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The only extant treatise on statecraft from classical India, the Arthaśāstra is an invaluable resource for understanding ancient South Asian political thought; it also provides a comprehensive and unparalleled panoramic view of Indian society during the period between the Maurya (320–185 BCE) and Gupta (320–497 CE) empires.
This volume offers modern English translations of key selections, organized thematically, from the Arthaśāstra. A general Introduction briefly traces the arc of ancient South Asian history, explains the classical Indian tradition of statecraft, and discusses the origins and importance of the Arthaśāstra. Thorough explanatory essays and notes set each excerpt in its intellectual, political, and cultural contexts.
"The translations are the collaborative product of the two leading authorities today on the Arthaśāstra. . . . Their work is consistently, meticulously accurate throughout, yet written in the most straightforward and direct manner imaginable. The material prefatory to each translated section is, again, clear and accessible. . . . Complex matters are effectively distilled in plain language, and the key issues brought out.
"Superb on all counts. I have been awaiting such a volume for a long time."
—Timothy Lubin, Washington and Lee University
"McClish and Olivelle's general Introduction to the Arthaśāstra is destined to become a classic in the field of South Asian studies; they have translated the text itself in an accessible style that students and general readers alike will comprehend and enjoy.”
—James Frey, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh
"It's of great value to nonspecialists to have this classic work of political theory and political prudence available. This carefully edited and lucidly commented volume will be useful for both research and for courses on the comparative history of politics and civilizations."
—Randolph C. Head, University of California, Riverside
"A wonderful contribution that will do a tremendous service in making this area of Indian cultural history available to students in an inexpensive and judiciously-edited selection."
—Christian Wedemeyer, University of Chicago
"The Arthaśāstra constitutes ideas, elements and certain advanced assertions that are relevant even today.
"[This] edited volume by two of the foremost authorities on the Arthaśāstra is a blessing for those who stay uninitiated on [this] precious source [for] understanding ancient Indian political thought and traditions. . . . The book ranges high on value quotient since its makes complex concepts in the Arthaśāstra simple by contextualizing them in a framework and perspective, to the best extent possible.
"The book makes a vital contribution towards reinventing Indian political thought and carving a niche for it. It would potentially serve beginners and practitioners alike. The ambit of readership is likely to be wide due to its overall generic approach, dealing with an evolving realm/subject still in the process of being discovered. Coming from a western source, the book promises to enhance the outreach of the Arthaśāstra catering to a world-wide audience."
About the Authors:
Mark McClish is Assistant Professor of Religion at Birmingham-Southern College.
Patrick Olivelle is Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Religions and the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin.
Authorship and Date: The Cāṇakya Legend, The Composer of the Arthaśāstra: the Historical Kauṭilya, Date and Location of the Arthaśāstra
Historical Context: The Indus Valley Period, The Vedic Period, The Classical Period
Arthaśāstra: Text and Tradition: The Concept of "artha," The Genre of Śāstra, The Tradition of Statecraft, Structure and Style of the Text
The World of the Arthaśāstra: Kingship and Royal Authority, Ruling a Kingdom, The King's Administration, The Layout of the Kingdom, Society, Religion and Ethics, Conquest and Success
CONTENTS OF THE ARTHAŚĀSTRA
Chapter One: How to be Good King
1.1 Training of a King
Training of Character
1.2 Taking Counsel
1.3 Daily Routine
1.4 Personal Security
Chapter Two: The Kingdom
2.1 Constituents of a Kingdom
2.2 Construction of Fortified Cities
Construction of Forts
Lay-Out of the Fort
2.3 Security of the Royal Residence
2.4 Rules for the City
2.5 Rules for Constructing Neighborhoods
2.6 Settling the Countryside
2.7 Protecting Against Calamities
Chapter Three: Central Administration
3.1 Appointments to the Central Administration
3.2 Superintendents of Departments
Appointment and Conduct of Superintendents
Superintendent of Customs
Superintendent of Yarn
Superintendent of Agriculture
Superintendent of Liquor
Superintendent of Shipping
Superintendent of Horses
Superintendent of Elephants
3.3 Revenue streams
Fees, customs, and levies
Chapter Four: The Judiciary
4.1 Organization of Courts
4.2 Valid Transactions and Transactors
4.3 Judicial Procedure
Filing of Lawsuits
4.4 Titles of Law
Sale without Ownership
Gambling and Betting
Chapter Five: Internal Security and Suppression of Criminal Activities
5.1 Internal Secret Service
Clandestine Operatives: Informants
Clandestine Operatives: Mobile Agents
Testing the Loyalty and Honesty of State Employees
Punishment of State Officials
5.2 Magistrates and Police
Investigations of Crimes and Murder
Suppression of Crimes
5.3 Prisons and Jails
Chapter Six: Foreign Affairs
6.1 Circle Doctrine of States: Allies and Enemies
6.2 Six Measures of Foreign Policy
6.4 Foreign Secret Service
Chapter Seven: War
7.1 The Structure of the Army
7.2 Military Expedition
7.3 Battle Tactics
Accounting for Terrain
Encouraging the Troops
Battle Arrays & Combat
7.4 Taking a Fort
7.5 Conduct in Victory
7.6 Conquering the Earth
INDEX OF PASSAGES