Arthashastra, Chanakya Niti and Chanakya Sutras

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Arthashastra, Chanakya Niti and Chanakya Sutras

Postby Murugan » 07 Feb 2013 09:57


Sanskrit ... abhlok.pdf

Sanskrit Bhashya Version (Ganapati Sastri) ... 552mbp.pdf

English (Shamasastry)
(This link has good collection of books/work on India including that of Pliny's and Megathanes's India related books/collection)


Chanakya Niti

Sanskrit ... ti-pdf.pdf

English ... nglish.pdf


Chanakya Sutras

Sanskrit ... ra-pdf.pdf

Partial Translation in English ... ish-90.doc

Last edited by Murugan on 08 Feb 2013 09:47, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Arthashastra, Chanakya Niti and Chanakya Sutras

Postby Murugan » 07 Feb 2013 10:03

10 Important Chanakya Sutras
For Sanskrit Refer the PDF link above

Aphorism 2:
The basis of "sukha" or all true pleasantness is "dharma" or righteous conduct.

Aphorism 3:
The basis of all "dharma" is "artha" or wealth.

Aphorism 4:
The basis of all "artha" is "rajya" or the State.

Aphorism 5:
The basis for the stability of the State lies in control over the "indriya" or sense faculties providing pleasure.

Aphorism 6:
The basis for control over the sensual faculties is in "vinay" or humility.

Aphorism 7:
The basis for humility is devotion to those grown old through wisdom.

Aphorism 8:
Through devotion to the wise, one attains proficiency with the maximum efficiency.

Aphorism 9:
It is imperative for all the functionaries of the State to perform their duties with the maximum efficiency.

Aphorism 10:
To perform State duties with the maximum efficiency, the functionaries of the State must learn to control their sensual needs, and maximise their internal potentials.

Aphorism 11:
Those who have vanquished their baser selves may become prosperous naturally, can retain their prosperity, and be successful in their endeavours.

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Re: Arthashastra, Chanakya Niti and Chanakya Sutras

Postby Murugan » 07 Feb 2013 10:47

Aphorism 24:

A task can be completed with success if information relating to the beneficial and non-beneficial consequences of the task is kept secret.

Aphorism 35:
If six ears listen to a secret executive decision, that becomes public knowledge.

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Re: Arthashastra, Chanakya Niti and Chanakya Sutras

Postby Anand K » 07 Feb 2013 12:05

How popular was Arthashastra with later rulers? Was it a part of essential education? I mean, apart from direct salutation by Kamandaka and references in certain ancient works it seems to have just vanished........... till Dr. Shamashastry found an overlooked palm-leaf manuscript in the Mysore Oriental Library a century ago.
I mean, they even translated ancient erotica and ditties to Persian and Arabic but how come they missed such a monumental work?! The Panchatantra also refers to Arthashastra in passing and given the subject matter we may *guess* that it was required of royal younglings to study it. Again, how significant was this in early Indian politics and governance over India? Any references in vernacular languages?

BTW, there are indications in Arthashastra itself that Chanakya was adding on to the science that has been first composed by earlier scholars. Also he says he "rescued" the science which had been captured by the Nandas; does it mean the predecessor works were essential reading for royalty (and general populace) and had been controlled by Nandas?

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Re: Arthashastra, Chanakya Niti and Chanakya Sutras

Postby Murugan » 07 Feb 2013 12:25


K.C. Ojha has put forward the view attributing the doctrines of 'Arthaśāstra' to Kautilya or Chanakya and suggests that Vishnugupta is in fact a redactor of the original work.[4] Thomas Burrow goes even further and says that Chanakya and Kautilya are actually two different people.[8] However, some doubt about Burrow's assertion is due to the end of the treatise, which says: "This Sástra has been made by him who from intolerance (of misrule) quickly rescued the scriptures and the science of weapons and the earth which had passed to the Nanda king." This supports the more commonly held belief that Kautilya and Chanakya are the same person, given Chanakya's role as mentor to Chandragupta Maurya.

More recently, Mital[9] concluded that the methods used by Trautmann were inadequate to prove his claims, and therefore "there exists no direct evidence against Kautilya being the sole author of The Arthashastra, nor evidence that it was not written during the 4th century BCE.".[10] Mital goes on to rebut Trautmann's reliance on the affinity with the smrtis.

