KAUTILYAN REFORMS AND CORRECTION OF DYSFUNCTION OF THE CONSTITUENTS OF THE STATE
RAJYAVYASANA AND RAJAVYASANA
Order of Enumeration of the Constituents of the State
Manusmrti (IX-294) treats all the seven units (angas, organs) as together constituting Rajyam (kingdom, state). The seven units are Svami, Amatya, Pura, Rashtra, Kosa, Danda and Suhrta.
Arthasastra names these seven and adds amitra. It retains the term, Rajyam to refer to the five internal constituents (dravya-prakrtis related to acquisition and protection of wealth), amatya, janapada, durga, kosa and danda.
It is necessary to first arrive at a correct appraisal of the structural traits of every one of these units or constituents before tracing the reforms introduced by Kautilya.
Rajavyasana and Rajyavyasana
Rajavyasana, affliction of the king (as often vaguely translated), is the situation created when the Rajaprakrti is not properly organized.
Rajaprakrti included the King, the Rajapurohita, the Prime Minister, the Crown Prince and other princes, the queens, the departments of intelligence and the department of envoys.
Rajavyasana leads to the failure of Rajasampada, the structure of the Rajaprakrti. This constitutional failure leads to the other constituents of the state (prakrtis) too being afflicted causing Rajyavyasana, characteristic of a sick state.
Arthasastra Bk.8 Ch.1. deals with the imperfect Rajyaprakrti, and its impact on the Rajaprakrti. It scrutinizes the views of the six schools on the afflictions experienced by the constituents in the context of inter-state relations.
Where more than one constituent of a state is afflicted, it has to be examined whether its leaders should adopt an aggressive policy or a defensive one.
Policies, Daiva and Manushya:
Aya and Anaya, Naya and Apanaya
Kautilya, who applies Samkhya dialectics, states that the calamity itself is because of the defective policy adopted either by the elite (daiva, often wrongly treated as divine) or by the commoners (manushya). A wrong policy adopted by the elite or affecting it is termed anaya and a good one with respect to the elite is termed aya. A good policy adopted by the commoners or in their interests is called naya and a bad one adopted by them or with respect to them is called apanaya. [The Indologists of the 20th century have failed to grasp the significance of this analysis.]
The Acharya adopts the simple formula that the calamities befalling the constituents are to be rated as serious in their order of enumeration, svami, amatya, janapada, durga, kosa, danda and mitra. Other thinkers had their reservations on this. Kautilya refutes them.
Bharadvaja and Kautilya
Bharadvaja draws attention to the duties of the amatyas in the svami-prakrtisampada (the political structure headed by the svami who was not necessarily a king but was the charismatic head of the state).
They were incorporated in the Arthasastra, politico-economic constitution, prepared after discussion by the thinkers. He felt that if the Kautilyan scheme was taken to its logical conclusion, the head of the state would be but a titular head with all powers vested in the ministers and all responsibilities devolving on the executives, amatyas.
In Kautilyan Prakrtisampada (structure of constituents as in Arthasastra) as distinct from the Rajasampada (monarchical structure as in Dharmasastra), the ministers were included in the amatyaprakrti and not in the svamiprakrti, Bharadvaja interpreted.
They were not nominees of the king but were promoted from among the amatyas, the bureaucrats. Hence if in a state there is no amatyaprakrti, bureaucracy, or if it does not function effectively, the administration will collapse and the king will become vulnerable to intrigues endangering his life, Bharadvaja fears.
Kautilya points out that Bharadvaja has not understood his scheme correctly. Kautilya had not advocated a mere titular head of the state. The right to appoint ministers (mantris), the Rajapurohita and the heads of bureaus (adhyakshas) still vested in the king. Of course, he has to follow the procedure and not his pleasure. It was a civil state and not feudal despotism.
The king also looks after remedial measures to be taken when the personnel (purusha) and the constituents of the state in charge of its wealth, dravya-prakrtis (amatyam, janapada, durga, kosa and danda) are afflicted by calamities. Kautilya had amended the traditional Rajarshi constitution.
In Kautilya's scheme, the Rajapurohita is no longer in charge of this department. It has been taken over by the king who alone enjoys charismatic legitimacy, i.e. support of all the sections of the population. Also he has the right to remove the amatyas who do not function properly.
He continues to enjoy the powers to reward the deserving and punish the erring officials. (He however could not dismiss the ministers.)
Amatyas answerable to the Svami
Bharadvaja, a conservative, did not favour the amatyas eclipsing or eroding the king's authority. Kautilya advocates responsible government through amatyas, but they are not unaccountable to the head of the state. The latter however interfered only when necessary. Hence the Svamiprakrti must be well endowed and adequately empowered, so that the other constituents (their chiefs and personnel) functioned effectively. (8-1-16)
In Kautilya's view (8-1-18), the Svami is the koota-sthana of the prakrtis, that is, the point of convergence of the other constituents of the state. He holds that the rise or fall of the other constituents is correlated to the efficiency or inefficiency of the Svami, the charismatic head of the state (8-1-17). It is necessary to have a correct appreciation of the divergences in the approaches of Kautilya and Bharadvaja and other thinkers on the implications of the provisions of the new constitution they had agreed to.
Svami exercises power imperceptibly
The Svami is not visualized as a powerless head of the state or as a Purusha to whom, access is only through the official designated as Pracetas or Sannidhata or through the Prime Minister.
However, the amatyaprakrti (bureaucracy) is authorized to regulate the other four prakrtis, janapada, durga or pura, kosa and danda. But the channels between the svami, the head of the state, and these constituents have not been closed. The svami has direct access to them and not a limited one or an indirect one as wrongly presumed by Bharadvaja.
Kautilya's Svami exercises real power but imperceptibly. He is not an autocrat. He exercises charismatic influence over all the constituents of the state, and not bureaucratic authority as the amatyas do. He was (often a rich landlord) elected directly by all the taxpayers and was the only authority with a popular mandate. [Of course, not all rulers were so elected.] The amatyas were however allowed to function freely within their respective jurisdictions and were not normally overruled.
Kautilya's Svami oversees the affairs of the executive, being the chief executive of the state and does not merely preside over the meetings of the council of ministers. Bharadvajas doubts about the relations between the svami and the amatyas are thus removed. [Bharadvaja was the counsellor of Bharata who was an outstanding charismatic ruler.]
Visalaksha and Kautilya
Visalaksha expresses concern over the difficulties experienced by the rural administration Janapada. The treasury, army, mines (that is, the industrial sector), labour, transport and the central warehouse, all depend on the janapada, he notices (8-1-20). Kautilya had brought, agriculture, pastoral lands and traditional trade and also the industries and the industrial workers and those who provided transport facilities under the administration of the expanded janapada.
Bharadvaja, Visalaksha and the other thinkers were aware of his schemata and the features of the new janapada and the reorganization of the economy as well as of the bureaucracy and the judiciary proposed by Kautilya. They were his contemporaries and were involved in the drafting of the politico-economic constitution of the mega-state, incorporated in the Arthasastra. Only if this factor is recognized it would be possible to present Kautilyas policy correctly.
Kautilya abolishes autonomous city and regional boards
Visalaksha is impressed by Kautilyas proposals. He points out that since the expectations from the janapada are very high and varied, if the administration of the janapada is weakened, both the Svami and the amatyas (that is, both the head of the state and the members of the central executive) would become powerless. He felt concern as Kautilya had abolished the autonomous paura and janapada assemblies that were in charge of urban and rural administration respectively and vested the governance of the city and the rural areas in commissioners drawn from the amatya cadre.
Kautilya had appointed a new Board of three dharmasthas (judges) and three amatyas (secretaries of the state) to deal with civil and economic disputes. The amatyas so appointed were nominees of the king. Though they were natives of the janapada, they were not elected representatives. It is not democracy enough, complains the liberal democrat, Visalaksha. (This democrat had an aristocratic temper and was condescending to the poor. Many who claim to be democrats are boors.) He insists that the wishes of the people be honoured even as their interests are guarded.
Bureaucracy too a Representative Body
Kautilya gently points out that it is not proper to underestimate the role of the amatyas, for it is they who initiate all the works. Though a project is formally placed before the council of ministers (mantriparishad) by the king for deliberation and sanction, in practice it is the amatyaprakrti (bureaucracy), which begins all the works by first placing before the king the need for launching that project.
It is a bureaucracy that is responsive to the needs of the people though it is not a representative body like the paura or janapada assembly. Similarly successful completion of the works (karmasiddhi) of the janapada depends on the commissioners. The executive is the real representative of the people, Kautilya implies. [The paura and the janapada assemblies were dominated by traders and landlords respectively. They were in reality economic captains and feudal chiefs who had no popular mandate, Kautilya knew.]
Status, Duties and Functions of the Bureaucracy Redefined
Kautilya draws attention to the redefined functions of the bureaucrats. The amatyas have to provide the means for yogakshema, protection of the efforts undertaken both on the kings (svamis) lands (svabhumi) and on the lands of others, that is, of private citizens (parabhumi). They have to also take remedial measures in case of natural calamities. The king had assumed personally the responsibility for ensuring that these measures were taken by the amatyas. These fell under paroksha category of the kings duties, rajavrtti. The amatyas were not looking after the kings affairs only.
Kautilya had to explain that the amatyas were a constituent of the civil state accountable to the people and not the kings agents as in a feudal state. The entire project of settlement on open lands (sunyanivesa) had been entrusted to the amatyas who were bureaucrats. Earlier, it was unplanned and whoever took forcible possession of them could not be evicted and their presence there could not but be validated by law. The amatyas had to end this law of the jungle. The people could not end it by themselves.
Kautilya implied that the amatyas who belonged to the civil services protected the interests of the commoners against the powerful feudal lords who took illegal possession of open lands. [The terse statements convey more than what transliterations effected by Shama Sastri, Kangle and others do.] [Settlement of the discrete individuals and nomadic groups in the open areas retrieved from the feudal lords who had annexed them by force in the absence of any state machinery exercising control over them was necessary, Krshna felt, as pointed out by me in my thsis, Krshnas Bhagavad-Gita as Rajavidya.]
Devolution of Power to Amatyaprakrti, Bureaucracy
Further, magisterial authority to punish (danda) the guilty, the power to collect taxes and also the power to remit taxes have been delegated to them by the king. They have been included under the paroksha category of kings duties (rajavrtti) and not under the pratyaksha, his direct duties. It was a major devolution of powers incorporated in the constitution, Kautilya points out to Visalaksha and others. The king was not an autocrat despite his immense popularity and mandate. There was devolution of powers to the trained amatyas, the real representatives of the people of the janapada and not concentration of all powers in the hands of the Svami.
The term, kootasthana has to be interpreted correctly. Visalaksha and other thinkers had to realize that Kautilya did not advocate centralization of powers or dictatorship.
Autonomy of the Executive not eroded
If Visalaksha slyly implies that the amatyaprakrti (the executive), though seemingly powerful, is not a representative body of the people and is not free to act by itself and therefore lacks autonomy, Kautilya denies it is so. Kautilya emphasizes its vast authority and autonomy. Hence, if this prakrti were incapacitated (either by autocracy or by irresponsible democracy which is in fact surrender to plutocrats and feudal lords who control the paura and janapada assemblies), the janapada would come to grief and along with it the entire state. Thus Kautilya allays the fears of Visalaksha about erosion of democracy by bureaucracy. The amatyas were from the upper strata, abhjata, whose elitist culture was upheld by Visalaksha, the democrat. [Democracy did not spring from the commonalty.]
The Parasaras and Kautilya
The Parasaras were disturbed that Kautilya had degraded the importance of durga, the fort. The durga-rashtra or pura-rashtra or paura-janapada was the traditional system of governance. It gave prominence to the fortified capital and the metropolis and treated the rural hinterland with derision. Some modern writers have held urbanization as a sign of civilization and have looked down on rural areas and agriculture. The treasury and the army were traditionally located in the forts and the people took refuge there when attacked. The fort was a stronger power than the paura-janapada (championed by Visalaksha) and was of assistance in defence.
