PUNISHING THE GUILTY
The authority of the seat of the judge (dharmasana),who decided the validity of deeds, was sanctioned by the (state) code of laws (dharma). This dharma was hence the root (mula) from which dharmasanaemerged. The code permitted the king, the amatya and the prince to occupy it. It was obviously not a purely judicial bench. It was rather a bench which decided whether the deed was in accordance with the state laws and it had no authority to examine whether the state laws (dharma) were in tune with the principles of natural justice.
If the king or his deputy failed to decide the dispute in accordance with the state code of dharma he would lose his status and fall to the lowest level. So too, one authorized to carry out a state project (karya) in accordance with the procedure prescribed, on behalf of the king and as though conducted by him, whether it was one of the status of nrpa or parthiva would suffer a similar deprivation of his authority if he failed to perform his duty in the prescribed manner (85-16,17).
This bench was empowered to punish the officials who failed to perform the duties assigned to them. Bhishma noted that while the king was entitled to preside over the judicial bench, he could depute an executive of the rank of amatya to do so. He had also given the nrpa, the civil administrator, the right to handle certain projects on his behalf. The parthiva, the governor of the rural areas, too had been delegated such rights. They would lose their positions if they failed in their duties.
As the free men (naras, nrs) who were not protected by any social group and were harassed by the musclemen who collected tributes (bali) forcibly, appealed in a highly piteous tone for mercy, the chief of the agro-pastoral lands (bhumipati) was expected to protect them as the protector (natha) of the unprotected (anatha). He had to protect them in his capacity of guardian of the orphans. The nrs might have walked out of their families, clans and communities. This was an important role assigned to the bhumipati by the state laws (18).
Where an innocent person (sadhu) was in difficulty because the witnesses on whose support he stood on an issue where he was charged or suspected, were divided or when he was unable to produce a witness in his favour though he was innocent and there was no protector (natha) of the land where he lived, the chief of the agro-pastoral lands, bhumipati, was asked to personally examine the witnesses and settle the issue (19). Bhishma insisted that while rendering justice according to the criminal procedure code (danda), the penalty (aparadha) imposed should be proportionate to the crime (papa, sin). In the case of a rich person who was found guilty, he should be deprived of his wealth, and if the guilty person had no wealth he should be sent to the prison (85-20).
The governor of the rural areas, parthiva, should inflict corporal punishment (whipping) on those whose conduct was bad and in the case of persons with good conduct (charged wrongly) they should be pacified, given aid and protected. This was the way of governance (paripalana) (85-21). The bhumipati, parthiva and nrpa were not empowered to impose death penalty. One who tried to kill (vadha) the king was liable to be imposed physical torture (vadha) as penalty. So too arsonists, thieves and rapists were submitted to torture. Rapists were also charged with indulging in acts that led to varnasamkara. Children born of illicit sex and rape were assigned to mixed classes most of whom were outcast. Social order was not to be disturbed by lust (85-22). The parthiva was empowered to impose physical torture as penalty.
Bhishma said that the bhumipati who examined the cases and awarded the appropriate punishment (danda) and carried out his duty would not be guilty of having violated the laws of dharma (like adherence to truth and non-violence and compassion) and would be treated as having followed the laws legislated for ever (sasvatadharma). (85-23) One who inflicted punishment under the influence of lust (kama) without examining the issues, would become infamous among the commonalty and would be consigned to the ghettoes (naraka) meant for the fallen (free man, nara) and the insentient beings (mrta). (85-24)
The ruler or magistrate should not inflict punishment (danda) on the wrong person. Of course, in order to capture the guilty persons it might be necessary to book those who were not guilty. But after examining them the innocent should be released and the guilty should be sent to the prison (85-25). The civil administrator (nrpa) should under no circumstances and even in an emergency kill an envoy (duta) of any person. One who killed an envoy would be sent along with his secretary (sachiva) to the cellar on life imprisonment, Bhishma warned. The envoys enjoyed the same immunities as unarmed Brahmans did (85-26).
Bhishma explained that a civil administrator (nrpa) who stayed within the fold of duties (dharma) prescribed forKshatriyas but killed an envoy who spoke indiscreetly what he was directed by his master to say and thereby annoyed the nrpa would be required to undergo a penalty equal to the crime of infanticide or foeticide committed by a father. (Women were not punished for these crimes.) The nrpa who was required to protect the envoy was guilty of killing the latter. He would be denied rites of cremation and his wealth would be attached by the state with no sons to lament his death. The guilty nrpa would have to not only face death but was also liable to be outcast. (85-27)
Bhishma said that to enjoy immunity an envoy should belong to a noble family (kula), have good character, speak well and gently, be alert, be discreet and have good memory (85-28). One who was a sentry (pratihara) empowered to check the entry of unauthorized persons and one who carried the kings parasol indicating that he was the protector of the kings person too should have the same seven traits as the envoy had (85-29).
An amatya, an executive heading a bureau connected with foreign affairs, should know the conditions pertaining to peace and war and also the import of dharmasastra, that is, the sections dealing with politico-economic affairs from the point of view of ethics that was emphasized by dharmasastra. He should be modest, steadfast and intelligent and should have been born in a good family and be of gentle (sattva) nature and be pure (uncorrupt). The chief of the army (senapati) too should have these traits and qualifications 30, 31).
The general should be able to organize the troops, should know the use of the instruments of war and the theory behind their use and be valorous, be able to withstand all changes in climate and know the weaknesses of the enemy (85-32). Bhishma counselled that the ruler should be able to make all these officials have confidence in him but should not himself trust any of them. One should not trust one's own son. The king should not trust any one fully (85-33, 34). Bhishm presented an outline of the principles of Arthasastra included in Rajadharma.
THE FORTIFIED CAPITAL
Yudhishtira wanted to know from Bhishma whether he should construct a new capital or stay in the old one and how. Bhishma recommended that he should stay in a fortified city and conduct his administration from there. The king should reside there with his son, his brothers and kinsmen (jnatis) of his wife. He then drew Yudhishtiras attention to six types of forts (durga)--one protected by snipers, one surrounded by agricultural lands, one located on a hill, one guarded by commoners (manushyas), one surrounded by water and one located in a forest (86-1,2,3).
