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 2 - Battle of Intrigue

If the enemy does not keep peace, he should be told:

“These kings perished by surrendering themselves to the aggregate of the six enemies; it is not worthy of you to follow the lead of these unwise kings; be mindful of virtue and wealth; those who advise you to brave danger, sin and violation of wealth, are enemies under the guise of friends; it is dangerous to fight with men who are reckless of their own lives; it is sin to cause the loss of life on both sides; it is violation of wealth to abandon the wealth at hand and the friend of no mean character (meaning the addresser himself); that king has many friends whom he will set against you with the same wealth (that is acquired with your help at my expense), and who will fall upon you from all sides; that king has not lost his influence over the Circle of the Madhyama and neutral states; but you have lost that power over them who are, therefore, waiting for an opportunity to fall upon you; patiently bear the loss of men and money again; break peace with that friend; then we shall be able to remove him from that stronghold over which he has lost his influence. Hence, it is not worthy of you to lend your ear to those enemies with the face of friends, to expose your real friends to trouble, to help your enemies to attain success, and to involve yourself in dangers costing life and wealth.”

If without caring for the advice, the enemy proceeds on his own way, the weak king should create disaffection among the enemy’s people by adopting such measures as are explained in the chapters, “The Conduct of Corporations,”[1] and “Enticement of the Enemy by Secret Contrivances.”[2] He should also make use of fiery spies and poison. Against what is described as deserving protection in the chapter, “Safety of His Own Person,”[3] fiery spies and poisoners should be employed (in the enemy’s court). Keepers of harlots should excite love in the minds of the leaders of the enemy’s army by exhibiting women endowed with youth and beauty. Fiery spies should bring about quarrels among them when one or two of them have fallen in love. In the affray that ensues they should prevail upon the defeated party to migrate elsewhere or to proceed to help the master (of the spies) in the invasion undertaken by the latter.

Or to those who have fallen in love, spies, under the guise of ascetics, may administer poison under the plea that the medical drugs given to them are capable of securing the object of love.

A spy, under the guise of a merchant, may, under the plea of winning the love of an immediate maid-servant of the beautiful queen (of the enemy), shower wealth upon her and then give her up. A spy in the service of the merchant may give to another spy, employed as a servant of the maid-servant, some medical drug, telling the latter that (in order to regain the love of the merchant) the drug may be applied to the person of the merchant (by the maid-servant). On her attaining success (the maid-servant) may inform the queen that the same drug may be applied to the person of the king (to secure his love), and then change the drug for poison.

A spy, under the guise of an astrologer, may gradually delude the enemy’s prime minister with the belief that he is possessed of all the physiognomical characteristics of a king; a mendicant woman may tell the minister’s wife that she has the characteristics of a queen and that she will bring forth a prince; or a woman, disguised as the minister’s wife, may tell him that, “The king is troubling me; and an ascetic woman has brought to me this letter and jewellery.”

Spies, under the guise of cooks, may, under the pretence of the king’s (the enemy’s) order, take some covetable wealth (to the minister) meant for use in an immediate expedition. A spy, under the guise of a merchant, may, by some contrivance or other, take possession of that wealth and inform the minister of the readiness of all the preparations (for the expedition). Thus by the employment of one, two, or three of the strategic means, the ministers of each of the combined enemies may be induced to set out on the expedition, and thus to be away from the inimical kings.

Spies, under the service of the officer in charge of the enemy’s waste lands, may inform the citizens and country people residing in the enemy’s fortified towns of the condition of the officer’s friendship with the people, and say: “The officer in charge of the waste lands tells the warriors and departmental officers thus: ‘The king has hardly escaped from danger and scarcely returns with life. Do not hoard up your wealth and thereby create enemies; if so, you will all be put to death.’” When all the people are collected together, fiery spies may take the citizens out of the town and kill their leaders, saying: “Thus will be treated those who do not hear the officer in charge of the waste lands.” On the waste lands under the charge of the officer, the spies may throw down weapons, money and ropes bespattered with blood. Then other spies may spread the news that the officer in charge of the waste lands destroys the people and plunders them. Similarly, spies may cause disagreement between the enemy’s collector-general and the people. Addressing the servants of the collector-general in the centre of the village at night, fiery spies may say: “Thus will be treated those who subject the people to unjust oppression.” When the fault of the collector-general or of the officer in charge of the waste lands is widely known, the spies may cause the people to slay either of them, and employ in his place one of his family or one who is imprisoned.

* Spreading the false news of the danger of the enemy, they (spies) may set fire to the harem, the gates of the town and the store-house of grains and other things, and slay the sentinels who are kept to guard them.

[Thus ends Chapter II, “The Duties of a Messenger and Battle of Intrigue,” in Book XII, “Concerning a Powerful Enemy” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya. End of “Battle of Intrigue.” End of the hundred and thirty-seventh chapter from the beginning.]

Footnotes and references:


Chapter X, Book X.


Chapter II, Book XIII.


Chapter XXI, Book I.

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