ANCIENT INDIAN POLITICAL ECONOMY
ANCIENT INDIAN POLITICAL ECONOMY

ANCIENT INDIAN POLITICAL ECONOMY

 

ECONOMÍA POLÍTICA DE LA ANTIGUA INDIA

 

Ratan Lal Basu  rlbasu@rediffmail.com

Presidency College, Calcutta & University of Calcutta, India.

 

Cómo citar este artículo / Citation: Basu R. L. (2023). Ancient Indian Political Economy. Revista Científica Arbitrada de la Fundación MenteClara, Vol. 8 (326). DOI: https://doi.org/10.32351/rca.v8.326

Copyright: © 2023 RCAFMC. Este artículo de acceso abierto es distribuido bajo los términos de la licencia Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0). Recibido: 12/02/2023. Aceptado: 14/02/2023 Publicación online: 15/02/2023

 

Conflicto de intereses: None to declare.

 

Abstract

We publish the following document by Dr. Ratan Basu as a jewel worth preserving to have a clearer vision of the history of India and how the social, political and economic forms developed. Based on the ancient Indian traditions of the indigenous sources of the story that are scattered in the Vedas, Puranas, the epics -Rāmāyana and Mahābhārata-, Buddhist texts, Jains and rock excavations and inscriptions as sources of information, it broadens the focus of his research since when it comes to chronological history - as we generally understand by the term "history" - the ancient Indian texts hardly provide a coherent idea. That is why it includes in this document foreign authors from Escílax de Carianda through Greek, Chinese, Christian authors up to the beginning of the 20th century.

This systematic and in-depth investigation is essential to understand the origins and sources of the first manuscript found of the Pancha Tantra dated at the dawn of the 11th century, which give a complete account of the society, economy and politics of ancient India so that scholars in tantric philosophy they can establish with greater precision and scientific rigor the category "tantrism" as a source of the emancipatory movements that culminated in the constitution of 1949 and article 15 motorized among others by B.R. Ambedkar.

 

Resumen

Publicamos el siguiente documento del Dr. Ratan Basu como una joya digna de preservarse para tener una visión más clara de la historia de la India y cómo fueron desarrollándose las formas sociales, políticas y económicas. Basado en las tradiciones indias antiguas de las fuentes autóctonas de la historia que se encuentran dispersas en los Vedas, Puranas, las epopeyas -Rāmāyana y Mahābhārata-, textos budistas, jainistas y las excavaciones e inscripciones rupestres como fuentes de información, amplía el foco de su investigación ya que en lo que respecta a la historia cronológica -como generalmente entendemos por el término "historia"-, los textos indios antiguos apenas brindan una idea coherente. Es por eso que incluye en este documento autores extranjeros desde Escílax de Carianda pasando por autores griegos, chinos, cristianos hasta principios del siglo XX.

Es fundamental esta investigación sistemática y profunda, para comprender los orígenes y las fuentes del primer manuscrito hallado del Pancha Tantra datado en los albores del siglo XI que dan cuenta acabada de la sociedad, la economía y la política de la antigua India para que los eruditos en filosofía tántrica puedan establecer con mayor precisión y rigor científico la categoría “tantrismo” como fuente de los movimientos emancipadores que culminaron con la constitución del 1949 y el artículo 15 motorizados entre otros por B.R. Ambedkar.

 

Keywords: ancient history of India; political; economy

Palabras Claves: historia Antigua de la India; política; economía


 

ANCIENT INDIAN POLITICAL ECONOMY

RATAN LAL BASU

CONTENTS

Introduction

Sources of Ancient Indian Tradition

Genesis of Śāstra Literature

Mahābhārata

Arthaśāstras of Kauṭilya

Manusmṛti

Chapter Division

End Notes

References and Bibliography

Appendix: English Excerpts from the Text

Use of Italics

 

PART-I

POLITICAL ECONOMY IN MAHĀBHĀRATA

Chapter-1: Economic Concepts in Mahābhārata

Revenue Administration

Division of Labour

Chapter-2: Political Concepts in Mahābhārata

Concept of Divine Origin of the King

Virtues of the Ideal King

Duties of the King

Recruitment of Government Officials

Modern Relevance

 

 

PART-II

POLITICAL ECONOMY IN ARTHAŚĀSTRA

Chapter-3: Significance of Arthaśāstra

Place and Importance of Arthaśāstra among Ancient Indian Śāstras

Discovery of the Manuscript of Arthaśāstra

Political, Administrative and Legal Systems

Comparisons

Kauṭilya’s World Outlook

Historicity of Arthaśāstra

Chapter-4: Economic Concepts in Arthaśāstra

Environment and Ecology

Empowerment of Women

Price Policy

Agriculture and Land Use

Craft Industries

Role of the State Sector

Taxation and Fiscal Policy

Division of Labour

Chapter-5: Political Concepts in Arthaśāstra

Maṇḍala Theory

Power of the King

Concept of Ideal King

Concept of Daṇḍa

Chapter-6: Espionage in Arthaśāstra – Internal

Introduction

Essence of Arthaśāstra Espionage: Human Vices and Weaknesses

Types of Spies and Their Functions

Test of Ministers and Government Officials

Punishing Treasonable Officials by Devious Means

Stratagem against Princes or Officials Going to Join the Enemy

Dangers from Officers in the Outer Region and the Interior

Spy Network for the Citizens

Apprehending and Punishing Criminals

 

Chapter-7: Espionage in Arthaśāstra – External

Foreign Policy and Circle of Kings

Four Methods to Conquer the World

All Embracing Spy-Network in the Maṇḍala

Winning the Seducible in Enemy Camp

Deceptive Peace Treaty and its Violation

Creating Dissentions in the Circle of Kings

Stirring up the Circle of Kings

Sowing Dissensions among Tribal Republics and Oligarchies

Counter Espionage

Chapter-8: Espionage Related to War in Arthaśāstra

Introduction

Instilling Superstitious Fear in the Enemy Camp

Assassination of the Enemy’s Army Chiefs

Destruction of Enemy Supplies and Reinforcements

Killing the Enemy King by Deceit

Overreaching the Enemy with Trickery

Capturing the Enemy’s Fort

Drawing Out the Enemy King by Tricks

Entering Enemy’s Fort by Stratagem

Seizure and Storming of Enemy’s Fort

Pacification of the Conquered Territory

  

PART-III

POLITICAL ECONOMY IN MANUSMṚTI

Chapter-9: Economic Concepts in Manusmṛti

Environment and Ecology

Women's Property Rights

Price Policy

Agriculture

Craft Industries

State Sector, Taxation and Fiscal Policy

Division of Labour

Chapter-10: Political Concepts in Manusmṛti

Introduction

Qualities of the Ideal King

Daily Routine of an Ideal King

The Daṇḍanῑti

 

 

Introduction

Sources of Ancient Indian Tradition

Indigenous sources of ancient Indian history and traditions are scattered in the Vedas, Puranas (texts of Indian mythology), the Epics (Rāmāyana and Mahābhārata), the Dharmaśāstras, Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya (no other Arthaśāstra has yet been discovered), and Buddhist and Jain texts. The excavations and rock inscriptions are other sources of information. However, so far as chronological history (as we generally mean by the term ‘history’) is concerned ancient Indian texts hardly provide any coherent idea. It appears that the ancient Indian authors were concerned more with delineating teachings and guidelines for both mundane life and spiritual life than writing chronological history. So, anyone interested in having a coherent idea about ancient Indian history is to look into the writings of foreign authors.

Greek authors like Scylax, Hecataeus, Herodotus, Ctesias, Photius, Nearchus, Strabo, Onesicritus, Diogenes, Kleitarchus, and Megasthenes (fragments of his Indika survive in the works of Strabo, Arrian and Diodorus) provide valuable information about ancient Indian history and traditions.

“Christian Topography” of Cosmas, writings of Pliny, of various Chinese authors and the treatise “Periplus of the Erythraean Sea” by an unknown Greek sailor contain much important information on ancient India (McCrindle, 1896, 1901; Cosmas; Megasthenes; Periplus; Strabo). But it is very difficult to piece together the fragments of information obtained from diverse sources and construct a coherent history of ancient Indian tradition.

However, if our interest concerns primarily with guidelines for real life activities as well as spiritual activities, keeping aside chronological history and looking into knowledge (both theoretical and practical) with no temporal significance, ancient Indian texts are vast oceans of enlightenment. In our study we are interested only in the real world activities and not the spiritual aspects as delineated in ancient Indian literature. So, let us look into the real life activities the most important of which are economics and politics. All mundane activities of human living are dependent on activities related to these two vital disciplines.  .

The detailed account of ancient Indian Political and Economic ideas are to be found in the four Vedas (Ṛgveda, Sāmveda, Yājurveda and Atharvaveda), various Upaniṣadas, the six Vedic philosophies (Vedānta of Bādarāyana, Nyāya of Gautama, Mῑmāṃsa of Jaiminῑ, Yoga of Pātanjali, Sāṃkha of Kapila and Vaiśeśika of Kaṇāda), the two great epics (Rāmāyana and Mahābhārata), Smṛtis or Dharmaśāstras, Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya, various Buddhist and Jain texts.

It is, however very difficult to specify the ages of the above-mentioned śāstras. In this regard there is considerable difference between the opinions of the Indian scholars and that of the Western scholars. On the basis of a class of historians, especially the Western school, it may be presumed that almost all of the ancient Indian śāstra literature (at least their original versions, which were re-written several times later on) had been composed in between 1000 B.C. and 200 B.C. But the historians with Indian world outlook hold that they are of much earlier origin, although they admit that they were re-written several times according to the needs of changing time and objective conditions of the country.

 

Genesis of Śāstra Literature

There were gigantic all-round intellectual efforts by a number of exceptionally competent post-Vedic Brāhmaṇa scholars who endeavoured to touch upon all conceivable aspects of human living in this mundane world and beyond, and to elaborate and analyze them in terms of Vedic world outlook. These efforts resulted in the accumulation of a vast body of knowledge. Out of these sources, all branches of śāstras and philosophies evolved and flourished in course of time. Chapter-59, Verses 29-74 of the Śāntiparvam of the Mahābhārata mentions the original source in the following mythical anecdote:

To start with, men were pious although they did not have any king or the rod of punishment. But in course of time they were afflicted with greed and other vices. This perturbed the gods who appealed to the creator, Brahmadeva, for devising some means to bring men back to the path of virtue. In response, the creator wrote a comprehensive manual with 100,000 chapters for man’s guidance.

The book dealt with all aspects of human living, e.g. the trivarga of dharma, artha and kāma, and emphasized four distinct subjects of studies, viz., trayi (Vedic triad), ānvῑkṣikῑ (rational philosophy), vārtā (economics) and daṇḍanῑti (law of punishment or coercion). This all comprehensive bulky book of Brahmadeva (the creator) was abridged by Śāṁkara into the Vaiśālākṣa śāstra with 10,000 chapters. Still, the book being too bulky and unmanageable by human beings with a short span of life, other gods and sages abridged the book with a view to facilitating human comprehension.

To quote:

“In view, however, of the gradual decrease of the period of life of human beings, the divine Śiva abridged that science of grave import compiled by Brahman1. The abridgment, called Vaiśālākṣa, consisting of ten thousand lessons, was then received by Indra devoted to Brahman and endued with great ascetic merit. The divine Indra also abridged it into a treatise consisting of five thousand lessons and called it Vāhudantaka. Afterwards the puissant Vṛhaspati, by his intelligence, further abridged the work into a treatise consisting of three thousand lessons and called it Vārhaspatya. Next, that preceptor of Yoga, of great celebrity, viz., Kavi of immeasurable wisdom, reduced it further into a work of a thousand lessons. In view of the period of men's lives and the general decrease (of everything), great Ṛṣis did thus, for benefiting the world, abridge that science.” (Ganguly, Kisari Mohan, 1991, book-12, chapter-59, ślokas-68-73)

According to ancient Indian belief, all the śāstras embracing various aspects of human life had their sources in this magnum opus composed by the creator.

From the above description of the origin of knowledge on all conceivable aspects of human living we may make, without loss of the essence, the following observation. The śāstras of ancient India were the outcome of the gigantic all-round intellectual efforts by a number of exceptionally competent post-Vedic Brāhmaṇa scholars who endeavoured to touch upon all conceivable aspects of human living in this mundane world and beyond.

These efforts resulted in the accumulation of a vast body of knowledge on the basis of which the ancient Indian śāstras covering various fields originated and grew in number and volume in course of time.

In this volume we are going to take up the basic aspects of political economy which embraces primarily principles pertaining to the sciences of economics, politics and war.

 

1. The word ‘Brahman’ should not be confused with ‘Brāhmaṇa’ which is the highest caste in Indian caste hierarchy and the former refers to the creator.

The three major texts we select for our study are the great epic Mahābhārata, Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya and Dharmaśāstra of Manu, popularly known as Manusmṛti or Mānava Dharmaśāstra. The reason for taking up these texts is that among most of the ancient Indian texts, the concepts pertaining to political economy are most elaborate and comprehensive in these texts. In fact study of these texts endows us with the most coherent idea about the political economy of ancient India.

Before going into the detailed guidelines of politics and economics as embedded in these texts let us have a glimpse of the three texts under study, viz., Mahābhārata, Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya and Manusmṛti.

 

Mahābhārata

The great Indian Epic Mahābhārata was composed, according to ancient Indian texts, by the great sage and scholar Vyasadeva. The epic touches upon all aspects of human life, the complexities of human relations embracing all the conceivable strata of the society, the multifarious dimensions of clashes and contradictions and intricacies of the economic and political issues, the objectives and modus operandi of a welfare oriented state ensuring growth, equity and justice – in a nutshell, the essence of human knowledge embedded in all the ancient Indian texts on religion, laws, statecraft, economics and extra-mundane philosophy.

In Śanti Parva (Book-12) of the epic, most of the knowledge on statecraft, economics and moral philosophy are disseminated to the King Yudhisthira by his paternal grandfather (uncle of his father) Bhῑṣma lying on deathbed of the arrows of Arjuna (younger brother of Yudhisthira)2.

 

2. In the great war of Mahābhārata between the cousins (Kauravas & Pandavas), the Pandava brother Arjuna defeated Bhῑṣma, the half-brother of Vichitravirya, the common grandfather of the Pandavas and the Kauravas and pierced his body with thousands of arrows. Because of divine ordain, Bhῑṣma was to die only after six months, lying on the bed of arrows. Considering the overwhelming wisdom of Bhῑṣma, Lord Krishna advised the Pandava eldest brother Yudhisthira to approach Bhῑṣma in order to enlighten him on statecraft, economics and other matters necessary for an ideal ruler. Thereafter Yudhisthira approached Bhῑṣma who gladly enlightened Yudhisthira with a lengthy discourse on all conceivable aspects necessary for a   king to rule a kingdom perfectly.

 

 

About the origin of the vast body of knowledge, Bhῑṣma states that in the Kṛta age3 people were righteous and honest. But soon greed, lust and other vices corrupted human society and it was at the point of losing all moral and ethical teachings learnt in course of millennia. The great thinkers and the gods approached the creator praying for the way out and in response the creator wrote a book containing hundred thousand chapters for salvation of human society.

Thereafter Bhῑṣma provides guidelines to Yudhisthira on various aspects of politics, economics, religious norms, ethics, war strategies etc. In our book we would concentrate mainly on economic and political ideas that came up in course of discourse between Bhῑṣma and Yudhisthira.

 

Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya

The Arthaśāstras are mainly concerned with the science of statecraft. But political concepts in Arthaśāstras are inextricably associated with economic, social and all other aspects of human living. In course of discussing various topics Kauṭilya mentions the names of several Arthaśāstra authors preceding him, like Āmbhi, Bāhudantiputra, Bharadvāja, Bṛhaspati, Dῑrgha Chārāyaṇa, Ghotakamukha, Kaniñka Bharadvāja, Kātyāyana, Kauṇapadanta, Manu, Kiñjalka, Parāśara, Piśuna, Piśuna’s Son, Uśānasa, Vātavyādhi, Viśālākṣa, Vṛhaspati. He at first mentions the views of one or more of the earlier Arthaśāstra authors and thereafter tries to establish the superiority of his own view on the topic under consideration. From this it becomes clear that Kauṭilya was well versed with the works of his predecessors in the arena of Arthaśāstra.  (Chunder, Pratap Chandra, 1995, pp.22-23)

In the Arthaśāstra tradition, Kauṭilya’s treatise is the lone text which has been discovered so far. However, mentions of and citations from the works of earlier Arthaśāstra authors are found in Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra and in many other ancient Indian texts. In essence, Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra (like all other śāstras), while delineating economic and political principles sticks, on the whole, to the basic Indian tradition and world outlook.

Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya, the last known in the Arthaśāstra tradition of ancient Indian literature, is in essence a manual for perfect functioning of a monarchic state striving to subjugate the entire Indian subcontinent and bring it under the rule of a powerful king.

3. According to Hindu mythology, each cycle of creation is divided into four ages: Kṛta or Satva, Tretā, Dwāpara and Kali. After the fourth age the entire visible universe is destroyed and the creator goes into deep slumber. Then after trillions of years he wakes and starts the cycle of creation once again.

As regards coverage, consistency, erudition, depth and range, secular and scientific outlook, Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra is a marvelous treatise, without any parallel, not only in ancient India, but also in the entire ancient world. From purely academic standpoint the text is a superb and almost inexhaustible mine for exploration by researchers on Indology, subtleties of monarchic form of governance, the intricacies and abominable aspects of real life politics, espionage and warfare, complexities of basic human psychosis (likely to remain unaltered unless there is radical change in genetic and chromosome structure of the homo-sapiens), and genesis of corruption etc.

The magnum opus was mentioned and partially quoted in various available ancient Indian texts; but the manuscript of the original text was not available to the scholars till 1909. The manuscript (written in Early-Grantha Script4) was discovered by Shamaśāstry, the librarian of Oriental Manuscripts Library of Mysore from the house of a native Brāhmaṇa scholar in 1902 and the edited full text in Devanagari Script was published by him in 1909 and later on the text was translated in English by him and many other scholars.

 

Manusmṛti

Manusmṛti belongs to the class of ancient Indian śāstras known as Dharmaśāstras or smṛtiśāstras.

The Dharmaśāstras are written in śloka form and contain teachings on Hindu civil and criminal laws. The major Dharmaśāstra authors mentioned in ancient Indian literature are:

Añgira, Āpastamba, Atri, Bṛhaspati, Dakṣma, Gautama, Hārita, Kātyāyana, Kusāna, Likhita, Manu, Parāśara, Samvarta, Śaňkha, Śatatapa, Vasiṣṭha, Yājñavalka, Yāma, Viṣṇu and Vyāsa.

Gautama mentioned the names of 50 Dharmaśāstra teachers (including minor smriti writers). If the references in commentaries are taken into account, the number would exceed 100.

Most of these texts had been revised and rewritten several times and these revised versions of some of these texts with a large number of vaṣyas (commentaries) of each are still extant. (Dasgupta & Dey (ed.) 1962, introduction, p. ix)

 

4. Early Grantha Script: This script was in use during the Pallava era in the present State of Tamil Nadu during 4th to 7th century A. D.

Among the Dharmaśāstras (law books) in ancient India the text known as Manusmṛti occupies a very important place because of its wide coverage and detailed guidelines for various aspects of human living. The text is surrounded with myths. It is claimed that the original text was composed by Manu, a mythical sage and the first king of the Hindus. Indologists, on the basis of mentions of the book in other ancient Indian texts, claim that the original Manusmṛti existed even before 3000 B.C. The versions of the text with commentaries, available at present, were, however, written much later – the earliest available version with commentaries by Medhatithi was written around 200 A.D. But even this version contains ideas that appear to be of much earlier origin.

To quote:

“Many myths have since very early times clustered round the name of Manu. He is regarded as perfect in study of the Veda, in the knowledge of its meaning, and the performance of its precepts. His origin is said to be divine and he is sometimes declared to be even a manifestation or incarnation of the Supreme Soul. -------- Different Vedic works belonging to different Schools declare, ‘All that Manu said is medicine, i.e., salutary.’ He is said to be the fountain head of all the Smṛtis or traditional lore and Bṛhaspati while proclaiming the superiority of Manu on the score of his strict adherence to the Veda, clearly declared that a text opposed to Manu is not commendable -------The Pandits adhere to the above view up to the present time. This supreme position of the author justly commanded the unflinching adherence of the Hindus and made the work exceptionally popular. The completeness of the work, its intelligibility and its orderly arrangement also contributed to the same result.” (Sen, Satyendra Nath 1976, Introduction, P. xii-xiii).

On the basis of evidence from ancient Indian texts the author of the present Manusmṛti flourished at least before 3000 B.C. (Ibid. Introduction, P. xvi). The original Manusmṛti was written and revised several times later on to take account of the current problems of different ages. The original Manava Dharmaśāstra is likely to be different from the work which now goes by the name of Manu. It is clear from the fact that some of the ślokas, attributed to Manu by Vasiṣṭha and others, are not to be found in the present text. (Ibid. Introduction, P. ix)

According to some authors, “The Manusmṛti had probably attained its present form by the 2nd century A.D. …We find that though the smriti had begun at an early date and were supposed to have been based upon Vedic injunctions and customs, yet new smṛti authorities sprang up giving new injunctions which can hardly be traced to Vedic authorities. Many of the older authorities were again revised to harmonize the changes made and these revised editions passed off as the old ones as there was no critical apparatus of research for distinguishing the new from the old.” (Dasgupta, S. N. & Dey, S. K. (eds.) (1962), introduction, P. xxvi)

There are also many vāṣyas (commentaries) on Manusmṛti. The most popular available vāṣyas are of Medhātithi, Kullūka Bhatta, Govindarāja, Sarvajña-Nārāyana, Rāghavānanda, Nandana, Rāmachandra and Gañgādhara. They reflect the transition in the methods interpreting the text in accordance with the changes in values and requirements with changes in time.

The most serious problem pertaining to Manusmṛti is that the earliest available manuscripts (written in Devanagari Script) of all the versions have been written after the 13th century A. D. and it is quite likely that they have been corrupted by interpolations, especially to incorporate the foreign influences that had flooded and corrupted Indian culture and tradition since the 10th century A. D. This becomes very clear when we encounter inner contradictions in the available printed versions of the text. So, while undertaking a study of Manusmṛti, we are to make painstaking efforts to isolate the interpolations and ignore them.

 

Chapter Division

The present study is based on the available Sanskrit texts (in Devanagari Script) and English translation of these texts by different authors. This book is divided into three parts and 10 chapters.

In Part-I, we take up Political Economy in Mahābhārata in two chapters.

Chapter-1 deals with the Economic Concepts as embodied in the epic Mahābhārata. The major topics taken up for detailed discussion are revenue administration and division of labour. Under Revenue Administration we discuss the sources of revenue viz., taxes and other sources, methods of tax collection and norms of tax collection as prescribed in the epic.

Division of labour as embodied in the epic are based on caste system which is based on the Vedic norms. Accordingly, the four major castes as delineated in Mahābhārata are:

1. Brāhmaṇa: priests and scholars engaged in religious, academic, literary and philosophical activities.

2. Kṣatriya: political rulers, warriors and soldiers.

3. Vaiśya: persons engaged in trade, commerce and productive activities.

4. Śūdra: The lowest caste in the Aryan hierarchy, comprising the majority of the population and serving the three upper classes. They were mainly labourers, peasants, artisans, and servants of the three upper classes.

Chapter-2 deals with the Political Concepts in the epic and elaborates on the following major topics: concept of divine origin of the king, virtues of the ideal king, duties of the king, recruitment of government officials and modern relevance.

In Part-II we take up the Political Economy in Arthaśāstra in six chapters (chapters 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8).

Chapter-3 deals with the Significance of Arthaśāstra under the following major heads: Place and Importance of Arthaśāstra among Ancient Indian Śāstras, Discovery of the Manuscript of Arthaśāstra, Outline of the Major Topics Pertaining to Political Economy in the text (Political, Administrative and Legal Systems, Bureaucracy, Espionage Network, Accounting, Price Policy etc.), Comparison of Kauṭilya (with Machiavelli, Plato, Aristotle, Karl Marx, Cameralists etc.), Kauṭilya’s World Outlook and Historicity of Arthaśāstra.

In Chapter-4 we go into the details of economic concepts as embodied in Arthaśāstra under the following major heads: Environment and Ecology, Empowerment of Women, Price Policy, Agriculture and Land Use, Craft Industries, Role of the State Sector, Taxation and Fiscal Policy and Division of Labour.

Kauṭilya entrusted the state with the responsibility of protection and maintenance of environment and ecology. The task of protecting forests and other natural resources is entrusted with the king through different state officials, appropriate plants should be grown to protect dry lands and pasturelands should be properly protected.

In Arthaśāstra, as in many other ancient Indian texts, the basis of financial security to married women was strῑdhana (woman’s property). It consisted of landed property, jewellery, and money sufficient for maintenance of the married woman and her children. The funds are to be provided right at the time of wedding by the husband, the relatives of the husband and that of the woman who is to be married.

The state, according to Arthaśāstra, was entitled to take an active role in price determination, but state intervention in this regard ought not to be contrary to the market forces. Prices were to be ultimately determined on the basis of cost of production on the one hand and intensity of demand on the other. But ‘just price’, determined in this manner, was to be approved and implemented by the state. Duty of the state in this regard was not to fix prices arbitrarily, disregarding market forces, but to see to it that traders and producers could not manipulate prices to make exorbitant profits, could not cheat the buyers or could not create crisis and instability by taking advantage a situation of shortages.

In Arthaśāstra we get detail guidelines as regards agriculture and proper land use.  Kauṭilya asserts that prosperity of the country depends on agricultural development. He emphasizes the roles of agriculture and animal husbandry and elaborates on the merits of activities associated with these two sectors. Food and many essential articles for human living come from these sectors. He also opines that the strength of a country vis-à-vis its enemy country depends on the soundness of these activities.

There are innumerable mentions of the state-sector craft industries in the Arthaśāstra.

In Arthaśāstra, Kauṭilya prescribes for a vast state sector embracing all the major fields of production in the economy. According to his guidelines the state should have monopoly power over most of the natural animal-products and plant-products. It may also be presumed that Arthaśāstra prescribes for state ownership of most of the mines producing metallic ores and controlling power over trade in these products. The state is also entitled, according to Kauṭilya, to lease out mines to private businessmen.

As regards taxes as sources of revenue of the state, Kauṭilya lays emphasis on indirect taxes than on direct taxes. Most of the taxes mentioned in the text are commodity taxes. So far as fiscal policy is concerned, Arthaśāstra emphasizes strongly on the importance of a resourceful treasury for the functioning of the state. Moreover stress is laid on sound finance, measures to enhance and enrich the treasury and to generate surplus in the state budget. At the same time it is emphasized that revenue collection of the state should not harm the interests of the country and its people. Kauṭilya insists on a surplus budget and suggests measures to avoid deficits in the budget. This is in conformity with ancient Indian principles of sound fiscal management which is quite contrary to modern practices of deficit budgeting.

In Arthaśāstra, Kauṭilya also prescribes measures for mobilizing finance for situations of crisis (āpada dharma).

Kauṭilya remains faithful to the Vedic norms and defines division of labour on the basis of division of the society into four major castes, viz., Brāhmaṇa, Kṣatriya, Vaiśya and Śūdra. Kauṭilya defines the functions of these four castes according to the Vedic tradition, but as regards the functions of the Śūdra, Kauṭilya deviates to some extent from the ancient Indian tradition as he includes agriculture as one of the professions for the Śūdras (tradition considered this to be a profession of exclusively the Vaiśya). Kauṭilya also mentions some specific duties for people in different walks of life, e.g. householders, Vedic students, forest-dwellers and wandering ascetics etc.

In Chapter-5 we endeavour to analyze the political concepts prescribed in Arthaśāstra under: Maṇḍala Theory, Power of the King, Concept of Ideal King and concept of Daṇḍa.

Kauṭilya’s foreign policy is an aggressive foreign policy based on the maṇḍala theory. Maṇḍala here means the circle of sovereign states and the theory pertains to intricate relations among the circle of states, foreign policies, policies pertaining to war and peace, concepts of friendly and enemy states etc. Kauṭilya considers the would-be conqueror (vijigῑṣu or chakravartin) to be a part of a maṇḍala or circle of kings or states. Kauṭilya describes vividly how by open warfare, devious means, deceptive warfare etc. the would-be conqueror could subjugate the other states in the circle and become the sole ruler of the entire circle of states.

Kauṭilya differed radically from ancient Indian tradition as regards power of the king. The other śāstras of India consider the king to be only the guardian of the daṇḍa (the rod of punishment) and preserver of the sacred śāstras pertaining to administration and defence of the state and he has no right to violate or modify the śāstras. On the other hand Kauṭilya endows the king with supreme power above the śāstras and the hitherto practised customs and traditions.

Kauṭilya prescribes general and moral education, strict routine and guidance of a priest for the ideal king. As in other ancient Indian śāstras, Arthaśāstra also considers that the perfect ruling with harmony is possible for the king with the help of daṇḍa (the rod of chastisement), the proper use of it leads to prosperity and misuse to ruin.

Chapter-6 deals with Internal Espionage in Arthaśāstra and the major topics covered in this chapter are: Essence of Arthaśāstra Espionage: Human Vices and Weaknesses, Types of Spies and Their Functions, Test of Ministers and Government Officials, Punishing Treasonable Officials by Devious Means, Stratagem against Princes or Officials Going to Join the Enemy, Dangers from Officers in the Outer Region and the Interior, Spy Network for the Citizens and Apprehending and Punishing Criminals.

In Chapter-7, we take up External Espionage (general) as delineated in Arthaśāstra. This chapter takes into account the following sub-topics: Maṇḍala Theory, Four Methods to Conquer the World, All Embracing Spy-Network in the Maṇḍala, Winning the Seducible in the Enemy Camp, Deceptive Peace Treaty and its Violation, Creating Dissentions in the Circle of Kings, Stirring up the Circle of Kings, Sowing Dissensions among Tribal Republics and Oligarchies and Counter Espionage.

In Chapter-8, we go into the complicacies of External Espionage (war-related) in Arthaśāstra and discuss in detail the following sub-topics: Instilling Superstitious Fear in the Enemy Camp, Assassination of the Enemy’s Army Chiefs, Destruction of Enemy Supplies and Reinforcements, Killing the Enemy King by Deceit, Overreaching the Enemy with Trickery, Capturing the Enemy’s Fort, Drawing Out the Enemy King by Tricks, Entering Enemy’s Fort by Stratagem, Seizure and Storming of Enemy’s Fort and Pacification of the Conquered Territory.

Part-III of this volume takes up Political Economy in Manusmṛti in two chapters (chapters 9 and 10)

Chapter-9 takes up the Economic Concepts as embedded in Manusmṛti which can be categorized in the following manner: Environment and Ecology, Women's Property Rights, Price Policy, Agriculture and Craft Industries, State Sector, Taxation and Fiscal Policy and Division of Labour.

The ecological principles of Manusmṛti are based on the basic ideal of the Upaniṣadas, "Vasudhaiva kutumbakam”, i.e., all the beings of the entire universe belong to the same family. By means of defining cosmology, Manu here endeavors to spell out the basic sources of interrelationship among all beings in this universe. Manu describes how all the material (and perishable) things (living beings as well as lifeless matters) of the world have been originated from the same five elements or Pancha-bhutas [kṣiti (earth), ap (water), teza (fire), marut (air) and byom (sky)].

As regards women’s property rights, the statements in Manusmṛti appear to be contradictory. At one place Manu prescribes woman's property and at the other he declares that the women cannot have any property right. In fact, the latter statement about women’s property rights appears to be interpolation and forgery. The basis of women’s property right in Manusmṛti is strῑdhana (woman’s property), as in other ancient Indian texts.

In Manusmṛti it is opined that the state, should fix the price of each commodity every five days or every fortnight by considering cost of production, other expenses, demand, supply etc. Manu also opines in this regard that weighing balance and weighing stones should be checked and approved by the government officials every six months.

There are no specific guidelines in Manusmṛti as regards agricultural pursuits. It only mentions various rites to be performed for successful agricultural operations. Manu considers that agriculture means violence to the mother earth, and therefore the profession of agriculture should not be undertaken by the two upper castes, viz., the Brāhmaṇa and the Kṣatriya.

Manusmṛti has dealt very briefly with craft industries although they were important sources of livelihood of a large number of people in ancient India. Manu only briefly mentions that crafts are to be the professions of the Śūdras.

As regards the state sector we get very little information from Manusmṛti. Manu only mentions that the state should have monopoly over export of certain goods.

The basic principles of tax policy are clearly defined in Manusmṛti. Taxes are to be so imposed that they should not result in disincentive for production and trading activities. At the same time, tax collection should be adequate to cover the expenses of the state. To this end taxes should be collected in small installments (as the leech sucks blood) so as not to cause any hardship or discontent on the part of the payee. All citizens should pay taxes according to their capabilities. Each poor people should pay a very small amount or he should provide one day's free labour per month as tax to the state. All villagers are to contribute, whatever they can, for the state. These, while collected together, may contribute considerably towards meeting expenses for the local bodies.

According to Manu the king should pursue a fiscal policy, which strikes a balance between fulfillment of short-term requirements and long term sustainability.

Division of labour in Manusmṛti is also based on caste system as in other ancient Indian texts. Manu opines that the creator has prescribed certain general tasks for the human race for different ages. But He has also assigned specific duties to specific classes of people. Manu subscribes to the Vedic norms to insist that Brāhmaṇas originated from the mouth, Kṣatriyas from the arms, Vaiśyas from the thighs, and Śūdras from the feet of the creator. So, they have different functions in all the ages.

Under normal situations, duties of the Brāhmaṇas are associated with the study of the Vedas and performance of the religious rites; that of the Kṣatriyas are associated with war and defense of the country; that of the Vaiśyas are associated with trade and agriculture and that of the Śūdras to serve the three upper classes.

Chapter-10 deals with Political Concepts in Manusmṛti and takes up the following sub-topics:

Qualities of the Ideal King, Daily Routine of an Ideal King and Daṇḍanῑti.

According to Manusmṛti, to be a good ruler, the king should regulate his lifestyle in a proper way. Then only he would have the right and power to rule the country and apply the rod of punishment to the miscreants. He should be intelligent, free from vices, cultured, upright, should have self-control, should respect the elders and the Brāhmaṇas, should have proper education (of the Vedas, politics, history, agriculture, spiritual science etc.) and he should protect his subjects with zeal.

The maintenance and preservation of the proper qualities of the king to discharge his duties in a proper way requires a disciplined lifestyle. Various duties related to the administration of the country are to be arranged in a harmonious and orderly fashion and each duty performed at proper time. Unlike Kauṭilya, Manu does not specify any time period for each act.

Ancient Indian texts entrusted the king with the task of maintaining order and rule of Dharma in society. The power of the king to rule, regulate and maintain harmony and order, and to accomplish this, punish the miscreants, is called daṇḍa which is assigned a sacred place. Proper use of the daṇḍa would bring about peace, harmony and prosperity. Misuse, on the other hand, would bring about disorder and destruction of the king himself, his kingdom and the subjects.

 

End Notes

End notes are given at the bottom of the relevant page.

 

References

References pertaining to each chapter are given at the end of the chapter.

 

Appendix: English Excerpts from the Text

Relevant excerpts (in English) from the texts are given under Appendix at the end of each chapter. English translations used for quotations:

Mahābhārata

Ganguly, Kisari Mohan (1883-1896): The Mahābhārata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa (English translation).

In quotations, 12/7/8 means Book-12, Chapter-7, śloka-8

Arthaśāstra

Kangle R. P. (2000): Kauṭiliya Arthaśāstra (English translation), Part-II

In quotations, I/7/8 means Book-I, Chapter-7, śloka/paragraph-8

Manusmṛti

All quotations, except those from chapter-7, are from Max Muller, F. (ed.): Sacred Books of the East, Vol. XXV. Quotations from chapter -7 are from Satyendra Nath Sen (English translation):

In quotations 7/26 means Chapter-7, śloka-26.

 

Use of Italics

As regards use of italicized words, we have applied this only for common nouns uncommon in English, for indicating references in the text of, and names of books under “References”. For all other proper nouns (names of places, persons, titles of books etc.), whether modern or ancient, we have avoided use of italics unlike many modern texts. To avoid cumbersomeness, we have also avoided use of italics in quotations from the relevant texts.

  

 

References

Cosmas: Christian Topography [http://www.scribd.com/doc/131184581/Cambridge-Library-Collection-Hakluyt-First-Series-Cosmas-Indicopleustes-Edited-and-Translated-By-J-W-McCrindle-The-Christian-Topography-of-Cos]

Chunder, Pratap Chandra (1995): Kauṭilya Arthaśāstra, Calcutta, The M. P. Birla Foundation, Introduction, p. 22.

Dasgupta, S. N. & Dey, S. K. (eds.) (1962): A History of Sanskrit Literature, Vol. I, University of Calcutta., introduction, P. ix.

Ganguly, Kisari Mohan (1883-1896): The Mahābhārata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa (Eng. Tr.), Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 1991, ISBN: 9788121500944, 9788121500944 (Śanti Parva, Book-12, Chapter-59, ślokas-68-73) [http://www.Mahābhārataonline.com/translation/index.php]

Kangle R. P. (2000): Kauṭiliya Arthaśāstra (Eng. Translation), Part – II & III, Delhi, Motilal Banarasi Dass.

Max Müller, F. (ed.): Sacred Books of the East, Vol. XXV, Oxford Clarendon Press, 1886.

McCrindle, J. W. (1896): The Invasion of India by Alexander the Great as Described by O. Curtias, Diodorus, Plutarch and Justin, West Minster, Archibald Constable.

McCrindle, J. W. (1901): Ancient India as Described by classical Literature, West Minster, Archibald Constable. .

Megasthenes: Indika [http://www.sdstate.edu/projectsouthasia/upload/Megasthene-Indika.pdf].

Periplus: The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/periplus.asp.]

Sen, Satyendra Nath (1976): Manusmṛti, Chapter-VII (English translation), Vidyodaya series No.16, Calcutta, Chattopadhyaya Brothers, Introduction P. xii-xiii.

Strabo: Geography [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Strabo/home.html].

 

 

 

 

PART-I

POLITICAL ECONOMY IN MAHĀBHĀRATA

 

 

 Chapter-1: Economic Concepts in Mahābhārata

 

The most important economic ideas as detailed in Mahābhārata pertain mainly to:

Revenue Administration

Division of Labour.

 

Revenue Administration

The essence of the guidelines pertaining to revenue administration as Bhῑṣma disseminated to Yudhisthira in the Śanti Parva of Mahābhārata brings to the fore the following aspects:

i) Major Sources of Revenue: The major sources of revenue of the king would be taxes levied on land and agricultural products, craft products, various articles of trade and commerce etc.

ii) Tax Base: The tax-base should be as wide as possible, i.e., taxes should be collected from the entire country as far as possible.

iii) Codes and Norms of Tax Collection: Collection of taxes should be strictly on the basis of moral codes as prescribed in the śāstras. Taxes should never be based on whims and myopic decisions of the ruler.

iv) Tax collection should not be exploitative and should never cause hardship to the citizens, especially the poor and the weaker sections of the population.

v) Tax collection should not impede economic and other essential activities of the citizens that contribute to the benefits of the state. Too much pressure of taxes leads to misery of the citizens and makes them incapable of discharging their duties properly. So, while imposing the taxes the ruler should always keep in mind that taxes should never come on the path of discharging the duties of the citizens properly.

vi) Tax collection should be in such a way that the payees are capable of paying taxes without economic hardship and discontent i.e., the assessees should be permitted to pay taxes due by installments, and whenever convenient for them.

vii) Long term interests of the country and the citizens should be given priority over short term gains keeping in mind that excessive collection in the short run may lead to hazardous consequences in the long run. The king out of covetousness may be tempted to collect huge amount of taxes in a short span of time. This would, however, lead to chaos and disorder and reduce the tax paying capabilities of the citizens and it would ultimately dry up long term revenue of the country. Moreover too much pressure of the taxes in a very short span of time would lead to confusion and discontent among citizens which would make them indulge in tax evasion and rising up in revolt against the king.

On the basis of the above major guidelines let us look into the detail of the prescriptions pertaining to revenue administration as prescribed in Mahābhārata.

According to Mahābhārata, taxes should have a wide coverage embracing almost the entire population and taxes should be levied on each person in accordance with his capabilities to pay taxes. Taxes should be collected in such a way that it does not cause hardships and inconveniences to the payees, adversely affect their economic activities leading to grievances and endeavours on their part to evade taxes. Even in case of emergent situations, excess taxes are to be imposed after convincing the payees about the exigencies that had compelled the state to undertake such unusual measures.

The most important source of revenue of the government is land revenue. One sixth of the total revenue of the state is to be collected from landed properties. Other important sources of revenue are fines and forfeitures levied upon offenders and levies upon merchants and traders in return for the protection granted to them.

As regards the norms of tax collection the king should try to collect taxes from the entire kingdom as far as possible. Therefore, the entire kingdom becomes to him his treasury. But tax collection should by no means cause hardship to the poor and the weaker sections of the population. So, although tax is to be collected from all parts of the country, compassion is to be shown by the king to the inhabitants of cities or villages where they are mostly poor and incapable of paying taxes. Taxes should never be imposed without considering the capability of the payee.

Proper functioning of the state machinery depends a good deal on revenue collection, but in collection of taxes the king should always abide by the norms and principles laid down by the  śāstras. Violation of this may lead to disaster for both the king and the kingdom. The king should not, under the influence of passion and covetousness, levy oppressive taxes.

No tax should be levied on products without ascertaining the cost in terms of labour and other inputs applied to produce those articles. The king should levy commodity taxes in such a way that both the king and the person who labours to produce an article taxed have justifiable share. The value of a product after deduction of tax should cover the cost of production and reasonable profit margin of the person producing it.

Unreasonable and exorbitant taxes should never be imposed on honest persons. The amount, method and time of payment should be convenient for the payee. The king should never impose taxes unseasonably and on persons unable to bear them. He should impose them gradually and with conciliation, in proper season and according to due forms.

The economic prosperity of the country depends a good deal on the agriculturists and traders and they should never be oppressed by exorbitant taxes. So taxes on them should be imposed judiciously and in such a way that their contributive activities to the country are not hampered. Excessive and oppressive taxes are likely to discourage agriculturists and traders to carry on their normal activities and this would ultimately lead to shortage of food, agricultural raw materials and essential commodities imported and distributed by the traders. In fact, the traders and agriculturists have important roles in supporting the king as well as the citizens of the country. Oppressive and exorbitant taxes are likely to make them incapable of disseminating their duties.

The king may be tempted to collect too much revenue in a short span of time. This may serve short term purposes well, but is very likely to have disastrous consequences for the long run. In fact, draining of the kingdom, in order to raise too much revenue in a short span of time, would stall progress of the country in the long run.

In this regard Bhῑṣma gives a nice example of milking the cow. If the cow is milked too much for immediate gain, the calf becomes lean without getting adequate milk for its survival and ultimately milk of the cow dries up. Similarly, if the kingdom is drained much, the subjects become weak like the calf in the example and fail to serve the country in the best possible manner.

Although the king should try to collect revenue from as large a number of persons as possible, he should exempt the very poor in this regard. On the contrary, he should provide financial assistance to them.

The king should collect taxes in such a way that the payees do not feel any adverse impact of the taxes. They should be collected gradually and in small doses (in relation to the capability of the payee). To clarify the matter the examples of milking the cow without starving the calf, the carrying of the cubs by the tigress without injuring them, drawing of blood by the leech without pain of the victim etc. have been cited in the text.

The king should tax his kingdom like a bee gathering honey from plants. The bees collect honey by very small quantities so that no harm is done to the flower and the tree. Or, the king should act like the keeper of a cow who draws milk from the cow without boring her udders and without starving the calf. While collecting taxes, the king should act like the leech drawing blood mildly so that the victim hardly feels that his blood is being sucked by the leech. The king while collecting taxes should act towards his subjects like a tigress in the matter of carrying her cubs, touching them with her teeth but never piercing them therewith. Or, the king should behave like a mouse which though possesses of sharp and pointed teeth, still cuts the feet of sleeping animals in such a manner that the victim fails to feel the impact of the bite.

All the above examples as provided in the text intend to highlight the fact that taxes should be collected in such a manner that the payee hardly feels its impact. To this end taxes should be collected in installments so that the payee is to pay a small amount each time and this does not create any economic pressure on the payee. As a result, tax collection, according to this norm, causes neither impediment to economic activities nor lead to any discontent among the payees provoking evasion.

The king should honour the rich people who have amassed wealth by honest means and collect higher taxes from them after convincing them of their responsibilities to the country and the role of the king in protecting their wealth. They should be convinced to realize that if the king, because of lack of revenue, fails to protect and provide various facilities for them, it would be hardly possible for them to acquire and enjoy their wealth.

The dishonest persons, however, cannot be treated in the same manner as the honest persons. It is not possible to convince them to discharge their duties for the benefit of their mother land and to the fellow citizens. If not curbed by strict legal measures they would always resort to activities harmful for the king, the country and the honest citizens. So, taxes and penalties (for various offensive and illegal activities) ought to be collected from them by force of law.

Besides collection of revenue, the tax machinery should also be utilized to curb harmful activities like prostitution, drinking, gambling etc. Liquor shops, brothels, pimps, actors, gamblers etc. are likely to cause social, economic and moral disorder unless kept under control by legal measures. Taxation is likely to play a major role in controlling these harmful agents and activities. High rates of taxes on these activities are likely to raise the cost of indulging in these activities and thereby could be kept within tolerable limit, i.e., up to the point where impacts of these activities do not lead to perceptible economic, social and moral disorder.

Bhῑṣma also advised Yudhisthira what ought to be done in case of emergent situation like war, especially when the country is being invaded by a foreign king. It is quite likely that war to resist foreign invasion would call for additional expenses and if not provided by additional revenue collection, these expenses would drain the treasury and hamper economic activities of the state. So, under this situation the king must endeavour to collect additional taxes, and additional taxes are to be imposed to cope with the situation. But, Mahābhārata emphasizes that even under such a situation taxes could by no means be imposed on the Brāhmaṇas, i.e., additional taxes may be collected from every citizen except the Brāhmaṇas. Additional tax collection under emergency situation from all the subjects except the Brāhmaṇas is permitted in Mahābhārata. However, the collection should be done tactfully and after convincing the payees about the necessity of the additional imposition. Under these circumstances, efficient agents of the king should be sent to the citizens in order to convince them to pay additional taxes to enable the country to provide for the expenses necessary to protect the country from the foreign invaders. These levies are to be imposed mostly on the Vaiśyas who are generally wealthy people. The agents should approach them by saying that foreign invasion would jeopardize their lives and properties and therefore they should come forward, at least for their own interest, in assisting the king financially to save the country from the invaders. The Vaiśya s and all other citizens (except the Brāhmaṇas) capable of paying additional taxes should be impressed by explaining to them that additional imposts are necessary to protect their properties and enable them to live in peace. They should also be assured that this is only a temporary imposition and would be lifted as soon as the emergency situation subsides. .

 

Division of Labour

Division of labour in Mahābhārata, as in most of the ancient Indian texts, is based mainly on the caste system.

The existing caste structure in India has a long history of evolution and its roots may be traced back in the Puruṣa Sukta of the Ṛgveda, the most ancient religious and philosophical treatise of India. Now let us first have a glance at the original caste division as conceived by the ancient Indian śāstras (religious, philosophical and legal texts of ancient India).

The four major castes, (i.e. hierarchical ranking of the society) in India prescribed first in the Ṛgveda and repeated and elaborated in later śāstras were:

1. Brāhmaṇa: Priests and scholars engaged in religious, academic, literary and philosophical activities.

2. Kṣatriya: Political rulers, warriors and soldiers.

3. Vaiśya : Persons engaged in trade, commerce and productive activities.

4. Śūdra: The lowest caste in the Aryan hierarchy, comprising the majority of the population and serving the three upper classes. They were mainly labourers, peasants, artisans, and servants of the three upper classes.

The ancient Indian term for caste was varṇa, i.e., complexion. In general people belonging to the three upper castes were of fair complexion and the Śūdras of swarthy complexion. So, it may be conceived that the former were primarily Aryans (believed to be belonging to Caucasoid white races from central Asia which had invaded India and subjugated the indigenous people and got settled as rulers of the Indian subcontinent) and the Śūdras, indigenous people (mainly proto Australoid or Dravida) whom the Aryans had subjugated while invading the Indian subcontinent and incorporated these vanquished black people into the Aryan hierarchy as the fourth and serving class for their own interest.

Now let us look into the original Vedic concept pertaining to the caste system

The relevant śloka from Ṛgveda is:

“The Brāhmaṇas were His Mouth, the Kṣatriyas became His Arms, The Vaiśyas were His Thighs, and the Śūdras were assigned to His Feet”1

The caste concept of the great epic Mahābhārata is reiteration and elaboration of Vedic concepts in this regard

 

1. ब्राह्मणोऽस्य मुखमासीद्बाहू राजन्यः कृतः।

ऊरू तदस्य यद्वैश्यः पद्भ्यां शूद्रो अजायत॥

Brahmanosya mukhamaseed vahu rajanyah Kṛtah

Uru tadasya yadVaiśyah padbhyang shudro ajayata

“The Brāhmaṇas were His Mouth, the Kṣatriyas became His Arms, The Vaiśyas were His Thighs, and the Śūdras were assigned to His Feet” (Ṛgveda, 10.90.12: Book-10, Chapter-90, Sukta-12).

 

From certain ślokas of Mahābhārata, it may appear at first sight that the epic insisted on determination of caste of a person by his propensities and talents and not by birth. In these ślokas it is emphasized that a person derives his own nature from the nature of his activities which are basically determined by his propensities and inherent capabilities. In this respect it appears that the epic insists that castes and division of labour thereby ought to be determined by propensities and inherent capabilities of individuals and not by their births.

A deeper look would, however, make it clear that the above statements were relevant only to jātis, .i.e., the sub-castes within the four major castes based on specific occupation or type of activity, but not to the four major castes. It may be conceived that there was no restriction on free movement between the sub-castes under each of the four major castes (Brāhmaṇa, Kṣatriya, Vaiśya and Śūdra) but these movements among the four major castes were strictly prohibited.

The epic insists that economic activities such as agriculture, trade etc. should be conducted on the basis of division of labour. This is different from social division of labour based on the caste system. It is the division of labour within each category of production on the basis of skill, innate capabilities and efficiencies.

The major social division of labour prescribed in the epic is strictly based on the Vedic norms – division of the society into four major castes, viz. Brāhmaṇa, Kṣatriya, Vaiśya and Śūdra and assignment of specific duties to each caste.

The Vedic norm that Mahābhārata reiterates in connection with specifying the activities of the four major castes is that menial service are meant for the Śūdra; agriculture for the Vaiśya; ruling and war for the Kṣatriya and brahmacharya, penances, mantras, and truth for the Brāhmaṇa.

Brāhmaṇa

The basic duty of the Brāhmaṇa is to study Vedas and he should have self-restraint and other noble qualities. The epic strictly emphasizes that self-restraint, ought to be the foremost duty of the Brāhmaṇa. He should also be engaged in study of the Vedas, and he should have patience in undergoing austerities. A Brāhmaṇa should observe the rules and norms prescribed for them in the scriptures. He should refrain from deceitful activities. His nature ought to be mild, forgiving, of tranquil heart and free from pride and cruelty. He should be abstemious as regards his diet. He should have devotion to gods, and should always perform Vedic rites.

The epic also mentions the acts which are forbidden for the Brāhmaṇa. In brief he should not undertake works assigned for the three lower castes. Use of arms and weapons to chastise others, activities pertaining to agriculture, trade, cattle rearing are strictly prohibited for the Brāhmaṇas.

A Brāhmaṇa should refrain from service of the king, usury, agricultural activities, trade and other economic activities specified for the three lower castes. Moreover, it is a grave sin on the part of a Brāhmaṇa to indulge in crooked behaviour or deceitful activities in order to earn livelihood. These activities are also considered as sins for the other castes but the degree of sin would be highest for the Brāhmaṇa if indulged in any such activity.

Besides economic activities, rigid moral norms are also specified for the Brāhmaṇa. He should be of exemplary moral character and refrain from living with any woman other than his wedded wives.

A Brāhmaṇa by birth, who deviates from this rule and adopts economic activities meant for the lower castes, or indulges in immoral activities, would no longer be treated as a Brāhmaṇa.

The epic emphasizes that the wretched Brāhmaṇa who deviates from his duties and engages in activities meant for the lower castes is to be considered as a Śūdra. Similarly a Brāhmaṇa may be degraded for violation of moral norms. For example he may be degraded to Śūdra status because of marrying a Śūdra woman, dancer or village servant. The epic also emphasizes that the Brāhmaṇa who gets engaged in practices of Kṣatriyas, Vaiśyas and Śūdras, is to be considered as a person of wicked soul and he would be thrown into hell after his death.

So, we find that according to Mahābhārata, a Brāhmaṇa by birth ought to possess certain virtues to be considered as a Brāhmaṇa and he would be treated as a Śūdra otherwise.

However in distress a Brāhmaṇa is permitted to sustain his livelihood by works meant for the Kṣatriya and failing which (war science is not easy to learn), he may adopt works of a Vaiśya.

When a Brāhmaṇa is unable to sustain livelihood strictly by means of activities prescribed for the Brāhmaṇas, he should at first try to derive sustenance from activities meant for the Kṣatriyas. However, it may be difficult for a Brāhmaṇa to perform activities of a Kṣatriya like, use of arms, ruling etc. In such a situation he is permitted to adopt the practices prescribed for a Vaiśya and derive sustenance by means of activities like agriculture and cattle rearing which are generally prescribed for the Vaiśyas.

But even in distress certain trades are strictly prohibited for a Brāhmaṇa. Even under extreme economic distress, a Brāhmaṇa is never permitted to get engaged in trade in wines, salt, honey, meat, and cooked food.

Kṣatriya

As regards the guidelines for the second caste in hierarchy, viz. the Kṣatriya, Mahābhārata remains faithful to the Vedic norms in essence.

The most important duty of the Kṣatriya, according to the epic, is to protect his subjects. Even if a Kṣatriya does not do any other act, but protects his subjects, it is to be regarded that he has accomplished all religious acts as assigned to a Kṣatriya. All activities of the subjects could be accomplished properly while everyone is assured that they are being protected by the king and the Kṣatriyas. If the ruler Kṣatriya does not protect others, jungle-law would prevail, the strong would torture and exploit the weak and property, religion, chastity of women, family life everything would be jeopardized. Besides internal protection, the Kṣatriya is also obliged to protect the citizens of the country from foreign invasion. This is the reason why protecting the subjects has been considered according to Vedic norms as the most important duty of the Kṣatriya.

Besides this major duty, other duties specified in the text for the Kṣatriya are the following:

A Kṣatriya should give gifts but should never ask for gifts, should perform sacrifices but should never take the role of a priest in sacrifices or other religious activities (only a Brāhmaṇa is entitled to be a priest). He should study the Vedas under a Brāhmaṇa preceptor, but should never attempt to teach Vedas to anyone. The Kṣatriya should always be valiant and rush to destroy robbers and other wicked people and should fight heroically and dauntlessly in battles.

The supreme importance of the Kṣatriya as the ruler is vividly described in the following manner. The epic here emphasizes clearly that the Brāhmaṇa has the supreme position in social hierarchy, but the real power of the society rests in the Kṣatriya, i.e., the ruler. In this sense the highest duties among men are those which are practiced by the Kṣatriyas. The entire world is subject to the might of their arms. Protection and peaceful performance of duties of the other three castes are dependent on the prowess of the Kṣatriyas. Proper performance of the kingly duties of the Kṣatriya gives relief and sense of security to the three other castes. In fact, all the orders in social hierarchy are protected by the Kṣatriya king and if these ancient duties belonging to the Kṣatriyas are abandoned, all the duties in respect of all the modes of life are jeopardized.

Vaiśya

Like the guidelines for the upper two classes, prescription in the epic as regards the Vaiśyas, the third in the social hierarchy, adheres once again to the Vedic norms.

Duties of the Vaiśya are also very important as it is associated with production and wealth without which a country would perish. His duties are detailed in the following manner. The primary function of the Vaiśya is to acquire wealth through various economic activities except those prohibited for him. But in this regard he should never adopt dishonest and deceitful means. While acquiring wealth he should strictly adhere to Dharma, i.e., moral norms. He should always abide by economic and business ethics based on norms laid down in the śāstras.

Besides, a Vaiśya should make gifts, study the Vedas and perform sacrifices. With proper attention he should also protect and rear all domestic animals with love and care like a person protecting his children. Anything other than the duties mentioned above is to be considered improper for the Vaiśya.

Śūdra

The last caste in the hierarchy, namely the Śūdra, is considered to have born simply for serving the upper three castes. In ancient India, Śūdras had always been subjected to exploitation by the three upper castes.

The Śūdras are to serve the upper three castes, and their position in the society, as prescribed by the epic, is really miserable. The epic emphasizes that the Creator intended the Śūdra to become the servant of the other three orders. Therefore, the service of the three other classes is the duty of the Śūdra. The Śūdra would obtain great happiness, according to Mahābhārata, by such service of the upper three castes. He should wait upon the three other classes according to their order in the social hierarchy.

A Śūdra is not permitted to acquire wealth because, according to the epic, by his power of wealth, the Śūdra may try to subjugate and control the upper three castes, and this is a grave sin on the part of the Śūdra. The Śūdra may, however, earn wealth only for performing religious acts and that too with the permission of the king. The question arises how the Śūdra would maintain his livelihood. In this regard the epic suggests that a Śūdra is to be provided sustenance by the member of the upper caste whom he serves.

Thus we see that although open slavery in the sense of that existing in ancient Greece was not to be found in the guidelines in Mahābhārata (and also all other Vedic śāstras), the Śūdras were virtually slaves of the upper three castes which flourished through inhuman exploitation of the former. As Greek civilization was based on exploitation of the slaves, ancient Indian civilization was based on exploitation of the Śūdras.

The Mahābhārata episodes vividly point out that as early as the Mahābhārata days, division of society into castes and sub-castes was hardly based on attributes. In reality, it was birth alone that was the decisive factor as regards the determination of the caste of a person. For example we may mention the case of the great warrior Karna. He was in fact the son of the queen Kunti by the Sun god before her marriage and she had abandoned the illegitimate son and suppressed the fact in fear of social stigma.

Later on Karna was brought up by a suta2 and everyone considered him to be the son of the suta and therefore he was considered as a suta.

He was one of the greatest experts in the war science but was humiliated several times for his very low caste (which he was to the knowledge of everybody on earth except Kunti and Lord Krishna).

We have already mentioned above that under certain circumstances a Brāhmaṇa may be degenerated into a Śūdra, but the epic does not mention any rule by which a person belonging to a lower caste may be upgraded to an upper class.

2. Suta: Charioteers, a mixed caste even below the Śūdras, born of Kṣatriya father and Brāhmaṇa mother.

 

References

Ganguly, Kisari Mohan (1883-1896): The Mahābhārata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa (Eng. Tr.), Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 1991, ISBN: 9788121500944, 9788121500944 (Śanti Parva, Book-12, Chapter-59, ślokas-68-73) [http://www.Mahābhārataonline.com/translation/index.php]

Ṛgveda: [https://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rvsan/index.htm]

 

Appendix: Quotes in English from the Text

[12/71/10 means Book-12, Section-71, Śloka-10]

Revenue Administration

12/71/10: With a sixth part upon fair calculation, of the yield of the soil as his tribute, with fines and forfeitures levied upon offenders, with the imposts, according to the scriptures, upon merchants and traders in return for the protection granted to them, a king should fill his treasury.

12/87/43-44: The entire kingdom, in that case, becomes to him his treasury, while that which is his treasury becomes his bed chamber. If the inhabitants of the cities and the provinces be poor, the king should, whether they depend upon him directly or indirectly, show them compassion to the best of his power.

12/111/7: Those kings that do not, under the influence of passion and covetousness, levy oppressive taxes, and those that protect their own dominions, succeed in overcoming all difficulties.

12/71/17: That avaricious king, who through folly oppresses his subjects by levying taxes not sanctioned by the scriptures, is said to wrong his own self.

12/87/28-30: No tax should be levied without ascertaining the outturn and the amount of labour that has been necessary to produce it. Nobody would work or seek for outturns without sufficient cause. The king should, after reflection, levy taxes in such a way that he and the person who labors to produce the article taxed may both share the value.

12/87/59: I shall take from you what it may be within your power to give me.

12/88/18-19: The king should never impose taxes unseasonably and on persons unable to bear them. He should impose them gradually and with conciliation, in proper season and according to due forms.

12/89/37-38: Take care, O king, that the traders in thy kingdom who purchase articles at prices high and low (for sale), and who in course of their journeys have to sleep or take rest in forest and inaccessible regions, be not afflicted by the imposition of heavy taxes. Let not the agriculturists in thy kingdom leave it through oppression; they, who bear the burdens of the king, support the other residents also of the kingdom.

12/87/39-40:  If, on the other hand, O Yudhishthira, the cow be milked too much, the calf becomes lean and fails to do much service to the owner. Similarly, if the kingdom be drained much, the subjects fail to achieve any act that is great.

12/88/4-9: A king should milk his kingdom like a bee gathering honey from plants. He should act like the keeper of a cow who draws milk from her without boring her udders and without starving the calf. The king should (in the matter of taxes) act like the leech drawing blood mildly. He should conduct himself towards his subjects like a tigress in the matter of carrying her cubs, touching them with her teeth but never piercing them therewith. He should behave like a mouse which though possessed of sharp and pointed teeth still cuts the feet of sleeping animals in such a manner that they do not at all become conscious of it. A little by little should be taken from a growing subject and by this means should he be shorn.

12/88/48-49: The king should always honor those subjects of his that are rich and should say unto them, 'Do ye, with me, advance the interest of the people.' In every kingdom, they that are wealthy constitute an estate in the realm.

12/88/16-17: It is impossible to behave equally towards all men. Conciliating those that are foremost, the common people should be reduced to obedience.

12/88/23-24: Drinking-shops, public women, pimps, actors, gamblers and keepers of gaining houses, and other persons of this kind, who are sources of disorder to the state, should all be checked. Residing within the realm, these afflict and injure the better classes of the subjects.

12/71/25: If in attacking an enemy's kingdom thy treasury becomes exhausted, thou may refill it by taking wealth from all except Brāhmaṇas.

12/87/63-64: A king conversant with the considerations relating to Time should, with such agreeable, sweet, and complimentary words, send his agents and collect imposts from his people. Pointing out to them the necessity of repairing his fortifications and of defraying the expenses of his establishment and other heads, inspiring them with the fear of foreign invasion, and impressing them with the necessity that exists for protecting them and enabling them to ensure the means of living in peace, the king should levy imposts upon the Vaiśyas of his realm.

 

Caste System & Division of Labour

12/62/9: Everyone derives his own nature from the nature of his acts, in respect of their circumstances, place, and means and motives.

