Kautilya’s Arthashastra is an excellent treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy. it is said to have been written by Kautilya, also known by the name Chanakya or Vishnugupta, the prime minister of India’s first great emperor, Chandragupta Maurya.
In Arthashastra, Kautilya mixes the harsh pragmatism for which he is famed with compassion for the poor, for slaves, and for women. He reveals the imagination of a romancer in imagining all manner of scenarios which can hardly have been commonplace in real life.
Centrally, Arthaśāstra argues for an autocracy managing an efficient and solid economy. It discusses the ethics of economics and the duties and obligations of a king. The scope of Arthaśāstra is, however, far wider than statecraft, and it offers an outline of the entire legal and bureaucratic framework for administering a kingdom, with a wealth of descriptive cultural detail on topics such as mineralogy, mining and metals, agriculture, animal husbandry and medicine. The Arthaśāstra also focuses on issues of welfare (for instance, redistribution of wealth during a famine) and the collective ethics that hold a society together.
Table of Contents
- Book I, “Concerning Discipline”
- Book II,”The Duties of Government Superintendents”
- Book III, “Concerning Law”
- Book IV, “The Removal of Thorns”
- Book V, “The Conduct of Courtiers”
- Book VI, “The Source of Sovereign States”
- Book VII, “The End of the Six-Fold Policy”
- Book VIII, “Concerning Vices and Calamities”
- Book IX, “The Work of an Invader”
- Book X, “Relating to War”
- Book XI, “The Conduct of Corporations”
- Book XII, “Concerning a Powerful Enemy”
- Book XIII, “Strategic Means to Capture a Fortress”
- Book XIV, “Secret Means”
- Book XV, “The Plan of a Treatise”
Kautilya. Arthashastra. Translated by R. Shamasastry. Bangalore: Government Press, 1915.