Mahabharata Santi Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva

Section XCII

"Yudhishthira said, 'How should a righteous king, who is desirous of adhering to a course of righteousness, behave? I ask thee this, O foremost of men! Answer me, O Grandsire!'

"Bhishma said, 'In this connection is cited the old story of what Vamadeva gifted with great intelligence and acquainted with the true import of everything sang in ancient time. Once upon a time, king Vasumanas, possessed of knowledge and fortitude and purity of behaviour, asked the great Rishi Vamadeva of high ascetic merit, saying, 'Instruct me, O holy one, in words fraught with righteousness and of grave impart, as to the conduct to be observed by me so that I may not fall away from the duties prescribed for me.' Unto him of a golden complexion and seated at his ease like Yayati, son of Nahusha, that foremost of ascetics, viz., Vamadeva, of great energy, said as follows:

"Vamadeva said, 'Do thou act righteously. There is nothing superior to righteousness. Those kings that are observant of righteousness, succeed in conquering the whole earth. That king who regards righteousness to be the most efficacious means for accomplishing his objects, and who acts according to the counsels of those that are righteous, blazes forth with righteousness. That king who disregards righteousness and desires to act with brute force, soon falls away from righteousness and loses both Righteousness and Profit. That king who acts according to the counsels of a vicious and sinful minister becomes a destroyer of righteousness and deserves to be slain by his subjects with all his family. Indeed, he very soon meets with destruction. That king who is incompetent to discharge the duties of state-craft, who is governed by caprice in all his acts, and who indulges in brag, soon meets with destruction even if he happens to be ruler of the whole earth. That king, on the other hand, who is desirous of prosperity, who is free from malice, who has his senses under control, and who is gifted with intelligence, thrives in affluence like the ocean swelling with the waters discharged into it by a hundred streams. He should never consider himself to have a sufficiency of virtue, enjoyments, wealth, intelligence, and friends. Upon these depends the conduct of the world. By listening to these counsels, a king obtains fame', achievements, prosperity, and subjects. Devoted to virtue, that king who seeks the acquisition of virtue and wealth by such means, and who begins all his measures after reflecting upon their objects, succeeds in obtaining great prosperity. That king who is illiberal, and without affection, who afflicts his subjects by undue chastisements, and who is rash in his acts, soon meets with destruction. That king who is not gifted with intelligence fails to see his own faults. Covered with infamy here, he sinks into hell hereafter. If the king gives proper honour to them that deserve it, makes gifts, and recognises the value of sweet speeches by himself uttering them on all occasions, his subjects then dispel the calamities that overtake him, as if these had fallen upon themselves. That king who has no instructor in the ways of righteousness and who never asks others for counsels, and who seeks to acquire wealth by means that caprice suggests, never succeeds in enjoying happiness long. That king, on the other hand, who listens to the instructions of his preceptors in matters connected with virtue, who supervises the affairs of his kingdom himself, and who in all his acquisitions is guided by considerations of virtue, succeed in enjoying happiness for a long time.'"