View Larger Image. Ask Seller a Question. Publisher: Penguin Books India Pvt. This book is a definitive introduction to the classic text, the Arthashastra, the world s first manual on political economy. The year-old treatise is ascribed to Kautilya, the prime minister of King Chandragupta Maurya, and is as important to Indian thought as Machiavelli s The Prince is to Europe.
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Home Lifestyle and Entertainment Book Review. Post a comment. Email this article. Print this article. Increase text size. Decrease text size. Article Comments 0. The decimal system, Yoga, Ayurveda, Panchatantra, Kamasutra and Arthashastra are the timeless jewels that have been read, followed and interpreted through the prism of each generation over the centuries.
Another such attempt has been made by Thomas R. Trautmann in his recently published book, Arthashastra—The Science of Wealth. What makes this book relevant in this age of economic globalisation is its emphasis on trade practices in ancient India when kingship was an ideological tool of governance. History is often a continuous flow of events with each incident having its precedence and a cause of its occurrence. Likewise, the republics of ancient India were the precursors of deliberative and collective governance, although at a nascent stage of evolution.
The same is true with the Arthashastra of Chanakya. Most of us have grown up with the popular folklore that one has to follow either of the means upayas in order to succeed in life, namely conciliation sama , gifts dana , sowing dissension bheda or force danda within the enemy camp or against a person whose favour we earnestly seek to win.
The credit for the above doctrine is often given to Chanakya. But he was not the original propagator of the theory and it finds mention in earlier traditions of the Arthashastra.
There are other anachronisms, especially about the period and the kingship that Arthashastra refers to. While referring to trade and commerce, the book also has a reference to China silk.
In fact, the word China came into being only after the Chin Dynasty came to power during BCE, long after Chanakya had left for his heavenly abode. This proves that the text was altered or expanded.
The comparison is inappropriate. While Sun Tzu was a military strategist and confined his theories to warfare, Chanakya expanded it to polity and economic governance and made it practically feasible for kingship to either practise or discard it. Machiavelli, a political philosopher of Renaissance Italy on the other hand had no scruples in resorting to moral corruption to rule a state.
In the Indian tradition, artha or material well-being is always subordinate to dharma, moral well-being, and is a mean to achieve a higher goal in life. Although Chanakya does not mention this categorically, the preeminence of dharma over artha is central to Indian philosophy. Arthashastra explains in detail the threats faced by a king from the young princes,the queen, his ministers and counsellors and the neighbouring enemy kingdom.
Arthashastra is essentially a guiding principle for the head of the state — which may be a king, a dictator or a democratically elected ruler. Trautmann, however, warns readers not to read between the lines and draw too many parallels in the modern context.
Undoubtedly, Arthashastra is a masterpiece on ancient Indian polity and economy and remains confined to a particular set of hypothetical situations. Kautilya suggests various harsh measures to keep it under check, even pressing espionage services. The king had greater control over inflation and often levied taxes to keep it under the permissible limits.
The king was also an entrepreneur who engaged in trade and production like the modern-day public sector undertakings. Like the various scams of recent times, the king faced similar graft cases involving his ministers and councillors. The king also maintained mines and minerals as a strategic tool for the production of weapons and ammunition.
The present-day mining scams could be a fitting expression of a similar kind of greed by private enterprises in the modern context. Previous Story The truth lies in paradox. Next Story Book Review: Overwinter. Post Comments. Issue Dated: Feb 5, An Arindam Chaudhuri Initiative.
ISBN 13: 9780143426189
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Arthashastra - The Science of Wealth
This book is a definitive introduction to the classic text, the Arthashastra, the world s first manual on political economy. The year-old treatise is ascribed to Kautilya, the prime minister of King Chandragupta Maurya, and is as important to Indian thought as Machiavelli s The Prince is to Europe. Arthashastra, or the science of wealth , is a study of economic enterprise, and advises the king entrepreneur on how to create prosperity. Thomas Trautmann s exploration of this seminal work illuminates its underlying economic philosophy and provides invaluable lessons for the modern age.
Arthashastra : The Science of Wealth -- Paperback / softback [Paperback]
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