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 5 - Detection of Youths of Criminal Tendency by Ascetic Spies

On availing themselves of the opening made by ordinary spies sent in advance, special spies pretending to be endowed with supernatural powers may, under the pretence of knowing such incantations as cause rapid speed in running away, or render persons invisible, or cause hard fastened doors to open, induce highway robbers to robbery; and may, under the pretence of knowing such incantations as secure the love of women, entice adulterers to take part in criminal actions planned for the purpose of proving their criminal intentions.

On taking these enthusiasts thus induced to a village, where persons under the guise of women and men are previously stationed, and which is different from the one intended to be reached, the youths may be told that it is difficult to reach in time the village aimed at, and that the power of incantation may be seen then and there alone.

Having opened the doors seemingly with the power of incantation, the youths may be asked to get in. Having, in the midst of wakeful watchmen under concert, rendered the youths invisible with incantation, they may be asked to go into the interior. Having caused the watchmen seemingly sleepy, the youths may, as ordered, move the beds of the watchmen with no hesitation. Persons under the guise of others’ wives may seemingly, under the influence of incantation, please the youths.

Soon after the youths have actually experienced the powers of incantation, they may be taught the recitation and other accessory procedure of that art. They may afterwards be asked to test the power of their new learning in plundering such houses as contain articles or money with marks of identification, and simultaneously caught hold of in the very act. They may either be arrested while selling, purchasing, or mortgaging articles with marks of identification, or caught hold of while under intoxication brought about by medicinal drinks (yogasurāmatta).

From these youths thus arrested may be gathered information regarding the past life of them and of their accomplices.

Spies under the disguise of old and notorious thieves may similarly associate with robbers and, instituting similar measures, cause the latter to be arrested.[1]

The collector-general shall exhibit these arrested robbers and announce to the public that their arrest is due to the instructions obtained from the king, who has learnt the divine art of catching robbers: “I shall similarly catch hold of other robbers again and again, and you, people, ought to prevent any one of your own kinsmen from his wicked deeds.”

Whoever is known, through the information of spies, to have been a robber of yoking ropes, whips and other (agricultural) implements may be arrested and told that his arrest is due to the omniscient power of the king. Spies under the disguise of old and notorious robbers, herdsmen, hunters, or keepers of hounds may mix themselves with criminal tribes living in forests, and conspire with them to attack villages or caravansaries which, according to previous plan, contain plenty of counterfeit gold and other articles. During the tumult, they may be killed by armed men concealed for the purpose. Or on their securing plenty of stolen treasure, the robbers may either be made to eat such food as is mixed with the intoxicating juice of madana plant, or caught hold of either while sleeping with fatigue caused by incessant movements, or while under intoxication due to the drinking of medicinal beverage on the occasion of religious festivals.

* The collector-general shall exhibit in public these and other arrested criminals, and proclaim the omniscient power of the king among the people at large.

[Thus ends Chapter V, “Detection of Youths of Criminal Tendency by Ascetic Spies,” in Book IV, “The Removal of Thorns” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya, End of the eighty-second chapter from the beginning.]

Footnotes and references:


M. 9, 267.

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