Noted Indian scholars such as Dr RC Majumdar, Dr DR Bhandarkar, Dr KP Jayaswal and Dr AS Altekar place the date of the Arthshastra between 7th century BC to 2nd century BC. Dr RK Mookerji, Prof FW Thomas and Vincent Arthur Smith all agree with the 4th century BC as the time of the book's composition.[11] HC Raychoudhuri puts 249BC as the lower limit and 100AD as the upper limit of composition of the text of the Arthshastra in its present form and postulates that the original text dates from an earlier period. Sir RG Bhandarkar dated the composition of the current treatise to around 1st or 2nd century AD. This view is also held by some Western scholars but scholars such as DR RC Majumdar and Vincent Arthur Smith have rejected the date of Arthshastra as late as 2nd century AD and cite evidence that supports the composition of the Arthshastra in 4th century BC. DD Kosambi, noted historian and Indologist, maintains that the book is a 4th BC century creation by Chanakya or Kautilya who was Prime Minister of Chandragupta Maurya.[12] Prof Romilla Thapar believes that the book is a geniune text dating from Mauryan India (4th century BC) but given its final touch by an editor in 3rd century AD. She supports the view of Trautmann that portions were composed by Kautilya, but various sections were composed or edited later and the treatise was given its present day form in 3rd century AD.[13] Trautmann notes that some portions of the treatise were probably composed by Kautilya, who was the Prime Minister of Chandragupta, but that other parts were added later on. He dates the composition of Book-2 of the 'Arthaśāstra' to 150CE and the whole treatise in its present form by 250CE.[14]

In summary, most scholars put the composition of the 'Arthaśāstra' to between 4th century BC and 2nd century AD. The text was influential until the 12th century, when it disappeared.{and decline of Bharat started} It was discovered in 1904 by R. Shamasastry, who published it in 1909 and the first English translation was published in 1915.[15]

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Re: Arthashastra, Chanakya Niti and Chanakya Sutras

Postby Murugan » 07 Feb 2013 12:33

Rulers 12th Century Onwards gradually forgot these two

Aphorism 2:
The basis of "sukha" or all true pleasantness is "dharma" or righteous conduct.

Aphorism 3:
The basis of all "dharma" is "artha" or wealth.

And degeneration...

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Re: Arthashastra, Chanakya Niti and Chanakya Sutras

Postby ramana » 07 Feb 2013 22:34

johneeG wrote:Chanakya Niti, chapter 1, shloka 1:

प्रणम्य शिरसा विष्णुं त्रैलोक्याधिपतिं प्रभुम् ।
नानाशास्त्रोद्धृतं वक्ष्ये राजानीतिसमुच्चयम् ॥
Pranamya shirasa vishnum trailokyadhipatim prabhum |
Nana-shastraodhrutam vakshye rajanitisamuchchayam ||

word-to-word meanings:
प्रणम्य (Pranamya) =having bowed, शिरसा (shirasa) =the head(to), विष्णुं (vishnum) =Lord Vishnu (and) omni-present, त्रैलोक्य (trailokya) =of the three Lokas(worlds), अधिपतिं (adhipatim) =supreme ruler, प्रभुम् (prabhum) =king (or) splendid (or) powerful, नाना (Nana)=various, शास्त्रोद् (shashtrot) =Vedic scriptures(all the scriptures that are based on Vedas), धृतं (dhrutam) =existing, वक्ष्ये (vakshye)= (I) say, राजानीति (rajaniti) =politics, समुच्चयम् (samuchchayam) =collection.

१. सर्वशक्तिमान भगवान विष्णु को नमन करते हुए, जो तीनो लोको के स्वामी है, मै एक राज्य के लिए नीति शास्त्र के सिद्धांतों को कहता हूँ । अनेक शास्त्रों का आधार ले कर मै यह सूत्र कह रहा हूँ ।

1. Humbly bowing down before the almighty Lord Sri Vishnu(the all-pervasive), the Lord of the three worlds, I recite maxims of the science of political ethics (niti) selected from the various shatras (scriptures).

