Shanti Parva 3 - Bheeshma Niti

Shanti Parva 3 - Bheeshma Niti

Shanti Parva 3 - Bheeshma Niti

Bheeshma advised Yudhishthira that the king who follows his dharma by protecting his citizens, is following vanaprastha. The king who studies Vedas is following Brahmacharya. The king who considers all citizens as his own is following grahasthashrama.

Bheeshma then explained the importance of the king. Without a king, people kill each other, and the weak ones would be preyed on. A king who is disrespected by his own people would even be disrespected by the enemy. The king is the source of Dharma and is the protector of all subjects. He should use dandaniti to punish the wicked and protect the good.

A king must use his army to protect his borders. He must use spies even on his advisers. The spies should not know each other. The king must seek the counsel of advisers. A king must never be weak and must never surrender. A wise king should not seek war and should enter into a treaty with enemies. He must never be partial while adjudicating disputes.

The king must not have trees near the city's walls. He must build a moat with crocodiles and sharp stakes in them. He must construct broad roads and have drinking water available everywhere. The king must have a store of weapons with poisoned arrows. The king should use dandaniti to set boundaries for people and to ensure their welfare.

Bheeshma then listed out the virtues of a good king – following dharma, being affectionate, not being an atheist, pursuing riches without being violent, seeking kama without being bound to it, showing bravery but not boasting about it, being bold but not cruel, not allying with undeserving people, not trusting the wicked, being pure, trusting his wife, serving elders, worshipping Gods without pride, not showing favouritism, not showing sudden anger, and being mild even to those who hurt him.

One sixth of the income of people must be collected as taxes. Penalties must be imposed on wrong-doers. Taxation should be like milking the cow so milk is obtained every day. Taxation should not result in the udder being cut off.

The king must have a priest who follows dharma. The Brahmana and the Kshatriya are the root of dharma, and they need to have good feelings for each other.

Bheeshma then advised Yudhishthira to follow rajadharma else his own people would disregard him. He asked Yudhishthira to be a king, protect the good, slay the evil, be affectionate and victorious over his senses.

The king should protect Brahmanas and protect ascetics. He must restrain those Brahmanas who do evil acts. A Brahmana unable to perform his dharma can do the dharma of a Kshatriya or that of a vaishya. He should not sell liquor, salt, meat, honey, or cooked food.

A king should have at least three trustworthy advisors. These advisors should be able to find out the weaknesses of the enemy. The ministers would advise the king about policy, and the king should implement the policy. The king should consult wise Brahmanas well-versed in Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha.

…. to be continued