Archive for the ‘cANakya’ Category

An analysis of allies

April 28, 2016

Ninth chapter of seventh book of artha SAstra deals with agreements related to allies – mitra sandhi

In joint efforts if the gain is allies, wealth, land/territory then latter is beneficial than the former. i.e., if we gain territory it will eventually give the wealth and allies; if the wealth is gained, allies can be gained automatically.

An agreement that is made to gain allies is called mitra sandhi. Lets now take a look at allies.

Is it better to have a permanent allay who is not amenable or a temporary allay who is amenable? Earlier teacher’s opinion is to have a permanent allay but “No” says kauTilya it is better to have a temporary allay who is helping. Helping verily the nature of a friend. is it not?

Is it better to have a temporary allay who is giving a big benefit or one who is permanent but gives continuous small benefit? Earlier teachers opted the first one. But kauTilya prefers the one who is permanent and provides continuous small help.

Is it better to have a powerful but slow to respond allay or not so powerful but quick responding allay? Earlier teachers felt the powerful even slow responding is better. But, kauTilya opts for the second as the help needed should come quickly when needed.

Is it better to have an allay who gives support in the form of army or one who provides help in the form of money? It is better to have one who help in the form of money.

Is it better to have one who provides money or one who provides his territory? It is better to have one who lets us use his territory – it is the opinion of kauTilya.


nityam, vaSyam, laghUtthAnam, pitRpaitAmaham mahat
advyadhyam, ca iti sampannam mitram shaDguNam ucyatE 

permanent, amenable, quickly responding, acquainted by father and forefathers, powerful, unsplittable are the six qualities that are required in a best friend. 

Of the allies, one who is friendly only with the vijigIshu is true friend. One who neither helps vijigIshu nor the opponent is the neutral friend. One who helps both vijigIshu and the opponent is a dual friend.


kAraNAkAraNadhvastam karaNAkAraNAgatam
yO mitram samapEkshEta sa mRtyumupagUhati 

An allay who distanced himself for some small reason or for no reason and comes back for some reason or with no reason – allowing such an allay into the circle is inviting death for a vijigIshu

Finally  consider the greater benefit even after a wait of long time which is certain is better than the small benefit that comes quickly even though it is certain. But if greater benefit is uncertain one should consider looking for a small benefit that is certain and quick.

Hence, understanding the “friends”, one should consider the one’s own fulfillment of needs and then enter into the agreements with friends.

defensive reaction of "attacked" & special allies

January 15, 2016

Eight chapter of seventh book of artha SAstra deals with two aspects of foreign policy.

yAtavya vRttiH – When multiple opponents are joining together to attack the king then one should understand the reasons for such an alliance between the opponents. Then the strategy is to either split that alliance by creating differences between the parties or defect one key member in opposition alliance by:

  1. offering double the benefit or 
  2. by highlighting the adverse consequences of war like vyaya – expenditure, pryAsa – exertion, pratyavAya – adversity, parOpakAra – helping others to prosper that can turn dangerous, and SarIra bAdhA – physical pain of war.

anugrAhya mitra visEshAH – There are some special types of allies or friends circle. When dealing with them in terms of making agreements and sharing profits. They can be favored more due to special nature:

They are:

  1. SakyArambhi – One who takes up the responsibility to do something only when he is capable of achieving result
  2. kalyArambhi – One who takes up defect-less endeavors.
  3. bhavyArambhi – who carries out actions keeping the long term future in mind. 
  4. sthirakarma – one who firmly determined to achieve. 
  5. anurakta-prakRti – one whose subordinates are pleasantly obedient and loving. 

There are various other situations and considerations of breaching previous agreements in favor of new ones. But simple conclusion is:

समे हि लाभे संधिः स्याद्विषमे विक्रमो मतः ।
सम हीन विशिष्टानामित्युक्ताः संधिविक्रमाः ॥

If the profit between equals is equal then sandhi – agreement. If not then conflict; considering the special cases! 

Thus on this auspicious makara Sankaranti day, we reach the end of chapter 8 of book 7 that covers 114 and 115 topics in the 106th division when counted from the first without special book divisions of artha SAstra. 

Balancing powers using dual policy – dvaidIbhAvikAH sandhivikramAH

September 27, 2015

It has been over two months from the last post dealing with treaties related to war.