The king should reside there with his son, his brothers and kinsmen (jnatis) of his wife. He then drew Yudhishtiras attention to six types of forts (durga)--one protected by snipers, one surrounded by agricultural lands, one located on a hill, one guarded by commoners (manushyas), one surrounded by water and one located in a forest (86-1,2,3).
It should be a fortified capital equipped with necessary weapons, with places for elephants, horses and chariots, accommodation for scholars and members of the judiciary (dharmika jana) and alert police (dakshya), the free men (naras) belonging to higher ranks (urjasvi) who were technocrats (nagas) and cavaliers (asvas). It would be where economic disputes (vyavahara) were settled. It would have a peaceful atmosphere and good administration. Though it was a capital which accommodated the natives (jana) from the janapada who were brave and rich, those (srotriyas) who chanted the Vedic hymns too lived there. It was not a grim cantonment. It permitted social activities and religious festivals. The members of the kings executive, amatyas, and his personal troops (bala) stayed there (86-4 to 10).
Bhishma was presenting the picture of a city which was self-sufficient. It protected and accommodated the learned, the executive and the brave and the rich, the three higher classes, but not their servants. It characterised a population that had not yet been organized on the basis of classes. [It differed from Kautilyas fort (durga) and capital (nagara).]
The king should increase the influence of the three sectors of the statetreasury (kosa), troops (bala) and friends (mitra) and look after economic activities and economic disputes (vyavahara). The last came under the bureaucracy (amatya). He should remove all the weaknesses in the administration of the city (pura) and the rural areas (janapada). Bhishma had recommended the king being stationed in the fort rather than in the city (pura) which was governed by an autonomous body even as the janapada was governed by bhumipati, parthiva, and nrpati. The warehouse and the armoury should be kept well-stored and all necessary goods should be available in the fortified capital. It should have workshops and tools for manufacturing and repairing weapons. All necessary articles like iron and wood should be stored there. It should have water reservoirs. The king should personally look after their security. (11 to 15)
He should honour through good acts the officials like the teacher (acharya), the officer in charge of protocol and vigilance (rtvig) and the political guide (rajapurohita) and the builders of the palaces, those who prepared the almanacs and the physicians who had to stay in that fortified capital (86-16). It also accommodated the learned (prajna), the experts (medhavi), those who controlled themselves, the magistrates (daksha), the warriors, those who had studied many disciplines, noble persons attached to academies (kulina), the gentle and the officers and their employees. They had to be appointed in all works. It was not a city that was characterized by an affluent leisure class. (86-17) The king should honour those who abided by the social laws (dharma) and punish those who violated them. He should ensure that all the classes (varnas) were engaged in their respective vocations (svakarma) (86-18). [This verse might have been a later interpolation.]
The activities taking place in the outer areas (bahya). the high industrial areas in the interior (abhyantara) and the city (pura) and the predominantly rural areas (janapada) should be examined through scouts (charas) and the projects (karya) should be embarked on and put into use only after that. These scouts sfould be consulted by the king (raja) who had to personally look after the treasury (kosa) and the army and police (danda) for all things depended on these two sectors of the state, economic power and political power. The scouts (charas) and spies (chakshus) should be used to learn about the activities of the other rulers, the indifferent (udasina), the enemy (ari) and the ally (mitra) in the urban areas (pura) and the rural areas (janapada) of his state.
Bhishma advised the king to conduct all affairs in accordance with the rules (as vidhata) without taking things lightly (apramada). He should always honour his loyalists and put down those who hated him (86-22). He should do such deeds that aided the afflicted and protect the subjects (prajas). This was his duty and he should not embark on any project that was harmful to the upholding of the (state) laws (dharma). He should look after the welfare (yogakshema) of the weak (krpana) who deserved sympathy, the orphans, the aged and the widows and arrange for their livelihood (vrtti) (86-19 to 24).
Bhishma then briefed Yudhishtira on the place and role of tapasvis. Unlike Kautilya he did not envisage them as one of the wings of the institution of spies. The king was asked to provide all amenities to these highly revered residents of the sanctuary (asrama). He was asked to be polite and submissive to the tapasas (who were engaged in discovering new methods and new knowledge) and acquaint them with all the projects (karya) pertaining to the rashtra (the rural hinterland).
He should honour these scholars who had renounced all their economic comforts and who belonged to the academies (kulas) and the multifaculty (bahusakha) institutions and make arrangements for their lodging and boarding. In emergency, the king would be required to depend on them and hence he should have faith in the tapasvis. He was asked to place at their disposal his funds (nidhi) and seek their counsel and suggestions on the governance of his state. But he should not visit them too often and should not give publicity to his visits to them.
The tapasvis, researchers, were an extra-constitutional political organization. The king was required to establish such abodes in the towns and villages and forests of his nation (rashtra) and also in those of the inimical (para) nation. Such abodes of tapasvis were to be established in the areas that fell under the jurisdiction of the feudal lords (samanta) whether they owed loyalty to him or to others. These tapasas were expected to look after his confidential works (karya) He should give them honour and facilities. Bhishma would recommend that the king should honour the tapasvis who stayed in his country but held brief for other rulers. The institution of tapasvis was a cross-regional body and it upheld the interests of the peoples (rashtras) and ensured that the kings kept the tapasvis informed of their projects and got their guidance. The tapasvis who had taken the pledge to be pure could give asylum to kings who were in difficulty. (86-25 to 32)
GOVERNANCE OF RURAL AREAS
Yudhishtira requested Bhishma to explain how the predominantly rural nation (rashtra) could be protected and how it could be organized as one unit (samgraha). Bhishma asked him to listen to his account of the principles of national security and systematic organization of the nation. Bhishma wanted for each village one chieftain who would look after its works (karya) and one officer for a unit of ten villages, one officer for a unit of twenty villages and one officer for a hundred villages and one officer for a thousand villages. ( (He does not give these units or these officers separate names or designations.) (87-1 to 3)
The officer in charge of a village was required to inform about the villagers and their faults and the crimes in that village to the officer in charge of ten villages. Similarly the officer in charge of ten or twenty villages would pass on the information about the native people of the janapada to the officer in charge of a hundred villages. This janapada seems to have been the basic unit in rural administration (87-4, 5).
The chief a village kept with him the revenue collected from his village. It would be used to meet his expenses and also of the officer in charge of ten villages and that of twenty villages. An official was nominated with due honours as the chief of a hundred villages. He was entitled to the revenue from one village for his upkeep.That village was not to be a small hamlet but a large, rich and thickly populated village (janasamkula) of many native clans.
The administration of that small town with several clans was under several officers nominated by the king. The senior officer in charge of a thousand villages was eligible to use the revenue from a suburb of a town (sakhanagaram). He had the right to use at his will the grains and gold collected from that suburban town. He had to stay amidst the people of the rashtra. In Bhishmas scheme a janapada was not identical with a rashtra. The former covered a hundred villages and the latter a thousand villages. (6 to 9)
The official in charge of a thousand villages (rashtra) was entrusted with the task of administering the villages and also duties connected with war. Obviously he was expected to raise troops from those villages and meet the expenditure on them in addition to maintaining law and order in those villages. To supervise his work, a secretary (sachiva) who knew the state laws (dharma) was appointed.
For every town, the headquarters of a rashtra of a thousand villages, there was an officer who dealt with all its economic problems (arthachintaka). He would be touring the area, heading a council of representatives (sabhasad). He would be an awesome person with an intimidating entourage. His scouts (charas) would be going round the country (rashtra) and reporting to him the sinful desires and wrongful acquisitions by some of others property through deception. That official appointed for purposes of protection (raksha) would have to protect all the subjects (prajas) from the above crimes. Bhishma did not approve of an official sitting in his office and dealing with what was reported to him. He wanted this magistrate to make his presence felt everywhere and the representatives associated with him while he inspected the villages under his jurisdiction (10 to 12)
Bhishma advised that tax (kara) should be levied on traders only after taking into account the expenses incurred on sale and purchase of goods, wages paid and savings, that is, profit gained. It would also take into account the expenses incurred on administration of social welfare and security (yogakshema) of the fruits of endeavour (87-13).
The taxes levied on the artisans should take into account the quantity and quality of the products and the amount given away as gift (for advertisement). He told Yudhishtira that the overlord, maharaja, was entitled to increase or decrease the tax. It was not covered by the concept of sasvata dharma.The legislation did not empower those who had the ranks of raja, prthvipati, parthiva and nrpati to do so. (14)
The chief of the agricultural lands, mahipati, was asked to examine the work involved and the produce gained and collect the quantum of tax assessed. Bhishma advised him not to levy heavy tax. If both the work done and the quantum of produce failed to meet the expectations none would come forward to work. Bhishma was referring to the need to encourage entrepreneurship as the new rates of tax were found to be high and inelastic.
Where the king (raja), that is, the state and the worker (karta) were shareholders in a project (karya), the king should always take into account the above rule while fixing the tax (kara). If the king took away half of the yield as his share and also collected tax from the agriculturist the latter would not find his labour rewarding and would cease to be a share-cropper. (15 to 17)
The king should be pragmatic and reasonable. Both the state (the king) and the producer should be able to get benefit. The king should not lust for income by tax lest the root (mula) of ones wealth, that is, agricultural and commercial economies should be destroyed. Bhishma did not envisage a state that controlled industrial economy. His state had only trade relations with the latter. He advised the king to close the door on desire for income and present the picture of one pleasing all. If the king became known as one given to amassing wealth, he would soon be detested, Bhishma warned (18, 19).
One who was hated widely would not be able to gain a high status (sreyas) and one who was not liked would not gain benefits. A king who had not lost his intellect would hence collect gently and slowly from the predominantly rural areas (rashtra). A country (rashtra) taxed heavily soon became weak and incapable of doing great work. Hence the civil administrator (nrpa) should protect the people of the rural areas (rashtra) and extend them favour and aid, Bhshma said. The nrpa should live within what he earned as tax, as that would enable the agriculturist to invest more on the lands and increase the production which in turn would yield more tax. He wanted the nrpa to think of future gains. (87-20 to 23)
The urban (paura) and rural (janapada) assemblies were autonomous bodies though they had accepted the leadership of the king who was expected to protect them using his army and give economic assistance from his treasury and granaries. If all the members of these bodies directly or through a mediator asked for his protection or economic support having become economically weak, the king should extend them sympathy and support, especially to those among them who were not rich. As most of the tax collected was retained by these bodies, the king tended not to extend economic support or military protection to these bodies for he himself did not have adequate funds to be able to go to their help. Bhishma advised him to help them to the best of his ability without reducing their autonomy. (87-24)
The Arthsastra identified three areasatithya, bahya, abhyantaraamong the areas under a kings jurisdiction. The first covered the areas over which he was sovereign. The outlying areas most of which were moors were referred to as his rajyam. They were also known as bahyam. The interior areas in the forests and mountains where industries were located were referred to as abhyantaram.
The natives (jana) of the outlying areas were to be distinguished as rich or poor and encouraged to give up their conflicting stands and adopt a middle path and enabled to live comfortably at that middle level. It was a momentous suggestion made by Bhishma. After arranging for such a life marked by neither affluence nor penury tributes might be collected from the natives of the janapada in such a way that they were not angered by the rules (87-25). These natives were made his subjects (prajas) and a contract entered into by them with the king (raja). They were not taxed but they were required to pay him tributes (bali) for the services rendered to them.
The king was advised to announce the need for collecting wealth by drawing the attention of the country (rashtram) to the threat it faced and not to levy fresh taxes or increase the existing taxes but to seek voluntary contributions from the people, especially of the rural areas. The threat to that region (rashtram) which was a unit of a confederation of states (chakra) headed by him was from another chakra, confederation. He should first convince the people of the need for contributions and then send his men on foot to collect these from their residences. The regular tax was meant for maintaining internal law and order and providing ordinary facilities and could not be spent on war even in defence of the confederation.
Walls had to be built around the town for the security and welfare of its residents. For this purpose funds had to be collected by way of tax and contributions from its rich citizens. Bhishma warned that while doing so their difficulties should not be ignored for if harassed they might leave the town and go to the forest. They had to be handled with care. He advised Yudhishtira (who as Partha was essentially an administrator of rural areas) to console the citizens and comfort them and make arrangements for their stay in the disturbed town. He should continue to aid them liberally and give them their share (87-26 to 37).
THE KING'S DUTY TO THE COUNTRY (RASHTRAM)
The king was asked to ensure that none cut down the plants and trees whose fruits were edible. Bhishma said that the social thinkers, manishinas, considered roots and fruits as belonging rightfully to the Brahmans, intellectuals (89-1). What remained of these after meeting their needs might be consumed by the other people (itara jana) who were residents of forests and mountains and were part of the industrial economy of the frontier society (antariksham). The latter were required to first provide for the living of the intellectuals who were not dependent on agriculture or animals and birds for their food and lived amidst them. None should commit the crime of appropriating what belonged to the Brahmans. (89-2)
If the scholars, vipras who were constantly on the move spreading knowledge and good cultural practices were to leave the country giving up their seats (atishteta) as no means of livelihood (vrtti) were made available to them, the civil administrator and chief of free men (naradhipa) to whose cadres of free men these vipras belonged should arrange for the livelihood of the vipras and their kins and followers.
If even after that these scholars did not return to the country, he would have to approach the assembly (samsad) of Brahmans (jurists) and ask under whose guidance the social world (loka) of commoners (who were organized as clans) was to be placed so that the latter might stay within the limits (maryada) prescribed by social laws (dharma) (89-3, 4). The chief of the free men was in a dilemma as he had no coercive power (danda) over the vipras nor was he able to exercise moral influence. Only the assembly of jurists was in a position to solve his dilemma, with the king (raja) being concerned mainly with politico-economic issues.
Bhishma told Yudhishtira that hearing the plight of the chief those scholars would return to the country. If they did not the chief should request them to forget his earlier faults. This was the procedure prescribed by sasvata dharma, permanent legislation. The ruler could only appeal to the disenchanted vipras for even the jurists (Brahmans) did not have the authority to direct them to return to his country. The vipras were free citizens of the world and not the subjects of any state (89-5). Bhishma noted that the natives (jana) were ready to invite the scholars (vipras) who had left that region because of lack of necessities of life and to provide them with vocations that would help them to lead an affluent life but he did not consider this alternative to be feasible. (89-6)
While the social world (loka) of commonalty was assigned agriculture, animal husbandry and trade as their means of livelihood, the higher ranks lived by the discipline of three Vedas. In their view the orientations of the discrete individuals (bhutas) of the social periphery who had been side-lined by both societies, agrarian and industrial, were influenced by the Vedas. These individuals (bhutas) among whom the vipras opted to live after leaving the organized clans and communities of the commonalty were counselled against harming those who lived along the lines shown by the Vedas. If they harmed these scholars they would be treated as having behaved like highway robbers.
Brahma, that is, the constitution, had created the cadre of kshatram to kill these antisocial elements, dasyus, who tried to hide their real identity by mingling with the bhutas of the social periphery (89-8). Bhishma did not approve enticing the scholars (vipras) to reurn to the commonalty abandoning the bhutas of the social periphery to the mercy of the brigands, dasyus. (89-7).
Bhishma exhorted Yudhishtira who belonged to the Kuru clan and was nrpa (chief of free men, naras) to adopt the orientation meant for Kshatriyas and to conquer the enemies and protect the subjects, to fight bravely on the field and to continue to perform sacrifices. He should not be satisfied with being a free man (nara) not bound by the orientations of any clan (kula) or class (varna) (89-9).
But was he eligible to be a sovereign ruler, raja? Like a nrpa, the raja too might not actually fight on the battlefield. But he had to direct those who were capable of protecting the weak. Such a king was the best among the cadre of rajans, Bhishma said.Those kings who did not protect the people were not needed, he said. There was no need to have an ornamental head of the state or a mere philosopher as its head. (10)
The king had to be always engaged in war for the benefit of all the social worlds (lokas)nobles, commoners and industrial society. For that purpose he had to engage men (manushyas, commoners) (who could not refuse to join the troops). This was the stand taken by manavas, the followers of Manava Dharmasastra and the Arthasastra of Pracetas Manu. Manavas to whose cadres the vipras belonged did not want the king to be an ornamental head of the state directing only the free men (naras) and their chief (nrpa) to ensure police protection to the wandering scholars against criminals (dasyus). He had to fight to protect all the organized settled social worlds (lokas).
The king (raja) belonged to a cadre that was superior to the professional warriors (kshatriyas) who were superior to the naras who had been recruited to the lower ranks of the infantry and the manushyas who were recruited as auxiliary troops. The king had the great task of going to war to protect the organized social worlds under his charge. He belonged to the cadre of manavas who stood apart from the manushyas and the naras as citizens of the world. (89-11)
The status and role of a manava required the king to guard those belonging to other areas from members of his state unit (raja anga) and the latter from the former. Similarly he had to protect those belonging to other areas and those belonging to his own unit from other members of that unit.
Every unit and every sector had to be arrended to so that its members were not troubled by others whether they belonged to that unit or not (89-12). This principle was to be always followed in governance (palaya). No unit or no member of any unit was to be allowed to or required to defend itself or himself. The king had a duty to every citizen of his state and also to those who were citizens of the world as manavas rather than of his state.
While protecting himself from all threats, the king should protect the entire world of commonalty (medhini). The scholars among the natives (jana) of the land say that everything (sarvam) (that is outside) has its root (mula) in itself (atman).
Without protecting oneself it is not possible to protect others. Hence the king should not neglect the defence of the state unit (anga) of which he is a member and which directs all other units (89-13). He had to introspect about the weaknesses in him and in his unit (prthvi). It was not enough to collect information about the response to his acts, from within his state (89-15). and how it could be affected adversely and what fault had not been remedied as a result of which he was till then being blamed. The king should constantly think about these issues (89-14). He should be aware how he had conducted himself till date and whether his conduct had been praised or not. For this purpose he should permit his confidential scouts to go round the entire world of commonalty
The king should through the scouts assess whether the people of the agro-pastoral plains (prthvi) whom he governed through the prthvipati would appreciate him if they learnt about his deeds and feats. Similarly he should learn about responses of the janapadas which were dominated by their natives and were particular in maintaining their autonomy and of the people of the nation (rashtra) who were willing to be under his jurisdiction and control because of common affinity (89-16).
Bhishma told Yudhishtira that he should respect all those who knew the (state) laws (dharma), were steadfast, never fled from the battlefield and those who lived in the country (rashtra) or who lived in the kings palace and eked their living and all the members of the executive (amatyas) and also those who were neutral (madhyastha), that is, who were not either employers or employees or residents of rural areas or attached to the kings retinue. He should try to know through the scouts whether those persons were pleased with him or criticized him. He should honour them all whether they spoke in his praise or not. (89-17, 18)
Bhishma pointed out that it was not possible that every one of one's deeds would be pleasing to all. All individuals (bhutas) had their friends (mitras), those who were not friends (amitras) and those who were in between the two. Yudhishtira wanted to know how among those who were equally strong and had equal merit (guna) one could become superior to others and rule other manavas. The concepts of mitra, amitra andmadhyastha induced Yudhishtira to pose a question pertaining to how in an oligarchy of equals the codes based on the concept of manava, there could be one who was first among equals.
The concept, manava, not only insisted on the right of every one who was a member of one of the four classes (varnas) to move freely in any area of his choice, settle anywhere and pursue his vocation and be a free citizen of the world rather than a subject of a given state. It also rejected inequality within a class or between classes. (89-19, 20)
Bhishma pointed out that the people (and species) who moved about (cara) dominated those who did not move about (acara) and those who used their teeth could overcome those who could not do so and swallowed their food (89-21). A king must be always cautious about these mobile elements and enemies. If he were complacent (pramada) they would swallow him, just as the vulture swallowed small creatures (22). He asked Yudhishtira to ensure that in his country (rashtra) the traders were not harassed by taxes. The traders purchased at high or low cost and went for selling to areas where these goods were scarce. If they were put to loss by high taxes they would settle elsewhere (89-23).
But though suffering from high taxes the farmers would not be able to move out of the country. The responsibility to meet the needs of the king and others was theirs. It was on their contribution, nobles (devas), retired elders (pitrs), commoners (manushyas), mobile workers (uragas), forest guards (rakshas) and mobile groups (vaya) lived. Thus Bhishma described the kings duty to the country (rashtra).
VAMADEVA'S COUNSEL TO VASUMANAS
Yudhishtira wanted to know from Bhishma how a king (raja) who adhered to the principles of dharma should conduct himself to be able to remain stable in dharmaBhishma then acquainted him with the counsel given by Vamadeva to Vasumanas a king and scholar who was steadfast and pure. Vasumanas was a contemporary of Yayati, son of Nahusha. Vamadeva was a senior sage and legislator and an important contributor to the Rgvedic anthology and a colleague of Kashyapa, Vasishta, Visvamitra, Bharadvaja and Gautama who were members of the council of seven sages during the tenure of Manu Vaivasvata. Vamadeva was also a researcher (tapasvi) and head of an academy (a bhagavan). Vasumanas who was equal to Yayati in status and reputation requested Vamadeva to explain how he should conduct his affairs so that the two objectives, artha and dharma were met. Bhishma did not approve Yudhishtira neglecting artha, political economy. (92-1 to 5)
Vamadeva advised Vasumanas to follow the rules prescribed by dharma as no other discipline (vidya) was superior to dharma. A king who stood steadfast in dharma would be able to conquer the entire social world of commonalty of the agro-pastoral plains, prthvi, he said. The ruler of the agrarian tracts, mahipati, who held dharma to be superior to economic (artha) goals, would use his intellect to develop the objects of dharma and would occupy the seat of the Vedic official, dharma, head of the committee of legislators who defined and implemented the social laws. On the other hand, a king (raja) who set his eyes on goals other than dharma, objectives which were not in tune with principles of ethics, morality and justice, and conducted all affairs through might (bala) would soon lose both gains, politico-economic (artha) and socio-cultural (dharma), Vamadeva told Vasumanas (6 to 8).
Vamadeva said that a ruler who along with his secretaries (sachivas) who were impious and sinners harassed the commoners and harmed (killed) dharma would soon get into trouble along with his retinue and family (parivara). Vamadeva might have been close to Indra school of political thought which visualized the king being assisted by sachivas rather than being guided by mantris. Amatyas who ran the bureaucracy ranked lower than ministers, mantris, but higher than sachivas.
Vamadeva told Vasumanas that one who did not follow the principles of political economy (artha) and spoke irrelevantly as a hedonist (kamachara) would soon get ruined even if he gained all the agricultural lands (mahi). On the other hand, a king (raja), who acquired beneficial (kalyana) traits and was free from malice and envy (asuya) and had conquered his (sense) organs, grew into an intelligent person (matiman) (92-9 to 11). The king should have the different (state) organs (indriyas, angas) under his control.
Vasumanas who was a thinker and chief of agrarian estates (vasudha) should never consider himself to have become fully qualified even after attaining all the goals prescribed by the sciences of dharma, artha and kama and gaining (the support and guidance of men known for their) intellect (buddhi) and allies (mitras) who would stand guarantee for his sovereignty over the lands that he reigned. The social progress (lokayatra) aimed at by the king was based on all the above factors. One who heard this counsel and grasped its implications would succeed in his goal and become famous and rich and have more subjects (prajas) under him, Vamadeva pointed out. (92-12, 13)
Vamadeva said that one who thus emphasized dharma and thought about both dharma and artha and examined the provisions of the science of artha and honoured and followed them would certainly gain huge benefits. Vamadeva wanted priority to be given to dharma and said that the science of artha should be interpreted from the point of view of dharma. He was against economic determinism which gave primacy to artha. (92-14)
A king (raja) who was by nature crooked and violent and was not generous (adhata) and betrayed his friends and harassed his subjects through exercise of tough coercive power (danda) would soon get destroyed, Vamadeva warned (15). A king who lacked intellect and committed sins and did not deem himself to be a sinner became infamous and liable to be sent to the ghettoes of fallen men (naraka). Vamadeva held that king to be under the influence of the counter-intelligentsia which treated virtues as vices and vices as virtues. (The term, buddha, is used in that sense here. The term, budha, was used to refer to the intellectual of the social periphery who guided its discrete intellectuals and belonged to gandharva cadres.) (92-16) Many free men, naras, had come under the influence of such counter-intelligentsia and fallen in social status.
On the other hand, if a king who respected others and was generous and by his good qualities attracted others to himself got into difficulty (vyasana), the manavas (who were not his subjects, prajas, but were citizens of the world and were also humanitarian in their outlook) would deem it as their own suffering and try to remove that difficulty, Vamadeva told Vasumanas (92-17). The manavas followed the Arthasastra of Pracetas Manu and Manava Dharmasastra whch created four trans-regional socio-economic classes (varnas) following their vocations and attitudes (pravrttis) in accordance with their natural aptitudes unlike the commoners (manushyas) who were organised as clans and communities following their traditional vocations and had no extra-regional base or loyalty.
One who had no teacher (guru, a post essential for every state) and who did not seek the advice of others and led a hedonistic (sukhatantra) life could not even after gaining (labha) economic benefits (artha) lead a happy life for a long time, Vamadeva said. [Bhishma did not agree with the charge levelled by some against this sage that he did not condemn sex and lust (kama).] Vamadeva told Vasumanas that a ruler who gave primacy to the teachers view on dharma and personally looked after all economic activities (artha) and gave importance only to the gains made by following the code of dharma would have lasting happiness. (92-18, 19)
Vamadeva said that in a country where the mighty harassed the weak using methods that were against ethics and justice (dharma), those who followed the former, that is, the admirers and henchmen of the warlords, tended to resort to the same metods to earn their livelihood. They followed the sinful methods resorted to by the king (raja). As a result, the nation (rashtra) of commoners (manushyas) who were indisciplined and immodest (avinita) got ruined quickly, he said (93-1,)
He was emphasizing the need for good and just governance to maintain discipline among the people. These manushyas belonged to that country and were settled and organized as clans and communities. But there were some residents who were not subjects of that state and who deemed themselves as citizens of the world. The manavas were trans-regional classes each having its way of life, svadharma and its vocation, svakarma. Many individuals followed them. They were natives of that country and followers of that king, svajana.They would feel sad if these manavas got into difficulty because of the atmosphere where the mighty and their henchmen harassed the weak. (93-3)
While the clans and communities were inured to the tendency of the mighty among them coercing their other members to obey their dictates, there were some natives of that country who wanted that every subject of that state and also every resident of that state who was not its subject should be able to lead a life free from coercion by others.
A king (raja) who was crooked and violent by nature and was high-handed and did not follow the code (sastra) of dharma soon got ruined, Vamadeva said. Not all rulers had the status of a rajanya. A Kshatriya whether an anointed ruler or not was expected to let the people of the country conquered by him and made to accept his authority and also those who had not been subdued by him to follow their respective customs and ways of life and vocations. Otherwise he would not be deemed to be following kshatra dharma, the dharma of administration.
Not all may accept the authority of the conqueror. The conqueror was not empowered to thrust the system of life that he deemed to be the best even on those who accepted his authority. (93-4, 5) If the chief (pati) of free men (naras) who had become soldiers, captured in battle a person who had earlier helped him to be in an advantageous position (krta-kalyana) but had later turned against him, did not honour that prisoner of war out of hatred for him he would be deemed to have violated kshatradharma (93-6). That chief might have been required to use weapons to punish that offender but should not treat him as his personal enemy. Bhishma was hinting that Yudhishtira and his brothers had not followed this rule.
Vamadeva told Vasumanas that a king (raja) who was efficient would enjoy happiness and comfort by taking steps to get out of exigencies (apad). By doing so, he would win the affection of the discrete individuals (bhutas) of the social periphery who had joined his troops even as the free men, naras, had done. While ordinary rules were to be adhered to strictly in the case of organized clans and communities, the special provisions included underapaddharma were to be drawn upon while dealing with these individuals who were not part of the organized core society. The prestige and wealth of his state would not be tainted by his resorting to these methods which the organized clans held to be illegal and unethical (93-7).
If the king had displeased some, he should please them later. Thereby even an unpopular ruler would soon become populae. Vamadeva told Vasumanas to give up speaking harsh words and be kind to others even without their asking for it. But under no circumstances, he should give up adherence to dharma, the prescribed duties (93-8, 9).
A free intellectual (budha) who belonged to the Vedic sector of gandharvas should not resort to deception (maya) and should never give up adherence to the laws based on truth (satya), self-restraint (dama), adherence to social and state laws (dharma), noble character (sheela) that bestowed on one a positive charismatic influence over others and the principles of kshatradharma. He should never avoid answering questions posed nor should allow words to slip out of his mouth carelessly. He should not be hasty or malicious and envious. Then he would be able to gather others round him, Vamadeva said. He was for a king who was an intellectual too. Vasumanas was exhorted to be so. (93-10)
Vamadeva asked the ruler not to become over-delighted by his popularity or get upset if some of his acts made him unpopular. If there were difficulties in economic (artha) matters, he should remember to take care of the interests of his subjects first (so that he remained popular). He told the chief (pati) of the rich lands (vasudha) that one who always pleased his subjects by his noble traits became successful in his works (karma) and that he never lost his wealth. (93-11, 12)
The civil administrator (nrpati) and chief of free men (naras) should win over by his conduct and affection those who withdrew from his service because of bad times and make them his permanent loyalists and favourites. Most of those who helped this chief were volunteers and not paid employees of the state. Vamadeva advised the ruler to appoint for executing major tasks, persons who had conquered their indriyas (who had total influence over the organs of the state in his charge) and who were his intimate followers and had good character (sheela) that made them charismatic personages and who were capable of executing those tasks and followed his directions. He did not favour impersonal administration. (93-13, 14)
Vamadeva told the ruler who controlled the essentially agrarian tracts (bhumi) that he should appoint persons who had the above traits and would be able to please him and who would be ever alert in carrying out the projects of their master. Vamadeva advised Vasumanas to appoint them for work (karma) connected with economic affairs (artha). A civil administrator (nrpati) who appointed persons who were stupid or given to low sensual pleasures or were greedy or were uncivilized in conduct or were deceitful or were cruel or had evil intents or were not masters of several disciplines of study, would suffer politically and economically (artha). Similarly if they were given to drinking, gambling, hunting and womanising or were arrogant, the ruler would suffer economically (artha). (93-15 to 17)
The king (raja) who protected himself and his followers and his subjects would flourish and rise to a higher position. Vamadeva pointed out that a king who without publicity but with good motives tried to find out how the landlords (bhumipati) under him were faring economically would thereby attain a high position. He was counselling Vasumanas on why he should look after the interests of the landlords, for he was himself a rich landlord (vasudha). (93-18, 19) Vamadeva advised Vasumanas that one should not after harming a powerful person stay away from him under the impression that the latter would no longer rise against him. Like a vulture coming down on other birds, he would come down on the former taking advantage of his complacency. The ruler should strengthen his roots (mula) and keep out the evil persons and know his own strength. Then he should attack the weaker amongst his opponents. He should not attack one who was stronger than him even if that enemy was an evil person. (93-20, 21)
Vamadeva recommended that the king (raja) should acquire the agricultural tracts (mahi) through prowess and govern the subjects of the acquired lands on the basis of approved state laws (dharma). Such a king was said to be engaged in spreading dharma to other territories (dharmaparayana). He had to for this purpose kill the enemies in war. The ruler had to realize that every one in this world has to die and that there is none who is free from fatal illnesses (anamaya). Hence the king should be established (sthita) in dharma and govern the subjects (prajas) according to the state laws (dharma) (93-22, 23)
The predominantly agricultural country, mahi, would flourish only if proper attention was paid to its defence and related aspects like war and governance according to state laws (dharma), deliberations for obtaining counsel (mantra) and the appropriate time for action. A king for whom the officials concerned kept secret all issues pertaining to the above was considered to be the best among kings. The king who was always engaged in maintaining these aspects of administration well endowed would be able to rule the agrarian lands (mahi) efficiently. (24, 25)
Vamadeva explained that the natives (jana) of the rural areas appointed as the civil administrator (nrpati) one who was benevolent and distributed the gains equitably, and was gentle by nature and pure and did not abandon the interests of the commoners (manushyas). It is implied that the civil administrator (nrpati) was appointed not by the king (raja) but by the janapada assembly. He was expected to stand by the commoners though he was not bound by the laws of any community or clan. The social world (loka) of commoners followed the person who listened to beneficial counsel (mantra) and grasped knowledge (jnana) giving up his personal opinions (mata). The ruler should hence refrain from thrusting his personal views on others, Vamadeva told Vasumanas. (93-26 to 28)
One who does not appreciate the beneficial advice given by a friend and listens to the harmful advice given by others (though apparently unwillingly) and does not always follow the ways of the pious and does not honour the traditional ways of those conquered by him as well as those not subdued by him, is said to have deviated from kshatradharma, duties of the rulers, Vamadeva said. The king is asked to always guard himself against the officials (amatyas) whom he had earlier interned, women whose movements he had restrained, treacherous hills, forts, elephanteers, horsemen and sarpas (industrial workers of the forest who moved stealthily and were employed for purposes of war). (93-29 to 31)
Vamadeva warned that a ruler who abandoned important officials (amatyas) and patronized their juniors would suffer like persons drowned in liquor. Those who out of personal hatred kept out persons with beneficial traits and persons belonging to their own community (sajati) and did not honour them suitably and wavered in their thoughts and were given to bouts of rage were living on the brink of death (mrtyu), he cautioned. A ruler who attracted to himself one who had beneficial traits though the latter was not a loyalist would be successful in his efforts for a long time. One should not spend his economic resources (artha) at the wrong time. He should not feel unduly sad while facing failure or unduly elated while experiencing success. He had to be moderate in his responses. He should be engaged in activities that kept him free from illness. (93-32 to 35)
The king (raja) should always ponder over who among his neighbours (who were rulers) were his supporters and who were a threat to him and who suffered from his point of view from the fault of being neutral (madhyastha). Even if the protagonist king was powerful he should never trust a weak person. For, such weak persons would assault others who were complacent. Vamadeva advised Vasumanas never to trust that sinner who without cause betrayed his ever-soft and kind master who had all noble traits. This secret counsel on the conduct of the king was given by Yayati (son of Nahusha) to his (five) sons (on his retirement) and was narrated to Vasumanas by Vamadeva, Bhishma told Yudhishtira. This counsel was applicable to any commoner who wanted to overcome his opponents. There was hence nothing secret in the counsel on Rajadharma. (93-36 to 39)
Vamadeva advised Vasumanas, a chieftain belonging to the landed gentry (vasudha adhipa) to embark on projects that would make him richer but which would not require him to go to war. The civil administrator and chief of free men (nrpati) was told that success in war was considered to be of a lower type than success in socio-economic enterprises. While the free men who did not fear to die in battle called for war to solve disputes and annex the disputed properties and territories, the bourgeoisie and the landed gentry would treat war as the last and most ignoble option (94-1).
