Arthashaastra – Summary of Vinayaadhikarana

अर्थशास्त्रोक्तरीत्या विनयाधिकरणस्य निरूपणम्

Vinayadhikarana in Arthashastra

अर्थशास्त्रम् is a Sanskrit treatise compiled in the 4th century BC by Chanakya. In this assignment, we will see an overview of the first book or Adhikarana of Arthashaastra called Vinayadhikarana.


Chanakya was also known as Kautilya and Vishnu Gupta. He was a scholar at Takshashila. Being a king maker, he was the teacher and guardian of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya, who brought down the Nanda Dynasty. Chanakya has authored another famous work called Chanakya Neeti.

Artha Shastra

A शास्त्रम् gives a holistic treatment towards a subject area and reveals important definitions, techniques and processes to achieve the desired results, without causing undue harm to the environment. अर्थशास्त्रम् is a treatise written in Sanskrit on political economy, trade & commerce, statecraft, economic policy and military strategy. It contains 15 अधिकरण or books, 150 अध्याय or chapters, 180 प्रकरण or sections and 6000 सूत्र or aphorisms. It covers three parts namely – national security issues; administration of justice; and economics involving development policies. For the very first time, it was published by Sri. R. Shamasastry of the Oriental Research Institute at Mysore, in 1909.

Subject matter
Chankya summaries his work in this way, in the concluding book or Adhikaranam –

मनुष्याणां वृत्तिरर्थः । मनुष्यवती भूमिरित्यर्थः ।। (१५.१.०१) तस्याः पृथिव्याः लाभ-पालनोपायः शास्त्रम् अर्थशास्त्रम् इति ॥  (१५.१.०२)

The livelihood of humans is called “artha”, the territory containing human resources with different skills is “artha”, the shastra dealing with the techniques relating to acquiring and maintaining such territory is called “Artha Shastra”.

Purpose of Arthashastra

Artha is not alone. It is part of the triad of dharma-artha-kama. While concluding his work, Chanakya mentions : धर्मम् अर्थं च कामं च प्रवर्तयति पाति च ।  अधर्म-अनर्थ-विद्वेषानिदं शास्त्रं निहन्ति च ।। (१५.१.७२) Proper study and implementation of this Shastra not only promotes and protects the tri-varga of धर्म-अर्थ-काम; it eliminates disorderly (अधर्म), meaningless (अनर्थ) conflicts (विद्वेषा) seen in the individuals and societies.

So, the Shastra Prayojana, i.e, the purpose of this Shastra is not just acquiring and maintaining mere livelihood of individuals and societies. It is providing a proper order, meaning and fulfillment to them. This is only possible with a holistic system run by a Raja Rishi or an enlightened king. This king carries out the establishment and governance of the holistic system, with the support of several other roles making up the system.

Introduction to विनयाधिकरणम् – Guidance to Lead

The first adhikarana with 21 adhyayas is called Vinayaadhikaranam. It covers 18 prakaranas or the topics / sections related to vinaya, i.e., the training needed for a King. Here, Kautilya mentions that if students are trained by a capable teacher in a systematic way, they would be well disciplined and would have a good character.

The King is the leader. He leads the territory. The basis on which he attains the territory is called “vinaya”. नय means “to direct” or “to lead” and नायक means the leader. विनय means leading the leader; or making and directing a successful leader. विनय also means specialized or विशिष्ट guiding principle or नय or नीति शास्त्रम् |

Chanakya mentions about two types of vinaya – कृतकः स्वाभाविकश्च विनयः (०१.५.०३). The first type is the one which comes naturally by birth (स्वाभाविकः) and the second type is that which is acquired (कृतकः). A great emphasis is given to both natural and acquired knowledge just as the raw diamond shines when polished and cut. Identification of such a leader like a raw diamond and training him to shine with the required vidya or skills results in a Rajarishi.

Chanakya explains the sequence to Vinaya in his other work, Chanakya Neeti.

सुखस्य मूलं धर्मः – The basis of happiness is righteousness.

धर्मस्य मूलमर्थः  – The basis of righteousness is society (human resources)

अर्थस्य मूलं राज्यम  – The basis for society is kingdom (natural resources)

राज्यमूलमिन्द्रियजयः – The basis of kingdom is victory over senses!

इन्द्रियजयस्य मूलं विनयः – The basis for winning over senses is vinaya (i.e., proper guidance / training )

विनयस्य मूलं वृद्धोपसेवा  – The basis for guidance is serving the elders / knowledgeable ones (guru).

वृद्धसेवया विज्ञानम्  – by serving the  Guru, knowledge is obtained

विज्ञानेनात्मानं संपादयेत – by knowledge realize your own potential

संपादितात्मा जितात्मा भवति  – Having realized the self, one wins over the self.
In Arthashaastra, he says विद्याविनीतो राजा हि प्रजानां विनये रतः | (०१.५.१७) — Only a king who is disciplined through the study of the sciences gets engaged in disciplining his subjects.

In the first chapter of Arthashaastra, the books within this scripture and their sections are listed as a table of contents covering various aspects of the life of a King.

Need for Logical Philosophy

In the second chapter, the first topic is Vidya or knowledge.
आन्वीक्षिकी त्रयी वार्त्ता दण्ड-नीतिश्चैति विद्याः (०१.२.०१)
Critical philosophical enquiry constituted by samkhya, yoga and lokaayatana, etc. (आन्वीक्षिकी), Rig-Sama-Yajur Vedas (त्रयी), livelihood subjects like agriculture, animal husbandry, economics / commerce / trade etc., (वार्ता) and Law & the art of punishment (दण्डनीतिः) are called Vidyas.

Kautilya says these four are needed for a King and this vidya provides proper understanding to discriminate between dharma and adharma & artha from anartha.

प्रदीपः सर्व विद्यानाम् उपायः सर्व कर्मणाम् । आश्रयः सर्व धर्माणां शश्वदन्वीक्षिकी मता ॥ (०१.२.१२) Elders state that the philosophical inquiry (आन्वीक्षिकी) is the light that shows proper meaning of all vidyas, provides techniques (उपायः) for all the actions and covers all dharmas.

That is the importance of philosophy in the view of Chanakya. It is the primary skill needed for the Leader. As the Leader needs to be well versed in philosophy, he is called a Raajarishi or a kingly sage or an enlightened king.

Importance of Vedas – The Triad

In Chapter 3, Chanakya establishes the importance of Vedas. Rig, Sama and Yajur Vedas are called Trayee. Atharva Veda, Itihasas (like Mahabharata and Ramayana) are also included in this part of education.

Profession and Punishments

Chapter 4 deals with the determination of the place of Profession and Punishments. The education that develops a skill to make money is called वार्ता which leads to a वृत्ति or profession. It could be based on agriculture, animal husbandry or economics & trade – कृषि-पाशुपाल्ये वणिज्या च वार्ता (०१.४.०१). 

While concluding, Chanakya says that in a kingdom that is taken care (पालितः) by a King who uses the punishments (दण्ड) properly, the people (लोकः) consisting of four castes and four orders of religious life will engage themselves in their own duties and actions – चतुर्-वर्ण-आश्रमो लोको राज्ञा दण्डेन पालितः ।  स्वधर्म-कर्म-अभिरतो वर्तते स्वेषु वर्त्मसु ।। (०१.४.१६)

Association with elders

In Chapter 5, Chanakya explains the importance of acquiring knowledge and wisdom by associating oneself with the wise and elderly people. विद्याविनीतो राजा हि प्रजानां विनये रतः | (०१.५.१७) —  Only a king who is disciplined through the study of the sciences gets engaged in disciplining his subjects.

Victory over senses

The 6th chapter deals with इन्द्रिय जयः i.e., victory over senses. Chanakya says विद्या विनय हेतुः इन्द्रिय जयः काम-क्रोध-लोभ-मान-मद-हर्ष-त्यागात्कार्यः  (०१.६.०१) The basis for learning and training is victory over senses. Desire, anger, possessiveness, ego, pride and making fun of elders have to be given up. The sense organs – ears, skin, eyes, tongue, and nose respectively should be decoupled from their subjects – sound, touch, shape, taste, and smell, by strong will and the enjoyments should be controlled as per the Shastra with the necessary restraints.

कृत्स्नं हि शास्त्रम् इदम् इन्द्रिय जयः (०१.६.०३) This Shastra is all about victory over senses!  

Profession of a King

In Chapter 7, Chanakya gives a view of life of a Raajarishi i.e, a saintly or an enlightened King. An aspiring king should first conquer indriyas. Then he should get trained by the elders by serving them. By being alert, he should focus on yoga (acquiring new things) and kshema (protecting already acquired). By delegating work, he should engage others following him in their own duties. He should gain practical knowledge (vinayam) by learning vidyas. By properly distributing the money in welfare activities, he should be liked by the people. He should make long term beneficial plans for the people and run the government.

The various Administrative roles
सहाय-साध्यं राजत्वं चक्रम् एकं न वर्तते | (०१.७.०९) The administration of the kingdom is possible only with others’ help; only one wheel does not revolve. So, the Chapters 8 to 14 deal with the various important administrative positions in the kingdom.  Chapter 8 deals with the appointment of ministerial officers referred to as Amaatyas. Chapter 9 deals with the appointment of Purohits and Councilors.


