BHISHMA AND RAJADHARMA
BHISHMA ON WAR AND PEACE
Yudhishtira wanted to know what other duty (karya) remained that a parthiva, governor of the rural areas had to perform and how he could protect the janapada and conquer the enemy. How should he deploy the scouts (charas) and how could he win the confidence of the new classes (varnas) (who had not consented to be the subjects, prajas, of the state)? How should he employ his subordinates, and wives and sons in duties (pertaining to the state)? Addressing Yudhishtira as maharaja, Bhishma said that he would describe the functions and duties of all rulers (rajavrtta) including those of the parthiva and those who belonged to the functional unit (prakrti) called parthiva.
The parthiva who functioned under the king (raja) stationed in his fortified capital was required to protect the rural janapada from the enemies of the state but he had only scouts at his disposal and not any regiment of the army or even a police battalion. He could not be hence expected to carry out the duties of a king. The authorities who had the designations, bhupati, mahipati, bhupala, narapati etc were connected with this unit, parthiva that looked after the rural areas.
A king (raja) who had conquered (controlled) his own (atma) unit would be able to conquer the enemy. He had to first gain total control over all the individuals who were included the rajaprakrti. A civil administrator and chief of free men (narapati) who headed the local police force that was deployed for maintaining law and order had to be one who had secured control over it; otherwise he would not be able to score victory over the adversaries, Bhishma pointed out. One who controlled the five state organs (indriyas, angas) (ministry, fortified capital, rural administration, treasury and army, amatyam, durga, janapada, kosa and danda, the five rajyaprakrtis) was said to be one who had secured control over his own (atma) unit (rajaprakrti). A narapati would be able to keep under check the enemy only if he had total control over his own unit of administration, that is, if he was a jitendriya.
The administrator was asked to plant trees in the fort and at the junctions of districts, in the gardens attached to the city and the towns. There should be institutionssamstha) (of spies and guards) at all those places and in the residences of the king. He was directed to appoint tested persons who appeared to be deaf and dumb or blind but capable of doing hard work, as spies, messengers (pranidhi) collecting and conveying secret information. Bhishma advised that such spies (pranidhi) might be appointed to observe the activities of and convey information about all senior officials (amatyas) of the state, all types of friends of the king and the kings sons. These spies should observe the activities in the capital (pura) and also in the rural areas (janapada) and in the areas of the feudal rulers (samantaraja) of equal status of neighbouring countries. But these spies should not be acquainted with one another.
The scouts (caras) who were on the move should collect information about the activities of those who promoted the interest of other (para, inimical) rulers in the entertainment centres (vihars), social gatherings (samaja) and among the recluses (bhikshus) who lived on alms, or in rest-houses and gardens and gatherings of scholars (panditas) and in the legislative bodies (sabhas) of the kings country (desa). The king should learn about the activities of the scouts of the enemy. If he learnt about them in time it would be a great help to the king (raja).
While the scouts (caras) were deployed by the civil administrator, narapati, the spies (pranidhis) were members of independent institutions that were directly under the king and were superior to the bureaucracy and to even the princes. They were not required to take the permission of the king while collecting information about the movements of the agents of the enemy and even of the senior officials.
If the civil administrator (nrpati) found that his own position was weak, he could take the counsel of the amatyas and enter into an agreement (samdhi) of peace with a stronger ruler. This agreement should be entered into before the other king learnt about his weakness. The civil administrator and chief oh free men (nrpa) should administer (palaya) the predominantly rural hinterland (rashtra) in accordance with social and state laws (dharma) after entering into an alliance with a pious (sadhu) ruler who had noble traits and was enthusiastic and knew the social and state laws (dharma) and followed them. It was not a military alliance or surrender of a weak ruler to a stronger enemy.
Bhishma told the prthvipati that a scholar (vidvan) whether he was a Kshatriya or a Vaisya or a Brahman well versed in many Vedas (Srutis) might be appointed as a minister if he was an expert in dandaniti. He should consult first a Brahman who knew the principles (tattva) of Nitisastra, the policy science. The ruler of the agro-pastoral terrain, bhupala, might then if necessary seek the opinion of a Kshatriya who was versed in the policy (nitikovidam). And then he might consult the Vaisya and Shudra who knew the (social and political) codes (sastras) and were engaged in welfare activities. It is likely that this passage is not a later interpolation.
