Kautilya’s Arthashastra


Arthashastra:-Kautilya was a scientist, a brilliant politician and a man of great cunning. Probably another name of Kautilya is Chanakya. It is said that the revelation of this Brahmin Pandit Pataliputra of Takshila was insulted by Magadharaj Dhanananda in the royal court and he vowed to oust the Nanda dynasty. Fortunately, Chandragupta Maurya’s power and the decline of Kautilya’s dynasty led to the appointment of Kautilya Chandragupta as Maurya’s prime minister.

Kautilya’s political idea was that a strong mother would fight and defeat the enemy. Kautilya’s book ‘Arthashastra’ is not just a book on politics and economics. This book gives an outline of the social, economic, and political life of the time. Comparing Kautilya’s Arthashastra with the modern-day Machiavelli’s book ‘The Prince’, Kautilya is called ‘Machiavelli of India’.

Although Kautilya or Chanakya’s Arthashastra is considered to be one of the most reliable historical elements of the Maurya regime, there are differences of opinion among historians about the author of Arthashastra and the period of its composition. According to historians like Kirtha, Jolie, Vintarniz, etc., if it was written by Kautilya, then this book would have given a detailed account of the Mauryan Empire and its system of governance.

But the text does not mention the municipal system and military boards mentioned by the Greek ambassador Megasthenes. The historian Jolie does not consider economics or its author to be a diplomat. A. L. Bassam, on the other hand, does not consider Arthashastra to be a work of the Maurya period, although he thinks that this book definitely carries the memory of the Maurya period.

But historians like Fleet, Jaiswal, Shyamashastri do not support the above arguments and according to them, the economics was composed by Chandragupta’s minister Kautilya. Kautilya is mentioned in Indian mythology and Indian texts. Kautilya is mentioned in Jain and Buddhist texts, Panchatantra and Purana. In the old Kautilya is described as the minister of Chandragupta Maurya.

Important of Arthashastra:-

According to the account of economics, it seems that the described state had a well-regulated system of governance. The king was the sovereign of the state. Although the power of the king was free, there were strict instructions about his duties and responsibilities. According to Kautilya, the king of monarchy was bound by the religion of justice.

In this condition, he was entitled to collect taxes from the people. The king was obliged to protect the dignity of women and the property of his subjects. The king’s proper education and self-connection have been given more importance in economics.

Economics says that ‘everything depends on money’, so we need to pay more attention to the treasury. Special emphasis has been placed on the judiciary. Kautilya mentions 18 types of penal code.7 types of whipping are also mentioned in Arthashastra. Usually, the Brahmins were spared the death penalty. But instead of burning the lives of the Brahmins accused of treason, the Arthashastra ordered them to be drowned.


There is a lot of information in economics about the general governance of the state. The whole empire was divided into several provinces to facilitate the administration, and provincial governors were appointed from the common royal family. Economics deals mainly with monarchical regimes but refers to self-governing tribes and autonomous villages. Kautilya also discusses international relations in detail.

There is a lot of information available about economics and social systems. The chapter titled ‘Janapadanika’ deals specifically with the organization of society. It discusses women in detail. Before and after marriage, women were under the guardianship of father, brother, husband, and son, respectively.

It mentions prostitution. In addition to these subjects in economics, there is a reference to the sports strategy of the public’s socio-economic system.

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