was guarded by the soul (atma) within it, Krshna said. Such a leader never took rest. Krshna said that they, who were fighting to protect their clans, need not fear that after they killed Jarasamdha they would be killed by his remaining troops but should welcome it as a chance to enter svargaloka. Yudhishtira wanted to know who Jarasamdha was and how he became powerful and how he could survive even after quarrelling with Krshna.
Powers exercised by Brhadratha
Jarasamdha was the son of Brhadratha a rich and powerful ruler of Magadha who had his capital at Girivraja, a mountain fort. Though Brhadratha was but from the higher ranks of the commonalty he was given the honour due to a rajanya of the Vedic times. These rajanyas could keep company with aristocrats and plutocrats. He exercised the powers of the later Vedic officials designated as Indra, Aditya (Surya), Bhumi, Yama and Kubera who headed the aristocracy, army and administrators, the agro-pastoral commonalty, the judiciary and the treasury respectively. He had the traits of one belonging to a higher clan but his administration was tuned to the welfare of the commonalty. He married the twin daughters of the king of Kasi and treated the two without impartiality. As he had no sons by them he had to abdicate his throne.
He went to the sanctuary of tapasvis along with his wives and Brahman counsellors and met Chandakausika, a sage and son of the Vedic scholar, Kaksivan. That tapasvi, researcher, gave him a mango and counsel on how to overcome his sterility and sent him back to his kingdom to govern his subjects in accordance with dharma. He also prayed that Brhadrathas son would be devoted to Brahmans (jurists), invincibility in battles, sharpness of intellect, playing a good host, looking after the poor, powerful physique, fame, and affection of his subjects. Brhadratha returned to his capital.
Brhadratha and Jara
But what were born were unformed foetuses, which had to be thrown away. According to the legends, a woman guard, Jara, picked them up and united them into one body. To be rational, Jara, in the guise of a commoner woman presented to the wives of Brhadratha a warrior lad to be adopted by them and the king as prince claiming that she had protected and brought up their son. The parents did not realise that he was but the son of a militant woman guard who did not adhere to dharma. Brhadratha would treat her as a devata, a benevolent leader of the social periphery while she was but a banished violent woman residing there as a forest guard.
Vaishampayana identified Jara with the concept of Grhadevi, the noble lady (devi) and young mother protecting the houses of commoners (manushyas) from the feudal lords (asuras) and whose figure was drawn on the walls and worshipped with the hope that the household would prosper and have many children born there. As Jara had given the lad, Brhadratha who knew the social constitution as interpreted by Brahma, the high judge, named the lad as Jarasamdha. According to the fables, joining the two foetuses cast away by the wives of Brhadratha Jarasamdha was formed and that it took a long time for the premature child to be properly formed and when formed it grew into a mighty lad.
Chandakausika and Jarasamdha
Chandakausika was a charlatan whose services were drawn upon by Janamejaya for the sarpayajna that he performed. [It was a massacre of innocent workers of the forests, sarpas.] He told Brhadratha that the lad would become a powerful king subordinating all other kings and would rule a rich agricultural country (bhumi) inhabited by all the four classes (varnas). He would be ruler of Magadha and would be superior to all social worlds (lokas) and would meet directly the great socio-political thinker and activist, Mahadeva, he told Brhadratha.
Krshna told Yudhishtira (who had the status of Dharmaraja) that Brhadratha brought Jarasamdha to his capital and crowned him as king and retired to the grove of tapasvis and soon passed away. Jarasamdha became an independent sovereign and administered the country ably following the directions given by Chandakausika. His two counsellors, Hamsa and Dimbhaka, who fell at Krishnas hands, assisted Jarasamdha. Their daughters sought Jarasamdhas protection who threw a mace at the direction of Mathura indicating his challenge to Krshna. Antakas, Vrshnis and their associates did not go to war with Jarasamdha because they did not want to annoy the sages who favoured him and had outlined a policy (niti) regarding when going to war was valid.
Krshna told Yudhishtira that Jarasamdha was then without ally, having lost Hamsa, Dimbhika and Kamsa and could be cornered by the former along with Bhima and Arjuna. He asked Yudhishtira to place his two brothers under the protection of the former. Yudhishtira agreed to his request and hoped that with the support of Krshna and Arjuna, Bhima would be able to overcome Jarasamdha.
