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 29 - The Superintendent of Cows

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The superintendent of cows shall supervise (1) herds maintained for wages (vetanopagrāhika); (2) herds surrendered for a fixed amount of dairy produce (karapratikara); (3) useless and abandoned herds (bhagnotsṛṣṭaka); (4) herds maintained for a share in dairy produce (bhāgānupraviṣṭa); (5) classes of herds (vrajaparyagra); (6) cattle that strayed (naṣṭa); (7) cattle that are irrecoverably lost (vinaṣṭa); and (8) the amassed quantity of milk and clarified butter.

(1) When a cowherd, a buffalo herdsman, a milker, a churner, and a hunter (lubdhaka[1]) fed by wages, graze milch cows (dhenu) in hundreds (śata śata)—for if they graze the herds for the profit of milk and ghee, they will starve the calves to death—that system of rearing the cattle is termed “herds maintained for wages.”

(2) When a single person rears a hundred heads (rūpaśata) made up of equal numbers of each of aged cows, milch cows, pregnant cows, heifers, and calves (vatsatarī) and gives (to the owner) 8 vārakas of clarified butter per annum, as well as the branded skin (of dead cows, if any), that system is called “herds surrendered for a fixed amount of dairy produce.”

(3) When those who rear a hundred heads made up of equal numbers of each of afflicted cattle, crippled cattle, cattle that cannot be milked by any one but the accustomed person, cattle that are not easily milked, and cattle that kill their own calves, give in return (to the owner) a share in dairy produce, it is termed “useless and abandoned herd.”

(4) When under the fear of cattle-lifting enemies (paracakrāṭavibhayāt), cattle are kept under the care of the superintendent, giving him one-tenth of the dairy produce for his protection,

it is termed “herds maintained for a share in dairy produce.”

(5) When the superintendent classifies cattle as calves, steers, tameable ones, draught oxen, bulls that are to be trained to yoke bulls kept for crossing cows, cattle that are fit only for the supply of flesh, buffaloes and draught buffaloes; female calves, female steer, heifer, pregnant cows, milch cattle, barren cattle—either cows or buffaloes; calves that are a month or two old as well as those which are still younger; and when, as he ought to, he brands them all, inclusive of their calves of one or two months old along with those stray cattle which have remained unclaimed in the herds for a month or two; and when he registers the branded marks, natural marks, colour and the distance from one horn to another of each of the cattle, that system is known as “class of herds.”

(6) When an animal is carried off by thieves or finds itself into the herds of others or strays unknown, it is called “lost.”

(7) When an animal is entangled in a quagmire or precipice or dies of disease or of old age, or drowned in water; or when it is killed by the fall of a tree or of river bank, or is beaten to death with a staff or stone, or is struck by lightning (īśāna), or is devoured by a tiger or bitten by a cobra, or is carried off by a crocodile, or is involved in the midst of a forest fire, it is termed as “irrecoverably lost.”

Cowherds shall endeavour to keep them away from such dangers.

Whoever hurts or causes another to hurt, or steals or causes another to steal, a cow, should be slain.

When a person substitutes an animal (rūpa) bearing the royal brand mark for a private one, he shall be punished with the first amercement.

When a person recovers a local cattle from thieves, he shall receive the promised reward (paṇita rūpa); and when a man rescues a foreign cattle (from thieves), he shall receive half its value.

Cowherds shall apply remedies to calves or aged cows or cows suffering from diseases.

They shall graze the herds in forests which are severally allotted as pasture grounds for various seasons and from which thieves, tigers and other molesting beasts are driven away by hunters aided by their hounds.

With a view to scare out snakes and tigers and as a definite means of knowing the whereabouts of herds, sounding bells shall be attached to (the neck of) timid cattle.

Cowherds shall allow their cattle to enter into such rivers or lakes as are of equal depth all round, broad, and free from mire and crocodiles, and shall protect them from dangers under such circumstances.

Whenever an animal is caught hold of by a thief, a tiger, a snake, or a crocodile, or when it is too infirm owing to age or disease, they shall make a report of it; otherwise they shall be compelled to make good the loss.

