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 - Enticement of Kings by Secret Contrivances

An ascetic, with shaved head or braided hair and living in the cave of a mountain, may pretend to be four hundred years old, and, followed by a number of disciples with braided hair, halt in the vicinity of the capital city of the enemy. The disciples of the ascetic may make presentations of roots and fruits to the king and his ministers and invite them to pay a visit to the venerable ascetic. On the arrival of the king on the spot, the ascetic may acquaint him with the history of ancient kings and their states, and tell him: “Every time when I complete the course of a hundred years, I enter into the fire and come out of it as a fresh youth (bāla). Now, here in your presence, I am going to enter into the fire for the fourth time. It is highly necessary that you may be pleased to honour me with your presence at the time. Please request three boons.” When the king agrees to do so, he may be requested to come and remain at the spot with his wives and children for seven nights to witness the sacrificial performance. When he does so, he may be caught hold of.

An ascetic, with shaved head or braided hair, and followed by a number of disciples with shaved heads or braided hair, and pretending to be aware of whatever is contained in the interior of the earth, may put in the interior of an ant-hill either a bamboo stick wound round with a piece of cloth drenched in blood and painted with gold dust, or a hollow golden tube into which a snake can enter and remain. One of the disciples may tell the king: “This ascetic can discover blooming treasure trove.” When he asks the ascetic (as to the veracity of the statement), the latter should acknowledge it, and produce a confirmatory evidence (by pulling out the bamboo stick); or having kept some more gold in the interior of the ant-hill, the ascetic may tell the king: “This treasure trove is guarded by a snake and can possibly be taken out by performing necessary sacrifice.” When the king agrees to do so, he may be requested to come and remain........(as before).

When an ascetic, pretending to be able to find out hidden treasure trove, is seated with his body burning with magical fire at night in a lonely place, disciples may bring the king to see him and inform the king that the ascetic can find out treasure trove. While engaged in performing some work at the request of the king, the latter may be

requested to come and remain at the spot for seven nights...... (as before).

An accomplished ascetic may beguile a king by his knowledge of the science of magic known as jambhaka, and request him to come and remain........ (as before).

An accomplished ascetic, pretending to have secured the favour of the powerful guardian deity of the country, may often beguile the king’s chief ministers with his wonderful performance and gradually impose upon the king.

Any person, disguised as an ascetic and living under water or in the interior of an idol entered into through a tunnel or an underground chamber, may be said by his disciples to be Varuṇa, the god of water, or of the king of snakes, and shown to the king. While going to accomplish whatever the king may desire, the latter may be requested to come and remain........ (as before).

An accomplished ascetic, halting in the vicinity of the capital city, may invite the king to witness the person (of his enemy).

When he comes to witness the invocation of his enemy’s life in the image to be destroyed, he may be murdered in an unguarded place.

Spies, who under the guise of merchants come to sell horses, may invite the king to examine and purchase any of the animals. While attentively examining the horses, he may be murdered in the tumult, or trampled down by horses.

Getting into an altar at night in the vicinity of the capital city of the enemy and blowing through tubes or hollow reeds the fire contained in a few pots, some fiery spies may shout aloud: “We are going to eat the flesh of the king or of his ministers; let the worship of the gods go on.” Spies, under the guise of soothsayers and horologists, may spread the news abroad.

Spies, disguised as Nāgas (snake-gods) and with their body besmeared with burning oil (tejanataila), may stand in the centre of a sacred pool of water or of a lake at night, and sharpening their iron swords or spikes, may shout aloud as before.

Spies, wearing coats formed of the skins of bears and sending out volumes of smoke from their mouth, may pretend to be demons, and after circumambulating the city thrice from right to left, may shout aloud as before at a place full of the horrid noise of antelopes and jackals; or spies may set fire to an altar or an image of a god covered with a layer of mica besmeared with burning oil[1] at night, and shout aloud as before. Others may spread this news abroad; or they may cause (by some contrivance or other) blood to flow out in floods from revered images of gods. Others may point to the flow of bood [blood?] and say that it is an indication of defeat to the enemy. On the night of full or new moon days or in the vicinity of a cremation ground they may point to a Caitya tree with a human corpse, the upper part of which is eaten away. One, disguised as a demon, may call from the tree for the offering of a human victim. If a man boldly comes out to witness this, others may beat him to death with iron rods and make the people believe that he was killed by demons. Spies and other witnesses may inform the king of this wonder. Then spies, disguised as soothsayers and astrologers, may prescribe auspicious and expiatory rites to avert the evil consequences which would otherwise overtake the king and his country. When the king agrees to the proposal, he may be asked to perform in person special sacrifices and offerings with special mantras every night for seven days. Then (while doing this, he may be slain) as before.

In order to delude other kings, the conqueror may himself undertake the performance of expiatory rites to avert such evil consequences as the above and thus set an example to others.

In view of averting the evil consequences of unnatural occurrences, he (the conqueror) may collect money (from his subjects).

When the enemy is fond of elephants, spies may delude him with the sight of a beautiful elephant reared by the officer in charge of elephant forests. When he desires to capture the elephant, he may be.taken to a remote desolate part of the forest, and killed or carried off as a prisoner. This explains the fate of kings addicted to hunting.

When the enemy is fond of wealth or women, he may be beguiled at the sight of rich and beautiful widows brought before him with a plaint for the recovery of a deposit kept by them in the custody of one of their kinsmen; and when he comes to meet with a woman at night as arranged, hidden spies may kill him with weapons or poison.

When the enemy is in the habit of paying frequent visits to ascetics, altars, sacred pillars (stūpa), and images of gods, spies hidden in underground chambers or in subterranean passages, or inside the walls, may strike him down.

* Whatever may be the sights or spectacles which the king goes in person to witness: wherever he may engage himself in sports or in swimming in water;

* wherever he may be careless in uttering such words of rebuke as “Tut,” or on the occasions of sacrificial performance, or during the accouchement of women, or at the time of death or disease (of some person in the palace), or at the time of love, sorrow, or fear;

* whatever may be the festivities of his own men, which the king goes to attend, wherever he is unguarded, or during a cloudy day, or in the tumultuous concourse of people;

* or in an assembly of Brāhmans, or whenever he may go in person to see the outbreak of fire, or when he is in a lonely place, or when he is putting on dress or ornaments, or garlands of flower, or when he is lying in his bed or sitting on a seat;

* or when he is eating or drinking, on these and other occasions, spies, together with other persons previously hidden at those places, may strike him down at the sound of trumpets.

* And they may get out as secretly as they came there with the pretence of witnessing the sights; thus it is that kings and other persons are enticed to come out and be captured.

[Thus ends Chapter II, “Enticement of Kings by Secret Contrivances,” in Book XIII, “Strategic Means to Capture a Fortress” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya. End of the hundred and forty-second chapter from the beginning.]

Footnotes and references:


See Chapter II, Book XIV.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: