Science of Governance by Swami Dayanand Saraswati

  • By Swami Dayanand Saraswati
  • March 2001

Taxes and War        

Manu - “Let the king in conjunction with the Assembly, after full consideration, so levy taxes in his dominions as to ensure the happiness of both the rulers and the ruled. Let the king draw an annual revenue from his people little by little just as the leech, the suckling calf and the bee take their food little by little. Let him not, through extreme covetousness, destroy the very roots of his own and others, happiness, since he, who cuts off the roots of happiness and temporal prosperity, brings nothing but misery on himself as well as on others.
 The king who can be both gentle and stern as occasion demands is highly honored if he is gentle to the good and stern towards the wicked.

 Having thus arranged the affairs of the State let him devote himself to the protection and welfare of his people with diligent attention. Know that king as well as his ministers to be dead, not alive, the lives and property of whose subjects are violently taken away by ruffians whilst they lament and cry aloud for help. Great shall be his suffering. Promotion of the happiness of their subjects, therefore, is the highest duty of kings. The king who discharges this duty faithfully, levies taxes and governs the country with the helps of the Assembly enjoys happiness, but he who does otherwise is afflicted with misery and suffering.”

Manu - Let the king rise in the last watch of the night, have a wash, meditate on God with his whole attention, perform Homa, pay his respects to the devoutly learned men, take his meal and enter the audience chamber. Let him standing there show respect to the people present. Having dismissed them, let him take counsel with his Prime Minister on state affairs. Thereafter let him go out for a walk or a ride, seek the top of a mountain wilderness, where there is not even the tiniest tree (to hide a person), or a sequestered house and discuss (state affairs) with him in all sincerity.

 “That king whose profound thoughts other men even though combined cannot unravel, in other words, whose thought are deep, pure, centered on public good, and hidden shall rule the whole earth, even though poor. Let him never do even a single thing without the approval of the Assembly.”

Manu - “The king and other person in authority should keep it in view that it is their duty to adopt after due deliberation one of the following six measures as occasion demands: -

1. Remaining passive.
2. Marching to action.
3. Making peace with the enemy.
4. Declaring war against wicked enemies.
5. Gaining victory by dividing his forces.
6. Seeking the protection of or alliance with a powerful king when a ruler is weak.

Let the king thoroughly acquaint himself with the twofold nature of each of these measures: -

 The two kinds of peace with the enemy are - (1), the contracting parties act in conjunction, and (2) they act apart. But let the king always go on doing whatever is necessary for the present or will be required for the future.

 War is of two kinds:- (1) When it is waged on account of an injury to himself, and (2) when it is waged on account of a injury to a friendly power or an ally in season or out of season.

 Remaining quiet is of two kinds-firstly, when it is done when the king’s own power is weakened through some cause, and secondly, when he remains quiet on the advice of his ally.

 To divide one’s force-rank and life-into two sections in order to gain victory is called the Division of the force.

 Seeking the protection of or alliance with a powerful ruler or the advice of a great man in self-defence when threatened by an enemy or when on the offensive is the twofold Protection or Alliance.

 When a king ascertains that by going to war at the present time he will suffer, whilst by waiting and going to war at some future time he will certainly gain in power and vanquish his enemy, let him, then make peace with him and patiently wait for that favorable opportunity.

 When he finds his people and the army considerable happy, prosperous and full of spirits and himself the same, let him then declare war against his foe.

When he knows his own troops to be contented, cheerful and fit well fed, we-nourished and well-clothed, etc., -and those of his enemy the reverse, let him then attack or march against his foe.

 When he finds his foe much stronger than himself, let him accomplish his object by doubling or dividing his force.

 When it becomes clear to him that his enemies will soon march against him, let him then seek speedily the protection of or alliance with, a just and powerful king.

 Let a king serve him who would help him in restoring order among his people or in keeping his army under control or his enemy in check, as he would, his teacher-temporal and spiritual. But if he finds his protector or ally full of evil designs, let him then fight him too fearlessly.

 Let him never be hostile to a king who is just and virtuous. On the other hand, let him always be on friendly terms with him. All the aforesaid measure are to be adopted in order to vanquish a wicked man who is in power.”

Manu - “Let a king who is true statesman, adopt such measures that neither his allies, neutral powers, nor his foes may grow in power or gain any great advantage over him.

 Let him thoroughly deliberate over the advantages and disadvantages of his past actions, his present and future duties. Then let him strive to ward off evils and promote good results. That king shall never be vanquished by his enemies who can foresee the good and evil results likely to follow from the measures that he would adopt in the future, who acts according to his convictions in the present without delay and knows his failings in the past.

