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 15 - Rescission of Purchase and Sale

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

A merchant refusing to give his merchandise that he has sold shall be punished with a fine of 12 paṇas, unless the merchandise is naturally bad, or is dangerous, or is intolerable.

That which has inherent defects is termed naturally bad; whatever is liable to be confiscated by the king, or is subject to destruction by thieves, fire, or floods is termed as being dangerous; and whatever is devoid of all good qualities, or is manufactured by the diseased is called intolerable.

Time for rescission of a sale is one night for merchants; 3 nights for cultivators; 5 nights for herdsmen; and with regard to the sale or barter of precious things and articles of mixed qualities (vivṛttivikraye)[1] 7 nights.

Merchandise which is likely to perish sooner may, if there is no loss to others, be shown the favour of early disposal by prohibiting the sale elsewhere of similar merchandise which is not likely to perish so soon. Violation of this rule shall be punished with a fine of 24 paṇas or one-tenth of the merchandise sold aginst this rule.

A person who attempts to return an article purchased by him shall, if the article other than what is naturally bad, or is dangerous, or is intolerable, be punished with a fine of 12 paṇas.[2]

The same rescission rules that apply to a seller shall apply to the purchaser also.

(Marriage Contracts)

[As regards marriages among the three higher castes, rejection of a bride before the rite of pāṇigrahaṇa, clasping of hands, is valid but among the Śūdras, before nuptials. Even in the case of a couple that has gone through the rite of pāṇigrahaṇa,][3] rejection of a bride whose guilt of having lain with another man has been afterwards detected is valid. But never so in the case of brides and bridegrooms of pure character and high family.[4] Any person who has given a girl in marriage without announcing her guilt of having lain with another shall not only be punished with a fine of 96 paṇas, but also be made to return the śulka and strīdhana.[5] Any person receiving a girl in marriage without announcing the blemishes of the bridegroom shall not only pay double the above fine, but also forfeit the śuika and strīdhana (he paid for the bride).[6]

(Sale of Bipeds, etc.)

Sale of bipeds and quadrupeds as strong, healthy, and clean, though they are either unclean or actually suffering from leprosy and other diseases, shall be punished with a fine of 12 paṇas[7]. The time of rescission of sale is three, fortnights for quadrupeds and one year for men;[8] for it is possible to know by that time their good or bad condition.

* An assembly convened for the purpose shall, in the matter of rescinding sales or gifts, decide in such a way that neither the giver nor the receiver shall be injured thereby.

[Thus ends Chapter XV, “Rescission of Purchase and Sale,” in Book III, “Concerning Law” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya. End of the seventy-second chapter from the beginning.]

Footnotes and references:


N. 9, 5.


Vi. 5, 129.


The portion within the brackets is supplied from the Munich Manuscript.


For dissolution of the choice of the bride and of marriage on the discovery of a blemish, see Nārada. XII, 3 and 96.


N. 12, 33.


A clear proof as to the prevalence in the fourth century B.C. of the custom of marrying women after puberty. See also Baudhāyana Gṛhya, 1, 7, 22, where an expiatory ceremony is specially prescribed in case of a bride passing her menses on the occasion of her marriage. This is really a hard nut to crack for the orthodox community of the Hindus.




N. 9, 5.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: