Works of R. Tagore

 Major Works
  Kautilya's Arthashastra
  Vatsayana Kama Sutra

 Stories of India
  Tales of Panchatantra
  Indian Fairy Tales
  Stories of Birbal
  Stories of Tenali Rama
  Vikram Betal Stories
  Arabian Nights
  Alladin & Wonder Lamp
  Voyages of Sindbad

 Telugu Literature
  Ramayanam - Telugu
  Mahabharata - Telugu
  Telugu Novels (online)
  Telugu Stories (PDF)
  Moral Stories (PDF)
  Telugu Magazines

 Tamil Literature

  The Mahabharata
  Srimad Bhagavatam

  Rig Veda
  Yajur Veda
  Sama Veda
  Atharva Veda

  Bhagavad Gita
  Sankara Bhashya
  By Edwin Arnold

  Brahma Sutra
  Sankara Bhashya I
  Sankara Bhashya II
  Ramanuja SriBhashya


  Agni Purana
  Brahma Purana
  Garuda Purana
  Markandeya Purana
  Varaha Purana
  Matsya Purana
  Vishnu Purana
  Linga Purana
  Narada Purana
  Padma Purana
  Shiva Purana
  Skanda Purana
  Vamana Purana

  Manu Smriti


Kautilya's Arthashastra
Book I: Concerning Discipline
Translated by R. Shamasastry

The end of Sciences; association with the aged; restraint of the organs of sense; the creation of ministers; the creation of councillors and priests; ascertaining by temptations purity or impurity in the character of ministers; the institution of spies. Protection of parties for or against one's own cause in one's own state; winning over the factions for or against an enemy's cause in an enemy's state; the business of council meeting; the mission of envoys; protection of princes; the conduct of a prince kept under restraint; treatment of a prince kept under restraint; the duties of a king; duty towards the harem; personal safety.

  • ANVIKSHAKI, the triple Védas (Trayi), Várta (agriculture, cattle-breeding and trade), and Danda-Niti (science of government) are what are called the four sciences.

  • The school of Manu (Manava) hold that there are only three sciences: the triple Vedas, Varta and the science of government, inasmuch as the science of Anvikshaki is nothing but a special branch of the Vedas.

  • The school of Brihaspati say that there are only two sciences: Varta and the science of government, inasmuch as the Triple Vedas are merely an abridgment (Samvarana, pretext?) for a man experienced in affairs temporal (Lokayatravidah).

  • The school of Usanas declare that there is only one science, and that the science of government; for, they say, it is in that science that all other sciences have their origin and end.

  • But Kautilya holds that four and only four are the sciences; wherefore it is from these sciences that all that concerns righteousness and wealth is learnt, therefore they are so called.

  • Anvikshaki comprises the Philosophy of Sankhya, Yoga, and Lokayata.

  • Righteous and unrighteous acts (Dharmadharmau) are learnt from the triple Vedas; wealth and non-wealth from Varta; the expedient and the inexpedient (Nayanayau), as well as potency and impotency (Balabale) from the science of government.

  • When seen in the light of these sciences, the science of Anvikshaki is most beneficial to the world, keeps the mind steady and firm in weal and woe alike, and bestows excellence of foresight, speech and action.

  • Light to all kinds of knowledge, easy means to accomplish all kinds of acts and receptacle of all kinds of virtues, is the Science of Anvikshaki ever held to be.

[Thus ends Chapter II, "Determination of the place of Anvikshaki" among Sciences in Book I, "Concerning Discipline" of the Arthasástra of Kautilya.]



Determination of the place of the Triple Vedas.

  • THE three Vedas, Sama, Rik and Yajus, constitute the triple Vedas. These together with Atharvaveda and the Itihasaveda are (known as) the Vedas.

  • Siksha (Phonetics), Kalpa (ceremonial injunctions), Vyakarana (grammar), Nirukta (glossarial explanation of obscure Vedic terms), Chandas (Prosody), and Astronomy form the Angas.

  • As the triple Vedas definitely determine the respective duties of the four castes and of the four orders of religious life, they are the most useful.

  • The duty of the Brahman is study, teaching, performance of sacrifice, officiating in others' sacrificial performance and the giving and receiving of gifts.

  • That of a Kshatriya is study, performance of sacrifice, giving gifts, military occupation, and protection of life.

  • That of a Vaisya is study, performance of sacrifice, giving gifts, agriculture, cattle breeding, and trade.

  • That of a Sudra is the serving of twice-born (dvijati), agriculture, cattle-breeding, and trade (varta), the profession of artizans and court-bards (karukusilavakarma).

  • The duty of a householder is earning livelihood by his own profession, marriage among his equals of different ancestral Rishis, intercourse with his wedded wife after her monthly ablution, gifts to gods, ancestors, guests, and servants, and the eating of the remainder.

  • That of a student (Brahmacharin) is learning the Vedas, fire-worship, ablution, living by begging, and devotion to his teacher even at the cost of his own life, or in the absence of his teacher, to the teacher's son, or to an elder classmate.

  • That of a Vanaprastha (forest-recluse) is observance of chastity, sleeping on the bare ground, keeping twisted locks, wearing deer-skin, fire-worship, ablution, worship of gods, ancestors, and guests, and living upon food stuffs procurable in forests.

  • That of an ascetic retired from the world (Parivrajaka) is complete control of the organs of sense, abstaining from all kinds of work, disowning money, keeping from society, begging in many places, dwelling in forests, and purity both internal and external.

  • Harmlessness, truthfulness, purity, freedom from spite, abstinence from cruelty, and forgiveness are duties common to all.

  • The observance of one's own duty leads one to Svarga and infinite bliss (Anantya). When it is violated, the world will come to an end owing to confusion of castes and duties.

  • Hence the king shall never allow people to swerve from their duties; for whoever upholds his own duty, ever adhering to the customs of the Aryas, and following the rules of caste and divisions of religious life, will surely. be happy both here and hereafter. For the world, when maintained in accordance with injunctions of the triple Vedas, will surely progress, but never perish.

[Thus ends Chapter III, "Determination of the place of the Triple Vedas" among Sciences in Book I, "Concerning Discipline" of the Arthasástra of Kautilya.]



Varta and Dandaniti.
  • AGRICULTURE, cattle-breeding and trade constitute Varta. It is most useful in that it brings in grains, cattle, gold, forest produce (kupya), and free labour (vishti). It is by means of the treasury and the army obtained solely through Varta that the king can hold under his control both his and his enemy's party.

  • That sceptre on which the well-being and progress of the sciences of Anvikshaki, the triple Vedas, and Varta depend is known as Danda (punishment). That which treats of Danda is the law of punishment or science of government (dandaniti).

  • It is a means to make acquisitions, to keep them secure, to improve them, and to distribute among the deserved the profits of. improvement. It is on this science of government that the course of the progress of the world depends.

  • "Hence," says my teacher, "whoever is desirous of the progress of the world shall ever hold the sceptre raised (udyatadanda). Never can there be a better instrument than the sceptre to bring people under control."

  • "No," says Kautilya; for whoever imposes severe punishment becomes repulsive to the people; while he who awards mild punishment becomes contemptible. But whoever imposes punishment as deserved becomes respectable. For punishment (danda) when awarded with due consideration, makes the people devoted to righteousness and to works productive of wealth and enjoyment; while punishment, when ill-awarded under the influence of greed and anger or owing to ignorance, excites fury even among hermits and ascetics dwelling in forests, not to speak of householders.

  • But when the law of punishment is kept in abeyance, it gives rise to such disorder as is implied in the proverb of fishes (matsyanyayamudbhavayati); for in the absence of a magistrate (dandadharabhave), the strong will swallow the weak; but under his protection, the weak resist the strong.

  • This people (loka) consisting of four castes and four orders of religious life, when governed by the king with his sceptre, will keep to their respective paths, ever devotedly adhering to their respective duties and occupations.

[Thus ends Chapter IV, "Determination of the Place of Varta and of Dandaniti" among Sciences in Book I, "Concerning Discipline" of the Arthasástra of Kautilya. "The End of Sciences" is completed.]



  • HENCE the (first) three sciences (out of the four) are dependent for their well-being on the science of government. Danda, punishment, which alone can procure safety and security of life is, in its turn, dependent on discipline (vinaya).

  • Discipline is of two kinds: artificial and natural; for instruction (kriya) can render only a docile being conformable to the rules of discipline, and not an undocile being (adravyam). The study of sciences can tame only those who are possessed of such mental faculties as obedience, hearing, grasping, retentive memory, discrimination, inference, and deliberation, but not others devoid of such faculties.

