DEVASTHANA OPPOSES RENOUNCING RULERSHIP
Bhima had addressed Yudhishtira as Janadhipa, as the chef of the natives (jana) of the region. He had implied that Yudhishtira was not ruling over a new territory from which he could withdraw at will. He could leave his post as the head of the native people and retire to the forest only with their permission. Yudhishtira thereupon drew his attention to the stoical Janaka of Mithila who was indifferent to the burning down of his city, as he held that his spiritual merit was his real wealth and that for him it was greater than the city. (This Janaka, a predecessor of Siradvaja, godfather of Sita, was in fact a cynic.) A ruler could not be coerced by the people to stay with them and protect them. He had the right to pursue his spiritual goals.
Importance of the concept, unity in diversity
Yudhishtira noted that only those who noticed unity in diversity would be able to become great intellectuals and not those who did not perform tapas, severe endeavour to discover to know the not-yet known, and are ignorant. He wanted to be a free intellectual. Arjuna then recalled to him how another Janaka of Videha was exhorted by his wife not to give up rulership and wealth and become an ascetic living on alms. He held that that Janaka though an intellectual was irrational. This Janaka was a stoic. Arjuna requested Yudhishtira not to be irrational but to perform his normal duties as a ruler.
Yudhishtira had studied karmasastra (science of duties) and Brahma (jurisprudence)
Yudhishtira who was annoyed by this exhortation told Arjuna that he had studied the sciences that dealt with performance of duties (karma) as an administrator and executive and also the sciences of jurisprudence (Brahmasastra) based on Brahma or Atharvaveda that incorporated the socio-political constitution of the Vedic times. He knew the directives of the Vedas on when and how to perform duties (karma) and when to give them up. These sciences might appear to contradict one another but he knew what the final stand (siddhanta) taken by them on this issue (of when to renounce worldly activities) was. He noted that Arjuna who was adamant against his retiring as an ascetic was not capable of understanding the true import of the science of work (karma) as he did not know what dharma was. It would appear that Yudhishtira had strong reservations about the school of karmayoga in which Arjuna was trained by Krshna.
Dharma; three steps, tapas, tyaga, avidhi
Going beyond the rules prescribed in the Vedas
However he admired Arjunas calibre as a warrior and his knowledge of war techniques. Yudhishtira pointed out that the learned had summarized dharma in three steps, tapas, tyaga and avidhi. This concept of dharma did not attach importance to performance of formal sacrifices (yajnas), offering charity (dana) and study of Vedas. It called for going beyond the restrictive rules prescribed in the Vedas as the final stage. Many were engaged in tapas and study of Vedas. They could attain the level of the community of nobles (devas) who held their position for ever. He implied that the scholars who through severe endeavour, tapas, discovered new means and methods were eligible to join the intellectual aristocracy which had the same privileges and immunities as the ruling cultural aristocracy had.
Some young scholars went to the forest for performing tapas. They became sages (rshis). Some rich Vaisyas (Aryas) gave up their wealth and went as ascetics to follow the path that made them nobles (devayana). It raised their status as Vaisyas, the upper crust of the commonalty (vis) to that of Visvedevas, from whose ranks the nobles, devas, were selected. They became permanent members of the social world (lokas) of nobles to which only ascetics (sanyasis) had access (as visitors). They had renounced (tyaga) wealth and were not considered to be aspirants to the status and benefits of affluent nobles. Yudhishtira explained that those who continued to do their duties (as householders) followed the path of their elders (pitryana), that is, retired to the forests and reached the social world of sober intellectuals (chandraloka). They spent their last days close to crematoria.
Avidhi: Status of the highest intellectual (Brahma)
The term, avidhi, indicated the status of the highest intellectual (brahma) who was free from all desires and sorrows and likes and dislikes. It eluded description and thought. Renunciation (tyaga) was a step towards that stage where one was not under any rule prescribed by the codes. This conclusion had been arrived at by the legislators-cum-sages (kavis who were Bhrgus) after scrutinizing the essential notes of the different sciences (sastras).
Yudhishtira held that persons who did not know this distinction among the three steps, tapas, tyaga and avidhi, ignored the Vedas and the Upanishads and the value of renunciation that led to one remaining alone. Such persons tried to identify atma (soul, ones identity, to be precise) by its external traits. The soul (atma) stays within the (social) body only because of ignorance that causes attachment to work and duty (karma). Yudhishtira implied that one who was attached to work and the status connected with that work was not a free individual (atma).
Moksha (freedom from obligations); Vairagya (dispassion)
He told Arjuna that even those who followed the science of work as duty (karmasastra) and performed the duties in a spirit of sacrifice (yajna) and charity (dana) accepted that the path towards freedom from obligations and interests (moksha) was the best. But some clever scholars argued that the very presence of the effects (phala) of the earlier deeds (karma) precluded the possibility of any one attaining that freedom from obligations (moksha).
Some liars wandered amidst congregations of peoples, propagating against this truth and high path, Yudhishtira pointed out. Only one who knew dharma would resort to meditation and rigorous endeavour (tapas) to discover the truth and reach the level of dispassion and determination (vairagya) needed for that purpose. The knowledge obtained thereby made him secure the status of the highest intellectual (Brahma). Yudhishtira asserted that renunciation (tyaga) gave one lasting comfort (sukham). (Santiparva Ch.19)
Four asramas as four steps to the level of pure knowledge (brahmam)
As Yudhishtira defended his proposal to resort to asceticism, Devasthana, a scholar who had obtained a place among the nobility by virtue of his severe endeavour (tapas) to find out new means and new knowledge and was an accomplished rhetorician offered to dwell on the merits of Arjunas stand that there was nothing more valuable than wealth (artha). He told Yudhishtira that the latter had conquered the lands (bhumi) in accordance with Rajadharma and that it was not proper for him to let those lands become waste lands and retire to the forest. He pointed out that the four stages of life (asramas) were four steps in the ladder that went up to the level of Brahmam, pure knowledge. He had to conquer them in order, in accordance with the prescribed rule.
Avidhi not prescribed for social ascent
Devasthana implied that the concept, avidhi, by which the highest level was to be reached without performing systematic endeavour (tapas) or renunciation (tyaga) of personal needs, comforts and desires but by dispassion (vairagya) was not part of the method prescribed for social and personal ascent. Yudhishtira should realize that the students who were engaged only in studying the Vedas were sacrificing their comforts. So too, the householders who performed good deeds for pure gains were engaged in sacrificing affluence. The elders who went to the forest (as vanaprasthas) to perform tapas and the ascetics (sanyasis) who sought the knowledge of Brahmam sacrificed all comforts.