12/62/15-16: Men, however, are always engaged in those acts to which their propensities lead. Those propensities, again, lead a living being to every direction.

12/88/46: Agriculture, rearing of cattle, trade and other acts of a similar nature, should be caused to be carried on by many persons on the principle of division of labour.

12/91/4: Menial service attaches to the Śūdra; agriculture to the Vaiśya; the science of chastisement to the Kṣatriya, and Brahmacharya, penances, mantras, and truth, attach, to the Brāhmaṇa.

Brāhmaṇa

12/60/14-15: Self-restraint, O king, has been declared to be the first duty of Brāhmaṇas. Study of the Vedas, and patience in undergoing austerities, (are also their other duties).

12/61/13-18: He should observe the ordinances of the scriptures, should not be cunning and deceitful. He should be abstemious in diet, devoted to the gods, grateful, mild, destitute of cruelty, and forgiving. He should be of a tranquil heart, tractable and attentive in making offerings to the gods and the Pitris. He should always be hospitable to the Brāhmaṇas. He should be without pride, and his charity should not be confined to any one sect. He should also be always devoted to the performance of the Vedic rites.

12/63/1: Drawing the bow-string, destruction of foes, agriculture, trade, tending cattle, and serving others for wealth, these are improper for a Brāhmaṇa.

12/63/4: A Brāhmaṇa should avoid service of the king, wealth obtained by agriculture, sustenance derived from trade, all kinds of crooked behavior, companionship with any but his wedded wives, and usury.

12/63/5-6: That wretched Brāhmaṇa who falls away from his duties and whose behavior becomes wicked, becomes, O king, a Śūdra. The Brāhmaṇa who weds a Śūdra woman, who becomes vile in conduct or a dancer or a village servant or does other improper acts, becomes a Śūdra.

12/62/6: The Brāhmaṇa who is addicted to the practices of Kṣatriyas and Vaiśyas and Śūdras, incurs censure in this world as a person of wicked soul and goes to hell in the next world.

12/78/3: When a Brāhmaṇa loses his means of support and falls into distress, he may certainly betake himself to the practices of a Vaiśya and derive his support by agriculture and keeping cattle, if, of course, he is incompetent for Kṣatriya duties.

But even in distress certain trades are strictly prohibited for a Brāhmaṇa. To quote:

12/78/5: Wines, salt, sesame seeds, animals having manes, bulls, honey, meat, and cooked food, O Yudhishthira, under all circumstances, a Brāhmaṇa should avoid.

Kṣatriya

12/60/32: Whether he does or does not do any other act, if only he protects his subjects, he is regarded to accomplish all religious acts and is called a Kṣatriya and the foremost of men.

12/60/21-24: A Kṣatriya, O king, should give but not beg, should himself perform sacrifices but not officiate as a priest in the sacrifices of others. He should never teach (the Vedas) but study (them with a Brāhmaṇa preceptor). He should protect the people. Always exerting himself for the destruction of robbers and wicked people, he should put forth his prowess in battle.

12/63/26-29: Amongst men, the highest duties are those which are practiced by Kṣatriyas. The whole world is subject to the might of their arms. All the duties, principal and subordinate, of the three other orders, are dependent (for their observance) upon the duties of the Kṣatriya. The Vedas have declared this.

12/63/32-34: The learned have said that the duties of the Kṣatriya afford great relief and produce great rewards. All duties have kingly duties for their foremost. All the orders are protected by them.

12/63/38: Indeed, if these ancient duties belonging to the Kṣatriyas be abandoned, all the duties in respect of all the modes of life, become lost.

Vaiśya

12/60/34-36: A Vaiśya should make gifts, study the Vedas, perform sacrifices, and acquire wealth by fair means. With proper attention he should also protect and rear all (domestic) animals as a sire protecting his sons. Anything else that he will do will be regarded as improper for him.

Śūdra.

12/60/48-56: The Creator intended the Śūdra to become the servant of the other three orders. For this, the service of the three other classes is the duty of Śūdra. By such service of the other three, a Śūdra may obtain great happiness. He should wait upon the three other classes according to their order of seniority. A Śūdra should never amass wealth, lest, by his wealth, he makes the members of the three superior classes obedient to him. By this he would incur sin. With the king's permission, however, a Śūdra, for performing religious acts, may earn wealth. I shall now tell thee the profession he should follow and the means by which he may earn his livelihood. It is said that Śūdras should certainly be maintained by the (three) other orders.

 

Chapter-2: Political Concepts in Mahābhārata

 

The major topics discussed in this chapter are:

Concept of Divine Origin of the King

Virtues of the Ideal King

Duties of the King

Recruitment of Government Officials

Modern Relevance

 

Concept of Divine Origin of the King

The creator composed the magnum opus for the benefit of the human society indeed but the question arose who was to be entrusted with the Herculean task of implementing the prescriptions and guidelines delineated in the vast text. In this connection the issue of appointment of the king came up. Without any central authority and a king at the top it was not possible to restore harmony and righteousness in human society. In the Kṛta age when everybody was righteous and free from vices, no king was necessary. But later on when the human society degenerated and was filled with vices, complete anarchy and chaos prevailed in the absence of a king. It became necessary to appoint a king by the creator in order to restrain anarchy and protect the interests of the citizens. The divine Manu, the son of the creator, was appointed as the first king of the human race according to Mahābhārata (and also other ancient Indian texts). The text describes his divine attributes and prowess. According to Mahābhārata and other ancient Indian śāstras, kings succeeding Manu had to be selected or elected by the citizens of the country from among the humans with noble descent and divine attributes. In fact, later on the kings were selected by the rule of primogeniture from some established and universally accepted Royal Families as in many other countries. Once coronated, the king would automatically acquire some divine qualities and power to bring about peace, prosperity and harmony in the country. A king would be qualitatively different from common citizens, he would be endowed with divine power with superhuman qualities enabling him to destroy the evil forces and preserve the honest. So it may be said that meaningful existence of all other citizens is rooted in the king – a good king means prosperity and a bad one means ruin.

It appears from the text that there was gradual degeneration of qualities of the kings (for some unknown reason) and this led to the emergence and change of ages from Kṛta to Tretā to Dwāpara and ultimately to Kali, the worst conceivable state of degeneration of the human race. Now before going into detail of the views in the epic pertaining to the divine origin of the king let us have a cursory glance at the Marxian view in this regard.

The Kṛta age in ancient Indian tradition may be compared with the Primitive Communism in Marxian literature. Vices of greed, lust etc. became manifest after the advancement of human knowledge of nature to enable them to generate surplus value leading to the origin of private property – property ownership by a few and exploitation of the majority (Engels, 1884). Up to this point there is some apparent similarity between the ancient Indian view and the Marxian view. But thereafter the Marxian view diverges radically from the ancient Indian view.

According to Marx and Engels, origin of the state was an evolutionary process and the raison d’être was protection of the rich minority and the private property owned by them. But the ancient Indian texts consider the king to be appointed by the creator for the benefit of the human race as a whole, wellbeing of the masses and to restore harmony and righteousness in a society torn with anarchy and injustice.

The text emphasizes that kings were created by the divine force in order to protect the people. In the absence of the king with daṇḍa (the rod of chastisement), the strong would devour the weak like the large fish that devours small ones in water bodies.

Besides protecting the weak from the strong, the king has also the duty to protect rightfully acquired private property of all the citizens. According to Mahābhārata, if the king fails to protect private property of each and every one, the very concept of property would disappear.

The epic now describes how the first king in this world happened to come into existence. According to the epic the creator himself selected Manu as the first king, but Manu declined to accept the offer at first considering the Herculean tasks and complicated duties associated with kingship. Later on, however, he pondered over the problems associated with the wellbeing of common people which was likely to be jeopardized in an anarchic state  and consented to accept the offer.

After accepting the appointment as the first king on earth, Manu began to discharge his kingly duties in the following manner. Being of high descent, Manu seemed then to blaze with prowess. Therefore Manu with his grandeur appeared to the inhabitants of the earth as Indra, the king of the gods, and they became inspired with fear and started refraining from neglecting their duties and were inspired to set their hearts upon their respective duties. Thereafter Manu began to travel all through the world checking everywhere all acts of wickedness, suppressing wicked activities and setting all men to their respective duties.

After the rule of Manu, the subsequent kings had to be selected or elected by the people of the country; and it would be the first and foremost task of the citizens to coronate as the king the most competent and scrupulous person. The epic emphasizes in this regard that the election and coronation of a king is the first and foremost duty of a kingdom. Those men on earth, who desire prosperity, should first elect and crown a king for the protection of every one. Once put to the throne the king acquires divine power and attributes and is to be considered of divine origin.

According to Mahābhārata, because of his divine origin, the king possesses some superhuman attributes. For example no one should disregard the king by taking him for a man, for he is really a powerful divinity in human form according to the epic. The king assumes five different forms under five different situations. He becomes Agni, Aditya, Mrityu, Kuvera and Yama. When the king, angered by encountering sinful activities, burns with his fierce energy, he is then said to assume the form of Agni (the god of fire). When he observes through his spies the acts of all persons and does what is for the general good, he is then said to assume the form of Aditya (the Sun god). When he destroys in wrath hundreds of wicked men with their sons, grandsons, and relatives, he is then said to assume the form of the Mrityu (death/destroyer). When he gratifies with profuse gifts of wealth those that have rendered him valuable services, and snatches away the wealth and precious stones of those that have offended him, indeed, when he bestows prosperity upon some and takes it away from others, he is then, said to assume the form of Kuvera (god of wealth) on earth. When he restrains the wicked by inflicting upon them severe punishments and favours the righteous by bestowing rewards upon them, he is then said to assume the form of Yama. The duties of all men, according to the epic, have their roots in the king. It is through fear of the king only that each person refrains from inflicting harm on the fellow men and the strong keeps from exploiting the weak. It is the king that brings peace on earth, through due observance of his duties, by restraining imbalance and chaos generated through undue indulgence in lust, greed and other vices by the subjects.

The king is considered by the text to be the heart of his subjects. He provides them great refuge; he is considered by the subjects as their glory; and he brings about highest happiness in the lives of his subjects. The epic opines that those men, who are attached to the king, succeed in conquering both this and the other world. Having governed the earth with the aid of the qualities of self-restraint, truth, and friendship, and having worshipping the gods by great sacrifices, the king earns great glory and ultimately obtains an eternal abode in heaven.

Ancient Indian śāstras mention four ages – Kṛta or Satva, Tretā, Dwāpara and Kali. According to these śāstras intensities of vices and sins increase from age to age and at the last age, viz., Kali, human race degenerates at accelerated pace and ultimately perishes to make way for reemergence of the cycle of the four ages starting from the Satva age. According to Mahābhārata the king plays the most crucial role in this transition from one age to the next. The epic opines that when the king rules with a complete and strict reliance on the science of chastisement, the foremost of ages called Kṛta is then said to set in. When the king relies upon only three of the four parts of the science of chastisement leaving out a fourth, the age called Tretā sets in, when a fourth part of unrighteousness remains un-chastised or uncontrolled by the king. When the king observes the great science by only a half, leaving out the other half, then the age that sets in is called Dwāpara. When the king, abandoning the great science totally, oppresses his subjects by evil means of diverse kinds, the age that sets in is called Kali. So it comes out that it is the king who is responsible for the emergence of the Kṛta age, the Tretā age and the Dwāpara age and also the fourth age Kali. So it appears that the initiation of a new age replacing the earlier better one begins through the degeneration of the king. As the king degenerates, the entre society gets degenerated and the new age which is inferior to its predecessor comes into being.

 

Virtues of the Ideal King

According to the epic the king ought to have certain essential attributes without which he would be unable to discharge his duties pertaining to ruling and protecting his kingdom and the citizens. In this regard Mahābhārata follows the ancient Indian tradition that a person to be selected or elected as the king should have some extraordinary qualities. To start with, the person chosen for kingship should possess some inborn qualities making him different from ordinary citizens. But thereafter he would have to make these inborn attributes perfect and acquire others through education, training, counseling of wise persons and relentless practice.

The king, being the most important person in the country, the wellbeing of the kingdom and its citizens being dependent on the qualities and character of the king, the person to be selected as the king should possess some rare and divine attributes.

At first the king should control himself, be free from vices and only then he would be capable of controlling and suppressing the vices of the subjects of his kingdom. The king should first subdue himself and then seek to subdue his foes; because if the king is unable to conquer his own self it is impossible for him to prevail upon his enemies.

The most important of the virtues for an ideal king as enlisted in the epic are:

1. Absence of wrath and malice

2. Kindness

3. Faith

4. Absence of cruelty

5. Detachment from pleasures

6. Valor without braggadocio

7. Liberality with judgement

8. Modesty

9. Prowess

10. Intelligence to distinguish between honest and wicked persons and between friends and foes

11. Gratitude

12. Capability to conceal purpose from the wicked

13. No undue desire for company of females

14. Respect for seniors

15. Absence of pride and vanity

16. Seeking prosperity only without infamy

17. Foresight, cleverness and competence to act in propitious time

18. Avoidance of empty promises

19. No scruples after slaying his foes

20. Displaying of anger only if occasion demands

21. Mildness but not to the offenders

22. Promptness in action

23. Absence of covetousness

 

Duties of the King

As regards the duties of the king Mahābhārata adheres to the ancient Indian norms that the first and foremost duty of the king is to ensure happiness and protection of the citizens. To this end he should help the poor and the weaker sections of the population, and undertake measures for redistribution of wealth if necessary. To ensure food security of all the citizens is also an important duty of the king in this connection.

To defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country is also an important duty of the king. In this regard he is to exercise judgement regarding war and peace, depending on the military capabilities of the country.

Internal peace, progress and harmony of a country depend on sound and strict governance, appropriate administrative measures and judicious use of the daṇḍa (the rod of chastisement). The power of the king to use the rod of chastisement should be applied in such a way that the wicked and unrighteous remain docile out of fear of the daṇḍa, and at the same time innocent people do not get panicked and suffer from inappropriate and excessive use of the daṇḍa.

It is an urgent necessity that the king should perform his assigned duties properly and should not deviate from the path of righteousness. In order to ensure this, to restrain the king from making mistakes of deviating from his assigned path, a competent and honest Brāhmaṇa should be appointed as the priest and counselor of the king. The epic emphasizes that perfect functioning of the state depends on harmonious relation between the Brāhmaṇa (the priest) and the Kṣatriya (the king). Now let us get down to the specific instructions delineated in the text as regards duties of the king.

The basic duties of the king as delineated in the epic are the following.

Protection of the subjects and ensuring their happiness is the first and foremost duty of the king.

Protection of the subject is considered by the epic to be the very cheese of kingly duties and this is the duty that the devaguru (preceptor of the gods) Bṛhaspati attaches topmost importance to.

The happiness of their subjects, observance of truth, and sincerity of behaviour are considered by the epic to be the eternal duties of kings. The epic also forbids the king to covet the wealth of others.

The duties of the king relating to war and peace have been described in nutshell in the following manner.

The king is advised to make peace with those enemies with whom peace should be made, and wage war with those enemies with whom war should be waged. The king is to be intelligent and tactful enough to take appropriate decision in this regard. That is,x he ought to possess the qualities of political shrewdness and foresight to take decisions as regards war and peace.

The king should assist the weaker sections of the population and undertake redistribution of wealth if necessary. He should feed those that have been starving, and enquire after those that have been fed. Wealth of unrighteous persons is to be forfeited and redistributed among the righteous persons.

To protect the subjects from the wicked and punish the wicked the king should be empowered with the daṇḍa (rod of punishment) or the science of chastisement. It should be exercised judiciously and with perfect knowledge of the science. Too lenient application would make the king incapable of controlling the wicked. On the other hand, over and inappropriate application would terrorize the subjects of the kingdom and raise them against the king.

The daṇḍa, the text emphasizes, compels everyone to observe his respective duties and it plays the most crucial role in upholding the world. If properly administered, it protects all men like the mother and the father protecting their children. According to the epic the very lives of creatures depend upon proper administration of the daṇḍa. The highest merit a king can acquire is acquaintance with the science of chastisement and administering the daṇḍa in the most appropriate manner.

When sinfulness is not restrained, righteous behavior comes to an end and unrighteous behavior increases greatly. Under such a situation, no one can express claim over his rightfully earned property and nobody is capable of distinguishing between his own property and property of others. Under such chaotic situation confusion reigns supreme not only regarding ownership of properties like land, houses and animals but also regarding wives and family life.

Mahābhārata follows the Vedic tradition as regards control of the king and keeping him on right path. The king is assigned supreme authority and highest power. If this power and authority is being misused, if the king becomes self-willed and whimsical, disaster would engulf the entire country. So it is necessary for the king to have a guardian who would always put the king on right path and restrain him from deviating from his duties.

Therefore, the epic suggests that a competent and pious priest should be appointed to advise the king in all matters and prevent him from deviating from his duties and basic attributes or indulging in activities harmful to both himself and the subjects. It is advised that a well-born Brāhmaṇa, possessed of wisdom and humility, ought to guide the king in every matter by his own great intelligence. He should provide sound counsels to enable the king to bring about prosperity. The Brāhmaṇa would highlight the duties that the latter should observe. The king could achieve long term fame and could be successful in disseminating his duties properly only if he listens with proper respect and humility the instructions of the Brāhmaṇa and undertakes painstaking efforts to follow the instructions.

For this reason it is advised  by the epic that the king, with an eye to both religious merit and profit whose considerations are often very intricate, should, without delay, appoint a priest possessed of learning and intimate acquaintance with the Vedas and the other scriptures. The epic emphasizes that those kings that have priests possessed of virtuous souls and conversant with policy, and that are themselves possessed of such attributes, enjoy prosperity in every direction.

It is also emphasized that a kingdom achieves prosperity with harmony only if the alliance between the king (Kṣatriya) and the priest (Brāhmaṇa) remains cordial and unflinching. The preservation and growth of the kingdom rest upon the king. On the other hand, the preservation and growth of the king rest upon the king's priest. That kingdom enjoys true prosperity, according to the epic, where the invisible fears (out of superstitions, beliefs, religious faiths etc.) of the subjects are dispelled by the Brāhmaṇa and all mundane and visible fears are dispelled by the king with his prowess as an ideal ruler.

If the king disregards the counsels of the Brāhmaṇa and develops enmity with him the kingdom is confronted with serious hazards. The epic emphasizes that ruin overtakes the kingdom of the Kṣatriya when the Brāhmaṇa and the Kṣatriya develop a bitter relation and mistrust with each other.  Both the Brāhmaṇa and the Kṣatriya achieve great prosperity if they trust one another and are helpful to one another. On the other hand, if their friendship breaks, chaos and confusion sets in over everything.

 

Recruitment of Government Officials

The perfect functioning of the state machinery depends on the efficiency, honesty, diligence and patriotism of the government employees at various levels. The king should always select employees very carefully after thoroughly scrutinizing their nature, character, efficiency and loyalty. Covetous and foolish people should never be appointed as government employees.

The epic suggests that the king should never employ persons that are covetous and foolish in matters connected with pleasure and profit. So only persons who are intelligence and free from greed are advised to be employed. Moreover it is necessary to employ honest persons in business activities of the government. The king should appoint honest and trustworthy persons in state economic enterprises associated with mines, salt, grain, ferries, and elephant corps.

Duties should be assigned to persons on the basis of their capabilities, castes and competence. In this connection, the hierarchy as regards duties of various castes should be strictly maintained and overlapping functions and confusion in this regard should be avoided. The king should protect the four orders in the discharge of their duties. It is considered to be the eternal duty of a king to prevent a confusion of duties in respect of social hierarchy, i.e., it is a duty of the king to see to it that there has been no overlap of duties assigned by śāstras to the four major castes, viz., Brāhmaṇa, Kṣatriya, Vaiśya  and Śūdra.

The king should appoint competent and honest persons to various state services and arrange for collection of revenues without causing hardships of the subjects. The king should employ spies and servants, giving them their just dues without haughtiness, the realization of taxes with considerateness, never taking anything from any subject capriciously and without cause.

The procedure of appointing the hierarchy of employees for the administration of the rural economy starting from a single village upwards to thousand villages (along with the duties of the chief official at each level) as delineated in the text is as follows. A headman should be selected for each village. Over ten villages (or ten headmen) there should be a “cone superintendent”. Over two such superintendents there should be one officer (having the control, therefore, of 20 villages). Above the latter should be appointed persons under each of whom should be 100 villages; and above the last kind of officers, should be appointed men each of whom should have 1000 villages under his control.

The headman should ascertain the characteristics of every person in the village and also all the faults that need correction. He should report everything to the officer just above him and who is in charge of 10 villages. The latter, again, should report the same to the officer right above him and is in charge of 20 villages. The latter, in his turn, should report the conduct of all the persons within his dominion to the officer above him and is in charge of a 100 villages. And ultimately, the report should reach the controller of 1000 villages.

 

Modern Relevance

Corruption and dishonesty of politicians have become important issues in recent years and, in fact, democratic system in many countries like India has almost become meaningless because of the unethical life-styles of the politicians of all ranks. The mass media are always replete with news about charges as well as court cases against ‘Big’ politicians. Surprisingly, these corrupt politicians can easily manage to get re-elected and go on pursuing their mischievous activities. Even many of them manage to mobilize overwhelming mass support in spite of their questionable reputation. Otherwise, rigging in elections with the help of the hooligans and/or administrative power (in case the party to which the corrupt politicians belong is in power) is the easiest means to get through the ‘Ballot-Battle’.

Guidelines for the ideal king, his desired virtues and duties as delineated in Mahābhārata may be of considerable help in this regard. It is, however, argued by many that the epic devised guidelines for monarchy. Therefore, they have no relevance for democracy. But a deeper insight would reveal that such a viewpoint is completely baseless. In fact, on the basis of the guidelines delineated in the epic for the king (as discussed in detail above), we may devise similar guidelines for the politicians and political parties in democratic systems.

The attributes of the ideal king as prescribed in the epic may in a modern democracy be relevant for politicians belonging to various political parties. The politicians should endeavour to emulate these virtues prescribed for the king in the epic. The voters, too, may adopt them as guidelines to select the appropriate politician to vote for. Mass media, opposition parties and common people may also assess the activities of the ruling politicians on the basis of these attributes. All these are likely to ensure better governance in a modern democracy.

As regards their objectives, the ruling politicians may also learn a lot from the epic and consider their first and foremost objective to be to ensure the wellbeing and security of the citizens of the country they rule.

The tentative guidelines on the basis of the norms of the epic for modern politicians may be like this:

i) There should be strict academic and other essential norms for persons contesting public posts.

ii) Records pertaining to financial matters of all persons, holding or contesting any public position, must be clean.

iii) No person with criminal records should be permitted to contest any election for a public post.

iv) The Election Commission and the Judicial System are to play the role of guardians and regulators of the public representatives at all levels.

v) If any criminal charge against a public representative is proved, he/she should be immediately removed from office and permanently debarred from contesting any election for public office.

vi) There should be proper measures for providing technical and ethical teachings to persons already holding public offices or opting for contesting elections for public offices.

vii) The Judiciary and the Election-Mechanism should be autonomous and independent of the Legislature and Administration.

viii) There should be measures for ensuring honesty, integrity and competence of the Judges and the Election-Personnel at all levels.

The guidelines delineated in the epic as regards appointment of state officials and collection of revenues for the state exchequer may also be helpful for a modern democratic state.

 

References

Engels, Frederic (1884): The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, Moscow, Progress Publishers, Eighth Printing, 1972

Ganguly, Kisari Mohan (1883-1896): The Mahābhārata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa (English translation), Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 1991, ISBN: 9788121500944, 9788121500944 (Śanti Parva, Book-12)

[http://www.Mahābhārataonline.com/translation/index.php]

 

Appendix

Concept of Kingship and Ideal King

Divine Origin of the King

12/67/29-30: For these reasons the gods created kings for protecting the people. If there were no king on earth for wielding the rod of chastisement, the strong would then have preyed on the weak after the manner of fishes in the water.

12/68/20: If the king did not protect, all persons possessed of wealth would have to encounter death, confinement, and persecution and the very idea of property would disappear

12/67/36: Thus solicited, the Grandsire asked Manu. Manu, however, did not assent to the proposal.

12/67/50-52: Of high descent, he seemed then to blaze with prowess. Beholding the might of Manu, like the gods eyeing the might of Indra, the inhabitants of the earth became inspired with fear and set their hearts upon their respective duties. Manu then made his round through the world, checking everywhere all acts of wickedness and setting all men to their respective duties, like a rain- charged cloud (in its mission of beneficence.)

12/67/3: The (election and) coronation of a king is the first duty of a kingdom.

12/67/53: O Yudhishthira, those men on earth who desire prosperity should first elect and crown a king for the protection of all.

12/68/42-49: No one should disregard the king by taking him for a man, for he is really a high divinity in human form. The king assumes five different forms according to five different occasions. He becomes Agni, Aditya, Mrityu, Vaisravana, and Yama. When the king, deceived by falsehood, burns with his fierce energy the sinful offenders before him, he is then said to assume the form of Agni. When he observes through his spies the acts of all persons and does what is for the general good, he is then said to assume the form of Aditya. When he destroys in wrath hundreds of wicked men with their sons, grandsons, and relatives, he is then said to assume the form of the Destroyer. When he restrains the wicked by inflicting upon them severe punishments and favors the righteous by bestowing rewards upon them, he is then said to assume the form of Yama. When he gratifies with profuse gifts of wealth those that have rendered him valuable services, and snatches away the wealth and precious stones of those that have offended him, indeed, when he bestows prosperity upon some and takes it away from others, he is then, O king, said to assume the form of Kuvera on earth.

12/68/9-12: The duties of all men, O thou of great wisdom, may be seen to have their root in the king. It is through fear of the king only that men do not devour one another. It is the king that brings peace on earth, through due observance of duties, by checking all disregard for wholesome restraints and all kinds of lust. Achieving this, he shines in glory.

12/68/66-69: The king is the heart of his people; he is their great refuge; he is their glory; and he is their highest happiness. Those men, O monarch, who are attached to the king, succeed in conquering both this and the other world. Having governed the earth with the aid of the qualities of self- restraint, truth, and friendship, and having adored the gods by great sacrifices, the king, earning great glory, obtains an eternal abode in heaven. That best of monarchs, viz., the heroic Vasumanas, ruler of Kosala, thus instructed by Vrihaspati the son of Angiras, began thenceforth to protect his subjects.

12/69/100-101: The truth is that the king makes the age. When, the king rules with a complete and strict reliance on the science of chastisement, the foremost of ages called Kṛta is then said to set in.

12/69/116-123: When the king relies upon only three of the four parts of the science of chastisement leaving out a fourth, the age called Treta sets in. A fourth part of unrighteousness follows in the train of such observance (of the great science) by three-fourths. When the king observes the great science by only a half, leaving out the other half, then the age that sets in is called Dwapara. When the king, abandoning the great science totally, oppresses his subjects by evil means of diverse kinds, the age that sets in is called Kali.

12/69/135-136: The king is the creator of the Kṛta age, of the Treta, and of the Dwapara. The king is the cause of the fourth age (called Kali).

Virtues of the Ideal King

12/69/5-6: The king should first subdue himself and then seek to subdue his foes. How should a king who has not been able to conquer his own self be able to conquer his foes?

12/70/2-4: There are these thirty-six virtues (which a king should observe). They are connected with thirty- six others. A virtuous person, by attending to those qualities, can certainly acquire great merit.

Duties of the King

12/58/1-2: Protection of the subject, O Yudhishthira, is the very cheese of kingly duties. The divine Vrihaspati does not applaud any other duty (so much as this one).

12/57/13-14: The happiness of their subjects, observance of truth, and sincerity of behavior are the eternal duty of kings. The king should not covet the wealth of others.

12/57/6: Make peace with those foes with whom (according to the ordinance) peace should be made, and wage war with them with whom war should be waged.

12/57/25: He should feed those that have not been fed, and enquire after those that have been fed.

12/57/31:  Taking the wealth of those that are not righteous he should give it unto them that are righteous.

12/69/143-146: The science of chastisement, which establishes all men in the observance of their respective duties, which is the groundwork of all wholesome distinctions, and which truly upholds the world and sets it a going, if properly administered, protects all men like the mother and the father protecting their children. Know, O bull among men that the very lives of creatures depend upon it. The highest merit a king can acquire is acquaintance with the science of chastisement and administering it properly. Therefore, O thou of Kuru's race, protect thy subjects righteously, with the aid of that great science.

12/90/15-16: When sinfulness is not restrained, righteous behavior comes to an end and unrighteous behavior increases greatly. When sinfulness is not restrained, no one can, according to the rights of property as laid down in the scriptures, say, 'This thing is mine and this is not mine.' When sinfulness prevails in the world, men cannot own and enjoy their own wives and animals and fields and houses.

12/72/24-28: The well-born Brāhmaṇa, possessed of wisdom and humility, guides the king in every matter by his own great intelligence. By means of sound counsels he causes the king to earn prosperity. The Brāhmaṇa points out to the king the duties the latter is to observe. As long as a wise king, observant of the duties of his order, and bereft of pride, is desirous of listening to the instructions of the Brāhmaṇa, so long is he honored and so long does he enjoy fame. The priest of the king, therefore, has a share in the merit that the king acquires.

12/73/1-2: The king, with an eye to both religious merit and profit whose considerations are often very intricate, should, without delay, appoint a priest possessed of learning and intimate acquaintance with the Vedas and the (other) scriptures. Those kings that have priests possessed of virtuous souls and conversant with policy, and that are themselves possessed of such attributes, enjoy prosperity in every direction.

12/74/1-3: It is said that the preservation and growth of the kingdom rest upon the king. The preservation and growth of the king rest upon the king's priest. That kingdom enjoys true felicity where the invisible fears of the subjects are dispelled by the Brāhmaṇa and all visible fears are dispelled by the king with the might of his arms.

12/73/12: Ruin overtakes the kingdom of the Kṣatriya when the Brāhmaṇa and Kṣatriya contend with each other.

12/73/22-23: When each helps the other, both attain to great prosperity. If their friendship, existing from days of old, breaks, confusion sets over everything.

Recruitment of Government Officials

12/71/7-8: Never employ those that are covetous and foolish in matters connected with Pleasure and Profit. Thou should always employ in all thy acts those that are free from covetousness and possessed of intelligence.

12/69/34: The king should set honest and trustworthy men over his mines, salt, grain, ferries, and elephant corps.

12/57/19: Kings should protect the four orders in the discharge of their duties. It is the eternal duty of kings to prevent a confusion of duties in respect of the different orders.

12/58/5: Those means consist of the employment of spies and servants, giving them their just dues without haughtiness, the realization of taxes with considerateness, never taking anything (from the subject) capriciously and without cause, O Yudhishthira.

12/87/5-11:  A headman should be selected for each village. Over ten villages (or ten headmen) there should be cone superintendent. Over two such superintendents there should be one officer (having the control, therefore, of twenty villages). Above the latter should be appointed persons under each of whom should be a century of villages; and above the last kind of officers, should be appointed men each of whom should have a thousand villages under his control.

The headman should ascertain the characteristics of every person in the village and all the faults also that need correction. He should report everything to the officer (who is above him and is) in charge of ten villages. The latter, again, should report the same to the officer (who is above him and is) in charge of twenty villages. The latter, in his turn, should report the conduct of all the persons within his dominion to the officer (who is above him and is) in charge of a hundred villages.

 

   

 

 

PART-II

POLITICAL ECONOMY IN ARTHAŚĀSTRA

 

Chapter-3: Significance of Arthaśāstra

 

The major topics taken up for discussion in this chapter are:

Place and Importance of Arthaśāstra among Ancient Indian Śāstras,

Discovery of the Manuscript of Arthaśāstra

Political, Administrative and Legal Systems

Comparisons

Kauṭilῑya’s World Outlook

Historicity of Arthaśāstra

 

Place and Importance of Arthaśāstra among Ancient Indian Śāstras

The vast body of variegated ancient Indian literature that flourished from the time of Ṛgveda up to the first century A.D. is a wonderful source of research and knowledge from the academic and historical standpoint. However, in the light of the modern era with marvels of scientific discoveries, technological inventions and commercial innovations, emergence of democracy as the leading form of governance replacing monarchy, and sea changes in economic, social, religious and political thinking and practices, ancient Indian literature might have lost much of its relevance. Nevertheless, various aspects of ancient Indian traditions as embedded in the śāstras may still be of relevance and may serve as important guidelines to resolve a number of intricate problems of modern society and governance.

With the above observations in mind, we take up the study of Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra – its place in the hierarchy of ancient Indian śāstras, the world outlook of Kauṭilya, the various aspects of Arthaśāstra, its limitations, its similarities and dissimilarities with the views of well-known Greek and European political thinkers, and the relevance of the treatise for democracies in the globalized new millennium.

Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya, the 18th and the last known in the Arthaśāstra tradition of ancient Indian literature, is in essence a manual for perfect functioning of a monarchic state striving to subjugate the entire Indian subcontinent and bring it under the rule of a powerful king. As regards coverage, consistency, erudition, depth and range, secular and scientific outlook, Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra is a marvelous treatise, without any parallel, not only in ancient India, but also in the entire ancient world. From purely academic standpoint the text is a superb and almost inexhaustible mine for exploration by researchers on Indology, subtleties of monarchic form of governance, the intricacies and abominable aspects of real life politics, espionage and warfare, complexities of basic human psychosis, and genesis of corruption etc. However, one, in quest of policy prescriptions in the treatise for the solutions of modern day problems, is likely to come up against severe limitations of Arthaśāstra in this regard and painstaking intellectual efforts would be necessary to identify the relevant aspects scattered randomly in various chapters of the text and at times shrouded in linguistic juggleries.

Without an exhaustive and intensive knowledge of ancient Indian history, evolution of religious, economic, social, political, aesthetic and cultural norms, the relations of various categories of śāstras and the place of Arthaśāstras among them, a meaningful study of Kauṭilya’s treatise is almost impossible.

Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra is a famous treatise of ancient India. It was composed around 300 B.C. The author, Kauṭilya (also known as Chāṇakya and Viṣṇugupta) was a great Brāhmaṇa scholar and a teacher of statecraft, which, in those days embraced economics, politics, war science, espionage and various aspects of religious and social life. Artha in the narrow sense means money but in the wider sense it means all material means to meet human requirements and śāstra means the holy book. The basic purpose of the book was to specify guidelines for unifying the innumerable sovereign states in the Indian subcontinent into a strong and large monarchic state capable of repulsing foreign invasion and ensuring free flow of goods and services throughout the subcontinent. This became necessary because of rapid expansion of trade. Multiple sovereign states with multiple laws and restrictions on entry had caused serious impediments on the path of free flow of goods and services which became essential with rapid expansion of trade and commerce across the entire Indian subcontinent. Moreover invasion of Alexander the Great brought to the fore the vulnerability of smaller states under the conditions of foreign invasion.

The process of unification of the smaller states, existing in India from pre-historic times, had already been initiated since the reign of Ajātaśatru (660 B.C.) who had conquered 36 smaller states to form the vast Magadha Empire. The Nanda dynasty further increased the size of the state by subjugating new smaller states. Kauṭilya wanted to accelerate the process further and his mission came to fruition as, on the basis of his guidelines and under his shrewd stewardship as the Prime Minister of the Maurya Emperor, his disciple, the king Chandragupta Maurya was capable of unifying the Indian subcontinent into a vast state embracing the geographical areas of most of present India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and parts of Afghanistan. He could also ensure internal law and order, protection against foreign invasion and economic prosperity following the guidelines of Kauṭilya and his Arthaśāstra.

 

Discovery of the Manuscript of Arthaśāstra

Mention of the magnum opus Arthaśāstra and partial quotes from it could be found in various available ancient Indian texts. References of this book were found in other available ancient Sanskrit literature, e.g. ‘Nῑtisara’ of Kāmandaka, ‘Daśa Kumāra Charita’ of Daṇḍin etc. (Shamaśāstry (ed.) 1967, Preface, pp. VII-VIII).  But the manuscript of the original text was not available to the scholars till 1909. The existence of a manuscript of Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra came to light in 1902 by Shamaśāstry, the then librarian of Oriental Manuscripts Library of Mysore, when it was handed over to the Library by a Brāhmaṇa scholar of Tanjore district.

Shamaśāstry produced a tentative English translation of the text in Indian Antiquary in 1905 and the following years. The full text was edited and published by Shamaśāstry in 1909 (Ibid. Introductory note by J. F. Fleet, p. V). Comparing this text with citations and references in other ancient works, scholars and experts on ancient Indian literature agreed that Shamaśāstry’s edition was really the copy of the work composed by Kauṭilya (Majumdar, R.C. 1960, P. 140).

‘though the existing text is, perhaps, not absolutely word for word that which was written by Kauṭilya.’ (Shamaśāstry (ed.) 1967, op. cit. p.V).

It is apprehended that many sections of the original work have been lost and there might be some interpolations by authors belonging to later generations (Ibid. p. IX; also Śāstri, K. A. Nilakanta (ed.) 1967, p.200).

Nevertheless the available text is rich in economic and other ideas and a reliable source of research on Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra.

After publication of Shamaśāstry’s edition, interest in the study of ancient Indian literature got a fillip. The text was translated in many Indian and European languages. Mahamahopadhyay T. Gaṇapati Śāstri conducted a search for other manuscripts of Kauṭilya’s work, and embodied his discoveries in a new edition of the classic during 1924-25 with a commentary of his own, in which he used an ancient Malayalam commentary, which must have embodied much traditional interpretations of Kauṭilya’s work. About the same time, came the index verborum to Kauṭilya by  Shamaśāstry, the fragments of the old commentaries on Arthaśāstra by Bhaṭṭasvamin, edited by K. P. Jayaswal and A. Banerji Śāstri in 1926, and by Madhava-Yajvan, the ‘Nayachandrika’, edited by J. Jolly and Paṇḍit Udayvira Śāstri in 1924 (Aiyangar, 1949, preface, pp. XI-XII).

Arthaśāstra, in modern sense, means the ‘science of economics’. But in ancient Indian literature, the term referred to the ‘science of material gain’ (Kosambi, 1981, p. 142). Although, ancient Indian Arthaśāstras were mainly concerned with the science of statecraft, they embodied, in a wider sense, technology and all knowledge of practical arts over and above politics (K. A. Nilakanta Śāstri (ed.), 1967, p.192).

According to Aiyangar, “Arthaśāstra constituted a combined group of social studies, in which the unity of human nature was reflected in a unity of scientific treatment.” (Aiyangar, 1949, p.131). In this context, the distinction between Arthaśāstra and other śāstras of India, viz. Sūtras, Dharmaśāstras and Nitiśāstras, is worth noting.

Sūtras were brief descriptions of Vedic sacrifices, rituals, social custom and laws written in prose style, easy to comprehend by common people. Sūtra literature developed in between c. 700 B.C. to 200 B. C. (Tripathi, 1981, pp.56-59). Dharmaśāstras, which developed in between the advent of the Christian era and 500 A.D. were written in śloka and contained traditional teachings on Hindu Civil and Criminal laws. Nitiśāstras were mainly concerned with ethical teachings. In contrast to these śāstras, Arthaśāstras were preoccupied with the science of statecraft. But political concepts in Arthaśāstras were inextricably associated with economic, social and other aspects of practical life. Kauṭilya mentions the names of several earlier Arthaśāstra authors, cites from their works and expresses his views regarding their opinions in different specific contexts.

Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra was the last text in the Arthaśāstra tradition. From Kauṭilya’s analysis of earlier Arthaśāstras, it appears that he had a thorough knowledge of them and in connection with various issues like the appointment of ministers, revenue collection, punishment for different offences, training of government officials, price fixation etc., he expressed his own views contradicting many of them after thoroughly consulting and scrutinizing the views of his predecessors on these issues. In fact, ideas embodied in Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra are founded upon the vast resources of earlier Indian literature. But his pragmatic and secular views and coherent logic distinguishes him not only from the earlier Arthaśāstra compilers but also from the authors of other śāstras and philosophical treatises of ancient India.

Many modern scholars on ancient Indian literature are of opinion that the evolution of ideas that culminated in the great work of Kauṭilya was a reflection of the evolution of political, economic and social forces in ancient India. According to Kosambi, political thinking in ancient India kept pace with the evolution of political systems in the real world. The gradual development of political events ultimately culminated in the Maurya Monarchy, which used to control a vast geographical region extending from the northern end of the Indian subcontinent to Mysore in the South and Afghanistan in the west. Along with the evolution of the state, political theories also evolved by continuously adapting themselves to new political set ups in the real world and, in this process, culminated in the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya. Kosambi has furnished a mention-worthy explanation of this evolution from the standpoint of economic logic. According to him, rapid development of commodity production and extension of overland trade necessitated the emergence of a centralized monarchy with a strong administrative machinery so as to facilitate unhindered flow of goods across the entire Indian subcontinent. This economic factor was at the very root of the evolution of the political forces that led to the emergence of the vast Maurya Empire (Kosambi, 1981, pp.118-121). K. A. Nilakanta Śāstri attributes Kauṭilya’s uniqueness among ancient Indian writers to a great extent to foreign influence. According to him, Kauṭilya was not only well versed with earlier Indian literature but also aware of foreign ideas pertaining to political economy, especially, administrative models prevalent in Egypt, Syria and Achaemenid Persia (K. A. Nilakanta Śāstri (ed.), 1967, p.3). He also opines that fiscal and bureaucratic arrangements in Arthaśāstra resembled that prevalent in Egypt and Syria contemporary to Kauṭilya (Ibid. p.174).

The uniqueness of Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra is most strikingly revealed in the enhanced power of the king that Kauṭilya prescribed for. He held royal decree above sacred law (Dharma), private treaty, social usage, exalted reason (nyaya), and prescriptions of śāstras (Shamaśāstry (ed.), 1967, Book-II, Ch-I, pp.172-173). Thus, in contrast to the ancient Indian tradition of considering the king to be only the guardian of the law, not its maker, Kauṭilya made a bold departure to consider the king to be the law maker, and in case of any conflict, the king’s edict is to prevail upon sacred law (Dharma), evidence (vyavahara) or history (charitra) (Ibid. p.172). According to Nilakanta Śāstri, Kauṭilya’s radical departure from traditional practices was due to the influence of similar practices by contemporary Hellenic monarchies. But he asserts that Kauṭilya’s treatise was not a mere copy of foreign ideas, but a harmonious assimilation of foreign ideas in accordance with the indigenous objective conditions (Nilakanta Śāstri (ed.), 1967, pp.174-175).

While studying Arthaśāstra, the question comes up in the readers’ mind if it is the description of the actual political system of the Mauryan Era. It is difficult to come to a definite conclusion in this regard. From the style of the text, however, it appears that the approach is ‘normative’, i.e. what should be in an ideal prosperous and strong monarchic state rather than the photocopy of any existing political system. In this regard the views of P. C. Chunder are worth quoting:

“Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra is not meant to be a photographic representation of an existing empire. Rather it furnishes a blueprint for a would-be conqueror (vijigῑṣu). It teaches him how to be an emperor, the head of a circle of states (cakravartin).” (Chunder, 1995, p.27)

The treatise deals exhaustively with statecraft, economics, espionage, administration, war science, ecology and various other aspects pertaining to human living. The entire text is divided into fifteen books, each containing several chapters. Although there are occasional insertions of prose, the treatise is written mainly in ślokas (Sanskrit verse consisting of two lines).

Now let us have a brief glimpse of administrative, legal and other measures delineated in the text.

 

Political, Administrative and Legal Systems

The political system to which Kauṭilya refers is monarchy. A king in ancient India could not enjoy absolute power, nor could he become an autocrat because there were several checks and restrictions on him. He was to strictly adhere to the norms laid down in the śāstras, had to follow a tight routine and to endeavour to bring about prosperity and happiness to the people (Aiyangar, 1949, p.155).

Both Jayaswal (1967) and Altekar (1962) opine that the checks on the king were inherent in the political system.1

1. According to Jayaswal (1967, pp.227-28)

“Only a king who is honest and true to his coronation oath and follows the śāstras and rules with colleagues (ministers) could wield the Daṇḍa, not one who is despotic, greedy, stupid and who rules personally.”

Altekar (1962, pp.99-103, 317) mentions the following checks on the king:

i) Religious Sanctions: (fear of hell)

ii) Proper training in traditional culture, Vedic lore (trayi), Economics (vartta), Politics (Daṇḍanῑti), Drafting, Public Accounts, Military Arts, etc.

iii) Daily tight work schedule (only six hours for rest, sleep etc.)

iv) Decentralized administration and

v) Fear of mass uprising: “People’s right to rebel and invite a more virtuous ruler to the throne was a much more feasible and practicable right in ancient times than we think it to be in the modern age.”

 

But Kauṭilya made a radical departure from this age-old norm. He provided more discretionary power to the king. The king was no longer a puppet to enforce the laws embodied in the śāstras, but had the power to apply his own judgement while the necessities of time demanded a change in the existing canons of the śāstras (Arthaśāstra, Book – III, ch.1: 39-45).

This by no means gave the king power to be a self-seeker or to indulge in autocratic activities harming common people. The king could exercise his discretion to override existing practices only if it was necessary for the growth and maintenance of a strong and prosperous state and a centralized monarchy embracing a vast geographical region. Kauṭilya laid down in detail the methods to subjugate the independent corporations and tribal republics like Kāmbojas, Surāṣṭras, Lichchhivikas, Vṛjikas, Mallakas, Madrakas, Kukuras, Kurus, Pāñcālas etc., and to bring them under the rule of the monarch (Ibid. XI/1/4). This was necessary to consolidate the centralized monarchic rule and do away with the existence of all independent warrior groups and republics of Kṣatriya tribes so that unhindered trade from one end of the Indian subcontinent to the other was facilitated. An integral part of this monarchic rule was the administrative system characterized by the existence of a strong bureaucracy and an espionage network.

Bureaucracy

The administrative setup in Arthaśāstra was designed to facilitate the functioning of monarchic rule and was based on a strong bureaucratic system. The text prescribes in detail the specific functions of the Chamberlain, Collector-general, Accountant, and the Superintendents of Treasury, Mines, Mint, Ocean-mines and host of other departments (Ibid. Book-II).

The function of each department is clearly demarcated in the text. Kauṭilya’s bureaucratic system appears to be free from redtapism and other vices that make bureaucracy a serious hindrance to free functioning of the state machinery now a days. Measures to prevent breeding of such vices are inherent in the structure and methods of functioning of the bureaucracy as prescribed in Arthaśāstra. The bureaucracy in Arthaśāstra was also a strong deterrent to emergence of military rule, “even after usurpation of power by a successful General, and this is to be ensured by the power and permanence of fiscal laws and of the bureaucracy” (Aiyangar, 1949, pp.167-68). The dynamic and flexible bureaucratic system was an integral part of monarchic rule as envisaged in Arthaśāstra.

 

Espionage Network

The administrative system as delineated in Arthaśāstra was characterized by the existence of a strong network of spies and secret agents. The various professions under which the spies are to disguise themselves have been specifies in the text with detailed description of specific functions of each category of spies. Spies are to disguise as merchants, householders, prisoners, students, prostitutes etc.

Kosambi and Vincent Smith blamed Kauṭilya’s state as unethical because of the wide use of espionage mechanism.

The global political scenario has radically changed since the time when Vincent Smith wrote his book on Indian History. The post-Second World War period has been characterized by widespread espionage networks by the modern states too. Activities of the CIA & FBI (USA), KGB & OGPU (erstwhile USSR), ISI (Pakistan), R&AW & CBI (India), Mossad (Israel), MI-16 (UK), MSS (China), BND (Germany), FSB (Russia), DGSE and erstwhile SDECE (France) are not in essence much different from that of Kauṭilya’s espionage network (Blackstock, 1964; Dallin, 1955; Furago, 1961; Gramont, 1962).

Bharati Mukherjee justifies the vast espionage network of Kauṭilya as an alternative to the quick transport and communication facilities which were lacking in Kauṭilya’s time (Mukherjee, Bharati, 1976).

Accounting

Perfect accounting is an inexorable ingredient of successful implementation of any policy or program. Here also Arthaśāstra prescriptions deserve praise. Salaries of all public servants should be paid on time, all state orders should be in writing, power and duties of all the departments should be clearly defined, separate registers should be maintained for every item and accounts should be regularly entered in the prescribed registers (Arthaśāstra, Book-II, ch.7).

The accounting and auditing network of Kauṭilya had to be facilitated by immaculate weighing and measuring systems, minute and accurate units of length, weight, time and space, maintenance of weighing balance, weighing stones and other implements of measurement (Ibid. Book-II, chs. 19, 20). Punctuality in preparing and presenting accounts (with some grace period, if justifiable) is to be strictly maintained (Ibid. Book-III, ch-7/26-41). Kauṭilya also insists on collection of accurate data and statistical information. To quote:

II/35/4: And in them, (he should record) so many are persons belonging to the four varṇas, so many are farmers, cowherds, traders, artisans, labourers and slaves, so many are two-footed and four-footed creatures, and so much money, labour, duty and fines arise from them.

II/35/5: And of males and females in the families, he should know the number of children and old persons, their work, customs and the amount of their income and expenditure.

Kauṭilya had a deep insight into basic human nature. He was always aware that human frailties may come on the path of implementing any policy, and he also realized that at times punishment is more effective than moral suasion to prevent crimes. Therefore, pertaining to implementation of accounting methods, he prescribed punitive measures depending on the degree of offence to prevent corruption, negligence and mismanagement (Ibid. Book-II, chs. 8, 9)2.

Price Policy

Price policy is an integral part of state control over important aspects of economic activities in the Arthaśāstra economy. Kauṭilya appears to have a deep insight into the nature of different classes of people and is aware of the designs of the merchant class to exploit common people if not restricted by the state.

The activities of the traders which, according to Kauṭilya, are harmful for common people and society include:

i) use of false weights, ii) smuggling, iii) profiteering, iv) enhancement of profit by cornering commodities, v) adulteration etc.

Kauṭilya prescribes various punitive measures to prevent these practices (Ibid. Book-II, ch-21 & Book-IV, ch-2).

The distinguishing features of Arthaśāstra price policy are:

i) No unnecessary control: centralization and state control are to be exercised only when it is necessary, and the state should refrain from unnecessary controls (Ibid. Book-II, ch.16).

ii) Commodities are to be sold only at specific market places (Ibid, Book-II, ch-21).

 

2. See chapter-6 of this volume.

iii) Commodities are to be sold only after they are properly weighed, measured, numbered and marked by government seals (Ibid. Book-II, ch-21).

iv) Sales of commodities where they are grown or manufactured are not permitted.

To quote:

II/22/9: And no sale of commodities (shall be allowed) in the places of their origin.

v) The price should be announced by the seller.

To quote:

II/21/7: Traders shall declare the quantity and price of the goods that have arrived at the foot of the flag, ‘Who is willing to purchase these goods, so much in quantity, at this price?’

vi) Price increase by haggling is discouraged.

To quote:

II/21/9: In case of competition among purchasers, the increase in price together with the duty shall go to the treasury.

vii) Short & long term goals: Kauṭilya could recognize the forces (of demand and supply) that play the crucial role in price-determination. According to Arthaśāstra, prices are to be fixed by the state at specific levels only as a short term measure so that temporary fluctuations of demand and supply do not generate instability and cause hardships to common people, that the traders are unable to take undue advantage of the situation of temporary scarcity so as to enhance prices in order to earn exorbitant profit and that temporary over-supply does not force the traders to incur losses. If, however, discrepancy between demand and supply persists over a long period, prices are to be readjusted in conformity with changes in demand and supply. But these readjustments are to be undertaken strictly by the state or under surveillance of the state in case the government directs the private players to announce the new prices.

viii) Buffer Stock: Arthaśāstra assigns much importance on the maintenance of a buffer stock to meet accidental shortages and thereby prevent instability and hardships to common people.

To quote:

II/15/22:  From these he should set apart one half for times of distress for the country people, (and) use the (other) half.

II/15/23: And he should replace old (stock) with new.

 

Comparisons

Kauṭilya and Machiavelli

Many authors have drawn a parallelism between Kauṭilya and Machiavelli, the 15th century Italian political philosopher. The comparison has justification as both of them have striking similarities, especially regarding the unraveling of the ugly face of real life politics without any hypocrisy, euphemism or utopian imagination. Both of them never tried to judge political life of the king (or the prince) in the light of the norms of ethics and morality applicable to him as an individual (in fact strict moral norms have been specified for his personal life); and both Kauṭilya and Machiavelli emphasize that crooked means could be justified only by noble ends.

Similarities

1. Realistic: Both of them were realistic, neither utopian nor speculative. They endeavoured to unravel the crooked and devious practices which the real life ruler is compelled to undertake for the preservation, protection, prosperity and defence of the state, and wellbeing of its citizens.

2. Free from Hypocrisy: Both of them unraveled the stark reality of the unethical nature of real life politics, without any hypocrisy. Hypocrisy becomes necessary where crooked means are adopted with a view to serving personal ends of the ruler as prevalent among many politicians and political parties in modern democracies.

3. Political and Personal Life of the Ruler: Both of them emphasize that life and activities of a politician as the guardian of a state cannot be judged by the norms of ethics and morality applicable to his personal life. The norms of morality for the king or the prince as a ruler are distinctly different from that for his personal life.

4. Means Justified by End: Both of them endeavoured to justify unethical means by noble ends: they described loathsome and ruthless means by which a ruler may rise to power, resist and subjugate enemies, control internal dissensions and corruption, but these were permitted only if, after assuming power the ruler should do beneficial works for the country and its citizens.

To quote from Arthaśāstra:

I/19/34: In the happiness of the subjects lies the happiness of the king and in what is beneficial to the subjects his own benefit.  What is dear to himself is not beneficial to the king, but what is dear to the subjects is beneficial (to him).

VI/1/2: Among them, the excellence of the king are:

VI/1/3: Born in a high family, endowed with good fortune, intelligence and spirit, given to seeing elders, pious, truthful in speech, not breaking his promise, grateful, liberal, of great energy, not dilatory, with weak neighbouring princes, resolute, not having a mean council (of ministers), desirous of training, – these are the qualities of one easily approachable.

From The Prince

Chapter-IX: “but, I repeat, it is necessary for a prince to have the people friendly, otherwise he has no security in adversity.”

“Therefore a wise prince ought to adopt such a course that his citizens will always in every sort and kind of circumstance have need of the state and of him, and then he will always find them faithful.”

Chapter-X: “For it is the nature of men to be bound by the benefits they confer as much as by those they receive. Therefore, if everything is well considered, it will not be difficult for a wise prince to keep the minds of his citizens steadfast from first to last, when he does not fail to support and defend them.”

5. Crooked Means Not for the Innocent: Both of them prescribed devious and crooked means against enemies of the state and dishonest citizens, but never against innocent people.

Arthaśāstra

V/2/69: Thus he should behave towards treasonable and unrighteous persons, not towards others.

XIII/4/22: However, when fighting is possible, he should not at all make use of fire.

XIII/4/23: For, fire is unreliable and is a divine calamity, the destroyer of innumerable creatures, grains, animals, money, forest produce and goods.

The Prince

Chapter-VIII: “Yet it cannot be called talent to slay fellow-citizens, to deceive friends, to be without faith, without mercy, without religion; such methods may gain empire, but not glory.”

6. Moralities in Personal Life: Both of them insist on practice of morality and ethics in the personal life of the ruler.

Arthaśāstra

I/6/1: Control over the senses, which is motivated by the training in sciences, should be secured by giving up lust, anger, greed, pride, arrogance and fool-hardiness.

I/6/4: A king, behaving in a manner contrary to that, (and hence) having no control over his senses, quickly perishes, though he be ruler right up to the four ends of the earth.

Kauṭilya cites innumerable examples of past kings ruined by indulgence in one or more of the vices lust, anger, greed, pride, arrogance etc. (Basu, R. L. 2005).

The Prince

Chapter-XIX: That one should avoid being despised and hated.

“It makes him hated above all things, as I have said, to be rapacious, and to be a violator of the property and women of his subjects, from both of which he must abstain. And when neither their property nor their honor is touched, the majority of men live content, and he has only to contend with the ambition of a few, whom he can curb with ease in many ways.”

Dissimilarities

1. Deception: Machiavelli openly advices the practice of deception by the prince, but Kauṭilya never does so.

To quote from The Prince

Chapter-XVIII: Concerning the way in which princes should keep.

“But it is necessary to know well how to disguise this characteristic, and to be a great pretender and dissembler; and men are so simple, and so subject to present necessities, that he who seeks to deceive will always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived. One recent example I cannot pass over in silence. Alexander the Sixth did nothing else but deceive men, nor ever thought of doing otherwise, and he always found victims; for there never was a man who had greater power in asserting, or who with greater oaths would affirm a thing, yet would observe it less; nevertheless his deceits always succeeded according to his wishes, because he well understood this side of mankind.”

“Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them. And I shall dare to say this also, that to have them and always to observe them is injurious, and that to appear to have them is useful; to appear merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright, and to be so, but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite.

And you have to understand this, that a prince, especially a new one, cannot observe all those things for which men are esteemed, being often forced, in order to maintain the state, to act contrary to fidelity, friendship, humanity, and religion. Therefore it is necessary for him to have a mind ready to turn itself accordingly as the winds and variations of fortune force it, yet, as I have said above, not to diverge from the good if he can avoid doing so, but, if compelled, then to know how to set about it.”

2. Historicity: We have already mentioned that Arthaśāstra does not refer to any specific historical period. On the other hand ‘The Prince’ is specifically concerned with a historical situation of Italy preceding the Renaissance and the principal objective Machiavelli’s prince would be to unify Italy and make it free from the occupations of foreign powers3.

3. Denigration: Machiavelli was misunderstood in the West. His treatise was denigrated by utopians, churches and the hypocrites, who knew well that the great political philosopher had brought to the open the true nature of politicians in real life. His effigy was burnt by the Jesuits,  the Index Librorum Prohibitorum drawn up by the Inquisition in Rome put Machiavelli’s works in the banned list and innumerable books and articles were published denigrating Machiavelli’s satanic teachings (Kangle, Part-III, 2000, pp.271-72). Kauṭilya has never been dishonoured in India, although Chāṇakya himself adopted the pejorative ‘Kauṭilya’ which means crooked. Kauṭilya has been highly honoured in India both by those who understands or those who do not (or even have not read the text). Arthaśāstra is held by the ordinary Indians as a religious text. In fact, crooked and apparently unethical means in politics to serve a noble cause has been preached and practiced by Lord Krishna (the human incarnate of Lord Viṣṇu, the preserver of creation in the Trinity of the post-Vedic Hindu religion) himself in the great Indian Epic Mahābhārata.

Kauṭilya & Greek Political Philosophers

The Greek political philosophers were basically concerned with devising an ideal political system to enable a social system free from vices, exploitations and other maladies of human society that perturbs any thoughtful intellectual or philosopher. Kauṭilya and for that matter all

 

3. History of Italy:  [http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/plaintexthistories.asp?historyid=ac52]

ancient Indian political theoretician had virtually no concern for an ethical or ideal political

system. He was basically concerned with devising rules and procedures to operate the monarchic state in a perfect and harmonious manner. So it is difficult to compare the two strands of thought. Still a brief comparison between Kauṭilya, Plato and Aristotle may be of academic interest.

Plato

The great Greek philosopher Plato conceived of a Philosopher King (Plato 1901, pp.215-40). As regards his concept of ‘Philosopher King’ Immanuel Kant made an interesting comment. To quote:

“That ‘kings will philosophize or philosophers become kings,’ is not to be expected. Nor indeed is it to be desired, because the possession of power inevitably corrupts the free judgment of reason. But kings or king-like nations, who govern themselves according to laws of equality, should not allow the philosophers as a class to disappear, or to be silenced; rather should they be allowed to speak forth their maxims publicly. Nay, this is even indispensable to both for the mutual enlightenment of their functions. Nor should this process of communicating enlightenment be jealously regarded as a kind of Propagandism, because as a class the philosophers are by their nature incapable of combining into political clubs and factions.” (Kant 1795).

Plato later on abandoned this idea after a bitter experience.

According to the Greek author Diogenes Laertius, Plato received an invitation from Dionysius, the king of Syracuse to turn his kingdom into utopia and Plato readily accepted the invitation. But when Plato suggested the king either to become a philosopher himself or to relinquish power for some philosopher in order to make his kingdom a utopia, the king got infuriated with Plato and sold him as a slave. Fortunately Plato’s disciple Anniceris appeared in time as a rescuer by repurchasing him from the slave trader. This disillusioned Plato. (Laertius, 2001, Book-3, XIV-XVIII).

Disillusioned Plato changed his earlier views for conservatism in his last work, the Laws, in which he makes the state subservient to law as the supreme ruler, somewhat like the supremacy of Dharma in Arthaśāstra State. Plato finally rejects communism of women and children and restores right to private property, but clings to his notions on common meals, uniform education and abstinence from menial work for the ruling class (Plato: Laws).

There is no evidence of Kauṭilya’s metamorphosis and, if tradition is to be believed, he more or less realized his ideal of chakravartin through his disciple Chandragupta Maurya and the vast Maurya Empire.

Aristotle

Kauṭilya conceived of a vast state whereas Aristotle was concerned with a tiny city state with a small population. Even Plato’s 5004 were too many for him. Aristotle was concerned with finding out an ideal political system. He criticized Plato’s Communism, but could not arrive at any definite conclusion about the desired political system (Aristotle, Politics).

Kauṭilya, on the other hand, was not a utopian and was pragmatic. He unambiguously considered monarchy as the ideal form of governance. Only under some extreme condition, diarchic or oligarchic rule by the royal family may be necessary.

To quote:

I/17/53: Or, the kingdom should belong to the (royal) family; for, a family oligarchy is difficult to conquer, and remains on the earth forever without (having to face) the danger of a calamity befalling the king.

Aristotle’s ideal society was for the free citizens and not for the slaves who were the majority in Athens. He considered slavery as natural. In the same way Kautily’s prosperity was meant for the upper classes and he considered caste based society natural and sacrosanct.

Kauṭilya & Karl Marx

Karl Marx (along with Frederic Engels) desired for an ideal society free from inequality, exploitation, injustice and social maladies. To this end the existing state machinery, which serves the exploiters, is to be overthrown by proletarian revolution and replaced by the dictatorship of the proletariat, the socialist state, which is to gradually wither away to bring about Communism – a stateless society without private property, family, competition, division of labour and exchange (Marx & Engels, 1848). Even the most serious Marxists now consider the concept of Communism a utopia.

On the other hand, Kauṭilya relied on the existing state machinery and endeavoured to devise methods to run it in a perfect way.

Kauṭilya & State Capitalism

As Kauṭilya prescribes a strong state with a vast state sector, it may be tempting to compare Arthaśāstra State with State Capitalism.

Arthaśāstra prescribes state control over trade, commerce and exchange and many other economic activities, but the major economic activities are left to private initiative. In this regard Kautily’s economic system may be compared with that of the mixed economy of modern India.

The State Capitalism of the so called Socialist countries, on the other hand, has always been characterized by overwhelming dominance of the state sector. Even after drastic market-friendly reforms, China, the largest remaining socialist country, exhibits all features of State Capitalism which can by no means be compared with the Arthaśāstra State.