The Parasaras (Dvaipayana and his colleagues) exhibit their lack of faith in the masses when they argue that the janapadas treat both the king and the enemy on par. [Nationalism that is championed by the king stationed in the fortified capital does not receive a favourable response among the rural masses who are the natives of the janapada. In other words, according to the Parasaras, nationalism and patriotism, which charismatic leaders invoke, are not native to the janapada or rashtra. These concepts are upheld only by the feudal lords stationed in the forts and by the urban patriciate.]
Kautilya provides separate administrations for fort and city
The Parasaras were not impressed by the Kautilyan scheme to make the new janapada the pivot of the new economic state. Bharadvaja was a radical conservative while Visalaksha was a liberal aristocrat and democrat, an elitist. The Parasaras were however champions of feudalism. They might not have objected to treating the paura-janapada as a single unit and to separating the administration of the fort (durga) from that of the capital (nagara, pura) as proposed by Kautilya. Kautilya sought to bring the city (pura) closer to the janapada.
But Kautilyas plan to establish a charismatic relationship between the Svami and the people is not likely to succeed, they argue. After all, wars are between kings and if the masses remain indifferent to the fortunes of the feuding warlords, they cannot be blamed. The masses do not care who rules them as long as they get their minimum needs, especially food, met. Hence, for the Svami, the fort will be more useful and it should not be neglected, the Parasaras argue. They too do not stand for hereditary monarchy or for a king, Rajan, from the patriciate. They accept the proposal to have Svami, a charismatic ruler with a popular mandate.
Resurgence and the features of the New Janapada
Kautilya thereupon takes pains to clear the doubts regarding the features of the new janapada. The forts, the treasury, the army, the bridges and dams (setu) and normal economic activities (varta) have their roots (mula) in the janapada he says (8-1-29). It is the people of the janapada who contribute to valour (the army ranks), firmness, alacrity and plenty. Kautilya decries transregional warrior-groups and intellectuals who disdained being attached to the soil.
He has faith in the janapada, the predominantly rural masses. He plans to check migration of groups whether workers or intellectuals or soldiers, for feudalism thrived on this migration and availability of mercenaries. It is among the masses the manpower necessary for defence and civil administration has to be searched for. Even the amatyas and ministers are from within the janapada, though from its elite. [Nationalism, according to Kautilya, is not feudalism. It reflects self-confidence.]
Janapada as the backbone of the national economy
The janapada, that is, the rural area, is the backbone of the national economy and it provides the surplus needed for building a strong state headed by a commoner who is a charismatic leader with a popular mandate. Kautilya cautions the Parasaras that the demography of the new state should not be ignored. The forts are situated on the mountains and the people live in the plains. In an agrarian country, absence of forts is a handicap, he agrees. In a janapada of warrior-groups, absence of a large agrarian population will be a handicap. The new janapada, Kautilya explains, will have both agrarian tracts and mountainous and forest areas. Its economy depends on the surplus from the newly irrigated lands. Hence any calamity befalling it will be more harmful than the weaknesses in the fortification.
Pisuna and Kautilya: Importance of Economic Power
Pisuna was the finance minister of Dushyanta but had to go on exile after Bharata, son of Dushyanta and Sakuntala, took over power. Sakuntala belonged to the school of Visalaksha. She was a daughter of Visvamitra who was a colleague of Vasishta and Bharadvaja. Bharadvaja became the counsellor of Bharata. Visvamitra was a supporter of Bharata. Parasara was a disciple of Vasishta who was bete noire of Visvamitra. Pisuna, using Kautilyas own arguments, claimed that the treasury, kosa, was more important than the fort or the janapada, the mitra or amitra (8-1-34).
Pisuna took note of Kautilya's amended scheme of eight prakrtis, constituencies, which were to be taken into account while dealing with interstate relations in the circle of states. Not only, the friend but the unfriendly neighbour too was to be taken note of as a factor pertaining to the political structure of the state. Pisuna gives the utmost importance to the wealth in the treasury. Economic power can control all these constituents, prakrtis. Even maintenance and protection of the fort need money.
Kautilya's new settlement policy
Pisuna draws attention to the new settlement policy of Kautilya. It involved migration (desantarita) of large groups. They had to be encouraged through subsidies. Pisuna does not get carried away by Kautilyas claim that he was encouraging formation of new nation-states with the janapadas being administered by amatyas drawn from the janapada itself and not from a transregional pool and that he encouraged regional troops. Pisuna was a free-lancer and was not attached to any particular state (rajya) or nation (rashtra) or region (desa). Kautilya had to resettle vast sections of the population and had not approved the concept of ethnicity or the sons of the soil. Pisuna too did not endorse such a concept. Kautilya preferred to be pragmatic while Pisuna insisted on abandoning the very concept of regional loyalty or sub-nationalism.
Kautilya rejects Pisuna's demand for decentralized financing
Kautilya had introduced the institution of military police (dandabala vyavahara) to control crimes. This needed finance. He had proposed to divert internal production economy from the fortified towns to the new industrial centres in the hinterland. He also planned a network of army camps, which did not depend exclusively on the forts. Why should he then keep the treasury in the fort? Pisuna feared that all the projects would suffer, if the fort with the treasury in it fell to the enemy.
Pisuna demands a decentralized system of financial operations. But Kautilya does not yield. That, he knows, would mean handing over the surplus to the bankers. The treasury would not be under the state if Pisunas scheme of granting it the status of an autonomous corporation superior to all other constituents of the state (except the Svami and the amatyaprakrti) were accepted.
Kautilya's support for governance from the fort
Kautilya wants a huge reserve fund and is against transferring control over it from the state to private bankers. The fort is under the army and under the direct control of the Svami. It is the headquarters of his personal troops, svadanda, and abode of the loyalists, svapaksha. The treasury and the army are dependent on the control exercised from the fort. It was the defence capital of the new state and not a mere garrison. (Kautilyas was not a garrison state as most feudal setups were.)
Kautilyan state had forts not only in the centre of the janapada but also along the borders. One of them housed the main treasury. The allies were received in the forts and the troops of the rival confederation (chakra) of states and forest tribes were controlled from there. Kautilya refuses to move the treasury away from the fort lest it should fall to the enemies. It is obvious, he says, that rulers, who are entrenched in forts, do not get exterminated at the hands of the enemies (8-1-40). Kautilya was not in favour of the fort-based feudal lords, but he did not overlook the importance of forts. Kautilya was suspicious of free economy and free banking that were encouraged by Pisuna.
Bhishma (Kaunapadanta) and Kautilya on a large army
Bhishma, himself a great general wonders whether the army has been given the least importance in the new Kautilyan constitution. Kautilyas standing army, though drawn mainly from the Kshatriyas, was small. He depended more on war of nerves, mantrayuddha. Bhishma (Kaunapadanta, son of Santanu who was nicknamed Konapadanta, the crooked teeth) presents the view of the traditional school of Dandaniti. According to this view, control over the ally (mitra) and dominance over the non-ally (amitra) required that the Svami excelled in Danda, that is, had a strong army. [It is not sound to translate the term, amitra as enemy. Ari denotes enemy.] He does not share Kautilyas faith in the six-fold policy, shadgunyam, on which the conqueror, vijigishu, is asked to depend.
Dependence on statutory army, Dandabala vyavahara
Bhishma stresses that the state has to exercise coercive power to mobilise the troops of the subordinate autonomous chieftains (paradanda) and to deploy the kings own troops (svadanda). Both Kautilya and Bhishma depended on Danda, the separate new command, which is statutory, unlike svadanda and paradanda, which were essentially private armies. Kautilya terms the statutory army or danda as dandabala vyavahara. (Military historians to note) The new command coordinated the troops of all chieftains including those of the kings personal contingents.
If the central command is weak, the treasury will be lost Kaunapadanta warns (8-1-43) Kautilya and Pisuna. For both the treasury and the svadanda are located in the fort, which would easily fall if its forces are not trained and deployed properly. If danda, the central military command, is weak, the dhruva (central authority, capital, kootasthana) will be lost, Kaunapadanta cautions. He feels that the Kautilyan and Pisuna emphasis on economic power emanating from the treasury will be of no avail, in the absence of such a centralized political power.
Kootasthana: centre of the mega-state and Kootaniti
It is necessary here to add a note on the contextual background to this highly significant disputation on constitutional provisions, which have eluded the modern commentators and students of Ancient Indian History. These later scholars have been trying to outline ancient Indian polity along lines alien to ancient India. Kautilya advocated the policy of making the elected king (rajan) or the central charismatic ruler (svami) the point of convergence (kootasthana) of the constituents of the state. This was the original implication of the term Kootaniti. [This has later come to be interpreted as diplomacy and even as conspiratorial techniques adopted by cabals to acquire and retain power.]
This policy was a modification of the one advocated by the second Manu, Svarochisha. Kutastha Svarochisha implied that the king should not expand his powers internally or externally. It meant a static state. Does Bhishma imply that Dhruva lost power because in deference to the wishes of his grandfather, Manu Svayambhuva, he desisted from using danda, against the covetous plutocrats (yakshas) and plundering guards (rakshas) who had killed his brother, Manu Uttama?
Svayambhuva, Svarochisha and Uttama were the first, second and third incumbents to the post of Manu. Dhruvas lineage ended with him though the sixth Manu, Chakshusha, and the Rajarshi of Anga were claimed to be his descendants. This weak Rajarshi was eased out by his son, Vena, who was later burnt to death in an agrarian revolt against his tyranny. The constitution under which Prthu, an agriculturist chieftain was installed as ruler revived the policy, which Manu Svarochisha had advocated.
The Prthu constitution limited state authority and outlawed autocracy. The king could not use state troops for his personal conquests. Did Kautilya endorse it? He could not have; neither Bhishma, who advocated Rajadharma could have. Bharadvaja and the other statesmen including these two had assembled to discuss the issue of protection of princes and selection of the heir-apparent under a new constitution even while the de jure ruler was handicapped with several constituents of his state in distress and disarray. This factor has to be borne in mind while interpreting the stands of these great statesmen of the years immediately preceding the Battle of Kurukshetra.
Bhishma for greater role for army in administration
Kautilya and Pisuna had insisted on the importance of artha and kosa, the economic means. Kaunapadanta (Bhishma) argued that the funds needed could be collected whenever necessary from the mines and the agricultural lands (bhumi) and also by plundering the lands of others, if ones army was strong (8-1-44). (The state is amoral.)
Bhishma wanted that the army should play a greater role in the administration for the charismatic head of the state Svami. It should be a role on par with (sadharma) that of the amatyas, Kaunapadanta insisted. He was not for a military state. He however decried the subordination of the army to the civilian authority, the amatyas. (Bhishmas ministry had 4 Brahmans, 18 Kshatriyas, 21 Vaisyas, 3 Shudras and one Suta who recorded the proceedings.) Kautilya thereupon defends his emphasis on kosa, treasury, which is the basis of the economic state. The army can be kept satisfied only through money, or it will desert and may even kill the Svami, Kautilya warns. He is against allowing the army to maintain its ranks by plundering mines and lands.
Kautilyan theory: economic determinism and military power
Kautilya then asserts his theory of economic determinism, which distinguishes him from the other political thinkers. He points out to the veteran statesman, Bhishma, that all good work, dharma and also pleasure, kama, need financial (artha) support (8-1-49). But he does not underestimate the importance of military power or overrate that of economic power. It depends on place, time and work (karya) whether kosa or danda, treasury or army, has to be given primacy.
Kautilya was never dogmatic. He was pragmatic. The treasury is the reserve of the surplus of the economy. While the army protects the gains to the treasury, the officials of the treasury protect the gains of the treasury and also those of the army. Not all gains are from war and conquest. Kautilya was not a warmonger.
Bhishma: equal status and power for army and bureaucracy
The treasury puts all dravyas, that is, all the five dravyaprakrtis, (the five internal constituents collectively known as rajyam) to useful work. In other words, the economic policies laid down by the officers of the treasury have to be followed by the officials belonging to all the five constituents (amatyam, janapada, durga, kosa and danda, bureaucracy, rural administration, fortified capital, treasury and army).
The treasury was in the hands of the powerful minister, sannidhata, who controlled taxation, expenditure, mines, mint, currency and banking. [Pisuna had occupied such a position under Dushyanta and Vidura under Dhrtarashtra and Pandu.] However, Kautilya is silent on Kaunapadantas demand that danda, the central military command, should have power and status equal (sadharma) to the amatyas, the civilian authority. He silently rejects it.
Kautilya for civilian control over army
Kautilya wants civilian control over the army to continue. This system had been introduced by the Indra-Brhaspati agreement I have pointed out while describing the Atharvan polity. Brhaspati gave equal importance to economy and political and military control (varta and danda). [The reader may visualize the implications of this disputation for the modern scenario.] Kautilya was for a civilian economic state and did not advocate a military state or militarism. [He would not free the defence services from accountability to the civil state.]
Vatavyadhi (Uddhava) and Kautilya: The role of the Ally
Traditional Dandaniti had given the ally (mitra) a respectable and important position in the constitution of the state. (Its significance has eluded modern political grammarians tutored in European constitutions.) His presence as one of the essential constituents of the state gave military and diplomatic advantages to the Svami, the charismatic head of the state. The ally far from encroaching on the sovereignty (svamitva) of the Svami, over his territory, by being present at the high deliberations the latter held with his counsellors, enhanced it. Kautilya however kept him at a distance to reduce the scope for his interference in the internal affairs of the state.
The Ally and Svami as Vijigishu: Sovereign as Conqueror
Vatavyadhi did not have a correct appreciation of the inter-state relations that were based on the mandala scheme (circle of five states, svami, ari, mitra, madhyama and udasina) and the six-fold policy (shadguna: samdhi, vigraha, asana, yana, samsraya and dvaidhibhava) and alliances. Uddhava (Vatavyadhi) thought that the conqueror, vijigishu, (the charismatic leader, svami, who tried to enhance his prestige through conquests), would be able to secure financial, military and territorial aid from the ally and that if the latter was handicapped, the vijigishu, would be put to loss. Hence the troubles of the ally were more serious than the weaknesses of the Svamis own army, he argued. (8-1-53,54)
It may be noted that among all these political thinkers, Uddhava (Vatavyadhi) alone was discussing the issue of Svami as Vijigishu and the need for a political and military ally. The others did not concern themselves with the policy adopted by the nation-state on inter-state affairs and issues pertaining to peace and war.
Ally kept away from internal unrest
Kautilya clarifies that military and political alliances should not lead to neglect of self-defence by states. The role of the ally is significant only in the context of the mandala scheme and international conflicts. Internal troubles and threats from wild tribes have to be warded off by the state army. The ally will not and should not be involved in meeting these, Kautilya warns. [The warning is valid even now. Kautilyan theorems were meant for all times.] Danda included the police (and the magistrates) too.
Aid even from friendly countries should not be sought to put down internal unrest and revolts. Statesmen recognized this principle of sovereignty. But Vatavyadhi (Uddhava) was connected with social polities (known as vairajyam) that were not states. They had total devolution of powers to the lowest unit internally while externalizing exercise of military power. The army of the conqueror, vijigishu, did not interfere in the administration of the state, which was carried on along prescribed lines by the amatyas, bureaucrats. This analysis will help the reader to arrive at a balanced picture of the features of the Kautilyan state.
Ally and Non-ally not connected with internal constituents
The constituents and sectors of a state may be grouped into two sections, Rajan and Rajyam (king and kingdom) or Svamiprakrti (the charismatic leader) and Dravyaprakrtis (the units that are sources of wealth for the ruler). The mitra (ally) and amitra (non-ally, potential enemy) are significant only for getting the Svamis claims to sovereignty over his territory endorsed by the former or left undisputed by the latter. The two do not (and should not) have any voice in determining the relations between the Svami and the five internal constituents.
Kautilya envisages a charismatic head of the state (Svami) who is in the dhruva or kootasthana, the point of convergence of the other constituents. These constituents may get afflicted or handicapped as pointed out in the above debate participated in by Kautilya, Bharadvaja and other statesmen. These disturbances had an impact on the Svamiprakrti and how they could be met through suitable amendments to the constitution Kautilya pointed out.
The Simmering Revolt
Disturbances to the king and his political associates Rajaprakrti may emanate from abhyantara or from bahya, the Arthasastra states (8-2-2). This statement is not to be interpreted as implying internal threats and external threats or as threats from interior regions and outer regions respectively. Kautilya says that threats from abhyantara are more serious than the threats from bahya. He advises the king to keep the treasury and the army under his direct control (8-2-3). [Indian and foreign scholars dealing with Kautilyan Arthasastra have failed to arrive at a correct appraisal of the features of his new janapada.]
Abhyantara, Bahya and Atithya: Three Economic zones
There were the three sources or directions from which the goods entered the market. Kautilya adopted a new economic policy by which the non-agricultural production units were taken away from villages and towns and located at special centres. Some of them were inside the forests and near the mines. He discouraged population getting concentrated in select areas. He recommended dispersal of population to facilitate economic progress.
Abhyantara referred to the internal production centres to which the artisans were moved. Bahya was essentially rural and agrarian and indicated the hinterland of port towns and administrative capitals. Atithya pertained to the special areas including the kings personal lands (svabhumi) and the lands of the autonomous vassals. The nature of the unrest in the first two areas needs to be identified correctly for arriving at a proper interpretation of the disputation between Kautilya and the unidentified Teacher.
State and the conflict between bourgeoisie and proletariat
In the protected production centres in the interior, the ruling bourgeoisie senses threat from the new proletariat and is annoyed with the kings policy (8-2-3). This threat is described as ahibhaya. Ahi or Sarpa (serpent, in common parlance) denoted the industrial proletariat which was then constantly on the move in the forests shifting its activities to areas where they located ores or which had surplus timber. The mobile proletariat (Sarpas) of the parallel industrial economy was dreaded.