Vanaprastha: earning wealth not allowed
Devasthana noted that the Brahmans (jurists) who had retired to the forests held that it was better to abandon desires than to work to earn wealth to get those desires fulfilled. A Kshatriya who was in that stage and worked for earning wealth would be guilty of violating the code of that stage, vanaprastha. He pointed out that the learned amassed wealth in accordance with the rules prescribed in the science of work (karma). But those who had bad desires utilized their physical labour and wealth for wrong purposes without discriminating between good and bad and neglected noble purposes like sacrifices (yajnas). They did not realize the enormity of the blemish caused to them and would not be declared as having pure achievements to their credit.
Approach of constitution towards work and wealth
According to this intellectual and aristocrat, the socio-political constitution (Brahma) had recognized as valid the wealth that was being used for purposes of sacrifices (yajnas). This stand has been interpreted later as Brahmadeva had created wealth for purposes of yajna. Wealth should be earned only for being offered in sacrifice to meet the needs of those cadres like nobles, sages and elders who were not engaged in economic activities or earning their livelihood through labour. The deed (karma) done would be considered to have been completed (siddhi) when the property formed as a result was given away in sacrifice. Devasthana was drawing attention to the approach of the constitution towards work (karma) and wealth (dravya).
He noted that Indra became the head of the nobility (devas) because he performed such sacrifices. Mahadeva became famous by his sarvamedha sacrifice in which he sacrificed his own body in addition to all that he had. Marutta, a king, acquired merit by his rich sacrifices and became superior to Indra, the king of the nobles. So too, Harischandra, who was born as a commoner and became a king, by his sacrifices got free from sorrows and conquered Indra of the nobles (devas). Hence all wealth should be offered in sacrifice, he urged. (Santiparva Ch.20)
Brhaspati's emphasis on contentment
Devasthana drew attention to the reply given by Brhaspati to Indra on whether only sacrifice was prescribed as a duty for the Kshatriyas (warriors and administrators) and whether such prescription was just. The nobles (devas) whom Indra headed were an affluent leisure class and they would be deprived of the right to function as warriors and administrators if these cadres were required to sacrifice their wealth and even lives and survive as a class without wealth. According to Brhaspati, contentment was the greatest comfort (sukham) and it was equal to the joy one experienced in the exclusive areas of the nobles (svarga). Brhaspati counselled that like the tortoise that pulls its organs within its shell, one should restrain all his desires for joy. Then he would in the status and position that he was, be able to lead a bright and clear life.
When one realizes his atma, individuality; Duties of the pious
One would realize his individuality (atma) when he fears none and none fears him and when he overcomes likes and dislikes. When a commoner does not attempt to harm any being who is at the lower rungs of the society by his deed or thought or speech, he attains the status of Brahma, that is, will be functioning in the spirit of the constitution. Devasthana counselled that if this method was adopted all the persons in the lower rungs of the society would benefit from the acts done from time to time in accord with their respective social codes (dharmas). Yudhishtira should know his personal duty (svadharma).
Some praised kind words of counsel and some praised endeavour (tapas). Some praised both and some neither. Similarly some praised the duty of offering sacrifice and some that of renunciation and some both and some neither. Some praised offering gifts and some accepting alms. Some left all these duties and became tapasvis. Some praised a harsh state that did not hesitate to kill the rebels. Some praised the policy of divide and rule for protecting the weaker sections of the society. The scholars held that duty (dharma) done without betraying the interests of the weaker sections was what was agreeable to the pious. Devasthana was not in favour of simplistic dichotomies. There could be more than three alternative means.
Ten duties prescribed for all
Devasthana drew attention to the ten duties prescribed for all persons by Manu Svayambhuva: non-betrayal, speaking the truth, charity, compassion, humility, procreation on ones wife, gentleness, modesty, forbearance and absence of desires. Devasthana said that a king who was in power in his state should be humble and free from likes and dislikes and live on what was left after offering sacrifices, (that is) meeting the needs of those whom he had to honour as persons not required to work, to earn their living. He must know the correct intents of the codes and always try to protect the pious and punish the guilty.
Rajadharma and Prajadharma
It was the duty (dharma) of the king to institute all his subjects (prajas) in the path of dharma. Devasthana was referring not to the provisions of varnasrama dharma but to inculcating in the subjects a correct knowledge of their rights and duties (dharma) vis--vis those of the state, especially that of its head, the king (rajan). This follower of Brhaspati said that after completing his duty of establishing every subject of the state in his svadharma, occupation and ways of life, the king might hand over the kingdom to his son and go to the forest and live on the forest products. He would have to perform the work prescribed for that stage of life. That would help him in the world of commoners as well as in the (other) world of nobles.
Many kings who adhered to the laws based on truth (satya) and practiced charity (dana) and performed tapas and protected their subjects, especially the weaker sections and cows and Brahmans and fought for them had risen in the social ladder. Vasus, Rudras, Adityas and Saddhyas were such former chieftains. They and the saintly kings (rajarshis) followed this dharma and performed their duties and became nobles, Devasthana said.
Arjuna reminded Yudhishtira that the latter had gained his state after defeating his enemies in accordance with the policy (niti) outlined for kings and that he need not feel sad. Of course, it was best for the kings to die in battle. He should think of following Kshatriya dharma which required him to perform many sacrifices (yajnas). (Devasthana had not given importance to this orientation.) It was only for the Brahmans death in sanyasa stage was prescribed. He said that while a Kshatriya should never part with his weapons, a Brahman who took up arms lost his right not to be killed in battle. Sanyasa, tapas and living on others wealth were not prescribed for Kshatriyas, he said.
VYASA ON THE DUTIES OF A KING
Vyasa clarified that the term, vidhi, meant what had been prescribed in the rules of the code (sastra). According to the code, the duty (dharmas) prescribed for the stage of householders was the best. Yudhishtira who knew dharma should perform his duty (svadharma) as prescribed in the code (sastra). For him, going to the forest giving up the householder stage was not prescribed. The householder was required to provide for the livelihood of the nobles (devas), elders (pitrs), guests (atithis) and servants and protect them. So too he had to protect animals, birds and other discrete individuals (bhutas) in the social periphery. In Vyasas view, it was very difficult to conduct oneself in a proper way as a householder. The post-Vedic orientation had slowly begun not to insist on the needs of the sages (rshis) being required to be provided for by the commoners.