Kauṭilya & Cameralism

There is a striking similarity between Arthaśāstra and works of German Cameralists during 16-18th century, especially regarding the functions of a monarchical state. The reason for this similarity may be traced back to the similarity of German states during 17th to 18th century and Indian sub-continent since 6th century B. C. to Kauṭilya’s time. In both the regions, there were small states and feudatories fighting with each other and there were economic and political compulsions for unification of the small states under centralized monarchical rule. In India the process of unification eventually led to the emergence of the Maurya Empire and in German zone the process culminated in the formation of the Hapsburg Empire and Unification of Prussia (Aiyangar, 1949; Clark, 2007; Kann, 1974).

 

Kauṭilya’s Philosophy and World Outlook

From the study of Arthaśāstra, it appears that Kauṭilya had deep respect for ancient Indian world outlook as embedded in the Vedas, Puranas, Epics, Upaniṣadas, Vedic and non-Vedic philosophies and different categories of śāstras. This is evident from the prescribed curriculum of studies for the king in Arthaśāstra, Book-I, chapters 2 and 3.

But Kauṭilya’s pragmatic and secular views distinguish him from the other authors in the ancient Indian tradition.

Emphasis on mundane matters

According to ancient Indian tradition the basic objectives of human living consists of Dharma (laws in the narrow sense and ethics and morality in the wider sense), Artha (money or wealth), Kāma (sex & sensual pleasure in a narrow sense and desire in general in a wider sense) and Mokṣa (spiritual salvation). The first three belong to mundane life and the fourth to extra-mundane life.

Kāma or desire is the basic driving force in human life. Artha or wealth is necessary to fulfill desire. But according to Hindu tradition, earning of wealth and meeting desires should be within the bounds of morality and ethics. All these are, however, meaningless unless they have the ultimate objective of achievements of salvation in extramundane life.

A thorough study of Arthaśāstra leaves the impression that Kauṭilya is primarily preoccupied with the first three aspects although he occasionally pays lip service to the fourth. On the other hand, most of the ancient Indian texts have Mokṣa at the central point.

It also appears that Kauṭilya was free from the superstitious ideas prevalent in ancient India. Some of the examples are cited from the text.

Kauṭilya emphasizes that dependence on almanacs for auspicious day and time (which is a widely prevalent practice in India even today) leads to failure in practical ventures.

To quote:

IX/4/25: Hindrances to gain are: passion, anger, nervousness, pity, shyness, ignobleness, haughtiness, a sympathetic nature, regard for the other world, piousness, illiberality, abjectness, jealousy, contempt for what is in the hand, wickedness, lack of trust, fear, failure to counter-act, inability to endure cold, heat and rain, and fondness for auspicious days and constellations.

IX/4/26: The object slips away from the foolish person, who continuously consults the stars; for an object is the (auspicious) constellation for (achieving) an object: What will the stars do?

Kauṭilya’s first and foremost emphasis is on material wealth.

To quote:

IX/7/60: Material gain, spiritual good and pleasures: this is the triad of gain.

IX/7/61: Of that, it is better to attain each earlier one in preference to each later one.

Kauṭilya at times prescribes Atharvavedic practices (magic, charms etc.) to ward off calamities, but these were simply to gratify common mass that were superstitious (and still are). However, these were prescribed along with appropriate realistic measures.

Political philosophy

Kauṭilya had no speculative or utopian philosophy regarding politics. He had strong faith in the supremacy of monarchic rule and in this regard he had neither hesitation nor any ambiguity. So we may say that as regards the form of the state, Kauṭilya did not venture into the arena of philosophical thinking. His political views were pragmatic and unambiguously defined. In fact, Kauṭilya has no political philosophy or theory of the state unlike, Plato, Aristotle, Voltaire, Hobbes, Lock, Rousseau, Marx or other political philosophers of the West. His treatise is basically a practical manual for perfect functioning of a strong and expanding monarchic state.  He opted for a strong and prosperous monarchy aiming at welfare of the citizens (he however, approves economic, social or caste-based inequalities). All measures prescribed in Arthaśāstra have this primary objective. Not only did he opt for a strong and prosperous state, but also he aimed at expanding the geographical boundaries of the state with the ultimate target of creating a vast state embracing the entire Indian subcontinent.

A thorough analysis of Kauṭilya’s world outlook, as embedded in Arthaśāstras, unravels the fact that baring a few exceptions, most of the concepts in Kauṭilya’s treatise are derived from the earlier Arthaśāstras and he specifically mentions the cases where he differs from his predecessors. No earlier Arthaśāstra has yet been discovered, but the subject matters of those texts are mentioned in Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra and many other ancient Indian texts. Notwithstanding Kauṭilya’s radical views in certain respects, ideas embedded in Kautily’s Arthaśāstra, in essence, hardly reflect any revolutionary breakthrough from ancient Hindu tradition. They are simply corroboration and expansion of the Arthaśāstra tradition of ancient India with some departure in order to accommodate the changes in objective conditions.

Comparison of ancient Indian political philosophy in general with western political philosophy brings to the fore the striking contrast between the two world outlooks. The Western political philosophy reveals a quest for an ideal political system for a human society free from all the maladies and thereby opens up a wide vista for speculations and intellectual ventures. It may be utopian in many cases, but it is rich in intellectual depth and insight. On the other hand, ancient Indian political philosophy, simply depicting the procedures for operating the monarchic state machinery, lacks flexibility and intellectual novelty, and further blossoming of the philosophy is almost impossible.

 

Historicity of Arthaśāstra

Kauṭilya, while composing his treatise did not have any specific historical situation in mind. The prescriptions in Arthaśāstra are for a monarchical state without reference to any historical period. Although he was the guide and guru of Chandragupta, the founder of the Maurya Empire, Arthaśāstra never makes any allusion of Chandragupta Maurya or his Empire. A study of the functioning of the Maurya Monarchy (Megasthenes; Thapar, 1990) reveals that the Mauryan Empire in reality had reflected Arthaśāstra principles only partially.

Concept of a unified vast state

The ancient Indian political view in general was: “many states, single culture”. However, the theoretical concept of a vast state embracing entire Indian subcontinent is to be found in earlier Arthaśāstras and other categories of ancient Sanskrit and Pali literature. There are mentions of unified India under great kings in Hindu mythologies and Buddhist religious texts. But prior to the emergence of the vast Maurya Empire (based mainly on Kauṭilya’s guidelines), there was neither any specific political theory nor any practical effort to create a vast state unifying the entire Indian subcontinent. However, since 300 years prior to Kauṭily’s time, a large state was in formation with the century-long expansion of the Magadha Empire, but it was one of the many incidents in ancient India of invasion and occupation of weaker states by the stronger. Kauṭilya had at first approached Dhana Nanda, the then king of the powerful Magadha Empire, with the proposal of his political theory of unification of the Indian subcontinent. His theory was not only rejected by the king, but he was utterly humiliated in the royal court of Dhana Nanda. This enraged Kauṭilya to openly declare his vow of destroying the Nanda Empire and he could successfully do so through his devoted disciple Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the vast Maurya Empire.

There are two explanations of Kauṭilya’s endeavour to create a vast state. Invasion of Alexander the Great might have generated the awareness among small states that they cannot on their own resist strong foreign invasion, which the united powerful state can do. The second reason is purely economic. We have already explained how the rapid expansion of trade called for a unified state to facilitate free flow of goods and services across the Indian subcontinent without any feudatory barriers. However, in Arthaśāstra, Kauṭilya never mentions these reasons. He composed his great book in the fashion of a detached scholar of political science. Kauṭilya specifies the geographical region which his would-be vijigῑṣu is to conquer and bring under his hegemony.

To quote:

IX/1/17: Place means the earth.

IX/1/18: In that, the region of the sovereign ruler extends northwards between the Himavat and the sea, one thousand yojanas in extent across.

The geographical area mentioned by Kauṭilya is unrealistic. Thousand yojanas means about nine thousand miles which goes far beyond the entire Indian sub-continent. From various commentaries it appears that there is no logic to interpret Kauṭilya’s statement literally. Kauṭilya probably meant the entire Indian subcontinent excluding its southern part.

Anyway, Kauṭilya’s king is to subjugate all the kings in the circle of states by fair means or foul in order to unify the Indian subcontinent into a large political entity.  Kauṭilya’s disciple Chandragupta Maurya could in reality give birth to such a vast state that embraced the entire northern part and some southern segments of the subcontinent and extended to the west up to Afghanistan.

After fall of the Maurya Empire, India was once again disintegrated into hundreds of independent states.

Later on till the British Rule, the subcontinent was integrated (disintegrated) several times – during (after the fall of) the Gupta Empire (320 to 550 A. D.), reign of (after the death of) Alauddin Khilji (1296 to 1316 A.D.), during Mughal Empire (after the death of Aurangzeb) (1556 to 1707). But in none of the above cases there was any theory of political unification of the Indian subcontinent. So Kauṭilya is unique in this regard among India political theoreticians.

Till the British Rule the unified Indian state (from the Mauryas to the Mughals) collapsed again and again because it lacked the essential ingredients to hold intact such a vast state in a region with innumerable races, languages, sub-cultures, religions, tribes, castes and creeds. After the British Rule, the Indian subcontinent was split up only into two parts, viz. India and Pakistan (West and East; the latter became a separate state since the creation of Bangladesh in 1971). The state of India still embraces a vast geographical area (7th in area and second in population in the world). At the time of independence, India inherited from the British regime the necessary organizations and institutions to hold intact a vast state. They are:

1. A vast network of modern (in terms of standards prevalent at that time) transport and communication network

2. A vast and powerful modern armed forces to defend the country

3. Modern powerful administrative machinery and

4. A powerful & coherent legal framework with wide coverage

These essential factors were lacking in Kauṭilya’s prescriptions and so the vast state formed on the basis of his concepts collapsed. In fact, Kauṭilya was far ahead of his time regarding his dream of a vast state in the Indian subcontinent. His dream has ultimately been materialized after two millennia, ironically, not by the efforts of the Indians themselves, but by colonialists with the sole motive of subjugating the subcontinent for commercial purposes.

For unification of the Indian subcontinent Kauṭilya explores the maṇḍala theory.

The maṇḍala theory was not any novel invention of Kauṭilya. There are mentions of ‘circle of states’ and of chakravartin ruling the entire Indian subcontinent or even the entire world in Maitrayaniya Upaniṣada, Hindu Mythologies, Mahābhārata and Buddhist texts. However, Kauṭilya, for the first time, delineated concrete steps towards formation of a large state by subjugating the other constituents of the circle of states by the chakravartin.

 

References

Aiyangar, K.V. Rangaswami (1949): Indian Cameralism, a Survey of Some Aspects of Arthaśāstra, Madras, the Adyar Library, India.

Altekar, A. S. (1962): State and Government in Ancient India, Delhi, Motilal Banarasidass.

Aristotle: Politics, translated by Benjamin Jowett [http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/a/aristotle/a8po/]

Basu, Ratan Lal (2005): “Human Development Part 2: Ancient Kingship, Modern Politicians and the Problem of Corruption in India” in The Culture Maṇḍala, Vol.7, No.1, December 2005.

Blackstock, Paul W. (1964): The Strategy of Subversion, Manipulating the Policies of Other Nations, Chicago, Quadrangle Books.

Clark, Christopher (2007): Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947, New York, Penguin.

Chunder, Pratap Chandra (1995): Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra, Calcutta, The M. P. Birla Foundations.

Dallin, David J. (1955): Soviet Espionage, New Haven, Yale University Press.

Furago, Ladislas (1961): Burn after Reading: The Espionage History of World War II, New York, Walker.

Furago, Ladislas (1962): War and Wits, New York, Paperback Library.

Gramont, S. D. (1962): The Secret War, New York, Putnam.

Jayaswal, K. P. (1967): Hindu Polity, Bangalore City, Bangalore Printing and Publishing Co. Ltd.

Kangle R. P. (2000): Kauṭiliya Arthaśāstra (Eng. Translation), Delhi, Motilal Banarasi Dass.

Kann, Robert A. (1974): A History of the Habsburg Empire: 1526-1918, California Press.

Kant, Immanuel (1795): “Perpetual Peace”, in his Principles of Politics, (trans. W. Hastie),  Edinburgh, Clark, 1891.

Kosambi, D. D. (1981): The Culture and Civilization of Ancient India, New Delhi, Vikas Publishing House.

Laertius, Diogenes (2001) (tr. R. D. Hicks): Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Vol. I, Harvard University Press.

Machiavelli, Niccolo (2011), The Prince, (translated by W. K. Marriot), Oregon, Watchmaker Publishing [http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1232/1232-h/1232-h.htm]

Majumdar, R. C. (1960): Ancient India, Delhi, Motilal Banarasidass.

Marx & Engels (1848): Manifesto of the Communist Party, Moscow, Progress Publishers, 1975.

Megasthenes: Indika (http://www.sdstate.edu/projectsouthasia/upload/Megasthene-Indika.pdf).

Mukherjee, Bharati (1976): Kauṭilya’s Concept of Diplomacy, Calcutta, Minerva Associates, Pvt., Ltd.

Plato: Laws (http://plurality-press.info/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Laws-by-Plato.pdf)

Plato (1901): The Republic, edited and translated by Benjamin Jowett, New York, P. F. Collier & Son.

Shamaśāstry, R. (ed.) (1967): Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra, Mysore, Mysore Printing and Publishing House.

Śāstri, K.A.Nilakanta (ed.) (1967): Age of the Nandas and Mauryas, Delhi, Motilal Banarasidass.

Thapar, Romila (1990): A History of India, Volume 1, New Delhi & London, Penguin Books.

Tripathi, R. (1981): History of Ancient India, Delhi, Motilal Banarasi Dass, Delhi.

 

 

 

 Chapter-4: Economic Concepts in Arthaśāstra

 

Kauṭilya in Arthaśāstra took up all conceivable aspects of economic activities associated with both the government and the citizens of the country. The most important economic concepts in Arthaśāstra as discussed in this chapter are:

Environment and Ecology

Empowerment of Women

Price Policy

Agriculture and Land Use

Craft Industries

Role of the State Sector

Taxation and Fiscal Policy

Division of Labour

 

Environment and Ecology

It is a matter of surprise that more than two thousand years ago, Kauṭilya had touched upon environmental issues of which modern human society has become aware only since the mid-twentieth century. According to him the sources of hazards pertaining to environment and ecology are human indiscretion and natural calamities. So on the basis of the cause, Kauṭilya classifies hazards pertaining to environment and ecology into two major categories, viz. i) Manmade hazards and, ii) Natural hazards.

He prescribed preventive and remedial measures for both in Arthaśāstra.

i) Manmade hazards

Kauṭilya attaches utmost importance to the preservation of forests and other natural resources. He emphasizes that appropriate plants should be grown to protect dry lands and suggests that pasturelands should be properly protected. He entrusts the task of protecting forests and other natural resources with the king. The king should employ efficient state officials to this end. The king should protect different types of forests, water reservoirs and mines by enacting appropriate laws and enforcing them with the assistance of honest and efficient officials.

Houses and other dwelling places, roads, cremation grounds etc. should be properly constructed always keeping in view the necessity of preserving environment. Every house should have proper arrangements for controlling fire. Any violation of the rules pertaining to these matters would make one liable to punishment.

Every house should be constructed strictly on the basis of the rules pertaining to preservation of environment as enacted by the authorities. There should be proper arrangements in each house for sewage and proper disposal of wastes. The violators of these rules would be fined according to the gravity of the offence.

In the above specifications Kauṭilya takes into consideration all aspects necessary for perfect harmony and eco-friendly milieu in the dwelling places of the citizens. Kauṭilya prescribes various fines and other punitive measures for polluting the environment by throwing dirt on the roads and highways or voiding urine and faeces at public places. But Kauṭilya was wise enough to realize that at times people may be compelled to commit the above mischief owing to illness or similar reasons. In that case the miscreant is to be exempted from fines.

Throwing carcasses or dead bodies at public places in the city are to be punishable with fines.

The dead bodies are to be cremated at cremation grounds only. Otherwise the offender will have to pay fines.

Kauṭilya also prescribes that everyone should be careful about preserving common property and bio-diversity. Anyone defying this rule would be punished with fines amount depending on the gravity of the offence. No one should do anything to have harmful external effects on cultivation, irrigation system and properties of other persons. Violators of this rule would be punished with fines. In case of setting fire to properties of others or common property, or bursting a dam containing water, the punishment is death-sentence.

ii) Natural hazards

Damage to environment may be caused also by natural hazards. All of them cannot be prevented by human material endeavours. But we may prevent some of them by our knowledge of science and with coherent efforts. Kauṭilya’s prescriptions for disaster management are worth noting, particularly the anticipation of disasters and prior preparation for preventing them as far as possible. First he classifies the natural calamities into eight categories, viz. fire, flood, disease, famine, rats, wild animals, serpents and evil spirits. The last one, however, has no realistic connotation but in those days, and even today considering the beliefs of common people, it has some significance. From a thorough study of the treatise, it appears that Kauṭilya himself had little faith in these superstitious practices, but to respect the faiths and beliefs of the masses in those days he had mentioned these in the text. Kauṭilya emphasizes that the king should take appropriate measures to minimize the harmful impacts of these calamities arising from non-human sources.

Some of the important measures as prescribed by Kauṭilya to prevent the three major natural calamities are discussed below.

Fire hazards

The responsibility, of controlling hazards from fire and devising rules for the citizens so as to minimize hazards from fire, lies with the City Superintendent.

Remedies against fire in residential areas and punitive measures against violators of fire- prevention rules are prescribed in detail in the text. In summer all citizens should take steps against the outbreak of fire. Fire cannot be kindled inside the houses (most probably built with hay and other inflammable materials) during the midday when the possibility of spreading of fire is very high. In case it is extremely urgent, citizens should cook outside the house so that catching fire of the house is minimized. Various indigenous devices to extinguish fire should be kept in every house. Violation of these rules would be punished with fines, the amount depending on the gravity of the offence.

The City Superintendent is to take preventive measures against fire by compelling people to remove inflammable substances from their houses and he should also take initiative in setting up fire extinguishing devices in various public places.

Flood hazards

Kauṭilya prescribes various measures for prevention of hazards from flood-situations. In the rainy season, residents of villages situated near water bodies should move away at highlands above the level of the floods and they should keep a collection of wooden planks, bamboos and boats. Kauṭilya also emphasizes on mass-participation in rescue operations for the flood affected citizens. This is to be ensured by means of both moral suasion and legal sanctions.

Famine hazards

The role of the state in famine management, as prescribed by Kauṭilya, is noteworthy. The ruler should have prior preparation for anticipated famines so that he is not caught napping. When the disaster actually occurs, he should take prompt measures so as to minimize the harmful effects on the masses. The most interesting aspect in these prescriptions is that the ruler should relinquish his throne if he fails to handle the famine situation. Help of friendly foreign governments may also be sought if it is not possible to manage disaster by the efforts of the government of the affected country alone.

In fact, ecological and environmental awareness of Kauṭilya can be found in almost all the chapters. It is clear from the above discussion that Kauṭilya was much concerned about matters pertaining to the preservation of environment and ecology. To this end he prescribed various rules and also the punitive measures for violation of such rules. In this regard Kauṭilya’s approach was holistic as he considered preservation of environment and ecology as an integral part of human living.

 

Empowerment of Women

One of the most important issues for which ancient Indian literature has much relevance today is women’s rights and empowerment. Nowadays there is much talk about this issue. Even International Women’s Year and Women’s Decade are being observed with much fanfare and propaganda. In India since independence, various show-biz measures for empowerment of women have been adopted, e.g., reservation for women in various jobs, legislative bodies etc. All these would come to naught unless measures are adopted for financial security of women, and sexual security of women is ensured by stringent punishments for sex-related crime by men against women. In fact all talks of equality and rights of women, without any financial security, strictly enforceable property rights, sexual security and norms preserving dignity of women, are simply empty talks. The prescriptions and guidelines as regards property rights and financial security of women in Arthaśāstra as detailed below are highly relevant for the present time.

Financial security of women: Woman’s property

In Arthaśāstra, as in many other ancient Indian texts, the basis of financial security to married women was strῑdhana (woman’s property). It consisted of landed property, jewellery, and money sufficient for maintenance of the married woman and her children. The funds should be provided right at the time of wedding by the husband, the relatives of the husband and that of the woman who is to be married. The amount of the fund depended on the financial capabilities of the donors involved and the existing social custom; but in all cases, it should at least be sufficient to cover the subsistence of the woman and her children in case her husband dies, remarries or abandons her for any reason in which the woman concerned has no fault on her part. Maintenance of strῑdhana was a legal compulsion according to Arthaśāstra and violation was subject to punishment. The state was to enforce the observance of the rules pertaining to this financial arrangement.

The woman could use the fund (when the husband was still alive and living with her) under the following situations, and the husband was also permitted to use the fund under certain situations. The fund could be used by the woman for the maintenance of her sons and daughters in the absence of the husband, to ward of financial exigencies, or for religious purposes. The couple could jointly spend from the fund after the birth of a child to cover the expenses necessitated by essential rituals and festivities according to social and religion norms under vogue. The husband could, however, use the fund in the above cases only when the marriage had been a pious marriage.1

Property rights of a widow

Rules related to the right over woman's property of a widow are the following according to Arthaśāstra:

If a widow does not remarry, she would be entitled to enjoy woman’s property until her dying day. After remarriage the widow generally forfeits her rights to woman’s property earned in the earlier marriage. However, a widow without sons is entitled to this property for religious purposes alone.

Remarriage of women

A widow with sons always forfeits woman’s property (from earlier marriage) after remarriage. She can use this property only for the maintenance and benefit of the sons.

If a widow, without children, remarries in order to have children and a family, she may be permitted to enjoy woman’s property if remarriage is done according to the likes of the earlier father-in-law’s family.

The wife can abandon the husband and still enjoy woman’s property if the husband becomes degraded or has settled in a foreign land or becomes outcast or even impotent.

 

1. Pious marriages: III/2/2-5: Making a gift of the daughter, after adorning her (with ornaments) is the Brāhma form of marriage. The joint performance of sacred duties is the Prājāpatya. On receiving a pair of cattle (from the bride-groom) is the Ārṣa. By making a gift (of the daughter) to the officiating priest inside a sacrificial altar, it is Daiva.

Remarriage in case of short absence of husband

Kauṭilya clearly specifies the period for which a woman is to wait to be permitted to remarry if she likes to do so in case of short absence of husband under various circumstances. The case arises when the husband goes away from the wife with the promise to return after a short period. The wives of a Śūdra, a Vaiśya, a Kṣatriya and a Brāhmaṇa without a child shall wait for a period of one year and with child for two years if they are not provided for by the husband for the period of his absence. They would wait for double the period in each case if they are provided for. In case they are not provided for, the trustees of woman's property at first and later on the kinsmen would maintain them till they are remarried.

Remarriage in case of long absence of husband

The husband may have to go away for business or other purposes for a long time. Kauṭilya also specifies the period for which a woman is to wait (to be permitted to remarry if she likes to do so) in case of long absence of husband. If the husband does not return after the stipulated time period, the wife may remarry after waiting for seven more menstrual periods if she has no child and for one year, if she has child.

Conditions for remarriage if the husband does not return in time: If the husband does not return after the stipulated period and the woman is willing to marry, she can marry only certain specified relations of the husband. Otherwise the marriage would not be recognized by law and considered as adultery and the woman would lose right over woman's property.

Inheritance of woman’s property

After the death of a woman her woman’s property would be inherited by her sons and daughters (whether the husband is still alive or dead). In the absence of children, the husband, if alive, would receive a part of it and the other parts would be shared by the respective contributors.

 

Price Policy

A close study of Arthaśāstra reveals, to the surprise of the modern scholars, who believe that the concept of demand and supply was generated in the West during the 18th century, that due regard was paid to the forces of demand and supply in price determination in this ancient text. The state, according to Arthaśāstra, was entitled to take an active role in price determination, but state intervention in this regard ought not to be contrary to the market forces. Prices were to be ultimately determined on the basis of cost of production on the one hand and intensity of demand on the other. But just price, determined in this manner, was to be approved and implemented by the state. Duty of the state in this regard was not to fix prices arbitrarily, disregarding market forces, but to see to it that traders and producers could not manipulate prices to make exorbitant profits, could not cheat the buyers or could not create crisis and instability by taking advantage a situation of shortages. Ancient authors, particularly Kauṭilya, were well aware of the psychology of the businessmen who, out of greed, would always distort the free play of the market forces and charge exorbitant prices in order to get their profits inflated, if left alone. So the state should either determine the prices itself or approve the prices announced by the traders or producers – both on the basis of the concept of just price and paying due regard to the forces of demand and supply.

According to Arthaśāstra principles, in case of temporary discrepancy (excess demand or excess supply), prices cannot be permitted to increase or fall, but are to be fixed at a given level till the discrepancy passes off. In case the discrepancy persists, the state should not attempt to keep prices rigid. In this situation, prices are to be increased (in case of excess demand) or reduced (in case of excess supply) step by step and by ‘trial-and-error’ process so as to arrive at a new equilibrium restoring balance between demand and supply and avoiding hardships to buyers (sellers) with a rapid upward (downward) swing of the price level. But in this regard, private persons are never to be given a free hand. Prices are to be readjusted either directly by the state or on the basis of approval by the state of the revised prices announced by the sellers. Now we are going to examine the specific measures in this regard as prescribed in Arthaśāstra. To start with let us explain the concept of just price as delineated in Arthaśāstra.

Concept of just price

The specific methods to fix and alter prices and the measures to implement them have been delineated in detail in Arthaśāstra. According to the text, the superintendent of commerce is to be entrusted with the task of enforcing the price policy. The prices of different commodities are to be fixed by him. He, however, cannot fix prices arbitrarily. In fact, a uniform rule should be followed throughout the country to determine the ‘just price’ of each commodity.

Just Price may be defined as:

Just Price = Average cost of production + tolls and taxes + transport and associated costs + profit margin

Where,

Production cost = cost of raw materials + wages + interest

In Arthaśāstra this concept of just price springs directly from the ancient Indian world outlook of balance embedded in the text, according to which prices are to be so determined as to strike a balance between the interests of the buyers and that of the sellers. To fulfill this objective, the following guidelines are recommended in Arthaśāstra.

Rules pertaining to sales

Goods are to be sold at places specified by the state and prices should be announced (for approval by the state and for knowledge of the buyers) by the businessmen. In no case would the goods be permitted to be sold to the final buyers at the place of their origin.

The significance of the above rule appears to be that all commodities should add some value through transport and trade before passing on to the final buyers. There may, however, be other explanations as the rule stated in the text is brief without any detailed explanation.

All goods for sale should bear official ‘seal’ and properly weighed, measured and numbered. Violation of this rule is subject to punishment. Selling goods without official seal, forging or distortion of the seal would be punished with fines, amount depending on the degree of offence.

To pay less duty than legally due, the trader may under-state the quantity or price of his goods. In such a case the excess goods and value would be confiscated by the state. Or the miscreant would be heavily fined. Similar punishment would be effected on the trader if he tries to mislead the officials by showing a sample of goods of lower quality and lower value than his actual assortment of goods in order to pay less tax than due.

Bidding

Enhancement of price by bidding is discouraged by confiscating by the state the excess profit earned through enhancement of price by bidding or by imposing heavy fines on the miscreant. If a government official adopts underhand means to guard the guilty merchants (accepting bribe etc.), he would be punished with fines along with the merchant who bribes him. To enforce the above rules Kauṭilya prescribed for a strong spying network to detect all attempts by traders to deceive the government and also to make the traders and officials aware of omnipotence of the king.

Components of just price

Arthaśāstra also provides detailed guidelines for determination of various components of price as discussed below.

Wages

The basic principles of wage-determination in the private sector as prescribed in Arthaśāstra are that wages should be so determined (by contract between the employer and the employee, which once settled, would be binding on both the parties) that the employer is not cheated and at the same time the employee is not exploited. Violation of contract by either party would be subjected to punishment. Wages are to be determined on the basis of existing custom where they are available.

For cases, where wages are not negotiated or determined by some existing local custom, Kauṭilya prescribes some rules for determination of wages.

Disputes regarding work between the employer and the employee are to be settled only on the testimony of the witnesses. In the absence of witnesses the judge would conduct an inquiry at the place of work to arrive at a judgment pertaining to settlement of the dispute.

Non-payment of contractual wages by the employers is punishable with fines.

Wages in the state-sector are to be determined according to the quality of the work. One important aspect of state sector employment of labourers is the provision of incentives through gifts etc. to the efficient labourers.

A lengthy list of wages of various state-sector employees as delineated in Book-V, chapter-3 of Arthaśāstra may be summarized as:

Salaries of Government Employees

1. 48,000 paṇas: i) Sacrificial priest; ii) Preceptor; iii) Chaplain; iv) Minister; v) Commander-in chief; vi) Crown prince; vii) King’s mother; viii) Crowned queen

2. 24,000 paṇas: i) Chief palace usher; ii) Chief of palace guards; iii) Director (of labour corps); iv) Administrator; v) Director of stores

3. 12,000 paṇas: i) Princes; ii) Mothers of princes; iii) Commandant; iv) City judge; v) Director of factories; vi) Provincial officer; vii) Council of ministers; viii) Frontier officer

4. 8,000 paṇas: i) Heads of banded troops; ii) Commandant of elephants, horses and chariot corps; iii) Magistrates

5. 4,000 paṇas: i) Superintendents of infantry, cavalry, chariots and elephants, ii) Guardians of materials and elephant-forests

6. 2,000 paṇas: i) Chariot-fighter; ii) Elephant-trainer; ii) Physician; iii) Horse-trainer; iv) Carpenter; v) Breeders of animals

7. 1,000 paṇas: i) Fortune-teller; ii) Soothsayer; iii) Astrologer; iv) Narrator of Puranas; v) King’s Charioteer; vi) Bard; vii) Chaplain’s men; iii) All Superintendents; ix) Sharp pupils, monks fallen from vow, and agents appearing as house-holders, traders and ascetics

8. 500-1,000 paṇas according to merit: i) Teachers and learned men; ii) Elephant driver; iii) Sorcerer; iv) Miners of mountains; v) All kinds of attendants, teachers & learned men; vi) Spies

9. 500 paṇas: i) Foot-soldiers trained in the (fighting) arts; ii) Groups of accountants, clerks; iii) Makers of musical instruments; iv) Village servants, secret agents, assassins, poison-givers and female mendicants.

10. 250 paṇas: i) Actors; ii) Those moving about for spying

11. 120 paṇas: i) Artisans; ii) Artists

12. 60 paṇas: i) Servants, valets, attendants and guards of quadrupeds and bipeds, ii) Foremen of labourers; iii) All attendants; iv) Riders, bandits and mountain-diggers supervised by Aryas.

13. 10 paṇas/yojana up to 10 yojanas and 20 paṇas/yojana beyond 10 yojanas: i) The Average envoy

Interest

Interest rates are to be rigidly fixed by the state (considering the degree of risk involved) so as to prevent usury and exploitation of the weak borrowers. Annual interest rates for various categories of borrowers are to be:

For non-commercial loans = 15%

For less risky commercial loans = 60%

For risky commercial loans = 120% and

For foreign trade = 240%.

If we closely look at the above chart, it is found that the rate of interest on loans for foreign trade (240% per annum) was much higher than that on loans for internal trade. This is quite contrary to the present day state policy pursued in India where, considering the chronic balance of payments crisis, it is desirable that interest on loans for foreign trade, esp. for exports, should be lower than that on loans for internal trade. The most feasible explanation for exorbitant rate of interest for foreign trade, as prescribed by Kauṭilya, lies in the very high risk involved in foreign trade in those days. During Kauṭilya’s time, transport and communication systems were undeveloped. So, foreign trade was much more hazardous than internal trade. It is also noteworthy that modern commercial banks and lending institutions were non-existent in ancient time and most of the private money-lenders were not much resourceful. So, risk factor used to play a dominant role in determining the rate of interest. If we look closely at the chart for interest rates above, it is found that even in case of internal trade, interest rate increases according to the degree of risks involved in trading. Interest rate on loans for risky internal trade (120% per annum) is double of that on loans for hazard-free internal trade (60% per annum). By the same logic one may conclude that interest rate on loans for foreign trade, which involved much more risk (than internal trade), would be higher in general as compared to interest rates on loans for internal trade.

Profit

Rate of profit in accordance with guidelines of Arthaśāstra is also to be rigidly fixed by the state so as to avoid uncertainty and to prevent traders from profiteering. There are also specific guidelines for ascertaining transport, storage and other associated expenses. Rigid and simplified rules are to be observed for determining tolls and taxes on all the commodities produced and traded. Higher profit rate is permissible for foreign trade. According to Arthaśāstra, the net profit for indigenous goods would be 5% and for foreign goods, 10%. Any trader, trying to earn a higher profit than prescribed by the state, would be punished with fines.

Implementation

Price policy as delineated in Arthaśāstra was inexorably associated with the methods of implementation, which consisted of: (a) administrative measures; (b) accounting and (c) buffer stock.

Administrative measures (through spies)

As regards implementation of price policy, a crucial role is to be played by the superintendent of the toll house. Simultaneously with collection of tolls, he is entrusted with the task of implementing prices fixed by the superintendent of commerce. If the concerned officials shirk their duties or adopt corrupt practices in connivance with the unscrupulous traders, they are to be punished.

The espionage network is to play an important role in the implementation of price policy. False statements regarding costs and prices, adulteration, smuggling, overvaluation, under-valuation, etc. by the merchants, cannot be detected without the help of the spies.

Government officials, entrusted with the task of implementing price policy, would not resort to corrupt practices as they would always be alert that spies in different guises are looming large at every corner. Anybody, whatever be his apparent identity, may be a disguised spy and so, the fear of being detected and punished would automatically discourage merchants as well as government officials to resort to underhand practices by violating rules and procedures of price determination and price control laid down by the state.

As regards the ubiquitous nature of the espionage network of Kauṭilya, a modern author opines: “There were spies in every traders’ caravan.” (Kosambi, D. D. 1981, P.147)

The espionage network is likely to facilitate perfect implementation of price policy by ensuring: (i) dissemination of correct information relevant to costs and prices, and (ii) prevention of corruption. (Mukherjee, Bharati 1976)

Accounting

Detailed and accurate methods of accounting and auditing, as delineated in Arthaśāstra, reminds one of the accounting methods of a highly developed capitalist economy. Salaries of all the state employees should be paid promptly, all state orders ought to be in writing, power and duties of all the state departments should be clearly defined, separate registers are to be maintained for every item and accounts should be regularly entered in prescribed registers.

As regards the functions of the officers of different departments pertaining to auditing of the records of the respective departments, Kauṭilya prescribes detailed guidelines. All the officials related to these tasks are to be punctual and they should perform their duties honestly, diligently and with skill. Any dishonesty, negligence or lapses on their part would be punished with fines. In this regard Kauṭilya puts forward detailed guidelines resembling modern accounting practices.

The account books of different departments are to be presented in full before the audit officer in time. In case of delay due to unavoidable circumstances, some concessions in this regard may be made, but only up to a specified limit.

The guidelines for checking up of the accounts by the audit and accounts officer are also prescribed in detail by Kauṭilya. He mentions various restrictions on the accounts officer and punitive measures against him, in case he fails to discharge his assigned duties in a proper way.

According to Arthaśāstra prescriptions the director of stores should be conversant with receipts from outside and inside, for the current year and for many years before and after the current year, so that when asked he would not falter in respect of expenditure, balance and collections for these years. The accounts and finances of the different government departments are to be inspected regularly and with accuracy.

Buffer stock

In Arthaśāstra much emphasis is laid on the maintenance of a buffer stocks of all commodities and replenishing them regularly so as to meet accidental shortages and thereby, to ensure smooth implementation of the price policy.

 

Agriculture and Land Use

In ancient India, proper measures were adopted for the development of agriculture so as to ensure adequate supply of food for the population and raw materials for craft industries based on agriculture. There were also measures for proper land use with a view to preserving fertility of soil and ensuring highest possible productivity of land without causing any damage to ecology and environment.

It may be argued that in ancient days agriculture was the main pre-occupation of the economy of a country and therefore it acquired utmost importance. But in modern era, industry is the driving force of an economy as it is free from the natural limitations of agriculture. Still the importance of agriculture cannot be ignored altogether even in a modern economy. Even today agriculture is the basic source of food for the people and it supplies raw materials to many industries like the textiles. In a country like India, agriculture has some special importance as majority of the population still depend for their livelihoods on agriculture. It is true that we will have to depend ultimately on industry for rapid economic development of the country, but without a strong agricultural base, industrial development in a country like India may come up against insurmountable bottlenecks. So, along with industry, due importance should be attached to agriculture and allied activities also. Now let us see how issues pertaining to agricultural development are handled in Arthaśāstra.

In Arthaśāstra, we are furnished with detailed guidelines as regards agricultural development and proper land use. Kauṭilya asserts that prosperity of the country depends on agricultural development and emphasizes the roles of agriculture and animal husbandry and elaborates on the merits of activities associated with these two sectors. These sectors are considered by Kauṭilya as the major sources of food and many other essential articles for human living. He also opines that the strength of a country vis-à-vis its enemy country depends on the soundness of these activities.

According to Kauṭilya, agriculture should be the profession of the Vaiśyas (the trading class). This was the common practice ever since the Vedic period. Under certain circumstances, however, he goes against the tradition and permits Śūdras to undertake activities associated with agriculture, especially in the newly established villages.

The measures to be taken by the king for agricultural development and proper land-use as prescribed by Kauṭilya consist of rules for settlement in the countryside (old or new), selection of appropriate persons who are to be entrusted with the task of land development, how land is to be distributed for various uses like agriculture, pastures, factories, forests, water reservoirs and irrigation networks, habitations etc. Kauṭilya also prescribes measures for encouraging private individuals through various rewards and incentives, as regards efficient agricultural activities and proper land use. He also prescribes punitive measures for those who violate rules in this regard or create obstruction to these activities.

It is an important question how to develop land in the hitherto uncultivated areas. It is quite natural that without government initiative and encouragement, people on their own would not be interested in settling in these areas. So, Kauṭilya prescribes state sponsored schemes for developing land for cultivation in these areas.

One way of development of hitherto uncultivated land was to provide tax concessions to those who were willing to cultivate the hitherto uncultivated land.

If any person out of laziness or any other reason, keeps land given to him uncultivated, the state should promptly seize it and hand it over to some diligent cultivator. Also these persons are to pay compensations for keeping the land idle. This is a strong measure to discourage misuse of land resources of the country. The energetic cultivators should also be encouraged by the state through grants and loans.

Allied activities

Kauṭilya also associates various allied activities with agricultural pursuits and delineates in detail the role of the state in encouraging these activities. Along with agricultural activities, the state should sponsor and encourage activities associated with development of general forests, forests suitable for living of elephants and other wild animals, pasture lands, and also marketing, and transportation and communications facilities. In fact, development of all these areas is interrelated and interdependent. So, for proper development of each of these areas, a holistic approach is necessary and Arthaśāstra delineates such a holistic approach. Kauṭilya was wise enough to realize that a single activity cannot properly flourish in isolation.

Irrigation

Kauṭilya prescribes measures for irrigation facilities which are essential for development of agriculture. As in modern India, in those days too, rainfall was not regular and equally distributed over all regions of the country. Agricultural pursuits in the dry and drought-prone areas were dependent solely on irrigation water. In other areas too, irrigation was required during dry seasons, and years of scanty rainfall because of climatic irregularities. For these reasons Kauṭilya suggests construction of water reservoirs, wells, tanks, fountains etc. Trees should be planted for soil and water conservation, esp. in dry areas. In this regard, the state should also seek people’s participation. People undertaking these activities should be encouraged by the state in various ways.

Varieties of crops

How various crops are to be cultivated are described in detail in Arthaśāstra. Here Kauṭilya describes how different crops are to be planted according to the specificity of soil and weather conditions. Variations of the same crops (depending on specific conditions) are also mentioned. In Arthaśāstra Kauṭilya mentions the various grades of the staple crops like rice and under which conditions each variety is to be cultivated. On the whole, agriculture, according to Kauṭilya, is to be eco-friendly and sustainable; and there should be a proper balance among different kinds of uses of scarce land. All varieties of seeds are to be collected in proper time and preserved properly.

Crop rotation for preservation of fertility

Crops are to be sown according to appropriateness of soils, climatic conditions etc. Kauṭilya specifies clearly which variety of crops is to be sown under specific soil, water supply and climatic conditions. Before sowing the seeds, the land is to be appropriately ploughed. Then the ploughed land should be adequately irrigated according to the type of the crop. Also types of crops to be sown may be selected on the basis of availability of water and climatic and soil conditions.

Kauṭilya opines that if wind and sunshine are properly distributed allowing the fertilizer to become appropriate for the land, the growth of crops is certain. He also describes the order of crops to be grown on a particular plot of land so as to maintain a balance in fertility of soil and ecology and for replenishment of fertility after cultivation.

Kauṭilya describes how seeds are to be prepared before sowing, and how crop saplings are to be properly maintained. He also mentions some natural devices to drive out snakes, insects and pests from the crop field.

 

Craft Industries

Importance

In course of industrialization, particularly during the era of liberalization, one of the most serious economic hazards is the problem of increasing unemployment as modern industries are highly capital intensive. For rapid economic development of a developing country like India, modern industries with sophisticated foreign technologies are to be built up. At the same time, it is to be seen that adequate employment opportunities are generated for the job-seekers (whose number is increasing rapidly with the growth of population). The organized sector led by modern industries, is incapable of handling the employment situation. So, the informal sector is to shoulder the major burden of job creation for the rising job seekers. In most of the developing countries like India, the agricultural sector has already been saturated as regards providing employment. In fact, it is burdened with the problem of surplus man-power (the so called ‘disguised unemployment’). So, it is an urgent necessity to find out a safety net for the continuously rising job seekers. The handicraft industries are likely to play a major role in this regard. Looking at the case of India as a specific example, we find that the craft industries sector is burdened with various bottlenecks, most of which have remained unresolved in spite of efforts by the Government of India since the First Five Year Plan.

In ancient India, these craft industries were highly developed and efficient. So the question arises if we can learn from the ancient Indian texts as regards reviving the craft industries and make them capable of shouldering the responsibility of handling the unemployment situation in India.

The most mention-worthy thing in this regard is that job creation through the crafts automatically takes place if the crafts prosper without any subsidy or government reservation (which is an undesirable aspect of present day government policy pertaining to the crafts industries in India). In ancient India, this was feasible because of the high quality of products of the crafts.

Now-a-days many cheap goods are produced by the large-scale modern industries, but there are also craft products, which depend on individual skill and ingenuity and, therefore cannot be imitated by modern industries. These products are likely to command a large market only if the quality of products is ensured. But here the craft industries in India today have failed miserably. Because of the low quality of products (even cheating of the customers) the craft industries in India, for their survival, require government reservation – their substandard products cannot be sold unless the government departments buy them or they gain monopoly power through government reservation. This policy of generating employment through the crafts is definitely at the cost of the consumers and, therefore this is not at all desirable. So, we are to study how the quality of products was ensured in ancient India. This was mainly ensured by the craft guilds and strict government regulations regarding quality of products of the craft industries. We are going to discuss these matters below in the light of prescriptions of Kauṭilya in this regard. But before going into the prescriptions of Kauṭilya regarding the crafts, let us have a glimpse of the history (origin, evolution and decline) of the craft industries in India.

History

A large number of highly efficient crafts, many of which originated as early as the Vedic period, flourished in ancient India, especially since 700 B.C. M.A. Buch cites the existence of the following crafts during this period: cotton, silk and woolen textiles; perfumes; glass-works and mirrors; umbrellas; shoes and other leather goods; wood works; ivory works; mining and metallurgy (gold, silver, iron, tin, zinc, copper, lead), ornaments etc. (Buch, M. A., 1979, Vol.-I, pp.116-97)

The artisans, in each branch of craft, had acquired remarkable skill because of helpful economic and political milieu. (Ibid. pp.202-36)

Buch mentions the following conducive conditions for the rapid growth and prosperity of the craft industries in ancient India:

(i) Autonomy and dignity of labour

(ii) High position of labour in society

(iii) The Indian economic system, relying more on status than on contract, was much favourable to artistic production

(iv) Absence of inequality

(v) Patronage of the state

(vi) The caste system, the guild and the village community were institutions, which were in many ways favourable to the creation and conservation of true art

(vii) The guilds were conferred the power to enforce quality of craft products

(viii) Village community and land tenure system led to wonderful continuity and unity of ancient Indian arts and crafts

(ix) Genius for imitation of the artisans

(x) Systematic technical training of the artisans since very childhood

(xi) Governing influence of religious ethics

(xii) Conducive home atmosphere

Crafts in ancient India were highly organized under strong guilds, which had evolved since the Vedic times. Almost every important craft or occupation in a locality used to form a guild. Persons belonging to each craft used to acquire the profession on the basis of heredity; used to settle down in a well-defined region and were organized in guilds under a jeṭṭhaka or pamukha. The guilds possessed both executive and judicial power and were entitled to arbitrate between its members through executive officers. Some guilds worked as banks and used to receive permanent deposits. Sometimes a number of guilds got united to form a federation presided over by a bhāṇḍāgārika (Mookerji, 1980, pp. 601-02).

Panikkar opines that guilds used to enjoy great economic and political power. (Panikkar, 1966, p.36)

The British rule in India, particularly since the middle of the 19th century, gave a deadly blow to the major crafts in India. The kings and the noble class, with refined tastes for high quality craft products, were degenerated and the guild system got disintegrated under the administrative reorganization of the British rulers. The newly emerging factory industries in Britain opted for a reliable and secure market for their products in India. This necessitated deliberate destruction of the craft industries like the cotton textiles, which were likely to out-compete the British industries producing the same type of products at that time. (Gadgil, 1973, ch.-3, pp. 33-36)

But in the process, only the major crafts like the cotton, woolen and silk textiles were affected adversely. However, a host of crafts, producing artistic goods, which could not be produced in modern factories, remained almost unaffected. But the plight of the artisans became precarious because of poverty, exploitation by the middlemen and moneylenders, and erosion of market for quality products (because of the degeneration of the noble class with refined tastes). Many artisans left their hereditary profession and sought employment elsewhere.

In recent years, however, there has been a sign of revival of many of the crafts depending on an expanding foreign market. This sector has also opened up possibilities of generating considerable employment opportunities.

Craft industries in Arthaśāstra

There are innumerable mentions of the state-sector craft industries in Arthaśāstra. Most of these industries were under the supervision of specific state departments headed by a superintendent or director, e.g. the director of mines, of metals, superintendent of armoury etc. These industries include mines, metals, ornaments, diamonds, gems, gold, pearls, yarns, cloths, armours, furniture, umbrellas, glassworks, pottery, chariots etc. There are also specifications of factories and product processes, the types of artisans to be employed, the conditions of employment etc. for each craft.

Varieties and localization

Besides these prescriptions for state sector craft products, there are mentions of thousands of commodities, produced at various places and this indicates the range and variety of craft products in those days.

Maintenance of quality

The high quality of the craft products was the cornerstone of success for the crafts in those days. This was possible because of the existence of the guilds which maintained a strict surveillance over the quality at all stages of production beginning from the raw materials. They also helped the individual artisans to market their products. Thus employment was automatically generated without any reservation for the crafts. Kauṭilya was also aware that the guilds themselves may acquire monopoly power and thereby destroy competition. So, state control over the guilds and artisans was necessary in order to protect the interests of the consumer.

Kauṭilya opines that the guilds are to play the crucial role in ensuring quality of raw materials and final products.

Kauṭilya prescribes various regulations to control the craftsmen so that they may not deceive the buyers of their products. Specific regulatory rules are also prescribed for each class of artisans.

From the above analysis we may safely come to the conclusion that emulation of Kauṭilya's principles is likely to play a crucial role in revival of the craft industries and ensuring the quality of their products making them capable of absorbing the vast body of unemployed and at the same time meeting the needs of the consumers, especially, in highly populated backward countries like India.

 

Role of the State Sector

Exclusive state monopoly and state departments

In Arthaśāstra, Kauṭilya prescribes for a vast state sector embracing all the major fields of production in the economy. According to his guidelines the state should have monopoly power over most of the natural animal-products and plant-products. It may also be presumed that Arthaśāstra prescribes for state ownership of most of the mines producing metallic ores and controlling power over trade in these products. The state is also entitled, according to Kauṭilya, to lease out mines to private businessmen. But in this respect the best mines are to be explored by the state itself and the difficult ones to be leased out to private parties. The state should have monopoly power over salt mines. But here also some salt mines could be leased out to private parties in exchange for rent and surcharges. Kauṭilya prescribed for monopoly power of the state over exploration of gold and production of ornaments and other articles by these precious metals. All measuring scales and weights are to be produced by the state.

In brief, the state sector in an Arthaśāstra economy ought to have a command over the entire economy.

Kauṭilya gives an elaborate account of the state sector economic activities. It is seen that almost all the goods available in those days were produced in the state sector. The state also used to participate in inland and overseas trade. In certain fields, the state used to enjoy almost exclusive monopoly power. They were: mining, fisheries, transport, production of boats, ships, and vehicles, coins and salt. In these spheres, however, private persons were permitted to operate under certain conditions and under strict state control. The state had exclusive right over all forest and oceanic product.

For smooth and efficient operation of the state machinery, Kauṭilya divided the vast state sector activities into a large number of departments, each department entrusted to a superintendent, director or departmental head. The most important departments were:

1) Stores department

2) Revenue administration

3) Audit and accounts department

4) Treasury

5) Department of mines and factories

6) Department of gold

7) Department of magazine

8) Department of trade and commerce

9) Department of forests

10) Armoury

11) Department for weights and measures

12) Department for space and time

13) Customs department

14) Department for yarns

15) Department of agriculture

16) Department for spirituous liquor

17) Department for slaughter house

18) Department for courtesans

19) Shipping department

20) Department for cattle

21) Department for horses

22) Department for elephants

23) Department for chariots

24) Infantry

25) Department for passports and pastureland

27) Village administration

28) Department for secret agents

29) City administration.

Various hypotheses have been put forward to explain the prescription of such a vast and all comprehensive state sector in Arthaśāstra. None of them is, however, fully satisfactory. The important ones are discussed below.

(i) The vast size of the empire necessitated vast amount of revenue. For small states, it may be possible to mobilize necessary revenue through taxation alone. But for a vast state like one conceived by Kauṭilya, adequate finance could not be mobilized through taxation alone. So it becomes necessary to supplement tax revenue by profits from the state sector business and productive activities.

(ii) Private sector productive activities (particularly by the craft industries under the guilds) were not adequate to meet the requirements of the society. So it was necessary to undertake productive activities under the state.

(iii) Protection and proper use of natural resources like forests, lakes, rivers, mineral and water resources etc. compelled the Kauṭilya’s state to have exhaustive monopoly over these fields.

(iv) Technological expansion in that period necessitated state intervention and direct participation by the state in productive activities.

In fact, none of these explanations is fully satisfactory. So, further research in this regard is an urgent necessity. Two observations, however, about the vast state sector in Arthaśāstra, could be made on the basis of existing information:

(a) The concept of a vast state sector was a temporary phenomenon, specifically relevant to the age of the Arthaśāstra when for the first time India as a single political entity encompassing a vast geographical area emerged. We draw this conclusion because this concept is absent in the guidelines prescribed in the major texts in the later periods in ancient India.

(b) In Arthaśāstra, utmost emphasis was given to the efficiency and profitability of the state sector.

Private sector

In the fields outside exclusive state monopoly, private production was permitted. Agricultural commodities were to be produced in both the private sector and the state sector. It appears that most of the trading (internal and foreign) activities were carried on by private traders.

Thus, a study of Arthaśāstra creates the impression that the major part of the national product was produced in the state sector and only a small part was permitted to be produced in the private sector.

Philanthropic activities of the state

Kauṭilya also prescribes various philanthropic and benevolent activities of the state. The king should consider the happiness of the subjects his own happiness and what is beneficial to the subjects his own benefit. This explains the basic attitude of the ruler towards his subjects – his basic purpose is not to gratify his personal interests but to ensure the wellbeing of the subjects.

In distress and calamities afflicting the people, it is the foremost duty of the king to rescue them to the best of his capacity, and he should also take prior preparations for all exigencies. People affected by war or natural calamities are to be exempted from taxation.

 

Taxation and Fiscal Policy

Taxation

Tax has been the major source of revenue of the government from the very ancient times. Even today, it is the most important source of revenue of modern governments. The advantage of taxes is that the money collected from this source is not to be returned to the payees, payment of taxes (by those on whom taxes are imposed) is compulsory, and no direct benefits are to be provided to the payees in exchange for tax payments. Moreover, tax policy may be used as an important fiscal instrument for regulating the economy. Nowadays, tax system has become extremely complicated because of increasing complexity of the economic system. Tax system as delineated in Arthaśāstra was, however, less complicated and easier to implement. And it appears from the text that most of the taxes levied by the state were indirect commodity taxes.

Arthaśāstra prescribes detailed methods of tax collection and penalties for violation of each tax-rule. The tax and toll collection centres should be erected at gates of cities and towns and efficient officials would be entitled to collect taxes and tolls from the traders after recording in detail of their whereabouts, the goods they have brought and the price and quantities of the goods entering the city (from the announcement of the traders). Anyone trying to evade taxes would be heavily fined. Similar actions would be taken for false information furnished to the officials by the traders. Manipulation of official stamp is equally punishable and in such a case the tax officials may seize the entire assortment. Certain goods like weapons, armours, coats of mail, metals, chariots, jewels, grains and cattle etc. are declared as un-exportable and carrying such goods would be liable to punishment with fines and seizure of the goods. Entry of worthless and harmful goods would be prevented by the officials. Goods for religious rituals, for marriage and other social festivities would be exempted from taxes.

Besides the usual duties, the traders would have to pay in addition a road cess to the frontier officer (the rate varying from commodity to commodity) for provision of security and insurance against theft and other hazards that may cause damage or loss of their merchandise on the way.

Tax rates for various commodities

Duties for the dealers in different kinds of spirituous liquors, not produced in the state sector, are to be 5% of the value of the commodity. Prostitutes are to pay an income tax double the usual tax on income. They should also pay tax on imported instruments they use for musical or other entertainments of their clients. For commodities imported or produced in the private sector within the country, Kauṭilya prescribes commodity wise tax rates: the rates varying from five percent to twenty percent ad valorem. Kauṭilya also prescribes surcharges (5%-9%) on certain commodities. Imports of foreign goods which have beneficial effects on the country are to be encouraged by tax concessions.

From the above analysis it is clear that Kauṭilya lays emphasis on indirect taxes than on direct taxes. Most of the taxes mentioned in the text are commodity taxes.

Fiscal policy

In Arthaśāstra, Kauṭilya emphasizes strongly on the importance of a resourceful treasury for the functioning of the state. Moreover stress is laid on sound finance, measures to enhance and enrich the treasury and to generate surplus in the state budget. At the same time it is emphasized that revenue collection of the state should not harm the interests of the country and its people. Kauṭilya insists on a surplus budget and suggests measures to avoid deficits in the budget. This is in conformity with ancient Indian principles of sound fiscal management which is quite contrary to modern practices of deficit budgeting.

Additional finance under crisis

In Arthaśāstra, Kauṭilya also prescribes measures for mobilizing finance for situations of crisis (āpada dharma). In such a situation caused by war, drought, natural calamities etc. the state is to eschew the normal practices of revenue collection. For such emergent situations, Kauṭilya suggests various devious and apparently unethical methods of additional resource mobilization. But he is always cautious that the hardships caused by such methods do not fall on the poor and the weaker sections of the population. From a close study of these prescriptions, it is found that at the time of crisis, pressure for collecting additional finance (whether ethical or apparently unethical) is to be exerted on the well to do persons alone and not on the poor.

Various methods of mobilizing additional finance in emergency situations as delineated in Arthaśāstra may be categorized as: i) Convincing cultivators, ii) Convincing merchants, dealers and animal-breeders, iii) Donations from rich citizens, iv) Exploiting superstitions of wealthy citizens, v) Robbing wealthy dishonest traders and v) Outwitting treasonable persons.

 

Division of Labour

Division of labour has gained much currency in the modern era. Originally it started with the social division of labour, i.e., each person adopting a separate profession. It became necessary, as with the advancement of productive activities of human society, it was not possible for a person to produce all the goods and services he requires. So, he works according to his capability, and with the income thus earned he purchases from others (through the market) all requisites for his livelihood. With the emergence of factory industries, division of labour has become more intense, as in an industrial establishment each person produces only a part of the total product. In ancient India, division of labour was looked upon as a part of the harmony of the universe and something ordained by the creator. From this standpoint, division of labour was based on the caste (varṇa) system.

But at present the society has become more complicated and viewpoints regarding traditional castes have changed considerably. The nature of human activities, too have changed, multiplied and become more diverse and qualitatively different. Under this situation it is almost impossible to revive the traditional caste system as such. The problem has become more complicated with the increase in the degree of intercourse with people of foreign countries as a consequence of the revolutionary changes in transport and communications in recent years. So, the question arises if the caste-based division of labour has any relevance for modern days at all. Here we may briefly mention that although the ancient system as such may not be appropriate today, the essence of the ancient system is likely to be of much significance.

Kauṭilya remains faithful to the Vedic norms and defines division of labour on the basis of division of the society into four major castes, viz., Brāhmaṇa, Kṣatriya, Vaiśya and Śūdra. Kauṭilya defines the functions of these four castes according to the Vedic tradition:

i) Brāhmaṇa: studying, teaching, performing sacrifices for self, officiating at other people’s sacrifices, making gifts and receiving gifts.

ii) Kṣatriya: studying, performing sacrifice for self, making gifts, living by the profession of arms and protecting beings.

iii) Vaiśya: studying, performing sacrifice for self, making gifts, agriculture, cattle-rearing and trade.

iv) Śūdra: service of the three upper castes, engaging in economic activities (viz., agriculture, cattle-rearing and trade) and the profession of the artisan and actor.

But as regards the functions of the Śūdra Kauṭilya deviates to some extent from the ancient Indian tradition as he includes agriculture as one of the professions for the Śūdras (tradition considered this to be a profession of exclusively the Vaiśyas).

Duties for people at different walks of life

Kauṭilya also mentions some specific duties for people in different walks of life, e.g. householders, Vedic students, forest-dwellers and wandering ascetics etc.

Kauṭilya opines that one should stick to his own assigned duties and this will lead to success and happiness in this world as well as beyond this worldly life. On the other hand, violation of this would lead to mixture of duties leading to chaos and confusion. He considers this division of duties on the basis of castes as sacred, and entrusts the duty of preserving it with the king.

 

  

References

Buch, M.A. (1979): Economic Life in Ancient India, Allahabad, R.S. Publishing House.

Gadgil, D.R. (1973): Industrial Evolution in India in Recent Times, Delhi, Oxford University Press.

Kosambi, D. D. (1981): The Culture and Civilization of Ancient India, New Delhi, Vikas Publishing House.

Mookerji, R.K. (1980): “Economic Conditions” in Majumdar, R.C. (ed.), The History and Culture of Indian People, Vol.-II, Bombay, Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan.

Mukherjee, Bharati (1976): Kauṭilya’s Concept of Diplomacy, Calcutta, Minerva Associates, Pvt., Ltd.

Panikkar, K.M. (1960): A Survey of Indian History, Bombay, Asia Publishing House.

 

Appendix

[All quotations below are from Kangle, R. P., 1986. In the quotations below, symbol II/1/39, means Book-II, Chapter-4, Śloka-39].

Environment & Ecology

i) Manmade hazards

II/1/39: Thus the king should protect the product-forests, elephant-forests, irrigation works and mines that were made in ancient times and should start new ones.

II/2/4: And he should established on its border or in conformity with the (suitability of the) land, another animal park where all animals are (welcomed) as guests (and given full protection).

II/2/5: And he should establish forests, one each for the products indicated as forest produce.

II/2/6: On the border (of the kingdom), he should establish a forest for elephants guarded by foresters.

II/2/7: The superintendent of the elephant-forest should, with the help of guards of the elephant-forest, protect the elephant-forest (whether) on the mountain, along a river, along lakes or in marshy tracts, with its boundaries, entrances and exits (fully) known.

II/2/8: They should kill anyone slaying an elephant.

II/4/1: Three royal highways running west to east and three running south to north that should be the division of the residential area.

III/8/6: (He should make) the dung-hill, the water-course or the well, not in a place other than that suited to the house, except the water-ditch for a woman in confinement till the end of ten days (from delivery).

III/8/7: In case of transgression of that, the lowest fine for violence (shall be imposed).

III/8/9: He should cause to be made a deep-flowing water-course or one falling in a cascade, three padas away (from a neighbour’s wall) or one aratni and a half (away).

III/8/10: In case of transgression of that, the fine is fifty-four paṇas.

III/8/11:  He should cause to be made a place for carts and quadrupeds, a fire-place, a place for the large water-jar, the grinding mill or the pounding machine, one pada away or one aratni (from a neighbour’s wall).

III/8/12: In case of transgression of that, the fine is twenty-four paṇas.

III/8/13: Between all two structures or two projecting rooms, (there is to be) an open lane one kisku (wide) or three padas.

III/8/14: Between them, the distance between the eaves of roofs (is to be) four angulas, or one may over-lay the other.

III/8/15: He should cause to be made a side-door in the intervening lane, measuring one kisku, for making repairs to what is damaged, not (allowing) crowding.

III/8/16: For light, he should cause a small window to be made high up.

III/8/19: And he should cause that part above the verandah which requires protection, to be covered by matting, or a wall touching (the roof), for fear of damage by rain.

II/36/26: For throwing dirt on the road the fine shall be one eight (of a paṇa), for blocking it with muddy water, one quarter.

II/36/27: On the royal highway, (the fines shall be) double.

II/36/28: Fines for voiding faeces in a holy place, in a place for water, in a temple and in royal property are one paṇa rising successively by one paṇa, half these for passing urine.

II/36/29: If (these are) due to medicine, illness or fear, (the persons are) not to be fined.

II/36/30: For throwing the dead body of a cat, a dog, a ichneumon or a serpent inside the city, the fine shall be three paṇas; for throwing the dead body a donkey, a camel, a mule, a horse or cattle, six paṇas; for a human corpse, fifty paṇas.

II/36/33: For depositing burning (a corpse) elsewhere than in a cremation ground, the fine (shall be) twelve paṇas.

IV/10/4: In case of theft of deer or objects from deer-parks or produce-forests, (there shall be) a fine of one hundred.

IV/10/5: In case of theft of deer or birds (intended) for show or pleasure or in case of killing these, the fine shall be double.

III/9/27: In the case of damage to the ploughing or seeds in another’s field by the use of a reservoir, channels or a field under water, they shall pay compensation in accordance with the damage.

III/9/28: In case of mutual damage to fields under water, parks and embankments, the fine (shall be) double the damage.

III/9/29: A tank on a lower level, constructed afterwards, shall not flood with water a field watered by a tank on a higher level.

III/9/30: A (tank) constructed on a higher level shall not prevent the flooding with water of a lower tank, except when its use has ceased for three years.