Additional Commentary:
The word ‘विष्णु (Vishnu)’ has deep meaning. Of course, it refers to Lord Vishnu. But, why is Lord Vishnu called ‘विष्णु (Vishnu)’? What does that word mean? The literal meaning of the word ‘विष्णु (Vishnu)’ is:
व्याप्नोति इति विष्णुः
‘vyapnoti iti vishnuh’
(that which pervades is called ‘Vishnu’).

विष्णु (Vishnu) is the one who is all-pervasive.
This echoes the (shloka)verse of Ishavasya Upanishad:
ईशावास्यम् इदम् सर्वम् यत् किम् च जगत्याम् जगत् ।
तेन त्यक्तेन भुञ्जिथा मा गृधः कस्या स्विद् धनम् ॥

‘Ishavasyam idam sarvam yat kim ca jagatyam jagat ।
tena tyaktena bhunjithama gridhah kasyasvid dhanam ॥’

(All this is pervaded by the Lord, whatever is moving and not moving in this world.
Therefore, enjoy/protect by renunciation, do not covet the wealth of anyone.)

Infact, that Upanishad obtained its name from this celebrated verse.

Chanakya may have chosen the word ‘विष्णु (Vishnu)’ to represent both its meanings: Lord Vishnu, the all-pervasive.

This is a very important concept in Hinduism. Perhaps, the most distinctive feature of Hinduism when compared with Abrahamic creeds. Abrahamic creeds follow Zorastrian conception of God. According to zorastrianism(to the best of my knowledge), god is omnipotent and omniscient, but not omnipresent. Abrahamic creeds follow the same conception of god. Judaism, atleast in later stages, seems to follow this conception.

It is for this reason that followers of abrahamic creeds are unable to understand Hinduism. This is the most distinguishing feature of Hinduism(and other indic religions which have their origin in Hinduism). In Hinduism, God/Goddess is not only omnipotent and omniscient, but also omnipresent. There is nothing devoid of God/Goddess in this world. The God/Goddess is present at all times, at all places, in all circumstances and in all objects. Nothing in the world is independent of God/Goddess. God/Goddess is all-pervasive.

Katha Upanishad explains how the God/Goddess(which is same as one's self) is all pervasive:
अणोर् अणियान् महतो महियान् अत्मस्य जन्तोर् निहितो गुहयाम् ।
तम् अक्रतुः पश्यति वितशोको धातुः प्रसादत् महिमानम् आत्मनः ॥॥

Anur aniyan mahato mahiyan atmasya jantor nihito guyayaam ।
tam akratuh pashyati vitshoko dhatuh prasadat mahimaanam atmanah॥
(Self which smaller/subtler than the smallest/subtlest and greater than the greatest, is seated in the cavity of hearts of creatures. The one who is free from activity(of mind and body) beholds the majesty of self and is freed from sorrow)

Lord Sri Krishna explains in Bhagavad Gita(Chapter 7, shloka 7):
मत्तः परतरं न अन्यत् किञ्चित् अस्ति धनंजय ।
मयि सर्वम् इदम् प्रोतं सूत्रे मणिगणा इव ॥

mattah parataram na anyat kinchit asti dhanamjaya ।
mayi sarvam idam protam sutre manigana iva ॥
(O Dhananjaya(Arjuna), there exists nothing other than me. Everything is connected in me like all the pearls of a necklace are connected to its inner thread.)

Abrahamic creeds limit god to a particular location/space. On the contrary, in Hinduism, God/Goddess is unlimited by time/space/items. God/Goddess is called 'sat'(eternal), chit(the consciousness), ananda(bliss). The word sat means eternal(in terms of time and space). Because, God/Goddess is all-pervasive, Hindus can conceive of the divinity in any thing and in any number of things. Since, nothing in the world is independent of God/Goddess, any worthwhile thing in the world shines forth due to the splendour of God/Goddess.

Lord Sri Krishna explains this in Bhagavad Gita in Chapter 10, from shloka 20 onwards:
The Blessed Lord said: Yes, I will tell you of My splendorous manifestations, but only of those which are prominent, O Arjuna, for My opulence is limitless.

Chapter 10, Verse 20.
I am the Self, O Gudakesa, seated in the hearts of all creatures. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings.

Chapter 10, Verse 21.
Of the Adityas I am Visnu, of lights I am the radiant sun, I am Marici of the Maruts, and among the stars I am the moon.

Chapter 10, Verse 22.
Of the Vedas I am the Sama-veda; of the demigods I am Indra; of the senses I am the mind, and in living beings I am the living force [knowledge].

Chapter 10, Verse 23.
Of all the Rudras I am Lord Siva; of the Yaksas and Raksasas I am the Lord of wealth [Kuvera]; of the Vasus I am fire [Agni], and of mountains I am Meru.

Chapter 10, Verse 24.
Of priests, O Arjuna, know Me to be the chief, Brhaspati, the lord of devotion. Of generals I am Skanda, the lord of war; and of bodies of water I am the ocean.

Chapter 10, Verse 25.
Of the great sages I am Bhrgu; of vibrations I am the transcendental om. Of sacrifices I am the chanting of the holy names [japa], and of immovable things I am the Himalayas.

Chapter 10, Verse 26.
Of all trees I am the holy fig tree, and among sages and gods I am Narada. Of the singers of the gods [Gandharvas] I am Citraratha, and among perfected beings I am the sage Kapila.

Chapter 10, Verse 27.
Of horses know Me to be Uccaihsrava, who rose out of the ocean, born of the elixir of immortality; of lordly elephants I am Airavata, and among men I am the monarch.

Chapter 10, Verse 28.
Of weapons I am the thunderbolt; among cows I am the surabhi, givers of abundant milk. Of procreators I am Kandarpa, the god of love, and of serpents I am Vasuki, the chief.

Chapter 10, Verse 29.
Of the celestial Naga snakes I am Ananta; of the aquatic deities I am Varuna. Of departed ancestors I am Aryama, and among the dispensers of law I am Yama, lord of death.

Chapter 10, Verse 30.
Among the Daitya demons I am the devoted Prahlada; among subduers I am time; among the beasts I am the lion, and among birds I am Garuda, the feathered carrier of Visnu.

Chapter 10, Verse 31.
Of purifiers I am the wind; of the wielders of weapons I am Rama; of fishes I am the shark, and of flowing rivers I am the Ganges.

Chapter 10, Verse 32.
Of all creations I am the beginning and the end and also the middle, O Arjuna. Of all sciences I am the spiritual science of the self, and among logicians I am the conclusive truth.

Chapter 10, Verse 33.
Of letters I am the letter A, and among compounds I am the dual word. I am also inexhaustible time, and of creators I am Brahma, whose manifold faces turn everywhere.

Chapter 10, Verse 34.
I am all-devouring death, and I am the generator of all things yet to be. Among women I am fame, fortune, speech, memory, intelligence, faithfulness and patience.

Chapter 10, Verse 35.
Of hymns I am the Brhat-sama sung to the Lord Indra, and of poetry I am the Gayatri verse, sung daily by Brahmanas. Of months I am November and December, and of seasons I am flower-bearing spring.

Chapter 10, Verse 36.
I am also the gambling of cheats, and of the splendid I am the splendor. I am victory, I am adventure, and I am the strength of the strong.

Chapter 10, Verse 37.
Of the descendants of Vrsni I am Vasudeva, and of the Pandavas I am Arjuna. Of the sages I am Vyasa, and among great thinkers I am Usana.

Chapter 10, Verse 38.
Among punishments I am the rod of chastisement, and of those who seek victory, I am morality. Of secret things I am silence, and of the wise I am wisdom.

Chapter 10, Verse 39.
Furthermore, O Arjuna, I am the generating seed of all existences. There is no being--moving or unmoving--that can exist without Me.

Chapter 10, Verse 40.
O mighty conqueror of enemies, there is no end to My divine manifestations. What I have spoken to you is but a mere indication of My infinite opulences.

Chapter 10, Verse 41.
Know that all beautiful, glorious, and mighty creations spring from but a spark of My splendor.

Chapter 10, Verse 42.
But what need is there, Arjuna, for all this detailed knowledge? With a single fragment of Myself I pervade and support this entire universe.