King could not refuse to administer the inherited land
Vyasa would visualize rulership to be on par with householdership. Yudhishtira was asked to carry out the duties prescribed. They could not be followed easily by one who did not have his (state) organs (indriyas) under his control. Yudhishtira had full knowledge of the Vedas and had performed tapas to gain new knowledge. Hence he should undertake the burden of administering his inherited kingdom (rajyam). While a king might refuse to administer a newly acquired land, he could not refuse to protect the kingdom inherited by him.
Duties of a Kshatriya ruler
Addressing Yudhishtira as maharaja, head of the state as well as the legislature, Vyasa said that performing tapas and yajna, gaining knowledge about ones soul, seeking alms, conquest of senses, meditation, endeavour in learning, contentment with the wealth one had, being alone and offering charity according to ones means were duties (dharma) that enabled a Brahman to attain perfection (siddhi) in his life.
A Kshatriya, especially a ruler, was expected to perform sacrifice (yajna), learn all disciplines of study (vidyas) and should be persistent and not content with the wealth he had. He should use the coercive power (danda) for governing and protecting the subjects (prajas) (justly and impartially). He should study all the Vedas, perform tapas, have good conduct and earn wealth and distribute among the deserving departments (tirthas, patras) of the state. A king (raja) who performed his duties properly would be appreciated by the two social worlds (lokas), commoners and nobles.
Wielding danda primary duty
Wielding danda or sceptre justly was the best among the duties prescribed for a king. A Kshatriya ruler was vested with power and power lay in wielding danda, the rod and authority to use coercive power. This had been made a permanent arrangement.
Brhaspati: Kshatriya who did not fight and Vipras who did not wander through all countries would become agricultural workers
Vyasa pointed out that according to Brhaspati, the commonalty (bhumi) would swallow a Kshatriya who did not fight and a scholar who did not wander through all countries (spreading knowledge and culture). The members of these cadres would be treated as commoners (manushyas) and required to work on land if they failed to perform their duties.
Vyasa narrated to Yudhishtira the story of how Samkha took his younger brother, Likhita, to Sudyumna for being punished for theft of flowers. Sudyumna had to order the cutting of Likhitas hands though he had the authority to grant pardon. Rajarshi Sudyumna was declared to have done a meritorious need like Daksha (son of Pracetas) for following the law strictly. Yudhishtira should heed Arjunas request and not become a shaven monk. (Ch.23)
Yudhishtira, son of an official, Dharma, was as maharaja holding both posts head of the executive and head of the judiciary
Vyasa reminded him that he was the son of an official who held the post of Dharma and was then occupying the position of maharaja, the head of the executive as well as the legislature. He was a descendant of Bharata and also of Prthu, two great emperors of that time. He had to fulfill the hopes entertained by his brothers when they were in exile. He was required to rule the land even as Yayati (son of Nahusha) had to and did. He was the best among the free men (naras).
Yudhishtira might retire after discharging his duties to the nobles of the forest area, the elders and the weaker sections
He might leave after enjoying the three purposes, dharma, artha and kama along with his brothers. After discharging his debts to the nobles (devatas) of the forest areas, elders (pitrs) and the economically weaker sections (arthis), he could fulfill their expectations. The neo-Vedic social polity had ceased to treat the sages as a cadre to be maintained by the householders or by kings. They were looked after by the forest society and its chieftains. Vyasa impressed on him that as a king of the Kuru lineage he should perform asvamedha and sarvamedha sacrifices and become famous and then retire.
The laws meant for a conqueror
Yudhishtira, a charismatic and benevolent chief of free men (naresvara) was asked to note that what had been determined by those who knew the social laws (dharma) as the law meant for one who had obtained a state by conquest (vijaya). Among the different valuable means that would be useful for success in undertakings, what were manifest (pratyaksha) or could be inferred (anumana) were the best, it was said. One who knew the proof (pramana) was capable of applying the rule (vidhi) prescribed in the penal law (dandaniti). The penal law (danda) invoked without proof (of the guilt of the accused) would lead to the king who invoked it being killed, Vyasa warned. But if the king pardoned the guilty after taking into account the intent of the code (sastra) and the counter-availing circumstances of time and place, it was not a sin.
Ruler of the rural areas (bhumipati) receives as tax one-sixth of the earnings; protects the rashtra in return
A ruler of the rural areas (bhumipa) who had received one-sixth of the income of the subjects as levy but failed to protect the rural population (rashtram, the rural areas) was liable to share one-fourth of the sins committed by them, that is, had to pay one-fourth of the fines that were due to be collected from them for their acts of omission and commission. The king had to fearlessly exercise state laws (dharma) as incorporated in the dharmasastra, socio-cultural code, and be free from lust and rage. He should treat the weaker sections of the society impartially and patronizingly. Vyasa held that a king who commenced a just project would not be at fault if it remained incomplete because the nobles (devas) intended it not to succeed. No king could overrule the house of nobles which determined the policy of the state and could veto the executive at any stage.
No treaty with sinners; never sell or stake the kingdom
The king should control his enemies by his intellect and power. He should not enter into a treaty with sinners and never sell or stake (panya) his state (rajyam). He should while administering the state honour the warriors, the cultured and civilized (aryas), those who had done noble deeds and scholars. He should protect in particular the rich (dhani) and their wealth and cattle. He should appoint as officials those who had mastered special sciences in affairs pertaining to economic disputes (vyavahara) and social affairs (dharma).
Whom to appoint as officials
Vyasa asked him to appoint as officials in his advisory council and in the executive council persons who were specialists in jurisprudence (nyayaisastra) and logic (tarkasastra) and who knew well the laws of evidence and proof (pramana). If dandaniti was implemented by experts in social codes (dharmasastras) and logic (tarkasastra), Yudhishtira would be able to conquer all the three social worlds (lokas), nobles, commoners of the agro-pastoral plains and industrial frontier society.
Duties of a governor of rural areas (parthiva)
Vyasa asked the governor of the rural areas (parthiva) to arrange sacrifices (yajnas) officiated by those who knew the principles of Vedas. Those who knew the Vedic codes (sastras) were great intellectuals and were appointed by the king (raja). The parthiva who belonged to the commonalty was not competent to decide who was competent for these posts.
The four sciences, Anvikshiki (science of knowledge), three Vedas, economics (varta) and political polcy (Dandaniti)
The king should appoint experts in the science of knowledge (anvikshiki), the three Vedas, economics (varta) and Dandaniti (policy science dealing with coercive power and criminal jurisprudence), for dealing with all official work. Vyasa took the same line as Kautilya did while enumerating the four disciplines of study. Anvikshiki covered samkhya, yoga and lokayata. Those who had mastered all these four disciplines were considered to be the best among the intellectuals.
