ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel


Updated on June 22, 2012

A systematic form of Government in ancient India was basically the handiwork of Kautilya, which is crystallized in his work ARTHASHASTRA. It is believed that he was born in the hilly tract of Kolli in South India and that his original name was Vishnu Gupta. In history however, he is immortalized by the name of CHANAKYA. This Brahmin with a sharp intellect studied at the ancient Indian University of Takshasila (Taxila) and after years of arduous study became a teacher in his alma mater. He later left the confines of the University and went to Pataliputra (Patna) to seek his fortune in the kingdom of the Nandas who were great patrons of scholars like Panini, Varsha etc. Unaware of court etiquette and intrigues he not only had a cold reception but was also insulted by the King. Brimming with anger, he swore revenge and left the court of the Nandas and wandered all over the country. It was during this sojourn he got acquainted with Chandra Gupta of the Maurya clan whose throne was usurped by the Nanda King. This meeting laid the foundation of the Mauryan Empire.


Kautilya’s magnum opus ARTHASHASTRA was a handbook meant for Kings. Kautilya had the foresight to realize that the goal of public administration must be people’s welfare; which meant that rural development was as important as urban, failing which people tend to migrate from rural to urban areas. He therefore placed emphasis on agriculture, animal husbandry, trade and commerce.

ARTHASHASTRA as a book on statecraft has a timeless appeal. Though it was a treatise based on agrarian society, its understanding on human nature is profound as revealed in the following excerpt:

….Just as fish moving under water cannot possibly be found out as drinking or not drinking water, so government servants employed in the government work cannot be found out while taking money for themselves.”

The book ARTHASHASTRA is composed in the form of brief statements called ‘SUTRAS’ and comprises of:

  • 15 books
  • 150 sections
  • 180 chapters
  • 6000 verses

The books cover the following subjects:

BOOKS 1-5: Internal Administration

BOOKS 6-13:Foreign relations

BOOK 14: Secret practice

BOOK 15 Plan of Work

According to Kautilya the elements of the state are:

  1. The King
  2. Minister
  3. Country
  4. Treasury
  5. Fort
  6. Army
  7. Ally

The ARTHASHASTRA mentions of eighteen important functionaries known as MAHAMATRA or TIRTHAS. They are :

  1. YUVARAJA: Crown prince
  2. SENAPATI: Commander-in-Chief
  3. MANTRIPARISHAD ADHYAKSHA: Head of the council of Ministers
  4. MANTRIN: Minister
  5. PUROHITA: Chaplain
  6. DAUVARIKA: palace usher
  7. ANTARVAMSIKA: Officer of the Royal Harem
  8. PRASASTA; Minister in charge of Encampment
  9. SAMAHARTA: Administrative head and Revenue collector
  10. SANNIDHATA: Controller of Stores
  11. NAYAKA: Commandant
  12. PRADESTA: Magistrate
  13. KARMANTIKA: Chief Architect
  14. DANDA PALA: Chief Army officer
  15. DURGA PALA: Officer-in-charge of Fort
  16. ANTAPALA: Officer-in-charge of Frontier post
  17. ATAVIKA: Chief of the Forest tribe


Kautilya had laid down an elaborate process for the selection of officers at various levels of the hierarchy. Once the basic qualifications have been met, candidates are tested with regard to their attitude to:

  • Piety
  • Lucre
  • Lust
  • Fear

Only those who successfully complete the test of piety are made judges and magistrates. Those who pass the monetary test are absorbed in the revenue department and candidates who are able to establish their proof against lust made Officers in charge of the King’s harem. The King’s personal staff and bodyguards are selected on the basis of their performance in the test of fear. The few who pass the entire tests are made councilor. The revenue officers have to undergo further tests. They have to prove their competence in practical work to their superior called UTARADHYAKSHAS. After successfully completing their probation they are made NITYADHIKARI.


There are two courts in the ARTHASHASTRA for the administration of justice. They are:


DHARMASTHYA handles civil cases, which are adjudicated on the basis of:

1. DHARMA or canon law

2. VYAVAHARA or procedural law

3. CHARITRA or usage and conventions

4. RAJASENA or royal decree

KANTAKASHODHANA deals with crime and cases related to Government servants in their official duties. It consists of a panel with three PRADESHTAS or magistrates and is assisted by spies entrusted with the unraveling of crime.


As agriculture was the mainstay of the people, Kautilya placed importance on land revenue. There were three types of revenue:

  • Income from taxes on goods produced within the country.
  • Income from taxes on exports and imports
  • Income from taxes on goods produced in the capital.

The main items of public expenditure were:

  • Public administration
  • National defense
  • Expenditure on maintaining the army
  • Salaries of ministers and government official

Kautilya believed that though the land was under monarchy, the king should adopt the concept of a welfare state. To borrow his own words “in the happiness of his (King’s) subjects lies his happiness, in their welfare, his welfare”

His economic policies were reflective of those times. Industries producing gold, silver, diamond and iron were to be owned by the state. On the other hand, agriculture, handicrafts etc could be under private enterprise. He believed in a system of price control and traders could have a mark up of 8% on domestic goods and 10% in imported goods. Money lending and charging of interest was permitted and interest could be in the range of 15%.

Kautilya was a pragmatist, and his views may seem similar to Niccolo Machiavelli another great pragmatist in the second millennium.


Submit a Comment

  • ram_m profile imageAUTHOR


    3 years ago from India

    Thank you for the comments

  • profile image


    3 years ago

    I find this valuable, of csroue when we ponder about the above words, this is what the modern world calls Project management, training for success, and what not Indeed Chanakya's teachings and principles are a valuable treasure to us, unfortunately, importance was not given to this valuable ancestoral thinking of the corporate world. Following this would have taken Indians to the corporate world much earlier, and to crown it, the corporate world with a lot of humanity


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)