kaNTaka SOdhnam – removing thorns

kaNTaka – कण्टक means “any troublesome seditious person (who is , as it were , a thorn to the state and an enemy of order and good government) literally thorn” and SOdhana – शोधन means “clearing up, sifting, removal, eradication”

For the being of society, those who create pain are the kaNtakas. They need to be cleared up for smooth functioning. This is the subject matter of 4th book of artha SAstra.

First book dealt with the training needed for a Leader or King. Second one has given a good guidance in appointing all the “administrative officers” all the way from advisor to revenue collector for a unit of 10 families called gOpa. Third book dealt with the judicial system and resolving civil and criminal disputes.

Now, in the fourth book cANakya takes up the subject of making the territory free from the “anti social elements”. In every society, a small portion of the members give pain to the whole of the society. It is the King’s responsibility to clean up these elements and protect all the “civilians” from the “criminal” forces.

kaNTaka SOdhanam (Suppression of criminals) has 13 chapters dealing with protecting people from cheating skilled workers, cheating traders, thieves, underworld, secret agents, from accidents related to fire, flood etc., Investigation of all unnatural sudden deaths, interrogation using torture and dealing with crime against women and violation of maidens.

Three commissioners (pradEshTAraH) of the same rank as minister should take up the task of kanTaka SOdhanam. This is more like a Home Minister along with police force in modern day governance. The criminal offences like sAhasa, vAk pArushya and danDa pArushya in dharmasthIyam deal with settling disputes once the parties approach the court or a judge. The police force provides a proactive removal of criminals and protect the kingdom from inside.  

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