Ansushasan means governance via discipline. It is almost a continuation of the Shanti Parva (शांति पर्व).
The Parva starts with a scene of the battlefield, where Bhishma is lying on a bed of arrows shot by Arjun piercing his entire body. It also includes an narration of suffering of Bhishma on bed of arrows, where he was surrounded by sages and rishis such as Vashishta, Maitreya, Sanat Kumara, Valmiki, Kapila, Vyasadeva and Narada. This follows final instructions from Bhishma to Yudhisthir called Anushasan. Yudhisthir was still deeply grieved state. Bhishma consoled Yudhishthira, answered all his questions and helped him regain his former composure.
It consists of instructions of Bhishma and how he told Yudhisthir about 9 duties belonging to all 4 orders of society. These duties include:
- Maintenance of dependents
- Avoidance of quarrel
- Suppression of anger
- Begetting children by one’s own wife
It narrates the Varna (caste) system.
Bhishma went on to explain it to Yudhisthir the duty of a Kshatriya. According to him, Kshatriyas should never beg, but should acquire wealth by justifiably taxing the citizens. They should study the Vedas, but not engage in the profession of teaching. They should protect the citizens and should be ever ready to put forward his prowess on the battle field. To protect the citizens is a higher duty for a Kshatriya and the Parva also mentions that study of the Vedas and performance of sacrifice bring prosperity to a king. Bhishma also told Yudhisthir that a noble king should engage all the subjects in their occupational duties with regard to their order of life.
Anushasana Parva explains the fact that as per Bhishma, Vaishya and Sudras should also carry on their respective duties. A Vaishya is required to perform service and give in charity, study the Vedas, carry out sacrifices and acquire wealth by fair means. One of the foremost intentions of the Vaishya should be to protect all animals particularly the cow and the bull since they are regarded as the parents of all mankind in order to attain lasting prosperity. A shudra is given the duty of serving the other three orders with regard to seniority. This Parva speaks that by such service the Shudra would get happiness.
(to be continued)…