DU SOL BA 3rd Year History of Social Thought Notes Chapter 18 Kautilya (Chanakya)
Give a brief description of Arthashastra and discuss the nature of social organisation provided in it.
1. The Arthashastra of Kautilya gives description of the different aspects of administration and Hindu polity. It deals with the branches of knowledge which were in existence in those times. The human knowledge was divided into four branches (i) Anvikashki (philosophy) (ii) Tryi (theology) (iii) Varta (economies) and (iv) Dandaniti (polity). It all shows that Hindus showed equitable regard to the sciences making material progress and those conducive to spiritual culture.
2. It is a manual of administration. It lays down certain practical suggestions for the functioning of administration. In the words of an eminent scholar, “The Arthashastra is more a manual for the administration than a theoretical work on polity discussing the philosophy and fundamental principles of administration or the political sciences. It is mainly concerned with the practical problems of government and describes its machinery and functions, both in peace and war, with an exhaustiveness not seen in and later work, with the possible exception of Shukra Niti”.
3. The book superseded the works of all the predecessors. In this book references have been made to Manusmriti and Yainaval- smriti. This will be clear from the folowing :
“The conclusion is supported by the data of Arthashastra of Kautilya, for innumerous places it refers to and discusses the views of Vishalakha, lndra, Manu, Parsara, Bhardwaj, Gaurasivas and other scholars of sciences of polity that are referred to in Arthashastra”.
The book has been studied by critics very minutely. They have held the book monumental work. This will be clear from the following :
“This monument work has been for some years before the scholars for critical study. It is no longer correct to assert that Hindu mind did not couduct to the development of political theories. It is no longer correct to affirm that Indians never freed their politics from theological and metaphysical environment, and never set up its science or art as an independent branch of knowledge. The very first chapter of Kautilya enlightens us on the subject. It deals with Vidyas (branches of knowledge) whicn were prevalent in his time. All human knowledge known to India in the time of Kautilya, was divided into four branches. They were Anvikaski (philosophy), Tryi (Theology), Varta (economics) and Dandaniti (Polity). It is not clear that Hindu mind showed equitable regard to the sciences making material progress and those conducive to spiritual culture.
There was no encroachment of either philosophy or theology on the doctrine of polity or economies as no doubt was the base is later times. On the contrary, we have every reason to suspect that there was encroachment the other way that is the encroachment of polity on theology or philosophy-—it is absurd to affirm that Indian had for ever subordinated the study of the science of politics to that of theology and philosophy and had never developed it as an independent branch of knowledge”.
4. It is a practical book of administration in which upto date knowledge of the requirement of administration is vividly described. It is in several volumes Book I deals with the various problem connected with kingship, it gives an exhaustive picture of the civil administration in Book II. The next two books deal with the civil, criminal and personal law. The Book deals with the duties and responsibilities of the courtiers of the king. Book VI lessons the nature of Prakrities of the State.
Then the work devotes it is last books contain exhaustive discussion of problems connected- with foreign policy, the circles of king and the policy to be followed in connection with the different members, the ways and means by which to establish one’s ascendancy among them, the occasion suitable for war and peace. The manners in which warfare was to be carried out on or dissensions “were to be sword among the enemies”.
It deals with the function of King, Council of Ministers, Ambassadors, Spy system and the administration of the villages and cities.
Relation with other countries. Kautilya has laid down the rules to be followed about interstate relations. He has laid down the Mandal number and divided the State into four categories according to the number as given below :
(a) Allies (friendly states)
(b) opponents (enemy state)
(c) ordinary states
(d) Indifferent states.
It has been suggested that the speed of. dissension should be shown in other states so that they may never become powerful.
Kautilya has given an important place to doot (ambassador). Doot is expected to be the mouth piece of King. It is through him that dialogue take place in different states. He has also suggested that doot should travel in the State to which appointed to the having clear picture of state. He should offer presents to the King of the country in which appointed, to promote friendly relations on suitable occasions.
The functions of doot are stated to be as under :
- to carry the message of King to some other King.
- to see the observance of the principles of treaty.
- to collect friends and make friends.
- to sow the seeds of dissensions amongst the friends of the enemy country.
- to have thorough knowledge of spy or esponage system.
