KAUTILYA AND ECONOMIC FACTORS IN
INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL POLICY
Six-fold Policy (Shad-Guna)
Vatavyadhi held that inter-state policy was based on the two situations, peace and war (samdhi and vigraha) (7-1-2). This simplism was rejected by the Acharya (Krpa?) and also by Kautilya. They followed the traditional identification of six alternatives, samdhi, vigraha, asana, yana, samsraya and dvaidhibhava. The features of these policies are described in Bk.7 Ch.1 of Arthasastra and have interested modern statesmen.
Samdhi is described as panabandha. It has the force of an economic contract. A condition of peace is based on monetary pledges. Normally a weak king must make peace with his potential (and powerful) enemy. Vigraha is a state of hostility involving deployment of forces and total breakdown of relations and also harming the enemy. Asana is waiting for external forces to change the balance of power. Yana is marching for confrontation at the front line. Samsraya is seeking protective alliance (perhaps with the Udasina king who is indifferent). Dvaidhibhava is an attempt at preventing ones two neighbouring enemies from joining hands by entering into a treaty with one and by declaring hostility to the other. (This policy has not been presented correctly by many.)
The conqueror (vijigishu) is advised to adopt that policy which would enable him to build forts, construct dwellings and commercial roads, establish new plantations and villages, exploit mines and forests and at the same time harass the enemy (7-1-20). He is not satisfied with receiving tributes from the weaker kings. He wants to control trade-routes and establish new colonies.
Kautilya holds that competition and conflict between two economically developing states is inevitable. If they are growing at the same rate, they are advised to make peace with each other. (23)
But a king should not adopt that policy which would cost him loss of profit from his own works while it entails no such loss to the enemy, as it leads to his decay (kshaya) rather than to that of his enemy in economic and hence political and military power. (24, 25)
Even though the project of conquest may result in decay and reduced power within his primary state, if the king feels that acquisition of land from the enemy will offset his loss, he is advised to neglect the temporary decline and embark on aggressive war (vigraha).
It was not the state as a whole but it was the king (rajan or svami) who declared war. He did not need to wait to ensure that he was drawing only on internal surplus to finance his conquests. Wars were not fought by peoples or nations or even by states. Nationalism per se does not lead to wars, to aggression or even to defence.
Kautilya was keenly aware of this reality and to its economic and moral implications. The guiding principle for all aggressive war is the obtaining of a better economic situation for the conquerors primary state at the end of the war than the one prevailing before the war. Hence temporary decay need not be a restraint on launching an attack or an economic project.
The postulate that an economically prosperous state can afford to be imperialistic, politically, militarily and economically is valid. At the same time, it has to be recognised that a prosperous state which experiences a temporary decay tends to become militarily aggressive. Preparation for war may result in temporary stagnation (sthana) in the conquerors state. But it is permissible if it is productive of more benefits to him than to his enemy.
Treaty of Peace (Samdhi): Economic Factors
The Acharya voices the view that if both the neighbouring states are stationary (economically) or are progressing at the same rate, they should forge peace (samdhi). Kautilya adds some provisos. If the terms of peace are such that the conqueror is able to undertake productive works of importance and at the same time weaken the enemy, then the treaty should not be broken. If the conqueror enjoys benefits from his projects and also from those undertaken by the enemy, the treaty should be honoured.
If he is able to reduce the enemys labour force and increase his own with that, the treaty is to be welcomed. The enemy may by a proviso be required to seek the conquerors protection when pressed by another enemy of his, instigated by that conqueror. (Enemys enemy is a friend.) Then he may compel the enemy to enter into another treay more beneficial to himself (that is, to the conqueror, vijigishu). [The reader may examine the treaties entered into by modern states on the basis of this counsel.]
The treaty may also require the erstwhile enemy to harass another of the conquerors enemies. [The reader may re-read the events that led to the wars that Independent India got into from this angle.] A treaty of peace is entered into by a king with his potential enemy. It has to be entered into only after crippling the latter so that the vijigishu benefits more than his weakened inimical neighbour.
