It is from these four that all other knowledge, wealth and human prosperity is derived. In the absence of governance, the strong will swallow the weak. In the presence of governance, the weak resists the strong. Those who are unrighteous, should not work in civil and criminal courts.
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Within this, the Arthashastra has a twofold aim. First, it seeks to show how the ruler should protect his territory. Second, is how territory should be acquired. The end or primary goal in the Arthashastra is Yogakshema — protection, security and stability of the State. Today, political unification of common cultural Indian subcontinent as in the text is no more applicable as India is a sovereign nation-state less parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
However, many theoretical concepts and ideas in the text can be applied in internal and external matters related to strategic studies and also contribute to strengthen the Global International Studies from enduring Indian traditions.
The topic of Comprehensive National Power also has been analysed by many scholars satisfactorily. It explains issues and concepts on learning, the intellectual part of strategic thinking, warcaft and hybrid warfare, and understanding strategy and how it resides in the dynamic Mandala theory.
Learning, Training and Education Kautilya begins by explaining the necessary conditions which must be met in learning and education. The student must also have a desire for learning or spirit of inquiry. Four subjects to be studied in progression are : a Anvikshiki, b the three Vedas theology , trayi, c economics, production, manufacture vartta and d science of politics, danda-niti. The third sub-discipline listed by Kautilya is Lokayata which is heterodox, that is, it is not purely based on the Vedas and is materialistic.
It is also called Charvaka. This demonstrates that in prescribing the syllabus, Kautilya was not influenced by any ideology of the moment. He was thoroughly liberal and unbiased and did not reject any knowledge tradition that was then extant. Today, any good teacher in his reading list to his students cannot be selective, and so was Kautilya. This is a continuity of Indian tradition. It is important to remember that Anvikshiki got bifurcated and was treated as two subjects, viz.
Kautilya focused only on hetu, or theory of reason, and did not incorporate the soul or Atma- vidya, which is now part of Indian philosophy called Darshan. Philosophy is ever thought as the lamp of all sciences, as the means of all actions and as the support of all laws and duties. A study of the text reveals that there are latent meanings which guide how to think and carry out appreciations including intelligence appreciations.
These are also grounded in Indian philosophy and ethics. Some of the important ones can now be summarised briefly as under :- a Self-Development and Self Discipline. Absence of improper indulgence in the pleasure of sound, touch, colour, taste and smell by the senses of hearing, touch and sight, the tongue and sense of smell, means of control over senses; or, the practice of this science gives such control.
For, the whole of this science means control over senses. It is clear that one has to be in command over oneself with self-control and self-discipline before one can think of commanding and controlling troops and engage with the enemy in dialectical mind game.
Notions of victory or defeat, it is common military knowledge, lies in the mind of the commander. Thus, the three sub-disciplines of Anvikshiki helps the leader to acquire and understand the dual Samkhya and Yoga , and materialistic Lokayata or Charvaka aspects of reality.
Kautilya seems aware of the desire of the governments to expect intelligence to support their policies and the intelligence to be supportive. Theoretically, this is not new. Kautilya is cognizant that war is not the top priority and is the last resort and thus has this dictum as the top priority.
This is clearly what we understand today as economic might and military capacity. This is what may be now given in any leadership and management manual. Kautilya divides perception into three categories — directly perceived or immediate knowledge, unperceived or mediated, indirect knowledge as reported by human intelligence, experts etc.
In other words, the need for collective deliberation. Liberal education and wide ranging inquiring mind is a perquisite. It needs to be appreciated that since ancient Indian traditions, much can be learnt from an adversary or any other culture or civilisation. The preceptor of the asuras is Sukra and that of devas, Brahspati. Likely adversaries and belligerents also interact in a way of structuration. In other words, it is not only the Chinese who may read Sun Tzu but so could others.
One does not have to be a German to understand what Clausewitz wrote about the fog, friction and role of chance in war. But it has to be remembered that warcraft was then regarded as of statecraft and so the various works on statecraft deal also with the art of war. It deals with concepts and a vocabulary. There seems to be continuity in the ancient with the modern.
Yet, as India has ongoing territorial disputes it may be dangerous to assume that capture or defence of territory will not be expected. Hybrid Warfare or Matching Old with the New Today the international buzz words are hybrid war, new generation war, war amongst the people etc.
The foreign policy operations discussed seem not to refer to a classical war. Rather it appears that Kautilya has a combination of diplomatic pressure, political subversion, covert operations and military threats in mind.
Such an approach for achieving foreign policy objectives is clearly favoured by Kautilya. The first and central is intelligence. The third, there is a need for a feedback and collective deliberation. He who sees the six measures of policy as being interdependent in this manner, plays, as he pleases, with kings tied by the chains of his intellect. This is a comprehensive Mandala theory. Historically most disaster happen when final aim is not clear and states get sucked or dragged into enduring conflicts.
Kautilya advises that this needs to be avoided. All the above intellectual aspects have to be practiced. What policy or ways and means that are to be applied are given in the four Upayas or methods that is : sama-dana- bheda-danda or conciliation, gifts, rupture and force. These have to be integrated with the six measures of foreign policy called Sadgunya which are a Samdhi, making a treaty containing conditions or terms, that is, the policy of peace, b Vigraha, the policy of hostility, c Asana, the policy of remaining quiet and not planning to march on an expedition , d Yana, marching on an expedition, e Samsraya, seeking shelter with another king or in a fort, and f Dvaidhibhava, the double policy of Samdhi with one king and Vigraha with another at the same time.
The text tells us repeatedly that, serious issues of war and peace and application of force or danda has to be legitimate and in contemporary understanding, it cannot be outsourced to artificial intelligence and robots. In short, the text has guidelines on strategic thinking on how to think, what to know or measure and what to do.
It is a good manual for leadership development, education and training. It shows that intellectual honesty is derived from scientific thinking. Its focus on warcraft is relevant today seeing the blurring changes in the character of war where both use of military force with diplomacy overlap. Its most unique contribution is the concept of a Mandala Theory which needs to be dynamically applied to issues of politics, diplomacy, statecraft, and even business and management.
Accessed on 28 May
He is referred to as the Indian Machiavelli as a result of his undisputed and shrewd techniques and policies, which mirror a "realist" approach to politics, diplomacy and warfare. His Arthashastra text recommended that no means were on the far side scope of a ruler to expand his territory or obtain power as well as the unscrupulous ethics of permitting torture, trickery, deceit, and spying as legitimate suggests, to realize territory, wealth and power. Arthashastra deals thoroughly with the qualities and disciplines needed for a king to rule his subjects more expeditiously. According to Kautilya, a kKing is one who: Has self-control, having conquered the unfriendly temptations of the senses Cultivates the intellect by consulting with elders Keeps his eyes open and stays updated through spies Is always active in promoting the protection and welfare of the folks Ensures the speculation of the themes of their Dharma by authority and example Improves his own discipline by enhancing his learning in all branches of knowledge; and Endears himself to his subjects by enriching them Quarrels among individuals may be resolved by winning over the leaders or by removing the reason for the quarrel - individuals fighting among people themselves facilitate the king by competing with each other. Conflicts for power within the royalty, on the other hand, bring about harassment and destruction to the people and double the effort that is needed to finish such conflicts.
Kautilya’s Arthashastra and its Relevance to Contemporary Strategic Studies
Within this, the Arthashastra has a twofold aim. First, it seeks to show how the ruler should protect his territory. Second, is how territory should be acquired. The end or primary goal in the Arthashastra is Yogakshema — protection, security and stability of the State.
Kautilya's Arthashastra: Quick overview