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 4 - Suppression of the Wicked Living by Foul Means

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Measures necessary for the protection of countries have been briefly dealt with in connection with the description of the duties of the collector-general.

We are now going to treat of, in detail, such measures as can remove the disturbing elements of peace.

The collector-general shall employ spies disguised as persons endowed with supernatural power, persons engaged in penance, ascetics, world trotters (cakra-cara), bards, buffoons, mystics (pracchandaka), astrologers, prophets foretelling the future, persons capable of reading good or bad time, physicians, lunatics, the dumb, the deaf, idiots, the blind, traders, painters, carpenters, musicians, dancers, vintners, and manufacturers of cakes, flesh and cooked rice, and send them abroad into the country for espionage.

The spies shall ascertain the fair or foul dealings of villagers, or of the superintendents of villagers, and report the same.

If any person is found to be of foul life (gūḍhajīvī [gūḍhajīvin]), a spy who is acquainted with similar avocation shall be let loose upon him.[1]

On acquiring friendship with the suspected person who may be either a judge or a commissioner, the spy may request him that the misfortune in which a friend of the spy is involved may be warded off, and that a certain amount of money may be accepted. If the judge accedes to the request, he shall be proclaimed as the receiver of bribes, and banished. The same rule shall also apply to commissioners.

A spy may tell the congregation of villages (grāmakūṭa) or its superintendent that a wealthy man of wicked character is involved in some trouble, and that this opportunity may be availed of to squeeze money from him. If either the one or the other complies with the spy, banishment shall be ordered under the proclamation of “extortion.”

Under the pretence of having been charged with criminal offence, a spy may, with promise of large sums of money, begin to deal with false witnesses. If they agree with him, they shall be proclaimed as false witnesses, and banished.

Manufacturers of counterfeit coins shall also be treated similarly.

Whoever is believed to secure for others the love of women, by means of magical charms, drugs or ceremonials performed on cremation grounds, may be approached by a spy with the request that the wife, daughter, or daughter-in-law of someone, whom the spy pretends to love, may be made to return the love, and that a certain amount of money may be accepted. If he consents to it, he shall be proclaimed as one engaged in witchcraft (saṃvadanakāraka), and banished.

Similar steps may be taken against persons engaged in such witchcraft as is hurtful to others.

Whoever is suspected of administering poison (rasa=mercury) to others by reason of his talking of it or selling or purchasing mercury, or using it in preparing medicines, may be approached with the tale that a certain enemy of the spy may be killed and that a certain amount of money may be received as reward. If he does so, he shall be proclaimed as a poisoner (rasada), and banished.

Similar steps may be taken against those who deal with medicines prepared from madana plant.

Whoever is suspected of manufacturing counterfeit coins, in that he often purchases various kinds of metals, alkalis, charcoal, bellows, pincers, crucibles, stove, and hammers, has his hands and cloths dirty with ashes and smoke, or possesses such other accessory instruments as are necessary for this illegal manufacture, may be requested by a spy to take the latter as an apprentice, and being gradually betrayed by the spy, such person, on proclamation of his guilt as the manufacturer of false coins, shall be banished.

Similar steps may be taken against those who lower the quality of gold by mixing it with an alloy, or deal with counterfeit gold (suvarṇa=coin?).

* There are thirteen kinds of criminals who, secretly attempting to live by foul means, destroy the peace of the country. They shall either be banished or made to pay an adequate compensation, according as their guilt is light or serious.

[Thus ends Chapter IV, “Suppression of the Wicked Living by Foul Means,” in Book IV, “The Removal of Thoms” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya. End of the eighty-first chapter from the beginning.]

Footnotes and references:


M. 9, 261.

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