BHISHMA AND RAJADHARMA
TRIVARGA, THE MAGNUM OPUS
Yudhishtira who was recognized as Dharmaraja requested Bhishma to explain the origin of the term, 'raja'. He asked how a king who had the same physical traits as other free men (nrs) had could exercise lordship over warriors (suras) who had special intellectual acumen (buddhi). How did the king protect administer the agrarian (mahi) commonalty that included brave warriors and free, rich and respectable citizens (arya) in a constructive manner and how did he desire to see the social world (loka) be pleased and placid (prasada) when he was functioning alone as monarch?
Yudhishtira had doubts about a monarch being able to succeed in pleasing the social world by being pleased and placid. It certainly followed that if he fell ill, the people too would suffer. Yudhishtira wanted to have a realistic explanation about this relation and interdependence between the many commoners and the lone ruler. The reason for all in the social universe (jagat) (who constituted a free middle class of intellectuals, warriors and bold entrepreneurs and were not a settled population), bowing before the king as if he were a noble (deva) could not be a minor one, Yudhishtira said. (59-1 to 12)
Bhishma offered to tell him how the state (rajyam) came into existence during the krtayuga, the (first) epoch of construction. Till then there was neither king (raja) nor state (rajyam), neither the science of use of coercive power (danda) nor a person empowered to issue orders of punishment (dandika). All the subjects (prajas) protected (raksha) one another mutually through the social laws of righteousness (dharma).
The free men (naras) (who were not subject to the authority of any social group including state) governed themselves in a friendly way using the provisions of dharma. This policy and path of mutual cooperation in protection was in due course found to be difficult and they were influenced by enchantment (moha) (for all advantages). As all born as human beings (manuja) came under the influence of longings (moha) they lost the ability to notice the consequences of their human weaknesses and their attachment to dharma got destroyed, Bhishma said. (13 to 16)
The ability to distinguish between good and bad was lost by the free men (naras) who were under the influence of enchantment (moha) and they all became greedy. The commoners (manuja) tried to get what they had not already obtained. These manujas (manushyas) belonged to the organized sections of the commonalty unlike the free men (naras) who did not have personal property. They were entrapped by desire for sex (kama). As they obtained sexual pleasure they fell victim to lust (raga) and failed to distinguish between permitted activity (karya) and prohibited activity (akarya).
These decadent sections of the commonalty did not omit to enjoy both what came to their lot (agama) and what did not (agama), what was prescribed in the Vedas and what were not, what could be consumed and what should not be, what was blemished and what was unblemished. As among the cadres of free men, the socio-political constitution (brahma) was upset and destroyed and the jurists (brahmana) as well as dharma, the socio-cultural laws were ruined. (59-17 to 21)
As the socio-political constitution, Brahma or Atharvaveda and the social laws (dharma) lost their efficacy, the nobles, devas, who then constituted the ruling elite, became worried and approached Brahmana, the head of the academy of jurists. After pleasing the patriarch of the social world of commonalty and head of the academy, the nobles who were all feeling feverish because of their sorrows presented to him an account of their plight. They submitted to the head of the academy that in the social world (loka) of free men (naras), the traditional (sanatana) socio-political constitution (brahma) had been damaged by greed, enchantment and other attitudes causing them (the nobles) a sense of fear (bhaya).
Addressing him as a charismatic and benevolent leader, Isvara, of all the three social worlds they said that with the destruction of the constitution (brahma), the social laws (dharma) had become useless resulting in the nobles becoming equal to the commoners. [Isvara had influence mainly over the social periphery. The head of the academy which was situated in that periphery however had influence over all the three social worlds, the commonalty, the patriciate and the industrial society.] (59-22 to 25)
The free men (naras) used to offer ghee in the flame that went upward and pleased the nobles (devas) who had a higher status and the latter in return gave water to the men who were in the lower areas. This practice had been stopped by the commoners resulting in the nobles doubting how long they would be able to survive as a privileged higher class. The nobles asked the patriarch to think of means by which the natural traits (of a liberal patriciate) that they had gained by his influence were not destroyed. Svayambhu (one who had by his own merit risen to be the head of that academy) told all those rich nobles (suras) that he would seek to remove their fears and protect their status. (59-26 to 28)
Svayambhuva, an intellectual, then by himself prepared a work known as Three Categories (Trivarga) with a hundred thousand chapters in which he gave an elaborate description of the three social values, dharma, artha and kama. Bhishma said that the values and traits of the fourth value of life, liberation (moksha) were distinct from these three. The work on moksha too had three aspects, sattva, rajas and tamas. Bhishma implied that these three innate traits determined who would be able to become free from worldly bonds and how.
The trilateral analysis, trivarga, evenness, growth and decay (sthana, vrddhi and kshaya) evolved from the science of political power (danda), Bhishma said. According to the smrtis (post-Vedic sastras), the policy science of political power (dandaniti) led to the identification of the six aspects (shadvarga): the individual (atma) who functions, the time when he acts, the place where his deed takes place, the means (upaya) he adopts, the act itself and the assistance (sahaya) he avails of are the six motivating causes (karanam). (59-29 to 32)
Bhishma said that it had been shown that the four major and independent disciplines of study (vidyas) were the three Vedas (trayi), the science of knowledge (anvikshiki), the science of occupations and economy (varta) and the policy science of coercive power (dandaniti). Unlike Kautilya who gave primacy toanvikshiki, Bhishma gave this discipline a place next to the three Vedas and also did not mention that samkhya, yoga and lokayata were the three fields covered by it. The magnum opus dealt with the protection of the amatyas who headed the bureaucracy and described the traits expected of the envoys (pranidhi) and the princes, the different ways of employing the scouts and the different types of secret agents.
It dealt with the five means, conciliation (sama), gift (dana), rift (bheda) and coercion (danda) and ignoring (upeksha) that the parthiva, governor of the rural areas was required to adopt. It dealt also with counsel (mantra) given by the ministers, the advantages accruing from the use of the policy of rift (bheda), the policy of causing confusion (bhrama) through counsel (mantra), results of fulfillment (siddhi) of the objects of counsel and of failure of these. (59-33 to 36)
The three types of treaty of peace (samdhi), low, medium and high, entered into because of fear (bhaya), accepting honourable solution (satkara) and gaining economic benefits (vitta) respectively were described in that work. It also dwelt on the periods when the troops could be sent against the enemy and the three types of conquest, dharmavijaya, arthavijaya and asuravijaya. Kautilya described the second one as lobhavijaya, conquest out of greed for wealth. The third one that left destruction behind was condemned by both statesmen.The magnum opus described the traits of the five sectors of the state (rajyam), bureaucracy (amatya), fort-capital (durga), rural areas (janapada), treasury (kosa) and army (sena) and the three levels, low, medium and high of each one of them.
