DU SOL BA 3rd Year History of Social Thought Notes Chapter 19 Shukracharya
Discuss the organisation of society and state discussed by Shukracharya in Nitisara.
Though the historians admit that the Shukra Niti was written by Shukracharya but, there is a different opinion about who was Shukracharya and when this book was written, the following lines will throw light in this regard :
“Widely divergent views are held about the date of Sbukracharya’s Niti. Some placed its even in the pre-Christian period. Dr. U.N. Ghoseal thinks that the book was written between 1200 to 1600 A.D. and the view of R.L. Mehra was similar. The fact is that this work is a composition and was traced down to the fourteenth century, but its later part is to be ascribed to the eleventh or the twelfth century A.D.”.
There is a great unanimity of voice that the work of writing Shukra Niti commenced in the eleventh or twelfth century A.D. This is evident from the following lines :
defend 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 too 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.
“The statement that the Mlechhas resided in the north-west of India, the reference to the samantas as both feudatories and officials, the information that the price of gold was sixteen times of silver as stated by Shukracharya, the inclusion of Deshbhasat (vernaculars) as topics of study, the reference to the Advoita Vedani doctrine of Shankar that peace should even be made with Anarya, because otherwise he may uproot the kingdom, the enumeration of the principles that the treasury should have reserve equal to twenty years revenue, which was obviously followed by Hindu King’s of the eleventh century as shown by the coins of plunderers obtained from their, treasuries by Muslim conquerors. At these tend show that the book belongs to the period between 900 to 1200 A.D. The verses dealing with fire arms and gun powder may have bt en added by the end of fourteenth century when gun powder is know to have been used by the Army of Vijai Nagar.”
It is increasingly clear that Shukra Niti was not written at a stretch, or written in a period of years, but it was continued to be written for a very long period. It appears that additions were continued to be made as considered necessary but the bulk of the book must have been written at a time. According to ancient Indian thinkers, Shukracharya was not an individual. It was a seat of learn¬; ing which was occupied by bis disciples. This view is corborated by the fact that Shukracharya has been mentioned in Rigveda, Athrva ‘ Veda and also in Ushna, Kavya, Bhargava, Kavi, Dataya guru etc.
There is also mention in Mahabharata, so we can safely assume that it was the head of the educational institutions since the age of Mahabharata.
Main subjects dealt with in a Shukra Niti. Shukra Niti deals with monarchical system of Government. It has also dealt with different aspects of society. The subjects are as under :
Origin of the State. He believes in divine origin as well as organic theory of Sate. Here, there is some contradiction. On the one hand he says state is divine origin and has on the other hand compared it to living organism. He has compared it to body saying king is the head, the ministers eyes, friends of king ears, etc. He has . also compared with tree calling root of the tree as king, the ministers as trunk, Army chief branches etc. He has also stated that king is the representative of various gods such as Vayu, Surya, Agni, Varun, Chander, and Yama, He has emphasised that king has element of divinity in him.
He has in detail described the functions of Kings, Ministers, Officials and Judiciary, Treasury, Army and Law, and how Civil and Military administration should function.
He has emphasised that it should be the Welfare State which should remove the sufferings of people. He has also laid .emphasis on awarding suitable punishment to evil-doers, law breakers and enemies of the State. The nature of punishment for each sort of crime is also mentioned in the book.