Do not depend on one person only: Vyasa did not approve Rajapurohita system
It was not wise to depend on one individual only however talented he might be, Vyasa counselled. He did not favour the system by which the king was required to depend on the Rajapurohita more than on others, it may be inferred. A king who failed to protect the weak who barely managed to survive and did not respect those who deserved to be respected and who was not restrained and was arrogant and hateful was considered to be a sinner, he said. The blame for the sufferings of those who were not protected and who suffered from famine and other calamities because they had offended the nobility (devas) and at the hands of thieves was cast on the king.
Parthiva as a social leader (purusha) should follow dandaniti to be free of the charge of violating dharma
He told the governor of the rural areas (parthiva) that he would be free from guilt of having violated the code of dharma if he as a social leader (purusha) guided the efforts of the commoners on all issues after careful consideration and without deviating from the principles of dandaniti.
What commoners (manushyas) should do was determined by nobles (devas)
It is likely that these efforts might get fulfilled in the manner in which the nobles desired. Some times they might not fructify. The king was an executive who supervised the activities of the commoners. What the commoners (manushyas) should do was determined by the house of nobles (devas). The king who was the supervisor of the activities of the commoners would not be faulted if he guided them in the proper way (though these efforts at times did not succeed).
In this connection, Vyasa drew Yudhishtira's attention to the episode involving Hayagriva who had performed great feats by defeating the enemies without assistance. He also led the way in governance (palana) according to the system of yoga of the manavas who had opted to join one or the other of the four classes instituted by Manava Dharmasastra. At that stage, he was known as Vajagriva, indicating that he belonged to the ranks of the gandharvas who were intellectuals as well as adventurous warriors. Hayagriva belonged to the nobility. His valour was appreciated by all the social worlds (lokas).
But he was once defeated by the mercenaries (dasyus) engaged by the feudal lords (asuras) and was reduced to the status of a commoner-warrior (asvagriva). The horses used by the nobles (devas), warlords (asuras), gandharvas and commoners (manushyas) were referred to as haya, arva, vaji and asva respectively. But by his disciplined work (karmasheela) he became a great individual (mahatma) and was admitted to the privileges of the nobility (svargaloka) and was restored the status of a gandharva knight, vajagriva.
He became a great intellectual who had sacrificed himself for the protection of the nation (rashtra). He fulfilled the intents of the nobles (devas) and the expectations of the commoners (manushyas) and governed the agricultural terrains (mahi) according to the principles of dandaniti giving up all shares in the produce as advocated by the science of yoga. Thereby he was recognized as a king (raja) with noble character (sheela) devoted to dharma and given a place in the nobility.
When he gave up his work in the social world of commoners (manushyas), that king (raja) joined the social world of intellectuals who had renounced work. According to Vyasa, Vajagriva who had studied the Vedas and the codes (sastras) and governed the state (rajyam) in a systematic way established the four classes (varnas) in their respective duties (svafharma) and was admitted to the privileges of the nobility (devaloka). It was by fulfilling his duties as a king including taking part in battles that Vajagriva, a gandharva knight obtained a place in the nobility (devas) and was honoured as Hayagriva. (Ch.24)
Fate cannot be altered
Yudhishtira said that neither the gaining of his state or other affluence could give him happiness as he could still hear the wailing of women who had lost their husbands and sons in battle. Vyasa who was an expert in Vedas and social laws (dharma) told him that it was not possible to alter what had been fated, that is, what had been determined by the nobles (devas) as events that should happen and when. Vyasa recounted to him the counsel given by Prasenajit, a famous king that all born as men were under the influence of Time (kala). Kings too died of old age.
Prasenajit: abandon egotism
Though it is said that men fight with each other, the reality is that one thinks that the other has attacked him and the other thinks that he has not attacked the other. The only solution was not to grieve for any happening and not to entertain fear. Prasenajit, a stoic, counselled that one should abandon egotism so that joy did not turn into grief. He said that the ignorant as well as the wise were both happy while those in the middle level were unhappy.
Protect the state according to dandaniti; charity puretst of dharma duties
Vyasa counselled that kings should get trained in warfare and administration of the state and in implementing the provisions of dandaniti. Protecting the state according to the policy science, performing sacrifice and offering charity were the purest of the duties (dharma). The king should treat all as equal. Such a king was absorbed on retirement in the nobility. Of course he should conquer new land but he should protect the subjects and establish its people in their duties according to their respective classes. Such a king would be praised by his ministers and the commoners of his state even after his retirement.
Reorganise his native population on varna basis; in conquered only those who agreed to be his prajas to be organised as varnas
Vyasa did not expect the king to reorganize the population of his native state on the basis of classes (varnas) and their laws (dharmas). Only in the newly conquered areas where the people consented to be his subjects (prajas), the new social laws (dharmas) and classes (varnas) were instituted. This enigma needs to be solved. No ruler would risk his position by calling upon the people of his country to give up their traditional ways and adopt new ones. Only conquerors would make bold to introduce new social and state laws. It may be remarked here that Kautilya found such moves to be impolitic and advised the dharmavijayi to instead aid the people of the conquered territory to follow their own laws consistently.
Respected by manavas only if the king was admitted to nobility
Vyasa said that though the king was admitted to the nobility and was not accessible to the commonalty, the manavas, members of the new classes established under Manava Dharmasastra, who were however not his subjects (prajas) and the members of urban and rural assemblies (paurajanapada) and the officials of the state (amatyas) respected that king (raja) as the best among rulers.
The institution of the new classes (varnas) and their codes raised these members above the level of commoners and made them citizens of the world. They were no longer subject to the codes of their original clans and communities but no codes of the clans of the country to which the conqueror belonged were thrust on them. The land was conquered but its people were enabled to become manavas, free citizens of the world. (Ch.25)
Masses of janapada valued only self-education and yajna
Before responding to Vyasas exhortation, Yudhishtira told Arjuna that he did not agree with his view that there was nothing superior to wealth (dhana) and that those who did not have wealth had no place in the nobility (svarga) and could not have comforts (sukham) and politico-economic (artha) influence. The representatives of the masses (bahu) who were natives of the region and were members of the janaloka (janapada) noticed that self-education (svadhyaya) and performance of sacrifices (yajna) were adequate for one to attain the goal (siddhi) of his exertion. Many silent monks (munis) who were engaged in severe endeavour (tapas) to discover new means and new knowledge could attain the desired social worlds (lokas) mentioned in the traditional (sanatana) works.
