PASSAGE TO HINDU STATE
HINDU ECONOMIC STATE
V. Nagarajan D.Litt
501, Dipesh Enclave
402, Savitri Apartments
Laxmi Nagar (West)
PROLOGUE TO HINDU POLITICAL SOCIOLOGY
PART ONE: STUDIES IN ANCIENT INDIAN SOCIAL POLITY
PART TWO: KAUTILYA AND HINDU ECONOMIC STATE
Kautilyan Arthasastra-The Historical Background
Rajarshi and the Kautilyan Economic State
Correction of Dysfunction of Constituents of the State
Kautilya and the Economic Factors in Political Policy
Kautilya and Rural Reforms
Bureaucracy and the Twin Ministers
The New Janapada and Rural Economy
Kautilyan Reforms and Industries and Commerce
Kautilya and VyavaharaEconomic Laws
Artha and the Dharmavijayi
Kautilya and the Four Bases of Arbitration (205)
Kautilya and Fundamental Rights of Citizens:
Aryabhava and Dasabhava
Kautilya on Laws of Marriage and Womens Property
KAUTILYA AND HINDU ECONOMIC STATE
THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
Kautilya and Economic Determinism
The earliest extant treatise on Hindu economic theory and practice is the Arthasastra attributed to Kautilya. Any attempt to build a Hindu economic and political system ignoring this work cannot carry conviction and will not be fruitful. It was more than a compendium of the earlier Arthasastra texts. It was a new work and had a new thrust. It upheld the principle of economic determinism. It was one of the works retrieved by Vishnugupta from the Nanda archives. He claims to have cast it in the present form of prose formulae and prepared a commentary too. But neither the commentary nor the original verse version has been traced so far. Not every sentence in the extant work may be attributed to Kautilya though the work as a whole reflects his thoughts.
Who was Kautilya and when did he live?
The extant work refers to Kautilya several times. But it refers to Vishnugupta only once and that too in the concluding lines. It does not refer to Chandragupta or to Chanakya or to any Magadhan ruler or to Gautama the Buddha or to the Jaina Tirthankaras or to any of the incarnations of Vishnu or to the Hindu Trinity (Brahma, Vishnu and Siva). It is not sound to proceed under the assumption that Kautilya, Chanakya and Vishnugupta were one and the same person. Vishnugupta or Chanakya might have installed Chandragupta Maurya on the Magadhan throne. But Kautilya preceded them by several centuries. It is unsound to describe the Mauryan society, polity and economy with Arthasastra as its basis.
The Four Schools, Pracetas, Brhaspati, Usanas and Kautilya
The Arthasastra highlights the differences among the four major schools of politico-economic thought, Pracetas Manu, Brhaspati, Usanas and Kautilya. No authentic versions of the works of Pracetas, Brhaspati and Usanas are available now. The Manavas, whom Arthasastra refers to, were not the scholars who drafted the Manava Dharmasastra, Manusmrti. They were followers of Pracetas Manu, author of an Arthasastra text.
It is inadvisable to treat the extant versions of Sukraniti as reflecting the views of Usanas. Usanas belonged to the later Vedic period dominated by Manu Vaivasvata, Sakra Indra and Prajapati Vishnu. He was an authority on Dandaniti, principles of political control. Usanas subordinated the individual and the society to the state and thus paved the way for autocracy. He was the counsellor of Bali (son of Virochana and grandson of Prahlada), a ruler of Janasthana in the Narmada Valley of Central India. He was defeated in a disputation by Urukrama (known also as Vamana, Trivikrama and Upendra).
Vamana was a disciple of Kashyapa, the chief of the council of seven sages during the tenure of the seventh Manu, Vaivasvata. The import of the three steps that he took to deprive Bali of the powers he had usurped to himself with the help of Usanas has been brought out by me on the strength of the Bhagavatam in my thesis, Evolution of Social Polity of Ancient India. Bali had distorted the provisions of the democratic constitution that Janasthana was required to follow. While Vamana walked out after exiling Bali and forcing Usanas to step down, corrective steps were taken by Krshna to ensure that justice was rendered to the victims of Balis misrule and exploitation.