When an animal dies a natural death, they shall surrender the skin with the brand mark, if it is a cow or a buffalo; the skin together with the ear (karṇalakṣaṇa), if it is a goat or sheep; the tail with the skin containing the brand mark, if it is an ass or a camel; the skin, if it is a young one; besides the above (they shall also restore) the fat (vasti), bile, sinew (snāyu), teeth, hoofs, horns, and bones.

They (the cowherds) may sell either flesh or dried flesh.

They shall give buttermilk as drink to dogs and hogs, and reserve a little (buttermilk) in a bronze vessel to prepare their own dish: they may also make use of coagulated milk or cheese (kilāta) to render their oil-cakes relishing (ghāṇapiṇyākakledārtha).

He who sells his cow (from among the herds) shall pay (to the king) one-fourth rūpa (value of the cow).

During the rainy, autumnal, and the first part of winter (hemanta) seasons, they shall milk the cattle both the times (morning and evening); and during the latter part of winter and the whole of the spring and summer seasons, they shall milk only once (i.e. only in morning). The cowherd who milks a cow a second time during these seasons shall have his thumb cut off.

If he allows the time of milking to lapse, he shall forfeit the profit thereof (i.e. the milk).

The same rule shall hold good in case of negligence of the opportune moment for putting a string through the nose of a bull and other animals, and for taming or training them to the yoke.

One droṇa of a cow’s milk will, when churned, yield one prastha of butter; the same quantity of a buffalo’s milk will yield one-seventh prastha more; and the same quantity of milk of goats and sheep will produce one-half prastha more.

In all kinds of milk, the exact quantity of butter shall be ascertained by churning; for increase in the supply of milk and butter depends on the nature of the soil and the quantity and quality of fodder and water.

When a person causes a bull attached to a herd to fight.with another bull, he shall be punished with the first amercement; when a bull is injured (under such circumstances), he shall be punished with the highest amercement.

Cattle shall be grouped in herds of ten each of similar colour while they are being grazed.

According to the protective strength of the cowherds and the capacity of the cattle to go far and wide to graze, cowherds shall take their cattle either far or near.

Once in six months, sheep and other animals shall be shorn of their wool.

The same rules shall apply to herds of horses, asses, camels, and hogs.

For bulls which are provided with nose-strings, and which equal horses in speed and in carrying loads, half a bhāra[2] of meadow grass (yavasa), twice the above quantity of ordinary grass (tṛṇa), one tulā (100 palas) of oil cakes, 10 āḍhakas of bran, 5 palas of salt (mukhalavaṇa), one kuḍumba of oil for rubbing over the nose (nasya), 1 prastha of drink (pāna), one tulā of flesh, 1 āḍhaka of curds, 1 droṇa of barley or of cooked māṣa (Phraseolus radiatus), 1 droṇa of milk; or half an āḍhaka of surā (liquor), 1 prastha of oil or ghee (sneha), 10 palas of sugar or jaggery, 1 pala of the fruit of śṛṅgibera (ginger) may be substituted for milk (pratipāna).

The same commodities less by one quarter each will form the diet for mules, cows, and asses; twice the quantity of the above things for buffaloes and camels.

Draught oxen and cows, supplying milk (paya), shall be provided with subsistence in proportion to the duration of time the oxen are kept at work, and the quantity of milk which the cows supply.

All cattle shall be supplied with abundance of fodder and water.

Thus the manner of rearing herds of cattle has been dealt with.

A herd of 100 heads of asses and mules shall contain 5 male animals: that of goats and sheep ten; and a herd of ten heads of either cows or buffaloes shall contain four male animals.[3]

[Thus ends Chapter XXIX, “The Superintendent of Cows,” in Book II, “The Duties of Government Superintendents” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya. End of the fiftieth chapter from the beginning.]

Footnotes and references:


To guard the cows against tigers, etc.—Com.


2,000 palas.—Com.


In śloka-metre.

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