By Mark McClish, Patrick Olivelle
The one extant treatise on statecraft from classical India, the Arthasastra is a useful source for realizing historical South Asian political concept; it additionally offers a finished and unprecedented panoramic view of Indian society through the interval among the Maurya (320–185 BCE) and Gupta (320–497 CE) empires.
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Extra info for Arthasastra: Selections from the Classic Indian Work on Statecraft
This Brāhmaṇical political ideology is widely accepted in texts from the classical period. It has been taken by many modern scholars as generally representative of political thought in much of the classical period. Critically, however, passages expressing this ideology in the Arthaśāstra are, for the most part, interpolations—later additions to the text. If we look back to the lii Introduction older parts of the text—those that can be ascribed to the original composer of the text—we find a far different view of political power expressed: What provides enterprise and security to critical inquiry, the Triple [Veda], and Economics is punishment (daṇḍa); its administration (nīti) is Government (daṇḍanīti).
Ponder[s] over the king’s own party and that of his enemy. With regard to activities, they should initiate what has been left undone, complete what has been initiated, enhance what has been completed, and bring the commission to a successful conclusion. 2). Each superintendent oversaw a specific area of state activity, such as the regulation of markets, mining, shipping, or alcohol. Although appointed by the king and theoretically answerable lviii Introduction to him, it appears that the collector managed the activities of the superintendents.
For Kauṭilya, however, monarchy as a form of government does not take its shape as a response to the needs of the people, but is a traditional institution of which the inner logic is explained by the ambitions of the king and which is animated by the king’s unique capacity to coerce and compel others. Kauṭilya does, in keeping with tradition, see the righteous king as protector of social harmony, but this is more of a justification of the institution than an explanation of its origin. Without a king, he argues, the weak will be preyed upon by the strong, a terrifying state of anarchy and unmitigated predation referred to above as the “law of the fish”: When [a king] fails to dispense [punishment] .
Arthasastra: Selections from the Classic Indian Work on Statecraft by Mark McClish, Patrick Olivelle