28) Lord Rama’s Lesson to Lakshmana about the duties of a king in Agni Purana

Rama had once taught Lakshmana about the duties of a king. The Agni Purana now relates these precepts of Rama’s.

The duties of king are fourfold. Firstly, he has to earn wealth. Secondly, he has to increase it. Thirdly, he has to protect it. And fourthly and finally, he has to donate it. The king must also be polite and politeness comes through the conquering of the senses. The king must be humble. The senses are like mad elephants. If the senses are pampered, like mad elephants, they trample politeness and humility underfoot.

The king must also be non-violent, truthful, clean and forgiving. He should take care to observe all the rituals. He should give food to those who are poor. He should protect those who seek royal protection. He should always use words that are pleasant to hear. The body is here today and gone tomorrow. Stupid is the king who deviates form the path of righteousness to give pleasure to a body that is transient. The curses of unhappy people are enough to bring down a king.

There is only one difference between gods and animals. Gods use pleasant word, while animals use rough words. The king must use pleasant words like a god. And he must use pleasant words not only for those who are his friends or are good, but also for those who are his enemies or are evil. With obeisance the king pleases his guru, with good behavior the righteous, with duties the gods, with live the servants and with alms those who are inferior.

The kingdom has seven components. These are the king, the ministers, the friends, the treasury, the army, the forts and the state itself. Of these, the most important is the state and it has to be preserved at all costs. The king must be extremely careful in the choice of the ministers and the royal priest. The king must not choose or consult ministers who are stupid.

The king’s signs are his golden rod or scepter and an umbrella that is held over his head. The umbrella should be made of the feathers of swans, peacocks or cranes, but the feathers of different types of birds should not be mixed in the same umbrella. The throne should be made of wood and should be embellished with gold. A bow can be made of iron, horn or wood. The best bow is one that extends over four arm lengths. The king can spend up-to one year’s tax revenue on armaments and flags.

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