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 - Capture of the Enemy

Summary: Capture of the Enemy by Means of Secret Contrivances or by Means of the Army; and Complete Victory.

Contrivances to kill the enemy may be formed in those places of worship and visit, which the enemy, under the influence of faith, frequents on occasions of worshipping gods and of pilgrimage.

A wall or stone, kept by mechanical contrivance, may, by loosening the fastenings, be let to fall on the head of the enemy when he has entered into a temple; stones and weapons may be showered over his head from the topmost story; or a door-panel may be let to fall; or a huge rod kept over a wall or partly attached to a wall may be made to fall over him; or weapons kept inside the body of an idol may be thrown over his head; or the floor of those places where he usually stands, sits, or walks may be besprinkled with poison mixed with cowdung or with pure water; or, under the plea of giving him flowers, scented powders, or of causing scented smoke, he may be poisoned; or by removing the fastenings made under a cot or a seat, he may be made to fall into a pit containing pointed spears; or when he is eager to escape from impending imprisonment in his own country, he may be led away to fall into the hands of a wild tribe or an enemy waiting for him not far from his country, or when he is eager to get out of his castle, he may be likewise misled or made to enter an enemy’s country which is to be restored (to the conqueror); the enemy’s people should also be kept under the protection of sons and brothers (of the conqueror) in some forts on a mountain, or in a forest, or in the midst of a river separated from the enemy’s country by wild tracts of land.

Measures to obstruct the movements of the enemy are explained in the chapter, “The Conduct of a Conquered King.”[1]

Grass and firewood should be set on fire as far as a yojana (5 5/44 miles); water should be vitiated and caused to flow away; mounds, wells, pits and thorns (outside the fort wall) should be destroyed; having widened the mouth of the underground tunnel of the enemy’s fort, his stores and leaders may be removed; the enemy may also be likewise carried off when the underground tunnel has been made by the enemy for his own use, the water in the ditch outside the fort may be made to flow into it; in suspicious places along the parapet (of the enemy’s fort) and in the house containing a well outside the fort, empty pots or bronze vessels may be placed in order to find out the direction of the wind (blowing from the underground tunnel); when the direction of the tunnel is found out, a counter tunnel may be formed; or having opened the tunnel, it may be filled with smoke or water.

Having arranged for the defence of the fort by a scion of his family, the enemy may run in an opposite direction where it is possible for him to meet with friends, relatives, or wild tribes, or with his enemy’s treacherous friends of vast resources, or where he may separate his enemy from the latter’s friends, or where he may capture the enemy’s rear, or country, or where he may prevent the transport of supplies to his enemy, or whence he may strike his enemy by throwing down trees at hand, or where he can find means to defend his own country or to gather reinforcements for his hereditary army; or he may go to any other country whence he can obtain peace on his own terms.

His enemy’s (the conqueror’s) allies may send a mission to him, saying: “This man, your enemy, has fallen into our hands; under the plea of merchandise or some presentation, send gold and a strong force; we shall either hand over to you your enemy bound in chains, or banish him.” If he approves of it, the gold and the army he may send may be received (by the conqueror).

Having access to the enemy’s castle, the officer in charge of the boundaries (of the enemy’s country) may lead a part of his force and slay the enemy in good faith; under the plea of destroying a people in some place, he may take the enemy to an inimical army; and having led the enemy to the surrounded place, he may slay the enemy in good faith.

A pretending friend may send information to an outsider: “Grains, oil and jaggery and salt stored in the fort (of the enemy) have been exhausted; a fresh supply of them is expected to reach the fort at such and such a place and time; seize it by force.” Then traitors, enemies, or wild tribes, or some other persons specially appointed for the purpose, may send a supply of poisoned grains, oil, jaggery, and salt to the fort. This explains the seizure of all kinds of supply.

Having made peace with the conqueror, he may give the conqueror part of the gold promised and the rest gradually. Thus he may cause the conqueror’s defensive forces to be slackened and then strike them down with fire, poison or sword; or he may win the confidence of the conqueror’s courtiers deputed to take the tribute.

Or if his resources are exhausted, he may run away, abandoning his fort; he may escape through a tunnel or through a hole newly made, or by breaking the parapet.

Or having challenged the conqueror at night, he may successfuly confront the attack; if he cannot do this, he may run away by a side path; or, disguised as a heretic, he may escape with a small retinue; or he may be carried off by spies as a corpse; or disguised as a woman, he may follow a corpse (as it were, of her husband to the cremation ground); or on the occasion of feeding the people in honour of gods or of ancestors or in some festival, he may make use of poisoned rice and water, and having conspired with his enemy’s traitors, he may strike the enemy with his concealed army; or, when he is surrounded in his fort, he may lie concealed in a hole bored into the body of an idol after eating sacramental food and setting up an altar; or he may lie in a secret hole in a wall, or in a hole made in the body of an idol in an underground chamber; and when he is forgotten, he may get out of his concealment through a tunnel, and, entering into the palace, slay his enemy while sleeping, or loosening the fastenings of a machine (yantra), he may let it fall on his enemy; or when his enemy is lying in a chamber which is besmeared with poisonous and explosive substances, or which is made of lac, he may set fire to it. Fiery spies, hidden in an underground chamber, or in a tunnel, or inside a secret wall, may slay the enemy when the latter is carelessly amusing himself in a pleasure park or any other place of recreation; or spies under concealment may poison him; or women under concealment may throw a snake, or poison, or fire or poisonous smoke over his person when he is asleep in a confined place; or spies, having access to the enemy’s harem, may, when opportunities occur, do to the enemy whatever is found possible on the occasion, and then get out unknown. On such occasions, they should make use of the signs indicative of the purpose of their society.

* Having by means of trumpet sounds called together the sentinels at the gate, as well as aged men and other spies stationed by others, the enemy may completely carry out the rest of his work.

[Thus ends Chapter V, “Capture of the Enemy by Means of Secret Contrivances or by Means of the Army; and Complete Victory,” in Book XII, “Concerning a Powerful Enemy” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya. End of the hundred and fortieth chapter from the beginning.

With this ends the Twelfth Book, “Concerning a Powerful Enemy” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya.]

Footnotes and references:


Chapter XV, Book VII.

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