Legend has it that long ago there was a political unit called Uttam Desh stretching from modern-day Central Asia to deep into Central India. The unit was an autarchy ruled by Maharajdhiraj Parikshit.
It is not incorrect to say that Maharajdhiraj means an emperor of a geographically large and powerful nation.
Maharaja Parikshit's ancestors belonged to a race from the cold north who invaded the region south of their own habitats with superior weapons of mass destruction and consolidated their kingdom relatively quickly. Most of the natives fled south and lived as refugees, the descendants of whom established a large kingdom of their own called Madhya Desh within three centuries.
In common with the practice of militarily powerful imperialist countries, the Maharaja made up his own laws which had to be obeyed totally and immediately by adjacent kingdoms or face murder and misery by the soldiers of Uttam Desh and
possible annexation. Wishing to be the monarch of even a larger territory he had designs on Madhya Desh. His secret agents travelled far and wide and convinced people of Uttam Desh and those of other neighbouring kingdoms
that the Maharaja of Madhya Desh was a tyrant and a psychopath who treated his subjects as slaves and tortured them. As the head of the most powerful nation on earth, he will fail in his moral duty if he did not obey the principle of human rights and save the ordinary inhabitants of Madhya Desh from the tyranny of their ruler who must be eliminated as a first step.
Mahararajdhiraj Parikshit led his army to Madhya Desh , which comprised elephants, cavalry, charioteers and infantrymen. The Madhya Deshis fought with sticks and stones and were naturally soon crushed. Maharajdhiraj Parikshit summoned the citizens of the capital city of the conquered kingdom and forced them to watch as his soldiers beheaded 1,000 Madhya Deshis, chosen arbitrarily. Women and children were not spared either as the latter, the mighty emperor announced, will provide the country with future tyrants and commit autrocities on the Madhya Deshis.
Those 1,000 Madhya Deshis were summarily massacred. To punish the upper echelons he convened a tribunal of his senior military officers with himself as the chairman and included one Madhya Deshi to represent his new subjects. He said how
down-trodden the populace were! How
poverty-stricken! Yet the elite of the land were fat with affluence and influence. The silent majority had no justice, no recourse to a fair judicial system. He gave his verdict and the prospectus of punishment was announced for the Maharaja of Madhya Desh, his family and those who were employed to rule the people including the police and army such as it was:
(1) Death without torture. This
involved simple beheading or being
pushed from the edge of a cliff.
(2) Death with mild torture. The victim to
be given ten lashes before being
(3) Death with severe torture. The
victim's flesh to be ripped off
repeatedly with red hot tongs until
he became unconscious. He will
then be left in the sun without water
Maharaja Parikshit's projects never failed because he had loyal Generals and retinues who would carry out his orders to the letter. Madhya Desh was successfully annexed but the emperor wanted the conquered country to be rendered totally loyal to him and his succeeding generations by ethnic pollution. The people of Uttam Desh were reluctant to settle in a country whose population had a primitive way of living and the majority lived hand to mouth. There were also poor people in Uttam Desh who were forcibly settled in Madhya Desh by the police and army. Prisoners, of which there were thousands, were paroled provided they settled in the newly acquired territory; nearly all of them did.
Two large regions of Madhya Desh were separated into provinces and renamed to obliterate their identity and all records destroyed. The smallest third region was allowed to retain its name provided the original populace was numerically no more than 15% of the total in that region.
All this was achieved within a generation but simultaneously workers deforested the
Vindhya mountains which formed the southern boundary of once free and independent Madhya Desh. Trees were very important to both the powers- that- be of Uttam Desh and the average people who got used to profligate living. Wood was essential to manufacture chariots and howdahs, seats fastened to war elephants' backs. There was no other material which could provide with bows, arrows, shields and defensive fences for barracks. The populace needed wood for constructing houses, fuels and torches. The emperor wanted to start a navy now that he had access to the sea because of the annexation of what was Madhya Desh not so long ago. The navy needed good quality wood in large quantities.
Maharaja Parikshit had ministers, advisors, viceroys and many civil servants to govern Uttam Desh but Madhya Desh, while free, was divided into thousands of villages, each autonomous, but interdependent on others. They did not need an army because it was the first time they experienced invasion from a foreign power; it was a strange experience to lose their freedom and become a minority in a country which their forefathers established centuries ago.
As the Uttam Deshis settled, the indigenous Madya Deshis had to work as household servants, maids and labourers engaged in road building, felling trees and in agriculture. Those with enterprise, fled east to Purva Desh and many stayed back and ingratiated themselves to the conquerers and gained prominence as merchants, builders and even administrators in government institutions. They of course had to imitate the new masters in language, dress and culture. The remaining natives were allowed to follow their customs because their way of life was inexpensive, an example being their shamanic system of health care.