Probably the seventh chapter of 7th book is one of the most complex dealing with the dvaIdI-bhAva or dual policy.

What is dual policy? – Continue the conflict with one opponent while making an agreement with the other. So, fundamentally there is an offer that need to be made by the vijigIshu or to take a decision to accept/reject an offer made by another in rAja manDalam i.e., the circle of kings.

The dual policy is all about bargaining power (or negotiating power) in the circle of kings. Some offers from weak opponent may need to be accepted and sometimes an offer need to be made towards a weak opponent to have a strategic long term advantage in the circle of kings.

By applying dual policy one should exchange the money power with material power or material power into money. Example: getting access to a suitable location to attack a more powerful opponent by offering slightly higher price to the current owner of that location.

This chapter deals with unequal treaties with opponents or groups of opponent. It also deals with studying such unequal treaties that are happening between other kings in the circle of kings.

There are only 31 statements in this chapter that are arranged into 10 different scenarios based on who is offering, what is the offer, what are the conditions of offer, who is accepting, what are the conditions of acceptance by shri L.N Rangarajan in The Arthasastra (Penguin)

अतो बुद्ध्येत पणितः पणमानस्च कारणम्
ततो वितर्क्योभयतो यतः श्रेयस्ततो व्रजेत्

So, the offers made by opponents need to be analyzed for the intentions behind them along with the offer and its conditions. Value of the offer and the intentions behind such offer need to be carefully analyzed before accepting or rejecting such offers. Having understood the offer, reason the impacts of accepting and rejection thoroughly. Then take what is beneficial in long term.

That is the art of negotiation as per kauTilya in 105th chapter of artha SAstra that is 7th of 7th book.

On treaties related to war

July 14, 2015

Sixth chapter of book 7 deals comprehensively on treaties related to war. The treaties are primarily of 2 types.

1. paripaNita:  Conditional and 2. aparipaNita: without any conditions

One should make an unconditional treaty with an opponent who is wicked, who is in a hurry, who is a short sighted to findout the defects and then breach. Other than for this disceving purpose treaties should not be made without conditions or obligations.

Conditions are based on place (dESa) i.e., “I will deal with this territory and you will deal with that territory” or time (kAla) “I will deal with such and such time and you should cover at this time” or a specific result (artha) i.e, “I will do this work and achieve such and such reasult and you should do that work and achieve such and such result” 

So, any one of the above (3 types) any two of the combinations dESa and kAla, dESa and artha, kAla and artha (3 types) and all the three (1 type) makes up seven types of conditional treaties are possible.

One should consider the difficulties of territory (Some territories are easier to deal and some are difficult e.g., mountains, snow etc.,) time (some times are easier and others are difficult e.g., cold winters or hot summers) and some objectives are easier and others very difficult while agreeing on treaties.

Having agreed, one should start and complete the obligations of their part first. Then look at assessing other side.

In all the treaties, there are four aspects that need to be managed. The first aspect is called AkRta-cikIrsha this deals with maintaining the ecosystem changes and placing the new king / treaty in its suitable place. The new treaty will result in adjusting the positions of other agreements and relationships.

The second aspect is the kRta-slEshaNam that deals with obliging the conditions from both sides. Making sure the obligations are met with diligence is the second aspect.

If the opponent is joining hands with enemy, violating the conditions is called kRta-vidUshaNam, which is the third aspect.

The fourth aspect is called avaSIrNa-kriya is about renegotiation of violated treaty with the other party.

Now cANakya discusses on the reasons for parties violating the treaty. Earlier teachers list multiple reasons but kauTilya puts them into three heads: 1. fear, 2. non-engagement 3.anger are the only causes of violation of treaties.

When renegotiating, one should consider the following four situations:
1. One who has walked away with some valid reason and came back due to valid reason
2. One who as walked away without any reason and came back without any reason
3. One who has left due to valid reason but came back without any reason
4. One who has left without any reason but came back with a valid reason

One who has seen a valid defect in the leader and left and came back as he sees the defect of leader is gone such a person can be considered for renegotiated samdhi…. who has left due to his own defect and came back seeing some benefit should not be allowed to join….. [cANakya gives several hints of situations of renegotiation is allowed and barred!!]

