Shukra Niti by Shukracharya

by Benoy Kumar Sarkar | 1914 | 106,458 words

The English Translation of the Shukra Niti by Shukracharya: An ancient Sanskrit text possibly dating to the 4th-century BC. The text contains maxims that deal with politics, statecraft, economis and ethics and shed light on the social life, monarchy and government of ancient India as well their knowledge of early political science....

Chapter 4.6 - Fortresses

1. Now I shall narrate in brief the Sixth Section, that on Fortresses.

2.[1] Fortresses are made inaccessible through ditches, thorns, rocks and deserts.

34.[2] The pārikha fort is that which is surrounded on all sides by great ditches; and the pārigha is known to be that which is protected by walls of bricks, stones and mud.

5-7. Vāna or forest-fort is one which is encircled by huge thorns and clusters of trees, the dhanvadurga is known to be that round about which there is no water, the jaladurga or water-fort is that which is surrounded by great sheets of water.

8-9. The giridurga or hill-fort is described as that which is on high level and is supplied with plenty of water. The sainyadurga or troop-fort is that one which is defended by heroes well up in vyuhas or military tactics and hence impregnable.

10.[3] The sahāyadurga or help fort is known to be that which belongs to the valorous and friendly kinsfolk.

11-12.[4] The desert-fort is superior to the pārikha, thence the pārigha, thence the forest, thence the dhanva, thence the water, last the hill-fort.

13.[5] The sahāyadurga and the sainyadurga are the ornaments of all fortresses.

14. Without these the other forts are of no use to the king.

15-16. The fortress with soldiers is the best of all, the others are mere helps or auxiliaries to this; the king should therefore al ways keep this fort.

17-18.[6] One who has forts with troops can survey the whole earth; but to have every other kind of forts except those with troops is tantamount to imprisonment.

19. It is advisable to have recourse to other forts in times of danger or emergency.

20-21.[7] One man with arms can fight one hundred if (he gets the protection) of a fort; a hundred men can fight ten thousand, hence the king should have forts.

22.[8] To the valorous and to the people who live in forts with troops every place is like a fort.

23-24. The king should have forts well provided with war materials and contingencies, as well as grains, troops, arms and treasure.

25-26. The fortress which is manned by friends and allies is the best of all. Victory is sure when the fort is thus manned.

27. Whichever is thus manned by friends and allies is sure to lead to victory.

28.[9] The mutual dependence of forts and fortresses constitutes an element of success.

Footnotes and references:


airaṇa—pertaining to airiṇa—or deserts.


mṛdbhttiprākāraembankments of mud wall.


The forts have been described and classified according to two principles: (1) the physical difficulties or advantages of the site on which the fort stands, e.g., forests, water &c., (2) the human inmates also e.g., the troops, the allies, &c.


Of course the arrangement here is in order of the difficulties presented to the enemy. The parikha or that which is protected by ditches only is described as being the lowest of all in this respect, and the hill-fort is the best.


Undoubtedly the real strength of all forts is in the nature and mettle of the element, the valour and character of the troops occupying them. Merely physical are of no avail.


Of course one can easily appreciate the embarrassing situation in which the ruler is placed when he has forts with physical advantages only but no manly and friendly troops to defend them. It is obvious that under these circumstances the instruments of self-defence would be used by the enemies against their proprietors themselves, and forts would be their own prisons.

The distinction between the physical and the human elements is here carried to perfection.


The efficacy of forts is described here. It is suggested that forts can multiply a warrior’s strength hundred-fold. One-man in a fort is equivalent to one hundred men out of it.


People who depend on their own nerve can convert every place into a fort, i.e., can walk erect everywhere without fear. It is the inward strength of a man that is his real fort.


parasparānukūlya—The forts should all be so situated and governed that there arise no difficulties of access from one to the other or conflicts of jurisdiction between them. The system of forts in the State should be placed on a sound basis of co-ordination and interrelation.

In enumerating the factors of success or the circumstances that are likely to lead to success, Śukrācārya mentions two conditions

(1) The existence of sahāyai.e., friends and allies.

(2) The well-ordered military system and governmental machinery which alone can place the forts in inter-dependent relations.

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