2 – Aryadeva: Four Hundred Verse Treatise on the Actions of a Bodhisattva’s Yoga
Four: Indicating Methods for Ridding Yourself of Grasping (at the Body as Having) an Impossible “Self” (about Which To Feel Pride)
(1) What hallowed (arhat) in the world
would develop arrogant pride
Thinking, “I (am king and this land is exclusively) mine”?
Why, because all lands are equally (used)
By everybody (on them).
(2) As a servant of the masses, having been apportioned
one-sixth (as your wage),
What is the reason for your arrogant pride?
Whatever (is to be done), you have to do that.
This comes from your having been (appointed) under their power.
(3) It’s vanity for a masterly (king) to think he’s a (generous) patron
When he gives (his people) what ought to be given,
Just as it would be for a masterly (employer) to think of himself as a patron
When he gives his workers (just) their due gain.
(4) Others (who are wise regard your prosperity and power)
as a situation of suffering,
But you (O King) regard it as the reverse.
You who must earn your livelihood by working (to protect) others,
How can this cause your happiness to grow?
(5) As protector of the world (if you feel you can be arrogant,
Well,) to be able to protect (the people,
even though you’re) the ruler of the land,
You have to be looked after (by those you protect).
Why then for one (petty reason) do you have arrogance?
Why aren’t you parted from arrogance because of the other (reason,
namely, that you have to be provided for)?
(6) Since among all the castes (everybody) gloats
at their own karma and work,
It’s difficult to find anyone who makes his livelihood
(without pride and attachment).
If, since (you share one-sixth of the people’s income),
you also receive (one-sixth of their) destructive (karmic debts),
Then, for you, an excellent rebirth shall be rare.
(7) Anyone who must do (whatever) others demand
Is known on this earth as a fool,
And there is no one else equal to you
In being under the control of others’ (wishes).
(8) If thinking, “The protection (of the people) depends on me,”
You (forcefully) extract tribute from the world
And (in the process) you yourself, in fact, commit negative deeds,
(such as by executing those who don’t pay),
Then who can be equal to this in unkindness?
(9) If it were improper to treat criminals kindly,
Then you shouldn’t protect
Any childish ordinary being (either, with kindness,
For they’ve all been naughty).
(10) As (treating others badly) can in no way be a cause
for enhancing your own happiness,
It doesn’t bring this about.
Although (you may justify killing animals, for instance,)
For reasons such as (it’s permitted
according to seemingly correct) scriptural authority,
Nevertheless, as it’s not something positive,
(your negative karmic debts) will have no end.
(11) If it were righteous for a ruler of a land to act (with cruelty),
Thinking, “I’m doing this (to provide the people
with) perfect protection,”
Then why wouldn’t deluded manufacturers (of weapons)
Also become righteous?
(12) A ruler of the land, (who thinks that) the world depends
on the ruler of the land (for its existence and maintenance),
Would be looked down upon (for his presumptuous pride).
The hallowed (aryas), for instance, see that the mother
(producing) the entire world
Is craving for existence (and not the king).
(13) Unless you are an (unscrupulous, power-crazed) fool,
you do not obtain a kingdom.
And since (such) fools have no kindness,
Then an unkind ruler of men, even if he’s their protector,
Cannot (be said to) abide in the Dharma.
(14) All the activities (permitted for a king
in the writings of) the rishi (non-Buddhist sages)
Haven’t been formulated by the most learned ones.
Why? Because among these (rishis)
There are inferior, middling and distinguished superior ones.
(15) In ancient times, the virtuous rulers of the land
Treated the people like (their own) children.
But the present-day ones,
Who rely on wartime philosophies,
Make (the land as desolate) as a wilderness of animals.
(16) If a king weren’t to have any negative karmic debts
From beating (a state enemy) when he had the chance,
Then neither would any other mugger
Have had such (karmic debts from his crimes) in the first place.
(17) As it’s not a (proper) offering to give away
all your possessions for drinks and the like,
How can you think it is a (proper) offering (bringing higher rebirth)
To give away your very own (life) in a battle?
(18) O king, as the protector of the world,
you yourself are completely protectorless.
As the nature of being a protector is (such
That with no one to restrain or advise you, you’re reckless
and) do not give up (the causes for a lower rebirth),
Who would be happy (to be a king)?
(19) O king, your fame (of being a severe ruler)
Will contribute nothing to your advantage, especially when you die.
It will be of no advantage at all,
(Otherwise) why do those who cook dogs (alive)
not (enjoy) a great reputation?
(20) As it is a fact that having authority over all (the kingdom)
Comes from positive karmic force (built up in past lives),
You can’t find anyone who would say,
“This (ordinary subject) cannot count on having authority
(in some future life, if he builds up the karma).”
(21) (After all) it’s related that castes (evolved) in this world
For all the methods of livelihood that were.
Therefore, for all limited beings, there are no (truly existing
And definite) caste divisions (from the beginning).
(22) A long time has passed (since caste divisions were first drawn)
And women’s minds are fickle (often bearing the children
of men of different castes).
Therefore, there isn’t anyone who is from a (definite, pure) caste
Who can say he’s (totally) of the royal caste.
(23) If activity (determined your caste)
Then even an outcaste, (by protecting others,) should be called
a member of the royal caste,
And by the activity (of reading the Vedas)
Why shouldn’t even an outcaste be considered to have become a brahmin?
(24) A king cannot distribute, as he can (the material fruits of his) authority,
His negative karmic debts (incurred in gathering this wealth).
Therefore, what wise person would destroy his future
For the sake of (some trivial) benefit to others?
Those who generate pride over their authority
Need to look at others who (also) have power –
Their equals or especially their superiors.
(Pride) doesn’t remain in the hearts of sublime ones
(who understand in this way).