This is a follow up and the last in my series of posts about the Arthashastra.

The previous posts have covered the first 3 parts of the idea Kautilyan king.

This post will cover :

  1. The King’s Security
  2. Revolts and Treachery
  3. Succession The reason I’ve left these for last is that these are actually the hardest to translate to a modern leader, unless we’re talking of a political leader, even then, significant portions of these topics just cannot be found analogies for.

I will not be covering Abnormality of Kingship at all.

Security

The concept of security is one that encompasses the king’s personal security, the royal residence and protection for (and from) the king’s close family members.

Royal residence security bullet pointed below,

  • Royal residence to be surrounded by a moat (hmmm, where have I heard that before?)
  • Emergency exists to be provided everywhere
  • Protected treasury 3 floors underground
  • Protected from snakes, other poisons, fire
  • Provide for chamber of royal ladies, maternity ward, infirmary
  • Every object in and out of the residence to be examined Personal security bullet pointed below,

  • Female archers to keep guard while he sleeps
  • 4 doors between him and the public chambers
  • Employ people who have a lineage of service to the royalty
  • All food and medicine to be administered to volunteers first before the king Protection from kin,

  • Visit the queen only after a trusted maidservant assures king that there is no harm possible from the queen
  • Queen is not to have contact with ascetics, magicians, jugglers(?)
  • Kautilya believed that the prince was to be trusted, unlike others of his age
  • The prince was to be taught dharma and artha What was interesting for me from reading this chapter was the lack of trust that the Kautilyan king is supposed to place in the people closest to him. Something that goes against a lot of the advice we receive when it comes to modern company leaders. Maybe the political leaders still receive similar advice. I haven’t explored this enough.

Revolts

I was thinking of skipping this section, but, will cover it for the sake of completion.

Revolts are rebellions are caused by discontentment among the public.

Kautilya considers the well being of the people to be very important, a king cannot afford to let him subjects suffer, for his sake if for no other reason.

The king is encouraged to employ discreet and specialised methods to curb treason if found within his own ranks.

“ When a people are impoverished, they become greedy; when they are greedy, they become disaffected; when disaffected, they either go over to the enemy or kill their ruler themselves.”This is a simple enough maxim, one that I find myself agreeing with in the context of companies as well.

There are far too many other types of revolts listed, with strategies for each, I’m not going to go into the details, I encourage people to read the book.

Succession

In this context, it helps to think of Son/Prince as simply successor (of any gender) for any organization.

Rules of succession:

  • Unless there are dangers from it, the eldest (most experienced) son is preferred
  • If there is only one son, but, is wicked (?), it is wise to not promote him to the throne Kautilya placed a lot of importance on the Royal line, something we would call Nepotism these days.

The king was encouraged to ‘deal’ with disgruntled sons quickly through the use of spies and guards who monitor the sons.

This concludes this series of posts on the Arthashatra.

I hope this was interesting to somebody out there and maybe you went and bought the book. Reading it is a whole other thing.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Do leave your comments below in case you want me to cover anything else from the book.

Sainath