Bhishma Charitra

by Kartik Pandya | 2011 | 48,028 words | ISBN-10: 8171101966

The English translation of the Bhishma Charitra, an important Mahakavya (epic poem) consisting of 20 cantos. This book details the life and legends of Devavrata Bhishma: a major character in the Mahabhara and relative to both the Pandavas and Kauravas. The Bhisma Charitra (Bhismacaritam) was written by Dr. Hari Narayan Dikshit, an important author...

Canto 17 - Descriptions of General Kingly Duties

1. After that the sovereign king Yudhiṣṭhira, having questions in mind regarding the duties of a king, asked Bhīṣma Pitāmaha the question regarding the same.

2. O Bhīṣma Pitāmaha! Now-a-days kings are afflicting the nation and the humanity. By drinking the liquor in the form of royalty, they (kings) are digging day and night the roots of the tree which is in the form of society.

3. By taking birth in the royal family only they acquire the kingship; but they do not know their the duties of a king. Therefore, please tell me the duties of a king in detail. So, that all the kings, after hearing it, could see their welfare.

4. After hearing such a question of Yudhiṣṭhira, Bhīṣma Pitāmaha, the best among the scholars, bowed down to Lord Kṛṣṇa. And then he affectionately started explaining Yudhiṣṭhira the general the duties of a king.

5. He said, O Yudhiṣṭhira! In the first place the king should form desire of pleasing his subjects for prosperity. It is the opinion of the duty-bound and truthful sages that king is said to be king only when he pleases his subjects.

6. The scholars have accepted the power of king for the sake and welfare of people only. They consider people as the root of the power. Therefore, a king who wishes the growth and prosperity of his kingdom should always serve and thus please his subjects.

7. A king wishing the growth of his self-power should always worship the deity of his family. Similarly, for the growth and development of the positive thoughts in his subjects, he should cultivate the positive thinking.

8. A king should duly decide the royal language when there is the prevalence of many languages; and for its popularity he should take desirable actions in the entire kingdom.

9. It is also the duty of a king that he should always keep ascetics, philosophers, scholars and wise people happy. (Because) They are the wellwishers of happiness and peace in the kingdom.

10. With the aid of modern science, a king should provide all the physical facilities and comforts to his subjects. He should also propagate amongst people the ancient knowledge which is the source of humanity.

11. A king is expected to make the growth in the science and technology; and he should make the flow of knowledge very limpid. (Because) I do not doubt in the fact that for the welfare of humanity science and technical knowledge are both useful.

12. A king himself should be truthful and he should also propagate the truth amongst his subjects as it is believed that the truth resides in the God and God resides in the truth.

13. A king should always be very pure in his own conduct and should have transparency in his behaviour towards others. He should wear proper clothes, and should always respect the culture of own kingdom.

14. And while making the justice, he should neither be soft nor very strict towards his subjects. He should be mild or fierce while giving justice following the rules of the science of punishment which are free from disputes.

15. Even in pass time, considering both mildness and fierceness, he should control the minds of his subjects; just as a cook does not keep more or less fire of the stove while cooking chapatti.

16. A king is expected not to indulge in jests with his officers and servants. O son! There is no doubt in the fact that the fire in the form of jest burns to ashes the courage like cotton.

17. A king should enthusiastically work hard. He should never wait upon his fate. A king becomes popular when he puts his endeavour in the right direction and becomes successful in his efforts.

18. To know the reality, he should appoint such spies who are free from desire and greed; who are noble by family and character; and who are unfamiliar with each other.

19. A king should not appoint those servants who are not devoted; and he should never appoint fools as his servants. He should always appoint such servants who are having the combination of both devotion and intelligence.

20. A celebrated king should keep away himself from those who are having hatred for others, find faults in others and who are back-biters. He should respect those who speak truth, even though it is not liked. He should always leave those who speak untruth, even though it is liked.

21. A king should appoint such assistants who are honest in their work, who are full of devotion towards sovereignty, scholars, belonging to a noble family, knower of ethics and duties, endowed with good conduct, free from kāma (desire), krodha (anger), lobha (greed), moha (infatuation), mada (pride) and mātsarya (malice); and who are invincible by others.

22. A king, having fully understood, is expected to have bodily pleasure with his wives only. He should not have such pleasures with any lady or women under the pressure of lust.

23. He should earn money through righteous ways only. For earning he should not take the refuge of absurdity. And he should utilise that wealth which is gained righteously for the progress and over all development of the state.

24. This earth is indeed vasundharā;. Since it, getting pleased, gives wealth like a cow. Therefore, a king, ruling and protecting the earth, is expected to engage farmers, who are expert in farming, to worship this earth on time.