  • Sciences shall be studied and their precepts strictly observed under the authority of specialist teachers.

  • Having undergone the ceremony of tonsure, the student shall learn the alphabet (lipi) and arithmetic. After investiture with sacred thread, he shall study the triple Vedas, the science of Anvikshaki under teachers of acknowledged authority (sishta), the science of Vatra under government superintendents, and the science of Dandaniti under theoretical and practical politicians (vaktriprayoktribhyah).

  • He (the prince) shall observe celibacy till he becomes sixteen years old. Then he shall observe the ceremony of tonsure (godana) and marry.

  • In view of maintaining efficient discipline, he shall ever and invariably keep company with aged professors of sciences in whom alone discipline has its firm root.

  • He shall spend the forenoon in receiving lessons in military arts concerning elephants, horses, chariots, and weapons, and the afternoon in hearing the Itihasa.

  • Purana, Itivritta (history), Akhyayika (tales), Udaharana (illustrative stories), Dharmasastra, and Arthasastra are (known by the name) Itihasa.

  • During the rest of the day and night, he shall not only receive new lessons and revise old lessons, but also hear over and again what has not been clearly understood.

  • For from hearing (sutra) ensues knowledge; from knowledge steady application (yoga) is possible; and from application self-possession (atmavatta) is possible. This is what is meant by efficiency of learning (vidhyasamarthyam).

  • The king who is well educated and disciplined in sciences, devoted to good Government of his subjects, and bent on doing good to all people will enjoy the earth unopposed.

[Thus ends Chapter V, "Association with the Aged" in Book I, "Concerning Discipline" of the Arthasástra of Kautilya.]


The Shaking off of the Aggregate of the Six Enemies.

  • RESTRAINT of the organs of sense, on which success in study and discipline depends can be enforced by abandoning lust, anger, greed, vanity (mána), haughtiness (mada), and overjoy (harsha).

  • Absence of discrepancy (avipratipatti) in the perception of sound, touch, colour, flavour, and scent by means of the ear, the skin, the eyes, the tongue, and the nose, is what is meant by the restraint of the organs of sense. Strict observance of the precepts of sciences also means the same; for the sole aim of all the sciences is nothing but restraint of the organs of sense.

  • Whosoever is of reverse character, whoever has not his organs of sense under his control, will soon perish, though possessed of the whole earth bounded by the four quarters.

  • For example: Bhoja, known also by the name, Dándakya, making a lascivious attempt on a Bráhman maiden, perished along with his kingdom and relations;

  • So also Karála, the Vaideha. Likewise Janamejaya under the influence of anger against Bráhmans, as well as Tálajangha against the family of Bhrigus.

  • Aila in his attempt under the influence of greed to make exactions from Bráhmans, as well as Ajabindu, the Sauvíra (in a similar attempt);

  • Rávana unwilling under the influence of vanity to restore a stranger's wife, as well as Duryodhana to part with a portion of his kingdom; Dambhodbhava as well as Arjuna of Haihaya dynasty being so haughty as to despise all people;

  • Vátápi in his attempt under the influence of overjoy to attack Agastya, as well as the corporation of the Vrishnis in their attempt against Dvaipáyana.

  • Thus these and other several kings, falling a prey to the aggregate of the six enemies and having failed to restrain their organs of sense, perished together with their kingdom and relations. Having driven out the aggregate of the six enemies, as well as Ambarísha of Jámadagnya famous for his restraint of the organs of sense Nábhága long enjoyed the earth.

[Thus ends Chapter VI, "The Shaking off of the Aggregate of the Six Enemies" in the section of the "Restraint Of the Organs of Sense" in Book I, "Concerning Discipline" of the Arthasástra of Kautilya.]


The Life of a Saintly King.

  • HENCE by overthrowing the aggregate of the six enemies, he shall restrain the organs of sense; acquire wisdom by keeping company with the aged; see through his spies; establish safety and security by being ever active; maintain his subjects in the observance of their respective duties by exercising authority; keep up his personal discipline by receiving lessons in the sciences; and endear himself to the people by bringing them in contact with wealth and doing good to them.

  • Thus with his organs of sense under his control, he shall keep away from hurting the women and property of others; avoid not only lustfulness, even in dream, but also falsehood, haughtiness, and evil proclivities; and keep away from unrighteous and uneconomical transactions.

  • Not violating righteousness and economy, he shall enjoy his desires. He shall never be devoid of happiness. He may enjoy in an equal degree the three pursuits of life, charity, wealth, and desire, which are inter-dependent upon each other. Any one of these three, when enjoyed to an excess, hurts not only the other two, but also itself.

  • Kautilya holds that wealth and wealth alone is important, inasmuch as charity and desire depend upon wealth for their realisation.

  • Those teachers and ministers who keep him from falling a prey to dangers, and who, by striking the hours of the day as determined by measuring shadows (chháyánálikápratodena) warn him of his careless proceedings even in secret shall invariably be respected.

  • Sovereignty (rájatva) is possible only with assistance. A single wheel can never move. Hence he shall employ ministers and hear their opinion.

[Thus ends Chapter VII, “The Life of a Saintly King” in the section of the “Restraint of the Organs of Sense,” in Book I, “Concerning Discipline” of the Arthasástra of Kautilya; “Restraint of the Organs of Sense" is completed.]


  • "THE King," says Bháradvája, "shall employ his classmates as his ministers; for they can be trusted by him inasmuch as he has personal knowledge of their honesty and capacity."

  • “No,” says Visáláksha, "for, as they have been his playmates as well, they would despise him. But he shall employ as ministers those whose secrets, possessed of in common, are well known to him. Possessed of habits and defects in common. with the king, they would never hurt him lest he would betray their secrets."

  • “Common is this fear,” says Parásara, “for under the fear of betrayal of his own secrets, the king may also follow them in their good and bad acts.

  • "Under the control of as many persons as are made aware by the king of his own secrets, might he place himself in all humility by that disclosure. Hence he shall employ as ministers those who have proved faithful to him under difficulties fatal to life and are of tried devotion."

  • "No,” says Pisuna, “for this is devotion, but not intelligence (buddhigunah). He shall appoint as ministers those who, when employed as financial matters, show as much as, or more than, the fixed revenue, and are thus of tried ability.”

  • "No," says Kaunapadanta, "for such persons are devoid of other ministerial qualifications; he shall, therefore, employ as ministers those whose fathers and grandfathers had been ministers before; such persons, in virtue of their knowledge of past events and of an established relationship with the king, will, though offended, never desert him; for such faithfulness is seen even among dumb animals; cows, for example, stand aside from strange cows and ever keep company with accustomed herds."

  • "No," says Vátavyádhi, "for such persons, having acquired complete dominion over the king, begin to play themselves as the king. Hence he shall employ as ministers such new persons as are proficient in the science of polity. It is such new persons who will regard the king as the real sceptre-bearer (dandadhara) and dare not offend him."

  • "No," says the son of Báhudantí (a woman); "for a man possessed of only theoretical knowledge and having no experience of practical politics is likely to commit serious blunders when engaged in actual works. Hence he shall employ as ministers such as are born of high family and possessed of wisdom, purity of purpose, bravery and loyal feelings inasmuch as ministerial appointments shall purely depend on qualifications."

  • "This," says Kautilya, "is satisfactory in all respects; for a man's ability is inferred from his capacity shown in work. And in accordance in difference in the working capacity,

  • Having divided the spheres of their powers and having definitely taken into consideration the place and time where and when they have to work, such persons shall be employed not as councillors (mantrinah) but as ministerial officers (amátyah).

[Thus ends Chapter VIII, “Creation of Ministers” in Book I, “Concerning Discipline” of the Arthasástra of Kautilya.]


  • NATIVE, born of high family, influential, well trained in arts, possessed of foresight, wise, of strong memory, bold, eloquent, skillful, intelligent, possessed of enthusiasm, dignity, and endurance, pure in character, affable, firm in loyal devotion, endowed with excellent conduct, strength, health and bravery, free from procrastination and ficklemindedness, affectionate, and free from such qualities as excite hatred and enmity--these are the qualifications of a ministerial officer (amátyasampat).

  • Such as are possessed of one-half or one-quarter of the above qualifications come under middle and low ranks.

  • Of these qualifications, native birth and influential position shall be ascertained from reliable persons; educational qualifications (silpa) from professors of equal learning; theoretical and practical knowledge, foresight, retentive memory, and affability shall be tested from successful, application in works; eloquence, skillfulness and flashing intelligence from power shown in narrating stories (katháyogeshu, i.e., in conversation); endurance, enthusiasm, and bravery in troubles; purity of life, friendly disposition, and loyal devotion by frequent association; conduct, strength, health, dignity, and freedom from indolence and ficklemindedness shall be ascertained from their intimate friends; and affectionate and philanthrophic nature by personal experience.

  • The works of a king may be visible, invisible (paroksha) and inferential.

  • That which he sees is visible; and that which he is taught by another is invisible; and inference of the nature of what is not accomplished from what is accomplished is inferential..

  • As works do not happen to be simultaneous, are various in form, and pertain to distant and different localities, the king shall, in view of being abreast of time and place, depute his ministers to carry them out. Such is the work of ministers.

  • Him whose family and character are highly spoken of, who is well educated in the Vedás and the six Angas, is skillful in reading portents providential or accidental, is well versed in the science of government, and who is obedient and who can prevent calamities providential or human by performing such expiatory rites as are prescribed in the Atharvaveda, the king shall employ as high priest. As a student his teacher, a son his father, and a servant his master, the king shall follow him.

  • That Kshatriya breed which is brought up by Bráhmans, is charmed with the counsels of good councillors, and which faithfully follows the precepts of the sástras becomes invincible and attains success though unaided with weapons.

[Thus ends Chapter IX, “Creation of Councillors and Priests” in Book I “Concerning Discipline” of the Arthasástra of Kautilya.]


  • ASSISTED by his prime minister (mantri) and his high priest, the king shall, by offering temptations, examine the character of ministers (amátya) appointed in government departments of ordinary nature.

  • The king shall dismiss a priest who, when ordered, refuses to teach the Vedás to an outcaste person or to officiate in a sacrificial performance (apparently) undertaken by an outcaste person (ayájya).

  • Then the dismissed priest shall, through the medium of spies under the guise of class-mates (satri), instigate each minister one after another, saying on oath "this king is unrighteous; well let us set up in his place another king who is righteous, or who is born of the same family as of this king, or who is kept imprisoned, or a neighbouring king of his family and of self-sufficiency (ekapragraha), or a wild chief (atavika), or an upstart (aupapádika); this attempt is to the liking of all of us; what dost thou think ?"

  • If any one or all of the ministers refuse to acquiesce in such a measure, he or they shall be considered pure. This is what is called religious allurement.

  • A commander of the army, dismissed from service for receiving condemnable things (asatpragraha) may, through the agency of spies under the guise of class-mates (satri), incite each minister to murder the king in view of acquiring immense wealth, each minister being asked "this attempt is to the liking of all of us; what dost thou think?"

  • If they refuse to agree, they are to be considered pure. This is what is termed monetary allurement.

  • A woman-spy under the guise of an ascetic and highly esteemed in the harem of the king may allure each prime minister (mahámátra) one after another, saying "the queen is enamoured of thee and has made arrangements for thy entrance into her chamber; besides this, there is also the certainty of large acquisitions of wealth."

  • If they discard the proposal, they are pure. This is what is styled love-allurement.

  • With the intention of sailing on a commercial vessel (prahavananimittam), a minister may induce all other ministers to follow him. Apprehensive of danger, the king may arrest them all. A spy under the guise of a fraudulent disciple, pretending to have suffered imprisonment may incite each of the ministers thus deprived of wealth and rank, saying, "the king has betaken himself to an unwise course; well, having murdered him, let us put another in his stead. We all like this; what dost thou think?"

  • If they refuse to agree, they are pure. This is what is termed allurement under fear.

  • Of these tried ministers, those whose character has been tested under religious allurements shall be employed in civil and criminal courts (dharmasthaníyakantaka sodhaneshu); those whose purity has been tested under monetary allurements shall be employed in the work of a revenue collector and chamberlain; those who have been tried under love-allurements shall be appointed to superintend the pleasure-grounds (vihára) both external and internal; those who have been tested by allurements under fear shall be appointed to immediate service; and those whose character has been tested under all kinds of allurements shall be employed as prime ministers (mantrinah), while those who are proved impure under one or all of these allurements shall be appointed in mines, timber and elephant forests, and manufactories.

  • Teachers have decided that in accordance with ascertained purity, the king shall employ in corresponding works those ministers whose character has been tested under the three pursuits of life, religion, wealth and love, and under fear.

  • Never, in the view of Kautilya, shall the king make himself or his queen an object (laksham, butt) of testing the character of his councillors, nor shall he vitiate the pure like water with poison.

  • Sometimes the prescribed medicine may fail to reach the person of moral disease; the mind of the valiant, though naturally kept steadfast, may not, when once vitiated and repelled under the four kinds of allurements, return to and recover its original form.

  • Hence having set up an external object as the butt for all the four kinds of allurements, the king shall, through the agency of spies (satri), find out the pure or impure character of his ministers (amátya).

[Thus ends Chapter X, “Ascertaining by Temptations Purity or Impurity in the Character of Ministers,” in Book I, “Concerning Discipline” of the Arthasástra of Kautilya.]


  • ASSISTED by the council of his ministers tried under espionage, the king shall proceed to create spies: --Spies under the guise of a fraudulent disciple (kápatika-chhátra), a recluse (udásthita), a householder (grihapaitika), a merchant (vaidehaka), an ascetic practising austerities (tápasa), a class-mate or a colleague (satri), a fire-brand (tíkshna), a poisoner (rasada), and a mendicant woman (bhikshuki).

  • A skillful person capable of guessing the mind of others is a fraudulent disciple. Having encouraged such a spy with honour and money rewards, the minister shall tell him, "sworn to the king and myself, thou shalt inform us of whatever wickedness thou findest in others."

  • One who is initiated in asceticism and is possessed of foresight and pure character is a recluse. This spy, provided with much money and many disciples, shall carry on agriculture, cattle-rearing, and trade (vártakarma) on the lands allotted to him for the purpose. Out of the produce and profits thus acquired, he shall provide all ascetics with subsistence, clothing and lodging, and send on espionage such among those under his protection as are desirous to earn a livelihood (vrittikáma), ordering each of them to detect a particular kind of crime committed in connection with the king's wealth and to report of it when they come to receive their subsistence and wages. All the ascetics (under the recluse) shall severally send their followers on similar errands.

  • A cultivator, fallen from his profession, but possessed of foresight and pure character is termed a householder spy. This spy shall carry on the cultivation of lands allotted to him for the purpose, and maintain cultivators, etc.--as before.

  • A trader, fallen from his profession, but possessed of foresight and pure character, is a merchant spy. This spy shall carry on the manufacture of merchandise on lands allotted to him for the purpose, etc.,--as before.

  • A man with shaved head (munda) or braided hair (jatila) and desirous to earn livelihood is a spy under the guise of an ascetic practising austerities. Such a spy surrounded by a host of disciples with shaved head or braided hair may take his abode in the suburbs of a city, and pretend as a person barely living on a handful of vegetables or meadow grass (yavasamushti) taken once in the interval of a month or two, but he may take in secret his favourite food-stuffs (gúdhamishtamáháram).

  • Merchant spies pretending to be his disciples may worship him as one possessed of preternatural powers. His other disciples may widely proclaim that "this ascetic is an accomplished expert of preternatural powers."

  • Regarding those persons who, desirous of knowing their future, throng to him, he may, through palmistry, foretell such future events as he can ascertain by the nods and signs of his disciples (angavidyayá sishyasanjnábhischa) concerning the works of high-born people of the country,-- viz., small profits, destruction by fire, fear from robbers, the execution of the seditious, rewards for the good, forecast of foreign affairs (videsa pravrittivijnánam), saying, “this will happen to-day, that to-morrow, and that this king will do.” Such assertions of the ascetic his disciples shall corroborate (by adducing facts and figures).

  • He shall also foretell not only the rewards which persons possessed of foresight, eloquence, and bravery are likely to receive at the hands of the king, but also probable changes in the appointments of ministers.

  • The king's minister shall direct his affairs in conformity to the forecast made by the ascetic. He shall appease with offer of wealth and honour those who have had some well known cause to be disaffected, and impose punishments in secret on those who are for no reason disaffected or who are plotting against the king.

  • Honoured by the king with awards of money and titles, these five institutes of espionage (samstháh) shall ascertain the purity of character of the king's servants.

[Thus ends Chapter XI, "The Institution of Spies" in Book I, “Concerning Discipline” of the Arthasástra of Kautilya.]


Creation of Wandering Spies.

  • THOSE orphans (asambandhinah) who are to be necessarily fed by the state and are put to study science, palmistry (angavidya), sorcery (máyágata), the duties of the various orders of religious life, legerdemain (jambhakavidya), and the reading of omens and augury (antara-chakra), are classmate spies or spies learning by social intercourse (samsargavidyasatrinah).

  • Such brave desperados of the country who, reckless of their own life, confront elephants or tigers in fight mainly for the purpose of earning money are termed fire-brands or fiery spies (tíkshna).

  • Those who have no trace of filial affection left in them and who are very cruel and indolent are poisoners (rasada).

  • A poor widow of Bráhman caste, very clever, and desirous to earn her livelihood is a woman ascetic (parivrájiká). Honoured in the king's harem, such a woman shall frequent the residences of the king's prime ministers (mahámátrakuláni).

  • The same rule shall apply to women with shaved head (munda), as well as to those of súdra caste. All these are wandering spies (sancháráh).

  • Of these spies, those who are of good family, loyal, reliable, well-trained in the art of putting on disguises appropriate to countries and trades, and possessed of knowledge of many languages and arts shall be sent by the king to espy in his own country the movements of his ministers, priests, commanders of the army, the heir-apparent, the door-keepers, the officer in charge of the harem, the magistrate (prasástri), the collector-general (samáhartri), the chamberlain (sannidhátri), the commissioner (pradeshtri), the city constable (náyaka), the officer in charge of the city (paura), the superintendent of transactions (vyávahárika), the superintendent of manufactories (karmántika), the assembly of councillors (mantriparishad), heads of departments (adhyaksháh), the commissary-general (dandapála), and officers in charge of fortifications, boundaries, and wild tracts.

  • Fiery spies, such as are employed to hold the royal umbrella, vase, fan, and shoes, or to attend at the throne, chariot, and conveyance shall espy the public character (báhyam cháram) of these (officers).

  • Classmate spies shall convey this information (i.e., that gathered by the fiery spies) to the institutes of espionage (samsthásvarpayeyuh).

  • Poisoners such as a sauce-maker (súda), a cook (arálika), procurer of water for bathing (snápaka) shampooer, the spreader of bed (ástaraka), a barber (kalpaka), toilet-maker (prasádaka), a water-servant; servants such as have taken the appearance of a hump-backed person, a dwarf, a pigmy (kiráta), the dumb, the deaf, the idiot, the blind; artisans such as actors, dancers, singers, players on musical instruments, buffoons, and a bard; as well as women shall espy the private character of these officers.

  • A mendicant woman shall convey this information to the institute of espionage.

  • The immediate officers of the institutes of espionage (samsthánámantevásinah) shall by making use of signs or writing (samjnálipibhih) set their own spies in motion (to ascertain the validity of the information).

  • Neither the institutes of espionage nor they (the wandering spies) shall know each other.

  • If a mendicant woman is stopped at the entrance, the line of door-keepers., spies under the guise of father and mother (mátápitri vyanjanáh), women artisans, court-bards, or prostitutes shall, under the pretext of taking in musical instruments, or through cipher-writing (gudhalekhya), or by means of signs, convey the information to its destined place (cháram nirhareyuh.)

  • (Spies of the institutes of espionage) may suddenly go out under the pretext of long standing disease, or lunacy, or by setting fire (to something) or by administering poison (to some one).

  • When the information thus received from these three different sources is exactly of the same version, it shall be held reliable. If they (the three sources) frequently differ, the spies concerned shall either be punished in secret or dismissed.

  • Those spies who are referred to in Book IV, "Removal of Thorns," shall receive their salaries from those kings (para, i.e., foreign) with whom they live as servants; but when they aid both the states in the work of catching hold of robbers, they shall become recipients of salaries from both the states (ubhayavetanáh).

  • Those whose sons and wives are kept (as hostages) shall be made recipients of salaries from two states and considered as under the mission of enemies. Purity of character of such persons shall be ascertained through persons of similar profession.

  • Thus with regard to kings who are inimical, friendly, intermediate, of low rank, or neutral, and with regard to their eighteen government departments (ashtáldasa-tírtha), spies shall be set in motion.

  • The hump-backed, the dwarf, the eunuch, women of accomplishments, the dumb, and various grades of Mlechcha caste shall be spies inside their houses.

  • Merchant spies inside forts; saints and ascetics in the suburbs of forts; the cultivator and the recluse in country parts; herdsmen in the boundaries of the country; in forests, forest-dwellers, sramanás, and chiefs of wild tribes, shall be stationed to ascertain the movements of enemies. All these spies shall be very quick in the dispatch of their work.

  • Spies set up by foreign kings shall also be found out by local spies; spies by spies of like profession. It is the institutes of espionage, secret or avowed, that set spies in motion.

  • Those chiefs whose inimical design has been found out by spies supporting the king's cause shall, in view of affording opportunity to detect the spies of foreign kings, be made to live on the boundaries of the state.

[Thus ends Chapter XII, “Creation of Wandering Spies” in the section of  “The Institution of Spies,” in Book I. “Concerning Discipline” of the Arthasástra of Kautilya.]


  • HAVING set up spies over his prime ministers (mahámátra), the king shall proceed to espy both citizens and country people.

  • Classmate spies (satri) formed as opposing factions shall carry on disputations in places of pilgrimage (tírtha), in assemblies, houses, corporations (púga), and amid congregations of people. One spy may say:--

  • "This king is said to be endowed with all desirable qualities; he seems to be a stranger to such tendencies as would lead him to oppress citizens and country people by levying heavy fines and taxes."

  • Against those who seem to commend this opinion, another spy may interrupt the speaker and say:--

  • "People suffering from anarchy as illustrated by the proverbial tendency of a large fish swallowing a small one (mátsyanyáyábhibhútah prajáh), first elected Manu, the Vaivasvata, to be their king; and allotted one-sixth of the grains grown and one-tenth of merchandise as sovereign dues. Fed by this payment, kings took upon themselves the responsibility of maintaining the safety and security of their subjects (yogakshemavaháh), and of being answerable for the sins of their subjects when the principle of levying just punishments and taxes has been violated. Hence hermits, too, provide the king with one- sixth of the grains gleaned by them, thinking that ‘it is a tax payable to him who protects us.’ It is the king in whom the duties of both Indra (the rewarder) and Yama (the punisher) are blended, and he is a visible dispenser of punishments and rewards (heda-prasáda); whoever disregards kings will be visited with divine punishments, too. Hence kings shall never be despised."

  • Thus treacherous opponents of sovereignty shall be silenced.

  • Spies shall also know the rumours prevalent in the state. Spies with shaved heads or braided hair shall ascertain whether there prevails content or discontent among those who live upon the grains, cattle, and gold of the king, among those who supply the same (to the king) in weal or woe, those who keep under restraint a disaffected relative of the king or a rebellious district, as well as those who drive away an invading enemy or a wild tribe. The greater the contentment of such persons, the more shall be the honour shown to them; while those who are disaffected shall be ingratiated by rewards or conciliation; or dissension may be sown among them so that they may alienate themselves from each other, from a neighbouring enemy, from a wild tribe, or from a banished or imprisoned prince. Failing this measure, they may be so employed in collecting fines and taxes as to incur the displeasure of the people. Those who are inebriated with feelings of enmity may be put down by punishment in secret or by making them incur the displeasure of the whole country. Or having taken the sons and wives of such treacherous persons under State protection, they may be made to live in mines, lest they may afford shelter to enemies.

  • Those that are angry, those that are greedy, those that are alarmed, as well as those that despise the king are the instruments of enemies. Spies under the guise of astrologers and tellers of omens and augury shall ascertain the relationship of such persons with each other and with foreign kings.

  • Honours and rewards shall be conferred upon those that are contented, while those that are disaffected shall be brought round by conciliation, by gifts, or by sowing dissension, or by punishment.

  • Thus in his own state a wise king shall guard factions among his people, friendly or hostile, powerful or powerless against the intrigue of foreign kings.

[Thus ends Chapter XIII, “Protection of Parties for or against One's Own Cause in One's Own State,” in Book I, “Concerning Discipline” of the Arthasástra of Kautilya.]


  • PROTECTION of parties for or against one's own cause in one's own state has been dealt with. Similar measures in connection with parties in a foreign state are to be treated of.

  • Those who are deluded with false promise of large rewards; those of whom one party, though equally skillful as another party in artistic work or in turning out productive or beneficial works, is slighted by bestowing larger rewards on its rival party; those who are harassed by courtiers (Vallabhá-varuddháh); those who are invited to be slighted; those who are harassed by banishment; those who in spite of their large outlay of money have failed in their undertakings; those who are prevented from the exercise of their rights or from taking possession of their inheritance; those who have fallen from their rank and honours in government service; those who are shoved to the corner by their own kinsmen; those whose women are violently assaulted; those who are thrown in jail; those who are punished in secret; those who are warned of their misdeeds; those whose property has been wholly confiscated; those who have long suffered from imprisonment; those whose relatives are banished---all these come under the group of provoked persons.

  • He who has fallen a victim to misfortune by his own misdeeds; he who is offended (by the king); he whose sinful deeds are brought to light; he who is alarmed at the award of punishment on a man of like guilt; he whose lands have been confiscated; he whose rebellious spirit is put down by coercive measures; he who, as a superintendent of all government departments, has suddenly amassed a large amount of wealth; he who, as a relative of such a rich man aspires to inherit his wealth; he who is disliked by the king; and he who hates the king,--all these come under the group of persons alarmed.

  • He who is impoverished; he who has lost much wealth; he who is niggardly; he who is addicted to evil propensities; and he who is engaged in dangerous transactions,---all these constitute the group of ambitious persons.

  • He who is self-sufficient; he who is fond of honours; he who is intolerant of his rival's honour; he who is esteemed low; he who is of a fiery spirit; he who is foolhardy as well as he who is not content with what he has been enjoying,--all these come under the group of haughty persons.

  • Of these, he who clings to a particular faction shall be so deluded by spies with shaved head or braided hair as to believe that he is intriguing with that party. Partisans under provocation, for example, may be won over by telling that ‘just as an elephant in rut and mounted over by a driver under intoxication tramples under its foot whatever it comes across, so this king, dispossessed of the eye of science, blindly attempts to oppress both citizens and country people; it is possible to restrain him by setting up a rival elephant against him; so have forbearance enough (to wait).’

  • Likewise alarmed persons may be won over by telling that ‘just as a hidden snake bites and emits poison over whatever alarms it, so this king apprehensive of danger from thee will ere long emit the poison of his resentment on thee; so thou mayest better go elsewhere.’

  • Similarly ambitious persons may be won over by telling that ‘just as a cow reared by dog-keepers gives milk to dogs, but not to Bráhmans, so this king gives milk (rewards) to those who are devoid of valour, foresight, eloquence and bravery, but not to those who are possessed of noble character; so the other king who is possessed of power to discriminate men from men may be courted.’

  • In like manner haughty persons may be won over by telling that ‘just as a reservoir of water belonging to Chándálas is serviceable only to Chándálas, but not to others, so this king of low-birth confers his patronage only on low-born people, but not on Aryas like thee; so the other king who is possessed of power to distinguish between men and men may be courted.’

  • All these disaffected persons, when acquiescing to the above proposals, may be made under a solumn compact (panakarmaná) to form a combination together with the spies to achieve their end.

  • Likewise friends of a foreign king may also be won over by means of persuation and rewards, while implacable enemies may be brought round by sowing dissensions, by threats, and by pointing out the defects of their master.

[Thus ends Chapter XIV, "Winning over Factions for or against an Enemy's Cause in an Enemy’s State," in Book I, "Concerning Discipline" of the Arthasástra of Kautilya.]


  • HAVING gained a firm hold on the affection of both local and foreign parties both in his own and enemy's state, the king shall proceed to think of administrative measures.

  • All kinds of administrative measures are preceded by deliberations in a well-formed council. The subject matter of a council shall be entirely secret and deliberations in it shall be so carried that even birds cannot see them; for it is said that the secrecy of counsels was divulged by parrots, minas, dogs and other low creatures of mean birth. Hence without providing himself with sufficient safeguard against disclosure, he shall never enter into deliberations in a council.

  • Whoever discloses counsels shall be torn to pieces. The disclosure of counsels may be detected by observing changes in the attitude and countenance of envoys, ministers, and masters. Change in conduct is change in attitude (ingitamanyathávrittih); and observation of physical appearance is countenance (ákritigrahanamákárah).

  • Maintenance of the secrecy of a council-matter, and keeping guard over officers that have taken part in the deliberation over it (shall be strictly observed) till the time of starting the work so considered approaches.

  • Carelessness, intoxication, talking in sleep, love and other evil habits of councillors are the causes of the betrayal of counsels.

  • Whoever is of hidden nature or is disregarded will disclose counsels. Hence steps shall be taken to safeguard counsels against such dangers. Disclosure of counsels is advantageous to persons other than the king and his officers.

  • "Hence," says Bháradvája, "the king shall singly deliberate over secret matters; for ministers have their own ministers, and these latter some of their own; this kind of successive line of ministers tends to the disclosure of counsels.

  • "Hence no outside person shall know anything of the work which the king has in view. Only those who are employed to carry it out shall know it either when it is begun or when accomplished."

  • “No deliberation,” says Visáláksha, “made by a single person will be successful; the nature of the work which a sovereign has to do is to be inferred from the consideration of both the visible and invisible causes. The perception of what is not or cannot be seen, the conclusive decision of whatever is seen, the clearance of doubts as to whatever is susceptible of two opinions, and the inference of the whole when only a part is seen--all this is possible of decision only by ministers. Hence he shall sit at deliberation with persons of wide intellect.

  • He shall despise none, but hear the opinions of all. A wise man shall make use of even a child's sensible utterance.

  • "This is," says Parásara "ascertaining the opinions of others, but not keeping counsels. He shall ask his ministers for their opinion, on a work similar to the one he has in view, telling them that "this is the work; it happened thus; what is to be done if it will turn out thus"; and he shall do as they decide. If it is done thus, both the ascertainment of opinions and maintenance of secrecy can be attained."

  • “Not so,” says Pisuna, “for ministers, when called for their opinions regarding a distant undertaking, or an accomplished or an unaccomplished work, either approach the subject with indifference or give their opinions half-heartedly. This is a serious defect. Hence he shall consult such persons as are believed to be capable of giving decisive opinion regarding those works about which he seeks for advice. If he consults thus, he can secure good advice as well as secrecy of counsel."

  • "Not so," says Kautilya, "for this (kind of seeking for advice) is infinite and endless. He shall consult three or four ministers. Consultation with a single (minister) may not lead to any definite conclusion in cases of complicated issues. A single minister proceeds willfully and without restraint. In deliberating with two ministers, the king may be overpowered by their combined action, or imperiled by their mutual dissension. But with three or four ministers he will not come to any serious grief, but will arrive at satisfactory results. With ministers more than four in number, he will have to come to a decision after a good deal of trouble; nor will secrecy of counsel be maintained without much trouble. In accordance with the requirements of place, time, and nature of the work in view, he may, as he deems it proper, deliberate with one or two ministers or by himself.

  • Means to carry out works, command of plenty of men and wealth, allotment of time and place, remedies against dangers, and final success are the five constituents of every council-deliberation.

  • The king may ask his ministers for their opinion either individually or collectively, and ascertain their ability by judging over the reasons they assign for their opinions.

  • He shall lose no time when the opportunity waited for arrives; nor shall he sit long at consultation with those whose parties he intends to hurt.

  • The school of Manu say that the assembly of ministers (mantriparishad) shall be made to consist of twelve members.

  • The school of Brihaspathi say that it shall consist of sixteen members.

  • The school of Usanas say that it shall consist of twenty members.

  • But Kautilya holds that it shall consist of as many members as the needs of his dominion require (yathásámarthyam).

  • Those ministers shall have to consider all that concerns the parties of both the king and his enemy. They shall also set themselves to start the work that is not yet begun, to complete what has been begun, to improve what has been accomplished, and to enforce strict obedience to orders (niyogasampadam).

  • He shall supervise works in company with his officers that are near (ásannaih); and consult by sending writs (patrasampreshanena) those that are (not) near (ásanna).

  • One thousand sages form Indra's assembly of ministers (mantriparishad). They are his eyes. Hence he is called thousand-eyed though he possesses only two eyes.

  • In works of emergency, he shall call both his ministers and the assembly of ministers (mantrino mantriparishadam cha), and tell them of the same. He shall do whatever the majority (bhúyishtháh) of the members suggest or whatever course of action leading to success (káryasiddhikaram va) they point out. And while doing any work,

  • None of his enemies (pare) shall know his secret, but he shall know the weak points of his enemy. Like a tortoise he shall draw in his limbs that are stretched out.

  • Just as balls of meal offered to ancestors by a person not learned in the Vedas are unfit to be eaten by wise men, so whoever is not well versed in sciences shall be unfit to hear of council deliberations.

