BHISHMA ON RAJADHARMA
INDRA AND MAMDHATA ON RAJADHARMA
Bhishma asserted that the laws (dharmas) regarding the four stages of life (asramas) and the ways of life (dharma) of yatis who had renounced their personal interests to be able to guide the rest of the society and those praised by the Vedas and by the social world (loka) of commonalty as the best were included inKshatradharma.
If the state laws were stable and constantly enforced, all the activities prescribed by the above social laws would prove useful and the beings (jivas) at the lower level of the society would live in comfort. Bhishma seems to hint that but for state laws, social laws would not by themselves be able to look after the needs of the economically weaker sections of the society.
The laws governing the four stages of life (asramas) had been legislated forever (sasvata dharma) but they were not noticed directly (pratyaksha) though they had many advantages. Attention was being focused on the laws governing the social classes (varnas) to the neglect of the laws of asramas, the editor felt.
The asrama laws were first drafted when the laws based on truth (satya) (which appeared to be too puritanical) were in force during the Vedic epoch. They had been pronounced through agamas which were annexure to the Vedas and dealt with different types of rites. The laws pertaining to the classes came into force only later. Other ideologues of the commonalty asserted their importance as the utterances of the virtuous persons (punya-jana) indicate. Some others were dedicated to the wider and universal social law of compassion though they were not aware of the truth (satya) behind the social law (dharma).
Bhishma pointed out that the social law (dharma) which benefited all the social worlds (lokas) and was open to all and had no deception in it and which every one was aware of, was protected by the Kshatriyas (state).
Bhishma reiterated that even as the dharma governing the householder stage of life of Brahmans included the ways of life of the other three stages of life (asramas) also, Rajadharma covered all the social worlds (lokas) and the activities of the virtuous.
He implied that Rajadharma took into account the needs of the integrated society. Not only the commonalty of the plains but also the urban patriciate and the industrial frontier society and the people of the social periphery and the mobile population known as punya-jana were brought under the state laws (Rajadharma).
Bhishma said that once many valiant rulers who wanted to improve the effectiveness of dandaniti, the policy science pertaining to the use of coercive power, and to compare the merits of Rajadharma with the dharmas of the asramas approached Rshi Narayana to know the correct evaluation. Narayana who was the head of an academy (bhagavan) was also the charismatic and benevolent leader (Isvara) of all the discrete individuals (sarvabhuta) of the social periphery. He was a noble (deva) who had jurisdiction over the larger commonalty (prabhu). He was the first of the nobles (adideva) who had inducted into the fold of the nobility,
Saddhyas, Vasus, Asvins, Rudras, Visvedevas, Siddhas and Maruts as Kshatriyas. Many had treated only the Adityas as having the traits needed for administrators and generals. Narayana admitted these cadres too to the class of nobles-cum-administrators. He assigned to them the duty of protection of the larger society.
Bhishma then acquainted Yudhishtira with an event involving the great warrior-king, Mamdhata, and his patron, an Indra. It was a period when the social world of commonalty was threatened by the plutocrats (danavas). Mamdhata wanted to meet Narayana who had the statuses of head of the larger commonalty (prabhu), of a noble (deva) and a charismatic leader of all peoples (sarvesvara). Bhagavan Vishnu appeared before him in the form of Indra.
It is likely that the later editors of this epic were not sure whether the famous general, Vishnuchakra, a Talajangha, was Vishnu or an Indra. This chieftain and head of the Indra school of thought told Mamdhata and other kings that he himself did not have access to Bhagavan Narayana who had great intellectual power (mantrasakti) and influence over the larger comprehensive society.
He claimed that even Brahma (the head of the constitution bench) did not have access to Narayana. [In later centuries Vishnu has been identified with Narayana and Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parasurama, Rama, Balarama and Krshna were treated as incarnations of Vishnu. Brahma, Vishnu and Siva have been treated as the Trinity, the three gods looking after creation, protection and destruction of the worlds.]
Mamdhata, as Indra recognized, had as a parthiva, authority over the commoners and was committed to the laws based on truth (satya) and also followed the social laws (dharma) and was a ruler who had restrained the organs (indriyas) of his state. The nobles (devas) too had faith in him. After having followed Kshatriya dharma and secured control over the social world of commoners and becoming famous, he wanted to retire to the forest. He wanted to know what according to Narayana the best dharma was.
Indra said that Kshatra dharma was first outlined by Adideva. All other dharmas came into existence later as its residues (seshabhuta). A king who had no army though following the path of dharma with respect to others would not be able to keep them in the appropriate path, Indra said emphasizing the need for an army.
Sesha or Ananta was deemed to be an ideal entrepreneur who functioned as a discrete individual rather than as a member of a clan or an organized community. He was assigned to the cadre of nagas, technocrats. Sesha created several ways of life which marked departure towards new desirable goals.
Of these Kshatra dharma had a special place. It included all dharmas and hence it was deemed to be the best, Indra explained. He clarified that in the past Vishnu by resorting to Kshatra dharma performed feats in which the enemies were all destroyed and the nobles and sages were protected.
Kshatra dharma did not envisage employing the army to protect the entrepreneurs.
But Kshatra dharma called for using the army to defeat the enemies and to protect the nobles (devas) and sages (rshis) who were ordinarily pacifists.
If Vishnu the head of an academy (Bhagavan) had not performed an incomparable feat and destroyed all the feudal lords (asuras) neither the jurists (Brahmanas) nor the supervisors and guardians (adhikartas) of the social world (loka) of the commonalty nor the new (ayam) dharma that outlined varnasrama scheme nor the original (adhi) dharma that was not based on social classes would have survived, Indra said.
If Adideva who was also the best (sreshta) of devas had not conquered the social world of commonalty and the feudal lords (asuras) and others by his prowess the dharmas governing the four classes (varnas) and four stages of life (asramas) would have vanished following the destruction of all Brahmanas (jurists).
Indra added that sasvata dharma had been lost often but had been reestablished by resort to Kshatradharma. This original code Adidharma had become active in every epoch and hence Kshatra dharma is considered to be the earliest (jyeshta) in the social world (loka) of commoners. Kshatra dharma was in vogue before the commonalty was brought under the scheme of four varnas and it was not dependent on army for enforcing its values.
Kshatra dharma envisaged not killing others but giving up ones life (atmatyaga) in sympathy (anukampa) with the needs of all discrete individuals (sarva bhuta) of the social periphery who were not organized into or protected by clans and communities.
It advocated gaining knowledge(jnana) of the ways of life of the social world (loka) of commonalty, administration (palana) and liberation (moksha) from hardship. This was the duty of the parthiva, governor of the rural areas. This picture did not envisage him as a warrior taking part in battles. Those who did not stay within limits prescribed and were influenced by lust and passion refrained from committing sins and crimes because of fear of the king. The king (raja) was a trained (sishta) person who protected all dharmas.
The parthiva followed the practices (achara) of a pious person (sadhu) and the laws (dharma) governing the sadhus. The parthiva, governor of the rural areas, was required to protect his subjects like his natural son (putra) in accordance with Rajadharma. There is no doubt that under him all the discrete individuals (sarvabhuta) of the social world (loka) of commonalty moved about without fear.
Indra said that Kshatra dharma was the best (sreshta) and the oldest (sanatana) among all the social laws (dharmas) in the social world (loka) of commonalty and had been legislated for ever (sasvata) and was endless (akshara) and that it took care of the interest of people in all directions (sarvatomukha). (Santi 64)
Indra said that Kshatra dharma was the best and the most potent among all social laws (dharmas) and was linked with all dharmas. He asked Mamdhata to govern (pala) in such a way that the interests of the liberal sections of the social world (loka) of commoners were upheld. Otherwise the subjects (prajas) would be affected adversely, he warned.
A king known for his empathy with all the discrete individuals (sarva bhuta) of the social periphery who were not protected by any social group and for giving up his body in flames (agni) should perform his duty as a king (rajasamskara) and ensure that the commonalty (bhu) followed all its prescribed duties (samskara). He should not take to the life of a bhikshu (alms-seeking monk) but govern (palanam) the subjects (prajas). The monks (munis) treated renunciation (tyaga) as the best. The best of all types of renunciation was giving up the body (in battle). All the rulers of the agrarian commonalty (bhumipala) were always connected with Rajadharma, Indra told Mamdhata.
Indra said that a student of jurisprudence (brahmachari) could desire to stay alone at the residence of a teacher permanently and render him personal service and learn the duties (dharma) of a kshatriya administrator.
He would learn about the principles of economy (artha) applicable to common men, economic affairs and disputes (vyavahara) and vocations (pravrtti) and then give up likes and dislikes.He would learn about establishing the scheme of four classes and gain training in administering them. He would learn about the duties of all vocations and realize that of all dharmas, Kshatradharma was the best (sreshta).
Absence of kshatra dharma would prove dysfunctional for the classes (varnas) following their respective duties (svadharma). The commoners (manushyas) who were always engaged in economic pursuits (artha) without caring for limits prescribed (maryada) were equated with discrete individuals (bhutas) some of whom were yet at the level of animals.
Kshatra dharma besides calling for economic (artha) activities (yoga) provided for knowledge of niti, that is, dandaniti and hence the period of training under a teacher in jurisprudence was valuable (sreya). Kshatra dharma brought together control over economy and political power.
For the jurists (Brahmanas) under training, all the three disciplines of study (vidyas), the Vedas, economy (artha, varta) and political control (dandaniti) were prescribed in addition to the (four) stages of life, asramas. These were considered to be the best duty for them. A scholar who functioned in a way different from this was called a Shudra and was liable to be killed by weapons, Indra said. Addressing Mamdhata as parthiva, governor of the rural areas,
Indra said thataccording to the dharma expounded in the Vedas (that is, according to sanatana dharma) beforedharmasastras were drafted and legislated, only the Brahmans were entitled to follow the codes of all the four stages of life (asramas).
One who followed a way of life not provided for in the above scheme was told that as dharma flourished on the basis of work done, one acquired economic status in accordance with the code of conduct and duty (dharma) opted for by him. In other words one could not become eligible for the privileges of a particular stage of life and class even while not being in that stage or in that class. A scholar (vipra) who deviated from his prescribed work (was guilty of vikarma) was not eligible for any honour. One who did not perform his duty (karma) should not be trusted, according to the learned.
It was the duty (dharma) of all the social classes (varnas) to ensure that Kshatriya dharma occupied the highest place. Thereby Rajadharma was eligible for precedence (as being jyeshta) and not the dharmas of other classes or cadres. Indra however opined that the dharma of warriors (viradharma) was to be given precedence.
Mamdhata thereupon asked Indra what status he would assign to the Yavanas, Kiratas, Gandharas, Chinas, Sabaras, Barbaras, Sakas, Tusharas, Kankas, Pahlavas, Andhras, Madrakas, Paundras, Pulindas, Ramathas and Kambhojas who were offspring (prasuta) of Brahmansand Kshatriyas, that is, were educated and were also warriors. Some of them were similarly offspring of Vaisyas and Shudras, employers and servants. They had accepted Manava Dharmasastra and were citizens of the larger society as manavas but not subjects (prajas) of the state. They were then living like brigands, dasyus.
What type of dharma they should practise and within what limits they should remain, Mamdhata (who was eager to bring them under the influence of Arya culture and civilization) asked Indra who was the charismatic leader of the nobles (suresvara) and was an individual (bandhu bhuta) closer to the Kshatriyas.
The dasyus were not social outcasts but were political exiles. Indra said that the dasyus most of whom lived in the social periphery where the abodes of the teachers were located should render personal service to their mothers, fathers, guides(acaryas) and teachers and residents of those abodes (asramas).
They were required to render personal service (sushrusha) to the administrators of agrarian lands (bhumipa). According to the social and state laws (dharma) and rules (vidhis) they should perform the duties (kriya) as prescribed by the dharma expounded in the Vedas.
The dasyus were entitled to perform sacrifices (yajnas) for the maintenance of the elders (pitrs), to dig wells and construct centres of training and hostels and distribute gifts among the scholars (dvijas) at the proper time. (Dasyus were henchmen of the feudal lords, asuras, while Dasas were loyal servants of the liberal nobles, devas. After the asura cadres were deprived of their economic and military power, their henchmen, dasyus, were allowed to settle down in the peripheral areas as peaceful citizens with limited rights.)
Indra suggested that those who were on the social periphery and were warriors should adhere to non-violence (ahimsa) and truth (satya) and purity and be free from rage and betrayal. They should administer (anupalana) the income from their vocations (vrtti) and shares in the legacy (as dayas) and maintain their wives and sons.
They were permitted to perform all types of sacrifices and offer fees (dakshina) to those attending them. All the dasyus could give landed estates (bhuti) also as they desired and perform costly pakayajnas. (Indragranted recognition to the rich pakayajna performed by Paijvana, it may be presumed.)
Addressing Mamdhata as parthiva, governor of the rural areas, Indra said that the activities and duties of all the social cadres (lokas) should be followed as they had been determined in the past.
Mamdhata said that lawless elements (dasyus) could be noticed among all the social classes (varnas) and also among the social world (loka) of commoners (manushyas) who had not yet opted for those new classes. They were hiding themselves under the garb and marks of persons following the four asramas, he complained.
Indra pointed out that when because of the king (raja) distancing him from dandaniti it lost its effectiveness and the ruler did not adhere to Rajadharma in his activities, the discrete individuals (bhutas) of the unorganized social periphery were confused over (muhya) what were the deeds that might be performed and what were not. He warned that when the epoch of constructive activities (krta yuga) ended numerous bhikshus would appear wearing different identifying marks and people would form diverse views about the rights and duties pertaining to the asramas, stages of life.
Men coming under the influence of lust and greed would go along wrong paths and would not give heed to the ancient sayings on what was the highest path of dharma. When the great legislators (mahatma) through exercise of powers vested in them by dandaniti prevented men from committing sins and removed (nivartya) the effects of sins, good individuals (sadbhuta) of the periphery would go along the high path shown by the permanent social legislation (sasvata dharma), Indra said.
Indra warned that the gifts offered and the rites performed by persons who disrespected the king (raja) who had the status of a teacher (guru) of all social worlds (lokas) would bear no fruits. The king was the ruler of the commoners (manushyas) and was an individual with the traits of a noble (devabhuta) according to sanatanadharma. This charismatic and benevolent leader (isvara) of free men (naras) who was devoted to dharma was not disrespected even by the nobles (devas), Indra said.
When the chief of the people (prajapati) who was head of an academy (bhagavan) brought into existence a social universe (jagat) comprising all cadres he desired to institute Kshatra dharma to regulate all economic activities (pravrtti) and retirement from them (nivrtti). Both these duties devolved on the king. But Indra would respect and recognize only those intellectuals who emphasized the social laws (dharma) pertaining to economic activities (pravrtti) for Kshatra dharma was based (pratishtita) on this pedestal.
Indra had reservations about the approach taken by this Prajapati. Bhishma told Yudhishtira that Indra, the head of the academy (bhagavan) after giving the above counsel went to the permanent abode of Vishnu along with his retinue of Maruts (his personal guards).
Kshatra dharma which was thus endorsed by Indra and was in force during the ancient times and was faultless could not be criticized by any other thinker. Kshatra dharma which upheld both involvement in prescribed activities (pravrtti) and retirement (nivrtti) from them would lose sight of the internal and intrinsic distinction between the two by unjust criticism, Bhishma said. He advised Yudhishtira to understand and go along this path.
BHISHMA RECALLS BRHASPATI'S COUNSEL TO VASUMANAS
Yudhishtira wanted Bhishmatoexplain hisearlier statement about the four stages of life (asramas) that were prescribed by Manava Dharmasastra for all manavas, citizens of the world keeping in view the questions the former had asked. He implied that Manava Dharmasastra had prescribed the four stages (asramas) for all the four classes (varnas), while the earlier laws prescribed them only for the Brahmans according to Bhishma.Bhishmaconceded that Yudhishtira was acquainted with all the dharmas legislated by the pious (sadhus) as Bhishma was.
Bhishma asserted that all those who went through all the four stages of life (asrama) performing the acts prescribed for them (pravrtti) like those who followed the practices (achara) of the pious (sadhus) were known to be acting in accordance with what Manu had prescribed. The ruler who exercised the powers vested in him by dandaniti without lust and rage and looked at and treated all individuals (bhutas) equally might be said to have attained the status of a monk (bhikshu, sanyasi who lived on alms).