Kashyapa was a proponent of the concept of Virajam that stressed the union of autonomous units, union without uniformity, and union for ensuring autonomy of the units, Svarajam. It was a concept more profound than the notion, unity in diversity. The implications, social, economic and political, of this concept, Virajam, which is different from the concept, Purusha, are brought out in Vol one of this compilation. Kautilya admired Kashyapa.
Usanas's rival, Brhaspati, was a disciple of Angirasa, a great sage and stalwart of the Atharvan School of thought whose members were known as Brahmavadis. They were advocates of the socio-political constitution enshrined in the Atharvaveda or Brahma. They were socio-political activists and not ritualists and were distinct from the Brahmarshis, the meditators who were engrossed in the pursuit of things, spiritual. This Brhaspati stressed economy (Varta, occupations) and called for restraints on political power (Danda). The Manavas subordinated both political and economic institutions to the socio-cultural (Dharma) codes (sastras). Kautilya attempted to integrate the three approaches though he upheld economic determinism. The four approaches are relevant even today and are not to be rejected as outworn.
Kautilya and his deuteragonist, the Preceptor
The Arthasastra records several weighty debates between Kautilya and an unidentified preceptor, Acharya, who was an official of one of the medium-sized states. In my earlier works, I have examined these disputations and those engaged in by Kautilya with Bharadvaja, Visalaksha, Pisuna, the Parasaras, Kaunapadanta and Vatavyadhi. Kautilya was more rational and more pragmatic than these thinkers who differed from one another in their approaches. It is not correct to hold that he was only citing the views of some of his predecessors and refuting them.
Kautilya was called so because he played the role of Kutila, a monitor who cut short long debates.
The Acharya serves as a deuteragonist rather than an antagonist for Kautilya, the protagonist, to drive home his points. All these scholars were aware of the social, economic and political reforms proposed by Kautilya but they had their reservations. Arthasastra refers once to the school of Ambhiyas and once to Bahudantiputra, the author of an Arthasastra text.
Identity of the Contemporaries of Kautilya
Bharadvaja was one of the seven sages who assisted Vaivasvata the great Manu. Kashyapa, Atri, Vasishta, Visvamitra, Gautama and Jamadagni were the other members of this council of seven sages. Vamadeva might have joined this council after the Haihayas had killed Jamadagni. Dasaratha of Kosala and his son, Rama, were associated with them. Bharadvaja was also the counsellor of Bharata, son of Dushyanta and Sakuntala. Sakuntala was a daughter of Visvamitra. Bharadvaja was called upon to nominate the successor on Chakravarti Bharata's retirement. Drona and Drupada were Bharadvajas students. Both Kauravas and Pandavas were students of Drona (a disciple of Bharadvaja). Most of the disputations in Kautilyan Arthasastra seem to have taken place at Bharadvaja's abode and under his chairmanship. Pisuna was an expert in finance and was a counsellor of Dushyanta. He was however forced to seek other patrons after Bharata became ruler. He was an associate of Kanika Bharadvaja, a minister of Dhrtarashtra.
Visalaksha, the author of Vaisalaksham, a treatise on polity, must have been senior to Usanas and belonged to Anga, a state to the east of Kosala. Sakuntala was his student, Visvamitra held him in great regard. Like her guardian, Kanva, and Visvamitra, Visalaksha like Visvamitra, was a champion of the liberal Kshatriya aristocracy. Parasara was like his techer, Vasishta, a great sage. He was the first husband of Satyavati, the daughter of a boatman. Kautilyan Arthasastra must have meant by Parasaras, Dvaipayana (Vyasa) and his school. Bhishma was the son of Santanu by Ganga, a daughter of Bhagiratha. Vicitravirya was Santanus son by Satyavati. Dhrtarashtra and Pandu were the sons born to Dvaipayana by Vicitraviryas wives.
