Arthashaastra of Kautilya

This document covers the important information about the Arthashaastra of Kautilya. The portion in KSOU MA is the first book (adhikarana) called विनयाधिकरणम् | This material has been consolidated from the various posts in the blogs on this topic which were based on the sessions by Dr. Gururaj Rao and Smt. Divya (MA Student). The coverage is limited to the important aspects, based on the earlier KSOU MA exam question papers. The phrases asked in KSOU MA exam सन्दर्भ questions have been provided in a separate section under each prakarana. Here is a downloadable file which includes a table of contents. Click here.arthashastra-by-kautilya


Sanskrit Literature can be broadly classified into two categories namely Vaidika or Vedic and Laukika or Worldly Literature. The Vedas comprising of Samhita, Brahmana, Aranyaka, Upanishad and the supplementary works like the Vedangas form a part of the वैदिक वाङ्ग्मय. All others are लौकिक वाङ्ग्मय. Arthashastra comes under the second category.

In the Vedic literature there are references of ‘Rajasabha’, ‘Sarvajanika Sabha’, ‘Mandala’. These were the guidelines to the king or for the benefit of the citizens. However, we do not find a separate section for Rajakeeya Shastra. The first available elaborate work on ‘Rajaneeti’ is Kautilya’s Arthashastra. अर्थशास्त्रम् is a Sanskrit treatise compiled in the 4th century BC by Chanakya.


Chanakya चाणक्य was also known as Kautilya कौटिल्य and Vishnu Gupta विष्णुगुप्त  |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.

There were efforts by many on the field. Kautilya consolidated prominent theories of his time and put forward his own opinion in his work. After this major task, all the previous works lost relevance, since the contents of this encompasses all those.

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. Arthashastra acknowledges धर्म, अर्थ and काम, but emphasizes on अर्थ. This is written as a guideline to the King in good governance. Though Kautilya gives utmost importance to the role of the Emperor, he makes sure of a system where the emperor does not become a ruthless dictator (निरङ्कुश प्रभुः)

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.

अर्थशास्त्रस्य व्याख्याः

अर्थस्य शास्त्रम् – The study of ‘अर्थ’. What is ‘अर्थ’? Different meanings are there for the wordअर्थ namely the use प्रयोजन, the purpose उद्देश, and the meaning of word – पदस्य अर्थ.

  • Kautilya says “मनुष्याणां वृत्तिः अर्थः, मनुष्यवती भूमिरित्यर्थः, तस्याः पृथिव्याः लाभपालनोपायः शास्त्रम् अर्थशास्त्रम् इति’. The Earth is essential for the existence of the mankind, which is called artha. Therefore the shastra that tells about the maintenance, governance of it is Arthashastra.
  • Somadeva in his नीतिवाक्यामृत says “यतः सर्वप्रयोजनसिद्धिः सोर्थः”. That which gives all the benefits.
  • Acharya Shankara in his Jayamangala says “अर्थो येन लोको वर्तते” He opines that the world exists due to this.

अर्थ is one among the धर्म – अर्थ – काम –मोक्ष.

In वैदिक वाङ्ग्मय dharma gets the most emphasis and Artha & Kama are considered as part of the Dharmashastra or Neetishastra. Kautilya’s work is given importance as ‘Rajadharma’ and ‘Rajaneeti shastra’.

Yajnavalkya says ‘अर्थशास्त्रात्तु बलवद्धर्मशास्त्रमिति स्थितिः’. When there is a conflict of opinion between Arthashastra and Dharmashastra, instruction as in Dharmashastra has to be followed.

Similar works prior to Kautilya’s Arthashastra

  • In Vedas, Varuna is referred as ‘Raja’.
  • In Brahmanas, ब्रह्मक्षत्र is explained.
  • In Dharmasutras of Kalpa (one of the 6 Vedangas), Rajadharma is explained.
  • In बौधायन धर्मसूत्र, आपस्तम्भ धर्मसूत्र, and गौतम धर्मसूत्र  the guidelines for a good governance are explained.
  • Manu Smriti and Yajnavalkya Smriti mention the same.
  • In Ramayana, the tattvas are indirectly explained.
  • In Mahabharata, there are direct upadeshas on Rajadharma.
  1. Shantiparva
  2. After the war, Bhishma’s upadesha to Yudhishtira
  3. Vidura Neeti to Dhrutarashtra
  • Other Rishis whose opinions are considered.
    • hwaja – Drona Acharya has the same name.
    • Vishalaksha – Jayamangala says he is Maheshwara
    • Pishuna – Known to be Narada – according to Jayamangala.
    • Kaunapadanta – Bheeshma. Arthashastra doesn’t mention as Bheeshma.
    • Vaatavyadhi – Uddhava.
    • Baahudantee putra – According to Jayamangala he is Indra.
    • Paarashara – Followers of Parashara
    • Maanava – Followers of Manu
    • Barhaspatyaa – Followers of Bruhaspati
    • Aushanaa – Followers of Ushanas (Shukra)
    • Aambheeyaa – Followers of Ambhi
    • Aacharyaa – Specifically not known

 Similar works post Kautilya’s Arthashastra

  • Kamandakeeya Neetisara – A collective work on Arthashastra by Kamandaka. All adhikaranas except 2, 3, 4 and 15.
  • Bruhaspati Sootra – The original was written in BC. There is a rewritten version belonging to 9 or 10 AD
  • Shukra Neetisara – Known to be the teaching of Shukra or ‘Ushanas’. Next famous work after that of Kautilya.
  • Chanakya Neetisootra – Also known as Kautileeya neetisootra – It is different from Arthashastra.
  • Neetivakyamruta – Also known as Neetisootras of Somadeva. Very close to Arthashastra.
  • Rajaneeti Ratnakara – Written by Chandreshwara.

Proof for Authorship

The following are stated as proof that this work was written by कौटिल्य  |

  • The famous commentary called ‘जयमङ्गला’ says ‘कुटिलं नाम गोत्रं , तस्यापत्यं कौटल्यः’
  • In Arthashastra itself the author says कौटिलीये अर्थशास्त्रे |
  • In another place he says ‘स्वयमेव विष्णुगुप्तः चकार सूत्रं च भाष्यं च’.
  • Kamandaka in his Neetisara mentions Vishnugupta & his work Arthashastra in the Peetikaa
  • Dandi in his ‘Dashakumaracharita’ mentions about Acharya Vishnugupta, who for the benefit of Maurya Kings wrote a book on Arthashastra consisting of 6000 verses.
  • Bana Bhatta in Kadambari (Shukanasopadesha) says कौटिल्य शास्त्रं प्रमाणम्

Some are of the opinion that Arthashastra is written by the shishyas of Kautilya. They come to this conclusion because in Arthashastra, always his name is mentioned in third person. If he himself was the author he could use first person reference.

But this theory is not accepted because it is an accepted practice by the authors of Shastras to do the same.

Was Vaatsyaayana another name of Kautilya?

  • Hemachandra in ‘Abhidana Chintamani’ and Yadava Prakasha in ‘Vaijayanti’ think both are the same person
  • Keith is of the same opinion
  • There are many similarities between Arthashastra and Kamasutra. But there is no confirmed evidence that they both are written by the same person.

Timeline  देश & काल

  • Kautilya was known to be the Guru of Maurya King. He was instrumental in supporting Chandragupta Maurya to defeat Nanda King. Chandra Gupta Maurya came to power in 321 BC and his grandchild Ashoka became the ruler in 296 BC. Therefore Arthashastra was believed to be written during the period of 321BC- 300BC.
  • Stein – 300 AD

Megasthenes came to the palace of Chandragupta and wrote about his observation. According to Stein the descriptions of the society do not match that of Arthashastra. So, his opinion is that Arthashastra must be a recent work. But later he himself agrees that such a comparison is not valid reason to decide the timeline.

  • Jolly, Schmidt and Winternitz – Post AD

Arthashastra and Yajnavalkya Smruti are similar. So, one is the influence of the other. Kamasutra and Arthashastra have similar way of presenting the theories. Kamashastras time is 4th century AD. So, the opinion is that Arthashastra must be of 3rd Century AD. But the timeline of Kamasutra itself is not confirmed. So this theory is not valid.

  • There are references of Lohashastra (Metallurgy ) in Arthashastra. Metallurgy is the recent understanding. So the work must be of recent past. This is not appropriate since there is no evidence that Lohashastra was not known in the olden times.
  • The Mahabhashya does not mention Arthashastra. So it must be a recent work. This argument is not valid because Mahabhashya might not have mentioned the work even if it was existing.

Famous Commentaries on Arthashastra

  • जयमङ्गला

Commentary written by Shankara Acharya who belonged to 800 AD. Commentary on the first adhikarana is available.

  • चाणक्य टीका

Written by Bhikshu Prabhumati. It is mentioned in Amarateekaasarwaswa in 1959. Only the first and 3rd adhyayas of 7th adhikarana are available. This is an unpublished work.

  • प्रतिपद पञ्चिका

Written by Bhattaswami. Commentary is given to each word. Commentary is available only for the 7 adhyayas of 2nd adhikarana.

  • नयनचन्द्रिका

Written by Shri Madhava Yajwa Mishra.

7th Adhikarana – 7-11 adhyaya

12th Adhikarana – 4th adhyaya and 15th Adhyaya

Structure of Arthashaastra

It contains 15 अधिकरण or books, 150 अध्याय or chapters, 180 प्रकरण or sections and 6000 सूत्र or aphorisms.

Adhikarana Description
1 विनयाधिकारिकम्

Concerning Discipline

Establishes अन्वीक्षकी ,त्रयी, वार्ता , दण्डनीति.

Importance of Vidya and its relevance for the ruler.

Respecting the elders. Controlling of senses.

Recruitment and testing of ministers and Purohits. Guidelines for managing spy network. Ways to strengthen own country and to weaken the enemies. Maintenance of secrecy. Rules for the messengers. Upbringing of princes, making sure they are protected and the throne is protected by them. Preventing the princes from rebelling. Their expected behavior towards the King. The duties of the king, the guidelines for his residence and his daily routines. Safety of the king – are described in this chapter.

2 अध्यक्षप्रचारः

The Duties of Government Superintendents

Mainly about collection of taxes.

Collection of grains, management of barren land, construction of forts, maintaining safety of the warehouse, employees responsible for the calculation & collection of the taxes.

