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 33 - Chariots, Infantry and the Duties of the Commander-in-Chief

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Summary: The Superintendent of Chariots; The Superintendent of Infantry and the Duties of the Commander-in-Chief.

The functions of the superintendent of horses will explain those of the superintendent of chariots.

The superintendent of chariots shall attend to the construction of chariots.

The best chariot shall measure 10 puruṣas[1] in height and 12 puruṣas in width. After this model, 7 more chariots with width decreasing by one puruṣa successively down to a chariot of 6 puruṣas in width shall be constructed. He shall also construct chariots of gods (devaratha), festal chariots (puṣyaratha),[2] battle chariots (sāṅgrāmika), travelling chariots (pāriyāṇika), chariots used in assailing an enemy’s strongholds (parapurābhiyānika), and training chariots.

He shall also examine the efficiency in the training of troops in shooting arrows, in hurling clubs and cudgels, in wearing mail armour, in equipment, in charioteering, in fighting seated on a chariot, and in controlling chariot horses.

He shall also attend to the accounts of provision and wages paid to those who are either permanently or temporarily employed (to prepare chariots and other things). Also he shall take steps to maintain the employed contented and happy by adequate reward (yogyarakṣānuṣṭhāna),[3] and ascertain the distance of roads.

The same rules shall apply to the superintendent of infantry.

The latter shall know the exact strength or weakness of hereditary troops (maula), hired troops (bhṛta), the corporate body of troops (śreṇi), as well as that of the army of friendly or unfriendly kings and of wild tribes.

He shall be thoroughly familiar with the nature of fighting in low grounds, of open battle, of fraudulent attack, of fighting under the cover of entrenchment (khanakayuddha), or from heights (ākāśayuddha), and of fighting during the day and night, besides the drill necessary for such warfare.

He shall also know the fitness or unfitness of troops on emergent occasions.

With an eye to the position which the entire army (caturaṅgabala),[4] trained in the skilful handling of all kinds of weapons and in leading elephants, horses, and chariots have occupied, and to the emergent call for which they ought to be ready, the commander-in-chief shall be so capable as to order either advance or retreat (āyogamayogaṃ ca).

He shall also know what kind of ground is more advantageous to his own army, what time is more favourable, what the strength of the enemy is, how to sow dissension of an enemy’s army of united mind, how to collect his own scattered forces, how to scatter the compact body of an enemy’s army, how to assail a fortress, and when to make a general advance.

Being ever mindful of the discipline which his army has to maintain, not merely in camping and marching but in the thick of battle, he shall designate the regiments (vyūha) by the names of trumpets, boards, banners, or flags.[5]

[Thus ends Chapter XXXIII, “The Superintendent of Chariots, the Superintendent of Infantry, and the Duties of the Commander-in-Chief,” in Book II, “The Duties of Government Superintendents” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya. End of the fifty-fourth chapter from the beginning.]

Footnotes and references:


Puruṣa may mean 96 aṅgulas. Meyer interprets that a chariot shall have space for 10 to 12 men.


Chariots used on festive occasions, such as coronation, etc.—Com.


Some take this to mean “to keep the employed at a safe distance from the intrigues of enemies.”—Com.


Elephants, horses, chariots, and infantry.—Com.


In śloka-metre.

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