Mahabharata Santi Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva

Section LXVII

"Yudhishthira said, 'Thou hast said what the duties are of the four modes of the life and the four orders. Tell me now, O grandsire, what are the principal duties of a kingdom.'

"Bhishma said, 'The (election and) coronation of a king is the first duty of a kingdom. A kingdom in which anarchy prevails becomes weak and is soon afflicted by robbers.  In kingdoms torn by anarchy, righteousness cannot dwell. The inhabitants devour one another. An anarchy is the worst possible of states. The Srutis declare that in crowning a king, it is Indra that is crowned (in the person of the king). A person who is desirous of prosperity should worship the king as he should worship Indra himself. No one should dwell in kingdoms torn by anarchy. Agni does not convey (to the gods) the libations that are poured upon him in kingdoms where anarchy prevails. If a powerful king approaches kingdoms weakened by anarchy, from desire of annexing them to his dominions, the people should go forward and receive the invader with respect. Some conduct would be consistent with wise counsels. There is no evil greater than anarchy. If the powerful invader be inclined to equity, everything will be right. If, on the other hand, he be engaged, he may exterminate all. That cow which cannot be easily milked has to suffer much torture. On the other hand, that cow which is capable of being easily milked, has not to suffer any torture whatever. The wood that bends easily does not require to be heated. The tree that bends easily, has not to suffer any torture (at the hands of the gardener). Guided by these instances, O hero, men should bend before those that are powerful. The man that bends his head to a powerful person really bends his head to Indra. For

these reasons, men desirous of prosperity should (elect and) crown some person as their king. They who live in countries where anarchy prevails cannot enjoy their wealth and wives. During times of anarchy, the sinful man derive great pleasure by robbing the wealth of other people. When, however, his (ill-got) wealth is snatched by others, he wishes for a king. It is evident, therefore, that in times of anarchy the very wicked even cannot be happy. The wealth of one is snatched away by two. That of those two is snatched away by many acting together. He who is not a slave is made a slave. Women, again, are forcibly abducted. For these reasons the gods created kings for protecting the people. If there were no king on earth for wielding the rod of chastisement, the strong would then have preyed on the weak after the manner of fishes in the water. In hath been heard by us that men, in days of old, in consequence of anarchy, met with destruction, devouring one another like stronger fishes devouring the weaker ones in the water. It hath been heard by us that a few amongst them then, assembling together, made certain compacts, saying, 'He who becomes harsh in speech, or violent in temper, he who seduces or abducts other people's wives or robs the wealth that belongs to others, should be cast off by us.' For inspiring confidence among all classes of the people, they made such a compact and lived for some time. Assembling after some time they proceeded in affliction to the Grandsire, saying, 'Without a king, O divine lord, we are going to destruction. Appoint some one as our king. All of us shall worship him and he shall protect us.' Thus solicited, the Grandsire asked Manu. Manu, however, did not assent to the proposal.

"Manu said, 'I fear all sinful acts. To govern a kingdom is exceedingly difficult, especially among men who are always false and deceitful in their behaviour.'

"Bhishma continued, 'The inhabitants of the earth then said unto him, 'Do not fear. The sins that men commit will touch those only that commit them (without staining thee in the least). For the increase of thy treasury, we will give thee a fiftieth part of our animals and precious metals and a tenth part of our grain. When our maidens also will become desirous of wedding, we shall, when the question comes up, give thee the most beautiful ones among them. Those amongst men who will become the foremost of all in the use of weapons and in riding animals and driving vehicles, shall proceed behind thee like the deities behind Indra. With thy strength enhanced in this way, and becoming invincible and possessed of great prowess, thou wilt be our king and protect us happily like Kuvera protecting the Yakshas and the Rakshasas. A fourth part of the merit which men will earn under thy protection will be thine. Strengthened by that merit so easily obtained by thee, do thou protect us, O king, like He of a hundred sacrifices protecting the deities. Like the Sun scorching everything with his rays, go out for winning victories. Crush the pride of foes and let righteousness always triumph (in the world).' Thus addressed by those inhabitants of the earth, Manu, possessed of great energy, proceeded, accompanied by a large force. Of high descent, he seemed then to blaze with prowess. Beholding the might of Manu, like the gods eyeing the might of Indra, the inhabitants of the earth became inspired with fear and set their hearts upon their respective duties. Manu then made his round through the world, checking everywhere all acts of wickedness and setting all men to their respective duties, like a rain-charged cloud (in its mission of beneficence).'

"Those, O Yudhishthira, those men on earth who desire prosperity should first elect and crown a king for the protection of all. Like disciples humbling themselves in the presence of the preceptors or the gods in the presence of Indra, all men should humble themselves before the king. One that is honoured by his own people becomes an object of regard with his foes also, while one that is disregarded by his own is overridden by foes. If the king be overridden by his foes, all his subjects become unhappy. Therefore, umbrellas and vehicles and outward ornaments, and viands, and drinks, and mansions, and seats, and beds, and all utensils for use and show, should be assigned to the king. By such means the king will succeed in discharging his duties of protection (the better) and become irresistible. He should speak with smiles. Addressed sweetly by others, he should address others sweetly. Grateful (to those that serve him), firmly devoted (to those that deserve his respect), and with passions under control, he should give unto others their due. Looked upon by others he should look at them mildly, sweetly, and handsomely.'