One who had the knowledge (jnana) of mass movement (visarga) to be able to use both powers, sanctions (nigraha) against the undesirable elements and assistance (anugraha) to the desirable ones and carried out the appropriate (yathokta) functions (vrtta) might be said to gain the stage of life (asrama) of social security (kshema), that is of a rich householder, Bhishma said.
One who always revered those who were eligible to be revered and gave them their share (samvibhaga) secured everywhere the status of one in the stage of life (asrama) of a monk (bhikshu). One who extended assistance to ones kinsmen and friends who were in difficulty attained the status of those who had been initiated (deeksha) into the life of a selfless senior citizen (vanaprastha) (whether he had actually moved to his forest abode or not).
One who always honoured the chiefs (mukhya) of the social world (loka) of commonalty and the leaders of social sectors was said to be suitable for admission tovanaprastha stage of life.
One in addition to his daily duties made offerings in sacrifice (yajna) to meet the needs of the retired elders (pitrs), the individuals (bhutas) of the social periphery and the commoners (manushyas) of the agro-pastoral plains would attain the status of a vanaprastha.
By sharing one's income equally with the discrete individuals (bhutas) of the social periphery who had no definite source of income and with the guests (atithi) who deserved to be honoured with offerings and by offering sacrifices (yajna) to the nobles (devas) one became eligible to follow the vanaprastha stage of life.
A king who marched against another country (pararashtra) in order to protect the well-trained (sishta) persons was fit to be treated as eligible to be in the stage of life of a vanaprastha, Bhishma told Yudhishtira. One in the vanaprastha stage had to perform certain societal duties as indicated by Bhishma.
While administering ones country (svarashtra) the king had to protect all the discrete individuals (sarva bhutas),especially of the social periphery. As they were not members of and expect support from an organized social group like a clan or community or corporation and were being harassed by the people of the neighbouring inimical country, they needed the support of the king. The king had to get initiated (deeksha) in the different methods by which these individuals could be extended protection.
This would lead him to a stage where he would be guided solely by the Vedic laws based on truth (satya). These individuals had been forced to seek shelter in the periphery after they had been deprived of their wealth and means of livelihood and these had to be restored to them.
It was a tough task for the king to determine who the original owners of these properties were and how to make the new possessors part with these to the earlier rightful owners. The king would have to take a tough position though he might not be able to resort to coercive methods and violence to get justice rendered.
One was to be always engaged in the study of Vedas and have the ability to endure hardship. He should revere the guide (acarya) and render personal service (susrusha) to his assistant (upadhyaya). This stage was calledBrahmasrama whether it was gone through when he was a yet unmarried lad or later. It was a period when he would be acquainted with the provisions of the socio-political constitution, Brahma (Atharvaveda, in particular).
This constitution came into force when the laws based on truth were not adequate to overcome social conflicts. The drafting of the socio-political constitution, Brahma, was followed by the drafting of the permanent legislation, sasvata dharma. It called for constant and open acknowledgement of the importance of the erstwhile ruling cadre of nobles (devas) of the core society of the agro-pastoral plains while occupying the seat of justice, dharma.
This installation on the seat of justice from where the liberal laws based on consensus were enforced was called occupying the seat of dharmasrama.
Yudhishtira had to realize that Bhishma had a wider vision when he asserted that all asramas were included in Rajadharma.Bhishmawas not confining himself to the four asramas, Brahmacharya, Grhastha, Vanaprastha and Sanyasa which were open only to Brahmanas.
A king who had resolved to protect the commoners (mrtyu) of the core society and was steadfast in risking his life for that purpose was said to be eligible to occupy the seat of Brahma, the chief of the constitution bench. Brahmasrama was meant for a person who was utterly selfless and fearless. It was not necessary that the king should lay down his life in battle. The Brahma approach had provided alternatives to war to determine whose claims were just. Dyuta, playing dice, was one of them.
Yudhishtira had resorted to it but he had not staked his own life. Only a ruler who staked his own life to protect others was eligible for this high post of Brahma. Bhishma said that one who always resorted to a method other than illusion and deceit (that were involved in dice) in the interests of all the discrete individuals (sarvabhuta) (especially of the social periphery) also could attain the status of an upholder of the constitution,Brahma. Bhishma was not referring to the stage of sanyasa.
Bhishma was intent on dissuading Yudhishtira from retiring to the forest. He said the young scholar (vipra) who had left his family to propagate knowledge and cultural practices among all sections of the population, and an experienced teacher of the three disciplines of study (traividya, three Vedas, varta and dandaniti, socio-cultural history, economy and political control) and a vanaprastha (a senior citizen who had retired from all economic activities) were all eligible to get the benefits of vana asrama.
Bhishma said that one who sympathized with all individuals (sarva bhuta) (especially the weaker and unprotected sections of the society on the social periphery) against the cruel elements and was engaged in activities devoid of cruelty and inhumanity was said to be performing the roles of all stages of life as enumerated above. In short, one who treated the children and the aged with sympathy should be deemed to have gone through all stages of life, Bhishma said.
Bhishma had to explain why he deemed the life of a householder (grhastha) to be more important than the other stages. This stage of life called for giving asylum to those individuals (bhutas) who were victims of violence. It called for protection (raksha) of all individuals (bhutas) (of the unprotected periphery) and revering them according to their desert, whether they belonged to settled groups (acara) or they were required to be constantly on the move (cara).
