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 18 - The Superintendent of the Armoury

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The superintendent of the armoury shall employ experienced workmen of tried ability to manufacture, in a given time and for fixed wages, wheels, weapons, mail armour, and other accessory instruments for use in battles, in the construction or defence of forts, or in destroying the cities or strongholds of enemies.

All these weapons and instruments shall be kept in places suitably prepared for them. They shall not only be frequently dusted and transferred from one place to another, but also be exposed to the sum Such weapons as are likely to be affected by heat and vapour (ūṣmopasneha) and to be eaten by worms shall be kept in safe localities. They shall also be examined now and then with reference to the class to which they belong, their forms, their characteristics, their size, their source, their value, and their total quantity.

Sarvatobhadra,[1] jāmadagnya,[2] bahumukha,[3] viśvāsaghāti,[4] saṃghāṭī,[5] yānaka,[6] parjanyaka,[7] ardhabāhu,[8] and ūrdhvabāhu,[9] are immovable machines[10] (sthirayantra).

Pāñcālika,[11] devadaṇḍa,[12] sūkarikā,[13] musala,[14] yaṣṭi,[14] hastivāraka,[15] tālavṛnta,[16] mudgara,[17] gadā,[18] spṛktalā,[19] kuddāla,[20] āsphāṭima,[21] audhghāṭima,[22] śataghni,[23] triśūla,[24] and cakra[25] are movable machines.

Śakti,[26] prāsa,[27] kunta,[28] hāṭaka,[29] bhiṇḍivāla,[30] śūla,[31] tomara,[32] varāhakarṇa,[33] kaṇaya,[34] karpaṇa,[35] trāsika,[36] and the like are weapons with edges like a ploughshare (halamukhāni).

Bows made of tāla (palmyra), of cāpa (a kind of bamboo), of dāru[37] (a kind of wood), and śṛṅga (bone or horn) are respectively called kārmuka, kodaṇḍa, drūṇa, and dhanus.

Bow strings are made of mūrva, (Sansviera roxburghiana), arka (Catotropis gigantea), śaṇa (hemp), gavedhu (Coix barbata), veṇu (bamboo bark), and snāyu (sinew),

Veṇu, śara, śalākā, daṇḍāsana, and nārāca are different kinds of arrows. The edges of arrows shall be so made of iron, bone or wood as to cut, rend or pierce.

Nistriṃśa,[38] maṇḍalāgra,[39] and asiyaṣṭi[40] are swords. The handles of swords are made of the horn of rhinoceros, buffalo, of the tusk of elephants, of wood, or of the root of bamboo.

Paraśu,[41] kuṭhāra,[42] paṭṭasa,[43] khanitra,[44] kuddāla,[45] cakra,[46] and kāṇḍacchedana[47] are razor-like weapons.

Yantrapāṣāṇa,[47] goṣpaṇapāṣāṇa,[49] muṣṭipāṣāṇa,[50] rocanī (mill-stone), and stones are other weapons (āyudhāni).

Lohajālika,[51] paṭṭa,[52] kavaca,[53] and sūtraka[54] are varieties of armour made of iron or skins with hoofs and horns of porpoise, rhinoceros, bison, elephant or cow.

Likewise śirāstrāṇa (cover for the head), kaṇṭhatrāṇa (cover for the neck), kūrpāsa (cover for trunk), kañcuka (a coat extending as far as the knee joints), vāravāṇa (a coat extending as far as the heels), paṭṭa (a coat without cover for the arms), and nāgodarikā (gloves) are the varieties of armour.

Veti,[55] dharma,[56] hastikarṇa,[57] tālamūla,[58] dhamanikā,[59] kavāṭa,[60] kiṭika,[61] apratihata,[62] and valāhakānta[63] are instruments used in self-defence (āvaraṇāni).

Ornaments for elephants, chariots, and horses as well as goads and hooks to lead them in battlefields constitute accessory things (upakaraṇāni).

(Besides the above) such other delusive and destructive contrivances (as are treated of in Book XIV) together with any other new inventions of expert workmen (shall also be kept in stock).

The superintendent of armoury shall precisely ascertain the demand and supply of weapons, their application, their wear and tear, as well as their decay and loss.[64]

[Thus ends Chapter XVIII, “The Superintendent of the Armoury,” in Book II, “The Duties of Government Superintendents” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya. End of thirty-ninth chapter from the beginning.]