[Thus ends Chapter XV, "The Business of Council-meeting" in Book I, “Concerning Discipline” of the Arthasástra of Kautilya.]


  • WHOEVER has succeeded as a councillor is an envoy.

  • Whoever possesses ministerial qualifications is a chargé-d'affaires (nisrishtárthah).

  • Whoever possesses the same qualifications less by one-quarter is an agent entrusted with a definite mission (parimitárthah).

  • Whoever possesses the same qualifications less by one-half is a conveyer of royal writs (sásanaharah).

  • Having made excellent arrangements for carriage, conveyance, servants and subsistence, he (an envoy) shall start on his mission, thinking that "the enemy shall be told thus: the enemy (para) will say, thus; this shall be the reply to him; and thus he shall be imposed upon."

  • The envoy shall make friendship with the enemy's officers such as those in charge of wild tracts, of boundaries, of cities, and of country parts. He shall also contrast the military stations, sinews of war, and strong-holds of the enemy with those of his own master. He shall ascertain the size and area of forts and of the state, as well as strongholds of precious things and assailable and unassailable points.

  • Having obtained permission, he shall enter into the capital of the enemy and state the object of the mission as exactly as entrusted to him even at the cost of his own life.

  • Brightness in the tone, face, and eyes of the enemy; respectful reception of the mission; enquiry about the health of friends; taking part in the narration of virtues; giving a seat close to the throne; respectful treatment of the envoy; remembrance of friends; closing the mission with satisfaction;--all these shall be noted as indicating the good graces of the enemy and the reverse his displeasure.

  • A displeased enemy maybe told:--

  • "Messengers are the mouth-pieces of kings, not only of thyself, but of all; hence messengers who, in the face of weapons raised against them, have to express their mission as exactly as they are entrusted with do not, though outcasts, deserve death; where is then reason to put messengers of Bráhman caste to death? This is another's speech. This (i.e., delivery of that speech verbatim) is the duty of messengers."

  • Not puffed up with the respects shown to him, he shall stay there till he is allowed to depart. He shall not care for the mightiness of the enemy; shall strictly avoid women and liquor; shall take bed single; for it is well-known that the intentions of envoys are ascertained while they are asleep or under the influence of liquor.

  • He shall, through the agency of ascetic and merchant spies or through their disciples or through spies under the disguise of physicians, and heretics, or through recipients of salaries from two states (ubhayavétana), ascertain the nature of the intrigue prevalent among parties favourably disposed to his own master, as well as the conspiracy of hostile factions, and understand the loyalty or disloyalty of the people to the enemy besides any assailable points.

  • If there is no possibility of carrying on any such conversation (conversation with the people regarding their loyalty), he may try to gather such information by observing the talk of beggars, intoxicated and insane persons or of persons babbling in sleep, or by observing the signs made in places of pilgrimage and temples or by deciphering paintings and secret writings (chitra-gúdha-lékhya-samjñá-bhih).

  • Whatever information he thus gathers he shall try to test by intrigues.

  • He shall not check the estimate which the enemy makes of the elements of sovereignty of his own master; but he shall only say in reply, ‘All is known to thee.’ Nor shall he disclose the means employed (by his master) to achieve an end in view.

  • If he has not succeeded in his mission, but is still detained, he shall proceed to infer thus:--

  • Whether seeing the imminent danger into which my master is likely to fall and desirous of averting his own danger; whether in view of inciting against my master an enemy threatening in the rear or a king whose dominion in the rear is separated by other intervening states; whether in view of causing internal rebellion in my master's state, or of inciting a wild chief (átavika) against my master; whether in view of destroying my master by employing a friend or a king whose dominion stretches out in the rear of my master's state (ákranda); whether with the intention of averting the internal trouble in his own state or of preventing a foreign invasion or the inroads of a wild chief; whether in view of causing the approaching time of my master's expedition to lapse; whether with the desire of collecting raw materials and merchandise, or of repairing his fortifications, or of recruiting a strong army capable to fight; whether waiting for the time and opportunity necessary for the complete training of his own army; or whether in view of making a desirable alliance in order to avert the present contempt brought about by his own carelessness, this king detains me thus?

  • Then he may stay or get out as he deems it desirable; or he may demand a speedy settlement of his mission.

  • Or having intimated an unfavourable order (sásana) to the enemy, and pretending apprehension of imprisonment or death, he may return even without permission; otherwise he may be punished.

  • Transmission of missions, maintenance of treaties, issue of ultimatum (pratápa), gaining of friends, intrigue, sowing dissension among friends, fetching secret force; carrying away by stealth relatives and gems, gathering information about the movements of spies, bravery, breaking of treaties of peace, winning over the favour of the envoy and government officers of the enemy,---these are the duties of an envoy (dúta).

  • The king shall employ his own envoys to carry on works of the above description, and guard himself against (the mischief of) foreign envoys by employing counter envoys, spies, and visible and invisible watchmen.

[Thus ends Chapter XVI, “The Mission of Envoys” in Book I, “Concerning Discipline” of the Arthasástra of Kautilya.]



Protection of Princes

  • HAVING secured his own personal safety first from his wives and sons, the king can be in a position to maintain the security of his kingdom against immediate enemies as well as foreign kings.

  • We shall treat of "Protection of Wives" in connection with "Duties toward's the Harem."

  • Ever since the birth of princes, the king shall take special care of them.

  • “For,” says Bháradvája, “princes like crabs have a notorious tendency of eating up their begetter. When they are wanting in filial affection, they shall better be punished in secret (upámsudandah).”

  • "This is,” says Visáláksha, “cruelty, destruction of fortune, and extirpation of the seed of the race of Kshattriyas. Hence it is better to keep them under guard in a definite place.”

  • “This,” say the school of Parásara, “is akin to the fear from a lurking snake (ahibhayam); for a prince may think that apprehensive of danger, his father has locked him up, and may attempt to put his own father on his lap. Hence it is better to keep a prince under the custody of boundary guards or inside a fort."

  • "This," says Pisuna, “is akin to the fear (from a wolf in the midst) of a flock of sheep (aurabhrakam bhayam); for after understanding the cause of his rustication, he may avail himself of the opportunity to, make an alliance with the boundary guards (against his father). Hence it is better to throw him inside a fort belonging to a foreign king far away from his own state."

  • “This,” says Kaunapadanta, “is akin to the position of a calf (vatsasthánam); for just as a man milks a cow with the help of its calf, so the foreign king may milk (reduce) the prince's father. Hence it is better to make a prince live with his maternal relations."

  • “This,” says Vátavyádhi “is akin to the position of a flag (dhvajasthánamétat): for as in the case of Aditi and Kausika, the prince's maternal relations may, unfurling this flag, go on begging. Hence princes may be suffered to dissipate their lives by sensual excesses (grámyadharma) inasmuch as revelling sons do not dislike their indulgent father."

  • "This," says Kautilya, "is death in life; for no sooner is a royal family with a prince or princes given to dissipation attacked, than it perishes like a worm-eaten piece of wood. Hence when the queen attains the age favourable for procreation, priests shall offer to Indra and Brihaspati the requisite oblations. When she is big with a child, the king shall observe the instructions of midwifery with regard to gestation and delivery. After delivery, the priests shall perform the prescribed purificatory ceremonials. When the prince attains the necessary age, adepts shall train him under proper discipline."

  • "Any one of the classmate spies," say (politicians known as) Ambhíyas, "may allure the prince towards hunting, gambling, liquor, and women, and instigate him to attack his own father and snatch the reins of government in his own hands. Another spy shall prevent him from such acts."

  • "There can be," says Kautilya, "no greater crime or sin than making wicked impressions on an innocent mind; just as a fresh object is stained with whatever it is brought in close association, so a prince with fresh mind is apt to regard as scientific injunctions all that he is told of. Hence he shall be taught only of righteousness and of wealth (artha), but not of unrighteousness and of non-wealth. Classmate spies shall be so courteous towards him as to say "thine are we." When under the temptation of youth, he turns his eye towards women, impure women under the disguise of Aryas shall, at night and in lonely places, terrify him; when fond of liquor, he shall be terrified by making him drink such liquor as is adulterated with narcotics (yógapána); when fond of gambling, he shall be terrified by spies under the disguise of fraudulent persons; when fond of hunting, he shall be terrified by spies under the disguise of highway robbers; and when desirous of attacking his own father, he shall, under the pretence of compliance, be gradually persuaded of the evil consequences of such attempts, by telling: a king is not made by a mere wish; failure of thy attempt will bring about thy own death; success makes thee fall into hell and causes the people to lament (for thy father) and destroy the only clod (ekalóshtavadhascha, i.e., thyself)."

  • When a king has an only son who is either devoid of worldly pleasures or is a favourite child, the king may keep him under chains. If a king has many sons, he may send some of them to where there is no heir apparent, nor a child either just born or in the embryo.

  • When a prince is possessed of good and amicable qualities, he may be made the commander-in-chief or installed as heir apparent.

  • Sons are of three kinds: those of sharp intelligence; those of stagnant intelligence; and those of perverted mind.

  • Whoever carries into practice whatever he is taught concerning righteousness and wealth is one of sharp intelligence; whoever never carries into practice the good instructions he has imbibed is one of stagnant intelligence; and whoever entangles himself in dangers and hates righteousness and wealth is one of perverted mind.

  • If a king has an only son (of the last type), attempts shall be made to procreating a son to him; or sons may be begotten on his daughters.

  • When a king is too old or diseased (to beget sons), he may appoint a maternal relation or a blood relation (kulya) of his or any one of his neighbouring kings possessed of good and amicable qualities to sow the seed in his own field (kshétrebíjam, i.e., to beget a son on his wife.)

  • But never shall a wicked and an only son be installed on the royal throne.

  • A royal father who is the only prop for many (people) shall be favourably disposed towards his son. Except in dangers, sovereignty falling to the lot of the eldest (son) is always respected. Sovereignty may (sometimes) be the property of a clan; for the corporation of clans is invincible in its nature and being free from the calamities of anarchy, can have a permanent existence on earth.

[Thus ends Chapter XVII, “Protection of Princes” in Book I, “Concerning Discipline” of the Arthasástra of Kautilya.]



  • A PRINCE, though put to troubles and employed in an unequal task, shall yet faithfully follow his father unless that task costs his life, enrages the people, or causes any other serious calamities. If he is employed in a good or meritorious work, he shall try to win the good graces of the superintendent of that work, carry the work to a profitable end beyond expectation, and present his father with the proportional profit derived from that work as well as with the excessive profit due to his skill. If the king is not still pleased with him and shows undue partiality to another prince and other wives, he may request the king to permit him for a forest-life.

  • Or if he apprehends imprisonment or death, he may seek refuge under a neighbouring king who is known to be righteous, charitable, truthful, and not given to cunning, but also welcomes and respects guests of good character. Residing therein he may provide himself with men and money, contract marriage-connection with influential personages, and not only make alliance with wild tribes, but win over the parties (in his father's state).

  • Or moving alone, he may earn his livelihood by working in gold mines or ruby mines or by manufacturing gold and silver ornaments or any other commercial commodities. Having acquired close intimacy with heretics (páshanda), rich widows, or merchants carrying on ocean traffic he may, by making use of poison (madanarasa), rob them of their wealth as well as the wealth of gods unless the latter is enjoyable by Bráhmans learned in the Vedas. Or he may adopt such measures as are employed to capture the villages of a foreign king. Or he may proceed (against his father) with the help of the servants of his mother.

  • Or having disguised himself as a painter, a carpenter, court-bard, a physician, a buffoon, or a heretic, and assisted by spies under similar disguise, he may, when opportunity affords itself, present himself armed with weapons and poison before the king, and address him :--

  • "I am the heir-apparent; it does not become thee to enjoy the state alone when it is enjoyable by both of us, or when others justly desire such enjoyment; I ought not to be kept away by awarding an allowance of double the subsistence and salary."

  • These are the measures that a prince kept under restraint has to take.

  • Spies or his mother, natural or adoptive, may reconcile an heir-apparent under restraint and bring him to the court.

  • Or secret emissaries armed with weapons and poison may kill an abandoned prince. If he is not abandoned, he may be caught hold of at night by employing women equal to the occasion, or by making use of liquor, or on the occasion of hunting, and brought back (to the court).

  • When thus brought back, he shall be conciliated by the king with promise of sovereignty ‘after me’ (i.e., after the king's death), and kept under guard, in a definite locality. Or if the king has many sons, an unruly prince may be banished.

[Thus ends Chapter XVIII, “The Conduct of a Prince kept under Restraint and the Treatment of a Restrained Prince,” in Book I, “Concerning Discipline” of the Arthasástra of Kautilya.]



  • IF a king is energetic, his subjects will be equally energetic. If he is reckless, they will not only be reckless likewise, but also eat into his works. Besides, a reckless king will easily fall into the hands of his enemies. Hence the king shall ever be wakeful.

  • He shall divide both the day and the night into eight nálikas (1½ hours), or according to the length of the shadow (cast by a gnomon standing in the sun): the shadow of three purushás (36 angulás or inches), of one purushá (12 inches), of four angulás (4 inches), and absence of shadow denoting midday are the four one-eighth divisions of the forenoon; like divisions (in the reverse order) in the afternoon.

  • Of these divisions, during the first one-eighth part of the day, he shall post watchmen and attend to the accounts of receipts and expenditure; during the second part, he shall look to the affairs of both citizens and country people; during the third, he shall not only bathe and dine, but also study; during the fourth, he shall not only receive revenue in gold (hiranya), but also attend to the appointments of superintendents; during the fifth, he shall correspond in writs (patrasampreshanena) with the assembly of his ministers, and receive the secret information gathered by his spies; during the sixth, he may engage himself in his favourite amusements or in self-deliberation; during the seventh, he shall superintend elephants, horses, chariots, and infantry, and during the eighth part, he shall consider various plans of military operations with his commander-in-chief.

  • At the close of the day, he shall observe the evening prayer (sandhya).

  • During the first one-eighth part of the night, he shall receive secret emissaries; during the second, he shall attend to bathing and supper and study; during the third, he shall enter the bed-chamber amid the sound of trumpets and enjoy sleep during the fourth and fifth parts; having been awakened by the sound of trumpets during the sixth part, he shall recall to his mind the injunctions of sciences as well as the day's duties; during the seventh, he shall sit considering administrative measures and send out spies; and during the eighth division of the night, he shall receive benedictions from sacrificial priests, teachers, and the high priest, and having seen his physician, chief cook and astrologer, and having saluted both a cow with its calf and a bull by circumambulating round them, he shall get into his court.

  • Or in conformity to his capacity, he may alter the timetable and attend to his duties.

  • When in the court, he shall never cause his petitioners to wait at the door, for when a king makes himself inaccessible to his people and entrusts his work to his immediate officers, he may be sure to engender confusion in business, and to cause thereby public disaffection, and himself a prey to his enemies.

  • He shall, therefore, personally attend to the business of gods, of heretics, of Bráhmans learned in the Vedas, of cattle, of sacred places, of minors, the aged, the afflicted, and the helpless, and of women;---all this in order (of enumeration) or according to the urgency or pressure of those works.

  • All urgent calls he shall hear at once, but never put off; for when postponed, they will prove too hard or impossible to accomplish.

  • Having seated himself in the room where the sacred fire has been kept, he shall attend to the business of physicians and ascetics practising austerities; and that in company with his high priest and teacher and after preliminary salutation (to the petitioners).

  • Accompanied by persons proficient in the three sciences (trividya) but not alone lest the petitioners be offended, he shall look to the business of those who are practising austerities, as well as of those who are experts in witchcraft and Yóga.

  • Of a king, the religious vow is his readiness to action; satisfactory discharge of duties is his performance of sacrifice; equal attention to all is the offer of fees and ablution towards consecration.

  • In the happiness of his subjects lies his happiness; in their welfare his welfare; whatever pleases himself he shall not consider as good, but whatever pleases his subjects he shall consider as good.

  • Hence the king shall ever be active and discharge his duties; the root of wealth is activity, and of evil its reverse.

  • In the absence of activity acquisitions present and to come will perish; by activity he can achieve both his desired ends and abundance of wealth.

[Thus ends Chapter XIX, “The Duties of a King” in Book I. “Concerning Discipline” of the Arthasástra of Kautilya.]



  • ON a site naturally best fitted for the purpose, the king shall construct his harem consisting of many compartments, one within the other, enclosed by a parapet and a ditch, and provided with a door.

  • He shall construct his own residential palace after the model of his treasury-house; or he may have his residential abode in the centre of the delusive chamber (móhanagriha), provided with secret passages made into the walls; or in an underground chamber provided with the figures of goddesses and of altars (chaitya) carved on the wooden door-frame, and connected with many underground passages for exit; or in an upper storey provided with a staircase hidden in a wall, with a passage for exit made in a hollow pillar, the whole building being so constructed with mechanical contrivance as to be caused to fall down when necessary.