Preventing thefts.  Ways to identify corruption.

Guidelines for Shasana writing.

Managing Precious jewelry and stones. Management of mines, the workers and the jewelers.

Rules for the businessmen. The chapter talks about carpentry, looms, agriculture, winery, butcher houses, animal husbandry, rules for soldiers, senapati.

3 धर्मस्थीयम्
Concerning Law
A Person who knows about Dharmashastra and applies the knowledge in the vyavahara is Dharmastha. The guidelines for their roles are discussed in this chapter.

How the dealings (vyavahara) happens, conflicts and conflict resolution, vyavahara in relation to marriages.Regarding ancestral property, house, farm and estates. The promises made are called ‘samaya’. The guidelines for the same. Loans, ‘upanidhi ’ and issues regarding the same.  About employees and staff.  Selling – own items, buying and selling with margin, selling others’ items. About conflicts, verbal , physical fights and gambling.

4 कण्टकशोधनम्

Removal of Thorns

As the name suggests this chapter is about investigation.

About frauds in the following fields –

–         Carpenter, blacksmith, goldsmith.

–         Merchants who cheat in weights

–         Corrupt officials, thieves

Investigating with the help of siddhas who dress like sannyasis.

Investigation in case of an unnatural death.

Punishment for different crimes.

5 योगवृत्तम्

Conduct of Courtiers

Here Yoga means cheating. Vrutta is the punishment for the same.

Collection of extra taxes during the difficult times.

Management of employees, ministers, etc.

When the king is in danger how to protect the prince, the role of the minister to rule until the prince is independently able to do so.

Only one prince has to be declared as the emperor.

6 मण्डलयोनिः The Source of Sovereign States Comprises of प्रकृतिसम्पदः, शमव्यायामिकम् — The elements of sovereignty; concerning peace and exertion ; Prakruti Sampada – Swami, Amaatya, friend, treasury, country, fort and ‘bala’ are prakrutis.

Shamavyayamika –  शमव्यायामौ योगक्षेमयोर्योनिः; कर्मारम्भाणां योगाराधनो व्यायामः; कर्मफल उपभोगानां क्षेमाराधनः शमः; शमव्यायामयोर्योनिः षाड्गुण्यम्;

7 षाड्गुण्यम्
The End of Six fold Policy
The chapter that explains the shad-gunas starting with Sandhi.

Basically this talks about how a king should align with other neighbouring kingdoms. If he is weak, he has to align with stronger neighbours (prabala), how he has to make ‘sandhi’ by giving kosha, bhoomi, etc. Ways of blocking the food supply of the enemy and directing it own country during the fight.

Forming a group of able kings and going for ‘dandayatre’. When a neighbouring king is observed to be weak (either in wealth, health, or due to bad habits) taking the opportunity to attack.

Guidelines to decide who the friendly kings are.

How to behave if the enemy is stronger.

8 व्यसनाधिकारिकम्

Concerning Vices and Calamities

Vyasana are difficulties. Definition, classification of vyasanas. प्रकृतिव्यसनवर्गः, राजराज्ययोर्व्यसनचिन्ता, पुरुषव्यसनवर्गः, पीडनवर्गः, स्तम्भवर्गः, कोशसङ्गवर्गः, मित्रव्यसनवर्गः

Peedana – calamities due to water, fire etc

Stambhana – creating obstacles in governance.

Koshasanga varga – non-payment of taxes.

Balavyasana varga – problems related to the army.

Mitravyasana – how to maintain a friendship and during conflicts the decisions to be taken considering the welfare of the country.

9 अभियास्यत् कर्म

The Work of an Invader

The duties performed by विजिगीषु before the war is explained here.

He has to study the enemy’s shakti-desha-kala balaabala.

Appropriate time to attack.

Types of sainya, weapons.

Protection of the borders.

10 साङ्ग्रामिकम्

Relating to War

Construction of the war camps. Journey to the battlefield. Prevention and management of obstacles during the journey. Kootayuddha techniques. Motivating the soldiers.

Different formations (vyoohas) in the war. About prati-vyoohas.

11 सङ्घवृत्तम्

The Conduct of Corporations

Sangha – is the formation of united group by several rebel groups. How to control rebellion by such groups.
12 आबलीयसम् Concerning a Powerful Enemy One who is weak is aabaleeya. This is about the guidelines for the weak king.

The weak king needs to have different game-plans and tricks to be victorious.

One such trick is to kill the Senapati and the main leaders first, which will demoralize the enemy’s army.

Aligning with friends to fight the stronger enemy.

Cutting down the source of income of enemy king.

Killing the enemy with stealth.

Eka-vijaya – where the king fights alone with the enemy.

13 दुर्गलम्भ उपायः Strategic Means to Capture a Fortress Winning the fort of the enemy.

Making the enemy come out of the fort, employing spy network, encircling of the fort and attacking.

Avamarda (Swaadheena – occupying) , labdha prashamana – building the trust with the citizens after occupying.

14 औपनिषदिकम्

Secret Means

Winning the enemy with the help of mantra and aushadha prayoga. Also mentions the remedy if own army is attacked by mantra/aushadha prayoga.
15 तन्त्रयुक्तिः

The Plan of a Treatise

Paragraphical divisions of this treatise i.e., the summary of the previous chapters.

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.

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”.


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 (विशिष्ट) guiding principle (नय / 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.

[Side note: 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.

Summary of each Prakarana

There are 18 prakaranas and 21 adhyayas in Vinayaadhikarana.

# Name of प्रकरणम् # Specific Name for अध्यायः Synopsis
1 विद्यासमुद्देशः
The end of Sciences
1 राजवृत्तिः

Life of a King

सुखग्रहणविज्ञेयं तत्त्वार्थपदनिश्चितम् | कौटिल्येन कृतं शास्त्रं विमुक्तग्रन्थविस्तरम् ||
2 आन्वीक्षिकीस्थापना Determination of the place of Anvikshaki Sankhya, Yoga and Lokayata
3 त्रयी स्थापना Determination of the place of the Triple Vedas Rig, Yajur & Saama
4 वार्त्ता दण्डनीति स्थापना Determination of the Place of Varta and of Dandaniti Vartaa relates to Agriculture & trade
2 वृद्ध संयोगः


5 Association with the Aged Here Vruddha means Jnani. Importance of Vidya samuchchaya from all the sources.
3 इन्द्रियजयः Restraint Of the Organs of Sense 6 अरिषड्वर्ग त्याग The Shaking off of the Aggregate of the Six Enemies Overcoming  Kama, krodha, lobha, mana, mada  & harsha
7 राजर्षि वृत्तिः The Life of a Saintly King  Guidelines for the king
4 अमात्य उत्पत्तिः 8 Creation of Ministers Who should be recruited as Amaatya? Consolidation of different opinions.
5 मन्त्रिपुरोहित उत्पत्तिः 9 Creation of Councilors and Priests Qualities expected in ministers and purohits.
6 उपधाभिः शौचाशौचज्ञानं अमात्यानाम् 10 Ascertaining by Temptations Purity or Impurity in the Character of Ministers Testing of amaatyas. Dharma, Artha, Kama and Baya upadhaa’s.
7 गूढ पुरुषोत्पत्तिः 11 The Institution of Spies Recruitment of the spies.
8 गूढपुरुषप्रणिधिः 12 Creation of Wandering Spies Duties of the spies.
9 स्वविषये कृत्याकृत्यपक्षरक्षणम् 13 Protection of Parties for or against One’s Own Cause in One’s Own State Observation within the country
10 परविषये कृत्याकृत्यपक्ष उपग्रहः 14 Winning over Factions for or against an Enemy’s Cause in an Enemy’s State Observation in enemy’s country
11 मन्त्राधिकारः 15 The Business of Council-meeting Guidelines of Mantraalochana.


12 दूतप्रणिधिः 16 The Mission of Envoys Messengers
13 राजपुत्ररक्षणम् 17 Protection of Princes All about princes.
14 अवरुद्धवृत्तम् 18 The Conduct of a Prince kept under Restraint and the Treatment of a Restrained Prince About rebellious or disobedient prince
15 अवरुद्धे वृत्तिः 18 The Conduct of a Prince kept under Restraint and the Treatment of a Restrained Prince About rebellious or disobedient prince
16 राजप्रणिधिः 19 The Duties of a King King’s duties and routine
17 निशान्तप्रणिधिः 20 Duty towards the Harem


Location and safety of Rajagrha
18 आत्मरक्षितकम् 21 Personal Safety Safety of the king

1 Life of a King राजवृत्तिः

In राजवृत्तिः the first chapter of Arthashaastra, Mangala and Granthaswaroopa are given followed by the list of books within this scripture and their sections in the form of a table of contents covering various aspects of the life of a King.

“ॐ नमश्शुक्रबृहस्पतिभ्याम्”

पृथिव्यां लाभे पालने च यावन्त्यर्थशास्त्राणि पूर्वाचार्यैः प्रस्थापितानि प्रायशस्थानि संह्रुत्यैकमर्थशास्त्रं कृतं |

At the end of the adhyaya, he mentions the purpose and nature of this grantha. It is easy to understand, with definite understanding of tattvarthapada and it is concise (sankshipta).

सुखग्रहणविज्ञेयं तत्त्वार्थपदनिश्चितम् | कौटिल्येन कृतं शास्त्रं विमुक्तग्रन्थविस्तरम् ||

2 Need for Logical Philosophy आन्वीक्षिकीस्थापना

In the second chapter आन्वीक्षिकीस्थापना, 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.

Anvikshaki is said to be the ‘taarkika adhyayana of darshanas’ – समीक्षा साधना तर्कः आन्वीक्षिकी (TODO – this phrase not verified)| It sheds light on all the shastras and gives guidance to all the work. Therefore it is ashraya for 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.

  • Manu’s followers say: त्रयी, वार्त्ता & दण्डनीति are the only 3 types of Vidya.
  • (Charvaka) Bruhaspati’s followers say: वार्त्ता & दण्डनीति are the only two types. Their opinion is that त्रयी is just to distract people and make money.
  • Aushanasaa i.e., followers of Ushanas/Shukra say: दण्डनीति is the only Vidya required and all the other are part of it.
  • Kautilya holds that four and only four are the sciences.

