Works of R. Tagore

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  Kautilya's Arthashastra
  Vatsayana Kama Sutra

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  Stories of Tenali Rama
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  The Mahabharata
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  Rig Veda
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  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
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  Manu Smriti


Kautilya's Arthashastra
Book XV: The Plan of a Treatise
Translated by R. Shamasastry


Paragraphical divisions of this treatise. Such are the contents of this Science. There are on the whole 15 books, 150 chapters, 180 sections and 6,000 slokas. This Sástra, bereft of undue enlargement and easy to grasp and understand, has been composed by Kautilya in words the meaning of which has been definitely settled.


        THE subsistence of mankind is termed artha, wealth; the earth which contains mankind is also termed artha, wealth; that science which treats of the means of acquiring and maintaining the earth is the Arthasástra, Science of Polity.

        It contains thirty-two paragraphical divisions; the book (adhikarana), contents (vidhána), suggestion of similar facts (yoga), the meaning of a word (padártha), the purport of reason (hetvartha), mention of a fact in brief (uddesa), mention of a fact in detail (nirdesa), guidance (upadesa), quotation, (apadesa), application (atidesa) the place of reference (pradesa), simile (upamána), implication (arthápatti), doubt (samsaya), reference to similar procedure (presanga), contrariety (viparyaya), ellipsis (vakyasesha), acceptance (anumata), explanation (vyákhayána), derivation (nirvachana), illustration (nidarsana), exception (apavarga), the author’s own technical terms (svasanjá), prima facie view (púrva paksha), rejoinder (uttrapaksha), conclusion (ekánta), reference to a subsequent portion (anágatávekshana), reference to a previous portion (atikrantávekshana), command (niyoga), alternative (vikalpa), compounding together (samuchchaya), and determinable fact (úhya).

        That portion of a work in which a subject or topic is treated of is a book, as for example: “This Arthasástra or Science of Polity has been made as a compendium of all those Arthasástras which, as a guidance to kings in acquiring and maintaining the earth, have been written by ancient teachers.”

        A brief description of the matter contained in a book is its contents, as: "the end of learning; association with the aged; control of the organs of sense; the creation of ministers, and the like."

        Pointing out similar facts by the use of such words as ‘These and the like,’ is suggestion of similar facts; for example: "The world consisting of the four castes and the four religious divisions and the like."

        The sense which a word has to convey is its meaning; for example, with regard to the words múlahara: "Whoever squanders the wealth acquired for him by his father and grandfather is a múlahara, prodigal son."

        What is meant to prove an assertion is the purport of reason; for example: "For charity and enjoyment of life depend upon wealth."

        Saying in one word is mentioning a fact in brief; for example: "It is the control of the organs of sense on which success in learning and discipline depend."

        Explanation in detached words is the mentioning of a fact in detail; for example: "Absence of discrepancy 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 restraint of the organs of sense."

        Such statement as "Thus one should live," is guidance; for example: "Not violating the laws of righteousness and economy, he should live."

        Such statement, as ‘he says thus,’ is a quotation; for example: "The school of Manu say that a king should make his assembly of ministers consist of twelve ministers; the school of Brihaspati say that it should consist of sixteen ministers; the school of Usans say it should contain twenty members; but Kautilya holds that it should contain as many ministers as the need of the kingdom requires.”

        When a rule dwelt upon in connection with a question is said to apply to another question also, it is termed application; for example: "What is said of a debt not repaid holds good with failure to make good a promised gift."

        Establishing a fact by what is to be treated of later on is ‘place of reference;’ for example: "By making use of such strategic means as conciliation, bribery, dissension, and coercion, as we shall explain in connection with calamities."

        Proving an unseen thing or course of circumstances by what has been seen is simile; for example: "Like a father his son, he should protect those of his subjects who have passed the period of the remission of taxes."

        What naturally follows from a statement of facts, though not spoken of in plain terms, is implication; for example, "Whoever has full experience of the affairs of this world should, through the medium of the courtiers and other friends, win the favour of a king who is of good character and worthy sovereign. It follows from this that no one should seek the favour of a king through the medium of the king's enemies."

        When the statement of a reason is equally applicable to two cases of circumstances, it is termed doubt; for example: "Which of the two should a conqueror march against: one whose subjects are impoverished and greedy, or one whose subjects are oppressed?"

        When the nature of procedure to be specified in connection with a thing is said to be equal to what has already been specified in connection with another, it is termed reference to similar procedure; for example: "On the lands allotted to him for the purpose of carrying on agricultural operations, he should do as before."

        The inference of a reverse statement from a positive statement is termed contrariety; for example: "The reverse will be the appearance of a king who is not pleased with the messenger."

        That portion of a sentence which is omitted, though necessary to convey a complete sense, is ellipsis; for example: "With his feathers plucked off, he will lose his power to move." Here ‘like a bird’ is omitted.

        When the opinion of another person is stated but not refuted, it is acceptance of that opinion; for example: “Wings, front, and reserve, is the form of an array of the army according to the school of Usanas.”

        Description in detail is explanation; for example: "Especially amongst assemblies and confederacies of kings possessing the characteristics of assemblies, quarrel is due to gambling ; and destruction of persons due to the quarrel. Hence, among evil propensities, gambling is the worst evil, since it renders the king powerless for activity."

        Stating the derivative sense of a word, is derivation; for example: "That which throws off (vyasyati) a king from his prosperous career is propensity (vyasana).

        The mentioning of a fact to illustrate a statement, is illustration; for example: "In war with a superior, the inferior will be reduced to the same condition as that of a foot-soldier fighting with an elephant."

        Removal of an undesired implication from a statement is exception; for example: "A king may allow his enemy's army to be present close to his territory, unless he suspects of the existence of any internal trouble."

        Words which are not used by others in the special sense in which they are used by the author are his own technical terms; for example: "He who is close to the conqueror's territory is the first member; next to him comes the second member; and next to the second comes the third."

        The citation of another's opinion to be refuted, is prima facie view; for example: "Of the two evils, the distress of the king and that of his minister, the latter is worse."

        Settled opinion is rejoinder; for example: "The distress of the king is worse, since everything depends upon him; for the king is the central pivot, as it were."

        That which is universal in its application is conclusion or an established fact: for example: "A king should ever be ready for manly effort."

        Drawing attention to a later chapter is reference to a subsequent portion; for example: "We shall explain balance and weights in the chapter, ‘The Superintendent of Weights and Measures’."

        The statement that it has been already spoken of is reference to a previous portion: for example, "The qualifications of a minister have already been described."

        ‘Thus and not otherwise’ is command; for example: "Hence he should be taught the laws of righteousness and wealth, but not unrighteousness and non-wealth."

        ‘This or that’ is alternative; for example: "or daughters born of approved marriage (dharmaviváha)."

        ‘Both with this and that’ is compounding together; for example: "Whoever is begotten by a man on his wife is agnatic both to the father and the father's relatives."

        That which is to be determined after consideration is determinable fact; for example: "Experts shall determine the validity or invalidity of gifts so that neither the giver nor the receiver is likely to be hurt thereby."

        * Thus this Sástra, conforming to these paragraphic divisions is composed as a guide to acquire and secure this and the other world.

        * In the light of this Sástra one cannot only set on foot righteous, economical, and aesthetical acts and maintain them, but also put down unrighteous, uneconomical and displeasing acts.

        * This Sástra has been made by him who from intolerance (of misrule) quickly rescued the scriptures and the science of weapons and the earth which had passed to the Nanda king.

[Thus ends the Chapter I, ‘Paragraphic divisions of the Treatise’ in the fifteenth Book, ‘Plan of Treatise.’ This is the one hundred and fiftieth chapter from the first chapter of the entire work. The fifteenth book, ‘Plan of Treatise, of the Arthasástra of Kautilya is thus brought to a close.]

        * Having seen discrepancies in many ways on the part of the writers of commentaries on the Sástras, Vishnu Gupta himself has made (this) Sútra and commentary.



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