SB 1.9 - Dāna-dharma and Rāja dharma

Bhīṣma then explained acts of charity (dāna-dharma), the activities of a king (raja-dharma) and activities for salvation (mokṣa-dharma). Then he described the duties of women (strī-dharma) and devotees (bhagavad-dharma) both briefly and extensively.

A student should perform sacrifices, a householder should give charity, and a person in the retired or renounced life should practice penance and austerity. In the brahmacārī life training is given to understand that the world is the property of the Lord. Thus in the householder life one must give in charity for the service of the Lord. Our energy which is borrowed from the Lord’s energy must be returned to the Lord. The Lord says in Bhagavad-gītā that whatever we do, whatever penance we undergo, whatever we sacrifice, whatever we eat or whatever we give in charity must be offered to Him. That is the way of using our borrowed energy.

Rāja dharma is a great science, unlike modern diplomacy for political supremacy. The kings were trained to become munificent and lead the subjects to attain salvation. In modern days people get power by the strength of manipulated votes but are never trained in the primary duties of a ruler. They become rogues and thieves and increase the tax burden of the people. The brāhmaṇas are meant to give direction to the kings for proper administration in terms of the scriptures. A typical king is the ideal of the people in general, and if the king is pious, religious, chivalrous and munificent, the citizens generally follow him. The kings of Vedic culture were exemplary in punishing the miscreants without resorting to so-called ahiṁsā. In terms of tax, the kings would collect one fourth of one’s wealth, and due to an abundance of natural wealth, no one was materially unhappy. The kings selected his ministers according to qualifications. They saw to the welfare of the tapasvīs, who disseminated spiritual knowledge. The king would give special protection to the illiterates, the helpless and the widows.