So, the best among the various items is seen as worth worshiping. While, everything is pervaded by God/Goddess, a normal being cannot perceive of this all-pervasive God/Goddess. So, certain places/items have been designated where even an ordinary person can experience the divinity.

These items are:
Sun, Moon, Fire, pious priest, and Vigraha(idol)...etc.

The sanskrit word for idol is vigraha. The 'vi' in vigraha represents 'vishesha'. The word vi-shesha means(without any remainder). Graha means grasping/receiving. So, vigraha means that which is received/grasped without any remainder. Vigraha allows the conception of God/Goddess to be received/grasped by one and all. Any technology is considered to have become advanced and developed when it is accessible and affordable to one and all. 'Idolatory'(or Vigraha Aradhana) is a sort of spiritual tech that allows everyone access to spirituality instead of limiting it to few privileged ones.

In fact, there is no ideology that can completely shun this mechanism. All ideologies (religious or otherwise) do tend to depend on icons, symbols, idols, marks, ...etc. Even the so-called ideologies that claim to reject idolatory have their own symbols, marks and idols which they worship.


The next word in Chanakya's shloka is ‘त्रैलोक्याधिपतिं (trailokya-adhipatim)’. It means the supreme-master(husband/lord) of three worlds. What are the three worlds? According to Hinduism, there are 14 worlds(Lokas).
They are:
Upper regions/worlds : Satya-loka(or Brahma Loka, residence of Lord Brahma), Tapo-loka, Jano-loka, Mahar-loka, Svar-loka (Svarga/Heaven of Indra), Bhuvar-loka.
Bhu-loka (earth)
Nether regions/worlds: Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Talatala, Mahatala, Rasatala, Patala.

These 14 regions/worlds are broadly divided into 3 categories:
upper regions(upper than earth), earth and nether-regions(relative to earth).

These 14 regions/worlds are, therefore, referred as 3 regions/worlds. When Chanakya says, “त्रैलोक्याधिपतिं (Trailokya-adhipatim)”, it means the supreme master(lord/husband) of all the (14 worlds or 3 worlds).

The Chinese usage of middle kingdom may have its origin in the concept of triloka(3 worlds). Middle-kingdom may refer to earth(which is the middle of the three worlds in Triloka).

The word ‘प्रभुम् (prabhum)’ means king. It is also used as a synonym of the word ‘ईशा ( isha, the Lord)’. The word is also related to the word ‘प्रभा (prabha) = splendour’. All these meanings of the word ‘प्रभुम् (prabhum)’ are relevant in this verse because Chanakya is describing the God/Goddess.

Chanakya makes it clear in the very beginning that he is composing this collection of (proper) political conduct by gleaning them from the various ‘shashtra’. He is not making it up on his own. Instead, he is simply re-collecting the most pertinent verses at one place. The word ‘समुच्चयम् (samuchchayam)’ means collection.

‘शास्त्र (Shastra)’ means any scripture which has Vedas as its basis. Chanakya’s present work collects the maxims from celebrated works of previous seers/sages, who themselves have claimed to have gleaned these maxims from holy Vedas. Some of those works are: Brihaspati smriti, Shukra niti, Manu smriti, Parashara smriti, and Vyasa’s MB(and other Puranas).

These works lay out dictums for proper conduct of individual and society, so that there is harmony and happiness for all. These works and their authors do not claim to teach anything new, instead they refer to the Vedas as their basis. That means these authors claim to explain(for general audience) what has already been said in Vedas. In line with the same tradition, Chanakya does not claim to teach anything new. He is only collecting at one place the ancient knowledge(from various sources) for the benefit of his contemporaries.
Later, Panchatantra uses all these works(including the work of Chanakya).


Carl wrote:johneeG ji, nice post. One nitpick -
johneeG wrote:This is a very important concept in Hinduism. Perhaps, the most distinctive feature of Hinduism when compared with Abrahamic creeds. Abrahamic creeds follow Zorastrian conception of God. According to zorastrianism(to the best of my knowledge), god is omnipotent and omniscient, but not omnipresent. Abrahamic creeds follow the same conception of god. Judaism, atleast in later stages, seems to follow this conception.