Who devas considered to be Brahmans
Yudhishtira told Arjuna (Dhanamjaya)who had gained huge wealth by his prowess that the sages who stayed in their abodes and whose views and ways (samaya) always protected all the social laws (dharmas) were considered by the nobles (devas) to be Brahmans (intellectuals and jurists). Among the sages some were engaged in self-study (svadhyaya) and some in gaining knowledge (jnana) through formal studies and some others in ensuring that the social laws (dharmas) were observed. In Yudhishtiras view the purposes (karyas) of those who sought knowledge (jnana) were based (pratishta) on the counsel given by the elders who had resorted to the life of vanaprasthas (vaikhanasas). The latter were neither conservatives committed to the Vedas which described the past ways of life nor pragmatists and liberals who outlined the Dharmasastras. Their interpretations were precise.
Members of Janaloka, Mahaloka and Tapaloka eligible for admission to intellectual aristocracy (Devaloka) but not to judiciary (Satyaloka)
Arjuna admired the affluent aristocracy and not the intellectual aristocracy admission to which was open to the representatives of the people of the janapada and sages who had mastered the Vedas and performed sacrifices and obtained perfection through concerted endeavour. Members of the janaloka (representatives of the commoners), mahaloka (legislators who were sages) and tapaloka (academicians who were researchers) were eligible to be admitted to the intellectual wing of the aristocracy (devaloka). But they were not recognized as eligible to be included in the cadre of judiciary (satyaloka, of the Vedic times and brahmaloka of the Upanishadic times).
Yudhishtira: performance of duty as southern path; performance of sacrifice, yajna as northern path
According to Yudhishtira, Ajas, Prsnis, Sikatas, Arunas and Ketus became nobles (devas) by fulfilling the duties of charity, self-study and performance of yajnas and by carrying out the onerous responsibility of ensuring law and order. He recalled to Arjuna his explanation that the path of performance of duty (karmamarga) was known as the southern path while the performance of sacrifice led one along the northern path. He quoted Yayati that when one controlled the sense organs and desires and was fearless and did not cause fear to others and had neither friends nor foes, he attained the stature of Brahma, the chief justice and interpreter of the constitution. When one gave up committing sins against the discrete individuals (bhutas) of the social periphery by word or thought or speech he was considered to have attained the status of Brahma.
Better not to seek wealth than to seek wealth for dharma
Yudhishtira said that a pious man who gave up egoism, attractions and desires and realized his self could attain liberation, moksha. He pointed out to Arjuna that some pursued the values called dharma and some the respect and influence accruing from noble conduct. Some others were after wealth. In his view it was better not to seek wealth than to seek wealth as a means to promote dharma, approved socio-cultural duties and values. Yudhishtira noticed faults both in wealth and in dharma that had its root in wealth. Arjuna too could notice them easily, he said. One who desired wealth would find it difficult to avoid deeds that ought to be avoided. For those who lust after wealth, good can rarely happen according to Yudhishtira.
Wealth was ill-gained; even wage-earners are sinners
He then dwelt on the issue that wealth was ill-gained. According to some, it could be gained only by betraying others. Wealth caused fear and anxiety, he warned. One who desired wealth did not realize the major guilt caused by destruction of trust placed by others in him. He upheld the view that that there could be no personal property. One could be in charge of public property as a trustee but should not treat it as his. He pointed out how one who had gained wealth with difficulty felt sad when he had to pay wages due to his employees and charged that what the latter took was theft. Even the wage-earners appeared to him to be tainted with sins. Only one who had no wealth could have unblemished happiness in any place, he felt.
Acquisition of wealth only for purposes of yajna; All wealth to be used for social welfare
Yudhishtira noted that the ancients said that Dhata, the advocate of the liberal socio-political constitution, had permitted formation and acquisition of wealth only for purposes of yajna. He had appointed social leaders (purusha) to protect such wealth and yajnas. Hence it was ordained (prasasta) that all wealth was to be used for this purpose of social welfare and not for personal enjoyment (kama). Whatever wealth was given by Dhata for personal economic purposes (svartha) too should be deemed to have been given for purposes of sacrifice.
Not necessary to amass and store wealth
Intellectuals among social leaders (purushas) held that wealth was not always in the hands of one person or group and that the social worlds who were dedicated (sraddha) to noble causes gave it away in sacrifices (yajnas). Hence it was not necessary to amass and store wealth. Only idiots gave wealth to natives of the janapada who had fallen in status while performing their vocations and duties (svadharma) to become eligible for free food for a hundred years, Yudhishtira noted. But it was wrong to give charity to an undeserving person or refuse to give aid to a deserving person. (Santiparva Ch.26)
Yudhishtira was not the highest authority to decide his own conduct
Yudhishtira held himself responsible for the death of Abhimanyu, the sons of Draupadi, of Drupada and Drshtadyumna, Virata, Drona and others, besides Karna, and also for the mortal injury of Bhishma. As he was a sinner, he decided to give up his life by abstaining from food and water. But Vyasa prevailed on him not to embark on his fast unto death. He asked Yudhishtira to carry out the work that he was directed by the nobility (devas) to perform. Only by carrying out that duty he would attain fulfillment (siddhi) of the purposes of his life. He was not the highest authority to decide his own conduct and life though he was the head of the state.
Asmas counsel to Janaka of Videha
Vyasa narrated to him Asmas counsel to Janaka of Videha on how a commoner behaved when he had women and wealth with him and how he behaved after they left him. The Janaka of Videha who was a civil administrator and chief of free men (nrpa) asked Asma, a jurist (Brahmana) what a free man (nara) should decide to do for his welfare (kalyana) if he had lost his kinsmen (jnati, especially kinsmen of his wife) and his (ancestral) wealth (dravya). A nara was a commoner (manushya) who stayed apart from his kinsmen. From the time one became a free man (nara) he became subject to joys and sorrows and his thinking (cetas) was influenced by them, Asma said He tended to claim that he was born in a higher community (abhijata) and was one who had attained his goals (siddha) and was not a mere commoner (manushya).
Those who opted to be Manavas than to be Manushyas or Naras died early because of illnesses though rich
One who had lost the wealth amassed by his greedy father coveted others wealth and did not find it wrong. Such persons deserved to be beaten by the kings, he said. The persons who had opted to stay away from their clans and conduct themselves as manavas rather than as manushyas subject to the jurisdictions of their clans or free men, naras, subject to the laws of the local government were mostly young and failed to lead a long life because of their illnesses, Asma told the Janaka addressing him as Parthiva, governor of the agrarian region.