Santanu was known as Konapadanta, the crooked teeth and his son, Bhishma, as Kaunapadanta. Dvaipayana is identified by some with Badarayana, author of Brahmasutra. Uddhava, a disciple of Samkarshana and minister in the ineffective cabinet of Krshna was known as Vatavyadhi (the rheumatic). All these scholars were contemporaries. Kautilya who was on the scene during the tenure of Parikshit was their junior contemporary. The preceptor who served as his deuteragonist must have been Krpacharya who survived in the battle of Kurukshetra and became the counsellor of Parikshit. Drona who had married Krpas sister fell in that battle. Both Krpa and Badarayana were members of the council of seven sages convened by Manu Surya Savarni, a contemporary of Parikshit.
According to Hindu tradition, the battle of Kurukshetra took place about 3100 BC. But the western Indologists of the 19th century who adhered to the view that God created the world in 4004 BC could not accept the above date for that battle and would not place it before 1400 BC. The Indian scholars who preferred not to question their western masters would consent to even later dates or declare that the battle was but a fiction. It is not chauvinism but rationalism that would require falling in line with the Hindu tradition. It was a historical event though it was not then recognized as a historic event. It was a yet another feud among factions. It resulted in the rout of the sons of Dhrtarashtra and the capture of Hastinapura by the sons of Pandu. However the latter could not rule the Kuru State and had to hand it over to Parikshit, the eldest surviving member of the Kurus and withdraw from the scene.
Parikshit was not the posthumous son of Abhimanyu, son of Arjuna. He was a son of Kuru and grandson of Samvarana who had spent most of his life as an exile far away in the deserts near the Sindhu (Indus) delta. During the reign of Parikshit, Surya Savarni was the Manu. He had his seat in the Kailasa hills in the Western Ghats. Santanu and his controversial brother, Devapi, are mentioned in Rgveda (9-98). Bhishma must have been on the scene as the Rgvedic era came to a close. Rivalry between the Pandavas and the Dhartarashtras led to the game of dice between Yudhishtira, the eldest of the Pandavas and Duryodhana, the eldest son of Dhrtarashtra. This event is referred to in Arthasastra 8-3-41.
Yudhishtira lost the game and was exiled along with his wife and brothers for twelve years. He could not regain his kingdom after his return from exile (AS 1-6-8) and this led to the battle in which Arjuna assisted (according to the Bhagavatam, a chronicle narrated to Parikshit under the guidance of Badarayana) only by Krshna won, killing his enemies. Parikshit knew only this core narrative. He had been away in Uttarakuru, a northern province in the Pamirs. The numerous appendages to it by Vaishampayana and others belong to the post-Janamejaya period.
Parikshit was poisoned to death by Takshaka, a leader of the carpenters and was succeeded by Janamejaya, a brother of Bharata. Janamejaya was a son of Dushyanta by Lakshi, a daughter of Bhagiratha. Bharata was a son of Dushyanta by Sakuntala or Visalakshi, daughter of Visvamitra. Bhagiratha had taken the help of Jahnu, a brother of Parikshit in his project to tame the Ganga. Janamejaya was notorious for the sarpayajna (sacrifice of serpents), which in fact was a massacre of the innocent proletariat of the forests.
It is worthwhile examining whether the Brahman who as astika believed that all beings are endowed with soul, which is identical with the great soul (Paramatma, God in common parlance) and stepped in to stop this massacre was Kautilya himself. There is no further reference to this believer (Astika) in the Mahabharata or any other work. Kautilya refers only to Duryodhanas fall and Janamejayas discomfiture on account of his antipathy to the Brahmans. Arthasastra does not refer to any ruler of the post-Janamejaya period. The object here is not to claim a hoary past for Arthasastra or to participate in the unseemly race to establish that all great personages belonged to a very early period of history. Kautilya could not have belonged to the post-Janamejaya centuries.