He noted that it was said that the armed troops were blind and lacked wisdom and should be led by one who knew the techniques of war. Yudhishtira did not rate military strength highly. He hence proposed that his brothers, ministers and allies should depend on the counsel given by Govinda (Krshna?), the independent leader (purusha) who could conduct all affairs according to the procedure prescribed in the techniques (tantra) of state (rajya).
Priority to intellect, tactics and prescribed means
Yudhishtira told Krshna and his brothers that while executing the project undertaken, to achieve its objectives, the fruits of the efforts, they should give priority to strength of intellect (buddhi) and strength of strategy and tactics (yukti) along with deed proper and resort to prescribed means (upaya). On what should be done, Arjuna (who had the strength of zeal) should follow Krshna (who had the strength of intellect and strategy) and Bhima (who had physical strength) should follow Arjuna, he instructed.
Combination of policy (niti), power (sakti) confidence born of repeated success (jaya) and physical strength would yield the desired result in war, he opined. Krshna, Bhima and Arjuna adopted the guise of Brahman scholars and jurists (Brahma) engaged in tapas, and resembling the three Vedic officials, Surya, Chandra and Agni, and with Bhima at their head went from Kurukshetra to the capital of Magadha, the eastern province, to kill Jarasamdha.
The three sneaked through the five hills amidst which Girivraja was situated. According to the chronicler the famous Vedic sage, Dirghatamas, stayed in the palace of the king of Magadha and procreated sons for him on his wife. The technocrats (nagas), Arbuda and Chakravapi and others had their houses in that valley. Gandharvas and rakshas too had their homes there. Maniman, a naga, was said to be a popular benefactor of commoners (manushyas). Avoiding Jarasamdhas invitation to be his guests, Krshna asked him to meet them after midnight.
Krshna on Kshatriyas and Brahmans
Jarasamdha saw through their guise and accused them of being Kshatriyas and not Brahman scholars. Krshna pointed out that all scholars whether Brahmans or Kshatriyas or Vaisyas were expected to wear white robes while they had their special adornments too. The three had entered the palace without arms and Jarasamdha could not guess their purpose. Krshna told him that unlike Kshatriyas, Brahmans spoke with authority while the constitution, Brahma, had vested its power in Kshatriyas and that they were prepared to exhibit it. They declined his offer to be his guests as they had come to the house of an enemy.
Jarasamdha was aggrieved that his guests treated him as their enemy though he had not harmed them. They might be justified in getting angry with him if he had violated the politico-economic (artha) and socio-cultural (dharma) codes and harmed their interests. He warned them that if a kshatriya general who should know his duties (dharma) went against these codes and made his opponent who was faultless depart from the codes and become guilty, he would be declared a sinner. He would lose the opportunity to gain the membership of the higher and nobler (punya) cadres (lokas) like those of legislators (maha), researchers (tapa) and judges (satya).
Those who acted in accordance with the codes deemed the duties of kshatriyas to be highly respectable, Jarasamdha pointed out indicating that their resorting to deception was undesirable. They did not praise the duties of any other cadre. He asserted that their charges about him who stuck resolutely to the code of conduct (dharma) prescribed for kshatriyas and refrained from harming his subjects were senseless, he said. Krshna in his capacity as Vasudeva told him that they had come there under the directions of a personage who had no equals and who was bearing the responsibility for carrying out the tasks of his clan (kula).
Krshna did not declare the name of the person who he was working under or his clan. He allowed Jarasamdha to wonder whom he was working for. Krshna charged Jarasamdha with having brought all recognised rulers (kshatriyas) to be offered as sacrifice (bali) to Rudra (Samkara, a bhagavan, head of an academy of socio-political thinkers and activists). So he was wrong in thinking that he was flawless. It was wrong for a king to harass gentle kings, Krshna pointed out. Most of these kings were in reality administrators of small areas. Addressing him as the son of Brhadratha, a noble king Krshna said that the sin committed by Jarasamdha was affecting all kings including them and that as those who performed socially and morally good deeds, dharma, they had the power to protect those approved social laws and deeds, dharma.