Actually "omnipresence" is mentioned in Abrahamic faiths also. Of the 101 Names of Ahura Mazda (in Mazdayasna Zoroastrianism), 3 are:
harvesp tavAn (omnipotent)
harvesp AgAh (omniscient)
harvesp khudA (onmipresent) -

The word "khudaa" comes from "khud + aa" -- "self-revealing" or "one who becomes present on its own." The word "harvesp" means something like "omni".

Similarly, in the Hebrew scriptures also the concept of omnipresence is found, as well as the Bible (Pentateuch, for example) in the concept of the Holy Spirit. In the Qur'an, though it is considered wrong to say that Allah is omnipresent by his Self (dhaat/zaat), His "Throne" is omnipresent or covers everything. Thus, in all these Abrahamic religions, omnipresence is there, but there is a distinction between that which is omnipresent and the Selfhood of the Personality of Godhead ("swayam bhagavAn" in Hinduism).

This concept of "omnipresence" is subtle, even in the Vedas. According to Vedas and Vedanta, the Absolute Truth is immanent, transcendent and omnipresent. This concept is found most fully developed in the Vaishnava schools of Vedanta.

IMHO, the best thing to say is that the Knowledge of God is omnipresent, and although in the ultimate analysis that Knowledge Of God is "non-different" from the Self of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, yet it is important to make that distinction. Sometimes this Knowledge Of God is experienced in union with the Lord, and often in separation from Him.

In any case, these concepts are practically intuitive and not theoretical. They are useful only in that sense.

न देवा दण्डमादाय रक्षन्ति पशुपालवत् ।
यं तु रक्षितुमिच्छन्ति बुद्ध्या संविभजन्ति तम् ॥

"The Gods don't protect like a shepherd does with a stick.
To he whom They wish to protect, They give (spiritual) intelligence."
- Vidura Niti, 3-40

na devA daNDamAdAya rakShanti pashupAlavat ।
yaM tu rakShitumichchhanti buddhyA saMvibhajanti tam ॥

na = not
devAH = gods, divine
daNDamAdAya = with stick (daNDa) in hand (AdAya)
rakShanti = protect (plural third person of verb rakSh)
pashupAlavat = like a cattle-grazer
pashu = animal
pAla = protect
-vat = like, when used as a suffix
pashu-pAl-vat = like a cowherd/shepherd

yaM = whom
tu = rather, instead
rakShitumichchhanti = desire (ichchhanti) to protect (rakShitum = for protecting)
buddhyA = with intelligence
saMvibhajanti = attach, join, (endow)
tam = that (person)

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Re: Arthashastra, Chanakya Niti and Chanakya Sutras

Postby harbans » 07 Feb 2013 22:59

Few would attribute this to Chanakya:

Kshamayaa dayayaa premnaa soonritenaarjavena cha
Vasheekuryaajjagatsarvam vinayena cha sevayaa

One can bring the whole world under one’s influence (power) by such sterling qualities as patience (or forgiveness), kindness, love, truth, straightforwardness, humility and service

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Re: Arthashastra, Chanakya Niti and Chanakya Sutras

Postby brihaspati » 09 Feb 2013 06:34

The initial and final chapters - on the ideal king - is very strong on "moral" values, and stresses more on "winning over" by example and moral qualities the support of the majority. But one should immediately recognize that it implies a tacit assumption that the population actually already appreciates such moral qualities and values. Thus a Chanaakya would succeed based on an already majorly dharmik society. We should look at the supporting picture before making Chanaakya universally applicable.

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Re: Arthashastra, Chanakya Niti and Chanakya Sutras

Postby ramana » 09 Feb 2013 22:27

Not ready for updating the precepts yet.

