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 25 - The Superintendent of Liquor

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

By employing such men as are acquainted with the manufacture of liquor and ferments (kiṇva),[1] the superintendent of liquor shall carry on liquor traffic not only in forts and country parts, but also in camps.

In accordance with the requirements of demand and supply (krayavikrayavaśena) he may either centralize or decentralize the sale of liquor.

A fine of 600 paṇas shall be imposed on all offenders other than those who are manufacturers, purchasers, or sellers in liquor traffic.[2]

Liquor shall not be taken out of villages, nor shall liquor shops be close to each other.

Lest workmen spoil the work in hand, and Aryas violate their decency and virtuous character, and lest fire brands commit indiscreet acts, liquor shall be sold to persons of well-known character in such small quantities as one-fourth or half a kuḍumba, one kuḍumba, half a prastha, or one prastha. Those who or well-known and of pure character may take liquor out of the shop.

Or all may be compelled to drink liquor within the shops and not allowed to stir out at once, in view of detecting articles, such as sealed deposits, unsealed deposits, commodities given for repair, stolen articles, and the like, which the customers may have acquired by foul means. When they are found to possess gold and other articles not their own, the superintendent shall contrive to cause them to be arrested outside the shop. Likewise those who are too extravagant, or spend beyond their income, shall be arrested.

No fresh liquor, other than bad liquor, shall be sold below its price. Bad liquor may be sold elsewhere, or given to slaves or workmen in lieu of wages; or it may form the drink of beasts for draught or the subsistence of hogs.

Liquor shops shall contain many rooms provided with beds and seats kept apart. The drinking room shall contain scents, garlands of flowers, water, and other comfortable things suitable to the varying seasons.

Spies stationed in the shops shall ascertain whether the expenditure incurred by customers in the shop is ordinary or extraordinary, and also whether there are any strangers. They shall also ascertain the value of the dress, ornaments, and gold of the customers lying there under intoxication.

When customers under intoxication lose any of their things, the merchants of the shop shall not only make good the loss, but also pay an equivalent fine.

Merchants seated in half-closed rooms shall observe the appearance of local and foreign customers who, in real or false guise of Aryas, lie down in intoxication along with their beautiful mistresses.

Of various kinds of liquor, such as medaka, prasannā, āsava, ariṣṭa, maireya, and madhu:

Medaka is manufactured with one droṇa of water, half an āḍhaka of rice, and three prasthas of kiṇva (ferment).

Twelve āḍhakas of flour (piṣṭa), five prasthas of kiṇva (ferment), with the addition of spices (jātisambhāra), together with the bark and fruits of putraka[3] (a species of tree), constitute prasannā.[4]

One hundred palas of kapittha (Feronia elephantum), 500 palas of phāṇita (sugar), and one prastha of honey (madhu) form āsava.

With an increase of one quarter of the above ingredients, a superior kind of āsava is manufactured; and when the same ingredients are lessened to the extent of one quarter each, it becomes of an inferior quality.

The preparation of various kinds of ariṣṭa for various diseases are to be learnt from physicians.

A sour gruel or decoction of the bark of meṣaśṛṅgi (a kind of poison) mixed with jaggery (guḍa) and with the powder of long pepper and black pepper or[5] with the powder of triphalā (1 Terminalia Chebula, 2 Terminalia bellerica, and 3 Phyllanthus emblica) forms maireya.

To all kinds of liquor mixed with jaggery the powder of triphalā is always added.

The juice of grapes is termed madhu. Its own native place (svadeśa) is the commentary on such of its various forms as kāpiśāyana and hārahūraka.

One droṇa of either boiled or unboiled paste of māṣa (Phraseolus radiatus), three parts more of rice, and one karṣa of moraṭa (Alangium hexapetalum) and the like[6] form kiṇva (ferment).

In the manufacture of medaka and prasannā, five karṣas of the powder of each pāṭhā (Clypea hermandifolia), lodhra (Symplocos racemosa), tejovati (Piper chaba), elāvāluka (Solanum melongena), honey, the juice of grapes (madhurasa), priyaṅgu (panic seeds), dāruharidra (a species of turmeric), black pepper and long pepper are added as sambhāra, requisite spices.