A king was expected to treat all in an impartial and just manner even as a householder treated his senior and junior wives on par and treated his brothers and sons to be eligible equally for sanctions (nigraha) and favours (anugraha). A king should conduct himself like a householder who was expected to worship the pious (sadhu) and honour the well-learned persons and meet their needs (palanam) and accommodate and feed individuals (bhuta) belonging to any asrama and honour them suitably even as a householder did.
The discrete individuals (bhutas) of the social periphery continued their affiliation to the scheme of four stages of life (asramas) to which they had been initiated before they were constrained to dissociate themselves from the clans of which they had been members.
A social leader (purusha) who stood by and upheld the dharma thus drafted and followed it in a practical way (yathartha) would obtain all the benefits which going through the different stages of life (asramas) offered. The above traits (gunas) of the best (sreshta) of the free men (naras), (that is, one who could become a social leader, purusha) would never get destroyed and he would be deemed to have gone through all the above stages of life (asramas), Bhishma said.
A king who respected the status, clan and age of every individual would be deemed to have stayed in every one of the stages of life (asramas).
He should have protected (palaya) the social laws (dharmas) of every country (desa) and every clan (kula). Asramadharmas were not contingent on varnadharmas. They could be followed even in a country where varnadharmas had not come into force.
One who supported the discrete individuals (bhutas) on the social periphery who had no wealth of their own or definite means of livelihood, with wealth (vibhuti) and financial aid (upahara) at the appropriate time was deemed to be in the status of a gentle and pious person (sadhu), Bhishma explained.
A king (raja) who adhered to the ten duties (dharma) prescribed by (Manu Svayambhuva) and ensured that all the social worlds (lokas) followed them was considered to have gone through all stages of life (asramas).
The chief of the agrarian tracts (bhupati) who administered the social and state laws (dharma) for the social world (loka) of commoners who easily followed dharma with respect to worldly affairs (vishaya) was eligible for one-sixth of their justly (dharma) earned income (as tax). This share was not to be treated as penalty (danda) for violation of rules, Bhishma implied. A ruler who delighted in following the principles of dharma would not protect those manavas who had departed from the path of dharma.
The manavas were followers of Manava Dharmasastra and claimed to follow that social code (dharma) of varnasand asramas. Some of them refused to honour the state laws (dharmas) on the ground that they were citizens of the world and not subjects (prajas) of the state. Bhishma said that they were not eligible for protection by the state.
The parthiva, governor of the rural areas, was however required to take action to destroy the sins committed by such persons, Bhishma advised. He should not be satisfied with ignoring them. The assistants of that parthiva were eligible for a share in the benefits accruing from all the just and legally permitted (dharma) deeds performed by others (para) (even if they were not recognized as subjects of the ruler).
Bhishma said that the enlightened had come to the conclusion that the stage of life of a householder was superior and pure (pavana) amongst all stages (asramas) of life and the social laws (dharma) had prescribed certain rules for all with regard to it.
A manava, follower of Manava Dharmasastra, who had opted for one of the four new classes (varnas) and four stages of life (asramas) and treated the discrete individual (bhuta) of the social periphery as comparable to him (with respect to rights and duties) and gave up both obedience to and resort to coercive power (danda) as exercised by the state and had conquered rage would obtain happiness in the present life and also thereafter.
The manavas (members of new classes) and bhutas (individuals who were not members of clans) were both subject to social laws (dharmas) only and were eligible to follow the four asramas.
Bhishma would compare Rajadharma to a ship anchored in the sea. It got its strength from the trait of gentleness and spirit of renunciation of personal interests. This called for withdrawal (nivrtta) from all desires entertained in the heart. One who had done so was equal to the head of the constitution bench, Brahma.
A ruler who had a pleasant (suprasanna) attitude (bhava) and was engaged in prescribed administrative (palana) duties (yoga) became eligible for the benefits and joy accruing by adhering to dharma, Bhishma said. Bhishma advised Yudhishtira to meet the needs of the scholars (vipras) who were engaged in the study of Vedas, and those who were performing pious deeds (sadhus) and try to administer (palana) all the social worlds (lokas).
A parthiva, governor of the rural areas, obtained by protecting (raksha) the legislators (dharma) who were moving (cara) in the forest (vana) benefits equal to hundred times what they got, Bhishma said. He directed Yudhishtira to follow this sanatana dharma. If he stayed in one position as ruler and governed the people he would gain the advantage of having followed the dharmas of all the four stages of life (asramas) and the four classes (varnas). (Santiparva Ch.66)
Yudhishtira then wanted to know what the activities and duties of the people of the state (rashtra) were. The first act of the people of the state (rashtra) should be to install a king (raja). A people (rashtra) who did not have an Indra (who headed the treasury and the nobility and the ministry during the Vedic times) and an army (bala) would be harassed by brigands (dasyus). In a country (rashtra) without a king (raja), social laws (dharma) would not have been established in a systematic manner and there would be mutual exploitation and harassment through widespread anarchy (arajaka).
Bhishma ruled out the concept of a country adopting anarchism in preference to monarchy. Anarchism was anarchy. According to the Vedas (Srutis), a people adopted a king as theirs even as they accepted an Indra as their authority. Hence the bourgeoisie who owned real estate (bhuti) worshipped a king (raja) who was to their liking as equal to Indra who was the head of the liberal aristocracy, Bhishma pointed out.