  • Or considering the danger from his own classmates (sahádhyáyi), such contrivances as the above, mainly intended as safeguards against danger, may be made on occasions of danger or otherwise as he deems fit.

  • No other kind of fire can burn that harem which is thrice circumambulated from right to left by a fire of human make (manushénágnina); nor can there be kindled any other fire. Nor can fire destroy that harem the walls of which are made of mud mixed with ashes produced by lightning, and wetted in hail-water (karaka-vári).

  • Poisonous snakes will not dare to enter into such buildings as are provided with Jívanti (Fæderia Fœtida), svéta (Aconitum Ferox), mushkakapushpa (?), and vandáka (Epidendrum Tesselatum), and as are protected by the branches of péjáta (?) and of asvattha (Ficus Religiosa).

  • Cats, peacocks, mangooses, and the spotted deer eat up snakes.

  • Parrots, minas (sárika), and Malbar birds (bhringarája) shriek when they perceive the smell of snake-poison.

  • The heron (crauncha) swoons in the vicinity of poison; the pheasant (jívanjívaka) feels distress; the youthful cuckoo (mattakókila) dies; the eyes of partridge (chakóra) are reddened.

  • Thus remedies shall be applied against fire and poison.

  • On one side in the rear of the harem, there shall be made for the residence of women compartments provided not only with all kinds of medicines useful in midwifery and diseases, but also with well known pot-herbs (prakhyátasamsthávriksha), and a water-reservoir; outside these compartments, the residences of princes and princesses; in front (of the latter building), the toilet-ground (alankára bhúmih), the council-ground (mantrabhúmib), the court, and the offices of the heir-apparent and of superintendents.

  • In the intervening places between two compartments, the army of the officer in charge of the harem shall be stationed.

  • When in the interior of the harem, the king shall see the queen only when her personal purity is vouchsafed by an old maid-servant. He shall not touch any woman (unless he is apprised of her personal purity); for hidden in the queen's chamber, his own brother slew king Bhadrasena; hiding himself under the bed of his mother, the son killed king Kárusa; mixing fried rice with poison, as though with honey, his own queen poisoned Kásirája; with an anklet painted with poison, his own queen killed Vairantya; with a gem of her zone bedaubed with poison, his own queen killed Sauvíra; with a looking glass painted with poison, his own queen killed Jálútha; and with a weapon hidden under her tuft of hair, his own queen slew Vidúratha.

  • Hence the king shall always be careful to avoid such lurking dangers. He shall keep away his wives from the society of ascetics with shaved head or braided hair, of buffoons, and of outside prostitutes (dási). Nor shall women of high birth have occasion to see his wives except appointed midwives.

  • Prostitutes (rúpájíva) with personal cleanliness effected by fresh bath and with fresh garments and ornaments shall attend the harem.

  • Eighty men and fifty women under the guise of fathers and mothers, and aged persons, and eunuchs shall not only ascertain purity and impurity in the life of the inmates of the harem, but also so regulate the affairs as to be conducive to the happiness of the king.

  • Every person in the harem shall live in the place assigned to him, and shall never move to the place assigned to others. No one of the harem shall at any time keep company with any outsider.

  • The passage of all kinds of commodities from or into the harem shall be restricted and shall, after careful examination, be allowed to reach their destination either inside or outside the harem as indicated by the seal-mark (mudrá).

[Thus ends Chapter XX, “Duty towards the Harem” in Book I, “Concerning Discipline” of the Arthasástra of Kautilya.]



  • ON getting up from the bed, the king shall be received by troops of women armed with bows. In the second compartment, he shall be received by the Kanchuki (presenter of the king's coat), the Ushnisi (presenter of king's head-dress), aged persons, and other harem attendants.

  • In the third compartment, he shall be received by crooked and dwarfish persons; in the fourth, by prime ministers, kinsmen, and door-keepers with barbed missiles in their hand.

  • The king shall employ as his personal attendants those whose fathers and grandfathers had been royal servants, those who bear close relationship to the king, those who are well trained and loyal, and those who have rendered good service.

  • Neither foreigners, nor those who have earned neither rewards nor honour by rendering good service, nor even natives found engaged in inimical works shall form the bodyguard of the king or the troops of the officers in charge of the harem.

  • In a well-guarded locality, the head-cook (máhánasika) shall supervise the preparation of varieties of relishing dishes. The king shall partake of such fresh dishes after making an oblation out of them first to the fire and then to birds.

  • When the flame and the smoke turn blue and crackle, and when birds (that eat the oblation) die, presence of poison (in the dish) shall be inferred. When the vapour arising from cooked rice possesses the colour of the neck of a peacock, and appears chill as if suddenly cooled, when vegetables possess an unnatural colour, and are watery and hardened, and appear to have suddenly turned dry, being possessed of broken layers of blackish foam, and being devoid of smell, touch and taste natural to them; when utensils reflect light either more or less than usual, and are covered with a layer of foam at their edges; when any liquid preparation possesses streaks on its surface; when milk bears a bluish streak in the centre of its surface; when liquor and water possess reddish streaks; when curd is marked with black and dark streaks, and honey with white streaks; when watery things appear parched as if overcooked and look blue and swollen; when dry things have shrinked and changed in their colour; when hard things appear soft, and soft things hard; when minute animalculæ die in the vicinity of the dishes; when carpets and curtains possess blackish circular spots, with their threads and hair fallen off; when metallic vessels set with gems appear tarnished as though by roasting, and have lost their polish, colour, shine, and softness of touch, presence of poison shall be inferred.

  • As to the person who has administered poison, the marks are parched and dry mouth; hesitation in speaking; heavy perspiration; yawning; too much bodily tremour; frequent tumbling; evasion of speech; carelessness in work; and unwillingness to keep to the place assigned to him.

  • Hence physicians and experts capable of detecting poison shall ever attend upon the king.

  • Having taken out from the store-room of medicines that medicine the purity of which has been proved by experiment, and having himself together with the decoctioner and the purveyor (páchaka and póshaka) tasted it, the physician shall hand over the medicine to the king. The same rule shall apply to liquor and other beverages.

  • Having cleaned their person and hands by fresh bath and put on newly-washed garment, servants in charge of dresses, and toilets shall serve the king with dresses and toilets received under seal from the officer in charge of the harem.

  • Prostitutes shall do the duty of bath-room servants, shampooers, bedding-room servants, washermen, and flower garland-makers, while presenting to the king water, scents, fragrant powders, dress and garlands, servants along with the above prostitutes shall first touch these things by their eyes, arms and breast.

  • The same rule shall apply to whatever has been received from an outside person.

  • Musicians shall entertain the king with those kinds of amusements in which weapons, fire, and poison are not made use of. Musical instruments as well as the ornaments of horses, chariots, and elephants shall invariably be kept inside (the harem).

  • The king shall mount over chariots or beasts of burden only when they are first mounted over by his hereditary driver or rider.

  • He shall get into a boat only when it is piloted by a trustworthy sailor and is conjoined to a second boat. He shall never sail on any ship which had once been weatherbeaten; and (while boating on a good ship) his army shall all the while stand on the bank or the shore.

  • He shall get into such water as is free from large fishes (matsya) and crocodiles. He shall ramble only in such forests as are freed from snakes and crocodiles (gráha).

  • With a view of acquiring efficiency in the skill of shooting arrows at moving objects, he shall engage himself in sports in such forests as are cleared by hunters and hound-keepers from the fear of high-way-robbers, snakes, and enemies.

  • Attended by trustworthy bodyguard armed with weapons, he shall give interview to saints and ascetics. Surrounded by his assembly of minsters, he shall receive the envoys of foreign states.

  • Attired in military dress and having mounted a horse, a chariot, or an elephant, he shall go see his army equipped in military array.

  • On the occaision of going out of, and coming into (the capital), the king’s road shall on both sides be well guarded by staff-bearers and freed from the presence of armed persons, ascetics, and the cripple (vyanga).

  • He shall go to witness festive trains, fairs (yátra), procession, or sacrificial performances only when they are policed by bands of ‘The Ten Communities.’ (dasavargikadhishthitáni).

  • Just as he attends to the personal safety of others through the agency of spies, so a wise king shall also take care to secure his person from external dangers.

[Thus ends Chapter XX, “Personal Safety” in Book I, “Concerning Discipline” of the Arthasástra of Kautilya. With this, the Book I, “Concerning Discipline” of the Arthasástra of Kautilya, has ended.]


home      contact us