About the Book
The Arthashastra is an ancient Indian treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy, written into 15 books, 150 chapters and 180 topics. This treatise discusses the ethics of economics and the duties and obligations of a king. The scope of this book 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, medicine and the use of wildlife. It also focuses on issues of welfare (for instance, redistribution of wealth during a famine) and the collective ethics that hold a society together. Roger Boesche describes the Arthasastra as “a book of political realism, a book analysing how the political world does work and not very often stating how it ought to work, a book that frequently discloses to a king what calculating and sometimes brutal measures he must carry out to preserve the state and the common good.” This treatise is relevant for rulers who wish to run an effective government. Even today, the Arthashastra is the number one classic of diplomacy in India and, within this category, it is one of the most complete works of antiquity. This text was disappeared in 12th century and it was rediscovered in 1909 by Rudrapatna Shamasastry, who translated into English and published in 1915.
About the Author & Translator
Kautilya known as Vishnugupta or Chanakya (c.350–283 BC) was a scholar at Takshashila and the teacher and guardian of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya, founder of the Mauryan Empire. He was a pioneer in diplomacy and government administration. His merit was based not only on coming up with very important practical advice for government, but also in organizing his theories in a systematic and logical fashion. Kautilya’s political vision had a heavy influence on Chandragupta, the first Indian ruler who unified Northern India under a single political unit for the first time in history.
Rudrapatna Shamasastry was a Sanskrit scholar and librarian at the Oriental Research Institute Mysore. He was awarded a doctorate in 1919 from the Oriental University in Washington D.C. and in 1921 from Calcutta University. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and won the Campbell Memorial gold medal. His work was acclaimed by Indian as well as Western scholars.