It described the traits of the forces (danda) in the open (prakasa) and those kept out of sight. There were eight sections in the open army and many in the secret army. Chariots, elephants (nagas), horses and infantry, labourers (vishti), boats, scouts and counsellors were the eight sectors (angas) of the open army. The secret army included the mobile groups (janga) and non-mobile groups which used medicines and even poisons weapons. (59- 37 to 42)
Besides the different types of articles which were not to be used in food etc. the work dealt with the movements of the enemy (ari), ally (mitra) and the indifferent king (udasina). It dealt also with the traits of the roads and the lands (bhumi) that were to be traversed, self-protection, assurances and inspection of mass transport facilities. It dealt with conventional arrangement of the infantry, elephants, chariots and cavalry and unusual and facile battle modes, ascent and descent, battling with good results, and knowledge of use and protection of weapons. Methods of freeing the army from afflictions and encouraging the army and inspection of the loyalty of the troops under times of suffering and emergency were also described in that work. (59-43 to 47)
The magnum opus dealt with digging moat around the fort and the method of marching the troops against the country (rashtra) of the opponent and harassing it through thieves and militants of the forest, employing arsonists, poisoners and men in disguise, creating rift amongst the chiefs of its corporations, destroying the crops and plants, setting the elephants against them, causing dissatisfaction among the body-guards of that enemy, helping those who became loyal to the conqueror etc.
It dealt with the three levels, decline, growth and stagnation of the seven organs of the state and also with the development of ones associate country (sarashtra) through the efforts and talents of the envoy. It explained in detail the traits and roles of the enemy (ari), intermediate country (madhyastha) and ally (mitra) and how to harass and retaliate against a strong enemy. (59-48 to 52)
The magnum opus dealt with the favourable and intrinsic aspects of economic affairs, interests and disputes (vyavahara) and the methods by which the difficult elements (kantaka) were identified and got rid of. It dealt with issues pertaining to work (srama) and systematic respite (vyayama-yoga), and gathering and amassing (samgraha) and renunciation (tyaga) of wealth (dravya). This work also dealt with the maintenance (by the state) of those who had no means of livelihood and supervising the work being done for providing livelihood to those (bhrta) supported by the state.
It called for providing economic (artha) assistance through gift (dana) at the appropriate time and explained how economic afflictions (vyasana) were to be met. The magnum opus dealt with the traits of the king and the chief of the army and traced the factors (karanam) that led to the merits and demerits of the three aspects (pertaining to them), decline, stagnation and growth in influence. What constituted misconduct of the employees and others, and what were the different types of economic activities were described in that work. It called for holding every one in suspicion and for giving up complacency. (59-53 to 56)
Gaining what has not yet been gained and developing what has been thus gained and distributing as gift (pradana) what has thus been developed in different fields to deserving persons and departments (patra) according to rules (vidhivat) was advocated by this work. (59-57) [Kautilya was not the first to advocate this policy.]
For purposes of social welfare activities (dharma) and economic objectives (artha), liquid economic assets (artha) were to be distributed. They might be spent on sexual and other enjoyment (kama) also, it was said. A fourth use of these economic assets was to overcome afflictions (vyasana) it was explained in that work. The afflictions caused by rage and lust were the worst of these afflictions Bhishma told Yudhishtira that according to the teachers (acaryas).
Svayambhuva, the author of this magnum opus, had declared that hunting, playing dice, drinking and womanizing were the result of kama.Misuse of the provisions regarding use of economic power (artha) is indicated in use of abusive words (vagparushya), ferocity, awarding undeserved punishment (dandaparushya), arresting an individual and dismissing (tyaga) one from ones company and service. (59-58 to 61)
This work described the working of different instruments. It also described how to harass the enemy and attack his troops and destroy his residences. It dealt with removing the caitya trees and the reeds near the graveyards, the rules of conduct for different types of works, manufacture of parts for chariots and the different methods of arranging residential complexes. It also described the different of drums, bugles, conches etc. used in war. It dealt with how to acquire six types of wealth (dravya), jewels, cattle, land, dress, servants and gold, for oneself and destroy those of the enemy.
The magnum opus described how to maintain peace in the acquired territory and honour the pious and be friendly with the scholars among its population. It described the rules of gift and rites of homage which the king should be aware of. He had to be also aware of rules regarding auspicious marks and dress codes and diet rules. The king was expected to be always a believer (astika) in god. Bhishma said that the magnum opus explained how though alone one could rise in social ladder. While adhering to the laws based on truth, he should take interest in musical concerts, festivals, social activities and domestic rituals. (59-62 to 67)
Dandaniti pointed out that in all departments (adhikarana) there were some activities which required the kings personal (pratyaksha) attention and some others supervision through others (paroksha). How he should constantly (nitya) look after these duties efficiently was described in it. The scholars (vipras) who were constantly on the move were exempt from the provisions of the penal law (danda). He was asked to give the proper punishment to the offenders.
That work referred to the needs of those who were dependent (anujivi) on the king and the interest of members of his community (svajati) and the progress of good men. Protection of the citizens (pauras) and the development of the rural hinterland (rashtra) were emphasized by it.
The king was to take into consideration the movements and trends in the twelve states in his mandala. The king (raja), his ally (mitra), his enemy (ari) and the neutral king (madhyastha) had each his distinct ally, enemy and neutral state. This scheme differs from the one presented by Kautilya. (59-68 to 70)
The magnum opus dealt with seventy-two types of cures for the body. It also outlined the laws (dharma) governing the different countries (desa), communities (jatis) and clans (kulas). It had while describing the four values, dharma, artha, kama and moksha explained how different economic resources could be tapped by a liberal king. This work had described the basic economic activities(mulakarmakriya) and the ways (yoga) by which illusions (maya) could be created. It also described how hearing could be distorted and instability of objects might be misused.
This work on the science of proper policy (nitisastra) had also highlighted all the means by which the social world (loka) of commonalty could be stopped from being distracted from the right path. The head of the academy (bhagavan) and of the larger commonalty (prabhu) told all the nobles (devas) that after being satisfied with the drafting of this auspicious (subha) science (sastra) for helping the social world (loka) of commonalty and for establishing the three values (dharma, artha and kama) he allowed the work to be influenced by a new stream of intellectual thought (buddhi). (71 to 76)
The head of the academy on the banks of Sarasvati said that this magnum opus that included the science of political control (danda) was expected to protect (raksha) the social world (loka) (of commonalty) and make it follow its instructions by the dual policy of sanctions (nigraha) against its violators and support (anugraha) for those who adhered to it.
The great sages (mahatma) (who were legislators and statesmen) were expected to give priority to the six-fold policy (shadguna), treaty of peace (samdhi), hostility (vigraha), march (yana), camping (sthana), dual-policy (dvaidibhava) and seeking shelter (asraya) under a stronger king. He said that the magnum opus gave importance to all the four values, dharma, artha, kama and moksha. It should not be interpreted as dealing with only political control (dandaniti) of a state and inter-state relations pertaining to war and peace.
Bhishma said that the first to adopt this policy (niti) science was Samkara, the head of the school of thought with which Visalaksha, Siva, Sthanu and Umapati were also associated. As suggested by Siva, the head of this (Rudra) school of thought, taking into account the limited number of years that were available for the subjects to learn this science,
Visalaksha presented an abridged edition of the magnum opus drafted by Brahma, the head of the constitution bench. Vaisalaksham was further abridged to ten thousand chapters by an Indra and presented to his guide the great tapasvi (researcher), Subrahmanya. Subrahmanya belonged to the generation next to that of Samkara and Visalaksha. He recommended it to be further reduced to five thousand chapters. This version was known as Bahudantakam. This Indra was the son of a lady with many teeth (bahudanti).