They had come to him in pursuit of their duty, Vasudeva said. A sacrifice where men had been killed had never been seen, he said. [It is wrong to interpret purushamedha sacrifice as one in which men were killed as sacrificial goats were.] He asked Jarasamdha why he thought of offering men as sacrifice to Samkara and was violating the traditional laws. Though he had intellect Jarasamdha was not using it. No one else would treat his own clan (of kings) in which he was born as but cattle that could be sacrificed.
Krshna on karma, deed
Krshna warned that whatever deed (karma) one did on a particular occasion that person would experience its results at the same time (not in the next birth or later in his life). He suggested that wrong deeds should be punished immediately and so too good deeds be rewarded immediately. They had come on the mission of ensuring the prosperity of the lineages of clans (kula) sympathising with those families that were in sorrow having lost their members, to kill him for having ruined them. Krshna told Jarasamdha that his thinking that he was the only assertive leader (purusha) among the kshatriyas (who were warriors and also administrators) indicated major distortion in his intellect (buddhi).
Implying that Jarasamdha did not know in which clan he was born, Krshna said that a Kshatriya, who knew his clan would welcome the unequalled and permanent status in the social cadre of nobles (svargaloka) that resulted from his participation in war. Krshna told that leader (who was yet to realise that he was not a born kshatriya) that it was only with the intent to attain that status kshatriyas got prepared to conquer other communities (lokas). Acquisition of wide learning and of fame and glory and intensive endeavour to discover new means and facts (tapas) were other ways to attain that status, he agreed. But death in war was a sure method to attain svargaloka, the chronicler commented. It led one to a place in the gallery of the victorious, called Vaijayanta, in Indras palace.
Indra, the head of the nobles (devas), had the traits that were necessary to hold that position, that is, had wide learning, valour and preparedness to die in war, fighting for the honour of his clan and intense effort to discover new knowledge and new means. He defeated the feudal lords (asuras) and protected all the three social worlds in fulfilment of his mission. [It is implied that he was a kshatriya who had through his extraordinary exploits and talents attained the status of Indra, the chief of the nobles.] Krshna warned Jarasamdha not to be proud of the hugeness of the Magadhan army and treat others with contempt. Not every man was powerful. A king had prowess only till he met an equal or superior in war. As they could withstand his prowess Krshna told him to give up his rage and pride when facing his equals.
Vasudeva as Isvara
He warned the king of Magadha not to fight against the three for it would result in his being tried by Yama along with his sons, ministers and troops for violation of codes. Krshna pointed out that Dambhodva, Uttara, Kartavirya and Brhadratha faced ruin along with their troops because they treated their superiors with contempt. Krshna agreed that he and his friends had planned to kill him by deception and that they were not Brahmans.
He introduced himself as Vasudeva who had controlled his five senses, that is, he was a charismatic benevolent leader of the rank of Isvara who controlled all the five internal organs (ministry, city, rural areas, treasury and army) of his state. He introduced his companions as sons of Pandu. He said that he was their maternal uncles son, Krshna, and was Jarasamdhas enemy. He challenged Jarasamdha to battle and free all the kings he had captured. Only Jarasamdha was indicted. Krshna was willing to spare his ministers and troops.
Jarasamdha would only tease Krshna as but a cowherd and coward who fled from him to the distant island, Dwaraka. He held the two Pandavas, Bhima and Arjuna as weaklings and threatened to throw them as prey to his lions. Krshna then withdrew his offer to spare his ministers and generals and warned that he would not be able to return to his town. Jarasamdha said that as a Kshatriya he had taken the vow to offer the kings, rajanyas, as sacrifice to the devata (Rudra) and that he would not retract on it. He would lead his army if the enemy came with his army. If the enemy came alone or with two or three persons he would fight alone. He was referring to the then agreed upon ethics of war. Samkara (Rudra, Mahadeva) had not banned war but had regulated that the two opponents should be on equal level and fight with equal weapons.