 Let a statesman, especially the king, viz., the President of the Assembly, so endeavor that the power of his allies, natural powers and foes may be kept within limits and not otherwise. Never should he be negligent of this. This alone is, in brief, true statesmanship.”

Manu - “Before a king begins his march against his enemy, let him secure the safety of his dominions, provide himself with all that is necessary for the expedition, take the necessary number of troops, carriages and other conveyances, weapons, fire-arms, etc and dispatch his spies in all quarters. Having seen that all the three ways-by land, on water and through air-are clear and well secured, let him travel on land by means of cars, on foot, on horseback, or on elephants, on water by boats, and through air by air-ships and the like, well provide himself with infantry, cavalry elephants cars, weapons of war, provisions and other necessary things, and proceed gradually towards the chief city of the enemy having first given out some reason for his march.

In his conversation let him be well on his guard against, and keep a strict watch on the movements of a man who is inwardly a friend of the enemy and privately gives him information, whilst outwardly keep with him also on friendly terms; because he who is inwardly an enemy and outwardly a friends must be looked upon as the most dangerous foe.

 Let the king see that all officers learn the science and art of war, as well as he himself and other people. It is only those warriors who are well experienced in the art of war that can fight well on the field of battle. Let them be well drilled in the following various dispositions: -

1. Marching troops in file.
2. Marching troops in column.
3. Marching troops in square.
4. Marching troops at the double.
5. Marching troops in Echelon.
6. Advancing in skirmishing order.

Let him extend his troops to the flank from which he apprehends danger like a lotus flower.

Let him keep his troops with their Commanders on four sides and himself in the centre. Let him place his Generals, and Commanding Officers with their brave troops in all the eight directions. Let him turn his front towards the fighting. He must also have his flanks and rear well guarded, otherwise, the enemy may attack him on these positions. On all sides let him station those soldiers who are well-trained in the art of war, firm in their places like the pillars of a roof, virtuous, clever in charging and sustaining a charge, fearless and faithful.

 When he has to fight an enemy superior to himself in numbers, let him then arrange his troops in close formation or quickly deploy as occasion demands. When he has to fight his way into a city, a fort or the ranks of his enemy, let him arrange hie troops in various forms of military array, such as marching them in Echelon or in the form of a double-edged sword that cuts both ways; let them fight as well as advance. Before artillery or musketry fire let him order his troops to crawl like snakes till they get near the guns, shoot or capture the gunners and turn those very guns on the enemy or shoot him with his rifles. Or let him make old soldiers run on horses before the guns, keep good soldiers in the middle and thus attack the enemy. Let him shoot the enemy, scatter his forces or capture them by a vigorous assault.

 On level ground let him fight on foot, on horseback, or in cars, on sea in men-of-war, in shallow water on elephants, among trees and bushes with arrows. And in sandy places with swords and shields.

 When his troops are engaged in fighting, let him cheer and encourage them. At the close of a battle let him gladden the hearts of those who have distinguished themselves, by making nice speeches, providing them with everything they need, looking after their comfort, and helping them in every other way. Let him never engage in a fight without forming his troops into the necessary array of battle. Let him always watch the behavior of his troops and see whether they discharge their faithfully or not.

 Let him. If occasion arises surround the enemy and detain him, harass his country, and cut off his supply of grass, water, food and fuel.

 Let him destroy the reservoirs, city walls, and trenches of his enemy, alarm him by night, and adopt other measures to vanquish him.

 Having conquered his foe let him have a treaty signed by him. Let him, if necessary, depose him from the throne and appoint another righteous man from the same dynasty as king, and have a document signed by him to the effect that the would carry out his orders, in other-words that he would adopt a just system of Government, serve his people and protect them. Let him give him the aforesaid advice and leave such men with him as would prevent any further disturbance.

 Let him honor his vanquished foe with the gifts of gems and other valuable presents. Let him not behave so meanly as to deprive him even of his subsistence. Even if he were to keep him as his prisoner, let him show him such respect as may free him from the sorrow consequent on his defeat and make his life happy; because the seizure of other’ property in this world gives rise to hatred, whilst the bestowal of gifts on others is the cause of love. Let him especially do the right for him at the right moment, it is a laudable thing to give the vanquished foe what is his heart’s desire.

 Let him never taunt him, nor laugh at him, nor poke fun at him, not even remind him of his defeat. Instead let him always show him respect by addressing him as his own brother.”

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