Brhaspati reduced this version further to three thousand chapters. Intellectuals (buddhas) called it Barhaspatyam. Kavi (Usanas), a highly successful thinker and teacher of Yoga abridged it further in one thousand chapters. Thus the great sages (maharshis) who were also legislators abridged the code (sastra) at the request of the social world of commoners. (59-80 to 86)
The nobles then approached Prajapati Vishnu and requested him to suggest the name of one person who deserved to occupy the high (sreshta) position (of ruler). This prajapati, chief of the subjects of the state, guided them to Prabhu Narayana, the head of an academy (bhagavan) and of the larger commonalty. Narayana recommended his favourite and godson (suta), Viraja, a highly influential personage to be nominated (srja, created) as the sole senior ruler. But Viraja (one who had given up his interests) did not want to be the head (prabhu) of the social world of commonalty (bhuvi). It would have reduced his then status which was that of the head of the confederation of eight large social sectors (nobles, feudal lords, elders, sages, commoners, free middle class gandharvas, plutocrats and industrial proletariat).
This intellectual was then bent on retiring from all activities. His son, Kirtiman, too declined as he had a status far above the five state organs (angas, indriyas). Kardama, who was Kirtimans godson, was engaged in tapas and refused to accept the offer. Kardama, aprajapati (and colleague of the first Manu, Svayambhuva), recommended Ananga, his godson (suta) for this position. Ananga, a pious person who was an expert indandaniti could protect the subjects (prajas). (59-87 to 91)
Adhibala, son of Ananga, knew the policy science (niti) and acquired a huge state (maharajya). He became the head of the state as well as of the legislature asmaharaja. But he came under the influence of hisindriyas (angas). It would appear that Ananga did not constitute ministry, city, rural areas, treasury and army as separate organs (angas) of the state but looked after all state affairs directly. Adhibala who acquired extraordinary powers had married Sunita whose godfather had held the post of Mrtyu under the earlier Vedic polity and who was popular among all the three social worlds (lokas), nobility, commonalty and the frontier society. Vena was born to Adhibala and Sunita.
Deviating from dharma and coming under the influence of rage and hatred, Vena harassed the subjects (prajas). The sages (rshis) who were ideologues of the Atharvan school of thoughtBrahmavadis) pronounced him persona non grata. ( (59-92 to 94) Bhishma was perhaps not aware of the details pertaining to the massive agrarian revolt against Vena and his being burnt to death.
As the right arm of Vena was squeezed chanting secret formulae (mantra), a dwarfish and deformed person (purusha) appeared on the earth (agro-pastoral land). He was ash-coloured and had red blood-shot eyes and black hair. The sages who were Brahmavadis pronounced him to be ineligible (nishada) to perform the last rites for Vena and asked him to sit down. This resident of the Vindhyas was a leader of a large community of aliens (mlecchas). When the sages squeezed Venas right hand again, there appeared a person (purusha) who looked like Indra. (59-95 to 98)
He wore a protective mail and a sword and carried a bow and arrows. He knew Vedas and Vedanga and was a master in the science of archery. That best of free men (narottama) knew the entire science of dandaniti. Saluting the sages he said that the intellect to notice the best aspects of dharma and artha had evolved in him and asked them to tell him openly what work (karya) he was expected to do for them. Whatever work (karya) with an economic (artha) content was expected of him he would certainly carry out and they need not consider about any other aspect regarding that work, he said.
The nobles and the sages then asked him to carry out according to prescribed procedure and without hesitation whatever promoted dharma. Giving up likes and dislikes and keeping far away lust and rage, greed and pride, he should treat as equal all living beings (jantus, especially those at the bare subsistence level), they directed. Keeping in view the provisions of the permanent legislation of social laws (sasvata dharma), he should personally restrain with his hand whichever manava (one who had opted to join one of the four classes, varnas, and to follow the orientations prescribed for it) in the social world (loka) of commonalty wavered from his dharma.
The new king was not permitted to use coercive power(danda) against the manavas who deviated from their dharmas because they were not his subjects (prajas).He could only prevent them from doing a wrong deed and not punish them. He was asked to take a pledge that he would by thought, speech and deed ever protect the socio-political constitution (brahma) applicable to the agro-pastoral commonalty (bhumi). (59-99 to 106)
What those connected with policy science of political power (dandaniti) have stated as the social and state laws (dharma) to be always followed he would undoubtedly carry out as duties prescribed and would never act on his own. The nobles and the sages asked him (Prthu) to take the pledge not to use the provisions of the penal law (danda) against the free scholars (vipras) who were constantly on the move and were not associated with any family or social group. He was asked to take the pledge to ensure that the orientations of the different social worlds (lokas) would not get fused (samkara) with one another and that the separate identities of the lokas would be protected.
Vaina, that is, Prthu, the successor to Vena, told the nobles (devas) and the leading sages (rshis) who were prominent social leaders (purusha-rshabhas, leaders belonging to the Rshabha school of thought) that he would always respect the chief justice (Brahmana) who had a major voice in the governing elite. As Vaina said so, the Brahmavadis, Atharvan ideologues acknowledged his promise and appointed Usanas (Sukra) who was a treasure-house of the socio-political constitution (Brahma) as his political guide (purodha).
The Valakhilyas and Sarasvatganas became ministers for Prthu and Garga, a great sage and legislator (maharshi) and head of an academy (bhagavan) became the official in charge of his calendar of duties (samvatsara) (to be precise, rtvig). It may be remarked here that the dwarfish Valakhilyas were technocrats and Sarasvatganas were followers of the ancient school of thought that flourished in the Sarasvati basin. Both were associated with Manu Savarni (Samvarni). Bhishma explained that among the free men (naras), it was known that he (Prthu) was the eighth person to have emerged and risen to that high position. The two highly powerful cadres of Sutas and Magadhas had already sprung up by then.
Bhishma implied that Prthu was not to be blamed for having acknowledged them though they belonged to the mixed classes (samkaravarnas) which were held in disrespect by the conservatives. Kautilya had advised these two cadres and the Rathakaras (to which class many powerful rulers belonged), to guard their identities and not to mingle with the outcasts, Chandalas. Venas son, the highly famous Raja Prthu was pleased with these two cadres and endowed Anupa desa on Sutas and Magadha on Magadhas. (107 to 113)
Bhishma said that there was much inequality amongst the owners of real estates (vasudha) and Prthu made them all equal removing the disparities in the agro-pastoral commonalty (bhumi). He pointed out that during the tenure of every Manu, fresh disparities had developed among the people dependent on agriculture (mahi) and that Prthu used the tip of his bow to level the land and heaped the rubble in certain places. [The chronicler seems to have been disappointed with the policies adopted by the Manus who preceded Savarni.]