Quotations from आन्वीक्षिकीस्थापना

01.2.01 आन्वीक्षिकी त्रयी वार्त्ता दण्डनीतिश्चेति विद्याः

विद्यासमुद्देशः Chapter 2 book 1 pg 35. This is from chapter 2 on “Establishing the need of Logical Philosophy of Anvikshaki”. आन्वीक्षिकी त्रयी वार्त्ता दण्डनीतिः च इति विद्याः | Meaning: Anvikshaki, the triple Védas (Trayi), Várta (agriculture, cattle-breeding and trade), and DandaNiti (science of government) are what are called the four sciences. Context: The first topic that is dealt with in Arthashastra is about Vidya. Kautila begins by providing the components of knowledge. Here Anvikshaki comprises of the Philosophy of Saankhya (by Kapila Muni), Yoga (Maharshi Patanjali) and Lokayatha (Charvaka/Bruhaspati) साङ्ख्यं योगो लोकायतं च इत्यान्वीक्षिकी|

01.2.06 दण्डनीतिरेका विद्या इत्यौशनसाः

विद्यासमुद्देशः Chapter 2 book 1 pg 35 This is from chapter 2 on “Establishing the need of Logical Philosophy or Anvikshaki”. दण्ड-नीतिः एका विद्या इति औशनसाः। Meaning: The school of Usanas or Sukraacharya declare that there is only one science, and that the science of government. Context: Anvikshaki, the triple Védas (Trayi), Várta (agriculture, cattle-breeding and trade), and Danda-Niti (science of government) are what are called the four sciences according to Kautilya. The school of Manu holds that there are only three sciences: the triple Vedas, Varta and the science of government. The school of Brihaspati says that there are only two sciences: Varta and the science of government. The school of Usanas or Sukraacharya 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.

01.2.10 साङ्ख्यं योगो लोकायतं च इत्यान्वीक्षिकी

विद्यासमुद्देशः Chapter 2 book 1 pg 35 This is from chapter 2 on “Establishing the need of Logical Philosophy or Anvikshaki”. साङ्ख्यं योगः लोकायतं च इति आन्वीक्षिकी |Meaning: Anvikshaki comprises the Philosophy of Sankhya, Yoga, and Lokayata. Context: Anvikshaki, the triple Védas (Trayi), Várta (agriculture, cattle-breeding and trade), and DandaNiti (science of government) are what are called the four sciences. In that, Anvikshaki comprises of the Philosophy of Saankhya (by Kapila Muni), Yoga (Maharshi Patanjali) and Lokayatha (Charvaka/Bruhaspati).

01.2.12 प्रदीपस्सर्वविद्यानाम् उपायस्सर्वकर्मणाम्। आश्रय सर्वधर्माणां शश्वदान्वीक्षिकी मता ।।

विद्यासमुद्देशः Chapter 2 book 1 pg 35. This is from chapter 2 on “Establishing the need of Logical Philosophy or Anvikshaki”. प्रदीपः सर्वविद्यानां उपायः सर्वकर्मणाम् |आश्रयः सर्वधर्माणां शश्वद् आन्वीक्षिकी मता  ।। Meaning: 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. Context: This is the conclusion of this chapter on establishing the need for Anvikshaki. This Logical Philosophy consisting of Saankhya, Yoga and Lokaayata brings about proficiency in thought, speech and action.

3 Importance of Vedas – The Triad – त्रयी स्थापना

In Chapter 3 त्रयी स्थापना, 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. The vedangas namely Shiksha, Kalpa, Vyakarana, Nirukta, Chandas and Jyotishya are also part of this. Chankaya defines Varnadharma and Ashramadharma.


  1. The duty of the Brahman ब्राह्मण is study, teaching, performance of sacrifice, officiating in others’ sacrificial performance and the giving and receiving of gifts.
  2. That of a Kshatriya क्षत्रिय is study, performance of sacrifice, giving gifts, military occupation, and protection of life.
  3. That of a Vaisya वैश्य is study, performance of sacrifice, giving gifts, agriculture, cattle breeding, and trade.
  4. That of a Sudra शूद्र is the serving of twice-born (dvijati), agriculture, cattle-breeding, and trade (varta), the profession of artizans and court-bards (karukusilavakarma).


  1. गृहस्थ – Perform the duties, suitable marriage, daana.
  2. ब्रह्मचर्य – Svadhyaya, agnikarya, snana, bhiksha, guru shshrooshaa.
  3. वानप्रस्थ – Brahmacharya, simple life.
  4. परिव्राजक – Life of detachment.

Kautilya says one has to perform duties according to ‘Swadharma’. The king has to encourage his people to follow their Dharma and be in the path of righteousness. If the teachings of Trayee are practiced, the world will be a happy place. There will not be any sorrow. तस्मात् स्वधर्मं भूतानां राजा न व्यभिचारयेत् | स्वधर्मं सन्दधानो हि प्रेत्य च इह च नन्दति |

Quotation from त्रयीस्थापना

01.3.14 स्वधर्मः स्वर्गायानन्त्याय च <2016>

त्रयीस्थापना. This is from chapter 3 on “Establishing the Triad”.  Meaning: The observance of one’s own duty leads one to Svarga and infinite bliss (Anantya).

Further explanation: 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.

01.3.17 त्रय्या हि रक्षितो लोकः प्रसीदति न सीदति ||

त्रयीस्थापना chapter 3 book 1 pg 41. This is from chapter 3 on “Establishing the Triad”. व्यवस्थित-आर्य-मर्यादः कृत-वर्णाश्रम-स्थितिः | त्रय्या हि रक्षितः लोकः प्रसीदति न सीदति || Meaning: When the people suitably remain fixed in the limits of the Aryan rule of life, establish firmly the classes and the stages of life and remain protected by Triad, they prosper and they do not perish. Context: Kautilya concludes this chapter on Establishing the Triad, by stating the importance of the Vedas which causes the world to prosper. Kautilya says that the observance of one’s own prescribed duty leads one to heaven and to infinite bliss.

4 Profession and Punishments वार्त्ता दण्डनीति स्थापना

Chapter 4 वार्त्ता दण्डनीति स्थापना 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).

Dandaneeti is instrumental in the protection of anveekshakee, trayee and vartaa.

आन्वीक्षिकी त्रयी वार्त्तानां योगक्षेमसाधनो दण्डः, तस्य नीतिर्दण्ड नीतिः, अलब्धलाभार्था लब्धपरिरक्षणी रक्षितविवर्धनी वृद्धस्य तीर्थे प्रतिपादनी च

Obtaining the alabdha, protection of that is obtained, growing of what is saved, distribution of what is grown to the needy – is what is discussed in this.

Opinions about Danda prayoga

  • Acharya says Danda is the best way to control the citizens.
  • Kautilya does not accept this.
  • He feels that too much of dandaprayoga will make the people scared and in turn disrespect the king.
  • If it is too little, the king will not gain the deserved respect. People will take advantage of the situation.
  • Samayochita danda is the right way according to Kautilya.
  • यथाऽर्हदण्डः पूज्यः — For a King with severe rod frightens creatures, with mild rod, he is despised; he becomes fit to be honoured with a befitting Rod.

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)

5 Association with elders वृद्ध संयोगः

In Chapter 5 वृद्ध संयोगः, Chanakya explains the importance of acquiring knowledge and wisdom by associating oneself with the wise and elderly people. Here the word ‘Vruddha’ means knowledgeable . It talks about ‘jnanavruddhatva’ rather than an old person. The king has to strive to acquire knowledge from all sources.

The chapter is the continuation of dandaneeti. It begins with the phrase तस्माद् दण्डमूलाः तिस्रो विद्याः | For the good governance appropriate dandaneeti is essential. In that situation it is possible for all the Vidyas to flourish. Danda should be based on ‘vinaya’.

Upadesha can make only the smart person to be polite and righteous and not the ‘mandabuddhi’.

शुश्रूषा (Care) –  श्रवण (listening) – ग्रहण (understanding) – धारण (memorizing) – विज्ञान (Vivechana) – ऊहापोह (Imagination and discarding what is not needed ) – तत्त्वाभिनिविष्ट (Nirnaya of vastu swabhava) – बुद्धिं विद्या विनयति न इतरम्

Education will lead one to become polite if he has the above qualities. One needs discipline and Acharyas’ pramaanya.

How one should be initiated to Vidya is explained here. The rituals from Chaula karma are listed. The routine of the Gruhastha in terms of vidyarjana is given. He has to spend the first half of his morning in the practice of shashtra vidya and caring of elephants, horses, etc. The second half has to be spent in listening to itihasa (purana, dharmashastra and arthashastra). The remaining day should be dedicated for study (vyasanga).

श्रुताद्द् हि प्रज्ञा उपजायते प्रज्ञाया योगो योगाद् आत्मवत्ता इति विद्यानां सामर्थ्यम् | By listening to the shastras one will attain prajna, from that yoga (udyoga sheelata), from yoga one attains ‘atmavatta’. This is the advantage of Vidya.

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.

Quotation from वृद्धसंयोगः

01.5.01 तस्माद्दण्डमूलास्तिस्रो विद्याः ।

वृद्धसंयोगः  Chapter 5 book 1 pg 56 This is from chapter 5 on “Association with Elders”. तस्मात् दण्ड-मूलाः तिस्रः विद्याः | Meaning: Therefore, the (first) three sciences (out of the four – Anvikshaki, Trayi, Várta and DandaNiti) are dependent for their well-being on DandaNiti, the science of government or Danda, punishment. Context: Kautilya says that training and discipline are acquired by the association with elders. For this he begins the chapter on association with elders by stressing on the need for Danda to gain discipline, since punishment alone can procure safety and security of life.

6 Victory over senses इन्द्रिय जयः

The 6th chapter deals with इन्द्रिय जयः i.e., victory over senses. कृत्स्नं हि शास्त्रम् इदम् इन्द्रिय जयः (०१.६.०३) – This Shastra is all about 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.

अरिषड्वर्ग त्याग

The 6 sense organs कर्णत्वग्ऽक्षिजिह्वाघ्राण and their respective activities are to be in control.  Kautilya explains the importance by giving examples of kings who failed to comply and got destroyed.

