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Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa
translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli

Mahabharata of Vyasa (Badarayana, krishna-dwaipayana) translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli is perhaps the most complete translation available in public domain. Mahabharata is the most popular scripture of Hindus and Mahabharata is considered as the fifth veda. We hope this translation is helping you.

Section CXL

"Yudhishthira said, 'When both righteousness and men, O Bharata, decay in consequence of the gradual lapse of Yuga, and when the world becomes afflicted by robbers, how, O Grandsire, should a king then behave?' 1

"Bhishma said, 'I shall tell thee, O Bharata, the policy the king should Pursue at such distressful times. I shall tell thee how he should bear himself at such a time, casting off compassion. In this connection is cited the old story of the discourse between Bharadwaja and king Satrunjaya. There was a king named Satrunjaya among the Sauviras. He was a great car-warrior. Repairing to Bharadwaja, he asked the Rishi about the truths of the science of Profit,--saying,--How can an unacquired object be acquired? How again, when acquired, can it be increased? How also, when increased, can it be protected? And how, when protected, should it be used?--Thus questioned about the truths of the science of Profit, the regenerate Rishi said the following words fraught with excellent reason unto that ruler for explaining those truths.

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"The Rishi said, 'The king should always stay with the rod of chastisement uplifted in his hand. He should always display his prowess. Himself without laches, he should mark the laches of his foes. Indeed, his eyes should ever be used for that purpose. At the sight of a king who has the rod of chastisement ever uplifted in his hand, every one is struck with fear. For this reason, the king should rule all creatures with the rod of chastisement. Men possessed of learning and knowledge of truth applaud Chastisement. Hence, of the four requisites of rule, viz., Conciliation, Gift, Disunion, and Chastisement, Chastisement is said to be the foremost. When the foundation of that which serves for a refuge is cut away, all the refugees perish. When the roots of a tree are cut away, how would the branches live? A king possessed of wisdom should cut away the very roots of his foe. He should then win over and bring under his sway the allies and partisans of that foe. When calamities overtake the king, he should without losing time, counsel wisely, display his prowess properly, fight with ability, and even retreat with wisdom. In speech only should the king exhibit his humility, but at heart he should be sharp as a razor. He should cast off lust and wrath, and speak sweetly and mildly. When the occasion comes for intercourse with an enemy, a king possessed of foresight should make peace, without reposing blind trust on him. When the business is over, he should quickly turn away from the new ally. One should conciliate a foe with sweet assurances as if he were a friend. One, however, should always stand in fear of that foe as living in a room within which there is a snake. He whose understanding is to be dominated by thee (with the aid of thine intellect) should be comforted by assurances given in the past. He who is of wicked understanding should be assured by promises of future good. The person, however, that is possessed of wisdom, should be assured by present services. The person who is desirous of achieving prosperity should join hands, swear, use sweet words, worship by bending down his head, and shed tears. 1 One should bear one's foe on one's shoulders as long as time is unfavourable. When however, the opportunity has come, one should break him into fragments like an earthen jar on a stone. It is better, O monarch that a king should blaze up for a moment like charcoal of ebony-wood than that he should smoulder and smoke like chaff for many years. A man who has many purposes to serve should not scruple to deal with even an ungrateful person. If successful, one can enjoy happiness. If unsuccessful, one loses esteem. Therefore in accomplishing the acts of such persons, one should, without doing them completely, always keep something unfinished. A king should do what is for his good, imitating a cuckoo, a boar, the mountains of Meru, an empty chamber, an actor, and a devoted friend. 2 The king should frequently, with

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heedful application, repair to the houses of his foes, and even if calamities befall them, ask them about their good. They that are idle never win affluence; nor they that are destitute of manliness and exertion; nor they that are stained by vanity; nor they that fear unpopularity; nor they that are always procrastinating. The king should act in such a way that his foe may not succeed in detecting his laches. He should, however, himself mark the laches of his foes. He should imitate the tortoise which conceals its limbs. Indeed, he should always conceal his own holes. He should think of all matters connected with finance like a crane. 1 He should put forth his prowess like a lion. He should lie in wait like a wolf and fall upon and pierce his foes like a shaft. Drink, dice, women, hunting, and music,--these he should enjoy judiciously. Addiction to these is productive of evil. He should make bows with bamboos, etc.; he should sleep cautiously like the deer; he should be blind when it is necessary that he should be so, or he should even be deaf when it is necessary to be deaf. The king possessed of wisdom should put forth his prowess, regardful of time and place. If these are not favourable, prowess becomes futile. Marking timeliness and untimeliness reflecting upon his own strength and weakness, and improving his own strength by comparing it with that of the enemy, the king should address himself to action. That king who does not crush a foe reduced to subjection by military force, provides for his own death like the crab when she conceives. A tree with beautiful blossoms may be lacking in strength. A tree carrying fruits may be difficult of climbing; and sometimes trees with unripe fruits look like trees with ripe fruits. Seeing all these facts a king should not allow himself to be depressed. If he conducts himself in such a way, then he would succeed in upholding himself against all foes. The king should first strengthen the hopes (of those that approach him as suitors). He should then put obstacles in the way of the fulfilment of those hopes. He should say that those obstacles are merely due to occasion. He should next represent that those occasions are really the results of grave causes. As long as the cause of fear does not actually come, the king should make all his arrangements like a person inspired with fear. When, however, the cause of fear comes upon him, he should smite fearlessly. No man can reap good without incurring danger. If, again, he succeeds in preserving his life amid danger, he is sure to earn great benefits. 2 A king should ascertain all future dangers; when they are present, he should conquer them; and lest they grow again, he should, even after conquering them, think them to be unconquered. The abandonment of present happiness and the pursuit of that which is future, is never the policy of a person possessed Of intelligence. The king who having made peace with a foe sleeps happily in truthfulness is like a man who sleeping on the top of a tree awakes after a fall. When one falls into distress, one should raise one's self by all means in one's power, mild or stern; and after such rise, when competent, one should practise righteousness. The king should always honour the foes of his foes. He should take his own spies as agents employed by his foes. The king should

