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M.A. (CAL.), D.Sc. ECON. (LOND.) 











THE object of this book is to give within a small 
compass all the important facts relating to the 
administrative system of Ancient India. To make 
the account complete, a few of the political ideas of 
the early Hindus have been briefly noticed here. 
The period mainly dealt with in this work is the 
millennium 500 B.C. to 500 A.D., but, occasionally, 
references have been made to earlier and later periods. 
Nothing has been said here which is not supported 
by reliable evidence. Sanskrit passages have been 
transliterated in accordance with the system adopted 
at the Geneva Congress, which system has also been 
applied, with some accommodations, viz. sh for s, 
ri for r, in citation of Sanskrit terms and expres- 
sions ; but, for the convenience of non-Sanskritists, 
all proper names have been transliterated, except 
for indications of vowel length, in the simple and 
ordinary way. 

The author desires to take this opportunity to offer 
his best thanks to Dr. L. D. Barnett, Mr. H. B. 


Lees-Smith, M.P., Prof. Rhys Davids, Dr. F. W. 
Thomas, Mr. B. M. Barua, and Mr. H. S. Parara for 
valuable suggestions received from them. He is 
specially thankful to Dr. Thomas and Mr. Parara, 
who have also assisted in seeing the book through 
the press. 

























RELIGION ------.__ 275 



INDEX - . . 



IN Ancient India, the different branches of knowledge 
were grouped under four heads, namely, Philosophy, 
the Vedas, Economics, and Politics. 1 Of these, 
Politics was regarded as a very important if not 
the most important subject of study. The Maha- 
bharata says, " When the Science of Politics is ne- 
glected, the three Vedas as well as all virtues 
decline." 2 

The method of study pursued in ancient times was 
somewhat different from that generally adopted at 
the present day. Politics was treated more as an 
art than as a science ; in other words, guidance in 

1 Chanakya says, " Anviksikl (Philosophy), Trayi (the Vedas), Vartta 
(Economics), and Dandaniti (the Science of Government) are the four 
sciences." Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 1. The Mahabharata, the Kamandaki, 
and the Sukraniti follow Chanakya's classification, and use almost identical 
words. According to the school of the Manavas there are only three sciences 
the Vedas, Economics, and Politics ; the school of Brihaspati reduces 
the sciences to two, namely, Economics and Politics, while that of Usanas 
regards the Science of Government as the only science, all other branches 
of knowledge being dependent on it. 

2 " Majjet trayi dandanitau hatayam sarve dharmah praksayeyuh." 
Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Sec. 63, si. 28. 


the practice of actual administration, rather than the 
construction of a complete and consistent system of 
political theories, was the object mainly aimed at in 
the study of the subject. Chanakya, for instance, 
defines Politics as " the science which treats of what 
is right in public policy and what is not, and of power 
and weakness." l According to the Sukraniti, a 
knowledge of the science " enables rulers to gain 
victories over their foes, to please their subjects, and 
to be proficient in statecraft." 2 The mode of treat- 
ment was thus more practical than theoretical ; and 
one result of this was that the conclusions were 
expressed in the form not of scientific principles but 
of moral precepts. 

Our sources of information regarding the systems 
of administration which prevailed in India in the 
ancient times and the political ideas and ideals 
which moulded and shaped those systems, are various. 
Briefly speaking, they are : the Vedas, the Hindu 
Epics, the Smritis, the Pura-nas, the religious books 
of the Buddhists and the Jainas, historical and 
dramatic literature, accounts of foreign travellers, 
epigraphic records, and lastly, a few treatises which 
deal specially with Politics. 

In the Rig- Veda, many passages are met with which 
allude to the colonisation of the country by the 
Aryas, and speak of the sanguinary wars of the 
Aryan conquerors with the non-Aryan inhabitants 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 1. 2 Ch. I. sis. 6-7. 


of the country. But nothing is said about the 
system of administration, and very little information, 
beyond a few scattered hints, can be obtained from 
the earlier portion of Vedic literature about the 
political condition of India during the earliest period 
of her history. The later Vedic works, however, such 
as the Aitareya Brahmana, the Satapatha Brahmana, 
and the Atharva-Veda, are more informing in this 

The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are not 
historical works in the modern sense of the term ; 
but they give us a graphic and fairly accurate picture 
of the life of the Aryas in what is known as the Heroic 
Period of Indian history. The stories found in these 
Epics are largely based on real occurrences, and 
although the main themes of the Epics are the wars 
of the heroes, both of these great works present us 
with glimpses of the political condition of early Hindu 
society and of the relations between the rulers and 
the ruled, while not a few chapters of the Maha- 
bharata are specially devoted to an exposition of 
the duties of kings and of the rights and obligations 
of subjects. 1 

1 In the Mahabharata, a mythical account is given of the source of the 
Science of Politics. It is said that Brahman composed by his own intelli- 
gence a treatise consisting of a hundred thousand lessons. In it were 
treated the subjects of Virtue, Wealth, and Pleasure. A large portion of 
it was devoted to the subject of Government, that is to say, the growth, 
conservation, and destruction of States. This book discussed in detail 
the duties of the king, of the ministers, and of the people, and other kindred 
matters. It was first studied by Siva and abridged by him for the benefit 
of mankind. Further abridgments were made by Indra, Brihaspati, 


The most ancient among the Smritis were in prose, 
and are known as the Dharma-sutras. Only a few 
fragments of some of these works have yet been 
discovered. The Dharma-sastras appear to have been 
later redactions in verse of the earlier Dharma- 
sutras. 1 The most important of the Smriti works at 
present known are those attributed to Gautama, 
Apastamba, Vasishtha, Bodhayana, Vishnu, Manu, 
Yajnavalkya, and Narada. Their purpose is to 

Sukra, and others. Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Sec. 59, si. 28, etc. The 
origin of the name of the science is described thus : Brahman said, " Because 
men are led by Government (danda), or in other words, Government leads 
or controls everything, therefore this Science will be known in the three 
worlds as the Science of Government (Dandaniti)." Mahabharata, Santi 
Parva, Sec. 59, si. 78. 

1 Considerable doubts still exist as to the dates of composition of the 
Vedas, the Epics, the Smritis, and the Puranas. We do not propose to 
enter here upon a discussion of this controversial topic, but will content 
ourselves with a few remarks on the subject. The hymns of the Rig- Veda 
are considered to have been the earliest utterances of the Aryan race, and 
many of them go back to a very remote period, while the bulk of the Vedic 
/ literature seems to have been composed before 1000 B.C. 

Weber placed the date of composition of the Ramayana in the third or 
fourth century after Christ ; but nobody accepts this view now. According 
to Prof. Jacobi, the Ramayana was composed in Kosala on the basis of 
ballads recited by rhapsodists throughout that district. Prof. Rhys Davids 
is of opinion that the date of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana as Epics 
must be later than that of the ballad literature preserved in the Nikayas. 
We are inclined to think that these Epics, originally composed in the form 
of akhyana poetry about the tenth or ninth century B.C. were several 
times enlarged and revised, until they assumed something like their present 
shape in the third or second century B.C. Barth rightly remarks, "the 
Hindu Epic is ancient, as ancient in the origin as the earliest traditions of 
the nation." Indian Antiquary, 1895, p. 71. 

The existing Code of Manu is perhaps not very old, but probably it was 
based upon a more ancient Dharma-svitra of the Manava school. Chanakya, 
in his Arthasastra, frequently refers to this school of the Manavas. Roughly 
speaking, we may say that the Sutra works were composed between 1000 
/ and 500 B.C., while the Dharma-sastras were compiled between the third 
century B.C. and the fifth century A.D. 


describe the whole of the rites and customs which 
ought to prevail in private, civic, and public life, 
and, naturally, they all devote some of their chapters 
to discussions of political subjects like the duties of 
kings, public finance, civil and criminal laws, and 
judicial procedure. These chapters are of inestimable 
value to the student of ancient Politics. 

The Puranas appear to be works which were 
originally composed for the purpose of giving in- 
struction to the less advanced sections of the com- 
munity in all matters concerning this world and the 
next. Their great value from the historical stand- 
point lies in the fact that they contain a considerable 
amount of genuine historical tradition and preserve 
more or less correct lists of the various dynasties of 
kings who ruled in India from the earliest times until 
towards the close of the Hindu period of Indian 
history. 1 To the student of political science the Agni 
Purana, which treats of politics in considerable detail, 
is specially important. 

1 Comparatively recent dates have been assigned by many scholars to 
the Puranas. But even Prof. H. H. Wilson admits that " a very great 
portion of the contents of many, some portion of the contents of all, is 
genuine and old. The sectarian interpolation or embellishment is always 
sufficiently palpable to be set aside, without injury to the more authentic 
and primitive material." Vishnu Purana, Preface, p. vi. Mr. Pargiter 
says, " Metrical accounts of the dynasties that reigned in Northern India 
after the great battle between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, grew up 
gradually, composed in slokas in a literary Prakrit and recited by bards 
and minstrels, and after writing was introduced into India, about seven 
centuries B.C., there would have been no lack of materials from which those 
accounts could have been composed and written down." Dynasties of 
the Kali Age, Introduction, xxvii. 


A considerable amount of incidental information 
is supplied by the Buddhist and Jaina Sutras, the 
Jatakas, the Milinda Panha, and other religious works 
of the two sects. Although the information obtain- 
able from this source is small in quantity, the fact 
that the object of composition of these works was 
religious and not political lends to it a greater degree 
of reliability than is possessed by some of the other 

The purely historical literature of India at present 
known to us is exceedingly meagre. The Raja- 
tarangini x of Kalhana, which treats of the Kings of 
Kashmir, is practically the only work in Indian litera- 
ture that makes some approach to the modern con- 
ception of history. The Dipavamsa and the Maha- 
vamsa contain much legendary material for history, 
and although not absolutely reliable in every detail 
as records of historical events, they are very helpful 
to us in elucidating some of the difficult points of 
Indian history and administration. 2 Much light is 
also thrown on the political condition of India by 
the writings of poets like Bhasa and Kalidasa, and 
in particular by such works as the Mudra-Rakshasa of 

1 This work has been translated into English by Mr. J. C. Dutt, and also 
by Sir M. A. Stein. 

* Prof. Rhys Davids says : " What we find in such chronicles is not 
indeed sober history, as we should now understand the term, but neither 
is it pure fiction. It is good evidence of opinion as held at the time when 
it was written." Prof. Geiger seems also to be of the same opinion. The 
approximate dates of composition of the Dipavamsa and the Mahavamsa 
were the fourth and the fifth century A. D. respectively. 


Visakhadatta, Mrichchakatika of Sudraka, the Harsha- 
charita of Bana and the Dasakumara-charita of Dandin. 
From some of the story books, such as the Pancha- 
tantra, the Brihat-Katha, and the Katha-sarit-sagara, 
we learn a great deal about the political ideas of the 
Hindus. In Tamil literature the most well-known 
works on the subject are the Mani-Mekalai and the 

The earliest foreign travellers who left any accounts 
of their visits to India were the Greeks. Much of 
their writings consists merely of ' travellers' tales/ 
and as such are useless. But Megasthenes, who was 
attached for several years as Ambassador to the 
Court of Chandragupta Maurya, was a very careful 
observer of facts and events which came under his 
direct notice, and although he perhaps lacked the 
faculty of critical judgment, his writings still remain 
one of the most important sources of our information 
regarding the condition of the country in the fourth 
century before Christ. The information derived from 
this source is supplemented by that obtained from 
the historians of Alexander's Indian campaign. 1 
Many Chinese pilgrims visited India during the 
period between the fourth and eighth centuries A.D., 
and the accounts left by them, especially those left 
by Fa Hian, Hiuen Tsiang, 2 and I-Tsing, 3 are of very 

1 Mr. McCrindle'a translations have made these works very useful to the 
general reader. 

2 Translated by Beal. * Translated by Takakusu. 


great use to people interested in the affairs of ancient 
India. Alberuni's Tarikh-i-Hind x is also useful as 
throwing some light on the state of the country on 
the eve of the Mahomedan conquest. 

The epigraphic records are invaluable for the 
elucidation of the facts of the history of India. Be- 
sides, they give us many useful hints about the 
political affairs of the periods to which they relate. 
Most of these records, however, are comparatively 
recent in date, and as such are not of much assistance 
to us. Of the earlier records, Asoka's inscriptions 
and the inscriptions of the Guptas are the most 
important. Some of the Ceylon inscriptions are of 
special interest in this regard. We also derive some 
useful information from many of the copperplate 
records of grants made by kings and others. 

Of the works which treat specially of the subject 
of Public Administration, the most important is the 
Arthasastra of Chanakya. 2 ' Arthasastra,' literally, 

1 Translated by Sachau. 

3 " The measures to be taken for the acquisition and the preservation 
of the earth have been described in this book." Arthasastra, Bk. XV. ch. 1. 
In another passage the author says that the system of public administration 
has been here described for the guidance of kings. So great was the fame 
of this work that the name ' Chanakya ' became almost a synonym for 
' Political Science.' In an inscription, the Rashtrakuta King, Govinda IV., 
is described as ' Chanakya-chaturmukha.' Vide Epigraphia Indica, 
Vol. VII. p. 36. 

According to the Puranas, Chandragupta was placed on the throne by 
Kautilya. The Matsya, Vayu, and Brahmanda Puranas say : " Uddhari- 
syati tan sarvan Kautilyah." The Matsya adds : " Kautilyas Candra- 
guptan tu tato rajye 'bhiseksyati." The other Puranas also say practically the 
same thing. The Mahavamsa says : "Then did the Brahmana, Chanakka, 
anoint a glorious youth, known by name Chandagutta, as King over all 


means the science of secular welfare, as distinguished 
from ' Dharma-sastra,' or the science of moral and 
spiritual well-being. But this work treats only of 
Politics, for in Kautilya's opinion Public Adminis- 
tration was the chief means of promoting the welfare 
of the people. The author appears in Sanskrit litera- 
ture under various names, such as Kautilya, Kautalya, 
Chanakya, and Vishnugupta. As Prof. Jolly puts 
it, "a flood of light has been thrown on the political 
condition of India in the very times when Megas- 
thenes visited it, by the recent discovery of the 
Kautiliya Arthasastra." The author of this great 
work was himself a practical statesman, 1 and it bears 
on every one of its pages the impress of a great mind. 
It evinces a thorough, grasp of essential principles as 
well as a mastery of minute details. But it is not 
free from defects of a very serious character. For 

Jambudvipa, born of a noble clan, the Moriyas, when, filled with bitter 
hate, he had slain the ninth (Nanda) Dhanananda." Geiger's Mahavamsa, 
Ch. V. This story is confirmed by the Mudra-Rakshasa. The Katha- 
sarit-sagara tells us that Chandragupta obtained his throne " through the 
kindness of Vishnugupta." 

1 As to the authenticity of the Arthasastra, Dr. Jolly remarks, " It can 
no longer be called into doubt after the learned disquisition contained in a 
paper published in Germany by Prof. Hillebrandt of Breslau." Dr. Jolly 
adds, " We consider this one of the most important discoveries ever made 
in the whole range of Sanskrit Literature." Mysore Review, May, 1909. 
Vide also Uber das Kautiliyasastra und Verwandtes by Alfred Hillebrandt 
(Breslau, 1908). 

Mr. Shama Sastri has placed the public under a deep debt of gratitude 
by editing this work, and also by publishing translations of portions of 
it in the Mysore Review and the Indian Antiquary. I have frequently 
consulted Mr. Sastri's translations for the purpose of the present work. 
Mr. Sorabji has published a few notes on the first two books of the 


side by side with words of the highest kind of wisdom, 
we find here emphasised the utility of time-serving- 
ness and the necessity for the subordination of ethical 
principles to considerations of expediency. The 
political doctrine preached in this book, namely, that 
the end justifies the means, marks a notable departure 
from the high moral standard of earlier times. 

It strikes us as a curious coincidence that Chanakya, 
the greatest political philosopher of India, was the 
contemporary of Aristotle, the most eminent political 
theorist of Ancient Greece, and perhaps also a junior 
contemporary of Aristotle's predecessor and teacher, 
Plato. 1 The opinion of scholars is divided on the 
question whether the Arthasastra is the work of 
Chanakya himself or of a school founded by Chanakya. 
Prof. Hillebrandt 2 holds the latter view, but Prof. 
Jacobi 3 advances weighty arguments to prove the indi- 
vidual authorship of the work. Prof. Keith suggests, 
" Surely one obvious solution is that Kautilya was 
an energetic student of the Arthasastra, who carried 
his theoretical knowledge into practice, and in the 
evening jof his days enriched the theory by know- 
ledge based on his practical experience, and that the 
Arthasastra is based on his teaching, though not by 
his own hand." 4 

1 When Chanakya placed Chandragupta on the throne of Magadha in 323 
or 322 B.C., he was evidently a middle-aged, if not an old, man. 
* Uber das Kautiliya^astra, 1908. 

3 Uber die Echtheit des Kautiliya, SKPAW, 1912. 

4 Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, January, 1916. 


The author of the Arthasastra I says in his Preface 
to the book that it is founded on all the ancient 
books written on the subject by the ancient teachers, 
and in the body of the work he criticises the views 
of many political theorists, such as Usanas, Brihas- 
pati, Bharadvaja, Parasara, Visalaksha, and Pisuna, 
and of the schools founded by these teachers. The 
names of these teachers and of some others also occur 
in the Mahabharata. But at present we know 
nothing of their writings beyond what is contained 
in the Smritis. It is not improbable, however, that 
some of their works will be discovered in future and 
will add considerably to our knowledge of the polity 
of Ancient India. 2 Of political works now known to 

1 Kautilya has sometimes been compared to Machiavelli. But this 
comparison does not seem to be a very happy one. There is no doubt 
that both these great writers wrote for the guidance of princes, and 
that both favoured a subordination of ethical principles to considerations 
of expediency. But the points of similarity do not extend any further. 
In intellectual acumen and in comprehensiveness of outlook, Kautilya 
far surpasses his Italian rival. Moreover, the Hindu author was also a 
practical statesman of the first rank to whose guidance and advice Chandra- 
gupta owed the foundation and consolidation of a pan-Indian Empire ; 
while the practical experience of the Florentine diplomat was limited to a 
few years' service in a subordinate department of the State. Lastly, 
Kautilya's political ideas continued to be accepted by many generations 
of kings and statesmen as safe guides in their work of actual administration, 
but Machiavelli's Prince and other works were valued merely as abstract 
treatises and never influenced to any considerable extent the current of 
political events. If any European politician can be compared to Chanakya, 
it is Bismarck. 

a Dr. F. W. Thomas of the India Office Library has obtained possession 
of a copy of a small MS. work entitled ' Brihaspati Sutra.' He is now 
editing and translating this work, and has kindly permitted me to con- 
sult it. This work appears to be comparatively modern, but probably 
it contains some of the traditional ideas of the Barhaspatya school of 


us besides the Arthasastra, the most notable are the 
Nitisara of Kamandaki, the Nitivakyamrita of Soma- 
deva Sim, and the Mtisara which is attributed to 
Sukracharya. 1 All these works seem to have been 
based, to a greater or less extent, on the Arthasastra. 
The Kamandaki-niti was probably composed in the 
third or fourth century A.D., and may be regarded 
as a metrical version of certain portions of the Artha- 
sastra. The Nitivakyamrita also, like the Kaman- 
daki, closely follows the Kautiliya in its treatment 
of political topics. It appears to have been com- 
posed in the tenth century. 2 In the Sukraniti are 
to be found passages which occur in the Kamandaki, 
but it also contains matter which is not to be found 
in the earlier books. The date of compilation of 
the bulk of the book may be placed in the ninth or 
tenth century after Christ, but some portions are 
evidently more modern. 3 Mention may also be made 
of a few other books of comparatively recent dates, 
which, though not important in themselves, show the 
continuity of the political system of the Hindus. 

1 Very little is known about the authors of these books. Dr. Rajendralala 
Mitra held the opinion that Kamandaki was a Buddhist, and that his work 
was composed some time before the fifth century A.D. Sukracharya, the 
reputed author of Sukraniti, is supposed to have been the preceptor of the 
Demons (Daityas). He is also known by other names, such as Usanas, 
Kavi, Bhargava, Maghabhava, etc. 

2 Somadeva Suri wrote his ' Yasastilaka ' in Saka 881 (959 A.D.). 

3 Gustav Oppert's opinion that the work was composed anterior to the 
composition of the Mahabharata is entitled to no weight. The truth seems 
to be this, that the work in its present shape was compiled from several 
ancient works on Politics. 


The Yuktikalpataru, ascribed to King Bhoja, was 
probably composed in the eleventh or twelfth cen- ' 
tury. 1 The Nitimayukha is a portion of Nilakantha's 
Bhaskara, compiled in the seventeenth century. 
Nothing is known about the authorship or the prob- 
able date of the Nltiprakasika, attributed to Vaisam- 
payana, but the detailed description which it gives 
of the weapons used in warfare shows that it is a 
recent work. 2 Abul Fazl, in his Ayeen-i-Akbery 
(written in the sixteenth century) gives a short 
summary of Hindu polity (Rajneet) and law (Bey- 
har) which is very interesting. 

There is a large number of books and manuscripts 
in the British Museum, in the India Office Library, 
and in the Libraries at Oxford and Cambridge which 
profess to give the teachings of Chanakya, but none 
of them are of any use to the student of Political 
Science. 3 A manuscript has, however, been recently 
found in the Oriental Manuscripts Library of Madras, 
entitled ' Chanakya-sutra,' 4 which looks like an 

1 Several kings bearing the name of Bhoja are to be found in history, and 
it is not known to which of them it refers. Bhoja, King of Dhara, is supposed 
to have lived about the end of the tenth or the beginning of the eleventh 
century, and is said to have been not only a great patron of learning but 
himself the author of several learned works. This book has not yet been 
printed, but a manuscript copy exists in the Bodleian at Oxford, and a few 
copies are known to exist in India. 

2 In 1881 Gustav Oppert published this work at Madras, but the authen- 
ticity of the work has not yet been established beyond all doubt. 

3 Eugene Monseur published some years ago a few of these works in a 
volume which contains the Niti-Sataka, Nlti-Sastra, Laghuchanakya- 
Bajaniti-Sastra, Vriddha-Chanakya-Rajuhniti-Sastra and Chanakya-Sloka. 

4 A copy of this MS. is now in the possession of Mr. F. W. Thomas. 


abridgment of a few chapters of the Arthasastra. 
The style of this work is akin to that of the Nitiva- 
kyamrita of Somadeva Siiri, and it probably belongs 
to the same period as the latter work. 


WHEN the primeval Aryas left their original cradle- 
home we do not exactly know where it was, whether 
in Persia, or in Central Asia, or in the regions farther 
north and entered on their journeys in different 
directions, they had already passed out of the nomadic 
and pastoral stages of civilisation. The dawn of 
history thus finds the Indo-Aryans settled on the 
banks of the Seven Rivers (Sapta-Sindhavah), leading 
a civilised life, practising agriculture and some of 
the simpler kinds of manufacture, and adoring what- 
ever is sublime and beautiful in Nature. 

The Aryas of the land of the Seven Rivers (now 
known as the Punjab) were divided into a number 
of tribes or nations (janah). 1 Each tribe or nation, 
again, was subdivided into a number of clans (visah ), 
the members of which claimed their descent from a 
common ancestor, real or mythical. The different 

1 The Aryas of the Punjab are often alluded to in the Rig- Veda as the 
five nations or tribes (panca-janah). For the meaning of the term see 
Chap. VI., footnote. 


tribes lived, as a rule, on terms of amity and peaceful 
neighbourliness, and each clan was united with the 
others by a tie of kindred and a sense of common 
interest. Occasionally, envy and jealousy led to 
quarrels and internecine wars, but such occasions 
were few and far between. 1 

In the early Vedic Age, the structure of society 
was very simple. There were no class distinctions, 
and each person was the full equal of every other. 2 
But as time went on, and the struggle with the non- 
Aryans became keener, it was found necessary to 
devise some system which would keep the Aryas 
distinct and separate from the Dasyus, 3 and would, 
at the same time, increase the political, industrial, 
and intellectual efficiency of the Aryas themselves. 

Several theories exist about the origin of the caste- 
system. But it seems reasonable to hold that the 

1 A careful reading of the Rig- Veda gives the reader the impression that 
although the wars of the_Aryas with the Dasyus were very frequent, inter- 
necine wars among the Aryas themselves were rare. 

2 Even the Mahabharata, the great book of orthodox Brahmanism, admits, 
" There is no real distinction between the different orders. The whole 
world at first consisted of Brahmanas. Created (equal) by Brahman, men 
have in consequence of their acts become distributed into several classes." 
Santi Parva, Sec. 188, si. 10. The description given in the Rig- Veda of 
the rise of the four castes from the mouth, the arms, the thighs, and the feet 
respectively of Brahman, is merely figurative, but in later times the Brah- 
manas used this passage to prove their superiority to the other classes. 

3 Originally, the term ' Dasyu ' meant ' non- Aryan,' and was similar 
in signification to the Gr. word ' barbarian.' But as many of the non- 
Aryan tribes disturbed the Aryas in the performance of their sacrifices 
and carried off their cattle, the^erm gradually acquired a sinister meaning. 
The other epithets which the Aryas applied to the aboriginal tribes were 
' Yakshas,' ' Rakshasas,' ' Nagas,' ' Vanaras,' and ' Kinnaras.' 


first beginnings of the system are to be found in the 
sharp colour line 1 which distinguished the fair- 
complexioned Aryas from the dark-skinned non-Aryan 
races of India. Very little is as yet known about 
the origin of the pre- Aryan inhabitants of the country. 
But they are said to have belonged mainly to two 
races, the Kolarian and the Dravidian, who had 
probably come into India from outside at some 
remote period of history. 2 Some of the tribes belong- 
ing to these races were fairly civilised, while others 
were at a very low stage of civilisation. The Aryan 
conquerors, conscious of their higher powers of intel- 
lect, and proud of their superior culture, despised the 
less civilised non- Aryans, and detested their super- 
stitious customs and practices ; and in order to 
preserve the purity of the Aryan blood, they pro- 
hibited all intercourse with the non- Aryan races. 

During this time other factors were at work to 
introduce social distinctions into the Aryan com- 
munity itself. As civilisation grew, the needs of life 
became more varied and complex, and this necessi- 
tated a division of duties among the people. The 

1 The constant use of the term ' varna ' in Sanskrit literature suggests 
that colour was the chief ground of distinction. The following reference in 

the Tibetan Buddhist * Dulva ' to the caste-system is interesting : " Then > 
those whose complexion was clear said to the others, ' Why, I have a fine * 
complexion, whereas you are dark,' and thus were established distinctions." 
The Life of Buddha, derived from Tibetan works, translated by Rockhill, p. 3. 

2 Some scholars think that the Kolarians came into India from the north- 
east, and the Dravidians from the north-west. The Dravidians are believed 
to have had affinities with the people of the First Babylonian Empire, and, 
in fact, to have belonged to the same race. 


continuous and unceasing struggle with the aboriginal 
races compelled the Aryas to set apart the hardiest 
portion of their community for the exclusive occupa- 
tion of war. Then, as engagement in warfare was 
found incompatible with devotion to learning and 
the arts of peace, the most intellectual among the 
Aryas formed themselves into a separate class, 
while the general mass of the people began to devote 
their energies exclusively to agriculture, industry, 
and trade. The members of a clan were originally 
designated by the collective name of vis, but in the 
course of time this name was reserved for the 
common people, while those who distinguished 
themselves either in learning or in war were raised 
above the general level, and became Brahmanas 
and Kshatriyas (or Kajanyas). Lastly, those among 
the Dasyus who submitted to the Aryan conquerors 
and were admitted into the pale of Aryan society 
came to be known as Sudras. Thus arose the 

The origin of the caste-system can be traced back 
to the early Vedic times, 1 but it was not until a much 
later period that it became well established. Inter- 
marriages were not prohibited in early times, and 

1 Dr. Muir, many years ago, collected a number of passages from the Vedas 
in his Original Sanskrit Texts, which point to the existence of distinctions 
within the Aryan community in the Vedic Period. The fact that the 
social divisions of the early Persians were very similar to the castes of India 
leads us to think that the beginning of the system can be traced back to the 
period when the Indo-Aryans had not yet separated from their kinsmen, 
the Perso- Aryans. 


famous Rishis sometimes married the daughters of 
kings. The division into classes in these times 
depended more upon occupation, character, and 
attainments than upon birth. 1 But as the Vedic 
Age glided imperceptibly into the Brahmanic Period, 
the caste-system was more fully organised, and by 
about the eighth or seventh century B.C. it became 
almost completely stereotyped. In the fourth cen- 
tury B.C., according to Megasthenes, " no one is 
allowed to marry out of his own caste or to exchange 
one profession or trade for another, or to follow more 
than one business." 2 This, however, was the caste- 
system in its simple form. In the course of time, 
anulom and pratilom marriages and an ever-increasing 
diversity of occupations gave rise to innumerable 
mixed castes, until there was developed that complex 
mass of social divergences with which we are at the 
present day familiar, and to which the term caste* 
system is now not very properly applied. 

1 In the Buddhist books there are many references to persons who changed 
their professions without losing caste. In the time of the Mahabharata 
mixed marriages were infrequent, but not absolutely impossible. The 
Sukraniti, a comparatively recent work, says, " It is not by birth that men 
became Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, Sudras and Mlechchas ; but the 
distinctions arose in accordance with their qualifications (guna) and occupa- 
tion (karma)." The Bhagavad-Gita also mentions guna and karma as the 
determining factors in the division of men into castes. 

2 Megasthenes, Fragment XXXIII. (McCrindle's Trans.). According to 
Megasthenes, the population of India was divided into seven parts, namely, 
(1) philosophers, (2) husbandmen, (3) herdsmen and hunters, (4) traders 
and manual labourers, (5) fighters, (6) overseers, and (7) councillors. This 
division is substantially correct ; and if we put (1) and (7) in one group, 
(3) and (4) in a second, and (5) and (6) in a third, the classification would 
exactly correspond with that given by Kautilya. 


A review of the caste-system is important to the 
student of ancient Indian polity in this that it affected 
the status of the citizens and their duties as members 
of the body politic. From the commencement of the 
Brahmanic Period until recently, the position of a 
man in relation to society, and his duties, both 
public and private, always depended more upon the 
importance of his class, than upon his individual 
capacity and character. The duties of the different 
castes are thus defined by Manu : of the Brahmanas, 
teaching, studying, offering sacrifices, officiating at 
sacrifices, charity and acceptance of gifts ; of the 
Kshatriyas, protection of the people, charity, per- 
forming sacrifices, study, and want of attachment to 
pleasures; of the Vaisyas, cattle-rearing, agriculture, 
charity, performance of sacrifices, study, trade and 
money-lending ; of the Sudras, service of the three 
orders. 1 To this list Chanakya adds agriculture, arts, 
and crafts as the occupations of the Sudras ; 2 and 
Vishnu mentions all industrial arts (sarva-silpani) 3 
as being within their province. In the Mahabharata, 4 
also, similar duties are assigned to the members of 
the different castes. 

1 Manu-Samhita, I. 88-91. The other Smriti works also mention the same 
or similar duties for the different orders. 

2 Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 3. 3 Vishnu Smriti (ed. by J. Jolly), ch. 2. 

4 Santi Parva, Sec. 72. The Great Epic enumerates the following as the 
duties common to all classes : the suppression of wrath, truthfulness of 
speech, justice, forgiveness, begetting children on one's wedded wives, 
purity of conduct, avoidance of quarrel, and maintenance of dependents. 


With the establishment of the caste-system the 
Brahmanas, by virtue of their position and intel- 
lectual attainments, gradually gained an ascendancy 
over the other classes in society. And this ascendancy 
was won and maintained not only in matters of 
religion and learning, but also in politics and state- 
craft. 1 They were, in fact, looked upon as the natural 
guardians of society. They were the councillors of 
the king, and the chief officers of state, both executive 
and judicial. " To them," says Megasthenes, " belong 
the highest posts of government, the tribunals of 
justice, and the general administration of public 
affairs." 2 

But this ascendancy had not been won without a 
struggle. Although the contest was not always 
bloody, yet there appears to be some truth in the 
story of Parasu-Eama who is said to have cleared 
the earth of the Kshatriyas " thrice seven times." It 
does not, however, seem that the Brahmanas had 
always the best of the business, and possibly the 
failure of the appeal to force led them to adopt 
milder methods for the attainment of their object. 
The allegory of Mitra and Varuna in the Satapatha- 
Brahmana correctly represents the final rapproche- 

1 The Brahmanical books give an exaggerated importance to the Brah- 
manas, and push their claims to absurd lengths. " The Brahmana is the 
lord of the entire creation, for he sprang from the head of Brahma, and he 
is the eldest of all created beings." Manu, I. 92. And again, " Everything 
that exists in the Universe belongs to the Brahmanas in consequence of 
his birth and precedence." Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Sec. 72, si. 10. 

2 Megasthenes, Fragment XIII. 


ment between the two classes. " Mitra is the priest- 
hood, and Varuna, the nobility ; and the priesthood 
is the conceiver, and the noble is the doer. ... So 
the two united." x But they did not unite on an 
exactly equal footing, for we are told that "it is 
quite proper that a Brahmana should be without a 
king, but were he to obtain a king, it would be con- 
ducive to the success (of both). It is, however, 
quite improper that a king should be without a 
Brahmana, for whatever deed he does, unsped by 
Mitra, the priesthood, therein he succeeds not." 2 
Gautama says, " Kshatriyas who are assisted by the 
Brahmanas prosper, and do not fall into distress." 
And further, " A king and a Brahmana, deeply 
versed in the Vedas, these two uphold the moral 
order of the world." 

It is thus evident that the Brahmanas and the 
Kshatriyas were the two most important classes in 
the early Indian society. The general superiority of 
the Brahmanas over the Kshatriyas was admitted to 
some extent, but the influence of the former class in 
the State was not quite exclusive. 3 Even in the 
sphere of religion their supremacy was not absolutely 
undisputed. For we find that in the sixth century 

1 Satapatha Brahmana, IV. 1, 4, 1-4. 

2 Satapatha Brahmana, IV. 1, 4, 6. In another passage the Brahmana 
is compared to truth, and the Kshatriya to life. 

8 It is difficult, however, to fully agree with Prof. Hopkins when he says, 
" Brahmanism has always been an island in a sea. ... It did not even 
control all the Aryan population." Quoted with approval by Prof. Rhys 
Davids in Buddhist India, p. 152. 


B.C., two of the greatest religious reformers of India 
Vardhamana Mahavira and Gautama Buddha be- 
longed to the Kshatriya caste ; and throughout the 
period known as the Buddhist Age, the superiority 
of the Brahmanas was challenged by men belonging 
to the other classes. With the decline of Buddhism, 
however, the ascendancy of the Brahmanas became 
complete. But though in these latter days the 
Brahmanas gained an unassailable position as religious 
and social leaders, they lost the political influence they 
once possessed as an organised community. Individual 
Brahmanas continued to fill high offices in the State, 
but as a body they never again became a factor of any 
great importance in the administration of the country. 

A few words may be said here in regard to a system 
connected with the caste-system. This was the 
Asrama-dharma. Under this system there were four 
stages in the life of every person belonging to the 
three higher grades, namely, student (Brahmacarin), 
householder (Grihastha), hermit (Vanaprastha), and 
ascetic (Parivrajaka). 1 This system undoubtedly 
tended to promote the efficiency of society, but it 
was not free from practical difficulties ; and it does 
not seem that the rules laid down in regard to this 
institution were ever very strictly observed. 

We now pass on to the second important feat- 
ure of early Indian society the family. Man is a 

1 The duties of the different orders are described in detail in the Dharma- 
sutras and Dharma-sastras. Kautilya also devotes some space to the subject. 


gregarious animal, and in the very earliest stages of 
social evolution, the family and not the individual 
was the unit of society. 1 From this starting-point 
social progress seems to have taken place concur- 
rently in two distinct and, in fact, opposite- 
directions. One movement led to the formation of 
larger and still larger associations, such as the clan, 
the tribe, and the village, culminating in the State. 
The other movement consisted in the gradual emanci- 
pation of the component parts of the family, thus 
giving rise to the individual. And this, we may 
take it, was what happened in India as in other 

From very early times, the reverence for family 
ties was firmly established and held sacred in India. 
The family was like a small communistic society, 
bound together by the tie of natural affection, holding 
in joint possession the means of production, and 
enjoying the fruit of labour in common. 2 All acqui- 
sitions were joint property, and all expenses were 
paid out of the common fund. The Joint Family 
was, in fact, very similar to the societas universorum 
bonorum of the Eomans. The father was the head 
and protector of the family. But just as the depen- 
dent members owed their duties to the father, so 

1 Some sociologists hold that the tribe was the earliest type of social 
aggregation, and that the family was a later development. But this view 
does not seem to be quite correct. 

3 Kautilya says, " With the exception of the sleeping rooms, all parts of 
the house shall be open to all members of the family." Arthasastra, Bk. III. 
ch. 8. 


the father was bound by obligations to the rest of 
the family. Unlike the Roman paterfamilias, the 
father of the Indian family had no powers of life 
and death over the subordinate members. The 
family was not his property. Every individual 
member of the family had a locus standi in the law- 
courts and the other departments of the State ; and 
the government could, if it thought fit, deal direct 
with every member of the family without the inter- 
vention of the head. As regards the family property, 
the father was the manager, rather than the owner, 
of it. The family collectively was the owner, and 
the father had powers to deal with it only as the 
representative of the family ; but even here his 
powers were not unlimited. 

