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 6 - Special Shares in Inheritance

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Goats shall be the special shares of the eldest of sons, born of the same mother, among Brāhmans; horses among Kṣatriyas; cows among Vaiśyas; and sheep among Śūdras. The blind of the same animals shall be the special shares to the middlemost sons; species of variegated colour of the same animals shall be the special shares to the youngest of sons. In the absence of quadruped, the eldest shall take an additional share of one-tenth of the whole property excepting precious stones; for by this act alone, he will be bound in his duty to his ancestors.

The above method is in accordance with the rules observed among the followers of Uśanas.

The father being dead, his carriage and jewellery shall be the special share to the eldest; his bed, seat, and bronze plate in which he used to take his meals (bhuktakāṃsya), to the middlemost; and black grains, iron, domestic utensils, cows and cart to the youngest. The rest of the property, or the above things,[1] too, may be equally divided among themselves.[2] Sisters shall have no claim to inheritance; they shall have the bronze plate and jewellery of their mother after her death.[3] The eldest son having no manly qualities shall have only one-third of the special share usually given to the eldest; if the eldest son follows a condemnable occupation or if he has given up the observance of religious duties, he shall have only one-fourth of the special share; if he is unrestrained in his actions he shall have nothing.[4]

The same rule shall hold good with the middlemost and youngest sons; of these two, one who is endowed with manliness (mānuṣopeta), shall have half the special share usually given to the eldest.

With regard to sons of many wives:

Of sons of two wives of whom only one woman has gone through all the necessary religious ceremonials, or one of whom has been married as a maiden, and the other not as a maiden, or one of whom has brought forth twins, it is by birth that primogenitureship is decided.[5]

In the case of sons such as Sūta, Māgadha, Vrātya, and Rathakāra, inheritance will go to the capable; and the rest will depend upon him for subsistence.[6] In the absence of the capable, all will have equal shares.[7]

Of sons begotten by a Brāhman in the four castes, the son of a Brāhman woman shall take four shares; the son of a Kṣatriya woman three shares; the son of a Vaiśya woman two shares; and the son of a Śūdra woman one share.[8]

The same rule shall hold good in the case of Kṣatriya and Vaiśya fathers begetting sons in three or two castes in order.

An Anantara son of a Brāhman, i.e, a son begotten by a Brāhman on a woman of next lower caste, shall, if endowed with manly or superior qualities (mānuṣopeta), take an equal share (with other sons of inferior qualities); similarly Anantara sons of Kṣatriya or Vaiśya fathers shall, if endowed with manly or superior qualities, take half or equal shares (with others). An only son to two mothers of different castes shall take possession of the whole property and maintain the relatives of his father, A Pāraśava son begotten by a Brāhman on a Śudra woman, shall take one-third share;[9] a sapiṇḍa (an agnate) or a kulya (the nearest cognate) of the Brāhman shall take the remaining two shares, being thereby obliged to offer funeral libation; in the absence of agnates or cognates, the deceased father’s teacher or student shall take the two shares.

* Or on the wife of such a Brāhman shall a sagotra, relative bearing the same family name, or a mātṛbandhu, relative of his mother, beget a natural son (kṣetraja), and this son may take that wealth.[10]

[Thus ends Chapter VI, “Special Shares of Inheritance,” in the section of “Division of Inheritance,” in Book III, “Concerning Law” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya. End of the sixty-third chapter from the beginning.]

Footnotes and references:


“Ekadravya,” or the whole of the undivided property, Munich Manuscript.


Vas, 17,42-45; Baudh. 2, 3, 9; Gaut. 28, 5-12; Ap. 2, 14, 7; M. 9, 106, 114.


Vas. 17, 46; Baudh. 2, 3, 46.


M. 9, 213.


The T. M. Com. gives primogenitureship to the son of the woman who has gone through religious rites and also to the son of a maidehn, i.e., virgin, though either of them may be born later. There is, however, nothing in the text to warrant such a meaning.


Ap. 2, 13, 3, 4; M. 9, 126.


M. 9, 105.


Vi. 18, 1-5.


Vi. 15, 37.


Y. 2, 128; Vi. 15, 2.

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