The Purohita is the prime mentor who foresees the problems before they manifest. He can provide remedies to unforeseen problems. He monitors and mentors the Leader – the king, the Amaatyas or ministerial officers and mantris or councilors in the difficult situations.

Secret Testing

In Chapter 10, Chanakya mentions about the method of “Secret Testing” to check the integrity and loyalty of ministers. अमात्यानुपधाभिः शोधयेत् (०१.१०.०१). The king should test the amaatyaas by means of upadhaa-s. There are four types of upadhaas namely धर्म-उपधा, काम-उपधा, अर्थ-उपधा and भय-उपधा.

Secret Services by Spies and Protection of the King

In Chapter 11 and 12, the creation of an establishment of spies and the appointments of such people in the secret services are being elaborated. The five types of people called संथाः who reside at their location and four types of people called संचाराः who are wanderers, are described as being the best suited for secret services working for the King undercover and providing all the needed intelligence to run the kingdom.

Chapter 13 and Chapter 14 deal with the protection of the King from seducible कृत्य and non-seducible अकृत्य parties in his country and winning over those in the enemy’s country respectively.

Council meetings to frame a Winning Strategy

कर्मणामारम्भोपायः पुरुषद्रव्यसम्पत् देशकाल विभागः विनिपातप्रतीकारः कार्यसिद्धिः इति पञ्चांगो मन्त्रः ॥
The five aspects (or components) making up a winning strategy or मन्त्रः mentioned in Chapter 15 are :

  1. कर्मणाम् आरम्भ-उपायः An approach to the project
  2. पुरुष-द्रव्य-सम्पत् An estimate of required human and material resources
  3. देश-काल विभागः An implementation plan showing place and time of tasks
  4. विनिपात-प्रतीकारः A complete list of risks and mitigations
  5. कार्य-सिद्धिः A well defined success criteria

This is applicable even to this day. A great strategy includes these 5 aspects – Project approach, resource estimation, a detailed work-break-down structure, risk management plan and the clearly defined exit criteria.

Appointing the Envoys
In Chapter 16, Chanakya says that the King, having finalized the strategy, should appoint the right diplomatic messenger दूत-प्रणिधिः to start the deployment of the strategy.  उद्वृत्त-मन्त्रो दूत-प्रणिधिः (०१.१६.०१) Whoever has succeeded as a councilor is an envoy.

Protection of the Prince

In Chapter 17, Chanakya mentions about राजपुत्र-रक्षणम् or the protection of the prince. Once the territory is established, a Leader or the King should consider having a succession plan in place. जन्म-प्रभृति राज-पुत्रान्रक्षेत् (०१.१७.०४) Ever since their birth, the king should take special care of the princes. The eldest and most suited successor from the next generation should be carefully prepared to continue the administration of the state.

बहूनामेकसंरोधः पिता पुत्रहितो भवेत् । अन्यत्रापद ऐश्वर्यं ज्येष्ठभागि तु पूज्यते ॥ ( ०१.१७.५२) If there are many indisciplined sons, they may be confined at one place. Father should be benevolent to his sons. As long as there is no major defect with the eldest son or except in the case of calamity, the leadership should be handed over to the eldest son.

In 18th Chapter Chanakya explains how a genuine successor should behave, if he is being neglected by the King.

More Guidance on Duties including Self-protection

19th Chapter deals with the duties of King or the Leader. Emphasizing the importance of remaining active and industrious, Chanakya says that activity is the root of wealth and the opposite is of disaster. The King should remain every active and carry out the administration of wealth.

20th Chapter deals with the construction of a fort that is suitable for King to live in. This chapter covers how to build a naturally fire proof palace which has several secret escape routes in case they need to be used. This chapter also deals with how the King should protect himself from unforeseen attacks from his own wives.

21st Chapter deals with the details of self-protection. All security needs for a King are described here. Possible dangers from various seemingly innocent things are discussed and the necessary precautions and antidotes are explained in detail.

Thus, in vinayadhikarana, we have seen how Chanakya elaborates on various aspects related to vinaya, the training needed for a King.

Reference materials:

  1. KSOU Course Material – Course Writer, Dr. Michael and contact class conducted by Dr. Gururaj Rao.
  3. कौटिल्यस्य अर्थशास्त्रम्
  4. The Arthashastra By Kauṭalya
  5. Arthashastra. Translated by R. Shamasastry. Bangalore: Government Press, 1915, 1-50.



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