Discovering Pakistan

5, 000 years of Civilization & Culture

The Arthashastra

The Arthashastra is an ancient Indian treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy, authored in the 4th century BCE by Kautilya (popularly known as Chanakya), a professor at Takshashila University and advisor to Chandragupta Maurya, founder of the Maurya Empire.

Chanakya was educated at Takshashila (modern Taxila in Pakistan), the “intellectual capital” of India c. 700 BCE to 500 CE, where he taught economics and political science for several years. The Arthashastra, meant to be a comprehensive “manual” or guidebook for kings, is one of the most valuable sources of information we have about Mauryan state and society, particularly during Chandragupta’s reign. Unabashed it its advocacy of realpolitik, the Arthashastra offeres advice on the efficient running of government institutions, outlines the duties of kings, ministers and local officials, prescribes punishments for various offenses, and also discusses issues of welfare and social ethics.

The Arthashastra was lost for centuries and appears to have been rediscovered only in 1905 by Dr. Rudrapatnam Shamashastry. The treatise in its present form was most likely not composed by Chanakya, though it is probably based on a text that written by him. Below are excerpts of the 1915 translation of the work, from Sanskrit, by Dr. Shamashastry.

The Duties of a King

Chapter 19 of Book 1, “Concerning Discipline”

Detection of what is Embezzled by Government Servants out of State Revenue

Chapter 8 of Book 2, “The Duties of Government Superintendents”

The Superintendent of Storehouse

Chapter 15 of Book 2, “The Duties of Government Superintendents”

Remedies against National Calamities

Chapter 3 of Book 4, “The Removal of Thorns”

Punishment for Violating Justice

Chapter 13 of Book 4, “The Removal of Thorns”

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