Bhishma implied that Prthu used his political power to widen the area under cultivation and to bring about equality amongst the tillers and kept the agrarian tracts free from persons who were not engaged in agriculture. Bhishma said that (Prajapati) Vishnu, Sakra Indra and other nobles (devas) and free intellectuals of the wider areas (vibudhas) and sages (rshis) and governors (prajapalas) and jurists (Brahmanas) anointed Prthu as king. He received as gift jewels from the representative of the commonalty of his lands (prthvi) and from the people of the areas extending from the seas (sagara) to the Himalayas and unlimited wealth from Sakra, the head of the nobility.
The chronicler added that the ruler of the great northern mountain, Mahameru, presented Prthu an emerald necklace while the plutocratic king (yaksharaja), Kubera who came on a palanquin carried by men on feet (naras) presented him wealth enough to meet all requirements needed for fulfilling the objectives of dharma, artha and kama. The nobles (devas) gave him a huge and powerful army consisting of stallions (hayas), chariots, elephants (nagas) and dynamic leaders (purushas). [An army of commoners (manushyas) would have had free men (naras) and ordinary horses (asvas).] During the reign of Prthu none suffered from old age or drought or non-compassion or disease. Because of the high level of protection given by the king there was no fear on account of rustlers and thieves and mutual quarrels. (59-114 to 123)
The chronicler visualized agro-pastoral commonalty, Prthvi as a cow and the milk yielded by it to what the different sectors of the industrial society, plutocrats (yakshas), their guards (rakshas), technocrats (nagas) and the counter-intelligentsia (paisacas) needed. This great person (mahatmana) established the dharma of the cultured persons (aryas) in the social world (loka) of commonalty, that is, granted all members of the commonalty, the status and privileges of the cultured free citizens entitled to have personal property even as Aryas (or Vaisyas) had. He pleased (ranjita) all the subjects (prajas) and hence was called a raja. As he protected the jurists and intellectuals (Brahmanas) from harm (kshata), he was called a Kshatriya. He inspired (prathita) and established the social world of commonalty in the path of dharma and hence the masses have called it prthvi, the chronicler explained. (59-124 to 126)
Addressing Yudhishtira as Bharata, a descendant of Bharata (who too was an emperor and was a contemporary of Prthu) Bhishma said that the jurisdiction that Prthu would have was determined by Vishnupersonally. It would appear that this Vishnu wasSanatana, one of the four Upanishadic sages known asKumaras. Sanatkumara (also known as Skanda) was Prthus guide. Sanaka and Sanada were the other two Kumaras. Vishnu must have ensured that the jurisdictions of the two emperors, Prthu and Bharata did not overlap anywhere. He guaranteed that none would encroach on his sovereignty over the area assigned to Prthu.
Vishnu, the head of the academy (bhagavan) who was pleased with the efforts (tapas) of Prthu as a ruler of the commonalty (bhumipa) entered his entourage and ensured that he was recognized as the ruler of the free men (nrpa) of the entire unorganized social universe (jagat) and equivalent to a noble (deva) and revered by all free men (naras) who had the status of nobles (devas). Those who belonged to the unorganized and predominantly mobile social cadres like gandharvas, apsarases, vidyadharas, vipras, charanas, chakshus, tapasas etc were encouraged to accept Prthu as their ruler. (59-127,128)
Addressing Yudhishtira as Naresvara, a charismatic and benevolent leader of free men, Bhishma advised him to always follow the policy code, dandaniti, while protecting his subjects and for that purpose employ scouts to give him a correct perspective of the state of affairs. The auspicious work done for personal reasons by the chief of the agrarian tracts was intended to benefit the people also equally. Only his traits equal to those of nobles (devas) enabled the ruler to keep under his influence the social world (loka) of commoners, Bhishma pointed out.
The chronicler held that the principles of arthasastra were a product of the principles for acquisition of wealth (sri) as outlined in dharmasastra. The Prthu state accepted this policy. Because of the decline in the worth of the good work done earlier, the status of a member of the nobility (svarloka) declined and he joined the commonalty (medhini), the chronicler said. An expert in dandaniti though belonging to the intellectual aristocracy became a governor of the rural areas (parthiva), Bhishma said. (59-129 to 133)
A free man (nara) of the commonalty (bhuvi) who was influenced by the school of thought of Vishnu could become an intellectual and obtain greatness, Bhishma said. After that the nobles would install him in the high post. They were asked not to override this decision. Sovereignty was thus vested in one person and the commonalty was not entitled to pass any law against this. Bhishma did not envisage an elected king or a king subordinate to either the nobles or the commoners.
Bhishma reiterated that the auspicious work done for personal reasons by this king was intended to benefit the people also equally. Hence though equal to the members of the social world (loka) of commonalty, power was vested in one person, Bhishma told Yudhishtira. One with whom the king was pleased came under his influence and every one wanted to see him fortunate, rich and handsome, Bhishma said underlining charisma. What Prthu had was rational legitimacy and personal charisma though he was neither a noble nor a prince by birth nor even a warrior (kshatriya) by profession.
He could influence the commonalty by how he exercised his coercive power (danda), by his lucid policy (naya) and by his scouts (charas) who spread his popularity. Bhishma added that the magnum opus dealt with procedures (agamas) and the emergence of the great sages who followed the ancient (sanatana) ways of life, the institution of administrative and training centres (tirthas), the history of kshatriyas (rulers), the four social classes (varnas), the four stages of life (asramas), Vedicdharma, Upavedas (Upanishads), chronicles (itihasas), jurisprudence (nyaya system), science of research (tapas), accumulated knowledge (jnana), non-violence (ahimsa), truth (satya), charity (dana), absence of jealousy, serving the elders, purity, perseverance, compassion (anukampa) for all discrete individuals (bhutas) (of the social periphery) etc. Most of these aspects seem to be later additions. Bhishma told Yudhishtira that the commoners always treated the king as a noble (deva). (134 to 145)
BHISHMA ON STATE AND
Yudhishtira wanted to know the duties common to all the social classes (varnas) including the anuloma and pratiloma classes created by mixing of social customs and practicesand by violation of marriage codes. What were the duties (dharmas) particular to each of the four classes (varnas) and four stages of life (asramas)? He wanted to know specifically what the duties of the kings (Rajadharma) were. He would also like to learn what facilitated the increase in the influence of the country (rashtra, to be precise, the rural hinterland) and the king (raja). He wanted to know what factors raised the socio-economic status of the residents of the city (pauras) and the employees (bhrtyas) of the state.
What types of treasury, army, fort, associates, ministers, officer in charge of protocol (rtvija), political guide (rajapurohita) and mentor (acarya) should the civil administrator (nrpa) opt for he wanted to know. Whom should the king (raja) trust when in danger and should he guard himself against, he wanted to know. Some officials were required to function in two different capacities or adopt two opposite stands (dvaidibhava). What type of oath of loyalty they had to take and what would be the consequences of violation of the laws (dharma), he wanted to know. He expected Bhishma to tell him in concise and also in detail matters connected with these issues. (60-1 to 5)
Bhishma then explained to him the dharmas that had then been recently legislated for all times (sasvata). Absence of rage, uttering the truth, offering charity of all types, procreation of child on ones wife, purity, non-betrayal, uprightness and meeting the needs of the employees were the duties common to all classes (varnas). Then he proceeded to describe the duties (dharmas) that were exclusive for Brahmanas.