Spy System. Kautilya has laid great stress on esponage. The object is to get through spy system a correct report about the internal conditions of the kingdom as well as the conditions prevailing in other countries.
Administration of village and cities. Kautilya regarded the village and city as the smallest unit of administration. He has given a detailed description about the administration of villages and cities. The suggestions made by him are very valuable and workable.
What type of rule was laid down by Kautilya for the social stability.
Kautilya wrote Arthashastra as a practical manual of statecraft and administration not only for the Mauryan times but for all times and-for any kingdom. He has dealt with the minutest details of statecraft.
Introduction. Kautilya openly rejected ideals in his Arthashastra and presented a plain statement of practice of kings aided by Brahmin ministers in the fourth century B.C., as Machiavelli did of the immoral rulers and Christian in the statesmen in the 15lh century in his Prince. Kautilya’s greatness consists in giving to the countin’ a strong and centralised government which was perhaps unknown before him. Kautilya emphasised on law and order and strict discipline which is the root of all success. To him justice is the bedrock of society for this he advocated just and equitable taxation. The state must meet all natural challenges, §uch as floods, famine and misfortunes of the people. He says that in the interest of the state the royal blood must flow like water.
Given below is the description of Kautilya’s statecraft :
1. Departments and their organisation. The precise grouping of the departments is not mentioned in the Arthashastra. But from the general survey of the activities of the state it is possible to get some idea of some of the departments, as of the goldsmith storehouse, commerce, forest-produce, weighter and measurers, tolls, weaving, agriculture pasture lands, cow slaughter houses, ships, passport and liquor’. On the national defence side, the chief departments were ‘armoury, elephants, horses, chariots and infantry’.
2. Elements of the State. Kautilya in his Arthshastra mentions seven elements of the state. They are ‘1. Swami, 2. Amatya, 3 Janapada, 4. Kosha, 5. Danda and 6. Mitra’. According to Kautilya king is the most important element of state. Kautilya, included wise- men besides the ministers.
3. The Council of Ministers. With the growing complexity of the social organisation, and the vast extension of state activity, the council has been raised to the highest position in the state. Kautilya laid down that the council could be of as many members as it is desirable. The council was generally presided over by the King. The council discussed peace, defence and alliance, finance and pensions, and other important affairs. The final decision was with the king alone, but was expected to accept the view of the majority. Nothing was considered more important than to maintain secrecy about the proceedings of the council. Kautilya had cautioned that the discussion should be so carried on that even birds wouldn’t see them. For this, Kautilya provided for a kind of informal inner council, having three or four ministers whom the king could consult, particularly in emergencies.
4. Selection Criteria for Ministers. Kautilya prescribed “an excellent intellectual grounding, a high sense of duty, a blameless private life, and a sound judgement” as their primary qualifications whereas popularity of an individual was wisely deemed an additional qualification for the post of a ministership. In his attempt, ‘Bharad-waja advised the king to select ministers from among his old fellow students, but Visalaksha condemned it as it finally leads to destroy action of the royal prestige. Parasara prescribed faithfulness or loyalty as the first qualification whereas Pisuna recommended intellectual and administrative capacity as the most important qualification. Kautilya recognised the force of all these arguments but he himself held, capacity to be the highest qualification.
5. Administrative Set-up and Revenue. Those who had essential ministerial qualifications may be recruited as superintendents of government departments. These superintendents shall carry on their respective work in collaboration with accountants, writers, coin examiners the treasurers and military officers. Those military officers who are honest and enjoy good conduct, “shall be spies to watch the conduct of accountants and other clerks”.
6. Punishment to Corrupt Official. Kautilya while commenting upon the corruption of the public servants, says, “Just as fish moving under water cannot possibly be found out either as drinking or not drinking water, so government servants employed in the government work cannot be found out while taking money for themselves”. For
corrupt officials, he recommends that their ill-earned wealth should be confiscated by the government. They should also be transferred from one work to another so .that they can be prevented from misappropriating government’s funds and are made to vomit what they have eaten up. Those loyally devoted to it shall be made permanent in service.
7. Units of Administration. The kingdom was divided into a number of provinces governed by Viceroys. Each province was paritioned into circles of eight hundred, four hundred, two hundred, one hundred and ten villages administered by officers in an hieiarchy. Kautilya almost ignored the village institutions perhaps because he believed in centralisation.
