Friday, October 10, 2008

Arthashastra | Word from India

The Arthashastra (IAST: Arthaśāstra) is a treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy which identifies its author by the names Kautilya[1] and Viṣṇugupta,[2] who are traditionally identified with Chāṇakya (c. 350–-283 BCE),[3] who was a professor at Taxila University and later the prime minister of the Maurya Empire.

Translation of the title

Different scholars have translated the word "arthaśāstra" in different ways.

  • R.P. Kangle – "science of politics," a treatise to help a king in "the acquisition and protection of the earth."[9]
  • A.L. Basham – a "treatise on polity"[10]
  • D.D. Kosambi – "science of material gain"[11]
  • G.P. Singh – "science of polity"[12]
  • Roger Boesche – "science of political economy"[13]

Roger Boesche describes the Arthaśāstra 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."[14]

Centrally, Arthaśāstra argues for an autocracy managing an efficient and solid economy. It discusses the ethics of economics and the duties and obligations of a king.[15] The scope of Arthaśāstra is, however, far wider than statecraft, and it offers an outline of the entire legal andbureaucratic 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.[16] The Arthaśāstra also focuses on issues of welfare (for instance, redistribution of wealth during a famine) and the collective ethics that hold a society together.


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