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 36 - The Duty of a City Superintendent

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Like the collector-general, the officer in charge of the capital city (nāgaraka) shall look to the affairs of the capital.

A gopa shall keep the accounts of ten households, twenty households, or forty households. He shall not only know the caste, gotra, the name, and occupation of both men and women in those households, but also ascertain their income and expenditure.

Likewise, the officer known as sthānika shall attend to the accounts of the four quarters of the capital.

Managers of charitable institutions shall send information (to gopa or sthānika) as to any heretics (pāṣaṇḍa)[1] and travellers arriving to reside therein. They shall allow ascetics and men learned in the Vedas to reside in such places only when those persons are known to be of reliable character.

Artisans and other handicraftsmen may, on their own responsibility, allow others of their own profession to reside where they carry on their own work (i.e. in their own houses).

Similarly merchants may, on their own responsibility, allow other merchants to reside where they themselves carry on their mercantile work (i.e. in their own houses or shops).

They (the merchants) shall make a report of those who sell any merchandise in forbidden place or time, as well as of those who are in possession of any merchandise other than their own.

Vintners, sellers of cooked flesh and cooked rice, as well as prostitutes, may allow any other person to reside with them only when that person is well known to them.

They (vintners, etc.) shall make a report of spendthrifts and foolhardy persons who engage themselves in risky undertakings.

Any physician who undertakes to treat in secret a patient suffering from ulcer or excess of unwholesome food or drink, as well as the master of the house (wherein such treatment is attempted) shall be innocent only, when they (the physician and the master of the house) make a report of the same to either gopa or sthānika; otherwise both of them shall be equally guilty with the sufferer.

Masters of houses shall make a report of strangers arriving at, or departing from, their houses; otherwise they shall be guilty of the offence (theft, etc.) committed during that night. Even during safe nights (i.e. nights when no theft, etc., seems to have been committed), they shall be fined three paṇas (for not making such a report).

Wayfarers going along a highroad or by a footpath shall catch hold of any person whom they find to be suffering from a wound or ulcer, or possessed of destructive instruments, or tired of carrying a heavy load, or timidly avoiding the presence of others, or indulging in too much sleep, or fatigued from a long journey, or who appears to be a stranger to the place in localities such as inside or outside the capital, temples of gods, places of pilgrimage, or burial grounds.

(Spies) shall also make a search for suspicious persons in the interior of deserted houses, in the vorkṣops or houses of vintners and sellers of cooked rice and flesh, in gambling houses, and in the abode of heretics.

Kindling of fire shall be prohibited during the two middlemost parts of daytime, divided into four equal parts during the summer. A fine of one-eighth of a paṇa shall be imposed for kindling fire at such a time.

Masters of houses may carry on cooking operations outside their houses.

(If a house owner is not found to have ready with him) five water pots (pañca ghaṭina [ghaṭīna?]), a kumbha,[2] a droṇa,[3] a ladder, an axe,[4] a winnowing basket,[5] a hook,[6] (such as is used to drive an elephant), pincers,[7] (kacagrāhiṇī), and a leather bag (dṛti), he shall be fined one-fourth of a paṇa.

They shall also remove thatched roofs. Those who work by fire (blacksmiths) shall all live together in a single locality.

Each house-owner shall ever be present (at night) at the door of his own house.

Vessels filled with water shall be kept in thousands in a row without confusion, not only in big streets and at places where four roads meet, but also in front of the royal buildings (rājaparigraheṣu).[8]

Any house-owner who does not run to give his help in extinguishing the fire of whatever is burning shall be fined 12 paṇas; and a renter (avakrayi, i.e. one who has occupied a house for rent) not running to extinguish fire shall be fined 6 paṇas.

Whoever carelessly sets fire (to a house) shall be fined 54 paṇas; but he who intentionally sets fire (to a house) shall be thrown into fire.[9]

Whoever throws dirt in the street shall be punished with a fine of one-eighth of a paṇa; whoever causes mire or water to collect in the street shall be fined one-fourth of a paṇa; whoever commits the above offences in the king’s road (rājamārga) shall be punished with double the above fines.

Whoever excretes faeces in places of pilgrimage, reservoirs of water, temples, and royal buildings shall be punished with fines rising from one paṇa and upwards in the order of the offences; but when such excretions are due to the use of medicine or to disease, no punishment shall be imposed.