Addressing Yudhishtira as maharaja, head of the state as well as the legislature, he said that self-control (dama) was said to the oldest (puratana) of the duties (dharma) prescribed for the Brahmanas (jurists in particular). Besides this the Brahmana should be engaged in self-study (svadhyaya) in his seat. It is implied that he was not expected to be a roving teacher or priest. His work (karma) ended with it. Bhishma implied that in the past the Brahmans were not expected to teach Vedas or perform sacrifices or officiate at sacrifices (yajnas) or seek alms or give alms (dana). (6 to 9)
One who had been initiated formally as a (twice-born) might by his own permitted or prescribed work (dvija svakarma) come into current earnings (vartamana). He should refrain from performing any work that was dysfunctional (vikarma) to his duty and calm (santa) attitude and dedication of his services (arpita) to the cause of spread of knowledge (prajnana) gained by him. If so, he might then (get married and) procreate offspring (santana) or offer (datta) his earnings in sacrifice (yajna) or distribute his wealth (dhanam) (among his colleagues) and enjoy (what remained), according to the pious, Bhishma replied.
A Brahmana (dvija) was not expected to live on what he had inherited nor save anything that his offspring would inherit. A Brahmanawas to be immersed (parinishta) in the project (karya) of self-study (svadhyaya); whether he carried out any other work or not, he should perform this work. A Brahmana was called a Maitra, Bhishma said. (60-10 to 12)
Whether a Brahmana performed his other duties (as mentioned in dharmasastra) or not, if he continued to study by himself and gain knowledge (though not under any teacher or in any school), he should be deemed to have fulfilled his duty. Bhishma did not expect him to see alms for his livelihood or that of his teacher or be a teacher or priest. In his view, Brahmanas had to be always engaged in studying (not necessarily the Vedas which presented a socio-cultural history of the society).
Bhishma had spent most of his life during the decades when the Vedas had not yet been fully compiled. Sanatana dharma did not present the Brahmanas as a sacerdotal class or as teachers by vocation. Bhishma held that the new legislation, sasvata dharma continued this tradition. This tradition expected the Brahmanas to continue the role that was played during the Vedic times by the official designated as Mitra, friend. Mitra, the friendly sheriff was associated with and softened the approach of Varuna, the strict ombudsman who was harsh with those who did not discharge their duties. Mitra was a friendly sheriff and the intellectuals (Brahmanas) were expected to be friends, philosophers and guides.
Manava Dharmasastra required the Brahmanas to study Vedas and teach them, perform sacrifices and officiate at sacrifices, accept alms and offer charity. Bhishma was dealing with a stand that preceded this code. He told Yudhishtira that he had already described the duties (dharmas) of the Kshatriyas. The king (rajan) should offer (gifts) but not beg (for wealth or assistance), should perform sacrifices (yajna) but not officiate at sacrifices. He should study but not be a teacher. He had to govern (paripalaya) the subjects (prajas).
He should be always prepared to kill the brigands (dasyus) and show valour in battle. Those governors of agricultural lands (bhupala) who knew the Srutis (Vedas) and performed great feats (prescribed rites) and obtained victories were the best among those who won positions in higher social cadres (lokas). Bhishma said that the scholars who had studied the past did not praise those Kshatriyas who returned from the battle without injuries to their bodies. (60-13 to 16)
Bhishma distinguished between kshatriyas who were trained soldiers and were required to take part in battles and those who were recruited to control the brigands (dasyus). He would call the latter kshatrabandhus. For the members of this militia, there was no other way to rise in rank than to be engaged in wiping out the brigands. According to the rules, offering charity, studying and performance of yajnas contributed to the welfare of the king (rajan). A king who was eager to follow dharma should be always ready for war. Bhishma did not require the soldiers (kshatriyas) and the police (kshatrabandhu) to perform these duties.
The ruler of the agrarian tracts (mahipati) was asked to arrange (vyavastha) all subjects (prajas) in their respective duties (svadharma). He should carry out all prescribed works in a calm and dedicated manner and in accordance with social and state laws (dharma). Unlike the king (rajan), the mahipati was not expected to go to war with others or take part in war. He was essentially an organizer of the agrarian society. The civil administrator who was the chief of free men (nrpati) was asked to be engaged exclusively with dedication (nishta) in administration (paripalanam) whether he carried out other works or not.
He might not be in charge of the police or the local army or collection of taxes. Bhishma explained that one who had the status and role of a king (rajanya) was called Aindra. Even as Indra headed the house of nobles and also the army and the treasury as well as the ministry, this rajanya as Aindra had wide powers. The rajanyas were superior to the commoners but had not been included in the nobility. (60-17 to 20)
According to sasvata dharma, the Vaisyas were required to offer charity (dana), study and perform sacrifices (yajna) and gather wealth (dhana) by pure means. They should like senior retired citizens living in the forest look after all the domestic animals (pasu) here (that is, in the agro-pastoral plains), If they did any other work it would become dysfunctional (vikarma) to this duty. Bhishma did not envisage them as agriculturists or as traders. They had to look after the domestic animals (especially cows) only. This was what the then newly legislated dharma had prescribed. Protection of cows would enable the Vaisyas to attain great happiness (sukham).
Prajapati had defined what animals would be deemed to be domesticated animals (pasu) and assigned their protection to the Vaisyas. Bhishma might have been referring to Kashyapa who was the chief of the council of seven sages during the tenure of Manu Vaivasvata when Manava Dharmasastra was brought into force. The responsibility to look after the needs of all the subjects (prajas) of the state was given to the chief justice (Brahmana) and the King (raja). Bhishma then offered to explain by which vocations (vrtti) the Vaisyas could meet their livelihood. (60-21 to 24)
A Vaisya who looked after six cows of others was eligible to receive the milk yielded by one of them.Bhishma was extending to the Vaisya protector of cows a benefit similar to what a king received by protecting the agricultural lands (one-sixth of the crops as tax). If he looked after a herd of one hundred cows, he was eligible to take as his one cow and one bull. Besides he was eligible to receive one seventh of the milk yielded and one-sixteenth of the amount received by selling the horns (of the dead animals). The Vaisya was asked to protect the crops and seeds of others (from being damaged by the cows in his charge). He was not an agriculturist but had a duty towards agriculturists. He might receive one-seventh of these as his annual wages for this work. He should never desire not to protect the cows. If the Vaisya was prepared to protect the cattle this work should never be assigned to others. [It may be noted that the agriculturists were not brought under any of the four classes (varnas).] (60-25 to 27)
Bhishma said that the Prajapati who drafted the social laws (dharmas) envisaged the Shudras as being in the subordinate service (dasam) of the classes (varnas). He stipulated for them ancillary service (paricharya) of the classes (varnas). They would gain most by extending personal service (susrusha) to them. The Shudra was to be engaged in ancillary service (paricharya) for the three classes (Brahmans, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas) in order. Bhishma tried to fuse the three aspects, subordinate service, ancillary service and personal service but gave prominence to ancillary service. The Shudras were asked not to amass wealth for by amassing wealth they began to commit sins and tried to keep venerable persons under their control.
Bhishma did not prevent the Shudras from studying Vedas but they could not perform sacrifices as they had no wealth. One who wanted to abide by social and state laws (dharmika) could with the permission of the king (raja) perform any work that he desired. Bhishma offered to explain what vocations (vrtti) could be followed to earn ones livelihood. Bhishma said that the (three) classes (varnas) should meet the needs of the Shudras, like clothes, shoes, umbrellas and fans and transport to be able to perform their ancillary service. (60-28 to 32)
It may be noted that the above verses did not describe the three classes, Brahmans, Kshatriyas and Vaisyasas dvijatis (twice-born) or the Shudras as ekajati. This distinction was a later development and has been interpolated in the next few verses. The twice-born communities were asked to give to the old articles that could be no longer useful to them. These articles were given to them as their wealth (dhana) according to rules of charity (dharma).
A Shudra who came forward to render personal service (susrusha) to members of a twice-born community must be maintained by the latter, according to this arrangement as said by the natives (jana) who knew the provisions of social and state laws (dharma). If the employer became old and weak, it was the duty of his employee to feed him. The employee should not abandon his master in difficulty (apad). If the masters wealth (dravya) depleted, the Shudra employee was expected to help him with his surplus wages. (60-33 to 36)
The Shudra employee was not entitled to personal property. His master had all the rights to his employees wealth (dhana). The three classes (varnas) were required to perform sacrificial rites (yajnas). In the rites performed by the Shudras, the terms, svaha and vashat, and the formulae (mantras) were not uttered. They were asked to perform by themselves pakayajna in which a pot of rice was to be offered as fees (dakshina) (to the priest or guest). This entitled them fully to all benefits that those who performed yajnas got.
Bhishma recounted that Paijvana who was a Shudra following the laws that were in force under the diarchy by which Indra headed the nobility and Agni the commonalty gave one hundred thousand pots (of rice) as fees (dakshina) to the guests who were present at his sacrifice. The editors of Manusmrti took objection to this blatant violation of traditional practices and exhibition of wealth to spite the legislators. However Bhishma would not object to his action. He held all the classes to be eligible to perform sacrifices (yajnas). But Sraddhayajna (sacrifice to mark dedication to a given cause) was considered by the rules to be the best of all yajnas, Bhishma said. (60-37 to 40)
Bhishma implied that it was wrong to state that any of the four classes (varnas) was barred from performing sacrifices (yajnas). A sacrifice performed for dedicating (sraddha) ones efforts for a particular great public cause was deemed to be approved by the nobles (devatas) of the frontier industrial society and declared as a pure and holy (pavitra) one though it was not eligible to be patronized by the nobles (devas) of the core agro-pastoral society. The vipras who were scholars-cum-priests constantly on the move educating and training the commoners in the best aspects of cultural practices and were kept away from by the traditionalists officiated for each other in the sacrifices being performed by them to get their lapses corrected and amends made.
Such a vipra was treated as a great noble (devata) of the periphery to which he had been forcibly shunted. In this prolonged session of sacrifice conducted by them, they were desirous of meeting the welfare of all equally (samahita). The jurists (brahmanas) created this scheme of mass sraddhayajna along with the three classes (varnas) Bhishma pointed out defending the Vipras. (60-41, 42)
What the deva of devas (nobles) (Mahadeva or Samkara) had said was the most beneficial direction. It permitted all the classes to perform all types of sacrifices (yajnas) as systematized and advised them not to act on their own. An anointed scholar (dvija) who had studied the three Vedas, Rg, Yajur and Sama, was to be always respected as equal to a noble (deva). Those who had not studied the three Vedas were called as godsons of Prajapati, the chief of the people but were found to face difficulty. He hence permitted all the classes to performyajnas mentally without being required to utter aloud the words lest they should utter them incorrectly.
In this manasyajna performed by the non-anointed commoners who were under the jurisdiction of the chief of the people (prajapati) (who had arranged their marriages which were as valid as the brahma and daiva marriages were), the members of the other two social worlds, nobles (devas) of the core society and the natives of the other society (itarajana) of the forests and mountains too were welcome to participate. It was open to all. Sraddhayajna too was similarly open to all classes (varnas) whether they were educated in formal schools and initiated or not. (60-43 to 45)
A Brahman who performed sacrifices (yajnas) on behalf of others was always regarded as a devata (patron) by them. It was not that the Brahman did not officiate at the yajnas performed by members of the other classes (varnas). If a Vaisya (who too had studied Vedas) functioned as a priest for members of the other classes (because a Brahman refused to do so) it was deemed to be improper. A Brahman who had studied the three Vedas was created to (assigned the duty) officiate at the sacrifices (yajnas) performed by all classes (varnas). This verse seems to be a later interpolation intended to restore to the Brahmans the right and duty to officiate at the sacrifices (yajnas) performed by others to whichever class they belonged. They had lost this right by hesitating to perform their duty and lost their leadership of and respect among the members of the larger society by their isolation. (46)
The right and duty given to the Brahmans (jurists) led to their taking the lead in formation of the three other classes by conversion of the native communities (jatis) for whom they officiated at yajnas into the corresponding class (varnas). The classes which were distortions (vikara) too (that is, mixed classes, samkaravarnas) came to be formed simultaneously. It was decided that every vipra should have studied at least one of the three Vedas, Rg, Yajur and Sama. Bhishma drew attention to an ancient verse which contained the views of the retired senior citizens (vaikanasas) who were silent monks (munis), on yajnas. It emphasized the aspect of dedication (sraddha) irrespective of when the yajna was performed. (60-47 to 50)
According to these sages, as dharma required sraddha, dedication, a social leader (purusha) who controlled his (sense) organs (indriyas) performed rites in the presence of Agni, in accordance with the social laws (dharma). Every purusha (head of a family or social group) belonging to the three higher classes (varnas) who were educated was eligible to perform the rites called Agnihotra (to get his acts legitimized). Even thieves and sinners who performed sacrifices were to be treated as pious persons.
As there was no greater social purpose (karya) in any of the social worlds (lokas) than performing sacrifice, it was open to all communities in all places to perform them by any method. Hence every social leader (purusha) could perform sraddhayajnaaccording to his means and without entertaining or causing jealousy, Bhishma said. (60-51 to 54)
Bhishma then explained to Yudhishtira the duties pertaining to the four stages of life (asramas) and their influence (parakrama) under the Vedic laws based on truth (satya). Vanaprastha (retirement to the forest), Bhaikshya (begging for meeting ones economic needs, sanyasa as described often), garhasthyam, the great stage of life as a householder, and brahmacharya (career of a celibate student) were said to be the four stages prescribed for Brahmanas. Bhishma implied that only the Brahmans were eligible for and required to follow all the four stages.
After going through the prescribed rites for wearing long hair and accepting the membership of a twice-born community (dvijati) and completing the study of Vedas and performing the related works and controlling and disciplining ones senses (indriyas) and respecting those who deserved to be respected and receiving respect as one deserving to be respected, one entered the stage of a householder (grhasrama). After performing all the duties in that capacity he had to proceed to the forest as a retired senior citizen (vanaprastha). (61-1 to 4)
There those who knew social laws (dharma) had to acclimatize themselves to the code of life in the forest (aranyakasastra). Restraining their sex urge they might then become pravrajas (sanyasis) and then become one with the deathless (akshara). The vipras (scholars who had cut short their domestic career for this or other purpose) should be celibates like the silent monks (munis). But they had to perform other social duties (karma), it was directed. A Brahmana who followed the path of Brahmacarya (student of jurisprudence) might desire to become free from this world (iha loka) and take over the privileges (svadhikara) of Bhaikshacarya (a Bhikshu) it was prescribed (prasasta).