Weaker sections (pranas) needed to be counselled
The weaker sections (pranas) had to be counselled about the causes for their sufferings and their distorted views and deviant conduct and treated, Asma suggested. The thinkers (manasa) suffered because their thought (citta) was distorted and confused (vibhrama) or because they were sceptical (anishta). Asma did not find any other explanation. The manavas (who had opted to be free citizens of the world following the dharmasastra) suffered in different ways for these two reasons. He agreed that they suffered because of their sensual attachments.
All discrete individuals (bhutas) of the social periphery, whether strong or weak, small or great were bound to go through old age (jara) and death (mrtyu). The manava who was not a subject of the state and was citizen of the world too was subject to these two even if he had conquered estates (vasundhara) up to the sea (sagara). All discrete individuals (bhutas) had to live with joys and sorrows and there was no remedy for it, Asma said. Addressing the Janaka as chief of free men (naradhipa), he said that whether in early life or in middle age or in later age one unexpectedly and unavoidably had to go through sufferings.
Against transient nature of desires and relations be guided by Vedas
It was not easy to keep away from the desired objects or the undesirable ones. Joys and sorrows accompanied fortune and misfortune. The ways of times would surprise any observer. Physicians might fall ill and the strong might become weak. What had been destined could not be changed, Asma felt. The poor got many children against their wishes while the rich had no sons. None could escape from or overcome fate, he held. Death did not discriminate between kings who could listen to music and enjoy comforts and the helpless and hapless poor. Asma asked Janaka to realize that all attachments with others were temporary and were bound to end. On the issue of the transient nature of all relations and desires, one should look to the Vedas for guidance. After completing the stage of formal schooling (Brahmacarya), one should marry and procreate a son to pay his debts to his ancestors (pitrs), nobles (devas) and commoners (manushyas).
The Vedas directed the householder to perform sacrifices (yajnas). This would ensure for him a happy comfortable life in his current stage as a householder and in his later life too. The fame of the king who earned wealth in accordance with the policy science and enriched his kingdom would spread in all the social worlds, Asma said. Janaka must have been despondent as he had no natural son and was a widower too. He was prevailed on to adopt a son who would fulfill his debts to Janaka and his ancestors. Vyasa advised Yudhishtira to give up his sorrow and administer the country conquered by him in accordance with Kshatriya dharma. (Santiparva Ch.27, 28)
CAREERS OF SOME GREAT KINGS WHO DIED SONLESS
Vyasa noted that Yudhishtira had lost hopes of procreating a son who would undertake to discharge the debt incurred by his father to his forefathers and nobles and sages. Krshna took the cue and consoled him narrating the careers of several rulers who had faced a similar dilemma in the past but had not been held ineligible to be rulers. He recalled Naradas counsel to Srnjaya who had lost his son and was enabled by Parvata (Naradas colleague) to overcome the handicap. Narada had recounted to Srnjaya (and Krshna to Yudhishtira) the careers of the great rulers, Marutta (son of Avikshit), Suhotra (son of Vidita), Brhadratha of Anga, Sibi (son of Usinara), Bharata (son of Dushyanta), Rama (son of Dasaratha), Dilipa, Mamdhata (son of Yuvanasva), Yayati (son of Nahusha), Ambarisha (son of Nabhaga), Sasabindhu (son of Chitraratha), Gaya (son of Aturtha), Rantideva (son of Samkrti), Sagara and Prthu.
All these rulers belonged to the decades immediately preceding the battle of Kurukshetra. Narada was well acquainted with the reports about them. Both Krshna and Narada held that these rulers had to step down despite the huge sacrifices they had performed and the munificent gifts they had offered. Yudhishtira too was facing the problem of legitimacy of his reign. The dharmasastras had enumerated six types of sons who could succeed to the wealth of their fathers. These rulers who had no natural sons do not seem to have resorted to the options permitted by these socio-cultural codes. Of importance are the reasons for which these rulers were extolled and Naradas interpretations and the controversies surrounding them. They were however eminent rulers on their own merit but seem to have left no successors behind them.
Chakravarti Marutta conducted a rich sacrifice which was attended personally by the nobles and officials designated as Indra, Varuna, Brhaspati etc. who were in charge of organizing new systems and means. Indra, the head of the house of nobles felt jealous of him and complained to the mentor, Brhaspati, who was in charge of civil administration and economy, against the conspicuous consumption promoted by that sacrifice. Brhaspati tried to stop it but Marutta got it completed with the aid of Samvarta (a brother and colleague of Brhaspati). The editors of Manava Dharmasastra have criticized the conduct of Marutta. During Maruttas rule, the lands yielded crops even without tilling them. He belonged to an epoch and region where intensive agricultural operations of the type conducted by Janaka of Mithila in north-eastern Ganga plains and Prthu of Anga to the west of Yamuna had not yet been introduced.
Marutta's sacrifice was attended by Visvedevas (upper crust of the commonalty from among whom some were promoted as nobles, devas), Saddhyas (who were highly talented technocrats) and Maruts (one of the four traditional groups of nobles and storm-troopers who controlled the open and arid lands of Rajasthan). The Maruts attended to the needs of the guests. Marutta offered rich fees to the nobles (devas), commoners (manushyas) and free intellectuals (gandharvas) who attended the sacrifice. But he did not invite the other groups of nobles, Adityas, Vasus and Rudras.
The sacrifice was not honoured by the presence of the three great officials, Agni, Aditya and Soma. But the presence of Varuna, the ombudsman of the Vedic social polity granted it legitimacy despite the reservations held by Indra and Brhaspati, who represented the two strata of the core society, the nobles and the commoners. Maruttas affluence and disrespect to these two authorities led to his being declared a persona non grata and a daitya (feudal warlord). Along with him the Maruts lost the status of nobles during the Upanishadic times. Yet he was a great emperor. But his lineage ended with him.
Suhotra had received rich presents from Indra, the head of the house of nobles but he gifted them all to the Brahmans (jurists) in the prolonged and large sacrifice that he performed at Kurukshetra. According to Narada, he excelled Srnjaya in the pursuit of the four values (purusharthas), dharma, artha, kama and moksha but he died sonless.
Brhadratha too excelled in his adherence to these values. He offered a large number of cows, bulls, horses and elephants in gifts and also several maidens in marriage in the sacrifice that he performed. He gave munificent gifts to the Brahmans (jurists) and paid huge fees to the priests (Brahmans), to the nobles (devas), commoners (manushyas) and the free middle class scholars and administrators (gandharvas) who attended it. But he too died sonless. If one gave up all his wealth, inherited as well as acquired, in gifts and sacrifices during his lifetime, sonlessness would not be a bar to the legitimacy of ones rule, Narada implied. The new laws of the Vedic period debarred one from nominating his son as his successor to his wealth and vocation but did not debar either inheritance or fresh acquisition of wealth. Wealth amassed had to be distributed among the deserving in the formal sacrifices (yajnas).
