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 6 - The Business of Collection of Revenue by the Collector-General

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The collector-general shall attend to (the collection of revenue from) forts (durga), country parts (rāṣṭra), mines (khani), buildings and gardens (setu), forests (vana), herds of cattle (vraja), and roads of traffic (vaṇikpatha).

Tolls, fines, weights and measures, the town-clerk (nāgaraka), the superintendent of coinage (lakṣaṇādhyakṣa), the superinten-dent of seals and passports, liquor, slaughter of animals, threads, oils, ghee, sugar (kṣāra), the state goldsmith (sauvarṇika), the warehouse of merchandise, the prostitute, gambling, building sites (vāstuka), the corporation of artisans and handicrafts men (kāruśilpigaṇa), the superintendent of gods, and taxes collected at the gates and from the people (known as) Bāhirikas come under the head of forts.

Produce from crown lands (sīta), portion of produce payable to the government (bhāga), religious taxes (bali), taxes paid in money (kara), merchants, the superintendent of rivers, ferries, boats, and ships, towns, pasture grounds, road-cess (vartani), ropes (rajjū),[1] and ropes to bind thieves (chorarajjū) come under the head of country parts.

Gold, silver, diamonds, gems, pearls, corals, conch shells, metals (loha), salt, and other minerals extracted from plains and mountain slopes come under the head of mines.

Flower gardens, fruit gardens, vegetable gardens, wet fields, and fields where crops are grown by sowing roots for seeds (mūlavāpā, i.e. sugar-cane crops, etc.) come under setu.

Game forests, timber forests, and elephant forests are forests.

Cows, buffaloes, goats, sheep, asses, camels, horses, and mules come under the head of herds.

Land and water ways are the roads of traffic.

All these form the body of income (āyaśarīra).

Capital (mūla), share (bhāga), premia (vyāji), parigha[2](?), fixed taxes (klṛpta), premia on coins (rūpika[3]) and fixed fines (atyaya) are several forms of revenue (āyamukha, i.e. the mouth from which income is to issue).

The chanting of auspicious hymns during the worship of gods and ancestors, and on the occasion of giving gifts, the harem, the kitchen, the establishment of messengers, the store-house, the armoury, the warehouse, the store-house of raw materials, manufactories (karmānta), free labourers (viṣṭi), maintenance of infantry, cavalry, chariots, and elephants, herds of cows, the museum of beasts, deer, birds and snakes, and storage of firewood and fodder constitute the body of the expenditure (vyayaśarīra).

The royal year, the month, the pakṣa, the day, the new year’s day on Śrāvaṇa (vyuṣṭa) [see note below], the third and seventh pakṣas of (the season such as) the rainy season, the winter season, and the summer short [see note below] of their days, the rest complete, and a separate intercalary month are (the divisions of time).

He shall also pay attention to the work in hand (karaṇīya), the work accomplished (siddha), part of a work in hand (śeṣa), receipts, expenditure, and net balance.

The business of upkeeping the government (saṃsthāna), the routine work (pracāra),[4] the collection of necessaries of life, the collection and audit of all kinds of revenue—these constitute the work in hand.

That which has been credited to the treasury; that which has been taken by the king; that which has been spent in connection with the capital city not entered (into the register) or continued from year before last, the royal command dictated or orally intimated to be entered (into the register)—all these constitute the work accomplished.

Preparation of plans for profitable works, balance of fines due, demand for arrears of revenue kept in abeyance, and examination of accounts—these constitute what is called part of a work in hand which may be of little or no value.[5]

Receipts may be (1) current, (2) last balance, and (3) accidental (anyajāta=received from external source).

What is received day after day is termed current (vartamāna).

Whatever has been brought forward from year before last, whatever is in the hands of others, and whatever has changed hands is termed last balance (paryuṣita).

Whatever has been lost and forgotten (by others), fines levied from government servants, marginal revenue (pārśva), compensation levied for any damage (pārihīṇika), presentations to the king, the property of those who have fallen victims to epidemics (ḍamaragatakasva) leaving no sons, and treasure troves—all these constitute accidental receipts.

Investment of capital (vikṣepa), the relics of a wrecked undertaking, and the savings from an estimated outlay are the means to check expenditure (vyayapratyaya).

The rise in price of merchandise due to the use of different weights[6] and measures in selling is termed vyājī; the enhancement of price due to bidding among buyers is also another source of profit.

Expenditure is of two kinds—daily expenditure and profitable expenditure.

What is continued every day is daily.

Whatever is earned once in a pakṣa, a month, or a year is termed profit.

Whatever is spent on these two heads is termed as daily expenditure and profitable expenditure respectively.

That which remains after deducting all the expenditure already incurred and excluding all revenue to be realised is net balance (nīvī) which may have been either just realised or brought forward.

Thus a wise collector-general shall conduct the work of revenue-collection, increasing the income and decreasing the expenditure.{GL_NOTE::}

[Thus ends Chapter VI, “The Business of Collection of Revenue by the Collector-General,” in Book II, “The Duties of Government Superintendents” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya. End of the twenty-seventh chapter from the beginning.]

Note on Śrāvaṇa (vyuṣṭa):

The meaning seems to be this—

1. The light fortnight of Śrāvaṇa = 15 days.
2. The dark fortnight of Śrāvaṇa = 14 days.
3. The light fortnight of Bhādrapada = 14 days.
4. The dark fortnight of Bhādrapada = 15 days.
5. The light fortnight of Mārgaśīrṣa = 15 days.
6. The dark fortnight of Mārgaśīrṣa = 14 days.
7. The light fortnight of Puṣya = 14 days.
8. The dark fortnight of Puṣya = 15 days.
9. The light fortnight of Jyeṣṭha = 14 days.
10. The dark fortnight of Jyeṣṭha = 15 days.
11. The light fortnight of Āṣāḍha = 15 days.
12. The dark fortnight of Āṣāḍha = 14 days.
  [Total:] 174 days.

The dark fortnight of Śrāvaṇa is made to consist of 14 days, as it is the second seventh after the light fortnight of Puṣya, the first seventh. This with the 180 days of the three other seasons makes the lunar year consist of 354 days. See Chap. XX, Book II. The Nidānasūtra V, 11, 12, seems to count months of 30 and 29 days alternately; see my Vedic Calendar published in the Indian Antiquary, Vol. XLI, 1912.

Dr. Fleet suggests a translation of the passage as follows:

“The King’s year, the month, the fortnight, and the day (which begins at) sunrise; the third and seventh fortnights of the rainy season, the winter, and the hot weather, are deficient by one day (i.e. have only 14 days); the other (fortnights) are full (i.e. consist of 15 days); the intercalated month stands apart separately (and always has 30 days, while the others have 30 and 29 alternately); such is time.”

Thus Dr. Fleet takes Vyuṣṭa as an epithet qualifying divasa[?]; but the use of the word in neuter gender is against such a construction. For the use of the word Vyuṣṭa in the sense of new year’s day, see my paper on Vyuṣṭa in the vol. of 2nd Oriental Conference, Calcutta, 1922.

Footnotes and references:


The precise meaning of the word is not known, Land-measure in Jātaka Tales, II, 366.—Meyer.




This appears to be a sort of exchange compensation; see Chap. XII, Book II, for the meaning of all these terms.


The word may mean “Sending out spies.”


See next chapter.


Attending to the difference between royal and market weights and measures; see Chap. XII, Book II.

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