III/9/31: For transgression of that, (the punishment shall be) the lowest fine for violence and the emptying of the tank.

III/10/5: For encroaching on a path for small animals or men the fine is twelve paṇas; on a path for large animals twenty-four paṇas, on a road for elephants or fields fifty-four paṇas, on a road to a dike or a forest one hundred and six, on a road to a cremation ground or a village two hundred, on a road in a dronamukha five hundred, on a road in a sthaniya, the countryside or pasture land, one thousand.

III/10/6: In case of reducing the size of these (roads), the fines are one-quarter of the fines (mentioned).

III/10/7: In case of ploughing on (them, the fines are) as prescribed.

IV/11/17: For one breaking a dam holding water, drowning in water at the same spot (shall be the punishment), the highest fine for violence if it was without water, the middle if it was in ruins and abandoned.

IV/11/20: He shall cause to be burnt in fire one who sets on fire a pasture, a field, a threshing ground, a house, a produce-forest or an elephant forest.

 

ii) Natural hazards

IV/3/1: There are eight great calamities of a divine origin: fire, floods, disease, famine, rats, wild animals, serpents and evil spirits.

IV/3/2: From them he should protect the country.

IV/3/4: Prevention of fire is explained in ‘Rules for the City Superintendent’ and in connection with royal possessions in ‘Rules for the Royal Residence’.

II/36/15: And (citizens shall take) steps against (an outbreak of) fire in summer.

II/36/16: In the two middle quarters of the day, one-eighth (of a paṇa) is the fine for (kindling) fire.

II/36/17: Or they should do their cooking outside (the house).

II/36/18: One quarter (of a paṇa is the fine) for not providing five jars, also a big jar, a trough, a ladder, an axe, a winnowing-basket, a hook, a ‘hair-seizer’ and a skin-bag.

II/36/23: For the owner, not running to save the house on fire, the fine (shall be) twelve paṇas, six paṇas for a tenant.

II/36/24: In case of (houses) catching fire through negligence, the fine (shall be) fifty-four paṇas.

II/36/19: The (City-superintendent) should remove things covered with grass or matting. II/36/20: He shall make those who live by (the use of) fire reside in one locality.

II/36/22: Collections of water-jars should be placed in thousands on roads and at cross-roads, gates and in royal precincts.

IV/3/6: In the rainy season, villages situated near water should live away from the level of the floods.

IV/3/7: And they should keep a collection of wooden planks, bamboos and boats.

IV/3/8: They should rescue a (person) being carried away (by the flood) by means of gourds, skin-bags, canoes, tree-stems and rope-braids.

IV/3/9: For those who do not go to the rescue, the fine is twelve paṇas, except in the case of those without canoes.

15. IV/3/17: During a famine, the king should make a store of seeds and food-stuffs and show favour (to the subjects), or (institute) the building of forts or water-works with the grant of food, or share (his) provisions (with them), or entrust the country (to another king).

IV/3/18: Or, he should seek shelter with allies, or cause a reduction or shifting (of the population).

 

Empowerment of Women

Financial security of women: Woman’s property

III/2/14: Maintenance and ornaments constitute woman’s property.

III/2/15: Maintenance is an endowment of maximum of two thousand (paṇas); as to ornaments there is no limit.

III/2/16: It is not an offence for the wife to use that for the maintenance of her sons and daughters-in-law or if no provision is made when (the husband is) away on a journey, (or) for the husband (to use it) for taking steps against robbers, diseases, famine (and other) dangers and for religious acts, or for the couple (to use it) jointly when they have begotten a son and a daughter.

Pious marriages

III/2/2: Making a gift of the daughter, after adorning her (with ornaments) is the Brahma form of marriage.

III/2/3: The joint performance of sacred duties is the Prajapatya.

III/2/4: On receiving a pair of cattle (from the bride-groom) is the Arsa.

III/2/5: By making a gift (of the daughter) to the officiating priest inside a sacrificial altar, it is Daiva.

Impious marriages:

III/2/6: By secret association (between lovers), it is the Gandharva.

III/2/7: On receiving a dowry, it is the Asura.

III/2/8: By forcible seizure (of a maiden), it is the Raksasa.

III/2/9: By the seizure of a sleeping or intoxicated (maiden), it is the Paisaca.

III/2/17: And if it has been used for three years, the (wife) shall not question, in the case of the pious marriages.

III/2/18: If used in the Gandharva and Asura marriages, the (husband) shall be made to return both with interest, if used in the Raksasa and Paisaca marriages, he shall pay (the penalty for) theft.

III/2/19: When the husband is dead, the (widow) desirous of leading a life of piety, shall forthwith receive the endowment and ornaments and the remainder of the dowry.

Property rights of a widow

III/2/33: A (widow) without sons, remaining faithful to her husband’s bed, shall use her woman’s property in the proximity of elders, till the end of her life.

III/2/34: For, a woman’s property is meant for calamities.

Remarriage of women

III/2/20: If, after receiving (these), she marries again, she shall be made to return both with interest.

III/2/26: A (widow) remarrying shall forfeit what was given her by her (late) husband.

III/2/27: She shall use it if desirous of a pious life.

III/2/28: If a (widow) who has sons marries again, she shall forfeit her woman’s property.    

III/2/29: The sons, however, shall receive that woman’s property.

III/2/30: Or, if she remarries for the maintenance of her sons, she shall augment (the woman’s property) for the sake of the sons.

III/2/31: The (woman) shall settle on sons born (to her) from many husbands her woman’s property as given by the respective fathers.

III/2/32: A (widow) marrying again shall settle on her sons her woman’s property even when she is entitled to do what she pleases with it.

III/2/21: If, however, she is desirous of having a family, she shall receive, at the time of remarriage, what was given to her by her father-in-law and her (late) husband.

III/2/23: If she remarries against the wishes of her father-in-law, she shall forfeit what was given her by her father- in-law and her (late) husband.

III/2/48: A husband, who has become degraded or gone to a foreign land or has committed an offence against the king or is dangerous to her life or has become an outcast or even an impotent one may be abandoned.

Remarriage in case of short absence of husband

III/4/24: The wives of a Śūdra, a Vaiśya, a Kṣatriya and a Brāhmaṇa, who are away on a short journey, shall wait for a period (of one year) increased successively by one year, if they have not borne children, for one year more, if they have borne children.

III/4/25: Those who are provided for (shall wait) for double the period.

III/4/26: The trustees shall maintain those unprovided for, kinsmen for four or eight years after that.

III/4/27: Thereafter, they shall release (them) after taking back according as they had given.

Remarriage in case of long absence of husband

III/4/28: The (wife) shall wait for a Brāhmaṇa who is away studying, for ten years if she has no child, for twelve if she has a child, for a royal servant (she shall wait) till the end of her life.

III/4/29: And if she bears a child from a man of the same varna, she shall not incur blame.

III/4/30: Or, when the affluence of the family has disappeared, she, being released by the trustees, may marry again as she desires, or when she is in distress, for the sake of livelihood.

III/4/31: After a pious marriage, the maiden shall wait for her husband who has gone away without informing her, for seven periods if no news is heard about him, for one year if news is heard.

III/4/32: If he has gone away after informing her, she shall wait for five periods when no news is heard, for ten if news is heard.

III/4/33: If he had paid only a part of the dowry, she shall wait for three periods if there is no news, seven periods if there is news about him.

III/4/34: If he had paid the dowry (in full), (she shall wait) for five periods if there is no news, ten if there is news.

III/4/35: After that, she may remarry as she desires, with the permission of the judges.

III/4/36: ‘For, frustration of the period is destruction of sacred duty’, says Kautilya.

III/4/37: The wife of a (man) who has gone away on a long journey or has become a wandering monk or is dead shall wait for seven periods, for one year if she has borne children.

III/4/38: After that she may approach (for marriage) a full brother of the husband.

III/4/39: If there are many (such brothers, she should approach) one who is proximate (to the husband), one who is pious, one capable of maintaining her, or the youngest if without a wife.

III/4/40: In the absence of these, even one who is not a full brother, a sapinda or a member of the family who is near.

III/4/42: In case she marries setting aside these heirs of her husband, (or) in case she has a lover, the lover, the woman, the bestower (of the woman) and the man who marries her receive the penalty for adultery.

Inheritance of woman’s property

III/2/36: If a woman dies while her husband is living, her sons and daughters shall divide her woman’s property among themselves, daughters (only) if she had no sons, in the absence of these the husband (shall receive it).

III/2/37: The dowry, the post-marriage gifts and other things given by her relations, the relations shall receive.

II/1/28: If a person with means does not maintain his children and wife, his father and mother, his brothers who have not come of age, and his unmarried and widowed sisters, a fine of twelve paṇas (shall be imposed), except when these have become outcasts, with the exception of the mother.

II/1/29: If one renounces home (to become an ascetic) without providing for his sons and wife, the lowest fine for violence (shall be imposed), also if one induces a woman to renounce home.

 

Price Policy

Concept of just price

IV/2/23: The merchant should fix, after calculating their total earnings for the day, what the (sales-agents) should live on with permission.

IV/2/24: What falls in between the purchaser and the seller becomes different from what is received.

IV/2/28: And he should fix a profit for them of five per hundred over and above the permitted purchase-price in the case of indigenous commodities, ten (per hundred) in the case of foreign goods.

IV/2/29: For those who increase the price beyond that or secure (a profit beyond that) during purchase or sell, the fine shall be two hundred paṇas for (an additional profit of) five paṇas in one hundred paṇas.

Rules for pertaining to sales

II/22/9: And no sale of commodities (shall be allowed) in the places of their origin.

II/21/7: Traders shall declare the quality and price of the goods that have arrived at the foot of the flag.

II/21/3: For (goods) without the stamp the penalty is double the dues.

II/21/4:  For those with a forged stamp, the fine is eight times the duty.

II/21/5: For those with broken stamps, the penalty is distraint in the warehouse.

II/21/6: In case of change of the royal stamp or of (change in) the name, he should make (the trader) pay a fine of one paṇa and a quarter per load.

II/21/15: Therefore the sale of goods should be made by weighing; measuring or counting; an appraisal [of value should be made] of goods of small value and goods enjoying concessions.

II/21/10: If for fear of duty a (trader) declares the quantity of the goods or the price, to be less (than it actually is), the king shall confiscate that excess.

II/21/11: Or the (trader) shall pay eight times the duty.

II/21/12: He should impose the (same penalty) in case of depreciation of price of a package containing goods by (showing) a sample of lower value and in case of concealment of goods of high value by goods of low value.

Bidding

II/21/13: Or, if through fear of a rival purchaser a (trader) increases the price beyond the (due) price of a commodity, the king shall receive the excess in price, or make the amount of duty double.

II/21/14: The same (penalty) eightfold (shall be imposed) on the Superintendent concealing (the trader’s offences).

Components of just price

Wages

III/13/26: Those who are near shall note a labourer’s engagement in work.

III/13/27: He should receive wages as agreed upon, in conformity with the work and time (if the wage is agreed upon).

III/13/28: A cultivator, a cowherd (and) a trader should receive one-tenth part of the crops, of butter (and) of the goods dealt in by them (respectively) if the wage is not agreed upon.

III/13/29: But if the wage is agreed upon, then as agreed upon.

III/13/30: But the group of those who work in hope (of remuneration) such as craftsmen, artists, minstrels, physicians, professional story-tellers, attendants and others should get a remuneration as others of that type do or as experts fix.

III/13/31: (Disputes) shall be settled only on the testimony of witnesses.

III/13/32: In the absence of witnesses, (the judge) should inquire at the place where the work (was carried out).

III/13/33: In the case of non-payment of wage, the fine is one-tenth or six paṇas.

III/13/34: In the case of denial, the fine is twelve paṇas or one-fifth.

II/23/3: He should fix the wage after ascertaining the fineness, coarseness or medium quality of the yarn, and the largeness or smallness of quantity.

II/23/4: After finding out the amount of yarn, he should favour them with oil and myrobalan unguents.

II/23/5: And in festive days, they should be made to work by honouring (them) and making gifts.

II/23/6: In case of diminution in yarn, (there shall be) a diminution in wage, according to the value of the stuff.

II/23/7: And he should cause work to be carried out by artisans producing goods with an agreement as to the amount of work, time and wage, and should maintain close contact with them.

Salaries of Government Employees

V/3/3-24

3. The sacrificial priest, the preceptor, the minister, the chaplain, the commander-in chief, the crown prince, the king’s mother and the crowned queen should receive forty-eight thousand (paṇas).

4. With this much remuneration, they become insusceptible to instigations and disinclined to revolt.

5. The Chief Palace Usher, the Chief of Palace Guards, the Director (of labour corps), the Administrator and the Director of Stores should receive twenty-four thousand.

6. With this much, they become efficient in their work.

7. The princes, the mothers of princes, the commandant, the city-judge, the Director of Factories, the council of ministers, the provincial officer and the frontier officer should receive twelve thousand.

8. For, with this much, they help in strengthening the entourage of the master.

9. Heads of banded troops, commandants of elephants, horses and chariot corps, and magistrates should receive eight thousand.

10. For, with this much, they are able to carry their groups with them.

11. Superintendents of infantry, cavalry, chariots and elephants and Guardians of material and elephant forests should receive four thousand.

12 The chariot-fighter, the elephant trainer, the physician, the horse-tamer and the carpenter and breeders of animals should receive two thousand.

13. The fortune-teller, the soothsayer, the astrologer, the narrator of Puriinas, the charioteer and the bard, the chaplain’s men and all superintendents should receive one thousand.

14 Foot-soldiers trained in the (fighting) arts and the groups of accountants, clerks and others should receive five hundred.

15 But actors should receive two hundred and fifty, and makers of musical instruments should receive double the wage of these.

16 Artisans and artists should receive one hundred and twenty.

17 Servants, valets, attendants and guards of quadrupeds and bipeds and foremen of labourers should receive a wage of sixty, also riders, bandits and mountain-diggers supervised by Aryas, as well as all attendants.

18. Teachers and learned men should receive an honorarium as deserved, a minimum of five hundred and a maximum of one thousand.

19 The average envoy should receive ten paṇas per yojana, a double wage beyond ten (yojanas) up to one hundred yojanas.

20 The ‘king’ should receive three times the fee of those equal in learning at the Rajastiya and other sacrifices.

21 The king’s charioteer should get one thousand.

22 Sharp pupils, monks fallen from vow, and agents appearing as householders, traders and ascetics should get one thousand.

23 Village servants, secret agents, assassins, poison-givers and female mendicants should get five hundred.

24 Those moving about for spying should get two hundred and fifty or should have their wage increased according to their efforts.

Interest

III/11/1: One paṇa and a quarter is the lawful rate of interest per month on one hundred paṇas, five paṇas for purposes of trade, ten paṇas for those going through forests, twenty paṇas for those going by sea.

III/11/2: For one charging or making another charge a rate beyond that, the punishment shall be the lowest fine for violence, for witnesses, each one of them, half the fine.

III/11/3: If, however, the king is unable to ensure protection, the (judge) should take into consideration the usual practice among creditors and the debtors.

III/11/4: Interest on grains (shall be) up to a half, on the harvesting crops; thereafter it may increase being turned into capital.

III/11/5: Interest on capital (shall amount to) half the profit, to be paid for one year, being set apart in a store.

Profit

IV/2/28: And he should fix a profit for them of five per hundred over and above the permitted purchase price in case of indigenous commodities; ten (per hundred) in case of foreign goods.

IV/2/29: For those who increase the price beyond that or secure (a profit beyond that) during purchase or sale, the fine shall be two hundred paṇas for (an additional profit of) five paṇas in one hundred paṇas.

Implementation

Administrative measures (through spies)

II/21/17: Secret agents operating on roads and in places without roads should find out such (evasion).

II/21/27: Or a secret agent appearing as a trader should communicate to the king the size of the caravan.

Accounting

II/7/1: The Superintendent should cause the Record Office to be built facing the east or the north, with separate halls, (as) a place for record books.

II/7/2: There he should cause to be entered in the record-books: the extent of the number, activity and total (income) of the departments; the amount of increase or decrease in the use of the (various) materials, expenses, excess, surcharge, mixing, place, wages and labourers in connection with factories; the price, the quality, the weight, the measure, the height, the depth and the container in connection with jewels, articles of high value, of low value and forest produce; laws, transactions, customs and fixed rules of regions, villages, castes, families and corporations; the receipt of favours, lands, use, exemptions, and food and wages by those who serve the king; the receipt of jewels and land (and), the receipt of special allowances and (payments for) remedial measures against sudden calamities, by the king and his queens and sons; and payments and receipts in connection with peace and war with allies and enemies.

II/7/3: From that he should hand over in writing the (revenue) estimate, accrued revenue, outstanding revenue, income and expenditure, balance, (the time for) attendance (for audit), (sphere of) activity, customs and fixed rules, to all the departments.

II/7/16: The accounts should come in on Asadha full moon day.

II/7/17: When the (officers) have come with sealed account books and balances in sealed containers, he should impose restriction in one place, not allowing conversation (among them).

II/7/18: After hearing the totals of income, expenditure and balance, he should cause the balance to be taken away (to the treasury).

II/7/21: For (officers) not coming at the proper time or coming without the account-books and balances, the fine shall be one-tenth of the amount due.

II/7/22: And if, when the works officer presents himself, the accounts officer is not ready to audit, the lowest fine for violence (shall be imposed).

II/7/23: In the reverse case, the fine for the works officer (shall be) double.

II/7/24: The high officers should render accounts in full in accordance with their activity, without contradicting themselves.

II/7/25: And among these he who makes a divergent statement or speaks falsely shall pay the highest fine (for violence).

II/7/26: He should wait for one month, if the (officer) has not brought in the day-to-day accounts.

II/7/27: After the month, the (officer) shall pay a fine of two hundred paṇas increased (by that amount) for each succeeding month.

II/7/28: If an (officer) has a little of written balance due (from him), he should wait for five days.

II/7/29: If he brings in the day-to-day accounts after that period, preceded by (delivery of the balance into) the treasury, he should look into (the case) with reference to laws, transactions, customs and fixed rules and by totaling up, (and by looking at) the work actually carried out, by inference and the use of spies.

II/7/30: And he should check (the accounts) for each day, group of five days, fortnight, month, four months and year.

II/7/31: He should check the income with reference to the period, place, time, head of income, source, bringing forward, quantity, the payer, the person causing payment to be made, the recorder and the receiver.

II/7/32: He should check the expenditure with reference to the period, place, time, head (of expenditure), gain, occasion, the thing given, its use and amount, the person who orders, the person who takes out, the person who delivers and the receiver.

II/7/33: He should check the balance with reference to the period, place, time, head, bringing forward, the article, its characteristics, amount, the vessel in which it is deposited and the person guarding it.

II/7/34: If, in an affair of the king, the accounts officer is not ready for audit or disregards an order or changes the income and expenditure in a way different from the written order, the lowest fine for violence (shall be imposed).

II/7/35: For one writing down an item (in the accounts) without any order or in a wrong order or in an illegible manner, or twice over, the fine is twelve paṇas.

II/7/36: For one writing down the balance (in any of these ways) the fine is double (that).

II/7/39: In case of a false statement, the punishment is that for theft.

II/7/40: For admitted afterwards, (the fine is) double, so also if an item is forgotten and then brought in.

II/5/22: He should be conversant with receipts from outside and inside even after a hundred years, so that when asked he would not falter in respect of expenditure, balance and collections.

II/9/19: Therefore, he who is appointed by an order to a particular department shall communicate to him [i.e., the king] the real nature of that work and the income and expenditure (both) in detail and in the aggregate.

II/9/28: Therefore, his superintendents should carry out the works accompanied by accountants, writers, examiners of coins, receivers of balance and supervisors.

Buffer Stock

II/15/22: From these he should set apart one half for times of distress for the country people, (and) use the

(other) half for times of distress for the country people, (and) use the (other) half.

II/15/23: And he should replace old (stock) with new.

 

Agriculture and Land Use

I/4/1: Agriculture, cattle-rearing and trade, – these constitute economics, (which are) beneficial, as they yield grains, cattle, money, forest produce and labour.

I/4/2: Through them, the (king) brings under his sway his own party as well as the party of the enemies, by the (use of the) treasury and the army.

I/3/7: Those of the Vaiśyas are: studying, performing sacrifices for self, making gifts, agriculture, cattle-rearing and trade.

II/1/2: He should cause villages to be settled consisting mostly of Śūdra agriculturists, with a minimum of one hundred families and a maximum of five hundred families, with boundaries extending over one krosa or two krosas, (and) affording mutual protection.

II/1/8: He should allot to tax-payers arable fields for life.

II/1/9: Un-arable fields should not be taken away from those who are making them arable.

II/1/10: He should take away (fields) from those who do not till them and give them to others.

II/1/11: Or, village servants and traders should till them.

II/1/12: Or, those who do not till should make good the loss (to the treasury).

II/1/13: And he should favour them with grains, cattle and money.

II/1/14: These they should pay back afterwards at their convenience.

Allied activities

II/1/19: He should set going work in mines, factories, produce-forests, elephant-forests, cattle-herds and trade- routes and (establish) water-routes, land-routes and ports.

II/2/1: On land unsuitable for agriculture, he should allot pastures for cattle.

Irrigation

II/1/20: He should cause irrigation works to be built with natural water sources or with water to be brought in from elsewhere.

II/1/21: Or, to others who are building (these), he should render aid with land, road, trees and implements, and (also render aid) to (the building of) holy places and parks.

II/1/23: And he should be a sharer in the expenses and yet should receive no portion (of the benefits derived).

II/34/8: In waterless regions, he should establish wells, water-works and springs, also flower- and fruit-enclosures.

III/9/33: When tanks and embankments are newly constructed, an exemption (from taxes) for five years (should be granted), when those that are ruined and abandoned are renovated, an exemption for four years, when those that are over-grown with weeds are cleared, for three years, when dry land is newly brought under cultivation, for two years.

III/9/34: He is free to mortgage or sell.

III/10/46: The king should do what is agreeable and beneficial to these, when they build dykes that are of benefit to the country or bridges on roads or carry out works beautifying the villages or defence (of the villages).

Varieties of crops

II/24/1: The Director of Agriculture, himself conversant with the practice of agriculture, water-divining and the science of rearing plants, or assisted by experts in these, should collect, in the proper seasons, seeds of all kinds of grains, flowers, fruits, vegetables, bulbous roots, roots, creeper fruits, flax, and cotton.

II/24/2: He should cause them to be sown in land, suitable for each, which has been ploughed many times, through serfs, laborers and persons paying off their fines by personal labor.

II/24/11: In conformity with that, he should cause crops to be sown, requiring plenty of water or little water.

II/24/15: Or, the sowing of seeds (should be) in conformity with the season.

II/24/19: According to the amount of water (available) for the work, he should decide on wet crops, winter crops or summer crops.

II/24/22: (A region) where the foam strikes (the banks) is (suited) for creeper fruits, (regions on) the outskirts of overflows, for long pepper, grapes and sugarcanes, (those on) the borders of wells, for vegetables and roots, (those on) the borders of moist beds of lakes, for green grasses, ridges for plants reaped by cutting, (such as) perfume- plants, medicinal herbs, usira-grass, hribera, pindaluka and others.

II/24/23: And on lands suitable for each, he should raise plants that grow on dry lands and that grow in wet-lands.

Crop rotation for preservation of fertility

II/24/10: Where it rains distributing wind and sunshine properly and creating three (periods for the drying of) cowdung cakes, there the growth of crops is certain.

II/24/12: sali-rice, vrihi-rice, kodrava, sesamum, priyangu, udaraka and varaka are the first sowings.

II/24/13: mudga, masa and saimbya are the middle sowings.

II/24/14: Safflower, lentils, kulattha, barley, wheat, kalaya, linseed and mustard are the last sowings.

II/24/24: Soaking in the dew (by night) and drying in the heat (by day) for seven days and nights (is the treatment) in the case of seeds of grains, for three days and nights or five in the case of seeds of pulses, smearing at the cut with honey, ghee and pig’s fat, mixed with cowdung in the case of stalks that serve as seeds, (smearing) with honey and ghee in the case of bulbous roots, smearing with cowdung in the case of stone-like seeds, (and) in the case of trees, burning in the pit and fulfillment of the longing with cow-bones and cowdung at the proper time.

II/24/25: And when they have sprouted, he should feed them with fresh acrid fish along with the milk of the snuhi- plant.

II/24/26: He should collect (and burn) the seeds of cotton and the slough of a serpent. Serpents do not remain where there is this smoke.

 

Craft Industries

II/12/1: The Director of Mines, being conversant with the science of (metal) veins in the earth and metallurgy, the art of smelting and the art of coloring gems, or having the assistance of experts in these, and fully equipped with workmen skilled in the work and with implements, should inspect an old mine by the marks of dross, crucibles, coal and ashes, or a new mine, where there are ores in the in the earth, in rocks or in liquid form, with excessive color and heaviness and with a strong smell and taste.

II/12/18: What is produced from ores, he should put to use in factories for the respective metals.

II/12/23: The Director of Metals should establish factories for copper, lead, tin, vaikrintak, brass, steel, bronze, bell- metal and iron, also (establish) trade in metal-ware.

II/12/24: The Mint Master should cause to be minted silver coins.

II/12/27: The Superintendent of Mines should establish factories for (articles of) conch- shells, diamonds, gems, pearls, corals and caustics as well as commerce in them.

II/13/37: Setting, stringing, and minor work, these are ways of working (in gold).

II/13/38: Setting is the fixing of binding and so on.

II/13/39: Stringing is weaving in threads and so on.

II/13/40: (Making) a solid article, a hollow article or one with beads and so on is minor work.

II/14/1: The Goldsmith should cause the gold and silver work of the citizens and the country people to be carried out by workshop artisans.

II/17/1: The Director of Forest Produce should cause forest produce to be brought in by guards in the produce forests.

II/17/2: And he should start factories for forest produce.

II/17/15: Vessels made of split bamboo-cane and of clay.

II/17/16: Charcoal, husks and ashes; enclosures for deer, beasts, birds and wild animals and enclosures for fuel and grass.

II/17/17: Separate factories making all kinds of goods should be erected, outside as well as inside, by the Director of Forest Produce, for ensuring livelihood and protection of the city.

II/18/1: The Superintendent of the Armory should cause to be made machines for use in battles, for the defence of forts and for assault on the enemies’ cities, also weapons, armors and accoutrements by artisans and artists expert in those lines, producing goods with an agreement as to the amount of work, time allowed and wages, and should store them in places suitable for each.

II/19/1: The Superintendent of Standardization should cause factories to be established for the manufacture of standard weights and measures.

II/23/1: The Superintendent of Yarns should cause trade to be carried out in yarns, armours, cloth and ropes through men expert in the work.

II/23/2: He should get yarn spun out of wool, bark-fibres, cotton, silk-cotton, hemp and flax, through widows, crippled women, maidens, women who have left their homes and women paying off their fine by personal labour, through mothers of courtesans, through old female slaves of the king and through female slaves of temples whose service of the gods has ceased.

II/23/9: He should bring about the production of varieties of cloth, bed-sheets and coverings.

II/23/10: And he should start factories for armors by artisans and craftsmen expert in the line.

II/23/18: And he should cause articles, such as straps and others to be manufactured.

II/23/19: He should cause ropes to be made of yarn and fibers, (and) thongs of canes and bamboos, as trappings for war and bindings for vehicles and draught-animals.

II/33/1: The (duty of the) Superintendent of Chariots is explained by (that of) the Superintendent of Horses.

II/33/2: He should establish factories for (the manufacture of) chariots.

Varieties and localization

II/11/2: That from the Tamraparni a, that from Pandyaka-vata, that from the Pasika, that from the Kula, that from the Curni, that from (Mt.) Mahendra, that from Kardama, that from the Srotasi, that from the Lake, and that from the Himavat, these are pearls.

II/11/28: Gems come from Koti, from the Mala and from beyond the sea.

II/11/37: Diamonds come from Sabharastra, from Tajjamarastra, from Kastirarastra, from (Mt.) Srikatanaka, from Manimanta and from Indravana.

II/11/42: The Coral from Alakananda and from Vivarna.

II/11/43: Sandal-wood from Satana is red and has the smell of the earth.

II/11/44: That from Gosirsa is blackish red and smells like fish.

II/11/45: The sandal-wood from Hari is of the color of the parrot’s feather and has the smell of a mango, also that from the Trinasa.

II/11/46: That from Grameru is red or red-black and has the smell of goat’s urine.

II/11/47: That from Devasabhā is red and has the smell of a lotus, also that from Japa.

II/11/48: That from Jonga is red or red-black and smooth, also that from Turupa.

II/11/49: That from the Mala is whitish red.

II/11/50: Kucandana is rough, black like aloe or red or reddish black.

II/11/51: That from Kala mountain is reddish-black or of the colour of saffron.

II/11/52: That from the Kosagara mountain is black or black-variegated.

II/11/53: That from the Sitodaka has the lustre of the lotus or is black and smooth.

II/11/54: That from Naga mountain is rough or of the colour of moss.

II/11/55: That from Sakala is brown.

II/11/57: Aloe from Jonga is black, black-variegated or variegated with round spots.

II/11/58: That from Donga is dark.

II/11/61: Tailaparnika (incense) from Asokagrama has the colour of flesh and the fragrance of a lotus.

II/11/62: That from Jonga is reddish yellow and has the fragrance of a blue lotus or the smell of cow’s urine.

II/11/63: That from Grameru is smooth and has the smell of cow’s urine.

II/11/64:  That from Suvarṇa kudya is reddish yellow and has the smell of the citron fruit.

II/11/65: That from Purnakadvipa has the fragrance of a lotus or the smell of butter.

II/11/66: Bhadrasriya from beyond the Lauhitya is of the colour of the jati-flower.

II/11/67: That from Antaravati is of the colour of usira.

II/11/69: Kaleyaka from Suvarṇa bhumi is smooth and yellow.

II/11/70: That from the northern mountain is reddish yellow.

II/11/77: The bisi and the mahabisi come from Dvadasagrama.

II/11/81: The syamika, the kalika, the kadali, the candrottara and the sakula are produced in Aroha.

II/11/88: The samura, the chinasi, and the samuli come from Bahlava.

II/11/92: The satina, the nalatula, and the vrittapuchha are from Odra.

II/11/100: The apasaraka which keeps off rain, – that is (woolen cloth) from Nepala.

II/11/102: The dukula from the Vangas is white and smooth.

II/11/103: That from the Pundras is dark and smooth like a gem.

II/11/104: That from Suvarṇa kudya is of the colour of the sun, with gem-smooth water-weave,  with a uniform weave and with a mixed weave.

II/11/106: By that is explained the  Kshauma from Kasi and Pundras.

II/11/107: The patrorna-silk comes from the Magadhas the Pundras and Suvarṇa kudya.

II/11/114: By that are explained the silk and silk-cloth from the land of Cina.

II/11/115: Cotton fabrics from Mudhura, the Aparantas, the Kalingas, Kasi, the Vangas, the Vatsas and the Mahishas, are best.

Maintenance of quality

IV/1/2: Employers of artisans capable of making good an article, those good at entrusting materials, (and) artisans working with their own capital should accept entrusted material with the guarantee of the guild.

IV/1/3: In case of death, the guild shall be responsible for the entrusted material.

IV/1/4: And they shall carry out the work with the place, time and (nature of the) work stipulated, without stipulation as to place or time if the nature of the work can be pointed out (as the reason).

IV/1/5: For exceeding the time limit, (there shall be) a reduction in the wage by one quarter and double that as fine.

IV/1/6: They shall be liable for what is lost or destroyed except in case of deterioration or a sudden calamity.

IV/1/7: For carrying out a work otherwise than as ordered, (there shall be) loss of wage and double that as fine. Weavers

IV/1/8: Weavers shall increase yarn to the extent of eleven (palas) from ten.

IV/1/9: For diminution in increase, the fine shall be double the diminution.

IV/1/10: The wage for weaving (shall be equal to) the value of the yarn, one an a half times in the case of aumaks and kauseya, double in the case of patrorna, blankets and dukula.

IV/1/11: For shortness in measure, (there shall be) a reduction in wage equal to (the value of) the short measure and double that as fine, for short weight the fine (shall be) four times the deficiency, for change of yarn (the fine shall be) double its value.

IV/1/13: In one tula of wool, a reduction in carding to the extent of five palas (is allowed), and (the same amount of) reduction in the hair (when carded). Washermen

IV/1/14: Washermen shall wash garments on wooden boards or smooth slabs of stone.

IV/1/15: Those washing on anything else shall pay for damage to garments and a fine of six paṇas.

IV/1/16: (Washermen) wearing a garment other than one marked with the sign of the club shall pay a fine of three paṇas.

IV/1/17: For selling, hiring out or pledging the garments of others the fine shall be twelve paṇas, for change of garments (the fine shall be) double the price and the return of the garment.

IV/1/18: They shall return a garment, which is white like a bud, which is cleansed on a slab of stone, which has the colour of washed yarn, and which is bleached white, after one day increased successively by one day.

IV/1/19: One with a light red colour (may be returned) after five days, one dyed blue after six days, a precious garment dyed in (saffron) flower, lac-juice or manjistha the treatment of which is arduous and which has to be worked upon with great care, after seven days.

IV/1/20: After that they shall lose their wage.

IV/1/21: In cases of dispute concerning dyeing, trustworthy experts shall fix the wage.

IV/1/22: For the most precious (garments) the wage (shall be) one paṇa, for middling one half, for lowest one- quarter, for rough (garments) one māṣaka or two māṣakas, double for dyed (garments). māṣaka

IV/1/23: At the first washing there is a loss of one-fourth (of the value of the garment), at the second of one-fifth.

IV/1/24: By that are explained later (losses in value).

Tailors

IV/1/25: By washermen are explained tailors.

Goldsmith

IV/1/26: For goldsmiths purchasing silver (or) gold in the same form from the hands of a disreputable person without informing (state officers) the fine is twenty paṇas, if in a changed from twenty-four pan, if from the hands of a thief forty-eight paṇas.

       IV/1/27: In cases of purchase at a low price in secret or what is changed in appearance there shall be the punishment for theft, also in case of deceit in the article manufactured.

IV/1/28: For (the goldsmith) stealing one māṣakas from one suvarṇa (of gold) the fine shall be two hundred paṇas, for stealing one māṣaka from one dharaṇa of silver twelve paṇas.

IV/1/29: By that are explained higher (values).

IV/1/30: For one securing an (artificial) enhancement of colour or practising removal or mixture (with base metals), the fine shall be five hundred paṇas.

IV/1/31: In case of fraud in connection with these two (metals), he shall treat it as (a case of) removal of colour.

IV/1/32: One māṣaka is the wage for one dharaṇa of silver, one-eighth part (of a paṇa) for one suvarṇa (of gold).

IV/1/33: In accordance with special skill, the wage may be increased to double.

IV/1/34: By that are explained further rates.

Guidelines and Regulations for Other Artisans

IV/1/36-38: A lump of copper has a loss of one-tenth part (in working). In case of reduction to the extent of one pala (beyond this), the fine shall be double (the value of the) loss. By that are explained further cases.

IV/1/39-42: A lump of lead or tin has a reduction of one-twentieth part. And one kakani is the wage for one pala of it. A lump of iron has a reduction of one-fifth. And two kakanis is the wage for one pala of it. By that are explained further cases.

IV/1/44-48: For the Examiner Coins rejecting an established currency of paṇas which does not deserve to be rejected or not rejecting one deserving to be rejected the fine is twelve paṇas. The currency of paṇas is effective when cleared of the payment of surcharge. For one accepting one māṣaka on a paṇa (sent into circulation) the fine is twelve paṇas. By that are explained further cases. For one causing a counterfeit coin to be made or receiving it or sending it into circulation the fine is one thousand paṇas, for inserting it in the treasury (the penalty is)death.

IV/1/56-57: For the physician undertaking treatment involving danger to life without informing (the authorities), the fine is the lowest fine for violence in case of death, the middle fine in case of death through a mistake in treatment. In case of injury to a vital part or causing a deformity, the (magistrate) shall treat it as (a case of) physical injury.

IV/1/65: In this manner the (king) should prevent thieves who are not known as thieves such as traders, artisans, actors, mendicants, jugglers and others from oppressing the country.

 

Role of the State Sector

Exclusive state monopoly and state departments

II/1/24: The ownership of the fish, ducks, and green vegetables in the irrigation works should go to the king.

II/12/19: He should establish trade in manufactured goods in a single place, and (lay down) a penalty for those who manufacture, purchase or sell elsewhere.

II/12/22: He should let for part-share or on lease a mine that is burden-some in point of expenses or working; a light one, he should work himself.

II/12/28: The Salt Commissioner should collect at the proper time the share of salt as released after crystallization as well as the lease-rent, also the price, the inspection fee and the surcharge from the sale.

II/13/1: The Superintendent of Gold should cause to be built a workshop with a court-yard having four work-halls without inter-communication (and) with a single door, for the manufacture of gold and silver.

II/13/2: In the middle of the market highway he should establish the Goldsmith, skilled in his profession, of noble birth and trustworthy.

II/14/15: They shall purchase the scales and weights from the Superintendent of Standardization.

II/12/23: The Director of Metals should establish factories for copper, lead, tin, vaikrintaka, brass, steel, bronze, bell-metal and iron, also (establish) trade in metal-ware.

II/12/27: The Superintendent of Mines should establish factories for (articles of) conch- shells, diamonds, gems, pearls, corals and caustics as well as commerce in them.

II/17/1: The Director of Forest Produce should cause forest produce to be brought in by guards in the produce forests.

II/17/2: And he should start factories for forest produce.

II/17/15: Vessels made of split bamboo-cane and of clay.

II/17/16: Charcoal, husks and ashes; enclosures for deer, beasts, birds and wild animals and enclosures for fuel and grass.

II/17/17: Separate factories making all kinds of goods should be erected, outside as well as inside, by the Director of Forest Produce, for ensuring livelihood and protection of the city.

II/18/1: The Superintendent of the Armory should cause to be made machines for use in battles, for the defense of forts and for assault on the enemies’ cities, also weapons, armors and accoutrements by artisans and artists expert in those lines, producing goods with an agreement as to the amount of work, time allowed and wages, and should store them in places suitable for each.

II/23/1: The Superintendent of Yarns should cause trade to be carried out in yarns, armors, cloth and ropes through men expert in the work.

Private sector

II/1/1: He should cause settlement of the country, which had been settled before or which h had not been settled before, by bringing in people from foreign lands or by shifting the overflow (of population) from his own country.

II/1/2: He should cause villages to be settled consisting mostly of Śūdra agriculturists, with a minimum of one hundred families and a maximum of five hundred families, with boundaries extending over one krosa or two krosas, (and) affording mutual protection.

II/1/7: He should grant lands to priests, preceptors, chaplains and Brāhmaṇas learned in the Vedas as gifts to Brāhmaṇa, exempt from fines and taxes, with inheritances passing on to corresponding heirs, and to heads of departments, accountants and others, and to gopas, sthanikas, elephant-trainers, physicians, horse-trainers and couriers lands without the right of sale or mortgage.

II/1/8: He should allot to tax-payers arable fields for life.

II/1/9: Un-arable fields should not be taken away from those who are making them arable.

II/12/22: He should let for part-share or on lease a mine that is burden-some in point of expenses or working; a light one, he should work himself.

II/12/28: The Salt Commissioner should collect at the proper time the share of salt as released after crystallization as well as the lease-rent, also the price, the inspection fee and the surcharge from the sale.

Philanthropic Activities of the State

I/19/34: In the happiness of the subjects lies the happiness of the king and in what is beneficial to the subjects his own benefit. What is dear to himself is not beneficial to the king, but what is dear to the subjects is beneficial (to him).

II/1/26: And the king should maintain children, aged persons and persons in distress when these are helpless, as also the woman who has borne no child and the sons of one who has (when these are helpless).

II/1/36: The king should exempt from taxes a region laid waste by the army of an enemy or by foresters, or afflicted by disease or famine, and he should prohibit expensive sports.

II/15/22: From these he should set apart one-half for times of distress for the country people, (and) use the (other) half.

II/28/8: He should rescue boats that have gone out of their course or are tossed about by a gale, like a father.

II/28/9: He should make goods that have fallen in water either duty-free or pay half the duty.

 

Taxation & Fiscal Policy

Taxation

II/21/1: The Collector of Customs and Tolls should establish the customs house and the flag facing the east or the north in the vicinity of the big gates (of the city).

II/21/2: The receivers of duty, four or five in number, should record in writing (details about) traders who have arrived in caravan, who they are, from what place, with how much merchandise and where the identity-pass (was issued) or the stamping was made.

II/21/8: When it has been thrice proclaimed, he should give it to those who have sought it.

II/21/9: In case of competition among purchasers, the increase in price together with the duty shall go to the treasury.

II/21/16: And for goods that have passed beyond the foot of the flag without the duty being paid, the fine is eight times the duty.

II/21/18: Goods intended for marriage, marriage-gifts accompanying the bride, goods intended as gifts, goods required on the occasion of a sacrifice or a ceremony or a birth and goods used in various rituals like worship of the gods, tonsure rite, initiation for Veda study, hair-cutting rite, consecration for a vow and so on, should go duty-free.

II/21/19: For a (person) making a false declaration (in this respect) the punishment for theft (shall be imposed).

II/21/20: For the trader taking out a commodity for which duty has not been paid along with one for which duty has been paid, or carrying off a second (commodity) under one stamp after breaking open the package, forfeiture of the same and an equal amount as fine (shall be the punishment).

II/21/21: For the (trader) carrying off (goods of high value) from the customs house after securing acceptance of cow dung (cakes) or straw as the basis (for calculating duty), the highest fine for violence (shall be the punishment).

II/21/22: For the (trader) taking out any one of the un-exportable articles, viz., weapons, armours, coats of mail, metals, chariots, jewels, grains and cattle, there shall be a fine as proclaimed as well as loss of the goods.

II/21/23: In case anyone of these is brought in, its sell (shall be effected) duty-free outside (the city gate) itself.

II/21/30: For one concealing goods of low value the fine shall be eight times the duty, (for concealing) goods of high value, confiscation of everything (shall be the punishment).

II/21/31: He should cut out goods that are harmful to the country and that are worthless. He should make goods that are highly beneficial duty-free, also seeds that are rare.

II/21/24: The frontier officer should charge a road cess of one paṇa and a quarter for a cart-load of goods, of one paṇa for a one-hoofed animal, of half paṇa for cattle, of a quarter paṇa for small animals, of one māṣaka for a shoulder-load.

II/21/25: And he shall make good what is lost or stolen (on the way).

Tax Rates for various commodities

II/25/39: Dealers in goods not manufactured by the state shall pay a duty of five percent on sura, medaka, arista, madhu, sour fruit juices, and sour liquors.

II/27/27: (Prostitutes) who live by their beauty, shall pay per month (a tax) double the (normal) fee (charged by them).

II/27/26: Their musical instruments, when coming from foreign lands, shall be charged a fee per show of five paṇa.

II/22/3: On goods coming in (the duty shall be) one-fifth of the price.

II/22/4: Of flowers, fruits, vegetables, roots, bulbous roots, fruits of creepers, seeds, dried fish and meat, he should take one-sixth part (as duty).

II/22/5: Of conch-shells, diamonds, gems and necklaces of pearls and corals, he should make (a valuation) through men expert in the line, making an agreement with them as to the amount of work, time allowed and wages.

II/22/6: On ksauma, dukula, silk yarn, armours, yellow orpiment, red arsenic, antimony, vermilion, metals of various kinds and ores, on sandal-wood, aloe, spices, fermentation, and minor substances, on skins, ivory, bed-spreads, coverings and silk cloth, and on products of goats and rams, (the duty to be charged is) one-tenth part or one- fifteenth part.

II/22/7: On clothes, four-footed and two-footed creatures, yarn, cotton, perfumes, medicines, woods, bamboos, barks, leather goods and earthen-ware, and on grains, fats, sugars, salts, wine, cooked food and so on (the duty is) one-twentieth part or one twenty-fifth part.

II/22/8: To be received at the gate is one-fifth of the normal duty, or he should fix it with a concession in accordance with the benefit derived by the country.

II/16/10: One-sixteenth part is the surcharge in measure by capacity, one-twentieth part in measure by weighing, one-eleventh part of commodities sold by counting.

II/16/11: He should encourage the import of goods produced in foreign lands by (allowing) concessions.

II/16/12: And to those (who bring such goods) in ships or caravans, he should grant exemptions (from taxes) that would enable a profit (to be made by them).

Fiscal Policy

II/1/15: And he should grant to them favours and exemptions which would cause an increase in the  treasury, (but) avoid such as would cause loss to the treasury.

II/1/16: For, a king with a small treasury swallows up the citizens and the country people themselves.

II/6/28: Thus the wise (Administrator) should fix the revenue and show an increase in income and decrease in expenditure and should remedy the opposite (of these).

II/9/13: He who causes loss of revenue consumes the property of the king.

II/9/15: He who procures double the (normal) revenue, consumes the country side.

II/12/37: The treasury has its source in the mines; from the treasury the army comes into being. With the treasury and the army, the earth is obtained with the treasury as its ornament.

VI/1/1: The king, the minister, the country, the fortified city, the treasury, the army and the ally are the constituent elements (of the state).

VI/1/10: Acquired lawfully by the ancestors or by oneself, consisting mostly of gold and silver, containing various kinds of big jewels and cash, (one) that would withstand a calamity even of a long duration in which there is no income, – these are the excellences of a treasury.

Additional finance under crisis

i) Convincing cultivators

V/2/1-7: The (king) without a treasury should collect a treasury, when difficulties concerning money have arisen. He should demand a third or a fourth part of the grains from a region, whether big or small in size, that is not dependent on rains and yields abundant crops; from a middling or inferior one, according to yield. He should not make a demand on (a region) useful for building a fort or embankment or trade-routes or new settlements or mining or material forests or elephant forests, or on (a region) small in size which is on the frontier.

He should provide one making a new settlement with grains, cattle, money and other things.

He should purchase for money a fourth part of the grains after allowing for seeds and livelihood.

He should exempt forest produce and the property of a Brāhmaṇa learned in the Vedas.

Even that he may purchase so as to favour them.

V/2/8-16: Or, in case that does not serve the purpose, officers of the Administrator should cause preparation of the fields for sowing to be made by farmers in summer. At the time of (sowing) seeds, they should make a deed of (the grant of) seeds, laying down a penalty double that which may be lost through negligence. When the crops have ripened, they should prevent the taking of green or ripe (grains), except handfuls of vegetables or grains plucked by hand for the purpose of worship of gods and manes and for charity or for the sake of cows. And they should leave remnants of the heap for mendicants and village servants.

For one appropriating his own crops, compensation for loss shall be eight-fold. For one stealing another’s crops, the penalty for grains shall be fifty-fold, if he is of the same class; death, however, if he is an outsider. They should take a fourth part of grains, a sixth part of wild produce and of goods made of silk-cotton, lac, linen, barks, cotton, wool and silk, medicines, perfumes, flowers, fruits and vegetables, also of wood, bamboos, meat and dried meat, one half of ivory and skins. For one selling these without permission, (the punishment shall be) the lowest fine for violence. Thus ends (the topic of) making demands on farmers.

ii) Convincing merchants, dealers and animal-breeders

V/2/17-22: Dealers in gold, silver, diamonds, gems, pearls, corals, horses and elephants shall pay a tax of fifty. Dealers in yarn, cloth, copper, steel, bronze, perfumes, medicines and wines shall pay a tax of forty. Dealers in grains, liquids and metals and those carrying on trade with carts shall pay a tax of thirty. Traders in glass and major artisans shall pay a tax of twenty. Minor artisans and keepers of harlots shall pay a tax of ten. Dealers in articles of wood and bamboo, stoneware, earthenware, cooked food and green (vegetables), shall pay a tax of five.

V/2/23-29: Actors and prostitutes shall pay half their wage. They shall recover a tax in cash from those skilled in work, and shall not overlook any offence of theirs. For, these might sell (something) by representing it as not belonging to them. Thus ends (the topic of) making a demand on dealers. (Owners of) cocks and pigs shall give half; small animals one-sixth; cows, buffaloes, mules, donkeys und camels one-tenth. Keepers of harlots should replenish the treasury through female servants of the king, possessed of great beauty and youth. Thus ends the making of demands on breeders of animals.

V/2/30: The (demand) is to be made once only, not twice.

iii) Donations from rich citizens

V/2/31-37: Or, in case that does not serve the purpose, the Administrator, pointing to some work to be done, should ask citizens and country people for contributions. And secret agents should then first give large amounts. Referring to that, the king should ask the citizens and country people (for corresponding contributions). And sharp pupils should reproach those who give little.

Or, he should ask money of the rich according to their wealth, or according to benefits (conferred on them), or whatever they may offer of their own will. He should bestow on them position, umbrella, turban or decorations in consideration of money. Administrators should bring (to the treasury) the property of heretical corporations or the property of temples not intended for use by a Brāhmaṇa learned in the Vedas, declaring that it was deposited with a person who is dead or whose house is burnt.

iv) Exploiting superstitions of wealthy citizens

V/2/38-45: The Superintendent of Temples should collect the treasures belonging to temples in the fort and in the country in one place, each separately, and bring them (to the treasury) in the same manner. Or, after raising at night a god’s temple or a sanctuary of a holy person as a miraculous happening, he should live on fairs and festive gatherings (at the-place). Or, he should proclaim the presence of a divinity by means of a tree in a sanctuary park endowed with flowers and fruits out of season.

Or, agents appearing as holy men after showing danger from an evil spirit in a tree demanding the tax of a human being, should ward it off for the citizens and the country people for money.

Or, in a well connected by a subterranean passage, he should show a cobra with a number of hoods in return for a gift of money. In a sanctuary hole or an ant-hill hole, (he should point to) the manifestation of a snake in an image of a cobra concealed inside, and after ‘arresting its consciousness’ by means of food, should show it to the credulous. To those who do not believe, he should administer poison when they are sipping water or washing themselves and declare it to be a curse of the divinity, or should cause a person condemned to death to be bitten. Or, he should replenish the treasury by (offering) remedies against occult manifestations.

v) Robbing wealthy dishonest traders

V/2/46-51: Or, an agent appearing as a trader should trade with plenty of goods and assistants.

When he has amassed wealth by entrusted deposits and loans against the value of goods, he should get him robbed at night. Or, an agent appearing as a trader, with well-known dealings, should secure on loan or hire a large number of gold and silver articles on the occasion of a festive party. Or, in a festive gathering he should obtain plenty of money and gold as a loan by a display of his entire goods, and also (collect) the price of each article. Both these, he should cause to be stolen at night.

vi) Outwitting reasonable persons

V/2/52-55: Or, after infatuating men suspected of treason with women appearing as pious ladies, and catching them in the houses of those same women, they should confiscate their entire property. Or, when a dispute has arisen between members of treasonable families, poison-givers, who are employed there, should give poison. For that offence, the others should be deprived of their property. Or, a person condemned to death should demand of a treasonable person, on a credible pretext, a commodity or entrusted money or a loan given or an inheritance.

V/2/56-60: Or, he should address the treasonable person as a slave, or his wife, daughter-in-law or daughter as a slave or as wife. As he lies down at the door of the treasonable person’s house or when he stays elsewhere, an assassin, slaying him, should declare ‘This fellow, longing for property, has been killed.’ For that offence, the others should be deprived of their property.

Or, an agent appearing as a holy man, after luring a treasonable person with magical lores, should say to him, ‘I know the rite for inexhaustible wealth, for opening the doors of the king’s palace, for winning a woman’s heart, for causing disease to the enemy, for securing a long life or for getting a son.’ When he consents, he should cause him to make an offering of plenty of wine, meat and perfumes in a sanctuary at night time.

V/2/61-63: And from a place, where money consisting of a single coin is buried beforehand (and) where a limb of a corpse or the corpse of an infant may have been placed, he should show him the money and say, ‘This is too little.’ (He should add) ‘For plenty of money, offering must again be made; hence, with this very money you your- self purchase to-morrow plenty of articles of offering.’ He should be arrested while purchasing articles of offering with that money.

V/2/64-69: Or, (a treasonable person) should be charged by a female agent appearing as a mother, saying, ‘You have killed my son.’ During his night sacrifice or a sacrifice in a forest or when sport in a forest has started, assassins, killing a condemned man due for execution, should smuggle him in. Or, an agent working as a servant of the treasonable person should throw in a false coin in the money received as wages and point that out. Or, an agent appearing as a workman should, while working in the house, place the implements of a thief or a maker of false coins there, or an agent appearing as a physician (should place) poison there in the guise of medicine. Or, a secret agent close to the treasonable person should communicate through a sharp pupil (the presence of) articles for coronation and a letter from an enemy (secretly) planted there and should mention their purpose. Thus he should behave towards treasonable and unrighteous persons, not towards others.

V/2/70: He should take from the kingdom fruits as they ripen, as from a garden; he should avoid unripe (fruit) that causes an uprising, for fear of his own destruction.

 

Division of Labour

Vedic Lore

I/3/4: The Law laid down in the Vedic lore is beneficial, as it prescribes the respective duties of the four varnas and the four stages of life.

Brāhmaṇa, Kṣatriya and Vaiśya

I/3/5: The specific duties of the Brāhmaṇa are: studying, teaching, performing sacrifices for self, officiating at other people’s sacrifices, making gifts and receiving gifts.

I/3/6: Those of the Kṣatriya are: studying, performing sacrifice for self, making gifts, living by (the profession of) arms and protecting beings.

I/3/7: Those of the Vaiśya are: studying, performing sacrifice for self, making gifts, agriculture, cattle-rearing and trade.

Śūdra

I/3/8: Those of the Śūdra are: service of the twice-born, engaging in an economic calling (viz., agriculture, cattle- rearing and trade) and the profession of the artisan and actor.

II/1/2: He should cause villages to be settled consisting mostly of Śūdra agriculturists, with a minimum of one hundred families and a maximum of five hundred families, with boundaries extending over  one krosa or two krosas, (and) affording mutual protection.

Duties for people at different walks of life

I/3/9: Those of the householders are: earning his living in accordance with his own special duty, marrying into families of the same caste but not of the same gotra, approaching the wife during the period, worship of the gods, manes and guests, making gifts to dependents and eating what is left over (after the others have eaten).

I/3/10:  Those of the student of the Veda are: studying the Veda, tending the (sacred) fires and (ceremonial) bathing, keeping the vow of living on alms only, residing till the end of his life with the preceptor or, in his absence, with the preceptor’s son or with a fellow-student.

I/3/11: Those of the forest-anchorite are: observing celibacy, sleeping on bare ground, wearing matted locks and an antelope-skin, worship of the (sacred) fires and (ceremonial) bathing, worshipping the gods, manes and guests and living on forest produce (only).

I/3/12: Those of the wandering ascetic are: having full control over the senses, refraining from all active life, being without any possessions, giving up all attachment to worldly ties, keeping the vow of begging alms, residing not in one place and in the forest, and observing external and internal cleanliness.

I/3/14: (The observance of) one’s own special duty leads to heaven and to endless bliss.

I/3/15: In case of its transgression, people would be exterminated through (the) mixture (of duties and castes). I/3/16: Therefore, the king should not allow the special duties of the (different) beings to be transgressed (by them); for, ensuring adherence to (each one’s) special duty, he finds joy after death as well as in this life.

I/3/17: For people, among whom the bounds of the Aryan rule of life are fixed, among whom the varnas and the stages of life are securely established and who are guarded by the three Vedas, prosper, do not perish.

I/4/16: The people, of the four varnas and the four stages of life, protected by the king with the Rod, (and) deeply attached to occupations prescribed as their special duties, keep to their respective paths.

 

  

 

 Chapter-5: Political Concepts in Arthaśāstra

 

Kauṭilya in Arthaśāstra furnishes a rich and variegated dish of political concepts in a coherent and systematic manner. Although he borrows the essence of the political concepts from the earlier Arthaśāstras and all other Vedic śāstras, he modifies and elaborates them to suit the needs of his days. The political concepts that Kauṭilya dwells upon in depth may be categorized under:

Maṇḍala Theory

Power of the King

Concept of Ideal King

Concept of Daṇḍa.

                                                  

Maṇḍala Theory

Maṇḍala theory had its existence in India since the Vedic times. It evolved in course of time in conformity with changes in political character of the conglomerate of states known as Bhārat Varṣa. Kauṭilya made a radical departure from the basic norms of the maṇḍala theory that existed till his time.

Maṇḍala” here means the circle of sovereign states and the theory pertains to intricate relation among the circle of states, foreign policies, policies pertaining to war and peace, concepts of friendly and enemy states etc. The original theory conceived of a unified confederation with a chakravartin presiding over the independent and sovereign states. Kauṭilya’s radical departure was that he conceived of a unified state abolishing the existence of smaller sovereign states.

In fact the actual process had started long ago since the time of Ajātaśatru (660 B. C.), the king of Magadha, who had conquered 36 smaller states to form a vast Magadha Empire. The Nanda dynasty further expanded the geographical area of the Empire by means of annexation of new smaller sovereign territories. Kauṭilya wanted to accelerate the process further and his mission came to fruition as, on the basis his guidelines and under his shrewd stewardship as the Prime Minister of the Maurya Emperor, his disciple, the king Chandragupta Maurya was capable of unifying the Indian subcontinent into a vast state embracing the geographical areas of most of present India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and parts of Afghanistan. He could also ensure internal law and order, protection against foreign invasion and economic prosperity following the guidelines of Kauṭilya and his Arthaśāstra. The theoretical basis of this unification was the maṇḍala theory as conceived by Kauṭilya.

Kauṭilya considers the would-be conqueror (vijigῑṣu or chakravartin) to be a part of a maṇḍala or circle of kings or states. There are friends, enemies, neutral states and intermediary or middle states around the protagonist (the would-be conqueror). Kauṭilya considers the state immediately outside the border of the state of the protagonist to be an enemy state and the state immediately after this enemy, the ally. He also hints at who could be the desired vijigῑṣu. The king, endowed with personal excellences, material constituents for maintaining this excellence and following appropriate policies could be considered as the would-be conqueror. The states that encircle him on all sides, with territories immediately next to his are to be considered as enemy states. In the same manner, the state with territory separated by one other state is the ally. This is because this state being adjacent to the enemy state is enemy of the enemy state by the first rule and therefore friend of the protagonist. The king of the state with territory immediately proximate to those of the enemy and the conqueror is called the middle king. The king of the state outside the sphere of the enemy, the conqueror and the middle king, stronger than their constituents, capable of helping the enemy, the conqueror and the middle king when they are united and of suppressing them when they are disunited, is defined by  Kauṭilya as the neutral king.

Now the circle can be expanded further including enemy’s friend and foe; ally’s friend and foe; intermediate state’s friend and foe, and neutral state’s friend and foe and so on.

Kauṭilya describes vividly how by open warfare, devious means, deceptive warfare etc. the would-be conqueror could subjugate the other states in the circle and become the sole ruler of the entire circle of states. The conquering process ought to be gradual. At first, the vijigῑṣu king should conquer the territory of the immediate enemy state by fair means or foul. After conquering the enemy’s territory, he should seek to seize the territory of the middle king, and after subjugating the latter his endeavour would be to subjugate the neutral king.

According to Kauṭilya, this is the first method of conquering the entire maṇḍala.

In case of nonexistence of middle and neutral kings the vijigῑṣu king ought to subjugate the enemy king by means of superior policy, open or deceitful. This, according to Kauṭilya, is the second method of conquering the entire circle.

In the absence of the circle he should overcome by squeezing from both sides the ally through the enemy or the enemy through the ally. This is the third method of conquering according to Kauṭilya.

The fourth method as prescribed by Kauṭilya is that the vijigῑṣu king should first overcome a weak or a single neighbouring king. So he would now become doubly powerful, and with this combined power he should proceed to subjugate a second king who is a little more powerful than the weakest king subjugated at first. Then with the combined power of the three the he should tackle a third king and the process would continue until the entire circle of states is under the control of the vijigῑṣu king.

 

Power of the King

As already mentioned, Kauṭilya differed radically from ancient Indian tradition as regards power of the king. The other śāstras of ancient India consider the king to be only the guardian of the daṇḍa and preserver of the sacred śāstras pertaining to administration and defence of the state and he has no right to violate or modify the śāstras. On the other hand Kauṭilya endows the king with supreme power above the śāstras and the hitherto practised customs and traditions.

According to Kauṭilya, when all existing laws become inadequate to cover a newly emerging problem, the king has the power to be the promulgator of laws. By virtue of this power, Kauṭilya emphasizes, the king is capable of guarding the right conduct of the world consisting of the four varṇas and four aśramas.

Kauṭilya mentions that a matter in dispute has four feet: law, transaction, custom and the royal edict. Kauṭilya insists that among these four, each one supersedes the preceding one. This means that in case of a dispute royal edict would ultimately prevail upon law, transaction and custom. Kauṭilya specifically states that if there is a conflict between royal edict and written text in śāstras pertaining to law, the edict of the king would prevail and the written text would lose its validity. Thus Kauṭilya endows the king with the power to modify or even abrogate existing customs if he thinks them unnecessary or harmful for the state and society because old customs might have become obsolete in course of change in objective conditions with the passage of time. The king is entitled, according to Kauṭilya, to discontinue any custom which he might regard as harmful to the treasury and army, or as unrighteous. In such a situation the king is empowered to replace the unrighteous and harmful custom with custom that he considers as righteous and beneficial to the state, the treasury and the army.

The king should, Kauṭilya insists, institute a righteous custom, not initiated before and continue one initiated by others; and he should not institute an unrighteous custom, and should stop any initiated by others.

 

Concept of Ideal King

The concept of an ideal king in Arthaśāstra is nothing but reiteration and elaboration of the concept embedded in the major ancient Indian texts since Vedic times. Kauṭilya, however, elaborates the procedure through which a prince with talent and inherent qualities could be made an ideal ruler. These procedures pertain to general and moral education, training in various śāstras and sciences, and subjecting the ruler to a strict daily routine.

Education and training

According to Kauṭilya, to be competent enough to rule the country properly, the king should go through adequate education and training. After tonsure at an early age the incumbent prince is to learn the alphabets and arithmetic. Thereafter he should learn the three Vedas, philosophy, economics and politics. He is to observe celibacy till the age of sixteen and thereafter marry. The daily routine for study and training of the king beginning from the early morning should be in the following order:

i) Training in the arts of using elephants, horses, chariots and weapons; ii) Listening to Purāṇas, Itivṛtta, Ākhyāyikā, Udāharaṇa, Itihāsa, Dharmaśāstra and Arthaśāstra and iii) Familiarization with the things already learnt (by repetition) and learning new things.

According to Kauṭilya, continuous study is essential as it enhances intelligence and efficiency of the king making him capable of performing his duties in a better manner.

Moral education

Kauṭilya, however, is of opinion that general education and training are not enough to make a perfect king. Moral and ethical teachings are also necessary. He explains the importance and methods of moral training of a king with examples of downfall of many past kings, who used to violate one or more of the essential ethical norms for an ideal king, in the following manner.

To start with, Kauṭilya reiterates the importance of having control over the senses.

The king should be taught through training in sciences that would enable the king to give up lust, anger, greed, pride, arrogance and fool-hardiness.

A contrary behaviour would bring about ruin of the king, whatever his apparent power. In this regard Kauṭilya mentions how various past kings (historical and mythical) perished for lack of control over senses.

So the king should have control over senses by conquering the six ṛpus (lust, anger, greed, pride, jealousy and obsession), and acquire wisdom from the elders to be fit for ruling the country. Kauṭilya insists that the king would endeavour to become an ideal ruler by getting rid of the six ṛpus in order to acquire control over the senses, cultivate his intellect by association with the elders, keep a watchful eye by means of spies and bring about security and well-being by energetic activity, maintain the observance of their special duties by the subjects by carrying out his own duties, acquire  discipline by receiving instruction in the sciences, attain popularity by means of association with things pertaining to material advantage and maintain proper behaviour by performing what is beneficial.

According to Kauṭilya, the ideal king should have perfect control over the senses. But this does not necessarily imply that the king should not at all indulge in material pleasures. In fact, Kauṭilya subscribes to the traditional Indian view that there should be a perfect balance of the trivarga (dharma, artha and kāma] in the life of the king.

The king is entitled to indulge in sensual pleasures so far as they do not contravene his spiritual good and material well-being. The king is never advised to deprive himself of pleasures because deprivation would ultimately lead to discontent and inefficiency of the king in discharging his duties properly. Thus Kauṭilya emphasizes that only through maintaining a balance of the three goals of mundane life (dharma, i.e. ethics, artha, i.e. material means to fulfill material desires and kāma, i.e. desires for material pleasure). These three aspects of material existence of human beings are inexorably associated with one another and a perfect balance of the three ought to be maintained by the king. Kauṭilya emphasizes that if any one of the three is excessively indulged in it inflicts harms to itself as well as to the other two. In the same way deprivation in respect of any one or more would also generate imbalance.

Daily routine of the king

Kauṭilya prescribes a strict daily routine for the king. The day and night are to be divided into sixteen equal segments, i.e., each segment amounting to one hour and a half. The tasks of the king for each of these segments are described in the following manner.

Day:

i) Matters relevant to defence and finance

ii) Affairs of citizens

iii) Bath, meals and study

iv) Receipt of cash revenue and assignment of tasks to the heads of departments

v) Consultations with ministers, receiving information from spies

vi) Recreation

vii) Review of elephants, horses, chariots and troops

viii) Military matters, worship of evening star at the end of day’s duties

Night:

i) Interview of secret agents

ii) Bath, meals, study

iii) Rest

iv and v) Sleep

vi) After waking pondering over things learnt and planning of day’s tasks

vii) Consultations with councilors and dispatching spies

viii) Receiving blessings from priests and attending physicians, chief cook and astrologer

Kauṭilya, however, opines that the king has the freedom to modify this specification according to his requirements and convenience.

Appointment of chaplain

Now, the question arises who is to guide the king and keep him on the path of virtue, and to rectify him whenever he deviates from the path of virtue because of either his wrong judgement or temporary upsurge of evil intentions (Kauṭilya was wise enough to realize that even the most virtuous persons may at times be overpowered by the ṛpus, i.e., basic vices hidden in the subconscious mind) or bad company. Kauṭilya entrusts this task of guardianship of the king with the Brāhmaṇa, with proper Vedic learning, who is to be appointed as the chaplain or priest of the king.

According to Kauṭilya the king should appoint a priest, who is very exalted in birth and character, thoroughly trained in the Vedas along with all śāstras originating from Vedic principles, in divine signs, in omens and in the science of politics and capable of counteracting divine and human calamities by means of Atharvavedic remedies.

The king should follow the Brāhmaṇa priest as a student follows his teacher, a son his father, or a servant his master. The priest should be entrusted with the task of ensuring proper conduct of the king and restraining him from deviating from his duties or indulging in unethical activities led by passion or any other cause.

Kauṭilya emphasizes that power of the Kṣatriya (the king), empowered by the teachings and guardianship of the Brāhmaṇa priest becomes triumphant and invincible.

Kauṭilya also prescribes for competent and honest ministers, along with the Brāhmaṇa chaplain, as safeguards to keep the king on the path of virtue and propriety.

We see from the above discussion that Kauṭilya puts forward the following criteria for an ideal ruler (the king) who would be capable of bringing about prosperity of the country and its citizens.

(i) The incumbent king should be properly trained in military science, politics, economics, history and tradition of the country, and in Vedic śāstras.

(ii) He should also have proper education in ethics, so as to have command over the senses and, thereby, to be free from the basic vices like lust, anger, greed, jealousy, pride and obsession.

(iii) The life of the king should be regulated by tight routine with minimum possible time for rest, sleep and entertainment.

(iv) A Vedic Brāhmaṇa (the chaplain) should regulate the king at all stages of his life.

(v) There should also be a council of ministers to advise and regulate the king.

As a matter of fact, Kauṭilya visualized a king (the vijigῑṣu) who would bring about geographical unification of the Indian subcontinent and make it a strong and prosperous country. In this sense, Kauṭilya’s approach was purely normative. Nevertheless, in the real world, there were many ideal kings (like Chandragupta Maurya, Aśoka etc.) who were good kings if not perfect ones according to the above norms. Lack of ideal kings, however, was one of the basic causes of downfall of the Mauryan Empire. In the Gupta era and later Indian history till the British Rule, prosperity (or downfall) of dynasties were mainly related to the existence (or absence of) ideal kings. In modern democratic India after Independence, the pathetic state of affairs is due mainly to the absence of honest and competent politicians. We are now going to discuss this aspect in detail.

As regards the controlling power of the Vedic Brāhmaṇa (chaplain) over the king there is some difference between earlier śāstras and Arthaśāstra. The latter assigned more power to the king than prescribed in the earlier texts. This might have become necessary to unify the Indian subcontinent under a strong king. Whatever be the reason, it appears from the prescriptions in Arthaśāstra as regards the power of the king that the Vedic Brāhmaṇa appointed by the king himself was not likely to have the same controlling power over the king unlike his counterpart in earlier śāstras. This may be apprehended from the power Kauṭilya bestows on the king as he holds royal edict above existing laws, custom and prescriptions of the śāstras.

Up to the time of composition of Arthaśāstra, the king was considered by the śāstras to be only the guardian of law as delineated in the śāstras having no power to override them or make laws contradicting the edicts of the śāstras or existing custom of the country. But Arthaśāstra brings about a radical departure from the hitherto existing norm by conferring power on the king to become a maker of law through royal edicts. Under these circumstances, it is quite unlikely that the chaplain would have power enough to desist the king from indulging in undesirable activities if the king is adamant to do so. But did the Vedic Brāhmaṇa even in other ancient Indian texts like Manusmṛti and Mahābhārata had real power to control an adamant king? Notwithstanding the power endowed theoretically to the Vedic Brāhmaṇa in these texts, it is, however, questionable how far the Brāhmaṇa could control an unethical king in the real world.

 

Concept of Daṇḍa

To start with Kauṭilya explains the basic philosophy that lies at the root of ethics of the king. In this regard Kauṭilya explains the concept of daṇḍa (the rod of chastisement). The king is simply the wielder of the impersonal daṇḍa which endows the king with power if properly applied, but brings about his ruin if administered inadvertently.

According to Kauṭilya power of the daṇḍa enables the king to discharge his duties, without hindrance, pertaining to the pursuit of philosophy, the three Vedas and economic activities essential for prosperity of the country. Successful administration of the science of politics is rooted in the power of the king to wield the daṇḍa. This power pertaining to the daṇḍa enables the king to have the acquisition of things not possessed, the preservation of things possessed, the augmentation of things preserved and the bestowal of things augmented on a worthy recipient.

Kauṭilya opines that philosophy, Vedas and economics have their roots in the just administration of daṇḍa and the orderly maintenance of worldly life depends on proper administration of daṇḍa. Kauṭilya insists that the king should be neither too harsh nor too mild about the application of the daṇḍa. If the king administers the daṇḍa with harshness, it becomes a source of terror to the subjects and all others resulting in disorder and chaos. On the other hand, if he is mild with the daṇḍa, he turns out to be a weak and incompetent king and subject to contempt by the subjects. The king is honoured only if the daṇḍa is administered in proper manner and maintaining perfect balance.

Benefits of proper administration of daṇḍa

Kauṭilya opines that if the daṇḍa is administered after full consideration, it endows the subjects with spiritual good, material well-being and pleasure of the senses. Here daṇḍa protects the subjects in justifiable manner. Under this situation, the people of the four castes and in the four stages of life (brahmacharya, gṛhastha, vanaprastha and sannyasa), are all protected by the king with the daṇḍa and thus they are capable of disseminating their respective duties peacefully and without deviation from the proper paths. Also, administration of the daṇḍa when rooted in self-discipline of the wielder brings about security and well-being to all living beings.

Adverse consequences of misuse of daṇḍa

Kauṭilya cautions that if administered improperly, whether in passion or anger, or in contempt, it enrages not only the householders, but also even the forest-anchorites and wandering ascetics. Under such a situation the law of the fishes ensues as the stronger swallows the weaker in the absence of the wielder of the daṇḍa. Thus it is clear that the king is simply the wielder of the impersonal daṇḍa and the future of the king and the country he rules, depends a good deal on how the king wields it. The country and its ruler prosper if the daṇḍa is properly applied and both are doomed if applied improperly.

 

 

 

Appendix

Maṇḍala Theory

VI/2/13: The king, endowed with personal excellences and those of his material constituents, the seat of good policy, is the would-be conqueror.

VI/2/14: Encircling him on all sides, with territory immediately next to his is the constituent called the enemy.

VI/2/15: In the same manner, one with territory separated by one (other territory) is the constituent called the ally.

VI/2/21: One with territory immediately proximate to those of the enemy and the conqueror, capable of helping them when they are united or disunited and of suppressing them when they are disunited, is the middle king.

VI/2/22: One outside (the sphere of ) the enemy, the conqueror and the middle king, stronger than (their) constituents, capable of helping the enemy, the conqueror and the middle king when they are united or disunited and of suppressing them when they are disunited, is the neutral king.

XIII/4/54: After thus conquering the enemy’s territory, the conqueror should seek to seize the middle king, after succeeding over him, the neutral king.

XIII/4/55:  This is the first method of conquering the world.

XIII/4/56: In the absence of the middle and neutral kings, he should overcome the enemy constituents by superiority of policy, then the other constituents.

XIII/4/57: This is the second method.

XIII/4/58: In the absence of the circle he should overcome by squeezing from both sides the ally through the enemy or the enemy through the ally.

XIII/4/59: This is the third method.

XIII/4/60: He should first overcome a weak or a single neighbouring prince; becoming doubly powerful through him a second prince; three times powerful, a third.

XIII/4/61: This is the fourth method of conquering the world.

 

Power of the King

III/1/38: When all laws are perishing, the king here is the promulgator of laws, by virtue of his guarding the right conduct of the world consisting of the four varnas and four asramas.

III/1/39: A matter in dispute has four feet, law, transaction, custom and the royal edict; (among them) the later one supersedes the earlier one.

III/1/45: Where (a text of) the science may be in conflict with any edict in a matter of law, there the edict shall prevail; for, there the written text loses its validity.

XIII/5/14: And discontinuing whatever custom he might regard as harmful to the treasury and army, or as unrighteous, he should establish a righteous course of conduct.

XIII/5/24: He should institute a righteous custom, not initiated before and continue one initiated by others; and he should not institute an unrighteous custom, and should stop any initiated by others.

 

Concept of Ideal King

Education and training

I/5/7: When the ceremony of tonsure is performed, the (prince) should learn the use of the alphabet and arithmetic.

I/5/8: When the initiation with the preceptor is performed, he should learn the three Vedas and philosophy from the learned, economics from the heads of departments (and) the science of politics from theoretical and practical exponents.

I/5/9: And (he should observe) celibacy till the sixteenth year.

I/5/10: Thereafter (should follow) the cutting of the hair and marriage for him.

I/5/11: And (he should have) constant association with elders in learning for the sake of improving his training, since training has its root in that.

I/5/12: During the first part of the day, he should undergo training in the arts of (using) elephants, horses, chariots and weapons.

I/5/13: In the latter part, (he should engage) in listening to Itihāsa.       

I/5/14: The Purāṇas, Itivṛtta, Ākhyāyikā, Udāharaṇa, Dharmaśāstra and Arthaśāstra, – these constitute Itihāsa.

I/5/15: During the remaining parts of the day and the night, he should learn new things and familiarize himself with those already learnt, and listen repeatedly to things not learnt.

Importance of Continuous Study

I/5/16: For, from (continuous) study ensues a (trained) intellect, from intellect (comes) practical application, (and) from practical application (results) self-possession; such is the efficacy of sciences.

I/5/17: For, the king, trained in the sciences, intent on the discipline of the subjects, enjoys the earth (alone) without sharing it with any other (ruler), being devoted to the welfare of all beings.

Moral education

I/6/1: Control over the senses, which is motivated by training in the senses, should be secured by giving up lust, anger, greed, pride, arrogance and fool-hardiness.

I/6/2: Absence of improper indulgence in (the pleasure of) sound, touch, colour, taste and smell by the senses of hearing, touch and sight , the tongue and the sense of the smell , means control over senses; or, the practice of (this) science (gives such control).

I/6/3: For, the whole of this science means control over the senses.

I/6/4: A king, behaving in a manner contrary to that, (and hence) having no control over his senses, quickly perishes, though he be ruler right up to the four ends of the earth.

I/6/5: For example, the Bhoja the Dānakya by name, entertaining a sinful desire for a Brāhmaṇa Maiden, perished along with his kinsmen and kingdom; and (so did) Karāla, King of the Videhas.

I/6/6: Janamejaya, using violence against Brāhmaṇas out of anger, (likewise perished); and (so did) Tālajañgha, (using violence) against the Bhrgus.

I/6/7: Aila, extorting money from the four varnas out of greed, (perished); and (so did) Ajabindu of the Sauvīras.

I/6/8: Rāvana, not restoring the wife of another through pride, (perished); and (so did) Duryodhana (not returning) a portion of the kingdom.

I/6/9: Dambhodbhava, treating creatures with contempt out of arrogance, (perished); and (so did) Arjuna of the Haihayas.

I/6/10: Vātāpi, trying to assail Agastya, out of foolhardiness (perished); and (so did) the clan of the Vrisnis (trying to assail) Dvaipāyana.

I/6/11: These and many other kings, giving themselves up to the group of six enemies, perished with their kinsmen and kingdoms, being without control over their senses.

I/6/12: Casting out the group of six enemies, Jamadagna, who had full control over his senses, as well as Ambarisa, the son of Nabhaga, enjoyed the earth for a long time.

I/7/1: Therefore, by casting out the group of six enemies he should acquire control over the senses, cultivate his intellect by association with the elders, keep a watchful eye by means of spies, bring about security and well-being by (energetic) activity, maintain the observance of their special duties (by the subjects) by carrying out (his own) duties, acquire  discipline by (receiving) instruction in the sciences, attain popularity by association with what is of material advantage and maintain (proper) behaviour by (doing) what is beneficial.

I/7/3: He should enjoy sensual pleasures without contravening his spiritual good and material well-being; he should not deprive himself of pleasures.

I/7/4: Or, (he should devote himself) equally to the three goals of life which are bound up with one another.

I/7/5: For, any one of (the three, viz.,) spiritual good, material well-being and sensual pleasures, (if) excessively indulged in, does harm to itself as well as to the other two.

Daily routine of the king

I/19/6: He should divide the day into eight parts as also the night by means of nālikās, or by the measure of the shadow (of the gnomon).

I/19/9: Out of them, during the first eighth part of the day, he should listen to measures taken for defence and (accounts of) income and expenditure.

I/19/10: During the second, he should look into the affairs of the citizens and the country people.

I/19/11: During the third, he should take his bath and meals and devote himself to study.

I/19/12: During the fourth, he should receive revenue in cash and assign tasks to heads of departments.

I/19/13: During the fifth, he should consult the council of ministers by sending letters, and acquaint himself with secret information brought in by spies.

I/19/14: During the sixth, he should engage in recreation at his pleasure or hold consultations.

I/19/15: During the seventh, he should review elephants, horses, chariots and troops.

I/19/16: During the eighth, he should deliberate on military plans with the commander-in-chief.

I/19/17: When the day is ended, he should worship the evening twilight.

I/19/18: During the first (eighth) part of the night, he should interview secret agents.

I/19/19: During the second, he should take a bath and meals and engage in study.

I/19/20: During the third, he should go to bed to the strains of musical instruments and sleep during the fourth and the fifth (pats).

I/19/21: During the sixth, he should awaken to the sound of musical instruments and ponder over the teaching of the science (of politics) as well as over the work to be done.

I/19/22: During the seventh, he should sit in consultation (with councilors) and despatch secret agents.

I/19/23: During the eighth, he should receive blessings from priests, preceptors and chaplain, and see his physician, chief cook and astrologer.

I/19/24: And after going round a cow with her calf and a bull, he should proceed to the assembly hall.

I/19/25: Or, he should divide the day and night into (different) parts in conformity with his capacity and carry out his tasks.

Appointment of chaplain

I/9/9: He should appoint a chaplain, who is very exalted in family and character, thoroughly trained in the Veda with its auxiliary sciences, in divine signs, in omens and in the science of politics and capable of counteracting divine and human calamities by means of Atharvan remedies.

I/9/10: And he should follow him as a pupil (does) his teacher, a son his father (or) a servant his master.

I/9/11: Kṣatriyas power, made to prosper by the Brāhmaṇa (chaplain), sanctified by spells in the form of the council of ministers, (and) possessed of arms in the form of compliance with the science (of politics), triumphs, remaining ever unconquered.

I/7/8: He should set the preceptors or ministers as the bounds of proper conduct (for himself), who should restrain him from occasions of harm, or, when he is erring in private, should prick him with the goad in the form of (the indication of time for the performance of his regular duties by means of) the shadow (of gnomon) or the nalika (water-clock).

 

 

Concept of Daṇḍa

I/4/3: The means of ensuring the pursuit of philosophy, the three Vedas and economics is the Rod (wielded by the king); its administration constitutes the science of politics, having for its purpose the acquisition of (things) not possessed, the preservation of (things) possessed, the augmentation of (things) preserved and the bestowal of (things) augmented on a worthy recipient.

I/5/1: Therefore, the three sciences have their root in the (just administration of) the Rod.

I/4/4: On it is dependent the orderly maintenance of worldly life.

I/4/8: For, the (king), severe with the Rod, becomes a source of terror to beings.

I/4/9: The (king), mild with the Rod, is despised.

I/4/10: The (king), just with the Rod, is honoured.

Benefits of proper administration of daṇḍa

I/4/11: For, the Rod, used after full consideration, endows the subjects with spiritual good, material well-being and pleasure of the senses.

I/4/15: Protected by him, he prevails.

I/4/16: The people of the four varnas and in the four stages of life, protected by the king with the Rod, (and) deeply attached to occupations prescribed as their special duties, keep to their respective paths.

I/5/2: (Administration of) the Rod, (when) rooted in self-discipline, brings security and well-being to living beings.

Adverse consequences of misuse of daṇḍa

I/4/12: Used unjustly, whether in passion or anger, or in contempt, it enrages even forest-anchorites and wandering ascetics, how much more than the householders?

I/4/13: If not used at all, it gives rise to the law of the fishes.

I/4/14: For, the stronger swallows the weak in the absence of the wielder of the Rod.

 

                 

 

Chapter-6: Espionage in Arthaśāstra – Internal

 

Introduction

Espionage has been an inexorable part of statecraft ever since the emergence of state as the supreme institution of governance of human societies. The term espionage, in general, applies to both internal intelligence of a state and intelligence pertaining to other countries. The ruler or ruling institutions of the state have to be well informed of the internal situation of a country, its citizens, the internal rival groups or individuals, the dissidents, the supporters of the ruling institution or ruler, the groups or individuals striving to destabilize the state machinery or conspiring against the government; the various conflicting groups and the inner struggle among them, the designs and movements of criminals of various categories, problems and aspirations of the people belonging to various social categories and professions etc. The quality and efficiency of governance of a state unquestionably depends on the quantity and quality of intelligence on the above mentioned aspects. In fact, without a competent internal espionage network, it is well neigh impossible for the government of a country to rule properly.

Quality of governance depends a good deal on the quality of internal intelligence. On the other hand the state ought to be well aware of the other countries – friendly, neutral and enemy countries – interstate rivalry or coalition, the attitude of them towards the country concerned, their war efforts, and weaponry, internal situation of these countries and their citizens, their economic conditions etc. All these pertain to external intelligence which has two aspects, viz. espionage activities about other countries that include both gathering of intelligence about them and destabilizing them in case of the enemy countries and to protect the country from espionage onslaughts of other countries (counter-espionage).

Two most important external activities of a state, ever since its emergence, have been to protect itself from foreign invasion and espionage plays a crucial role in facilitating successful external defence and territorial expansion by captivating other countries. No war, either a defensive or an offensive, could be waged successfully without high quality external intelligence as well as counter-intelligence. The basic characteristics of the states have remained almost unchanged even today notwithstanding the global efforts towards avoiding war and conflicts and emergence of world bodies like the UNO, the World Bank, and the WTO etc. Imperialism has changed forms in course of time from open to clandestine, indirect economic imperialism instead of direct territorial occupation, and in many cases hot war has changed into cold war without direct use of destructive weapons. So, importance of external intelligence has remained the same in statecraft in modern days. Moreover, economic intelligence networks to unravel economic secrets of other countries and to steal technologies from other countries have become common practice in the modern world.

With the progress of theories pertaining to state and material progress, complexities of inter-state relations have increased in course of time and accordingly, external espionage has become more complex and sophisticated. Keeping pace with the evolution of communication technologies, especially cyber technology, espionage techniques have become more and more subtle and complicated and opportunities to utilize modern technologies have added new dimensions to modern espionage and counter espionage theories. Spectacular developments of technologies pertaining to arms and ammunitions and destructive power of weaponry have enhanced the importance of military intelligence and counter intelligence of each country. Now-a-days, an important aspect of external intelligence pertains to weaponry and war efforts of other countries. With spectacular advance of productive technologies and technological gap between technologically advanced and backward countries, industrial and economic espionage has emerged as a novel aspect of modern external espionage. This pertains to both purely economic and war related technologies. Cyber technology has added new dimensions to modern espionage and cyber espionage (through Hacking, Phishing, Trojan horse and other similar devices) is something completely new in the arena of espionage.

The science of espionage has a long history of evolution and probably it originated ever since the emergence of state as the supreme form of governance in clan societies. The science, in course of emergence of larger states achieved high level of development in Egypt, Syria, Persia, China, Greece and India. By the 4th century B. C. the science of espionage in India achieved a spectacular level of advancement which was incorporated in Arthaśāstra. The basic theories of espionage as prescribed by Kauṭilya have changed very little in course of the last two millennia and three hundred years notwithstanding the widespread use of technological devices developed in course of industrial advance, especially, the cyber technology developed in course of the last few decades. As regards effectiveness of espionage methods, the modern espionage agencies are yet to learn a lot from the theories and practices of espionage as embodied in Arthaśāstra.

The major topics covered in this chapter are:

Essence of Arthaśāstra Espionage: Human Vices and Weaknesses

Types of Spies and Their Functions

Test of Ministers and Government Officials

Punishing Treasonable Officials by Devious Means

Stratagem against Princes or Officials Going to Join the Enemy

Dangers from Officers in the Outer Region and the Interior

Spy Network for the Citizens

Apprehending and Punishing Criminals

 

Essence of Arthaśāstra Espionage: Human Vices and Weaknesses

Kauṭilya’s espionage method was mainly based on use of human resources which in modern parlance may be termed ‘Humint’. Kauṭilya’s supremacy lies in the fact that his espionage theory had in its essence basic vices and vulnerabilities of human beings. Kauṭilya had a thorough knowledge of the ancient Indian concept of the innermost aspects of human psychosis from which all conceivable human vices and vulnerabilities arise.

Basic human modes – the Sankhya concepts (Ballantyne, 1885)

According to Sankhya philosophy of Kapila of ancient India, human nature and consciousness is a combination of three basic modes, viz. satva, rajasa and tamasa (the adjectives of these abstract nouns are respectively sātvika, rājasika and tāmasika). If isolated in the abstract, unmixed satva pertains to goodness and virtue, rajasa to passion and insatiable desire and tamasa to darkness of mind, obsession and inertia. All our mental and intellectual faculties originate from these three basic modes. All these basic modes combine in different degrees to assign different characteristics to different individuals.

These three classes of people in the pure form may be distinguished on the basis of certain baser and nobler human attributes. The baser features are found in the highest degree and nobler ones in the lowest degree in a tāmasika person. For the rājasika person, both types of features are of moderate degree; and for the sātvika, nobler qualities are found in the highest degree and baser ones are completely absent.

 

 

The ṛpus or basic human instincts1

Now let us take up another concept from ancient Indian texts, viz. the concept of ṛpus. Literally ṛpu means enemy, but as used in ancient Indian texts these basic instincts of human psychology are not enemies as such. They are inexorable parts of biological existence of human beings and turn into enemies only if uncontrolled. There are six ṛpus, viz. kāma (desire for material pleasure/lust), krodha (anger), lobha (greed), moha (delusion), mada (pride/vanity), mātsarya (jealousy/envy).

The basic instincts, pertaining to the ṛpus, can be used for good or bad, but by themselves they are neutral. If the basic instincts are kept under control, they are always beneficial, but if they get the better of us, they turn into enemies and ruin us in the short or long run.

The ṛpus take various major forms under different modes.

For a sātvika person ṛpus are fully controlled and turn out to be benign.

For a rājasika person, kāma  in the narrow sense takes the form of preoccupation with sensual pleasure, and in the wider sense it leads to insatiable craving for power and wealth (by just or unjust means); krodha takes the form of secret planning and conspiracy for taking reprisals; lobha gets associated with achieving all sorts of material pleasures, power, fame etc.; moha makes him always pre-occupied with the fruits of his works and activities; mada and mātsarya goad him to desperate and restless activity in order to supersede all his superiors.

For a tāmasika person kāma is associated with perverse and brutal sexual desire, forceful violation of the opposite sex, incest and unnatural sex behaviour. His krodha is blind and destructive, both for others and for himself; his lobha centers on all conceivable dirty and shabby pleasures – addictions to drugs, alcohol etc. For him, mada leads to false vanity and day-dreaming; moha is full of superstitions, baseless knowledge and inactivity; mātsarya burns his soul and goads him to inflict harm on others.

The espionage theory of Kauṭilya had in its basis the basic modes and instincts of human mind. Emphasis was laid on categorization of all relevant target persons (ministers and government officials, queens and concubines, princes and princesses, all categories of citizens of both the

own country and foreign countries including kings of foreign countries) on the basis of modes and ṛpus and exploiting their vulnerabilities with appropriate means. Pure sātvika persons are

 

1. The Devi Bhagavatam- 7.35.2-3 (book-7, chapter-35, ślokas -2-3).

not at all vulnerable, but in real world they are very rare. Most real world people, because of their tāmasika and rājasika traits and uncontrolled ṛpus, are vulnerable somewhere. The task of the spies is to identify the vulnerable aspect of each target and explore its vulnerability by applying suitable means, e.g., women for lusty persons, money for greedy persons, enticement of power for the proud and for the obsessed ones, superstition, magic, occult practices, miracles etc. In this regard the agent provocateur has a crucial role in Kauṭilya’s methods of espionage.

 

Types of Spies and Their Functions

Types of spies

Kauṭilya revealed extraordinary insight and skill in selecting and appointing spies that are to penetrate and get assimilated with every sphere of society in the protagonist’s own country and in foreign countries (friendly, inimical or neutral).

Kauṭilya classified the spies to be appointed into the following major categories:

i) Sharp pupil

ii) Apostate monk

iii) Seeming householder

iv) Seeming trader

v) Seeming ascetic

vi) Secret agent

vii) Bravo

viii) Poison giver

ix) Begging nun

Each category of spies is assigned specific tasks.

Now let us take up the details of these various types of secret agents or spies.

Kauṭilya emphasizes to start with that after uprightness of the ministers being assured by means of secret tests, the king should appoint persons in secret service – the sharp pupil, the apostate monk, the seeming householder, the seeming trader and the seeming ascetic, the secret agent called the bravo, the poison-giver and the begging nun.

Definitions of the spies belonging to the above categories

i) Sharp pupil

A sharp pupil is a student or disciple who is intelligent, loyal, patriotic and also courageous.

He should have knowledge of the secrets of others and should be bold. He would be encouraged with money and honour, and the minister dealing with him should instruct that he is to regard the king and the minister as authority, and report to them at once any evil of any person he happens to come upon.

ii) Apostate monk

The wandering monk, who has relinquished monkhood, is loyal and looking for job is to be picked up and appointed in the category of apostate monk. Only those monks who have been tested to have intelligence and whose honesties have been assured through appropriate tests are to be taken up for appointing as apostate monks.

He would be provided with money and other accessories necessary for discharging the duties he is entrusted with. Equipped with plenty of money and assistants, the apostate monk should maintain secrecy under the guise of some occupation.

From the profits of the work assigned to the apostate monk for his guise, the minister in charge of this category of spies should bear the expenses of the wandering monks pertaining to food, clothing and residence.

For those of the monks who seek a permanent livelihood, the minister should arrange for such jobs and advise them to work under the garb of the job for the interest of the king and present himself with collected secret reports to the appointer at the time of meals and receiving salaries.

New wandering monks are to be recruited through the existing monks – the existing monk spies are to be advised to propose other monks in similar position to join the service of the king as apostate monks.

iii) Seeming householder

An intelligent and honest farmer whose source of income from agriculture has depleted and therefore he is obliged to look for a job is to be appointed in the seeming household category.

He would be assigned with profitable agricultural land and under the guise of a householder subsiding from agricultural pursuits he would discharge his duties as a spy. This person would be in a position to have information of other households and farmers around the place of work he is appointed at.

iv) Seeming trader

Just like the farmer, an intelligent and honest trader whose source of income from trade has depleted and therefore he is obliged to look for a job is to be appointed in the seeming trader category. He would be appointed in trading activities at some place desirable by the minister for gathering information. Under the guise of a trader he would collect secret information about all traders around him and pass this on to the minister controlling him.

v) Seeming ascetic

Spying activities would also be done through agents under the guise of hermits residing in the vicinity of the city. Those hermits (practitioner of religious rites with shaven heads or with matted hair) who want to relinquish their practices as hermits and are desirous of getting permanent government jobs would be appointed in the category of spies known as seeming ascetic. The major task of a seeming hermit would be to find out loyal and intelligent employees for the government, gather information about people having discontent and grudges against the king and pacify them by various means.

A spy of this category would be installed in the vicinity of the city and he should attract disciples who are willing to accept him as guru. He should impress everyone by openly eating only a vegetable or a handful of barley at intervals of a month or two (secretly, however, he would take meals as desired by him).

To impress people about his supernatural power through occult practices, spies under the guise of traders should make open announcement that they could achieve prosperity in business by means of the occult practices of the hermit.

His disciples should also make open announcement to everyone that this holy hermit is capable of bringing about prosperity to anyone seeking his supernatural assistance. It is natural that people would approach the hermit for securing prosperity in various spheres of life. Thereafter, to those who approach the hermit with hopes of securing prosperity, he should specify events happening in their families, which are ascertained by means of the science of interpreting the touch of the body and with the help of signs made by his disciples, events such as small gain, burning by fire, danger from thieves, the killing of a treacherous person, a gift of gratification, news about happenings in a foreign land, saying, ‘this will happen today or tomorrow,’ or ‘the king will do this.’

After these announcements, the secret agents associated with the hermit would cause the prophecies of the hermit to be realized. This would make the seekers of prosperity highly impressed by the supernatural prowess of the hermit.

Now, to those among the visitors who are richly endowed with spirit, intelligence and eloquence, he should predict good fortune at the hands of the king and speak of their imminent association with the minister. Thereafter, the relevant minister would arrange for their employment and livelihood.

As regards those who are resentful for reasonable causes, he should convince them and pacify them with money, honour and other rewards. However, he should bring under control through secret punishment and fear psychosis, those persons who are resentful or inimical to the king without any reason, or are engaged in harmful activities against the king.

These spies under the guise of occult hermits are also to be entrusted with the responsibility of ascertaining the integrity of the state employees.

vi) Secret agent

A person, to be appointed in the category of secret agent, should have thorough knowledge of magic and occult practices, fortune telling, astrology etc. so that he can befool or trap gullible people and extract information from them. These secret agents should be free from family attachments. They are to be experts in Atharvavedic practices or black arts and capable of studying the psychology of common people. They should also be capable of making people impressed by their practice of magic, generating illusion among people and thereby collecting secret information from the enchanted people.

vii) Bravo

Some people are intrepid, desperate and adventurous by nature, capable of fighting like mercenaries, have no sentimental attachments, rejoice taking risks and care a fig for their own lives. These desperadoes are to be selected for the category of bravo. This type of intrepid people if desirous of earning money could be utilized (by temptation of money) to undertake very risky activities necessary at times for the security and proper functioning of the state machinery.

viii) Poison giver

Persons who have no affections for kinsmen or other people, and are cruel and malicious by nature are to be appointed as poison givers.

ix) Begging nun

The wandering nuns, (with shaven head and commanding reverence from religious and superstitious people), who are seeking livelihood are to be picked up and appointed in the category of begging nun. They are to be selected from among those who are poor, widowed, bold, Brāhmaṇa by caste and treated with honour in the king’s palace and have access to the houses of high officials of the king. So, all information about the activities of the high level government officials, their fidelity or deceitful nature could be ascertained through these begging nuns.

Confirmation by three spies

For each mission, three spies, unknown to one another, would be appointed for confirmation of reports from the spies and prevent mistakes or deliberate cheating/lying by spies. If reports of each of them match, it would be accepted as confirmed. In case reports vary, further checks should be made to detect if one or more spies had made mistakes or cheated deliberately. Once detected the miscreant/miscreants would be punished and removed from his/their job/jobs. Moreover, the knowledge to each spy that there are other spies around him to report about his activities, would compel him to refrain from giving false information.

Salaries of spies

Salaries of various categories of spies as delineated in Arthaśāstra could be evaluated only in relative terms. Absolute assessment is not possible because it is not possible to convert the major currency (paṇa) in circulation at Kauṭilya’s time into rupee or any other modern currency. The salaries of the major categories of spies and secret agents, according to Arthaśāstra guidelines, are:

Sharp pupil, Apostate monk, Seeming householder, Seeming trader and Seeming ascetic = 1000 paṇas

Secret agent, Poison-giver and Begging nun = 500 paṇas

Functions of spies

Various categories of spies are to be employed with trustworthy disguises, disguise as regards country, dress, profession, language and birth. As regards all these aspects there should be perfection so that no body is capable of suspecting the status they openly declare.

These spies would be assigned tasks in conformity with their intelligence, loyalty, and capability of gathering correct information without being detected or raising any suspicion in the victim/victims. The persons under surveillance of the spies would be all the employees of the king including the councilor, the chaplain, the commander-in-chief, the crown-prince, the chief palace usher, the chief of the palace guards, the administrator, the director of stores, the magistrate, the commandant, the city-judge, the director of factories, the council of ministers, the superintendents, the chief of the army staff, the commandant of the fort, the commandant of the frontier-fort and the forest chieftain.

Bravoes, serving as bearers of umbrella, water-vessel, fan, shoes, seat and carriage and riding animals, would be entrusted with spying on and ascertaining the out-of-door activities of the officials mentioned above. They should pass on the information collected by them to the secret agents who should communicate that information to the spy establishments.

The indoor activities of these officials are to be spied upon and ascertained by spies under the guise of cooks, waiters, bath-attendants, shampooers, bed-preparers, barbers, valets and water-servers, those appearing as hump-backs, dwarfs, hunters, dumb, deaf, idiotic or blind persons, and actors, dancers, singers, musicians, professional story-tellers and minstrels. Begging nuns should collect information of indoor activities of the officials from all these spies and pass the information on to the spy establishments.

Assistants of the spy establishments should carry out the transmission of spied out news by means of various signs and symbols. Neither the establishments nor these assistants should know one another.

In case of prohibition of entry into the houses of the officials for begging nuns, secret agents appearing at the door one after another or appearing as the mother or father of servants in the house, or posing as female artists, singers or female slaves, should collect the secret information from the spies employed inside the houses with the help of various secret means – songs and recitations bearing secret information, writings concealed in musical instruments or symbols and signs.

Another means of passing out secret information is that a get-away from the house should be made secretly by the spies by taking advantage of pretended long illness or madness or by setting something on fire or administering poison to someone.

 

 

 

Test of Ministers and Government Officials

i) Ministers

Integrity of ministers is to be tested by unraveling their susceptibility to different ṛpus (lust, anger, greed, pride, delusion and jealousy) and they should be assigned responsibility for departments where their weaknesses and vulnerabilities would not be harmful.

After appointment of ministers to ordinary offices in consultation with the conciliators and the chaplain, the king should test their integrity by means of secret test. The test is to be taken through agent provocateurs.

To start with a got up misunderstanding between the king and the chaplain would be arranged and the king would seemingly discard the chaplain under some pretext.

Thereafter spies as agent provocateurs would approach each minister individually and goad him with suggestions that by discharging the chaplain the king has violated moral norms and so he is impious and ought to be removed from power and replaced by some pious person either belonging to the royal family or a foreign prince or any other suitable person. The spies should insist that the other ministers have already agreed to remove the king and now they hope that the minister concerned has the same view. If the minister disagrees to accept the suggestions of the spies he would be considered loyal.

In the same way the king would seemingly dismiss the commander of the army who, thereafter would try to provoke each minister through agent provocateurs with offers of money and other material gains in the same fashion as above to seek his compliance with the conspiracy to destroy the king.  Like the previous case, if the minister reacts negatively to the proposal, he would be taken to be honest, loyal, upright and free from material temptations.

The vulnerability of the ministers to lust and women would be tested through the wandering nuns. A wandering nun, who has won the confidence of different ministers and is treated with honour in the palace, should secretly suggest to each minister individually that the chief queen is in love with him and has made arrangements for a secret meeting with him.

If the minister concerned repulses the proposal, his purity as regards women and lust would be substantiated.

By various similar methods through agent provocateurs the king would be able to ascertain the loyalty and also weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the ministers.

Now, from among the ministers tested and proved loyal in one or more respects, the king should appoint them on the basis of the nature of their loyalty and uprightness. Those proved loyal by the test of piety are to be appointed to posts in the judiciary and for oppression of criminals, those proved upright by the test of material gain to offices of the administrator and in the stores of the director of stores, those proved pure by the test of lust to guardianship of places of recreation inside the palace as well as outside.

The king should appoint the ministers who have been proved loyal and honest by all the tests, as his councilors.

Those found dishonest by every test, are to be employed in mines, in forests for material produce, in elephant-forests and in factories.

ii) Departmental heads

Activities of all departmental heads and other officials in similar position should be brought under strict surveillance of the spies. If any officer spends more than his income, it is certain that he is dishonest and his additional spending is at the cost of state revenue. Spies would be entrusted with the task of ascertaining this type of dishonesty of the officers.

iii) Village officials

The king, through spy administrators, should station in the country side secret agents under the guise of holy ascetics, wandering monks, cart-drivers, wandering minstrels, jugglers, tramps, fortune-tellers, soothsayers, astrologers, physicians, lunatics, dumb persons, deaf persons, idiots, blind persons, traders, artisans, artists, actors, brothel-keepers, dealers in bread, dealers in cooked meat, and dealers in cooked rice and various other professions.

These spies under various guises would be entrusted with the responsibility of ascertaining integrity or unscrupulousness of village-officers.

If any officer is suspected by the spies to be of questionable income (income beyond what he ought to earn from legal sources), he should be kept under strict vigilance by spies in order to find out the source of his secret and illegal income.

The secret agents should also act as agent provocateurs to test the honesty or otherwise of the village officers. The procedure is like this: an agent provocateur should say to a village officer that some rouge with plenty of wealth is in trouble and taking advantage of his difficult position the officer ought to extort money from him. If the officer falls into this trap and agrees to do so, he would be considered as an extortionist and dismissed from job.

Similar provoking methods should be applied on all rural officers to check their integrity and proneness to corruption.

iv) Judges and magistrates

A secret agent who has gained confidence of a judge should request the judge to accept bribe and give judgement in favour of some person who is a relative of him and is an accused before the judge concerned. If the judge agrees to accept bribe and release the accused (non-existent) as mentioned by the agent he should be considered as a dishonest judge and dismissed from his position.

 

Punishing Treasonable Officials by Devious Means

Sometimes the treachery and unscrupulousness of the officers may be felt to be certain, but because of their cunning these guilt cannot be proved openly. In this case it is not possible to punish the miscreant openly. In such a case these cunning officials are to be punished by secret means through the spy network.

i) Through the kinsmen of the miscreant

1. A secret agent, after inciting a brother of the treasonable high officer, not honoured by him, should induce him to fight against the treasonable officer with the assurance that he would get the king’s assistance to snatch his property. When the brother has acted with a weapon or poison as suggested by the spies, the latter should assassinate him and pass on the blame to the treasonable officer creating the evidence on the basis of which he could be executed for killing his brother.

2. A brother, instigated by a secret agent, should demand inheritance from the treasonable officer. As he lies down at the door of the treasonable man’s house at night, or when he is staying elsewhere, an assassin, slaying him, should declare, ‘this claimant of the inheritance is killed.’ Then, giving support to the slain man’s party, the king should suppress the treasonable officer.

3. Secret agents, staying near the treasonable officer, should threaten the brother claiming inheritances with death. Thereafter the action would be as in the previous case.

4. When of two treasonable officers, a son has relations with the father’s wife or a father with the son’s wife or a brother with that of a brother, started by a secret agent would instigate a fight between the two and get both the fighting parties executed as in the preceding manner – i.e., in course of the fight the secret agent would secretly kill one of the contenders and pass the blame on the other.

5. A secret agent should instigate a son of the treasonable officer thinking highly of himself, suggesting ‘you are really the king’s son, kept here through fear of enemy.’

When he believes that, the king should honour him in private by saying, ‘though the time for installing you as the crown prince has come, I am not crowning you through fear of the officer.’

The secret agent should induce him to murder the officer.

When he has acted, the king should cause him to be executed on that very ground, declaring, ‘he is a patricide.’

6. A female mendicant agent, having won the confidence of the wife of the treasonable officer by means of love-winning potions, should cheat him by the use of poison.

ii) Miscellaneous devious stratagem

1. An agent appearing as a holy man should make the officer, who has faith in black magic believe, by saying, that he could attain his goal by performing some occult rite. When he undertakes to perform the rite, the spy under the guise of holy man should get him killed in the course of the rite by poison announcing, ‘he was killed by a mishap in the rite.’

2. An agent appearing as a physician, after establishing a malignant or incurable disease for the treasonable person, should cheat him with poison in the preparations of medicine or food.

3. Agents, employed as cooks or food servers, should cheat the treasonable person by means of poison.

4. Assassins should set fire to the fields, threshing-floors or houses, or bring down their weapons on the kinsmen, relations or draught-animals of those treasonable persons whose mutual quarrels are deep-rooted, and say, ‘we were engaged by so and so.’

For that offence the others should be punished.

5. Secret agents should induce treasonable officers in the fortified city and in the country to be one another’s guests. In the occasion, one or more of the officers would be killed by poison givers and the spies would pass the blame on the other officers who would then be punished for poisoning fellow officers.

6. A spy under the guise of a female mendicant should suggest a treasonable chief in the country that the wife, the daughter-in-law or the daughter of another chief in is in love with the former. If this chief falls into the trap and agrees to encounter the female concerned, the spy with some evidence of his acceptance (for example, gifts offered by the chief), would inform the other chief of the mischievous intentions of the former chief.

In this way the spy would cause a quarrel between the two and taking advantage of the confusion of quarrel the spy would kill one and pass on the blame to the other who would then be punished for killing his fellow officer.

 

Stratagem against Princes or Officials Going to Join the Enemy

When princes or high officials try to join the enemy camp the spies are to create distrust and enmity between the two sides (those attempting to join hand with enemies and the enemies) through continuous propaganda to each against the other. The first attempt of the spies would be to win back the princes or other officials opting for joining the enemy camp by pleading that the enemies are going only to use them to serve their designs and once these are fulfilled they would kill the renegade princes or officials. If they could be won back it is well and good.  But if all these efforts fail and they are still adamant to join the enemy camp, the secret agents should arrange for killing them through assassins.

The secret agents should also endeavour to win back the soldiers who had left along with the princes or high officials by means of offering them various concessions.

 

Dangers from Officers in the Outer Region and the Interior

Danger to the kingdom may arise from connivance between officers posted in the outer region and those posted in the interior region of the country. Under such circumstances the secret agents are to adopt the following measures to nullify the conspiracy hatched jointly by outer and inner officials. The basic endeavour of the spies would be to generate dissension and mistrust between the two conspiring parties.

1. Secret agents, posing as friends of those in the outer regions should communicate to them the following secret information, ‘this king intends to overreach you through these posing as treasonable men; beware.’

2. Secret agents, posing as treasonable men, employed with the treasonable men in the interior, should divide the treasonable men in the interior from those in the outer regions or posing as allies of treasonable men in the exterior divide them from those in the interior region.

3. Assassins may be deployed to get mixed as seemingly allies of both groups of treasonable men and kill them secretly by means of poison or weapons.

4. Posing as allies of the conspirators in the outer regions and inviting them to the capital, the secret assassins should kill them.

5. Secret agents, posing as friends of the conspirators in both the regions should remind them the power of the king to detect conspiracy and warn them by saying that the king has already become aware of his designs and would soon take punitive measures against him and therefore it would be better for him to eschew the path of conspiracy and treason.

6. Assassins, insinuating themselves in the troops of the envoy of the one responding, should strike at their weak points with weapon, poison and so on. Then secret agents should accuse the one responding for that crime.

7. An agent posing as a friend, should say to them, ‘in order to find out your feelings, the king will put you to test; you should disclose them to him.’

8. Secret agents should divide the treasonable officials from one another saying, ‘so and so is thus whispering to the king about you’.

 

Spy Network for the Citizens

Popularizing the king among the citizens

Along with the espionage network for the government officials, the king should also undertake to set up a vast and all-embracing spy network for citizens belonging to all walks of life.

One of the major tasks of the spies would be to make the king popular among the citizens and to inspire respect and awe among the citizens about the king. Propaganda in an indirect way should be made by the secret agents about the power and various extraordinary attributes of the king.

Spies, apparently opposing one another, should carry on debate at various places characterized by large public gatherings, e.g., holy places, markets, and other congregations of people.

One of the spies seemingly against the king would openly blame the king of having no virtues which he claims to possess. Then the other spy opposing the first one would explain that this idea of the first spy is a misunderstanding and would explain clearly why the king in fact possesses divine attributes and the wellbeing and security of each citizen depends on the king. So, the king should be revered by each and every one.  In this way, through open debates and discussions the king should be popularized among the citizens by the spies.

Gathering information about the attitude of common people

The spies should find out all the rumours that are spreading among the citizens of the country.

Spies appearing as ascetics with shaven heads or with matted hair should ascertain the contentedness or discontentedness of the citizens, and their roles to do beneficial or harmful activities for the country. Spies appearing as fortune-tellers, soothsayers and astrologers would get closer to the citizens, should ascertain their mutual relations as well as their contacts with enemies or forest chieftains.

The king should favour those who are contented, with additional wealth and honour. He should propitiate with gifts and conciliation those, who are discontented, in order to make them contented.

Those who are enraged or greedy or frightened or proud, are likely to be seduced by enemies. The secret agents should detect these persons and the king should be cautious of these persons who are likely to create trouble.

In this way, the wise king should guard from the secret instigations of enemies, those likely to be seduced and those not likely to be seduced in his own territory, whether prominent person or common people.

Spies stationed at various places

i) At trading check posts

Close to the flag of the tax collection point spies are to be installed to detect attempts by traders to evade tolls and taxes. The secret agents are to detect if goods have passed beyond the foot of the flag without the duty being paid and on the basis of the findings the trader involved would be liable to pay the fine amounting to eight times the duty evaded.

Or a secret agent appearing as a trader should communicate to the king the size of the caravan of traders and other details pertaining to the commodities in the caravan.

In accordance with that information, the king should tell the collector of customs about the size of the caravan, in order to make his power of omniscience known to the collector. Thereafter the collector, on meeting the caravan, should verify this detail from the traders concerned. Once verified, both the collector and the traders would be convinced about the power of the king and start believing that nothing could be kept out of the sight of the king with his omniscience and therefore would never attempt to cheat the king by evading duties.

ii) At ale houses

The king should take initiative in constructing ale-houses consisting of many rooms, and provided with separate beds and seats for the customers. There would also be drinking bars provided with perfumes, flowers and water, and pleasant in all seasons.

Secret agents, placed there, should ascertain the normal and occasional expenditure of customers and get information about strangers.

They should make a note of ornaments, clothes and cash of customers who are intoxicated or sleeping. In case of loss of these, the owner of the ale house should compensate the loss and pay a fine of equal amount to the loss for negligence or involvement in stealing.

Owners, on their part, should appoint beautiful female servants to gather information about the intensions of the customers of all categories through direct association with them and also when they are intoxicated or asleep in secluded parts of the rooms.

iii) At brothels

Prostitutes and their sons would be trained to work as spies and pass on information about the designs and other details of the customers visiting the brothels.

iv) On roads

Secret agents operating along roads and away from roads should arrest, outside the city and inside, in temples, holy places, forests and cremation grounds all suspected persons, e.g., a person with a wound, one with harmful tools, one hiding behind a heavy load, one agitated, one in a long sleep, one tired after a journey or a stranger.

v) At deserted places

Inside the city, the secret agents under various guises, in order to find out secret or criminal activities, should make a search in deserted places, work-shops, ale-houses, cooked-rice houses, cooked-meat houses, gambling dens and quarters of heretics.

Functions of various categories of spies

i) Seeming householders

Agents in the guise of householders, directed by the administrator, should find out the number of fields, houses and families in those villages in which they are stationed – fields with respect to their size and total produce, houses with respect to taxes and exemptions and families with respect to their caste and occupation.

Moreover, they should find out the number of individuals in each family and their income and expenditure. These spies should also find out the reason for departure and stay of those who have gone on a journey and those who have arrived respectively, as also of men and women who are harmful.

ii) Seeming traders

Spies in the guise of traders should find out the quantity and price of the king’s goods produced in his own country, obtained from mines, water-works, forests, factories and fields.

iii) Seeming ascetics

Secret agents posing as ascetics should ascertain the honesty or dishonesty of farmers, cowherds and traders and of the departmental heads.

iv) Old thieves

Old thieves who have eschewed the path of stealing and sought job from the government would be employed as spies to gather information about the thieves and similar miscreants. They should find out the reasons for entry, stay and departures of thieves and brave men of the enemy in sanctuaries, cross-roads, deserted places, wells, rivers, pools, river crossings, temple compounds, hermitages, jungles, mountains, forests and thickets.

 

Apprehending and Punishing Criminals

i) False witnesses

An agent pretending to be an accused should coax with bribe persons suspected to be false witnesses to help them with false testimony. If they agree to do so, they should be exiled as false witnesses.

ii) Black magic practitioners

If the spy considers any one as a user of occult means for winning love with incantations or rites with herbs or rites in cremation grounds, he should say to the suspect, ‘I am in love with wife, daughter in law or daughter of so and so; make her reciprocate my love and take this money.’

If he agrees to do so, he should be exiled as a user of occult means for winning love.

iii) Illegal dealers of poisons

If the spy suspects anyone of preparing, purchasing or selling poison, he should say to the suspect, ‘so and so is my enemy; bring about his death and take this money.’

If he consents to do so, he should be exiled as a poison-giver.

iv) Dealer of counterfeit coins

If the spy suspects anyone as a dealer of counterfeit coins, being a frequent purchaser of various metals and acids, of coals, bellows, pincers, vices, anvils, dies, chisels and crucibles, with indications of hands and clothes smeared with soot, ashes and smoke, and being possessed of blacksmith’s tools, the spy should expose him by insinuating himself into his confidence as a pupil and by carrying on dealings with him.

If exposed, he should be exiled as a dealer of false coins.

v) Persons earning by causing injury to others

Persons, having secret ways of income, by causing injury to others, should be exposed by the secret agents and exiled or they should pay a redemption-amount in accordance the gravity of the offence.

vi) Robbers and forest criminals

1. Secret agents posing as friends of robbers should cause a herd of cattle or a caravan in the vicinity of a forest to be destroyed by the robbers.

And making the food and drink placed there, in accordance with an agreement, mixed with a stupefying liquid, they should go away.

Then cowherds and traders should cause the robbers carrying loads of stolen goods to be attacked when the stupefying liquid is having its effect.

2. An agent appearing as an ascetic with shaven head or with matted locks and posing as a devotee of god Saṁkarṣaṇa, should overreach the forest robbers by using a stupefying liquid after holding a festival. Then he should with his men attack and apprehend the robbers.

3. An agent appearing as a vintner should overreach forest criminals by using a stupefying liquid on the occasion of the sale or presentation of wine during festivities in honour of gods or funeral rites or festive gatherings. Once the liquid starts working the spy with his men should attack the criminals and apprehend them.

4. After scattering in many groups the forest tribes that have come for plundering the town, the spy should destroy each isolated group.

vii) Outwitting the criminals

Secret agents appearing as holy men should entice criminals by means of lores favourite with them, viz., robbers by means of charms inducing sleep, making invisible or opening doors, adulterers by love-winning charms.

When the robbers have been enthused to see the power of the charms, the spies should take a large band of the robbers at night and proposing to go to one village should go to another village in which men and women are prepared beforehand, and say, ‘right here you can see the power of our lore; it is difficult to go to the other village.’

Then opening the gates by means of a gate-opening charm, they should say, ‘enter.’

By means of an invisibility charm they should make the criminals go safely through the midst of wakeful guards.

Sending guards to sleep with a sleep-inducing charm they should cause them with their beds to be moved by the criminals.

With a love-winning charm they should make the criminals enjoy harlots appearing as other men’s wives.

When the robbers are convinced of the power of their lores, the spies should prescribe the performance of preliminary rites and so on, so that they may be recognized.

Or, the spies should induce the criminals to steal in houses in which goods have been marked.

Or, they should get the criminals caught in one place after winning their confidence.

The spies should get the criminals arrested while engaged in purchasing, selling or pledging articles that are marked or when they are intoxicated with drugged liquor.

When the criminals are arrested, the spies should question them concerning former offences and their associates.

Or, secret agents appearing as old thieves should, after winning their confidence, get thieves to do their work in the same manner and get them arrested.

When they are arrested, the administrator should point them out to citizens and country people, saying, ‘The king has studied the lore of catching thieves; it is under his instruction that these thieves have been caught; I shall catch others too; you should therefore restrain your kinsmen who may have criminal tendencies.’

And if the administrator were to come to know through the information of the spies that someone among them has stolen a trifle like a yoke-pin, he should declare that about him among them, saying, ‘this is the king’s power.’

Old thieves, cow-herds, fowlers and hunters, winning the confidence of forest thieves and foresters, should induce them to attack caravans, herds or villages with plenty of articles made of artificial gold and forest produce.

When the attack is made, they should get them killed by stupefying liquids.

Or, they should get the criminals arrested while sleeping after being tired by a long journey carrying a heavy load of stolen goods or when they are intoxicated by drugged liquor at festive parties.

And after they have been caught, the administrator should show them as before to the people, causing a proclamation of the king’s omniscience to be made among the inhabitants of the kingdom.

viii) Degree of punishment of criminals

The king shall not put to torture a person whose offence is trifling, or who is a minor or aged or sick or intoxicated or insane or overcome by hunger, thirst or travel, or who has overeaten or whose meal is undigested or who is weak. He should cause them to be secretly watched by persons of the same character, prostitutes, attendants at water-booths and givers of advice, accommodation and food to them.

 

 

References

Ballantyne, James R. (translator) (1885): Sankhya Aphorisms of Kapila, London, Trubner & Co., Ludgate Hill.

Devi Purana (Devi Bhagavatam)

Sanskrit: 1. Shrimad devi Bhagavat MahaPuran, Sanskrit Text with Hindi Translation, 2016 Edition, Gorakhpur, Gita Press.

[https://ia801307.us.archive.org/9/items/SrimadDeviBhagavatamSanskrit/Srimad%20Devi%20Bhagavatam%20-%20Sanskrit.pdf]

English: [http://upload.vedpuran.net/Uploads/68655SrimadDeviPurana.pdf]

 

 

Appendix

Types of Spies and Their Functions

1/11/1: With the body of ministers proved upright by means of secret tests, the (king) should appoint persons in secret service, (viz.), the sharp pupil, the apostate monk, the seeming householder, the seeming trader and the seeming ascetic, as well as the secret agent, the bravo, the poison-giver and the begging nun.

i) Sharp pupil

1/11/2: A pupil, knowing the secrets of others, (and) bold, is the sharp pupil.

1/11/3: Encouraging him with money and honour, the minister should say, ‘regarding the king and me as your authority, report to us at once any evil of any person which you may notice.’

ii) Apostate monk

1/11/4: One, who has relinquished the life of a wandering monk, and is endowed with intelligence and honesty, is the apostate monk.

1/11/5: Equipped with plenty of money and assistants, he should get work done in a place assigned to him, for the practice of some occupation.

1/11/6: And from the profits of this work, he should provide all wandering monks with food, clothing and residence.

1/11/7: And to those among them, who seek a permanent livelihood, he should secretly propose, ‘in this very garb, you should work in the interest of the king and present yourself here at the time of meals and payment.’

1/11/8: And all wandering monks should make similar secret proposals to monks in their respective orders.

iii) Seeming householder

1//11/9: A farmer, the means of whose livelihood are depleted, and who is endowed with intelligence and honesty, is the seeming householder.

1/11/10: In a place assigned to him for agricultural work, he should etc. – exactly as before.

iv) Seeming trader

1/11/11: A trader, the means of whose livelihood are depleted, and who is endowed with intelligence and honesty, is the seeming trader.

1/11/12: In a place assigned to him for his trade, he should etc. – exactly as before.

v) Seeming ascetic

1/11/13: A hermit with shaven head or with matted hair, who seeks a permanent livelihood, is the seeming ascetic.

1/11/14: Living in the vicinity of a city with plenty of disciples with shaven heads or with matted hair, he should eat, openly, a vegetable or a handful of barley at intervals of a month or two, secretly, however, meals as desired.

1/11/15: And assistants of traders, who are also secret agents, should adore him with occult practices for becoming prosperous.

1/11/16: And his disciples should announce, ‘that holy man is able to secure prosperity for any one.’

1/11/17: And to those who have approached him with hopes of securing prosperity, he should specify events happening in their family, which are ascertained by means of the science of interpreting the touch of the body and with the help of signs made by his disciples, events such as small gain, burning by fire, danger from thieves, the killing of a traitorous person, a gift of gratification, news about happenings in a foreign land, saying, ‘this will happen today or tomorrow,’ or ‘the king will do this.’

1/11/18: Secret servants and agents should cause that prophecy of his to be fulfilled.

1/11/19: To those among the visitors who are richly endowed with spirit, intelligence and eloquence, he should predict good fortune at the hands of the king and speak of their imminent association with the minister.

1/11/20: And the minister should arrange for their livelihood and work.

1/11/21: And he should pacify with money and honour those who are resentful for good reason, those resentful without reason, by silent punishment, also those who do what is inimical to the king.

1/11/22: And favoured by the king with money and honour, they should ascertain the integrity of the king’s servants. Thus these five establishments of spies have been described.

vi) Secret agent

1/12/1: And those who are without relations and have to be necessarily maintained, when they study the science of interpretation of marks, the science of the touch of the body, the science of magic, that pertaining to the creation of illusions, the science of omens, the ‘wheel with the spaces’ and so on, are the secret agents; or, when they study that art of association with men.

vii) Bravo

1/12/2: Those in the land who are brave, have given up all thought of personal safety and would fight, for the sake of money, an elephant or a wild animal, are the bravoes.

viii) Poison Giver

1/12/3: Those who are without affection for their kinsmen and are cruel and indolent are the poison-givers.

ix) Begging nun

1/12/4: A wandering nun, seeking a secure livelihood, poor, widowed, bold, Brāhmaṇa by caste and treated with honour in the palace, should frequently go to the houses of high officers.

1/12/5: By her office are explained similar offices for the shaven nuns of heretical sects.

Confirmation by three spies

1/12/15: When there is agreement in the reports of three spies, credence should be given.

1/12/16: In case of continuous mistakes on their part, ‘silent’ punishment is the means of their removal.

Salaries of spies

5/3/22: Sharp pupils, monks fallen from vow, and agents appearing as householders, traders and ascetics should get one thousand.

5/3/23: Village servants, secret agents, assassins, poison-givers and female mendicants should get five hundred.

5/3/24: Those moving about for spying should get two hundred and fifty or should have their wage increased according to their efforts.

Spy Establishments and Use of Various Categories of Spies

1/12/6: The king should employ the various categories of spies with a credible disguise as regards country, dress, profession, language and birth, to spy, in conformity with their loyalty and capability, on the councilor, the chaplain, the commander-in-chief, the crown-prince, the chief palace usher, the chief of the palace guards, the director, the administrator, the director of stores, the magistrate, the commandant, the city-judge, the director of factories, the council of ministers, the superintendents, the chief of the army staff, the commandant of the fort, the commandant of the frontier-fort and the forest chieftain, in his own territory.

1/12/7: Bravoes, serving as bearers of umbrella, water-vessel, fan, shoes, seat, carriage and riding animal, should spy on and ascertain the out-of-door activity of those officers.

1/12/8: Secret agents should communicate that information to the spy establishments.

1/12/9: Poison-givers, serving as cooks, waiters, bath-attendants, shampooers, bed-preparers, barbers, valets and water-servers, those appearing as hump-backs, dwarfs, kiratas (hunters), dumb, deaf, idiotic or blind persons, and actors, dancers, singers, musicians, professional story-tellers and minstrels as well as women should spy on and ascertain the indoor activity of those officers.

1/12/10: Nuns should communicate that information to the spy establishments.

1/12/11: Assistants of the establishments should carry out the transmission of spied out news by means of sign-alphabets.

1/12/12: And neither the establishments nor these assistants should know one another.

1/12/13: In case of prohibition of entry into the house for nuns, secret agents appearing at the door one after another or appearing as the mother or father of servants in the house, or posing as female artists, singers or female slaves, should get the secret information that is spied out conveyed outside by means of songs, recitations, writings concealed in musical instruments or signs.

1/12/14: Or, a secret get-away from the house should be made by the spies by taking advantage of a pretended long illness or madness or by setting something on fire or administering poison to someone.

 

Test of Ministers and Government Officials

i) Ministers

1/10/1: After appointing ministers to ordinary offices in consultation with the conciliators and chaplain, he should test their integrity by means of secret test.

1/10/2: The king should seemingly discard the chaplain on the ground that he showed resentment when appointed to officiate at the sacrifice of a person not entitled to the privilege of a sacrifice or to teach such a person.