The members of the family were the father, the 
mother, sons, daughters, daughters-in-law, brothers, 
sisters, and other dependent relations. Slavery, such 
as existed in olden times in other parts of the world, 
was unknown in India. Megasthenes emphatically 
asserts, " None of the Indians employ slaves." 1 
And, again, he says, " All Indians are free, and 
not one of them is a slave. The Lakedaemonians 
and the Indians are so far in agreement. The Lake- 
daemonians, however, hold the Helots as slaves, and 
these Helots do servile labour ; but the Indians do 
not even use aliens as slaves, and much less a 
countryman of their own." 2 This was perfectly true, 

1 Fragment XXVII. Also Fragment XLI. 2 Fragment XXVI. 


and yet there existed in Ancient India a class of 
persons who were not completely free. This class 
was known as the Dasas. The word ' Dasa ' is a 
variant of the word ' Dasyu,' and, originally, the 
Dasas consisted of the non-Aryans who were cap- 
tured in war. 1 To this class were afterwards added 
the issue of Dasas and those who were deprived of 
their freedom as a judicial punishment. The number 
of Dasas was never very large, and no Arya could be 
a Dasa. 2 Trading in Dasas was prohibited, 3 and any 
Dasa could purchase his freedom by paying a reason- 
able price. 4 The Dasas were members of the family 
of their masters, and their condition was very different 
from that of the slaves in ancient Eome. In Koman 
law, a slave was nothing better than the chattel of 
his owner, and the penalty for the killing of a slave 
was the same as that for killing a four-footed beast. 
In India, on the other hand, a Dasa had the pro- 
tection of the courts, and any ill-treatment of a Dasa 
was visited with severe punishment. 5 Moreover, the 
emancipation of a Dasa was always considered as a 
virtuous act, which produced the happy result that 

1 Manu mentions seven different classes of Dasas. VIII. 415. 

2 Arthasastra, Bk. III. ch. 13. 3 Ibid. 

4 Kautilya prescribes a heavy fine for any person who refuses to emancipate 
his Dasa on the latter offering the ransom-money. Bk. III. ch. 13. Manu, 
on the other hand, is, like Aristotle, a believer in the doctrine of natural 
slavery. " A Siidra," says he, " though emancipated by his master, is not 
released ; since that is innate in him, who can free him from it ? " VIII. 

6 Arthasastra, Bk. III. ch. 3. 


the institution died out in India at an early period, 
and Hindu society was rid of an evil which continued 
to disfigure other civilised societies for a much longer 
time and in a much more degraded form. 

The third important feature of the early Indian 
society was the village system. The village was in 
ancient times as it is still to some extent the basis 
of the social structure of the country. A village was 
an aggregation of families, and was composed of 
various classes following divers occupations. The 
bond, which united the villagers together, were some 
or all of the following : common blood, common 
property, common production and distribution, com- 
mon institutions, or merely common interest. The 
villagers did not necessarily trace their lineage from 
a common ancestor, and, very often, the connections 
of the villagers outstripped the limits of the village. 
The village lands were held in private ownership, 
but pastures, plains, and forests were enjoyed in 
common. Transfers of property to outsiders were 
permitted, but only with the consent, explicit or 
implied, of the villagers. 1 All fines went to the 
common fund of the village, and every person was 
bound to co-operate in all works tending to the 
common benefit of the villagers and in the getting 
up of public amusements. The village thus had 
a sort of corporate life in the times of Manu and 

1 Arthasastra, Bk III. ch. 9. Relatives, neighbours, and creditors had 
the right of pre-emption in respect of lands which were to be sold. Ibid. 


Chanakya, but it seems that it was not until a much 
later date that village communities, such as they 
existed at the time of the rise of the British power, 
came into existence. 



IN the last chapter we discussed the social environ- 
ment of the State ; in the present chapter we shall 
briefly describe its physical surroundings. 

Territory is the material basis of the State, and 
its importance was fully understood in Ancient India. 
Chanakya discusses in full the excellent qualities of a 
territory. In his opinion a territory should be ex- 
tensive ; self-supporting ; capable of supporting out- 
siders (besides inhabitants) in times of distress ; 
capable of defending itself and of repelling enemies ; 
powerful enough to guard itself against neighbouring 
kings ; free from rocky, marshy, desert, and uneven 
tracts ; devoid of robbers, wild beasts, and jungles ; 
beautiful ; containing fertile fields, mines, valuable 
products, elephant forests, and pasture lands ; strong ; 
containing hidden passages ; full of cattle ; not 
dependent upon natural rainfall for the supply of 
water ; possessed of land-routes as well as water- 
ways ; rich in many kinds of commercial products ; 
capable of bearing the burden of taxation ; inhabited 


by industrious agriculturists ; full of children and 
of persons belonging to the inferior orders ; having 
a loyal and honest population. 1 So also Manu says, 
" Let him (the King) settle in a country which is 
open and has a dry climate, where grain is abundant, 
which is chiefly (inhabited) by Aryas, not subject to 
epidemic diseases (or similar troubles), and pleasant, 
where the vassals are obedient and his own (people 
easily) find their livelihood." 2 

The chief points which are important in considering 
the relation of a territory to the State are its size, 
climate, and nature of the soil. These three con- 
stitute what may be called the natural environment 
of a State, and it will not perhaps be out of place to 
say a few words here in regard to each of them. 
Throughout the long period of Indian history the 
size of the territory of a State varied with the cir- 
cumstances. Some Kings ruled over only a few 
square miles of territory, while others controlled 
extensive empires. When the Aryas first settled in 
the Punjab, each tribe occupied a small extent of 
territory. The nature of the country, intersected as 
it was by large rivers and mountain spurs, favoured 
the establishment of a large number of separate and 
independent communities. But with the growth of 
the national forces, the size of the territory tended 
to grow. The extent of territory had also an im- 
portant bearing on the constitution of the govern- 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 6. 2 VII. 69. 


ment. So long as the territory was small, the form 
of administration was more or less democratic ; but 
as the size of the territory grew large, it was found 
necessary to adopt a system in which political powers 
were concentrated in the hands of the Head of the 
State assisted by a Council of Ministers and a trained 
bureaucracy. The strength of a large State became 
manifest to the people when they saw how easily 
Chandragupta, with his vast resources, succeeded in 
inflicting a defeat on Seleukos Nikator, as contrasted 
with the ease with which Alexander had only a few 
years before devastated and conquered the small 
States of the Punjab. 

But as extensive territories have their obvious 
advantages, they have their drawbacks. In the 
hands of a weak ruler, great size makes the State 
cumbrous and helpless, and is a source of impotence 
rather than of strength. Eeaders of Indian history 
know that a large territory could be controlled only 
by an Asoka or a Vikramaditya, and that as soon 
as the guiding hand of the strong and capable ruler 
was withdrawn, the fabric of the large State always 
fell into pieces. 

Climate and the nature of the soil determine in a 
very large measure the prosperity or adversity of 
a country as well as the physical and moral char- 
acteristics of its people. The effects produced by 
these factors in the ancient Punjab are thus described 
by Megasthenes : 


' The inhabitants having abundant means of sub- 
sistence exceed in consequence the ordinary stature, 
and are distinguished by their proud bearing. They 
are also found to be well skilled in the arts, as might 
be expected of men who inhale a pure air and drink 
the very finest water. And while the soil bears on 
its surface all kinds of fruits which are known to 
cultivation, it has also underground numerous veins 
of all sorts of metals, for it contains much gold and 
silver, and copper and iron in no small quantity, 
and even tin and other metals, which are employed 
in making articles of use and ornament, as well as 
the implements and accoutrements of war. ... In 
addition to cereals, there grows throughout India 
much millet, which is kept well watered by the pro- 
fusion of river-streams, and much pulse of different 
sorts, and rice also, and what is called bosphorum, 
as well as many other plants useful for food, of which 
most grow spontaneously. ... It is accordingly 
affirmed that famine has never visited India, and 
that there has never been a great scarcity in the 
supply of nourishing food." 

We thus find that the ample material resources 
yielded by the land in the shape of crops and minerals 
enabled the people to develop a healthy civilisation. 
The rigour of the climate of the Punjab, combined 
with the moderately fertile quality of the soil, made 
the early settlers a race of valiant warriors and 
industrious agriculturists, and fostered the growth of 


a strong and manly population. But as the Aryas 
spread to the other parts of India, they met with a 
climate which was exceedingly mild and a soil which 
yielded rich harvests without requiring much labour ; 
and these facts, while, on the one hand, they favoured 
intellectual activity, on the other, disposed the people 
to indolence and love of ease. 


PHILOSOPHERS in all ages and of all countries have 
loved to speculate on the origin of the State, and it 
would be a matter for surprise if we were told that 
the Aryan sages of India did not exercise their imagi- 
nation on so inviting a subject. As a matter of fact, 
however, we know that Indian philosophers did 
devote some attention to this matter, and that 
although their speculations were not elaborated with 
the same minuteness of detail as those of some of 
the European theorists, they would not perhaps be 
entirely devoid of interest to the student of political 

The origin of the State has been thus described 
in the Mahabharata : 

In the early years of the Krita Yuga, there was 
no sovereignty, no king, no government, no ruler. 
All men used to protect one another righteously. 
After some time, however, they found the task of 
righteously protecting each other painful. Error 
began to assail their hearts. Having become subject 


to error, the perceptions of men became clouded, 
and, as a consequence, their virtues began to decline. 
Love of acquisition got hold of them, and they 
became covetous. When they had become subject 
to covetousness, another passion, namely wrath, soon 
possessed their minds. Once subject to wrath, they 
lost all consideration of what ought to be done and 
what should be avoided. Thus, unrestrained license 
set in. Men began to do what they liked and to 
utter what they chose. All distinctions between 
virtue and vice came to an end. When such con- 
fusion possessed the souls of men, the knowledge of 
the Supreme Being disappeared, and with the dis- 
appearance of the highest knowledge, righteousness 
was utterly lost. The gods were then overcome with 
grief and fear, and approached Brahma for protection 
and advice. Brahma then created by a fiat of his 
will a son named Virajas. This son, born of the 
energy of Brahma, was made the ruler of the 
world. 1 

This imaginary picture of the ante-political con- 
dition of man and of the circumstances which necessi- 
tated a State organisation, appears to us as specially 
interesting when we remember that similar pictures 
have also been drawn by European thinkers of a 
later age. 2 Besides, this description of the birth of 

1 Mahabharata, Santi Parva (Rajadharma P.), Sec. 59. 

8 Cf. Milton's view as expressed in his Tenure of Kings and Magistrateg, 
where he says that all men were born free, that wrong sprang up through 
Adam's sin, and that to avert their own complete destruction, men agreed 


the State, fanciful as it is, embodies the belief which 
many people had, and still have, in the divine origin 
of the State. The State, according to this theory, 
is neither a voluntary association of men nor the 
natural result of the workings of human instinct and 
reason, but is a thing imposed upon human beings 
for their general good by a power superior to their 
own. It is " the immediate work of God." Manu 
is another exponent of the belief in the divine origin 
of the State. He says, " When these creatures, being 
without a King, through fear dispersed in all direc- 
tions, the Lord created a King for the protection of 
the whole creation." 1 But the view of the less 

" by common league to bind each other from mutual injury and jointly to 
defend themselves against any that gave disturbance to such agreement." 

Cf. also Locke, who regards the state of nature as " a state of perfect 
freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons 
as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of Nature." Two Treatises 
of Government, Bk. II. ch. 2. 

In the opinion of Hobbes, " The Finall Cause, End, or Designe of men 
(who naturally love Liberty and Dominion over others), in the introduction 
of the restraint upon themselves (in which we see them live in Common- 
wealths), is the foresight of their own preservation, and of a more contented 
life thereby ; that is to say, of getting themselves out from that miserable 
condition of Warre, which is necessarily consequent to the naturall Passions 
of men, when there is no visible Power to keep them in awe, and tye them 
by feare of punishment to the performance of their covenants, and observa- 
tion of those Laws of Nature . . ." Leviathan, Ch. XVII. 

The circumstances which impelled individuals to organise themselves 
into the State are thus described by Rousseau : "I assume that men have 
reached a point at which the obstacles that endanger their preservation in 
the state of nature overcome by their resistance the forces which the indi- 
viduals can cast with a view to maintaining himself in that state. Then 
this primitive condition can no longer subsist, and the human race would 
perish unless it changed its mode of existence." Social Contract, Bk. I. 
ch. 6. 

1 Manu, Ch. VII. si. 3. 


spiritually-minded, but more practical, Chanakya is 
different. He is a believer in the human creation 
of the State. ' When the weak," says he, " began 
to be oppressed by the strong, the people made 
Vaivasvata Manu their King, and fixed one-sixth of 
the produce of the soil and one-tenth of merchandise 
as his remuneration." 1 Chanakya adds : "In the 
absence of a government people behave like fish, the 
strong devouring the weak, but protected by a 
government, they flourish." 2 

Divergent as are the views of the two schools in 
some of the most essential particulars, there are two 
points on which they agree. Both schools hold (i) 
that the State had its origin in necessity, and (ii) 
that the object of its establishment was the common 
weal. 3 

Speculation, however, is not of much help to us 
in ascertaining the origin of the State. Neither does 
our present knowledge of history assist us in any 
considerable degree in this matter. Perhaps the 
ultimate origin of the State in India, as elsewhere, 

1 " Matsyanyayabhibhutah praja Manum Vaivasvatam rajanam ca- 
krire." Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 13. The Vayu Parana, on the other hand, 
says, " After the Manvantara, (Brahma), with the concurrence of the Gods, 
bestowed the Kingship of the world on the great Vaivasvata." Ch. XXIII. 
si. 1. 

2 This view is favoured in the Buddhist religious books. Vide the story 
in the Tibetan Dulva about the origin of the Kingship. 

3 Cf. Aristotle's famous lines : " If all communities aim at some good, 
the State or political community, which is the highest of all, and which 
embraces all the rest, aims, and, in a greater degree than any other, at the 
highest good." Politics, Bk. I. 


is to be found in human nature. History, although 
unable to trace the origin of the State, gives us 
considerable aid in following its development. It 
tells us that men lived in India, as in most other 
countries, in some form or other of organised society 
from very early times. We know as yet very little 
of the condition of the pre-Aryan races of India, 
but the little knowledge that we do possess enables 
us to assert that some at least of these early inhabi- 
tants not only lived an organised political life, but 
even developed a fairly efficient system of public 
administration. It was, however, at the hands of 
the Aryans that the Indian State seems to have 
received its full development. The primitive Aryan 
State was perhaps based upon the family. It is 
probable that the family in the process of evolution 
grew into the clan, the clan expanded into the tribe, 
and finally, the tribe was absorbed in the State. 
The head of the family became the chief of the clan, 
then the leader of the tribe, and ultimately the ruler 
of the State. Although, however, the beginnings of 
the Indian State were connected with the family, 
the clan, and the tribe, the purely political idea 
gradually became more and more clear and dominant, 
with the result that in the course of time the State 
outgrew its original limitations, and became national. 
We do not know for certain at what period of time 
the patriarchal and tribal stages were passed in India, 
but the opinion may be hazarded that the national 


State had become firmly established in most parts 
of India many centuries before the commencement 
of the Buddhist period. 

We now pass on to a consideration of the nature 
of the State as it existed in the Hindu period of 
Indian history. This may be considered under five 
heads, namely, (1) the character of the State as an 
institution, (2) the sphere of State-action, (3) the 
extent of the power of the State, (4) the differentiation 
of functions in the State organisation, and (5) the 
rights of individuals in the State. 

In many ancient countries the State, in the earlier 
stages of its development, was theocratic ; but in 
India, although the social organisation contained 
within its bosom the Brahmanic theocracy and was 
to a large extent dominated by it, the State itself 
never became a theocracy in the proper sense of the 
term. This becomes evident when we consider a few 
broad facts. First, the ruler was never regarded as 
the head of religion. Secondly, the primary object 
of the State was not spiritual salvation, but social 
well-being. Thirdly, law, mingled as it was with 
religion and morality, was the chief source of the 
authority of the State. And lastly, the political 
status of individuals was independent of their religious 
beliefs and convictions. 

The sphere of State-action was in the earliest period 
very limited. The State was then, in fact, what 
political scientists term a * Police-State.' Security 


against foreign invasions and the maintenance of 
internal order summed up the activities of the State. 
The first step towards a higher type seems to have 
been taken when the State assumed the administra- 
tion of justice. And^as society became more complex 
with the progress of civilisation the sphere of State- 
activity tended gradually to extend, until about the 
sixth or fifth century A.D. it embraced almost the 
entire life of the people. Under the Emperor Asoka 
the State closely approximated to the highest type of 
a Culture-State, its aim being to secure the maximum 
well-being of the people in every department of life. 

During the period of the extension of the sphere 
of State-activity, the power of the State also tended 
to grow, but State-sovereignty in India never became 
quite absolute. The conception of political sove- 
reignty as " independent, indivisible, perpetual, in- 
alienable power " was never developed here to the 
same extent as in Ancient Greece or in Modern 

As for the differentiation of functions, we find that 
during the earlier stages of political growth, the same 
persons exercised various powers. But with the 
growth of the sphere of State-action and the increase 
of the authority of the State, it was found necessary 
to separate the different kinds of functions ; and, as 
time went on, this separation was carried further 
and further, until in the fully-developed State it was 
as complete as it reasonably could be. 


The great drawback of the State in Ancient India 
was that j the rights of man as man were not fully 
recognised. Individuals had rights and duties not 
as component parts of the body politic but as members 
of estates or classes in society ; and consequently, as 
we have already seen in a previous chapter, the 
rights and obligations varied according to the class 
to which the individuals belonged.! 



As we saw in the last chapter, 1 during the Vedic and 
Brahmanic periods the country was divided into a 
large number of independent States, some of them 
exceedingly small, others of a moderate bulk, but 
none having any considerable size. The systems of 
Government which prevailed in those States differed 
from one another in many respects. Some of them 
were governed by Princes, while others were Oli- 
garchies or Eepublics. The Vedic literature contains 
references to non-monarchical forms of government. 2 
In the Mahabharata also we find mention of kingless 

1 In the Aitareya Brahmana occur the terms ' Svarajya ' and ' Vairajya,' 
which Mr. K. P. Jayasval translates as ' self-governing country ' and 
* kingless State.' From the context, however, the right meanings appear 
to be ' independent kingdom ' and ' extensive kingdom.' The terms 
' Viraj ' and ' Svaraj ' occur in Brihaddevata, VIII. 107, but there the 
meaning is not very clear. 

2 Prof. Macdonell says : " It is quite clear that the normal, though not 
universal, form of government in early India was by Kings, as might be 
expected in view of the fact that the Aryan Indians were invaders in a hostile 
territory : a situation which, as in the case of the Aryan invaders of Greece 
and of the German invaders of England, resulted almost necessarily in 
strengthening the monarchic element of the constitution." Vedic Index, 
Vol. II. p. 210. 


states. The Vrishnis, for instance, formed an Oligarchy 
ruled by many chiefs, of whom Krishna was one. 1 
In fact, almost all the Indian nations of these times 
possessed popular institutions of some type or other. 2 
At the time of the rise of Buddhism, there were a 
number of independent tribes, living either under 
the republican or the oligarchic system of govern- 
ment. 3 In the Republics, the affairs of State were 
discussed and decided in the tribal assemblies, and 
the executive power was in the hands of the leaders 
(mukhyas), who also acted as commanders in war. 
In regard to the system of government prevailing 
among the Sakiyas, Prof. Ehys Davids, one of the 
greatest Buddhist scholars of modern times, says : 
:c The administrative and judicial business of the clan 
was carried out in public assembly, at which young 
and old were alike present in their common Mote Hall 
(Sanghagara) at Kapilavastu. 4 A single chief how 

1 It is interesting to note that while Krishna, one of the great leaders of 
this clan, was with the Pandavas in the Great War, the clan as a body 
fought on the side of the Kurus. 

2 Zimmer sees traces in one passage of the Rig- Veda that in times of peace 
there was no King in some States, the members of the royal family holding 
equal rights. Macdonell's Vedic Index, II. p. 216. 

3 Prof. Rhys Davids says : " The earliest Buddhist records reveal the 
survival, side by side with more or less powerful monarchies, of republics 
with either complete or modified independence." Buddhist India. 

4 Prof. Rhys Davids adds : "It was at such a parliament, or palaver, 
that King Pasenadi's proposition [i.e. the request for a bride from the Sakiya 
clan] was discussed. When Ambattha goes to Kapilavastu on business, he 
goes to the Mote Hall, where the Sakiyas were then in session. And it is 
to the Mote Hall of the Mallas that Ananda goes to announce the death of 
the Buddha." Buddhist India, p. 9. 


and for what period chosen we do not know was 
elected an office-holder, presiding over the sessions, 
and if no sessions were sitting, over the State. He 
bore the title of Raja, which must have meant some- 
thing like the Roman Consul, or the Greek Archon." 1 
In an Oligarchy, the conduct of the administration 
was in the hands of the members of the ruling family. 2 
The most striking instance of an Oligarchy was that 
of the Lichchavis, whose chiefs were all called ( Rajas.' 3 
The free Lichchavi clans were very powerful, and 
they played an important part in the social and 
political life of India in the sixth century B.C., and 
for many centuries afterwards. 4 

Even as late as the date of Alexander's invasion 
many of the nations of the Punjab lived under demo- 
cratic institutions. The Ambashthas (Sambastai), for 
instance, " were a people inferior to none for numbers 
or for bravery. They dwelt in cities in which the 
democratic form of government prevailed." 5 Curtius 
mentions a tribe called Sabarcae, " a powerful Indian 
tribe where the form of Government was democratic, 
and not regal." 6 The Kathanians, the Oxydrakai, 

1 Buddhist India, p. 9. 

8 " Kulasya va bhaved rajyam." Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 17. 

3 Arthasastra, Bk. XI. ch. 1. In the Buddhist books we are told that 
there were 7707 chiefs of the Lichchavis, all of whom were called ' Rajas.' 

4 The chief clans at the time of the rise of Buddhism were : (1) Lichchavis, 
(2) Sakiyas, (3) Bhaggas of Sumsumara Hill, (4) Bulis of Allakappa, (5) 
Kalamas of Kesaputta, (6) Koliyas of Ramagama, (7) Mallas of Pava, 
(8) Mallas of Kusinara, (9) Moriyas of Pippalivana, (10) Videhas of Mithila. 

5 Ancient India, Alexander's Invasion (McCrindle), p. 292. 6 Ibid. 


the Adraistai, and the Malloi, who offered stout re- 
sistance to the advance of Alexander, also lived under 
a democratic form of government. When the Malloi 
tendered their submission to Alexander, they told 
him that " they were attached more than any others 
to freedom and autonomy, and that their freedom 
they had preserved intact from the time Dionysos 
came to India until Alexander's invasion." 1 

Some of the other nations had an aristocratic form 
of government with a President at the head of the 
administration. At the city of Nysa, the adminis- 
tration was in the hands of three hundred wise men. 
When Alexander requested the Nysians to send with 
him one hundred men from their governing body, 
their President replied : " How, King ! can a 
single city, if deprived of a hundred of its best men, 
continue to be well-governed ? " 2 It was reported 
to Alexander that " the country beyond the Hyphasis 
was exceedingly fertile, and that the inhabitants were 
good agriculturists and lived under an excellent 
system of internal government, for the multitude 
are governed by the aristocracy who exercised their 
authority with justice and moderation." 3 

In other States, there was a King who was assisted 
by an assembly of elders or 'heads' of families. Dio- 
doros speaks of a Patala as " a city of great note, 
with a political constitution drawn on the same lines 

1 Arrian, Anabasis (McCrindle), p. 154. 

2 Ancient India (McCrindle), p. 81. Ibid. 


as the Spartan ; for in this community the command 
in war vested in two hereditary Kings of two different 
houses, while a Council of elders ruled the whole 
State with paramount authority." 

Chanakya also mentions many powerful oligarchies. 
From him we know that the Lichchivikas, Vrijjikas, 
Mallakas, Madrakas, Kukuras, Kurus, and Panchalas 
were ruling oligarchies, 1 while the Kshatriya clans 
of the Kambojas and Surashtras were engaged in 
agriculture, industry, and the profession of arms. 2 

But although the non-monarchical forms of govern- 
ment existed down to the fourth century A.D., 3 many 
forces had been at work for several centuries past to 
make monarchy the prevailing form of administra- 
tion in the country. 4 The most important of these 
factors was a great increase in the size of the State. 
As the Aryas moved eastward from the Punjab, the 
territory of the State tended steadily to grow. Now, 

1 " Rajasabdopajivinah." Arthasastra, Bk. XI. ch. 1. 

2 Ibid. It is not very clear whether the second generation of the Nandas, 
consisting of eight kings, ruled as a family oligarchy, or reigned in succession. 
In Mudra-Rakshasa, the great family (vipula kula) of the Nandas is compared 
to the clan of the Vrishnis. Act II. 

3 In a few parts of the country, these institutions lasted till the third or 
fourth centuries of the Christian Era, but in these later days they never 
played any important part in Indian history. In the Mandasor Inscription 
of Kumaragupta and Bandhuvarman (sixth century A.D.), the Malavas are 
referred to as living under a republican form of government (Malavanam 

* The Sukramti, at a comparatively recent date, says : " There should be 
only one head in the State, not many. Nor should a State ever be without 
a head." This idea must have grown up several centuries before the 
Christian Era. 


it must have been found very difficult to manage the 
affairs of large kingdoms by means of popular insti- 
tutions at a time when the representative system 
had not yet been invented. 1 Popular freedom had 
thus gradually to give way before the advance of the 
imperial idea. And when the success of Alexander's 
invasion made manifest the weakness of a system of 
small independent States, the people probably wel- 
comed, or at least submitted to, Chandragupta's 
attempt to establish a centralised imperial govern- 
ment. Chandragupta had thus comparatively little 
difficulty in absorbing within the empire of Magadha 
all the States of Northern India, and this establish- 
ment of an imperial rule meant the sweeping away 
of all the free institutions of the country. In the 
words of the historian, Chandragupta " changed the 
name of freedom to that of bondage, for he himself 
oppressed with servitude the very people he had 
rescued from foreign dominion." 2 

Chandragupta was not the first monarch to aspire 
to the title of ' Samrat ' or ' King of Kings.' The 
people for many centuries previously had been familiar 
with the Chakravarti or Suzerain idea. The later 
Vedic literature abounds with references to paramount 

1 One of the chief causes of the substitution of the monarchical for the 
republican form of government in Rome was the great increase in the size 
of the territory governed from Rome. 

a Justin, XV. 4 (McCrindle). It is a curious coincidence that the small 
States of Northern India were absorbed in the Magadhan Empire about 
the same time that the Macedonian Empire destroyed the independence of 
the City States of Ancient Greece. 


rulers (Adhiraja, Samrat, Sarvabhauma, etc.). The 
Aitareya Brahmana and the Satapatha Brahmana 
give detailed descriptions of the ceremonies that 
were to be performed by paramount sovereigns. 
According to tradition Trasadasyu, the grandson of 
Kutsa of Vedic fame, was the first to assume the title 
of Emperor, and Bharata was the first monarch to 
bring the whole country under the influence of Aryan 
civilisation. In the Mahabharata we read of Jara- 
sandha's ambition to become a paramount sovereign, 
of his defeat by the Pandavas, of Yudhishthira's 
Digvijaya (conquest of all the quarters) and assump- 
tion of the imperial title. It should be remembered 
however, that -what these powerful monarchs of old 
aimed at was the establishment, not of an imperial 
rule, but of a sort of nominal supremacy over the 
other Kings. And one chief object of these endea- 
vours was to bring a large part of India together by 
binding the Kings in a sort of alliance for offensive 
and defensive purposes with the strongest among 
them as the nominal suzerain. Ajatasatru and 
Mahapadma Nanda endeavoured to bring large tracts 
of country under their rule, but it was Chandragupta 
who for the first time succeeded in bringing under 
one direct authority the entire country from Afghani- 
stan to the Bay of Bengal, and from the Himalayas 
to beyond the Vindhya mountains. For a thousand 
years after the establishment of Chandragupta's 
supremacy, India witnessed a continual struggle for 


imperial suzerainty made in different parts of the 
country and attended with varying degrees of success. 

The control of this imperial system of course neces- 
sitated the use of a complex machinery of adminis- 
tration. Such a machinery was invented and brought 
into use by Chandragupta with the help of his Prime 
Minister, Chanakya, and afterwards improved upon 
by Asoka. Under this system, the home province 
was under the control of the central executive, while 
the distant provinces were administered by Viceroys 
or Governors sent out from the capital. In Asoka's 
time there were four or five such provinces besides 
Magadha which formed the home province. The 
provinces were divided into districts and sub-districts 
with suitable officials in charge of them. Chanakya 
mentions ' gopas ' and ' sthanikas ' as the country 
officials. In Asoka's edicts occur the terms ' maha- 
matras,' ' pradesikas,' and ' rajukas.' In some of the 
later inscriptions we find mention of ' mandalesvaras,' 
4 raja-sthaniyas,' ' uparikas,' and ' vishayapatis.' Be- 
sides these officers, there were c antahpalas,' or wardens 
of the marches, to guard the boundaries of the 

A constant touch was kept up with the distant 
provinces by means of a regular system of corre- 
spondence, and also with the assistance of a class 
of inspecting officers or ' overseers,' whose duty it 
was to watch all that occurred and to make reports 
to the Central Government. Portions of the Empire 


were, it seems, ruled by local Rajas 1 who enjoyed 
varying degrees of independence. Some of them only 
owed a nominal allegiance to the Suzerain Power. 
There were others who paid the annual tribute and 
were liable to be called upon to assist in case of a 
war with foreign Powers, but were practically inde- 
pendent of control so far as their internal affairs were 
concerned. The administration of the less important 
Princes was probably subject to some sort of super- 
vision by the imperial government. 

The system of government may be described as a 
limited monarchy. There were various checks on 
the authority of the monarch. The King had to 
abide by the law as laid down in the Sastras or em- 
bodied in the customs of the country. In the prac- 
tical work of administration he was guided by his 
ministers, who occupied an important position in 
society and wielded the real power in the State. 2 
Then, there was the influence of the learned Brah- 
manas as a class, who were looked upon by the 
people as the natural guardians of society. With 
these checks operating on the governmental system it 
was very difficult for a king to have his own way in 
the administration of the country. Occasionally, 
under a strong and capable ruler like Asoka or Harsha- 
vardhana, the government might resemble a paternal 

1 Chanakya advises conquerors to place a scion of the royal family on the 
throne of a conquered country, and to leave the internal administration 
in his hands. 

2 Vide Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 7 ; also Bk. I. ch. 9 


despotism, 1 but it was very rarely that the power of 
the King was quite absolute. 2 The Sastras he re- 
garded as embodying a sort of political constitution 
as well as ethical law, and the ancient system of 
government may thus be called a constitutional 
monarchy. It must, however, be remembered that 
the devices by which the monarch's authority was 
kept within proper limits were more moral than 
political. The most suitable term which can be used 
to describe the system appears in our opinion to be 
e Sachivatantra.' 3 The different parts of the govern- 
mental machinery of this system will be described 
in some detail in the next few chapters. 

The efficiency of administration, of course, varied 
in the different States and at different times. As 
might be expected, under good kings and capable 
ministers a high standard of success was attained, 
while incompetent administrators not unoften found 
it difficult to maintain peace and security in the land 
and brought trouble and misery to the people. On the 
whole, however, it seems that the administration was 
efficient. It was founded, as the Chinese traveller, 

1 In the Kalinga Rock Edict Asoka says : " All men are my children, and 
just as I desire for my children that they enjoy every kind of prosperity and 
happiness in both this world and the next, so also I desire the same for 
all men." 

2 Vide Sukraniti, Ch. II. si. 4. 

3 The term ' sachivayatta-tantra,' that is to say, a form of government 
in which real power exists in the hands of the Ministers, is found in Mudra- 
Rakshasa. Under favourable conditions, such a government answered to 
Aristotle's description of an aristocracy, that is to say, government by the 


Hiuen Tsiang, noticed, " on benign principles " ; and 
the results of good government were to be seen 
in the happiness and prosperity of the people, the 
growth of literature, arts, and sciences, and the 
development of a high order of civilisation. 

A few words may here be said about a form of 
government which came into existence towards the 
end of the Hindu period of Indian history. This 
system prevailed among the Rajputs, and was pre- 
eminently a martial system. It had some analogies 
with the Feudal Monarchy of Europe in the Middle 
Ages. How it came into existence we do not exactly 
know, but it seems that during the turmoil of the 
eighth and ninth centuries A.D., the Rajput clans 
made themselves masters of some parts of the country. 
The leader of the clan became the owner of the 
conquered land, and divided it among his followers 
as a reward for military services. All vassals held 
land from the Prince on condition of military service 
and fidelity. The chief vassals formed the Great 
Council of the King, and were summoned on im- 
portant occasions, generally for military purposes. 
The Prince, with the aid of his Civil Council and the 
Ministers of the Crown, conducted the central adminis- 
tration and promulgated all legislative enactments 
which affected the rights and interests of the entire 
community. In the Crown Demesnes justice was 
administered by Chabootaras (Terraces of Justice). 
Local Government was in the hands of the chiefs, 


who were assisted by their domestic councils com- 
posed of the greater sub- vassals, the Pradhan 
(Premier), the Mayor of the household, the priest, 
the bard, and two or three of the most intelligent 
citizens. The chiefs administered their own justice, 
and in the internal administration of the chiefs' 
estates, the government officers seldom interfered. 
Besides, each town and village had its own council 
or chotia elected by the citizens, who helped the 
Nagarseth (City Magistrate) and the village headman 
in the discharge of their local duties. 1 

1 Vide Tod's Rajasthan, Vol. I. In regard to the merits and defects of 
the system, Col. Tod says : " It is a system full of defects ; yet we see them 
so often balanced by virtues, that we are alternately biassed by these 
counter-acting qualities ; loyalty and patriotism, which combine a love of 
the institutions, religion, and manners of the country, are the counterpoise 
to systematic evil. In no country has the system ever proved efficient." 
Vol. I. p. 148 (first edition). 



FKOM very early times down to the fourth century 
B.C., the country was divided into a large number of 
independent States Kingdoms, Oligarchies, or Re- 
publics. In the Vedic Age, there was a large number 
of tribes who inhabited the Punjab. The most 
important of these tribes were the Purus, the Yadus, 
the Turvasas, the Druhyus, and the Anus. 1 As the 
Aryans advanced eastward and southward the number 
of Aryan States steadily increased, either by the 
establishment of new administrations or by the 
re-modelling of the pre-Aryan governments then 

In the Brahmanic period, the chief nations were 
the Kurus, the Panchalas, the Kosalas, the Kasis, and 
the Videhas. The Kurus and the Panchalas were so 
intimately connected with each other that they prac- 
tically formed one nation. The Kosalas, the Kasis, 

1 Mahabharata, Adi (Sambhava) Parva, Sec. 82. It is not exactly known 
whether all these tribes were Aryan, or some of them were composed of 
mixed races. 


and the Videhas formed a sort of confederacy, and 
their relations with the Kuru-Panchala peoples per- 
haps were not always very friendly. The Kuru-Pan- 
chalas occupied the middle country (madhya-desa), 
while the other three nations occupied the country 
to the east. 1 

The Pali Pitakas mention sixteen great countries 
(Maha-janapadah). In the sixth century B.C. they 
were : 

(1) Anga, near modern Bhagalpur, with capital 
Champa ; 

(2) Magadha, or South Behar, with capital at 
Rajagriha and afterwards at Pataliputra ; 

(3) Kasi, with capital at Kasi, modern Benares ; 

(4) Kosala, with capital at Sravasti on the borders 
of Nepal ; 

(5) Vrijji, the country of the Vajjians, who were 
composed of eight confederate clans, of whom the 
Lichchavis and the Videhas were the most powerful. 
The capital of the Videhas was Mithila, and that of 
the Lichchavis, Vaisali ; 

(6) The country of the Mallas, who were divided 
into two independent clans, and whose territory was 
on the mountain slopes to the east of the Sakiya 
land ; 

1 Cf. Macdonell's Vedic Index, I. p. 154. 

Pancha-janah, the five peoples, are mentioned under various names in 
Vedic literature. Who are meant by the five is very uncertain. According 
to Zimmer, the five tribes of the Anus, Druhyus, Yadus, Turvasas, and 
Purus are meant, and Macdonell seems to incline to this view. In the 
Brihad-Devata, several different meanings of the term are given. 


(7) Cheti, the country of the Chedis, who perhaps 
had two distinct settlements, one in Nepal and the 
other to the east or south-east of Kosambi ; 

(8) Vatsa or Vamsa, of which Kosambi was the 
capital. It lay north of Avanti and along the banks 
of the Jumna ; 

(9) The country of the Kurus, with its capital at 
Indraprastha, near modern Delhi ; 

(10) The country of the two Panchalas, to the east 
of the land of the Kurus, with capitals at Kampilya 
and Kanauj ; 

(11) The Matsya country, to the south of the 
Kurus and west of the Jumna ; 

(12) The country of the Surasenas, with its capital 
at Mathura, to the south-west of the Matsya country 
and west of the Jumna ; 

(13) The country of the Arsakas, on the banks of 
the Godavari, with its capital at Potana or Potali ; 

(14) Avanti, afterwards called Malava, with its 
capital, Ujjayini ; 

(15) Gandhara (modern Kandahar), including 
Eastern Afghanistan and North-western Punjab, with 
its capital, Taksha-sila ; 

(16) Kamboja, the country near modern Sindh, 
with its capital at Dvaraka. 1 

This list is not at all exhaustive. The whole of 
South India is ignored, and so also the greater part 

1 Vide Vinaya Texts, VII. 1, 1, footnote, and Rhys Davids, Buddhist 


of the Punjab. Of the States mentioned in Buddhist 
books, Kosala was at first the paramount power, but 
its glory sank as Magadha rose into prominence, and 
at last it became subject to the latter. 

Our knowledge of the political divisions of India 
in the fourth century B.C. is derived from the Greek 
accounts. These accounts inform us that, at the time 
of Alexander's invasion, the Punjab was occupied 
by a large number of independent nations, the most 
important of whom were called by the Greeks the 
Assakenoi, the Glausai, the Kathaioi, the Oxydrakai, 
and the Malloi. Besides these, there were two large 
kingdoms ruled over by Ambhi and Poros respec- 
tively. To the east were situated the countries of 
the Mandei, the Malli, the Modogalingae, the Modobae, 
the Molindae, the Colubae, and others. The Saura- 
senas were an important nation and possessed two 
large cities, Methora and Cleisobora. The region 
of the Ganges was inhabited by two powerful 
nations, the Prasii and the Gangaridae. 1 " The 
Prasii," says Megasthenes, " surpass in power and 
glory every other people, not only in this quarter, 
but one may say in all India." 2 The Calingae 
(the three Kalingas) were also a powerful race, who 
had their capital at Parthalis. To the south, the 
most important country was that of the Andhras, 
a powerful race which possessed numerous villages, 
and thirty towns defended by walls and towers. 

