Mahabharata Santi Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva

Section CXII

"Yudhishthira said, 'What acts should be done by a king, and what are those acts by doing which a king may become happy? Tell me this in detail, O thou that art the foremost of all persons acquainted with duties.'

"Bhishma said, 'I shall tell thee what thou wishest to know. Listen to the settled truth about what should be done in this world by a king and what those acts are by doing which a king may become happy. A king should not behave after the manner disclosed in the high history of a camel of which we have heard. Listen to that history then, O Yudhishthira! There was, in the Krita age, a huge camel who had recollection of all the acts of his former life. Observing the most rigid vows, that camel practised very severe austerities in the forest. Towards the conclusion of his penances, the puissant Brahman became gratified with him. The Grandsire, therefore, desired to grant him boons.'

"The camel said, 'Let my neck, O holy one, become long through thy grace, so that, O puissant lord, I may be able to seize any food that may lie even at the end of even a hundred Yojanas.' The high-souled giver of boons said, 'Let it be so.' The camel then, having obtained the boon, returned to his own forest. The foolish animal, from the day of obtaining the boon, became idle. Indeed, the wretch, stupefied by fate, did not from that day go out for grazing. One day, while extending his long neck of a hundred Yojanas, the animal was engaged in picking his food without any labour, a great storm arose. The camel, placing his head and a portion of the neck within the cave of a mountain, resolved to wait till the storm would be over. Meanwhile it began to pour in torrents, deluging the whole earth. A jackal, with his wife, drenched by the rain and shivering with cold, dragged himself with difficulty towards that very cave and entered it quickly for shelter. Living as he did upon meat, and exceedingly hungry and tired as he was, O bull of Bharata's race, the jackal, seeing the camel's neck, began to eat as much of it as he could. The camel, when he perceived that his neck was being eaten, strove in sorrow to shorten it. But as he moved it up and down, the jackal and his wife, without losing their hold of it, continued to eat it away. Within a short time the camel was deprived of life. The jackal then, having (thus) slain and eaten the camel, came out of the cave after the storm and shower had ceased. Thus did that foolish camel meet with his death. Behold, what a great evil followed in the train of idleness. As regards thyself, avoiding idleness and restraining thy senses, do everything in the world with proper means. Manu himself has said that victory depends upon intelligence. All acts that are accomplished with the aid of intelligence are regarded as the foremost, those achieved with the aid of arms are middling, those achieved with the aid of feet are inferior, while those done by carrying loads are the lowest. If the king is clever in the transaction of business and restrains his senses, his kingdom endures. Manu himself has said that it is with the aid of the intelligence that an ambitious person succeeds in achieving victories. In this world, O Yudhishthira, they who listen to wise counsels that are not generally known, that are, O sinless one, possessed of allies, and that act after proper scrutiny, succeed in achieving all their objects. A person possessed of such aids succeeds in ruling the entire earth. O thou that art possessed of prowess like that of Indra himself, this has been said by wise men of ancient times conversant with the ordinances laid down in the scriptures. I, also, with sight directed to the scriptures, have said the same to thee. Exercising thy intelligence, do thou act in this world, O king!'"