According to Bhishma the prthvipati was permitted to appoint ministers of cabinet rank though the latter did not have the status of a king, Raja. The Nrpati had to be satisfied with the amatyas assigned to him. Bhishma considered the Brahmans to be theoreticians and yet gave them precedence over the Kshatriyas who had practical experience in administration of law. He did not exclude Shudras from the cabinet. He wanted the ministers drafted from the two economic classes, rich Vaisyas and poor Shudras, to be associated with social welfare activities rather than with either the theoretical or practical aspects of political control, dandaniti.
If a highly intelligent king (raja) came to know that some one intended to harm him, he should destroy those who had harmed him earlier and who had enmity towards of the social world (loka) of his country. A mahipati, chief of the agrarian lands who could not either help others or harm them and who could not be fully pulled down should be ignored (upeksha), Bhishma counselled.
If a ruler intended to march his troops against an opponent he should first learn about the strength and weakness of the latter. He should also know whether the latter had allies or not and whether he was already engaged in conflict with another ruler and whether he was complacent or not. After taking into account these factors and making legislative arrangements (vidhana) for the protection and administration of his capital, the ruler might order his troops to march (yatra) against the enemy. The support of the citizens of the capital could not be taken for granted by the warrior-king.
A weak ruler (nrpa) should not be under the influence of a very brave warrior. He should try hard to gain a brave and strong army and gain influence over the opponent. He might use all methods including weapons and poisonous gas to deactivate and afflict the people of the country (rashtra) of the opponent. He should create disputes among the officials (amatyas) and powerful chieftains (vallabha) of that country. But Bhishma however counselled that a ruler who desired the welfare of his state (rajya) should always avoid war (yuddha). He cited the view of Brhaspati that a ruler might resort to one of the three means (upayas), conciliation (sama), gift (dana) and rift (bheda) for economic gains (artha). A king who was a scholar (pandita) in his duties should be satisfied with the gains obtained by using these three methods. Brhaspati had ruled out war as a means to settle inter-state disputes, according to Bhishma.
Bhishma said that a ruler who was a scholar (prajna) aware of his socio-physical environment might collect from his subjects (prajas) one-sixth of their earnings as levy (bali) for providing them a high level of security (gupta). The wealth (vasu) confiscated from the ten types of violators of social and state laws (dharma) might be accepted for the protection (raksha) of the people of the city (pura).
The king was not entitled to levy taxes on the residents of the city many of whom were not engaged in economic activities. He had however to protect them and the fines levied on the criminals and the properties confiscated from them went to maintain the regiments in charge of the city. The ruler was advised to divert the fines silently and immediately for meeting the threat to the city.
The king was advised to look at the fears entertained by the younger generation (sons and grandsons) in a sympathetic way without doubting their loyalty to him. But when he was required to settle economic disputes (vyavahara) it was his duty not to allow loyalty to him to prevent his giving impartial verdicts. Bhishma advised the ruler to have beside him scholars who were acquainted with works dealing with all the values (dharma, artha, kama and moksha) while hearing economic disputes (vyavahara) for (the development and security of) the state (rajya) depended on pure justice (nyaya). The civil administrator (nrpati) was asked to appoint trustworthy persons who were interested in his welfare to be in charge of the sources of revenue, like mines and ores, salt mines, toll-gates and elephant pens.
Bhishma said that a king who exercised in a systematic manner his authority to wield coercive power (dandadhara) was a beneficiary from the point of view of social and state laws (dharma). A civil administrator, nrpa, was praised as abiding by his duty (dharma) if he always exercised danda in a uniform manner. The nrpa had magisterial powers. He was expected to be like a tapasvi who had studied Vedas and Vedangas and offer charity (dana) and perform sacrifices (yajnas). [Bhishma implied that the civil administrator might be an ordained Kshatriya or Vaisya for whom these three duties were permitted but not a Brahman who had to be a teacher and also officiate at yajnas.] The nrpa had to continue his interest in seeking further knowledge through strenuous endeavour and be liberal and persist in them though he might be involved in economic activities (vyavahara). If he performed these duties he would succeed in gaining a place among the nobility, Bhishma said.