1/10/3: He should then get each minister individually instigated, through secret agents, under oath, in this manner: ‘this king is impious; well, let us set up another pious king either a claimant from his own family or a prince in disfavor or a member of the royal family or a neighbouring prince or a forest chieftain or a person suddenly risen to power; this is approved by all; what about you?’

1/10/4: If he repulses the suggestion, he is loyal.

1/10/5: The commander of the army, seemingly dismissed by reason of support given to evil men, should get each minister individually instigated, through secret agents, to bring about the king’s destruction, with the offer of a tempting material gain, saying, ‘this is approved by all; what about you?’

1/10/6: If he repulses the suggestion, he is upright.

This is the test of material gain.

1/10/7: A wandering nun, who has won the confidence of different ministers and is treated with honour in the palace, should secretly suggest to each minister individually, ‘the chief queen is in love with you and has made arrangements for a meeting with you; besides you will obtain much wealth.’

1/10/8: If he repulses the proposal, he is pure.

This is the test of lust.

1/10/9: On the occasion of a festive party, one minister should invite all the other ministers.

1/10/10: Through seemingly fight at this conspiracy, the king should put them to prison.

1/10/11: A sharp pupil, imprisoned there earlier, should secretly suggest to each of those ministers individually, when they are deprived of property and honour, in this manner, ‘this king is behaving wickedly; well, let us kill him and install another; this is approved by all; what about you?’

1/10/12: If he repulses the suggestion, he is loyal.

This is the test of fear.

1/10/13: From among them, he should appoint those proved loyal by the test of piety to posts in the judiciary and for oppression of criminals, those proved upright by the test of material gain to offices of the Administrator and in the stores of the Director of Stores, those proved pure by the test of lust to guardianship of places of recreation inside the palace as well as outside, those proved loyal by the test of fear to duties near the person of the) king.

1/10/14: Those proved honest by all tests, he should make them his councilors.

1/10/15: Those found dishonest by every test, he should employ them in mines, in forests for material produce, in elephant-forests and in factories.

1/10/20: Therefore, the king should make an outsider the object of reference in the fourfold work of testing and thus investigate through secret agents the integrity or otherwise of ministers.

 

ii) Departmental heads

2/7/9: And he should have the activity of departments watched by spies.

2/7/10: For, the person in question (viz., the officer) if not conversant with the activity, customs and fixed rules, causes loss of revenue through ignorance, if unable to endure the trouble of (energetic) activity, through laziness, if addicted to the pleasures of the senses, sound and others, through remissness, if afraid of an uproar (among subjects) or of an unrighteous or harmful act, through fear, if inclined to show favour to those who have work with him, through love, if inclined to do them harm, through anger, because of reliance on learning or wealth or the support of a (royal) favourite, through arrogance (and) because of (deceit in) introducing a difference in weight, measure, assessment or counting, (he causes loss) through greed.

 

iii) Village officials

4/4/3: The Administrator should station in the country side secret agents appearing as holy ascetics, wandering monks, cart-drivers, wandering minstrels, jugglers, tramps, fortune-tellers, soothsayers, astrologers, physicians, lunatics, dumb persons, deaf persons, idiots, blind persons, traders, artisans, artists, actors, brothel-keepers, vintners; dealers in bread, dealers in cooked meat, and dealers in cooked rice.

4/4/4: They should find out the integrity or otherwise of village-officers and heads of departments.

4/4/5: And those among them the secret agent suspects of deriving a secret income are to be kept under continued vigilance by the agent.

4/4/9: A secret agent should say to a village chief or a departmental head, ‘such and such a rogue has plenty of wealth; this misfortune has befallen him; by using that, extort money from him.’

4/4/10: If he were to do so he should be exiled as an extortionist.

Similar provoking methods should be applied on all rural officers to check their integrity and proneness to corruption.

iv) Judges and magistrates

4/4/6: A secret agent should say to a judge in whom confidence is inspired by him, ‘such and such a relation of mine is accused before you; save him in this misfortune and accept this amount.’

4/4/7: If he were to do so, he should be exiled as one given to receiving bribes.

4/4/8: By that are explained magistrates.

 

Punishing Treasonable Officials by Devious Means

i) Through the kinsmen of the miscreant

5/1/5: A secret agent, after inciting a brother of the treasonable high officer, not honoured by him, should show him to the king.

5/1/6: The king should induce him to fight against the treasonable officer by granting the use of the treasonable man’s property.

5/1/7: When he has acted with a weapon or poison, he should cause him to be executed on that very ground declaring, ‘He is a murderer of his brother.’

5/1/9: Or, a brother, instigated by a secret agent, should demand inheritance from the treasonable officer.

5/1/10: As he lies down at the door of the treasonable man’s house at night, or when he is staying elsewhere, an assassin, slaying him, should declare, ‘This claimant of the inheritance is killed.’

5/1/11: Then, giving support to the slain man’s party, the king should suppress the other.

5/1/12: Or, secret agents, staying near the treasonable officer, should threaten the brother claiming inheritances with death.

5/1/13: As he at night and so on, as before.

5/1/14: When of two treasonable officers, a son has relations with the father’s wife or a father with the son’s wife or a brother with that of a brother, a fight between the two started by a sharp pupil is explained by the preceding.

5/1/15: Or, a secret agent should instigate a son of the treasonable officer thinking highly of himself, suggesting ‘you are really the king’s son, kept here through fear of enemy.’

5/1/16: When he believes that, the king should honour him in private by saying, ‘though the time for installing you as the crown prince has come, I am not crowning you through fear of the officer.’

5/1/17: The secret agent should induce him to murder the officer.

5/1/18: When he has acted, the king should cause him to be executed on that very ground, declaring, ‘He is a patricide.’

5/1/19: Or, a female mendicant agent, having won the confidence of the wife of the treasonable officer by means of love-winning potions, should cheat them by the use of poison.

5/1/20: Thus end the stratagem through kinsmen.

ii) Miscellaneous devious stratagem

5/1/33: Or, an agent appearing as a holy man should make the officer, who has faith in to black magic, believe, by saying, ‘you will attain your desires by eating one of the following; a lizard, a tortoise, a crab or an ox with broken horns, which is endowed with auspicious marks.’

5/1/34: When he agrees, he should get him killed in the course of the rite by poison or iron clubs, announcing, ‘He was killed by a mishap in the rite.’

5/1/35: Or, an agent appearing as a physician, after establishing a malignant or incurable disease for the treasonable person, should cheat him with poison in the preparations of medicine or food.

5/1/36: Or, agents, employed as cooks or food servers, should cheat the treasonable person by means of poison.

5/1/45: Or, assassins should set fire to the fields, threshing-floors or houses, or bring down their weapons on the kinsmen, relations or draught-animals of those treasonable persons whose mutual quarrels are deep-rooted, and say, ‘we were engaged by so and so.’

5/1/46: For that offence the others should be punished.

5/1/47: Or, secret agents should induce treasonable officers in the fortified city and in the country to be one another’s guests.

5/1/48: There poison-givers should give poison.

5/1/49: For that offence the others should be punished.

5/1/50: Or, a female mendicant agent should suggest to a treasonable chief in the country, ‘the wife, the daughter-in-law or the daughter of that treasonable chief in the country is in love with you.’

5/1/51: When he consents, she should take his ornaments and show them to the master, saying, ‘that chief, puffed up with youth, has designs on your wife, daughter-in-law or daughter.’

5/1/52: In the quarrel between the two at night and so on, as above.

5/1/53: As to treasonable vassals surrendering with troops, however, -- the crown prince or the commander-in-chief should do some wrong and, after going away, show fight.

5/1/54: Then the king should dispatch against him the treasonable vassals themselves with a weak army containing assassins and so on, -- all the stratagems as above.

 

Stratagem against Princes or Officials Going to Join the Enemy

9/3/26: Or, a secret agent should divide him from the enemy, saying, ‘this enemy, looking upon you as a secret agent, will make you fight against the king himself, and with his object achieved, will employ you, in charge of troops, against his enemy or forest chieftains or in a difficult undertaking, or will post you at the frontier, separated from wife and sons.

9/3/27: If you fail in the fight against your king, he will sell you to the king, or making peace through you, will conciliate the king himself.

9/3/28: You should go to his best ally.’

9/3/29: If he agrees, he should honour him by fulfillment of his wishes.

9/3/30: If he does not agree, the agent should divide the support from him, saying, ‘he is kept as a secret agent against you.’

9/3/31: And the secret agent should get him killed on the strength of letters carried by men condemned to death or through secret agents.

9/3/32: Or, he should win back warriors, who had left along with him, by granting their wishes.

9/3/33: The secret agent should then declare them as having been employed by him.

9/3/34: Thus is success to be achieved.

9/3/35: And the king, through secret agents, should cause revolts to arise for the enemy, and suppress those against himself.

9/3/36: Secret instigations to revolt should be made to one who is capable of starting or putting down a revolt.

 

Dangers from Officers in the Outer Region and the Interior

9/5/12: When those in the outer regions respond, he should make use of dissension and force.

9/5/13: Secret agents, posing as friends of those in the outer regions should communicate to them the following secret information spied out, ‘this king intends to overreach you through these posing as treasonable men; beware.’

9/5/14: Or, secret agents, posing as treasonable men, employed with the treasonable men in the interior, should divide the treasonable men from those in the outer regions or those in the outer regions from the treasonable men in the interior.

9/5/15: Or, assassins, insinuating themselves, should slay the treasonable men with weapon or poison.

9/5/16: Or, after inviting to the capital those from the outer regions, they should get them killed.

9/5/17: Where those in the outer region instigate others in the outer regions or those in the interior instigate others in the interior, in these cases, where there is association at one end only, success over the instigator is of greater advantage.

9/5/18: For, when the evil (of treason) is removed, there remain no treasonable men.

9/5/19: But when treasonable men are overcome, the evil again makes others treasonable.

9/5/20: Therefore, when those in the outer regions are instigators, he should make use of dissension and force.

9/5/21: Secret agents, posing as friends, should say, ‘this king himself intends to seize you; you are at war with the king; beware.’

9/5/22: Or, assassins, insinuating themselves in the troops of the envoy of the one responding, should strike at their weak points with weapon, poison and so on.

9/5/23: Then secret agents should accuse the one responding for that crime.

9/5/27: Or, an agent posing as a friend, should say to them, ‘in order to find out your feelings, the king will put you to test; you should disclose them to him.’

9/5/28: Or, he should divide them from each other, saying, ‘so and so is thus whispering to the king about you’; thus is dissension to be brought about.

9/5/29: And force should be used as in the infliction of (secret) punishment.

9/5/30: Of these four conspiracies, he should first deal with that in the interior.

9/5/31: That a rising in the interior is a greater evil than a rising in the outer regions because of danger as from a snake has been stated before.

9/5/32: Of the conspiracies, he should know each earlier one as a less serious conspiracy than each later one, or that starting from strong men as more serious, the reverse as less serious.

 

Spy Network for the Citizens

 

Popularizing the king among the citizens

1/13/1: When he has set spies on the high officials, he should set spies on the citizens and country people.

1/13/2: Secret agents, opposing one another, should carry on a disputation at holy places, in assemblies, in communal gatherings and other congregations of people.

1/13/3: One of them should say, ‘this king is said to be endowed with all virtues and yet no virtue to be seen in him, as he oppresses citizens and country people with fines and taxes.’

1/13/4: The other should contradict him as well as those who may command his views there.

1/13/5-13: He should say, ‘People, overwhelmed by the law of the fishes, made Manu, the son of Vivasvat, their king. And they assigned one-sixth of the grains, one-tenth of the commodities and money as his share. Maintained by that, kings bring about the well-being and security of the subjects.

Those who do not pay fines and taxes take on themselves the sins of those kings and kings who do not bring about well-being and security take on themselves the sins of the subjects. Therefore, even forest-dwellers offer a sixth part of their gleaned grains, saying This is the share for him who protects us. This is the office of Indra and Yama, viz. that of the kings, whose wrath and favour are visibly manifest. Even divine punishment strikes those who slight them. Therefore, kings must not be slighted.’ Thus he should restrain the common people.

Gathering information about the attitude of common people

1/13/14: And they should also find out rumors spreading among the subjects.

1/13/15: And spies appearing as ascetics with shaven heads or with matted hair should ascertain the contentedness or discontentedness of those, who live on his grains, cattle or money, who help him with these in calamity or prosperity, who restrain a rebellious kinsman or region, or who repel an enemy or a forest chieftain.

1/13/16: He should favour those who are contented, with additional wealth and honour.

1/13/17: He should propitiate with gifts and conciliation those, who are discontented, in order to make them contented.

1/13/22: Those, however, who are enraged or greedy or frightened or proud, are likely to be seduced by enemies.

1/13/23: Spies appearing as fortune-tellers, soothsayers and astrologers should ascertain their mutual relations as well as their contacts with enemies or forest chieftains.

1/13/26: In this way, the wise king should guard from the secret instigations of enemies those likely to be seduced and those not likely to be seduced in his own territory, whether prominent person or common people.

Spies stationed at various places

i) At trading check posts

2/21/16: And for goods that have passed beyond the foot of the flag without the duty being paid, the fine is eight times the duty.

2/21/17: Secret agents operating on roads and in places without roads should find out such.

2/21/27: Or a secret agent appearing as a trader should communicate to the king the size of the caravan.

2/21/28: In accordance with that information, the king should tell the Collector of Customs about the size of the caravan, in order to make his omniscience known.

2/21/29: Then the Collector, on meeting the caravan, should say, ‘These are goods of high and low value belonging to such and such a merchant. It should not be concealed. This is the king’s power.’

ii) At ale houses

2/25/11: He should cause ale-houses to be built with many rooms, and provided with separate beds and seats, and drinking bars provided with perfumes, flowers and water, and pleasant in all seasons.

2/25/12: Secret agents, placed there, should ascertain the normal and occasional expenditure of customers and get information about strangers.

2/25/13: They should make a note of ornaments, clothes and cash of customers who are intoxicated or sleeping.

2/25/14: In case of loss of these, the traders shall pay the same and a fine of equal amount.

2/25/15: Traders, on their part, should find out through their own female slaves of beautiful appearance, the intensions of strangers and natives, who have the outward appearance of Aryas, when they are intoxicated or asleep in secluded parts of the rooms.

 

iii) At brothels

2/27/29: And the teachers should train the sons of courtesans to be the chiefs of those who live by the stage and also of all types of dancers.

2/27/30: And their women, who are conversant with various kinds of signs and languages, should be employed, under the lead of their kinsmen, against the wicked, for spying, killing or making them blunder.

iv) On roads

2/36/13: And agents operating along roads and away from roads should arrest, outside the city and inside, in temples, holy places, forests and cremation grounds, a person with a wound, one with harmful tools, one hiding behind a heavy load, one agitated, one in a long sleep, one tired after a journey or a stranger.

v) At deserted places

2/36/14: Similarly, inside the city, they should make a search in deserted places, work-shops, ale-houses, cooked-rice houses, cooked-meat houses, gambling dens and quarters of heretics.

Functions of various categories of spies

i) Seeming householders

2/35/8: And agents in the guise of householders, directed by the administrator, should find out the number of fields, houses and families in those villages in which they are stationed, -- fields with respect to their size and total produce, houses with respect to taxes and exemptions and families with respect to their varna and occupation.

2/35/9: And they should find out the number of individuals in them and their income and expenditure.

2/35/10: And they should find out the reason for departure and stay of those who have gone on a journey and those who have arrived respectively, as also of men and women who are harmful, and find out the activity of spies (of other countries).

ii) Role of seeming traders

2/35/11: In the same manner, spies in the guise of traders should find out the quantity and price of the king’s good produced in his own country, obtained from mines, water-works, forests, factories and fields.

iii) Seeming ascetics

2/35/13: In the same manner, agents in the guise of ascetics, directed by the Administrator, should ascertain the honesty or dishonesty of farmers, cowherds and traders and of the departmental heads.

iv) Old thieves

2/35/14: And assistants disguised as old thieves should find out the reasons for entry, stay and departures of thieves and brave men of the enemy, in sanctuaries, cross-roads, deserted places, wells, rivers, pools, river crossings, temple compounds, hermitages, jungles, mountains, forests and thickets.

2/35/15: Thus the Administrator, being ever vigilant, should look after the countryside; and through the establishments of spies.

 

Apprehending and Punishing Criminals

i) False witnesses

4/4/11: An agent pretending to be an accused should induce those, who are known to bear false testimony, with plenty of money.

4/4/12: If they do so, they should be exiled as false witnesses.

4/4/13: By that are explained those who cause false evidence to be given.

ii) Black magic practitioners

4/4/14: If he considers any one as a user of occult means for winning love with incantations or rites with herbs or rites in cremation grounds, a secret agent should say to him, ‘I am in love with wife, daughter in law or daughter of so and so; make her reciprocate my love and take this money.’

4/4/15: If he were to do so, he should be exiled as a user of occult means for winning love.

4/4/16: By that are explained practices of black magic and sorcery.

iii) Illegal Dealers of Poisons and Noxious Chemicals

4/4/17: If he suspects anyone of preparing, purchasing or selling poison, a secret agent should say to him, ‘so and so is my enemy; bring about his death and take this money.’

4/4/18: If he were to do so, he should be exiled as a poison-giver.

4/4/19: By that is explained the dealer in stupefying mixtures.

iv) Dealer of counterfeit coins

4/4/20: If he suspects anyone as a dealer of counterfeit coins, being a frequent purchaser of various metals and acids, of coals, bellows, pincers, vices, anvils, dies, chisels and crucibles, with indications of hands and clothes smeared with soot, ashes and smoke, and being possessed of blacksmith’s tools, a secret agent should expose him by insinuating himself into his confidence as a pupil and by carrying on dealings with him.

4/4/21: If exposed, he should be exiled as a dealer of false coins.

v) Persons earning by causing injury to others

4/4/23: Persons, having secret ways of income, by doing injury to others, should be exposed by secret agents and exiled or they shall pay a redemption-amount in accordance the gravity of the offence.

vi) Robbers and forest criminals

13/3/51: Secret agents should cause a herd of cattle or a caravan in the vicinity of a forest to be destroyed by robbers.

13/3/52: And making the food and drink placed there, in accordance with an agreement, mixed with a stupefying liquid, they should go away.

13/3/53: Then cowherds and traders should cause the robbers carrying loads of stolen goods to be attacked when the stupefying liquid is having its effect.

13/3/54: Or, an agent appearing as an ascetic with shaven head or with matted locks and posing as a devotee of god Saṁkarṣaṇa, should overreach the forest robbers by using a stupefying liquid after holding a festival.

13/3/55: Then he should make an attack.

13/3/56: Or, an agent appearing as a vintner should overreach foresters by using a stupefying liquid on the occasion of the sale or presentation of wine during festivities in honour of gods or funeral rites or festive gatherings.

13/3/57: Then he should make an attack.

13/3/58: Or, after scattering in many groups the forest tribe that have come for plundering the town, he should destroy them. Thus secret agents for robbers have been described.

vii) Outwitting the criminals

4/5/1: After the employment of spies, secret agents appearing as holy men should entice criminals by means of lores favourite with criminals, viz., robbers by means of charms inducing sleep, making invisible or opening doors, adulterers by love-winning charms.

4/5/2: When these have been enthused to see the power of the charms, they should take a large band of them at night and proposing to go to one village should go to another village in which men and women are prepared beforehand, and say, ‘right here you can see the power of our lore; it is difficult to go to the other village.’

4/5/3: Then opening the gates by means of a gate-opening charm, they should say, ‘enter.’

4/5/4: By means of an invisibility charm they should make the criminals go safely through the midst of wakeful guards.

4/5/5: Sending guards to sleep with a sleep-inducing charm they should cause them with their beds to be moved by the criminals.

4/5/6: With a love-winning charm they should make the criminals enjoy harlots appearing as other men’s wives.

4/5/7: When these are convinced of the power of their lores, he should prescribe the performance of preliminary rites and so on, so that they may be recognized.

4/5/8: Or, they should get them to do their work in houses in which goods have been marked.

4/5/9: Or, they should get them caught in one place after winning their confidence.

4/5/10: They should get them arrested while engaged in purchasing, selling or pledging articles that are marked or when they are intoxicated with drugged liquor.

4/5/11: When they are arrested, he should question them concerning former offences and their associates.

4/5/12: Or, secret agents appearing as old thieves should, after winning their confidence, get thieves to do their work in the same manner and get them arrested.

4/5/13: When they are arrested, the Administrator should point them out to citizens and country people, saying, ‘The king has studied the lore of catching thieves; it is under his instruction that these thieves have been caught; I shall catch others too; you should therefore restrain your kinsmen who may have criminal tendencies.’

4/5/14: And if he were to come to know through the information of the spies that someone among them has stolen a trifle like a yoke-pin, he should declare that about him among them, saying, ‘This is the king’s power.’

4/5/15: Old thieves, cow-herds, fowlers and hunters, winning the confidence of forest thieves and foresters, should induce them to attack caravans, herds or villages with plenty of articles made of artificial gold and forest produce.

4/5/16: When the attack is made, they should get them killed by stupefying liquids.

4/5/17: Or, they should get them arrested while sleeping after being tired by a long journey carrying a heavy load of stolen goods or when they are intoxicated by drugged liquor at festive parties.

4/5/18: And having caught them, the Administrator should show them as before to the people, causing a proclamation of the king’s omniscience to be made among the inhabitants of the kingdom.

viii) Degree of punishment of criminals

4/8/14: He shall not put to torture a person whose offence is trifling, or who is a minor or aged or sick or intoxicated or insane or overcome by hunger, thirst or travel, or who has overeaten or whose meal is undigested or who is weak.

4/8/15: He should cause them to be secretly watched by persons of the same character, prostitutes, attendants at water-booths, givers of advice, accommodation and food to them.

4/8/16: In this way should he outwit them.

 

 

 

Chapter-7: Espionage in Arthaśāstra – External

 

This chapter takes into account the following sub-topics:

Foreign Policy and Circle of Kings

Four Methods to Conquer the World

All Embracing Spy-Network in the Maṇḍala

Winning the Seducible in the Enemy Camp

Deceptive Peace Treaty and its Violation

Creating Dissentions in the Circle of Kings

Stirring up the Circle of Kings

Sowing Dissensions among Tribal Republics and Oligarchies

Counter Espionage

 

Foreign Policy and Circle of Kings

Foreign policy of the protagonist king as envisaged by Kauṭilya is an aggressive one, to subjugate the other states in the circle of states in order to unify the entire Indian subcontinent into a vast state under the protagonist king (vijigῑṣu or chakravartin). Therefore, the primary objective of Kauṭilya’s External Espionage was to assist invasion and subjugation by the protagonist king of the other sovereign states (tribal republics, oligarchies, petty monarchies etc.) by war efforts and deceit. To understand the situation in the Indian subcontinent at Kauṭily’s time let us have a glimpse of the theory pertaining to maṇḍala (circle of states).

Kauṭilya’s external espionage is inexorably associated with the theory pertaining to the circle of states. The political objective of the Kauṭilya’s king was to subjugate all the states in the circle and his espionage network had a crucial role in the success of the king in this regard.

The protagonist king is conceived as governing a state in a circle (maṇḍala) surrounded by other states which are either friendly, or inimical or neutral vis-à-vis the protagonist king’s state.

The maṇḍala theory is not any novel invention of Kauṭilya. There are mentions of ‘circle of states’ and of chakravartin ruling the entire Indian subcontinent or even the entire world in Maitrayaniya Upaniṣada, Hindu Mythologies, Mahābhārata and Buddhist texts. However, Kauṭilya, for the first time, delineated concrete steps towards formation of a large state by subjugating the other constituents of the circle of states by the chakravartin.

Kauṭilya considers the would-be conqueror (vijigῑṣu or chakravartin) to be a part of a maṇḍala or circle of kings or states. There are friends, enemies, neutral states and intermediary or middle states around the protagonist, the would-be conqueror. Kauṭilya considers the state immediately outside the border to be an enemy and the state immediately after this enemy, the ally.

The king of the state with territory immediately proximate to those of the enemy and the conqueror is called the middle king. The king of the state outside the sphere of the enemy, the conqueror and the middle king, stronger than their constituents, capable of helping the enemy, the conqueror and the middle king when they are united and of suppressing them when they are disunited, is defined by  Kauṭilya as the neutral king.

Now the circle can be expanded further including enemy’s friend and foe; ally’s friend and foe; intermediate state’s friend and foe, and neutral state’s friend and foe and so on.

Kauṭilya describes vividly how by open warfare, devious means, deceptive warfare etc., the would-be conqueror could subjugate the other states in the circle and become the sole ruler of the entire circle of states. Espionage mechanism is to play a crucial role in this regard.

 

Four Methods to Conquer the World

The conquering process by the vijigῑṣu ought to be gradual and Kauṭilya mentions four methods of subjugating the entire circle, each method applicable for a specific objective condition i.e., the relative position of various types of kings vis-à-vis the protagonist in the circle.

The four methods to conquer the world (actually the entire Indian subcontinent) are as follows:

i) First Method

At first, the vijigῑṣu king should conquer the territory of the immediate enemy state by fair means or foul. After conquering the enemy’s territory, he should seek to seize the territory of the middle king, and after subjugating the latter his endeavour would be to subjugate the neutral king.

According to Kauṭilya, this is the first method of conquering the entire maṇḍala.

ii) Second Method

In case of nonexistence of middle and neutral kings, the vijigῑṣu ought to subjugate the enemy king by means of superior policy, open or deceitful. This, according to Kauṭilya, is the second method of conquering the world.

iii) Third Method

In the absence of the circle, the protagonist should overcome by squeezing from both sides the ally through the enemy or the enemy through the ally. This is the third method of conquering according to Kauṭilya.

iv) Fourth Method

The fourth method as prescribed by Kauṭilya is that the vijigῑṣu king should first overcome a weak or a single neighbouring king. So he would now become doubly powerful, and with this combined power he should proceed to subjugate a second king who is a little more powerful than the weakest king subjugated at first. Then with the combined power of the three the vijigῑṣu king should tackle a third king and the process would continue until the entire circle of states is under the control of the vijigῑṣu.

Now let us see how Kauṭilya’s External Espionage methods are to be administered to make the above objective fulfilled. In this chapter we take up the general espionage to accomplish the target and we are going to take up espionage related to war efforts in the next chapter.

Setting up Spy Network in the Maṇḍala

The king should plant spies among high officials and all other establishments of the enemy, the ally, the middle king, and the neutral king.

Humpbacks, dwarfs, eunuchs, women skilled in arts, dumb person and different types of mleccha races (non-Aryan outcastes) should be employed as spies living inside the houses of the officials of enemy and other kings.

In fortified towns traders should constitute the spy establishments; on the outskirts of fortified towns, ascetics; farmers and apostate monks in the countryside, and herdsmen on the borders of the country.

In the forest should be placed forest-dwellers such as monks, foresters and others – a series of spies, quick in their work – in order to gather information about activities of the enemy king and other kings.

 

 

All Embracing Spy-Network in the Maṇḍala

In the entire circle, the protagonist king should station envoys and secret agents everywhere, in all establishments and offices of all other kings in the maṇḍala.

All sorts of provocations, deceits, bribing and secret assassinations through poisoning and other measures are to be undertaken by the spies under various guises to generate disputes, chaos and confusion in the states of the other kings which could be conducive for the protagonist to have gradual command over the other kings.

Double agents

Spies of all categories should live with enemies receiving wages from them, in order to find out secret information, without associating with one another. They would play the roles of double agents i.e., persons in the pay of both.

The protagonist king should appoint such double agents after taking charge of their sons and wives. The king should ascertain their loyalty through other spies of their type. The captivity of the kinsmen by the protagonist king would ensure the actual loyalty of the double agents to the protagonist only.

 

Winning the Seducible in the Enemy Camp

The persons in the enemy side who could be seduced according to Kauṭilya belong mainly to the following categories: Enraged, Frightened, Greedy and Proud.

Among them the protagonist should cause instigation through spies appearing as holy men with shaven heads or matted hair – of each person of the seducible party by that spy to whom he may be devoted. He should win over the seducible in the enemy’s territories by means of conciliation and gifts and those not seducible by means of dissension and force, pointing out to them the defects of the enemy.

i) For the enraged

The spies are to instigate those in the enemy side who are enraged against his own king and add fuel to their anger by comparing their king as an intoxicated elephant destroying the citizens and their properties. If they are convinced of this, the spies would suggest them to erect a rival elephant to contain and destroy the mad king. In this way the spies would initiate an uprising of the enraged against the enemy king.

ii) For the frightened

The spies should instigate the citizens who are frightened of their own king of the enemy country by comparing the enemy king with a poisonous serpent and insist that to save themselves from the venom of the serpent like king they should leave their country and take shelter of a benevolent king (the protagonist).

iii) For the greedy

To instigate the greedy persons, the spy should make statements that their king favours only those who are devoid of spirit, intelligence and eloquence, but fails to appreciate and do favour to them although they possess praiseworthy qualities. Once they are convinced, the spies should suggest that if they abandon their own king and join hands with the protagonist king, they would be highly benefited as the other (protagonist) king knows how to  appreciate and reward persons of distinction.

iv) For the proud

To instigate the proud, the spy should make statements like, ‘Just as the well of the candalas is of use only to the candalas, not to others, so this king, being low, is of benefit only to low persons, not to Aryas such as you; that other king (the protagonist) knows how to appreciate persons of distinction; go to him.’

When they have been instigated to go against his own king and desire to be ally of the protagonist, they should be employed according to their capacity in his own works, with spies to watch over them.

v) For Other seducible persons

Secret agents working in close proximity to the enemy king and the king’s favorites should gain confidence of those in the position of friends to chiefs of infantry, cavalry, chariots and elephants and inform that the king is enraged with them.

When the rumors have become widespread, assassins should go to their houses and inform them that the king had ordered them to come with the spies.

As soon as they come out, the assassin-spies should kill them and announce audibly to the persons in the vicinity that they have done this by order of their king. And to those who have not been slain, secret agents should say that they too would face the same fate and he who wants to remain alive should go away.

To those to whom the king does not give something when asked for it, secret agents should instigate them against their king by saying that they are under suspicion of the king who is likely to punish them with death sentence. So, they should go away and join the protagonist in order to evade death sentence.

To those who do not ask the enemy king for something that ought to be asked for, secret agents should say that the Regent was told by the king, ‘such and such persons do not ask me for something which ought to be asked for; this must be because they are apprehensive of their own guilt? Strive to exterminate them.’ Then they should act as before.

 

Deceptive Peace Treaty and its Violation

Son pledged in peace treaty

If the king is in a difficult situation and forced to make a treaty with the stronger enemy, he may pledge his son as guarantee and come out of the existing trouble through surrender and peace treaty. Once in a safe and strong position, the spies are to take out his son from captivity by trickery and thereafter he may violate the treaty.

The methods suggested in Arthaśāstra for taking out the king’s pledged son from captivity are:

Secret agents disguised as traders should administer poison to guards by selling cooked food and fruits. Or, secret agents disguised as gallants, minstrels, physicians or vendors of cooked food should set fire at night to the houses of the rich or of the guards.

Under the chaos and confusion created by spies in the above manner, the captive prince should be made to appear as a corpse and carried out by secret agents.

Other agents disguised as foresters should misguide the direct pursuers to the opposite direction to which the rescuer of the prince are fleeing.

Or, taking up weapons secretly brought, and falling on the guards at night, the prince should escape on quick-marching horses along with secret agents.

 

Creating Dissentions in the Circle of Kings

i) In the circle of kings when a friendly king declines to come to terms with the protagonist, deceitful means should be resorted to in order to win him over. The spies should adopt various underhand means to separate this friendly king from the enemy and win him over.

ii) The first and foremost endeavour should be to win over the last among combined friends, because, Kauṭilya emphasizes that when friendship with him is secured, those who occupy the middle rank will be separated from each other.

iii) The protagonist should attempt through spies to win over a friend who occupies the middle rank. Kauṭilya explains that if friendship with a king occupying the middle rank in the circle of kings is ensured, friends, occupying the extreme ranks cannot keep the union of the maṇḍala. In brief, according to Kauṭilya, all conceivable measures that tend to break the combination of kings in the circle should be employed by the protagonist.

iv) If any two of the kings in the circle are apprehensive of enmity and seizure of land from each other, spies should be deployed to sow seeds of dissension between them. The timid of the two may be made suspicious about the other through the spies who would insist that the other would take advantage of the peace treaty between them to destroy him. So he should break the peace treaty at once and join hands with the protagonist.

v) When from one's own country or from another's country commodities should arrive for entry in the warehouse in the enemy country, spies of the protagonist should spread the rumour that those commodities have been received from one whom the enemy wanted to march against. When the report is spread wide, the protagonist should send a false writ with a man condemned to death, ‘These goods have been sent by me to you as a present; attack your confederates or desert them; then you will receive the rest of the stipulated amount.’

Then spies of the protagonist should inform the other kings in the maṇḍala, ‘These articles are given to him by your enemy.’ And in this manner they could sow the seeds of mistrust and discord among the kings in the maṇḍala.

vi) The protagonist should collect some merchandise peculiar to the country of one of his enemies and unknown elsewhere. Secret agents disguised as merchants, would sell that merchandise to other enemies and tell them that that merchandise was given to the protagonist by the enemy whose country's product it is. This would lead to distrust and discord between the enemy to whose country the product belongs and the other enemies to whom the product is sold by the spies of the protagonist.

vii) The protagonist through the network of spies should purchase with wealth and honour those who are highly treacherous among an enemy's people and direct them to live with the enemy, armed with weapons, poison and fire. Then one of the ministers of the enemy may be killed by these miscreants. The sons and wife of the assassinated minister should be induced to say that the minister was killed at night by such and such a person. Then another minister of the enemy may be induced to ask every one of the family of the murdered minister about the cause of the death.

If they say in reply as they are taught by the spies, they may be caused to be set free; if they do not do so, they may be caused to be caught hold of.

viii) Spies after gaining the confidence of the enemy king should tell him that he has to guard himself from such and such a minister. Then the double agents receiving salaries from both the protagonist and the enemy should induce the suspected minister to kill his king.

ix) Kings in the maṇḍala possessing enthusiasm and power may be instigated by the spies of the protagonist to seize the kingdom of a particular king in the maṇḍala. Then these secret agents of the protagonist should inform the particular king of the attempt of the other kings to capture his kingdom. Thereafter secret agents should destroy the camp or supplies or allied troops of one of the other kings in the maṇḍala and pass the blame on to the particular king. Other spies, pretending to be friends, should inform these kings that they should destroy the particular king.

 

Stirring up the Circle of Kings

Kauṭilya suggests the following deceitful measures by the protagonist to stir up the kings belonging to the maṇḍala.

i) A spy after gaining trust of the enemy king should cause latter to understand that some of his high officers is in communication with men of the enemy. As a proof of this, the spy should show other spies posing as treasonable men carrying letters from the enemy for the suspected officers.

ii) After tempting with land or money the principal officers among the chiefs of the army of the enemy, the spy appointed for this purpose by the protagonist should make them fight their own people or he should carry these officers of the enemy away.

iii) Spies should instigate that son of the enemy king who is not in favour of the king that the prince who has been favoured and selected to be crowned as the successor suspects him and has plotting to kill him. So, for his own safety and rightful claim of the throne, he should fight and kill the crown prince and the king with the help of the protagonist.

iv) After luring with money a disgruntled member of the family of the enemy king or a prince in disfavour, the spy of the protagonist should instigate him to crush the troops of the enemy king with assistance from the protagonist.

v) After winning the wild tribes with money and honour, the spies should utilize them to destroy the kingdom of the enemy king.

vi) The protagonist should say to the enemy in the rear of the enemy, ‘This king, after exterminating me, will indeed exterminate you; attack him in the rear; if he turns round on you, I shall attack him to the rear.’

vii) The protagonist should say to the allies of the enemy, ‘I am your dam; with me broken, this king will overwhelm all of you; let us join together and frustrate his expedition.’

viii) The protagonist should send letters in connection with his enemy to those united with him and to those not united with this mission, ‘This king, after uprooting me, will indeed take action against you; beware; it is better for you to help me.’

ix) The protagonist should send appeals to the middle king or again to the neutral king, according as the one or the other may be near, making a surrender to him of all possessions, in order to be saved.

x) Spies should dispose of a fiery or energetic enemy or one in a calamity or one entrenched in a fort, by weapon, fire, poison and so on, or one of them should do so because of ease in doing it.

For, an assassin, single-handed, may be able to achieve his end with weapon, poison and fire.

xi) If any one of the kings in the maṇḍala has fear of or enmity towards or hatred of another, spies of the protagonist should divide him from the other, suggesting, ‘This king is making peace with your enemy; presently he will overreach you; make peace yourself very quickly and try to restrain him.’

Thereafter, guilds of castes, supported by one another, should strike at their weak points, and secret agents should strike with fire, poison and weapon.

 

Sowing Dissensions among Tribal Republics and Oligarchies

According to Kauṭilya, the single monarch should deal with oligarchies and tribal republics in the following manner.

i) Spies of the protagonist close to the members of oligarchies or tribal republics should find out one another’s defects, and occasions for mutual hatred, enmity or strife among members of the oligarchy, and should sow discord in one who is gradually brought round to believe them, saying, ‘So and so is slandering you.’

When resentment is thus built up on both the  sides, agents serving as teachers should start quarrels among pupils concerning learning, skill, gambling and pleasure sports.

ii) Spies should instigate quarrels among the followers of the chiefs in the oligarchy by praising the opponents in brothels and taverns, or by supporting seducible parties.

iii) Spies should stir up very young princes enjoying low comforts with a longing for superior comforts.

iv) Spies should prevent inter-dining or inter-marrying of the superior with the inferior.

Or, they should urge inferiors to inter-dining or inter-marrying with superiors.

Or, they should urge the very low ones to obtain a position of equality in the matter of family, valor or change of status.

Or, they should nullify a transaction that is settled by establishing its opposite.

v) In cases of legal disputes, assassins should start quarrels by injuring objects, cattle or men at night.

In all cases of strife, the protagonist should support the weak party with treasury and troops and urge them to kill the rival party.

vi) At the time of fighting, spies appearing as wine sellers should offer, in hundreds, jars of wine mixed with a stupefying liquid, as libation to the deceased, under the pretext of the death of a son or wife.

vii) Spies should point out the depositing of an object after an agreement, such as sealed bags with money and vessels containing money, at the gates of sanctuaries or temples and near fortified places.

When members of the oligarchy are seen approaching, they should declare, ‘These belong to the king.’

Then the spies should make an attack.

viii) Or, a secret agent should say to a son of a chief of the ruling council, who thinks highly of himself, ‘You are the son of such and such a king, kept here through fear of the enemy.’

When the proud prince is instigated by the praise of the spy, the protagonist should support him with treasury and troops and make him fight the members of the oligarchy. When the design of the protagonist through the vainglorious prince is fulfilled, the prince should be killed by the assassins appointed for that purpose.

ix) Keepers of prostitutes, acrobats, actors, dancers or showmen, employed as agents, should make chiefs of the ruling council infatuated with women possessed of great beauty and youth.

When passion is roused in them, they should be made by deceitful means to get involved in quarrel over the women. During the quarrel, assassins should slay them.

x) Or, if anyone of the frustrated chiefs puts up with his disappointment, the whore involved  should instigate him to murder another chief by saying, ‘Such and such a chief is harassing me, because I am in love with you; so long as he  is alive, I cannot stay with you. So, kill him to get me.’

xi) Or, the woman, if forcibly abducted, should get the abductor murdered at night by assassins at the edge of the park or in a pleasure house, or should herself kill him with poison.

Then she should proclaim, ‘My lover has been killed by so and so.’

xii) Or, an agent appearing as a holy man should create confidence in a chief, in whom passion is roused, by means of love-winning herbs and then killing him with poison he should disappear.

When he has gone away, secret agents should declare that it is the act of another chief.

xiii) Female secret agents posing as rich widows or living by a secret profession, and contending for inheritance or a deposit should infatuate chiefs of the ruling council.

When they have agreed and come to secret houses for the night’s meeting with the woman, assassins should kill them or imprison them.

xiv) Or, a secret agent should describe to a chief of the oligarchy who is fond of women, ‘In such and such a village, the family of a poor man has migrated; his wife is fit for a king; seize her.’

When she is seized, after a fortnight, an agent appearing as a holy man should cry out in the midst of the chiefs of the treasonable oligarchy, ‘That chief has violated my wife or daughter-in-law or sister or daughter.’

If the ruling council were to chastise the chief, the protagonist should support the condemned chief and make him fight against those hostile to him.

If he is not punished, assassins should slay at night the agent appearing as a holy man.

Then others appearing in the same disguise should cry out, ‘so and so is a Brāhmaṇa-slayer and the paramour of a Brāhmaṇa woman.’

xv) An agent appearing as an astrologer, should describe a maiden chosen as the bride by one chief to another, ‘the daughter or so and so is destined to become the wife of a king or the mother of a king; get her by spending all you have or by force.’

If she cannot be obtained, he should rouse the other party.

If she is obtained, the strife is at once brought about.

xvi) Or, a female mendicant should say to a chief fond of his wife, ‘Such and such a chief, conceited by reason of youth, sent me to your wife; through fear of him I have brought a letter and ornaments from him; your wife is innocent; steps against him should be taken secretly; in the meantime I shall accept on your wife’s behalf.’

On these and other occasions of strife, whether the strife has arisen of its own accord or has been created by assassins, the king should support the weak party with treasury and troops and make him fight against those hostile to him.

 

Counter Espionage

Along with offensive espionage network against the enemies the protagonist should also take appropriate measures to guard his country against espionage networks of the enemies. So, along with offensive espionage, Kauṭilya emphasizes the necessity of building up counter-espionage network by the protagonist. The protagonist should undertake the following measures to ensure security against espionage of the enemy.

All types of spies deployed by the enemy against the protagonist or spy networks of the enemy should be detected by similar categories of his own spies and spy establishments.

In order to discover espionage by enemies, he should station at frontiers principal officers, who are non-seducible, but are enlightened with the method to learn from the seducible of the enemy side about the espionage scheme of the enemy.

Immaculate vigilance should be undertaken even during by day-time in order to discover spying by the enemy.

 

Appendix

Maṇḍala Theory

6/2/13: The king, endowed with personal excellences and those of his material constituents, the seat of good policy, is the would-be conqueror.

6/2/14: Encircling him on all sides, with territory immediately next to his is the constituent called the enemy.

6/2/15: In the same manner, one with territory separated by one other territory is the constituent called the ally.

6/2/21: One with territory immediately proximate to those of the enemy and the conqueror, capable of helping them when they are united or disunited and of suppressing them when they are disunited, is the middle king.

6/2/22: One outside the sphere of the enemy, the conqueror and the middle king, stronger than their constituents, capable of helping the enemy, the conqueror and the middle king when they are united or disunited and of suppressing them when they are disunited, is the neutral king.

6/2/23: These are the constituents (of the circle of kings).

 

Four Methods to Conquer the World

i) First Method

13/4/54: After thus conquering the enemy’s territory, the conqueror should seek to seize the middle king, after succeeding over him, the neutral king.

13/4/55: This is the first method of conquering the world.

ii) Second Method

13/4/56: In the absence of the middle and neutral kings, he should overcome the enemy constituents by superiority of policy, then the other constituents.

13/4/57: This is the second method.

iii) Third Method

13/4/58: In the absence of the circle he should overcome by squeezing from both sides the ally through the enemy or the enemy through the ally.

13/4/59: This is the third method.

iv) Fourth Method

13/4/60: He should first overcome a weak or a single neighbouring prince; becoming doubly powerful through him a second prince; three times powerful, a third.

13/4/61: This is the fourth method of conquering the world.

2. Setting up Spy Network in the Maṇḍala (Circle of States)

1/12/20: He should sow spies among the enemy, the ally, the middle king, the neutral king, as well as among the eighteen high officers of each of those kings.

1/12/21: Humpbacks, dwarfs, eunuchs, women skilled in arts, dumb person and different types of mleccha races should be employed as spies living inside their houses.

1/12/22: In fortified towns traders should constitute the spy establishments; on the outskirts of fortified towns, ascetics; farmers and apostate monks in the countryside, and herdsmen on the borders of the country.

1/12/23: In the forest should be placed forest-dwellers such as monks, foresters and others -- a series of spies, quick in their work – in order to find out news of the activity of the enemy.

 

All Embracing Spy-Network in the Maṇḍala

7/13/43: And in the entire circle, he should ever station envoys and secret agents, becoming a friend of the rivals, maintaining secrecy when striking again and again.

7/14/5: Or, secretly offering a greater gain to the principal, he should get peace made through him.

7/14/6: Then agents in the pay of both, pointing to the greater gain, should poison the minds of the confederates, saying, ‘you have been cheated.’

7/14/7: When they have become vitiated, he should violate the treaty.

7/14/8: Then agents in the pay of both should bring about a further discord among them, saying, ‘this is what we had pointed out.’

7/14/9: When they are divided, he should act by supporting one of them.

7/14/27: If weak in energy, he should secure the services, as they may be available, of heroic men from robber-bands, foresters and mleccha tribes, and of secret agents capable of doing harm to enemies.

7/14/28: Or, he should employ against the enemies ‘steps against an enemy-mixed trouble’ or ‘the conduct of the weaker king.’

7/14/29: Being thus enriched with a party, with counsel, with material resources and army, he should march out to overthrow the oppression of himself by enemies.

Double agents

1/12/17: And spies mentioned in ‘The Suppression of Criminals’ should live with enemies receiving wages from them, in order to find out secret information, without associating with one another.

1/12/18: They are ‘persons in the pay of both.’

1/12/19: And he should appoint ‘persons in the pay of both,’ after taking charge of their sons and wives. And he should know such agents when they are employed by the enemies. And he should ascertain their loyalty through spies of their type.

 

Winning the Seducible in Enemy Camp

i) For the enraged

1/14/7: ‘Just as an elephant, blinded by intoxication and mounted by an intoxicated driver, crushes whatever it finds on the way, so this king, not possessed of the eye of science, and hence blind, has risen to destroy the citizens of the country people; it is possible to do harm to him by inciting a rival elephant against him; show your resentment;’ – in this way he should cause the group of enraged to be instigated.

ii) For the frightened

1/14/8: ‘Just as serpent, lying in hiding, emit poison at the place from which it expects danger, so this king, having become apprehensive of harm from you, will emit poison of anger at you; go elsewhere,’ – in this way he should cause the group of the frightened to be instigated.

1/14/9: ‘Just as the cow of the hunters is milked for hounds, not for Brāhmaṇas, so this king is milked for those devoid of spirit, intelligence and eloquence, not for those endowed with qualities of the self; that other king knows how to appreciate persons of distinction; go to him;’ – in this way he should cause the group of the greedy to be instigated.

iv) For the proud

1/14/10: ‘Just as the well of the candalas is of use only to the candalas, not to others, so this king, being low, is of benefit only to low persons, not to Aryas such as you; that other king knows how to appreciate persons of distinction; go to him;’ – in this way he should cause the group of the proud to be instigated.

1/14/11: When they have agreed with the words, ‘so we shall do’ and have become allied to him by the making of terms, he should employ them according to their capacity in his own works, with spies to watch over them.

1/14/12: And he should win over the seducible in the enemy’s territories by means of conciliation and gifts and those not seducible by means of dissension and force, pointing out to them the defects of the enemy.

v) For other seducible persons

12/3/1: Secret agents working in close proximity to the enemy king and the king’s favorites should inform those in the position of friends to chiefs of infantry, cavalry, chariots and elephants that the king is enraged with these, by showing confidence as in a friend.

12/3/2: When the rumors have become widespread, assassins, after taking precautions against dangers arising from moving at night-time, should go to their houses and say, ‘at the king’s order, come with us.’

12/3/3: They should slay them even as they come out and say to those near, ‘this is the king’s message.’

12/3/4: And to those who have not been slain, secret agents should say, ‘this is what we had told you; he who wants to remain alive should go away.’

12/3/5: And to those to whom the king does not give something when asked for it, secret agents should say, ‘the Regent was told by the king, -- such and such persons are asking me for something that ought not to be asked for; refused by me, they have joined the enemy; strive to exterminate them.’

12/3/6: Then he should act as before.

12/3/7: And to those to whom the king gives something when asked for it, secret agents should say, ‘the Regent was told by the king, -- such and such persons ask me for something that ought not to be asked for; I give it to them to ensure trust in me; they are in league with the enemy; strive to exterminate them.’

12/3/8: Then he should act as before.

12/3/9: And to those who do not ask him for something that ought to be asked for, secret agents should say, ‘the Regent was told by the king, -- such and such persons do not ask me for something which ought to be asked for; what else could there be but their being apprehensive because of their own guilt? Strive to exterminate them.’

12/3/10: Then he should act as before.

12/3/11: By this is explained the whole party of seducible persons.

 

Deceptive Peace Treaty and its Violation

7/17/1: Peace, treaty, hostage, these are one and the same thing.

7/17/2: The creation of confidence among kings is (the purpose of) peace, treaty or hostage.

7/17/32: When grown in strength, he should bring about liberation of the hostage.

7/17/33: Secret agents disguised as artisans or artists, carrying out works in the proximity of the prince, should dig up a subterranean passage at night and carry away the prince.

7/17/34: Or, actors, dancers, singers, musicians, reciters, minstrels, rope-walkers and showmen, stationed (there) beforehand, should wait upon the enemy.

7/17/35: They should (then) wait upon the prince one after another.

7/17/36: He should fix for them entry, stay and departure without restriction as to time.

7/17/37: Then, disguised as one of them, he should leave at night.

7/17/39: Or, he should go out carrying the box of their musical instruments or (other) articles.

7/17/40: Or, he should be carried out by cooks, waiters, bath-attendants, shampooers, bed-preparers, barbers, toilet-attendants or water-servers along with boxes of materials, dresses and articles, beds and seats after they have been used.

7/17/41: Or, he should go out at a time when the appearance cannot be distinguished, disguised as a servant, carrying something with him, or (go out) through a subterranean passage with (materials for) a night oblation.

7/17/42: Or, he should practise the trick of Varuna in a reservoir of water.

7/17/43: Secret agents disguised as traders should administer poison to guards by selling cooked food and fruits.

7/17/45: Or, secret agents disguised as gallants, minstrels, physicians or vendors of cooked food should set fire at night to the houses of the rich or of the guards.

7/17/51: Or, made to appear as a corpse, the captivated prince should be carried out by secret agents.

7/17/53: And agents disguised as foresters should direct pursuers to another direction when he is going in one.

7/17/54: Then he should go in another direction.

7/17/61: Or, taking up weapons secretly brought, and falling on the guards at night, he should escape on quick-marching horses along with secret agents.

 

Creating Dissentions in the Circle of Kings

9/6/28: Or, when for any king goods from his own land or from another’s land should come as presents, secret agents should spread reports, ‘These have been received from the king against whom we are to march.’

9/6/29: When the report is spread wide, he should send a letter with a man condemned to death, ‘These goods have been sent by me to you as a present; attack your confederates or desert them; then you will receive the rest of the stipulated amount.’

9/6/30: Then secret agents should make the others realize, ‘This was given by the enemy.’

9/6/31: Or, an article, well-known as belonging to the enemy, should go, unknown, to the conqueror.

9/6/32: Secret agents appearing as traders from him should sell it among enemy chiefs.

9/6/33: Then, secret agents should make the others realize, ‘This commodity was given to the enemy.’

9/6/42: Or, he should send a letter to one possessed of the power of energy, ‘Seize the kingdom of so and so; our treaty stands as before.’

9/6/43: Then secret agents should have it seized among the enemies.

9/6/44: Or, agents should destroy the camp or supplies or allied troops of one of the confederates.

9/6/45: Speaking of friendship with the others, they should suggest to him, ‘You are sought to be destroyed by these.’

9/6/46: Or, if a great warrior or an elephant or a horse of someone were to die or to be killed or carried away by secret agents, other secret agents should declare him as destroyed by others.

9/6/47: Then he should send a letter to the one who is accused, ‘Do more of this; then you will receive the rest of the stipulated amount.’

9/6/48: Agents in the pay of both should get that seized.

9/6/49: When they are thus divided, he should secure one of them.

9/6/50: By that are explained dissensions among princes and commanders-in-chief of armies.

 

Stirring up the Circle of Kings

12/3/12: Or, a secret agent, serving in close proximity, should give the enemy king to understand, ‘Such and such a high officer is in communication with men of the enemy.’

12/3/13: When this is believed, he should show treasonable men carrying letters from him and say, ‘This is it.’

12/3/14: Or, after tempting with land or money the principal officers among the chiefs of the army, he should make them fight their own people or should carry them away.

12/3/15: He should cause that son of his, who may be staying near or in a fort, to be instigated through a secret agent, ‘You are a son possessed of greater personal excellence, yet you have been set aside; why then are you indifferent? Fight and seize the kingdom; the crown prince will soon destroy you.’

12/3/16: After tempting with money a pretender from his family or a prince in disfavor, he should say to him, ‘Crush his troops inside the kingdom or the troops on the frontier or the frontier fort.’

12/3/17: After winning the forest chieftains with money and honour, he should cause his kingdom to be destroyed.

12/3/18: Or, he should say to the enemy in the rear of the enemy, ‘This king, after exterminating me, will indeed exterminate you; attack him in the rear; if he turns round on you, I shall attack him to the rear.’

12/3/19: Or, he should say to the allies of the enemy, ‘I am your dam; with me broken, this king will overwhelm all of you; let us join together and frustrate his expedition.’

12/3/20: And he should send letters to those united with him and to those not united, ‘This king, after uprooting me, will indeed take action against you; beware; it is better for you to help me.’

12/3/21: He should send appeals to the middle king or again to the neutral king, according as the one or the other may be near, making a surrender to him of all possessions, in order to be saved.

 

9/6/53: Secret agents should dispose of a fiery or energetic enemy or one in a calamity or one entrenched in a fort, by weapon, fire, poison and so on, or one of them should do so because of ease in doing it.

9/6/54: For, an assassin, single-handed, may be able to achieve his end with weapon, poison and fire.

9/6/68: Agents in the pay of both should communicate that to the others, ‘This king of yours is treacherous.’

9/6/69: Or, if any of them has fear of or enmity towards or hatred of another, agents should divide him from the other, suggesting, ‘This king is making peace with your enemy; presently he will overreach you; make peace yourself very quickly and try to restrain him.’

9/6/72: And guilds of castes, supported by one another, should strike at their weak points, and secret agents should strike with fire, poison and weapon.

 

Sowing Dissensions among Tribal Republics and Oligarchies

11/1/6: In the case of all, secret agents close to them should find out one another’s defects, and occasions for mutual hatred, enmity or strife among members of the oligarchy, and should sow discord in one who is gradually brought round to believe them, saying, ‘So and so is slandering you.’

11/1/7: When resentment is thus built up on both sides, agents serving as teachers should start quarrels among pupils concerning learning, skill, gambling and pleasure sports.

11/1/8: Or, assassins should start quarrels among the followers of the chiefs in the oligarchy by praising the opponents in brothels and taverns, or by supporting seducible parties.

11/1/9: They should stir up very young princes enjoying low comforts with a longing for superior comforts.

11/1/10: And they should prevent inter-dining or inter-marrying of the superior with the inferior.

11/1/11: Or, they should urge inferiors to inter-dining or inter-marrying with superiors.

11/1/12: Or, they should urge the very low ones to obtain a position of equality in the matter of family, valor or change of status.

11/1/13: Or, they should nullify a transaction that is settled by establishing its opposite.

11/1/14: Or, in cases of legal dispute, assassins should start quarrels by injuring objects, cattle or men at night.

11/1/15: And in all cases of strife, the king should support the weak party with treasury and troops and urge them to kill the rival party.

11/1/24: At the time of fighting, agents appearing as vintners should offer, in hundreds, jars of wine mixed with a stupefying liquid, as libation to the deceased, under the pretext of the death of a son or wife.

11/1/25: And secret agents should point out the depositing of an object after an agreement, such as sealed bags with money and vessels containing money, at the gates of sanctuaries or temples and near fortified places.

11/1/26: When members of the oligarchy are seen approaching, they should declare, ‘These belong to the king.’

11/1/27: Then he should make an attack.

11/1/31: Or, a secret agent should say to a son of a chief of the ruling council, who thinks highly of himself, ‘You are the son of such and such a king, kept here through fear of the enemy.’

11/1/32: When he agrees, the king should support him with treasury and troops and make him fight the members of the oligarchy.

11/1/33: When his object is achieved, he should get him also slain.

11/1/34: Keepers of prostitutes or acrobats, actors, dancers or showmen, employed as agents, should make chiefs of the ruling council infatuated with women possessed of great beauty and youth.

11/1/35: When passion is roused in them, they should start quarrels by creating belief about their love in one and by going to another, or by forcible abduction by the other.

11/1/36: During the quarrel, assassins should do their work, saying, ‘Thus has this passionate fellow been slain.’

11/1/37: Or, if the one frustrated puts up with his disappointment, the woman should approach him and say, ‘Such and such a chief is harassing me, because I am in love with you; so long as he  is alive, I shall not stay here,’ and thus urge his murder.

11/1/38: Or, the woman, if forcibly abducted, should get the abductor murdered at night by assassin at the edge of the park or in a pleasure house, or should herself kill him with poison.

11/1/39: Then she should proclaim, ‘My lover has been killed by so and so.’

11/140: Or, an agent appearing as a holy man should create confidence in a chief, in whom passion is roused, by means of love-winning herbs and then killing him with poison he should disappear.

11/1/41: When he has gone away, secret agents should declare that as the act of the other.

11/1/42: Or, female secret agents posing as rich widows or living by a secret profession, and contending for inheritance or a deposit should infatuate chiefs of the ruling council, or dancers or songstresses should do so.

11/1/43: When they have agreed and come to secret houses for the night’s meeting, assassins should kill them or carry them off imprisoned.

11/1/44: Or, a secret agent should describe to a chief of the oligarchy who is fond of women, ‘In such and such a village, the family of a poor man has migrated; his wife is fit for a king; seize her.’

11/1/45: When she is seized, after a fortnight, an agent appearing as a holy man should cry out in the midst of the chiefs of the treasonable oligarchy, ‘That chief has violated my wife or daughter-in-law or sister or daughter.’

11/1/46: If the ruling council were to chastise him, the king should support him and make him fight against those hostile to him.

11/1/47: If he is not punished, assassins should slay at night the agent appearing as a holy man.

11/1/48: Then others appearing in the same disguise should cry out, ‘So and so is a Brāhmaṇa-slayer and the paramour of a Brāhmaṇa woman.’

11/1/49: Or, an agent appearing as an astrologer, should describe a maiden chosen as the bride by one chief to another, ‘The daughter or so and so is destined to become the wife of a king or the mother of a king; get her by spending all you have or by force.’

11/1/50: If she cannot be obtained, he should rouse the other party.

11/1/51: If she is obtained, the strife is at once brought about.

11/1/52: Or, a female mendicant should say to a chief fond of his wife, ‘Such and such a chief, conceited by reason of youth, sent me to your wife; through fear of him I have brought a letter and ornaments from him; your wife is innocent; steps against him should be taken secretly; in the meantime I shall accept on your wife’s behalf.

11/1/53: On these and other occasions of strife, whether the strife has arisen of its own accord or has been created by assassins, the king should support the weak party with treasury and troops and make him fight against those hostile to him, or should carry him away.

11/1/54: The single monarch should deal with oligarchies in this manner.

 

Counter Espionage

1/12/24: And such spies of the enemy should be found out, those of the different types by his own spies, whether roving spies or spy-establishments, secret servants not bearing the marks of a secret servant.

1/12/25: In order to discover espionage by enemies, he should station at frontiers principal officers, who are non-seducible, but are shown to be impelled by motives for action that are associated with seducible parties.

10/1/14: And he should cause watches to be kept even by day in order to discover spying.

11/1/55: The oligarchies also should guard themselves against these deceitful tricks by the single monarch.

11/1/56: And the head of the oligarchy should remain just in behavior towards the members of the oligarchy, beneficial and agreeable to them, self-controlled, with devoted men, and following the wishes of all.

 

 

Chapter-8: Espionage Related to War in Arthaśāstra

 

Introduction

Success in war depends a good deal on espionage mechanism. It is very difficult for any country to be successful in war without an advanced network of external espionage. In modern world it is found that espionage plays a very important role in war, for example, in the two World Wars. A glaring example of the role of espionage to enable a country to win a war is the role of the super-spy Eli Cohen in the six-day Israel-Arab War of 1967.

The super spy Eli Cohen was planted in Syria by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad under the guise of an Arab trader. Cohen was considered as the right person for the mission as he looked exactly like an Arab.

Only because of him Israel could achieve such great success in the 6 day war with Arab countries in 1967, especially it was intelligence provided by Eli that enabled Israel to capture so easily Golan heights, the almost invincible defense line of Syria. (Lazo, 2019).

Now let us pass on to the guidelines delineated in Arthaśāstra pertaining to use of espionage mechanism in war.

The major aspects of war related espionage mechanism as depicted in Arthaśāstra are:

Instilling Superstitious Fear in the Enemy Camp

Assassination of the Enemy’s Army Chiefs

Destruction of Enemy Supplies and Reinforcements

Killing the Enemy King by Deceit

Overreaching the Enemy with Trickery

Capturing the Enemy’s Fort

Drawing Out the Enemy King by Tricks

Entering Enemy’s Fort by Stratagem

Seizure and Storming of Enemy’s Fort

Pacification of the Conquered Territory

 

Instilling Superstitious Fear in the Enemy Camp

Spies under the guise of astrologers and others should fill the side of the king with enthusiasm by proclaiming omniscience of the protagonist king and association with divine agencies. On the other hand, they should fill the enemy’s side with terror.

The various means as suggested by Kauṭilya to strike terror among the soldiers and citizens of the enemy side include: occult practices, deployment of assassins for slaying people belonging to the enemy camp, deceiving the enemy by magical arts, a show of association with divinities, frightening with elephants, rousing the treasonable in the enemy side, setting fire to camps, attacks on the tips and the rear of the enemy, creating dissensions in the enemy side through agents appearing as messengers saying, ‘your fort has been burnt down or captured; a revolt by a member of your family has broken out’; or, ‘your enemy or a forest chieftain has risen against you.’

As regards the power of espionage mechanism Kauṭilya emphasizes that an arrow, discharged by an archer, may kill one person or may not kill even one; but espionage activities operated by an expert spy would kill even children in the womb.

 

Assassination of the Enemy’s Army Chiefs

i) Exploiting the vice of lust

Keepers of prostitutes under the protagonist should make the enemy’s army chiefs infatuated with women possessed of great beauty and youth. When many or two of the chiefs feel passion for one woman, assassins should create quarrels among them.

Agents should urge the party who is defeated in the strife to go away elsewhere or to render help to the protagonist in the expedition against the enemy.

Or, spies under the guise of ascetics would administer poison to those among the chiefs who have been infatuated by the harlots by saying that this (the poison) is the drug to win love of women.