1 Alexander's Invasion (McCrindle). 2 Megasthenes, Fragment LVI. 


The greater part of the peninsula of Gujrat was 
occupied by the Saurashtras, who had some fine 
cities. Near the extreme south were the Pandyas, 
" a race ruled by women." x Besides these, there 
were the aboriginal tribes who lived chiefly on the 

In the Kamayana, Dasaratha, speaking of the extent 
of his sway, mentions the following States : 

" Mine are the tribes in eastern lands 
And those who dwell on Sindhu's sands. 
Mine is Surashtra far away, 
Sauvira's realm admits my sway ; 
My hest the southern nations fear, 
The Angas and the Vangas hear. 
And as lord paramount I reign 
O'er Magadh and the Matsya's plain, 
Kosal and Kasis' wide domain 
All rich in treasures of the mine 
In golden corn, sheep, goats, and kine." 2 

The Mahabharata gives a long list of over two 
hundred names of nations and tribes who dwelt in 
India or in countries bordering on it. 3 In the Vishnu- 
purana we find the following list of the important 
nations inhabiting Bharata-varsha : " The Kurus and 
the Panchalas in the middle district ; the people of 
Kamarupa in the east ; the Pundras, the Kalingas, 
the Magadhas, and the southern nations in the south ; 
in the extreme west the Saurashtras, the Suras, the 

1 Megasthenes, Fragment LVI. 

2 Ramayana (Griffith's trans.), Bk. II. oh. 10. 

3 Mahabharata, Bhishma Parva. 


Bhiras and the Arbudas ; the Karushas and the 
Malavas dwelling in the Paripatra mountains ; the Sau- 
viras, the Saindhavas, the Hunas, the Salvas, the 
Sakalas, the Madras, the Kamas, the Ambasthas, and 
the Parasikas in the Punjab, and in the territory 
comprising north-western India and modern Afghani- 
stan. 1 This list, however, fails to render us much 
assistance, as we do not know what period of history 
it refers to. Perhaps a portion of the list refers to an 
early period, while some names are later additions. 

In early times, the States were generally small in 
size. In the Heroic Age, the conquests of the warrior- 
kings added considerable territories to their dominions. 
But it seems that the movement towards the forma- 
tion of extensive kingdoms did not begin until about 
the eighth or seventh century B.C. Once started, 
however, the movement steadily grew in strength. 
Thus we find that the Kingdom of Magadha had its 
territories augmented under rulers like Bimbisara, 
Ajatasatru, and Mahapadma Nanda, until it became 
the largest State in Northern India. And its progress 
did not stop there. 

Soon after the departure of Alexander from India, 
Chandragupta, with the help of his minister, Chanakya, 
succeeded in bringing the whole of Northern India 
under his imperial control, and the empire of his 
grandson Asoka included the entire continent of 
India with the exception of the countries of Chola, 

1 Vishnu Purana, Bk. II. ch. 3. 


Pandya, Keralaputra and Satiyaputra lying to the 
extreme south of the peninsula. 1 But this vast fabric 
fell into pieces not long after Asoka's death. The 
centre of political predominance then shifted to the 
Andhra country, which succeeded in bringing under 
its sway the whole of the Deccan as well as a con- 
siderable part of Northern India. In the fourth 
century after Christ, Samudragupta and his son 
Chandragupta Vikramaditya revived for a time the 
lost glory of Magadha by re-establishing the Magadhan 
empire. The dominion under the direct control of 
the early Gupta Emperors comprised almost the 
whole of Northern India, while many of the kingdoms 
in the other parts of the country were attached to 
the Empire by bonds of subordinate alliance. The 
Gupta Empire was broken up by the incursions of 
the Huns in the latter part of the fifth century A.D., 
and the Gupta Kings sank into the position of local 
Kajas, ruling over a limited extent of territory. 
Yasodharman of Malava was the next ruler to aspire 
to the position of an imperial sovereign. 2 In the 
seventh century, the political suzerainty of Northern 
India passed to Kanauj under Harshavardhana , 

1 Mr. Vincent Smith says : " Asoka's empire, therefore, comprised the 
countries now known as Afghanistan, as far as the Hindu Kush, Baluchistan, 
Makran, Sind, Kachh (Cutch), the Swat valley, with the adjoining regions, 
Kasmir, Nepal, and the whole of India proper, except the extreme south, 
Tamilakam or Tamil Land. His dominions were far more extensive than 
British India of to-day, excluding Burma." Asoka (second edition), p. 81. 

2 Yasodharman claimed to be the lord of Northern India from the Brahma- 
putra to the Arabian Sea and from the Himalaya to Mount Mahendra. 


whose victorious arms and wise statesmanship 
gathered together for the last time the scattered 
fragments of the North-Indian Empire. 1 In the 
country beyond the Vindhyas, the Chalukyas had 
already founded a powerful empire, and in the eighth 
and ninth centuries after Christ they fought with 
another great nation, the Rashtrakutas, for imperial 
dominion over the Deccan with varying success. In 
the ninth and tenth centuries the Pala Kings of 
Bengal made themselves masters of large territories, 
and some of them assumed titles of paramount 
sovereignty. 2 The Cholas in South India rose into 
prominence in the tenth century, and under Rajendra 
Chola they succeeded in conquering not only the 
whole of South India, but also Kalinga and Ceylon. 
In the meanwhile, the Rajputs had appeared on the 
scene and had occupied Kanauj, Delhi, and Central 
India, and founded settlements in the country called 

1 According to the Rajatarangini, Lah'taditya-Muktapida of Kasmir in 
the eighth century undertook a dig-vijaya, and became paramount sovereign 
over a large part of Northern India. But this account seems to be greatly 
exaggerated. Bk. IV. 

2 The Bhagalpur grant of Narayana-Pala asserts that the second Pala King, 
Dharma-Pala, acquired the sovereignty of Mahodaya (Kanauj) by conquering 
Indraraja and others, but bestowed it on Chakrayudha, the monarch who 
had been deposed by Krishnaraja, the Rashtrakuta King. The same event 
is referred to in the Khalimpur charter of Dharma-Pala himself, which says : 
"With a sign of his eyebrows gracefully moved, he made over to the 
illustrious King of Kanyakubja his own golden water-pitcher of coronation, 
lifted up by the delighted elders of Panchala, and acquiesced in by the 
Bhoja, Matsya, Madra, Kuru, Yadu, Yavana, Avantl, Gandhara and Kirata 
Kings, bent down while bowing with their heads trembling." Quoted by 
D. R. Bhandakar in Epigraphia Indica, Vol. VII. p. 27. Another Pala King 
claims to have exterminated the Hunas and to have extended his sway over 
the whole of Northern India. 


after them ' Raj as than.' The new as well as the 
old nations fought with one another for supremacy, 
but no King after Harsha seems to have succeeded 
in establishing a stable empire in any part of India. 
The country thus continued to be governed by a 
number of independent or semi-independent rulers, 
until the conquest of India by the Mahomedans 
deprived the people of their liberty, and brought 
about a rearrangement of the political boundaries of 
Indian States. 

The history of the variations of political boundaries 
in India is full of interest to the student of public 
administration. >The success achieved on several 
occasions in establishing an imperial government for 
the whole or a large part of India, and the failure to 
maintain such an empire, show that while the people 
were striving after an imperial unity, the physical 
difficulties in the way of its realisation were too 
great to be easily overcome before the advent of 
the contrivances of modern science.1 



WE have already seen that in ancient times there 
existed in India several distinct forms of government, 
and that in the course of time monarchy succeeded 
in practically supplanting all the other forms. 1 
Kingship came henceforward to be regarded as an 
essential part of society. The limbs of the body 
politic were said to be seven, namely, (1) the King 
(Svami), (2) Ministers (Amatya), (3) Territory (Jana- 
pada), (4) Forts (Durga), (5) Treasury (Kosa), (6) 
Army (Danda), and (7) Allies (Mitra) ; 2 and of these 
the monarch became the most important limb. In 
the Mahabharata, the people are strongly advised to 
elect and crown a King, for " in a country without 

1 According to tradition, Prithu, the son of Vena, was the first king of 
men. Vide Satapatha Brahmana, V. 3, 5, 4, and also Mahabharata, Santi 
Parva. The names of many Kings are mentioned in the Vedic literature ; 
of these, Ikshvaku, Santanu, Sudas, and Trasadasyu were perhaps the most 
famous. There are many words in Sanskrit which denote a ' king,' but 
the words most often used are ' rajan ' and ' nrpati.' 

2 The idea of the seven elements of the State occurs in the Arthasastra 
(Bk. VI. ch. 1), and in the Mahabharata, as also in such comparatively recent 
works as the Kamandaki, the Mahavamsa, and the Sukranlti. 


a King, there can be no sacrifice." l The evils of 
the absence of this institution are thus described in 
the Great Epic : 2 "As all creatures would sink in 
utter darkness if the Sun and the Moon did not 
shine, so men would have no light to guide their 
steps by, if the King did not rule. Without a King 
the position of men would be like that of a herd of 
cattle without a herdsman. If the King did not 
exercise the duty of protection, the strong would 
forcibly appropriate the possessions of the weak. All 
kinds of property, and even wives, sons, and daughters 
would cease to exist. Every part of the country 
would be overrun by robbers ; all restrictions about 
marriage would cease ; agriculture and trade would 
fall into confusion ; morality would be lost ; the 
Vedas would disappear ; sacrifices would no longer 
be performed ; society itself would cease to exist ; 
famine would ravage the country ; and all kinds of 
injustice would set in." 

In the Vedic times, Kingship seems often to have 
been elective. 3 The following hymn of the Rig- Veda 

1 Mahabharata, Santi Parva. 

2 Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Sec. 68, sis. 8-31. 

3 Prof. Macdonell says, " Zimmer is of opinion that while the Vedic 
monarchy was sometimes hereditary, as is indeed shown by several cases 
where the descent can be traced, yet in others the monarchy was elective, 
though it is not clear whether the selection by the people was between the 
members of the royal family only or extended to members of all the noble 
clans. It must, however, be admitted that the evidence of the elective 
monarchy is not strong. As Geldner argues, all the passages cited can 
be regarded not as choice by the cantons (vis), but as acceptance by the 
subjects (vis) : this seems the more probable sense. Of course, this is no 

vii THE KING 65 

suggests the elective character of Kingship in the 
early ages : "I have brought thee forward ; remain 
in the midst ; may all thy subjects desire thee ! 
May thy dominion never fall away from thee ! . . . 
And may Indra make the subjects devoted to thee 
alone and bringers of tribute." 1 Hymn III. 4, of 
the Atharva-Veda is more explicit. " Let the people 
(visah) choose unto Kingship (Rajya) thee these five 
divine directions ; rest at the summit of royalty, 
at the pinnacle (kakud) ; from thence formidable, 
share out good things to us." 2 Another hymn of 
the Atharva-Veda runs thus : " Like a human Indra, 
go thou away ; for thou hast concurred in accord 
with the castes." 3 

As Kings were elected by the people, they were 
sometimes deposed by the people. 4 This is suggested 
by the Eig-Veda hymn quoted above which also 
occurs in the Atharva-Veda. 5 The following hymn 
refers to the restoration of a King : " Let thine 
opponents call thee, thy friends have chosen (thee) 

proof that the monarchy was not sometimes elective ; the practice of 
selecting one member of the family to the exclusion of another less qualified 
is exemplified by the legend in Yaska of the Kuru brothers, Devapi and 
Santanu." Vedic Index, Vol. II. p. 211. 

1 Rig- Veda, X. 173. 

2 Atharva-Veda, III. 4. The translation of the passage is as given by 

3 Atharva-Veda (Whitney), III. 4. 

4 " Royal power was clearly insecure : there are several references to 
Kings being expelled from their realms, and their efforts to recover their 
sovereignty." Vedic Index, II. p. 213. 

5 Atharva-Veda, VI. 87. 


against (them) ; India and Agni, all the gods, have main- 
tained for thee security (kshema) in the people (vis)." 1 
Gradually, however, the system of election gave 
place to a hereditary Kingship. By the time, possibly 
of the later Vedic literature, 2 and certainly of the 
Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the succession of 
the eldest son of the last ruler had become the general 
rule. But the memory of the elective Kingship 
lingered. That the people were not unfamiliar in 
the Buddhist period with the idea of an elected King 
is shown by the story told in the Pancha-guru Jataka 
of the Kingship being offered to the Bodhisatva by 
the people. 3 The tradition of ( Mahasammata ' 4 
(accepted by all), the first king, referred to in the 

i Atharva-Veda, III. 3. 

2 ' Dasa-purusa-rajya,' occurring in the Satapatha-Brahmana, suggests 
that hereditary rule had already become almost well established. 

3 Cf. Jataka Stories, Bk. I. 32. 

4 In the Dulva, an interesting story is told of the rise of kingship in India. 
The story runs thus : After private property had come into existence, it 
happened one day that one person took another's rice without his consent 
as if it was his own. Then the people thought, " Let us, in view of what 
has just happened, assemble together, and choose from our midst those who 
are the finest looking, the largest, the handsomest, and let us make them 
lords over our fields, and they shall punish those of us who do what is 
punishable, and they shall recompense those of us who do what is praise- 
worthy, and from the produce of our fields and of the fruits we gather, we 
will give them a portion." So they gathered together, and made one of 
themselves lord over their fields with these words : " Henceforth thou shalt 
punish those of us who deserve punishment and recompense those of us 
who deserve recompense, and we shall give thee a portion of the produce 
of the fields and of the fruits we gather." From his receiving the homages 
of all he was called ' Mahasammata ' ; and as he was lord over the fields 
and kept them from harm he received the name of ' Protector of the fields ' 
or Kshatriya, and as he was a righteous man and wise, and one who brought 
happiness to mankind with the law, he was called 'Raja' (King). The 

vii THE KING 67 

Tibetan ' Dulva ' and in the Ceylonese ' Mahavamsa ' 
also recalls the elective character of early Kingship. 
Even after the hereditary principle had become 
fully established, the formal offer by the people of 
the sovereignty to the King was for a long time held 
essential. 1 Ancient tradition and history also speak 
of occasional departures from the hereditary prin- 
ciple. 2 When the person who claimed the crown by 
right of hereditary succession appeared to be unsuit- 
able for the office of King, or was disqualified by 
reason of any special defect, another member of the 
royal family was placed on the throne. 3 Devapi, for 
instance, being afflicted with skin disease, declined 
the sovereignty, and the subjects anointed Santanu 
King. So also, according to the Mahabharata, Dhri- 
tarashtra, being blind, was passed over in favour of 
his younger brother, Pandu. Again, in troublous 
times it was often found necessary to appoint a 
strong man as King in preference to a weak or minor 
claimant, although the latter might have the best 
right according to the hereditary principle. In such 
cases, it seems, the people, not unnaturally, claimed 

life of the Buddha derived from the Tibetan Works (Rockhill), p. 7. This 
theory of a compact between the King and the people is to be found in other 
books in somewhat different forms. See also Mahavamsa, Ch. II. 

1 Vide Brihaddevata, VII. 157. 

2 Chanakya says : " Except in times of danger (apadah anyatra) the rule 
that sovereignty descends to the eldest son is (to be) respected." Artha- 
sastra, Bk. I. ch. 17. 

3 Brihaddevata, VIII. 1. Vide also Mahabharata, Adi Parva, Sec. 141, 
si. 25. 


a voice in the appointment of the King. So also, 
in cases of disputed succession, the views of the people 
were taken into account. Thus, when the succession 
was in dispute between Yudhishthira and Duryodhana, 
the people declared in favour of the former. 1 But more 
often, it was perhaps the reigning sovereign who nomi- 
nated his successor. Samudragupta, for instance, on 
account of his valour and administrative ability, was 
nominated by his father, Chandragupta, to succeed 
him to the throne. 2 On some occasions it was 
the Ministers who made the choice. 3 After the 
treacherous assassination of Eajyavardhana by the 
King of Pundra, the Prime Minister Bhandi, with 
the concurrence of the Council of Ministers and the 
approval of the people, placed Harshavardhana on 
the throne. 4 Not unoften, physical force was the 
ultimate arbiter in settling questions of disputed 
succession. To avoid an appeal to force, a partition 
of the Kingdom was in some instances agreed upon. 5 

1 " Vayam Pandava-jyestham abhisincamah," Adi Parva, Sec. 141, si. 27. 
And again, in si. 32, Duryodhana tells Dhritarashtra : " The citizens want 
Pandava (i.e. Yudhishthira) as their lord, passing over you and Bhishma." 
From the Mahavamsa account it seems that Asoka was not the eldest son 
of Bindusara ; but, as he stood high above his brothers " in valour, splen- 
dour, might and wondrous powers," he succeeded in raising himself to the 
throne. Vide Mahavamsa (Geiger), Ch. V. The Mahavamsa story, however, 
is not worthy of credence in all details. 

2 Vide Gupta Inscriptions (Fleet). 

3 Vide Arthasastra, Bk. V. ch. 6. 4 See post, Ch. IX. 

5 That a division of the Kingdom was not looked upon with much favour 
is shown by the following remark of Sukra : " No good can arise out of the 
division of a Kingdom. By division the States become small, and thus 
are liable to be easily attacked by the enemy." Ch. I. si. 346. 

vn THE KING 69 

The partition which took place between the Kauravas 
and the Pandavas was the result of the conciliatory 
policy adopted by Dhritarashtra on the one side and 
Yudhishthira and his brothers on the other. In com- 
paratively modern times, a partition of the Kingdom 
of Nepal is known to have taken place between two 
dynasties, and these ruled simultaneously, having 
their respective capitals in different parts of the 
same city. 1 

The succession was limited to males, and as a 
consequence, the history of Aryan India does not 
furnish us with many names of female sovereigns. 
Almost the only instances of reigning queens come 
to us from Kasmir and Ceylon. Didda of Kasmir 2 
and Lilavati of Ceylon 3 were practically the only 
female rulers who occupied any places in Indian 
history. Both of them were widows of kings, and it 
was the unsettled condition of the times which raised 
them to their royal positions. 

The Kings, as a rule, belonged to the Kshatriya 
caste, but history furnishes us with the names of 
some Kings who belonged to the other castes. Maha- 

1 Vide Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, Gupta Inscriptions, p. 188. 
The Lichchavi family ruled contemporaneously with the Thakurl family. 

2 Vide Rajatarangini, Bk. VI. The only other reigning queen of Kasmir 
was Sugandha. 

3 Vide Epigraphia Zeylanica and the Mahavamsa. Three other queens 
reigned in Ceylon, namely, Anula, Sivali, and Kalyanavatl. Queen-consort 
Suryamati was the virtual ruler of Kasmir during the reign of her husband 

Megasthenes speaks of the Pandyas as " a race ruled by women." 


padma Nanda, the founder of the Nanda dynasty, 
was the son of the last Sisunaga King by a Sudra 
woman. Chandragupta also claimed his descent 
from the Magadhan royal family through a Sudra 
mother. 1 The Sunga and Kanva monarchs were 
probably Brahmanas. The Kings of Gandhara, at 
the time of Fa Hian's visit and later, belonged to 
the Brahmana caste. Hiuen Tsiang speaks of the 
King of Matipura as a Sudra. It is suggested by 
Dr. Fleet that the Guptas of Magadha belonged 
to the Vaisya caste, 2 but his argument does not seem 
to be very convincing. 

After the establishment of a hereditary Kingship 
there grew up ithe theory of the divine origin of the 
institution. This theory is first hinted at in the 
later Vedic literature, and afterwards elaborated in 
the Epics, the Smritis, and the Puranas. The 
Atharva-Veda 3 and some of the Brahmanas 4 contain 
the germs of the theory, and it is soon developed 

1 In Mudra-Rakshasa, Chanakya always addresses Chandragupta as 
' Vrishala ' (i.e. Sudra). Rakshasa, the Prime Minister of the Nanda Kings, 
addressing the goddess of royal power in a soliloquy, asks : " Was there no 
chief of noble blood to win thy fickle smiles, that thou must elevate a base- 
born outcast to imperial sway ? " Act II. (Wilson's trans.) 

2 Fleet, Gupta Inscriptions. 

In the Satapatha- Brahmana we are told : " Unsuited for kingship is 
the Brahmana." In the Mahabharata, the King is always described as a 
Kshatriya, but we find that Drona, a Brahmana, was a king. 

3 Atharva-Veda, III. 3 ; III. 4 ; and IV. 22. 

4 In the Satapatha-Brahmana, not only the King, but the Kshatriya class 
is described as having a divine origin. " And as to why a Rajanya shoots, 
he, the Rajanya, is manifestly of Prajapati (the Lord of creatures) : hence 
while being one, he rules over many." V. 1, 5, 14. 

vii THE KING 71 

into a sort of political principlej Manu says, " When 
these creatures, being without a King (arajake),,/ 
through fear dispersed in all directions, the Lord 
created a King for the protection of the world, taking 
(for that purpose) eternal particles (matran) of Indra 
(the King of the gods), of Anila (Wind), of Yama 
(the god of death), of Arka (the Sun), of Agni (the 
Fire), of Varuna (the Rain-god), of Chandra (the 
Moon), and of Kubera (the god of wealth). " l So, 
the Mahabharata says, " No one should disregard 
the King by taking him for a man, for he is really a 
high divinity in human form. The King assumes 
five different forms according to five different occa- 
sions. He becomes Agni, Aditya, Mrityu, Vaisra- 
vana, and Yama." 2 And again, "it is on account 
of his divine origin that the multitude obey his 
words of command, though he belongs to the same 
world and is possessed of similar limbs." 3 

Thus, the King in India was invested with some- 
thing like a divine halo, but it was only a righteous 
monarch who was regarded as divine. 4 The Hindu 

1 Manu, VII. 3-4. 2 Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Sec. 68, sis. 40-41. 

3 Mahabharata, Santi Parva. 

4 The King was not a ' devata ' but only a ' nara-devata.' The Sukra- 
niti says, " An unrighteous King is a demon (Raksho'msah)." The Sukra- 
nlti divides Kings into three classes, namely, Sattvika, Rajasika, and 
Tamasika. " The King who observes his own duties, protects his subjects, 
performs all sacrifices, leads his army against his enemies, is charitable, 
forgiving and brave, and has no attachment to things of this world is a 
Sattvika, and he attains salvation. That King who is the reverse of a 
Sattvika King, who is devoid of pity, is full of pride and envy, and is un- 
truthful is a Tamasika King, and he goes to hell. A Rajasa King is one 


King's claim was very different from the divine right 
" the right divine to govern wrong," to use the words 
of a famous historian which was claimed by the 
monarchs of Europe in the latter part of the Middle 
Ages. Kingship in India was a political office, and 
not the sphere of power of a fortunate individual. 
The King was the chief of the nation, and not the 
owner of the territory over which he ruled. The 
State existed for the well-being of the people, and 
the King held his position as the head of the State 
only in so far as he was expected to further such 
well-being. 1 Whatever might be the character of the 
monarchy on the surface, there is no doubt that at 
bottom the relations between the ruler and the ruled 
were contractual. It was in return for the services 
he rendered to the people that he received their 
obedience and their contributions for the mainten- 
ance of royalty. If it was the duty of the subjects 
to obey their King, 2 it was the duty of the King to 
promote the welfare of his subjects. The conception 
of the King as the servant of the State was one of 

who is vain, greedy, attached to objects of enjoyment, whose deeds are 
different from his words and thoughts, who is quarrelsome, who is fond of 
low company and intrigue, who is self-willed and regardless of the rules of 
Ethics and Politics ; such a bad King after death reaches the state of the 
lower animals and of inanimate things." Ch. I. sis. 30-34. 

1 Cf. Mahabharata, Santi Parva (R.P.), Sec. 59, si. 70, where the protection 
of the citizens and the promotion of the welfare of the State are considered 
to be the two duties of the King. In the Rig- Veda, the King is described 
as the protector of the people (gopa janasya). 

2 The Nitivakyamrita says : " The royal command should never be 
disobeyed by anybody." Ch. XVII. 

vii THE KING 73 

the basic principles of political thought in Ancient 
India. Thus Bodhayana says : " Let the King pro- 
tect (his) subjects, receiving as his pay a sixth part 
(of their income)." 1 So also, Chanakya says: "As 
Kings are remunerated by the people, it is their 
duty to look to the interests of the State." 2 In 
comparatively modern times, the Sukraniti expresses 
the same view. " (Brahma) created the King to be 
the servant of his subjects, and he is remunerated 
by a share of the produce. He assumes the char- 
acter (of King) only for protecting (his subjects)." 3 
When the King failed to perform the duties of his 
office or injured the interests of society, the subjects 
were held absolved from their obligations. " A 
King," says the Mahabharata, " who is unable to 
protect, is useless. If the King fails in his duties, 
any person, no matter to what caste he belongs, may 
wield the sceptre of government." 4 The Sukraniti 
offers the following advice : "If the King is an 
enemy of virtue, morality, and power, and is un- 
righteous in conduct, the people should expel him 
as a destroyer of the State. And for the preservation 
of the State the Purohita (High Priest) should, 
with the consent of the people, place in his seat a 
member of the (royal) family who may be possessed 
of virtue." 5 

1 Bodhayana, I. 10, 1 : " adbhaga-bhrto raja rakset prajam." 

2 Arthasastra, Bk. II. 3 I. 255. 

4 Santi Parva, Sec. 78, si. 36. Vide also Manu, VII. 111-112. 
6 Ch. II. sis. 234-235. 



The powers of the King were limited. The idea 
of an autocratic (svatantra) ruler was not very con- 
genial to the Hindu mind. An eminent writer on 
legal philosophy remarks : " Among the Aryan 
peoples there has never arisen that despotism which 
blots out man as in Egypt, Babylon, China, and 
among the Mussulman and Tartar tribes or if it 
has appeared it has not been of long duration." * 
This remark is as true of the Aryan people of India 
as of the Aryan races of the west. The King in 
India was never regarded as being " above the 
law." 2 

It was the duty of the King always to act accord- 
ing to the rules laid down in the Sastras, and in the 
practical application of these rules he had to follow 
the advice of the great Officers of State and, in cases 
of difficulty, to accept the guidance of the learned 
Brahrnanas. 3 The Aitareya Brahmana prescribes the 
following oath for the King : " Whatever good I 

1 Miraglia, Comparative Legal Philosophy, quoted in N. C. Sen Gupta's 
Origin of Society in India. 

2 That the idea that the King was not above the law had a firm root in 
the minds of the people is made clear by the following story heard by Hiuen 
Tsiang about King Bimbisara. In order to prevent fires in the capital, 
which had become rather frequent at the time, the King passed an ordinance 
to the effect that any person in whose house a fire should break out, would 
be banished to the " cold forest." One day a fire broke out in the Royal 
Palace. Then the King said to his Ministers : " I myself must be banished " ; 
and he gave up the government to his eldest son and retired to the forest 
saying, " I wish to maintain the laws of the country. I therefore myself 
am going into exile." Buddhist Records, Bk. IX. 

3 Manu says : " Let the King, after rising early in the morning, worship 
the Brahmanas, who are well versed in the threefold sacred science and 
learned (in polity), and follow their advice." VII. 37. 

vii THE KING 75 

may have done (during my life), my position (in 
the next world), my life and my progeny be taken 
from me if I oppress you." J The Mahabharata tells 
the King : ' Take the oath in mind, word and deed, 
namely, I shall always look to the welfare of the 
country regarding it as the Supreme Being. What- 
ever is law and whatever is prescribed by the rules 
of Ethics and Politics, I shall always abide by. I 
shall never be independent." 2 "In governing his 
kingdom," says Manu, " let him (i.e. the King) 
always observe the rules (vidhana) : for a King who 
governs his kingdom well, easily prospers." 3 The 
Nitivakyamrita is very emphatic as to the necessity 
of the King following the advice of his Ministers. 
It says : " He is not a King who acts without (or 
against) the advice of his Ministers." 4 The Sukra- 
mti goes further in its condemnation of the inde- 
pendent action of a monarch when it remarks: " That 
King who does not listen to the advice of the Ministers 
is a robber (dasyu) in the disguise of a King, and is 
a thief (apaharaka) of the wealth of his subjects." 5 
And it adds : " When the King acts independently 
(of his ministers) he brings ruin upon himself; he 
is deprived of his sovereignty and is turned out of 

1 VIII. 4, 1, 13. I am indebted for this suggestion to an article in the 
Modern Review of Calcutta (1913) contributed by Mr. K. P. Jayasval. 

2 Santi Parva, Sec. 59. 3 Manu, VII. 113. 

4 Somadeva Suri's Nitivakyamrita, Ch. X. : " Na khalvasau raja yah 
mantrino 'tikramya vartate." 

6 II. 257. 


the State." x It should, however, be noted that in 
the latter part of the Hindu Period of Indian history, 
the power of the monarch was much greater than in 
the earlier, and that such increase of power did to 
some extent receive the sanction of the writers on 
Law and Politics ; but at no time was the royal 
power, in theory at least, quite absolute. In practice, 
it is true, some Kings acted in an autocratic manner, 
but this must be regarded as a usurpation and abuse 
rather than a normal exercise of authority. 

In the people lay the strength of the King, and it 
was their well-being to which he was expected to 
devote his constant attention. It was held un- 
righteous and inexpedient to excite popular discon- 
tent. The duties of the King, according to the 
Mahabharata, 2 were: (1) to please the people; 3 (2) 
to protect them ; (3) always to seek their welfare ; 
(4) to establish all his subjects in the observance of 
their respective duties ; (5) to punish wrongdoers ; 
and (6) to practise the virtues of promptitude, energy, 
truthfulness, self-restraint, humility, righteousness, 
fortitude, and compassion. The following passage, 

1 The Sukraniti adds : " The King who performs his duties in accordance 
with the rules of the Sastras and practises self-control, becomes happy in 
this world and in the next." I. 123. 

8 Arthasastra, Bk. V. ch. 6. Mahabharata, Santi Parva (R.P.), Sec. 68. 

3 The advice to the King to please the people occurs again and again 
in the Ramayana, in the Mahabharata, and in works like the Arthasastra, 
the Kamandaki, and the Sukraniti. ( The Mahabharata derives the word 
' rajan ' from ' ranj ' (to please). The real meaning of the word, however, 
seems to be ' one who shines.'J 

vii THE KING 77 

which occurs in the Milinda-panha, also gives us an 
idea of what the people thought to be the duties of 
the King. It runs thus : " The sovran overlord 
gains the favour of the people by the four elements 
of popularity (viz. liberality, affability, justice, and 
impartiality). . . . The sovran overlord allows no 
robber bands to form in his realm . . . travels through 
the whole world even to its own boundary, examining 
into the evil and the good ... is completely provided 
with protection, both within and without." 1 

Translated into the language of modern Politics, 
these and other similar accounts would mean that 
the chief duties of the King were three-fold, namely, 
executive, judicial, and military. The King was the 
executive head of the State and the chief custodian 
of political authority, 2 and as such the most im- 
portant of his duties was to preserve peace and 
security in the realm. 3 It was as his servants that 
the State officials worked for the prevention of 
crimes and enforced the observance of the laws of 
the kingdom. All officers of the State were appointed 
and removed directly or indirectly by the King ; 
they acted according to his commands, and were 
accountable for the exercise of their functions to 
him. The administration of justice was carried on 

1 Questions of King Milinda (Rhys Davids), VII. 3. 

2 Kautilya says : " The King is the centre of the State (Kuta-sthaniya)." 
Arthasastra, Bk. VIII. ch. 1. 

3 In the Satapatha-Brahmana, the Kings are described as the realm- 
sustainers, " for it is they who sustain realms." IX. 4, 1, 3. 


in the name of the King, and sometimes he himself 
presided over the Royal Court of Justice. 1 It was 
he who gave effect to the judgments of the Law 
Courts, and exercised his prerogative of mercy in 
suitable cases. Though legislation was not among 
the powers entrusted to the King, yet royal edicts, 
at least so far as they related to administrative 
business, had the force of laws. 2 The King was also 
the supreme commander of the military forces of the 
country, and, not unfrequently, he personally led 
the army on the field of battle. 3 The fame of a 
victorious warrior was much coveted by Kings of 
old, and there were not a few among them who were 
renowned far and wide for their prowess in battle. 4 
Among the minor duties of the King may be men- 
tioned the guardianship of infants and the custody 

1 See the Chapter on the Administration of Justice for a fuller treatment 
of this subject. 

a Cf. Macdonell, Vedic Index, II. p. 214. " There is no reference in 
early Vedic literature to the exercise of legislative activity by the King, 
though later it is an essential part of his duties." 

3 " Kings should acquire proficiency in Dharmasastra, Arthasastra, 
Nitisastra, and in the arts of war. It is their paramount duty to fight 
and to do their utmost to win." Ramayana, Sundara Kanda, Sec. 48, 
si. 14. According to Manu, " not to turn back in battle " is one of the best 
means for a King to secure happiness. VII. 88. Manu further says : "A 
King must not shrink from battle." That Manu's advice was followed 
in practice by Kings even in comparatively modern times is shown by the 
following extract from an inscription from Belgaum (1204 A.D.) : "All the 
folk applaud him for his love for the spirit of liberty, a course (enjoined) 
by Manu associated with the triple domain, a nature by which he captured 
foemen's fastnesses . . . glorious was Kartavirya." 

4 See the Chapter on Conquest and Defence, in which this subject has 
been fully dealt with. The inscriptions found in different parts of India 
are full of the records of victories won by warrior- Kings. 



of the property of minors and others who were unable 
to take care of their own things. 1 The King was 
also, in a sense, the head of the society. He was the 
protector, though not the head, of religion ; 2 and in 
his executive capacity he guided, and to some extent 
controlled, the religious and moral life of the people. 
The chief possessions of a King which, accord- 
ing to Chanakya, would enable him to properly per- 
form his duties were : Noble birth, godlike intelli- 
gence, valour, ability to see through the eyes of 
experienced persons, love of virtue, truthfulness, 
straightforwardness, gratefulness, comprehensiveness 
of outlook (sthula-laksha), enthusiasm, want of pro- 
crastination, resoluteness of spirit, and a Council of 
a fairly large size (akshudra-parishatka). Chanakya 
also mentions the following as the most important 
of the regal qualities : profound knowledge ; good 
memory ; a strong mind ; enthusiasm for work ; 
versatility ; ability to confer rewards and inflict 
punishments ; capacity to guard against dangers and 
calamities ; dignity ; foresight ; readiness to avail 
one's self of opportunities ; ability to decide upon 
peace and war and to take advantage of the weak 
points of an enemy ; ability to be humorous without 
loss of dignity ; freedom from passion, wrath, greed, 
obstinacy, fickleness, and hatred ; possession of a 

1 Gautama, X. 48 ; Vasishtha, XVI. 7-9 ; also Agni Purana, Ch. CCXXII. 

2 Asoka, however, made himself almost the head of the Buddhist Church. 
Some of the Kings of Ceylon also assumed something like supreme authority 
over the Church. 


smiling countenance ; and observance of customs 
enjoined by aged persons. 1 

The Mahabharata lays down the following thirty- 
six principles for the guidance of the King : The 
King should observe duties without malice and 
wrath ; acquire wealth without persecution ; never 
abandon kindness ; pursue pleasure without attach- 
ment ; utter what is agreeable ; be brave without 
being boastful ; be liberal ; show prowess without 
cruelty; make alliances, avoiding those that are 
wicked ; never act with hostility towards friends ; 
never employ persons not devoted to him as his spies 
and secret agents : ever accomplish his objects with- 
out persecution ; never disclose his purposes before 
persons that are wicked ; speak of the merits of 
others but never of his own ; take wealth from his 
subjects but never from those that are good ; never 
employ or take the assistance of persons that are 
wicked ; never inflict punishment without careful 
enquiry ; never disclose his counsels ; give away his 
wealth but not to covetous persons ; repose confi- 
dence in others, but never in those who have injured 
him ; never cherish malice ; protect his wedded 
wives ; be pure ; never be melted by compassion ; 
without pride pay respect to those that deserve it; 
serve his preceptors and seniors with sincerity ; 
worship the gods without pride ; seek prosperity, but 
never do anything that brings disgrace ; wait (upon 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. VI. ch. 1. 

vii THE KING 81 

his seniors) with humility ; be clever in business, but 
always wait for the proper moment ; comfort men, 
and never send them away with empty speeches ; 
never abandon a person who has once been taken 
into favour ; never strike in ignorance ; having slain 
a foe, never indulge in sorrow ; display wrath, but 
only when there is an occasion ; be mild, but never 
to those who have offended." * 

Every morning it was the custom for the King to 
repair to the Assembly Hall and enquire into the 
grievances of the people. 2 A good and wise King 
was expected to regulate his daily business according 
to a fixed time-table. Chanakya advises the King 
to divide the day and the night into eight equal 

1 The following extract from Abul Fazl's summary of the duties of a 
King, according to Hindu Polity, is interesting as showing that the principles 
were widely known for long ages and that they were meant to be acted 
upon : " It is incumbent on a monarch to divest himself of avarice and 
anger by following the counsels of wisdom and not to debase himself by 
the commission of any of the crimes described above. If he unfortunately 
suffers injury from others it behoves him to be moderate in his resentments. 
It is his indispensable duty to fear God ; to be just and merciful to himself, 
and to excite the like disposition in others ; to pay particular respect to 
men of exalted rank, and behave with kindness and condescension towards 
subjects of every description. He should be ambitious to extend his 
dominions ; and protect his subjects from the oppressions of his officers, 
from robbers and other evil doers, proportioning the punishment to the 
offence. In everything that concerns himself he should be patient, and 
forgiving of injuries." Gladwin, Ayeen Akbery, p. 492. 

2 In one of the Ajanta paintings, the King is represented as seated on 
the throne with his usual female attendants behind him, and his Prime 
Minister seated on a low stool in front of him. A crowd in front is 
lodging a complaint against one who seems to be brought as a criminal. 
Fergusson and Burgess, Cave-temples of India, p. 313. From the Mudra- 
Rakshasa, we know that Kings used to be guarded by female attendants 


parts each, and to arrange the daily duties in the 
following manner : l 

I. Day-time : 

(1) Deliberation upon the means of defence. 

(2) Enquiry into the grievances of the people. 

(3) Bath, meal, and study. 

(4) Keceiving accounts from cashiers and other 


(5) Meeting of the Privy Council. 

(6) Recreation or taking Counsel with Ministers. 

(7) Supervision of the elephant force, the cavalry, 

and the armoury. 

(8) Consultation with the Commander-in-Chief 

about military matters. 

//. Night-time : 

(1) Receiving reports from the spies. 

(2) Bath, meals, and study. 
(3), (4), and (5) Sleep. 

(6) Reflection upon the Sastras and upon Kingly 


(7) Taking counsel with Ministers and sending out 


(8) Performance of religious ceremonies. 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 19. Chanakya says that this division should 
be made with the help of water-clocks (nalika) or by observing the size of 
shadows (chhayapramanena). The Sukraniti also gives the King similar 
advice, but the time-table suggested therein is somewhat different. The 
twenty-four hours of the day and night are to be divided into thirty parts 
(muhurtas), thus : Consideration of income and expenditure, 2 muhiirtas ; 
Bath, 1 ; Religious observances, 2 ; Physical exercise, 1 ; Distribution 

vii THE KING 83 

It is not to be supposed that this time-table was 
followed in its entirety by any King, but there is 
little doubt that many monarchs performed their 
daily duties in accordance with a more or less fixed 
routine. But all monarchs, it seems, attended to 
urgent business at any hour of the day. 1 

The standard by which Kings were judged in 
Ancient India was thus very high. This standard 
could only be reached, when, in the words of Plato, 
" philosophers are Kings, or the Kings and Princes 
of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, 
and political greatness and wisdom melt in one." 2 
Fortunately, tradition and history do furnish us with 
examples of such philosopher-kings in India. Tra- 
dition enshrines the memories of Rama and Yudhish- 
thira as the highest ideals of virtuous monarchs. 
Kalidasa depicts Dilipa as a great and wise King who 
always found his happiness in that of his subjects. 3 In 
historical times, rulers like Asoka and Harshavardhana 

of rewards, 1 ; Receiving accounts from Officers of State, 4 ; Dinner, 1 ; 
Reflection on old and new events, 1 ; Consultation with judges, 1 ; Hunting 
and sport, 2 ; Parade of troops, 1 ; Religious observances, 1 ; Evening 
meal, 1 ; Business with spies, 1 ; and sleep, 8. Vide also Manu, VII. 145, 
etc., and Agni Purana, Ch. CCXXXV. 

1 Kautilya says : "All urgent business he must attend to at once, and 
never put off, for when postponed, they will prove difficult or even im- 
possible of accomplishment." Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 19. According to 
Hiuen Tsiang, Harshavardhana "divided each day into three portions. 
During the first he occupied himself with the business of government ; 
during the second he practised himself in religious devotion without inter- 
ruption." Buddhist Records (Beal), Bk. IV. p. 216. 

2 Plato's Republic (Jowett), V. 8 Raghuvamsa. 


are known to have worked strenuously and unceas- 
ingly for the well-being of the State. 1 Asoka was an 
ascetic on the throne, whose principle of government 
was " protection by the Law of Piety, regulation by 
that Law, felicity by that Law." 2 " For the welfare 
of all folk," said Asoka, " is what I must work for 
and the root of that again is in effort and the dispatch 
of business. And whatever exertions I make are for 
the end that I may discharge my debt to animate 
beings, and that while I make some happy here, they 
may in the next world gain heaven." 3 Though 
Asoka worked exceedingly hard, he never felt full 
satisfaction in his effort and dispatch of business, 
and therefore he made the arrangement that " at 
all hours and all places whether I am dining, or in 
the ladies' apartments, in my bedroom, or in my 
closet, in my carriage, or in the palace gardens the 
official Keporters should report to me on the people's 
business, and I am ready to do the people's business 
in all places." 4 Harsha also, like Asoka, was a royal 
ascetic. He personally supervised the affairs of his 
vast empire, and for the transaction of State business 
was incessantly on the move through his wide 

1 Kamandaki says that the King should try his best to promote the welfare 
of the State in every possible way. Ch. VI. si. 3 ; also Mahabharata, Santi 

2 Rock Edict I. 

3 Rock Edict VI. Asoka adds : " For this purpose have I caused this 
pious edict to be written, that it may long endure and that my sons and 
grandsons may exert themselves for the welfare of all folk." 

4 Rock Edict VI. 

vii THE KING 85 

dominions. 1 Of him the admiring foreign traveller 
records, " His qualifications moved heaven and earth ; 
his sense of justice was admired by Devas and men. . . . 
His renown was spread abroad everywhere, and all 
his subjects reverenced his virtues." 2 " Through 
him," says the poet, " the earth does indeed possess 
a King (rajanvati)." 3 

But while there were rulers who approached the 
grand ideal of what Kings should be, the majority of 
monarchs must have been men of the average type. 
And some of them even fell below the average. 
Indian history unfortunately preserves accounts of 

1 Hiuen Tsiang says : " If it was necessary to transact business, he 
employed couriers who continually went and returned. If there was any 
irregularity in the manners of the people of the cities, he went amongst 
them. Wherever he moved he dwelt in a ready-made building during 
his sojourn. During the excessive rains of the three months he would not 
travel thus. ..." Buddhist Records, Bk. IV. King Harsha was visiting 
different parts of the country, when he came to know of Hiuen Tsiang's 
presence in Kamarupa. In one of the Ceylon inscriptions we find that 
King Nissanka Malla not only " constantly viewed with the eyes of spies 
his own kingdom," but went on a tour of inspection through the three 
Kingdoms of Ceylon, visiting the villages, towns, cities and palaces difficult 
of access through water, hills, forests and marshes." Epigraphia Zeylanica, 
Vol. II. No. 1713. 

a Life of Hiuen Tsiang, p. 83. And again, " He is virtuous and patriotic ; 
all people celebrate his praises in songs." Ibid. 

3 Harsha-charita, Ch. II. Bana describes Harsha in the most eulogistic 
terms : " This, then, is the Emperor ri Harsha, that union of separate 
glories (tejasarh rasih), of noble birth, of befitting name, the lord of the 
earth bounded by the four oceans the surpasser of all the victories won 
by all Kings of ancient times." Ch. II. And again, " No reign has been 
stainless except that of Harsha, King of Kings, sovereign of all countries." 
Ch. III. I have in the main followed the translation of Cowell and Thomas. 
Devanampiya Tissa of Ceylon is described in the Mahavamsa as " the 
dispenser of happiness to his own subjects bearing the profoundly significant 
title of Devanam-piya (the beloved of the gods), exerting his powers to the 
utmost, and making Lanka overflow with rejoicings." Ch. XI. 


Kings whose incompetency and misdeeds brought 
destruction upon themselves and ruin on their country. 
Diodorus speaks of the King of Gangaridai as " a man 
of quite worthless character, and held in no respect." l 
Some Kings lived a life of dull idleness and ease, and 
were fond of a disgusting sort of pomp and luxury. 
Curtius says : " The luxury of their Kings, or, as 
they call it, their magnificence, is carried to a vicious 
extent without a parallel in the world." 2 ' When 
the King," records the historian, " condescends to 
show himself in public, his attendants carry in their 
hands silver censers and perfume with incense all 
the road by which it is his pleasure to be conveyed. 
He lolls in a golden palanquin garnished with pearls 
which dangle all around, and is robed in fine muslin 
embroidered with purple and gold. Behind his palan- 
quin follow men-at-arms, and his bodyguards. The 
palace is adorned with gilded pillars clasped all 
around by a vine embossed in gold, while silver 
images of those birds which most charm the eye 
diversify the workmanship." 3 

Nor were all Kings equally righteous in conduct. 
Some were greedy, not a few were tyrannical. " Kings 
are grasping," says Milinda, " the princes might, in 

1 Alexander's Invasion (McCrindle), p. 282. 

2 Curtius, McCrindle's Alexander's Invasion, p. 188. 

8 Alexander's Invasion (McCrindle). As a rule, when the King went on 
procession he rode an elephant. The retinue of a Raja is given in one of 
the cave-paintings at Ajanta. There he is described as going out on a large 
elephant with the Umbrella of State over his head and the ankusa in his 
hand. Burgess, Buddhist Cave Temples. 

vii THE KING 87 

the lust of power, subjugate an extent of territory 
twice or thrice the size of what they had, but they 
would never give up what they already possessed." * 
Again, Nagasena says, " Some people have left the 
world in terror at the tyranny of Kings." 2 The 
Kajatarangim, while it describes in glowing terms the 
splendid achievements of Lalitaditya and the bene- 
ficent administration of Avantivarman, also records 
the cruelty of Tarapida, the fiscal exactions of Sanka- 
ravarman, and the misrule of Harsha. 

The position of a King in ancient times was not a 
very easy one. In the Sanskrit drama Mudra- 
Eakshasa, Chandragupta is made to describe the 
difficulties of the King's position in these words : 

" How irksome are the toils of State to those 
Who hold their tasks as duties. 3 Kings must have 
Their own desires, and for the general good, 
Forego their own advantage. But to lose 
My own for others' benefit makes me a slave, 
And what would slaves know of sincere regard ? 
Fortune makes Kings her sport, and vain the hope 
To fix the fickle wanton in her faith. 
She flies the violent, disdains the mild, 
Despises fools, the wise she disregards, 
Derides the cowardly, and dreads the brave." 4 

1 Questions of King Milinda, IV. 22. 

2 Questions of King Milinda, II. 1, 6. 

3 " Rajyarh hi nama rajadharmanuvrtti-paratantrasya bhupater mahad 
a pritisthanam." Mudra Rakshasa, Act III. 

4 Mudra Rakshasa, Act III. (Wilson's trans.). Some of these lines are 
practically a quotation from Kamandaki's Nitisara, Ch. VI. si. 15. 


Besides, the King's life was constantly threatened 
by plots. Chanakya describes in detail the measures 
that had to be taken to ensure the safety of the 
King. 1 Although Strabo perhaps went a little too 
far when he asserted that the King at night was 
obliged from time to time to change his couch for 
fear of treachery, yet there can be little doubt that 
" in the midst of all the gold and glitter, and in spite 
of the most elaborate precautions, uneasy lay the 
head that wore the crown." 2 

Kings were of various grades, and were known by 
different titles according to their renown and extent 
of territory. The Sukraniti says that a ruler who 
receives a revenue of more than one lakh and less 
than three lakhs of silver karshas without oppressing 
his subjects, should be called a Samanta ; one with 
an income of over three but below ten lakhs, a Manda- 
lika ; one with up to twenty lakhs, a Raja ; up to 
fifty lakhs, a Maharaja ; up to a crore, a Svarat ; 
up to fifty crores, a Samrat ; and he who rules the 
whole earth should be known as a Sarvabhauma. 3 
It is not to be supposed, however, that the terms 
were ever used in these strict senses. 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 21. Vide also Kamandaki and Sukraniti. 
Manu says : " Let him mix all his food with medicines (that are) antidotes 
against poison, and let him always be careful to wear gems which destroy 
poison." VII. 218. Hiuen Tsiang describes an attempt on the life of 
King Harshavardhana at the end of the great religious festival at Prayag. 
Vide Buddhist Records (Beal). 

2 Vincent Smith, Early History of India (1904), p. 11. 

3 II. 181-187. Besides these, in the inscriptions we come across some 
other terms, such as ' Mahamandalesvara ' and ' Mahasamanta.' 

vii THE KING 89 

It was the custom for the would-be King to go 
through a period of apprenticeship as Crown Prince 
(Yuvaraja). On his attaining the proper age, the 
heir-apparent received a special inauguration. 1 Great 
importance was attached to the training of a Crown 
Prince in order that when he ascended the throne 
he might be able to discharge the duties of Kingship 
properly. As a knowledge of Politics was regarded 
as indispensable for Kings, 2 instruction in that science 
was imparted to him by distinguished professors and 
administrators. 3 But what was more important was 
that he received practical training in the art of 
administration by being associated with the actual 
work of government. 4 The Crown Prince was an 
important member of the Great Council, and, very 
often, he was the Governor of a Province or a Com- 
mander of the Army. 5 Asoka, for instance, held the 
position of Governor in two provinces in succession 

x The main plot of the Ramayana commences with Dasaratha's pre- 
parations for inaugurating Rama as Crown Prince. In the Mahabharata, 
Yudhishthira is inaugurated as Yuvaraja. 

2 According to the Sukraniti, a knowledge of Political Science was held 
absolutely essential for a King. " The primary duties of the King are the 
protection of his subjects and the punishment of wrong-doers ; but neither 
of these duties can be performed without the help of the Nitisastra." Ch. I. 
sis. 14-15 ; see also Kamandaki. 

3 Kautilya says : " The Prince should be instructed by professors and 
practical administrators (vaktrprayoktrbhyah)." Vide also Agni Purana, 


4 " In the Mahavamsa, Vijaya is described as a Prince Regent whose 
mal-administration led to discontent and ultimately to his own banishment. 
The Crown Prince used to have his own Minister whose title was ' Kumara- 
matya '." We come across this term in many of the inscriptions. 

5 Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 17. 


during the lifetime of his father. Samudragupta 
acquired his renown as a warrior while he was still 
a Prince. 1 Rajyavardhana was sent by his father 
King Prabhakara-vardhana as the Commander-in- 
Chief of the army to fight against the Huns. 2 If the 
Crown Prince showed conspicuous ability, he was 
sometimes chosen to act as a sort of Sub-King (Upa- 
raja) or Prince Regent with almost all the powers 
of a Sovereign. Occasionally, an old King would 
retire from the worries of Kingship and abdicate in 
favour of the Crown Prince. 3 

So much about the institution of Kingship. We 
shall conclude this chapter with a short description 
of some of the ceremonies connected with Kingship. 
Great importance was in early times attached to 
those ceremonies. The most important of the sacri- 
fices performed by Kings were Rajasuya, Vajapeya, 
Asvamedha, and Aindra Mahabhisheka. The Ra a- 
suya or Consecration sacrifice is thus described in 
the Satapatha-Brahmana : First of all, hymns are 

1 Vide Gupta Inscriptions (Fleet). 2 Vide Harsha-charita. 

3 In the Rajatarangini, we read accounts of such abdication. Yudhi- 
shthira's abdication is thus described in the Mahabharata : " Yudhishthira 
arranged that Parlkshit should rule in Hastinapura. He summoned all 
his subjects and informed them of his intentions. The citizens as well 
as the inhabitants of the provinces, hearing the King's words, became 
filled with anxiety and disapproved of the proposal. * This should never 
be done,' said they to the King. But he at last succeeded in persuading 
the people to sanction his proposal. Then Yudhishthira and his brothers 
and Draupadi all cast off their ornaments and clothes, wore the bark of 
trees, and set out for the forest." Mahaprasthanika Parva, Sec. I. 

Nissanka-Malla of Ceylon, for instance, is described in an inscription as 
a Sub-King before his accession to the throne. 

vii THE KING 91 

chanted, and prayers are offered to the gods with 
libations of soma. Then a throne-seat is brought 
for the King which the Priest (Adhvaryu) spreads 
before him with the words, " This is thy Kingship," 
whereby he endows him with royal power. He then 
makes him sit down, with the words, " Thou art the 
ruler, the ruling lord ! " whereby he makes him the 
ruler, ruling over those his subjects. Then he says, 

' Thou art firm and steadfast ! " whereby he makes 
him firm and steadfast in the world. Thereupon 
taking hold of the sacrificer by the right arm, the 
Adhvaryu mutters, " May Savitr quicken thee for 
(powers of) quickening (ruling). . . . Quicken him, 
Gods, to be unrivalled. Quicken him, Gods, 
so as to be without an enemy, for great chiefdom, 
for great lordship, for the ruling of men." He then 
presents the sacrificer to the people with the words, 

' This man, ye (people), is your King, Soma is 
the King of us Brahmanas." Then the Priest 
sprinkles him with water and utters mantras. He 
then invests the King with the consecration garments, 
and hands to him a bow and three arrows with the 
words, " Protect ye him in front ! Protect ye him 
behind ! Protect ye him from the sides ! Protect ye 
him from all quarters ! " Thereupon he makes him 
pronounce the avid (announcement) formulas. He 
thus announces him to Prajapati, to the priesthood, 
to the nobility, to Mitra and Varuna (the upholders 
of the Law), to Heaven and Earth, and to the deities, 


and they approve of his consecration, and approved 
by them he is consecrated. 1 

Another sacrifice was the Vajapeya, which used 
originally to be performed by a King who aspired to 
the imperial title. " By performing the Rajasuya one 
becomes King (Raja), and by the Vajapeya, Emperor 
(Samrat) ; and the position of the King is (obtained) 
first, and thereafter that of Emperor." 2 In later 
years, however, the Vajapeya seems to have lost its 
importance and to have become a sacrifice pre- 
liminary to the Rajasuya. 

The Asvamedha 3 sacrifice was performed by Kings 
who were successful in Digvijaya, or conquest of all 
quarters. A horse was let loose with the words, 
" Go thou along the way of the Adityas ! " It was 
allowed to roam about for a year, and was guarded 
by armed warriors. During the year oblations, 
amounting to sixteen nineties, were offered by the 
sacrificer ; and when the horse returned unmolested 
at the end of the year, a grand assembly was held of 
all the Kings and chiefs of the country, and in their 
presence the horse was sacrificed. In the Heroic 

1 Satapatha-Brahmana (Eggeling), Bk. V. The Rajasuya sacrifice of 
Yudhishthira is described in Mahabharata, Sabha Parva (Rajasuyika P.), 
Sees. XXXIII.-XXXVL On this occasion, the greatest Rishis are said 
to have officiated as priests, and all the great Kings and chiefs are said to 
have been present. 

2 Satapatha-Brahmana, IX. 3, 4, 8. 

3 The Satapatha-Brahmana says : " Prajapati produced the sacrifice. 
His greatness departed from him, and entered the great sacrificial priests." 
XIII. 1, 1, 4. Prof. Eggeling remarks on this passage : " The Asvamedha 
is thus the immolation (or emptying out) of his own self, so to speak." 

vii THE KING 93 

Age, the Asvamedha was performed by Kings who 
succeeded in extending their suzerain power over a 
large part of India. 1 In historical times, it was 
revived by Samudragupta, the great conqueror of 
the fourth century A.D. 

The Aitareya Brahmana gives great importance to 
the Aindra-Mahabhisheka, which, it says, was per- 
formed by great rulers like Janamejaya, Saryata, 
Satrujit, Visvakarman, Sudas and Marut, each of 
whom succeeded in conquering the whole world. 
" A Kshatriya who is consecrated with this Aindra 
Mahabhisheka conquers all conquerors, knows all the 
worlds, becomes superior to all Kings, gains renown 
and majesty, becomes self-created and self-ruled, after 
conquering empires, countries ruled by the Bhojas 
(i.e. powerful monarchs), independent countries, ex- 
tensive kingdoms, great overlordships, principalities, 
extensive dominions, and sovereignties ; and after 
death, having gained all desires ascends Heaven, and 
overcomes death." 2 

1 " Let him who holds royal (i.e. imperial) sway perform the horse-sacrifice, 
for, verily, whosoever performs the horse-sacrifice without possessing power, 
is swept away." Satapatha-Brahmana, XIII. 1, 6, 3. Vide description 
of Yudhishthira's Asvamedha sacrifice in the Mahabharata. 

2 Aitareya Brahmana, ch. 39. Another ceremony mentioned in the 
Aitareya Brahmana is the Punarabhisheka. The Realm-sustaining oblations 
described in the Satapatha-Brahmana were also offered by Kings. 


THE system of conducting public administration by 
means of an Assembly of the people prevailed in 
India in the early Vedic times. Hymn 191 of Man- 
dala X. of the Rig-Veda is addressed to Samjfiana 
(agreement in assembly) and runs thus : 

" Assemble, speak together : let your minds be all of one 


As ancient gods unanimous sit down to their appointed share. 
The place is common, common the assembly, common the 

mind, so be your thoughts united. 
A common purpose do I lay before you, and worship with 

your general oblation. 
One and the same be your resolve, and be your minds of 

one accord. 
United be the thoughts of all that all may happily agree." r 

The following hymn of the Atharva-Veda also 
relates to the work of the Assembly : 

(Be) all the quarters (disah) like-minded, concordant : let 
the Assembly (samiti) here suit (kip) thee fixed. 2 

1 Rig-Veda (Griffith's trans.). 

2 Atharva-Veda (Whitney). Many other hymns of the Atharva-Veda 
relate to the work of the Assembly ; one such hymn is : " Fixed (dhruva), 


The Assembly was of two descriptions, the Samiti 
and the Sabha. The Samiti appears to have been a 
general assembly of the people convened on an im- 
portant occasion, such as the election of a king. 1 
The less formal, and more commonly convened, 
Assembly was the Sabha. The Assembly deliberated 
upon State business of all kinds, executive, judicial, 
and military. 

The popular assembly was a regular institution in 
the early years of the Buddhistic Age. When Ajata- 
satru, wishing to destroy the Vrijjikas, sent his Prime 
Minister, Varshakara, to the Buddha, the Buddha 
asked his chief disciple, " Have you heard, Ananda, 
that the Vajjians hold full and frequent assemblies ? >: 
" Lord, so I have heard," replied he. " So long, 

with a fixed oblation, do we lead down Soma, that Indra may make the 
clans (visah) like-minded, wholly ours." VII. 94. 

1 Vide Griffith's Rig- Veda, footnote to Bk. X. Hymn 191. 

According to Ludwig, the ' Sabha ' was an assembly not of all the people, 
but of the Brahmanas and Maghavans (rich patrons), while the ' Samiti ' 
included the entire people, primarily, the visah. In Zimmer's opinion 
the ' Sabha ' was the village assembly. Prof. Macdonell is unable to 
accept either view, and agrees with Hillebrandt in holding that the Sabha 
and the Samiti cannot be distinguished. Vedic Index, II. pp. 427-430. 

Prof. Macdonell adds : " The King went to the assembly just as he went 
to the Sabha. That he was elected there, as Zimmer thinks, is as uncertain 
as whether he was elected at all. But there are clear signs that concord 
between King and assembly was essential for his prosperity." P. 431. 

E. W. Hopkins says : " The earliest assembly for adjusting political 
affairs in Aryan India was the clan-assembly called sabha (compare German 
Sippe) ... In the Epic we find the Sabha to be an assembly of any sort. 
It may be a judicial one, or court of law ; it may be a royal one, the King's 
court ; it may be a social gathering for pleasure ; and finally it may, in its 
older meaning, be a political assembly." Journal of the American Oriental 


Ananda," rejoined the Blessed One, " as the Vajjians 
hold full and frequent assemblies, so long may they 
be expected not to decline but to prosper." x And 
the Buddha added the following other conditions 
which would ensure the welfare of the Vajjian con- 
federacy. " So long, Ananda, as the Vajjians meet 
together in concord, and rise in concord, and carry 
out their undertakings in concord, so long as they 
enact nothing not already established, abrogate 
nothing that has been established, and act in accord- 
ance with the ancient institutions of the Vajjians 
as established in former days so long as they honour 
and esteem and revere and support the Vajjian elders 
and hold it a point of duty to hearken to their words 
... so long may the Vajjians be expected not to 
decline but to prosper." 2 

How the deliberations of these assemblies were 
conducted, and whether the proposals were submitted 
to votes, or the decisions were in accordance with 
the general sense of the assembly, we do not exactly 
know. But as the rule of majority was not 
unknown, it is probable that the decisions of the 
majority prevailed. 3 Nor do we know in what 

1 Maha-parinibbana Suttanta (Rhys Davids and Carpenter's Dlgha- 
Nikaya), I. 4 ; also Rhys Davids, Buddhist Suttas. 

2 Ibid. 

3 Chanakya says that in case of a difference of opinion (dvaidhibhave), 
the decision of the larger number of honest persons (bahavah suchayah) 
shall prevail. This refers to the work village meetings for the arbitration 
of boundary disputes, but it is probable that this rule applied also to the 
decisions of other assemblies. Again, regarding the procedure of the King's 
Council, Chanakya says that the decision of the majority should prevail. 


manner the president of such an assembly was 
appointed. But there is no doubt that the appoint- 
ment was made in view of his age, attainments, and 

It was not only in republican States, but also in 
States in which the monarchical form of government 
prevailed, thatjfthe popular assemblies were important 
in ancient times. Gradually, however, their import- 
ance diminished, and they fell ultimately into disuse. 
Three causes seem to have combined to produce this 
result, namely, the increase of the territory of the 
State, the growth of the King's power, and the 
stereotyping of the caste-system. When the size of 
the State grew large, it was found impossible to bring 
together the entire people ; and as the representative 
system was unknown at the time, the meetings of 
the popular assemblies became more and more infre- 
quent, until at last the assemblies ceased altogether 
to meet. The growth of the King's authority led to 
the substitution of the Great Council (Raja-sabha, 
Raja-samiti) and the Privy Council (Mantri-parishat) 
of the King for the ancient meetings of the folk. 
Lastly, the influence of the fully developed caste- 
system led to the break-up of the national assembly 
into many religious and caste associations, to which 
in course of time were added trade and guild unions 
(puga, sreni, etc.)J 

The Royal Assembly or the Great Council of the 
King sat every day. The chief business transacted 


in this Assembly was to receive and consider the 
petitions of the people in regard to their grievances. 1 
It also discharged the functions of the Final Court 
of Appeal in the State. 2 Matters of general policy 
affecting the well-being of the State were also some- 
times considered in this Assembly. 3 The members 
of the Assembly were the Crown Prince, the Ministers 
and other high officials, the Commander-in-Chief, the 
King's relatives, the subject rulers, the nobles, and 
such other persons as were invited to attend. 4 :i The 
Members of the Royal Assembly," says Vishnu, 
" should be men who are well-born, possessed of 
capacity and devoted to the King's interest, who can 
look with an equal eye upon friend and foe, and who 
cannot be drawn away from the path of duty by 
desire, anger, fear, or greed." 5 

Members (Sabhacarah, Sabhasadah) had their 
allotted seats in the Assembly Hall. 6 Great im- 

1 Vide ante, Chapter VII. Vide also Sukraniti, Ch. I. si. 32. 
a Vide the chapter on the Administration of Justice. 

3 Vide Sukraniti, Ch. I. si. 352. It was before a meeting of the Royal 
Assembly or Great Council that Dhritarashtra placed his proposal for 
making peace with the Pandavas, who had married the daughter of Drupada, 
king of the Panchalas, and had been taking steps for the recovery of their 
lost kingdom. The description of this meeting and of the speeches made 
by the members of the Assembly for and against the proposal gives us an 
excellent idea of the procedure of the Royal Assembly. 

* The Nitivakyamrita says : " No one should enter (i.e. sit in) the Assembly 
who is not an officer or who has not been invited to attend." Ch. XXIV. 

6 Vishnu (Jolly's Sanskrit text), Ch. III. 

6 Sukraniti, Ch. I. si. 353, etc. The Mahabharata gives an imaginary 
picture of the Assembly-halls of Indra, Yama, Varuna, Kubera and Brahma 
in Sabha Parva, Sees. VII.-XII. 


portance was attached to decorous and courteous 
behaviour on the part of the members. Mutual 
conversations were forbidden, and no member was 
allowed to interrupt another in the midst of his 
speech. 1 As a rule, members spoke only when called 
upon to do so, but on an emergent occasion or in 
case of an impending danger to the State, a member 
was permitted to address the Assembly without a 
request from the King. " It is the duty of a member 
of the Assembly," says Chanakya, " to offer the King 
the best advice. When his opinion is sought, he 
should express his views boldly and without regard 
to the opinions of the other members. He should 
always speak with due regard to the interests of the 
State, and in conformity with the principles of 
righteousness and expediency. He should never 
speak ill of the other members of the Assembly, nor 
ascribe any motives to their actions. He should 
never indulge in statements which are unworthy of 
a member of the Assembly, or of which he has no 
direct knowledge, or which are incredible or false." 2 
The Sukraniti advises members of the Assembly 
to use words " which are pleasant (priya), true 
(tathya), and conducive to the welfare of the 
State (pathya)." 3 

1 ' Vakyapaksepanam.' Arthasastra, Bk. V. ch. 4. 

8 ' Asabhyam,' ' apratyaksam,' ' asraddheyam,' ' anrtam.' Arthasastra, 
Bk. V. ch. 4. According to Chanakya, a member is not justified in attacking 
other members even when he has himself been attacked. 

3 Sukraniti, Ch. I. sis. 121, 122. 


The procedure adopted at meetings of the Royal 
Assembly seems to have been somewhat different 
from that at other meetings. No votes were taken, 
but all matters were decided by the King, with the 
advice of the Ministers and in accordance with the 
general sense of the Assembly. On ceremonial 
occasions, Grand Assemblies were convened. Such 
a Grand Assembly was held by Yudhishthira on the 
occasion of his entry into the newly-built capital of 
Khandava-prastha, when all the renowned sages, the 
great Kings, and the powerful chiefs of India were 
invited to attend. 1 

Before any important administrative step was 
taken, the matter was discussed and decided in the 
Council of Ministers (Mantri-parishat). 2 This Council 
was composed of the great Officers-of-State and a 
few other members who held no office. The size of 
the Council varied according to circumstances. The 
school of Brihaspati held that the number of Coun- 
cillors should be sixteen, Usanas thought it should 
be twenty, while, in the opinion of Manu, twelve 
were sufficient. Chanakya was in favour of a fairly 

1 Mahabharata, Sabha Parva. The Mahavagga mentions a grand 
Assembly of Bimbisara, King of Magadha, attended by eighty thousand 
overseers of his township. Fifth Khandaka (Rhys Davids and Oldenburg). 

2 Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 14. Somadeva Suri uses almost identical words 
in his Nitivakyamrita (Ch. IX.). In Kamandaki the term * Mantra-man- 
dala ' is used for the Council. 

Hopkins says : "As the popular assembly became the Kingly ' court * 
(rajasamiti), so the duties of that assembly became transferred to the 
' councillors ' or private ministers of the King." Journal of the American 
Oriental Society. 


large Council, 1 but he thought that the actual number 
of members should depend upon the needs of the 
State. 2 

The necessity for the meeting of the Council is 
briefly described by Visalaksha in the words, " the 
decision of a single mind can never lead to success." 
Chanakya says: "The work of government relates 
to three kinds of things, those that can be perceived, 
those that cannot be perceived, and those that can 
be inferred. To know what is not known, to make 
certain what is known, to clear away doubts regarding 
what is susceptible of two opinions, and to infer the 
whole from the part, for all these purposes, delibera- 
tion with ministers is necessary. Therefore, the King 
should deliberate with men who are wise." 3 

The subjects for discussion at a meeting of the 
Council included everything which affected the in- 
terests of the State. In particular, Chanakya men- 
tions five subjects, namely, the measures to be taken 

1 ' Aksudraparisatka ' is regarded by Chanakya as one of the great 
qualities of a King. 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 14. Indra's Council consisted of one thousand 
Rishis and, therefore, he was called " the thousand- eyed." 

Abul Fazl, describing the Hindu system of government, says : " In 
affairs of moment, it is not advisable to consult with many, because that to 
be qualified to give advice on such occasions requires fidelity, liberality of 
sentiment, valour and circumspection, qualities that are seldom found 
united in one person . . . They (i.e. the ancient Hindu monarchs) found 
it the safest way to join with the prime minister a few wise and experienced 
men, and to require each to deliver his opinion in writing, to be separately 
canvassed and debated upon." Ayeen-i-Akbery (Gladwin), pp. 493-494. 

3 Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 15. Somadeva Suri in his Nitivakyamrita follows 
Chanakya and uses practically the same language. 


to commence work, the command of men and things 
for carrying out an object, the appropriate time and 
place of action, the precautions to be taken against 
possible dangers, and the means by which final 
success is to be achieved. 1 The success of deliberation 
in Council, according to Somadeva, is " the attainment 
of large results at small expense." 2 

Meetings of the Council were presided over by the 
King himself, and probably in his absence, by the 
Prime Minister. 3 The procedure adopted at a meeting 
of the Council was this : First a measure was intro- 
duced by the president. 4 Then the opinion of each 
member in order was heard. 5 Lastly, a sort of 
general discussion took place. If the members were 
unanimous, well and good ; if not, the decision of 
the majority prevailed. 6 Brihaspati says : ' That 
counsel is best which is taken unanimously, under 
the guidance of policy, by wise councillors. Where, 
at first of divers opinions, they are afterwards unani- 
mous, that is middling. Where there is broiling and 
reproach, one being for right, one for interest, . . . 
tears on the one part, anger on the other, that is 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 15. 2 Nltivakyamrita, Ch. X. 

3 On the death of Rajyavardhana, the Prime Minister Bhandi presided 
at the meeting convened for the purpose of selecting a new King. Vide 

4 " Purvam svamina karya-nivedanam." Brihaspati Sutra, IV. 37 
(ed. F. W. Thomas). 

6 " Yat punar yathakramam ekaikasya matam srotavyam." Ibid. IV. 40. 
6 " Yad bhuyistha briiyus tat kuryat." Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 15. 


the worst." 1 Ministers were required to observe the 
strictest secrecy in regard to the subjects of discussion 
as well as the decision of the Council, and every 
precaution was taken against the disclosure of secrets. 2 
Debates in the Council were perhaps sometimes 
lengthy, but Chanakya expresses himself as opposed 
to prolonged discussions, 3 and urges that no time 
should be lost in taking action after a decision has 
been arrived at in the Council. 

The Council was the chief administrative authority 
in the kingdom. The King was supposed not to do 
anything without the consent of the Council. 4 All 
ordinances were perhaps sanctioned by the Council. 
It possessed immense powers, and enjoyed a great 
deal of independence. In exceptional cases, it had 
even the power to elect the King. 

In treating of this subject we have so far confined our 
attention to Northern India. But it was not in that 
part of the country alone that the system of govern- 
ment by assemblies and councils prevailed. In the 
Kerala State in South India, during the first and second 
centuries of the Christian Era, there were five assemblies, 

1 Brihaspati Sutra, IV. 34-36. 

2 Kamandaki, Ch. XXI. sis. 65-66. Mahabharata, Asramavasa Parva, 
Sec. V., and Sukraniti, ch. I. si. 351. The Nitivakyamrita says: "No 
unauthorised person should be allowed to be present at meetings of the 

3 " Na dlrgham mantrayet." Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 15. The Niti- 
vakyamrita says : " Ministers must not quarrel among themselves nor 
indulge in mutual conversation." Ch. X. 

4 Cf. Chanakya-sutra, " Mantra- sampada hi rajyarh niyate." 


namely, (1) the Assembly of the People, which 
consisted of representatives of the people summoned 
from various parts of the State, and which acted as 
a check on the King ; (2) the Assembly of the Priests, 
which directed the religious ceremonies of the State ; 
(3) the Assembly of Physicians, which acted as a 
sort of Board of Public Health ; (4) the Assembly 
of the Astrologers, which fixed auspicious times for 
the public ceremonies ; and (5) the Assembly of the 
Ministers, whose chief duties consisted in the collection 
and disbursement of revenue and the administration 
of justice. 1 

From the Ceylon inscriptions we learn that in that 
island all measures were enacted by the King-in- 
Council, and all orders were issued by, and under 
the authority of, the Council. In the Vevala-Katiya 
Inscription of Mahinda IV., 2 for instance, we find 
the following : "... Goluggam Raksam Kudasenu, 
Meykappar Kuburgamu Lokohi, Katiri Agbohi, and 
Kundala Arayam ; all these lords who sit in the 
Royal Council, and who have come (together) in 
accordance with the mandate delivered (by the King- 
in-Council), have promulgated these regulations." 
When any grant was made by the State to any indi- 
vidual or body, a Council Warrant of Immunity was 
issued. In the Madirigiriya Pillar inscription of 

1 Vide Chillapa Adikaram, and Mani-Mekalai, quoted by P. S. Rama- 
Krishna Iyer in his Polity and Social Life in Ancient Kerala. 

2 Epigraphia Zeylanica, Vol. I. No. 21. 


Kassapa V. (980-990 A.D.), 1 we find the following 
passage : 4 Whereas it was (so) decreed by the 
Supreme Council, we, all of us, Officers-of-State, 
namely, . . . (five names) . . . have come ... by Order 
and granted this Council Warrant of Immunity to 
the area ..." Sometimes Pillars of Council War- 
ranty 2 were set up to inform people of the privileges 
granted to religious or other institutions. The appre- 
ciation of the importance of the Council by monarchs 
is shown by the Slab Inscription of Queen Lilavati 3 
where she says : " By creating a Council of wise, 
brave, and faithful ministers, she has freed her 
own kingdom from the dangers (arising) from other 

1 Epigraphia Zeylanica, Vol. II. No. 6. 

2 Vide Pillar-inscription of Dappula V., Ep. 2. Vol. II. No. 8. 

3 Epigraphia Zeylanica, Vol. I. No. 14. 


THE Central Administration was conducted by the 
King with the assistance of a number of Ministers or 
Chief Officers -of -State. " Government," says Kau- 
tilya, " can be carried on only with the assistance of 
others. A single wheel does not move (the car of 
administration). Therefore, the King should appoint 
ministers, and act according to their advice." 1 
Manu says : " Even an undertaking easy (in itself) 
is (sometimes) hard to be accomplished by a single 
man ; how much (harder is it for a King), especially 
(if he has) no assistant (to govern) a kingdom which 
yields great revenues." 2 

Great importance was attached in ancient days to 
the proper selection of Ministers. A Minister was 
chosen not only in view of his capacity and character, 
but also of his family connections. The fittest person 
to be a Minister was he who was " a native of the 
country ; born of a high family ; influential ; learned 
in the arts and sciences ; possessed of wisdom and 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 7. a Manu, VII. 55. 


foresight ; endowed with a good memory ; capable ; 
eloquent ; intelligent ; possessed of enthusiasm, en- 
durance, dignity and grandeur ; pure in character, 
devotedly attached (to the interests of the State) ; 
endowed with excellent conduct, strength, health, and 
boldness ; devoid of procrastination and fickleness 
of mind ; of a loving nature ; and not of a disposition 
to excite enmity." 1 This was the ideal measure of 
the qualities of a Minister, and one who made a close 
approximation to this ideal was considered as a 
Minister belonging to the highest class. A Minister 
whose qualifications fell short of the ideal measure 
by a quarter was of the middling type ; while he 
who possessed only one-half of the qualifications, 
belonged to the inferior class. 2 The Mahabharata 
also lays down a very high standard of ministerial 
qualifications. " The person," says the great Epic, 
: ' who achieves celebrity, who observes all restraints, 
who never feels jealous of others, who never does 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 9. 

2 Ibid. "According to Vishnu, men should be selected as ministers who 
are honest, devoid of greed, careful, and possessed of capacity." Ch. III. 
The Nitivakyamrita also discusses the qualifications of ministers (Chs. X. 
and XI.). Manu says : " Let him appoint seven or eight ministers whose 
ancestors have been royal servants, who are versed in the sciences, heroes 
skilled in the use of weapons and descended from good families who have 
been tried." VII. 54. The Kural says : 

" The King, since counsellors are monarch's eyes, 
Should counsellors select with counsel wise." 

Pope's trans. Bk. II. ch. 45. 
And again : 

" A minister must greatness own of guardian power, determined mind, 
Learn'd wisdom, manly effort with the former five combined." 

