Sama, Daana, Danda and Bheda

Krishna Kills Kansa
“Sama Dana Danda Beda” are the four techniques that are available for use in order to solve any problem. These techniques are used daily, in the ordinary lives of people and not just influential or powerful individuals.

Srimad Bhagavatam 7.5.19 speaks about it. catustayam—the four diplomatic principles
  1. Saama, - the process of pacifying
  2. Daana, - the process of giving money in charity
  3. Danda, - the principle of dividing
  4. Bheda, - the principle of punishment
1. The first technique of Sama is to explain and peacefully solve the issue. Sama is used everywhere in a quarrel. Strangers, friends, family members all first try to peacefully sort out a problem by explanation and pacification. If this step fails, the next technique is Dana.

2. The second technique of Dana. The offering of compensation or bribe to have the task completed. More commonly used by parents, bureaucrats, and politicians to solve their issues:
  • Parents may entice their children with sweets or toys, to get the child to do something. Or they may pay for certain privileges so that the child does what they want.
  • Politicians use this technique to gather votes. By offering money, food, and several other items, politicians may try to buy the votes of the public.
  • Bureaucrats may bribe and buy out officials to overlook some practices, or to turn some potential deal in favor of the briber. It may also be done, to silence a person in some case or another.
3. The third is Danda or punishment. This involves some form of punishment, either physical or emotional to have a task accomplished. This technique is not recommended to be used for it has adverse ramifications, for both the victim and the oppressor.

Parents sometimes use physical punishment to correct a child, especially if the child does not listen to his parents’ words. Parents should only use this to bring the child on the correct path, not to terrorize or traumatize and scare the child for life.

Underworld gangsters and mafia dons use punishment to have some of their tasks done.
When all of the above fails, the final one is Beda. This is pure exploitation of the opposite person. Identifying, targeting and exploiting weaknesses of the opposite person, to have a job done. This technique is never supposed to be used, for it may have catastrophic consequences in the victim’s life.
A great example of where these four techniques were used at the same time is in the Mahabharata. When Krishna goes to the Kauravas to broker peace with the Pandavas and to avoid war, Krishna uses all four techniques to convince Duryodhan, the eldest Kaurava:
  • Using Sama, he asks for Duryodhana to return the entire kingdom of Indraprastha to Yudhishthira, as it was his right. Duryodhan disregarded this proposal.
  • When Sama failed, Krishna used Dana and asked Duryodhan to give 5 villages to the Pandavas, while keeping the rest of the kingdom. Duryodhan refused to give even 5 acres of land to the Pandavas.
Krishna then attempts Danda. Krishna takes Karna and tells him the truth about Karna’s birth and how Karna is the eldest of the Pandavas. Krishna asks Karna to side with the Pandavas in an attempt to convince Duryodhana. But when Karna refuses to due to (owing to benevolent actions by Duryodhana on Karna), the final option only remains.

4. The final technique of Bheda was the only option. War. The Pandavas declared war on their cousins, the Kauravas and then the battle was fought at Kurukshetra. The Kurukshetra war is deemed as one of mankind’s bloodiest battles ever fought. Complete annihilation of the Kaurava dynasty and millions of lives lost, only because a single man refused to part with material wealth and went to war with his own cousins.

All the four techniques of Sama, Dana, Danda, and Bheda are used daily, in various places at various times, depending on the circumstances. To see it, one must only observe and notice it. One should never use the last two methods to accomplish tasks, but rather only utilize the first of Sama or peaceful talks to achieve his goals.

NOTE: The Same Philosophy was Followed by Chanakya under Chanakya neeti.

By: Aditya Ramakrishnan

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