Meanwhile 2009 was centenary of Shyama sastri's discovery of Arthasastra in Mysore...
Outlook article on it.

heritage: arthashastra
Year Of The Guru
It’s hundred years since the discovery of Chanakya’s great work from a manuscript
Sugata Srinivasaraju

Against Amnesia

* This is the centenary year of the publication of Kautilya’s Arthashastra
* The manuscript is in a cupboard in the director’s office at the Oriental Research Institute, Mysore
* Its pathbreaking discovery, and publication, by Shamashastry altered our view of ancient Indian history
* The institute is still not clear how the centenary should be celebrated
* Shamashastry’s family fears the event may go unnoticed


The Oriental Research Institute (ORI), set up in 1891 by the then maharaja of Mysore, is a magnificent heritage building, blending architectural styles such as Gothic, Corinthian and Romanesque, and housing nearly 60,000 palm-leaf manuscripts from antiquity.

Until it was identified from a manuscript by Shamashastry, Chanakya’s opus was know only from references.

What brought fame to the institute, however, was the discovery among them of Kautilya’s Arthashastra some 100 years ago. A manuscript of the treatise on politics and governance, believed to have been written circa 4th century BC, was found and identified by Rudrapatna Shamashastry, a refined scholar of Sanskrit who was the librarian and later the curator of the institute.

Shamashastry came across the work in a heap of manuscripts he was going through. This was in 1905. But it was 1909 by the time he transcribed, edited and published the Sanskrit edition, making the current year the centenary of his landmark publication. He then painstakingly rendered the work into English, publishing it to astounding ovation in 1915, by which time excerpts had already made appearances in journals like Indian Antiquity and Mysore Review, preparing Indologists across the world for the watershed appearance of the English edition.

All the fame of the work and its discovery, however, do not seem to have inspired enough enthusiasm for careful preservation. Instead of a safe or a weatherproof glass case, the manuscript is brought out for viewing, after much persuasion, from an unlocked steel cupboard in the director’s office. A wrapping of red cloth, and a spray of preservative citronyl oil, is all the protection the manuscript gets. Prof Jaganath, an expert in manuscriptology at the ORI, puts it all in perspective. “Don’t expect an autograph of Chanakya on these palm leaves,” he says. “This is perhaps only a recopy of a recopy made some 500-600 years ago. It was with a pandit in Tanjore, who handed it over to the institute not knowing what was written on it. Other such recopies were found elsewhere in India, but that was later, after our discovery.” He explains that manuscript is in Sanskrit, but written out in the Grantha script, not Devanagiri. Since the Tamil script couldn’t accommodate certain sounds from Sanskrit, Grantha was created to allow for the representation of those sounds in a script accessible to those who know Tamil.

At ‘Asutosh’, the house of Shamashastry in the Chamundipuram locality of Mysore, there’s no electricity supply, but his portrait is illuminated by torchlight and brought down enthusiastically by his great grandson to be photographed. And the daughter-in-law explains that the house is named for the legendary Sir Asutosh Mookerjee of Calcutta University, who “encouraged my father-in-law a great deal and also visited our house when it was built”. Family members bring out reprints of Shamashastry’s other books and ask, “Do you think the university or the government will celebrate the centenary year?”

Nursery: The Oriental Research Institute, Mysore

Their uncertainty is at odds with the magnitude of Shamashastry’s discovery and the subsequent publication of Kautilya’s work. Dr H.P. Devaki, director of the ORI, says, “The publication of Arthashastra not only gave a huge fillip to Sanskrit studies, but significantly altered our understanding of ancient India. A lot of course correction happened in history after this was published. And since it touched upon subjects like law, politics, economics, trade, governance, diplomacy, war, weaponry, natural calamities, the vices and virtues of rulers, it also naturally attracted a lot of general interest.” Even the genius and skulduggery of its author Kautilya—who was also known as Vishnugupta or by the patronymic Chanakya—was in the realm of myth before the discovery of the manuscript. It was well-known that Chanakya overthrew the Nanda dynasty and installed Chandragupta Maurya on the throne circa 321 BC, but scholars knew of him and his magnum opus only from references in other classical texts by people like Dandi, Bana, Vishnusarma, Mallinathasuri, or the Greek Megasthenes. Not until Shamashastry’s labours of transcription and translation did it come to light that the original work was in 15 adhikarnas (or books) and a total of 150 chapters.