  • काम – दाण्डक्य भोजः & वैदेह करालः
    • दाण्डक्य भोजः – Abducted a Bhargava Kanya during his hunting trip. Due to Bhargava’s curse, the country got destroyed by the showers of sand.
    • वैदेह करालः – Abducted a Brahmana’s wife. The King and the ministers died because of the curse.
  • क्रोध – जनमेजय, तालजङ्घः
    • जनमेजय – During the Ashwamedha Yaga, Indra was attracted to King Janamejaya’s queen. But the enraged king suspected the Ruthvijas and punished them. Due to their curse his head got blasted into thousand pieces.
    • तालजङ्घः – Someone had placed a golden box in sage Brigu’s ashram. The Hehaya King who had become poor went to grab the box. When the sage stopped him, the King Talajangha was about to kill Bhrigu. He got destroyed in the fire along with his family.
  • लोभ – ऐल पुरूरवः , सौवीर अजबिन्दुः
    • ऐल पुरूरवः – During his visit to Swargaloka, he offered pranams to only Dharma and ignored Artha & Kama. So they cursed him. Due to Kama-shapa, he got attracted to Oorvashi. Then due to Artha-shapa, he became a lobhi. He collected excess tax from his citizens. He then perished due to the curse of Brahmins.
    • सौवीर अजबिन्दुः – He wanted to see all the wealth in one place and forced his citizens to put all their wealth. They got frustrated by his strange ways and killed him by pelting stones.
  • मान – रावणः, दुर्योधनः
    • Here mana means durabhimana. Ravana and duryodhana’s stories are well known.
  • मद – दम्भोद्भवः, कार्तवीर्य अर्जुनः
    • दम्भोद्भवः – He was very brave and was proud of his valour. He reached a point where he had no opponent to fight with & got desperate. Narada suggested him to see Nara-Narayana of Badrikashram. He got killed by Nara.
    • कार्तवीर्य अर्जुनः – He thought there was none like him in the world. Narada tells about Parashurama. So Arjuna comes to Sage Jamadagni’s ashram. He takes a calf and drags Parashurama into a fight. His thousand arms were chopped.
  • हर्ष – वृष्णि संघ, इल्वल वातापि
    • वृष्णि संघ – This is Yadava clan. They dress up Krishna’s son, Samba as a woman and ask Dvaipayana Durvasa ‘what baby will she deliver?’ for fun. Understanding their intention, furious sage says ‘an iron rod that will destroy your clan’. They powder the iron rod and throw in the sea. But later they fight with the weed grown there and die. The same iron was instrumental in Krishna’s dehatyaga as well.
    • इल्वल वातापि – With his Magical power, Vatapi would become goat and be cooked by Ilwala. The dish would be served to an innocent guest. During the lunch, Ilwala would call out for Vatapi, who would break open the guest’s stomach and come out. This was the wicked game they played on many. But sage Agasthya says ‘Vatapi jeerno bhava!’
  • इन्द्रियजय
    • Kings who achieved इन्द्रियजय are – Jamadagnya and Naabaaga Ambareesha.

7 Profession of a King राजर्षि वृत्तिः

In Chapter 7 राजर्षि वृत्तिः, Chanakya gives a view of life of a Raajarishi, i.e., a saintly or an enlightened King. An aspiring king should first conquer indriyas or senses. 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.

Expectations from a good king – Rajarshi

  • A Rajarshi should have the 6 enemies in control – indriyajaya
  • Acquire adequate knowledge from Vruddha samyoga
  • Be aware of all the happenings with able spy network – charachakshu
  • Work relentlessly for the welfare of the country
  • Establish swadharma
  • Do Vinaya –anushasana according to the shastras
  • Appropriately use wealth and gain popularity
  • Possess a favourable mannerism

Those that need to be relinquished by a Rajarshi

  • परस्त्रीद्रव्यहिंसाश्च
  • Should not be fickle minded
  • Should give up telling lies, inappropriate dressing, sahavasa that leads to downfall
  • Should give up adharmika and anartha vyavaharas

The roles of dharma – artha – kama for a Rajarshi

Kautilya promotes balance. He does not say Dharma alone is great. Dharma should guide the path of Artha and Kama. He emphasizes that Kama should be given importance in such a way that it does not hinder the path of Dharma and Artha. Kama should never be relinquished. Kautilya again emphasizes on the importance of Artha – अर्थमूलौ हि धर्मकामाविति |

Protocol to be followed by the King

King may stumble from his path at times. So Mantri, Amaatya and Purohits should be appointed to alert and advice the king. The king should take their suggestions. A cart will not move with one wheel. In the same manner, King alone cannot run the whole system.

Quotation from राजर्षिवृत्तम्

01.7.03 धर्मार्थाविरोधेन कामं सेवेत न निस्सुखस्स्यात् |

राजर्षिवृत्तम् chapter 7 book 1 pg 73. This is from chapter 7 on “The Life of a Sage like King”. धर्म-अर्थ-अविरोधेन कामं सेवेत, न निस्सुखः स्यात् | Meaning: Not violating righteousness and material prosperity, he shall enjoy his desires. He shall never be devoid of happiness. Context: In this chapter, Kautilya describes the life of a sage like King. Earlier he had mentioned that the king should over throw the six-fold internal enemies namely lust, anger, greed, vanity, arrogance and over-delight, and conquer the senses. Having done that, he may enjoy in an equal degree the three pursuits of life, righteousness, material prosperity and physical pleasures. If anyone is cultivated in excess, it will harm itself and also the other two.

01.7.07 अर्थमूलौ हि धर्मकामाविति।

राजर्षिवृत्तम् chapter 7 book 1 pg 73. This is from chapter 7 on “The Life of a Sage like King”. अर्थ-मूलौ हि धर्म-कामौ इति | Meaning: Both Spiritual good or righteousness and physical pleasures are based on material prosperity. Context: While the general opinion is that the King may enjoy in an equal degree the three pursuits of life namely righteousness, material prosperity and physical pleasures, Kautilya maintains that material prosperity alone is prominent. He states that one can pursue righteousness and desires only if he is financially sound.

01.7.09 सहायसाध्यं राजत्वं चक्रं एकं न वर्तते |

राजर्षिवृत्तम् chapter 7 book 1 pg 73. This is from chapter 7 on “The Life of a Sage like King”. सहायसाध्यं राजत्वं चक्रं एकं न वर्तते | कुर्वीत सचिवां तस्मात् तेषां च शृणुयान् मतम् | Meaning: Sovereignty (raajatva) is possible only with assistance. A single wheel can never move. Hence he shall employ ministers and hear their opinion.

8 Creation of Ministers अमात्य उत्पत्तिः
Chapter 8 अमात्य उत्पत्तिः deals with the appointment of ministerial officers referred to as Amaatyas. 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.

Kautilya says पूर्वाचार्यैः प्रस्थापितानि प्रायशस्तानि संह्रुत्यैकमिदमर्थशास्त्रं कृतम् in the beginning of the book. This adhyaya is a good example for that. In this he consolidates the opinion of previous Artha shastrajnas and finally states his opinion.

  • भारध्वाजमतम् – Saha-adhyaayis should be made as Amaatyas. The king knows them since childhood and both would have developed the trust.
  • विशालाक्षमतम् – Does not agree with the above opinion. He thinks such Amaatyas may not give due respect to the king. They may ignore the king. He says if the king has engaged in some rahasya activity with him, he should be made as amaatya.
  • पराशरमतम् – If both have some secrets known by each other, there would be the fear of betrayal of one’s own secrets. Therefore King may have to compromise on policies. One who can protect the king at any time should be appointed as Amaatya.
  • नारदमतम् – (Also known as Pishuna) – Just protection of king at all times shows one’s bhakti to the king. But a minister should be able to give advice and guide the king too. King should assign some work and observe. The person who performs the work to perfection and does more than what is told should be the right candidate.
  • कौणपदन्तमतम् – Such people are not experienced. A person who hails from the family of ministers should be appointed. He knows the right protocols since he has been observing his father and grandfathers since his birth. Such a person will have natural loyalty to the throne. अमानुषेष्वपि च एतद् दृश्यते गावो ह्यसगन्धं गोगणं अतिक्रम्य सगन्धेष्वेवावतिष्ठन्ते | Even the cows will not go with a different herd.
  • उद्धवमतम् – Does not approve of this. Uddhava says such a system will give undue control to one family. Such a minister will behave like a superior. Therefore a new candidate with suitable moral values should be appointed. Those new to the system will have fearful respect towards the king.
  • बाहुदन्तीपुत्रमतम् – A person totally new to the system, however good he may be will not perform well. He may make mistakes that may be costly. So, his qualities should be well known – अभिजन-प्रज्ञा-शौच-शौर्यानुरागयुक्तान् अमात्यान् कुर्वीत
  • Kautilya – All the opinions are valid. Depending on one’s ability, the job has to be assigned. One has to observe his gunas, desha-kala and appoint him.
  1. Bharadvaaja à __ à सह-अध्यायिनः à Good understanding
  2. Visaalaaksha à show disrespect à अस्य गुह्य-सधर्माणः  à Same quality in secret affairs
  3. Paraasara à Knowing secrets à   प्राण-आबाध-युक्तासु आपत्सु अनुगृह्णीयु: à Saves life
  4. Pishuna à  No use of Devotion à  यथा-आदिष्टं सविशेषं वा अर्थं कुर्युः à  intelligence
  5. Kaunapadanta à No ministerial quality à पितृ-पैतामहान्  à hereditary
  6. Vaatavyaadhi à familiarity à नीतिविदः नवान्  à new, science of polity
  7. Baahudantiputra à अभिजन-प्रज्ञा-शौच-शौर्य-अनुराग-युक्तान् à family, wise, pure, brave, loyal
  8. Kautilya à सर्वम् उपपन्नम्

9 Creation of Councilors and Priests मन्त्रिपुरोहित उत्पत्तिः

Chapter 9 मन्त्रिपुरोहित उत्पत्तिः 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.

The Qualities expected from Amaatya

जानपदो अभिजातः स्ववग्रहः कृतशिल्पश्चक्षुष्मान् प्राज्ञो धारयिष्णुर्दक्षो वाग्मी प्रगल्भः प्रतिपत्तिमान् उत्साहप्रभावयुक्तः क्लेशसहः शुचिर्मैत्रो दृढभक्तिः शीलबलारोग्यसत्त्वयुक्तः स्तम्भचापलहीनः सम्प्रियो वैराणां अकर्ता इत्यमात्यसम्पत्

The required qualities are being a native of the place, 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 fickle-mindedness, affectionate, and free from such qualities as excite hatred and enmity.

Classifications of Amaatya

One who has most of the qualities is the best. One who has at least 3/4th of the qualities listed here is ‘Madhyama’ and having half the qualities is ‘adhama’.

Ways to check the qualities

  • To know about the person’s nature and interaction with people, enquire with those who closely interact with him
  • To know about his education and knowledge, enquire with his peers
  • Observe his work to know about his knowledge, memory and skill
  • Observe the conversation to understand his oratory skills and presence of mind
  • During the times of difficulty assess his endurance, enthusiasm, and bravery
  • Enquire his neighbors about conduct, strength, health, dignity, and freedom from indolence and fickle-mindedness
  • Confirm the remaining aspects through observation

Pramaanas – Means of knowledge

प्रत्यक्षपरोक्षानुमेया हि राजवृत्तिः There are three ways of knowing. Pratyaksha is when we directly see something. Paroksha is when we hear about it from someone. Anumeya is by observing what the person has done and what he has not done. A King cannot be everywhere and do all the tasks. So he needs able amaatyas to get the work done.

Able Purohitas

Purohita should be from the family of the learned scholars, with knowledge of Veda-Vedangas, having religious and spiritual knowledge, Shakuna – knowledge of omens, knowledge of dandaneeti, and he should be able to practice the techniques of Atharvaveda to ward away Daiva and Amanusha disturbances. Such a purohita should be respected by the king. The king should respect the purohita and treat him like an acharya, a father and a master.

Quotations from मन्त्रिपुरोहितोत्पत्तिः

01.9.04 प्रत्यक्षपरोक्षानुमेया हि राजवृत्तिः |

मन्त्रिपुरोहितोत्पत्तिः Chapter  9 book 1 pg 88. This is from chapter 9 on “The creation of Mantris and Priests”. प्रत्यक्ष-परोक्ष-अनुमेयाः हि राजवृत्तिः | Meaning: The work or the royal administration of a king may be visible (directly perceived), invisible (indirectly cognized) and inferential. Context: Here the need for appointing ministers is specified since the King cannot oversee all the activities in person. He has to directly see some tasks; and he has to know from others about certain things; and infer what is not accomplished from knowing what is accomplished.

10 Secret Testing उपधाभिः शौचाशौचज्ञानं अमात्यानाम्

In Chapter 10 उपधाभिः शौचाशौचज्ञानं अमात्यानाम्, 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.

King should appoint jobs to the Amaatyas and with the help of Purohitha and Mantri test their abilities, weakness and loyalty. Such a test is called ‘Upadhaa’. After the nature is known, suitable duties will be assigned to the Amaatyas.


This is to test the loyalty of the Amaatya through Dharmic or Religious allurement.  The situation should be especially created for this. The king shall dismiss a priest who, when ordered, refuses to teach the Vedas to an outcaste person or to officiate in a sacrificial performance (apparently) undertaken by an outcaste person (ayaajya). The dismissed purohit should (as pre-planned) approach the amaatya and say that “This king is not a Dharmika. Let us all conspire against him and choose someone appropriate to be our king; Someone who could be from the same vamsha, or a prince, or a Samantha or some able person from the Kshatriya clan”. If the Amaatya disagrees to this, he is known to be clean or shuchi.


This is to test the political aspect and loyalty of the newly appointed amaatya. An army general has to be fired (as planned). He should approach the amaatya to conspire a coup. He should incite each minister to murder the king in view of acquiring immense wealth. He should also mention that all the other amaatyas are with us. And the opinion of the amaatya should be asked. If Amaatya does not agree he is shuchi.

Kamopadha काम-उपधा

A maid of the anthah-pura (as planned) tries to lure the amaatya to meet the queen, who is said to be attracted to him. If he declines the offer, he is clean or Shuchi.

Bhayopadha भय-उपधा

One amaatya (as planned) should invite all the other amaatyas for a fun event. The king comes to know of this and (pretends to) suspect that they are united for a wicked cause. All of them are dismissed and put in house arrest. A Kapatika (a student who is a spy) meets the amaatyas one by one to plan a coup against the king. Now all the amaatyas are unsure of King’s next action. The one who doesn’t fall for the words of the spy is shuddha.

Assignment of duties according to the outcome of upadha

  • 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 (i.e., close to the king in his security department);
  • Those whose character has been tested under all kinds of allurements shall be employed as prime ministers (mantrinah);
  • Those who are proved impure under one or all of these allurements shall be appointed in mines, timber and elephant forests, and manufactories.

Kautilya’s opinion on Upadhaa

The king and the queen should not be part of the Upadha.  कृता च कलुषाबुद्धिरुपधाभिश्चतुर्विधा One should not poison the pure water. In the same way a noble person should not feel cheated in the name of Upadhaa. Once the process of Upadhaa has begun, it has to reach completion with a clear result. It should never be left half way.

Kautilya says that the king and the anthah-pura should not be involved in the process. Keeping other aspects in mind, with the help of spies, Upadhaa has to be carried out.

Quotation from उपधाभिश्शौचज्ञानममात्यानाम्

01.10.14 सर्वोपधाशुद्धान् मन्त्रिणः कुर्यात् |

उपधाभिश्शौचज्ञानममात्यानाम् chapter 10 book 1 pg 96. This is from chapter 10 on “Ascertaining by temptations or secret tests, the purity or impurity in the character of ministers.” सर्व उपधा-शुद्धान् मन्त्रिणः कुर्यात् | Meaning: Those whose character has been tested under all kinds of allurements shall be employed as mantris or councilors. Context: Before appointing the ministers, the King ascertains the integrity of the person by conducting secret tests under the three pursuits of life, namely religion, wealth and love; and under fear. While doing so, Kautilya opines that the King should never make himself or his Queen the target to prove the purity of his ministers.

11 Institution of Spies गूढपुरुषोत्पत्तिः

In Chapter 11 and 12 on गूढपुरुषोत्पत्तिः and गूढपुरुषप्रणिधिः, 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 संस्थाः 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. संस्थाः are mentioned in 11th chapter are सञ्चाराः are mentioned in the 12th chapter).


These groups of spies are stationed at one place. The place is called as a ‘Samstha’. They are spies by profession (as against sancharas who have some other main profession). They are appointed by the ministers and the king. कापटिक-उदास्थित-गृहपतिक-वैदेहक-तापस. Spies will be under the guise of a fraudulent disciple (kápatikachhátra), a recluse (udásthita), a householder (grihapaitika), a merchant (vaidehaka), an ascetic practising austerities (tápasa).

  • कापटिक
    • परमर्मज्ञः प्रगल्भश्छात्रः कापटिकः
    • Kaapatika is a smart student having the ability to secretly observe others’ intentions.
  • उदास्थित
    • प्रव्रज्या प्रत्यवसितः प्रज्ञाशौचयुक्त उदास्थितः
    • He is a person who had a stint as a sannyasi, but returned because of his inability to stick to the rules of the ashram. He is appointed as a spy with the condition that he has to maintain the appearance of a sannyasi. He is given sufficient funds and students to run an ashram (basically a samstha) to run the activities of goodaacharya.
  • गृहपतिक-व्यञ्जन
    • कर्षको वृत्तिक्षीणः प्रज्ञाशौचयुक्तो गृहपतिकव्यञ्जनः
    • An agriculturist who lost his job but with his prajna-shaucha intact. He is given a land to work but is expected to serve the ruler in information gathering.
  • वैदेहक-व्यञ्जन
    • वाणिजको वृत्तिक्षीणः प्रज्ञाशौचयुक्तो वैदेहकव्यञ्जनः
    • Similar to gruhapatika, but he is involved in trade or business.
  • तापस-व्यञ्जन
    • मुण्डो जटिलो वा वृत्तिकामः तापसव्यञ्जनः
    • People living as Bhikshus but wanting aid from the king come under this category. They have to maintain external appearance and lifestyle of ascetics. They need to interact with people. Kapatikas should behave like their shishyavarga and publicize their supernatural abilities. These groups of spies should understand the general opinion of the public about the king.
    • If people are genuinely unhappy, they should be pleased by appropriate monetary benefits or with due respect given. The citizens who disrespect the king without valid reason should be appropriately punished.

12 Creation of Wandering Spies गूढपुरुषप्रणिधिः

In Chapter 12 on गूढपुरुषप्रणिधिः, the appointments of wandering spies in the secret services are being elaborated. सत्त्रि-तीष्क्ण-रसद-भिक्षुकी — Spies will be under the guise of a class-mate or a colleague (satri), a fire-brand (tíkshna), a poisoner (rasada), and a mendicant woman (bhikshuki).


The spies in this category move about individually. They take up different jobs and gather information. These are not spies by profession. It is like a part time duty. They are appointed by the king himself (without the involvement of the ministers) सत्त्रि-तीक्ष्ण-रसद-भिक्षुकी

  • सत्त्रि – 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).
  • तीक्ष्ण- These are capable of doing anything – even to fight with a tiger – for the sake of money. They may be in different
  • रसद – poisoners who are rough natured and cruel people
  • भिक्षुकी – A female spy who is independent. She may be poor, a widow or respected in the queen’s residence, or who has access to Amaatya’s household.

Their way of working

Depending on the ability of the sancharas, the king appoints them to espy the movements of his 18 types of senior officials namely 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.  मन्त्रि, पुरोहित, सेनापति, युवराज, दौवारिक, अन्तर्वंशिक, प्रशास्तृ, समाहर्तृ, सम्निधातृ, प्रदेष्टृ, नायक, पौरव्यावहारिक, कार्मान्तिक, मन्त्रि, परिषद्ऽध्यक्ष, दण्डपाल, दुर्गान्तपाल, आटविक.

Theekshnas will be appointed to hold chatra, chamara or any other duties to the above officials. They gather information about the officials (external behaviours, mannerism, etc.) and pass them to the Samstha.

The people employed in the households like cook, barber, musicians, female employees gather the personal information of the above said 18 types of officials. They update the information to Samstha as well.

The heads of the Samstha arrange their own personnel to inform the king about their observation. However, no two samsthas should be in contact. The sancharas who worked as informants should not know who are there in the samstha. Else, they would form their own group and give distorted information to the king.

If any spy is stopped from entering the workplace, if they are suspected for their role in spying, they should send secret code messages to the samstha. The people involved should discretely quit the job in that place.