A vipra had cut short his domestic career but had not yet become a vanaprastha. A Brahmana had completed his career in vanaprastha but had not yet become abhikshu. He had to do so before he could be set on his path to liberation (moksha). It may be borne in mind that a Brahmana had to study all the four Vedas including Atharvaveda or Brahma while a Vipra was expected to have mastered at least one of the three Vedas, Rg, Yajur and Sama. (61-5 to 7)
A silent monk (muni) had to keep his mind and senses under control and be constantly on the move during the day and never desire for anything and survive on what he got by chance. A vipra (scholar constantly on the move) who followed the ways of the monk should have no desires and should have given up his share in the property of his family and should treat all as equal and have no distortion (vikara) in his attitude. He would thereby live in a stage of life that was secure and required him to look after the welfare (kshema) of all and then proceed to adopt the traits of the endless (akshara).
Bhishma visualized the vipra as a social worker rather than as a recluse. Bhishma then explained his views about grhasthasrama. After completing the study of Vedas and performing all the duties prescribed while studying them one proceeded to procreate offspring and enjoy life. After that he had to move far and wide bearing hardship for the welfare of all performing duties like a monk (muni) even while in the stage of a householder. He would not be engaged in earning wealth or seeking enjoyment during the later stage of life as a householder.
A householder should remain happy in the company of his wife and have intercourse during the proper season. He should keep away from dice and deceit and eat moderately. He should be grateful to the nobles (devas) and please them. He should adhere to truth and speak gently. He should not be cruel to any man and should forgive others who caused him pain. He should be generous and modest and follow the rules prescribed for domestic rites and should always feed the scholars (dvijas). He should be without malice against any one and should feed the members of all categories (linga). He should be always tending the three domestic fires. (81-8 to 12)
In this connection Bhishma cited the Narayana hymn which the sages held in great esteem. A householder in the social world (loka) of commonalty was required to adhere to truth, be upright, honour the guests, follow the codes of dharma and artha and have pleasure (kama) with his wife and serve her needs. He would be happy in this social world and later in the higher world (loka) to which he would be admitted, in the opinion of Rshi Narayana, Bhishma said that those who stayed in their residences should look after their wives and children and uphold the Vedas. This prescription was made by the rich seniors (sreshta) looking after the needs of the lives of those who had retired to the forest giving up all economic activities and yet were living with their wives and children.
A Brahmana who had the noble trait (sheela) of sacrifice (yajna) and conducted himself so while in the high abode of garhasthyam should lead a disciplined way of life (including vocation) as a householder obtained as fruit, membership of pure (visuddha) nobility (svarga). After that householder left his (social) body he would be eligible to enjoy the fruits of that life for ever. Bhishma implied that that householder who had fulfilled his duties and been elevated in social status could be absorbed in the cultural aristocracy of any region. As a supervisor of the social order his eyes and face would be looking in all directions. (Was Bhishma referring to such statues of social leaders, purushas?) (61-13 to 17)
One in the stage of a student had to be attached to a single teacher and follow him everywhere and serve him. He had to be ever engaged in controlling his breath, to eat after others had done, to meditate and follow the instructions. He had to look after the needs of his teachers establishment rendering ancillary service (paricharya) and also render him personal service (susrusha). He should not refrain from the duties of a young unmarried boy and should be engaged in all the duties prescribed for him. He should not use his authority as the confidante of his teacher for wrong purposes. For a Brahmachari, such residence under and service of the teacher was imperative, Bhishma said. (61-18 to 21)
Bhishma told Yudhishtira that it was obligatory only for the Brahmanas to go through all the four stages of life (asramas) and not for the other three social classes (varnas). He added that in the smrtis (sastras) (that were composed during post-Vedic times on the basis of what was remembered about the past) many duties (karmas) had been mentioned which would elevate the kings (rajanyas) to the level of nobles (svarga) but could not be treated as examples of approved conduct (vidhi) for the Brahmanas. Kshatriyas were permitted to perform all types of activities, he said.
A Brahman who performed works assigned to a Kshatriya or a Vaisya or a Shudra was indicted in the social world (loka) of commonalty as a dullard. The other world (of nobles) consigned him to the ghettoes (niraya) which received no benefits from the policy recommended by the nobles. The social world of commoners had no regard for servants (dasas), eunuchs and animals like dogs. A vipra (scholar) whose deeds were dysfunctional (vikarma) to the society was treated on par with them, Bhishma said. (62-1 to 5)
A Brahmana by following the four stages (asramas) of life performed all the six duties (studying and teaching, performing sacrifices, yajnas and officiating at sacrifices performed by others, seeking alms and giving charity to others). A Brahmana who was pure and was a tapasvi and self-restrained and had no personal aspirations was considered by the social worlds to have in him the traits of non-decadence (akshara). The work done by one bore fruit in accordance with the nature of that work. Bhishma told Rajendra Yudhishtira that self-study (svadhyaya) was as important as economic development, agriculture, trade and protection of living beings (jiva).
Coming under the influence of the times, the social world (loka) of commoners performed deeds which might be classified as noble, average and indifferent. These were also done as a result of the effects and earlier experiences. One could not help doing these. It is natural that one does what he desires to do. At the same time one is capable of entering into any type of activity.Bhishma refused to endorse or question the allocation of duties made. (62-6 to 11)
Bhishma said that a Brahmana (dvija) should not be an archer or a soldier or an agriculturist or a trader or a cowherd or a personal attendant (sushrana). A jurist (Brahmana), thinker (manishina) andhouseholder had to perform the six duties including study of Vedas and performance of sacrifices and then retire to the forest. This duty was prescribed for a vipra (scholar) who had performed the duties prescribed. He should not be an employee of the state or be a trader or an agriculturist to earn his livelihood. He was warned against resorting to the methods of deception recommended by the works of Kautilya and to usury for earning his livelihood.This would require him to earn his livelihood only as a teacher or as a priest. (63-1ff)
It is obvious that Bhishma had strong reservations against the Arthasastra of Kautilya who was his contemporary. It would appear that Bhishma could not consent to appointing only Brahmans as envoys, kings messengers, a step encouraged by Kautilya because of the immunities that they enjoyed against being submitted to death and physical torture.
One who was associated with Brahmans, that is, who was not a teacher of Vedas or a jurist but was a scholar and hence was granted the status of Brahmabandhu by deviating from the path of dharma and following prohibited social practices became a Shudra, Bhishma said. One who functioned as a stud (vrshala) to fulfill the sex needs of women or was a dancer or was a miser (pisuna) or a messenger of the state was deemed to be engaged in vocations dysfunctional (vikarma) to the class of Brahmans. Bhishma appears to launch a broadside against Pisuna who was Dushyantas finance minister and a contemporary of Bhishma and Kautilya.