Or, an agent appearing as a trader should shower wealth on an intimate maid of the favourite queen of the enemy for the sake of love and then leave her. An agent appearing as a holy man, recommended by an agent appearing as an attendant of the same trader, should give a love-winning medicine to  the maid to administer it on the trader to win back his love. As prearranged the trader would once again start favouring the maid. On the basis of the success of this medicine, the spy posing as assistant to the trader should advise the maid to inform the efficacy of the remedy to win love and so the queen should use this to win the love and favour of the king. If the queen agrees to do so, the spy would replace the earlier remedy with poison.

ii) Exploiting the vice of pride

An agent appearing as an astrologer should declare to the prime minister of the enemy, whose confidence has been gradually won, that he is possessed of the marks of a king. At the same time a spy under the guise of a female mendicant should tell the minister’s wife that she has the characteristics of a queen and that she would give birth to a prince.

Or, a female agent disguised as a minister’s wife, complain to the prime minister of the enemy that their king has been attempting to keep her in his harem. She would show a letter and ornaments and declare that these have been sent to her by the king through a female mendicant in order to tempt her.

Or, an agent appearing as a cook or a waiter should inform a chief about the king’s instruction for administering poison to him and the money offered to tempt him to do so.

An agent appearing as a trader should corroborate that information of his, and should speak of the success of the undertaking.

In this manner, with one, two or three means, the protagonist through spies should incite the high officers one by one to fight or to desert the enemy king.

iii) Through rumours

In fortified cities of the enemy king, secret agents serving in close proximity to the resident governor, should declare among citizens and country people, as if out of friendship, that the governor has said to warriors and heads of departments, ‘the king is in a difficult position; he may or may not come back alive; obtain wealth by force and slay your enemies.’

When the rumor has spread far and wide, assassins should rob citizens at night and slay chiefs, saying at the time, ‘thus are dealt with those who do not obey the governor.’

Thereafter, they should leave blood-stained weapons, articles and binding ropes in the quarters of the governor.

Then secret agents should proclaim, ‘the governor is slaying and robbing the subjects.’

In the same manner, they should divide the country people from collector general of the country.

Assassins should kill the subordinates of the collector general in the midst of villages at night and say, ‘thus are dealt with those who oppress the countryside unrighteously.’

Spreading the false news of the danger of the enemy, the spies may set fire to the harem, the gates of the town and the store-house of grains and other things, and slay the sentinels who are kept to guard them and pass the blame to the governor and the collector general.

When trouble has thus started, the spies should cause the governor and the collector general to be killed by an uprising of the subjects. Thereafter, the spies should get clansmen of the person killed installed in the place of assassinated officials.

 

Destruction of Enemy Supplies and Reinforcements

a) The protagonist’s secret agents who are living disguised as traders in the fortified towns of the enemy, disguised as householders in his villages, disguised as cow-herds and ascetics in the frontier posts of the enemy’s country, should send, along with presents word to a neighbouring prince, a forest chief, a disgruntled or greedy member of the enemy’s clan or a prince of the enemy kingdom in disfavour that the enemy's country is to be captured. And when secret emissaries come as invited, the spies of the protagonist should welcome them with money and honour and show them the weak points of the enemy. Thereafter the spies should undertake combined attack on these weak points of the enemy kingdom.

b) An agent appearing as a wine-seller in the enemy’s camp, establishing a person condemned to death as his son and killing him by poison at the time of an attack should offer, in hundreds, jars of wine as libation in honour of the dead. He should give on the first day unadulterated wine or wine with one quarter poison, and later on give wine mixed wholly with poison.

c) Giving unadulterated wine to the army chiefs of the enemy, the spy of the protagonist under the guise of a wine-seller should give them wine mixed with poison when they are in a state of intoxication.

d) An agent, under the guise of a chief officer of the enemy's army, may adopt the same measures as those employed by the seller of wine.

e) Spies of the protagonist, disguised as dealers in cooked meat, cooked rice, liquor or cakes, should advertise their special goods and, may vie with each other in proclaiming in public the sale of a fresh supply of their special articles at cheap price and may sell the articles mixed with poison to the attracted customers of the enemy.

f) Spies under the guise of women and children, purchasing wine, milk, curds, butter or oil from spies as dealers in these commodities, should pour them in their own vessels containing poison. After mixing with poison they should pour them back to in the vessels of the seller saying, ‘give us something else at this price, or give us of better quality again.’ Agents appearing as traders or those who bring goods for sale to the camp should sell these poison-mixed articles to the genuine buyers of the enemy camp.

g) Spies in the guise of merchants should give their goods to the spies (under various guises) staying near the horses and elephants and these spies in their turn should mix poison into fodder and grass for the elephants and the horses. Or, spies appearing as workmen should sell grass or water mixed with poison.

h) Spies disguised as cattle traders, having long association with the enemy camp, should let lose their own herds of cattle or of sheep and goats on the occasion of an attack, in places likely to cause confusion among the enemies, and also should let loose the vicious among horses, donkeys, camels, buffaloes and other animals. Or, agents appearing as above should let loose animals whose eyes have been smeared with the blood of musk-rats.

i) Spies appearing as hunters should let loose wild animals from their cages, or snake charmers, serpents with deadly poison, or those living by elephants, elephants.

j) Spies living by fire should set fire to things.

k) Secret agents should kill from behind the chiefs of infantry, cavalry, chariots or elephants when they have turned back, or should set fire to the quarters of the chiefs.

l) Traitors, wild tribes, forest troops employed by the protagonist should attack and destroy the enemy’s rear or obstruct his reinforcements.

m) Spies concealed in forests should lure out troops on the frontier and slay them, or should destroy the supplies, the reinforcements and foraging raids on a path passable by a single man only.

 

Killing the Enemy King by Deceit

i) In course of a night-battle the spies should announce through coded loud striking of drums, ‘we have entered it; the kingdom is won.’ And entering the king’s quarters, they should kill the king in the tumult.

ii) If the enemy king tries to escape, leaders of mleccha and forest troops, on all sides, taking cover in places of ambush or taking cover behind hedges of tree-stems, should kill him.

iii) Or, secret agents appearing as hunters should, in the tumult of an attack, strike at the enemy king on occasions fit for secret fights. Or, they should strike at him when he is on a path where marching in a single file alone is possible or on a mountain, or behind a hedge of tree-stems or in a marshy place or inside water, in accordance with the suitability of the terrain to the spies themselves.

iv) Or, the spies should drown the enemy king through a rush of water by breaking dams in rivers, lakes and tanks.

v) Or, if the enemy king is in a desert fort, a forest fort or a water fort, spies of the protagonist should destroy him with poisonous fire and smoke.

vi) Assassins should do away with the enemy king by fire when he is in a narrow place, by smoke when he is in a desert, by poison if he is in his residence, by frightful crocodiles or persons moving in water if he has taken a plunge in water, or kill him as he is coming out of his quarters set on fire.

 

Overreaching the Enemy with Trickery

When the protagonist is confronted with an enemy likely to be more powerful than him and apprehends the possibility of his fort being under the siege by the powerful enemy, Kauṭilya insists that the protagonist should first take measures to put difficulty on the path of advance of the enemy, and make all conceivable endeavours to ensure his own security.

The measures prescribed by Kauṭilya under such a difficult situation may be summarized in the following manner.

Precautionary measures

i) The protagonist should cause grass and wood to be burnt up to one yojana on all sides of his fort. Water should be vitiated and caused to flow away; and he should place wells, concealed pits and barbed wires outside.

ii) Making an underground with many openings up to the enemy’s camp, the protagonist should cause the chiefs of stores of the enemy to be carried away, or the enemy himself may also be likewise carried off.

iii) If an underground passage is made by the enemy for his own use, the protagonist should cause the moat outside the fort to be dug deeper till its water reaches the underground passage of the enemy.

iv) In suspected places along the parapet of the enemy's fort and in the house containing a well outside the fort, he should place jars of water in order to find out the direction of the wind blowing from the underground tunnel of the enemy. When the direction of the tunnel is found out, he should cause a counter passage to be dug. Or, breaking it in the middle, he should let in smoke or water.

v) Appointing a kinsman for the defence of the fort, the protagonist should move in the opposite direction of that of the enemy, or where he might be united with allies, kinsmen or forest chiefs or with great enemies and traitors of the enemy, or to such a place from where the protagonist can separate the enemy from his allies or from where he may strike at the enemy's rear, or country, or from where he may prevent the transport of supplies to his enemy, or whence he may strike his enemy by throwing down trees at hand, or from where he can find means to defend his own country or is capable of causing reinforcements of his army; or he may go to any other country from where he can obtain peace on his own terms.

vi) Those who have left the fort of the protagonist with him should send a mission to the enemy, ‘This enemy of yours has fallen in our hands; on the pretext of the purchase of a commodity or of doing injury, send money and a strong force, to which we should hand him over, bound or killed.’

If the enemy king agrees to the proposal and sends money and army as asked for, the protagonist should appropriate the money and the force deployed by the enemy king.

vii) Or, the commander in charge of a frontier fort of the protagonist, by pretending to surrender the fort, should get a part of the enemy’s troops inside and destroy them when they are in full trust of the pretender.

viii) The administrator of the fort of the protagonist, pretending to aid the enemy, should invite a division of the enemy’s army to destroy the country people stationed in one place. When it is led by spies to an enclosed region, the administrator should destroy it when full of trust.

ix) When a fort of the protagonist is under siege, a secret agent of the protagonist posing as a friend of the besieger should send a message to him, ‘In this fort. Grains, fats, sugar or salt is exhausted; new stocks of it will come in at this place and time; seize it.’

Then traitors, wild tribes and other enemies of the besieger should bring in poisoned grains, fats, sugar or salt. Convicts condemned to death may also be appointed to bring these poisoned articles. The enemy is likely to be tempted to seize these poisoned articles by force and thereafter be in trouble.

x) Having made peace with the conqueror, the protagonist may give the conqueror part of the ransom promised and assure him of paying the rest by installments. Then he should wait for conqueror's (enemy’s) defensive force to be slackened and then strike them down with fire, poison or sword; or he may win the confidence of the conqueror's courtiers deputed to take the tribute.

xi) If the resources of the protagonist are exhausted, he may flee from his fort. Abandoning his fort, the protagonist should escape through a tunnel or through a hole made into the parapet.

xii) Having challenged the conqueror at night, the protagonist should try to confront the attack of the enemy. If he fails to do so, he may escape through a side path disguised as a heretic. Or he may be carried out by spies decked as a corpse; or he may escape under the guise of a woman following the corpse of her dead husband (arranged by spies).

xiii) When the enemy is preoccupied with festivities in a pleasure park or other recreation grounds, assassins, entering through underground chambers or tunnels or hollow walls, should slay him, or those employed in secret service should do so by poison.

xiv) When the enemy king is sleeping in a secluded place, female secret agents should drop on him serpents or poisonous fire or smoke. Calling by signals or drums, door-keepers, eunuchs and others secretly employed with the enemy, he should get the rest of the enemies killed.

xv) Secret agents should introduce weapons in the articles for the enemy king’s sports and in objects from the stores used by him. And agents following a secret activity, moving about at night, and those living by fire, should put fire in those objects.

 

  

Capturing the Enemy’s Fort

(i) Through magic and occult practices

The would be conqueror, desirous of seizing the enemy’s fortified town, should infuse his own side with enthusiasm and frighten the enemy’s side by giving publicity to the power of omniscience and close association with gods of the protagonist.

The proclamation of his omniscience is to be made in the following manner: rejection of his chief officers after ascertaining their secret, domestic and other private affairs through spies; disclosing the names of traitors after receiving information from spies specially employed to find out such men and proclaiming that the king has known them by means of his power of omniscience; pretensions to the knowledge of foreign affairs by means of the power of the protagonist to read omens and signs invisible to others when information about foreign affairs is just received through a domestic pigeon which has brought a sealed letter.

The proclamation of association with divinities, however, should be arranged thus: conversing with and worshipping agents appearing as deities in fire-sanctuaries, who have entered the hollow images of deities in fire-sanctuaries by an underground passage; or, conversing with and worshipping agents appearing as Nagas or Varuna [1] risen from the water; placing under water at night a mass of sea-foam mixed with burning oil, and exhibiting it as the spontaneous outbreak of fire, when it is burning in a line; sitting on a raft in water which is secretly fastened by a rope to a rock; such magical performance in water as is usually done at night by bands of magicians, using the sack of abdomen or womb of water animals to hide the head and the nose, and applying to the nose the oil, prepared from the entrails of red spotted deer and the serum of the flesh of the crab, crocodile, porpoise and otter; holding conversation, as though, with women of Varuna (the god of water), or of Naga (the snake-god) when they are performing magical tricks in water; and sending out volumes of smoke from the mouth on occasions of anger.

Soothsayers, interpreters of omens, astrologers, persons reciting Puranas, seers, and secret agents, those who have helped and those who have witnessed it, should give wide publicity to that power of the protagonist king to associate with gods throughout his territory.

In the enemy’s territory, they should speak about the protagonist king’s meeting with divinities and the acquisition of a treasury and army from a divine source.

And when interpreting questions to deities, omens, crow’s flight, the science of the body, dreams and utterances of animals and birds, they should predict victory for the protagonist, and defeat for the enemy. And they should point to a meteor in the enemy’s constellation with a beat of drum.

(ii) Through secret agents

Agents working as envoys, speaking to the chiefs of the enemy out of friendship, should tell them of the king’s high regard for them, of the strengthening of his own party and the deterioration of the enemy’s party.

The secret agents under the guise of chief messengers of the protagonist, pretending to be friendly towards the enemy, should highly speak of the protagonist’s respectful treatment of visitors, of the strength of his army capable of bringing about destruction of his enemy's men. The spies should also make it known to the enemy that under their master, both ministers and soldiers are equally safe and happy, and that their master treats his servants with parental care in their weal and woe.

By these and other means, they should win over the enemy's men and stir up the enemy’s party against the enemy king.

The spies ought to adopt variegated ways to stir up people of various characteristics in the enemy side. They should star up the diligent by speaking of the ordinary donkey; the leaders of the army, by stick and striking of the branch; those frightened, by the ram strayed from the herd; those insulted, by a shower of thunder-bolts; those with hopes frustrated, by the cane bearing no fruit, balls of rice to crows and the cloud created by magic; those receiving the reward of honour, by decoration of a disliked wife by one who hates; those secretly put to test, by the tiger-skin and the death-trap; and as eating a piece of the wood of pilu (a  herbal plant), or as churning the milk of a she-camel or a she-donkey (for butter) to those who are rendering to him valuable help.

When the spies are successful in convincing the people of the enemy side about the flaws of their own king and the quality and benevolence of the protagonist, and they are willing to desert the enemy king, they may be sent by the spies to the protagonist king to receive wealth and, honour. Those of the enemy who are in need of money and food should be supplied with an abundance of those things. Those who are not interested to receive such things may be presented with ornaments for their wives and children.

And on occasions of famine, or troubles by robbers or forest tribes, secret agents installed in enemy country should stir up urban and rural people of enemy kingdom, and should be instigated that their (enemy) king is not helping them to overcome the crisis and so to seek help from elsewhere. If they agree, help should be provided to them by the protagonist to overcome the effects of the calamity.

 

Drawing Out the Enemy King by Tricks

(i) Through fake religious men

An ascetic with shaven head or with matted locks, living in a mountain cave, and declaring himself to be four hundred years old, should stay in the vicinity of the city with plenty of disciples with matted locks.

And his disciples, approaching with roots and fruits, should induce the ministers and the king to pay a visit to the holy master.

And, visited by the king, the false ascetic should speak of identification marks of former kings and their countries, adding, ‘When every one hundred years of my life are completed, I shall enter fire for the fourth time; you have necessarily to be honoured by me; choose three boons.’

When he agrees, he should say, ‘You should stay here with sons and wife for seven nights, after arranging a festival with shows.’

He should attack the enemy king while he is staying there.

Or, an agent appearing as a seer of underground objects, with shaven head or with matted hair, having plenty of disciples with matted hair, should place in an ant-hill a bamboo-strip smeared with goat’s blood, after smearing it with gold powder, in order that ants may follow it, or place there a hollow tube of gold.

Then a secret agent should tell the king, ‘That holy man knows a flowering treasure-trove.’

Questioned by the king, the agent as holy man should say, ‘Yes’, and point out that proof, or after placing more money in the earth.

And the fake holy man should say to the enemy king, ‘This treasure-trove, guarded by a cobra, can be obtained through worship.’

When the enemy king agrees to worship, the spy should say, ‘You should stay here with sons and wife for seven nights, after arranging a festival with shows.’

The spy disguising as holy man should attack the enemy king while he is staying there.

Or, as an agent appearing as a seer of underground objects, with his body enveloped in a burning fire at night, should stay at a desolate place. Other agents say to the king after making him gradually entertain faith in him, ‘That holy man is able to secure prosperity.’

When the enemy king visits the fake holy man, the latter should advise the king as in the previous cases and should kill him and his family members accompanying him in the worship suggested by the spy as holy man.

Or, agent appearing as a holy man should tempt the king with magical lores and do as in the previous cases.

Or, an agent appearing as a holy man, finding shelter in the temple of an honoured deity of the country, should, by frequent festivities, win over the chiefs among the constituents and gradually overreach the king.

Or, a secret agent appearing as an ascetic with matted locks, all white, would stay in water, with means of getting away to an underground tunnel or chamber under the bank and other secret agents should tell the king, after gradually making him believe, that the pretending holy man is the water god Varuna or the king of the serpents. And by luring the enemy king the spies would attack and kill him as in the previous cases.

Or, an agent appearing as a man of supernatural power, living close to the border of the country, should induce the enemy king to have a look at his enemy (the protagonist king). When the enemy king the spy should make an effigy and summon the enemy (belonging to the protagonist) by means of signals and cause him to be killed, in a secluded spot.

ii) Through fake traders

Agents appearing as traders, coming with horses for sale, should invite the enemy king to purchase or receive horses as a gift, and kill him while engrossed in inspecting the goods or when mingled with horses, should strike with the horses.

iii) Through magic, miracles and occult practices

Assassins, climbing a sacred tree near the city at night-time and blowing into jars through stalks or reeds, should say indistinctly, ‘We shall eat the flesh of the king or the chiefs; let worship be offered to us.’

Agents appearing as interpreters of omens and astrologers should make that utterance of theirs known.

Or, agents appearing as Nagas, with their bodies smeared with burning oil, should, at night-time, pound together iron clubs and pestles in a holy lake or in the middle of a tank and utter in the same way.

Or, agents robed in the skins of bears, giving out fire and smoke from the mouths and having the appearance of rakṣasas (demons), should go three times left-wise round the city and utter in the same way, in the intervals between the cries of dogs and jackals.

Or, making the image of a deity in a sanctuary burn at night with burning oil or with fire covered by a layer of mica, secret agents should utter in the same way.

Other spies should make that known.

Or, with blood of animals the spies should cause an excessive flow of blood from honoured images of deities.

Then others should declare defeat in battle in consequence of the flow of the blood of the deity.

Or, on the nights of the month’s junctures, the spies should point out a sanctuary in a prominent part of the cemetery where an agent appearing as a rakṣasa should demand the offering of a human being.

And whoever, calling himself brave or someone else, were to come there to see, others should kill him with iron pestles, so that it would be known that he was killed by the rakṣasa.

Those who have witnessed it and secret agents should report that miracle to the king.

Then agents appearing as interpreters of omens and astrologers should prescribe pacification and expiatory rites adding, ‘Otherwise a great disaster will befall the king and the country.’

When the enemy king agrees to the proposal he may be asked to perform in person special sacrifices and offerings with special mantras every night for seven days. Then while doing this, he may be killed.

In order to convince the enemy king, the protagonist may himself undertake the performance of expiatory rites to avert such evils. Then he should employ the tricks against them.

iv) Exploiting the passion for hunting

If the enemy king is fond of elephants, spies under the guise of keepers of elephant forests should tempt the enemy king with an elephant possessed of auspicious marks and when he falls into the trap and agrees to accompany the fake elephant keepers in order to capture the elephant, the spies should take him to a dense forest or a path allowing only one person to march at a time, and kill him, or imprison him in accordance with the mandate of the protagonist king. .

v) Exploiting the ṛpu of kāma (lust)

If the enemy king is fond of wealth or women, he may be lured with rich and beautiful widows brought before him by the spies with a pretended complaint for the recovery of a deposit kept by them in the custody of one of their kinsmen; and when the enemy king comes to meet with such a woman at night as arranged, spies in ambush may kill him with weapons or poison.

vi) In chaos and confusions of religious rites or festivals

On the occasion of the visits of the enemy king to holy men, mendicants, images of deities in sanctuaries and various other religious places, assassins, concealed in underground chambers or passages or inside hollow walls, should strike at him.

The assassin spies should take advantage of the confusion and unguarded condition of the enemy king to strike at him under the following conducive conditions: in those places, in which the king himself is witnessing a dramatic show, or is enjoying himself in a festival or where he is sporting in water; on all occasions of speaking words of reproof and so on, during sacrifices and festive parties, during birth-rites, funeral rites and illnesses, on occasions of love, sorrow or fear; when at a festival of his own people he, being full of trust, careless, or when he moves about without a guard, on a rainy day or in crowds; when he has strayed from the route, or when there is a fire or when he has entered a place without any men in it, assassins, entering with packages of clothes, ornaments and flowers, with beds and seats, or with vessels containing wine and food or with musical instruments, should strike at the enemy along with those employed there beforehand.

The assassin spies should depart after completion of their mission, in the same way as they might have entered on the occasions mentioned above for an ambush to attack the enemy.

 

Entering Enemy’s Fort by Stratagem

The protagonist (aspiring conqueror) may pretend to dismiss a confidential chief of a guild and the dismissed chief should seek shelter with the enemy king. After obtaining shelter with the enemy, he should bring over helpmates and associates from his own country on the pretext of partnership.

With the assistance of a band of secret agents, the sheltered chief should, with the consent of the enemy king, destroy a treasonable town of his master, or an army without elephants and horses but with treasonable principal officers, or a treasonable ally in the rear of his master, and send a mission to the enemy.

He may also seek help from a guild of forest tribes for achieving his goal.

After gaining confidence of the enemy through the above activities the chief should inform his master (the protagonist).

Thereafter the master, under the pretext of an expedition for catching elephants or destruction of forest tribes, should attack the enemy secretly.

After making peace with the enemy, the protagonist should ostensibly dismiss his own confidential ministers. Then they may request the enemy to reconcile them to their master. When the enemy agrees to the request of the dismissed ministers and sends a messenger for this purpose, the conqueror should dismiss the proposal by saying: “Your king is trying to sow the seeds of dissension between me and my ministers.”

Thereafter one of the dismissed ministers should go over to the enemy along with a band of spies, disaffected people, traitors, brave thieves, and forest tribes who make no distinction between a friend and a foe. Having secured the trust and good graces of the enemy, the minister should propose to him the destruction of the officers of him (the enemy king), such as the boundary-guard, wild chief, and commander of army, telling the enemy king: "These and other persons are in concert with your enemy." Then these persons may be put to death under the writs of the enemy king.

The protagonist may tell his enemy through spies: "A chief with a powerful army means to offend us both, so let us combine and put him down; you may take possession of his treasury or territory." When the enemy king agrees to the proposal and comes out honoured by the protagonist, he may be killed in a tumult or in an open battle with the chief (in concert with the protagonist).

Secret agents of the protagonist, under the guise of hunters and stationed near the gate of the enemy's fort for selling meat should make friendship with the guards at the gate. Having informed the guards of the approach of robbers or thieves on two or three occasions, they may prove themselves to be of reliable character.  Then getting their master’s (protagonist’s) army stationed in two places, one for destroying a town and the other for a sudden assault, should say to the enemies, ‘A band of robbers is close by; there is a great din; let a large force come.’

Handing that over to the troops of their master meant for destroying the town and taking the other troops to the gates of the fort at night, they should say, ‘The band of robbers is killed; the troops, successful in the expedition, have come back; open the gate.’ Or, those secretly employed there beforehand should open the gates. Along with them they should strike the enemy with the army.

The protagonist should station in the enemy’s fort soldiers disguised as artisans, artists, heretical monks, actors and traders.

Spies under the guise of householders should bring to them weapons and armours in carts carrying wood, grass, grains and other goods, or in flags and images of gods.

Thereafter secret agents posing as priests, blowing their conch shells and beating their drums, should announce to the enemy that a powerful armed force of the enemy crazy to destroy all, is lurking closely behind them. Then amidst the consequent chaos and confusion, the spies should open the fort-gate and the towers of the fort to the army of the protagonist or disperse the enemy’s army and kill them in the tumult.

The carrying over of troops into the enemy’s fort is to be along with those moving in caravans or groups, with escorts, with those accompanying brides, with dealers in horses, with carriers of implements, with sellers or purchasers of grains, with those bearing the marks of monks and with envoys; peace is to be made during the period for creating confidence.

 

Seizure and Storming of Enemy’s Fort

i) Setting fire to the besieged fort

Spies disguised as guards inside the fort, should place a fire-mixture in the tails of mongooses, monkeys, cats and dogs, and let them loose in stores of arrows, fortifications and houses.

Placing inflammable substances in the interior of dried fish or inside dried meat, the spies should bind these to the tails of birds and let them fly inside the fort.

Kauṭilya mentions various other means by means of which a besieged fort of the enemy could be set on fire. But, Kauṭilya warns that fire is a dangerous means to take a fort of the enemy. So whenever a fort can be captured by other means, no attempt should be made to set it on fire, because fire cannot be trusted.  Fire destroys the people, grains, cattle, gold, raw materials and the like. Therefore, a fort captured by setting it on fire would mean the acquisition of a fort with its property all destroyed and therefore of very little worth to the conqueror.

ii) Secret agents, disguised as friends or relatives and with permissions and orders in their hands to meet friends or relatives inside the fort, may enter the enemy's fort and help to it captured by the protagonist as besieger. .

iii) A secret agent posing as an ally of the enemy should send mission to the besieged king to the besieged, "I am going to strike the besieging camp at such a time and place. Then you should also fight along with me."

When the enemy king agrees, the secret should show the tumult of an attack as mentioned and destroy him as he comes out of the fort at night.

iv) The spies of the protagonist should invite an ally or a forest chieftain in friendship with the besieged king, and entice him to fight against the besieged and capture his land. When any one of them falls into the trap of the spies and attempts to attack the enemy's territory, the enemy's people or the leaders of the enemy's traitors may be employed to murder him (the friend or the wild chief); or the assassin spies of the protagonist may kill him by poison.

Thereafter another pretending friend of the enemy should inform the enemy king that the murdered person was a fratricide (as he had attempted to seize the territory of his friend who is in troubles). Having acquired trust of the enemy, the spy pretending as friend should resort to deceitful means in order to sow the seeds of dissension between the enemy and his officers and have the latter hanged through insinuation.

v) Instigating through spies the peaceful people of the enemy to rise in revolt, the spies may put them down, unknown to the enemy.

Then having taken with him a portion of his army composed of furious wild tribes, he may enter the enemy's fort and enable the protagonist to capture it. Or traitors, enemies, wild tribes and other persons who have deserted the enemy, may, under the plea of having been reconciled, honoured and rewarded, go back to the enemy and allow the fort to be captured by the protagonist.

vi) A spy after securing trust of the enemy should get his brave warriors killed.

vii) After making peace with the enemy the protagonist should induce him to settle the country.

When settled, he should destroy the enemy’s country.

viii) After inflicting harm on the enemy and thereby getting a portion of the enemy’s troops led against treasonable persons or forest chiefs, the protagonist should capture the fort by a sudden assault.

Thus, according to Kauṭilya, the five means of taking enemy’s fort are:  secret instigation, espionage, drawing the enemy king out of the fort by trick, the act of siege and storming the fort.

 

Pacification of the Conquered Territory

According to Kauṭilya, after subjugating any country, the first and foremost task of the spy establishment would be to convince the people that the new king or his stooge is the friend of the people and bent on their welfare. Otherwise, the conqueror would always face oppositions and revolts from the people of the subjugated country. The spies should adopt all conceivable means to make people of the conquered country believe that the earlier ruler was inimical to them or incompetent and the new king has subjugated the country only to rescue the people from the torture or misrule of the earlier ruler/rulers. Kauṭilya prescribes the following measures to pacify the people of the conquered territory.

i) Spies should frequently propagate about the misconduct of the enemy king and the protagonist’s love and regard for the chiefs in the country, towns, castes and corporations of the conquered territory.

ii) The protagonist king should try to win the hearts of the residents of the conquered territory through promises of looking after their customary rights, exemptions and protection.

iii) The protagonist should take prompt measures for honouring of all deities and hermitages, and make grants of land, money and exemptions to men distinguished in learning, speech and piety in the conquered land.

iv) He should order the release of all prisoners and render help to the distressed, the helpless and the diseased in the new territory.

v) The protagonist should ensure protection of wild life and domestic animals of the country conquered.

vi) He should ensure protection and security of the females in the new territory.

vii) He should abolish all unrighteous custom and practices and replace them by righteous ones.

viii) He should rearrange residences of people so as be convenient for both the king and the citizens and also to control activities of robbers, forest tribes and various other criminals.

ix) Information through spies about discontented persons, conspiracies against the protagonist, attempts at rebellion and riots etc. should be detected and suppressed accordingly.

 

Notes

1. Varuna = Hindu god of water, Nagas = mythical serpent gods

 

References

Lazo, Waleuska (2019): The Gift of Bravery: The Story of Eli Cohen - Our Hero and Spy, Waleuska Lazo, ISBN-1732743142, 9781732743144

 

 

Appendix

Instilling Superstitious Fear in the Enemy Camp

10/3/33: And the group of his astrologers and others should fill his own side with enthusiasm by proclaiming omniscience of the protagonist king and association with divine agencies, and should fill the enemy’s side with terror.

10/6/48-50: He should strike terror in the enemy with machines, by the employment of occult practices, through assassins slaying those engaged in something else, by magical arts, by a show of association with divinities, through carts, by frightening with elephants, by rousing the treasonable, through herds of cattle, by setting fire to camps, by attacks on the tips and the rear, by creating dissensions through agents appearing as messengers saying, ‘your fort has been burnt down or captured; a revolt by a member of your family has broken out’; or, ‘your enemy or a forest chieftain has risen against you.’

10/6/51: An arrow, discharged by an archer, may kill one person or may not kill even one; but intellect operated by a wise man would kill even children in the womb.

 

Assassination of the Enemy’s Army Chiefs

i) Exploiting the vice of lust

12/2/11: Keepers of prostitutes should make the enemy’s army chiefs infatuated with women possessed of great beauty and youth.

12/2/12: When many or two of the chiefs feel passion for one woman, assassins should create quarrels among them.

12/2/13: Agents should urge the party worsted in the strife to go away elsewhere or to render help to their master in the expedition.

12/2/14: Or, agents appearing as holy men should cause poison to be given to those among the chiefs who are under the influence of passion, along with love-winning medicines, in order to overreach them.

12/2/15: Or, an agent appearing as a trader should shower wealth on an intimate maid of the favourite queen of the enemy for the sake of love and then leave her.

12/2/16: An agent appearing as a holy man, recommended by an agent appearing as an attendant of the same trader, should give a love-winning medicine, saying, ‘This should be placed on the person of the trader.’

12/2/17: When this has succeeded, he should advise this remedy also to the favourite queen, saying, ‘This should be placed on the king’s person.’

12/2/18: Then he should overreach with poison.

 

ii) Exploiting the vice of pride

12/2/19: An agent appearing as an astrologer should declare to a high officer, whose confidence has been gradually won, that he is possessed of the marks of a king.

12/2/20: A female mendicant should declare to his wife, ‘You will be the wife of a king or the mother of a king.’

12/2/21: Or, a female agent who is the wife of a high officer should say to him, ‘The king wants to keep me in his harem; this letter and these ornaments have been brought to your house by a female mendicant.’

12/2/22: Or, an agent appearing as a cook or a waiter should inform a chief about the king’s instruction for administering poison to him and the money offered to tempt him to do so.

12/2/23: An agent appearing as a trader should corroborate that information of his, and should speak of the success of the undertaking.

12/2/24: Thus with one or two or three means, he should incite the high officers one by one to fight or to desert the enemy king.

 

iii) Through rumors

12/2/25: And in his fortified cities, secret agents serving in close proximity to the Regent, should declare among citizens and country people, as if out of friendship, ‘The Regent has said to warriors and heads of departments, -- The king is in a difficult position; he may or may not come back alive; obtain wealth by force and slay your enemies.’

12/2/26: When the rumor has spread far and wide, assassins should rob citizens at night and slay chiefs, saying at the time, ‘Thus are dealt with those who do not obey the Regent.’

12/2/27: And they should leave blood-stained weapons, articles and binding ropes in the quarters of the Regent.

12/2/28: Then secret agents should proclaim, ‘The Regent is slaying and robbing the subjects.’

12/2/29: In the same manner, they should divide the country people from the Administrator.

12/2/30: Assassins should kill the subordinates of the Administrator in the midst of villages at night and say, ‘Thus are dealt with those who oppress the countryside unrighteous.’

12/2/31: When trouble has thus started, they should cause the Regent or the Administrator to be killed by a rising of the subjects.

12/2/32: They should get a pretender from his family or a prince in disfavor accepted as a ruler.

12/2/33: They should set fire to royal palaces and city gates, to stores of articles and grains, or should kill those officers there and, crying piteously should declare that as done by him.

 

Destruction of Enemy Supplies, Reinforcements

12/4/1-3: Those agents who are living disguised as traders in the fortified towns of the enemy, disguised as householders in his villages, disguised as cow-herds and ascetics in the frontier posts of the country, should send, along with presents word to a neighbouring prince, a forest chief, a pretender from his family or a prince in disfavor, ‘This region can be seized.’ And when secret agents of these have come to the fortified town, they should welcome them with money and honour and show them the weak points of the constituents. They should strike those weak points along with those who are tricked to collaborate.

12/4/4-7: Or, an agent appearing as a vintner in his camp, showing a person condemned to death as his son and killing him by poison at the time of an attack should offer, in hundreds, jars of wine as libation in honour of the dead. He should give on the first day unadulterated wine or wine with one quarter poison, on the next, wine mixed with poison. Or, giving unadulterated wine to the army chiefs, he should give them wine mixed with poison when they are in a state of intoxication. Or, an agent, serving as a chief in the army, should show a condemned person as a son and so on, as before.

12/4/8: Or, agents disguised as dealers in cooked meat or cooked rice or vintners or dealers in cakes, should advertise their special goods and, in mutual rivalry, call the enemies, proclaiming, ‘This is given on credit, this is very cheap,’ and mix their goods with poison.

12/4/9-11: Or, women and children, purchasing wine, milk, curds, butter or oil from dealers in these commodities, should pour them in their own vessels containing poison. Saying ‘Give us at this price, or give us of better quality again,’ they should pour that back in the same place. Agents appearing as traders or those who bring goods for sale to the camp should sell these same articles after mixing them with poison.

12/4/12: Those near should mix poison with the fodder and grass for elephants and horses.

12/4/13: Or, agents appearing as workmen should sell grass or water mixed with poison.

12/4/14: Or, cattle traders, long associated with the camp, should let lose herds of cattle or of sheep and goats on the occasion of an attack, in places likely to cause confusion among the enemies, also should let loose the vicious among horses, donkeys, camels, buffaloes and other animals.

12/4/15: Or, agents appearing as above should let loose animals whose eyes have been smeared with the blood of musk-rats.

12/4/16: Or, those appearing as hunters should let loose wild animals from their cages, or snake charmers, serpents with deadly poison, or those living by elephants, elephants.

12/4/17: Or, those living by fire should set fire to things.

12/4/18: Or, secret agents should kill the chiefs of infantry, cavalry, chariots or elephants when they have turned back, or should set fire to the quarters of the chiefs.

12/4/19: Those appearing as treasonable or alien or forest troops, being employed with the enemy, should make an attack on the rear or give support to the weak king’s attack.

12/4/20: Or, those concealed in forests should lure out troops on the frontier and slay them, or should destroy the supplies, the reinforcements and foraging raids on a path where marching in a single file alone is possible.

 

Killing the Enemy King by Deceit

12/4/21-22: On the occasion of a night-battle, they should strike many drums, fixed beforehand as a signal, and announce, ‘we have entered it; the kingdom is won.’ And entering the king’s quarters, they should kill the king in the tumult.

12/4/23: Or, if he is trying to escape, leaders of mleccha and forest troops, on all sides, should kill him, taking cover in places of ambush or taking cover behind hedges of tree-stems.

12/4/24: Or, agents appearing as hunters should, in the tumult of an attack, strike at him on occasions fit for secret fights.

12/4/25: Or, they should strike at him when he is on a path where marching in a single file alone is possible or on a mountain, or behind a hedge of tree-stems or in a marshy place or inside water, in accordance with the favorableness of the terrain to themselves.

12/4/26: Or, they should drown him through a rush of water by breaking dams in rivers, lakes and tanks.

12/4/27: Or, if he is in a desert fort, a forest fort or a water fort, they should destroy him with poisonous fire and smoke.

12/4/28: Assassins should do away with him by fire when he is in a narrow place, by smoke when he is in a desert, by poison if he is in his residence, by frightful crocodiles or persons moving in water if he has taken a plunge in water, or kill him as he is coming out of his quarters set on fire.

 

Overreaching the Enemy with Trickery

Precautionary measures

12/5/13: He should cause grass and wood to be burnt up to one yojana (all round the fort).

12/5/14: And he should cause waters to be spoiled and to flow away.

12/5/15: And he should place wells, concealed pits and barbed wires outside.

12/5/16: Making an underground with many openings up to the enemy’s camp, he should cause the chiefs of stores to be carried away, or the enemy (himself).

12/5/17: Or, if an underground passage is made by the enemy, he should cause the moat to be dug deeper till its water reaches the passage, or a well-shed along the rampart.

12/5/18: In suspected places, he should cause to be placed jars of water or bell-metal vessels, in order to find out any digging done there.

12/5/19: When the underground passage is known, he should cause a counter passage to be dug.

12/5/20: Breaking it in the middle, he should let in smoke or water.

12/5/21: Or, making arrangements for the defence of the fort and appointing a kinsman (as regent) in the base, he should go in the direction opposite to that of the enemy, or where he might be united with allies, kinsmen or forest chiefs or with great enemies and traitors of the enemy, or where, by going there, he might be able to separate him from his allies or to attack him in the rear or cause his kingdom to be seized or to prevent his supplies, reinforcements and foraging raids, or from where he might be able to strike at him with a foul throw like a gambler, or from where his kingdom may be protected or he might be able to strengthen the base.

12/5/22: Or, he should go there where he might be able to secure desirable peace.

12/5/23: Or, those who have left (the fort) with him should send (word) to the enemy, ‘This enemy of yours has fallen in our hands; on the pretext of the purchase of a commodity or of doing injury, send money and a strong force, to which we should hand him over, bound or killed.’

12/5/24: When he agrees, he should appropriate the money and the strong force.

12/5/25: Or, the commander of a frontier fort, by offering the surrender of the fort, should get a part of the enemy’s troops inside and destroy them when full of trust.

12/5/26: Or, the regent should invite a division of the enemy’s army to destroy the country people stationed in one place.

12/5/27: Taking it to the enclosed region, he should destroy it when full of trust.

12/5/28: Or, an agent posing as a friend should send word to the besieger, ‘In this fort. Grains, fats, sugar or salt is exhausted; new stocks of it will come in at this place and time; seize it.’

12/5/29: Then treasonable, alien or forest troops should bring in poisoned grains, fats, sugar or salt, or others condemned to death should bring it in.

12/5/30: By this is explained the seizure of all goods and supplies.

12/5/39: Or, he should be carried out decked as a corpse by secret agents.

12/5/40: Or, wearing a woman’s garb, he should follow a funeral procession.

12/5/41. Or, (he should go away) leaving behind poisoned food and drink on occasions of offerings to gods, obsequious rites or festivals.

12/5/42: After making secret instigations, he should come out with apparently treasonable troops and strike with the concealed army.

12/5/43: Or, if his Fort is thus seized, he should, after setting up a sanctuary, with plenty of food to eat, remain concealed in a hollow inside the image of the deity or in a hollow wall or in an underground chamber endowed with the image of a deity.

12/5/44: When (things are) forgotten, he should enter the king’s chamber at night by an underground passage and kill the sleeping enemy.

12/5/45: Or, loosening something that can be loosened by a mechanism, he should make it fall down (on him).

12/5/46: Or, as the enemy is sleeping in a house smeared with a poisonous fire-mixture or in a lac-house, he should set it on fire.

12/5/47: Or, when the enemy is careless in a place of recreation in a pleasure park or other recreation grounds, assassins, entering through underground chambers or tunnels or hollow walls, should slay him, or those employed in secret service should do so by poison.

12/5/48: Or, when he is sleeping in a secluded place, female secret agents should drop on him serpents or poisonous fire or smoke.

12/5/51: Calling by signals or drums door-keepers, eunuchs and others secretly employed with the enemy, he should get the rest of the enemies killed.

 

Capturing Enemy’s Fort

i) Through magic and occult practices

13/1/1: The conqueror, desirous of capturing the enemy’s fortified town, should fill his own side with enthusiasm and fill the enemy’s side with terror, by getting his omniscience and association with divinities proclaimed.

13/1/2: The proclamation of omniscience, however, is to be made thus: after ascertaining secret information from their houses, communicating it to the chiefs; after finding out through spies used in suppression of criminals, bringing to light traitors to the king; announcing a request or a present about to be made through unnoticed signs and other things according to the science of association; showing knowledge of news from foreign lands on the same day through a domestic pigeon carrying a sealed communication.

13/1/3: The proclamation of association with divinities, however, should be arranged thus: conversing with and worshipping agents appearing as deities in fire-sanctuaries, who have entered the hollow images of deities in fire-sanctuaries by an underground passage; or, conversing with and worshipping agents appearing as Nagas or Varuna risen from the water; showing a row of fires at night inside water by placing a container with sea-sand; standing on a boat held down by slings containing stones; application to the nose of oil boiled a hundred times with the entrails of a spotted deer or the fats of crabs, crocodiles, dolphins and otters, to a person whose head without the nose is covered with water-bladder or an embryo-covering.

13/1/4: With that, the nocturnal creatures move about.

13/1/5: These are ways of moving in water.

13/1/6: Through them there is use of speech by Varuna or Naga maidens and conversation with them, and the emitting of fire and smoke from the mouse on occasion of anger.

13/1/7: Soothsayers, interpreters of omens, astrologers, persons reciting Puranas, seers, and secret agents, those who have helped and those who have witnessed it, should broadcast that power of the king in his own territory.

13/1/8: In the enemy’s territory, they should speak about the protagonist king’s meeting with divinities and the acquisition of a treasury and army from a divine source.

13/1/9: And when interpreting questions to deities, omens, crow’s flight, the science of the body, dreams and utterances of animals and birds, they should predict victory for him, the reverse of it for the enemy.

13/1/10: And they should point to a meteor in the enemy’s constellation with a beat of drum.

ii) Through secret agents

13/1/11: Agents working as envoys, speaking to the chiefs of the enemy out of friendship, should tell them of the king’s high regard for them, of the strengthening of his own party and the deterioration of the enemy’s party.

13/1/12: They should tell ministers and soldiers of the same well-being and security as before.

13/1/13: He should show consideration for them in calamities and festive occasions, and honour their children.

13/1/14: In that way he should star up the enemy’s party against the enemy king as explained before.

13/1/16: He should star up the diligent by speaking of the ordinary donkey; the leaders of the army, by stick and striking of the branch; those frightened, by the ram strayed from the herd; those insulted, by a shower of thunder-bolts; those with hopes frustrated, by the cane bearing no fruit, balls of rice to crows and the cloud created by magic; those receiving the reward of honour, by decoration of a disliked wife by one who hates; those secretly put to test, by the tiger-skin and the death-trap; those who constantly oblige, by the eating of the pilu-fruit, the hail, the female camel and churning of the she-donkey’s milk.

[pilu – a herbal plant]

13/1/17: Those who agree to desert, he should endow with money and honour.

13/1/18: And in their difficulties regarding goods and food, he should favour them with gifts of goods and food.

13/1/19: In the case of those not accepting these, they should bring ornaments to their women and children.

13/1/20: And on occasions of famine, or troubles by robbers or forest tribes, secret agents, stirring up the citizens and the country people, should say, ‘Let us ask the king for help; if we do not get help, let us go elsewhere.’

13/1/21: When, saying, ‘All right,’ they agree, help should be given to them by the grant of goods and grains. Thus there is this great miracle of secret instigation.

 

Drawing Out the Enemy King by Tricks

(i) Through fake religious men

13/2/1: An ascetic with shaven head or with matted locks, living in a mountain cave, and declaring himself to be four hundred years old, should stay in the vicinity of the city with plenty of disciples with matted locks.

13/2/2: And his disciples, approaching with roots and fruits, should induce the ministers and the king to pay a visit to the holy master.

13/2/3: And, visited by the king, he should speak of identification marks of former kings and their countries, adding, ‘When every one hundred years of my life are completed, I shall enter fire for the fourth time; you have necessarily to be honoured by me; choose three boons.’

13/2/4: When he agrees, he should say, ‘You should stay here with sons and wife for seven nights, after arranging a festival with shows.’

13/2/5: He should attack him while he is staying there.

13/2/6: Or, an agent appearing as a seer of underground objects, with shaven head or with matted hair, having plenty of disciples with matted hair, should place in an ant-hill a bamboo-strip smeared with goat’s blood, after smearing it with gold powder, in order that ants may follow it, or place there a hollow tube of gold.

13/2/7: Then a secret agent should tell the king, ‘That holy man knows a flowering treasure-trove.’

13/2/8: Questioned by the king, he should say, ‘Yes’, and point out that proof, or after placing more money in the earth.

13/2/9: And he should say to him, ‘This treasure-trove, guarded by a cobra, can be obtained through worship.’

13/2/10: When he agrees, ‘for seven nights’ and so on as before.

13/2/11: Or, as an agent appearing as a seer of underground objects, with his body enveloped in a burning fire at night, is staying in a solitary place, secret agents should say to the king after making him gradually entertain faith in him, ‘That holy man is able to secure prosperity.’

13/2/12: Promising to ensure what objects the king were to ask for, the seer should say, ‘for seven nights’ and so on as before.

13/2/13: Or, agent appearing as a holy man, should tempt the king with magical lores.

13/2/14: ‘What object the king’ and so on as before.

13/2/15: Or, agent appearing as a holy man, finding shelter in the temple of an honoured deity of the country, should, by frequent festivities, win over the chiefs among the constituents and gradually overreach the king.

13/2/16: Or, as an agent appearing as an ascetic with matted locks, all white, is staying in water, with means of getting away to an underground tunnel or chamber under the bank, secret agents should tell the king, after gradually making him believe, that he is Varuna or the King of the Nagas.

13/2/17: ‘What object the king’ and so on as before.

13/2/18: Or, an agent appearing as a holy man, living on the border of the country, should induce the king to have a sight of the enemy.

13/2/19: When he agrees, he should make an effigy and invoke the enemy, and should kill the king, in a secluded spot.

ii) Through fake traders

13/2/20: Agents appearing as traders, coming with horses for sale, should invite the king to purchase or receive horses as a gift, and kill him while engrossed in inspecting the goods or when mingled with horses and should strike with the horses.

iii) Through magic, miracles and occult practices

13/2/21: Assassins. Climbing a sacred tree near the city at night-time and blowing into jars through stalks or reeds, should say indistinctly, ‘We shall eat the flesh of the king or the chiefs; let worship be offered to us.’

13/2/22: Agents appearing as interpreters of omens and astrologers should make that utterance of theirs known.

13/2/23: Or, agents appearing as Nagas, with their bodies smeared with burning oil, should, at night-time, pound together iron clubs and pestles in a holy lake or in the middle of a tank and utter in the same way.

13/2/24: Or, agents robed in the skins of bears, giving out fire and smoke from the mouths, and having the appearance of rakshasas, should go three times left-wise round the city and utter in the same way, in the intervals between the cries of dogs and jackals.

[rakshasa = demon]

13/2/25: Or, making the image of a deity in a sanctuary burn at night with burning oil or with fire covered by a layer of mica, agents) should utter in the same way.

13/2/26: Others should make that known.

13/2/27: Or, with blood, of animals they should cause an excessive flow of blood from honoured images of deities.

13/2/28: Then others should declare defeat in battle in consequence of the flow of the blood of the deity.

13/2/29: Or, on the nights of the month’s junctures, they should point out a sanctuary in a prominent part of the cemetery as with men eaten standing.

13/2/30: Therefore an agent appearing as a rakshasa should demand the offering of a human being.

13/2/31: And whoever, calling himself brave or someone else, were to come there to see, others should kill him with iron pestles, so that it would be known that he was killed by the rakshasa.

13/2/32: Those who have witnessed it and secret agents should report that miracle to the king.

13/2/33: Then agents appearing as interpreters of omens and astrologers should prescribe pacification and expiatory rites adding, ‘Otherwise a great disaster will befall the king and the country.’

13/2/34: When he has agreed, they should say, ‘In these (manifestations), for seven nights the king himself should make offerings of oblations with mantras on each single day.’

13/2/35: Then as before.

13/2/36: Or, showing these tricks practiced on himself, he should overcome them, in order to convince the enemies.

13/2/37: Then he should employ the tricks against them.

iv) Exploiting the passion for hunting

13/2/39: Keepers of elephant forests should tempt the enemy fond of elephants with an elephant possessed of auspicious marks.

13/2/40: When he agrees, they should take him to a dense forest or a path allowing only one person to march at a time, and kill him, or carry him off imprisoned.

13/2/41: By that is explained the enemy fond of hunting.

v) Exploiting the ṛpu of kāma (lust)

13/2/42: Or, secret agents should tempt the enemy greedy of money or women with rich widows or women possessed of great beauty and youth, taken to him for the sake of inheritance or deposit.

13/2/43: When he agrees, they should, concealed in ambush, kill him with weapons or poison at the time of the meeting.

vi) In chaos and confusions of religious rites or festivals

13/2/44: Or, on the occasion of his frequent visits to holy men, mendicants, images of deities in sanctuaries and stupas, assassins, concealed in underground chambers or passages or inside hollow walls, should strike at the enemy.

[stupas = Buddhist sites of worship]

13/2/45: In those places, in which the king himself is witnessing a dramatic show, or is enjoying himself in a festival or where he is sporting in water;

13/2/46: on all occasions of speaking words of reproof and so on, during sacrifices and festive parties, during birth-rites, funeral rites and illnesses, on occasions of love, sorrow or fear;

13/2/47: Or, when at a festival of his own people he, being full of trust, careless, or when he moves about without a guard, on a rainy day or in crowds;

13/2/48-49: When he has strayed from the route, or when there is a fire or when he has entered a place without any men in it, assassins, entering with packages of clothes, ornaments and flowers, with beds and seats, or with vessels containing wine and food or with musical instruments, should strike at the enemy along with those employed there beforehand.

13/2/50: And in the same way as they may have entered on the occasion for an ambush of the enemy, they should depart. Thus has been described the drawing out of the enemy by stratagems.

 

Entering Enemy’s Fort by Stratagem

13/3/1: He should make a trustworthy chief of a band (ostensibly) desert him.

13/3/2: Finding shelter with the enemy, he should bring over helpmates and associates from his own country on the pretext of their being his own party.

13/3/3: Or, bringing about an influx of secret agents, he should, after securing the enemy’s consent, destroy a treasonable town of his master, or an army devoid of elephants and horses with treasonable officers, or a treasonable ally in the rear of his master, and should send word to the enemy.

13/3/4: Or, he should resort to a part of the country or a band of forest chiefs for obtaining help.

13/3/5: Winning the enemy’s confidence he should send word to his master.

13/3/6: Then the master, pretending an expedition for catching elephants or destruction of forest tribes, should attack secretly.

13/3/33: If the two were not to become estranged, he should quite openly bargain with each other’s land.

13/3/34: Then agents posing as friends or those in the pay of both should send messengers to one or the other, ‘This king wants to seize your land, being in league with the enemy.’

13/3/35: If one of them is filled with apprehension or anger, he should act as before.

13/3/40: Or, secret agents appearing as hunters, remaining at the gates for the sale of meat, and given him of the approach of robbers two or three times, then getting their master’s army stationed in two places, one for destroying a town and the other for a sudden assault, should say to the enemies, ‘A band of robbers is close by; there is a great din; let a large force come.’

13/3/41: Handing that over to the troops of their master meant for destroying the town and taking the other troops to the gates of the fort at night, they should say, ‘The band of robbers is killed; the troops, successful in the expedition, have come back; open the gate.’

13/3/42: Or, those secretly employed there beforehand should open the gates.

13/3/43: Along with them they should strike.

13/3/44: Or, he should station in the enemy’s fort soldiers disguised as artisans, artists, heretical monks, actors and traders.

13/3/45: Agents appearing as householders should bring to them weapons and armors in carts carrying wood grass, grains and other goods, or in flags and images of gods.

13/3/46: Then those disguised like them should carry out the slaughter of the unwary, the supporting of sudden assault, or a strike in the rear, or should announce by the sound of conches and drums, ‘The army of the enemy has come in.’

13/3/47: They should open rampart-gates and towers, divide the enemy’s divisions or destroy them.

13/3/48: The carrying over of troops into the enemy’s fort is to be along with those moving in caravans or groups, with escorts, with those accompanying brides, with dealers in horses, with carriers of implements, with sellers or purchasers of grains, with those bearing the marks of monks and with envoys; peace is to be made during the period for creating confidence.

13/3/49: These are secret agents for (outwitting) the king.

13/3/50: These same are agents for forest tribes, also those mentioned in ‘the suppression of criminals.

13/3/51: Secret agents should cause a herd of cattle or a caravan in the vicinity of a forest to be destroyed by robbers.

13/3/52: And making the food and drink placed there, in accordance with an agreement, mixed with a stupefying liquid, they should go away.

13/3/53: Then cowherds and traders should cause the robbers carrying loads of stolen goods to be attacked when the stupefying liquid is having its effects.

13/3/54: Or, an agent appearing as an ascetic with shaven head or with matted locks and posing as a devotee of god Samkarsana, should overreach (the forest robbers) by using a stupefying liquid after holding a festival.

13/3/55: Then he should make an attack.

13/3/56: Or, an agent appearing as a vintner should overreach foresters by using a stupefying liquid on the occasion of the sale or presentation of wine during festivities in honour of gods or funeral rites or festive gatherings.

13/3/57: Then he should make an attack.

13/3/58: Or, after scattering in many groups of the forest tribes that have come for plundering the town, he should destroy them. Thus secret agents for robbers have been described.

 

Seizure and Storming of Enemy’s Fort

i) Setting fire to the besieged fort

13/4/16: Secret agents, serving as guards inside the fort, should place a fire-mixture in the tails of ichneumons, monkeys, cats and dogs, and let them loose in stores of reeds, fortifications and houses.

13/4/17: Placing fire in the interior of dried fish or in dried meat, they should have it carried in through birds by offering it to crows.

 

(ii)-(ix): Other methods

13/4/41: Entering the fort under the pretext of seeing a friend or a kinsman, with sealed passes in hand, secret agents should get it seized by the besieger.

13/4/42: Or, one posing as a helpmate should send word to the besieged, ‘At such and such a place and at such and such time, I shall strike at the camp; you also must fight then.’

13/4/43: When he agrees, he should show the tumult of an attack as mentioned and destroy him as he sallies out of the fort at night.

13/4/44: Or, he should invite an ally or a forest chieftain, and incite him, ‘Fight against the besieged and seize his land.’

13/4/45: When he fights, he should get him slain through the subjects or by supporting his treasonable chiefs, or kill him himself with poison, achieving his object of implicating the enemy, ‘He is the slayer of his ally.’

13/4/46: Or, one posing as a friend should inform the enemy about the ally etc. wanting to attack.

13/4/47: Securing a position of trust, he should get his brave warriors slain.

13/4/48: Or, making peace with him, he should induce him to settle the country.

13/4/49: When settled, he should destroy his country.

13/4/50: Or, after causing an injury to be done and getting part of the enemy’s troops led against treasonable or forest troops, he should capture the fort by a sudden assault.

 

Pacification of the Conquered Territory

13/5/9: Secret agents should frequently point out the enemy’s misconduct to chiefs in the country, towns, castes and corporations, the master’s great good fortune and love for them, and the master’s great regard for them.

13/5/10: And he should make use of them by looking after their customary rights, exemptions and protection.

13/5/11: And he should cause the honouring of all deities and hermitages, and make grants of land, money and exemptions to men distinguished in learning, speech and piety, order the release of all prisoners and render help to the distressed, the helpless and the diseased.

13/5/12: (he should order) the stopping of slaughter for half a month in every four months, for four nights (and days) on the occasion of full moon nights, for one night (and day) on the days of the constellations of the king and the country.

13/5/13: He should prohibit the killing of females and young ones and the destruction of a male’s virility.

13/5/14: And discontinuing whatever custom he might regard as harmful to the treasury and the army, or as unrighteous, he should establish a righteous course of conduct.

13/5/15. And he should cause a change of residence, not in one place, of those in the habit of robbing and Mleccha communities, and of chiefs of forts, country and army.

13/5/16: And he should cause ministers, chaplains and others favoured by the enemy, to reside on the enemy’s frontiers, not in one place.

13/5/17: He should put down by silent punishment those capable of injuring or those brooding on the master’s destruction.

13/5/18: In the places of those removed, he should establish men from his own country or those in disfavour with the enemy.

13/5/19: And if any pretender from the (enemy’s) family be capable of seizing easily recoverable territory, or a nobleman staying in a frontier forest be capable of troubling him, he should give him worthless land or a forth part of valuable land, after fixing a tribute in treasury and army, such that while paying it he would rouse the citizens and country people to revolt.

13/5/20: He should get him killed through these, when they are roused.

13/5/21: He should remove one denounced by the subjects or station him in a dangerous region.

13/5/22: In the case of territory formerly possessed (and re-conquered), he should cover up that defect of the constituents because of which he had to leave and should strengthen that quality on the strength of which he has returned.

13/5/23: In case of inherited territory, he should cover up the father’s defects and display his virtues.

13/5/24: He should institute a righteous custom, not initiated before and continue one initiated by others; and he should not institute an unrighteous custom, and should stop any initiated by others.

 

 

 

 

PART-III

POLITICAL ECONOMY IN MANUSMṚTI

 

Chapter-9: Economic Concepts in Manusmṛti

 

The economic concepts embedded in Manusmṛti can be categorized in the following manner: Environment and Ecology

Women's Property Rights

Price Policy

Agriculture and Craft Industries

State Sector, Taxation and Fiscal Policy

Division of Labour

These topics are discussed below in detail.

 

Environment and Ecology

The ecological principles of Manusmṛti are based on the basic ideal of the Upaniṣadas, "Vasudhaiva kutumbakam”, i.e., all the beings of the entire universe belong to the same family. By means of defining cosmology, Manu here endeavors to spell out the basic sources of interrelationship among all beings in this universe. Manu describes how all the material (and perishable) things (living beings as well as lifeless matters) of the world have been originated from the same five elements or Pancha-bhutas [Kṣiti (earth), Ap (water), Teza (fire), Marut (air) and Byom (sky)].

Manu opines that all material things are transitory and get reduced to the basic elements. But only the creator is imperishable and permanent. All the material things are created and destroyed and this cycle of creation and destruction by the creator goes on for eternity.

In this way Manu goes in depth into the reason why we should try to conform to the harmony of the whole universe ordained by the creator. So, ecological awareness in Manu is not at all ad hoc and related to some limited self-preserving requirements of the human race. The specific guidelines prescribed by Manu on the basis of the above realization are discussed below.

Manu provides guidelines for harmonious living with the orderly universe. In this regard Manu prescribes various rites to get rid of the sin committed to nature and its universal ecology. Here he looks upon all these matters from moral and religious standards.

Besides these religious way of conforming with the ethical requirements of harmonious living, Manu also prescribes rules directly connected with day-to-day activities of different classes of people. But here Manu does not like to use coercive power of law or the state. He simply endeavours to make people behave properly and harmoniously by moral suasion and fear of being punished by the laws of the creator. These were likely to have a stronger and more sustainable effect than that achieved by legal restrictions – one may evade the eyes of law but not that of the creator. The most prestigious caste is the Brāhmaṇa and for him it is an urgent necessity (as others are to learn from him) to live by means which perpetrates the least possible harm to others. This may be exempted only when he is in distress.

Manu tries to prevent people from voiding urine in places other than the urinals (or any appropriate place specified for that purpose) by publicizing the warning that committing such a sin would lead to destruction of the miscreant.

Manu urges people not to pollute water by throwing polluting and noxious substances into it. He also provides guidelines to make people follow proper way of maintenance of cleanliness in the day-to-day household life.

Manu is keenly aware of the necessity of maintenance of bio-diversity as he considers that man and other living beings belong to the same family created by the supreme soul. To prevent unnecessary killing of animals, Manu opines that meat-eating should be restricted to only specific purposes. He mentions the specific occasions when meat eating could be permitted. He also suggests some alternative means to fulfill by simulation the strong desire for meat. Manu tries to dissuade people from destroying or inflicting harm on other living beings by means of generating fear of extra-mundane punishment. In those days this was a very effective method of preventing people from resorting to eco-destroying activities. Even today, religious prohibition to make people eschew harmful food items is more effective than hygienic advices. Manu describes the religious consequences of killing, destroying or injuring various types of living beings. This was intended to preserve bio-diversity.

Manu prescribes certain practical measures for maintenance of ecology of the villages, towns and other places of human habitation. Boundary of each village and town should be marked clearly by various trees and surrounding these tree-borders there should be adequate free spaces for pastureland. Tanks, wells, cisterns, and fountains should be built in between the boundaries of two adjacent habitations (village or town).

Manu realized that moral suasions and religious preaching may not be sufficient to prevent all people from doing eco-damaging mischief. So, sometimes it may be necessary to prevent them by legal and punitive measures by the state. Therefore, he mentions various degrees of punishments depending on the gravity of the offence. But he also makes provision of exemptions for persons in urgent necessity, aged men, pregnant women and children. They would, however, be orally reprimanded for committing the mischief and ordered to clean the place.

From the above discussion, it becomes clear that Manu’s approach towards preservation of environment and ecology was a holistic one, where he treated this as a part of the cosmic harmony.

 

Women's Property Rights

As regards women’s property rights, the statements in Manusmṛti appear to be contradictory. At one place Manu prescribes woman's property and at the other he declares that the women cannot have any property right. In fact, the latter statement about women’s property rights appears to be interpolation and forgery. We are going to give the reason of these insertions contrary to the spirits of ancient India.

Pertaining to women’s property rights let us first take up the prescriptions which conform to the norms practiced in ancient India. The basis of women’s property right in Manusmṛti is ‘strῑdhana’ (woman’s property). In various ślokas Manu describes the source and origin of woman’s property (fund necessary for her maintenance along with children, if any, in case of death or abandonment by husband), its specific characteristics under different forms of marriage, the procedure of its use and rules for its inheritance.

