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Arthshastra - Thoughts of Kautilya

Updated: Oct 6, 2022

Many of you might have heard about Sun Tzu (who wrote the famous book- Art of war), Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, Karl Marx and many such philosopher's, since we are the prey of imposition to the western style of educations and adopting the western way of thinking because of colonialism. But I wanted to put up a point on Indian Political thought and the Kautilya, whom famously we call as the Chanakya. Western countries have always ignored Indian way of life and culture and never agreed about any concept like "Indian political thought", they always thought that it is the western way of living that is the only way one can and should live and the world has to follow what their philosophers and leaders believe. But to remind you it is the 'Manusmriti' which evolved on Indian subcontinent before any of the western civilization was discovered.



Let me tell you about the Indian political thought through 'Arthshastra'. Arthshastra basically belong to the tradition of the dandashastra, prime issue is the 'state craft', it also discusses about the DHARMA and if you read both the documents that is the Manusmriti and the Arthshastra , thy both are in continuity. Since you must have heard about Chandragupta Maurya, whom the Chanakya led to victory over the Dhanananda, which later established the mighty Mauryan empire in India and today's Pakistan. So 'Artha' here means the material well being. In his words "Material well being is supreme, attainment of all other goals- Dharma, Kama, Moksha depends on material well being". In ancient times acquiring land was considered to be the greatest thing hence the Arthshastra tell, how to acquire land.

(Image source - hindupost.in)

Kautilya says, it is natural for the state to acquire land, the 1st land to be acquired is the land of neighbor and hence neighbors will be natural enemies ( Applying it to India in today scenario - Pakistan and China are our natural enemies). So main idea of Arthshastra comes out to be the, war, strategic planning, balance of power and geopolitics. and Arthshastra can be considered as "1st textbook of Geopolitics", that is the science of capturing the land. Kautilya describe land as organism who is bound to grow and it depends on your ability whether it's your land that is captured by someone or is it the other party whom you have captured.



So, the Arthshastra challenges the western view that Indians lack he strategic culture. I think it is most unfortunate that the independent India policymakers have overlooked the wisdom found in the Arthshastra. However in the very recent we have started to rediscover our ancient Indian wisdom.

Prominent ideas of Arthshastra are:

  1. State of relations between 2 countries.

  2. Mandal siddhant

  3. Saptanga theory

  4. Shadgunya Neeti (6 gold policies)

  5. 4 Upayas

  6. Type of war

According to professor Morris Jones, The neglect of Indian political thought will result into Impoverishment of the west. I think that's becoming a reality as slowly the people are standing up to the western imposition of ideas and there is identity crisis going on in the world. Max Muller, who is regarded as one of the greatest Indologists, have acknowledged that 'Nowhere in the world human mind has dealt with questions of life in such a depth as in case of India'.

It is widely said that Indians have grown too much in the spiritual aspect of life but haven't done anything about the strategic culture but if you see Arthshastra it proves everyone of them wrong.



I hope it gives brief general idea about the topic.


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