In which parva and in what context does Vyasa say the following shlokha in the Mahabharata?

You can listen to it here: https://clyp.it/bqm01ao5, I tried transliterating it as below.

yasmin yadAvartitavyO yOmanushyaha tasmin tadAvartitavyam sadharmaha mAyAcharo mAyayAvArarenah sAdhvachArah sAdhunA prathyupeyah

He's supposedly speaking on how to beat adharma with adharma.

  • IMO, "sadharmaha" ("s + adharma") may not contain "adharma". Usually "sa" comes full and doesn't come as "s" (half). Moreover, when it combines with "adharma", it becomes "sAdharma" & not "sadharma". But even "sAdharma" may not mean "adharma". See that word is used in BG 14.2, which translates it to "same nature" unanimously. This similar concept (beating "adharma" with "adharma") was referred in BRC MahAbhArata's Gita episode as well. But after reading Gita, I highly doubt if this can be true. Or if true, then beyond my understanding.
    – iammilind
    Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 5:10
  • 2
    Yes. Here is how Bibek Debroy translates this verse : "Whichever is the way in which a man behaves towards one’s own self, that is the conduct one should show towards him and this is dharma. Deceit should be used against those who are deceitful. Those who are virtuous must be repaid with virtuous conduct."
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 15:58
  • Not an answer but adds some value to the post. By some ppl, Shanti Parva is considered interpolation. It doesn't imply the content as wrong, but one should be careful. For instance, conducting "deceit against deceit" is NOT same as "adharma against adharma". Even in the case of "deceit", one should revert with "deceit" only if it's in one's nature / dharma [BG 3.35, 6.9]; but not otherwise (e.g. MahAtma Gandhi).
    – iammilind
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 6:01
  • @iammilind I agree deceit doesn't necessarily mean adharma. Actually, going by that standard much of MB is an interpolation i.e., not written or narrated by Vyasa himself but was expanded by his disciples to 100,000 verses. Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 16:16

1 Answer 1


The verse can be found in Shanti Parva chapter 110 and verse 26:

यस्मिन्यथा वर्तते यो मनुष्य: स्तस्मिंस्तथा वर्तितव्यं स धर्मः ।
मायाचारो मायया वर्तितव्य; साध्वाचार साधुना प्रत्युदय ।।

yasmin yathā vartate yo manuṣyas; tasmiṃs tathā vartitavyaṃ sa dharmaḥ ।
māyācāro māyayā vartitavyaḥ; sādhvācāraḥ sādhunā pratyudeyaḥ ।।

Translation from here:

One should treat another as the latter does to him. A deceitful person should be thwarted with deceit, while an honest man should be treated with honesty.

By the way, it's not Vyasa who said it but Bhishma who was responding to Yudhishtira's question:

How should a person act who wishes to follow virtue?

  • 1
    How did you manage to locate this verse so accurately!? This will help future visitors?
    – iammilind
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 6:03
  • 5
    Well I figured you correctly transcribed the first word "yasmin" so I searched the Unicode database of GRETIL for any occurence of "yasmin" at the beginning of any line. And GRETIL has only 18 pages containing the whole of Mahābhārata in Unicode, so it took me roughly 5 mintues to find the word "yasmin" followed by anything looking like "yadAvartitavyO yOmanushyaha" You can find the pages here: gretil.sub.uni-goettingen.de/gret_utf.htm Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 6:47
  • @GabeHiemstra This is regarding your suggestions on "edits". Let's discuss in this room. chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/50305/edit-suggestions
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 12:36

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