Shoorpanakha taunts Ravana for his un-kingly activities, by which his kingdom is going to face a calamitous situation soon. While gibing at him she narrates how a king, really fit for kingship, shall conduct the affairs of kingdom. She speaks many paradigms on which many commentaries are declined basing on kings and their vices.
This chapter vies with the 33rd chapter of Kishkindha Kanda in the attitudes of a king and his kingship. These two chapters, as detailed by ancient commentators, equally deal with raaja niiti shastra ‘political science’ and there in Kishkindha the only rescue to Sugreeva is Tara, who saves the face of Sugreeva before Lakshmana, whereas in here Ravana has none to come to his aid when chided by Shuurpanakha. Though Shoorpanakha is a sultry and harpy demoness, the Sage Valmiki has put some rational words on her tongue in forewarning Ravana.
ततः शूर्पणखा दीना रावणम् लोक रावणम् |
अमात्य मध्ये संक्रुद्धा परुषम् वाक्यम् अब्रवीत् || ३-३३-१
amaatya madhye saMkruddhaa paruSham vaakyam abraviit || 3-33-1
Then that doleful Shuurpanakha spoke these scornful words to Ravana who makes the world to wail in the presence of his ministers. [3-33-1] .
प्रमत्तः काम भोगेषु स्वैर वृत्तो निरंकुशः |
समुत्पन्नम् भयम् घोरम् बोद्धव्यम् न अवबुध्यसे || ३-३३-२
samutpannam bhayam ghoram boddhavyam na avabudhyase || 3-33-2
“Highly infatuated with lustful gratifications you are incontinent and unchecked, thus you are unobservant of a calamitous jeopardy that has surfaced, though you ought to be observant of it as a king. [3-33-2] .
सक्तम् ग्राम्येषु भोगेषु काम वृत्तम् महीपतिम् |
लुब्धम् न बहु मन्यन्ते श्मशान अग्निम् इव प्रजाः || ३-३३-३
lubdham na bahu manyante shmashaana agnim iva prajaaH || 3-33-3
“If a king deports himself in an overly self-assured manner, that too with self-serving motives, and clings only to dirty pleasures, he will be unhonoured by people as with a crematory fire. [3-33-3]
For those who are self-centred there will be no fear, no shame. artha aaturaaNaam na gurur na bandhuH | kaama aaturaaNaam na bhayam na lajja | kShudha aaturaaNaam na rucir na pakvam | vidya aaturaa Naam na sukham na nidraa — niiti shaastra ‘for money-mongers no venerable ones, no relative… for lust-mongers no fear, no shame… for food-mongers no taste, no proper baking… for education-mongers, no comfort, no sleep…’ morals.
स्वयम् कार्याणि यः काले न अनुतिष्ठति पार्थिवः |
स तु वै सह राज्येन तैः च कार्यैः विनश्यति || ३-३३-४
sa tu vai saha raajyena taiH ca kaaryaiH vinashyati || 3-33-4
“The king who will not deal with the concerns of kingdom, in person and on time, he and his kingdom and even those concerns of his kingdom will get ruined. [3-33-4]
This can also be expressed as: ssaH taiH kaaryaiH saha raajyena ca vinashyati ‘…by those very issues of kingdom, the king along with his kingdom gets ruined…’ because the major issue on hand is Rama and Lakshmana and they can ruin Ravana and his kingdom. Inordinate revelling in comforts and lust makes a king weak in body, mind, and time. The timely actions he is supposed to take do not come to mind because mind is weakened and benumbed. Then he is liable to believe his aids that may precisely land him into further troubles. Hence a king / ruler has to take actions and decisions personally, on time, duly remaining firm by his body and mind.