25. A king should not fully trust his ministers also. But he should behave with them as he trusts them. A king wishing own betterment should never disclose own state policies, own valour and own weaknesses.

26. A king should always think and work for Yoga and Kṣema of his nation and of the people of the nation. The service to nation is considered as the devotion to Lord, and people are born of Lord’s body.

27. A king, from the view of his duty, is surely expected to punish such a person who is malicious of duty; enemy of a nation, who is tormenting people and who gives shock to humanity; even though he is liked very much; or even though he is worthy of worship very much.

28. A king should not collaborate with those people who pollute the ethics and workmanship. Apart from this, he should not have enmity with those who nurture ethics and workmanship. A king is expected not to put his nation on the fire of his ego and never accept the evil-ethics (in the form of snake).

29. A king should give up all kinds of bad habits for the development of his reputation. (Because) His bad habits surely cut down the creeper of his fame which is full of flowers in the form of good qualities.

30. A king should not be indifferent from the collection of armours though there is peace in his nation everywhere. And, he should be alert from his neighbour king even though being friend.

31. A king is worshipped who remains alert in the protection of the state from all sides. And, O King! One who acts in opposite to it i.e. who does not become alert in the protection of the state from all sides, suffers calamities; and thus he vanishes.

32. That king is worshipped by his subjects in whose kingdom there is no fear of attack from enemy kings, of loot, of robbery; and there is no the absence of workmanship nor there is any money crisis.

33. That king is praised in whose kingdom the people are not having the feeling of treachery, jealousy (amongst themselves), ego and dutyless.

34. That king is again and again praised by his subjects, who suspends those officers from his government who are inactive, greedy, and senseless and bribee.

35. A king should quickly punish those who are culprits according to their crimes following the rules of royal values. That king, who does not punish the criminals for any other reason, is not liked by his subjects.

36. A king should care for those who are to be protected, who are helpless, who are begging his forgiveness and who expect help from him, assuming it to be his own duty.

37. A king should nurture those scholars who nourish the national culture, who teach the lessons of patriotism; and those who are loyal and trustworthy to the king.

38. A king is expected to please his officers who are sincerely putting their efforts in the protection of the state and who are helping well in the governance of the state by awarding them with prizes, gifts and promotions in the form of increment. That person becomes popular who respects and appreciates good qualities of others.

39. What is happening? Who is doing what? Where are the spies of enemies? And what are they doing? All these information a king must have all the time; and accordingly he should protect his country.

40. For the development of commerce in the nation a king should also nurture merchants by adopting different helpful financial schemes. So that all types of food materials and other materials of daily usages become available for people.

41. He should construct wide and good roads in his state; and those who loot on this path should be strictly punished. So that people can travel on such roads freely and fearlessly.

42. It is king’s duty to make his subjects happy by providing them with the construction of step-wells, wells, lakes, reserviours, temples, restaurants, gardens etc.; and at the places of pilgrimages and picnic spots he should provide them with the facilities.

43. He is expected to inspire such arts among people igniting the fire of patriotism in them. Our ancient sages believe that the soul of our nation resides in the folk-lore and culture of the nation.

44. For the movement of chariot which is in the form of society, two wheels in the form of men and women are considered inevitable. Therefore a king, who has become the charioteer of the chariot which is in the form of society, is expected to work for the development of women also.

45. A king should not get angry on his kinsmen. Else he should make them happy and satisfied by providing them with the posts, wealth etc. The scholars have showed the anger of kinsmen more powerful than the anger of even enemies. Therefore a king should beware of such anger; that means he should not give an opportunity to origin such anger.

46. A king should always protect the wealth which is in the form of enthusiasm and which destroys the calamities. In its (enthusiasm) absence, the strengths of mantra and divinity do not become successful in any work.

47. O king! A king should always establish or renovate the different parts of his state as well as the surroundings. Being foresighted, he should never ignore the blemishes of such parts and surroundings. There is no doubt that a ship sinks even by a small hole.

48. One should not doubt about the reputation of a king. Even people do not like the maxim of matsyanyāya. This is the only reason why they expect good governance of a noble king.

49. As a result a king becomes very reputed by nurturing people worthy of protection and by punishing those worthy of punishments; and by providing all his subjects with the facilities.

50. O son! A person should never ignore even a small disease, enemy, fire and wicked person. Since they all give pain when they increase.

51. O grandson! Now you cast off all the doubts of your mind; and protect (govern) your subjects as per your duty. A king is worshipped both here and hereafter when he nurtures his subjects in the light of justice and duty.

52. By hearing these words of Bhīṣma Pitāmaha, Yudhiṣṭhira’s mind acquired peace. Others sitting in that assembly also experienced the sense of happiness. Then they all expressed their wish to know about other subjects too.

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