Kautilya's Arthashastra is an excellent treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy. In Arthashastra, Kautilya mixes the harsh pragmatism for which he is famed with compassion for the poor, for slaves, and for women. He reveals the imagination of a romancer in imagining all manner of scenarios which can hardly have been commonplace in real life. It discusses the ethics of economics and the duties and obligations of a king. This work was published before January 1, , and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least years ago. This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1,
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The Arthashastra by Chanakya ,. Rangarajan Editor, Translator. The Arthashastra is an ancient Indian treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy, written in Sanskrit. The text was influential until the 12th century, when it disappeared. It was rediscovered in by R.
Shamasastry, who published it in The first English translation was published in It discusses the ethics of economics and the duties and obligations of a king. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. Published January 1st by Penguin Books India first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
To ask other readers questions about The Arthashastra , please sign up. Is this book a good to read for being involved into corporate world? Mazib Mohammad If you can interpret it in the context of today's world, then yes. Also in addition to this get ''art of war'' by Sun Tsu Translated in context to the corporate world less.
Is the book that state "your enemy's enemy is your friend"? Dilip yes book 6 of arthashastra deals with that topic. See 2 questions about The Arthashastra…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The Arthashastra. Jan 07, Riku Sayuj rated it it was amazing Shelves: classics , history-civilizations , great-books-quest , india , economics , history , direct-phil , epic-stuff , philosophy , r-r-rs.
The Arthashastra is written mainly in prose but also incorporates shlokas , which adds a vital poetic flourish to this otherwise down-to-earth classic. The text of this extraordinarily detailed manual contains fifteen books which cover numerous topics viz.
In trying to understand Kautilya 's analysis, we have to keep in mind the fact that in the Kautilyan view, the king encapsulates all the constituents of a state, he has expounded the theory in terms of the king - any king. In other words, what Kautilya calls the 'interest of the king' would nowadays be termed 'National Interest'. It is too well catalogued and too practical for that.
The verses should be read in the order Kautilya arrayed than in this re-arranged fashion that helps to make much better sense of ti, but somehow takes away the spirit.
The translation also contains a useful Index of Verses By Textual Order — it is meant to assist in finding out in which Part and Section a particular verse of the text has been included. The Branches Of Knowledge Traditionally, in classical Indian texts, the four branches of knowledge are considered to be: 1 Philosophy, 2 The Three Vedas, 3 Economics, and 4 The Science of Government Kautilya tells us that these are, indeed, the four fundamental branches of knowledge because one can know from these four branches of study all that is to be learnt about Dharma [spiritual welfare] and Artha [material well-being].
However, it has a much wider significance and the material well-being of individuals is just a part of it. In accordance with this, Kautilya's Arthashastra maintains that the state or government of a country has a vital role to play in maintaining the material status of both the nation and its people.
The Arthashastra is thus 'the science of politics' with a significant part dedicated to the science of economics. It is the art of government in its widest sense — the maintenance of law and order as also of an efficient administrative machinery The subjects covered include: administration; law order and justice; taxation, revenue and expenditure; foreign policy; defense and war.
Its three objectives follow one from the other: promotion of the welfare of the subjects leads to acquisition of wealth which, in turn, makes it possible to enlarge the territory by conquest. The Instruction Manual The Arthashastra is essentially a treatise on the art of government and is, by nature, instructional.
And because it is instructional, it is basis is the practice of government. The majority of the treatise is a Manual of Instruction for kings and officers of the state. There are three distinct parts in this manual: 1.
The Code of Law and Justice covers both civil and criminal law and is, basically, a Penal Code; the extensive and graded penalties and fines prescribed in it have the twin aims of deterring transgressions and collecting revenue for the state.
Which is why the prime focus of The Arthashastra is good administration that ensures the perpetuation of justice and prosperity in the kingdom. Against Reductionist Arguments Before we move on, we should face the unfortunate fact that both Kautilya the author and his masterwork the Arthashastra are much misunderstood.