अयुक्त चारम् दुर्दर्शम् अस्वाधीनम् नराधिपम् |
वर्जयन्ति नरा दूरात् नदी पंकम् इव द्विपाः || ३-३३-५
varjayanti naraa duuraat nadii pa.nkam iva dvipaaH || 3-33-5
“If a king is inaccessible to spies for exchange of information, unavailable for subjects for an audience for a similar appraisal, more so if he is intemperately not able to impose self-discipline, people will eschew such a king from a distance as elephants will refrain themselves from the mud of river from a distance. [3-33-5]
Shuurpanakha knows that Ravana has spies all around, but she is also in the know that they are worthless fellows because they narrate mythologies after every thing is ruined, as was done by Akampana in the previous episode. There is none to caution him beforehand excepting herself, that is her confidence. So, she is haranguing Ravana to take immediate action, otherwise, there may be a mutiny or cold war in his kingdom, and his subjects may desert him during wartime, like Vibheeshana .
ये न रक्षन्ति विषयम् अस्वाधीना नराधिपः |
ते न वृद्ध्या प्रकाशन्ते गिरयः सागरे यथा || ३-३३-६
te na vR^iddhyaa prakaashante girayaH saagare yathaa || 3-33-6
“Which of those kings that will not safeguard their kingdoms by remaining in a self-restrained manner, they will not outshine advantageously, like mountains submerged under ocean. [3-33-6]
“Without keeping the kingdom under your personal control, you have shuffled the administration onto the ministers and army personnel like Khara, Duushana et al. And these figureheads alone become the tiderips, for they quarrel among themselves about the kingship of Lanka after your ruin, and they alone are floating like oceanic tides up above your head and thus you are a submerged sovereign. In any way, your doom is destined either by Rama, who is an imminent danger, or by your military managers, who are the in-built dangers.”
Ravana is no doubt mountainous in his wealth and prosperity but he is engulfed in the ocean called promiscuity, and as long as those waters of lust tiderip over his head he cannot surface himself .
आत्मवद्भिः विगृह्य त्वम् देव गंधर्व दानवैः |
अयुक्त चारः चपलः कथम् राजा भविष्यसि || ३-३३-७
ayukta caaraH capalaH katham raajaa bhaviShyasi || 3-33-7
“Externally you are belligerent with sensible gods, gandharva-s and other demons, and internally you are needful of intelligence agents, and such as you are, you are an erratic even, then how can you thrive as a king! [3-33-7]
Your enmity with the sensible gods will make them sensitive to be vigilant. And because there is a lack of intelligence or agents to you, added to it there is a lack of your own personal intelligence required for a king, and above all there is a lacking in the insistence of real kingship with you. Then, will not those gods take opportunity to hit you back, for everything is lacking in you, except lusting?’ .
त्वम् तु बाल स्वभावत् च बुद्धि हीनः च राक्षस |
ज्ञातव्यम् तु न जानीषि कथम् राजा भविष्यसि || ३-३३-८
GYaatavyam tu na jaaniiShi katham raajaa bhaviShyasi || 3-33-8
“Your bent is boyish and you are mindless, oh, demon, you are not able to know the knowable danger because you are carefree, and how do you thrive as a king! [3-33-8] .
येषाम् चारः च कोशः च नयः च जयताम् वर |
अस्वाधीना नरेन्द्राणाम् प्राकृतैः ते जनैः समाः || ३-३३-९
asvaadhiinaa narendraaNaam praakR^itaiH te janaiH samaaH || 3-33-9
“Oh, so-called best one among triumphant kings, those kings that do not retain spies, treasuries and strategies under their control, but vouchsafe them to others, they are of a piece with the peasantry. [3-33-9] .
यस्मात् पश्यन्ति दूरस्थान् सर्वान् अर्थान् नराधिपाः |
चारेण तस्मात् उच्यन्ते राजानो दीर्घ चक्षुषः || ३-३३-१०
caareNa tasmaat ucyante raajaano diirgha cakShuShaH || 3-33-10
“Oh, titular overlord of humans, only some can be called prescient kings because they see all the situations happening distantly through their spies. [3-33-10]
Though the spies bring in various pieces of information they are to be collated and analysed by the king. anena caareNa vyavahitaa api arthaa avashyam vicaaraNiiyaa iti suucitam – dk ‘so you neither have those intelligent spies nor the least intelligence required of a ‘prescient king’ thus your doom is certain.’ .