The manuscript is presrved using citronyl oil

F.W. Thomas, then the librarian of the India Office Library in London, had this to say about the work at the time of its English publication: “I can testify to the great value of the work, which sheds more light upon the realities of ancient India, especially as concerns administration, law, trade, war and peace, than any text we possess....” Vincent Smith, the author of the History of Ancient India, in the preface to the second edition of his book, makes this acknowledgement in 1913: “The description of the Maurya empire and administration...has been revised with special regard to the discovery and partial publication by Mr R. Shamashastry of the ancient treatise on the art of government, ascribed to Chanakya or Kautilya, the minister of Chandragupta Maurya.” Several such revisions of history writing followed. Indologist J.F. Fleet, who wrote an introduction to the English edition, was generous in his praise of Shamashastry: “We are, and shall always remain, under a great obligation to him for a most important addition to our means of studying the general history of ancient India.”

The fame of Arthashastra and Shamashastry was so widespread that Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, the then maharaja of Mysore, had a strange encounter in Germany. At a party, he apparently ran into the vice-chancellor of a German university and introduced himself, whereupon he was asked if he was from the land of Shamashastry. M.S. Srinivas, Shamashastry’s son, now in his eighties, says, “The maharaja was so overwhelmed that on his return to Mysore, he invited my father and felicitated him. He also had the large-heartedness to say, ‘In Mysore, I’m the king and you are my subject, but in the rest of the world, I’m known only through you.’” Accolades followed. In August 1919, the Oriental University, Washington DC, conferred a honorary doctorate on Shamashastry. Calcutta University followed suit in 1921; the same year, he was admitted to the Royal Asiatic Society and won the Campbell Memorial gold medal.

Legend & legacy: Shamashastry's son M.S. Srinivas at the family home

There is also a record of Rabindranath Tagore complimenting Shamashastry. In 1927, Mahatma Gandhi met him in Nandi Hills. Prof A.V. Narasimha Murthy, a retired professor of ancient history, paraphrases the conversation, as recorded by Mahadev Desai, the Mahatma’s secretary: “Shastry told Gandhiji, ‘Sir, in the ancient days, there used to be guides like Patanjali, Hemachandra, Vidyaranya and others. Rulers today don’t have such an advantage. You should lead the country towards morality.’ Gandhiji smiled and said, ‘Who will bell the cat? My orientation is slightly different; the minds of our people have to be rectified first.’”

Asked how the ORI proposes to celebrate the centenary year of the publication of Arthashastra, Devaki says, “We should do something and we will certainly do something, but then I am stepping down as director soon. My successor will make all the plans.” But Prof Jaganath says the best way to commemorate the event is to study properly the several commentaries that have been written on the Arthashastra after the 12th century. The manuscript discovered by Shamashastry also carried a commentary on a small part by a writer named Bhattasvamin.

The Mysore University, under whose jurisdiction the ORI comes, was given a Rs 100-crore grant in the 2008 Union budget. Perhaps it should set aside a small sum to commemorate the discovery of this great work. At present, it is only the Kautilya Circle, a roundabout on Radhakrishnan Avenue, that serves as a reminder of Mysore’s great tryst with classical discovery.

Beautiful pictures in the article.

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Re: Arthashastra, Chanakya Niti and Chanakya Sutras

Postby ramana » 09 Feb 2013 22:30

An MP3 in Kannada language on the centenary by Dr R Ganesh

shaardula or someone give a highlights please:


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Re: Arthashastra, Chanakya Niti and Chanakya Sutras

Postby ramana » 09 Feb 2013 22:37

Hemachandra's story on Chanakya in Jain literature.

from Google books:

The Clever Adultress and the Hungry Monk
Bji Comment on this please.

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Re: Arthashastra, Chanakya Niti and Chanakya Sutras

Postby Murugan » 06 Mar 2013 11:02

On Accumulation of Wealth

उपार्जितानां वित्तानां त्याग एव हि रक्षणम्‌ ।
तडागोदरसंस्थानां परीवाह इवाऽम्भसाम्‌ ।।

Money earned must be spent to keep it in circulation.
Put it to good use which is the best protective
investment. The water of pond has inflow and outflow
systems. That keeps its water clean. (14)

(कौटिल्यस्य नयः ७)

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Re: Arthashastra, Chanakya Niti and Chanakya Sutras

Postby ramana » 06 Oct 2018 00:58


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