Bk. II. ch. 64. 


an evil act, who never abandons righteousness through 
lust, or fear, or covetousness, or wrath, who is clever 
in the transaction of business, and who is possessed 
of wise and weighty speech, should be the foremost 
of Ministers . . . Persons well-born, and possessed 
of good behaviour, who are liberal and never indulge 
in brag, who are brave and respectable, learned and 
full of resources, should be appointed as subordinate 
Ministers in charge of the different departments." l 

Ministers were, as a rule, selected from the ranks 
of learned Brahmanas who, according to Megasthenes, 
formed a separate class and who advised the King 
or magistrates of self-governed cities in the manage- 
ment of public affairs. " In point of numbers," says 
the Greek writer, "it is a small class, but it is dis- 
tinguished by superior wisdom and justice, and hence 
enjoys the prerogative of choosing governors, chiefs 
of provinces, deputy governors, superintendents of 
the treasury, generals of the army, admirals of the 
navy, controllers, and commissioners who superintend 
agriculture." 2 

Chanakya, in his Arthasastra, gives an interesting 

1 Santi Parva, Sec. 80, sis. 25-27. 

Cf. Plato's conception of the character of the guardians of the State : 
" Truth was his leader whom he followed, always and in all things, and 
his other virtues were courage, magnificence, apprehension, and memory." 
Republic, Bk. VI. Cf. also Aristotle : " These are the qualifications 
required in those who have to fill the highest offices (1) first of all, loyalty 
to the established constitution ; (2) the greatest administrative quality ; 
(3) virtue and justice of the kind proper to each form of government." 
Politics, V. 9. 

McCrindle, p. 212. 


summary of the discussions of the older teachers in 
regard to the question, namely, what sort of persons 
should be made ministers. We give a translation of 
this passage below : 

" The King," says Bharadvaja, " should employ 
his fellow-students as his Ministers, for they can be 
trusted by him inasmuch as he has personal know- 
ledge of their honesty and capacity." " No," says 
Visalaksha, " for, as they have been his playmates, 
they would disregard him. But he should employ 
as ministers those whose secrets are known to him." 
Parasara says, " The fear of betrayal is common to 
both, and under the fear of the betrayal of his own 
secrets, the King may follow his Ministers in their 
good and bad acts. Hence he should employ as 
Ministers those who have proved faithful to him 
under difficult circumstances." " No," says Pisuna, 
"for this is devotion but not intellectual capacity. 
He should appoint as ministers those who, when 
employed in financial work, show as much as, or 
more than, the usual revenue, and are of tried ability." 
Kaunapadanta says : " That would not do ; for such 
persons are devoid of other ministerial qualifications ; 
he should employ as Ministers men whose fathers 
and grandfathers have been Ministers ; such persons, 
because of their knowledge of past events and of a 
long-standing relationship with the King, will, though 
offended, never desert him." "No," says Vata- 
vyadhi, " for such persons, having acquired complete 


dominion over the King, usurp the King's powers. 
He should, therefore, appoint such new men as are 
proficient in political science." " No," says the son 
of Bahudanti, "for a man possessing only a theo- 
retical knowledge of the science and having no 
experience of practical politics is likely to commit 
serious blunders when employed in the work of 
actual administration. Hence he should employ as 
ministers, men who are bom of a high family, and 
are possessed of wisdom, purity of purpose, bravery 
and loyalty. Ministerial appointments should depend 
only on qualifications." Chanakya gives his own 
view in those words : " There is an element of reason- 
ableness in each of these opinions ; the fitness of a 
Minister should be considered in view of the work 
he is called upon to undertake." l 

The general duties of Ministers, according to the 
Agni Purana, consisted in " deliberating upon the 
measures of the State, taking steps for the success 
of undertakings, preparing for all future contingencies, 
supervising the royal exchequer, drafting civil and 
criminal laws for the realm, checking encroachment 
by any Foreign Power, taking steps for arresting the 
progress of disturbances, and protecting the King 
and the country." 2 

The number of Ministers depended upon the needs 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 8. The Nitivakyamrita also discusses this 
matter in Ch. 18. 

2 Agni Purana, CCXLI. sis. 16-17. 


of the State. Chanakya is in favour of a small 
cabinet. " He (the King) shall consult," says Chana- 
kya, " three or four Ministers. The advice of a single 
Minister does not lead to satisfactory results in com- 
plicated cases. (Besides,) a single Minister proceeds 
wilfully and without restraint. If the King has two 
Ministers, he may be overpowered by their combined 
action, or imperilled by their mutual dissensions. 
But with three or four Ministers, he will never come 
to any serious grief, and will always arrive at satis- 
factory conclusions. With Ministers more than four 
in number, he will come to a decision only after a 
great deal of trouble, and it will be very difficult to 
maintain secrecy of counsel." l According to Manu, 
the number of Ministers was to be seven or eight. 2 
The Nitivakyamrita is of opinion that there should 
be three, five, or seven ministers ; " unanimity of 
opinion being difficult to obtain, the number should 
be uneven." 3 

The Sukraniti mentions ten chief Ministers, namely, 
Purodhas (Priest), Pratinidhi (Regent), Pradhana 
(Premier), Sachiva (Minister of Finance), Mantri 
(Councillor), Pradvivaka (Chief Judge), Pandita (Legal 
Minister), Sumantraka (Minister of Peace and War), 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 15. Cf. also Nitivakyamrita. 

Manu, VII. 54. 

3 Ch. X. Somadeva Suri adds : " A large number of Ministers, by the 
combined effect of their separate abilities, increase the efficiency of the 
government. When, however, one Minister possesses all the faculties 
necessary for the proper administration of the kingdom, there is no harm 
in having only one or two Ministers." Ch. X. 


Amatya (Secretary of State), and Diita (Ambassador). 1 
In Milinda-panha, we find mention of six chief 
Officers-of-State, namely, the Commander-in-Chief, 
the Prime Minister, the Chief Judge, the High Trea- 
surer, the Bearer of the Sunshade of State, and the 
State Sword-bearer. 2 

The Prime Minister (Pradhana, Sarvarthaka, 3 Sar- 
vadhikara, 4 Agramatya, 5 Mahamatya, 6 or simply 
Mantri 7 ) was the highest Officer-of-State and the 
real Head of the Executive. He was in general 
charge of the affairs of the State, and sometimes he 
undertook in addition the duties of a particular 
department, such as the Foreign Office. Another 
important Minister was the Purohita (the High Priest), 
who was always held in the highest regard. In the 
Aitareya Brahmana, the Purohita is called the " Pro- 
tector of the State " (rashtra-gopa). 8 Chanakya says : 

1 Sukranlti, Ch. 1. 

* " And again, O King, just as there are a hundred or two of officers under 
the King, but only six of them are reckoned as Officers-of-State the 
Commander-in-Chief, the Prime Minister, the Chief Judge, the High 
Treasurer, the Bearer of the Sunshade of State, and the State Sword-bearer. 
And why ? Because of their royal prerogatives." Questions of King 
Milinda (Rhys Davids), IV. 1, 36. 

3 The term ' Sabbatthaka ' (Minister in general) occurs in Questions of 
Milinda, IV. 8, 26 ; it correctly indicates the nature of the work of the 
Prime Minister. 

4 This term is found in the Rajatarangini. 

6 The term ' agramatya ' occurs in a Ceylon inscription. 

6 In the Mahaparinibbana-suttanta, Vassakara is described as ' Magadha- 

7 Kautilya uses the word ' Mantri ' in the sense of ' Prime Minister.' 

8 The passage may be freely translated thus : "A King who has a learned 
Brahmana as his Purohita and Protector of the State, makes alliances 


" As a disciple follows his preceptor, as a son obeys 
his father, as a servant obeys his master, so should 
the King obey the Purohita." 1 The Nitivakyamrita 
says : " The Prime Minister and the Purohita are the 
father and mother of the King." Sometimes, these 
two offices were combined in the person of one 

The other chief Officers-of-State (Amatya, Sachiva, 
or Mahamatra) were in charge of particular depart- 
ments. 2 Of these, the most important were the 
Collector-general (Samaharta) and the Treasurer- 
general (sannidhata). It was the duty of the former 
to collect the revenues of the State from various 
sources, such as the taxes levied on lands, the income 
from mines, forests, pasture lands, and fishing, and 
the tolls received from the trade-routes. 3 The Trea- 
surer-general was the custodian of the moneys of 
the State. He received into the treasury the King's 
revenues, and had custody of the precious metals, 
jewellery, and valuable property of all other kinds. 

with foreign Kings, destroys his enemies, conquers Kshatriyas with the 
help of Kshatriyas, and enjoys power with the assistance of an army ; the 
people (visah) become favourable to him, and give their unanimous support 
to him." Ch. XI. 

1 Cf. Bodhayana, I. 10, 8, " Tasya 6asane varteta." 

2 Chanakya says : " Having divided the spheres of their respective powers 
in view of the different kinds of work to be performed, and the time and 
place of their performance, such persons should be appointed as Officers- 
of-State and not (merely) as Councillors." Arthasastra, Bk. II. Ch. 8. 
The term ' mahamatra ' occurs in the Arthasastra as well as in Asoka's 

3 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 6. 


It was also his duty to see to it that no part of the 
income of the State was misappropriated by the 
officers of any of the departments. 1 Another im- 
portant officer was the Minister of War and Peace, 
whose duty it was to maintain communications with 
Foreign Powers and to decide which of the expedients 
of foreign politics was the most suitable at any 
particular moment. 2 The Chief Judge presided over 
the Royal Court and was also a sort of Minister of 
Justice. The Commander-in- Chief, it seems, held the 
position of a Minister, although the Nitivakyamrita 
objects to his being a Councillor, 3 and the Sukraniti 
omits him from the list of Ministers. Sometimes a 
separate Minister was appointed to have charge of 
the Royal Seal, 4 and the fact that the concurrence 
of the Keeper of the Seal was essential in all im- 
portant matters of State made his position one of 
great dignity and importance. 

Each Minister managed the affairs of his own 
department, and all the Ministers collectively formed 
a sort of Cabinet for purposes of combined action. 
But it seems that the responsibility of the Ministers 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 5. 2 Agni Purana, Ch. 220. 

3 " Commanders of the army should not be members of Council (mantra- 
dhikarinah), for each of these, viz. the favour of the King, membership 
of the Council, and the profession of arms is sufficient to turn a man's head, 
not to speak of a combination." Ch. X. 

4 " Just, O King, as an official who is anxious for the Seal (mudda-kamo), 
and for the office and custody thereof, will exert himself to the attainment 
of the Seal by sacrificing everything in his house property and corn, gold 
and silver . . ." Questions of Milinda (Rhys Davids), IV. 8, 9. 


was individual and not collective. Chanakya draws 
a distinction between the Cabinet (mantrinah) and 
the Council of Ministers (mantri-parishat). The Coun- 
cil thus seems to have been the Cabinet of Ministers 
enlarged by the addition of members who held no 
portfolios. Chanakya advises the King to consult 
both these bodies on important occasions. The King 
had also the power to consult the Ministers individually 
as well as collectively. To ensure that each Minister 
should become familiar with all kinds of work, and 
to prevent any Minister from growing too powerful, 
an interchange of places in the Ministry was ordered 
from time to time. 

The Ministers were, of course, directly responsible 
for the due performance of their duties to the King. 
But they had also a sort of indirect responsibility to 
the people. This is illustrated by the story told by 
Hiuen Tsiang about Vikramaditya, King of Sravasti. 
This King was very charitably inclined, and he 
largely supplied the wants of the poor, the orphans, 
and the bereaved. One day he ordered his Ministers 
to distribute daily five lakhs of gold coins. On this, 
the treasurer, fearing that the resources of the State 
would soon be exhausted, said to the King : " Your 
treasury will thus be emptied, and then fresh imposts 
will have to be laid, until the resources of the land 
be also exhausted, then the voice of complaint will 
be heard and hostility be provoked. Your Majesty, 
indeed, will get credit for charity, but your Minister 


will lose the respect of all." l The story current at 
Hiuen Tsiang's time about Asoka's Minister 2 refusing 
to comply with the King's wish to give away all his 
possessions in charity, also shows that the Ministers 
recognised some responsibility to the people. And 
they were held responsible not only for their own 
actions but also for those of the King. This theory 
of Ministerial responsibility is clearly expressed in 
the following passage in the Sanskrit drama, Mudra- 
Rakshasa : " When anything wrong is done by the 
King, the fault is of the Minister ; (for) it is through 
the negligence of the driver that an elephant goes 
mad." 3 So, when Rajyavardhana was treacherously 
assassinated, the Ministers told Harshavardhana that 
they were to blame for the misfortune, for they ought 
not to have allowed Rajyavardhana to go to a foreign 
King's camp unguarded. 4 

The Ministers possessed great powers in the State 
even in normal times ; but during the minority of a 
King or when the King happened to be a weak man, 
their powers were immense. When the throne fell 
vacant, they played the role of King-makers. 5 Chana- 
kya, for instance, placed Chandragupta on the throne 
of Magadha. 6 From the poet-historian Bana as well 

1 Buddhist Records (Beal), Bk. II. 2 Hiuen Tsiang (Beal), Bk. VIII. 

Act III. 4 Harshacharita, Ch. VI. 

6 In the Satapatha Brahmana some of the state officials are called ' king- 
makers ' (raja-krtah). 

Cf. the Vayu and the other Puranas, " Chandraguptam rajye Kautilyah- 
sthapayisyati." See ante, Ch. I. 


as from Hiuen Tsiang we know how a successor was 
appointed to Kajyavardhana, King of Kanauj. ^Ve 
are told that Bhandi, the Prime Minister, called a 
meeting of the Ministers and said to them : " The 
destiny of the nation is to be fixed to-day . . . Be- 
cause he (Harsha) is attached to his family, the people 
will trust in him. I propose that he assume the royal 
authority. Let each one give his opinion on the 
matter, whatever he thinks." Then the chief Minis- 
ters exhorted Harsha to take authority, saying : " The 
opinion of the people as shown in their songs, proves 
their real submission to your qualities. Keign, then, 
with glory over the lands." 1 From the Ceylon in- 
scriptions we learn that the Ministers elected Lilavati 
as Queen of Ceylon, and afterwards deposed her. In 
the temporary absence of a King, the Ministers ruled 
the country as a rule, very wisely and well. 2 

Although every Minister occupied a responsible 
position, it was the Prime Minister who was mainly 
responsible for the good government of the country. 3 
Unless the King happened to be a man of exceptional 

1 Vide Hiuen Tsiang' s Travels and Harshacharita. 

8 In the Mahavamsa it is said that the ministers governed the Kingdom 
of Ceylon righteously for one year after the death of Vijaya, and on the 
arrival of his nephew from India, they invested him with the sovereignty 
of Lanka. Ch. IX. The Chanakya-sutra contains the following passage : 
" If there are good ministers, the affairs of a State can be managed even 
without a King." 

3 Abul Fazl, describing the Hindu system of government, says : " Him 
(the Prime Minister) he (the King) must consult on all occasions with 
implicit confidence, and intrust with the executive power." Ayeen-i-Akbery 
(Gladwin), p. 493. 


ability, the Prime Minister was the real ruler of the 
State. " All activities," says Chanakya, " depend 
upon the Prime Minister, such, for instance, as the 
accomplishment of the works of the people, the 
security of the Kingdom from foreign aggression 
and internal troubles, remedial measures against 
calamities, colonisation, improvement of the soil, 
maintenance of the army, and the collection and 
disbursement of the State revenue." I According to 
Bharadvaja, the Prime Minister was the most im- 
portant person in the State even more important 
than the King himself, for, says Bharadvaja, " in 
the absence of the Prime Minister, the King is abso- 
lutely incapable of doing any work, like a bird deprived 
of its wings." Chanakya, however, would place the 
Prime Minister as next to the King, for " the King 
appoints the Ministers, and he can replace a bad 
Minister by a good one." 2 

The influence exercised by an able Prime Minister 
over a King is well illustrated by the relations between 
Chanakya and Chandragupta, as depicted in Mudra- 
Rakshasa. The Emperor is there described as a 
person who is absolutely helpless without the guidance 
of the Prime Minister. He never undertakes any 
measure, great or small, without the advice of Chana- 
kya. So great is the Emperor's regard for his Minister 
that whenever the two meet, Chandragupta greets 
Chanakya by touching the latter's feet. 

1 Bk.&VIII. ch. 1. 2 Arthasastra, Bk. VIII. ch. 1. 


This great influence possessed by Ministers of old 
was doubtless, in a large measure, due to the selfless 
spirit in which many of them served the State. 
Though such Ministers controlled the destinies of 
large kingdoms and sometimes extensive empires, they, 
as a rule, led very simple lives, 1 and were renowned 
for their honesty, integrity, and nobility of character. 
Numerous examples of devotedness to duty on the 
part of Ministers, sometimes under very difficult and 
trying circumstances, are recorded in Indian history 
and literature. 2 

But it would be a mistake to suppose that Ministers 
were invariably honest and free from vice. Some 
of them were greedy. " The Treasurer-general," says 
Chanakya, " appropriates to himself the money which 
is paid into the treasury by others ; the Collector- 
general fills his own pockets first, and then gathers 
revenue for the King, or destroys the revenue collected, 
and then takes other people's property at his 

1 Chanakya says : " A Minister should never live in luxurious style." 
Bk. V. ch. 6. In the Mudra-Rakshasa, Kautilya himself is described as living 
in an old and dilapidated hut. Act III. With this picture may be compared 
Plato's ideal picture of Guardians who " were not to have houses or lands 
or any other property ; their pay was to be their food, which they were to 
receive from other citizens and they were to have no private expenses ; 
for we intended them to preserve their true character of Guardians." Re- 
public, V. 

2 In Bhasa's Pratima-Nataka and Svapna-Vasavadatta, the Prime 
Minister is described as a man ready to undertake any risks for the sake of 
the King. The devotion with which Rakshasa sought to serve a fallen 
master's family extorted the highest praise even from his bitter enemy 
Chanakya (Mudra-Rakshasa, Act II.). 


pleasure." 1 Some Ministers were cruel and oppres- 
sive, and often gave a wrong advice to the King. 
In the words of the poet : 

" 'Tis thus that evil councillors impel 
The heedless prince into the scorching flames 
Of fierce iniquity and foul disgrace ; 
And countless victims perish by the guilt 
Of treacherous ministers, who thus involve 
Both prince and people in promiscuous ruin." 2 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. II. * Mrichchakatika (Wilson), Act IX. 



THE details of executive administration were in the 
hands of the subordinate officials (yukta and upa- 
yukta) l working under the control and general super- 
vision of the Ministers. The business of the State 
was divided into a number of departments, each of 
them being under a Superintendent. In one passage 
Chanakya speaks of eighteen departments (ashta- 
dasa tirthah), 2 which probably refers only to the more 
important departments. In his actual treatment of 
the subject of administration, he mentions about 
thirty departments. 3 

One of the most important of the Government 
departments was that of Accounts. It was under a 
Superintendent who appointed a number of capable 
accountants (gananika), sub-accountants (sankhya- 
yaka), totalisers (nivi-grahaka) and coin-examiners 
(rupa-darsaka) to carry on the work. It was the duty 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 9. 

2 Ibid. Bk. II. ch. 13. Vide also Mahabharata, Sabha Parva, V. 38. 

3 Ibid. Bk. II. chs. 1-36. 


of the Superintendent to keep the account-books in 
proper order, and to see to it that no part of the 
State finances was misappropriated or misapplied. 
He received accounts from the officials of all depart- 
ments and had them properly audited. 1 

It was the duty of the Superintendent of the 
Treasury to admit into the store-house gems and 
pearls as well as various other articles, whether of 
superior or inferior value, such as corals, fragrant 
substances, skins, woollen fabrics, cotton fabrics, and 
silk fabrics. He also received and kept accounts of 
agricultural produce, taxes, incomes derived from 
commercial operations, exchange realisations, presents, 
arrears of revenue, etc. It was his duty to acquaint 
himself with the values, qualities, and uses of all kinds 
of articles, and to take proper steps for the preserva- 
tion of things kept in the store-house. The Super- 
intendent was expected to regulate the consumption 
of stores in such a way that one-half might always be 
kept as a reserve for emergencies. He had also to 
replace old things by new. 

The Superintendent of Mines attended to the actual 
condition of the mines which were being worked, as 
well as to exploration work in connection with the 
discovery of new mines. He had to ascertain the rich- 
ness and the value of ores. It was also his business 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 7. The accounts were to be regularly submitted 
in the month of Ashadha, and if the officials failed to submit them in proper 
time, they were to be fined. 


to attend to the collection of diamonds, precious 
stones, pearls, corals and conch-shells, and the regula- 
tion of the commerce in those commodities. 1 

The Superintendent of Metals and Metallic Manu- 
factures supervised the manufacture of such metals 
as bell-metal, and sulphate of arsenic, and the pro- 
duction of articles of merchandise from various kinds 
of metals. 

The Superintendent of the Mint supervised the 
coining of various denominations of silver and copper 
coins. It was his business to regulate the currency 
as a medium of exchange for purposes of trade and 
also as a legal tender. 

It was the duty of the Superintendent of Commerce 
to acquaint himself with the demand for, and supply 
of, commodities, and the rise and fall of prices. He 
also made it his business to see to it that articles of 
merchandise were sent to profitable markets. 2 

The Superintendent of Forests attended to the 
collection of forest produce by employing suitable 
men for the work, and fixed the dues that were to 
be paid by people for making use of forests for various 

The Superintendent of the Armoury looked to the 
manufacture of weapons and other instruments used 

1 Various kinds of pearls were known in those early times, e.g. tamra- 
parnika, pandyakavataka, pasikya, kauleya, chaurneya, mahendra, karda- 
mika, srotaseya, hradiya, and haimavata. Gems were also of many kinds. 
Vide Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 11, and Yukti-Kalpataru. 

2 See post, Ch. XVIII. for further details. 


in battle, or in the construction and defence of forts, 
or in the destruction of the enemy's forts. He had 
also to ascertain the need for, and the supply of, all 
kinds of weapons, their application, wear and tear, 
decay and loss. He had to keep everything in its 
proper place and always ready for use. 

The Superintendent of Weights and Measures had 
weights and measures of various kinds manufactured, 1 
as well as balances of many descriptions. He also 
took steps to prevent the use of false weights and 
balances. Another Superintendent looked after the 
instruments used for measuring space and time. 

The Superintendent of Tolls had toll-houses erected 
near the city gates, and supervised the work of the 
toll-collectors, who had the duty of entering in 
their books the names of merchants, the place of 
origin of their merchandise, the quality and value 
of their goods, the amount payable as toll on each 
article, and the presence or absence of seal-marks. 

The Superintendent of Shipping looked after navi- 
gation on the sea, rivers, and lakes. It was his duty 
to prevent piracy and to keep the water-ways open 
and safe for merchant shipping. Irrigation formed 
the charge of another Superintendent. 

The Superintendents of Agriculture and Weaving 
supervised the work of their respective departments. 
The Superintendents of elephants, horses, and cows 

1 Weights were made of iron or stone or such other material as does not 
contract in cold or expand in heat. Vide Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 19. 


attended to the health and breed of those animals. 
The Superintendent of chariots looked to the con- 
struction of these vehicles for military as well as 
ordinary purposes. The Superintendent of pass-ports 
issued permits to people desirous of entering or leaving 
the city. The department of spirituous liquors, the 
slaughter-house, and some other minor departments 
were also each under a Superintendent. 

The Sukraniti mentions some other supervising 
officers, such as Superintendents of charities and 
religious institutions. These officers exercised a sort 
of general supervision over all institutions established 
for the promotion of religion and charity, and it was 
their duty to see to it that the funds provided for 
such objects were properly applied. 

The most important of the civil administrative 
departments was that of the Police. The duty of 
the Police was two-fold ; to prevent the commission 
of crimes and to bring the offenders to justice. In 
pursuance of the first object, they kept an eye on 
all suspicious characters. When a theft occurred, 
and the police officers failed to trace and catch the 
thief, they had to make good the loss. Gautama 
says: " Having recovered property stolen by thieves, 
he (the King) shall return it to the owner ; or (if the 
property is not recovered) he (the King) shall pay 
(its value) out of his treasury." l The Agni Purana 
says : " The King should pay to the owner the price 

1 Gautama, X. 46-47. Cf. also Apastamba and Vishnu. 


of an article stolen by a thief, and re-imburse himself 
out of the salaries of police officers." x This wise 
regulation must have contributed in no small measure 
to the efficiency of the police service. 

Allied with the Police Department was the Intelli- 
gence Department, which seems to have been under 
the direct control of one of the Ministers, usually the 
Collector-general. The ' reporters ' helped the police 
in detecting criminals. They also gave the Ministers 
information regarding the loyal or disloyal feelings 
of the people, and kept them acquainted with the 
conduct of Government officials. { They apprised the 
Ministers of the doings of foreign kings and of their 
intrigues within the kingdom. They were sometimes 
sent to foreign countries to win over the disaffected 
people, rrhe ( reporters ' worked under various dis- 
guises, as recluses, ascetics, desperadoes, buffoons, 
commercial travellers, physicians, musicians, idiots, 
and lunatics. 2 : 

It is an astonishing fact that although these c re- 
porters ' performed duties of a mean and despicable 
nature, they were generally honest and truthful. (But 
Chanakya warns Ministers against putting implicit 

1 Agni Purana, Ch. CCXXII. 

2 Chanakya says : " Merchant spies inside the forts, saints and ascetics 
in the suburbs, cultivators and recluses in the country parts ; herdsmen 
near the boundaries of the country ; forest-dwellers, sramanas, and chiefs 
of wild tribes in forests shall be stationed to watch the movements of enemies. 
All such spies must be very quick in the despatch of business." Arthasastra, 
Bk. II. ch. 13. And " Spies set up by foreign kings shall be found out by 
local spies." Ibid. 


faith in their reports. " When the information," 
says he, " derived from three independent sources 
is the same, then it shall be held reliable. If the 
sources differ, the c reporters ' concerned shall be 
either punished or dismissed."^/ 

The 6 reporters ' were, in fact, the eyes and ears of 
the executive government. Megasthenes seems to 
refer to this class of officers when he says, " The sixth 
consists of overseers, to whom is assigned the duty 
of watching all that goes on, and making reports 
secretly to the King. Some are entrusted with the 
inspection of the city, and others with that of the 
army. . . . The ablest and most trustworthy men 
are appointed to fill these offices." 2 

There were clerks (lekhakah), messengers, and other 
inferior officers in each department. Though there 
was a Superintendent at the head of each department, 
the final control of the work of the department was 
vested in a Committee of three, four, or five men. 
Chanakya says : " The departments should be under 
the control of many chiefs (bahu-mukhya)." The 
Sukraniti offers the following advice : " Each depart- 
ment should be under the control of three persons." 3 
Megasthenes tells us that each of the departments 
was under the charge of a Committee of five men. 
In addition to these, a class of inspecting officers or 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 13. 

2 Megasthenes (McCrindle), Fragment XXVIII. 

3 Ch. II. si. 109. 


directors (pradeshtarah) x was sometimes appointed 
to supervise the work of all departments and to bring 
the work of each department into line with that of 
the others. 

Some care, it seems, was taken in selecting officers 
of government. They were usually appointed in 
view of their general qualifications as well as their 
fitness for the particular kinds of work they were 
expected to perform. The Agni Purana says : " Vir- 
tuous men should be employed in work which requires 
a high degree of moral culture, while men of valour 
should be appointed in the army. Intelligent men 
should be employed where the revenue of the State 
is concerned, while for all kinds of work the Bang 
should select men who are above corruption." 2 
Officers were at first appointed on probation, and 
after they had gone through a period of apprentice- 
ship, they were made permanent. 3 Once in the 
service, they rose step by step as they showed com- 
petency in their work, until the ablest and most 
devoted among them reached the highest rungs of 
the ladder. 4 This system of a trained bureaucracy 
for the details of administrative work must have 
contributed largely to the efficiency of the central 

The capacities and characters of individual officers, 
of course, varied. While many officers were devoted 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 9. 2 Agni Purana, Ch. CCXX. 

3 Sukramti, Ch. I. si. 112. 4 Sukramti, Ch. I. si. 115. 


to the interests of the State, there were others who 
had to be kept on the path of duty by a strict system 
of supervision and control. The subordinate officers 
of the revenue and financial departments, in par- 
ticular, did not enjoy much reputation for honesty. 
Chanakya observes, " Just as it is impossible not to 
taste the honey or the poison that is below the tongue, 
so it is impossible for a King's revenue-officer to 
refrain from tasting even a little of the royal revenue." 
The fact, however, that the administration was so 
efficient shows that the State was able to command 
the services of a large number of competent and 
honest officers. 

The officers of government were remunerated on 
a liberal scale, so that, being above want and tempta- 
tion, they might exert themselves in the performance 
of their duties. Chanakya lays down the following scale 
of salaries : The Preceptor, the High Priest, the Royal 
Teacher, the Prime Minister, the Commander-in-Chief, 
the Crown Prince, the Queen-mother, the Queen- 
consort, 48,000 panas each (per annum) ; the Super- 
intendents of the city gates and the palace, the Chief 
of the Police, the Collector-general, the Treasurer- 
general, 24,000 each ; the princes, the mothers of 
princes, the chief officer of the city, the judges, the 
heads of departments, the Members of Council, the 
prefect of police, the chief officers of boundaries, 
12,000 each ; the leaders of corporations, the Super- 
intendents of horses and elephants, and inspecting 


officers, 8,000 each; the Superintendents of infantry, 
cavalry, chariots, and the forest rangers, 4,000 each, 
and so on. 1 The salaries were paid either in cash or 
in kind, or partly in cash and partly in kind. Some- 
times grants of lands were made to State officials as 
a reward for their services. After a long period of 
service, officials became entitled to pensions, 2 and if 
they died while in the service of the State, the members 
of their families received subsistence allowances. 3 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. V. ch. 3. These panas were probably silver coins. 

3 " The King incurs a debt if he does not maintain the relations of an 
officer who has died in the service of the State." Nltivakyamrita, Ch. XXX. 



LAW in Ancient India was regarded as higher than 
society, and it was held the duty of society to conform 
to Law. ^trictly speaking, therefore, there could be 
no such thing as legislation in the early ages. In 
fact, if the term c law ' be understood in the limited 
sense of a command of the sovereign authority, there 
was no law at aljp And yet there were rules of 
conduct which were binding on all, and violations 
of which were visited with punishments of some kind 
or other. /Law (Dharma), as understood in the early 
times, was the entire body of rules by which society 
was believed to be held together, and which was 
supposed to conduce to the well-being of the people. 
Such rules fell into two classes, namely, (1) moral and 
religious rules, and (2) positive laws. I In Ancient 
India, as in other early societies, these two classes 
were dealt with together ; but though no sharp line 
of division was drawn between the two, the dis- 
tinction was more or less clearly understood. People 
were cognisant of the fact that the sanction for the 
first kind of rules was religious or social, and that 


for the second, political ; and the recognition of this 
distinction became more and more clear as society 
advanced in civilisation. In the course of time a 
body of rules composing secular law (Vyavahara) was 
evolved, which soon acquired as great an authority 
as the Sacred Law^f 

The belief prevailed among the ancient Aryans of 
India, as among other early communities, that all 
laws, political as well as moral, were of divine origin. 
And the divine will was assumed to have been mani- 
fested in the Sacred Books and in immemorial cus- 
toms. These, then, were the fountain-heads to which 
people were to look for their knowledge of law. 
Thus, Gautama, one of the earliest writers on law, 
says : " The sources of law are the Vedas, and the 
tradition and practice of those who know the Vedas." 2 
But he adds that the administration of justice should 
be regulated by the Vedas, the Institutes of the 
Sacred Law, the Angas, the Puranas, the (special) 
laws of countries, castes and families (not being 
opposed to the sacred records), the usages of culti- 
vators, traders, herdsmen, money-lenders, and arti- 
sans. 3 Apastamba mentions the Vedas as the 
primary source of law, and the agreement among 

1 (ln later times, although ' dharma ' was regarded as the principle under- 
lying law, ' vyavahara ' became what may be called lawyer's law. Thus 
Abul Fazl, writing in the sixteenth century of the legal system of the Hindus, 
refers to ' vyavahara ' and not to ' dharma.' According to the Chanakya- 
eutra, " ' vyavahara ' is more important than ' dharma.' " 

8 Gautama, XI. 19-21. 3 Gautama, I. 1, 2. 


learned men as the secondary source. 1 Bodhayana's 
list is slightly different. He says: " The Sacred law 
is taught in each Veda. (The Sacred law) taught in 
the Tradition (Smriti, stands) second. The practice 
of the Sishtas (stands) third." 2 According to Manu, 
the sources of law are : (1) The Vedas, (2) the Smritis, 
(3) good customs, and (4) self-satisfaction. 3 Yajna- 
valkya gives Manu's four sources, but adds ten more 
as subsidiary sources, thus bringing the total up to 
fourteen. The secondary sources are (5) deliberation, 
(6) decisions of Parishads and of persons learned in 
the Vedas, (7) the Puranas, (8) Nyaya, (9) Mimamsa, 
(10) the Dharmasastras, (11) temporary needs not 
inconsistent with one's duties, (12) royal edicts, (13) 
special usages of corporations, guilds, and com- 
munities of heretics, etc., and (14) local customs. 4 
Manu also incidentally refers to the primeval laws of 
countries, of castes, of families, and of heretics and 
companies (of traders and the like) as rules governing 
human conduct. 5 

Let us try to examine these sources. The Vedas 
contain very little of what is called positive law, 
and they are practically of no importance to us from 
the juridical standpoint. The Smriti works, on the 
other hand, are very important. They, in fact, 
formed the chief basis on which the legal system 

1 Apastamba (Sacred Book of the East), I. 1,2, 3. 

a Bodhayana, I. 1, 1, 1-5. 3 Manu, II. 6 and II. 12. 

4 Yajnavalkya, I. 1, 2 and I. 1, 8. 5 Manu, I. 118. 


of the Hindus was built up. The earliest Smriti 
works were in Sutra form, and only a few fragments 
of some of them are now known to us. These were 
probably composed between the tenth and the fifth 
centuries B.C. They were gradually superseded by 
the later works composed in verse and known as 
the Dharmasastras. The material of the Dharmasu- 
tras was worked into the Dharmasastras, but many 
additions were made at the time of the change of 
form. The Dharmasastras themselves underwent 
many alterations in the course of time. 

Yajnavalkya gives the following list of the com- 
pilers of Dharmasastras : Manu, Atri, Vishnu, Harita, 
Yajnavalkya, Usanas, Angiras, Yama, Apastamba, 
Samvarta, Katyayana, Brihaspati, Parasara, Vyasa, 
Sankha, Likhita, Daksha, Gautama, Satatapa, and 
Vasishtha. 1 This list, as Vijnanesvara points out, is 
only illustrative, and not enumerative, for we know 
the names of other compilers besides these, the most 
notable among them being Narada. 

The third, and in some respects the most important 
source of law, was custom, as it prevailed among 
Sishtas. Apastamba says : "It is difficult to learn 
the sacred law from the Vedas (alone) ; but by 
following the indications, it is easily accomplished." 
These indications are the practices of Sishtas. 2 

1 Yajnavalkya, I. 4-5. 

2 Apastamba, II. 11, 29, 13. He further explains the passage thus : The 
indications for these (doubtful cases are) " He shall regulate his course of 




The ' Sishtas,' according to Bodhayana, are persons 
" who are free from envy, free from pride, contented 
with a store of grain sufficient for ten days, free 
from covetousness, and free from hypocrisy, arro- 
gance, greed, perplexity, and anger." " (Those are 
called) Sishtas," adds Bodhayana, " who, in accor- 
dance with the sacred law, have studied the Veda 
together with its appendages, who know how to draw 
inferences from that, (and) who are able to adduce 
proofs perceptible by the senses from revealed texts." * 
Sishtas in Bodhayana's opinion were to be chiefly 
found in Aryavarta, and, therefore, the rule of con- 
duct which prevailed in that country was to be held 
authoritative. Manu gives a slightly different defini- 
tion of the term. According to him, the custom 
handed down in regular succession (since time im- 
memorial) among the (four chief) castes and the 
mixed races of the country called Brahmavarta was 
regarded as the conduct of virtuous men, and the 
custom of Brahmanas in the country of Brahmarshi 
ranked next in importance. 

Customs were of various kinds : some were 
general, that is to say, prevailing among the whole 

action according to the conduct which is unanimously recognised in all 
countries by men of the three twice-born castes, who have been properly 
obedient (to their teachers), who are aged, of subdued senses, neither given 
to avarice, nor hypocrites. Acting thus, he will gain both worlds. Some 
declare that the remaining duties must be learnt from women and men of 
all castes." 

1 Bodhayana, I. 1, 1, 5-6. 


community; some were tribal, that is, observed by 
a particular tribe ; some appertained to a particular 
class, such as tradesmen, artisans, or cultivators ; 
and some were confined to single families. There is 
a dispute among the compilers of the laws as to the 
extent of the validity of customs. Some, like Bodha- 
yana, are of opinion that all customs should be recog- 
nised ; * while others hold that no heed should be 
taken of any practices that are opposed to the tradi- 
tion of Sishtas. As a matter of fact, the customs 
of the non- Aryan races who entered the pale of 
Aryan civilisation were not disturbed, unless they 
appeared to be grossly immoral. These customs, 
however, underwent considerable modifications in 
imitation of the laws of Aryas. When a new country 
was conquered, its laws were, as a rule, maintained 
intact. Vishnu says : " On conquering a country, 
the conqueror should not destroy its laws." So, 
Yajnavalkya offers the advice : " Whatever custom, 
law, or family practice exists in a (conquered) country, 
should be maintained in the form in which it has 
come down from the past." On the other hand, in 
Chanakya's opinion, righteous laws were established 
in a conquered country. 

Self-satisfaction was rather a rule of conduct for 

1 " There is a dispute regarding five practices in the south and in the 
north. . . . For each (of these customs) the (rule of the) country should 
be considered the authority. But Gautama declares that that is false. 
And one should not take heed of either (set of practices) because they are 
opposed to the tradition of the Sishtas." I. 1, 2, 5-8. 


the individual in cases giving rise to doubts, than a 
source of law. It was merely the recognition of the 
right of a man to act according to the dictates of 
his own conscience when no definite rule of law 
was available as a guide. The other subsidiary 
authorities mentioned by Yajnavalkya, such as 
Mimamsa and Nyaya, were in reality guides for 
the interpretation of legal rules, and not exactly 
sources of law. 