Popularly known as Chanakya, he is maligned and often ridiculed as a teacher of unethical, not to say immoral, practices and as an advocate of the theory that 'the ends justify the means. Most people know little of what Kautilya actually said in the Arthashastra. Indeed, the theory deals with not just three states, but with a twelve. Here is a sample of how much more nuanced that simple understanding could be, with a little effort: This popular view is not only simplistic but untrue.
A through reading of the treatise is required to appreciate the range and depth of the Arthashastra. It is a pioneering work on statecraft in all its aspects, written at least one thousand five hundred years ago. He placed great emphasis on the welfare of the people. His practical advice is rooted in dharma. But, as a teacher of practical statecraft, he advocated unethical methods in the furtherance of national interest, but always with very strict qualification.
But these are often ignored or just plain unknown to the majority. Just as Kautilya's important qualifications to his advocacy of unethical methods is often ignored, so is the voluminous evidence in the Arthashastra of his emphasis on welfare, not only of human beings but also of animals.
Welfare in the Arthashastra is not just an abstract concept. It covers maintenance of social order, increasing economic activity, protection of livelihood, protection of the weaker sections of the population, prevention of harassment of the subjects, consumer protection and even welfare of slaves and prisoners.
In short, the Arthashastra is a mixture of both what we applaud today and what we consider to be reprehensible. Kautilya has a great deal to say about civic responsibility; the obligation of every householder to take precautions against fire is mentioned; so is a prohibition on cutting trees in public parks. Equally, some of Kautilya's suggestions will be seen by us as unethical.
What is essential is that we understand both aspects and use them to learn history as well as to apply to the modern situations. These duties also meant that the King needed an elaborate support system. The highly centralized Kautilyan state was to be regulated by an elaborate and intricate system as laid out by Kautilya. While at first glance we might think that this high centralization is repulsive, we should also appreciate the difficulties of the time. Most of the empires of the world relied on tight centralization to ensure some degree of success.
The extensive responsibilities of the state for promoting economic wellbeing and preserving law and order demand an equally extensive administrative machinery. Any text on Arthashastra thus has to contain details of the organization of the civil service as well as the duties and responsibilities of individual officials. Thus we can see how The Arthashastra was bound to be an elaborate manual that dealt with every minute aspect of administration and daily life.
The Arthashastra is a through discussion on the science of living, along with being a valuable historical document on the conduct of administration. It is thus supremely valuable for the historian but also for a modern political scientist or sociologist or economist or administrator.
A Modern Kautilya All this shows us how close to modern life and administration the Kautilyan ideas come. Reading ancient books is the best way to rid ourselves of modernist fantasies — except for communication and transport, in the basic institutions, we are still where we were.
The same thing can be said of the role of technology in daily life as well. We can get more things done because we can, but precisely because we can, there are always more things to do. Reality And The Ideal The picture of the ideal Kautilyan state that emerges from our discussion above is one of a well-run state, prosperous and bustling with activity.
But if we are to comprehend clearly Kautilya's teachings and apply them judiciously to the modern world, we also have to be aware of the essential characteristics of the work. The treatise is about an ideal state - not that such a state actually ever existed or is even likely to exist now or in the future. To the extent any of the six constituent elements of a state - the ruler, the ministers, the urban and the rural population, the economic power and the military might - differ from the ideals Kautilya has set out, to that extent the advice given by him has to be modified.
I cannot imagine that much would change if a modern Kautilya were to write an Arthashastra today, except that he would have a broader, faster reach, and a better chance of enforcing things.
Study of Chanakya's Arthashastra relevant today: NSA
It was rediscovered in by R. Shamasastry , who published it in The title Arthashastra is often translated to "the science of politics",   but the book Arthashastra has a broader scope. The Arthashastra explores issues of social welfare , the collective ethics that hold a society together, advising the king that in times and in areas devastated by famine, epidemic and such acts of nature, or by war, he should initiate public projects such as creating irrigation waterways and building forts around major strategic holdings and towns and exempt taxes on those affected. The text was considered lost by colonial era scholars, until a manuscript was discovered in During , Shamasastry published English translations of the text in installments, in journals Indian Antiquary and Mysore Review.