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 7 - Distinction Between Sons

My preceptor says that the seed sown in the field of another shall belong to the owner of that field. Others hold that the mother, only the receptacle for the seed (mātā bhastrā), the child must belong to him from whose seed it is born. Kauṭilya says that it must belong to both the living parents.[1]

The son begotten by a man on his wife who has gone through all the required ceremonials is called aurasa, natural son; equal to him is the son of an appointed daughter (putrikāputra); the son begotten on a wife by another man, appointed for the purpose, and of the same gotra as that of the husband, or of a different gotra, is called kṣetraja; on the death of the begetter, the kṣetraja son will be the son to both the fathers, fallow the gotras of both, offer funeral libations to both, and take possession of the property (riktha) of both of them; of the same status as the kṣetraja is he who is secretly begotten in the house of relatives and is called gūḍhaja, secretly born; the son cast off by his natural parents is called apaviddha, and will belong to that man who performs necessary religious ceremonials to him; the son born of a maiden (before wedlock) is called kānina; the son born of a woman married while carrying is called sahoḍha; the son of a re-married woman (punarbhūtāyāḥ [punarbhūta?]) is called paunarbhava. A natural son can claim relationship both with his father and his father’s relatives; but a son born to another man can have relationship only with his adopter. Of the same status as the latter is he who is given in adoption with water by both the father and mother and is called datta. The son who, either of his own accord or following the intention of his relatives, offers himself to be the son of another, is called upagata. He who is appointed[2] as a son is called kṛtaka; and he who is purchased is called krīta.[3]

On the birth of a natural son, savarṇa sons shall have one-third of inheritance while asavarṇa sons shall have only food and clothing.[4]

Sons begotten by Brāhmans or Kṣatriyas on women of the same caste (anantarāputra) are called savarṇas; but on women of lower castes are called asavarṇas. (Of such asavarṇa sons), the son begotten by a Brāhman on a Vaiśya woman is called Ambhaṣṭha; on a Śūdra woman is called Niṣāda or Pāraśava. The son begotten by a Kṣatriya on a Śūdra woman is known as Ugra;[5] the son begotten by a Vaiśya on a Śūdra woman is no other than a Śūdra. Sons begotten by men of impure life of any of the four castes on women of same castes are called Vrātyas. The above kinds of sons are called anuloma, sons begotten, by men of higher on women of lower castes.

Sons begotten by a Śūdra on women of higher castes are Āyogava, Kṣatta, and Caṇḍāla; by a Vaiśya, Māgadha, and Vaidehaka; and by a Kṣatriya, Sūta. But men of the names, Sūta and Māgadha, celebrated in the Purāṇas, are quite different and of greater merit than either Brāhmans or Kṣatriyas.—The above kinds of sons are pratiloma, sons begotten by men of lower on women of higher castes, and originate on account of kings violating all dharmas.

The son begotten by an Ugra on a Niṣāda woman is called Kukkutaka, and the same is called Pulkasa if begotten in the inverse order. The son begotten by an Ambhaṣṭha on a Vaidehaka woman is named Vaiṇa; the same in the reverse order is called Kuśīlava. An Ugra begets on a Kṣatta woman a Śvapāka. These and other sons are of mixed castes (Antarālās).[6]

A Vaiṇya becomes a Rathakāra, chariot-maker, by profession. Members of this caste shall marry among themselves. Both in customs and avocations they shall follow their ancestors. They may either become śūdras, if they are not born as Caṇḍālas.

The king who guides his subjects in accordance with the above rules will attain to heaven; otherwise he will fall into the hell.

Offsprings of mixed castes (Antarālās) shall have equal divisions of inheritance.[7]

* Partition of inheritance shall be made in accordance with the customs prevalent in the country, caste, guild (saṅgha), or the village of the inheritors.

[Thus ends Chapter VII, “Distinction between Sons,” in the section of “Division of Inheritance,” in Book III, “Concerning Law” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya. End of Division of Inheritance. End of the sixty-fourth chapter from the beginning.]

Footnotes and references:


M. 9, 52; N. 12, 55, 58.


“Aṅgīkṛta,” acknowledged.—Munich Manuscript.


Y. 2, 128; M. 9, 166; N. 13, 47; Baudh. 2, 3, 18.


Baudh. 2, 3, 11; also Devala.


M. 10, 6-10, 20; Vi. 16, 2, 3.


M. 10, 12, 17, 18, 19.


M. 10, 41, 49; Vi. 16, 14-16; M. 9, 157.

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