The king should verify the validity of information by checking from three sources of information. If one repeatedly reports distorted information he should be punished or prevented from the work.


This is regarding those who are stationed in other states as part of their duty. They are expected to work as informants of that country. So, they should work in that place (obviously to avoid being detected). Such spies are called Ubhayavetanas. **गृहीतपुत्रदारांश्च कुर्याद् उभयवेतनान् – Their spouse and families should to be kept respectfully in the custody of the king, to ensure that there are loyal. Such ubhayavethanas should be checked on often.

Thus the chaaras should keep an eye on the friends, foes, neutral parties as well as the 18 types of officials.

Different occupation of people appointed at different places

  • Residences – dwarves, dumb, eunuch (who cannot procreate), etc.
  • Forts – traders
  • Outside the fort – tapasa /sanyasi
  • Country parts – agriculturists, recluse – udasthitas
  • boundaries of the country – Gopalakas
  • Forests – vanacharas , Tribal chiefs

An appropriate system should be followed to relay the information quickly to the king. They should be able to identify the spies from the other countries too.

The officials who are loyal and will not yield to external pressure are akrutyas. After enacting a rajadroha they should be sent out. In reality they are appointed in disguise at different parts of the country to oversee the spy network, and to know about foreign spies. They are appointed at the borders as well.

Quotations from गूढपुरुषप्रणिधिः

01.12.03 ये बन्धुषु निस्स्नेहाः क्रूराश्चालसाश्च ते रसदाः |

ये बन्धुषु निःस्नेहाः क्रूराश्चालसाश्च ते रसादाः। गूढपुरुषप्रणिधिः Chapter 12 pg 8 bk2. This is from chapter 12 on “Appointment of Wandering Spies”. ये बन्धुषु निस्स्नेहाः क्रूराः च अलसाः च ते रसदाः |  Meaning: The poison-givers are those who have no affection towards their kinsman, are very cruel and lethargic. Context: Kautilya explains the different types of wandering spies namely Satri – the secret agent in the disguise of astrologer, Teekshna – the brave and energetic spy, rasada – the poison-giver, and bhikshukee – the begging lady monk.

01.12.19 गृहीतपुत्रदारांश्च कुर्यादुभयवेतनान्।

गूढपुरुषप्रणिधिः chapter 12 Pg 9 bk2. This is from chapter 12 on “Appointment of Wandering Spies”. गृहीत-पुत्र-दारान् च कुर्यात् उभय-वेतनान् | तान् च रिप्रहितान् विद्यात् तेषां शौचं च तद्विधैः || Meaning: 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. Context: While describing the responsibilities of different types of Spies, Kautilya mentions about the spies whose family in taken charge of by the king and who seemingly work for the enemy and gather secret information for the king. He adds that the purity of character of such persons shall be ascertained through persons of similar profession.

13 Protection from Parties in one’s own State स्वविषये कृत्याकृत्यपक्षरक्षणम्

Chapter 13 स्वविषये कृत्याकृत्यपक्षरक्षणम् and Chapter 14 परविषये कृत्याकृत्यपक्ष उपग्रहः 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.

कृत्या – क्रुद्धलुब्धभीतमानिनः तु परेषां कृत्याः Those provoked people who are angry with the king, those who are ambitious for power or money, those who are afraid of the severe punishment and those who felt insulted by the king are called Krutyaah. They have some negative opinion about the king and are easy targets for the enemies.

This chapter describes how to identify Krutyas in the country with the help of sathris. Two groups of sathris should get into an argument about the king/governance in a crowded place. One group has to criticize the king about the hefty tax collection while the other should defend him by giving reasons.

These spies will observe people and gather information about the loyal citizens and about those who are unhappy. The happy and content citizens should be respected. The disgruntled people should be given some jobs like collection of tax. This will make them interact with common people and face their ire. This is an indirect punishment for them.

The Krutyas are vulnerable to be lured by the enemies.  Therefore their family has to be kept under house arrest in a secret place.

14 Protection from Parties in Enemy’s State परविषये कृत्याकृत्यपक्ष उपग्रहः

This chapter 14 परविषये कृत्याकृत्यपक्ष उपग्रहः talks about observing the krutya – akrutyas of the enemy kingdom and luring the people to one’s own side.

Kautilya says 4 classifications – क्रुद्धवर्गः (angry citizens), भीतवर्गः (in fear), लुब्धवर्गः (bankrupt), मानिवर्गः (egoistic)

उपजपावृत्तिः Vasheekarana vidhana is explained to lure each of the mentioned category.

  • क्रुद्धवर्गः – If the angry citizen of the enemy side has faith in saints, a spy dressed up like a saint should approach him and advice him – ‘This king is an Adharmi. The situation of the country in his control will be like of a place destroyed by a tusker’. Example of a tusker is given.
  • भीतवर्गः – Fear about the king should be instilled in these people. ‘This king may find fault in you anytime. Therefore it is better you go to another place.’ Example of a poisonous snake is given.
  • लुब्धवर्गः – This king favors only those people whom he likes. He is not able enough to identify the good qualities and reward. Example is given of a dog keeper’s cow giving milk only to the dogs and not to a Brahmana.
  • मानिवर्गः – This king is a neecha. He is dependable only to other neechas. Such a king does not deserve the service of a noble person like you. Example is given of a water-well specifically meant for Chandalas and none other than them are allowed to use it.

15 Council meetings to frame a Winning Strategy  मन्त्राधिकारः

The Chapter 15 मन्त्राधिकारः deals with the business of council meeting.

मन्त्रपूर्वाः सर्वारम्भाः Any work has to be initiated only after ‘mantralochana’. Since important issues are discussed, and decisions taken in this council meeting, utmost secrecy has to be maintained.

  • The place chosen should be quiet and deserted.
  • What is spoken inside should not be heard outside.
  • Even the birds should not be able to see the place. There were instances of parrots, dogs and other animals working as spies.
  • One who is not authorized should be seen in the area.
  • One who does ‘mantra bheda’ should be punished.

Instances of मन्त्रभेद

The secret could be revealed by doota-amaatya-swami – by their ‘ingita’ or ‘akruti’. इङ्गितम् अन्यथावृत्तिः – Change of opinion. आकृतिग्रहणं आकारः – Change of appearance/expression.

A person involved with Mantralochana knows about the decision being taken or about some important work that is going to happen. From the period of counsel to the commencement of the work, one should be careful to maintain the secrecy. He should not disclose it during the sleep or when he is drunk.

Ways to protect the mantra

  • भारद्वाजः – King should arrive at a conclusion alone.
  • विशालाक्षः – King should not decide alone. The king’s dealings have to be ‘pratyaksha, paroksha and anumeya’. The king has to take the opinion of others.
  • पाराशराः – This is just collection of opinions. King should put forth similar situation (not the one currently in his mind) and ask for the opinions. By knowing their views, he should take appropriate decisions.
  • पिशुनः – The ministers will not be interested to get involved in non-existing issues. The king should selectively approach the ministers for advice depending on their expertise.
  • कौटिल्यः – A king should consult 3 or 4 ministers. If he depends on only one Mantri, the Mantri may take the upper hand in governance. If the number is more it is difficult to arrive at a conclusion.

Procedure to do Mantralochana

कर्मणामारम्भोपायः पुरुष-द्रव्यसम्पद्- देशकालविभागो- विनिपातप्रतीकारः- कार्यसिद्धिरिति पञ्चाङ्गो मन्त्रः | – These 5 are important in mantralochana.

कर्मणाम् आरम्भ-उपायः पुरुष-द्रव्य-सम्पत् देश-काल-विभागः विनिपात-प्रतीकारः कार्य-सिद्धिः इति पञ्चांगो मन्त्रः ॥
The five constituents making up a council-deliberation or मन्त्रः are the means to carry out works, command of plenty of men and wealth, allotment of time and place, remedies against dangers, and final success.

  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 clearly defined exit criteria.

Mantri Parishad

There were different opinions on how many should be present in the Mantri Parishad.

  • मानवाः – 12 amaatyas
  • बार्हस्पत्याः – 16
  • इत्यौशनसाः – 20
  • कौटिल्यः – यथासामर्थ्यम्

The Mantri parishat should think from the point of view of the King and the other party as well. They have to oversee initiation of the work that needs to be done; oversee the anushtaana of what has begun and enforce compliance to the orders. अकृतारम्भं आरब्धानुष्ठानं अनुष्ठितविशेषं नियोगसम्पदं च कर्मणां कुर्युः

Supervision of work is to be done by observation.  If the party is far away, the updates have to be gathered through letter.

Mantri Parishad is like ‘eyes’ to the king. It is compared with Indra’s counsel which consists of 1000 rishis. “सहस्राक्षं आहुः” | During emergency situation, after consulting ministers and mantri parishad, the majority opinion has to be implemented.

The ministers who are competent should be part of the counsel. The secrecy of the meeting has to be maintained. Efforts should be made to know the proceedings of the enemy’s meetings. गूहेत् कूर्म इवाङ्गानि यत् स्याद् विवृतं आत्मनः Like a tortoise the king shall draw in his limbs that are stretched out.

Quotation from मन्त्राधिकारः

01.15.02 मन्त्रपूर्वास्सर्वारम्भाः |

मन्त्राधिकारः Chapter  15 page 28 book 2.  This is from chapter 15 on “The Business of Counsel Meeting”.  मन्त्र-पूर्वाः सर्व-आरम्भाः | Meaning: All kinds of administrative measures are preceded by deliberations in a well-formed council. Context: Once the king has conquered his own party and his enemy, he should undertake the administrative works. For that, the king has to consult his counsel and only then take his decisions. The conduct of the secret council is described in this chapter.

16 Appointing the Envoys दूतप्रणिधिः
In Chapter 16 दूतप्रणिधिः, 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.

Categories of दूत / envoy depending on the ability

  • निसृष्टार्थः – One with all the twenty expected qualities of ‘Amaatya’. He is able to take up responsibilities independently.
  • परिमितार्थः – Having 3/4th (who has all the qualities but less by a quarter). He will be given a specific task.
  • शासनहरः – Having half the qualities. He will be appointed as a messenger carrying a written message.