During the post-Kashyapan decades, the carpenters (Takshas) and the smiths (Tvashtas) who had earlier been confined to the forests and the mines and metal factories had joined the mainstream industrial economy. Many smiths (Tvashtas) smiths, and carpenters (Takshas) called themselves, Brahmans. The intellectual proletariat and the corporations (srenis) and guilds (samghas) enjoyed a privileged status. They were a threat to the traditional bourgeoisie who were being coerced by Kautilya to invest capital in new projects. The disputation is on how far this threat to the bourgeoisie in the industrial centres located in the deep interior of the forests and mountains (abhyantara) from the working class was of serious concern to the king.
Agitated bourgeoisie vis--vis Denuded absentee landlords
In the rural areas, absentee landlords had been made to part away with their lands to the tenants or to the new small peasantry. The agitated bourgeoisie of the industrial centres (abhyantara) posed a greater threat to the king than the denuded absentee landlords of the outlying areas (bahya) of the janapada, which had been reorganized along radically new lines.
The king had to guard himself against the vested interests in the economic structure. The Kautilyan administration had hence to keep the bourgeoisie satisfied by preventing uprisings by the new proletariat. [King Parikshit had been held in the revolt by the forest workers, who were led by Takshaka. His successor (Janamejaya) tried to take revenge by destroying the entire proletariat. This massacre of the innocents was frustrated by Astika who was an intellectual, Brahman, and also a technocrat, Naga.]
State needs support of rich investors
The Kautilyan economic state needed the support of the rich who invested capital in industries more than that of the idle absentee landlords. It had to ensure that the amatyas in charge of the remote (antara) industrial centres were not disaffected. Their disaffection would be more harmful than that of the people of the outlying but not remote areas. These internal compulsions made the ruler take over control over the treasury and the army under his personal charge, Kautilya explains (8-2-4). The Kautilyan state was a well-organized mega-state comparable to some modern states and it faced socio-economic and political problems of a serious type like the modern industrial states.
Concentration of economic and military power in the king
He does not assign the treasury and the army, kosa and danda, to independent ministries. The other thinkers of his times did not welcome this concentration of economic power and military power in the hands of the ruler. The Svami had been constrained to take over these two ministries because of internal unrest and the simmering revolt in which some state officials (amatyas) had joined hands with the entrepreneurs. The latter were in fact the bourgeoisie that had been coerced to invest capital in new industries.
Some of these officials were corrupt and had therefore been sent away from the janapada and the city to the mines and the dangerous industrial centres in the forests and mountains. Did Kautilya propose to make this concentration of economic and political power in the hands of the ruler a permanent feature and thereby entrench autocracy to the detriment of democracy? In his disputation with the six thinkers, Kautilya denied any such intent. Did he intend to return to the later Vedic pattern of polity where Indra, the head of the house of nobles led the army (sena) and controlled the treasury (sura)?
Dvairajyam and Vairajyam
In an innocuous move, Kautilya proposes that the ruler should appoint a person who will under his personal supervision (atmasamstha) look after the treasury and the army, kosa and danda. The other ministers including the Prime Minister would normally have no access to these departments, which the king personally managed (atmasamstha) besides foreign affairs and intelligence (dhutas and chakshus).
It may be noted that the other ministers might look after civil administration, economy, finance and defence but were excluded only from foreign affairs and the bureaus collecting confidential data. Kautilya would make the ministers in charge of finance and defence report to the king and take orders from him directly.
The unidentified preceptor (Acharya) who is his deuteragonist in this discussion is aghast at the suggestion that there would be two rulers, the king looking after general administration and another authority controlling finance and defence. This dyarchy, dvairajyam, will be more harmful than diffusion of powers, vairajyam, he argues. Dvairajyam means governance by two authorities. It strikes at the root of the concept of sovereignty being vested in one (monarchy) or in the multitude (democracy). It evokes the picture of polarization and mutual checks. It was not new to Bharadvaja and other ancient statesmen.
Why there was need for Dyarchy
Kautilya objected to autocracy, the extreme form of monarchy when he said, chakram ekam na vartate (the only wheel does not roll on). There can be no progress under monarchy. Autocracy and even benevolent monarchy will result in a static state. (President and Vice-President, President and Prime Minister, Raja and Yuvaraja, Indra and Agni, Indra and Brhaspati, all come under the genre, dyarchy. They involve division of powers and mutual checks.) In dvairajyam, the total quantum of powers is divided between two authorities though the two may not have equal status.
Kautilya was on the scene when the Vedic era had not yet come to an end. The posts of Indra and Brhaspati who represented the aristocracy and the commonalty respectively continued to exist in many states. Earlier, Indra controlled the treasury and led the army while Agni looked after the judiciary. In some states, Indra controlled only the treasury. There was a separate post of Aditya who was in charge of the army, sena. The Mahadeva constitution had proposed four posts, Indra, Aditya, Agni and Brhaspati, and prevented concentration of powers in the hands of one or even two.
Why the Acharya hesitated
The Acharya feared that Kautilyas suggestion would create two rival seats of power, resulting in partisanship, mutual hatred and struggle. As the (sick) king was unable to look after the top-heavy administration, which had failed to control the causes and spots of revolt, there should be total decentralization of authority and power, he said. The arguments look modern! But the context was the times of Prthu and Parikshit. Atri, Gautama, Kashyapa, Sanatkumara and other great thinkers debated the issue whether in the light of the evil effects of the autocracy of Vena (who was burnt to death by his enraged subjects, especially, the agriculturists), his successor, Prthu (an agriculturist chieftain, kshiti-isvara) should be given the powers of a sovereign.
Some proposed that despite his charisma, Prthu should be placed on par with Mahendra who in those days controlled the army and was also Chancellor of the Exchequer. This would reduce to chances of the king becoming a despot. The king would be in charge of general administration, agriculture, animal husbandry and trade and foreign affairs, they said.