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see that his own spies are not recognised by his foe. He should make spies of atheists and ascetics and send them to the territories of his enemies. Sinful thieves, who offend against the laws of righteousness and who are thorns in the side of every person, enter gardens and places of amusement and houses set up for giving drinking water to thirsty travellers and public inns and drinking spots and houses of ill fame and holy places and public assemblies. These should be recognised and arrested and put down. The king should not trust the person that does not deserve to be trusted nor should he trust too much the person that is deserving of trust. Danger springs from trust. Trust should never be placed without previous examination. Having by plausible reasons inspired confidence in the enemy, the king should smite him when he makes a false step. The king should fear him, from whom there is no fear; he should also always fear them that should be feared. Fear that arises from an unfeared one may lead to total extermination. By attention (to the acquisition of religious merit), by taciturnity, by the reddish garb of ascetics, and wearing matted locks and skins, one should inspire confidence in one's foe, and then (when the opportunity comes) one should jump upon him like the wolf. A king desirous of prosperity should not scruple to slay son or brother or father or friend, if any of these seek to thwart his objects. The very preceptor, if he happens to be arrogant, ignorant of what should be done and, what should not, and a treader of unrighteous paths, deserves to be restrained by chastisement. Even as certain insects of sharp stings cut off all flowers and fruits of the trees on which they sit, the king should, after having inspired confidence in his foe by honours and salutations and gifts, turn against him and shear him of everything. Without piercing the very vitals of others, without accomplishing many stern deeds, without slaughtering living creatures after the manner of the fisherman, one cannot acquire great prosperity. There is no separate species of creatures called foes or friends. Persons become friends or foes according to the force of circumstances. The king should never allow his foe to escape even if the foe should indulge piteous lamentations. He should never be moved by these; on the other hand, it is his duty to destroy the person that has done him an injury. A king desirous of prosperity should take care to attach to himself as many men as he can, and to do them good. In behaving towards his subjects he should always be free from malice. He should also, with great care, punish and check the wicked and disaffected. When he intends to take wealth, he should say what is agreeable. Having taken wealth, he should say similar things. Having struck off one's head with his sword, he should grieve and shed tears. A king desirous of prosperity should draw others unto himself by means of sweet words, honours, and gifts. Even thus should he bind men unto his service. The king should never engage in fruitless disputes. He should never cross a river with the aid only of his two arms. To eat cow-horns is fruitless and never invigorating. By, eating them one's teeth are broken while the taste is not gratified. The triple aggregate has three disadvantages with three Inseparable adjuncts. Carefully considering those

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adjuncts, the disadvantages should be avoided. 1 The unpaid balance of a debt, the unquenched remnant of a fire, and the unslain remnant of foes, repeatedly grow and increase. Therefore, all those should be completely extinguished and exterminated. Debt, which always grows, is certain to remain unless wholly extinguished. The same is the cause with defeated foes and neglected maladies. These always produce great feat. (One should, therefore, always eradicate them). Every act should be done thoroughly One should be always heedful. Such a minute thing as a thorn, if extracted badly, leads to obstinate gangrene. By slaughtering its population, by tearing up its roads and otherwise injuring them, and by burning and pulling down its houses, a king should destroy a hostile kingdom. A kings should be far-sighted like the vulture, motionless like a crane, vigilant like a dog, valiant like a lion, fearful like a crow, and penetrate the territories of his foes like a snake with ease and without anxiety. A king should win over a hero by joining his palms, a coward by inspiring him with fear, and a covetous man by gifts of wealth while with an equal he should wage war. He should be mindful of producing disunion among the leaders of sects and of conciliating those that are dear to him. He should protect his ministers from disunion and destructions. If the king becomes mild, the people disregard him. If he becomes stern, the people feel it as an affliction. The rule is that he should be stern when the occasion requires sternness, and mild when the occasion requires mildness. By mildness should the mild be cut. By mildness one may destroy that which is fierce. There is nothing that mildness cannot effect. For this reason, mildness is said to be sharper than fierceness. That king who becomes mild when the occasion requires mildness and who becomes stern when sternness is required, succeeds in accomplishing all his objects, and in putting down his foes. Having incurred the animosity of a person possessed of knowledge and wisdom, one should not draw comfort from the conviction that one is at a distance (from one's foe). Far-reaching are the arms of an intelligent man by which he injures when injured. That should not be sought to be crossed which is really uncrossable. That should not be snatched from the foe which the foe would be able to recover. One should not seek to dig at all if by digging one would not succeed in getting at the root of the thing for which one digs. One should never strike him whose head one would not cut off. A king should not always act in this way. This course of conduct that I have laid down should be pursued only in seasons of distress. Inspired by the motive of doing thee good I have said this for instructing thee as to how thou shouldst bear thyself when assailed by foes.

"Bhishma continued, 'The ruler of the kingdom of the Sauviras, hearing

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these words spoken by that Brahmana inspired with the desire of doing him good, obeyed those instructions cheerfully and obtained with his kinsmen and friends blazing prosperity.'"





 
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