Footnotes and references:


A cart with wheels and capable of rapid revolution. This, when rotated, throws stones in all directions. Some call it Bhūmirikāyantra. Capable of throwing stones.—Com.


A large machine to shoot arrows (Mahāśarayantra).—Com.


A tower (aṭṭālaka) situated on the top of a fort and provided with a leather cover and facing all directions. From this place, a number of archers direct their arrows in all directions.—Com.


A cross-beam above a ditch at the entrance of a fort, and so placed as to be caused to fall down and kill enemies when approaching.—Com.


A long pole to set fire to (aṭṭālaka) and other parts of a fort.—Com.


A pole or rod mounted on a wheel so as to be thrown against enemies.—Com.


A water-machine to put out fire. Others say that it is a machine fifty hands long and kept outside a fort wall so as to be thrown against enemies when approaching. This is not so big nor so conspicuously placed as viśvāsa-ghāti.—Com.


Two pillars so situated as to be caused to fall down facing each other and kill enemies.—Com.


A large pillar, placed on high and thrown against enemies.—Com.


The commentator counts one more machine by reading parjanyaka, parjanyakārdha, parjanyaka and half parjanyaka.—Com.


A big wooden board with immense sharp points on its surface. This is put in the midst of water outside the fort wall to arrest the onward march of an enemy.—Com


A long pole with iron nails attached to it, and placed on the top of a fort wall.—Com.


A leather cover or bag filled with cotton or wool, to protect the towers, roads, etc., against stones thrown by enemies. Some say that it is a mat of bamboo bark covered with leather.—Com


Pointed rods made of khādira (Mimosa Catechu).—Com.


A big rod with two or three points to drive elephants back.—Com.


A fan-like disc.—Com.


A staff.—Com.


A long and heavy rod.—Com.


A rod with sharp points on its surface.—Com.


A spade.—Com.


A leather bag with a rod to produce high sound.—Com.


An instrument to puli down towers, etc.—Com.

The commentator reads one more instrument, “utpaṭima,” “uprooter,” after āsphāṭima.


A big pillar with immense number of sharp points on its surface and situated on the top of a fort wall.—Com.


A trident.—Com.


A disc.—Com.


A metallic weapon four hands long, and, like the leaf of karavīra and provided with a handle like a cow’s nipple.—Com.


A weapon 24 inches (aṅgula) long, with two handles.—Com.


A wooden rod, 7, 6, or 5 hands in length.—Com.


A rod with three or four pointed edges.—Com.


A rod with heavy top.—Com.


A pointed rod without any fixed length.—Com.


A rod with an arrow-like edge, and four, four and a half or five hands long.—Com.


A rod with its edges shaped like the ear of a boar.—Com.


A metallic rod both ends of which are triangular. This is held in the middle and is 20, 22, or 24 inches long.—Com


An arrow to be thrown by the hand. Its edges weigh 7, 8, or 9 karṣas. It can go as far as a hundred bows’ length when thrown by a skilful person.—Com.


A metallic weapon like prāsa.—Com.


Known as dhanvana.—Com.


A sword of crooked handle.—Com.


This is erect and provided with a disc at the top.—Com.


This is very sharp and long.—Com.


A scymitar, semi-circular and 24 inches long.—Com.


A kind of axe well known.—Com,


Same as paraśu, but shaped like a trident at both ends,—Com.


The commentator reads krakacha, a kind of saw.—Com.


An axe.—Com.


A disc.—Com.


A big axe.—Com.


Such stones as can be thrown by a machine.—Com.


Such stones as can be thrown by a rod called goṣpaṇa.—Com.


Stones hurled by hand.—Com.


A coat of iron made so as to cover the whole body together with the head and arms.—Com.

The commentator takes the word “loha” with each of the four words jālikā, patta, kavaca and sūtraka.


A coat of iron without cover for the arms.—Com.


A coat of iron made of detached pieces to cover the head, the trunk and the arms.—Com.


Cover only for the hips and the waist.—Com.


Veri, veta (so reads the commentator), is a kind of mat made of koṣṭhavallī (a creeper) to cover the body.—Com.


A kind of covering called vasunandaka and mace of leather.—Com.


A board to form a cover to the body.—Com.


A wooden shield.—Com.


A trumpet.—Com.


A wooden board.—Com.


A cover made of leather or of bamboo bark.—Com.


An instrument to drive back elephants.—Com.


The same as the previous one, with a metallic plate attached to its edge—Com.


In śloka-metre.

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