The Markandeya Purana

by Frederick Eden Pargiter | 1904 | 247,181 words | ISBN-10: 8171102237

This page relates “the education of the sons (continued)” which forms the 27th chapter of the English translation of the Markandeya-purana: an ancient Sanskrit text dealing with Indian history, philosophy and traditions. It consists of 137 parts narrated by sage (rishi) Markandeya: a well-known character in the ancient Puranas. Chapter 27 is included the section known as “conversation between Sumati (Jada) and his father”.

Canto XXVII - The Education of the Sons (continued)

Madālasā instructs Alarka in a king’s duties—Enforcing especially the necessity for self-control, prudence and maintenance of the laws.

Jaḍa spoke:

Now being talked to in this way by his mother every day, the child Alarka grew in age and intelligence. Then this son of Ṛtadhvaja, on reaching boyhood, received investiture with the sacred thread, and being intelligent did obeisance to his mother and said, “What I ought to do now for happiness in this world and the next world, tell all that to me who am bowing respectfully before thee?”

Madālasā spoke:

“My child, a king inaugurated in his kingdom must in the first place conciliate his subjects, without obstructing his own duty. Eschewing the seven vices, which are radically injurious, he must guard himself from his adversaries without departing from good counsel. Just as a man meets destruction in eight ways from a fine-wheeled chariot, so undoubtedly does even a king without departing from good counsel. And let him recognise the had and good ministers through his enemies’ faults; and he must strenuously trace out his enemy’s spies by spies. But a king must not confide in friends, acquaintances, or relatives; let a king trust even in an unfriendly person, if so obliged by his affairs. A king must himself be conversant with the stationary, prosperous and deteriorating conditions of state policy, be familiar with the merits of the six measures of military policy,[1] and not be enslaved by desire.

“A king must first subdue himself, and his ministers, then his dependants, and afterwards his citizens; then let him, fight against his enemies. But he who, without having indeed conquered these, desires to conquer his adversaries, he, with his own self unsubdued and with unsubdued ministers,[2] is killed by his enemies’ party. A king must therefore, my son, first conquer desire and the other passions; for when they are conquered, victory is his assuredly; vanquished by them, a king perishes. Desire, and auger, and covetousness, intoxication and pride, joy also, and enemies—these in truth tend to destroy kings. Let him restrain himself, recollecting how Pāṇḍu himself was killed when engrossed in love: and how Anuhrāda[3] killed his own son through anger; and how Aila[4] was killed through covetousness; how Vena[5] was killed by dvijas through intoxication: how Anāyus[6] son Bali was hilled through pride; Purañjaya through joy. Recollecting how, when these were conquered, high-souled Marutta vanquished all, let a king cast out these his own faults.

“A king should learn the ways of the crow, cuckoo and hee, of the deer, serpent and peacock, of the goose, cock and the red goat. A king should act like an insect against an opponent; and a king should carry out the ways of the ants at a fitting time. A king, who possesses the natural character of the moon and the sun, ought to know for the sake of good policy the behaviour of sparks of fire and of the seeds of the seemul tree.[7] And a king ought to gather wisdom from a courtezan, the lotus flower,[8] and a grasshopper, a doe-hare, and the breast of pregnant women, and also from a woman of the cow-herd caste.

“A king should assume the five forms of Indra, the Sun, Yama and the Moon, and also of the Wind in the work of government. Just as Indra nourishes the people on the earth with showers of water for four months, so should a king nourish them with largesses. Just as the Sun draws up the water with his rays for eight months, so should a king collect the tolls and other dues by truly subtle means. Just as Yama restrains friend and foe when the time arrives, so a king should he impartial towards friend and foe, towards the vicious and the virtuous. Just as by gazing on the full Moon, a man grows affectionate, so, where the people are all peaceful, that is the practice he should adopt from the moon. Just as the Wind moves mysterious among all creatures, so should a king move among the citizens, ministers and others, and among his relatives by the agency of spies.

“The king, my child, goes to Svarga, whose mind is attracted neither by covetousness, nor by love, nor by riches, as by other motives. The king goes to Svarga, who keeps within their duty erring foolish men, who are swerving from their duty. He, in whose kingdom the duties of the four classes and the four periods of a brāhman’s life do not fall into desuetude, has, my child, eternal happiness after death and in a future state. A king’s highest duty, and that which brings supreme felicity for him, is the maintenance among men of their own laws,[9] since it is disturbed by evil-minded men. By protecting creatures indeed a king reaches success; he who duly protects gains by his efforts a portion of righteousness.”

Footnotes and references:


Viz., sandhi, peace; vigraha, war; yāna, marching; āsana, encamping; dvaidhī-bhāva, dividing his forces ; and saṃśraya, alliance.


For ’jitātmā jitāmātyaḥ read ’jitātmājitāmātyaḥ ?


Son of Hiraṇya-kaśipu.




A son of Anga.


She was his mother.


Śālmali; see note * p. 82. The pods contain a quantity of silky cotton which is blown about, when the pods burst.


Nelurnbium speciosum ; see note § p. 29.



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