Nevertheless law and order were being infringed and soldiers and policemen ambushed and killed. The emperor, now
approaching his fifth decade was still an
enthusiastic imperialist. He had this evangelical zeal about Uttam Deshi culture and system of government. There was no other country in this whole world as advanced in science, technology, literature, music and system of government. He was surprised that the Madhya Deshis were unwilling to give up their primitive ways and convert in large numbers and become sophisticated and enlightened. Instead they were resorting to terrorism. They were fighting unfairly. For example, they will dig long and deep ditches in the ground and cover them up with twigs and branches from trees.As the war elephants and cavalry approached most of them, including infantrymen, will fall into the ditches.The insurgents or cowardly terrorists as they were defined by the rulers will fall upon them, armed with bamboo spears and rocks and kill those who were struggling in the ditches. They looted their weapons, shields and money and with time they became skilled in the use of weapons. Dozens of snipers would shoot down passing army and take possession of their horses, elephants, wagons and of course weapons including huge catapults to shoot flaming rocks.
The emperor was in a quandary and particularly disturbed to understand from his secret service that it had to be an Uttam Deshi with high military experience
who was leading the insurgents because the only weapons the Madhya Deshis were conversant with were bamboo staves and stones. Imagine burning a section of the royal palace with showers of flying rocks at speed! The insurgents were skilled bowmen now. Some of them were competent horsemen so that pitched battles at various parts of the occupied territory became a regular affair. To make matters worse, groups of men armed with swords and spears would attack unwary Uttam Deshi villagers and kill them. Throwing burning arrows on the thatched roofs of military barracks became so frequent that the generals had to employ hundreds of Madhya Deshi labourers to beat the fires out.
Maharajdhiraj Parikshit, a product of high civilisation and sophistication, executed prominent Madhya Deshis in public with and without torture. He ordered whole villages to be razed to the ground. His army was encouraged to rape, pillage and plunder to set examples. Nothing worked.
One doleful morning, one of the princes assumed command, upon his father's order, and mounted an assault on a well-armed group of insurgents. The chariots carrying armed archers moved towards the enemy line who had only bowmen with long bows. The arrows flew in formation and men dropped like flies on both sides. The chariots retreated and gave way to war-elephants and cavalry. The Madhya Deshi army lost men in unacceptable numbers. The elephants and horses moved back. The foot soldiers on both sides engaged with swords and knives. The Madhya deshis surrendered and their commander was taken away by the prince as a prisoner of war.
The Maharaja for some reason decided not to hold the usual ceremony of public trial in open air. He summoned the victorious prince and said, “I am impressed by the courage and tenacity, sense of discipline and fair play of the enemy combatants from the lengthy discourse you have given me about your engagement. You have now been working with the natives of this area for a long time. Apart from degrading and destroying the terrorists, it was your task to bring civilisation to these benighted barbarians. Have you succeeded?”
“No Maharaj,” replied the prince. “They stubbornly adhere to there own culture. I have put many of their leaders to death but they will not be frightened to submission.”
“Have you not told them about Agni,fire, orVayu,wind, our devatas? Have you told them about Indra, lightning, the chief of all devatas?” asked the Maharaja.
“I have,” replied the prince. “They showed me a statue, made of a special metal, of their devi. She is power,Shakti. They chant mantras and carry out complicated rituals on important occasions such as marriage, birth and death.” The prince added, “Their philosophers told me that the devi I saw was Prajna, wisdom, and there is a less prominently displayed male devata who is Upaya, method. They believe that the offshoot of the union of method and wisdom is cognition.”
Maharajdhiraj Parikshit probably did not understand. He stroked his beard, took a sip of wine from the full glass he was holding and muttered, “Cognition,Eh?”
The prince asked, “What about the prisoners?”
“Let them go” replied the Maharaja slowly.
“The leader of them?” asked a somewhat surprised prince. “Our intelligence says he is the one who organises all terrorist acts; from the petty ones such as digging trenches to combat such as the one we just encountered.What is the Raj Danda, the royal verdict, Maharaja of all maharajas?”
“Death,” answered the Maharaja without hesitation, “for a man so brave and skilful;
a swift death.”
The prince was sorrowful. Tears rolled down his cheeks. “Maharaj!” he pleaded on his knees. “He is my brother! Your son, the crown prince!”
Maharajdhiraj Parikshit stood up as the wine glass slipped away from his hand.
He announced gravely, “Death with severe torture,”