8. Organisation of Bureaucracy. Kautilya laid down certain qualifications for those appointed as high officers known as Amatyas, Sama-harta, Sannihata and Dharmastha. The highest functionaries such as the Mantrin, Puiohita, Senapathi and Yuvaraja were paid generously as much as 48,000 Panas. According to R.P. Kangle ‘pana’ is .a silver coin with a silver content equal to of a tola. In contrast the lowest officials were lowly paid and the gap was quite enormous between the highest and the lowest government servants. The entire governmental machinery was pyramid like in structure and highly centralised with bureaucratic nature.
9. Rural Administrative set up. Kautilya outlined rural administration only for raising finance to meet the need of revenue administration. The Samaharta, head of the Janapada was primarily made responsible for making assessment of revenue. In this assignment, he was aided by the Sthanika and Gopa who carried out detailed census for the purpose. These officials, besides assessing and collecting revenues, enforced law and order, also as per rules of the state.
10. Defence. ‘Kautilya speculated that the military force was bound to cause some anxiety to the civilpower. In order to maintain control over the armies, he was systematically broken its homogeneity.
The army was only occasionally used to put down the internal revolts. If we rely on the Arthasashtra of Kautilya the Maury as developed the first efficient system of police and criminal administration buttressed by an elaborate system of espionage.
11. Judiciary and Judicial System. The judicial system suggested by Kautilya is quite scientific and very well planned. He laid down rules and regulations about the procedure for holding the court, acquiring evidence, listening to the witness, appointment of judges, their control and punishment etc
Kautilya designed two types of courts : called Dharmasthiya (civil court), Kantakasodhana (criminal court). The courts were also to hold their sessions in the big towns. There were also village tribunals. In certain important cities justice was administered by three ministers and three other judges well acquainted with sacred law. The whole judicial administration was presided over by the Chief Justice. Above him there was the King assisted by his ministers and lawyer (vipras). It is laid down that equity prevailed over the letter of the law. The punishments for various offences were often severe.
12. Spy System. Kautilya’s statecraft was based on an well organised spy system. He regarded spies as eyes and ears of the king. The spy system was used for
- gathering information on foreign countries,
- about the officers and ministers.
Spies never knew each other. Kautilya provided for women spies and spies on spices who had to undertake very strenuous duties and obligations. Kautilya classified spies into 9 types :
- fraudulent disciple or ‘Kdatik-Kshatra’ (a person who reads the mind of others),
- ‘Udasthika’ or reclause,
- ‘Grihapathik’ or householder,
- ‘Vaidehaka’ or a merchant,
- ‘Tapas’ or ascetic,
- ‘Satri’ or a classmate, a colleague,
- ‘Takshana’ or a fare brand,
- ‘Rasad’ or a poisoner, and
- lastly Bhikshuki or a mendicant woman.
13. Foreign Policy. Kautilya suggested six forms of foreign policy. These were :
- agreement with pledges is peace,
- offensive operation is war,
- indifference is neutrality,
- making preparation is marching,
- seeking the protection of another is alliance, and
- making peace with and waging war with another is termed As double policy.
Kautilya laid down the principle as :
Whoever is inferior to another shall make peace with him : whoever is superior in power shall wage war; whoever thinks “no enemy can hurt nor am I strong enough to destroy my enemy” shall observe neutrality ; whoever is possessed of necessary strength to defead himself shall seek the protection of another whoever thinks that help is necessary to work out an end shall make peace with one and wage war with another. Such are the aspects of the six forms of policy. A king desirous of expanding his own power shall make use of the sixfold policy.
14. The Concept of Mandala. Kautilya formulated that ‘A king might represent that in the neighbouring circle of states a particular sovereign was growing tpo powerful, that he might destroy them all and that all should march against him. They are treated from the point of view of vijigisu, the world conqueror placed in a circle of states. The circle consisted of four sovereigns – the vijigisu or he would be conqueror, the Art of enemy, Kadhyama or potential powerful friend or enemy and Udasina or neutral’. In addition to these four Manu added eight other constituents and the total came to twelve.
Thus Kautilya wanted a strict discipline in social as well as individual life and sought to establish a stable social life through well organised state machinery.