Samdhi is a treaty not only between two equals but also between two unequals. However to augment ones own resources a truce may be arrived at before weakening the enemy. If the enemy is not a neighbour but is a member of a rival circle (mandala) of states, in order to break it, the vijigishu may enter into a treaty with him and then allow him to be destroyed by that mandala. This is pragmatism. (7-1-32)
Conditions for Other Policies
Arthasastra advises that open hostility, vigraha, may be resorted to, by the conqueror only when manpower and the terrain are favourable to him and when the enemy is afflicted by internal troubles. The ally of the conqueror is to be encouraged to attack the enemy situated between the two, forcing the subjects of the enemy to flee the country of the latter. The conqueror would use the migrs to put down his enemy. War has been between kings and not between peoples. [The wars engaged in by medieval European and also by Asian chieftains have been of this type.]
Asana is observed when the conqueror and his enemy have equal advantages and when neither can attack the other without damaging his own strength. It is a state of No-war, and not a state of peace. Yana leads to confrontation. It is recommended if by that the enemys positions can be damaged without the conqueror damaging his.
Samsraya (protective alliance) is to be resorted when the vijigishus internal economy is on the decline (kshaya), so that he may first regain equilibrium (sthana) and then progress (vrddhi). Dvaidhibhava, the dual policy, helps in increasing ones own resources through a treaty of peace with one of the two enemies and destroying the resources of the second enemy. The empire is to be built by adopting all the six policies.
Bk.7 of the Arthasastra with over seven hundred maxims (sutras) on six-fold policy (shad-guna) constitutes a major interest of Arthasastra, the establishment of suzerainty by the vijigishu over the entire chakravarti-kshetra (areasunder the confederation).
Kautilya vs. the Acharya: on war
May the conqueror keep quiet after declaring war against the enemy? The Acharya warns that turning back the enemy may swallow him if he did so (7-4-8). Kautilya clarifies that his suggestion about no-war (sthana) is not to be treated as a general rule. Its intent is to check the march of his enemy against the latters enemy who is an ally of the vijigishu. That ally of the vijigishu needed the diversion of the forces of their common enemy. When that happens that ally would be in a position to recoup and be of aid, Kautilya explains. Should the vijigishu who seeks to expand his territory make war against an enemy whose subjects are poverty-stricken (kshinalubdha) or against one whose subjects are indisciplined (apacharitra)? (7-5-12).
While the former are dissatisfied as their needs are not met, the latter are rebellious. Kautilya advises against attacking the former for the people though poor may yet love their king. Which type of renegade should be welcomed back? The Acharya was against welcoming one who had failed to profit from his works or had lost his influence or had made his learning a commercial article or was inquisitive to see different countries. The weak and the disloyal and the incompetent and the adventurist who had left the company of the king who seeks to expand his territories and extend his influence should not be welcomed back, he said (7-6-30). Kautilya notes that the above suggestion indicates a sense of fear and shows intolerance (31).
Loyalty to the state or to the king or to the leader cannot call for the surrender of ones right to pursue ones own interests. Kautilya calls for a rational and pragmatic approach to the issue of accepting a renegade to ones fold. It was agreed that the renegade who had harmed the vijigishu earlier should not be taken back. But if he had harmed the enemy after association with the latter, he might be taken back.
The maxims 7-13-29 to 32 suggest that the Acharya was against open war and preferred diplomatic war (mantra-yuddham) while Kautilya advocated open war despite losses sustained initially by the vijigishu. [Kangle does not seem to have presented Kautilyas stand correctly. The text is faulty.] Kautilya could not have underestimated the importance of diplomatic war and use of psychological means to unnerve the enemy.
In 7-15-13, Kautilya suggests that when overwhelmed by the enemy the vijigishu would be advised to abandon his fort while the Acharya favoured his fighting recklessly regardless of the losses sustained by him. Kautilya however advised the conqueror to come to terms with the enemy. Discretion is the better part of valour.
Kautilya vs. the Acarya: On Mutual Alliances (Bk.7 Ch.9)
Arthasastra Ch 9 to 12 of Bk.7 describes the conditions under which the conqueror should enter into a pact with another king in pursuit of common goals. Of the different benefits accruing from such a pact, acquisition of a friend is by itself very valuable but securing gold is more useful and gaining lands is the best (7-9-1.) [No treaty of friendship and co-operation is worth the paper on which it is written if it does not enable the country that is a party to it to acquire the lands that it needs and longs for.]
The Teacher (Acharya), an idealist rather than a pragmatist, opted for a friend who would be constant though not submissive to the vijigishu, a ruler who wanted to expand his territory and increase his influence, for he would not harm. (7-9-9) Kautilya opted for a temporary but submissive ally.
In international relations, there are are no permanent friends. Kautilyas touchstone was the nature of the help rendered by the ally, not mere words of friendship. If a temporary friend (among the submissive ones) was to be selected he should be one capable of giving greater aid than others, the Acharya urged.
But Kautilya was not sure that such a friend would really help in contributing the outlay needed for the common endeavour, for he would expect from the vijigishu a similar large outlay. [Experts in international agreements may note.] Hence he preferred a long-standing, submissive friend with limited resources to a temporary one with large resources (7-9-15). For, the vijigishus is not a short-term project.
The ally must be able to mobilise his resources quickly. Kautilyas deuteragonist, the preceptor, recommends alliance with the ruler of a large country though he may be slow in mobilising his resources, for when mobilised it would be a formidable (military) alliance. But Kautilya is for alliance with the ruler of a smaller country, who is ready to assist in the joint endeavour. The treaty is sought by the vijigishu. The weaker ally is malleable and does not put strict terms for aid.(7-9-21.) [Tacticians may note.]
The Teacher expects scattered (demobilised) troops from the ally rather than his standing army for the vijigishu would not be able to command the latter (7-9-22). But Kautilya insists that he should ask for the standing army which though initially unwilling to accept the new commanders can be persuaded by various methods to be used by him. The scattered troops (ex-servicemen) cannot be easily persuaded to leave their vocations and go to the front. The standing army was always small and no king was able to part with any regiment without weakening his position. Kings recruited most of their troops from among the ordinary workers, especially, from among the tillers who were idle for most time.
While the Acharya prefers an ally who can supply troops, Kautilya opts for one who can extend financial aid. The standing Kshatriya troops and even the raw recruits of a country cannot be easily compelled to serve the ruler of another country. Kautilya hence would not seek to strengthen the army of the vijigishu by such troops (7-9-27). If endowed with money, he would be able to raise an army and other goods. He prefers a friend who would cede a territory to the vijigishu (7-9-33). That territory can provide both men and money required for war.
Kautilya found that the constitution did not permit the king (rajan or svami) to embark on conquests and did not permit him to raise more troops than necessary for protection of the people. The treasury was not at the disposal of the king.
The ambitious conqueror had to use his personal wealth to finance his dreams and hence sought a weak ally who would cede a portion of his territory from where the former could collect tributes and also raise additional troops. In case the pact is financially advantageous to the vijigishu, a long-term agreement which would result in a larger gain rather than a short-term one for a small gain has to be preferred, Kautilya says (7-9-52).
If the pact permits the vijigishu access to a new land, which type of land should he prefer? The Teacher suggests that a fertle land be accepted though its populace would be perpetually against the new ruler that the conqueror would be for them. For, it would yield the wealth needed for maintaining the army. Revolts could be put down by the army. Kautilya fears that it would amount to gaining only troubles.
A land with temporary enemies is better. They can be crushed or won over. And the border lands which the submissive ally might cede should be avoided as they are infested by robbers, aliens and wild tribes though they may have forts and are militarily advantageous (7-10-16). [This theorem is valid even today.]
In the case of uninhabited lands which should hence be preferred to the interior agricultural lands and the border lands, elephant-forests should be preferred to timber-forests, Kautilya felt. Elephants were needed for transport and also for the army (7-11-15).
The lands thus acquired from a weak submissive ally were to be distributed among the colonisers from the conquerors native country. While distributing the lands amongst them he should be discreet. The Acharya was against sending in the settlers for by their indiscretion they might bring the vijigishu into trouble.
But Kautilya was confident that that the vijigishu could prevent such indiscreet acts. New plantations were necessary and they should be set up in the acquired uninhabited land and the settlers are to be supervised gently so that they do not secede from their native land.
