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 3 - Remedies against National Calamities

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

There are eight kinds of providential visitations: They are fire, floods, pestilential diseases, famine, rats, tigers (vyāla), serpents and demons. From these shall the king protect his kingdom.


During the summer, villages shall carry on cooking operations outside. Or they shall provide themselves with the ten remedial instruments (daśamūlī [daśamūlin?]).[1]

Precautionary measures against fire have been dealt with in connection with the description not only of the duties of superintendents of villages, but also of the king’s harem and retinue.[2]

Not only on ordinary days, but also on full and new moon days shall offerings, oblations, and prayers be made to fire.


Villagers living on the banks of rivers shall, during the rainy season, remove themselves to up-countries. They shall provide themselves with wooden planks, bamboos, and boats. They shall, by means of bottle-gourds, canoes, trunks of trees, or boats, rescue persons that are being carried off by floods. Persons neglecting rescue, with the exception of those who have no boats, etc,, shall be fined 12 paṇas. On new and full moon days shall rivers be worshipped. Experts in sacred magic and mysticism (māyāyogavida), and persons learned in the Vedas, shall perform incantations against rain.

During drought shall Indra (śacīnātha), the Ganges, mountains, and Mahākaccha[3] be worshipped.


Such remedial measures as will be treated of in Book XIV shall be taken against pestilences. Physicians with their medicines, and ascetics and prophets with their auspicious and purificatory ceremonials shall also overcome pestilences. The same remedial measures shall be taken against epidemics (māraka = killer). Besides the above measures, oblations to gods, the ceremonial called Mahākacchavardhana, milking the cows on cremation or burial grounds, burning the trunk of a corpse, and spending nights in devotion to gods shall also be observed.

With regard to cattle diseases (paśuvyādhimāraka), not only the ceremony of waving lights in cow-sheds (nīrājana) shall be half done, but also the worship of family gods be carried out.


During famine, the king shall show favour to his people by providing them with seeds and provision (bījabhaktopagrāha).

He may either do such works as are usually resorted to in calamities;[4] he may show favour by distributing either his own collection of provisions or the hoarded income of the rich among the people; or seek for help from his friends among kings.

Or the policy of thinning the rich by exacting excessive revenue (karśana) or causing them to vomit their accumulated wealth (vamana), may be resorted to.

Or the king with his subjects may emigrate to another kingdom with abundant harvest.

Or he may remove himself with his subjects to sea shores or to the banks of rivers or lakes. He may cause his subjects to grow grains, vegetables, roots, and fruits wherever water is available. He may, by hunting and fishing on a large scale, provide the people with wild beasts, birds, elephants, tigers or fish.


To ward off the danger from rats, cats and mungoose may be let loose. Destruction of rats that have been caught shall be punished with a fine of 12 paṇas. The same punishment shall be meted out to those who, with the exception of wild tribes, do not hold their dogs in check.

With a view to destroy rats, grains mixed with the milk of the milk-hedge plants (snuhi: Euphorbia antiquorum), or grains mixed with such ingredients as are treated of in Book XIV may be left on the ground. Ascetics and prophets may perform auspicious ceremonials. On new and full moon days rats may be worshipped.

Similar measures may also be taken against the danger from locusts, birds and insects.


[When there is fear from snakes, experts in applying remedies against snake poison shall resort to incantations and medicines; or they may destroy snakes in a body; or those who are learned in the Atharvaveda may perform auspicious rites. On new and full moon days (snakes) may be worshipped. This explains the measures to be taken against the dangers from water-animals.][5]


In order to destroy tigers, either the carcasses of cattle mixed with the juice of madana plant, or the carcasses of calves filled with the juice of madana and kodrava plants may be thrown in suitable places.

Or hunters or keepers of hounds may catch tigers by entrapping them in nets. Or persons under the protection of armour may kill tigers with arms.

Negligence to rescue a person under the clutches of a tiger shall be punished with a fine of 12 paṇas. Similar sum of money shall be given as a reward to him who kills a tiger.

On new and full moon days mountains may be worshipped.

Similar measures may be taken against the inroad of beasts, birds, or crocodiles.


Persons acquainted with the rituals of the Atharvaveda, and experts in sacred magic and mysticism, shall perform such ceremonials as ward off the danger from demons.

On full and new moon days the worship of Caityas may be performed by placing on a verandah offerings, such as an umbrella, the picture of an arm, a flag, and some goat’s flesh.

In all kinds of dangers from demons, the incantation, “We offer thee cooked rice,” shall be performed.

The king shall always protect the afflicted among his people as a father his sons.

* Such ascetics as are experts in magical arts, and being endowed with supernatural powers, can ward off providential visitations, shall, therefore, be honoured by the king and made to live in his kingdom.

[Thus ends Chapter III, “Remedies against National Calamities,” in Book IV, “The Removal of Thorns” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya. End of the eightieth chapter from the beginning.]

Footnotes and references:


Tubs and pots filled with water, a ladder, axes, winnowers, hooks, leather bags to carry water, etc.,Ch. XXXVI, Bk.II. The T. M. Com. reads “Dasakulī” and takes it to mean that they shall obey the orders of Gopa, the officer in charge of ten houses.


Chapter XX, Book I.


Sea or ocean.—T. M. Com,


The Munich Manuscript reads, “Durgatasetukarma,” repairs of ruined buildings.


Additional reading, found in the Munich Manuscript.

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