Bhishma said that he preferred not to live in an anarchist (arajaka) country (rashtra). The Vedic social polity had envisaged a bicameral system by which, Indra, the head of the house (sabha) of nobles (devas) controlled the treasury and the army and Agni, the head of the council (samiti) of scholars was the civil judge. Beside these two officials, there was a king elected by the dynamic chieftains (rajanyas) from among themselves.
Bhishma noted that the civil judge Agni would not accept any offerings made when there was no king in his post. Agni did not recognize an anarchist system that placed both political and economic power in the hands of Indra, the head of the nobles and subordinated the intelligentsia and the commonalty to the aristocracy. It was the king (raja) who could put a rein on the powers of Indra.
Bhishma would even counsel that the people of a weak anarchist (arajaka) country (rashtra) should welcome and honour the powerful invader who wanted to capture that state (rajya). There was no sin worse than living under anarchy, he said defending his recommendation to accept a powerful outsider as king.
If one looked at this suggestion in a calm and balanced way, he would realize that the rule of such a powerful king (though an outsider) would be beneficial to all, for if that powerful invader became angry he could destroy every thing without exception.
Bhishma was advocating this policy of accepting rule by a conqueror only for an anarchist nation. He asked Yudhishtira to note that none harassed a cow that yielded milk voluntarily. One who surrendered voluntarily was not harassed by the victor and a log that yielded was not forcibly bent or cut. The weak should salute the strong (bali) as if the latter was Indra himself. Bhishma was defending the right of the mighty to rule.
It was the duty of the king to always fulfill the desire of others for property (bhuti). If there was anarchy (arajaka) he would not be able to fulfill the object (artha) of acquiring wealth and wife. In anarchy a sinner longed to attach the economic means (vitta) of others.
But when others attached his wealth that sinner would long for the presence of a king (raja) (to protect him and his property). A sinner could not ever have his acquisitions secure (kshema), Bhishma asserted. Two would seek the wealth one and many of that of those two. Neither individual property nor joint property would be safe in an anarchist system, he warned.
In an anarchist system there was none who became a servant (dasa) voluntarily. There was only the system of persons purchased or forced to become slaves (kriyadasas) and women were violated forcibly. Hence the nobles (devas) created the institution of protector of the subjects (prajapala) and set it in motion (pracakre) for controlling these elements. Bhishma implied that the prajapala would bring more and more people under his jurisdiction.
If there was no king (raja) for the commoners of the agrarian plains (prthvi) with the power to wield coercive power (dandadhara), the weak would be coerced by the mighty even as the larger fish swallowed the smaller ones in the water. Even as in water the fish swallowed one another, in the past in an anarchist state (arajaka) the subjects (prajas) suffered destruction, the Vedas (Srutis) have said, Bhishma pointed out.
He said that it was heard that the subjects came together and decided to expel those strong men (purushas) among them who were harsh in their speech and used excessive coercive power (danda) and took away the wives of others and attached the earnings of others. In order to gain the confidence especially of all classes (varnas), they adopted a common rule and abided by it in comfort but only for a brief period.
When they became unhappy they approached the patriarch, pitamaha, and told the head of the academy (bhagavan) that they were facing ruin in the absence of a benevolent charismatic ruler (isvara) and asked to give them an isvara who would be able to protect them (palaya) and they would in return worship him.
The pitamaha then directed Manu to become their ruler but Manu declined saying that he feared sinful acts and that it was difficult to rule a state (rajya), especially the commoners (manushyas) who were always engaged in vicious activities.
Thereupon the subjects (prajas) of the state told him that he need not fear as sins would harm only those who committed them. They offered Manu that they would contribute two percent of their cattle and gold and ten percent of the grains for the increase of his treasury and the most beautiful of their daughters in marriage. They also offered that the chiefs among the commoners (manushyas) would follow him with their arms even as the nobles (devatas) followed Mahendra, the chief of Indras.
The people said that with the support of the native army (jatabala) he could become an invincible and influential and prominent (pratapa) king (raja). They requested him to lead them to happiness even as Kubera (a plutocrat who had the status of a devata) kept his followers happy.
These subjects envisaged a plutocracy that would lead the commonalty to plenty and happiness and offer protection to their lives and property. They assured him that the subjects (prajas) would contribute to the kings treasury one-fourth of their lawful (dharma) earnings.
In order to gain this huge wealth acquire through means approved by social laws (dharma), the king (raja) should protect them in the same manner as Sakra Indra who had a hundred feats to his credit protected the nobles (devas).
This big offer of one-fourth of the earnings in sacrifice as prescribed by social laws (dharma) was made expecting that the ruler would be a conqueror who would destroy their arrogant enemies for ever.
Bhishma said that Manu who was endowed with a large retinue from the higher ranks of the natives (abhijana) of that country and a huge army (bala) and was highly influential left that meeting satisfied with the offer. Even as the minor nobles (devatas) were impressed by the greatness of Mahendra, all (commoners and others) were influenced by Manu and proceeded to perform their respective duties (svadharma). Was Bhishma referring to the seventh Manu, Vaivasvata? The editor seems to have overlooked the fact that Vaivasvata was a king, a Rajarshi, before he was appointed as Manu and not after that.
Manu then calmed all the sinners and embarked on a project to engage every one in his appropriate vocation (svakarma). The manavas (those who had opted for the code of varnas and asramas as prescribed by the Manava Dharmasastra and the related system of political economy outlined by the Arthasastra of Pracetas Manu) of the agro-pastoral commonalty (prthvi) who desired to have landed property (bhuti) should first have a king (raja) to get their expectations and objective (karana) as prajas (subjects of the state) met by his favour (anugraha), Bhishma said.
The subjects (prajas) should salute the king (raja) even as a student saluted his teacher or the nobles (devas) their chief, devendra. Bhishma implied that the contract mentioned above did not mean that the people had sold themselves to the king. One who was honoured by the natives of his land (svajana) was honoured by others also and one who was rejected by the svajana was disregarded by others, Bhishma pointed out. If a king was defeated by others it was regretted by all.
Hence the subjects should arrange to meet all his needs befitting his station, he urged. This support and sympathy enabled the king to protect his subjects and hence he should converse softly with the manavas who had agreed to become his subjects. The king should be grateful to those who helped him and be steadfast in his friendship with those loyal to him. He should be fair while sharing his gains with them, Bhishma counselled. (Santiparva Ch.67)
Yudhishtira then wanted to know why the scholars (vipras) (who were engaged in educating the masses) described the king (raja) who was a ruler of the commoners (manushyas) as having the traits of a devata.
The king was a commoner and there was an agreement between him and the commoners, especially those who followed the politico-economic code (Arthasastra) of Pracetas Manu and the socio-cultural code, Manava Dharmasastra on what he was expected to do and what they would offer him for that purpose. He was not a noble (deva) or one with a lower status,devata. He was not recognized as a noble but was being projected as a devata. Was this justified? It needs to be noted that the scholars did not claim that the king had divinity in him.
Bhishma then cited the conversation between Brhaspati and Vasumanas, a king (raja) of Kosala on the rules pertaining to the administration of the state (rajya) in the interests of the welfare of all the social worlds (sarva loka) and the happiness of its subjects (prajas). Vasumanas asked him how the individuals (bhutas) (who were not supported by any clan or community) could flourish and what would lead to their decadence and whom they should worship in order to lead a comfortable life.
Brhaspati, who was a great scholar (mahaprajna), told Vasumanas (who too was a scholar aware of the happenings in his socio-physical environment) that the social and state laws (dharmas) noticed to be in force in the social world (loka) of commonalty had their source in the king (raja). The king was the head of the legislature that drafted these laws and of the executive which implemented them. As they were afraid of the king (raja), the subjects (prajas) did not exploit one another.
Brhaspati said that the king (raja) ensured that the entire social world (loka) of commonalty had all-round development and happiness and was content and placidprasada) following the social and state laws (dharma); this enabled him to be content (prasada) occupying his position as overlord (viraja). In the absence of a king there would be unrestricted mutual conflicts among the peoples and mutual destruction, Brhaspati emphasized. ( If there was no king to govern the peoples, the mighty would carry away the daughters of the weak and crush those who tried to defend their homes.
Brhaspati was an Atharvan ideologue (Brahmavadi) who stood for the bourgeoisie. He was an economist who wanted the state to protect the private property of its subjects. If there was no king to administer the state, the children and the women would not be secure. So too the means of livelihood and other personal wealth would be ruined. The concept of sanctity of private property would be destabilized and there would be theft everywhere. But for administration of the country by a king, vehicles, garments, ornaments and jewels (which were not necessities) would be robbed by criminals. Thus both the rich and the poor would suffer.
In the absence of administration by the king, those who performed deeds connected with dharma (social welfare) would suffer at the hands of anti-social elements and parents, elders, teachers and guests would be harassed and even killed.
None would be free to own his property; the society would be controlled by thieves; trade and agriculture would suffer; adultery by women would be ignored; the Vedas and dharma would all be neglected; yajnas would cease to be performed; marriages and courts would not be held in the open; pastoral economy would suffer; education would not be pursued and rites not performed.
The natives of the predominantly rural janapada would cease to be associated with social laws (dharma) and the burglars would take away the property safely without any injury to their bodies if there was no king administering (palaya) the country. The robbers would take away things from the hands of the owners. All limits would be crossed by the criminals and the people would flee in all directions in fear.
Varnasamkara would prevail everywhere in the absence of a settled policy (anaya) and the people of the country (rashtra) would be afflicted by famine if there was no king to administer (palaya) the country, Brhaspati warned. On the other hand, if there was a king (raja) to protect (raksha), the commoners (manushyas) would keep their doors open and sleep at night without fear. If a king who adhered to social and state laws (dharma) did not properly protect (raksha) the village the people would have to suffer unbearable crimes of oral abuse and physical assault, Brhaspati warned.
If the ruler of the agro-pastoral lands (bhumipa) gave the necessary protection (raksha), women would be able to move about without fear wearing their ornaments even unescorted by their husbands; all would be performing their duties (dharmas) and favouring one another and none would not harm others; members of the three (higher) classes (varnas) would perform big sacrifices (mahayajnas) and learn the different disciplines of study (vidyas) in the prescribed manner.
Brhaspati who advocated the science of economic occupations (varta) as the basis (mula) for always keeping aloft (dharya) the three social worlds (lokas) (urban patriciate, rural commonalty and the industrial frontier society of the forests and mountains) said that all these would function in a disciplined manner if the chief of the agro-pastoral tracts (bhumipa) gave it (varta) the needed protection (raksha).
The bhumipa, ruler of the rural areas, could only deploy policemen to protect the people. The army was under the control of the king (raja). When the king (raja) using his huge army (bala) undertook to support the earnings of the wealthy (sreshta) subjects (prajas), the social world (loka) of commoners was benefited and pleased, Brhaspati said.
Economic development needed protection by a militarily strong ruler. Brhaspati explained that every one would welcome governance by a strong ruler whose presence would make all equally happy and whose absence would make the discrete individuals (bhutas) (especially of the social periphery) suffer dearth (abhava) of economic necessities.