The source of strῑdhana is the donations and gifts by the groom and the family members of the bride at the time of marriage. This property would be inherited by her children even if she dies in the life time of her husband. In case she has no issue the husband would inherit the property if he is alive after her death only in case of the four pious marriages (brahma, daiva, arsa, prajapatya) or least blameworthy impious marriage, viz. gandharva marriages1. The property would, however, go to her relations in case of other impious marriages.

1. Marriages according to ancient Indian texts were of eight kinds – four pious marriages and four impious marriages: Pious marriages: Brāhma, Prājāpatya, Ārṣa, Daiva.

Impious Marriages: Gāndharva, Āsura, Rākṣasa, Paiśacha (see Arthaśāstra, III/2/2-6)

If a Brāhmaṇa has a wife of the same caste and other wives of lower castes, then the property given to the man to his Brāhmaṇa wife would be inherited by her children alone and not by that of the co-wives of lower castes. A mother shall obtain the inheritance of a son (who dies) without leaving issue, and, if the mother be dead, the paternal grandmother shall take the estate. Mother's property would be shared by the unmarried daughters alone during the life time of the former, but if she dies all the uterine sons and daughters would inherit it.

A woman may, however, lose the right over woman's property if she hates her husband but the husband should bear with for one year before depriving her of the property. In case of impious marriages, the bride should have no legal right over the ornaments received from her parents during her maiden life.

The husband should arrange for maintenance of the wife during his absence while he goes away for business or job away from home. In case the wife is not provided for she may subsist by blameless manual work. The last prescription is in conformity with the basic principle of Manusmṛti against prostitution and other blameworthy professions of women. The non-acceptability of and taboo against prostitution in Hindu societies originate from the principles of Manu. The general conservatism and aversion of Hindu females to adultery and other undignified activities have their origin in the moral lessons embedded in Manusmṛti. For this reason the text has come under the most vehement attack by a class of so called women-liberalists and their male sponsors.

 

Self-contradiction and Interpolation

 

Notwithstanding the above prescriptions pertaining to women's property rights, it is found in the available texts of Manusmṛti that Manu elsewhere strongly speaks against women's property rights. It is opined that woman should never have any property right or any independence. In childhood she would be under the control of her father, in youth of her husband and in old age of her son2.

 

2. Interpolations

8/416: A wife, a son, and a slave, these three are declared to have no property; the wealth which they earn is (acquired) for him to whom they belong.

9/2: Day and night, women must be kept in dependence by the males (of) their (families), and, if they attach themselves to sensual enjoyments, they must be kept under one’s control.

9/3: Her father protects (her) in childhood, her husband protects (her) in youth, and her sons protect (her) in old age; a woman is never fit for independence.

 

The apparent contradiction in Manusmṛti about women’s property rights may be resolved in the following manner. The available texts of Manusmṛti are based on manuscripts written in Devanagari script none of which written before the 13th century A. D. Evidences like other available śāstras, coins, stone carvings etc. testify to the fact that there was possibly no restriction on freedom of women till the 10th century A. D. However, since then foreign influence started corrupting Indian society and culture. Freedom of women existing in India since the Vedic times was contrary to the culture of the foreign invaders. So, many ancient Indian texts like Manusmṛti got corrupted through incorporation of ślokas conforming to the needs of the foreign invaders.

So it appears that the statements against women's property rights are but an interpolation during the middle ages to suit the requirements of those days. The contradiction arose because the manipulators overlooked and, therefore, failed to omit the earlier prescriptions championing women's freedom and property rights. In many other places, the text reveals similar contradictions indicating interpolations. Thorough revision and modification to suit the needs of the day would not have led to such paradoxical views. But the non-omissions of earlier statements have benefited us as we are able to learn what the original prescriptions by Manu were.

 

Price Policy

In Manusmṛti it is opined that the state, should fix the price of each commodity every five days or every fortnight by considering cost of production, other expenses, demand, supply etc. Manu also opines in this regard that weighing balance and weighing stones should be checked and approved by the government officials every six months.

Rules for wages

Manu mentions the specific wage rates and conditions of work for various types of work and classes of labourers (women, inferiors, children etc.). In certain cases the wages may be paid in kind. In certain cases, however, wages are to be determined by contract between the employer and the employee depending on the nature of the work. Violation of contract regarding work on either side is liable to be punished with fines. Manu also prescribes how the fees for a work performed jointly are to be shared among the participants.

Specific wage rules for different classes of workers as detailed in Manusmṛti:

i) For the women engaged in royal services and for the menials daily wages are to be paid according to position and work.

ii) To an inferior servant one paṇa, and for the superior servant, six paṇas should be given as daily wages and a pair of clothes every six months and a drona of paddy every month.

iii) A hired herdsman may be paid with milk of the best cow in case no money wages are paid to him. He would be responsible for any loss of domestic animal which is due to his negligence. He would have to make good the loss.

iv) A washerman should wash the clothes of his employers gently on a smooth board of Salmali wood and should make good any loss or damage to garments caused by him.

v) A weaver who has received ten palas of thread, should return cloth weighing one pala more; he who acts differently shall be compelled to pay a fine of twelve paṇas.

vi) Priests: If specific fees are ordained for the several parts of a rite, Adhvaryu priest shall take the chariot, and the Brāhmaṇa at the kindling of the fires a horse, the Hotri priest shall also take a horse, and the Udgatri the cart used when the Soma is purchased.

Punishment for breaking work contract

Manu prescribes various punishments for breaking work contracts. The punishment ranges from various amounts of fines considering the gravity of the offence and losses and hardship caused to the other party. Under certain circumstances the miscreant would be imprisoned or banished from his place of residence.

i) A hired workman who, without being ill, fails to perform his work according to the agreement should pay a fine of eight krisnalas and no wages shall be paid to him.

But if he is really ill, and performs his contracted work after recovery, he should receive his contracted wages even if the illness delays the work for a long time.

But if he does not perform his work completely after recovery from illness, he would not be entitled to receive the contracted wages or any part of it.

Law concerning men who break an agreement

i) He who has made a contract to carry goods by a wheeled carriage for money and has agreed to a certain place or time, shall not be entitled to receive the wages agreed upon if he does not keep to the place and the time stipulated.

ii) If an officiating priest, chosen to perform a sacrifice, abandons his work, a share only of the fee in proportion to the work done shall be given to him by those who work with him. But he who abandons his work after the sacrificial fees have been given, shall obtain his full share and cause to be performed what remains by another priest.

iii) If a man belonging to a corporation inhabiting a village or a district, after swearing to an agreement, breaks it through avarice the king would imprison him and compel him to pay six nisakas. .

Interest

Manu suggests an annual interest rate of 24% for the Brāhmaṇa s, 36% for the Kṣatriyas, 48% for the Vaiśya s, and 60% for the Śūdras.

It appears from the above that interest rate increases according to inferiority of caste. This discrimination on the basis of caste may be interpreted in the following manner.

First, if we assume that the data on interest rates existed in the original version of the text, the discrimination may be justified on the ground that at Manu’s time, caste was determined by the qualities of a person – Brāhmaṇa s possessing the highest sātvika attributes and Śūdras the lowest tāmasika attributes3.

The intensities of sātvika attributes decline and tāmasika qualities increase as we move from Brāhmaṇa downwards in the caste arrangement. Manu probably discourages spending (by borrowing) by Śūdras who were mainly guided by tāmasika qualities and are likely to misuse the loan-money. Brāhmaṇa s on the other hand, being guided mainly by sātvika attributes are likely to spend most judiciously. So, interest rate was highest for the Śūdras and lowest for the Brāhmaṇas.

If the loan is made against a pledge from which the lender earns profit, no interest can be charged on the loan. The pledge should be properly preserved and never used for any purpose without permission of its owner.

 

3. According to Sankhya Philosophy human consciousness is a part of material manifestation of Nature and it is the combination of three modes, viz. satva, rajas and tamas, endowed by Nature. All these basic modes combine in different degrees to assign different characteristics to different individuals. If isolated in the abstract, unmixed satva pertains to goodness and virtue, rajas to passion and insatiable desire and tamas to darkness of mind, obsession and inertia. All our mental and intellectual faculties originate from these three basic modes (Ballantyne 1885: I.61, I.125-27, I.141, II.27). Accordingly people may be classified broadly into three major categories:

(i) Tāmasika (dominated by ‘tamas mode); (ii) rājasika (dominated by 'rajas’ mode); and (iii) sātvika (dominated by ‘satva’ mode). Sātvika people are characterized by nobler qualities (like abstinence, self-sacrifice, love, philanthropy, mercy, self-confidence, diligence, and composure etc.) whereas rājasika and tāmasika people possess various combinations of baser qualities (like greed, envy, hatred, anger, selfishness, lust, idleness, cruelty, and pride etc.) (Basu 2005).

 

Manu imposes some restrictions on both the rate of interest and the maximum amount of interest that can be accrued. In case of loan in money, interest paid at one time (not by installments) shall never exceed the double of the principal; and in case of loan in kind it must not be more than five times the original amount. That means accrued interest would reach a saturation level if not collected in time. Manu also prohibits compound interest.

If a borrower is unable to repay the loan in time he may renew the loan with a new contract. In such a case the interest due would be added to the new loan capital.

Interest for a loan for a sea voyage would be fixed by an expert in calculating risk and expected profit from such voyage.

A guarantor of loan should repay the loan from his own property if the original borrower fails to repay in time, but in case of the non-availability of the guarantor (due to death or going away to a distance place etc.) his son would not be liable to repay the loan. A son would also not be responsible in any way for the loan of his father which is idly promised, lost due to drinking or gambling.

Contract of loan made by a person who is intoxicated, insane, or grievously disordered (by disease etc.), or wholly dependent and contract by an infant or very aged man, or by an unauthorized party would be considered as invalid. If the borrowed money is spent for the family, the family would be responsible for repaying if the original borrower is dead at the time of maturity. Borrowing on behalf of the family even by a wholly dependent member would be considered as valid.

The borrower, if belonging to the same or lower caste of the lender, may repay the loan by labour in case he is incapable of repaying in cash or kind, but if the borrower belongs to an upper caste he should only pay it gradually when capable in future.

Ferry charges

Manu specifies the ferry charges in rivers for different commodities, varying according to place, time and distance. However, for sea voyages, Manu does not specify freight charges which are to be determined by contract between the parties involved.

Restriction on the traders

Manu prescribes prohibitions on adulteration, sales of low quality or underweight commodities and other means of cheating the buyer. Manu also mentions the legal opportunity of buyers and sellers to change their decision after the transaction has taken place. Violators of rules pertaining to export of commodities are to be punished.

 

Agriculture and Craft Industries

There are no specific guidelines in Manusmṛti as regards agricultural pursuits. It only mentions various rites to be performed for successful agricultural operations. Manu considers that agriculture means violence to the mother earth, and therefore the profession of agriculture should not be undertaken by the two upper castes, viz., the Brāhmaṇa, and the Kṣatriya.

Manu opines that a Brāhmaṇa, or a Kṣatriya, living by a Vaiśya's mode of subsistence, shall carefully avoid the pursuit of agriculture which, according to Manu, causes injury to many beings visible and invisible.  

Contradicting the view that agriculture is an excellent means of subsistence, Manu opines that it is blamed by the virtuous because the wooden implement with iron point causes injuries to the earth and the beings living in the earth.

Manusmṛti has dealt very briefly with craft industries although they were important sources of livelihood of a large number of people in ancient India. Manu opines that a Śūdra, being unable to find service with the Brāhmaṇa and threatened with the loss of his sons and wife through hunger, may maintain himself by handicrafts. In case the Brāhmaṇa requires craft goods for their pleasure, it would be the duty of the Śūdra to get engaged in production of those craft goods.

 

 

 

State Sector, Taxation and Fiscal Policy

State sector

As regards the state sector we get very little information from Manusmṛti. Manu only mentions that the state should have monopoly over export of certain goods.

It may be that involvement of the state in economic activities was not favoured by Manu. But Manu prescribes various benevolent activities to be undertaken by the state and opines that the king should behave like a father to the subjects.

Taxation and Fiscal Policy

The basic principles of tax policy in ancient India are clearly defined in Manusmṛti. Taxes are to be so imposed that they should not result in disincentive for production and trading activities. At the same time, tax collection should be adequate to cover the expenses of the state. To this end taxes should be collected in small installments (as the leech sucks blood) so as not to cause any hardship or discontent on the part of the payee. All citizens should pay taxes according to their capabilities. Each poor people should pay a very small amount or he should provide one day's free labour per month as tax to the state. All villagers are to contribute, whatever they can, for the state. These, while collected together, may contribute considerably towards meeting expenses for the local bodies.

This implies that everybody in the state should be taxed mildly. Even the poor should pay some tax, whatever little the amount. This has many implications. First, too much burden should not fall on a few persons (which generates unpopularity of the tax and encourages tax evasion, resulting in revenue loss of the state and disincentives to save and invest). Secondly, tax payment generates involvement of the payee in state activities resulting in civic and political consciousness among all citizens.

Tax should be collected in conformity of Vedic norms and the king should see to it that Vedic principles are never compromised while collecting taxes. To this end the king should appoint efficient officials for tax collection. Moreover, he should employ honest officials for vigilance over the employees entrusted with the responsibility of tax collection.

The other relevant matters like rules of tax collection, tax rates on different commodities etc., are described below.

 

Basic rules of tax fixation

Taxes should be imposed so as to get the best possible result and they should not cause disincentive. While imposing taxes on the commodities traded by the merchants, consideration should be given not only to the total cost of the articles but also the daily essential living expenses of the merchants. Taxes should be so imposed as to achieve best possible results in terms of revenue of the state as well as work efficiency, i.e. a perfect balance is to be maintained between revenue collection of the government and the work incentives of the payees.

There should not be too little taxation as this will lead to inadequacy of revenue. On the other hand, too much taxation should also be avoided because that would generate disincentive and inclination to evade tax payment.

All aspects pertaining to the taxable commodities are to be considered before finalizing the tax rates. Manu specifies the tax and toll rates on various commodities varying from 2 percent to 17 percent of the value.

Manu also mentions the penalties for violation of tax rules. The miscreant would generally be fined eight times the amount he tries to evade.

From the above discussion it appears that most of the taxes prescribed by Manu were indirect taxes; the basic principle was that tax rates should not be too high or too low, they should not exert much pressure on anybody generating disincentive; taxes should be collected from everybody, whatever small be the amount. Emphasis was laid on efficient tax collection machinery and stringent punishment for tax evasion.

According to Manu the king should pursue a fiscal policy, which strikes a balance between fulfillment of short-term requirements and long term sustainability. He should in no case tax a Vedic scholar. He should not exempt taxes which are due and also should not collect more than what is due. The king himself should supervise daily the revenue collection and the progress of the projects undertaken.

 

Division of Labour

Division of labour has gained much importance in the modern era. Originally it started with the social division of labour, i.e., each person adopting a separate profession. It became necessary, as with the progress of productive activities of human society, it was not possible for a person to produce all the goods and services he requires. So, he works according to his capability, and with the income thus earned he purchases from others (through the market) all requisites for his livelihood. With the emergence of factory industries, division of labour has become more intense, as in an industrial establishment each person produces only a part of a complete article. In ancient India, division of labour was looked upon as a part of the harmony of the universe and something ordained by the creator. From this standpoint, division of labour was based on the caste (varṇa) system.

But at present the society has become more complicated and viewpoints regarding traditional castes have changed considerably. The nature of human activities, too have changed, multiplied and become more diverse and qualitatively different. Under these circumstances, it is almost impossible to revive the traditional caste system as such. The problem has become more complicated with the increase in the degree of intercourse with people of foreign countries as a consequence of the revolutionary changes in transport and communications in recent years. So, the question arises if the caste-based division of labour has any relevance for modern India at all. Here we may briefly mention that although the ancient system as such may not be appropriate for India today, the essence of the ancient system is likely to be of much significance. Let us now have a glimpse of the ancient system of caste-based division of labour as prescribed in Manusmṛti.

Manu opines that the creator has prescribed certain general tasks for the human race for different ages. But He has also assigned specific duties to specific classes of people. Manu subscribes to the Vedic norms to insist that Brāhmaṇas originated from the mouth, Kṣatriyas from the arms, Vaiśyas from the thighs, and Śūdras from the feet of the creator. So, they have different functions in all the ages.

Under normal situations, the functions of the four castes are the following. Under normal situations, duties of the Brāhmaṇas are associated with the study of the Vedas and performance of the religious rites; that of the Kṣatriyas are associated with war and defense of the country; that of the Vaiśyas are associated with trade and agriculture and that of the Śūdras to serve the three upper classes. These duties of the four castes, according to Manu, have been defined rigidly by the creator. He opines that in each succeeding creation, because of nature of activities being changed as a consequence of change in the complexities of human society, detailed nature of activities of each class changes, but in essence, they remain the same (at least in spirit) as originally ordained by the creator. That is, whatever be the outward form or name of specific activities, assigned activities of each class remains unchanged in terms of degree of virtue or sin.

Manu specifies six major functions of the Brāhmaṇa out of which only three (sacrificing for others, teaching and accepting gifts) are for his livelihood. He cannot earn means of livelihood from the other three, viz. studying and sacrificing for himself and making gifts.

Kṣatriyas and Vaiśyas are forbidden from three acts of the Brāhmaṇa, viz. teaching, sacrificing for others and acceptance of gifts.

Among the activities prescribed for the Kṣatriyas and the Vaiśyas, means of subsistence for Kṣatriyas is only military profession, and that for the Vaiśyas are agriculture, trade and animal husbandry.

Manu specifies the most important activity (among all the permissible activities) of each caste in the following manner. The most commendable activity of the Brāhmaṇa is teaching the Vedas, the Kṣatriya, protecting the people, the Vaiśya, trade and the Śūdra, serving the Brāhmaṇa.

Manu opines that if a person belonging to any caste relinquishes his assigned duties and adopts some forbidden duty, he will be degenerated, unless he is compelled to do so by unavoidable pressure of circumstances.

It appears that Manu considered division of labour according to castes to be hereditary.

Under financial stringency, and inability to subsist by his own proper activities, a Brāhmaṇa  may adopt a Kṣatriya's profession or even a Vaiśya’s profession. Similarly, a Kṣatriya in distress may adopt a Vaiśya’s profession.

But, even under financial crisis, a Brāhmaṇa or a Kṣatriya should avoid agricultural activities, and trade in certain articles as specified by Manu.

In financial distress, a Vaiśya may adopt a Śūdra’s profession, but not that of a Brāhmaṇa. A Śūdra may subsist by serving a Kṣatriya or a Vaiśya if he is unable to find adequate jobs to serve the Brāhmaṇas. Even if he does not find that, he may subsist by handicrafts and various arts which are likely to come to the service of the upper castes. But in no case he would be permitted to adopt the profession of higher castes. If any person, belonging to a lower caste, adopts the profession of a higher caste, he would be punished by the king.

Manu opines that a Śūdra cannot do anything that degrades him in caste as there is no lower caste than his in the Aryan hierarchy (the mixed castes below the Śūdra do not belong to the Aryan order). He is also forbidden to undertake various sacred rites meant for the upper castes.

Manu also prescribes for prohibition of wealth accumulation by a Śūdra, because Manu considers that with his vile mentality, a wealthy Śūdra is likely to cause trouble for the Brāhmaṇa or other upper castes.

The general conclusion from the above discussion is that division of labour according to Manu was based on heredity and rigidly defined caste system. Many opine that this was necessary to avoid chaos and to bring about harmonious and orderly progress of the society. According to Vedic principles, the essence of the caste was that division of the society into the four major castes should be on the basis of inherent qualities. It is quite natural that with the progress of society, number of castes went on multiplying, generating complications and chaos. So, it was no longer possible to determine castes solely on the basis of merits. In such a situation, the easiest way to determine castes was by birth. At the initial stage this did not create much problem as specific attributes are likely to be inherited to some extent and family atmosphere and training from the very childhood in the family was likely to make a person considerably efficient in his family profession.

 

References

Ballantyne, James R. (translator) (1885): Sankhya Aphorisms of Kapila, London, Trubner & Co., Ludgate Hill.

Basu, Ratan Lal (2005) “Why the Human Development Index Does not Measure up to Ancient Indian Standards” in The Culture Mandala (The Bulletin of the Center for East-West Cultural and Economic Studies, Bond University, Australia), Vol.6, No.2, January 2005. [http://www.international-relations.com].

Dasgupta, S. N. & Dey, S. K. (eds.) (1962): A History of Sanskrit Literature, Vol. I, University of Calcutta.

Max Müller, F. (ed.) (1888): Sacred Books of the East, Vol. XXV, Oxford Clarendon Press.

Sen, Satyendra Nath (1976): Manusmṛti, Chapter-VII (English translation), Vidyodaya series No.16, Calcutta, Chattopadhyaya Brothers.

 

 

Appendix

[All quotations below, except those from chapter-7, are from Max Muller, F. (ed.), 1886. Quotations from chapter -7 are from Satyendra Nath Sen, 1976. In quotations 8/1 means Chapter-8, Śloka-8].

Environment & Ecology

1/27: But with the minute perishable particles of the five (elements) which have been mentioned, this whole (world) is framed in due order.

1/38: Lightning, thunderbolts and clouds, imperfect (rohita) and perfect rainbows, falling meteors, supernatural noises, comets, and heavenly lights of many kinds.

1/39: (Horsed-faced) Kinnaras, monkeys, fishes, birds of many kinds, cattle, deer, men and carnivorous beasts with two rows of teeth.

1/40: Small and large worms and beetles, moths, lice, flies, bugs, all stinging and biting insects and the several kinds of immovable things.

1/46: All plants, propagated by seed or by slips, grow from shoots; annual plants (are those) which, bearing many flowers and fruits, perish after the ripening of their fruit.

1/47: (Those trees) which bear fruit without flowers are called Vanaspati (lords of the forest); but those which bear both flowers and fruits are called Vriksas.

1/48: But the various plants with many stalks, growing from one or several roots, the different kinds of grasses, the climbing plants and the creepers spring all from seed or from slips.

1/49: These (plants) which are surrounded by multiform Darkness, the result of their acts (in former existences), possess internal consciousness and experience pleasure and pain.

1/57: Thus he, the imperishable one, by (alternately) waking and slumbering, incessantly revivifies and destroys this whole movable and immovable (creation).

3/68: A householder has five slaughter-houses (as it were, viz.), the hearth, the grinding- stone, the broom, the pestle and mortar, and the water-vessel, by using which he is bound (with the fetters of sin).

3/69: In order to successively expiate (the offences committed by means) of these, the five-great sages have prescribed for householders a scheme of the daily (performance of the five) sacrifices.  In the upper storey let him offer a Bali to Sarvatmabhuti; but let him throw what remains (from these offerings) in a southerly direction for the manes.

3/88: Saying ‘(Adoration to the Maruts,’ he shall scatter (some food) near the door, and (some) in water, saying, (Adoration) to the water’, he shall throw (some) on the pestle and the mortar, speaking thus, ‘(Adoration) to the trees’.

3/91: Let him make Bali offering in the upper storey (or, beside house) unto ‘Sarvatmabhuti’, and then unto the (departed) fathers from what remains, towards the south.

3/92: Let him place on the ground (some food) for dogs, outcastes, Candalas (Svapak), those afflicted with diseases that are punishments for former sins, crows and insects.

3/93: That Brāhmaṇa who thus daily honours all beings, goes, endowed with a resplendent body, by a straight road to the highest dwelling-place (i.e. Brahman).

4/2: A Brāhmaṇa must seek a means of subsistence which either causes no, or at least little pain (to others), and live (by that) except in times of distress.

5/43: A twice-born man of virtuous disposition, whether he dwells in (his own) house, with a teacher, or in the forest, must never, even in times of distress, cause an injury (to any creature) which is not sanctioned by the Veda.

5/45: He who injures innoxious beings from a wish to (give) himself pleasure, never finds happiness, neither living nor dead.

5/46: He who does not seek to cause the sufferings of bonds and death to living creatures (but) desires the good of all (beings) obtains endless bliss.

4/238: Giving no pain to any creature, let him slowly accumulate spiritual merit, for the sake (of acquiring) a companion to the next world, just as the white ant (gradually raises its) hill.

4/52: The intellect of (a man) who voids urine against a fire, the sun, the moon, in water, against a Brāhmaṇa, a cow, or the wind, perishes.

4/56: Let him not throw urine or faeces into the water, nor saliva, nor (clothes) defiled by impure substances, nor any other (impurity), nor blood, nor poisonous things.

4/151: Far from his dwelling let him remove urine (and ordure), far (let him remove) the waters used for washing his feet, and far the remnants of food and the water from his bath.

5/34: After death the guilt of one who slays deer for gain is not as (great) as that of him who eats meat for no (sacred) purpose.

5/37: If he has a strong desire (for meat) he may make an animal of clarified butter or one of flour, (and eat that); but let him never seek to destroy an animal without a (lawful) reason.

5/41: On offering the honey-mixture (to a guest), at a sacrifice and at the rites in honour of the manes, but on these occasions only, may an animal be slain; that (rule) Manu proclaimed.

11/69: Killing a donkey, a horse, a camel, a deer, an elephant, a goat, a sheep, a fish, a snake, or a buffalo, must be known to degrade (the offender) to a mixed caste (Samkarikarana).

11/71: Killing insects, small or large, or birds, eating anything kept close to spirituous liquors, stealing fruit, firewood, or flowers, (are offences) which make impure (Malavaha).

8/237: On all sides of a village a space, one hundred dhanus or three samya-throws (in breadth), shall be reserved (for pasture), and thrice (that space) round a town.

8/246: Let him mark the boundaries (by) trees, (e.g.) Nyagrodhas, Asvatthas, Kimsukas, cotton-trees, Salas, Palmyra palms, and trees with milky juice.

8/247: By clustering shrubs, bamboos of different kinds, Samis, creepers and raised mounds, reeds, thickets of Kubjaka; thus the boundary will not be forgotten.

8/248: Tanks, wells, cisterns, and fountains should be built where boundaries meet, as well as temples.

9/281: But he who shall take away the water of a tank, made in ancient times, or shall cut off the supply of water, must be made to pay the first (or lowest) amercement.

9/282: But he who, except in a case of extreme necessity, drops filth on the king’s high-road, shall pay two Karsapaṇas and immediately remove (that) filth.

9/283: But a person in urgent necessity, an aged man, a pregnant woman, or a child, shall be reprimanded and clean the (place); that is a settled rule.

 

Women's Property Rights

 

9/194: What (was given) before the (nuptial) fire, what (was given) on the bridal procession, what was given in token of love, and what was received from her brothers, mother, or father, that is called the six-fold property of a woman.

9/195: (Such property), as well as a gift subsequent and what was given (to her) by her affectionate husband, shall go to her offspring, (even) if she dies in the lifetime of her husband.

9/196: It is ordained that the property (of a woman married) according to the Brahma, the Daiva, the Arsa, the Gandharva, or the Prajapatya rite (shall belong to) her husband alone, if she dies without issue.

9/197: But it is prescribed that the property which may have been given to a [wife] on an Asura marriage or (one of the) other (blamable marriages, shall go) to her mother and to her father, if she dies without issue.

9/198: Whatever property may have been given by her father to a wife (who has co-wives of different castes), that the daughter of the Brahmani (wife) shall take, or that (daughter’s) issue.

9/200: The ornaments, which may have been worn by women during their husbands’ lifetime, his heirs shall not divide; those who divide them become outcastes.

9/217: A mother shall obtain the inheritance of a son (who dies) without leaving issue, and, if the mother be dead, the paternal grandmother shall take the estate.

9/131: But whatever may be the separate property of the mother, that is the share of the unmarried daughters alone.

9/192: But when the mother has died, all the uterine brothers and the uterine sisters shall equally divide the mother’s estate.

9/77: For one year let a husband bear with a wife who hates him; but after [the lapse of] a year let him deprive her of her property and cease to cohabit with her.

9/92: A maiden who chooses for herself, shall not take with her any ornaments, given by her father or her mother, or her brothers; if she carries them away, it will be theft.

9/74: A man who has business (abroad) may depart after securing a maintenance for his wife; for a wife, even though virtuous, maybe corrupted if she be distressed by want of subsistence.

9/75: If (the husband) went on a journey after providing (for her), the wife shall subject herself to restraints in her daily life; but if he departed without providing (for her), she may subsist by blameless manual work.

Interpolations

8/416: A wife, a son, and a slave, these three are declared to have no property; the wealth which they earn is (acquired) for him to whom they belong.

9/2: Day and night, women must be kept in dependence by the males (of) their (families), and, if they attach themselves to sensual enjoyments, they must be kept under one’s control.

9/3: Her father protects (her) in childhood, her husband protects (her) in youth, and her sons protect (her) in old age; a woman is never fit for independence.

 

Price Policy

8/401: Let (the king) fix (the rates for) the purchase and sell of all marketable goods, having (duly) considered whence they come, whither they go, how long they have been kept, the (probable) profit and the (probable) outlay.

8/402: Once in five nights, or at the close of each fortnight, let the king publicly settle the prices for the (merchants).

8/403: All weights and measures must be duly marked, and once in six months let him re-examine them.

Rules for wages

7/125: For the women engaged in royal services and for the menials, he should fix (and pay them) daily wages according to position and work.

7/126: To an inferior (i.e., menial) servant one paṇa should be given as the wages (per diem) and  pair of clothes every six months and a drona of paddy every month. To a superior servant six paṇas are to be given. (N.B. other conditions too, are to be altered accordingly).

8/231: A hired herdsman who is paid with milk, may milk with the consent of the owner the best (cow) out of ten; such shall be his hire if no (other) wages (are paid).

8/232: The herdsman alone shall make good (the loss of a beast) strayed, destroyed by worms, killed by dogs or (by falling) into a pit, if he did not duly exert himself (to prevent it).

8/396: A washerman shall wash (the clothes of his employers) gently on a smooth board of Salmali wood; he shall not return the clothes (of one person) for those (of another), nor allow anybody (but the owner) to wear them.

8/397: A weaver (who has received) ten palas (of thread), shall return (cloth weighing) one pala more; he who acts differently shall be compelled to pay a fine of twelve (paṇas).

Priests

8/206. If an officiating priest, chosen to perform a sacrifice, abandons his work, a share only (of the fee) in proportion to the work (done) shall be given to him by those who work with him.

8/207. But he who abandons his work after the sacrificial fees have been given, shall obtain his full share and cause to be performed (what remains) by another (priest).

8/208: But if (specific) fees are ordained for the several parts of a rite, shall he) who performs the part) receive them, or shall they all share them?

8/209: The Adhvaryu priest shall take the chariot, and the Brāhmaṇa at the kindling of the fires (Agnyadhana) a horse, the Hotri priest shall also take a horse, and the Udgatri the cart, (used) when (the Soma) is purchased.

8/210: The (four) Chief priests among all (the sixteen), who are entitled to one half, shall receive a moiety (of the fee), the next (four]) one half of that, the set entitled to a third share, one third, and those entitled to a fourth a quarter.

8/211: By the application of these principles the allotment of shares must be made among those men who here [below] perform their work conjointly.

Punishment for breaking work agreement

8/215: A hired (servant or workman) who, without being ill, out of pride fails to perform his work according to the agreement, shall be fined eight Krisnalas and no wages shall be paid to him.

8/216: But (if he is really) ill, (and) after recovery performs (his work) according to the original agreement, he shall receive his wages even after (the lapse of) a very long time.

8/217: But if he, whether sick or well, does not (perform or) cause to be performed [by others] his work according to his agreement, the wages for that work shall not be given to him, even (if it be only) slightly incomplete.

8/218: Thus the law for the non-payment of wages has been completely stated; I will next explain the law concerning men who break an agreement.

8/156: He who has made a contract to carry goods by a wheeled carriage for money and has agreed to a certain place or time, shall not reap that reward, if he does not keep to the place and the time (stipulated).

8/206: If an officiating priest, chosen to perform a sacrifice, abandons his work, a share only (of the fee) in proportion to the work (done) shall be given to him by those who work with him.

8/207: But he who abandons his work after the sacrificial fees have been given, shall obtain his full share and cause to be performed [what remains] by another [priest].

8/219: If a man belonging to a corporation inhabiting a village or a district, after swearing to an agreement, breaks it through avarice, (the king) shall banish him from his realm.

8/220: And having imprisoned such a breaker of an agreement, he shall compel him to pay six nisakas, (each of four Suvarṇa s, and one Satamana of silver.

8/221: A righteous king shall apply this law of fines in villages and castes (jati) to those who break an agreement.

Ferry charges

8/404: At a ferry an (empty) cart shall be made to pay one paṇa, a man’s (load) half a paṇa, an animal and a woman one quarter of a (paṇa), an unloaded man one-half of a quarter.

8/406: For a long passage the boat-hire must be proportioned to the places and times; know that this (rule refers) to (passages along) the banks of rivers; at sea there is no settled (freight).

8/203: One commodity mixed with another must not be sold (as pure), nor a bad one (as good), nor less (than the proper quantity or weight), nor anything that is not at hand or that is concealed.

8/222: If anybody in this (world) after buying or selling anything, repent (of his bargain), he may return or take (back) that chattel within ten days.

Interest

8/141: Or, remembering the duty of good men, he may take two in the hundred [by the month], for he who takes two in the hundred becomes not a sinner for gain.

8/142: Just two in the hundred, three, four, and five (and not more), he may take as monthly interest according to the order of the castes (varna).

8/144: A pledge (to be kept only) must not be used by force, (the creditor), so using it, shall give up his (whole) interest, or, (if it has been spoilt by use) he shall satisfy the (owner) by (paying its) original price; else he commits a theft of the pledge.

Interest

8/151: In money transactions interest paid at one time (not by installments) shall never exceed the double (of the principal); on grain, fruit, wool or hair, (and) beasts of burden it must not be more than five times (the original amount).

8/152: Stipulated interest beyond the legal rate, being against (the law), cannot be recovered; they call that a usurious way (of lending); (the lender) is (in no case) entitled to (more than) five in the hundred.

8/153: Let him not take interest, beyond the year, not such as is unapproved, nor compound interest, periodic interest, stipulated interest and corporal interest.

8/154: He who, unable to pay a debt (at the fixed time), wishes to make a new contract, may renew the agreement, after paying the interest which is due.

8/155: If he cannot pay the money (due as interest), he may insert it in the renewed (agreement); he must pay as much interest as may be due.

8/157: Whatever rate men fix, who are expert in sea-voyages and able to calculate (the profit) according to the place, the time, and the objects (carried), that (has legal force) in such cases with respect to the payment (to be made).

8/158: The man who becomes a surety in this (world) for the appearance of a (debtor), and produces him not, shall pay the debt out of his own property.

8/159: But money due by a surety, or idly promised, or lost at play, or due for spirituous liquor, or what remains unpaid of a fine and a tax or duty, the son (of the party owing it) shall not be obliged to pay.

8/163: A contract made by a person intoxicated, or insane, or grievously disordered (by disease and so forth), or wholly dependent, by an infant or very aged man, or by an unauthorized (party) is invalid.

8/166: If the debtor be dead and (the money borrowed) was expended for the family, it must be paid by the relatives out of their own estate even if they are divided.

8/167: Should even a person wholly dependent make a contract for the behoof of the family, the master (of the house), whether (living) in his own country or abroad, shall not rescind it.

8/177: Even by (personal) labour shall the debtor make good (what he owes) to his creditor, if he be of the same caste or of a lower one; but a (debtor) of a higher caste shall pay it gradually (when he earns something).

Agriculture

4/26. When the old grain has been consumed the (Agrayana) Ishti with new grain, at the end of the (three) seasons the (Katurmasya) sacrifices, at the solstices an animal (sacrifice), at the end of the year Soma-offerings.

4/27. A Brāhmaṇa, who keeps sacred fires, shall, if he desires to live long, not eat new grain or meat, without having offered the (Agrayana) Ishti with new grain and an animal- (sacrifice).

4/28. For his fires, not being worshipped by offerings of new grain and of an animal, seek to devour his vital spirits, (because they are) greedy for new grain and flesh.

10/83. But a Brāhmaṇa, or a Kṣatriya, living by a Vaiśya's mode of subsistence, shall carefully avoid (the pursuit of) agriculture, (which causes) injury to many beings and depends on others.

10/84. (Some) declare that agriculture is something excellent, (but) that means of subsistence is blamed by the virtuous; (for) the wooden (implement) with iron point injuries the earth and (the beings) living in the earth.

Craft Industries

10/99: But a Śūdra, being unable to find service with the twice-born and threatened with the loss of his sons and wife through hunger), may maintain himself by handicrafts.

10/100: (Let him follow) those mechanical occupations and those various practical arts by following which the twice-born are (best) served.

 

State Sector, Taxation and Fiscal Policy

State sector

8/399: Let the king confiscate the whole property of (a trader) who out of greed exports goods of which the king has a monopoly or (the export of which is) forbidden.

7/80: He should collect annual rent from his kingdom through officers. In all worldly matters he should stick to the Vedas and should behave towards the people as father.

8/172: By taking his due, by preventing the confusion of the castes (varna), and by protecting the weak, the power of the king grows, and he prospers in this (world) and after death.

8/28: In like manner care must be taken of barren women, of those who have no sons, of those whose family is extinct, of wives and widows faithful to their lords, and of women afflicted with diseases.

8/407: But a woman who has been pregnant two months or more, an ascetic, a hermit in the forest, and Brāhmaṇa who are students of the Veda, shall not be made to pay toll at a ferry.

Taxation and fiscal policy

7/128: The king should fix taxes in his kingdom after such consideration that he himself and the workers (traders, cultivators, etc.) achieve adequate results.

7/129: As the leech, the calf and the bee take their food little by little, so should the king draw from his realm revenue on a small scale.

7/137: The king should make the ordinary men living on (small) trades in his kingdom, pay something, however small, annually in the shape of tax.

7/138: He should have his work done for one day every month by artisans, mechanics and Śūdras who subsist by bodily labour.

7/118: The articles of food, drink and fuel, which are to be given unto the king daily by the villagers, the chief of the village should obtain (for his livelihood).

7/80: Let him cause the annual revenue in his kingdom to be collected by trusty (officials), let him obey the sacred law in (his transactions with) the people, and behave like a father towards all men.

7/81: He should appoint expert supervisors in every department and they should supervise the works of his officers.

7/122: He (the superintendent) should (if required) personally (with his forces) attend all these (chiefs), (and the king) should acquaint himself with the conduct of all these officers in the kingdom through spies in particular places.

7/127: After having considered the cost of purchase, the sale price, the cost of conveyance, the cost of food together with necessaries, the cost of insurance and the net profit, he should make the merchants pay taxes.

7/128: After (due) consideration the king shall always fix in his realm the duties and taxes in such a manner that both he himself and the man who does the work receive (their due) reward.

7/139: He should not destroy his own root (by total remission of rent) nor that of others (i.e., the subjects) by an inordinate thirst. By destroying his own roots he afflicts himself, and (by destroying the root of others) he afflicts others.

8/401: Let (the king) fix (the rates for) the purchase and sell of all marketable goods, having (duly) considered whence they come, whither they go, how long they have been kept, the (probable) profit and the (probable) outlay.

7/130: Of cattle and gold (as profit) the king should get one-fiftieth part. Of crops, he should have the sixth, the eighth or the twelfth.

7/131: But he should have one sixth of (the profit derived from) trees, meat, honey, clarified butter, perfumes (medicinal), herbs, flavoring articles, flower, roots, fruits.

7/132: Leaves, vegetables, grass, things made of bamboo, skin, earthen articles and all articles made of stone.

8/400: He who avoids a custom house (or a toll), he who buys or sells at an improper time, or he who makes a false statement in enumerating (his goods), shall be fined eight times (the amount of duty) which he tried to evade.

7/133: A king even though dying (for want of money) should not realize revenue from a Vedic scholar; and no Vedic scholar living in his kingdom should be (suffered to be) embarrassed with hunger.

8/170: No king, however indigent, shall take anything that ought not to be taken, nor shall he, however wealthy, decline taking that which he ought to take, be it ever so small.

8/171: In consequence of his taking what ought not to be taken, or of his refusing what ought to be received, a king will be accused of weakness and perish in this (world) and after death.

8/419: Let him daily look after the completion of undertakings, his beasts of burden, and carriages, (the collection of) his revenues and the disbursements, his mines and his treasury.

 

Division of Labour

 

1/86: In the Kṛta age the chief (virtue) is declared to be (the performance of) austerities, in the Treta divine knowledge, in the Dvapara (the performance of) sacrifices, in the Kali liberality alone.

1/87: But in order to protect his universe He, the most resplendent one, assigned separate (duties and) occupations to those who sprang from his mouth, arms, thighs, and feet.

1/102: In order to clearly settle his duties and those of the other (castes) according to their order, wise Manu sprung from the Self-existent, composed these Institutes (of the Sacred Law).

1/88: To Brāhmaṇas he assigned teaching and studying (the Veda), sacrificing for their own benefit and for others, giving and accepting (of alms).

1/89: The Kṣatriyas he commanded to protect the people, to bestow gifts, to offer sacrifices, to study (the Veda), and to abstain from attaching himself to sensual pleasures.

1/90: The Vaiśya to tend cattle, to bestow gifts, to offer sacrifices, to study [the Veda], to trade, to lend money, and to cultivate land.

8/410: (The king) should order a Vaiśya to trade, to lend money, to cultivate the land, or to tend cattle, and a Śūdra to serve the twice-born class.

1/91: One occupation only the lord prescribed to the Śūdra, to serve meekly even these (other) three castes.

9/334: But to serve Brāhmaṇas (who are) learned in the Vedas, householders, and famous (for virtue) is the highest duty of a Śūdra, which leads to beatitude.

10/97: It is better (to discharge) one’s own (appointed) duty incompletely than to perform completely that of another; for he who lives according to the law of another (caste) is instantly excluded from his own.

1/30: As at the change of the seasons each season of its own accord assumes its distinctive marks, even so corporeal beings (resume in new births) their (appointed) course of action.

1/28: But to whatever course of action Lord at first appointed each (kind of beings), that alone it has spontaneously adopted in each succeeding creation.

1/29: Whatever he assigned to each at the (first) creation, noxiousness or harmlessness, gentleness or ferocity, virtue or sin, truth or falsehood, that clung (afterwards) spontaneously to it.

10/75: Teaching, studying, sacrificing for himself, sacrificing for others, making gifts and receiving them are the six acts (prescribed) for a Brāhmaṇa.

10/76: But among the six acts (ordained) for him three are his means of subsistence, (viz.) sacrificing for others, teaching, and accepting gifts from pure men.

10/77: (Passing) from the Brāhmaṇas to the Kṣatriya, three acts (incumbent on the former) are forbidden, (viz.) teaching, sacrificing for others, and, thirdly, the acceptance of gifts.

10/78: The same are likewise forbidden to a Vaiśya, that is a settled rule; to Manu, the lord of the creatures (Prajapati), has not prescribed for (men of) those two (castes).

10/79: To carry arms for striking and for throwing (is prescribed) for Kṣatriyas as a means of subsistence; to trade, (to rear) cattle, and agriculture for Vaiśyas; but their duties are liberality, the study of the Veda, and the performance of sacrifices.

10/80: Among the several occupations the most commendable are teaching the Veda for a Brāhmaṇa, protecting (the people) for a Kṣatriyas, and trade for a Vaiśya.

10/123: The service of Brāhmaṇas alone is declared (to be) an excellent occupation for a Śūdra; for whatever else besides this he may perform will bear him no fruit.

12/70: But (men of the four) castes who have relinquished without the pressure of necessity their proper occupation, will become the servants of Dasyus, after migrating into despicable bodies.

10/5: In all castes (varna) those (children) only which are begotten in the direct order on wedded wives, equal (in castes and married as) virgins, are to be considered as belonging to the same caste (as their fathers).

10/6: Sons, begotten by twice-born men on wives of the next lower castes, they declare to be similar (to their fathers, but) blamed on account of the fault (inherent) in their mothers.

10/81: But a Brāhmaṇa, unable to subsist by his peculiar occupations just mentioned, may live according to the law applicable to Kṣatriyas, for the latter is next to him in rank.

10/82: If it be asked, ‘How shall it be, if he cannot maintain himself by either (of these occupations?’ the answer is), he may adopt a Vaiśya’s mode of life, employing himself in agriculture and rearing cattle.

10/83: But a Brāhmaṇa, or a Kṣatriyas, living by a Vaiśya’s mode of subsistence, shall carefully avoid (the pursuit of) agriculture, (which causes) injury to many beings and depends on others.

10/84: (Some) declare that agriculture is something excellent, (but) that means of subsistence is blamed by the virtuous; (for) the wooden (implement) with iron point injures the earth and (the beings) living in the earth.

10/85: But he who, through a want of means of subsistence, gives up the strictness with respect to his duties, may sell, in order to increase his wealth, the commodities sold by Vaiśyas, making (however) the (following) exceptions.

10/86: He must avoid (selling) condiments of all sorts, cooked food and sesamum, stones, salt, cattle, and human (beings).

10/87: All dyed cloth, as well as cloth made of hemp, or flax, or wool, even though they be not dyed, fruit, roots, and (medical) herbs.

10/88: Water, weapons, poison, meat, Soma, and perfumes of all kinds, fresh milk, honey, sour milk, clarified butter, oil, wax, sugar, Kusa-grass.

10/89: All beasts of the forest, animals with fangs or tusks, birds, spirituous liquor, indigo, lac, and all one-hoofed beasts.

10/90: But he who subsists by agriculture, may at pleasure sell unmixed sesamum grains for sacred purposes, provided he himself has grown them and has not kept them long.

10/98: A Vaiśya who is unable to subsist by his own duties, may even maintain himself by a Śūdra’s mode of life, avoiding (however) acts forbidden (to him), and he should give it up, when he is able (to do so).

10/121: If a Śūdra, (unable to subsist by serving Brāhmaṇas) seeks livelihood, he may serve Kṣatriyas, or he may also seek to maintain himself by attending on a wealthy Vaiśya.

10/96: A man of low caste who through covetousness lives by the occupations of a higher one, the king shall deprive him of his property and banish.

10/126: A Śūdra cannot commit an offence, causing loss of caste (pataka), and he is not worthy to receive the sacraments; he has no right to (fulfill) the sacred law (of the Aryans, yet) there is no prohibition against (his fulfilling certain portions of) the law.

10/129: No collection of wealth must be made by a Śūdra, even though he be able [to do it]; for a Śūdra who has acquired wealth, gives pain to Brāhmaṇa.   

 

 

  

 

Chapter-10: Political Concepts in Manusmṛti

 

Introduction

Ancient Indian texts entrusted the king with the task of maintaining order and rule of ‘Dharma’ in society. The king as the supreme ruler should have appropriate qualities to rule, regulate and maintain harmony and order, and to accomplish this, punish the miscreants with the help of the rod of punishment (daṇḍa).  If the ruler is perfect, there would be peace, harmony and prosperity in the kingdom. An incompetent or corrupt king, on the other hand, would bring about disorder and destruction of himself, his kingdom and the subjects. So it was an urgent necessity to train the king in a proper way from his very childhood.

Manusmṛti in conformity with Vedic principles prescribe procedures to make a proper ruler. The question arises if we can get any guidelines from these texts for solving problems of India today. One of the most serious problems in India since independence is the prevalence of incompetent and corrupt politicians in all the political parties aspiring to rule at various levels of government (centre, states, local bodies etc.). Are the procedures for making a good king as prescribed in the ancient texts of any use in solving these problems of modern India? In this regard we should point out that these were but cherished norms and in the real world very few kings could measure up to these standards.

But if people in the democratic India to-day become aware of these norms and go on insisting on implementation of these norms (after suitable modifications) in connection with the political personages associated with the democratic government, we may gradually move towards a condition where democracy would become more meaningful. Let us first discuss the methods prescribed for this purpose in Manusmṛti in this regard. We discuss below the following political concepts as delineated in Manusmṛti:

Qualities of the Ideal King

Daily Routine of an Ideal King

The Daṇḍanῑti

 

 

Qualities of the Ideal King

According to Manusmṛti, to be a good ruler, the king should regulate his lifestyle in a proper way. Then only he would have the right and power to rule the country and apply the rod of punishment to the miscreants. He should be intelligent, free from vices, cultured, upright, should have self-control, should respect the elders and the Brāhmaṇas, should have proper education (of the Vedas, politics, history, agriculture, spiritual science etc.) and he should protect his subjects with zeal.

Manu emphasizes that the king should be intelligent, free from addiction to sensuous objects, cultured, true to his promise, backed by friends and should adhere to the sacred texts. He opines that the daṇḍa cannot be rightly administered by a king who is without friends and is foolish, greedy, uncultured and addicted to sensuous objects. The daṇḍa could be administered in perfect manner only by a king who is pure in financial matters, never fails to keep his promise, having intelligence to make appropriate decisions and he always adheres to the sātvika path. Moreover he should also have honest and intelligent friends to advise and assist him in various matters.

The king should be upright in conduct in his own kingdom, ready to punish enemies, sincere to friends and forgiving towards the Brāhmaṇas. Manu emphasizes that the fame of a king possessing the above attributes spreads in the world, like a drop of oil on water.

On the other hand, Manu insists, if a king fails to obtain the above qualities, he not only fails to acquire new fame but also his already acquired fame if any fades away.

One of the most desired qualities of an ideal king according to Manu is that he should show due honour and respect to the Brāhmaṇas and the elders. He should also seek advice from the elderly Brāhmaṇas as regards knowledge necessary for discharging his duties as a king properly.

Manu stresses the importance of self-control for the king and cites examples of past kings ruined for lack of self-control and also those who prospered by virtue of the attribute of self-control. Manu opines that a king with self-control does not perish. He mentions many kings who in spite of being provided with resources perished because of lack of self –control. For Example, Vena, Nahusha, Sudah, son of Pijavana, Sumukha and Nimi.

On the other hand, many kings without resources could make great achievements through self-control. For example Manu and Prithu got their kingdoms by means of self-control. Through   self-control, Kubera attained mastery over wealth, and Vishwamitra was raised to the status of Brāhmaṇa from a Kṣatriya by birth.

According to Manu the ideal king should have proper educational training in Vedas, politics, logic, spiritual sciences and economic pursuits like agriculture.

In most of the cases uncontrolled senses lead a person to commit sins. So the king should give utmost attention to control the senses. He should also be careful about controlling the vices generating from greed, desire and anger. The king should devote his attention day and night to the conquering of the senses. For a king, with his senses controlled, is able to keep his subjects under subjugation. The king should, Manu insists, carefully shun the ten vices springing from desire and the eight vices springing from anger all of which end in misery. The king should carefully conquer greed which sages regard as the root of both desire and anger. In fact, Manu emphasizes that desire springs from greed and failure to fulfill lofty desire leads to anger.

The qualities mentioned above are essential for a king. Having armed with these qualities the king should protect his subjects with zeal as it is the basic duty of a Kṣatriya.

The king, for his proper guidance and training, should select an appropriate Brāhmaṇa as the priest of his family. So the responsibility of keeping the king on the path of virtue is to be entrusted with the Brāhmaṇa priest. Manu insists that with the erudite Brāhmaṇa as his chaplain, the king should discuss the most important and confidential affairs connected with the six measures of royal policy. With full confidence the king should entrust all affairs to the chaplain and the king should commence work after fully discussing it with the chaplain.

 

Daily Routine of an Ideal King

The maintenance and preservation of the proper qualities of the king to discharge his duties in a proper way requires a disciplined lifestyle. Various duties related to the administration of the country are to be arranged in a harmonious and orderly fashion and each duty performed at proper time. He is to rise early and perform morning rituals. Then in the Assembly hall he is to meet the subjects and listen to their problems and grievances carefully. Thereafter he is to deliberate privately with his ministers. Then he is to undergo physical exercise, bathing and midday meal. Relaxing with wives after meal the king is to inspect troops and armaments. After evening ceremony he is to consult with the spies, then take his evening meal and go to sleep being exhilarated by sounds of music. Unlike Kauṭilya, Manu does not specify any time period for each act.

These prescriptions pertaining to the daily routine of the ideal king is given below.

 

i) Having risen in the last hour of the night and having performed the acts of purgation, having offered sacrifices into the fire and having worshipped the Brāhmaṇas, the king should with a controlled mind enter the Assembly-hall possessed of auspicious signs.

ii) Seated in the Assembly hall the king should receive and then dismiss all the subjects, and having dismissed all the subjects, he should deliberate with his ministers. This should be done without being observed by others. For this the king should choose the surface of a hill, a private room or a lonely forest.

iii) Having thus deliberated on all these matters with his ministers, the king should take physical exercise. Thereafter he should take mid-day bath and enter the harem in order to have his meal.

iv) Having eaten his meal, the king should spend his time in the harem in company with his wives, and thereafter he should once again resume thinking about the affairs of the state.

v) Leaving the harem in proper time and adorned with his robes, the king should then inspect the troops as well as the conveyances, arms and weapons. He should continue this inspection till evening.

vi) After having performed the evening ceremony, the king should enter into the interior of another room, and there, properly armed, he should hear the reports of the secret spies, and then having dismissed them and being surrounded by females, he should enter the inner apartment to take his meal again.

vii) Then being exhilarated by the sounds of music, he, after having taken some food, should retire for sleep and get up refreshed at the proper time.

The king should follow this routine only when is in good health. However, when indisposed he should entrust all these responsibilities to trusted officials.

From the above discussion it is seen that the king had to be engaged in activities pertaining to the administration of the kingdom most of the time. Only for a brief time period, he would take his meals, meet calls of nature and spend time with wives in the harem. After the end of the day’s engagements he would retire for sleep only for a few hours and get up next morning to enter into another busy day.

 

The Daṇḍanῑti

Ancient Indian texts entrusted the king with the task of maintaining order and rule of Dharma in society. The power of the king to rule, regulate and maintain harmony and order, and to accomplish this, punish the miscreants, is called daṇḍa which is assigned a sacred place. Proper use of the daṇḍa would bring about peace, harmony and prosperity. Misuse, on the other hand, would bring about disorder and destruction of the king himself, his kingdom and the subjects. In ancient Indian texts, unlike in Europe, the king is not endowed with any divine connotation, but the abstract daṇḍa is assigned divinity. This view regarding the power of the daṇḍa is reflected in Manusmṛti, Arthaśāstra, and all other major ancient Indian śāstras.

According to Manu, the daṇḍa has been created by god for the benefit and regulation of the lives of human beings. In fact, it has the power to control all the living beings. This impersonal rod is the real king.

Manu subscribes to the ancient Indian view that the king is just an instrument to exercise the principles of daṇḍa. But he will have to apply it in a proper way. Improper application of the rod may lead to chaos and disaster to the king, his kingdom and the subjects.

Power of the daṇḍa enables the king to discharge his duties, without hindrance, pertaining to the pursuit of philosophy, the three Vedas and economic activities essential for prosperity of the country. Successful administration of the science of politics is rooted in the power of the king to wield the daṇḍa. This power pertaining to the daṇḍa enables the king to have the acquisition of things not possessed, the preservation of things possessed, the augmentation of things preserved and the bestowal of things augmented on a worthy recipient.

Philosophy, Vedas and economics have their roots in daṇḍa and the orderly maintenance of worldly life depends on proper administration of daṇḍa. Manu emphasizes that the king should be neither too harsh nor too mild about the application of the daṇḍa. If the king administers the daṇḍa with harshness, it becomes a source of terror to the subjects and all others resulting in disorder and chaos. On the other hand, if he is mild with the daṇḍa, he turns out to be a weak and incompetent king and subject to contempt by the subjects. The king is honoured only if the daṇḍa is administered in proper manner and maintaining perfect balance.

Benefits of proper administration of the daṇḍa

Manu subscribes to the view that if the daṇḍa is administered in the justifiable manner, it would endow the subjects of the country with spiritual good, material well-being and pleasure of the senses. Here daṇḍa protects the subjects in justifiable manner. Under this situation, the people of the four castes and in the four stages of life (brahmacharya, gṛhastha, vanaprastha and sannyasa), are all protected by the king with the daṇḍa and thus they are capable of disseminating their respective duties peacefully and without deviation from the proper paths. Administration of the daṇḍa when rooted in self-discipline of the wielder brings security and well-being to all living beings.

Adverse consequences of misuse of daṇḍa

Improper administration of the daṇḍa out of unsound psychosis of the ruler resulting from passion, anger or contempt would result in chaos, confusion and unrest against the ruler not only among the householders but also among the wandering ascetics and even among the forest anchorites. The misuse of the  daṇḍa would ultimately lead to emergence of the jungle law where the stronger would swallow the weaker. Thus it is clear that the king is simply the wielder of the impersonal daṇḍa and the future of the king and the country he rules, depends a good deal on how the king wields it. The country and its ruler prosper if the daṇḍa is properly applied and both are doomed if applied improperly.

 

Appendix

[All quotations below, except those from chapter-7, are from Max Muller, F. (ed.), 1886. Quotations from chapter -7 are from Satyendra Nath Sen, 1976. In quotations 8/1 means Chapter-8, Śloka-8].

Qualities of the Ideal King

7/30: It [the rod] cannot be rightly employed by a king who is without friends, foolish, avaricious, uncultured and addicted to sensuous objects.

7/31: It can be employed by a king who is pure [in monetary matters], true to his promise, intelligent, backed by friends and a follower of the śāstrīya path.

7/32: In his own kingdom he should be of upright conduct, to his enemies he should be of rigorous punishment, to his natural friends he should be sincere, and towards the Brāhmaṇas, he should be forgiving.

7/33: Of a king of such a conduct, the fame spreads in the world, like a drop of oil on water.

7/34: But of a king who has not subdued himself and is the opposite of the one described before, the fame [which he has already possessed] shrinks in the world, like a drop of ghee on water.

7/37: A king getting up in the morning, should honour the Brāhmaṇas matured in the knowledge of the three Vedas and learned in polity, and should abide by their advice.

7/38: A king should honour the Brāhmaṇas advanced in age etc., learned in the Vedas, and pure externally and internally. For, one, who honours the elders, is worshipped even by demons.

7/39: A king, who is already controlled in his senses, should always learn self-control from them. For a king, who is self-controlled, does not perish.

7/40: A good many kings, though provided with resources, have perished through want of self-control and a good many of them, though doomed to forest life [i.e., though without resources], have gained kingdoms through self-control.

7/41: Vena, Nahusha, Sudāh, son of Pijavana, Sumukha and Nimi – these kings perished through want of self-control.

7/42: On the other hand, Prithu got the kingdom through self-control, so also Manu. And [through self-control] did Kubera attain mastery over wealth, and Gādhi’s son [Viśwamitra] the state of a Brāhmaṇa.

7/43: He should practice the three Vedas from those versed in the same and should learn the eternal politics as well as logic, spiritual science and agriculture etc., from men versed in those subjects.

7/44: The king should devote his attention day and night to the conquering of the senses. For a king with his senses controlled, is able to keep with his subjects under subjugation.

7/45: He should carefully shun the ten vices springing from desire and the eight vices springing from anger all of which ends in misery.

7/49: He should carefully conquer greediness which sages regard as the root of both these groups. Really both these groups spring from greed.

7/142: Having thus arranged the entire details of his own affairs [relating to govt.], he should protect his subjects with zeal and care.

7/144: The highest duty of a Kṣatriya is to protect his subjects.

7/58: With the most distinguished among them, a learned Brāhmaṇa, the king should discuss the most important [hence confidential] affairs connected with the six measures of royal policy.

7/59: With full confidence the king should entrust all affairs to him. He should commence work after fully discussing it with him.

 

Daily Routine of an Ideal King

7/145: Having risen in the last watch [of the night] and having performed the acts of purgation, having offered sacrifices into the fire and having worshipped the Brāhmaṇas, he should with a controlled mind enter the Assembly-hall possessed of auspicious signs.

7/146: Seated there he should receive and then dismiss all the subjects, and having dismissed all the subjects, he should deliberate with his ministers.

7/147: Having ascending the surface of a hill, or being in a room in private, or in a lonely forest, he should have deliberations without being observed by others.

7/216: Having thus deliberated on all these matters with his ministers, having taken physical exercise and having bathed at mid-day, he should enter the harem to eat his meal.

7/221: Having eaten his meal, he should spend his time in the harem in company with his wives, and having diverted himself at the proper time, he should again think of the affairs [of the state].

7/222: Adorned with his robes, he should inspect the troops as well as the conveyances, and all kinds of weapons, accoutrements and ornaments.

7/223-224: After having performed the evening ceremony, he should enter into the interior of another room, and there, properly armed, he should hear the reports of the secret spies, and then having dismissed them and being surrounded by females, he should enter the inner apartment to take his meal again.

7/225: Then being exhilarated by the sounds of music, he, after having taken some food, should retire for sleep and get up refreshed at the proper time.

7/226: The king, when he is in good health, should [himself] observe these. But when indisposed, he should entrust all these to his [responsible] servants.

 

Significance of Daṇḍa, Its Proper Use and Misuse 

7/14: For his benefit the lord had already created his own son Daṇḍa [punishment] who is virtue and is the protector of all beings and is composed of Brahmā’s vigour.

7/15: For fear of him, all the mobile and immobile creatures are in a position to enjoy, and no one swerves from his own duty.

7/17: The rod [daṇḍa] is the king, the same is the only male being, the same the leader, the same the ruler and the same is held to be the indemnity for the righteousness of the four āśramas.

7/18: The rod rules the subjects and he it is that protects all. While all others are asleep, the rod remains wakeful. The wise know him to be virtue.

7/22: All men are controlled by the rod. For men [naturally] pure are rare. The entire world is in a position to enjoy [or to be enjoyed] for fear of the rod alone.

7/23: Devas, Dānavas, Gandharvas, Rākshasas, birds, serpents – these also are fit to be enjoyed only on account of their being controlled by punishment.

Benefits of Proper Administration of daṇḍa

7/16: Having examined rightly the place, the time, the capacity and the learning of the culprits, the king should award punishments according to propriety.

7/19: The rod when administered rightly, pleases all the subjects; but when administered wrongly, he destroys everything.

7/20: If the king, unwearied, would not apply the rod to those deserving punishment, then the stronger would have cooked the weaker like fish on a stake.

7/21: [then] the crow would eat up the sacrificial cake, the dog would lick the sacrificial offerings, mastery would be nowhere and a topsy-turvy condition would prevail.

7/24: In consequence of errors with respect to punishment, all the śāstriya rules would be violated, and there would be a commotion [against each other] among all men.

7/25: Where the black, red-eyed purifying rod walks around, the subjects there are never rendered helpless, provided the employer of the rod sees [i.e., discerns] rightly.

7/26: An installed ruler who is truthful [hence upright], discerning, sagacious and who knows [the respective value of] virtue, pleasure and wealth, they call a just employer of rod.

7/27: A ruler who employs the rod rightly flourishes with [the attainment of] the three human ends [viz., virtue, pleasure and wealth], and a ruler who is addicted to pleasure and is wrathful and mean-minded is destroyed by the same rod.

Adverse consequences of misuse of daṇḍa

7/28: The rod is a big fire and is not easily wielded by those who are of untrained minds. Hence, it destroys the king who has swerved from virtue, together with his friends and relatives.

7/29: ‘[The misemployed rod] then destroys the forts, the kingdom, the earthly region with mobile and immobile creations, as well as the sages and the gods residing in the region of Antariksha.

 

 

 


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