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."
- A.L. Basham – a "treatise on polity"
- D.D. Kosambi – "science of material gain"
- G.P. Singh – "science of polity"
- Roger Boesche – "science of political economy"
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."
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. 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. 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.