When a king (raja) was harassed by a stronger king, the chief of the agro-pastoral tracts (prthvipati) (who did not have adequate troops to protect himself and his territory) if he was intelligent would take refuge in the fort (durga), the seat of his master, the raja. The king was reminded that the laws had riders (upakalpa) which required the king to consult his political allies (mitra) on what he should do when he was threatened by a more powerful ruler.He had to also use the provisions pertaining to the means (upayas), conciliation (sama), rift (bheda) and hostility (virodha).
The chief of the agro-pastoral lands (prthvipati) and his master, the king (raja) who had taken refuge in the fort were not in a position to win over the enemy through economic means (dana) or military power (danda). The ruler could at the best declare the latter to be hostile. Then he should ask the villagers to move to the capital and settle them in the suburbs. He should arrange for the protection of the wealthy traders who had entered the country (desa) (for trade) and of the chiefs of the armed forces in the fort and calm their fears.
The civil administrator and chief of free men (naradhipa) should personally ensure that the standing crops were harvested and the grains sent to the fort. If it was not possible to enter the fort because of siege he should burn them (lest they should fall in the hands of the enemy and benefit him). Declaration of hostility called for weakening the enemy by destroying his fields through dissenters in his country or through use of the army. He might destroy the bridges across the rivers to prevent the enemy from using them and might even pollute the waters flowing to the country of the enemy.
The king might defer the work that he was required to do to help his friend and give priority to help the enemys enemy who was his neighbour to enter the no-mans land and settle his people there. This was intended to divert the forces of the enemy while the king prepared to march his troops against that enemy. To prevent the troops of the enemy from hiding in the bushes around the minor forts he should cut down the plants and small trees around them (except the chaitya trees whose perfume was said to be anesthetic and poisonous).
The king was advised to construct turrets on the fort for the guards and sky-windows to throw missiles and dig moats and fit them with tridents. There should be emergency doors and tunnels for entry and exit. The war-machines installed at the gates should be directly under the supervision of the king. The fort should be equipped with adequate fuel and water to meet prolonged siege. The thatched roofs of houses should be paved with mud and none should be allowed to tend fires except for religious rites like agnihotra. Of course in the smithies and maternity clinics fire could be lit. Those who violated these rules would be given severe punishment (maha danda) in the interest of protection of the capital (pura). After declaration of war, beggars, jugglers, eunuchs, the dumb and entertainers would be expelled from the city lest they should prove a great threat to its security.
The parthiva, governor of the rural areas, would employ spies at the road junctions, academic and administrative centres (tirthas), meeting halls (sabhas), hostels etc. and they would be easily identifiable by the colours they wore. The civil administrator (naradhipa) was in charge of the broad state highways (rajamarga). He would also supervise the ports and wharfs (prapas) and the retail markets (vipana) (where goods were sold for cash). He was in charge of the central granary and the armoury and the barracks of the troops and the sheds where horses and elephants were kept and the military camps. He had to also construct secret places and gardens in the palace.
The king harassed by a stronger enemy should arrange for storing wealth (artha) and essential goods including honey and medicine. He should collect all types of weapons and shields and all types of fruits and roots with medical property and keep four types of physicians ready. Under normal circumstances, actors and dancers, acrobats and magicians might be accommodated in the city as they entertained all and contributed to its grandeur. They were however sent out when the city was besieged.
If the king had doubts about his subordinates or ministers (mantris) or members of the urban council (paura) or the civil administrators (nrpatis) he should bring them under his influence. He should honour with wealth and pacify those who helped him in these tasks with different types of gifts. The king might use methods not prescribed to weaken the opponent and if necessary even kill him; or he might be one not obliged (anrna) to act as directed by the codes (sastras). Bhishma did not insist that a king should always follow the code of inter-state relations.
It was the kings duty to protect (raksha) and administer (paripala) the seven units of his state (rajyam), his own (atma), the ministry and bureaucracy (amatya), treasury (kosa), army (danda) and ally (mitra), rural areas (janapada) and city (pura). This direction distinguished between the king and other members of the unit (rajaprakrti). It differed from other descriptions which treated only amatyam, pura, janapada, kosa and dandaas being covered by the concept, rajyam. Bhishmas enumeration differs from Kautilyasrajan, amatyam, janapada, durga, kosa, danda and mitra.