If direct legislation was impossible in early times, 
indirect methods were available. Law could not be 
made, but it could be declared. In the Brihada- 
ranyaka, Law is thus defined : " Law is what is 
called the true. And if a man declares what is true, 
they say he declares the law ; and if he declares the 
law, they say he declares what is true." l For the 
declaration of the law in doubtful cases, a duly 
authorised body of persons was needed. Such a 
body was a Parishat (or parshat) composed of learned 
Brahmans. A Parishat was properly constituted 
when there were present in the assembly ten Brah- 
manas, learned in the Vedas, skilled in reasoning, 
and free from covetousness. 2 Bodhayana quotes the 
following verse : " Four men, who each know one 
of the four Vedas, a Mimamsaka, one who knows the 
Angas, one who recites the sacred law, and three 
Brahmanas belonging to (three different) orders, 
(constitute) an assembly consisting, at least, of ten 

1 Brihadaranyaka, I. 4, 14. 2 Gautama, XVIII. 48. 


members." 1 Such an ideal assembly was, however, 
not always easy to get together, and very often 
three or four Brahmanas were held sufficient to con- 
stitute an assembly, if they were persons who com- 
manded the respect and confidence of the people. 
Vasishtha says : " What four or (even) three (Brah- 
manas) who have completely studied the Vedas 
proclaim, that must be distinctly recognised as the 
sacred law, not (the decision) of a thousand fools." 2 
Sometimes, even the opinions of single individuals 
of pre-eminent virtue and wisdom had the same 
weight as the decision of Parishats. In regard to 
the decision of one individual, however, Bodhayana 
gives this wise advice : " Narrow and difficult to find 
is the path of the sacred law, towards which many 
gates lead. Hence if there is a doubt, it must not 
be propounded by one man only, however learned 
he may be." 3 

The Parishats of olden days may, in a sense, be 
called legislative assemblies. Although their main 
business was to interpret not to enact laws, yet 
in performing this duty they, not unoften, changed 

1 Bodhayana, I. 1, 9. 

2 Vasishtha, III. 7. He also says : " Many thousands (of Brahmanas) 
cannot form a legal assembly (for declaring the sacred law), if they have 
not fulfilled their sacred duties, are unacquainted with the Vedas, and subsist 
only by the name of their caste." III. 5. Vide also Bodhayana, I. 1, 16. 
In regard to the number, Bodhayana says : " There may be five, or there 
may be three, or there may be one blameless man who decides (questions 
regarding) the sacred law." I. 1,9. 

3 Bodhayana, I. 1,10. 


the laws so as to bring them into greater harmony 
with the altered circumstances of changed times. 
The rules of conduct were not inflexible in ancient 
times, and the Parishats, while maintaining the 
infallibility of the Vedas and the Smritis, consider- 
ably modified the spirit of the laws. [The text- 
book writers, in compiling the old laws of the 
country, greatly helped the process of change, and, 
in later times, the commentators also contributed to 
the same result.] 

As time went on, these indirect modes of changing 
the laws of the country must have been found very 
inconvenient. Originally, the King had no power to 
legislate for the country, but as society became more 
complex, it must have been found necessary to 
entrust the King with some power to issue orders 
which would be recognised by the law-courts. So 
some of the law-books mention the King's ordinances 
as one of the subsidiary sources of law. These edicts, 
it seems, at first dealt only with particular cases, and 
did not lay down any general rules. Moreover, they 
generally related to the work of executive govern- 
ment, and formed something like the droit adminis- 
tratif of France. 1 In more modern times, it seems, 
the King in Council considerably extended the right 
of issuing ordinances, and the Agni Purana and the 

1 Vide Manu : " Let no (man), therefore, transgress that law which the 
King decrees with respect to his favourites, nor (his orders) which inflict 
pain on those in disfavour." VII. 13. 


Sukraniti mention a Law Member of Council as one 
of the principal Officers-of-State. The advice of the 
Sukraniti that notices of newly-passed ordinances 
should be put up at the cross-roads, and that the 
people should be informed of them by beat of drum 
suggests that the issue of legislative ordinances was 
not very infrequent in the later years of the Hindu 
Period of Indian history. 


IN early Vedic times justice was administered by the 
tribe and clan assemblies, and the judicial procedure 
was very simple. 1 But with the extension of the 
functions of the State and the growth of the royal 
powers, the King came gradually to be regarded as 
the fountain of justice, 2 and a more or less elaborate 
system of judicial administration came into existence. 
According to Brihaspati, " judicial assemblies are 
of four sorts : stationary, not stationary, furnished 

1 Prof. Macdonell says : " (In the early Vedic Age) there is no trace of an 
organised criminal justice vested either in the King or in the people. There 
still seems to have prevailed the system of wergeld (Vaira), which indicates 
that criminal justice seems to have remained in the hands of those who 
were wronged. In the Sutras, on the other hand, the King's peace is 
recognised as infringed, a penalty being paid to him, or according to the 
Brahminical text-books, to the Brahmins. It may, therefore, reasonably 
be conjectured that the royal power of jurisdiction steadily increased ; 
the references in the Satapatha-Brahmana to the King as wielding punish- 
ment (Danda) confirm this supposition." Vedic Index, I. pp. 391-392. 

He adds that there is very little recorded as to civil law or procedure in 
early Vedic literature. 

2 " The King is the fountain-head of justice." Narada, (Jolly) Legal 
Procedure, III. 7. But Brihaspati says : " A Brahmana is the root of the 
tree of justice ; the sovereign prince is its stem and branches ; the ministers 
are its leaves and blossoms ; and just government is its fruit." I. 34. 


with the King's signet ring, and directed (by the 
King). The judges are of as many sorts. A station- 
ary court meets in a town or village ; one not 
stationary is called movable ; one furnished with 
(the King's) signet ring is superintended by the Chief 
Judge ; one directed is held in the King's presence." l 
Narada says: "Family meetings (kula), corpora- 
tions (sreni), village assemblies (gana), one appointed 
(by the King), and the King (himself) are invested 
with the power to decide lawsuits ; and of these, 
each succeeding is superior to the one preceding it 
in order." 2 

At the head of the judicial system stood the King's 
Court. This Court was held at the capital, and was 
presided over, sometimes by the King himself, but 
more often by a learned Brahmana appointed for 
the purpose, who was known as the Adhyaksha 
or Sabhapati. The Adhyaksha perhaps originally 
selected for each particular occasion in course of 
time became a permanent Officer-of-State, and held 
the position of the Chief Justice (Pradvivaka) of the 
realm. The King, together with the Pradvivaka and 
three or four other judges (dharmikah), formed the 
highest Court of Justice. 3 It was, however, the 

1 Brihaspati, I. 2-3. * Legal Procedure (Jolly), 7. 

3 Manu says : " A King desirous of investigating law cases must enter his 
Court of Justice, preserving a dignified demeanour, together with Brahmanas 
and experienced councillors. There, either seated or standing, raising 
his right arm, without ostentation of his dress or ornaments, let him examine 
the business of suitors." VIII. 1-2. 

Yajnavalkya says : " The King, putting aside wrath and covetousness, 


Chief Justice who in reality presided over the King's 
Court, even when the King was present. Narada 
says : " Attending to the dictates of the law-book, 
and adhering to the opinion of his Chief Justice, let 
him (i.e. the King) try causes in due order, adhibiting 
great care." 1 Brihaspati describes the respective 
duties of the different members of the King's Court 
in these words : " The Chief Justice decides causes : 
the King inflicts punishments : the judges investigate 
the merits of the case." 2 The number of judges 
varied. According to Manu, three judges, besides 
the Chief Justice, were enough to form a court, but 
Chanakya held that the judicial assembly should 
consist of six persons, three Officers-of-State, and 
three other learned persons. 3 According to the 
Sukraniti, the number of judges was to be uneven, 
seven, five, or three. 

The jury system, as it now prevails in the European 
countries, is somewhat different from what prevailed 
in Ancient India. The three or five members of the 
judicial assembly acted as jurors as well as judges, 
but the final decision rested with the Chief Judge. 

should decide cases with the assistance of learned Brahmanas and in accord- 
ance with law." II. 1. According to the Sukraniti, the King was never 
to try cases alone and by himself. 

1 Narada (Jolly), Legal Procedure, 35. 

2 Brihaspati, I. 6. "He (the Adhyaksa) should decide cases with the 
assistance of three members (of the judicial assembly)." Manu, VIII. 10. 
The Sukraniti also says that the chief judge should sit with the members of 
the judicial assembly (sabhyaih saha) to decide cases. II. 96. 

3 Arthasastra, Bk. III. ch. 1. 


There is, however, one point on which we still require 
more light. It seems that, besides the members of 
the assembly, other persons present in court were 
permitted, on certain occasions, to offer their opinions. 
Narada says : " Whether authorised or unauthorised, 
one acquainted with the law shall give his opinion. 
He passes a divine sentence who acts up to the 
dictates of law." x The Sukranlti quotes this passage 
with approval, and adds : " Duly qualified merchants 
should be made hearers." 2 The Sukraniti also quotes 
another passage from the Smritis, namely, " Either 
the court-house should not be entered, or the right 
word should be said. A man who does not speak, 
or speaks unjustly, incurs sin." The point is not 
clear, and we wonder how the custom, if it existed 
at all, worked in practice. 

The Chief Justice and the puisne judges were 
chosen in view of their eminent character and deep 
learning. 3 They were, as a rule, Brahmanas, but 
sometimes a few of them were selected from the 
other castes. 

1 Narada, Legal Procedure, III. 2. 2 Sukranlti, IV. 5, 27. 

3 " The King should appoint as judges persons who are well versed in the 
Vedas and the other branches of learning, who are acquainted with the 
Sacred Law, and who are truthful and impartial towards friends and foes." 
Yajnavalkya, II. 2-3. Cf. Brihaspati, I. 29-30, and Sukranlti, IV. 5, 14. 
Narada says : " He is called a (Pradvivaka or) chief judge who fully 
acquainted with the eighteen titles (of law) and with the eight thousand 
subdivisions thereof, skilled in logic and other branches of science, and 
thoroughly versed in revealed and traditional lore investigates the law 
relative to the case in hand by putting questions (prat) and passing a decision 
(vivecayati) according to what was heard or understood by him." Quota- 
tions from Narada, I. 1-2. Sacred Books of the East, Vol. XXXIII. 


The King's Court, it seems, had two sorts of juris- 
diction, namely, original and appellate. As an 
original court it tried all cases which arose within the 
boundaries of the capital. On its appellate side it 
was the highest Court of Appeal for all cases which 
were triable in the first instance by the inferior courts. 1 
The King's Court also exercised a sort of general 
supervision over the administration of justice through- 
out the country. 

Next in importance to the King's Court were the 
principal courts held in the important centres 2 and 
in the larger towns forming the headquarters of 
districts or sub -districts. 3 The constitution of these 
courts was very similar to that of the King's Court. 
Koyal officers, assisted by persons learned in the law, 
administered justice in these courts. They were 
presided over by Adhyakshas appointed by the Central 
Government. They had original jurisdiction in re- 
spect of all cases arising within the boundaries of the 
towns in which they sat, and also of the more im- 
portant civil and criminal cases occurring in the 
neighbouring villages. And it seems that they had 
a sort of appellate jurisdiction over the decisions of 
the lower courts within the districts or sub-districts 
of which the towns formed the headquarters. 

As a rule, the same courts tried both civil and 
criminal cases. The Smriti works do not draw any 

1 Brihaspati, I. 30. * ' Janapada-sandhi,' Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 36. 
3 ' Sangraha,' ' dronamukha,' ' sthaniya,' Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 36. 



distinction between civil and criminal courts. But 
[Chanakya mentions, besides the ordinary law courts 
(dharmasthiya), a class of " courts for the removal 
of the thorns of the state " (Kantaka-sodhana). 
These latter were what may be called administrative 
courts. They were presided over by three Officers- 
of-State, 1 and dealt with offences which affected not 
so much the rights of individuals as the interests of 
the community, and interfered with the proper 
government of the realm. ^j 

Besides these courts, each village had its local 
court, which was composed of the headman and the 
elders of the village. 3 Such courts decided minor 
criminal cases, such as petty thefts, as well as civil 
suits of a trifling nature, like disputes relating to the 
boundaries of lands situate within the village. 4 Their 

i These officials were to be either ministers (amatyah) or directors (prade- 
shtarah). Arthasastra, Bk. IV. ch. 1. 

8 Arthasastra, Bk. IV., deals with cases which were triable by these 
administrative courts. 

3 Grama-vrddhah,' Arthasastra, Bk. III. ch. 9. 

4 A flood of light is thrown on the system of administration of justice in 
Ceylon by the Vevalakatiya Slab-inscription of Mahinda IV. (1026-1042 A.D.). 
From this inscription we learn that within the Dasagama justice was ad- 
ministered by means of a Communal Court composed of headmen and 
responsible householders subject to the authority of the King in Council, 
and that this Court had the power to try all cases and to inflict even the 
extreme punishment of death. It runs thus : "... They (the headmen 
and the householders) shall sit in session and enquire of the inhabitants of 
the Dasagam (in regard to these crimes). The proceedings of the enquiry 
having been so recorded that the same may be produced (thereafter), they 
shall have the murderer punished with death. Out of the property taken 
by the thieves by violence, they shall have such things as have been identified 
restored to their respective owners, and have (the thieves) hanged . . ." 
Epigraphia Zeylanica, Vol. I. No. 21. 


powers, it seems, were limited to the transfer of the 
possession of property and the inflicting of small 
fines. Decisions in these courts were given in accord- 
ance with the opinion of the majority of honest 
persons composing the courts. 1 The idea of a system 
of local courts for the disposal of cases seems to have 
been firmly rooted in the minds of the people. The 
Sukraniti says : " They are the (best) judges of the 
merits of a case who live in the place where the 
accused person resides, and where the subject-matter 
of the dispute has arisen." 2 Brihaspati goes so far 
as to recommend that " for persons roaming in the 
forest a court should be held in the forest, for warriors 
in the camp, and for merchants in the caravan." 3 
And it seems that this recommendation was, at least 
on some occasions, carried into effect for the con- 
venience of suitors. From a Ceylon inscription we 
learn that itinerant justices from the capital used to 
visit different parts of the island for the disposal of 
cases and for the purpose of supervising the system 
of administration of justice. 4 It is very probable 
that a similar system existed in India also. 

The work of the regular courts was greatly lightened 
by arbitrators. All cases, except those concerning 

1 " Yato bahavah suchayo 'numata va tato niyaccheyuh." Arthasastra, 
Bk. III. ch. 9. 

2 IV. 5, 24. 3 Brihaspati, I. 25. 

4 The passage runs thus : " Should the inhabitants of these Dasagam 
villages have transgressed any of the rules stated (above) the royal officials 
who go annually (on circuit) to administer justice (in the country) shall ..." 
Epigraphia Zeylanica, Vol. I. No. 21. 


violent crimes, could be decided by arbitration by 
guilds of artisans, assemblies of co-habitants, meetings 
of religious sects, and by other bodies duly authorised 
by the King. 1 Narada is a great believer in the 
system of arbitration, and he says : " (In disputes) 
among merchants, artisans, or the like persons, and 
in (disputes concerning) persons subsisting by agri- 
culture or as dyers, it is impossible for outsiders to 
pass a sentence ; and the passing of the sentence 
must, therefore, be entrusted to persons acquainted 
with such matters (in a cause of this sort)/' This 
system had the great merit of giving substantial 
justice to the disputants and, at the same time, 
preventing ruinous litigation. 

The relations subsisting between the different kinds 
of courts are thus described by Brihaspati : " When 
a cause has not been (duly) investigated by (meetings 
of) kindred, it should be decided after due deliberation 
by companies (of artisans) ; when it has not been 
duly examined by companies (of artisans), it should 
be decided by assemblies (of co-habitants) ; and when 
it has not been (sufficiently) made out by such 
assemblies (it should be tried) by appointed (judges)." 2 
And again, " Judges are superior in authority to 
(meetings of) kindred and the rest ; the chief judge 

1 Brihaspati, I. 28. Vide also Sukraniti, Ch. IV. sec. 5. 

2 1. 30. Brihaspati adds : " (Meetings of) kindred, companies (of artisans), 
assemblies (of co-habitants), and chief judges are declared to be resorts for 
the passing of a sentence, to whom he whose cause has been previously tried 
may appeal in succession." I. 29. 


is placed above them ; and the King is superior to 
all, because he passes just sentences." Narada 1 and 
Yajnavalkya 2 also describe these relations in terms 
almost identical with those used by Brihaspati. A 
verse quoted by Asahaya in his commentary of Narada 
runs thus : "A case tried in the village (assembly) 
goes (on appeal) to the city (court) ; and one tried 
in the city (court) goes (on appeal) to the King (i.e. 
the King's Court) ; but there is no appeal from the 
decision of the King, whether the decision be right 
or wrong." 3 These and other similar passages leave 
no doubt in our minds that there was a regular mode 
of appeal from the decisions of the inferior courts to 
the superior courts. How far this right of appeal 
was recognised in practice, and to what extent the 
people actually availed themselves of the right are 
questions which our present knowledge of the history 
of Ancient India does not enable us to answer with 
any degree of satisfaction. 

So much about the Courts of Justice. We now 
pass on to a consideration of judicial procedure as 
it prevailed in Ancient India. Justice was adminis- 
tered in accordance with legal rules which fell under 

1 " Kulani ^renayas caiva ganas cadhikrto nrpah." 

Pratistha vyavaharanam purvebhyas tuttarottaram." 

Narada (Jolly's edn.), I. 7. 

2 Yajnavalkya, II. 30. 

3 Jolly, Narada, footnote to I. 11 : 

" Grame drstah pure yati pure drstas tu rajani 
Rajna drstah kudrsto va nasti paunarbhavo vidhih." 


one or other of the following four heads : (a) Sacred 
Law (Dharma), (6) Secular Law (Vyavahara), (c) 
Custom (Charitra), and (d) Koyal Commands (Raja- 
sasana). 1 " Sacred Law," says Chanakya, " is the 
embodiment of truth ; Secular Law depends upon 
evidence ; Custom is decided by the opinion of 
people ; and Royal Edicts constitute administrative 
law." 2 Some of the Smriti works adopt slightly 
different orders of classification, and they are often 
unwilling to admit the validity of Royal Edicts in 
the administration of justice. Opinion is also divided 
as to the relative importance of the different sets of 
legal rules. Chanakya and Narada agree in holding 
that " each following one is superior to the one 
previously named " in the above classification ; but 
the former adds, " When there is disagreement 
between Sacred Law and Secular Law, or between 
Sacred Law and Custom, the matter should be 
decided according to Sacred Law. When, however, 
there is disagreement between Sacred Law and 
Morality, Morality shall prevail, for it is likely that 
the original text (governing such a case) has been 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. III. ch. 1. The Smriti works adopt slightly different 
orders of classification. 

3 Arthasastra, Bk. III. ch. 1. A similar passage occurs in Narada (Legal 
Procedure, 10-11); but instead of 'caritram samgrahe pumsam,' we find there 
the words ' caritram pustakarane.' Prof. Jolly's translation of this passage 
does not appear to us to be correct. 

' Vyavahara ' is defined in the Sukraniti as that " which, by discriminating 
between good and evil, enables the people to remain on the path of virtue, 
and promotes their welfare." IV. 5, 4. 




lost." 1 According to Narada, " When it is impossible 
to act up to the precepts of Sacred Law, it becomes 
necessary to adopt a method founded on reasoning, 
because Custom decides everything and overrules the 
Sacred Law. Divine Law has a subtile nature, and is 
occult and difficult to understand. Therefore (the 
King or the judges) must try causes according ' to 
the visible path.' " 2 Thus, in practice, customs were 
the most important of the four divisions of law, and 
Manu 3 and almost all the other law-givers lay it 
down as the essential principle in the administration 
of justice that disputes should be decided according 
to the customs of countries and districts (janapada), 
of castes (jati), of guilds (sreni), and of families (kula). 
The regular courts met once or twice every day, 
usually in the mornings and evenings. The court- 
house was looked upon as a sacred place, and it was 
open to all. Trials were always held in public. The 
Sukraniti says : " Neither the King nor the members 
of the judicial assembly should ever try cases in 
private." 4 Cases were taken up for disposal either 
in the order of their respective applications, or of 
their urgency, or of the nature of the injury suffered, 
or of the relative importance of the castes 5 of suitors. 
The royal officers were strictly forbidden to take any 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. III. ch. 1. Yajnavalkya, comparing Dharmasastra 
and Arthasastra, remarks that the former is the more authoritative of the 

2 Narada (Jolly), Legal Procedure, 41. 
Sukraniti, IV. 4, 6. 

Manu, VIII. 41. 

8 Sukraniti, IV. 5, 161. 


part either in the commencement or in the subsequent 
conduct of a suit. Manu is very emphatic on this 
point. " Neither the King," says he, " nor any 
servant of his shall cause a lawsuit to be begun, or 
hush up one that has been brought (before the court) 
by (some) other (person)." 1 It is not very clear 
whether this rule was confined only to civil suits, 
or applied to criminal cases as well. But it is prob- 
able that, in the graver criminal offences, the State 
took upon itself the duty of conducting the prose- 
cution. 2 

Lawsuits, according to Narada, have three efficient 
causes, for they proceed from one or other of three 
motives, namely, carnal desire, wrath, and greed. 3 
( When mortals," says Narada, " were bent on doing 
their duty, and were habitually veracious, there 
existed neither lawsuits, nor hatred, nor selfishness. 
The practice of duty having died out among man- 
kind, lawsuits have been introduced." 4 The topics 
which give rise to lawsuits are grouped by 'the 
law-givers under eighteen titles, namely, (1) recovery 
of debts, (2) deposit and pledge, (3) sale without 

1 Manu, VIII. 43. Of. Narada (Jolly), Judicial Procedure, 3. 

2 In the Trial Scene in the Sudraka's Mrichchakatika, however, we find 
that in a murder case the court commences its proceedings on the application 
of a private person (arthi). It is difficult to say whether this was or was 
not the usual practice. 

3 Narada (Jolly), I. 26. 

* Narada (Jolly's edn.), I. 1-2. This is an illustration of the fact that 
men in all ages have looked back upon the remote past as the Golden Age 
of the World. ' 


ownership, (4) concerns among partners, (5) resump- 
tion of gifts, (6) non-payment of wages, (7) non- 
performance of agreements, (8) rescission of sale and 
purchase, (9) disputes between owners of cattle and 
herdsmen, (10) disputes regarding boundaries, (11) 
assault, (12) defamation, (13) theft, (14) robbery and 
violence, (15) adultery, (16) duties of man and wife, 
(17) inheritance and partition, and (18) gambling and 
betting. 1 It is evident that the list includes both 
civil and criminal cases. Although it was not found 
necessary to draw a line of separation between the 
two classes, the distinction, it appears, was fully 
understood. This becomes clear from the following 
passage which occurs in Brihaspati Smriti : " Law- 
suits are of two kinds, according as they originate 
in (demands regarding) wealth or in injuries. Law- 
suits originating in wealth are (divided again) into 
fourteen sorts, those originating in injuries into four 
sorts." 2 Most of these titles had sub -divisions, 
which, taken together, amounted to one hundred 
and thirty- two. 3 

1 Maim, VIII. 4-7. The titles given in some of the other law books are 
slightly different. 

2 Brihaspati, II. 5. 

3 Narada gives the following list : " ' Recovery of debt ' has twenty-five 
divisions ; ' deposits ' has six ; ' partnership ' has three ; ' resumption of 
gifts ' has four ; ' breach of service ' consists of nine divisions ; ' wages ' 
has four divisions ; there are two divisions of ' sales effected by another 
than the rightful owner ' ; ' non-delivery of a sold chattel ' has a single 
division only ; ' rescission of purchase ' has four divisions ; ' transgression 
of compact ' is one-fold ; ' boundary disputes ' is twelve-fold ; there are 
twenty divisions in ' mutual duties of husband and wife ' ; ' the law of 


The judicial proceedings in a case consisted of four 
stages, namely, (1) the statement of the plaintiff 
(purva-paksha), (2) the reply of the defendant (uttara- 
paksha), (3) the actual trial, consisting of the evidence 
to establish the case and the arguments on both 
sides (kriya), and (4) the decision (nirnaya). 1 

Proceedings at law, according to Narada, were of 
two kinds : " attended by a wager, or not attended 
by a wager. A lawsuit attended by a wager is where 
(either of the two parties) stakes in writing a certain 
sum which has to be paid besides the sum in dispute 
(in case of defeat)." 2 This system of wager, how- 
ever, is not to be found in other works, and probably 
in Narada's time only the remembrance existed of a 
custom which had died out long ago. It is interesting 
to note that the system of wagers in India was 
analogous to a similar custom in Rome in the earlier 
stages of the development of Roman legal procedure. 

All civil actions as well as criminal cases were 
commenced by written petitions or verbal complaints 
made before the Court by the aggrieved party. The 
date and the place of occurrence, the nature of the 

inheritance ' consists of nineteen divisions ; ' heinous offences ' of twelve ; 
of both ' abuse ' and ' assault ' there are three divisions ; ' gambling with 
dice and betting on animals ' has a single division ; ' miscellaneous ' has 
six divisions." I. 20-25. 

1 Brihaspati, III. 1-2. Vide also Sukraniti, IV. 5, 153. A good descrip- 
tion of the actual proceedings in a criminal case is to be found in Siidraka's 
Mrichchakatika. Probably, this portion of the drama, like the rest, was 
based upon a much earlier work entitled ' Charudatta ' by Bhasa ; but, 
unfortunately, the whole of this latter book has not yet been discovered. 

2 Narada (Jolly), Legal Procedure, 4. 


wrong done or of the claim made, and the names of 
the plaintiff (arthi) and the defendant (pratyarthi) 
were entered in the books of the court. 1 An im- 
portant point for the Court to determine at this 
stage was the capacity of the parties. If one of the 
parties was incapable of suing or defending, the suit 
could not be proceeded with. 

The first important step in the trial was the state- 
ment of the case by the plaintiff. 2 He had to cause 
the plaint to be put in writing, either by the officer 
of the court or by his legal adviser. A great deal of 
care, it seems, had to be taken in the preparation 
of the plaint, for Narada mentions the following as 
the defects of a plaint, namely, " (1) if it relates to a 
different subject, (2) if it is unmeaning, (3) if the 
amount claimed has not been properly stated, (4) if 
it is wanting in propriety, (5) if the writing is deficient, 
or (6) redundant, (7) if it has been damaged." 3 A 
small verbal error, however, did not vitiate the 
plaint. 4 On the other hand, a plaint, though other- 
wise faultless, was held as incorrect if it was contrary 
to established law and usage. 5 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. IV. ch. 1. Yajnavalkya says that the representation, 
as made by the plaintiff, is to be put in writing in the presence of the de- 
fendant the year, month, fortnight, and day, together with the names, 
caste, etc., being given. 

2 " The accusation," says Narada, " is called the plaint ; the answer is 
called the declaration of the defendant." Legal Procedure, 28. There 
were, according to Narada, two modes of plaint, " because a plaint may 
be either founded on suspicion or a fact." Ibid. 27. 

3 Narada, Legal Procedure, II. 8. 

*Ibid. II. 25. 6 Ibid. II. 15. 


The next step was the issue of summons for the 
attendance of the defendant. It was the duty of 
the defendant to attend the court on receipt of the 
summons ; and if he attempted to abscond, the 
plaintiff might arrest him, to secure his presence in 
court. Such arrest might be one or other of four 
kinds, namely, local arrest, temporary arrest, inhibi- 
tion from travelling, and arrest relating to his work. 1 

The defendant, after having become acquainted 
with the tenor of the plaint, had to give a written 
reply. 2 A reply might be one or other of four sorts, 
namely, a denial (mithya), a confession (samprati- 
patti), a special plea (pratyavaskandana), a plea of 
former judgment (prannyaya). 3 Before the answer 
to the plaint was tendered, the plaintiff was at liberty 
to amend his plaint in any way he liked, 4 but after 
the delivery of the reply, no amendment was per- 
mitted. The plaintiff was entitled to submit a 
rejoinder to the defendant's reply. 

If the case was a simple one, it was decided then 
and there. But if it was one which involved any 
important questions of fact or of law, and was not 

1 Narada, Legal Procedure, 47. The following classes of persons, according 
to Narada, might not be arrested, namely, " one about to marry ; one 
tormented by illness ; one about to offer a sacrifice ; one afflicted by a 
calamity ; one accused by another ; one employed in the King's service ; 
cowherds engaged in tending cattle ; cultivators in the act of cultivation ; 
artisans while engaged in their own occupations ; a minor ; a messenger ; 
one about to give alms ; one fulfilling a vow ; one harassed by difficulties." 

2 The reply, according to Narada, was to correspond with the tenor of 
the plaint. Legal Procedure, II. 2. 

3 Narada (Jolly), II. 4. 4 Ibid. II. 7. 


a matter of any urgency, the parties were given time 
to prepare their respective sides of the case. 1 Where 
the defendant denied the charge or claim, the plaintiff 
had to prove his accusation or demand. Under 
certain circumstances, however, the burden of proof 
might be shifted from the plaintiff to the defendant. 2 
If the plaintiff failed to produce witnesses, or did not 
appear within three fortnights, he was non-suited. 
And if it was proved that the plaintiff had no just 
cause for bringing the suit, he was ordered to pay a 
fine. Counter-charges, were not, as a rule, permitted. 
" One accused," says Narada, "of an offence must 
not lodge a plaint himself, unless he have refuted 
the charge raised by the other party." 3 But in 
certain classes of civil actions, such as disputes 
between members of a trade guild or between mer- 
chants, or in quarrels leading to duels, counter-suits 
were allowed. 4 When two persons brought suits 
against each other, he was admitted as plaintiff 
whose grievance was the greater, or whose affair was 
the more important of the two, and not the person 

1 Gautama says : "If (the defendant) is unable to answer (the plaint) 
at once (the judge) may wait for a year. But (in an action) covering kine, 
draught-oxen, women, or the procreation (of offspring) the defendant (shall 
answer) immediately ; likewise in a case that will suffer by delay." XIII. 
28-30. Narada also advises the King to give time to the defendant except 
in urgent affairs, heinous offences, etc. I. 44-45. 

2 For instance, " when the defendant has evaded the plaint by means of 
a special plea, it becomes incumbent on him to prove his assertion, and he 
is placed in the position of a claimant." Narada (Judicial Procedure), 
II. 31. 

3 Narada, Legal Procedure, 55. * Arthasastra, Bk. III. ch. 1. 


who was the first to go to law. 1 A person who had 
already been accused by another person could not 
be accused by a different party of the same offence, 
" for it is wrong to strike one again who has been 
struck (by another)." 2 

Facts in a case were proved by evidence, 3 which 
was either oral, or documentary, or real. 4 In cases 
relating to property, possession was regarded as some 
evidence of ownership. 5 Although all the forms of 
evidence were equally admissible, the oral evidence 
of witnesses was the commonest mode of proving a 
fact. Direct evidence was generally regarded as 

1 Quotations from Narada (Jolly), I. 8. 2 Narada, I. 55. 

3 In six cases, witnesses were held unnecessary, and indications of the 
crime committed were regarded as sufficient. " It should be known," says 
Narada, " that one carrying a firebrand in his hand is an incendiary ; that 
one taken with a weapon in his hand is a murderer ; and that where a man 
and the wife of another man seize one another by the hair, the man must 
be an adulterer. One who goes about with a hatchet in his hand and makes 
his approach may be recognised as a destroyer of bridges (and embank- 
ments) ; one carrying an axe is a destroyer of trees. One whose looks are 
suspicious is likely to have committed an assault. In all these cases, 
witnesses may be dispensed with ; in the case of assault, careful investigation 
is required." I. 175. The indications may be regarded as constituting 
what is called ' real ' and ' circumstantial ' evidence. 

* " Evidence of guilt against a suspected person shall consist in the 
instruments used, his advisers and abettors, the article stolen, and any 
intermediaries." Arthasastra, Bk. IV. ch. 8. Vasishtha says : " It is declared 
in the Smriti that there are three kinds of proof which give title to (property, 
viz.), documents, witnesses, and possession ; (thereby) an owner may recover 
property which formerly belonged to him (but was lost)." He adds : In 
a dispute about a house or a field, reliance (may be placed on the depositions) 
of neighbours. If the statements of the neighbours disagree, documents 
(are) proof. If conflicting documents are produced, reliance (may be 
placed) on (the statements of) aged (inhabitants) of the village or town, 
and on (those of) guilds and corporations (of artisans and trades). 

6 Cf. the English legal proverb, " Possession is nine points of the law." 


superior to circumstantial evidence, but in certain 
cases, e.g. theft and housebreaking, the latter was 
often the only kind of evidence available, and was 
held sufficient. 1 It seems that hearsay evidence was 
not always excluded. 2 

The eligibility of witnesses was an important 
question. Householders, men with male issue, and 
natives of the country belonging to any of the four 
castes were regarded as eligible witnesses. 3 Persons 
who had an interest in the suit, familiar friends and 
companions, enemies of the parties, persons formerly 
convicted of perjury, persons suffering from some 
severe illness, and those tainted by mortal sin, were 
ineligible as witnesses. 4 And no person belonging to 
any of the following classes could be called as a 
witness, except under special circumstances : the 
King, mechanics, and actors, a student of the Veda, 
an ascetic, one wholly dependent, a person of ill 
repute, a dasyu, a person who followed forbidden 
occupations, an aged man, an infant, a man of the 
lowest castes, one extremely grieved or intoxicated, 
one oppressed by hunger, thirst, or fatigue, a mad 
man, one tormented by desire, a wrathful man, and 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. IV. ch. 8. 

2 Manu says : " Evidence in accordance with what has actually been seen 
or heard is admissible." VIII. 74. 

3 Manu, VIII. 62. Cf. Narada (I. 177-190), who gives a longer list. 

4 According to Vishnu, the proper witnesses are those born of a high 
family, possessing good qualifications or wealth, devoted to religious practices 
and sacrifices, those who have sons, who are versed in the law, who are 
truthful, who are devoted to study. Ch. 8 (Jolly's Sanskrit text). 


a thief. 1 The reasons why such persons were ex- 
cluded from the witness box are thus indicated by 
Narada : 2 " A child would speak falsely from ignor- 
ance, a woman from want of veracity, an impostor 
from habitual depravity, a relative from affection, 
and an enemy from desire of revenge." The ground 
on which some of the other classes were excluded 
appears to have been the desire on the part of the 
State to prevent, as far as possible, any interference 
with the ordinary avocations of the people. On 
failure of competent witnesses, however, the evidence 
of an infant, an aged person, a woman, a student, a 
relative, or a servant, might be offered. 3 

Uncorroborated evidence of a single witness was 
regarded as insufficient for the decision of a case, 
unless the witness happened to be a person pos- 
sessed of exceptional qualifications and was agreeable 
to both the parties. 4 

Before the deposition of a witness was taken, 
it was the duty of the judge to impress on the 
witness the necessity of telling the truth, and 
the consequences, legal and moral, of telling a 

1 Manu, VIII. 65-68. 2 1. 191. 

3 Manu, 69-70. " But," adds Manu, " the judge should consider the 
evidence of infants, aged and diseased persons as untrustworthy, likewise 
that of disordered minds." VIII. 71. The competence of witnesses, in 
the opinion of Manu, should not be strictly examined in certain classes of 
criminal cases, e.g. violence, theft, adultery, defamation, and assault. 
VIII. 72. 

4 Narada, I. 192; Manu, VIII. 77; Yajnavalkya, II. 72; Vishnu, 
VIII. 9. 


falsehood. 1 Witnesses were also charged on oath to 
speak the truth. According to Gautama, in the case 
of persons other than Brahmanas the oath was to be 
taken in the presence of the gods, of the King, or of the 
Brahmanas. 2 Perjury was regarded as a dire sin as 
well as a serious offence, and a witness who perjured 
himself was liable to be fined from one hundred to 
one thousand panas, the exact amount of the fine 
depending upon the motive which induced him to 
give false evidence. 3 

Documentary evidence (lekhya) was frequently 
resorted to in Ancient India, specially in civil actions. 
Vishnu mentions three kinds of documents, namely, 
(1) attested by the King's officers, (2) attested by 
private witnesses, and (3) unattested. 4 According to 
Narada, a document, to be valid, " should be signed 
by witnesses, the (natural) order of ideas and syllables 
should not be interrupted, local customs and general 
rules should be observed in it, and it should be com- 
plete in every respect." 5 

1 Maim says that the judge should exhort the witnesses as follows : "A 
witness who speaks the truth in his evidence gains (after death) the most 
excellent regions (of bliss) and here (below) unsurpassable fame." " Such 
testimony is revered by Brahman himself." And so on. Manu, VIII. 
81-86. According to Gautama, Vasishtha, and Bodhayana also, by giving 
false evidence a person incurs sin in varying degrees. 

2 Gautama, XIII. 12-13. 

3 Manu, VIII. 120-121. Megasthenes says: "A person convicted of 
bearing false witness suffers mutilation of his extremities." Fragment 

4 Vishnu (Jolly's Sanskrit text), Ch. V. Brihaspati says : " Writings are 
declared to be tenfold." V. 18. 

5 Quotations from Narada, IV. 1. 



For the purpose of drawing conclusions from the 
evidence offered in court, it was the duty of the judge 
to weigh such evidence, and not merely to count the 
number of witnesses and documents on each side. 1 
Narada says : " There are some who give false evidence 
from covetousness, there are other villainous wretches 
who resort to forging documentary evidence. There- 
fore, both sorts of evidence must be tested by the 
King with great care : documents according to the 
rules regarding writings, witnesses according to 
the law of witnesses." 2 The means of arriving at 
the truth were regarded as four-fold, namely, (1) visible 
indications (pratyksha), reasoning (yukti), inference 
(anumana), and analogy (upamana). 3 If the wit- 
nesses disagreed with one another as to time, age, 
matter, quantity, shape, and species, such testimony 
was to be held as worthless. The judges were advised 
to note the demeanour of a witness in court, and to 
draw an inference as to his veracity therefrom. 4 But 

1 Manu, however, says : " On a conflict of witnesses the King shall accept 
(as true) the (evidence of the) majority ; if (the conflicting parties are) equal 
in number, (that of) those distinguished by good qualities ; on a difference 
between (equally) distinguished (witnesses, that of) the best among the 
twice-born." VIII. 73. 

2 Narada, Legal Procedure, 70. 8 Sukranlti, II. 93. 

4 " If a man being questioned does not uphold a statement duly made by 
himself (at a former stage of the trial) ; or if he ends by admitting what had 
been previously negatived by himself ; or if he is unable to produce any 
witnesses after having declared that they are in existence, and having 
been asked to produce them ; by all such signs as these, persons devoid of 
virtue may be known." Narada, Legal Procedure, 61. 

