Political Sociology: A Reader

By S. N. Eisenstadt | Go to book overview

letter, lovely in its beginning, lovely in its middle, lovely in its end, and he will live the pure life of celibacy in all its completeness, just as I do now. But he will have thousands of monks as his followers, where I have only hundreds.


NOTES
1.
A Universal Emperor (Pāli, Cakkavatti; Skt. Cakravartin) is a figure of cosmic significance, and corresponds on the material plane to a Buddha on the spiritual. thus, according to the legend of the Buddha, it was prophesied at the birth of Siddhārtha Gautama that he would either become a Buddha or a Universal Emperor. Universal Emperors invariably have the Seven Jewels, which are perfect specimens of their kinds, and are the magical insignia of their owners. The Woman is of course the chief queen. In most lists the Crown Prince takes the place of the Householder.
2.
The Universal Emperor is not thoroughly adapted to the ethics of Buddhism, and though he conquers by force of character even the Buddhist author cannot disconnect him wholly from the usual militancy of the Indian king.
3.
These are the five precepts which all Buddhist laymen must do their best to follow.

37
The Conduct of Kingship

Kai Ka'us Ibn Iskandar

If you become king some day, my son, be Godfearing; keep eye and hand away from other Muslims' women-folk and let your robe be unspotted, for the unspotted robe means unspotted religion. In every undertaking let your own opinion be wisdom's servitor, and, in every task you propose, first consult with wisdom, for wisdom is the king's prime minister. As long as you see any possibility of leisurely action avoid haste; and, whenever you propose to enter upon an undertaking, first ascertain the way by which you will emerge from it—before you have considered the end, do not consider the beginning.

Be circumspect; where an undertaking can succeed only with the exercise of circumspection, embark upon it only circumspectly. Never consent to injustice and scrutinize every deed and word with the eye of discrimination, so that you may be able to distinguish the true from the false in all matters. If a king fails to keep the eye of discrimination and wisdom open, the way of truth and falsehood will not be revealed to him.

Be ever one that speaks the truth, but speak rarely and laugh rarely, so that those subjects to your sovereignty may not become emboldened against you. It has been said that the worst auguries for a king are audacity in his subjects, disobedience

amongst his retainers and the failure of his rewards to reach those who have earned them.

Expose yourself to the general gaze only rarely, and so prevent yourself from becoming a spectacle commonplace in the eyes of your troops and people, taking heed not to esteem yourself too poorly. Be merciful towards God's creatures, but be merciless against them that exercise no mercy; maintain stern discipline, more especially with your vizier, towards whom you should in no circumstances show yourself mild-mannered. Never be completely dependent upon his counsel. Hearken to what he has to say about persons or about the courses to be taken in any affair, but do not make an immediate reply. Say, "Let us consider the matter, after which we will issue appropriate commands." Then make inquiry into the circumstances of the case to ascertain if it is your welfare he is seeking or his own benefit, and when all is known to you give him such reply as you think proper. Thus he will be unable to regard you as being governed by his views.

Whether you are young or elderly, have an old man as your vizier and do not grant the vizierate to a young man.... Whoever it is upon whom you bestow the vizierate, grant him full powers in his office to ensure that progress in the affairs of your kingdom shall not be hindered. Be generous towards his kinsmen and adherents to the extent that there shall be no parsimony in any provision made for them or in any largesse granted them. But never

____________________
From Kai Ka'us Ibn Iskandar, A Mirror for Princes, ed. and trans. by Reuben Levy (London: Cresset Press, 1951), pp. 222-226. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

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