The king was asked to adhere to the six-fold policy (shadguna) and trilateral (trivarga) analysis and the higher (parama) three-fold (trivarga) analysis. Only one who knew these would be able to enjoy the agro-pastoral plains (prthvi), Bhishma said. Keeping quiet after arriving at a treaty of peace (samdhi) with the opponent, marching the troops (yatra) after arriving at an agreement of peace, keeping quiet (asana) after declaring hostility, marching the troops to encircle the opponent (samparigrha), adopting a dual policy (dvaidibhava) and taking shelter (samsraya under a superior king) were the six policies enumerated by Bhishma.
This analysis is significantly different from the Kautilyan policy, samdhi, yana, asana, dvaidhibhava, samsraya and vigrha. The three-hold higher classification asked the king to take note of the three levels of every unitdecaying, stagnation and developingkshaya, sthana and vrddhi. This analysis differed from the three different pursuits, socio-cultural values (dharma), politico-economic power (artha) and sexual pleasure (kama). The governor of agrarian tracts (mahipala) had to resort to only dharma methods in governance.
In this connection, Bhishma cited the verses of Brhaspati on the meaningful (artha) counsel given to Bhadra, son of a Yadava woman. In the Arthasastra, three powers (saktis), mantra, prabhu and utsaha, gaining intellectual superiority, gaining political power and creating and maintaining zeal are mentioned. Some had said that the knowledge of the activity or project (karya) undertaken, its purpose (karana) and the executive (karta) were the three important factors. By performing all the duties in a systematic manner and administering properly the rural areas (medhini, commonalty) and the city (pura) the ruler could gain a place in the other social world of nobility and enjoy its comforts, Brhaspati (a follower of Angiras) said.
A king who conducted himself like a tapasvi, performing strenuous endeavour and governed his subjects (prajas) well was not required to perform yajnas for he knew all the social and state laws (dharmas), Brhaspati said. [It is not sound to interpret such comments by Brhaspati as indicating that he was a materialist who did not respect religion.]
Bhishma then drew Yudhishtiras attention to the views ofUsanas on Dandaniti that it was the basis for trivarga, that is, for the three values, dharma, artha and kama. While Brhaspati who was a student of Angiras extolled economic power (varta and artha), Usanas who was a follower of the school of Bhrgu gave primacy to political power (danda). Bhishma said that those scholars who tried to bring the two together held that the king obtained strength by following a policy that combined the best of the recommendations of both the schools (Bhargava andAngirasa).
It had developed the concept of sixteen feet (pada) that gave strength (bala) to the work (karma) performed. Any economic activity could become successful by curative steps (visha) or by creation of illusion (maya) or by the desire of the nobles (devas) or by the efforts of the capable men (purusharthas). The mahipati was asked to take shelter in a fort in the north-east and use all the three trilateral factors into consideration (dharma, artha and kama, kshaya, sthana and vrddhi, mantrasakti, prabhusakti and utsahasakti, and run the administration. Bhishma advocated a unified and holistic approach.
The chief of the agro-pastoral commonalty (bhupati) should conquer the six personal defects (lust, rage, greed, enchantment, fanaticism and envy), the five state organs (indriyas) (bureaucracy, rural administration, fortified city, treasury and army), the ten faults in life (greed, anger, indolence, untruth, carelessness, fear, inconsistency, foolishness, injustice and disrespect), the faults pertaining to eight fields of administration (agriculture, trade, fort, dams, places where elephants were captured, the treasure-chest, toll-gates and unprotected areas). Even the nobles (devas) would not be able to conquer such a commoner-king, Bhishma said. He advised the king not to be guided by women whose intellect was limited and by fools or by those condemned by the nobles (devas) and who were ignorant of the Vedas.
Bhishma warned that a country (rajya) which gave primacy (pradhana) to women and which had been abandoned by scholars fell victim to the manipulations of foolish bureaucrats (amatyas) and became a desert. A civil administrator (nrpa) should listen only to those who were scholars, who were reliable in all types of work, and could be trusted to look after the administration during war when he went on military expeditions. The ruler was advised to take the support of the nobles (devas) and the dynamic leaders (purushakara) and the three factors (sciences outlining the principles of dharma, artha and kama) and salute the nobles (devas) and the scholars (vipras) before going for conquest.
The charismatic chief (svami) who was properly appointed ensured that they stayed in a disciplined manner (samyag) within the framework of dharma and did not transgress the limits (maryada) imposed by their personal vocations (svakarma) in accordance with the scheme of four varnas without leading to mixture (samkara) of classes, duties and vocations. Dandaniticreated an atmosphere of security for the subjects (prajas) to do their work without fear. The three higher classes (varnas) tried according to rules to do things that would benefit the svami, their charismatic leader.