Finally the chapter concludes with definitions of three types of war:
1. prakASa yuddham: Open war, agreed time and place for the war and both armies fight in the designated place at designated time.
2. kUTa yuddham: Sudden attack without any hint, agreeing to fight at one place and attacking at another place etc., and
3. tUshNIm yuddham: Silent or cold war – secretly causing difficulties in the opponent’s territory

What is astonishing to me in this chapter is the detailed consideration of situations and enumerating all the aspects of treaties!  May be one can write a complete book based on this one chapter!!

sAmavAyika parimarSa – cooperative alliance – Some thoughts

July 5, 2015

The third topic discussed in 5th chapter of seventh book of artha SAstra is about forming alliance for attacking the opponent in the war.

sAmavAyika is the ally. They are needed for various reasons. 1. They can help in the attack. 2. They can wage the war from the other side when enemy is engaged in the war with you. 3. They can help protecting your kingdom when you are engaged in fighting with the enemy.

Ally should be chosen based on the sakti (power) and suchi (purity ) A pure ally will remain stable in the event of either win or loss.

When there is a question of weather to go with “one stronger ally or two equal power allies?” — It is better to go with two equal allies. If you go with a powerful ally, you will be inferior in the combination. Going with two equal allies, you can take the lead.

When there is a question of weather to go with “one equal ally or two inferior power allies?” — It is better to go with two inferior power allies. They can be used to do two different things at the same time. One can attack the enemy from the other side and one can protect. They can be controlled easily as well.

After the win: (in case of alliance war) — If you are working with a powerful ally and the ally is not pure, you should leave immediately. If the ally is pure wait till your ally asks you to leave.

Even if the ally is equal power, if the ally is not pure towards giving the results — you should move away quickly after protecting all that what you can protect. The victory and growth makes the mind of the winner vicious. {vRddhi chitta vikAriNI} says kauTilya.

When the powerful ally do not treat you well and give reasonable winnings you should not express your dissatisfaction immediately. You move away peacefully and wait for the opportunity to get double of what you are supposed to get!


you treat you allies diligently. Give them the correct share after winning; in case you lead the alliance. This pure behavior improves your image in the rAja manDalam and helps long term relationships.

Time and again, kauTilya emphasizes on purity of thought, behavior of the leader in all the dealings.

Reasons for weakness, selfishness and inaction in constituent elements

July 1, 2015

In the last post ( ) there is a discussion on selecting the candidate for attack. Vulnerability due to anger of prakRtis and the nature of opposition are key decision parameters.

Immediately after that topic, kauTilya states the reasons for kshINa – decay / weakness, lobha – greed / selfishness and vairagya – indifference / inaction in the followers of a king / leader.

1. keeping good people away 2. accepting bad ones nearby
3. allowing injury 4. unrighteous attitude of the king
5. removing righteous officers from the duties
6. talking unrighteously (not even action, talking in unrighteous manner itself causes bad attitudes in followers!!)
7. doing things that should not be done and 8. not doing things aught to be done
9. giving to those who are not eligible and 10. not giving to those who are eligible
11. punishing those who should not be punished and 12. not punishing those who should be punished
13. imprisoning those who should not be and 14. not imprisoning those who should be
15. doing useless stuff and 16. not doing useful stuff
17. not protecting from thieves 18. stealing people’s money (read as corruption!!)
19. not respecting sincere efforts 20. not encouraging good qualities
21. interfering in the activities of officers 22. disrespecting those who should be respected
23. showing favouritism towards a group of people 24. being untruthful
and kings mistakes, laziness and non-protection of subjects
leads to weakness, greed and inaction of subordinates.

kshINAH prakRtayO lObham lubdhA yAnti virAgatAm 
viraktA yAntyamitram vA bhartAram ghnanti vA svayam. 

Once the followers become weak, they become selfish. Selfishness / greed leads to non-attachment or indifference. They reach the enemy or on their own attack the leader.

So, a leader should never cause kshaya, lObha, vairAgya in the followers. If there are any signs of such tendencies, they should be appropriately tackled and corrected immediately.

It is easier to organize the prakRtis under the leadership of appropriate leaders and it becomes easier to manage the hierarchy by keeping the control federated. — reminds chANakya!

Thoughts around attacking vulnerable opponent and natural enemy

June 15, 2015

We spoke about opponents and friends earlier in rAja maNDalam. In 5th chapter of shADguNyam, kauTilya deals with three different topics. This post summarizes the first topic called “yAtavya-amatrayOH-abhigraha-cintA”

In the group of opponents there are two categories that can be attacked. An opponent who is vulnerable due to his own internal problems is called yAtavya. If the opponent is a natural enemy who harms regularly is amitra.