Rational Chronology of Events Needed
The halo round the Battle of Kurukshetra and the Conquest of Lanka by Rama of Ayodhya belongs to considerably later times. But the events pertaining to the two epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata were separated by distance and not by time. Markandeya, a chronicler and student of Agastya, had met both Rama and Yudhishtira during their periods of exile and noted that the grounds for their exiles were not invalid. Markandeya, Krpa, Parasurama, Asvatthama, Hanuman and a few other personages have been declared as ones who are still alive.
Later chroniclers, who could not explain certain enigmas and who at the same time were not prepared to assert that the so-called incarnations of Vishnu were in fact connected with events that took place within a short period of a few decades and were not separated from one another by millennia, floated this myth.
The Battle of Mahabharata was an internecine war among the Kurus of the Ganga-Yamuna Doab. The exile of Rama who had to embark on conquest of Lanka was the result of intrigues affecting the Kosalas of the central Ganga basin. The efforts to distance them by centuries if not millennia were post-Bhagavatam and were needless. So were most portions of the legends woven round the incarnations of Vishnu were post-Bhagavatam.
Chronologies that associate historical periods with these incarnations deserve to be rejected. Pusalkar in the tomes of Indian History published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan posited: The Flood and Manu Vaivasvata (c 3100BC) Yayati Period (3000-2750BC) Mamdhata Period (2750-2550BC) Parasurama Period (2550-2350BC) Ramachandra Period (2350-1950BC) and Krshna Period (1950-1440BC). He placed the Mahabharata war at c1440 BC and the Flood at 3100 BC and had acquiesced in to the preposterous postulates put forth by western Indologists who went by the date assigned to the Flood and Noahs Ark.
Incarnations of Vishnu belong to a few decades
The so-called incarnations of Vishnu were legends built around events that took place within a short span of about a hundred years. Hiranyaksha, a Tvashta, that is, an armaments manufacturer, got killed in a duel with a Marut leader (Purusha). The latter was engaged in ensuring that the estuary, which was left a marsh after the river Sarasvati disappeared in the sands (now called the Tar desert of Rajasthan) was safe for the sages. The Maruts were warriors who belonged to the central Sarasvati basin. Narasimha killed Hiranyaksha's brother, Hiranyakasipu. Prahlada, a highly respected ruler and intellectual was Hiranyakasipus son. He was a student of Narada, a devotee of Narayana. Virochana was the son of Prahlada and Bali was Virochana's son. He was a despot. Vamana overthrew him.
During Parikshit's reign, Bali was yet alive and Manu Savarni installed him after his reformation as the Indra of Chitrapada, a land of Gandharvas in the southern peninsula. Rama learnt about the overthrow of Bali from Jambhavan who was a witness to that event. Jambhavan was a shrewd statesman and a friend of Ramas father, Dasaratha, and helped Rama in his battle against Ravana. Rama avoided meeting Bali and Savarni during his trek south in search of his wife who had been abducted by Ravana.
Arthasastra refers to Bali, son of Virochana, and also to Savarni in 14-3-19 and 20. Parasurama, son of Jamadagni, had challenged Rama soon after the latters marriage with Sita. Parasurama taught martial arts to Balarama, brother of Krshna, and to Karna, a stepbrother of Arjuna. All the three, Rama, Parasurama and Krshna have been revered as incarnations of God Vishnu. Some adore Balarama too as such an incarnation. All of them were prominent socio-political leaders and were contemporaries.
The fish (Matsya) incarnation was associated with Rajarshi Satyavrata of the southern Pandya kingdom. This ruler was later installed as Manu Sraddhadeva or Vaivasvata. The tortoise (kurma) incarnation was associated with Kashyapa who later became the chief of the council of seven sages during the tenure of Vaivasvata. Kautilya appreciates Parasurama and condemns Kartavirya who fell at Parasuramas hands for having violated the sanctity of his fathers abode. Jamadagni was a member of Vaivasvata's council of seven sages and Parasurama became a member of Savarnis council. Kautilya attributes Ravana's fall to his guilt, abducting the wife of another person. He refers to Krshna and his uncle, Kamsa, in AS 14-3-44. Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parasurama, Rama, Balarama and Krshna are seen to have been present on the scene within about three generations.