When the root was not stable, that is, when the economy of the region already under the control of a ruler was not stable, he should not seek to gain what had not yet been gained, that is, new territories. It was not possible for a king to gain anything when the root, the economy of his primary state was weak. This lesson was valid in the case of any commoner too as in the case of a king (94-2). By stable root, Vamadeva meant that the governor of the rural areas (parthiva) who had the status of an autonomous ruler (rajaka) marginally lower than that of a sovereign king (raja) should be liked by the people of the janapada. He should be rich and well-endowed and his secretaries (sachivas) should be satisfied and affluent (94-3). It may be noted that a rashtra had several janapadas under its jurisdiction.
A parthiva who was essentially a governor of a small region would be able to conquer the agricultural tracts (mahi) with his small army (danda) if it had soldiers who were contented and were kept pacified and were capable of deceiving the foes, that is, by resorting to war of deception (94-4). Where the enemy was stronger, the ruler should engage in talks about conciliation (sama). If that failed he should offer gifts (dana). They should be offered in such a way that it would cause rift (bheda) among the ranks of the opponent. When the chief of the agrarian tracts (bhumipati) failed while using the three means, sama, dana and bheda, after assessing the strength of the opponent he should without further consideration resort to the fourth means (upaya), use of military power (danda) (that is, go to war with the enemy).
That governor, parthiva, was deemed to have a stable root, whose residents of the urban and rural areas, paurajanapada, were wealthy and had plenty of grains and were generous to the bhutas, the discrete individuals of the social periphery (94-5). Vamadeva told Vasumanas that among the members of the paura and janapada assemblies (city and rural boards) there were some engaged in the service of the larger country (rashtra) and some were against them. Some were docile and civilized (vinita) and some were undisciplined.
The governor should try his best to bring them all under his jurisdiction. Vamadeva implied that the formation of a larger nation (rashtra) owing allegiance to the king (raja) might be resisted by some sections of the paura-janapada assemblies which were autonomous bodies, electing their own civil administrators, nrpatis.
The governors, parthivas, were expected to bring together the different janapadas, groups of villages under them, and help in the formation of the rashtra, which too was predominantly agrarian in economy and orientation but covered both organized communities (manushyas) and discrete individuals (bhutas).
The governor was asked to bring under the ambit of the nation (rashtra) the outcasts (chandalas), the aliens (mlechchas) who were residents of the areas under him, the heretics (pashandas), the groups and elements that were engaged in vocations dysfunctional to the economy (vikarmina), the musclemen (balina), the residents of the forest abodes (asramas) who did not want to lose their life of freedom and singers and dancers who were not allowed by the paurajanapada assemblies to enter the villages as they distracted the workers.
But Vamadeva agreed that the strength of the nation (rashtra) stemmed from its agricultural economy. Those engaged in cultivating crops and helped in increasing the income of the nation (rashtra) were to be considered by the governor (parthiva) as the stable root (drdamula) of his authority. Throwing open the state to non-commercial and non-agricultural groups did not imply that urban and rural economies were to be overlooked. They too formed the root of the new nation (rashtra).
A ruler who was a genius (medhavi) should try to acquire the lands (bhumi) and wealth (dhana) of others only at the time opportune for exhibiting his prowess (94-6). A ruler whose affluence (bhoga) was constantly increasing and hence could afford to be generous to the discrete individuals (bhutas) of the periphery who were not organized economic groups and who was enthusiastic should first protect his own country before embarking on annexing new territories, Vamadeva cautioned. Of course one who was not a genius and was not affluent and enthusiastic could not expect to become the ruler of a larger country. (7)
Vamadeva cautioned that one who behaved insolently towards the people of his native area (svajana) who were loyal to him would be only harming himself. At the same time, a king (raja) who did not destroy those who hated him would ever have enemies. But one who knew how to destoy their dislike for him would never have persons hating him. The cause of dislike should be removed. Hence one who belonged to the cadre of free intellectuals (budha) (who guided the bhutas, discrete individuals of the periphery) should never follow (achara) a course of action (karma) which the civilized people (aryajana) (to be precise, the higher ranks of the native society who had their own vocations as Aryas or Vaisyas) considered to be despicable (vidvishta). The ruler was advised to be engaged in those projects which he deemed to be beneficial (kalyana) for all.
Vamadeva told Vasumanas that a king who wanted to complete his work and expeience a life of comfort was not held in disrespect by others nor did he feel insecure about his career. Bhishma was drawing Yudhishtiras attention to the need for fulfilling his duty including enjoyment of the fruits of his labour before retiring to the forest. Vamadeva said that a mahipati (ruler of a predominantly agrarian territory) who conducted his affairs pertaining to the commonalty in the way recommended by him would win the goodwill of both social worlds (lokas), nobles (devas) and commoners (manushyas) and would be installed (in the long run) as one who had secured victory (vijaya). Vasumanas who was a civil administrator (nrpati) initially followed Vamadevas advice on all matters, Bhishma said, exhorting Yudhishtira to emulate that ruler and win the goodwill of both the strata. He need not entertain doubts about his success (94-11 to 13)
Vamadeva, to be precise, gave importance to the policy of upeksha, ignoring minor difficulties, that many treated as an alternative to the four means, conciliation (sama), gift (dana), causing rift (bheda) among the opponents and use of coercive power (danda). If an opponent was held in disrespect by more powerful opponents, the king might ignore his presence in the neighbourhood as being but a minor nuisance. Such ignoring would prove to be more advantageous than the other four means. Vamadeva counselled the ruler of Kosala who adhered to the laws based on truth (satya) to understand the truth in the sayings of Bhargava Usanas. If in any place a militant (rakshasa) was attacked by a sniper (pisaca), the event should be ignored for both were undesirable elements.
Bhargava called for destroying the might of the mighty and did not bother about what means were used for that purpose. Ends justified the means. He would advise the king to get his enemy killed by another enemy even as a thorn in the foot was to be removed by a thorn taken in the hand. Vamadeva would advise the king to ignore the harmful and secret activities of his officials against others and of the aliens. Let them destroy each other, he said. He advocated the same policy in the case of quarrels among servants. Usanas, Vamadeva and Bhishma were pragmatic.
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