Shanti Parva – 2 - King Yudhishthira meets Bheeshma
Yudhishthira seated with Draupadi, performed a yajna, and offered gifts to the Brahmanas. He then addressed the people and asked them to respect Dhritarashtra as they used to before. He then appointed Bheema as the heir. Vidura was the adviser, Sanjaya was placed in charge of finances, and Nakula in charge of the army.
Arjuna was asked to punish the enemies of the kingdom, while Sahadeva was asked to be close to the king to protect him. Dhaumya was appointed the Chief Priest. Yudhishthira then completed the last rites of all the dead. He honoured Gandhari and Dhritarashtra. He then bowed before Krishna and thanked him for ensuring the victory of his forces.
Bheema was given Duryodhana's house to stay while Arjuna stayed in Dushasana's house. Nakula and Sahadeva stayed at the houses belonging to Durmarshana and Durmukha. The next day Yudhishthira honoured Krishna with gold and jewels.
Krishna then advised Yudhishthira to meet Bheeshma. He told him to learn the Vedas and the dharmas from him. Yudhishthira then went to meet Bheeshma, along with Krishna. Seeing Krishna, Bheeshma sang his praises and sought his blessings.
Bheeshma then began his discourse to enlighten Yudhishthira. He explained about dharma and the duties of a king. He told him that the king should be harsh when needed and gentle when required. Bheeshma told him that the duty of a king was to ensure the happiness of the subjects and protect the righteous.
Bheeshma asked the king to use spying, donation, and use both fair and foul means to defeat the enemy. He asked him to be ready for action always and follow dharma at all times. He then explained the different kinds of punishments to be given and told him to use dandaniti by using his authority to rule the country, reward the good, and punish the evil.
Bheeshma then spoke about dharma to be followed by the different varnas or castes. Brahmanas should marry, have children, practice charity, and do sacrifices. Study of the texts is the greatest task for a Brahmana. Kshatriyas must protect the subjects, perform sacrifices, and must fight valiantly in battles. Protection is the most important task for a Brahmana.
Vaishyas should accumulate wealth, do charity, study, and do sacrifices. Protecting animals is the dharma for vaishyas. Shudras need to serve others, and his riches are that of his masters. Shudras can perform rites by uttering the mantras recommended.
All varnas should perform sacrifices. A brahmana who does not know the Vedas is a misfortune. Brahmanas perform sacrifices for the other varnas.
The ashramas for a Brahmana are vanaprastha, bhaiksha, grahasthya, and brahmacharya. The first three varnas will study the Vedas and perform sacrifices. They then live the life of a householder, before retiring to the forests. The ashramas have been prescribed for Brahmanas but can be followed by all varnas. A brahmana who deviates from dharma becomes a shudra. The Kshatriyas need to uphold rajadharma.
Bheeshma then told the story of King Mandhata and his dialogue with Indra about dharma. Indra told him that the dharma of Kshatriyas was the foremost. The dharma of the king involved improvement of the earth, protection of citizens, showing kindness towards everyone, and giving up his life on the battlefield. Indra told the king that Dandaniti should be exercised to bring an end to wickedness. Even the Gods respect the Kshatriya who follows dharma always.
… to be continued