Like settling people on unihabited lands, undertaking of new projects like construction of forts, planting trees and laying trade-routes is important. Kautilya needs docile workers rather than adventurists for this (7-12-9). He prefers to acquire lands with vast mines of inferior ores like iron, and lead and tin to those with small mines of precious stones (7-12-16). He prefers to gain access to safe land-routes rather than to shorter but risky water-routes (20).
The Teacher (acharya) recommends acquisition of access to northern Himalayan routes (through a pact with the ally), but Kautilya finds the southern routes to the seas more beneficial (24).
Kautilyan policy of expansion led to establishing new colonies in the mine-rich uninhabited lands to the south of the Indo-Gangetic plains and to the expansion of the mega-state southwards resulting in bringing the entire subcontinent including the southern peninsula under the suzerainty of the vijigishu.
The pact with the weak ally should facilitate the opening of unsettled lands and land-routes especially to the south and gains from industrialisation that could be carried out only in those lands that were not within the agricultural belt. Kautilyan state was expanding southwards. The vijigishu had secured an ally who allowed him access to the southern peninsula. [Who was that vijigishu and who was that ally?]
Economic Sanctions and Emigration (Bk.7 Ch.9)
Kings are advised not to give room to such causes as would lead to impoverishment, greed and disaffection among their subjects and to take remedial measures immediately. The conqueror should think twice before attacking an enemy who commands the loyalty of his subjects. Economic sanctions against an enemy who is a charismatic ruler rather than economic inducements to his people to change sides are recommended.
The masses are attached to their ruler on the basis of his charisma, while the rich are not. The latter attend to only their personal economic interests. Economic sanctions against the masses imposed by the vijigishu can still be alleviated by their charismatic ruler. They may even become enraged against the conqueror and call for war. (Statesmen may note.)
The collapse of the charisma of a ruler may be gauged when the masses begin to emigrate. Kautilya distinguishes three types of dissatisfied among the subjects of the enemy, the impoverished, the greedy and the disaffected.
A state subjected to economic sanctions by the powerful conqueror has to change its economic policy. It cannot afford to lose its manpower. Liberal subsidies and supply of grains are needed to retain the common people within the state. Still this cannot prevent the emigration of the skilled personnel, yugyapurusha. [Kautilya did not give credence to the notions of patriotism and nationalism.] They have to be paid more to be retained in the country. Brain-drain needs to be avoided by every country.
Kautilya does not expect economic incentives to succeed in winning over all the sections of the population. The defending king may win over the greedy officials by allowing them to plunder the wealth of others, thereby preventing its falling into the hands of the conqueror. Arthasastra recognises that resistance by the masses can be overcome in course of time, as their ability to endure calamity wanes. Organised resistance is shattered with the removal of the leaders from the scene.
Types of Treaties (Bk.7 Ch.6)
Seven types of treaties between the conqueror (vijigishu) and his neighbour (samanta) with equal power and hence a potential enemy are described by Kautilya. These treaties are with respect to division of operations between the two in a third country. They emphasise either (a) the place of operation or (b) its timing or (c) the work to be done or (d) both place and time or (e) both place and work or (f) both time and work or (g) all the three, place, time and work.
Kautilya was importing into the field of political conquests the principles of agreement between an entrepreneur and his collaborator in the field of an economic venture in a third country. The vijigishu should choose the type which gives him an advantage over his equally strong ally.
Sometimes a pact without any condition on monetary obligations (aparipanita) may have to be arrived at (7-6-13). Pacts are never merely political in tones; they are mainly economic in their notes. Assuming that there are four states bordering one another, the samanta would engage one of them in conflict and the vijigishu the fourth and annex it. There is no common area of operation. The vijigishu is not expected to attack the samanta as long as the latter is not isolated and weakened considerably. In this alliance, the mandala scheme proper is not involved (15).
Stages in Treaties
The pact between the conqueror (vijigishu) and the neighbouring equally powerful king (samanta) has four stages---akrtachikirsha; krtaslekshanam; krtavidushanam; avashirnakrya (7-6-16). [We depart from the interpreta-tions given by Shama Sastry, Ghoshal and Kangle.]