Abul Fazl, describing the Hindu system of administration of justice, 
says : " The Judge will derive collateral proof by the physiognomy and 
prevarication of the party." Ayeen-i-Akbery (Gladwin), p. 496. 


Narada, very wisely, cautions judges against accept- 
ing indications too readily. " Liars," says he, " may 
have the appearance of veracious men, and veracious 
men may resemble liars. There are many different 
characters. Therefore, it is necessary to examine 
(everything)." Proper safeguards were provided 
against the miscarriage of justice through belief in false 
evidence. And whenever it was found that the deci- 
sion in a case was based upon false or insufficient 
evidence, the judgment was reversed, and all the pro- 
ceedings in the case were declared null and void. 1 

The other modes of arriving at the truth, besides 
evidence, were the oath and the ordeal (divya). 2 
These methods, it seems, were resorted to only when 
evidence failed to establish the case one way or the 
other. As to the oath, Manu says, " let the judge 
cause a Brahmana to swear by his veracity, a Ksha- 
triya by his chariot or the animal he rides on and by 
his weapons, a Vaisya by his kine, grain, and gold, 
and a Sudra by (imprecating on his own head the 
guilt) of all grievous offences." 3 The ordeal was a 
divine test. It was used in criminal cases, and was 
of various kinds, such as (i) by the balance, (ii) by 
fire, (iii) by water, and (iv) by poison. 4 If the accused 

1 Manu, VIII. 117. 

8 ' Divya ' is a term not found in early Vedic literature. 

3 Manu, VIII. 113. 

4 Manu, VIII. 114. Vishnu and Narada give detailed descriptions of the 
different kinds of ordeal. Hiuen Tsiang, who was perhaps an eye-witness 
of ordeals, thus describes them : " When the ordeal is by water, then the 


person was unhurt, or did not meet with any speedy 
misfortune, he was held to be innocent. 1 Eesort was 
had to the expedient of the ordeal when both the 
parties failed to bring witnesses, or to produce docu- 
mentary evidence, and the merit of the case was so 
doubtful that the judges felt disinclined to take upon 
themselves the responsibility to give a decision. 2 
These methods were thus used only on rare occasions, 
and they became obsolete in course of time, leaving 
evidence as practically the sole method by which the 
court arrived at the right decision as to the guilt or 
innocence of an accused person. 

Sometimes judicial investigation supplemented the 
information obtained by evidence offered in court. 
But great care was taken against an abuse of this 
method. Hiuen Tsiang emphatically states that " in 

accused is placed in a sack connected with a stone vessel and thrown into 
deep water. They then judge of his innocence or guilt in this way if the 
man sinks, and the stone floats, he is guilty ; but if the man floats and the 
stone sinks, then he is pronounced innocent. Secondly, by fire : They 
heat a plate of iron, and make the accused sit on it, and again place his feet 
on it, and apply it to the palms of his hands ; moreover, he is made to pass 
his tongue over it ; if no scars result, he is innocent ; if there are scars, 
guilt is proved. In case of weak or timid persons who cannot endure such 
ordeal, they take a flower-bud and cast it towards the fire ; if it opens, he 
is innocent ; if the flower is burnt, he is guilty. Ordeal by weight is this : 
A man and a stone are placed in a balance evenly ; then they judge according 
to lightness or weight. If the accused is innocent, then the man weighs 
down the stone, which rises in the balance ; if he is guilty, the man rises, 
and the stone falls. Ordeal by poison is this : They take a ram, and make 
an incision in the thigh (of the animal) ; if the man is guilty, then the poison 
takes effect and the creature dies ; if he is innocent, then the poison has 
no effect, and he survives. By these four modes of trial, the way of crime 
is stopped." Beal, Buddhist Records, Bk. II. 

1 Manu, VIII. 115. 2 Vide Abul Fazl's Ayeen-i-Akbery, p. 495. 


the investigation of criminal cases there is no use of 
rod or staff to obtain proofs." x 

The next stage of the trial was the argument on 
both sides. When the parties themselves were per- 
sons unacquainted with the law, they were sometimes 
represented for the purpose of arguing the case by 
their relatives, or friends, or professional lawyers 
(pratinidhi). 2 Such representation, it seems, was 
usual in the civil suits and in the less serious criminal 
cases, but no representation was permitted in the 
graver criminal offences, such as murder, adultery, 
abduction, forgery, sedition, robbery, and theft. 3 

Judgment was delivered at the end of the hearing 
of a case. In applying the law to a particular case, 
the judges were expected to take into consideration 
all the circumstances. " No sentence," says Brihas- 
pati. ".should be passed merely in accordance with 
the letter of the law. If a decision is arrived at 
without considering the circumstances of the case, 
violation of justice will be the result." 4 The judg- 
ment was embodied in a document, a copy of which 
was furnished to the victorious party. 5 

1 Buddhist Records (Beal), Bk. II. 

2 Sukran!ti, IV. 5, 110. According to Sukra the lawyer's fee was to be 
one-sixteenth of the value of the suit. IV. 5, 114. 

Narada says : " He deserves punishment who speaks in behalf of another, 
without being either the brother, the father, the son, or the appointed 
agent." Narada (Judicial Procedure), II. 23. 

3 Sukraniti, IV. 5, 120. 

4 Brihaspati, II. 12. 

6 Narada says : " The victorious party shall receive a document recording 
his victory, and couched in appropriate language." Legal Procedure, II. 43. 


The remedies given by the courts depended upon 
the character and circumstances of each case. In 
civil actions, the usual remedies were restoration of 
property and fines. The courts had also power to 
declare agreements as invalid. Thus, for instance, 
contracts entered into under provocation, compulsion, 
or intoxication, or by dependents, infants, aged per- 
sons, and lunatics, were often held as void. 1 In an 
action for the recovery of debts the court had the 
power to modify the whole transaction, and to grant 
only a reasonable rate of interest. In criminal cases, 
the punishments were : 2 (i) fine, (ii) imprisonment, 
(iii) whipping, (iv) physical torture, (v) banishment, 
(vi) condemnation to work in the mines, and (vii) 

The punishment awarded in criminal cases corre- 
sponded to the nature of the offence. 3 The extreme 
penalty of death was rarely inflicted, 4 and any other 
kind of corporal punishment was uncommon. " The 

Brihaspati says : " Whatever has been transacted in a suit, the plaint, answer, 
and so forth, as well as the gist of the trial, should be noted completely 
in the document recording the success (of the claimant or defendant)." 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. III. ch. 1. 

* Narada says : " Punishment is pronounced to be two-fold : bodily 
punishment and fines. Bodily punishment is declared to be of ten sorts, 
fines are also of more than one kind. Fines begin with a kdkani, and the 
highest amount is one's entire property. Bodily punishment begins with 
confinement, and ends with capital punishment." Jolly, Appendices, 

3 Brihaspati, VI. 2. 

4 Sung Yun, speaking of the Kingdom of Udyana (Kasmir), says : " Suppos- 
ing a man has committed murder, they do not suffer him to be killed, but 
banish him to the desert mountains." Buddhist Records, p. 188. 


King," says Fa Hian, " in the administration of 
justice inflicts no corporal punishment, but each 
culprit is fined in money according to the gravity of 
his offence, and even in cases where the culprit has 
been guilty of repeated attempts to excite rebellion, 
they restrict themselves to the cutting off of his 
right hand." x This statement is confirmed by Hiuen 
Tsiang and Sung Yun. Hiuen Tsiang says : " There 
is no infliction of corporal punishment ; they are 
simply left to live or die, and are not counted among 
men." 2 Megasthenes mentions cropping of the hair 
as a punishment. " If one is guilty," says he, " of 
a heinous offence, the King orders his hair to be 
cropped, this being a punishment in the last degree 
infamous." 3 

Sureties (pratibhu) 4 for good behaviour were also 
sometimes taken from persons found guilty of criminal 
offences. Abettors of a crime were punished in a 
manner similar to the punishment provided for the 
principal offender. 

The extra-judicial remedy of self-help was also 
recognised by the courts within reasonable limits. 
Manu, for instance, says : " By moral suasion, by 
suit of law, by artful management, or by the cus- 
tomary proceeding, a creditor may recover property 
lent ; and fifthly, by force. A creditor who himself 
recovers his property from his debtor must not be 

1 Fa Hian (Beal), Ch. XVI. a Buddhist Records (Beal), Bk. II. 

3 Fragment XXVII. D. * Sukramti, IV. 5, 125. 


blamed by the King for retaking what is his 


If any person was dissatisfied with the judgment, 
and thought that the case had been decided in a way 
contrary to justice, he might have it re-tried on 
payment of a fine. Narada says : " When a lawsuit 
has been judged without any previous examination 
of witnesses (or other evidence), or when it has been 
decided in an improper manner, or when it has been 
judged by unauthorised persons, the trial has to be 
renewed." 2 An appeal also lay from the decision 
of an inferior court to a higher tribunal, where the 
whole case was re- tried. 3 

We now pass on to a consideration of some of the 
important features of the administration of justice 
in Ancient India. The first characteristic that strikes 
the enquirer is the responsibility of the judges and 
their independence. The judges had to perform their 
duties in accordance with the law, and it was their 
duty to deal out equal justice to all. 4 If they trans- 
gressed the laws, or acted improperly in the discharge 
of their duties, they not only incurred sin, 5 but were 

1 Manu, VIII. 49-50. 2 Quotations from Narada (Jolly), I. 14. 

3 Brihaspati, I. 29-30. 4 Manu, VIII. 13-14. 

5 Manu says : " When any injustice is done, one-fourth of the sin attaches 
to the wrong-doer, one-fourth to the witness, one-fourth to the judges, and 
the remaining fourth to the King." VIII. 18. Abul Fazl, speaking of the 
administration of justice in Hindu India, says, " He (the judge) must 
consider it a religious obligation to discharge the duties of his office with 
impartiality and justice." Ayeen-i-Akbery (Gladwin), p. 495. 


liable to be punished. Chanakya prescribes punish- 
ment for any unrighteous behaviour on the part of 
the judges. " If a judge/' says he, " chides or 
threatens or sends out or unjustly silences a litigant, 
he shall be liable to the first amercement. If he 
defames any litigant, his punishment shall be double 
the amount. If he does not ask any questions which 
ought to be asked, or asks questions which ought 
not to be asked, or having asked a question, leaves 
it out, or tutors a witness, or reminds him what he 
said before, he shall be liable to the second amerce- 
ment. If he does not enquire into relevant matters 
or enquires into irrelevant matters, or unnecessarily 
delays the trial, or maliciously postpones business, 
or makes one of the parties leave the court disgusted 
and tired, or leaves out statements which may lead 
to a right decision, or lends assistance to the wit- 
nesses, or takes up a case already decided, he shall 
be liable to the first amercement. On a repetition 
of the offence, his punishment shall be double, and 
he shall be removed from office." * So also, Yajna- 
valkya says : " If the members of the judicial assembly 
give any decisions contrary to law and custom, 
through affection, temptation, or fear, each of them 
would be liable to double the punishment provided 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. IV. ch. 9. Kautilya says further : " If the judge, or 
the director, unjustly fines anybody, he shall be fined twice the amount. 
If he condemns any person unjustly to bodily punishment, he shall himself 
suffer the same punishment, or be fined twice the amount of the ransom 


for the case." 1 But if tlie responsibility of the judges 
was great, so was their independence. The law was 
their only master and guide, and they had power to 
deal equally with the high and the low. The adminis- 
tration of justice was kept separate from the executive 
functions of the State, and no interference with 
judicial business by the executive was permitted. 

Another feature of the judicial system was that 
every person resident in the country, whatever his 
position might be, and whether he was a native or 
a foreigner, 2 received the protection of the courts. 
Such protection was, of course, specially appreciated 
by the weaker members of society. If a Dasa, for 
instance, was ill-treated, he was permitted by the 
courts to leave his master, and the courts inflicted a 
punishment on the master if he failed to liberate 
his Dasa on receipt of a ransom. 3 So also, servants 
were protected from ill-treatment at the hands of 
their masters. A servant could, with the help of 
the courts, enforce the payment of his wages, and 
any agreement made between master and servant to 
the prejudice of the latter was liable to be set aside 
by the courts. 4 

The third feature of the legal system is not one 

which is very pleasing to note. (Although every 


1 II. 4. Some of the other Smriti works also prescribe punishments for 
judges who transgress the law. 

2 Vide Arthasastra, Bk. IV. ch. 2. 3 Arthasastra, Bk. III. ch. 13. 

4 Arthasastra, Bk. III. ch. 14. 



member of the society had a locus standi in the 
courts, the idea of equality before the law was not 
fully developed in Ancient India. A modified form 
of privilege ran through the whole system of Hindu 
Jurisprudence. The law was not the same for all, 
but depended upon the status of the person con- 
cerned. If a man belonging to one of the higher 
castes committed an offence, his punishment was 
lighter than what would be inflicted on a man of a 
lower grade for a similar offence. As an instance 
may be mentioned the fact that the Brahmanas, as 
a rule, enjoyed immunity from the more degrading 
kinds of punishment provided for criminal offences. 1 
From the records preserved in Indian literature 
as well as from the accounts left by foreign travellers, 
it seems quite clear that the administration of justice 
was very efficient in Ancient India. This must have 
been the result of three factors, namely, the upright- 
ness of the judges, the efficiency of the police, and 
the general honesty and probity of the people. Judges 
were recruited from the class of learned Brahmanas 

1 Gautama says : " A learned Brahmana (i.e. one deeply versed in the 
Vedas and other branches of learning) must be allowed by the King immunity 
from (the following) six (kinds of opprobrious treatment) : he must not 
be subjected to corporal punishment, he must not be imprisoned, he must 
not be fined, he must not be exiled, he must not be reviled, nor be excluded." 
VIII. 12-13. But Kautilya says : " When a Brahmana has committed a 
crime, he should be branded, his crime should be proclaimed in public, his 
property should be confiscated, and he should be condemned to work in 
the mines." Arthasastra, Bk. IV. ch. 18. In the Mrichchakatika we read 
that the sentence of death passed on a Brahmana becomes the immediate 
cause of a revolution. 


who were noted for their high character and purity 
of life. Adequate measures were taken to secure the 
efficiency of the police force. As for the last factor, 
the testimony of the most eminent foreign observers 
is conclusive. " Theft," says Megasthenes, " is of 
very rare occurrence . . . The simplicity of their 
laws and their contracts is proved by the fact that 
they seldom go to law. They have no suits about 
pledges or deposits, nor do they require either seals 
or witnesses, but make their deposits, and confide in 
each other. Their houses and property they gener- 
ally leave unguarded. These things indicate that 
they possess good, sober sense.'' 1 This statement 
is confirmed by Hiuen Tsiang, the great Chinese 
monk, who travelled in India a thousand years after 
Megasthenes. His words are : " With respect to 
the ordinary people, although they are naturally 
light-minded, they are upright and honourable. In 
money matters they are without craft, and in adminis- 
tering justice they are considerate. They dread the 
retribution of another state of existence, and make 
light of things of this world. They are not deceitful 
or treacherous in their conduct, and are faithful to 
their oaths and promises. In their rules of govern- 
ment there is remarkable rectitude, while in their 
behaviour there is much gentleness and sweetness." 2 

1 Fragment XXVII. 

2 Hiuen Tsiang's Travels, Buddhist Records (Beal), Bk. II. 


IN the earliest period of Indian history the State 
perhaps depended for its own support on the voluntary 
contributions of the people. But some method of 
compulsory contribution must have been found 
necessary in India as soon as a more improved form 
of government had come into existence. The early 
tax-system, however, was a very simple one, and the 
evolution of a complex system of Public Finance was 
doubtless a slow and gradual process. By the fourth 
century B.C. the system of Public Finance had reached 
a very advanced stage of development, as is evidenced 
by Chanakya's Arthasastra and the Brahmanical and 
Buddhistic religious works. 

The income of the State was derived from various 
sources. In very early times, the burden of taxation 
was extremely light. But as the duties of the State 
increased, the burden became progressively heavier. 
Gautama, one of the early law-givers, says : " Culti- 
vators must pay to the King a tax (amounting 
to) one-tenth, one-eighth, or one-sixth (of the 


produce). 1 Some declare that (there is a tax) also on 
cattle and gold, (viz.) one-fiftieth. In the case of 
merchandise one-twentieth was the duty, and of roots, 
fruits, flowers, medicinal herbs, honey, meat, grass, 
and firewood, one-sixtieth." 2 In the time of Vishnu, 
who perhaps wrote about two centuries later, the 
rates of taxation were appreciably higher, namely, 
a sixth part of every kind of crops and of meat, 
fruits, and flowers, a duty of 2 per cent, levied on 
cattle, gold, and cloths, of 10 per cent, on goods 
locally manufactured, and of 5 per cent, on articles 
imported from abroad. 3 Manu mentions even higher 
rates, except as regards the land, and also gives a 
longer list of articles on which taxes were to be levied. 
He says : " A fiftieth part of the (increments on) 
cattle and gold may be taken by the King, and the 
eighth, sixth, or twelfth part of the crops. He may 
also take the sixth part of trees, meat, honey, clarified 
butter, perfumes, (medicinal) herbs, substances used 
for flavouring food, flowers, roots, and fruits ; of 
leaves, pot-herbs, grass, (objects) made of cane, skins, 
of earthen vessels, and all (articles) made of stone." 4 
The Mahabharata describes the tax-system in very 
general terms. It says : " With a sixth part, upon 
a fair calculation, of the yield of the soil, with fines 

1 It seems that the rate varied according to the quality of the soil. Rich 
soils were more highly taxed than poor lands. 

2 Gautama, X. 24-27. 3 Vishnu (Jolly's Sanskrit text), Ch. 3. 
4 Manu, VII. 130-132. 


and forfeitures from offenders, with the imposts levied 
according to the Sastras upon merchants and trades 
in return for the protection granted to them, a King 
should fill his treasury." x 

We are indebted to Chanakya for a detailed de- 
scription of the financial system as it existed in 
Chandragupta's time. He gives two distinct classi- 
fications of the revenues of the State. According to 
the first, the income is classified under seven heads, 
in view of the sources from which they are derived, 
namely, (1) the capital, (2) the country parts, (3) 
mines, (4) public works, (5) forests, (6) pasture-lands, 
and (7) trade-routes. 2 

The various kinds of income from the capital were : 
excise duties levied on certain articles locally pro- 
duced, such as cotton goods, oils, salt, liquors, and 
metallic manufactures ; taxes on warehouses, guilds 
of artisans, and temples ; duties collected at the 
city gates ; and fines on gambling and betting. The 
rates of duties were fixed in view of the nature of a 
particular commodity and also of its place of origin. 3 

1 Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Sec. 71, si. 10. 

2 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 6. 

3 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 21. So, Manu says : " Having well considered 
(the rates of) purchase and (of) sale, the length of the road, (the expenses 
for) food and condiments, the charges of insuring the goods, let the King 
make the traders pay duty." VII. 127. Duties were remitted in the case 
of merchants who sold goods at a loss. Vide Arthasastra, Bk. II. The 
Sukraniti says : " The King should not realise any duties from a merchant 
who sells his goods at a price which is less than, or equal to, the cost of 
production ; but he may realise the duty from the buyer if he has made a 


The duties varied from one-tenth to one-twentieth. 1 
If it was a harmful commodity, a fine was imposed 
in addition to the usual duty. But goods which were 
calculated to be of special benefit to the community, 
such as valuable seeds, were allowed to enter toll-free, 
as also were articles required for marriage ceremonies 
and the worship of gods. In order that the duties 
might not be evaded, the sale of goods at the place 
of production was prohibited. 2 

The income from country places consisted of the 
produce of the State lands, a share of the produce of 
each plot of land cultivated by private individuals, 
minor taxes assessed on lands, tolls paid at the ferries, 
and road cesses. 

The mines formed a very important source of 
revenue to the State. The receipts from mines con- 
sisted of the yield of the State-mines and also a share 
of the produce of mines privately owned, whether 
the produce consisted of precious metals or of ordinary 
minerals. The nine kinds of income derived from 
mines were : (i) output of minerals, (ii) a share of 
the output, (iii) a duty of 5 per cent., (iv) assaying 
charges, (v) fines, (vi) tolls, (vii) compensations for 
the loss of the King's revenues, (viii) coining charges, 
and (ix) a premium of 8 per cent. 3 

1 Megasthenes also speaks of this duty of one-tenth. The Agni Purana, 
however, puts it at one- twentieth. 

2 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 22. The duties were collected either on the 
roads or at the market-places. Sukraniti, IV. 2. 

3 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 12. 


The receipts from public works were : fruits of 
trees, vegetables grown in the public gardens, the 
yield of fisheries, and so forth. The forest revenue 
was derived from the lease of forest lands for 
hunting, and for the sale of elephants and other 
animals. The income from pastures consisted in 
dues paid to the State for grazing cattle on public 
lands. The tolls payable on land-routes and 
water-ways formed another important source of 
State income. 

The other classification of the revenues given by 
Chanakya is also important. This we may slightly 
modify and put in modern form. The income of the 
State, according to this classification, would fall into 
two parts, namely, (1) tax-revenue and (2) non-tax- 
revenue. The first head would comprise (i) fixed 
taxes (pinda-kara), (ii) one-sixth share of the produce 
(shaclbhaga), (iii) supply of provisions for the army 
(sena-bhakta), (iv) religious taxes (bali), (v) tributes 
from subordinate rulers (kara), (vi) forced benevo- 
lences (utsanga), (vii) royalties (parsva), (viii) com- 
pensations (parihmika), (ix) presents (aupayanika), 
and rents of public buildings (kaushtheyaka). Under 
the second head fall (i) the agricultural produce of 
crown lands, (ii) sale proceeds of grains, (iii) grains 
obtained by special request, (iv) incidental gains from 
trade and commerce, (v) interest on capital, and (vi) 
profits of manufactures undertaken by the State. 
Besides these, there were certain minor sources of 


income, such as escheats, fines, confiscations, and 
forfeitures of the property of rebels. 1 

Taxes were paid either in cash or in kind, or partly 
in cash and partly in kind. Kautilya expresses 
himself strongly in favour of the collection of taxes 
in cash. Industrialists, Sudras, and all other persons 
who lived by their labour (karma- jivinah) gave their 
labour free to the State for one day in every month 
in lieu of taxes. 2 But no forced labour was exacted. 3 
Brahmanas were exempt from the payment of taxes 
on the ground that they paid taxes to the State in 
the shape of their religious services. 4 The other 
classes of persons who were exempt were women, 
minors, students, blind, deaf, dumb, and diseased 
persons, and those to whom the acquisition of pro- 
perty was forbidden. 5 

In times of financial stress, a ruler was held justified 
in raising money by means other than those laid 
down in the Sastras. For instance, he might demand 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 15. The Sukraniti treats of the various sources 
of income in Ch. II. sis. 335, etc. 

2 Vishnu (Jolly's Sanskrit text), Ch. III. So, Manu says : " Mechanics 
and artisans, as well as Sudras who subsist by manual labour, he may cause 
to work (for the State) one (day) in each month." VII. 138. 

3 Hiuen Tsiang says : " The families are not entered on registers, and 
the people are not subjected to forced labour." Buddhist Records, Bk. II. 
And again, " When the public services require it, labour is exacted but paid 
for. The payment is in strict proportion to the work done." Buddhist 
Records, Bk. II. 

4 It was, however, only the learned Brahmanas who were exempt. Those 
Brahmanas who were engaged in occupations proper to the inferior castes 
had to pay taxes. 

5 Apastamba, II. 10, 26, 14-17. Vasishtha, Vishnu, Manu, and Kautilya 
also express similar opinions. 


one-fourth or even one-third of the share of the 
produce of the soil, as well as a higher percentage of 
the other kinds of produce. The King's officers 
might also compel the people to grow additional 
crops in the interests of the public treasury. In 
case such measures failed to bring in enough money, 
the Collector-general asked the people for benevo- 
lences in view of the needs of the State, and those 
who offered handsome amounts received precedence 
in rank, robes of honour, and decorations. Religious 
institutions were also compelled to contribute to the 
funds of the State. On occasions of grave financial 
difficulty, various other devices were adopted, but, 
in order that these might not lead to trouble, Chanakya 
utters the voice of warning in these words : " Such 
expedients should be resorted to only once, and never 
more than once." l 

It should be noted that the land-tax was the most 
important of all the sources of the State revenue. 
The King, however, was never regarded as the owner 
of the land, and he never claimed a right to the 
unearned increment of the land. His claim was 
limited to a fixed share of the produce. 2 In later 

1 But Kautilya adds : " He should not make such demands of persons 
who cultivate soils of a middling or inferior quality, nor of those who are 
of great assistance to the State in the construction of forts, irrigation works, 
trade routes, colonisation of waste lands, exploitation of mines, preservation 
of forests, nor of border tribes, nor of those who had no means of subsistence." 
Bk. V. ch. 2. Also, Sukranlti, IV. 2, 10. 

2 The King's share of the produce of the land was regarded as his pay for 
the services he rendered to the State. Vide Bodhayana's Dharma-sutra, 
and cf . ante, Ch. VII. 


times, kings came to possess private landed pro- 
perties of their own, and the income derived from 
such crown lands, as Hiuen Tsiang observed, helped 
considerably to lighten the incidence of taxation on 
the people. 

The principles on which the tax-system was based 
were sound and reasonable. To use the language of 
modern Economics, ability and least sacrifice were 
the guiding principles of the framers of the financial 
regulations of ancient times. " The King," says the 
Mahabharata, " should act in such a way (in collecting 
his revenues) that his subjects should not feel the 
pressure of want." l Arbitrary exactions were strongly 
condemned by law-givers as well as by political 
teachers. Vasishtha, one of the early law-givers, for 
instance, says : " Let him not take property for his 
own use from (the inhabitants of) his realm." 2 
" Never desire to fill thy treasury by acting un- 
righteously or from covetousness " is the advice 
given in the Mahabharata to the King. And, again, 
the King is thus admonished in the Great Epic 
against indulging in exactions : :c That avaricious 
King who through folly oppresses his subjects by 
levying taxes not mentioned in the Sastras brings 
ruin upon himself." 3 Kautilya condemns the con- 
duct of over-zealous revenue officials in these words : 
" When an officer realises double the usual amount 

1 Santi Parva, Sec. 71, si. 13. 2 Vasishtha, X. 14. 

3 Cf. Apastamba, " Dharmyam sulkam avaharayet." II. 10, 26, 9. 


of revenue, he drinks the life-blood of the people. 
The King should prevent such exactions." 

These were the principles. In practice, while there 
were many rulers who followed a righteous and wise 
policy in their collection of taxes, there were others 
whose love of luxury and ostentation prompted them 
to fill their empty treasuries by despoiling their 
subjects. Under weak governments, royal officials 
often enriched themselves at the expense of both 
the State and the people. 

Public welfare was in theory at least the guiding 
principle in the expenditure of the public revenues. 
Kalidasa, the greatest of Indian poets, says : " Just 
as the Sun takes moisture from the earth to give it 
back a thousandfold, so the King gathers taxes from 
the people only to provide for their welfare." 1 

The main heads of expenditure, according to 
Kautilya, were : sacrifices, worship of ancestors, 
charity, expenses of the royal household, charges of 
the civil departments, expenses in connection with 
the maintenance of foreign missions, the expenses 
of the army and the army supply services, public 
works expenditure, and the expenses for the preser- 
vation of forests. 2 

The allocation of funds to the various items of 
expenditure depended upon the respective needs of 

1 " Prajanam eva bhutyartham sa tabhyo balim agrahit : Sahasragunam 
utsrastum adatte hi rasarh ravih." Raghuvamsa. 

8 Bk. II. ch. 6. 


the departments. In order to provide against con- 
tingencies, wise financiers of old always considered 
it prudent to budget for a surplus after meeting all 
expenditure. Some of them, perhaps, were over- 
cautious in this respect. The views of such financiers 
are expounded in the Sukraniti, according to which 
only one-half of the State revenue was to be spent for 
the six purposes of administration in the following 
proportions : (1) the salaries of headmen, one- 
twelfth ; (2) the army, three-twelfths ; (3) charities, 
one-twenty-fourth ; (4) expenses incurred for works 
of public utility, one-twenty-fourth ; (5) salaries of 
officials, one- twenty-fourth ; (6) personal expenses 
of the King and of the royal household, one-twenty- 
fourth. 1 According to the Sukraniti, there was to be 
enough money in the treasury to cover public expenses 
for twenty years. 2 

The prosperity of the State finances was regarded 
as a matter of the greatest importance, 3 and 
Kautilya's views in this regard seem to have been 
very sound. Circumstances which, in his opinion, 
tended to keep the treasury full were : prosperity of 
the people, rewarding of officers for meritorious work, 
punishment of thieves, prevention of corruption 
among government officers, abundance of crops, 

1 Sukraniti, Ch. I. sis. 316-317. 2 Sukraniti, IV. 2, 13. 

3 According to Kautilya, the best treasury is that " which is justly acquired 
by either inheritance or self-acquisition, which is full of gold, silver, pearls 
and gems of various kinds, which is capable of withstanding calamities for 
a long time." Bk. II. ch. 1. 


prosperity of commerce and trade, freedom from 
troubles and calamities, non-remission of taxes, and 
receipt of revenue in gold. Matters which led to 
the depletion of the treasury were the following : 
obstruction (to the realisation of revenue), giving of 
loans, litigation, falsification of accounts, loss of 
revenue, gains made by officials, adverse exchange, 
and defalcation. 

The control of the department of Public Finance 
was vested in two officials, namely, the Collector- 
general (Samaharta) and the Treasurer-general (San- 
nidhata). The former was in charge of the collection 
of the revenues, while the latter was the custodian 
of the finances and was responsible for their proper 
disbursement. It was the duty of the Collector- 
general to divide the country into several districts 
for revenue purposes, and to classify the villages, 
according as they (i) were exempt from the payment 
of taxes, (ii) supplied soldiers for the defence of the 
country in lieu of taxes, (iii) paid their taxes in 
gold, (iv) paid taxes in kind, that is to say, in 
grains, cattle, raw products, or dairy produce, or 
(v) supplied free labour. 2 The Treasurer-general, as 
the custodian of the funds of the State, was expected 
to acquaint himself with the income and expendi- 
ture of the State over the period of a century, so 
that he might be able to frame accurate budgets 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 7. 

2 Ibid. 


and to show a good balance at the end of each 

For the proper control and administration of the 
finances of the realm it was considered necessary to 
have a good system of keeping accounts, and this 
important department was placed under the control 
of one of the Chief Superintendents. It was the duty 
of this official so to arrange the business of his depart- 
ment that everything relating to the finances was 
entered in the books. He was required not only to 
show the net revenue that remained at the end of a 
year, but to cause to be entered in the books all 
details of expenditure, mentioning whether an item 
was incurred for a purpose, internal or external, 
public or private, important or unimportant. The 
account officers had also to enter in their books the 
names of departments ; the description of the work 
carried on and the results obtained in the several 
manufactories ; the amounts of profit, loss, expendi- 
ture, and interest of each factory ; the number of 
labourers engaged, and their wages ; the values of 
different kinds of gems, and of other commodities ; 
presents made to the King's officers and courtiers ; 
remissions of taxes granted ; allowances, pensions, 
and gifts of lands or money to the King's wife and 
children ; and receipts from or payments to foreign 
Kings. The annual accounts of every department 
were regularly submitted to the Accounts Depart- 
ment, and after they had been examined by the 


Superintendent they were audited by competent 
auditors. They were then submitted to the Ministers 
in charge of the different departments, and considered 
by them sitting together as a cabinet. 1 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 7. 



As we saw in a previous chapter, the normal state 
of affairs in India was for the country to be divided 
into a large number of Kingdoms and Principalities. 
The maintenance of foreign relations thus formed a 
very important department of the public activity of 
every State, and, naturally, foreign policy was regarded 
as an extremely useful art. 

Some of the more powerful monarchs, besides 
maintaining friendly relations with the rulers of the 
other parts of India, kept up friendly intercourse 
with the kings of countries outside India. Seleukos 
Nikator, for instance, sent Megasthenes as ambassador 
to the Court of Chandragupta, and Deimachos and 
Dionysios were attached to the Court of Bindusara 
Amitraghata as ambassadors from Antiochus Soter, 
King of Syria, and Ptolemy Philadelphos, King of 
Egypt. Asoka's edicts show that that great monarch 
maintained friendly relations not only with Ceylon 1 

1 In the Mahavamsa, Devanampiya Tissa is described as an " ally " of 
Asoka. There is no doubt that frequent communications took place 
between the two Bangs. Vide Mahavamsa, Ch. XI. 


and other neighbouring countries, but also with 
many kings of distant countries, such as Antiochos 
Theos of Syria, Ptolemy Philadelphos of Egypt, 
Antigonos Gonatas of Macedon, Magas of Gyrene, and 
Alexander II. of Epirus. The names of ambassadors 
mentioned above are, as Prof. Rapson points out, 
" no doubt typical of a class." It is in every way 
probable that constant relations were maintained 
between India and the west during the period of the 
Maurya Empire. 1 Kings of other parts of India also, 
besides Magadha, kept up more or less frequent com- 
munications with foreign kings. We know that so 
late as the seventh century A.D., Pulakesi, King of 
Maharashtra, had friendly relations with Khosru 
Parwiz, King of Persia, and Harshavardhana of 
Thanesvar maintained diplomatic relations with 

In order to determine the kind of policy to be 
adopted in each case, foreign rulers are classified by 
Kautilya under four heads, namely, enemies (Ari), 
friends (Mitra), mediators (Madhyama), and neutrals 
(Udasma). 2 Inimical and friendly rulers, again, are 
each divided into two kinds, natural and artificial. 
A king and his immediate neighbour are, according 
to Kautilya, natural enemies to each other. 3 A 

1 Rapson, Ancient India. 2 Arthasastra, Bk. VI. ch. 2. 

3 Abul Fazl, describing the Hindu system of public administration, says : 
" The Prince whose territory adjoins to his, although he may be friendly 
in appearance, yet ought not to be trusted ; he should always be prepared to 
oppose any sudden attack from that quarter. With him whose country 


king who attempts to give trouble to another without 
reasonable cause is an artificial enemy of that other. 
The ruler whose territory is separated from that of 
another ruler by the territory of an enemy, and whose 
friendship has come down from father and grand- 
father is a natural friend. 1 A ruler whose friendship 
is courted for the sake of the protection of life and 
property is an acquired friend. The ruler whose 
territory is situated close to that of a king and his 
fro-ward enemy, and who is capable of helping both 
the kings or of resisting either of them, is a mediatory 
king. The ruler whose territory is situated between 
the territories of two rival kings, and who is powerful 
enough to help or resist either of them or a mediatory 
king, is a neutral. 2 " The third and fifth States from 
a Madhyama," says Chanakya, " are likely to be 
friendly, and the second, fourth, and sixth States are 
likely to be inimical to him. If the Madhyama king 
be on good terms with both these classes of States, 
a ruler should be friendly with him ; otherwise he 
should ally himself with the second class of States." 3 

lies next beyond the one last mentioned, he should enter into alliance ; but 
no connection should be formed with those who are more remote." Ayeen- 
i-Akbery (Gladwin), p. 495. 

1 The best kind of friend, according to Kautilya, is he who is " constant, 
easy to be roused, noble, straightforward, and whose friendship has been 
inherited from father and grandfather." Arthasastra, Bk. VIII. ch. 9. 

2 The distinction between a neutral and a mediatory King is not at all clear. 
Perhaps, the term * Udasina ' (neutral) was applied to a King who remained 
passive in regard to both the contending parties, while the ' Madhyama * 
King was one who exerted his influence to bring about a reconciliation. 

8 Arthasastra, Bk. VII. ch. 18. 


The neighbouring kings belong to one or other of 
four classes, namely, rearward enemy (parshnigraha), 
rearward friend (akranda), ally of a rearward enemy 
(parshnigrahasara), and ally of a rearward friend 
(akrandasara). 1 

We read a great deal about Circles of States (man- 
dala) in the literature of Ancient India. A Circle 
consists of three kings, a ruler, his friend, and his 
friend's friend. As each of these kings is supposed 
to possess six elements of sovereignty, a Circle con- 
sists of eighteen elements. Foreign rulers being of 
four kinds, there are thus four primary Circles of 
States, twelve kings, sixty elements of sovereignty, 
and seventy- two elements of States. 2 A powerful 
and wise king would always try to make himself the 
centre (nabhi) of the Circle and to make the friendly 
powers the spokes of the wheel (nemi). 3 

The attitude of a ruler towards foreign rulers 
depended upon the special circumstances of each 
case. He was supposed to adopt one or other of six 
sorts of policy, namely, peace (sandhi), war (vigraha), 
neutrality (asana), preparedness for war (yana), alli- 
ance (samsraya), and double dealing (dvaidhibhava). 4 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. VI. ch. 2. Vide also Nitivakyamrita, Ch. 28, and 
Agni Purana, CCXXXIII. 

2 Arthasastra, Bk. VI. ch. 2. A State is supposed to have seven elements. 
See ante, Ch. VII., and Arthasastra. 

3 Arthasastra, Bk. VII. ch. 2. 

4 Ibid. Bk. VII. ch. 1. In the opinion of Vatavyadhi, foreign policy is 
only two-fold, namely, war and peace ; but Chanakya refuses to accept 
this view. 


In Chanakya's view expediency was to be the 
main consideration in foreign policy. " If a king,'' 
says Chanakya, " is weaker than his neighbour, 
he should adopt a peaceful policy ; but if he is 
superior in strength to his rival he should make 
war. 1 When neither of the two is the superior of 
the other, both should be neutral. When one king 
is endowed with an excess of quality, he should 
prepare for war ; but if he is powerless, he should 
make an alliance. If the circumstances be such that 
it is desirable to crush a rival, but this can only be 
done with the assistance of some other Power, then 
the king should adopt a policy of double-dealing." 2 

The measures that were to be adopted by kings to 
carry into effect their foreign policy were four, namely : 
(i) conciliation (sama) ; (ii) making of gifts (dana) ; 
(iii) sowing of dissensions (bheda) ; and (iv) punish- 
ment (danda). 3 

In view of the peculiar position of affairs in India 
in ancient times, alliances were regarded as a great 
necessity by most of the Powers. The purposes, 

1 That this policy actually governed the actions of statesmen for long ages 
is shown by the fact that Abul Fazl, writing in the sixteenth century, speaks 

Jof the foreign policy of the Hindus in the following terms : " With those 
princes who are his equals in power, he takes care to maintain peace and 
friendship, and from those who are weaker than himself he exacts tribute. 
If any monarch is more powerful than himself, he continually strives to 
sow dissension among his troops ; and if he is not able to do this, prudently 
purchases his friendship." Ayeen-i-Akbery (Gladwin), p. 495. 