In a situation of both the yAtavya and amitra have similar troubles then first one should attack amitra. Only after conquering the enemy one should attack other vulnerable opponent i.e, yAtavya.

It is probable that yAtavya may extend his help in conquering amitra. But never a amitra helps in the battle with yAtavya.

In case if the yAtavya is in deep troubles and very vulnerable and amitra is in lesser problems then one should attack yAtavya – say other teachers of artha SAstra. But kauTilya disagrees with this opinion. Even if the enemy (amitra) is in lesser troubles, one should first attack the enemy alone. With the attack, the enemy’s troubles increase. If one goes to attack vulnerable king (yAtavya), the amitra more likely to go and support the yAtavya by remedying his troubles. Otherwise, the amitra can attack you when you are busy attacking yAtavya. So, even if the amitra is in lesser troubles than the yAtavya the first attack should be on amitra only. This is the conclusion of kauTilya.

The next question is when there are multiple yAtavyas, who should be attacked first?
a. One who is in more troubles but who is righteous in nature?
b. One who is in less troubles but is non-righteous? or
c. One whose prakRtis (constituent elements) are turned against?

When such a question arises, one should attack the yAtavya whose prakRtis have developed dislike towards their leader. (option c above)

Next question is: One should attack whose constituent elements are weak and selfish? or whose prakRtis are angered by the actions of their leader?

kauTilya’s opinion is “even thought the prakRtis are weak if they are loyal to the king it will be difficult to conquer. So, the best option is to attack the enemy with angered prakRtis in the above case.

The final question regarding whom to attack is: When there is a powerful but unrighteous opponent and weak and righteous opponent, then who should be attacked first? Answer is clear. One should attack the unrighteous one even though he is powerful. Due to his unrighteous attitude his power will diminish. The prakRitis will help the righteous king.

So, attack is always focused on bringing the righteousness. Not the other way around. The unrighteous enemy whose powers are angered by his actions is the first target for the attack! That is conclusion of kauTilya in artha SAstra.

foreign policy – variations of "wait and watch"

May 23, 2015

We have seen the qualities needed by a conquering king / leader, followed by underlying philosophy of foreign policy, then a discussion on number of measures in the policy and concluded that there are six; Then cANakya deals with the subject of taking shelter i.e, surrendering first. Then we have seen the policies observed by a weak king in making peace.

In this 6th post on foreign policy, lets cover the topic related to Asana Asana literally means “to sit” or to pause. There are three variations of keeping quite. sthAnam to keep quite for a small benefit or a short pause that improves one’s own situation. Asanam – is to wait for a better opportunity or a bigger improvement to take up the decided policy of peace or conflict. upEkshanam – is waiting without deciding or applying any policy.

When the king and opponent are unable to reach victory decisively, one should opt either for continue the conflict after a pause (vigruhyAsanam) or make peace after a pause (samdhAyAsanam)

When one’s own capability is going to improve in future or opponent’s prakRti i.e., the constituent elements are going to get trouble one should continue the conflict but after duly waiting for the right opportunity. This is vigruhyAsanam. Decide to continue the conflict but pause.

When an opponent is fighting with another enemy, king should not intervene say some past teachers. Their argument is the opponent is all prepared for the war. The preparedness of opponent is a danger.

But, kauTilya says NO. If we let the opponent win over his enemy, that will be more dangerous. So, it is right to attack while the opponent is in conflict with his enemy. In this circumstance one should not wait and watch. Taking the option of vighra and yAna (conflict and attack).

Alone one can’t get on with attack of enemy, one should form association with multiple opponents of the enemy and attack the enemy. This is called sambhUya prayANam.  In this kind attack, after the victory, the enemy’s wealth should be partitioned in proportion to the effort put towards that victory by each of the members of the group. (In the modern day several countries join together and attack single nations)

General rules for applying policy; methods of agreements by a weak king

April 27, 2015

Based on the sakti i.e, power one should apply the shad-guNyam. One should seek sandhi with the opponent of equal or of stronger power. vigraha with the weaker. Fighting with the stronger is like a foot soldier fighting with the elephant! Fighting with equal is like two earthen pots dashing each other and destroying each other!!