Kautilya allays the fears of the Acharya
It appears that Kautilya envisaged a similar sharing of power, but would keep the official in charge of finance and army, who might have been designated as Indra, constitutionally subordinate to the Svami (or Isvara) or King. In Kautilyas scheme this official would not be answerable to the ministry. [The King and the Crown Prince, Raja and Yuvaraja, Isvara and Indra were two such authorities. Neither Isvara nor Indra was a god.] According to the Acharya, the principle of balanced distribution of power (among the eight ministers or the six internal prakrtis and their heads) as recommended by the traditional Dandaniti school is to be followed so that there is no strain for the head of the state (who is now old and weak). Was this preceptor Krpacharya who guided Parikshit?
Vairajyam: Diffusion of Power
Instead of introducing a rival to the king, power itself should be diffused to the lowest level. The Acharya preferred Vairajyam to Dvairajyam. [Kangles interpretation that Vairajyam is rule by an illegitimate king, a usurper, or by a foreign king, is not tenable.] [Vairajyam is not to be identified with Virajam. Kashyapas concept of Virajam meant the union of different units without uniformity. This union was necessary to guard the autonomy, Svarajam, of the unit.] Autonomy unto the lowest level and diffusion of power, although there is an overlord, Viraj, characterizes Vairajyam.
Such diffusion rather than mere distribution of power is feasible within the existing monarchical structure, the Acharya argues. He envisages that each authority will try to please the people and there will be a healthy competition in doing benevolent works (8-2-5). It is hence desirable, he urges. He was not encouraging anarchism. The Vairaja concept of Samkarshana (brother of Vasudeva Krshna) resulted in anarchy, with the Akruras and Akutas, two sections of the pastoral Vrshnis, destroying each other in a mad struggle for power, a la tribal warfare. (Vrshnis were not militant tribes.)
Why Kautilya preferred Dyarchy to Total Diffusion of Power
Kautilya thereupon explains (8-2-7) that his intention is not to weaken the king or reduce his sovereignty, but to strengthen the Rajaprakrti, the constituent of the state that was directly under the king. [While reading between the lines, extreme caution has to be exercised and the context has to be constantly borne in mind.] A new constitution was on the anvil and Kautilya had to convince the Acharya who was an important political grammarian and statesman and also then his deuteragonist.
Kautilya proposes the appointment of a crown prince, either the kings son or his brother, who will look after finance and army and assist the king. He laughs away the fear of mutual conflict between the two authorities and points out the possibility of equal attention to the protecting of the positive efforts (yogakshema, welfare in common parlance) of the people.
The crown prince is not an ornament or a rival. The king needs assistance. (One wheel alone can not move.) The intention is to control the ambitious amatyas (secretaries of the state). [The importance of the ministers, mantris, would not be affected though they had no control over the amatyas.] Dvairajyam of Kautilyas vision meant not the creation of two rival centres of power, but the creation of an additional centre, an additional wheel, so that monarchy, rule by one Rajan or Svami, was not crippled by delegation of powers to the mantris, amatyas, sachivas and adhyakshas who all belonged to the bureaucracy.
Kautilya and the Acharya were in the know of the intricacies that marked the choice of a crown prince and the creation of two authorities with almost equal power. [When Vicitravirya became king, his brother, Devarata (Bhishma) controlled the army. When Bharata retired, one of his sons, Devavata became Indra and another son, Devasravas was appointed as Agni. Both belonged to the nobility while Bharadvaja nominated Bhumanyu, a commoner, as Bharatas successor. When the Pandavas captured power, Yudhishtira appointed his brother, Bhima, as General. When they retired, Parikshit, a powerful chieftain and the only surviving son of Kuru was installed as King. Janamejaya (Bharatas step-brother) was viceroy and crown prince.]
Vairajyam as usurping of power
Kautilya held Vairajyam, as constitutionally not valid. It is usurping power from the legitimate ruler though it is claimed to be diffusion of power. The appointment of a crown prince and the delegation of powers to him by the king were within the provisions of the constitution then in force. (It may be noted here that the Rajarshi constitution as recommended by Vaivasvata was what he had accepted as the valid one.) The crown prince (who was not necessarily the incumbent kings son) would control the treasury and the army until he was duly selected and elevated to the post of the king. The king was exercising his authority in such a way that it was not nullified by threat of revolt by vested interests.
Vairajyam and economic exploitation
Kautilya points out that the proposal (made by the Acharya) to drastically reduce the tenure of the officials (from life tenures) and to delimit their powers is not likely to ensure that the local authorities will not misuse their limited powers. There will be economic exploitation resulting in bankruptcy (8-2-8) and the culprits fleeing the scene after the harm is done, he warns. (Democracy sans morality) Kautilya had witnessed how what had begun as a system of self-rule and governance for limited duration had deteriorated into irresponsible exploitation for quick gains by opportunists who had no attachment to the king or to the state. (Kautilya does not refer only to foreign rule as leading to undesirable economic exploitation. Even local chiefs are often guilty of such exploitation. The reader may consider this stand in the light of the modern scenario.)
Kautilya and the Preceptor then debate on who between the two rulers, asastra-chakshu and chalita-sastra was more harmful or dysfunctional to the state. Shama Sastri treats the former as a blind king and the latter as one erring against the science. Kangle interprets that the former is blind because he is without the benefit of science and the latter as one who deliberately flouts the sastra. Sastra means here the Arthasastra, the politico-economic constitution. It has prescribed that a king should see through scouts, charanas. The institution of Charanas and Satris through which information was collected and processed before political decisions were taken was not new though Kautilya was perhaps the first to systematize it. Earlier, it was an autonomous institution and was capable of mischief though it was not vested with power.
Asastra-chakshu and Chalita-sastra
Asastra-chakshu would mean a ruler who was not able to secure authentic reports through an approved institution of observers (chakshus) and was therefore like Dhrtarashtra, a blind king. Chalita-sastra was one who deviated from the prescribed rules and did not take objective decisions and was dependent on his personal sources of information or information gathered personally.
