Vignettes of the wisdom of the kuru and the pa~nchAla

The defining element of our identity was the formation of the rAShTra by the kuru and the pa~nchAla, the foremost of the bhArata clans. It is the legacy of this rAShTra of the bhArata-s, rather than documents like the constitution of India, that forms the foundation on which our modern state rests. A mlechCha gentleman, evidently intending to pay a compliment, told us that he was impressed by fact that our “founding fathers” had managed to come up with a constitution that has managed to hold our country together, which by all logic should have broken up by now. We told that he was right about the “founding fathers” part but only that they go much farther back in time. Indeed, the farther our people recede from the wisdom of the kuru and the pa~nchAla enshrined in the “fifth veda” the more effete and irrelevant we are becoming in the world. Hence, those who still bother about such things might peruse of some of it:

Thus spoke nakula the fourth pANDava:

rAj~naH pramAda-doSheNa dasyubhiH parimuShyatAm |
asharaNyaH prajAnAM yaH sa rAjA kalir uchyate ||
The ruler whose delusion results in his people being plundered by dasyu-s, and [the ruler] who does not offer protection to his people [from dasyu-s] is said to be the manifestation of kali.

Thus spoke draupadI the princess of the pa~nchAla-s:

nAdaNDaH kShatriyo bhAti nAdaNDo bhUtim ashnute |
nAdaNDasya prajA rAj~naH sukham edhanti bhArata ||
Without punitive legislation a kShatriya cannot shine forth, without punitive ability he cannot attain power. The people of a ruler without punitive ability cannot attain happiness.

asatAM pratiShedhash cha satAM cha paripAlanam |
eSha rAj~nAM paro dharmaH samare chApalAyanam ||
Restraining the evil doers, cultivating the good, and showing agility in war: these are the highest duties of rulers.

kurute mUDham evaM hi yaH shreyo nAdhigachChati |
dhUpair a~njanayogaish cha nasya-karmabhir eva cha |
bheShajaiH sa chikitsyaH syAd ya unmArgeNa gachChati ||
One who due to stupidity [wishes to abandon the upholding of his state for asceticism as yudhiShThira wished to do upon realizing that he caused the death of karNa and others] will never attain any felicity. [Such a person should] be diagnosed as one who has taken the path of madness and should be given medical treatment using inhalants, medicinal pastes, drips delivered via the the nose, and other drugs.

*It is interesting to note that the methods for drug delivery seen in the medical saMhitA-s for the treatment of unmAda are recognized here by draupadI – their earliest forms likely arose in the kuru-pa~nchAla state.

Thus spoke bhImasena the second pANDava:

dvividho jAyate vyAdhiH shArIro mAnasas tathA |
parasparaM tayor janma nirdvaMdvaM nopalabhyate ||
There are two types of disease – of the body and of the mind. Each give rise to the other neither exists independently of the other.

shArIrAj jAyate vyAdhir mAnaso nAtra saMshayaH |
mAnasAj jAyate vyAdhiH shArIra iti nishchayaH ||
The mental diseases arise from bodily morbidity without doubt; likewise from mental disease emerge bodily diseases – this is certain.

shArIra mAnase duHkhe yo .atIte anushochati |
duHkhena labhate duHkhaM dvAv anarthau prapadyate ||
He who keeps pondering on past bodily or mental afflictions has new sorrow emerging from his thinking of old sorrows; thus he [ends up] saddled with two tragedies

*Here bhImasena recognizes that mental disease ultimately originates from a bodily problem. He also states that depression can give rise to a physical condition. Thus, he calls upon yudhiShThira to cast aside his depression and move on in life.

Thus spoke arjuna the third pANDava:

kShatra-dharmo mahA-raudraH shastra-nitya iti smR^itaH |
vadhash cha bharata-shreShTha kAle shastreNa saMyuge ||
It is known that the duty of the kShatriya is very fierce involving the constant use of weapons. O foremost bhArata, [it is known] that when their time comes they are killed in battle while engaging with weapons.

brAhmaNasyaapi ched rAjan kShatra-dharmeNa tiShThataH |
prashastaM jIvitaM loke kShatraM hi brahma-saMsthitam ||
Even a brAhmaNa who is firm in following the duties of a kShatriya leads a praiseworthy life as after all in this world kShatra power is also stationed on a foundation of brahma power.

kShatriyasya visheSheNa hR^idayaM vajra-saMhatam|
jitvArIn kShatra-dharmeNa prApya rAjyam akaNTakam ||
In particular a kShatriya’s heart is adamantine. By applying the kShatra-dharma he conquers foes and acquires a dominion free from trouble-makers.

Thus spoke vyAsa kR^iShNa-dvaipAyana:

yaj~no vidyA samutthAnam asaMtoShaH shriyaM prati |
daNDa-dhAraNam atyugraM prajAnAM paripAlanam ||
veda-j~nAnaM tathA kR^itsnaM tapaH sucharitaM tathA |
draviNopArjanaM bhUri pAtreShu pratipAdanam |
etAni rAj~nAM karmANi sukR^itAni vishAM pate||
Fire rituals, learning, exercise, being unsatisfied with [limited] prosperity, upholding punitive legislation, fierceness in battle and working for the welfare of ones people. Knowledge of the veda and rituals, performance of tapas, good conduct, acquisition of plentiful wealth and its distribution to deserving individuals – these are the duties of a kShatriya to be performed well O ruler of the people.

teShAM jyAyas tu kaunteya daNDadhAraNam uchyate
balaM hi kShatriye nityaM bale daNDaH samAhitaH ||
Amongst these, kaunteya, the wielding of punitive power is said to be the foremost. Strength must always be there in a kShatriya as punitive power depends on strength.

the gAthA of bR^ihaspati a~ngirasa:
bhUmir etau nigirati sarpo bilashayAn iva |
rAjAnaM chAviroddhAraM brAhmaNaM chApravAsinam ||

Just as a snake gobbles a burrowing rodent [the ways of] the world swallow a king who given to excessive non-violence and a brAhmaNa who is excessively devoted to one place [i.e. patron].

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