This principle was applicable even in the case of rulers like Sibi who were stationed in forests and were hunters and not rulers of agro-pastoral plains (bhumi). Sibi conquered the plains and brought them under his parasol. He gave away all his cattle and the untamed animals in the forest in the sacrifice (yajna) that he performed. Even the chief of the constitution bench (Brahma) felt that there had never been and never would be a saintly king (rajarshi) equal to Sibi who equalled Indra in valour. Srnjaya should not lament for the death of his son, for even Sibi had to die sonless, the Usinara lineage ending with Sibi.
Narada had heard that Bharata who was procreated by Dushyanta on Sakuntala had passed away recently. Bharata was a contemporary of Bhishma and Vyasa. He had performed numerous asvamedha and rajasuya sacrifices on the banks of Yamuna, Sarasvati and Ganga to mark his victories. They were attended by nobles (devas). It was not possible for any king to follow his method of conquest. It was virtually a bloodless conquest with the ruler who acknowledged him as overlord being reinstated and treated as an equal in the assembly of kings loyal to him and his cause. He conducted a huge sacrifice with the approval of his teacher, Kanva and gifted thousands of cows.
Bharatas polity had to deal with only two strata, nobles and commoners. The commoners had tried to absorb the people of the open space (akasa) but had failed, Narada implied. His achievements in the four fields, dharma, artha, kama and moksha, far exceeded those of Srnjaya and his son. Despite his fame as a great emperor and conqueror, Bharata ruled effectively only a small region covering the Ganga-Yamuna tract of agro-pastoral plains and forests nearby. Bharatas lineage too ended with him though the Kurus claimed to be his successors.
Narada had also heard about the passing away of Rama, son of Dasaratha. He implied that Dasaratha treated Rama as his natural son (aurasa) even as Rama treated the people of Ayodhya as his natural sons. Rama had no natural sons, we are required to infer. Like a father, he treated them all with equal kindness. In his state every commoner had wealth and no commoner had to suffer.
Ramarajya was an egalitarian state where every one had personal property. It was a social welfare state with a rich agrarian economy, free from floods, (forest) fires and ferocious animals. Both men and women lived a full life, free from diseases. Neither men nor women quarrelled with one another. Narada appears to refute the suggestions that Dasarathas wives quarreled among themselves and that the brothers were not all united. The subjects (prajas) of the state moved about freely without fear and were able to complete (siddhi) their projects (karya) and be contented.
It may be inferred that though primarily an agrarian state, Ramas state had extended its jurisdiction to the periphery and the forests beyond it. The people of these areas had been admitted to the state as prajas and given the same rights and protection as its native (jana) agrarian population had. Economic projects were helped to succeed so that the people got all their needs met and could lead a contented life. It would be advantageous to find out whether Narada who had a high opinion about the social philosophy of Sanatkumara considered that Ramas kingdom too shared the features of the political economy advocated by the Kumaras among whom Sanatkumara who guided Prthu was the greatest.
During Rama's reign, laws based on truth (satya) were in force. The rules prescribed (niyamas) were adhered to. The code of dharma was then based on these two prominent features of the Vedic polity. Rama protected the tree and the cows, the chronicler says. After staying in the forest for fourteen years (as an exile) he performed asvamedha sacrifices. Rama ruled for eleven (thousand) years before he died (sonless). Yudhishtira was expected to note that sonlessness would not bar him from being a ruler. He too had been in exile and was required to perform these sacrifices to mark the victory in his battles.
Bhagiratha patronized Sakra Indra and helped him to overcome many feudal warlords. He was noted for the interest he took in arranging the marriages of numerous girls and offering them liberal gifts. Ganga became his daughter while Bhagirathi was born to him in secrecy. Narada implied that Ganga (mother of Bhishma) was not Bhagirathas natural daughter. She was identified with Urvasi, an apsaras who married Pururavas. Narada hinted that Bhagiratha took interest in regulating the courses of several rivers, small and large. Bhagiratha too died sonless. Naradas account indicates that it is not sound to trace Sagara, Amsuman, Dilipa and Bhagiratha as a single lineage. It would be more proper to treat them as members of an oligarchy which had undertaken to regulate the waters of the Ganga basin. Sagara had commenced this project and Bhagiratha completed it with the help of Jahnu an engineer-son of Kuru.
Dilipa, his predecessor, had placed at the disposal of the Brahmans (jurists who followed the Atharvan socio-political constitution) his mainly agrarian state (bhumi). At the sacrifice which he performed he gave it away with golden statuettes of elephants (symbol of the Kuru state of Hastinapura) to Brahmanaspati (Brhaspati), his political counsellor, in the presence of Indra, the head of the house of nobles. The new state with Dilipa as the nominal head was administered by Indra and Brhaspati on behalf of the nobles and the commoners. The social polity had a vast middle class of gandharvas which was interested in non-economic activities like music and dance. Visvavasu, a famous Gandharva, himself played on the veena, delighting one and all.
Dilipa accepted the concept of the economy of the state being controlled by Brhaspati, the representative of the commoners and its polity by Indra, the chief of the aristocracy. At the same time he permitted the commoners to enter the enclaves of the nobles. He threw open music and entertainment to all classes. Enjoyment was no longer the privilege of the select few. Dilipa patronized Vedic scholars and the archers, two other wings of the vast free middle class of Gandharvas. He was also known for his limitless gifts. Yudhishtira might claim to be a descendant of Santanu but not of Dilipa.
Mamdhata who conquered all the three social worlds (lokas), the patriciate, the commonalty of the plains and the industrial frontier society of the forests and mountains was born to Yuvanasva, a young gandharva chieftain. His mother must have abandoned him soon after his birth. He was brought up by an Indra who named him Mamdhata to indicate that Indra, the liberal (Dhata) chieftain would be both father and mother to that child. Mamdhata, a great warrior trained by Indra, defeated eminent kings like Marutta, Asita, Gaya, Anga and Brhadratha and fought a tough battle with Angara (Subrahmanya). The entire subcontinent came under his domain. He was famous also for the liberal gifts offered by him to the scholars (Brahmans) and the natives of his country. Narada noted that Mamdhata too died sonless without establishing a dynasty. Nor did Mamdhata inherit Yuvanasvas legacy. Srnjaya and Yudhishtira should hence not feel sorry for their plight.