The decoction of madhūka (Bassia latifolia) mixed with granulated sugar (kaṭaśarkarā), when added to prasannā, gives it a pleasing colour.

The requisite quantity of spices to be added to āsava is one karṣa[7] of the powder of each of coca (bark of cinnamon), citraka (Plumbago zeylanica), vilaṅga, and gajapippalī (Scindapsus officinalis), and two karṣas of the powder of each of kramuka (betel nut), madhūka (Bassia latifolia), mustā (Cyprus rotundus), and lodhra (Symplocos racemosa).

The addition of one-tenth of the above ingredients, i.e. coca, kramuka, etc., is (termed) bījabandha.

The same ingredients as are added to prasannā are also added to white liquor (śvetasurā).

The liquor that is manufactured from mango fruits (sahakārasurā) may contain a greater proportion of mango essence (rasottara), or of spices (bījottara). It is called mahāsura when it contains sambhāra (spices as described above).

When a handful (antarnakho muṣṭiḥ, i.e. so much as can be held in the hand, the fingers being so bent that the nails cannot be seen) of the powder of granulated sugar dissolved in the decoction of morata (Alangium hexapetalum), palāśa (Butea frondosa), dattura (Dattura fastuosa), karañja (Robinir mitis), meṣaśṛṅga (a kind of poison) and the bark of milky trees (kṣīravṛkṣa)[8] mixed with one-half of the paste formed by combining the powders of lodhra (Symplocos racemosa), citraka (Plumbago zeylanica), vilaṅga, pāṭhā (Glypea hermandifolia), mustā (Cyprus rotundus), kalāya[9] (leguminous seeds), dāruharidra (Amonum xanthorrhizon), indīvara (blue lotus), śatapuṣpa (Anethum sowa), apāmārga (Achyranthes aspera), saptaparṅa (Echites scholaris), and nimba (Nimba melia) is added to (even) a kumbha[10] of liquor payable by the king, it renders it very pleasant. Five palas of phāṇita (sugar) are added to the above in order to increase its flavour.

On special occasions (kṛtyeṣu), people (kuṭumbina, i.e. families) shall be allowed to manufacture white liquor (śvetasurā), ariṣṭa for use in diseases, and other kinds of liquor.

On the occasions of festivals, fairs (samāja), and pilgrimage, right of manufacture of liquor for four days (caturahassaurika)[11] shall be allowed.

The superintendent shall collect the daily fines (daivasikamatyaya, i.e. licence fees) from those who on these occasions are permitted to manufacture liquor.[12]

Women and children[13] shall collect “surā,”[14] and “kiṇva,” “ferment.”

Those who deal with liquor other than that of the king shall pay five per cent as toll.

With regard to surā, medaka, ariṣṭa, wine, phalāmla (acid drinks prepared from fruits), and āmlaśīdhu (spirit distilled from molasses):

Having ascertained the day’s sale of the above kinds of liquor, the difference of royal and public measures (mānavyājī), and the excessive amount of sale proceeds realised thereby, the superintendent shall fix the amount of compensation (vaidharaṇa) due to the king (from local or foreign merchants for entailing loss on the king’s liquor traffic) and shall always adopt the best course.[15]

[Thus ends Chapter XXV, “The Superintendent of Liquor,” in Book II, “The Duties of Government Superintendents” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya, End of the forty-sixth chapter from the beginning.]

Footnotes and references:


See below.


These are more severely punished.


A species of tree in the country of Kamarūpa.—Com.


The addition of water in the ratio of eight to one to flour, though not expressly mentioned, is to be inferred.—Com.


Va, some take “vā” in the sense of “and,” and add the powder of triphalā along with that of pepper.—Com.


Moraṭa and other six drugs are enumerated below.—Com.


Six karṣas.—Com.


Such as the banyan, etc.—Com.


Kālāgaru (so reads the commentator), black agallochum.


Kumbha is equal to 1,064 palas.—Com.


Liberty to drink liquor without any limit.—Com.


Who manufacture liquor without permission on these occasions.—Com.


Because of their ignorance of the taste of liquor.


By pouring liquor from one vessel to another and by roasting and grinding the ingredients forming ferment.—Com.


In śloka-metre.

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