Once upon a time in Dvārakā, a brāhmaṇa’s wife gave birth to a child. Unfortunately, however, just after being born and touching the ground, the child immediately died. The brāhmaṇa father took the child and went directly to the palace of the King. The brāhmaṇa was very upset because of the untimely death of the child in the presence of his young father and mother. Thus his mind became very much disturbed. Formerly, when there were responsible kings, up to the time of Dvāpara-yuga, when Lord Kṛṣṇa was present, the king was liable to be blamed for the untimely death of a child in the presence of his parents. Similarly, such responsibility was there during the time of Lord Rāmacandra. As we have explained in the First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the king was so responsible for the comforts of the citizens that he was to see that there was not even excessive heat or cold. Now the brāhmaṇa whose child had died, thinking there was no fault on his own part, immediately went to the palace door with the dead child in his arms and accused the King as follows.
“The present King, Ugrasena, is envious of the brāhmaṇas!” The exact word used in this connection is brahma-dviṣaḥ. One who is envious of the Vedas, of a qualified brāhmaṇa or of the brāhmaṇa caste is called brahma-dviṣ. So the King was accused of being brahma-dviṣ. He was also accused of being śaṭha-dhī, falsely intelligent. The executive head of a state must be very intelligent to see to the comforts of the citizens, but according to the brāhmaṇa the King was not at all intelligent, although he was occupying the royal throne. Therefore the brāhmaṇa also called him lubdha, which means “greedy.” In other words, a king or an executive head of state should not occupy the exalted post of president or king if he is greedy and self-interested. But it is natural that an executive head becomes self-interested when he is attached to material enjoyment. Therefore, another word used here is viṣayātmanaḥ.
The brāhmaṇa also accused the King of being kṣatra-bandhu, which refers to a person born in the family of kṣatriyas, or the royal order, but lacking the qualifications of a royal personality. A king should protect brahminical culture and should be very alert to the welfare of his citizens; he should not be greedy due to attachment to material enjoyment. If a person with no qualifications represents himself as a kṣatriya of the royal order, he is not called a kṣatriya but a kṣatra-bandhu. Similarly, if a person is born of a brāhmaṇa father but has no brahminical qualification, he is called brahma-bandhu or dvija-bandhu. This means that a brāhmaṇa or a kṣatriya is not accepted simply by birth. One has to qualify himself for the particular position; only then is he accepted as a brāhmaṇa or a kṣatriya.
Thus the brāhmaṇa charged that his newly born baby was dead due to the disqualifications of the King. The brāhmaṇa took it to be most unnatural, and therefore he held the King responsible. We also find in Vedic history that if a kṣatriya king was irresponsible, sometimes a consulting board of brāhmaṇas maintained by the monarchy would dethrone him. Considering all these points, it appears that the post of monarch in the Vedic civilization is a very responsible one.
The brāhmaṇa therefore said, “No one should offer respects or worship to a king whose only business is envy. Such a king spends his time either hunting and killing animals in the forest or killing citizens for criminal acts. He has no self-control and possesses bad character. If such a king is worshiped or honored by the citizens, the citizens will never be happy. They will always remain poor, full of anxieties and aggrievement, and always unhappy.” In modern politics the post of monarch has been abolished, and the president is not held responsible for the comforts of the citizens. In this Age of Kali, the executive head of a state somehow or other gets votes and is elected to an exalted post, but the condition of the citizens continues to be full of anxiety, distress, unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
The brāhmaṇa’s second child also died at birth, and the third also. He had nine children, who all died at birth, and each time he came to the gate of the palace to accuse the King. When the brāhmaṇa came to accuse the King of Dvārakā for the ninth time, Arjuna happened to be present with Kṛṣṇa. On hearing that a brāhmaṇa was accusing the King of not properly protecting him, Arjuna became inquisitive and approached the brāhmaṇa. He said, “My dear brāhmaṇa, why do you say that there are no proper kṣatriyas to protect the citizens of your country? Is there not even someone who can pretend to be a kṣatriya, who can carry a bow and arrow at least to make a show of protection? Do you think that all the royal personalities in this country simply engage in performing sacrifices with the brāhmaṇas but have no chivalrous power?” Thus Arjuna indicated that kṣatriyas should not sit back comfortably on the pretext of performing Vedic rituals but must rather be very chivalrous in protecting the citizens. Brāhmaṇas, being engaged in spiritual activities, are not expected to do anything which requires physical endeavor. Therefore, they need to be protected by the kṣatriyas so that they will not be disturbed in the execution of their higher occupational duties.
“If the brāhmaṇas feel unwanted separation from their wives and children,” Arjuna continued, “and the kṣatriya kings do not take care of them, then such kṣatriyas are to be considered no more than stage players. In dramatic performances in the theater, an actor may play the part of a king, but no one expects any benefits from such a make-believe king. Similarly, if the king or the executive head of a state cannot give protection to the head of the social structure, he is considered merely a bluffer. Such executive heads simply live for their own livelihood while occupying exalted posts as chiefs of state. My lord, I promise that I shall give protection to your children, and if I am unable to do so, then I shall enter into blazing fire so that the sinful contamination which has infected me will be counteracted.”
Upon hearing Arjuna speak in this way, the brāhmaṇa replied, “My dear Arjuna, Lord Balarāma is present, but He could not give protection to my children. Lord Kṛṣṇa is also present, but He also could not give them protection. There are also many other heroes, such as Pradyumna and Aniruddha, carrying bows and arrows, but they could not protect my children.” The brāhmaṇa directly hinted that Arjuna could not do that which was impossible for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He felt that Arjuna was promising something beyond his power. The brāhmaṇa said, “I consider your promise to be like that of an inexperienced child. I cannot put my faith in your promise.”
Arjuna then understood that the brāhmaṇa had lost all faith in the kṣatriya kings. Therefore, to encourage him, Arjuna spoke as if criticizing even his friend Lord Kṛṣṇa. While Lord Kṛṣṇa and others were listening, he specifically attacked Kṛṣṇa by saying, “My dear brāhmaṇa, I am neither Saṅkarṣaṇa nor Kṛṣṇa nor one of Kṛṣṇa’s sons like Pradyumna or Aniruddha. My name is Arjuna, and I carry the bow known as Gāṇḍīva. You cannot insult me, for I have satisfied even Lord Śiva by my prowess when we were both hunting in the forest. I had a fight with Lord Śiva, who appeared before me as a hunter, and when I satisfied him by my prowess he gave me the weapon known as Pāśupata. Do not doubt my chivalry. I shall bring back your sons even if I have to fight with death personified.” When the brāhmaṇa was assured by Arjuna in such exalted words, he was somehow or other convinced, and thus he returned home.