Stage One: A new treaty is entered into, utilising the four stratagems, sama, dana, bheda and danda, pacification, gifts, rifts and coercion, making it operative without break and indicating whether the two parties are equal or who is superior to the other. Stage Two: The pact is made secure by appointing mutual observers so that disputes do not arise.
Stage Three---It provides for the treaty to be ended if it is established that betrayal by one of the parties has taken place.
Stage Four---It provides for effecting reconciliation through their subordinates or friends. These four are not forms of treaties but are factors and stages indicated in the treaty of peace, friendship and cooperation. This is a treaty of mutual fidelity, a rare commodity in politics, domestic or international.
Arthasastra identifies three types of hostility (vigraha)open war (pratyakshayuddham), diplomatic war (koota-yuddham) and silent war (tushmi) (now popular as cold war). In the third, there is a breakdown of all relations; even the diplomatic channels through a third party to arrive at a reconciliation or truce are not available.
Treaties need not be between heads of states only. The head of a state may enter into a treaty with influential persons in one of the constituents (prakrtis) of another state, without binding the head of that state. An agreement may be entered into with a deposed ruler or chief. Kautilya had taken into account the various features of inter-state relations that prevailed during his times and was not a mere theoretician.
Colonization (Bk.7 Ch.11)
The occupation of the no-mans zone (sunyadesa) by two kings whose territories are adjacent and who hence are potential enemies but have entered into a pact for a common purpose is discussed by Kautilya and his deuteragonist, the Acharya. Kautilya brought it under pasture. Kautilya recommends that the vijigishu prefer a smaller irrigated land to a vast dry land, lands yielding foodgrains to those yielding commercial crops.
Food has to be given priority. However lands yielding spices and medicinal herbs may be preferred to those yielding foodgrains. Dry lands may be useful for constructing forts and defence works and may be selected if there is no excess agricultural population or if it is not possible to divert the excess agricultural population to the newly acquired irrigated lands. Kautilya agrees that annexation of arable lands helps in enriching the treasury and the granary which is needed to feed the workers engaged in mines and industries.
But the main aim is to increase the wealth of the country and this needs mines, precious stones and minerals. Only an industrialised country can become a great power. This was recognised by Kautilya. The object is to secure control over the circle of states (mandala). While annexing forest areas, elephant forests are to be preferred. Timber forests meet the needs of the consumers only and not of the army.
Kautilya prefers a colony with a scattered population to one peopled by a sreni, a politico-economic organisation with its own financial resources. Organised people are intolerant of calamities and get enraged quickly, he warns.
Colonization is intended to increase agricultural produce and stock the granary and draw from it to feed the craftsmen and the soldiers. Hence the colonies should be peopled by Shudra agriculturists, he suggests. [Kautilya had suggested that the push should be towards the south rather than towards the north. He sent the surplus Shudra agricultural workers of the north to settle in the unoccupied arable lands of the south. The rich landlords and traders, Vaisyas, of the north were not sent there.]
An acquired land with all the four classes (varnas) may turn into a self-sufficient community utilising its surplus to feed its own non-working population and weakening the kings hold over it. He cannot hold it for a long time. Kautilya did not want Brahmans, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas to be sent to the colonies established in the unihabited arable lands of the southern peninsula, it follows.
Some tracts might have been cultivated earlier but abandoned because of reduced fertility. Arthasastra advises that virgin lands be preferred to these for establishing new settlements. However the rich who can invest their own resources may be given the rights to colonize such infertile lands. Pasture and manufacture of consumer goods are their main attractions. Arthasastra does not recommend colonizing a thinly populated dry land, though it is easily defendable, for the object is to increase wealth.
Colonizing is not easy. Only a strong and high-born king who is a charismatic leader can succeed in this project. A colony cannot be held only by military strength, for the loss sustained in wasteful colonization will adversely affect the morale of the army. A colony is not to become a slave-camp set up to exploit its potentials.
The rich colonizer should be generous to his associates and men. If greedy, he will come to grief, being unsupported. If unrighteous, the founder will be chased out by the settlers and the old residents. He will have to respect their respective customs. If he is indiscreet, he will be vulnerable to the enemy and also liable to be destroyed by his monarch. The colonizers interests demand absolute loyalty to his king.