Whoever throws inside the city the carcass of animals, such as a cat, dog, mungoose, and a snake shall be fined 3 paṇas; of animals such as an ass, a camel, a mule, and a cattle shall be fined 6 paṇas; and human corpse shall be punished with a fine of 50 paṇas.

When a dead body is taken out of a city through a gate other than the usual or prescribed one or through a path other than the prescribed path, the first amercement shall be imposed; and those who guard the gates (through which the dead body is taken out) shall be fined 200 paṇas.

When a dead body is interred or cremated beyond the burial or cremation grounds, a fine of 12 paṇas shall be imposed.

The interval between six nālikās (2⅖ hours) after the fall of night and six nālikās before the dawn shall be the period when a trumpet shall be sounded prohibiting the movement of the people.

The trumpet having been sounded, whoever moves in the vicinity of royal buildings during the first or the last yāma (3 hours?) of the period shall be punished with a fine of one paṇa and a quarter; and during the middlemost yāma with double the above fine; and whoever moves outside (the royal buildings or the fort) shall be punished with four times the above fine.

Whoever is arrested in suspicious places or as the perpetrator of a criminal act shall be examined.

Whoever moves in the vicinity of royal buildings or ascends the defensive fortifications of the capital shall be punished with the middlemost amercement.

Those who go out at night in order to attend to the work of midwifery or medical treatment, or to carry off a dead body to the cremation or burial grounds, or those who go out with a lamp in hand at night, as well as those who go out to visit the officer in charge of the city, or to find out the cause of a trumpet sound (tūryaprekṣā),[10] or to extinguish the outbreak of fire, or under the authority of a pass, shall not be arrested.

During the nights of free movement (cārarātriṣu),[11] those who move out under disguise, those who stir out though forbidden (pravarjitā), as well as those who move with clubs and other weapons in hand shall be punished in proportion to the gravity of their guilt.

Those watchmen who stop whomever they ought not to stop, or do not stop whomever they ought to stop, shall be punished with twice the amount of fine levied for untimely movement.

When a watchman has carnal connection with a slave woman, he shall be punished with the first amercement; with a free woman, middlemost amercement; with a woman arrested for untimely movement, the highest amercement; and a woman of high birth (kulastrī), he shall be put to death.

When the officer in charge of the city (nāgaraka) does not make a report (to the king) of whatever nocturnal nuisance of animate or inanimate nature (cetanācetana) has occurred, or when he shows carelessness (in the discharge of his duty), he shall be punished in proportion to the gravity of his crime.

He shall make a daily inspection of reservoirs of water, of roads, of the hidden passage for going out of the city, of forts, fort walls, and other defensive works.

He shall also keep in his safe custody whatever things he comes across as lost, forgotten, or left behind by others.

On the days to which the birth star of the king is assigned, as well as on full moon days, such prisoners as are young, old, diseased, or helpless (anātha) shall be let out from the jail (bandhanāgāra); or those who are of charitable disposition or who have made any agreement with the prisoners may liberate them by paying an adequate ransom.

Once in a day, or once in five nights, jails may be emptied of prisoners in consideration of the work they have done, or of whipping inflicted upon them, or of an adequate ransom paid by them in gold.[12]

Whenever a new country is conquered, when an heir apparent is installed on the throne, or when a prince is born to the king, prisoners are usually set free.[13]

[Thus ends Chapter XXXVI, “The Duty of a City Superintendent,” in Book II, “The Duties of Government Superintendents” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya. End of the fifty-seventh chapter from the beginning.]

With this ends the Second Book, “The Duties of Government Superintendents” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya.

Footnotes and references:


Buddhist mendicants.—Com.


A water vessel of that name.—Com.


A water tub made of wood and kept at the door of each house.—Com.


To cut off beams.—Com.


To blow off smoke.—Com.


To pull down the burning door panels.—Com.


To remove hay stalk.—Com.


Store-room, elephant stables, etc.—Com.


Into the same fire.—Com.


Who go out at the call of trumpet sound or to witness dramatic performances approved of by the king.—Com.


Such as occasions of festivities.—Com.


In śloka-metre.


In śloka-metre.

Help me keep this site Ad-Free

For over a decade, this site has never bothered you with ads. I want to keep it that way. But I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased truth, wisdom and knowledge.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: