Commentary on Apaddharma
Author: Pranshu Saxena
Qualities of Pandavas and Kauravas: This is a series post written by Pranshu sir on the page called The Real Mahabharat of Sage Vyasa.
Bheeshma turned the adharmik Kanika Kuneeti into an Amoral Realism. He added a massive factor to the concept of enemy for Kanika. The factor is that is the enemy wicked?
That undercuts the entire philosophy of the Kanika with regards to Pandavas. Pandavas never sought the death and destruction of the brood of Gandhari till they crossed the line and then it was no Longer bacchoein se galti ho gayi, it was Danda, Raja danda, dharma danda, Yagna danda.
In defence of Kanika again, Kanika did tell us that he means this policy should be used against the WICKED in times of calamity only and secondly, in scenario where there is no victory possible for either side, a stalemate has been reached. The stalemate if not benign can hurt the people in long run and should be broken.
Kanika told off destroying enemy root and all and then going after his partisans and allies and destroying them. Bheeshma stops at punishing the wicked enemy and then bring allies and partisans under his control. To illustrate that we had the story of Dushla’s grandson protected by Arjuna. Actually, that story continues in next generation and like his great grandfather, grandfather, the father, the grandson of Jayadratha would be killed with his son by the next generations of Pandavas, by Nakula and Sahadeva’s grandchildren, the story for another post.
Where as Kanika recommended the King to be ruthless and be sharp as razor, Chanakya and Bheeshma wanted the King to renounce lust and anger and keep the razor edge in his decision making to part good from bad.
Bheeshma said that the King should protect his limbs like a tortoise, think in financial matters like a crane, show prowess like a lion, lie in ambush of needed like a wolf, attack like an arrow on the target and do not destroy more than what you need to preserve dharma.
Do not attack if you cannot guarantee complete victory, lie in wait for a better time.
The transmutation of Kanika Kuneeti by Bheeshma and later Chanakya is the most Machiavellian policy adopted by them. The Principle that justify this policy are best illustrated by Ghoshal in History of Political ideas:
- The implacable nature of enemies
- Fluidity of interstate relations
- Urge of self-preservation
- Use of violence only as necessary means of implementation.
Seen from that prism, Krishna subverted the actual policy of Kauravas on them completely and within the guidelines and maryada of the Dharma itself.
King should always be ready to chastise and to show or emphasize their position of strength.
King should hide his weakness but always watch out for the weakness of others. If they find such weakness, take advantage of their weakness or use this single weakness to continually abuse and berate and reduce the stature of the opponent. Mercilessly and continuously attack.
King should always be ready to chastise and to show or emphasize their position of strength. King should not hide his weakness but work on it. At same time, always watch out for the weakness of others. So that, no one else takes advantage of those weaknesses. Be alert and not attack was the motto.
Rule by instilling fear. Be ready to punish first and ask questions later. Danda is all powerful and will aid your endeavors. The King even if wrong should not show that he is wrong, You are the final word. You are the Dharma. You cannot be wrong.
Krishna already explained that. King is not the dharma. Yudhishthara already said that Dharma is not the estate of few or the powerful, it is the expression of self-interest of the masses.
Like a tortoise uses his shell as his defense and keeps his limbs inside, so should King keep his limbs inside the Palace. Keep a watch over them. They are all potential weaknesses, all are potential betrayers. The limbs are yourself the King, the PM, the rashtrapala, durgapala, Koshapala, Baladhyaksha and friends.
Look out for your limbs and assist them in their times of needs and weaknesses. Their weaknesses should not be exploited by a third group to endanger you. Understand and assist your own people. Do not distrust them.
There is a long section where Chanakya discusses who the trustworthy should be and here he uses multifarious examples. I am covering that.
Everyone praises the person who destroys his enemies who seek to hurt him. Everyone seeks to hurt you. Everyone desires what you have.
Everyone praises the person who destroys his enemies who seek to hurt him. That’s it.
There is no “wilderness of mirrors” here for the Kanika Kuneeti followers who see their own worst aspects in others all the time and thus, seek to hurt everyone. Bheeshma only talks about the wicked enemy.
If someone has no wealth and is weak and cannot pay taxes, remove him from your kingdom. Let them be burden elsewhere. Do the same for criminals and atheists.
This was part of the major beef Yudhishthara had with Duryodhana’s administration. Duryodhan’s total disregard for the weak, the handicapped, the poorest section of the society, the orphans, the widows, the people who cannot help themselves, the dwarves, the outcasts. These were the ones most highlighted for protection by Yudhishthara again and again. These are the ones Duryodhana and his administration destroyed or drove away.
The War was in a way fought for these people. All the people wronged in the past. They also fight in spirit!
Though I may not agree to the entire philosophy or politics in this particular situation, Moshe Dayan wrote of the experiences of the Six day war and the Yom Kippur war. The Israeli officers who fought on the frontlines felt that they were not fighting alone. Many of them had lost many family members in Europe, huge multi generational families reduced to one person, they were Parikshita of them all, right there on the front trying to save this final home. They felt that each of their family members and the thousands of forgotten ones were there right beside them, fighting with them. This was the x factor that broke the tank attacks and held most of the lines on the canal in 1973.
This is an X factor which is beyond natural phenomena, this is a x factor that enables an Abdul Hameed to destroy three tanks standing on a jeep, this is the x factor that enables a Jaswant Singh and two young girls Sela and Nura to hold the pass for five days against a Chinese division, this is the x factor which allowed a CRPF jawan to shoot down a Pakistani jet fighter with his bolt action rifle, what inspired the 123 jawans of Kumaon regiment to hold Rezang La killing thousands of Chinese who in the moment of finally capturing that position from Indians, saw something and suddenly announced unilateral ceasefire and retreated ending the War!!!, all of these things are true. All of these come to pass.
When the society takes care of its weakest and its worst, that is the society whose inner resolve is steeled, whose astras are made divyaastras, whose bolt action rifles become unfailing missiles, under whose jeep mounted guns, the abhedya unbreakable armor shatters, whose soldiers become Immortal and whose very spirits make the enemies quail before them. That was the final advice Bapu had given the government of Free India. Take care of the weakest, whatever may befall.