Bhishma implied that the scheme of four classes (varnas) was not related to the institution of monarchy (raja) and so too the institution of dandaniti was not tuned to monarchy. Both could accept the existence of a charismatic assertive leader (svami) who was not necessarily an ordained monarch. When dandaniti protected the subjects of the state, it led to the comfort and welfare of the commonalty (manushyas). A raja dealt with hissubjects, prajas, while a svami, who had the status of an aristocrat looked after the welfare of the commoners who did not have the same rights as prajas of a state had but yet worked to enhance the status of their charismatic leader.
Bhishma expected Yudhishtira to delve deep into the issue of the institution of king who had rational legitimacy but not the charismatic legitimacy that the svami enjoyed. Both the raja and the svami should be taken into account while deliberating on the value of dandaniti.Bhishma noted that Yudhishtira wondered whether the times led to a particular person becoming a king (raja) or the king who was in office determined the course of events of the times (kala) in which he lived.
According to Bhishma the king (raja) was the cause (karanam) of the times (kala). When a king (raja) enforced dandaniti properly the period of constructive activity (srshti) called krtayuga was set in motion (pravarta), Bhishma said. He implied that dandaniti was in force long before dharmasastra was drafted. It was not to be construed that the earlier period of constructive activity was based on use of coercive power (danda). It only meant the concepts of dharma and adharma had not yet been outlined then.
No class (varna) was then mentally tuned to adharma. Varnas had come into existence but there was no need to describe to them what would be treated as adharma and punished. The subjects (prajas) were engaged in activities that led to their welfare (yogakshema). There need be no doubt that at that stage the traits (gunas) approved by the Vedas prevailed everywhere. Bhishma implied that whatever social classification was in force during those times was based on the inborn traits (gunas) (sattva, rajas and tamas) of the individuals.
During Krtayuga, dharma had not yet been defined. The social laws were based on rta, the laws of nature by which all were happy and free from diseases. The free men (naras) (who were not members of any organized social group) were distinguished from one another and known by their tone, colour and mental attitude. (This statement might have been a later interpolation.) There was no disease and none died even when only young and there were no widows and none was so poor that he needed compassion. The earth yielded food without cultivation and men gained strength by living on leaves, fruits and roots that they gathered. During the Krtayuga there was no act which was declared to be adharma and hence every act came under the ambit of dharma.
When the king (raja) neglected one-fourth of the principles of dandaniti and followed only the rest, tretayuga set in, Bhishma said. This neglect that affected welfare activities adversely resulted in the need to depend on cultivation of the land (prthvi) for grains and medicinal herbs. The editor would treat cultivation not as a deliberate progressive step but as one necessitated by the process of food-gathering failing to meet the needs of all men. When the king followed only half of the provisions of dandaniti, dvaparayuga set in, the editor said. During the dvaparayuga only half of the seeds sown in the land (prthvi) yielded grains, and the others did not. When the ruler of the land (bhumipa) gave up dandanitifully and resorted to other means and gave trouble to the subjects (prajas), Kaliyuga set in, Bhishma said.
During Kaliyuga, adharma would be widespread and protection of dharma would not be seen. All the social classes (varnas) would be displeased with their respective codes of conduct (svadharma). Shudras would live like bhikshus, ascetics, on alms without working while the educated Brahmans who alone were eligible to resort to sanyasa would become workers rendering ancillary service (paricharya) to earn their livelihood. During the Vedic times the vocations (karmas) followed were correlated to the traits (gunas) of the individuals. That correlation would cease to be operative during the Kaliyuga.
The activities followed according to the laws of nature, Rta, that is, according to the principle that one does what pleases him, would cease to give comfort and joy. Instead one would be engaged in activities that were harmful to him. The tone, colour and aptitudes of commoners (manushyas) would become indistinctive.Cultivation would cease to depend on irrigation and rivers and would depend entirely on rains. When the ruler of the agricultural lands, bhumipa, ceased to implement dandaniti in a disciplined way for the welfare equally of all and to protect the subjects (prajas), the essence of all life would begin to decay. All would be seen to lead a pathetic and anemic life leading to anomie. Wives would become widows and their offspring would turn cruel and only where it rained there would be crops.