If the stronger opponent is not desiring peace, then one should follow the techniques given in abalIyasam (13th book)

If the equal opponent is not desiring peace then harm them to the extent of the harm they inflict. Only when both pieces of the metal are heated up, the metal ends can be joined or welded!

Even after agreeing the peace, if the opponent becomes weak in his excellence, one should take the opportunity to conquer the opponent.

Even when powerful and continuing the war with the opponent, if the signs of weakness in own excellence then one should approach for the agreement of peace.

If war or peace do not result in any advancement then take a wait and watch policy.

Even though the opponent is powerful but going through situational difficulties then one should attack the opponent taking the opportunity.

Even though the opponent is weak, but one’s own powers have situational difficulties, in that situation one should seek shelter or if war with one and peace with other policy should be adopted if applicable.

In case of equal opponent all the above rules should be followed.

The following are some special points:
When a stronger opponent comes and occupies, the weaker king should just surrender and seek peace. This type of treaty is called as “AtmAmisha sandhi”

If the treaty is made in such a way that the military commander (sEnApati) along with troops will surrender and freeing the king from the opponent it is called “AtmarakshaNa sandhi”

If the treaty is made to just surrender the troops it is called “adrasTha purusha sandhi”. In this both the king and the chief army commander will be saved from surrender.

TYPE1: The above three sandhis are called dandOpanata sandhi i.e., by giving the troops. In first two of them one should get quickly into a marital relationship with the opponent king to make such a treaty stronger and more confident. In the third, one should secretly eradicate the opponent.

TYPE2: There are four types of sandhis that can be made by giving some of the wealth from the treasury i.e., kOsOpanata sandhis. I will pay some amount at some point – such an agreement is atyayita sandhi. If the money is paid in lump sum it is parikraya sandhi of if it is paid in installments it is called upagraha sandhi. Or if some amount of gold and a marital relationship will result in “suvarna sandhi”

TYPE3: There are three modes of dEsOpanata sandhis these depend on giving a part of the territory to the opponent. Giving one part, giving majority of territory leaving only the fort and some important areas or giving the tax income from some of the territory make up these sandhis.

So, there are three types of hIna sandhis that are available at the disposal when a stronger opponent attacks a weaker opponent. The best course of action should be chosen from the options above based on the place and time considerations by the weaker king.

This post covers sections 101 and 102 of artha SAstra; i.e., chapter 3 of book 7.

saMSraya vRttiH – On seeking shelter

March 22, 2015

Having established the fact that there are six measures dealing with situations in the circle of kings, now the discussion starts how to apply them on the field.

1. If the advancement and harm is same by taking either samdhi or vigraha one should resort to samdhi. By vigraha there is a risk of damage, expenditure etc.,

2. By the above statement, cANakya explained the sate of Asana and yAna as well. One should prefer Asana in the situation of similar results with both Asana and yAna.

3. When the same happens between dvaidI-bhAva and samSraya one should opt dvaidI-bhava, as a king who seeks shelter will end up doing the activity for the advancement of the king who has provided the shelter; where as the dvaidI-bhava still gives freedom to act on one’s own advancement.

So, samsraya is the last option for a leader! and cANakya discusses about that as the first topic in shADguNyam!! 

One should seek shelter from the king who is more powerful than the opponent. It is better to seek shelter from a king who is not a natural enemy to the king. If such a king is not found, as a last resort one should surrender to the opponent himself.

One should keep watching the situation of the king who provided the shelter. When the shelter provider has weakened, king should move away from his shelter.

If there is fear simultaneously from two opponents, one should seek refuge under the powerful opponent. This has to be done only after considering the option of dvaidI-bhAva i.e., come to an agreement of peace with one and continue conflict with the other.

If the situation of two opponents simultaneously mount pressure, one should seek shelter from the most justly behaved middle king.

Finally, a concluding piece of advice:
प्रियो यस्य भवेद्योवा प्रियोऽस्य कतरस्तयोः ।
प्रियो यस्य स तं गच्छेत् इति आश्रयगतिः परा ॥
If there is a question weather to seek shelter from “who likes you” or “whom you like”? Then surely get shelter from the one “who likes you” – This is the supreme method of surrender.

I think this one is an evergreen advice to one and all dealing with any type of protection. Go to the one “who likes you” rather than the one “whom you like”!!!

Thus we reach the end of 2nd chapter of shADguNyam.