Arthashastra
(c. 300 C.E.)
   The Arthashastra, the “Authoritative Treatise on Worldly Affairs,” is generally attributed to Kauti-lya (Chanakya) (c. 300 B.C.E.), the minister of the famous Chandragupta Maurya kingdom, although it was apparently expanded at a later time, as the received text includes references to later phenomena.
   The Arthashastra resembles in many ways The Prince, written in the 16th century by the Italian Nicolò Machiavelli. It is a complete and elaborate treatise on statecraft and law, clearly designed for use by a king. It includes sections dealing with clans and tribes who do not belong to the state proper, the conduct of ministers, government officials, city government, taxation, law, punish-ments, spies, types of conquest, the army, slavery, divorce, women’s property, indigent women, pros-titutes, gambling, alcoholic drinks, and interest rates, among other topics.
   The book is part of the tradition of authori-tative treatises (shastras; artha means “worldly affairs”) that relate to the four ENDS OF LIFE. It parallels the DHARMASHASTRA and the Kamashastra (among which is the KAMA SUTRA). The fourth end of life—MOKSHA—is not generally associated with shastras; its subject, liberation from birth and rebirth, relies on gurus instead.
   Further reading: Roger Boesche, The First Great Politi-cal Realist: Kautilya and His Arthashastra (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2002); Subhash C. Kashyap, Concept of Good Governance and Kautilya’s Arthashastra (New Delhi: Indian Council of Social Science Research, 2003); L. N. Rangarajan, trans., The Arthashastra by Kautilya (New Delhi: Penguin Books India, 1992); Sujata Reddy, Laws of Kautilya Arthasastra (New Delhi: Kanishka, 2004); Manabendu Banerjee Sastri, ed., Occasional Essays on Arthasastra (Calcutta: Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar, 2000); Bijay Dhari Singh, Bibliography of Kautilya Arthasastra (Varanasi: Kishor Vidya Niketan, 2004).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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