Responsibilities of the envoy

  • Proper preparation of the vehicles, people and clear idea of the mission – before starting
  • During the travel he has to make friends with the officials.
  • Observe the placement of military stations, army strong holds (of enemy as well)
  • Identify the short cut and escape routes on his way
  • Assess the enemies’ fort, size of the country, strengths and weaknesses
  • Enter the country with the consent. Even when there is danger to his life, he has to relay the message as is.
  • After relaying the message to the king, he has to observe the expressions of the king to understand if the reaction is favorable or not.
  • If he is asked to remain in the country, he should not be flattered by the hospitality extended. He has to abstain himself from women and liquor.
  • He has to obtain information about the enemy country through the spies or ‘ubhayavetana’.  If this is not possible he has to gather information by observing the words of the beggar and common people. He should try to understand the situation at temples, from paintings and secret writings / sanjnas.
  • If he is asked to remain in the enemy’s country even after his job is done, he has to understand the purpose of the same. Kautilya lists many possibilities regarding this. Is the enemy king planning something against our king? Is he buying time (to strengthen his army, fort, etc.) by delaying the reply to my message? Are there any threats to enemy from other parts? Is the enemy contemplating a friendly relationship with our king through marriage?
  • When not immediately sent, the envoy can choose to stay for as long as he wishes or decide to return. He can request the enemy king to speed up the process and arrange his return. If the consequence message is dangerous (punishment or threat to his life), he is allowed to return without the consent.

Duties of the envoy involves carrying of messages प्रेषणम्, maintenance of treaties सन्धिपालत्वम्, build friendship मित्रसङ्ग्रहः, sowing dissension among friends सुहृद्भेद, fetching secret force गूढदण्डातिसारणम्, stealth of relatives or precious stones बन्धुरत्नापहरणम्, information gathering about the movements of spies चारज्ञानम्, bravery पराक्रमः, breaking of treaties of peace समाधिमोक्ष, winning over the favor of the envoy and government officers of the enemy.

The king has to ensure the envoy performs the duties and make sure the information, secrets of his country is not accessible to the envoy of the enemy.

Quotation from दूतप्रणिधिः

01.16.01 उद्धृतमन्त्रो दूतप्रणिधिः |

दूतप्रणिधिः Chapter 16 pg 40/42 book 2. This is from chapter 16 on “The Employment of Envoys”. उद्धृत-मन्त्रः दूतप्रणिधिः | Meaning: Whoever has succeeded as a councilor or Mantri is an envoy. Context: Having dealt with the secret counsel, Kautilya describes the employment of Envoys. He begins by saying the responsibilities that can be given to the different types of Envoys. Whoever possesses ministerial qualifications is the fully authorized one who will be in-charge of the affairs (nisrishtaarthah). Whoever possesses the same qualifications less by one-quarter is an agent entrusted with a definite mission having limited authority (parimitaarthah). Whoever possesses the same qualifications less by one-half is a conveyer of royal writs or messenger (saasanaharah).

17 Protection of the Prince राजपुत्ररक्षणम्

In Chapter 17 राजपुत्र-रक्षणम्, Chanakya mentions about the protection of the prince. Only when the King’s personal safety from the queen and sons is ensured, he will be able to maintain the safety of the kingdom. रक्षितो राजा राज्यं रक्षत्यासन्नेभ्यः परेभ्यश्च, पूर्वं दारेभ्यः पुत्रेभ्यश्च |Once the territory is established, a Leader or the King should consider having a succession plan in place. जन्मप्रभृति राजपुत्रान् रक्षेत् (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.

Though the prince is going to be the next king, it is observed that he has to be dealt with caution. Opinions of various scholars on this topic are considered by Kautilya and his conclusion is also provided.

  • भारद्वाजः – Princes like crabs have a notorious tendency of eating up their begetter. कर्कटकसधर्माणो हि जनक-भक्षा राजपुत्राः | Such princes should be secretly punished if they do not develop affection towards their father.
  • विशालाक्षः – It is adharma to kill an innocent. And the heir apparent would be killed. Therefore instead of getting him killed, he has to be put under guard in a safe place.
  • पाराशराः – It is compared to the fear of a snake. The son may think that the king is afraid of his strength and abilities. He might start controlling the father. Therefore the prince must be kept under the custody of guards (anthapaala) in a fort.
  • पिशुनः –The above is compared to the fear of a flock of sheep when a wolf comes in their midst. The prince may develop friendship with the anthapaala and conspire against the king. Therefore he has to be kept in the custody of a ‘Saamantha’, a foreign king, far away from his own state.
  • कौणपदन्तः – वत्सस्थानम् एतद् – It is like the position of the calf. The Samantha may start taking advantage of the situation and keep on demanding. Therefore the child has to be with his maternal relatives.
  • वातव्याधिः – Bringing up the prince in maternal relatives’ place will be like ध्वजस्थानम् position of a flag. They may use him and start demanding as well. Instead, the prince should be left to enjoy life. Then he may not be interested in uprooting the throne.
  • कौटिल्यः –A country with weak prince will perish like a wood attacked by termites. Instead, the prince should be brought up with good education. When the queen conceives, the appropriate offerings and havanas are to be performed. After the birth of the child, putrasanskara followed by good education should be given.
  • आम्भीयाः – They say two groups of sathris should lure the prince with hunting, gambling, women or drinking. Then they should talk ill of the king and observe the reaction of the prince.

Kautilya does not agree with the above idea. Teaching the vices to an innocent person is maha dosha. Only appropriate Dharma has to be taught to the young mind. Adharma and Anartha should never be taught. तस्माद् धर्म्यं अर्थ्यं चास्य उपदिशेन्नाधर्म्यं अनर्थ्यं च | With the help of the sathris – any vices that the prince has should be removed.

Even after dharmika upbringing, if the prince develops displeasure with the king or has negative qualities, Kautilya suggests the following actions

  • After the efforts by the sathris, if the prince has not changed his ways, he should be imprisoned even though he is the only and favorite son.
  • If there are many (other) princes, send the one with wrong ways to a different location.
  • The prince with noble qualities should be appointed as senapati or yuvaraja.

Three types of the princes

** बुद्धिमानाहार्यबुद्धिर्दुर्बुद्धिरिति पुत्रविशेषाः

  1. Buddhiman – One who learns and implements the dharma-artha theories learnt from the Guru.
  2. Aaharyabuddhi – One who has learnt from the Guru, but does not practice.
  3. Durbuddhi – One has durbuddhi. He hates Dharma-Artha.

Actions to be taken

  • If the king has only one son who is of the third category, efforts should be made to get putrasantana. Or the daughter’s son can be made the heir.
  • If the king is old or disabled, he should get a Santana in his ‘kshetra’ – either from a maternal relative or from a person of the same kula or a noble king from the neighboring country.
  • A disobedient son should never be installed on the throne.
  • The king has to be polite/favorable to the sons (‘hitha’)
  • बहूनामेकसंरोधः पिता पुत्रहितो भवेत् । अन्यत्रापद ऐश्वर्यं ज्येष्ठभागि तु पूज्यते ॥ (०१.१७.५२) If there are many undisciplined 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.

Quotation from राजपुत्ररक्षणम्

01.17.44 बुद्धिमानाहार्यबुद्धिर्दुर्बुद्धिरिति पुत्रविशेषाः

राजपुत्ररक्षणम् Chapter 17 page 52 book2.  This is from chapter 17 on “Protection of Princes”. बुद्धिमान् आहार्य-बुद्धिः दुर्बुद्धिः इति पुत्र-विशेषाः | Meaning: Sons are of three kinds: those of sharp intelligence; those of stagnant intelligence; and those of perverted mind. Context: Kautilya explains the different kinds of sons that a King might have in this way – 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. Kautilya suggests the actions to be taken by the king for his own protection and the welfare of the kingdom in these different cases.

18 Conduct and Treatment of a Restrained Prince अवरुद्धवृत्तम् & अवरुद्धे वृत्तिः

In 18th Chapter अवरुद्धवृत्तम् & अवरुद्धे वृत्तिः, Chanakya explains about the conduct of a prince kept under restraint and the treatment of a restrained prince. He explains how a genuine successor should behave, if he is being neglected by the king.

A prince may be sent away by the king for several reasons. This chapter speaks from both the king’s and the prince’s perspective.

  • A prince who has been sent or restrained has to faithfully follow the king and his orders. 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.
  • Even after this if the king does not show appreciation, or if he is partial to other princes or the sons of other queens, this prince should request permission to go to the forest.
  • If there is any threat to his life or safety, he has to approach a good natured Samantha (neighboring king) and take shelter.
  • There he will develop connections with able men, acquire wealth and relationships (marriage with the princess of a strong country), build an army with the help of tribal people
  • He should try to win over the citizens of his father’s state
  • If he is alone without the support of a Samantha, he should acquire wealth by trading of precious stones and jewels, work in mines, etc.
  • Once he has gained sufficient wealth, army and support from various parties, he should approach the king and declare that he is the heir-apparent. It is not appropriate that the king alone enjoys the luxuries. Else he should threaten the king that he will employ those who come to his side with double the salary.

The role of the King

There are three types of unfavorable princes.  According to their category, the king has to take appropriate actions.

  • अवरुद्धः – The prince who is a heir apparent but was sent by the king. He has to be called back with the help of spies or his mother.
  • त्यक्तः – The prince with wicked qualities and sent by the king. He may be killed by the spies with the help of weapons or poison.
  • अत्यक्तः – He is the prince who has left on his own, fearing punishment or threat to his life. He will be brought back with the help of women or spies. He should be assured of the throne after the death of the king. If there are other able princes, he should be banished.

19 Duties of a King राजप्रणिधिः

The 19th chapter राजप्रणिधिः deals with the duties of king. 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.

If the king is disciplined, the subjects will be disciplined as well. Else, the entire system becomes weak and susceptible to attack by enemies.

Division of the Day

Day is divided into 8 parts. Night is divided into 8 parts.

