Kautiliya Arthasastra Revisited (History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in India Civilization)

Item Code: NAD311
Author: Surender Nath Mital
Publisher: Center for Studies in Civilizations
Edition: 2004
ISBN: 8187586036
Pages: 159
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.0 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 340 gm
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Book Description
About the Book

In this book S.N. Mital examines in detail and refutes the views held by many scholars that the text of Kauiliya Artha Sãstra was not written by a single author and that the date of its composition cannot be attributed to a single century.

The book has been primarily written as a reply to T.R. Trautmann’s Kauçilya and the Arthaãstra, in which he tried to prove, with the help of statistics, that the Arthaastra was a compilation of writings by three or four authors, edited by Kautilya. This view was based on an analysis of the frequency of the use of Ca (aid) and via (or) in different portions of the Arthadstra. Trautmann also seems to have used this argument to maintain that the Arthaãstra was composed sometime after the second century.

Mital tries to show, through his own collection of statistics, that Trautmann’s thesis is misconceived and that via was more frequently used in those portions of the text where the subject treated is primarily political, and ca was more frequently used where the discussion is primarily theoretical, and so this difference in the frequency of use of Via and ca does not indicate different authors. Mital asserts that the Arthaãstra was written by Kautilya in the fourth century BC, as is generally supposed, and not in the third century AD, a view propounded by some Western as also some Indian scholars who wrote in the 1920s and 1930s.

About the Author

The book will be of interest not only to scholars of Ideology and of Indian socio-political thought but also to students of ancient Indian history.

S.N. Mital was formerly Reader of Political Science, Allahabad University. His main areas of specialization are Ancient Indian Social, Political and Economic thought.

He has published a large number of research papers. His publications include Samãja aura Rtljya: Bhãratiya Vicãra, Pardon Barratry R4janaitika Vicdrdhdrayeñ, and Main Features of Ancient Indian Political Thought and Political Ideas of Manu and Kautilya. Currently he is working on the ‘Dating of the Dharmaästra’ and ‘Mahabhdrata’.


The traditional fabric of the body politic in Indian Civilizations has been woven through the co-operation of three different strands namely, the Sage, the Ruler and the People. To-e Sages, Seers and Thinkers provided guidance and training to the Rulers. The whole tradition of Arthas’ Sãstra was created in this process. The most celebrated figure in the Indian political tradition has been undoubtedly that of Kaulilya who composed his justly famous Arthaästra, for the guidance of Candragupta Mauiya. This image of Kautilya and Candragupta working together to build a vast empire is one of the lasting memories of Indian political history. Unfortunately, the Arthadstra was lost for a long time and when it was discovered, western scholars subjected it to very unsympathetic criticism. It was opined that the whole story of Kautilya in relation to Candragupta Maurya is without any historical basis, that the Artha.dstra now discovered is a late and inauthentic patch-work. This hostile criticism was sought to be rebutted by a number of eminent Indian scholars. However, special prestige continued to be attached to the opinions of those who were connected with the colonial rulers of India. The latest and the best known work in this connection is that of Trautmann’s Kautilya and the Arthasästra. In this work it is attempted to distinguish the different sections of the texts with reference to their authorship on a telemetric basis with the help of statistical calculations through a computer. The highly technical nature of the arguments has inhibited a free and wide discussion on the views expressed by Trumann and the mystique of the computer has given it undue prestige.

Dr Mital, the author of the present monograph, has put the world of Ideological scholarship under his debt by carefully and exhaustively analyzing stylistic and statistical arguments of Trumann and showing that he is guilty of grave errors and confusion. The way telemetric statistics has been used by Trumann is faulty not only in arbitrarily classifying different sections of the text through the use of inconsistent telemetric criteria but also of arbitrary sampling. The whole work rests on a circular mode of argumentation.

The net result is that the antiquity and authenticity of Kautilya’s Arthaãstra remained unopened unless further facts were to be discovered contradictory to it.

Dr Mital has truly redeemed his re-lay as a teacher and student of Dai1aniti. He deserves congratulations for his work which has been appreciated by specialists like Professor A.D. Pant. Professor D.P. Chattopadhyaya, the Director of the PHISPC and the Chairman of Centre for Studies in Civilizations, has been kind enough to agree to publish Dr Mital’s monograph under the auspices of the Centre. All readers would be beholden to Professor Chattopadhyaya.


This monograph consists of two articles written originally for different purposes; they are now combined to form two parts of it. The first artier is on the ‘Date of the Arthaãstra’. There is nothing much in it that can claim any originality. Sir William Jones equated Sandrakottos of Greek writers with Candragupta Maurya and Max Muller, in his History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, collected all the materials about Sandrakottos found in Greek writings and tried to show (though not very successfully) that it referred to Candragupta Maurya, who, on the ground that Megasthenes had come to his court as an ambassador of Selucas Nikator, was said to have ruled as Emperor of India in the fourth century BC. This is the reason why when the Arthadstra of Kautilya alias Canakya alias Visnugupta was discovered by Shri Sham astri at the beginning of this century, many scholars concluded that since the guru and guide of Candragupta Maurya was its author, it must have been composed in the fourth century BC. Some Western scholars did not like this inference as that would make Kautilya a contemporary of Plato and Aristotle. So while accepting the date of Candragupta Maurya as fixed by Sir William Jones and Max Muller, they challenged the date of the Arthaãstra. This was done mainly by J. Jolly, A.B. Keith and M. Winternitz, further continued by 0. Stein. However, this was not accepted by Indian scholars, and a host of them replied to the arguments of the above mentioned Western writers.