Colonization was a political move intended to provide the vijigishu with an advantage, militarily and economically, enabling him to tap the resources of the colony. It had to be a planned affair. It was made inevitable by the compulsions of the mandala scheme. It was expansion abetted and initiated by powerful kingdoms and had military as well as economic significance. The remoter the settlement was, the greater was the need for entrpreneurship.
In a settlement, we notice the presence of natives who are weak politically and economically and also of imported labour. A small but rich external alite and a comparatively large military contingent with its own chieftain are present. He may cause the emergence of a struggle for the overthrow of the conqueror and establish his own rule. Several attempts at colonization might have been abortive. In successful colonization, local customs are respected. Wise colonizers do not take religious leaders and proselytisers along with them. Kautilya was aware of all these aspects and insisted on these.
The Protector and the Vassal
Bk.7 Ch. 15, 16 Arthasastra describe three types of subordinate kings in the empirethe administrator, the governor and the viceroy. The defeated king is made the administrator of his country. Though he enjoys the status of Isvara, he is not free to acquire land even from a friend and thus his strength is permanently reduced. He rules for life-time but cannot install a heir-apparent without the permission of the vijigishu.
The latter may interfere with even marriages in his family if they had a political import. Isvara was a political status and not god as interpreted by theologians. The conqueror has the right to permit or prevent the construction of forts by the Isvara. He reserves the right to settle his own population in the vassals territory. They are not the subjects of the vassal. The vassal cannot enter into contracts, economic or otherwise, with the settlers without the permission of the protector. The local people are the subjects of the protector also. Ultimate coercive power is thus vested in the conqueror (vijigishu).
Historians may examine the features of the Mughal and British empires in the light of the above theorem which was advanced by Kautilya several centuries earlier. It needs to be said here that these features have made the present author wonder whether Bk.7 of the Arthasastra had undergone major doctoring to secure for the British colonial authorities the legitimacy that they badly needed.
They tended to argue that they were governing in accordance with the principles approved by the socio-political codes in vogue in India for several millennia and that they had not violated these or imposed on the peoples of India European practices and Christian ethics. Did the British administrators gain access to Kautilyan Arthasastra long before it came to limelight in 1900s? It has however to be acknowledged that the principles of colonization advocated in the extant text of Arthasastra do not sound to be discordant with Kautilyas policy.
Powerful kings who subordinate themselves to the overall protection by the conqueror enjoy certain privileges. They may march their troops against their enemies provided the rear-enemy of the vijigishu will not rise against the latter. They are free to adopt the four stratagems, sama, dana, bheda and danda, with respect to their enemies but they cannot adopt the six-fold policy (shadgunya). That is, they cannot enter into a treaty of peace with any ruler or declare war or adopt any of the other four policies. Such a king is not the head of a sovereign state (who is entitled to adopt shadgunyam). Such kings are in effect military governors and are free to engage in military actions against enemies.
The vijigishu may allow a powerful vassal freedom to decide whether a king defeated by the latter is to be reinstated or not. In such decisions, the viceroy must follow the rules prescribed in Dandaniti. He has to justify that his action is in the vijigishus interests. He is free to silence his potential enemies by ceding lands. He functions almost as an independent king. The conqueror does not challenge the sovereignty (svamitva) of this king over his own lands, which entitles the latter to surrender his land to his enemy to secure peace.
[A sovereign is one who is free to retain, to acquire and to cede lands.] He functions almost as an independent king when he embarks on his conquests on his own and enters into treaties. But he cannot offend the conqueror or undertake any project against the latter. The viceroy is free to protect his subjects and punish the guilty. But he is not free to annex the lands of the defeated kings or covet their wives or wealth. Hence his sovereignty is partial and restricted.
If a king has been slain, his kin should be installed in his place. In other words, the viceroy cannot seek to enlarge his own territory. His emergence as an independent powerful ruler is prevented. Since the vijigishu himself had adopted the policy of restraint towards him, the vceroy had to adopt a similar policy towards the kings conquered by him. Otherwise it would upset the mandala scheme. The viceroy appears to be an independent king when he wields danda and enters into treaties or embarks on war. But he is only a subordinate ally of the vijigishu.