  Day time Activities Night time Activities
1. Post watchmen and attend to the accounts of receipts and expenditure Meet goodapurusha
2. Meet the citizens Snana, Bhojana, Adhyayana


3. Snana, Bhojana, Adhyayana Proceed to the sleeping chamber
4.  1.Collection of taxes and
2.Appointment of Adhyakshas
5.  1.Meet mantra parishad, patra work
2.Meet Chaaras
6. Spend in amusements or in self-deliberation 1.Wake up with ghosha
2.Think about shastras
3.Overview of the day’s work
7. Oversee elephants, horses, chariots, infantry 1.Mantra Alochana
2.Assign work to goodapurusha
8. Meet the Senapati and Sandhyopasana 1.Get the blessings of acharyas
2.Meet the doctor, cook and astrologer
3.Worship the cow, calf and bull
4.Proceed to the Asthana mantapa


More information on the routine of the king

  • King should always be accessible for the people concerned with the work. If not the situation will lead to the displeasure of the citizens. This in turn will make the country weak and make it become an easy target for enemies.
  • He shall, therefore, personally attend to the business of gods, of heretics, of Braahmans 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. देवताऽऽश्रमपाषण्डश्रोत्रियपशुपुण्यस्थाना, बालवृद्धव्याधितव्यसन्य्ऽनाथानां स्त्रीणां कार्याणि पश्येत्
  • The important work that has to be done should be done without delay. If it is postponed it may be difficult or impossible to complete the task.
  • Having seated himself at the yagashaala, he shall attend to the business of physicians and ascetics practicing 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 practicing austerities, as well as of those who are experts in witchcraft and Yoga.
  • For the king, readiness of action is religious vow – vratam. satisfactory discharge of duties is performance of sacrificial yajna – राज्ञो हि व्रतं उत्थानं यज्ञः कार्यानुशासनम्
  • Being impartial is Dakshina. Abhisheka i.e., ablution is deeksha i.e., consecration. दक्षिणा वृत्तिसाम्यं तु दीक्षा तस्याभिशेचनम्
  • In the happiness of his subjects lies his happiness. In their welfare lies his welfare. **प्रजासुखे सुखं राज्ञः प्रजानां च हिते हितम्
  • He does not consider his personal likings to be good unless it is good for the country and people. नात्मप्रियं हितं राज्ञः प्रजानां तु प्रियं हितम्
  • Therefore the king should always be alert and be engaged in performing his duties.
  • His appropriate actions are the basis for the wealth of the country.
  • If the king becomes lazy it will lead the country to destruction.

Quotations from राजप्रणिधिः

01.19.01 राजानं उत्थितं अनूत्तिष्ठन्ते भृत्याः

राजप्रणिधिः chapter 19 pg 64/68 book 2. This is from chapter 19 on “The Duties of the King”. राजानं उत्थितं अनूत्तिष्ठन्ते भृत्याः | Meaning: If a king is energetic, his subjects will be equally energetic. Context: While starting to explain the duties of the King, Kautilya mentions this first that the king has to be energetic. If he is reckless, the subjects 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.

01.19.34 प्रजासुखे सुखं राज्ञः प्रजानां च हिते हितम् |

राजप्रणिधिः Chapter 19 pg 66/70 book 2. This is from chapter 19 on “The Duties of the King”. प्रजा-सुखे सुखं राज्ञः प्रजानां च हिते हितम् | न-आत्म-प्रियं हितं राज्ञः प्रजानां तु प्रियं हितम् ||  Meaning: 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. Context: Kautilya states that the King should find his happiness in serving his subjects. Hence the king shall ever be active and discharge his duties since the root of wealth is activity, and of evil its reverse.

20 Protection of the Royal Residence निशान्तप्रणिधिः

The 20th Chapter निशान्तप्रणिधिः 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. The residence of the king and queen is mentioned as अन्तःपुरम्

Location & Construction

The royal residence complex should be built in a safe and suitable location. The anthah-pura should be surrounded by several rooms and with a parapet & ditch provided with a door.

The house (mohanagruha) should have secret pathways hidden by the walls. The house can be underground as well. The doors should be adorned with divine figurines or carvings. The underground should have convenient stairs, hidden from the view. The system can be made collapsible as a protection during emergency from his own classmates sahadhyayis.

Safety from Fire

  • If the harem is thrice circumambulated from right to left (apradakshina) with a man made fire, it will be protected from any fire.
  • Even the fire created from the lightening will not affect it.
  • If the walls are built with mud, mixed with the ash from lightening and the water from hailstorms, the walls will be protected from fire as well.

Safety from Poison

  • जीवन्ती-श्वेता-मुष्ककपुष्प-वन्दाका-अश्वत्थस्य पत्र – By keeping the flowers and the said leaves, snakes and other poisonous creatures can be avoided.
  • Freely roaming birds and animals will eat the snakes or keep them away. They are – cats, peacocks, mongooses and spotted deer.
  • Birds like parrots, myna, bhringa raja birds scream if they smell poison. This will be an indication if any poisoning effort is done.
  • Heron faints, जीवञ्जीवकः will be distressed and cuckoo dies in the presence of poison. चकोर bird’s eyes will change colour.

Royal compound

  • The complex should have compartments for the women, provided not only with all kinds of medicines useful in midwifery and diseases, but also with well known pot-herbs. A water body should be present.
  • The residences for the prince and princesses are outside these.
  • In front of these, toilet ground (अलङ्कारभूमि), council ground, the offices of the yuvaraja and other officials are located.
  • Security troupes in charge of the harem should be stationed between all the above places.

Safety of the king in the queen’s chamber

The king has to be protected in the queen’s chamber. King has to meet the queen only after she has been thoroughly checked for purity by a trusted attendant. The king should not interact with any women who are not tested for purity. Kautilya gives several instances where the king was harmed in the harem

  • भद्रसेन was killed by his brother in hidden queen’s chamber.
  • कारूषम् was killed by his son who was hiding in his mother’s bed.
  • काशिराजम् was killed by his queen who offered puffed rice. She added poison instead of honey.
  • वैरन्त्य was killed by his queens with poison painted anklet.
  • सौवीर was killed by the queen with poisoned gem.
  • जालूथ was killed by the queen with poisoned mirror.
  • विदूरथ was killed by the queen with a weapon hidden in her hair.

Rules for the queens

King should always be alert and assign proper rules.

  • The queens should not meet un-authorized womenfolk (like munda shaved head or jatila braided hair or outside prostitutes)
  • Even the ladies of the higher society should not be allowed, but outsiders should be allowed only during pregnancy or illness of the queen
  • Prostitutes (rúpájíva) too should approach the king with personal cleanliness
  • 80 men, 50 women in the guise of fathers, relatives or eunuchs will be in charge of maintaining the royal residence
  • Everyone should live in the place assigned to him/her
  • The residents are not allowed to be in touch with the outsiders
  • All the goods that come to (or go out of) the royal residence should be checked for security (with the seal-mark ‘mudra’)

21 Personal Safety – आत्मरक्षितकम्

The 21st Chapter आत्मरक्षितकम् explains about 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.

Safety of the King during his routine

  • The team of women armed with bows should receive the King when he gets up.
  • At the second row, people holding the coat and head gear should be present.
  • Dwarves and crooked people at the third row
  • Fourth row will be of ministers, relatives and door keepers
  • The personal attendants should be loyal to the king and serving for generations.
  • The body guards of the Royal residence should protect the residence and the king
  • The main cook has to supervise the preparation of varieties of relishing dishes.
  • The food has to be offered to the fire, birds by the king and then consumed.

Characteristics and tests for poisoning

  • A food when put to the fire makes the flame and the smoke to turn blue or flutter – is poisoned
  • If the birds die after eating, the food is poisoned
  • If the vapor of the hot rice turns blue, if it cools quickly, if the vegetables have an unnatural color, are too watery and hardened, dries quickly , or possesses blackish foam and the food that does not have natural taste are all the signs of poison
  • If the liquids have blue lines, red in milk, dark shaded water, grey curds, white in honey – are the signs of poison
  • Presence of poison shall be inferred 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 shrink and change in their color; when hard things appear soft, and soft things hard;
  • when minute animalcule (ants, insects) 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, color, shine, and softness of touch, presence of poison shall be inferred.

Identifying the culprit

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.

Remedy for poisoning

Doctors should be with the king. They should treat the king and administer appropriate medicine.

Safety during the bath and dressing up

  • The servants in charge of dressing up the king should have taken bath, should wear clean clothes. They should get the toiletries which bears the seal.
  • Bathing, massage, making the bed, washing, etc., — duties are done by Daasis.
  • Those responsible should press the royal clothe and jewels to their eyes, fragrant lotions, powders applied on their chest and arms (so as to test it) before presenting to the king.
  • The musicians and artists should not make use of weapons, fire or chariots in the display of their talent.
  • All the musical instruments, ornaments of elephants and horses should be kept inside.

Safety during the travel

  • King should board the chariot, boat or ship that are driven by an experienced (whose family has been serving the royal family) person.
  • Should not board a boat which is tied to another boat and sails depending on the direction of wind.
  • Soldiers should be present at both the banks.
  • He should travel in the water tested by fishermen, forests checked by snake charmers.
  • To practice his aiming skills, he should go to the forest having only deer and devoid of thieves, robbers, enemies or wild animals.
  • He should meet ascetics in the presence of armed bodyguard. The envoys should be met in the presence of ministers.
  • Attired in military dress and having mounted a horse, a chariot, or an elephant, he shall go see his army equipped in military array.
  • When he goes out or comes into the capital, both sides of the road should be protected by guards. The ascetics and crippled people should not be present.
  • When the king visits the temple, procession or some ceremony, he should be with the band of ten men (dasha-varnika)

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, in Vinayadhikarana, we have seen how Chanakya elaborates on various aspects related to vinaya, the training needed for a King. Chanakya provides guidance on what the king should do. An aspiring king should first conquer indriyas or senses. 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.


Some Important Exam Questions

इन्द्रियजयः ; अमात्य उत्पत्तिः ; उपधाभिः शौचाशौचज्ञानं अमात्यानाम् ; धर्म-उपधा ; अर्थ-उपधा ; गूढपुरुषोत्पत्तिः ; संस्थाः ; उभयवेतनाः ; दूतप्रणिधिः ; राजपुत्ररक्षणम् ; निशान्तप्रणिधिः ; आत्मरक्षितकम् ;

Reference material

  1. KSOU Course Material – Course Writer, Dr. Michael and contact class conducted by Dr. Gururaj Rao.
  2. Detailed Notes provided by Smt. Divya Rajesh (MA Student)
  4. कौटिल्यस्य अर्थशास्त्रम्
  5. The Arthashastra By Kauṭalya
  6. Arthashastra. Translated by R. Shamasastry. Bangalore: Government Press, 1915, 1-50.

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