Arthasastra of Kautilya

It is generally taken for granted that Chanakya, the minister and main advisor of Chandragupta, took the name Kautilya and wrote the book Arthasastra. In this book, he underlined king’s duties, administration and economics of the state. In the opinion of the book, the king was all in all in the state. But he was not an autocrat. It was the duty of the king to look after the welfare of the subjects and give them security. To run the administration the king appointed officers in every department. The Maurya kings ran the administration with the help of secretaries, ministers and departmental in-charges.

 For every prompt and caring administration, the state or king­dom was divided into few provinces. Generally, princes were the governors of the provinces. The provinces were divided into dis­tricts and districts were divided into villages. A group of officers in the name of Sthan (district magistrate) used to run the dis­trict administration. A set of officers in the name of Gopa used to run the village administration.

In the opinion of ‘Arthasastra’, land revenue was the princi­pal income of the state. One sixth of agricultural products were the king’s share. This was known as Bhaga. Besides this, some other taxes and duties were also there. They were termed as ‘Bali’. The king was the chief justice. To help him in discharging his duties, from village to provinces, there were number of courts. Impartiality was the key to judgment. Regarding foreign policies, Kautilya mentioned four principles. They were Sama, Dana, Bheda and Danda. Sama means friendship treaty. Friendship through help means Dana. Bheda is to create difference among the enemies. Danda means to conquer by battles etc.

There were various types of war in this policy. Asurvijoya means to capture others kingdoms, Dharmavijaya mean to return the country on acceptance of obedience.

By Amit Agarwal