Yayati, son of Nahusha, too had passed away, according to Narada. Yayati had conquered the entire country and also the islands in the seas around it. He conducted several Vajapeya sacrifices and gave munificent gifts to Brahmans (scholars and jurists). He defeated the feudal lords (asuras) and the militants (rakshasas) who had allied with them and controlled several areas in the plains (bhumi). He distributed his agro-pastoral lands (bhumi) among his sons (Druhyu, Anu, Turvasu, Yadu and Puru). While Puru ruled from the capital, others were kept on the borders of his state. As he became old, Yayati retired to the forest with his wife. Narada does not dwell on the exotic features of Yayatis career. Yayati was far superior to Srnjaya and Yudhishtira in his knowledge of and adherence to the four values, dharma, artha, kama and moksha. But he too had to die, separated from his sons. It would appear that the sons predeceased Yayati.
Ambarisha was the son of Nabhaga (who had been at his request denied a share in his ancestral property). Ambarisha (who had been consigned to the social periphery) was however a senior and rich plutocratic king (rajasreshta) and was known as a pious person (punya atma, an individual belonging to the gandharva cadres described as punya-jana).He was accepted as protector by the natives of the janapada, the people of the rural areas whom he guided. These cadres were earlier constantly on the move as a social universe, jagat, and were enabled to settle down as organized native social polity. Ambarisha headed this polity. In his huge yajna, Ambarisha nominated hundreds of officials who had the designation, raja, to attend on the jurists (Brahmans).
These rajans themselves had performed sacrifices earlier to establish that they were not after amassing wealth. According to the chronicler, Narada, none had performed such a huge sacrifice earlier. Narada however does not dwell on the controversies veering round that sacrifice. The kings who attended on the Atharvan ideologues (Brahmanas) were later raised to the status of nobles (devas) and then were admitted to the academy of jurists (Brahmaloka). Even Ambarisha who excelled Srnjaya in his commitment to dharma and other values, artha, kama and moksha, had to die (sonless).
Sasabindhu's father, Chitraratha, was a gandharva ruler and a political ideologue attached to the Samkara school of thought. Sasabindhu had numerous wives and several sons who were archers. In the asvamedha sacrifices that he performed in honour of their marriages, he gave away rich gifts to the maidens who married them. He parted with hundreds of elephants, chariots, horses and cows and sheep to the Brahmans. Shepherds belonged to this cadre even as the cowherds did.
Not only danseuses and musicians who were interested in fine arts but also scholars, chroniclers and envoys, spies and scouts, researchers and hunters were included in this vast middle class of gandharvas and apsarases, vidyadharas and charanas, tapasas and chakshus before the system of four classes (varnas) came into force. This vast middle class was not engaged in economic activities nor was it unlike the nobles (devas) a leisure class. Sasabindhu was a ruler of the open areas and was known for his generosity. But he too had to pass away leaving no single person to inherit his wealth.
Gaya, son of Athurtaraja (whose dynamism and authority were never breached by any foe), requested Agni, the civil judge and head of the council of intellectuals, to ensure that his wealth never depleted despite his huge donations and that he always followed the (Vedic) path of truth (satya) and was also devoted to dharma. Gaya was associated with Manu Sraddhadeva (Vaivasvata) who had his seat at Gaya.
It was a stage when the puritanical Vedic laws based on truth continued to prevail though the new liberal laws based on dharma had been approved by this Manus council of seven sages. The new system required offering liquor (sura) to the nobles (devas), wealth to the Brahmans (jurists) and performance of dedication rites (sraddha) to meet the needs of the retired senior citizens (pitrs) and fulfillment by those in the householder stage of the sex needs of their wives (to procreate sons).
Narada was drawing attention to the new orientation introduced by Manu Sraddhadeva while instituting the code of dharma without lessening the importance of that based on truth, satya. During the Vedic times, at all sacrifices, nobles (devas), sages (rshis) and elders (pitrs) had to be honoured. The new system required the Brahmans to play the role played earlier by the sages (rshis), ensuring that the letter and spirit of the laws was adhered to. It introduced the concept of the souls of the departed ancestors being satisfied and the lineage continued through procreation on ones wife. But Gaya too died sonless.
Another important king referred to by Narada was the highly controversial Rantideva. He secured the patronage of Indra, head of the house of nobles, to meet the needs of his guests and fulfill the duties devolving on him as a householder following the new orientation of sraddha, devotion to the upholders of traditional ways. Rantideva offered the meat of the cows that were given to him voluntarily (?) by the villagers and the residents of the forests, to his guests and others at the sraddha ceremonies. It was reported that even the river, Charmanvati, in central India, was filled with the blood of the thousands of cows that were slaughtered by him. He might not have forced the Brahmans to eat beef but he did not hesitate to entertain his other guests with beef. Rantideva flaunted his wealth, using gold vessels and offering gold coins to the Brahmans and other guests. But his wealth including livestock was depleted as a result of his lavish expenditure. He too had to die unhonoured by the new generations.
Sagara of the Ikshvaku clan was a brave social leader (purusha) of sixty thousand persons whom he treated as his sons. He dredged the river, Ganga, up to the sea-coast to avoid erosion of the land. The seas were named sagara after him. He offered huge gifts to Brahmans (jurists) at the asvamedha sacrifice performed by him to please the nobles (devas). Sagara placed all his wealth at the disposal of the Brahmans and asked them to distribute it among themselves as they liked. He did not dare to displease any jurist. Sagara too passed away sonless. Narada implied that the land army sent by him perished and his only son, Asamanjasa had been disinherited for sadism. Sagara was the sole overlord of the plains at that time. Amsuman, Dilipa and Bhagiratha were members of the oligarchy headed by Sagara.
Prthu succeeded the highly unpopular ruler, Vena, and performed the last rites of Vena, to secure traditional legitimacy as putra (son). According to Narada, the sages of the great forest thought that he would enable all the social worlds (lokas) to flourish and arranged for his coronation with the name, Prthu. As he protected the world from danger (kshata) and ruin, he was given the status of a Kshatriya. As the beings at the lower rungs of the society loved him, he was called a Raja. He was not a traditional warrior.
His reign was marked by increase in agricultural production and cattle-wealth. He brought arid lands including rocky areas under cultivation. He was a tiller-warrior. He donated all his wealth to Brahmans (Atharvan ideologues who guided him). Prthu was known for his adherence to the social laws (dharma), knowledge (jnana), wealth (aisvarya) and dispassion and determination (vairagya). Prthu too had to pass away without establishing a new dynasty. Hence Srnjaya (Yudhishtira) need not be disheartened. (Santiparva.Ch.29)