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 30 - The Superintendent of Horses

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The superintendent of horses shall register the breed, age, colour, marks, group or classes, and the native place of horses, and classify as (1) those that are kept in sale-house for sale (paṇyāgārika), (2) those that are recently purchased (krayopāgata), (3) those that have been captured in wars (āhavalabdha), (4) those that are of local breed (ājāta), (5) those that are sent thither for help (sāhāyyakāgata), (6) those that are mortgaged (paṇasthita), and (7) those that are temporarily kept in stables (yāvatkālika).

He shall make a report (to the king) of such animals as are inauspicious, crippled, or diseased.

Every horseman shall know how to make an economic use of whatever he has received from the king’s treasury and storehouse.

The superintendent shall have a stable constructed as spacious as required by the number of horses to be kept therein, twice as broad as the length of a horse, with four doors facing the four quarters, with its central floor suited for the rolling of horses, with projected front provided with wooden seats at the entrance, and containing monkeys, peacocks, red spotted deer (pṛṣata), mungoose, partridges (cakora), parrots, and maina birds (śārika); the room for every horse shall be four times as broad or long as the length of a horse, with its central floor paved with smoothened wooden planks, with separate compartments for fodder (khādanakoṣṭhaka), with passages for the removal of urine and dung, and with a door facing either the north or the east. The distinction of quarters (digvibhāga) may be made as a matter of fact or relatively to the situation of the building.

Steeds, stallions and colts shall be separately kept.

A steed that has just given birth to a colt shall be provided for the first three days with a drink of one prastha of clarified butter; afterwards it shall be fed with a prastha of flour (saktu) and made to drink oil mixed with medicine for ten nights; after that time, it shall have cooked grains, meadow grass, and other things suited to the season.

A colt, ten days old, shall be given a kuḍumba of flour mixed with one-fourth kuḍumba of clarified butter, and one prastha of milk till it becomes six months old; then the above rations shall be increased half as much during each succeeding month, with the addition of one prastha of barley till it becomes three years old, then one droṇa of barley till it grows four years old; at the age of four or five it attains its full development and becomes serviceable.

The face (mukha) of the best horse measures 32 aṅgulas; its length is 5 times its face; its shank is 20 aṅgulas; and its height is 4 times its shank.

Horses of medium and lower sizes fall short of the above measurement by two and three aṅgulas respectively.

The circumference (pariṇāha) of the best horse measures 100 aṅgulas, and horses of medium and lower sizes fall short of the above measurement by five parts (pañcabhāgāvara).[1]

For the best horse (the diet shall be) two droṇas of any one of the grains, rice (śāli, vrīhi), barley, panic seeds (priyaṅgu) soaked or cooked, cooked mudga (Phraseolus mungo), or māṣa (Phraseolus radiatus); one prastha of oil, 5 palas of salt, 50 palas of flesh, one āḍhaka of broth (rasa), or two āḍhakas of curd, five palas of sugar (kṣāra), to make their diet relishing, one prastha of surā (liquor), or two prasthas of milk.

The same quantity of drink shall be specially given to those horses which are tired of long journey or of carrying loads.

One prastha of oil for giving enema (anuvāsana), one kuḍumba of oil for rubbing over the nose, 1,000 palas of meadow grass, twice as much of ordinary grass (tṛṇa); and hay stalk or grass shall be spread over an area of 6 aratnis.[2]

The same quantity of rations less by one-quarter for horses of medium and lower size.

A draught horse or stallion of medium size shall be given the same quantity as the best horse; and similar horses of lower size shall receive the same quantity as a horse of medium size.

Steeds and pāraśamas[3] shall have one-quarter less of rations.

Half of the rations given to steeds shall be given to colts.

Thus is the distribution of ration dealt with.

Those who cook the food of horses, grooms, and veterinary surgeons shall have a share in the rations (pratisvādabhaja).

Stallions which are incapacitated owing to old age, disease or hardships of war, and, being therefore rendered unfit for use in war, live only to consume food, shall, in the interests of citizens and country people, be allowed to cross steeds.

The breed of Kāmbhoja, Sindhu, Araṭṭa, and Vanāyu countries are the best; those of Bāhlīka, Pāpeya, Sauvīra, and Taitala are of middle quality; and the rest ordinary (avarā).

These three sorts may be trained either for war or for riding, according as they are furious (ṭīkṣṇa), mild (bhadra), or stupid or slow (manda).

The regular training of a horse is its preparation for war (sānnāhyam karma).

Circular movement (valgana), slow movement (nīcairgata), jumping (laṅghana), gallop (dhoraṇa), and response to signals (nāroṣṭra) are the several forms of riding (aupavāhya).

Aupaveṇuka,[4] vardhmānaka,[5] yamaka,[6] ālīḍhapluta,[7] vṛthāṭṭa[8] and tṛvacāli[9] are the varieties of circular movement (valgana).