The first part of this monograph refers to the arguments put forward by Jolly, Keith and Interknits and shows why they are not acceptable. Although there is little that is original in this part, the way the arguments of both sides are presented here is my own. I have also tried to refute some of the arguments by Western scholars, hitherto unchallenged. However, all these by themselves do not make the monograph worth much.

Professor B.N.S. Yadava had once suggested to me that I might examine the statistical theory of Thomas Trautmann. Professor G.C. Pande also emphasised that Trautmann’s arguments needed to be refuted cogently. I felt that if Trautmann’s thesis is to be examined, it cannot be done only on the basis of the statistics in his book. Therefore, I began to collect my own statistics about ca and via, the only basis on which Trautmann’s thesis is based. Though it involved a considerable amount of manual work (the writer did not have the facility of a computer), yet it helped me to clearly understand the reason for the differing use of ca and via in different parts of the Arthaãstra. I have tried to put forward that reason here in this monograph. How much of what I say is correct is left to the scholarly readers to judge.

In the Journal of American Oriental Society (1972, pp. 498—500), Trautmann’s Kauilya and the Arthaãstra was reviewed by Ludwig Sternbach of the University of Sorbonne, Paris, in which he suggested that Kaufllya’s Arthasãstra contains many peculiarities of language. ‘If these.. .would have been analysed, the statistical method probably would have borne better results than the unimportant use of words Eva, ca and via, and the results would probably be quite different’ (p 499). He has quoted, from different Books of the Arthaästra, various examples of these peculiarities of language to show that it is the work of one and not of different authors. Steinbach says, ‘the premise that the Arthasãstra was a compilation containing the work of at least three hands is an attractive one and perhaps well taken, but the proof of it is nil’.

After going through the arguments advanced by Professor Steinbach for proving the unity, and, thus, the one-man authorship of the Arthaãstra, the statistical analysis of this monograph should have been considered unnecessary. But even after this, it could be said that, though grammatically and semantically the Arthaãstra could be demonstrated as having been written by one author, different Books in it are so distinguished from one another that it could lead its readers to conclude that it was composed by a number of authors. According to Trautmann, the difference in the use of ca (and) and via (or) in different Books (adhikaraiias) of the Arthaãstra is one such ground. Trautmann has not pointed out any other precise reason. Though in his compound-length study he has pointed out some differences in the Books of the Arthaãstra, these differences do not tally with those pointed out by him on the basis of his ca-via study (see pp. 107—8 of this monograph). In any case, the statistics of ca and via as collected by me show that the difference in the frequency of use of ca and via is found not only in different Books of the Arthaastra but also in certain chapters of various Books when compared with certain other chapters of those very Books, and not only that; different parts of certain chapters reveal similar differences. A comparative study of all these proves that the difference in the use of these two indeclinable is due to the necessity of having to use either ca or via according to the context. The necessity of using ca and via according to contextual difference arose, as already pointed out, sometimes in two or more parts of certain chapters and sometimes in various chapters of different Books themselves. Once this fact is grasped, the view that there were several (three or four) authors who were responsible for this difference, can be justly set aside. It is mainly to present this conclusion that this monograph has been written.

I am deeply grateful to Professor G.C. Pande, Professor D.P. Chattopadhyaya, Professor A.D. Pant and Professor B.N.S. Yadava. I am indebted to Shri Dipen Mitra for reading the typescript with great care, and suggesting many linguistic and stylistic improvements, most of which were accepted by me, and to Dr Bhagat Oinam, who helped me immensely at every stage of the publication of the book particularly in the correction of references given at the end of each of the two parts and at a later stage to Shri Ishwar Singh also. I am not only grateful to Dr Anoop Chaturvedi for his chi-square tests done for me but also to Dr G.S. Pande of the same department for his help in other kind of statistical work. I thank Shri Partap Singh Sharma and Km. Indu Menon for typing and typesetting this manuscript.


Foreword vii
Preface xii
Part I Date of Arthaãstra
1Traditional Opinion 2
(a)Association of Cãllakya and Candragupta 2
(b)Canakya, Vinugupta and Kautilya— synonymity of names 5
(c)Kautilya: Writer of the Arthadstra 10
(d)Evidence of the Kautiliya Artha dstra 10
2Views of Jolly, Keith and Winternitz 14
(a)Existence of Kautilya Denied 15
(b)Arthadstra: Not written by Kautilya 18
(c)Arthadstra: Not a work of fourth century BC 28
(d)Arthadstra: A composition of third century AD 42
Part II A Study of Trautmann’s Statistical Analysis
1Preliminary Objections 70
(a)Study based only on the use of vã (or) and ca (and) 70
(b)Counting of occurences of vd arid ca not necessary 70
Table I
(c)20-word block calculations falsifies the results 77
2Examination of Statistical Conclusions of Trautmann 82
(a)Different chapters of various Books not coming from the same population 82
(b)Different portions of some chapters also do not come from the same population 84
(c)The crucial question of context 86
Table II 92
Table III 93
Table IV 96
Table V 98
Table VI 100
3Other Deficiencies of the Theory 103
(a)Deviation of Trautmann from his own statistics 103
(b)Sentence—length and compound length study 105
(c)Control material 107
(d)Cross-references 108
(e)Lacunae of the statistical method exemplified 111
4Trautmann’s arguments against Kautilya ‘s authorship of Arthaãstra 113
(a)Divisions into chapters 114
(b)Chapter 1 117
(c)Book 15 118
(d)Terminal verses 119
Table VII 123
Index 142
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