Bhishma said that it was the king (raja) who was the cause of each of the four epochs, krta, treta, dvapara and kali. The king who created an age of constructive activity (krtayuga) could get a permanent place in the nobility (svarga). One who created a not so perfect epoch, tretayuga, could get a place in the nobility but not a permanent one. One who was the cause of the emergence of dvaparayuga with a sharp cleavage might enjoy for a brief period the privileges of a noble depending on his contribution.
The king who is the cause of the age of kali has to suffer the consequences of the sins committed by him and would be consigned to the ghettoes, naraka for ever. He would be required to share the penalty for the sins committed by his subjects and lose all fame. A learned (vijana) kshatriya ruler should always keep in mind the provisions of dandaniti and seek to gain what he did not have and enjoy what he had gained and govern (paripala) the people (according to the principle which was basic to arthasastra).
There need be no doubt that it would lead to the welfare and protection of the results of the efforts (yogakshema) of the subjects (prajas). When the provisions of dandaniti were enforced to discipline them even as the parents disciplined their offspring, the social world of commonalty remained within the limits (maryada) recommended on the basis of its aptitude (bhava). Bhishma asked Yudhishtira to realize that the discrete individuals (bhutas) (especially of the social periphery) functioned according to the rules (vidhi) prescribed in the past by dandaniti. It was the highest duty (dharma) for the king to abide by dandaniti, he said.
Rajadharma did not override Dandaniti. Hence he should govern (palaya) the subjects (prajas) of the state in accordance with social and ethical laws (dharma) and principles of justice (niti). One who protected the subjects and carried out his work (vrtta) in the above manner would win a place in the nobility (svarga) which was not an easy one to gain, Bhishma said. (Santiparva Ch.69)
BHISHMA ON DHARMA AND ARTHA
At Yudhishtiras request Bhishma enumerated thirty-six steps that the former would have to take if he wanted to gain credit in the social world of commoners for the development of his state (rajyam). A narapati, civil administrator and chief of free men would have to fear if he functioned in contravention of the above method, he warned. A ruler who had all these traits (gunas) would gain a place in the ranks of the nobility (svarga) later as a respectable person (bhadra), he said. Yudhishtira wanted to know how a king (raja) while protecting (raksha) the subjects (prajas) could be free from anxiety and also not one who deviated from state (and social) laws (dharma). Bhishma reminded him that he had already told him in brief about the eternal (sasvata) social laws (dharma). These had been legislated only recently then.
Yudhishtira should ensure that scholars (dvijas) who were devoted to those laws (dharma) and had studied the Vedas and had taken the pledge to abide by the practices prescribed by the Vedas were welcomed with due respect and should carry out all their projects along with his political guide (purohita). After completing the duties connected with socio-cultural laws (dharmakarya) and arranging (prayujya) the socio-political circle (mandala) he should get the Brahmans (jurists) read out the provisions of the socio-political constitution and then he should ask for their blessings for the completion and success of the economic (artha) projects. He could gain benefits in the two fields, socio-cultural (dharma) and politico-economic (artha) by his intellect, steadfastness, valour and uprightness and by eschewing lust and rage. He had to follow the above method so that he did not fail to adhere to dharma.
It would be foolish to hope to gain social (dharma) and economic (artha) benefits through lust and rage. The king was advised not to appoint greedy persons and fools on affairs pertaining to economy (artha) and enjoyment (kama). He should appoint competent persons who were not covetous and were intelligent. If he empowered incompetent and imprudent persons to carry out a project (karya), they would fall to lust and rage and act arbitrarily and go along wrong paths and harm the subjects, Bhishma warned.
The king was entitled to take a levy (bali) of one-sixth of the income of the subjects and fines (sulka) from the offenders (aparadhi) who were punished (danda). He might also accept wages (vetana) for protection accorded to codes (sastras) from traders and others. Bhishma was in charge of a politico-economic system that had not yet replaced the concept, levy (bali), by the concept, tax (kara). The new system of tax did not permit the king to charge protection money from any subject who paid the uniform tax of one-sixth of the produce or one-tenth of the value of goods sold or one-tenth of wages received. This went to form the kings wealth (dhanam). Fines levied from the offenders were not treated as income of the king under the new scheme introduced by Vaivasvata and Prthu. Bhishma was operating a system that had been approved earlier by Usanas and Brhaspati (Bhargava-Angirasa approach) of the Atharvan school.