Those who with pleasure stood by and bore the expenses for the welfare of the king (raja) were indeed bearing a huge responsibility that would frighten even all the social worlds (lokas); they would gain the approval of both social worlds, nobles and commoners, Brhaspati pointed out. Any person (purusha) who committed the sin of planning to harm the king would suffer not only in his present career but also in the ghettoes (naraka) to which he would be consigned after his expulsion (pretya), he warned.
Brhaspati counselled that the ruler of the agro-pastoral lands (bhumipa) should not be treated lightly under the impression that he was but a commoner (manushya).He was a great noble (devata) (though not belonging to the traditional cadres of nobles, devas) functioning in the guise of a free man (nara) and had to be respected.
His roles were those of the Vedic officials, designated as Agni, Aditya, Mrtyu, Vaisravana or Yama, depending on the situation. In the later Vedic social polity, the civil judge was designated as Agni and the chief of the administrators as Aditya. Mrtyu was in charge of the insentient commonalty and Vaisravana (Kubera) looked after the interest of the plutocrats and Yama as magistrate ensured obedience to the prohibitory laws.
The king (raja) functioned like Agni (Pavaka) when he scorched the sinner who misbehaved with him. The civil judge could order branding of the offender.
The ruler of the rural areas (bhumipa) could use his scouts (charas) to observe the activities of all the discrete individuals (bhutas) on the social periphery. He looked after their welfare (kshema). This role was performed during the Vedic times by Aditya (Bhaskara).
When the ruler getting angry with the corrupt ordered the lowering of the status of hundreds of free men (naras) who were serving the state and ordered the removal of the officials of the state (amatyas) along with their sons and grandsons, he was functioning like Mrtyu (Antaka, the terminator).
When he gave severe punishment (danda) to all those who functioned against social and state laws (dharma) and brought them on line and extended favours (anugraha) to those who adhered to the laws (dharma) he was functioning like Yama of the Vedic social polity.
When the king (raja) gave wealth continually to those who were helpful (to the society and the state) and deprived those who harmed others of the different types of jewels that they had, the ruler of the agro-pastoral lands (bhumipa) and king (raja) would be playing for the commonalty (loka) the role that Vaisravana played in the frontier industrial society.
One who was alert and could easily perform all works and aspired to be among the cadres (lokas) who adhered to the social laws (dharmya) and was free from bad reports about his character should not be jealousasuya) of the Isvara, charismatic and benevolent leader (particularly, of the people of the social periphery), Brhaspati said. He warned that one who acted against the king would never be happy whether he was the kings son or brother or friend or equal to him in age or elder to him. (
When the king went on the offensive he never spared any one, Brhaspati pointed out. One should keep far away from the things protected by the king (raja), for annexing the kings property entailed death sentence (mrtyu), Brhaspati warned.
An intelligent person would protect the state property (rajasvam) with the same enthusiasm as he protected his personal property (atmasvam), Brhaspati said. One who appropriated state wealth or transgressed into a field of economy reserved for the state (rajavitta) was liable to be sent to dark and horrifying cells (naraka) for life.
Every one was advised to honour the ruler whether he was a dynamic king (raja) or a native ruler of the agricultural country (bhoja) or the head of a federal state (viraja) or an emperor (samrat) to whom many equals acknowledged allegiance or a warrior (kshatriya) or chief of the agro-pastoral lands (bhupati) or chief of free men (nrpa). These were different ranks and their powers were not identical.
Many of them were not kshatriya by birth. An expert (medhavi) who had good memory and was alert and had control over his personal desires (bubhusha, that is, was not an epicure) and had conquered himself (jitatma) and had control over his sense organs (indriyas) was advised to take shelter under the chief of the agricultural country (mahipati) (who had similar traits).
The ruler was advised to always honour the counsellors (mantris) who were grateful to him and were scholars (prajna), were not insignificant like agricultural workers (akshudra), and were steadfast in their loyalty and who had conquered the sense (state) organs (indriyas) and always stood by state and social laws (dharma).
The king was asked to appoint as the chief of his army one who was brave, steadfast in his loyalty and grateful, and was aware of the socio-physical environment (prajna) and knew the social and state laws (dharma) and had kept his sense (state) organ (indriya) disciplined and was known for significant feats and would not seek shelter under others. Brhaspati emphasized that it was the king (raja) who made the commoners (manushyas) confident or diffident. Those who enraged him could not gain happiness and comfort. He helped only those who took asylum under him, the pragmatist thinker pointed out.
Emphasizing the dependence of the king (raja) and the subject (praja) and of the king and the country (desa) on each other, Brhaspati said that the best happiness for the subjects lay in winning a place for them in his heart.
Addressing Vasumanas as Narendra, one who had the traits of a free man (nara) as well as of a noble (deva), Brhaspati said that a dynamic social leader (purusha) who took shelter under the king would be able to win the support of the two social worlds, commonalty and nobles.
Brhaspati would not envisage setting the two social worlds against each other. He was for giving the two, equal value. The chief of free men (naradhipa) could ascend in social ladder by following the path of a disciplined student while governing the commonalty (medhini). He had to practise self-control (dama) and adhere to the principles of truth (satya) and excel in nobility of heart.
By performing great acts of sacrifice successfully he could win a place as a reliable trustee of the threevishtapas (control over the three financial trusts, wealth of those who could not hold them effectively for lack of personal talent, of successors and of membership of organized clan) for ever. This advice from Brhaspati who was a politico-economic guide helped Vasumanas to govern his subjects as a noble king, Bhishma said.
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