As many of you have asked, in the last post, to write something about Chanakya, so here is it is. Chanakya was a master politician and a known economist. In short i would say - a multi talented person, who played the role of an Empire-builder in the background. He played the same role in the unification of Bharat as the one by Bismarck in the unification of Prussia in 19th century. He was, infact, the original Machiavelli.
I wanted to post some thing about the personal life of Chanakya, but that post is under preparation. Though, i had some thing else to share about him, so thought of posting.
Chanakya wrote a treatise - Arthashastra. In one of the chapters, Chanakya mentions method to test the character of ministers. After reading this, one can well understand the level of thinking of Chanakya.
The Arthashastra is an ancient Indian treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy, written in Sanskrit, by Chanakya. He was the guardian/minister of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya, who founded the Mauryan Empire around 322 BC. The text was known till 12th century, when it disappeared. It was rediscovered in 1904.
Various scholars have described it in different manner. I found one particular comment by a scholar interesting. It says > Arthashashtra is "a book of political realism, a book analysing how the political world does work and not very often stating how it ought to work, a book that frequently discloses to a king what calculating and sometimes brutal measures he must carry out to preserve the state and the common good."
Centrally, it argues how in an autocracy an efficient and solid economy can be managed. It discusses the ethics of economics and the duties and obligations of a king. The scope is, however, far wider than statecraft, and it offers an outline of the entire legal and bureaucratic framework for administering a kingdom, with a wealth of descriptive cultural detail on topics such as mineralogy, mining and metals, agriculture, animal husbandry, medicine and the use of wildlife. It also focuses on issues of welfare (for instance, redistribution of wealth during a famine) and the collective ethics that hold a society together.
Though this text looks like a book on political science. :-P
I found it interesting. While reading this wonderful text, i came across some interesting information.
Chanakya tells the Emperor , the method to ascertain the TRUE character of the ministers of the state, in Chapter-10 of Text-1.
Before first reading i thought it would be boring but as i started to read, it appeared really interesting to me, and then i decided to share it here.
I am mentioning the text from Arthashastra, in as easy language as possible.
Here is the Method >
Chanakya says -> "ASSISTED by his prime minister (mantri) and his high priest, the king shall, by offering temptations, examine the character of ministers (amatya) appointed in government departments of ordinary nature."
The methods are :
1. Religious Allurement
The king shall dismiss a priest who, when ordered, refuses to teach the Vedas to an outcaste person or to officiate in a sacrificial performance (apparently) undertaken by an outcaste person (ayajya).
Then the dismissed priest shall, through the medium of spies under the guise of class-mates (satri), instigate each minister one after another, saying on oath "this king is unrighteous; well let us set up in his place another king who is righteous, or who is born of the same family as of this king, or who is kept imprisoned, or a neighbouring king of his family and of self-sufficiency (ekapragraha), or a wild chief (atavika), or an upstar (aupapadika); this attempt is to the liking of all of us; what dost thou think ?"
If any one or all of the ministers refuse to acquiesce in such a measure, he or they shall be considered pure. This is what is called religious allurement.
2. Monetary Allurement
A commander of the army, dismissed from service for receiving condemnable things (asatpragraha) may, through the agency of spies under the guise of friend, incite each minister to murder the king in view of acquiring immense wealth, each minister being asked "this attempt is to the liking of all of us; what dost thou think?"
If they refuse to agree, they are to be considered pure. This is what is termed monetary allurement.
3. Love Allurement
A woman-spy under the guise of an ascetic and highly esteemed in the women-apartments of the king may allure each prime minister (mahamatra) one after another, saying "the queen is enamoured of thee and has made arrangements for thy entrance into her chamber; besides this, there is also the certainty of large acquisitions of wealth."
If they discard the proposal, they are pure. This is what is styled love-allurement.
4. Allurement under Fear
With the intention of sailing on a commercial vessel (prahavananimittam), a minister may induce all other ministers to follow him. Apprehensive of danger, the king may arrest them all. A spy under the guise of a fraudulent disciple, pretending to have suffered imprisonment may incite each of the ministers thus deprived of wealth and rank, saying, "the king has betaken himself to an unwise course; well, having murdered him, let us put another in his stead. We all like this; what dost thou think?"
If they refuse to agree, they are pure. This is what is termed allurement under fear.
-> Assignment of Offices to the tested Ministers
Of these tried ministers,
- those whose character has been tested under religious allurements shall be employed in civil and criminal courts (dharmasthaniyakantaka sodhaneshu);
- those whose purity has been tested under monetary allurements shall be employed in the work of a revenue collector and chamberlain;
- those who have been tried under love-allurements shall be appointed to superintend the pleasure-grounds (vihara) both external and internal;
- those who have been tested by allurements under fear shall be appointed to immediate service;
-> and those whose character has been tested under all kinds of allurements shall be employed as prime ministers (mantrinah),
-> while those who are proved impure under one or all of these allurements shall be appointed in mines, timber and elephant forests, and manufacturing industries.
Teachers have decided that in accordance with ascertained purity, the king shall employ in corresponding works those ministers whose character has been tested under the three pursuits of life, religion, wealth and love, and under fear.
Never, in the view of Chanakya, shall the king make himself or his queen an object (laksham, butt) of testing the character of his Councillors, nor shall he vitiate the pure like water with poison.
Sometimes the "prescribed medicine may fail to reach the person of moral disease"; the mind of the valiant, though naturally kept steadfast, may not, when once vitiated and repelled under the four kinds of allurements, return to and recover its original form.
Hence having set up an external object as the butt for all the four kinds of allurements, the king shall, through the agency of spies, find out the pure or impure character of his ministers (amatya).
This means that even after the above 4 kinds of tests, the ministers were subjected to scrutiny by the spies, which i will be writing in future, in case you don't get bored and enjoyed this post. :-P
This article has been posted under the Ashoka Maurya section of this history BLOG.