अयुक्त चारम् मन्ये त्वाम् प्राकृतैः सचिवैः युतः |
स्व जनम् च जनस्थानम् निहतम् न अवबुध्यसे || ३-३३-११
sva janam ca janasthaanam nihatam na avabudhyase || 3-33-11
“I believe that you have no spies worth their profession, yet you are associated with artless ministers worthy to worship you, hence you are incognisant of the ruination of all of your subjects in Janasthaana, including Janasthaana. [3-33-11] .
चतुर्दश सहस्राणि रक्षसाम् भीम कर्मणाम् |
हतानि एकेन रामेण खरः च सह दूषणः || ३-३३-१२
hataani ekena raameNa kharaH ca saha duuShaNaH || 3-33-12
“A single soul called Rama has eliminated fourteen thousand demons of dreadful deeds in Janasthaana, even Duushana is killed, even Khara is also killed. [3-33-12] .
ऋषीणाम् अभयम् दत्तम् कृत क्षेमाः च दण्डकाः |
धर्षितम् च जनस्थानम् रामेण अक्लिष्ट कारिणा || ३-३३-१३
dharShitam ca janasthaanam raameNa akliShTa kaariNaa || 3-33-13
“That indefatigable champion Rama gave security to the sages, rendered Dandaka forest safeguarded, and he put Janasthaana to rout. [3-33-13] .
त्वम् तु लुब्धः प्रमत्तः च पराधीनः च रावण |
विषये स्वे समुत्पन्नम् यो भयम् न अवबुध्यसे || ३-३३-१४
viShaye sve samutpannam yo bhayam na avabudhyase || 3-33-14
“On your part you are but selfish, hotheaded, and others like the appeasers of your lust, or these artless ministers, or those underpaid unfaithful spies hold you down, and such as you are, you are unperceptive of the calamity rising up against you in your own kingdom. [3-33-14] .
तीक्ष्णम् अल्प प्रदातारम् प्रमत्तम् गर्वितम् शठम् |
व्यसने सर्व भूतानि न अभिधावन्ति पार्थिवम् || ३-३३-१५
vyasane sarva bhuutaani na abhidhaavanti paarthivam || 3-33-15
“Should a king be overweening, an under-payer, an improvident, self-conceited, and dubious, all his subjects bid goodbye to such a king when he is in strife. [3-33-15] .
अतिमानिनम् अग्राह्यम् आत्म संभावितम् नरम् |
क्रोधिनम् व्यसने हन्ति स्व जनो अपि नराधिपम् || ३-३३-१६
krodhinam vyasane hanti sva jano api naraadhipam || 3-33-16
“Should a ruler be unduly self-conceited, self-centred, self-adulating and a spitfire too, his own kith and kin will ruin him when he is in distress. [3-33-16] .
न अनुतिष्ठति कार्याणि भयेषु न बिभेति च |
क्षिप्रम् राज्यात् च्युतो दीनः तृणैः तुल्यो भवेत् इह || ३-३३-१७
kShipram raajyaat cyuto diinaH tR^iNaiH tulyo bhavet iha || 3-33-17
“That king who does not officiate his good offices, nor un-panicked into panicky situations, he will be quickly overthrown from his kingdom, and on becoming a debased individual he will be equated with a piece of straw in this world. [3-33-17] .
शुष्क काष्ठैः भवेत् कार्यम् लोष्टैः अपि च पांसुभिः |
न तु स्थानात् परिभ्रष्टैः कार्यम् स्यात् वसुधाधिपैः || ३-३३-१८
na tu sthaanaat paribhraShTaiH kaaryam syaat vasudhaadhipaiH || 3-33-18
“Dried sticks, globs or the particles of dust are of some avail, but kings fallen from their position are of no avail. [3-33-18] .
उपभुक्तम् यथा वासः स्रजो वा मृदिता यथा |
एवम् राज्यात् परिभ्रष्टः समर्थो अपि निरर्थकः || ३-३३-१९
evam raajyaat paribhraShTaH samartho api nirarthakaH || 3-33-19
“As to how a used up raiment or a crumpled flower-tassel is meaningless, likewise a king derelict from his kingdom, though functional, is meaningless. [3-33-19] .
अप्रमत्तः च यो राजा सर्वज्ञो विजितेन्द्रियः |
कृतज्ञो धर्म शीलः च स राजा तिष्ठते चिरम् || ३-३३-२०
kR^itaGYo dharma shiilaH ca sa raajaa tiShThate ciram || 3-33-20
“Which king will be cautious, clever, conscientious, with his controlled senses, and thankful, that king survives for a long time. [3-33-20] .
नयनाभ्याम् प्रसुप्तो वा जागर्ति नय चक्षुषा |
व्यक्त क्रोध प्रसादः च स राजा पूज्यते जनैः || ३-३३-२१
vyakta krodha prasaadaH ca sa raajaa puujyate janaiH || 3-33-21
“He who keeps his mental eyes of wariness will be wakeful even though he slept well closing his physical eyes and he who will make his fury and favour evident to people without any concealment or cunningness, people will highly revere him as a king.
“He who keeps his mental eyes of wariness wakeful even though he sleeps fast closing his physical eyes, thus discarded are his fury and frenzy as well, because he knows as to who is to be treated furiously and who is to be favoured, and thus people will revere him as a judicious king. [3-33-21] .
त्वम् तु रावण दुर्बुद्धिः गुणैः एतैः विवर्जितः |
यस्य ते अविदितः चारैः रक्षसाम् सुमहान् वधः || ३-३३-२२
yasya te aviditaH caaraiH rakShasaam sumahaan vadhaH || 3-33-22
“But, oh, Ravana, because you are imprudent you are bereft of these merits, and such as you are, unknown is the very great massacre of demons to you, though not personally, but at least through your spies. [3-33-22] .
पर अवमंता विषयेषु संगवान्
न देश काल प्रविभाग तत्त्व वित् |
अयुक्त बुद्धिः गुण दोष निश्चये
विपन्न राज्यो न चिरात् विपत्स्यते || ३-३३-२३
na desha kaala pravibhaaga tattva vit |
ayukta buddhiH guNa doSha nishcaye
vipanna raajyo na ciraat vipatsyate || 3-33-23
“You are the humiliator of others, you hobnob only with your ravishes, and incognisant of the object for apportionment of time and place for your activities, as to when and where and how the things are to be dealt with. And, as you are not attending any kingly activity, or do not focus your mind in deciding rights and wrongs, thereby your kingdom will get ruined and you will be imperilled, not before long.” Thus Shuurpanakha declaimed Ravana about his worthlessness as a king. [3-33-23]
However self-sufficient and self-assured a king might be, he cannot underestimate rivalling kings as trivial, unilaterally. anena susamR^iddha raajyastho api raajaa etaiH doSaiH aciraat raajya bhrSTo bhavati iti – raaj~naa baliSTena api shatru durbala iti avamatiH na kartavyam ca suucitam – dk It is indicated that a king should be on his guard lest he will be overthrown, just because that king is associated with many un-kingly attitudes .
इति स्व दोषान् परिकीर्तिताम् तया
समीक्ष्य बुद्ध्या क्षणदा चरेश्वरः |
धनेन दर्पेण बलेन च अन्वितो
विचिन्तयामास चिरम् स रावणः || ३-३३-२४
samiikShya buddhyaa kShaNadaa careshvaraH |
dhanena darpeNa balena ca anvito
vicintayaamaasa ciram sa raavaNaH || 3-33-24
In this way when Shuurpanakha extolled only his negative traits, he that lord of night-walkers Ravana, who holds only his pride, power and prosperity dear to him, pored them over in his mind and contemplated over a time. [3-33-24] .