[Valmiki asked his king to collect information by himself and not to be dependent on the intelligence wing only. One of his eight ministers was designated as Drshti. He was in charge of the department of intelligence. The designations of the other ministers were Jaya, Vijaya, Arthasadaka, Siddhartha, Asoka, Mantrapala and Sumantara. Their respective functions may be inferred from the terms used. Valmiki was a Pracetas. That is, he followed the Arthasastra of the school of Pracetas Manu. He must have had the status of Pracetas who could exercise whatever powers the king as Purusha delegated to him except that of a sovereign not accountable to the ministry or to the house of nobles.]
The Acharya for a statutory institution of spies
The Acharya says that when the prescribed procedures are not followed, the reign is marked by arbitrary actions, obstinacy and guidance by outsiders (unauthorized persons). Rajasampada, the organization headed by the King and functioning directly under him, lacking the institution of scholars-cum-observers (chakshus), one of its subsidiary units, gets weakened. The result is dependence on bureaucracy and the cabals. (Dhrtarashtras woes) But the chalita-sastra king does not trust his own institution of scholars, observers (chakshus), scouts (charanas) and students (sattris). He does not trust the bureaucracy also and proceeds to govern through inferences arrived at personally. The latter can be easily persuaded to halt this deviation and hence is less harmful, the Acharya opines. But Kautilya disagrees.
Kautilya on the Role of the Institution of Spies
Kautilya holds that the absence of a set of rules and a procedure for gathering data is not a major drawback. The institution of scholars is not a constitutional requisite, he implies. Kautilya cannot be accused of having created the vicious institution of spies or even of having advocated governance through spies. This institution was already in existence. A trained Rajarshi did not need it. The associate bodies, sahaya sampada, attached to help the king can be depended upon to ensure that the proper course of action was followed.
The Kautilyan king, whether he was a sober Rajarshi or was a dynamic conqueror, had his personal admirers and supporters who could be termed as svapaksha and who functioned as trained members of his party rather than as cronies and retinue. They kept him informed about the activities of the ministers and amatyas who belonged to other units of the state and had their own followers. These officials, chieftains and their followers were termed as parapaksha.
Institution of Chakshus, an official check on the bureaucrats
The Kautilyan king is not made totally powerless by the mere absence of an institution of scholars (spies, as commonly interpreted) to help him. It had been created to ensure that the bureaucracy (amatyaprakrti) did not violate the norms or thwarted the implementation of the state policy. The Kautilyan state, contrary to what is generally presumed, was not totally dependent on spies or even mainly on it nor could the king use this institution for nefarious purposes as many have alleged.
Kautilya had planned to create a cadre that would be part of the kings charismatic structure, a party as it were. It was this structure, which was called sahaya sampada. It was not a mere retinue. Sahaya sampada was like a personal secretariat. It could function effectively by giving him processed data and by eliciting responses and assessing expectations. [This organization was different from the think-tank, the Atharvan ideologues (Brahmavadis) whose suggestions Prthu was asked to follow.]
The advanced institution of spies in the Arthasastra was formed by merging the conventional institution of charanas, scouts, and this sahaya-sampada. It was a prelude to the kings party, svapaksha. It was quazi-statutory. Kautilya warns that a king who deliberately deviates from the procedures prescribed in the constitution will destroy himself and his kingdom, through bad administration (8-2-12).
The ruler who is of the chalita-sastra type comes to grief. The king who is asastra-chakshu can overcome his handicap, the absence of an institution of spies by having an organized group of personal secretariat, sahaya-sampada. Existence of written codes by itself is not a guarantee that the kingdom will have a just rule. Is the king wantonly arbitrary or is he handicapped on account of structural weaknesses in the Rajaprakrti? The correction is to be effected in the intelligence wing.
Replacement of an Undesirable King
Wayward rulers are bound to destroy themselves. The Acharya fears that when the king is disabled or diseased, the amatyas (bureaucrats) become powerful and pose a threat to his life and harm the kingdom. He distrusts the ministers. He is for benevolent (not necessarily hereditary) monarchy. If a new king who can become popular by distribution of favours and remission of taxes is available, he should be supported and the diseased king deposed. Under such a benevolent and popular king, the people (prakrti) will remain pleased and happy he says (8-2-13). But Kautilya does not agree for even a disabled king may be able to maintain stable rule.
Kautilya for life-tenure for the king
There can be no compelling reasons for change. Kautilya had recommended life-tenure for the head of the state, assuming that the incumbent would ascend the throne only when he was about to retire from all personal economic pursuits. Most ancient kings came to the throne only very late in their life. He was preparing the crown prince who was in the prime of his life to take over on the kings death or retirement. But the Acharya wanted that the king should be physically active and retire after a term of five or ten years in office. It was change for the sake of change. Kautilya refused to endorse this suggestion.
Opposes overthrow of good kings even if old and disabled
Kautilyan constitutional reforms were intended not to supplant the bureaucracy but to strengthen the Rajaprakrti and to push through developmental programmes. Overthrow of a king is needed only when there is a trend towards decay. A stable administration though not dynamic, is not to be disturbed.
Kautilya does not depend on amatyas only for development, as they represent only sectional and vested interests. He does not countenance a new king in violation of constitutional procedures.
Though a diseased king may be deposed by the amatyas and acharyas (teachers) and a new one is installed by them with the advice that he should become popular through good deeds, that new king will think that he owes his position to his own strength and valour and will soon become a despot.
Kautilya did not intend to install such a despot on the throne. Besides such a king will have no roots among the people and will be soon uprooted (8-2-18). He favours the continuation of the disabled king who had come to occupy the throne through constitutional procedures. He halts the revolt.
Supports overthrow of kings who are sinners
The change in the incumbent will be warranted if he is morally sick, if he is a sinner. It has to be ascertained that the new king is an abhijata, born in a noble family (8-2-19,20). Kautilya does not support an upstart. The Acharya opts for a strong king, though low born. Kautilya points out that the common people follow the opinions of the jatya-aisvarya-prakrti, the traditional aristocrats. The elite mould the public opinion. They will not tolerate a plebeian ruler whether strong or weak (22 to24).
The entire disputation is cast against the background of an urgent need to select and train a successor from a noble family without overthrowing the weak but legitimate and virtuous king (8-2-25,26).