Kautilya Arthashastra

by R. Shamasastry | 1956 | 174,809 words | ISBN-13: 9788171106417

The English translation of Arthashastra, which ascribes itself to the famous Brahman Kautilya (also named Vishnugupta and Chanakya) and dates from the period 321-296 B.C. The topics of the text include internal and foreign affairs, civil, military, commercial, fiscal, judicial, tables of weights, measures of length and divisions of time. Original ...

Chapter 1 - The Life of a King

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: This is the title of the chapter. Such titles are always put at the end of chapters or of sections by the author.

Salutation to Śukra and Bṛhaspati

This Arthaśāstra is made as a compendium of almost all the Arthaśāstras, which, in view of acquisition and maintenance of the earth, have been composed by ancient teachers.

Of this work, the following are the contents by sections and [1][1] books:

BOOK I.—Concerning Discipline

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

BOOK II—The Duties of Government Superintendents

Formation of villages; division of land; construction of forts; buildings within the fort; the duty of the chamberlain; the business of collection of revenue by the collector-general; the business of keeping up accounts in the office of accountants; detection of what [2] is embezzled by government servants out of state revenue; examination of the conduct of government servants; the procedure of forming royal writs; the superintendent of the treasury; examination of gems that are to be entered into the treasury; conducting mining operations and manufacture; the superintendent of gold; the duties of the state goldsmith in the high road; the superintendent of store-house; the superintendent of commerce; the superintendent of forest produce; the superintendent of the armoury; the superintendent of weights and measures; measurement of space and time; the superintendent of tolls; the superintendent of weaving; the superintendent of agriculture; the superintendent of liquor; the superintendent of slaughter-house; the superintendent of prostitutes; the superintendent of ships; the superintendent of cows; the superintendent of horses; the superintendent of elephants; the superintendent of chariots; the superintendent of infantry; the duty of the commander-in-chief; the superintendent of passports; the superintendent of pasture lands; the duty of revenue collectors; spies in the guise of householders, merchants, and ascetics; the duty of a city superintendent.

BOOK III.—Concerning Law

Determination of forms of agreements; determination of legal disputes; concerning marriage; division of inheritance; buildings; non-performance of agreements; recovery of debts; concerning deposits; rules regarding slaves and labourers; co-operative undertakings; rescission of purchase and sale; resumption of gifts, and sale without ownership; ownership; robbery; defamation; assault; gambling and betting and miscellaneous.

BOOK IV.—Removal of Thorns

Protection of artisans; protection of merchants; remedies against national calamities; suppression of the wicked living by foul means; [3] detection of youths of criminal tendency by ascetic spies; seizure of criminals on suspicion or in the very act; examination of sudden death; trial and torture to elicit confession; protection of all kinds of government departments; fines in lieu of mutilation of limbs; death with or without torture; sexual intercourse with immature girls; atonement for violating justice.

BOOK V.—Conduct of Courtiers

Concerning the awards of punishments; replenishment of the treasury; concerning subsistance to government servants; the conduct of a courtier; time-serving; consolidation of the kingdom and absolute sovereignty.

BOOK VI.—The Source of Sovereign States

The elements of sovereignty; concerning peace and exertion.

BOOK VII—The End of Sixfold Policy

The sixfold policy; determination of deterioration, stagnation, and progress; the nature of alliance; the character of equal, inferior and superior kings; forms of agreement made by an inferior king; neutrality after proclaiming war or after concluding a treaty of peace; marching after proclaiming war or after making peace; the march of combined powers; considerations about marching against an assailable enemy and a strong enemy; causes leading to the dwindling, greed and disloyalty of the army; considerations about the combination of powers; the march of combined powers; agreement of peace with or without definite terms; and peace with renegades; peace and war by adopting the double policy; the attitude of an assailable enemy; friends that deserve help; agreement for the acquisition of a friend or gold; agreement of peace for the acquisition of land; agreement for undertaking a work; considerations about an enemy in the rear; recruitment of lost [4] power; measures conducive to peace with a strong and provoked enemy; the attitude of a conquered enemy; the attitude of a conquered king; making peace and breaking it; the conduct of a Madhyama king; of a neutral king and of a circle of states.

BOOK VIII.—Concerning Vices and Calamities

The aggregate of the calamities of the elements of sovereignty; considerations about the troubles of the king and his kingdom; the aggregate of the troubles of men; the group of molestations; the group of obstructions; and the group of financial troubles; the group of troubles of the army; and the group of troubles of a friend.

BOOK IX.—The Work of an Invader

The knowledge of power, place, time, strength and weakness; the time of invasion; the time for recruiting the army; the form of equipment; the work of arraying a rival force; considerations of annoyance in the rear; remedies against internal and external troubles; consideration about loss of men; wealth and profit. Internal and external dangers; persons associated with traitors and enemies; doubts about wealth and harm; and success to be obtained by the employment of alternative strategic means.

BOOK X,—Relating to War

Encampment; march of the camps; protection of the army in times of distress and attack; forms of treacherous fights; encouragement to one’s own army; the fight between one’s own and enemy’s armies; battlefields; the work of infantry, cavalry, chariots and elephants; distinctive array of troops in respect of wings, flanks and front; distinction between strong and.weak troops; battles with infantry, cavalry, chariots and elephants; the array of the army like a staff, a snake, a circle or in detached order; the array of the army against that of an enemy.

BOOK XL—The Conduct of Corporations

[5] Causes of dissension; secret punishment.

BOOK XII.—Concerning a Powerful Enemy

The duties of a messenger; battle of intrigue; slaying the commander-in-chief, and inciting a circle of states; spies with weapons, fire, and poison; destruction of supply of stores, and of granaries; capture of the enemy by means of secret contrivances or by means of the army; and complete victory.

BOOK XIII.—Strategic Means to Capture a Fortress

Sowing the seeds of dissension; enticement of kings by secret contrivances; the work of spies in a siege; the operation of a siege; restoration of peace in a conquered country.

BOOK XIV.—Secret Means

Means to injure an enemy; wonderful and delusive contrivances; remedies against the injuries of one’s own army.

BOOK XV.—The Plan of a Treatise

Paragraphical divisions of this treatise.

Such are the contents of this science. There are on the whole 15 books, 150 chapters, 180 sections and 6,000 ślokās.[2]

[6] This śāstra,[3] bereft of undue enlargement and easy to grasp and understand, has been composed by Kauṭilya in words the meaning of which has been definitely settled.

[Thus ends Chapter I, “Life of a king,” in Book I, “Concerning Discipline” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya.]

Footnotes and references:


The numerical figures refer to the pages of the Sanskrit Text and are put here for convenience of reference.


Thirty-two syllables make one śloka. In Chap. VIII of his Daśakumāracaritra, Daṇḍi has also stated that the extent of the Daṇḍanīti abridged by Viṣṇugupta is 6,000 ślokas.


This is in śloka-metre.

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