Kautilyan Arthasastra: the times of Savarni and Janamejaya
Savarni's was a council of exiles from North India. He had his seat in the Kailasa hills in southwest peninsula. Vaivasvata had his seat in Gaya in east India. Surya Savarni succeeded Vaivasvata in a schism that promised return to the times of Manu Svayambhuva. The efforts made to establish that Parasurama, Bali, Krpa etc. were deathless (chiranjivis) need to be rejected. Yudhishtira, Rama and Bali had all been exiled during the same decades but for different reasons. They were however not in contact with one another. The assumption that the events connected with Rama and Sita must have preceded the Battle of Kurukshetra by a few centuries if not by millennia too is unsound though it may be conciliatory.
History has to be rewritten in a rigorously rational way if it has to adhere to truth. It is equally irrational to hold that the two battles were but fictions. A rational chronology is imperative. I have in my dissertation, Hindu Social Dynamics (1999), tried to develop this after a careful scrutiny of the data available in the Mahabharata and the Bhagavatam.
The so-called lineages said to have descended from Manu Vaivasvata were only the then ruling dynasties or oligarchies that had been legitimized by that great Manu. It is wrong to say that they were founded in c3100 BC. Marutta, Kartavirya, Bhagiratha, Mamdhata and Bharata were the five great emperors of the five decades that preceded the Battle of Kurukshetra. Mamdhata and Kartavirya checked Ravanas intrusion into north India. Mamdhata is referred to in Rgveda 8-39,40. Rgveda Bk.3. edited and compiled by the school of Visvamitra is devoted to the times and career of Bharata. Janamejaya to whom Dvaipayana and others narrated Jayabharatam was a stepbrother of Bharata and grandson of Bhagiratha. Bhishma too was another grandson of Bhagiratha whose name is associated with the great effort to regulate the flow of Ganga, a task first undertaken by Sagara.
Kautilya refers to Agastya who killed Vatapi, a cousin of Prahlada. Vatapi must have been a ruler of the place by that name in north Karnataka and was later the capital of the western Chalukyas. It was close to the valley where Prahlada had attended an academic conclave of Gandharvas, Yakshas, Siddhas, etc. though both the feudal lods (Asuras) and the librral aristocrats (Devas) were excluded from it. Galava, Devala, Pracetas, Angirasa and Narada were some of the sages who had attended it. Galava, a disciple of Visvamitra, later became the chief of Savarnis council of seven sages. Kautilya refers to the names of Galava, Devala, Narada and Savarni. (AS Bk.14-3) Kautilyan Arthasastra had its base in the times of Savarni, Parikshit and Janamejaya. Bharadvaja approved the appointment of Bali, a strong leader, as Indra. (AS 12-1-2) But Kautilya was not sanguine about it. The facile assumption that Parikshit was the grandson of Arjuna has to be given up. Parikshit and Janamejaya belonged to generations senior to Pandu, father of Arjuna though they came to power only after the exit of the Pandavas from the political scene.
Kautilya was interested in bringing the entire Indian subcontinent under one confederation of states (chakra). (AS 9-1-48) Earlier numerous small nation-states had been established following the initiative that Prajapati Mahadeva took. Some rulers did try to become emperors. But none had real control over more than a few small states in their neighbourhood. After killing Kartavirya, Parasurama virtually demilitarized most of those states and disbanded their Kshatriya troops, resulting in collapse of law and order and disgruntlement among Kshatriyas, the warrior classes.
Mahadeva had legitimized these troops. Kashyapa did not endorse Parasuramas steps and exiled him from North India, Aryavarta, and directed the restoration of the troops. Meanwhile, the political alignments had helped Jarasamdha of Girivraja in South Bihar to emerge as a powerful emperor with the rank of Purusha. Purusha was a ruler with life-tenure and political authority superior to that of a Viraj who had tenure of only ten years and hold over only five neighbouring states, a mandala.
Jarasamdha, a protg of Mahadeva, had filled the vacuum caused by the death or retirement of the five great emperors, Marutta, Mamdhata, Bhagiratha, Kartavirya and Bharata. Yudhishtira's brother, Bhima, killed him in a duel. Still Yudhishtira could not emerge as an emperor. Parasurama outlawed war as a means to settle disputes between rulers or to achieve political ambitions. He recommended that the rulers and chieftains might decide their disputes through personal duels or through dice rather than employ troops to fight and die for the causes of their masters.
Both the Kurus of Hastinapura and the Ikshvakus of Ayodhya acknowledged Bharata (son of Dushyanta and Sakuntala) as emperor. His counsellor, Bharadvaja, had a soft corner for Rama of Ayodhya but not for his brother, Bharata. When Rama challenged Vali, the estranged brother of his ally, Sugriva of Kishkanta, he claimed to be acting on behalf of Bharata who claimed suzerainty over the entire subcontinent. It was not a reference to Bharata, son of Dasaratha of Ayodhya by the princess of Kekaya, or to Bharata, son of Rshabha and a descendant of the first Manu, Svayambhuva. Who should succeed Bharata was a vexatious issue that Bharadvaja was required to decide.
The Arthasastra describes the procedure of selection and training of the heir-apparent who would be a successful conqueror, vijigishu, and would finally become an emperor, chakravarti, director of a confederation of states, chakra or wheel. Bharadvaja was expected to nominate Bharatas successor. He nominated Bhumanyu, a commoner. Similarly, Krpacharya was expected to nominate Yudhishtiras successor. He nominated Parikshit who was then a ruler of Uttarakuru and whose troops were engaged in chasing away the aliens beyond the Himalayas while the two Kuru factions fought in Kurukshetra.
The tenure of Manu Vaivasvata saw the overthrow of Vena, the autocrat, and the selection of Prthu, an agriculturist chieftain as his successor. Prthu controlled Madhya Desa, the central region, lying between Sindhu, Narmada and Yamuna (present Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh). When Kautilya referred to Prthvi as Desa (AS 9-1-17), he was implying the career of Prthu who was expected to bring the entire country, desa, from the Himalayas in the north to the seas in the south under one rule and not remain contented with and restricted to Madhya Desa. Was Kautilya interested in Prthu's fortunes? Bhrgu and his colleagues had led the agrarian revolt against Vena of Anga (a principality to the southwest of Mathura near Delhi) who had distorted the Rajarshi constitution.
Bhrgus and their enemies, Talajanghas, are referred to in Arthasastra 1-6-6. The Arthasastra draws attention to the weaknesses in the functions of Dandakya (a Bhoja ruler of Vidarbha and son of Ikshvaku), Karala (a Janaka of Videha), Janamejaya (who whipped some Brahmans suspecting that they had molested his queen) and Ajabindhu, the whimsical ruler of Sauvira. All these events belonged to the later Vedic period and were known to Kautilyas princely students. Arthasastra refers to Animandavya, a sage who was falsely implicated in a theft and tortured (4-8-11). Vidura, the great statesman and half-brother of Pandu and Dhrtarashtra, was a disciple of this sage.
There is every reason to hold that Kautilya belonged to the decades that saw the tenures of Manu Vaivasvata and Manu Savarni. It is vital for developing a rational and credible outline of the social dynamics of Ancient India to keep aside the chronologies presented by the western Indologists and their Indian followers and also those by the obscurantists and to be rigorously rational. This treatise holds that it is inadvisable to hold that Kautilya was a contemporary of the great emperor, Chandragupta Maurya, founder of the Mauryan Empire, and grandfather of Asoka. Nor can it be asserted that he made his services and acumen available to any such empire.
Kautilya far from being a crooked politician as alleged by many who claim to be advocates of ethics was a socio-economic reformer whose policies were based on economic determinism.