Bhishma agreed that the king might receive tax (kara) from the people of the rural areas (rashtra) as prescribed in the state laws (dharma) and dandaniti. But he should make arrangements for their social welfare and security of the rewards of their efforts (yogakshema). Bhishmas Rajadharma without departing from Dandaniti which preceded his system accepted the new scheme of taxes for the rural areas.The tax would be used for the welfare of those areas and serve as a social security measure. But he refused to give up the traditional palana-sulka, protection charges or wages (vetana). A governor of villages (gopa) who was liberal and always adhered to the social and state laws (dharma) and was free from lust and rage was appreciated and followed by the manavas (who followed the Manava Dharmasastra and the Arthasastra of Pracetas Manu and behaved as citizens of the world rather than as subjects of a state).
Bhishma advised Yudhishtira not to come under the influence of greed and amass wealth (dhana) through illegal (adharma) means for the dharma merit and economic (artha) authority of those who did not adhere to the sastras were unsteady and uncertain. A king (raja) who violated the codes (sastras) would not proceed towards an advantageous position either socially and culturally (dharma) or economically (artha). He would fritter away all the economic sources (vitta). One who was influenced by moha, momentary attractions and collected taxes (kara) not prescribed in the code (sastra) and afflicted the subjects (prajas) would be destroying the root (mula) of the economic sources (artha) and harming himself (atmana), Bhishma warned. One who afflicted the people of the country (rashtra) who yielded him income through prescribed tax would not flourish. A cow that yielded milk should be tended everyday. Bhishma told Yudhishtira to tend and protect the people of the country (rashtram) (especially the rural areas) through proper means so that it might lead to balanced and permanent increase of his treasury (kosa).
Bhishma pointed out that only when the agrarian country (mahi) was protected it yielded to the king (raja) the grains and jewels that he needed for himself (sva) and for others (para). The king should be like a gardener (who tended the plants so that they grew and not like one who lit a fire (to destroy things). Then he would be able to protect the state (rajyam) for ever and enjoy the affluence it produced. When invaded by an alien (para) confederation of states (chakra) and the wealth (dhana) of the country began to decline the ruler might appeal softly to the people other than the Brahmans (jurists) for wealth (dhana) (to meet the expenses on defence etc). Not only when he was rich, but even when he was extremely poor, the ruler should not think of collecting wealth from Brahmans. By giving them wealth according to his capacity and according to their desert and keeping them pleased and protected, the ruler would be able to gain a place in the invincible nobility, Bhishma said.
By governing (paripalaya) the subjects (prajas) thus through activities prescribed by social and state laws (dharma), the king would gain personal merit (punya) and permanent success (yasa) (in his efforts). Bhishma advised him to govern (palaya) the subjects (prajas) using methods recommended by social and state laws (dharma) with respect to economic affairs and economic disputes (vyavahara). By following this policy he would never be required to be anxious or to repent.
Protection (raksha) of the subjects (prajas) is the greatest (para) duty (dharma) of the king (raja), Bhishma said. He was required to protect not only the subjects (prajas) of his state but also the discrete individuals (bhutas) who were on the social periphery and had no social group to fall back on and were economically weak. He should show them compassion (daya). Hence the experts (vid) in social and state laws (dharma) considered showing compassion (daya) to the bhutaswho were economically and socially and politically unprotected and weak individuals while remaining steadfast in protecting (raksha) (all) as the greatest (parama) dharma, Bhishma explained.
If the king (raja) failed to protect (raksha) even for one day the subjects (prajas) from what they feared, he would have to suffer for (a thousand) many years the effects of that sin (papa). Similarly, the merit (dharma) that he gained in one day by governing (palaya) the subjects (prajas) according to socio-political laws (dharma) would last for many years. Governing (palaya) the subjects (prajas) in accordance with state and social laws (dharma) enabled the king to get as much merit as did one who suffered to get his personal (sva) desires (ishti) and prayers (dhiti) met and conquer the (different) social worlds (lokas) through good strenuous endeavour (tapas) (that made a tapasvi lean and thin) to secure knowledge of and control over new means. Bhishma advised Yudhishtira to try to govern the people on the basis of dharma. He would thereby get its fruit of virtue and would be free from anxiety. He would get a place amongst the rich nobility. Only one who was such a king following state and social laws (dharma) would obtain that status and not any one else. (Santiparva Ch.71)
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