Introduction to shADguNyam – six measures of foreign policy

As explained in last post the circle of kings have their excellences and interact with each other based on their respective policies.

Seventh book of artha SAstra is called shADguNyam. saD means six, guNa approximately means measure or act.

saMdhi = agreement of peace
vigraha = defend by waging war or being offensive and restricting the opponent
Asana = do nothing or wait and watch
yAna = march forward for a war
samSraya = get shelter under a superior power
dvaidI-bhAva = make saMdhi (with one power) and vigraha (with the other)

Are all the six above valid? some earlier teachers like vAtavyAdhi (probably uddhava) of artha SAstra felt there are only two, the first two saMdhi and vigraha are the only valid policies. Either you make peace or you wage a war with the opponent.

But, wait and watch is a policy, similarly marching ahead before opponent starts his offence or gaining help from a more powerful king before opponent moves are also valid policies; similarly simultaneous sandhi with one power and continued war with another is a situational policy; that is also very valid. Hence, kauTilya concludes that there are indeed six measures of foreign policy called shADguNyam.

A leader / king’s power / position within the circle of kings i.e., the maNDala, will either diminish (kshya) or remain (sthana) or improve (vRddhi). It is very important to decide honestly the direction in which the time is leading to. 

Taking whatever of above six means there is a larger improvement, one should take that. Taking any of the measures the improvement can be made faster one should take that.

By taking any of the above measures if there is diminishing of current status that should not be taken.

If there is going to be same amount of loss to self and opponent or similar benefit to self and opponent then one should take the route of wait and watch. But not for too long!

So, एवं षड्भिर्गुणैरेतैः स्थितः प्रकृति मण्डले ।
पर्येषेत क्षयात् स्थानं स्थानात् वृद्धिंच कर्मसु ॥

A king established himself in the maNDala of nature, should continuously act in a way that he moves up from the point of diminishing to stability and stability to improvement using the sixflod measures. 

Thus we reach the end of first chapter of seventh book of artha SAstra that establishes the six fold measures and gives a fundamental principle of kshya, sthana and vRddhi using the shADguNyam. This is the 99th chapter from the beginning of artha SAstra. 


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