Jarasamdha departs from Mahadeva constitution
Jarasamdha had vowed to wipe out the entire cadres of rajanyas who claimed to be closer to the nobles than to the kshatriyas who belonged to the commonalty. The Mahadeva constitution had prescribed that the electoral college of rajanyas would elect one from its ranks as head of the nation-state. It subordinated the elected king to the Prajapati, the charismatic chief of the people, who represented the nation (rashtra) and the coercive power of the state (kshatram) and created four independent institutions, sabha, sena, samiti and sura (treasury). The army and administration would be in the hands of the new class of kshatriyas while the nobles (devas) would oversee the implementation of the state policy.
Wipes out electoral college of Rajanyas
Jarasamdha was subverting that system by wiping out the electoral college of assertive rajanyas. (He however claimed to be a devotee of Mahadeva.) He tried to bring the entire country under the new order by which all new heads of states would be his appointees. He determined to fight with the trio, Krshna, Bhima and Arjuna and nominated his son, Sahadeva, to succeed him if he fell. He also placed Kausika and Chitrasena who often reminded of the two generals, Hamsa and Dimbhika, (who had risen from commonalty) in charge of his son and his fort.
The socio-political constitution, Brahma, had specified that one other than a Yadava might kill Jarasamdha who was a highly powerful commoner (bhumi). It wanted to discourage conflicts between peasants and owners of cattle. Hence Krshna who adhered to the later Vedic laws based on truth (satya) and was a great intellectual did not want to battle against Jarasamdha though he had the same prowess as Balarama had in duels.
Janamejaya wanted to know from the chronicler, Vaishampayana, what led to the enmity between Krshna and Jarasamdha. The chronicler narrated to him the episode about the prophecy that the eighth son of his minister, Vasudeva, who had married his sister, Devaki, would kill Kamsa, the eldest son of Ugrasena. Vasudeva substituted that son, Krshna, by a girl child whom he had purchased from a Yadava.
As Krshna was brought up by Yasodara, wife of a cowherd, he was deemed to be a Yadava. Vasudeva and his wife, Devaki had a status above that of Bhojas who were agriculturists and Surasenakas who were Kshatriyas. But they did not have the status of traditional nobles, which Vasus were. They belonged to the cadre of big landlords and were closer to the Bhojas.
After they grew up, Krshna and his brother, Balarama, helped Ugrasena to get back the kingdom which his son, Kamsa, had usurped from him. Kamsa was a Bhoja, an agriculturist king. He harassed the Yadavas who were owners of cattle. Jarasamdha who had struck an alliance with Kamsa made the son of the latter ruler of Surasenakas, who were Kshatriya warriors of the south Ganga-Yamuna doab. He also led a huge army against Ugrasena and the Yadavas and chased them away from Mathura. This led to the enmity between Krshna and Jarasamdha.
Fifty kings were freed; invited for the rajasuya sacrifice
The free style wrestling in which no holds were barred resulted in Jarasamdha being killed by Bhima. Then Krshna aided by Bhima and Arjuna freed the kings who were kept in Jarasamdhas prison. The freed kings consented to accept Krshnas suzerainty. Driving Jarasamdhas chariot, which originally belonged to Sakra Indra and was drawn by steeds used by the nobles Krshna made a state entry into Girivraja with Bhima and Arjuna on board. He invited the freed kings to attend the Rajasuya sacrifice to be performed by Yudhishtira at Indraprastha.
Jarasamdhas son, Sahadeva, along with his personal counsellors surrendered to Krshna acknowledging that the latter was the best of leaders, Purushas, and that he was Govinda (as he looked after cattle) as well as the son of Devaki (a lady belonging to the ranks of neo-aristocrats, devakas). Sahadeva offered huge cattle wealth and jewels as tribute to be paid to Yudhishtira who had the status of Dharmaraja. After installing him as king of Girivraja and entering into a treaty of friendship with him, Krshna invited Sahadeva to attend the Rajasuya sacrifice and coronation of Yudhishtira. Sahadeva agreed to attend them. Krshna returned to his capital while Dharmaraja (Yudhishtira) protected and administered his subjects (prajas) in such a way that they benefited in their pursuits of the three values of life, dharma, artha and kama.