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 8 - Creation of Ministers

“The King,” says Bhāradvāja, “shall employ his classmates as his ministers; for they can be trusted by him inasmuch as he has personal knowledge of their honesty and capacity.”

“No,” says Viśālākṣa, “for, as they have been his playmates as well, they would despise him. But he shall employ as ministers those whose secrets, possessed of in common, are well known to him. Possessed of habits and defects in common with the king, they would never hurt him lest he would betray their secrets.”

“Common is this fear,” says Parāśara, “for under the fear of betrayal of his own secrets, the king may also follow them in their good and bad acts.

“Under the control of as many persons as are made aware by the king of his own secrets, might he place himself in all humility by that disclosure. Hence he shall employ as ministers those who have proved faithful to him under difficulties fatal to life and are of tried devotion.”[1]

“No,” says Piśuna, “for this is devotion, but not intelligence (buddhiguṇa). He shall appoint as ministers those who, when [14] employed on financial matters, show as much as, or more than, the fixed revenue, and are thus of tried ability.”

“No,” says Kauṇapadanta, “for such persons are devoid of other ministerial qualifications; he shall, therefore, employ as ministers those whose fathers and grandfathers had been ministers before; such persons, in virtue of their knowledge of past events and of an established relationship with the king, will, though offended, never desert him; for such faithfulness is seen even among dumb animals; cows, for example, stand aside from strange cows and ever keep company with accustomed herds.”

“No,” says Vātavyādhi, “for such persons, having acquired complete dominion over the king, begin to play themselves as the king. Hence he shall employ as ministers such new persons as are proficient in the science of polity. It is such new persons who will regard the king as the real sceptre-bearer (daṇḍadhara) and dare not offend him.”

“No,” says the son of Bāhudanti (a woman); “for a man possessed of only theoretical knowledge, and having no experience of practical politics, is likely to commit serious blunders when engaged in actual works. Hence he shall employ as ministers such as are born of high family and possessed of wisdom, purity of purpose, bravery and loyal feelings, inasmuch as ministerial appointments shall purely depend on qualifications.”

“This,” says Kauṭilya, “is satisfactory in all respects; for a man’s ability is inferred from his capacity shown in work. And in accordance with the difference in the working capacity.

Having divided the spheres of their powers and having definitely taken into consideration the place and time where and when they have to work, such persons shall be employed not as councillors (mantriṇa), but as. ministerial officers (amātyā).[2]

[Thus ends Chapter VIII, “Creation of Ministers,” in Book I, “Concerning Discipline” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya.]

Footnotes and references:


In śloka-metre.


In śloka-metre.

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