Whether he repeated the Vedic formulae or not, he should be kept out of the company of Brahman diners, as if he were a Shudra or a Dasa. All state employees were equal to Shudras, Bhishma said. He would not give them the status of Brahmans or Kshatriyas as they could not act independently. They were debarred from performing any service for the nobles (devas). Bhishma was against offering gifts to Brahmans who were impure and had deviated from their duties. (63-4 to 6)
Self-control (dama), purity and uprightness were prescribed as the traits of a Brahman (jurist). All the four stages of life were obligatory for the vipras (scholars), Bhishma emphasized. He would not permit them to skip any of them for the class of Brahmanaswas created during the earlier times (out of the classless society) to provide leadership. One who was generous and was admitted to the intellectual aristocracy (on partaking soma juice) and had the culture and conduct (sheela) of an Arya, was sympathetic, tolerant towards all and without personal desires, facile and gentle, not harming any one (anrusamsa) and forgiving was entitled to be treated as a vipra (trained scholar) and not a sinner. Even a Vaisya could be treated as a Vipra. During the Vedic times only the Vaisyas who were free citizens were termed as Aryas.
Bhishma pointed out that all members of the cadre of kings (rajaloka) who were devoted to dharma sought the support of Shudras, Vaisyas and princes (rajaputras). Bhishma said that Prajapati Vishnu did not advocate for this class the dharma of peace (and abhorrence of violence and war), which was meant for the Brahmans and the class of Vaisyas who had taken the pledge to abide by truth and non-violence.
If the head of the academy had not extended to all the social worlds (lokas) the scheme of four classes (varnas) that was prevalent in the social world of commonalty they would not have secured the benefits envisaged by the Vedic ideologues, and all the activities recommended as common features of all the social worlds and for all the stages of life (asramas) would have ceased to be operative, Bhishma pointed out.
Then he described the traits of the four stages that the three classes (varnas) should be asked to follow. Bhishma, addressing Yudhishtira as chief of the unorganized social universe (jagat) said that the Shudra worker who had rendered personal service to others and had married and had offspring and was not much different from the other classes in adherence to the ten duties was eligible for all the four stages of life (asrama) except the stage when one had no desires (that is, sanyasa). This too he could adopt with the permission of the king. (63-7 to 13)
The practices followed by the Shudra personal attendant were in tune with the practices of the country where he lived and he was eligible to all the other three stages of life. He could become a student or continue to be a householder or retire to the forest. He could not commence studying at the proper stage of his career as he had been required to serve his master of the higher class from his childhood. But he could later on enroll himself as a student. He could retire from his service to his master only if the king permitted him to do so. The state would not however allow him to become a monk and thereby a burden on the state and the society. Bhishma allowed only the Brahmans to become monks.
Vaisyas and Rajaputras (princes) too could not become monks, he told Yudhishtira, addressing him as Rajendra, a king who like Indra had to look after the treasury and the army. He allowed the members of the executive functioning under the king a status equal to that of the Vaisyas. The senior administrators who had coercive power had the status of Kshatriyas and Rajans. The aged employees had to retire as directed by the king and go to the forest as vanaprasthas or becomesanyasis if they so desired. But they could retire only after the king had discharged them from service. (63-14, 15)
According to varnadharma, the code prescribed for the classes, a Kshatriya had to study Vedas and if he was a king, he had to study rajasastra too. He had to perform all good deeds and also procreate offspring and been ordained by somayajna as a king. He should administer (paripalana) all the subjects (prajas) of his state in accordance with the social and state laws (dharma) and perform rajasuya and asvamedha sacrifices to legalize his conquests and extension of his authority and jurisdiction. On attaining old age he might retire after installing his natural son (putra) (if the latter was competent to rule) or one born in a noble Kshatriya clan as his successor.
The retiring king had to take the permission of the elders (pitrs), nobles (devas) and sages (rshis) at the formal ceremonies to do so. The elders (pitrs) were to be honoured at the annual remembrance (sraddha) ceremonies, the nobles (devas) at special sacrifices (yajnas) and the sages (rshis) at the Vedic seminars.The saintly king (Rajarshi) could opt for vanaprasthaand sanyasa and fulfill his personal goal (siddhi). But he should not seek alms except for his survival when in the stage of a monk. Only Brahmans were permitted to seek alms. Bhishma was pointing out to Yudhishtira that the latter could not walk out at his will. (16 to 22)
The scheme of four stages of life (asramas) was open also to those commoners who had not opted for the scheme of four classes (varnas). The state granted them the permission and protected their right to follow the duties connected with the four stages. Bhishma noted that in the pre-varna society, the kings (who formed the state) followed the best of the dharmas available to the social world of commoners (manushyas).
He implied that under the new varna scheme, the duties (dharma) performed by the intellectuals and jurists (Brahmanas) might be deemed to be the best. But among the traditional dharmas followed by the different sections of the commonalty, the most influential and helpful were those followed by the Kshatriyas. The dharmas of the three classes, Brahmans, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas and the upadharmas of their units or sections were all recognized and protected by and dependent on the king. Hence all dharmas were included in Rajadharma, the duty of the head of the state. (63-23 to 25)
The revered among the commoners (manushyas) who knew dharma held that kshatriya dharma was in force in many places and functioned in a beneficial manner while the dharmas of other groups were in force only in specific areas and were not so yielding in benefits as the state laws were. Rajadharma was the best of all dharmas, Bhishma asserted. In the traditional (purana) system, Rajadharma was described to be renunciation of all personal comforts by the king. If dandaniti became defunct, the three Vedas would disappear and all thedharmas would get destroyed through mutual contradictions, Bhishma warned.
Rajadharma was not to be viewed as an orientation that supplanted dandaniti, the policy of exercising coercive power. Rajadharma was not intended to protectvarnadharmas. To be precise, the scheme of four classes had posed a threat to the sovereignty of the state. The four new classes (varnas) owed loyalty not to clans (kulas) or communities (jatis) or to economic guilds (samghas) and corporations (srenis) or countries (desas) but to their own trans-regional councils (parishads) and the states did not appreciate their claims that they were citizens of the world (manavas) and could reside in any area of their choice for as long as they desired to.
Hence Rajadharma had to confine itself to the laws pertaining to the four stages of life (asramas) which were open not only to these four classes but also to other communities and individuals. If the Rajadharma ofKshatriyas became weak, all the asramas would become weak and get ruined, Bhishma said.
Rajadharma granted to all the right to enjoyment of worldly life. All rules (niyamas) were prescribed by it. It covered all disciplines of study (vidyas). It described all aspects of renunciation and all types of initiation and required all social worlds to follow its directives. It defined both affluence and systematic work. All workers and all who were at the bare subsistence level were ensured their livelihood by the state laws (Rajadharma). If they were killed by uncivilized persons, the Vedic dharmas would be crushed, Bhishma cautioned.
He also warned that the varna dharmas which abandoned the protection offered by the state laws would get ruined. The commoners who stuck to the dharmas of their clans and communities and ignored the state laws would no longer get their codes (dharmas) protected, Bhishma cautioned. (63-26 to 30)