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The Arthashastra

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  815 ratings  ·  47 reviews
The Arthashastra is an ancient Indian treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy, written in Sanskrit. It identifies its author by the names 'Kauṭilya' and 'Vishnugupta', both names that are traditionally identified with Chanakya (c. 350283 BC), who was a scholar at Takshashila and the teacher and guardian of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya, founder of the ...more
Hardcover, 878 pages
Published January 1st 1992 by Penguin Books India (first published -200)
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Mazib Mohammad If you can interpret it in the context of today's world, then yes. but, I would ask you to get some other versions translated in the context of the…moreIf you can interpret it in the context of today's world, then yes. but, I would ask you to get some other versions translated in the context of the corporate world. Also in addition to this get ''art of war'' by Sun Tsu (Translated in context to the corporate world)(less)

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Riku Sayuj


The Arthashastra is the most comprehensive treatise on statecraft of classical times, and perhaps of all time.

The Arthashastra is written mainly in prose but also incorporates 380 shlokas, which adds a vital poetic flourish to this otherwise down-to-earth classic. The text of this extraordinarily detailed manual contains fifteen books which cover numerous topics viz., the King; a complete code of law; foreign policy; secret services; civic responsibilities, and so
Alok Mishra
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful, viable and ever-relevant! You cannot subdue this treasure into oblivion any day!
Frank O'donnell
Dec 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This work is most commonly likened to Machiavelli, although it predates 'The Prince' by several centuries. With a similar attitude to statecraft to that of Machiavelli, this offers a far more comprehensive and detailed manual for realist power aggrandisment. It also differs from Machiavelli in its genuine concern for the welfare and economic prospects of domestic citizens, where Machiavelli dismisses such issues outright and instead advises that a king merely rule through fear. I would recommend ...more
Apr 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, history
Exhaustive and exhausting.
If only we had someone like Chanakya/Kautilya in charge of Indian Economy now!

Aug 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Don't think I'd do justice by reviewing it. Think would recommend it to read for yourself.
Jan 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: marketing
The Arthashastra is apparently one of the first books on political theory and was written in the 3rd century BC. The book itself is doesn't solely focus on political issues, but talks about statecraft, economy, military stragety and other topics.

The book itself is a very dry read, at least it was to me. The content was interesting enough though and showed a lot of insight into the ancient empires of India. It was especially intereting to me, knowing almost nothing about indian history to find
Ashok Krishna
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Arthashastra - a book that I had wanted to read ever since I read 'The Art of War' and learnt this to be a similar treatise but on political details. Gifted to me by a friend during September '10, it has taken me almost 5 years to finish reading this book.

A worthy reference material for anyone who wants to have a glimpse into how things were in the past. An exhaustive treatise of politics, diplomacy and war, this proves that the past was neither golden as we think with an assumed nostalgia,
James Violand
Feb 19, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one.
Shelves: own
Other than providing a perspective on governing a petty kingdom in the Subcontinent between 200 BC and 200 AD, there is hardly anything worthwhile to say about this book. Kautilya has recently been promoted to a semi-Machiavellian status. This is undeserved. Some of his advise is laughable: Making seige of a city? How do you assure its fall? Why, simply infiltrate your troops with the defenders!
I guess Kautilya's novelty will wear off and he will be relegated to the dustbin of history.
I only
Rohit Harip
Jul 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is bible/Quran/Geeta of diplomacy. what chanaya had written 2000 years ago in this script is absolutely relevant today in every aspect of administration.
His thoughts about foreign policy,administration,economic reforms and policies are completely well articulated and relevant even today.
Indians dont need to look at any kisinger or western thinker like aristotal or Socrates about guidelines of polity.
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Amazing detail and thoroughness in this treatise on statecraft in ancient India. I took this on after being intrigued by how the circular perspective of foreign policy compared with the more typically binary views in western academia. Rather than simply a state and adversary, Kautilyas framework involves enemies and neutral/middle states as spokes on a wheel, to be viewed dynamically. ...more
Anindita,  A Bohemian Mind at Work
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: research
Found what I needed.
Vidur Kapur
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating read. The Arthashastra is one of the earliest works of political realism to have been written, along with Sun Tzu's The Art of War and Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War and is perhaps the most elaborate of these. Elaborate is an apt description, given that the treatise describes all sorts of weird and wonderful ways in which seditious ministers can be identified, and enemies can be toppled and weakened. Many of these involve some quite inventive uses of spies.

yash kalani
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Machiavelli got nothing on my boy Chanakya.
Thangaraj Kannan
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ancient book on how to govern. A rare literature whose content is still relevant to today's world.
Discusses various things about, how the king should be, the ways to administer his kingdom, how to keep his kinsmen satisfied, military rules, covert operations, marriage laws etc.
Definite read for all administration personnel.
PTS Books Club

Chānakya(c. 350283 BCE) was an adviser to the first Maurya Emperor Chandragupta (c. 340293 BCE), and was the chief architect of his rise to power. Kautilya and Vishnugupta, the names by which the ancient Indian political treatise called the Arthaśāstra identifies its author, are traditionally identified with Chanakya. Chanakya has been considered as the pioneer of the field of economics and political science.

In the Western world, he has been referred to as The Indian Machiavelli, although
Kamal Jindal
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
still related to contemporary india.
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
The review is concerning this particular translation more than a review of Kautilya's prowess. The translation provides much needed order and structure to this ancient text. The translator Rangarajan, after an in-depth study of the Arthashastra, recompiles the verses into meaningful chapters , constructs a flow which is agreeable to the modern mind and also does not lose the beauty of the poetry of the original.

Many of the tedious parts of the text, i.e. lists, punishments, weights , measures,
Shweta Kher
Nov 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Just another book that I read, being a part of my 'curriculum'. A series of compilation of treaties by a great scholar, 'Kautilya', which dates back to nearly 2,500 years ago. It deals with the most practical subjects of governance and administration, law and order. This book is just mind boggling.
Abhishek Sharma
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A gem on economics! I can see why Kautilya is called the father of it!
Kannav Bhatia
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
It is a good read, but requires lot of patience and interest. Mostly, it is the mix of Duties of King, Dharma of King and Governance.

May 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Sme serious history readers ONLY!
Recommended to Sabah by: Just a thought inspired!
Chanakya, here has dwelt upon the system of running the government which inturn you realize that our system runs on the same line out and out... In all, a good read!
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lengthy book.... lots and lots of repeated concepts throughout. Should admire the translator and reorganiser L N Rangarajan for the hard work. Felt pretty boring sometimes. But where it gets interesting it feels like important parts are left out due untranslated sources.
I wonder how Kautilya wrote such a book on governance in those times. Lots of unjust methods like todays politics.
Notes should have been at page bottom instead of ate the end of the book.
Repeated concepts should be replaced with
Varun Sharma
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Exhausting and dry read, but a good collection of ideas on politcs, economics, military strategy and diplomacy.
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Authentic and detailed. I have used this book as a reference in my own writing
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
a good summary of the actual book.interesting political and arts of war.some social norms are however not in tune with our times
Anmol Sarma
Nov 29, 2015 rated it liked it
As if taking a cue from the success of Art of War themed self-help books, distilled Kautilyan teachings re-purposed for the modern corporate have become popular of late. Not wanting to be given truisms of some random authors reading into Kautilya, I went to the original source. While I couldnt find any universally applicable ancient wisdom, reading the Arthashastra was enjoyable. Rather than the simplified, whitewashed and sometimes politically colored descriptions of ancient India of history ...more
Aditya Shetty
The book is a vast repository of knowledge on how to run a state. If we were to think of this book in terms of modern equivalents, it would be a combination of the constitution, directive principles, the penal code, foreign policy, military strategies and even a citizen's code of conduct.

Though the book is more normative than descriptive, it gives us a closer look at life in the Mauryan empire.
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
An interesting cross between a mirror for princes and conduct book, with maybe a little early Buddhist religious text thrown in.

This particular translation is not of the highest calibre, and neither is the printing ... but it seems to be a reasonable place to start.
Dhirendra Mishra
An account of how the once-rich India worked. Some of the beliefs, penned down 2300 years ago, will hold good no matter when and what... Here's an account of that great man who won many a battle and vanquished many other without having touched the sword, ever...
classic. I love to refer to it time and again to appreciate India. Its a treasure of wisdom on public administration.
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