The same kind of movements with the head and ear kept erect are called slow movements.

These are performed in sixteen ways:

Prakīrṇaka,[10] prakīrṇottara,[11] niṣaṇṇa,[12] pārśvānuvṛtta,[13] ūrmimārga,[14] śarabhakrīḍita,[15] śarabhapluta,[16] tritāla,[17] bāhyānuvṛtta,[18] pañcapāṇi,[19] siṃhāyata,[20] svādhūta,[21] kliṣṭa,[22] ślāghita,[23] bṛṃhita,[24] puṣpābhikīrṇa.[25]

Jumping like a monkey (kapipluta), jumping like a frog (bhekapluta), sudden jump (ekapluta), jumping with one leg (ekapādapluta), leaping like a cuckoo (kokila-saṃcāri), dashing with its breast almost touching the ground (urasya), and leaping like a crane (bakasaṃcāri) are the several forms of jumping.

Flying like a vulture (kāṅka), dashing like a water cluck (vārikāṅka), running like a peacock (mayūra), half the speed of a peacock (ardhamayūra), dashing like a mungoose (nākula), half the speed of a mungoose (ardha-nākula), running like a hog (vārāha), and half the speed of a hog (ardha-vārāha), are the several forms of gallop.

Movement following a signal is termed nāroṣṭra.

Six, nine, and twelve[26] yojanas[27] (a day) are the distances (to be traversed) by carriage horses.

Five, eight, and ten yojanas are the distances (to be traversed) by riding horses (pṛṣṭhavāhya).

Trotting according to its strength (vikrama), trotting with good breathing (bhadrāśvāsa), and pacing with a load on its back are the three kinds of trot.

Trotting according to strength (vikrama), trot combined with circular movement (valgita), ordinary trot (upakaṇṭha), middlemost speed (upajava), and ordinary speed are also the several kinds of trot (dhārā).

Qualified teachers shall give instructions as to the manufacture of proper ropes with which to tether the horses.

Charioteers shall see to the manufacture of necessary war accoutrements of horses.

Veterinary surgeons shall apply requisite remedies against undue growth or diminution in the body of horses, and also change the diet of horses according to changes in seasons.

Those who move the horses (sūtragrāhaka), those whose business is to tether them in stables, those who supply meadow grass, those who cook the grains for the horses, those who keep watch in the stables, those who groom them and those who apply remedies against poison shall satisfactorily discharge their specified duties and shall, in default of it, forfeit their daily wages.

Those who take out for the purpose of riding such horses as are kept inside (the stables) either for the purpose of waving lights (nīrājana) or for medical treatment shall be fined twelve paṇas.

When, owing to defects in medicine or carelessness in the treatment, the disease (from which a horse is suffering) becomes intense, a fine of twice the cost of the treatment shall be imposed; and when, owing to defects in medicine, or not administering it, the result becomes quite the reverse, a fine equal to the value of the animal (patramūlya) shall be imposed.

The same rule shall apply to the treatment of cows, buffaloes, goats, and sheep.

Horses shall be washed, bedaubed with sandal powder, and garlanded twice a day. On new moon days sacrifice to Bhūtas, and on full moon days the chanting of auspicious hymns shall be performed. Not only on the ninth day of the month of Aśvayuja, but also both at the commencement and close of journeys (yātrā) as well as in the time of disease shall a priest wave lights invoking blessings on the horses.[28]

[Thus ends Chapter XXX, “The Superintendent of Horses,” in Book II, “The Duties of Government Superintendents” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya. End of the fifty-first chapter from the beginning.]

Footnotes and references:


A horse of medium size measures 95 aṅgulas and that of lower size 90 aṅgulas in circumference.—Com.


To form a bedding for the horse.—Com.




Hasta mātra maṇḍalaḥ, turning in a circle of a hand in diameter.—Com.


Tāvanmātramaṇḍalapaṅktiparipātī, advancing keeping to the circular movement previously begun.—Com.


Yugapadubhayamaṇḍalavalgana (?)—Com.


Running and jumping simultaneously.—Com.


Movement of only the front portion of the body.—Com.


Movement of only the hind portion of the body.—Com.


A combination of all kinds of movements.—Com.


The same as the last one, but with one kind of movement kept prominent.—Com.


A movement in which the hind portion of the body is kept steady.


Movement sideways.—Com.


Movement up and down like a wave.—Com.


Playing like a Śarabha, a beast.—Com.


Leaping like the Śarabha.—Com.


Movement using only three legs.—Com.


Moving right and left.—Com.


Moving by using three legs and two legs alternately.—Com.


Pacing like a lion.—Com.


Gallop with long strides.—Com.


Moving straight without a rider.—Com.


Moving with its front portion of the body bent.—Com.


Moving with its hind part of the body bent.—Com.


Zigzag motion.—Com.


For the three kinds of horses respectively.


A yojana = 5 5/44th miles. See Chapter XX, Book II.


In śloka-metre.

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