2 Arthasastra, Bk. VII. ch. 1. 

3 Arthasastra. Vide also Nitivakyamrita (Ch. 28), the Sukranlti, and 


however, for which alliances were made were various. 
Sometimes, the object of an alliance was the joint 
acquisition of territory, or the colonisation of unin- 
habited tracts of country. More often, kings com- 
bined to crush a powerful rival. But in a large 
majority of cases, alliances were made for the purpose 
of defence against other Powers. 1 

Alliances were made either on equal terms (sama- 
sandhi) or on unequal terms (hmasandhi). The first 
kind was an alliance properly so called, because in 
this the positions of the two parties were equal, and 
the benefit was mutual. The second was a sub- 
ordinate alliance, and from it one of the parties often 
derived more benefit than the other. The duties of 
a subordinate ally, according to the Agni Purana, 
were to appease public feeling, to collect allies and 
auxiliaries, to help the paramount sovereign in other 
ways, and to enable him to distinguish friends from 
disguised enemies. 

From the Harshacharita 2 as well as from Hiuen 
Tsiang's account 3 we learn that the King of Kama- 
rupa entered into a sort of subordinate alliance with 
Harshavardhana of Kanauj . Fifteen different kinds of 
subordinate alliances are described in the Arthasastra. 4 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. VII. ch. 1. 

2 The Harshacharita gives a description of the alliance which the King of 
Kamarupa entered into with Harsha. Harsha is made to say : " Stout-armed 
himself, with me a devotee of the bow, for his friend, to whom save Siva 
need he pay homage ? " Ch. VII. 

3 Beal, Buddhist Records. 4 See post, Ch. XVI. 


Alliances were made by means of treaties. A 
treaty is defined by Chanakya as " that which binds 
kings in mutual faith." J The observance of a treaty 
either depended upon the plighted word (satya, 
sapatha) or was enforced by means of sureties (pra- 
tibhu) and hostages (pratigraha). Very often, the word 
of honour was held sufficient ; but sometimes ascetics 
and men who were considered powerful enough to 
influence the action of the government stood sureties 
for the fulfilment of treaty obligations. In case of 
an apprehension of a breach of faith, one party often 
required the other to swear by fire, water, gold, etc., 
and to send as hostages his relatives and children. 
According to the older teachers, a treaty made by 
word of honour was regarded as impermanent (cala), 
while that supported by sureties or hostages was con- 
sidered permanent (sthavara). But Chanakya dis- 
sents from this view and says : " A treaty dependent 
upon the plighted word is permanent, not only in 
this world, but also in the next, while a treaty depend- 
ing upon a hostage or a surety is good only for this 
world. Truthful kings of old made treaties only with 
the words ' we enter into agreement.' " 2 In spite 
of this theory, the maintenance of a treaty was 
often found very difficult, and when there was any 
deviation from the terms on the part of one of 
the parties, it taxed to the full the ingenuity 
and resourcefulness of the statesman, whether they 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. VII. ch. 17. 2 Ibid. Bk. VII. ch. 17. 


tried to restore the treaty or to break off friendly 

Communications were kept up between the Courts 
of the different Powers through diplomatic agents. 
Even as early as the time of the Rig- Veda, 1 we hear 
of envoys, but the practice of attaching diplomatic 
agents to foreign Courts could not have been estab- 
lished until much later times. There were various 
kinds of such agents, and their powers and responsi- 
bilities differed a great deal. Some were Plenipo- 
tentiaries (Nisrishtartha), some Ambassadors (Duta), 
some Charges-d' affaires (Parimitartha), while the rest 
were mere conveyors of royal messages (Sasana- 
hara). 2 Plenipotentiaries had power to demand the 
observance of treaties, to declare war or conclude 
peace, and to issue ultimatums in emergent cases. 3 
Krishna, for example, was a plenipotentiary when he 
was sent by the Pandavas to the Kuru Court with 
full powers just before the Great War. 4 The ambas- 
sadors kept their own governments fully informed 
of the activities of the Court to which they were 
attached. They lived on terms of friendship with 
the great Officers-of-State, and acquainted themselves 

1 Rig- Veda, II. 127, 9. 

2 Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch 16. The Agni Purana (Ch. 241), the Nltivakyam- 
rita (Ch. XIII.), and the Yukti-Kalpataru mention envoys of three kinds, 
nihsrishtartha, mitartha, and sasanaharaka. 

3 Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 16. " In urgent cases the ambassadors have 
to act like ministers." 

4 The Nitivakyamrita gives this illustration. Ch. XIII. 



with all the affairs of the country. In particular, 
they made it their business to ascertain the number, 
size, and positions of the forts and military stations, 
the strength of the army, and the strong and 
weak points of the State. 1 A Parimitartha was 
sent to a foreign court on a particular mission 
and possessed limited authority. The diplomatic 
agents of the inferior type took note of intrigues 
against the ruler, and supervised the work of the 
spies 2 engaged in collecting information. 

As the representative of a Foreign Power, an envoy 
enjoyed great privileges and immunities. A sort of 
sanctity was believed to attach to his person. The 
Nitivakyamrita says : " An envoy should never be 
killed, even if he is a Chandala, not to speak of a 
Brahmana." 3 The envoys were always courteously 
treated. In Bhasa's Pratima-Nataka, King Udayana 
is made to stand up when he receives a message 
from Mahasena Pradyota. As the responsibilities 
of an envoy were great, some care had to be taken 
in selecting the proper person. The Nitivakyamrita 
mentions the following qualifications as essential in 
an ambassador : " Loyalty to the King, freedom 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 16. 

2 The Agni Purana has a very low opinion of the work of an ambassador. 
" An ambassador is but an open spy, and a spy is but an envoy travelling 
in the enemy's country in the guise of a trader, a mendicant, or a strolling 
physician." CCXLI. si. 12. 

3 So also the Nltiprakasika says : " Even if an ambassador is guilty of a 
grievous wrong, he cannot be put to death." VII. 64. 


from vices, capacity, honesty, strength of char- 
acter, eloquence, brilliance, forgiveness, ability to 
divine other people's thoughts, and high birth." l 
Great stress used to be laid on the conduct of an 
ambassador at a foreign Court. He was expected to 
behave with dignity and courtesy, and to preserve 
the good name of the State which he represented. 
When on a mission to an enemy State it was the duty 
of the emissary to act with courage and resolution, 
and at the same time show moderation and tact. 2 

The maintenance of a balance of power was one 
of the problems in Foreign Politics which engaged 
the attention of the diplomats in ancient days. 
Chanakya insists that a monarch should always take 
care that none of the other Powers grow either too 
strong or become too weak. The Agni Purana says : 
" A King should always contemplate the balance of 
power among the twelve monarchs constituting the 
circle of foreign monarchs having dealings with his 
own government." 3 

1 Nitivakyamrita, Ch. 13. The Agni Parana says : " The ambassador 
sent to represent the King at a foreign court, should be a man of a very 
sharp intellect, sweet-voiced, possessing eloquence of speech, and well versed 
in the arts of diplomacy." Ch. CCXX. 

2 Arthasastra, Bk. I. ch. 16. 3 Ch. CCXL. si. 1. 




As wars were rather frequent in ancient days, each 
State in India found it necessary to maintain a large 
military force. 1 At the battle of the Hydaspes, which 
was fought between Alexander and Poros, the latter 
had with him a cavalry 4,000 strong, 300 chariots, 
200 elephants, and an efficient infantry force of 
30,000 soldiers. 2 The King of Magadha had about 
this time a large and powerful army consisting of 
600,000 foot-soldiers, 30,000 horses, and 8,000 
elephants. The Gangaridae (perhaps the people of 
Bengal) possessed 1,000 horse, 700 elephants, and 
60,000 foot-soldiers. Pliny further mentions, on the 
authority of Megasthenes, that the Andhra Kingdom 
had 100,000 foot-soldiers, 2,000 cavalry, and 1,000 
elephants, while Kalinga kept in arms 60,000 foot, 
10,000 horse, and 700 elephants, and the King of 
the Saurashtras maintained an army of 1,600 

1 Megasthenes says : " In fact no one invested with kingly power ever 
keeps on foot a military force without a very great number of elephants 
and foot and cavalry." Fragment LVI. B. 

2 Alexander's Invasion (McCrindle), p. 65. 


elephants, 150,000 foot, and 5,000 cavalry. 1 From 
Hiuen Tsiang we learn that when Harshavardhana 
ascended the throne of Kanauj, that Kingdom 
possessed an army of 5,000 elephants, 2,000 cavalry, 
and 50,000 foot-soldiers, and after Harshavardhana 
had succeeded in bringing the greater part of Northern 
India under his imperial sway, he found it necessary 
to increase his army to 60,000 war elephants and 
100,000 cavalry. 2 

The military organisation seems to have been very 
efficient. The army was divided into four sections, 
namely, infantry, cavalry, chariots, and elephants. 
The relative usefulness of the different sections de- 
pended upon the seasons and the nature of the opera- 
tions in which the army was engaged. Thus, accord- 
ing to the Mahabharata, an army in which chariots 
and horsemen predominated was regarded as very 
effective in battle in fine weather, while one which 
had a large number of foot-soldiers was held as better 
in the rainy season. 3 

Foot-soldiers were of various classes. Chanakya 
classified them as regulars (maula), hired soldiers 
(bhrita), those supplied by fighting corporations 
(sreni), those recruited from the enemies' country, 
those recruited from the country of an ally, and 

1 Megasthenes, Fragments LVI. and LVI. B. Megasthenes also mentions 
that the Pandyans had a cavalry 4,000 strong, and an army of 150,000 foot- 
soldiers and 500 elephants. LVI. 

2 Buddhist Records, Bk. V. 

Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Sec. 160, sis. 24, 25. 


lastly, those recruited from amongst wild tribes. 1 
The best army, in the opinion of Chanakya, is that 
which has come down from father and grandfather, 
which is constant, obedient, contented, not averse 
from making long sojourns, everywhere invincible and 
possessed of the power of endurance, which has 
received a training in all kinds of warfare and has 
fought in many battles, which is ready to follow the 
fortunes of the monarch whether in weal or in woe, 
and which consists mainly of Kshatriyas. 2 

The main body of the soldiers of the country was 
selected from the bravest of the people; and as 
sons followed the profession of their fathers, they 
soon became very proficient in the art of war. On 
the battle-field the hereditary soldiers were placed in 
front and in positions of importance, while the mer- 
cenary troops were usually stationed in the rear. 3 
The comparative values of mercenaries and thorough- 
bred soldiers are described in the Ajaniia-Jataka in 
these words : 

" No matter when or where, 
In weal or woe, 
The thorough-bred fights on ; 
The hack gives in." 4 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. IX. ch. 1. The Sukraniti divides soldiers into two 
classes, namely, maula (regulars) and sadyaska (recent recruits), and sub- 
divides each of these into various sub-classes. Ch. IV. sec. 7. 

2 Arthasastra, Bk. VI. ch. 1. 3 Hiuen Tsiang, Buddhist Records, Bk. II. 
* The Jataka (Cowell), I. 24. 

So the Sukraniti says : " The King should go to battle with his main 
army. Such an army never desires to forsake their master even at the 
point of death." IV. 7, 184. 



The cavalry formed a very important part of the 
army. Its great value lay in its quick movement, 
and it was regarded as specially useful for occupying 
advanced positions, for protecting the treasury and 
commissariat, for cutting ofl the enemy's supply, for 
delivering attacks against the enemy's forces, and for 
pursuing a retreating foe. 1 A large cavalry force was 
held essential in order to keep an extensive kingdom 
under control, and we know that Chandragupta's 
military strength depended very largely upon the 
superiority of his cavalry. 

Chariots were of various kinds. They were of 
special use in protecting the army against the enemy's 
attacks, seizing the enemy's positions and breaking 
the compact array of the enemy's army. 2 

Elephants were regarded as very useful in warfare. 
The destruction of the enemy's army was believed 
mainly to depend upon elephants. 3 Megasthenes 
speaks of the Gangaridae as a nation which possessed 
a vast force of the largest sized elephants, and re- 
marks : " Owing to this, their country has never 
been conquered by any foreign King ; for all other 
nations dread the overwhelming number and strength 
of these animals." 4 Even as late as the seventh 
century A.D., we are told by Hiuen Tsiang that the 
defeat of Harshavardhana at the hands of Pulakesi, 
King of Maharashtra, was due to the fact that the 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. X. ch. 4. 
8 Arthasastra, Bk. VII. ch. 11. 


4 Fragment I. 


latter possessed a large number of savage elephants. 1 
But they were sometimes more a hindrance than a 
help, as was found in the battle of the Hydaspes, 
where, maddened by the wounds received from the 
enemy's missiles, they " attacked friend and foe 
indiscriminately, pushed them, trampled them down, 
and killed them in all manner of ways," and, being 
at last spent with wounds, " spread havoc among 
their own ranks." 2 

Some of the more powerful rulers had, besides the 
four-fold armies, naval departments. Megasthenes 
mentions the naval department as one of the six 
military departments of the State, and Chanakya 
speaks of warships which were to be under the control 
of the Superintendent of Navigation. According to 
Hiuen Tsiang, the King of Assam possessed a fleet 
of 30,000 ships. 

Each section of the army was divided into various 
divisions, which were named Patti, Senamukha, 
Gulma, Gana, Vahini, Pratna, Chamu, Anlkini, and 
Akshauhim. These would correspond roughly with 
the modern divisions of the army, such as sections, 
platoons, brigades, companies, battalions, regiments, 
divisions, and army corps. It is said that in the 

1 Life of Hiuen Tsiang, Bk. IV. In this book we are further told : " When 
these (elephants) are drawn up in battle array, they give them intoxicating 
spirits to drink, till they are overpowered with it, and then at a given signal, 
when in this condition, they excite them to rush against the enemy. The 
foes are thus without fail put to flight." Bk. IV. 

2 Alexander's Invasion (McCrindle), p. 106. 


Mahabharata War eighteen Akshauhinis, or army 
corps, were engaged in battle. This is an enormous 
number, making a total of 3,936,600 in the whole 
of the forces engaged, and is doubtless a great 

Besides the fighting forces, there were the transport 
and supply services. According to the Sukraniti, the 
smallest unit of the army (including the transport and 
supply services) was to consist of 300 foot-soldiers, 
80 horses, 1 chariot, 2 cannons (brihannalika), 10 
camels, 2 elephants, 2 carts, and 16 bulls. 1 The 
Sukraniti considers it desirable to have the infantry 
four times the cavalry ; bulls, one-fifth of the horse, 
and camels, one-eighth ; elephants, one-fourth of the 
camels ; chariots, half of elephants ; and cannons, 
twice the number of chariots. The various divisions 
of the army were commanded by officers (bala- 
mukhyah) whose ranks depended upon the number 
of soldiers serving under them. 2 

The different regiments were designated by dis- 
tinguishing flags and badges. They had also different 
kinds of trumpets, kettle-drums, and conch-shells. 3 
Signalling was a very important part of the army 
organisation, and communications were made by 
means of homing pigeons and various other devices. 
The different divisions of the army were given a 

1 IV. 7, 22-23. 8 IV. 7, 21. 

3 " Turya-dhvaja-patakabhir vyuha-samjnah prakalpayet." Arthasastra, 
Bk. II. ch. 33. 


regular training in the art of war. In times of peace 
they had their daily exercises, at which the King 
sometimes used to be present. 

The Commander-in-Chief (Pradhana Senapati) was 
the head of the military department of the State. 
Usually he was a man well trained in all the arts of 
warfare, and familiar with use of all kinds of weapons. 
It was his duty to attend to the training and efficient 
organisation of the army and the enforcement of 
proper discipline among the soldiers. The Harsha- 
charita gives a poetic description of the appearance 
and character of the Commander-in-Chief of the 
Kingdom of Sthanvesvara from which we make the 
following extract : "... a man foremost in every 
fight, in person yellow as the hill of orpiment, stately 
as a great full-grown Sal tree's stem, and tall as if 
ripened by valour's exceeding heat ... So stubborn 
was his frame that even old age laid but a trembling 
hand, timidly as it were, upon his stiff hair. He 
seemed while still alive to have been born anew into 
a lion's nature ... In spite of age his broad chest 
was rough with great gashes of wounds . . . and all 
across it ran in lines the writings of many great scars 
graven by the axe-edge of sharp swords, as though 
he were making a calculation of the hour of victory 
in every battle." * 

Under the Commander-in-Chief were the Chief 
Commandants (adhyakshah) of the four great divisions, 

1 Harshacharita, Ch. VI. (Cowell and Thomas). 


namely, the infantry, the cavalry, the elephant force, 
and the chariots. Subordinate to the Chief Com- 
mandants were other officers of various grades. 
According to Chanakya, for every ten units of each 
of the constituents of the army, there was to be an 
officer called Padika, ten Padikas were to be under 
a Senapati (commander), and ten Senapatis under a 
Nayaka (general). 1 The Sukraniti also mentions such 
officers as Satanikas (officers commanding one hundred 
soldiers) and Sahasrikas (officers commanding one 
thousand soldiers). 

The direction of military affairs was, at the time 
of Megasthenes's visit, in the hands of a governing 
body of thirty members. This body was grouped 
into six committees of five members each, they being 
in charge of the four divisions of the army, and the 
commissariat and the naval department. " One 
division is appointed," says Strabo, " to co-operate 
with the admiral of the fleet, another with the super- 
intendent of the bullock-trains which are used in 
transporting engines of war, food for the soldiers, 
provender for the cattle, and other military requisites. 
They supply servants who beat the drum, and others 
who carry gongs ; grooms also for the horses, and 
mechanists and their assistants. To the sound of 
the gong they send out foragers to bring in grass, 
and by a system of rewards and punishments ensure 
the work being done with despatch and safety. The 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. X. ch. 6. 


third division has charge of the foot-soldiers, the 
fourth of the horses, the fifth of the war chariots, 
and the sixth of the elephants. There are royal 
stables for the horses and elephants, and also a royal 
magazine for the arms, because the soldier has to 
return his arms to the magazine, and his horse and 
elephant to the stables ... In addition to the 
charioteer there are two fighting men who sit up in 
the chariot beside him. The war-elephant carries 
four men three who shoot arrows, and the driver." * 
Various kinds of weapons were used in the ancient 
times for offensive and defensive purposes. In the 
Eig-Veda we read of bows, arrows, armours, and 
coats-of-mail. 2 Chanakya classifies weapons as im- 
movable machines (sthita-yantra), movable machines 
(chala-yantra), bows, arrows, swords, weapons with 
pointed edges like ploughshares, and miscellaneous 
weapons. 3 Each of these classes is again subdivided 
into many kinds. In the Mahabharata we find 
mention of many kinds of weapons, of which those 
most often used were the mace, the battle-axe, the 

1 Megasthenes, Fragment XXIV. 

1 " Little is known of Vedic warfare, but it seems to have been simple. 
A body of foot-soldiers with charioteers composed every army, the two 
going together, and the foot-soldiers being often overthrown by the 
charioteers, who were doubtless the Kshatriyas and their foremost retainers. 
Probably the foot-soldiers bore little armour, and used only the bow for 
offence . . . The nobles, on the other hand, may have had cuirass (varman), 
helmet (sipra), and hand-guard (hastaghna). On the car was the charioteer, 
and on his left the warrior . . . The offensive weapon was practically the 
bow ; spear and sword and axe were seldom used." Vedic Index, II. p. 417. 

3 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 28. 


discus, the bow, the arrow, and the vajra (thunder- 
bolt). The Agni Purana 1 arranges weapons in five 
classes, namely, (i) those thrown by machines (yantra- 
mukta), (ii) those thrown by the hand (pani-mukta), 
(iii) those thrown and drawn back (mukta-sandhrita), 
(iv) those not thrown (amukta), and (v) weapons 
used in hand-to-hand fights (bahu-yuddha). The 
Sukraniti mentions the following chief weapons : isu 
(arrow), gada (mace), pattisa, ekadhara, kshura- 
pranta, khadga, chakra, supasaka, and karaja. 2 
From the Nitiprakasika, 3 we get a full list of the 
instruments used in warfare. 

I. Mukta (which are thrown) : dhanu (bow), isu 
(arrow), bhindipala, sakti (spear), drughana (hatchet), 
tomara (tomahawk), nalika (musket), laguda (light 
club), pasa (lasso), chakra (discus), danta-kantaka 
(tooth-thorn), masundi (octagon-headed club). 

II. Amukta (which are not thrown) : vajra (thun- 
derbolt), ill (hand-sword), parasu (axe), gosira (cow- 
horn spear), asidhenu (stiletto), lavitra (scythe), 
astara (scatterer), kunta (lance), sthuna (anvil), 
prasa (spear), pinaka or trisula (trident), gada (heavy 
club), mudgara (hammer), sira (ploughshare), musala 
(pestle), pattisa (battle-axe), maushtika (dagger), ma- 
yukhi (pole), sataghm (hundred-killer), and 44 other 

1 Agni Purana, Ch. 148, 2. Ch. IV. sec. 7. 

3 Although the Nitiprakasika is a comparatively modern book, it is based 
on older works, and most of the instruments mentioned in it were probably 
in use from early times. 


III. Mantra-mukta (thrown by mantras or spells). 

These were mythical weapons, and were supposed 
to be so powerful that nothing could frustrate them. 
These were : Vislmu-chakra (discus of Vishnu), vajrastra 
(thunderbolt), Brahmastra (missile of Brahma), Kala- 
prasaka (noose of death), Narayanastra (missile of 
Narayana), and Pasupatastra (missile of Siva). 1 

The chief defensive weapons consisted of shields 
and bucklers. Warriors were also clad in armour 
made of iron or skin. 2 The Greek writers tell us that 
Poros's person was rendered shot-proof by his coat- 
of-mail which was " remarkable for its strength and 
the closeness with which it fitted his person." 3 All 
instruments of war were kept in the armoury, stamped 
with the royal seal, and could not be moved except 
under sealed orders. 4 

The question whether the use of fire-arms was 
known in India in ancient times has not yet been 
settled. There are a few terms to be found in the 
Ramayana and the Mahabharata, such as ' vajra/ 
' nalika,' and ' agneyastra,' which may be interpreted 
as pointing to the use of fire-arms. Chanakya gives 
recipes for the preparation of inflammable powders 
(agni-dharana and agni-yoga) which were to be hurled 
against the enemy. 5 The Sukraniti treats of the 

1 Ch. II. 2 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 18. 

3 Alexander's Invasion (McCrindle), p. 108. 
* Arthasastra, Bk. V. ch. 2. 

5 " Small balls prepared from the mixture of sarala (pinus longifolia), deva- 
daru (deodar), putitrina (stinking grass), guggula (bdellium), sriveshtaka 


preparation of gun-powder, and also of the use of 
cannons and muskets, but these passages are evidently 
a later addition. The Nitiprakasika, which is doubt- 
less a recent work, mentions burning and explosive 
oil, and injurious and irritating compounds which 
were thrown at the enemy. From these and other 
similar passages Mr. Gustav Oppert concludes that 
gunpowder was first invented in India, and that 
fire-arms were used by Indians long before they were 
known in any other country. We do not find, how- 
ever, any mention of fire-arms in the writings of 
foreign travellers, and in the absence of fuller proof 
the question must be regarded as unsettled. 

Of the equipment of the soldiers at the time of 
Alexander's invasion Arrian says : " The foot-soldiers 
carry a bow made of equal length with the man who 
bears it. This they rest upon the ground, and press- 
ing against it with their left foot, thus discharge the 
arrow, having drawn the string far backwards ; for 
the shaft they use is little short of being three yards 
long, and there is nothing which can resist an Indian 

(turpentine), the juice of saraja (vatica robusta), and laksha (lac) combined 
with dungs of an ass, camel, sheep and goat are inflammable (agnidharana, 
i.e. such as keep fire). The mixture of the powder of priyala (chironjia 
sapida), the charcoal of valguja (canyza, serratula, anthelmintea), madhu- 
chchhishta (wax), and the dung of a horse, ass, camel, and cow is an inflamm- 
able powder to be hurled against the enemy. The powder of all the metals 
as red as fire, or the mixture of the powder of kumbh (gemelia arborea), 
slsa (lead), trapu (zinc), mixed with the charcoal powder of the flowers of 
paribhadraka (deodar), palasa (butea frondosa), and hair and with oil, 
wax, and turpentine, is also an inflammable powder." Arthasastra, Bk. 
XIII. ch. 4 (Shama Shastri's trans.). 


archer's shot, neither shield nor breast-plate, nor any 
stronger defence, if such there be. In their left hand 
they carry bucklers made of undressed ox-hide, which 
are not so broad as those who carry them, but are 
about as long. Some are equipped with javelins 
instead of bows, but wear a sword which is broad in 
the blade, but not longer than three cubits ; and 
this when they engage in close fight (which they do 
with reluctance), they wield with both hands to fetch 
down a lustier blow. The horsemen are equipped 
with two lances like the lances called saunia, and 
with a shorter buckler than that carried by foot- 
soldiers." l 

Hiuen Tsiang, writing in the seventh century, 
describes in the following words the weapons used 
and the method of fighting adopted by each of the 
four divisions of the army. :< The elephants are 
covered with strong armour, and their tusks are 
provided with sharp spurs. A leader in a car gives 
the command, whilst two attendants on the right 
and left drive his chariot, which is drawn by four 
horses abreast. The general of the soldiers remains 
in his chariot, he is surrounded by a file of guards, 
who keep close to his chariot wheels. 

' The cavalry spread themselves in front to resist 
an attack, and in case of defeat they carry orders 
hither and thither. The infantry by their quick 
movements contribute to the defence. These men 

1 Arrian (McCrindle), XVI. 


are chosen for their courage and strength. They 
carry a long spear and a great shield ; sometimes 
they hold a sword or sabre, advance to the front with 
impetuosity. All their weapons are sharp and 
pointed. Some of them are these spears, shields, 
bows, arrows, swords, sabres, battle-axes, lances, 
halberds, long javelins, and various kinds of slings. 
All these they have used for ages." 1 

Before the commencement of a battle it was 
thought necessary to select a proper site for pitching 
camps. According to the Mahabharata, a region 
lying near the woods was to be regarded as suited 
for encampment. " In choosing the field of battle," 
says the Mahabharata, " men conversant with war 
approve of a region that is not miry, not watery, not 
uneven, not abounding with bricks and stones, as 
well suited to the operations of cavalry ; a field that 
is free from mire and holes is fit for car-warriors ; a 
region that is overgrown with bushes and trees and 
is under water is fitted for elephant warriors ; and 
a ground that contains many inaccessible spots, and 
has large trees and topes of cane bushes, as also a 
mountainous or woody tract, is well fitted for the 
operations of infantry." 2 Chanakya also enters into 
a similar discussion of the suitability of a field, but 
gives the general advice : " The conqueror should 
choose such a place as may be suitable for the 

1 Buddhist Records (Beal), Bk. II. 

2 Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Sec. 100, sis. 21-23. 



manoeuvre of his army and (at the same time) incon- 
venient for that of his enemy." l 

Sometimes it was necessary to occupy particular 
positions for a considerable length of time. On such 
occasions, a more permanent sort of camp was con- 
structed. With regard to such a camp, Chanakya 
says : " On a site well-suited for the construction of 
buildings, the general, the carpenters, and the astro- 
logers should measure a circular, rectangular, or 
square plot of land (according to the shape of the 
available land) for the camp which should contain 
four gates, six roads, and nine divisions, and should 
be provided with ditches, parapets, walls, means of 
exit, watch towers, temporary residence of the King, 
etc." 2 

Much care, evidently, was bestowed on the arrange- 
ment of troops in battle. Veterans and soldiers noted 
for their strength and courage were stationed in the 
van and in positions of danger, while the weaker 
combatants formed the rear of the army. 3 Various 
kinds of array are described in the Mahabharata. 
In the Great War, the Pandavas drew up their armies 
in different kinds of array on different days. The 
most important form adopted by the Kauravas was 
a Maze (chakra-vyuha), the object of which was 

1 Mahabharata, Bk. IX. ch. 1. Vide also Sukraniti, Ch. IV. sec. 7. 

2 Arthasastra, Bk. V. ch. 2. 

3 Sukraniti, Ch. IV. sec. 7. The Nltiprakasika says : " The strength of 
the army should be concentrated at the point where there is any danger 
from the enemy." VII. 53. 


especially to protect the great heroes in the centre. 1 
Chanakya mentions the danda, bhoga, mandala, and 
asamhata as the four principal kinds of array. Each 
of these, again, has several varieties, which he de- 
scribes thus : " The arrangement of the army in 
transverse sections is called a danda (staff) array. 
An array in which the lines (of troops) follow one 
another is called a bhoga (snake). Stationing the 
army so as to face all directions is called a mandala 
(circle) array. An arrangement of the army in 
separate and detached portions is called an asamhata 
(detached) array. A danda array is of equal strength 
on its wings, flanks, and front. This array is called 
pradara (breaking the enemy's array) when its flanks 
are made to project in front. It is known as dridhaka 
(firm) when its wings and flanks are stretched back. 
It is called asahya (irresistible) when its wings are 
lengthened. When, after the formation of the wings, 
the front is made to bulge out, it is called a syena 
(eagle) array. These four varieties are called chapa 
(a bow), chapa-kukshi (the centre of a bow), pra- 
tishtha (a hold), and supratishtha (stronghold) respec- 
tively when they are arranged in the reverse orders. 

" That array in which the wings are arranged like 
a bow is called a sanjaya (victory). The same with 
a projected front is called vijaya (victory). The 

1 In the Journal of India Art and Industry (ed. by Col. T. H. Hendley), 
Vol. VII., a picture of the Maze has been reproduced from the Razmnamah 
(temp. Akbar). 


array which has its flanks and wings thick is called 
sthulakarna (big ear) ; the array with its front made 
twice as strong as the vijaya is called visala-vijaya 
(great victory) ; that which has its wings stretched 
forward is called chamu-mukha (face of an army) ; 
and the same is called jhashasya (face of a fish) when 
it is arrayed in the reverse form. That variety of 
danda array in which one (constituent of the army) 
is made to stand higher than the others is called the 
suchi (needle). When this array consists of two such 
lines, it is called valaya (aggregate), and when of four 
lines, durjaya (invincible). These are the varieties 
of the danda array. 

" That variety of the bhoga array in which the 
wings, flanks, and front are of unequal depth is called 
sarpasari (which has a serpentine movement), or 
gomutrika. When it consists of two lines in front 
and has its wings arranged in a danda array, it is 
called a sakata (cart) ; the reverse of this is called 
makara (crocodile) ; the sakata array which consists 
of elephants, horses, and chariots is called varipatan- 
taka (water-fall). These are the varieties of the 
bhoga array. 

" That variety of mandala array in which the 
distinction of wings, flanks, and front is lost is called 
sarvatomukha (facing all directions) or sarvatobhadra 
(all auspicious), ashtamka (consisting of eight divi- 
sions), or durjaya (invincible). These are the varieties 
of the mandala array. 


c The arrangement in which the wings, flanks, and 
front are stationed separate from one another is called 
an asamhata (detached) array. When five divisions 
of the array are arranged in detached order, it is 
called vajra (diamond) or godha (alligator) ; when 
four divisions, it is called udyanaka (park) or kakapadi 
(crow's foot) ; when three divisions, it is called 
ardhachandrika (half-moon) or karkataka-sringi (the 
horn of a crab). These are the varieties of the asam- 
hata array. 

' The array in which chariots form the front, 
elephants the wings, and horses the rear is called 
arishta (desirable) ; that in which infantry, cavalry, 
chariots, and elephants stand one behind the other 
is called acala (immovable) ; that in which elephants, 
horses, chariots, and infantry stand in order, one 
behind the other, is known as apratihata (irre- 
sistible)." x 

The method of attacking the enemy, when both the 
armies have been arranged in battle order is, accord- 
ing to Chanakya, this : " He (i.e. Commander-in- 
Chief) should assail the pradara by means of the 
dridhaka ; the dridhaka by means of the asahya ; 
the syena by means of the chapa ; a pratishtha by 
means of a supratishtha ; sanjaya by means of a 
vijaya ; sthulakarna by means of a visalavijaya, 
varipatantaka by means of sarvatobhadra. He may 
assail all kinds of arrays by means of the durjaya. 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. X. ch. 6. 


Of the infantry, cavalry, chariots, and the elephants, 
the Commander-in-Chief should strike the one pre- 
viously mentioned by means of that which follows 
it. He should attack a small contingent with a large 


Poros's distribution of the army at the battle of 
the Hydaspes, as described by Greek writers, is very 
interesting in this connection. Poros distributed his 
cavalry on the wings, and placed his elephants in 
his front line at equi-distances, so arranged as to 
strike the enemy with terror. In the intervals 
between the animals he stationed the rest of his 
soldiers, instructing them to succour the elephants 
and protect them from being assailed in flank by 
the enemy's missiles. The whole disposition of the 
army gave it very much the appearance of a city 
the elephants as they stood resembling its towers, 
and the men-at-arms placed between them resembling 
the lines of wall intervening between tower and 
tower. 2 

Trench (khataka) warfare and mining (khanaka) 
were known in ancient times. Chanakya praises 
these kinds of fighting, because under these systems 
the soldiers are in a very favourable position. An- 
other method was that of fighting from heights 
(akasayuddha). 3 The system of siege- warfare was 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. X. ch. 6. 

2 Vide Alexander's Invasion (McCrindle) and V. A. Smith's Early History 
of India. 

3 Arthasastra, Bk. VII. ch. 10. 




also practised in Ancient India. Chanakya describes 
in detail the suitable time for commencing a siege, 
and for storming a besieged place. 

Forts began to be constructed in India from very 
early times. Even the pre- Aryan races of India had 
forts. In Hymn 20, Bk. II. of the Eig-Veda we read 
the following : 

" When in his arms they laid the bolt, 
He slaughtered the Dasyus and cast down their forts of 
iron." ! 

And again in Hymn 12, Bk. III. : 

" Indra and Agni have cast down the ninety forts which 

Dasas held, 
Together with one mighty deed." 2 

The Vishnu Smriti 3 mentions forts of many kinds. 
Manu points out the necessity for possessing forts in 
the following passage : " One bowman placed on a 
rampart is a match in battle for one hundred (foes), 
one hundred for ten thousand ; hence it is prescribed 
(in the Sastras that a King shall possess) a fortress." 4 
He mentions desert-forts, forts built of stone and 
earth, forts protected by water or trees, forts pro- 
tected by armed men, and hill-forts, of which hill- 

1 Rig- Veda (Griffith's trans.). 2 Rig- Veda (Griffith's trans.). 

3 Vishnu Smriti (Jolly's Sanskrit text), Ch. 3. 

" Dhanva-nr-mahi-vrksa-giri-durgani." The Agni Purana and the 
Sukranlti also mention these kinds of forts. The Manasara mentions 
' sivira,' ' vahimmukha,' ' sthaniya,' ' dronaka,' ' samsiddhi,' ' kolaka,' 
' nigama,' ' skandhavara,' as the eight varieties of forts. Ch. XI. 

4 Manu, VII. 74. 


forts are the best. The Mahabharata also mentions 
various kinds of forts, and offers the King the follow- 
ing advice in regard to the arrangements of the 
fortress : " When the King takes refuge in a fortress 
against a powerful invader, he should raise outer 
ramparts round his forts, fill the trenches with water, 
driving pointed stakes at the bottom and filling them 
with crocodiles and sharks. Over all the gates he 
should place destructive engines. He should store 
food, fuel, and all other requisites, and ensure the 
supply of water by constructing wells. He should 
construct depots, arsenals, camps, and quarters for 
soldiers, stabling for horses and elephants, supply 
himself with wealth, and collect stores of all sorts, 
such as food, oil, fat, honey, clarified butter, medi- 
cines, grass, arrows, fuel, swords, lances, fruits, 
etc." i 

According to Chanakya, forts were to be con- 
structed in all the four quarters of the territory of 
the State. There were to be island forts, forts in 
the plains, forts in low-lying places, forts protected 
by water, forts built of stone, cave-forts, hill-forts, 
desert forts, and forts constructed in forests. A 
Sthaniya fort was to be built in the centre of eight 
hundred villages, a Dronamukha, of four hundred, 
a Kharvatika, of two hundred, and a Sangrahana, 
of ten. 2 In the opinion of Sukracharya, forts were 

1 Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Sec. 69, sis. 33-41. 

2 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 1. 


to be constructed in accordance with a definite 
system so that each might be helpful to the others 
in case of need. 

Some of these forts were very strong. Alexander 
the Great found the greatest difficulty in capturing 
some of the forts of the Punjab and Sindh. 1 Of the 
fortifications of Mazaga, the chief fort of the Kshu- 
drakas, Curtius says : " An army of 38,000 infantry 
defended the city, which was strongly fortified both 
by nature and art. For on the east an impetuous 
mountain stream with steep banks on both sides 
barred approach to the city, while to the south and 
west, nature, as if designing to form a rampart, had 
piled up gigantic rocks, at the base of which lay 
sloughs and yawning chasms hollowed in the course 
of ages to vast depths, while a ditch of mighty labour 
drawn from their extremity continued the line of 
defence. The city was, besides, surrounded by a 
wall 35 stadia in circumference, which had a basis of 
stonework supporting a superstructure of unburnt, 
sun-dried bricks. The brickwork was bound into a 
solid fabric by means of stones." 2 

Kecent excavations in Mandor have brought to 
light the remains of the old hill-fort, Mandavya-durga, 
built about the sixth century A.D. These remains 
give us some idea of the structure of a hill-fort of 

1 The chief stronghold of the Malloi (Malavas) was captured by Alexander 
only by showing a desperate personal courage and after he had been dan- 
gerously wounded. 

2 Alexander's Invasion (McCrindle), p. 195. 


ancient times. The walls rise to a considerable 
height. They were constructed of massive blocks of 
stone, their width averaging some 24 or 25 feet, and 
originally they were further strengthened and pro- 
tected by bastions on the outside, of which several 
are still preserved on the north and west sides. Along 
the curtain of the walls these bastions are either 
square or rectangular in plan ; but the one at the 
north-west angle is circular, and it is possible that 
those at the other three corners were of the same 
form. The gateways are hidden under the fallen 
debris, but can be recognised. The main approach 
to the castle as well as to the city is a broad paved 
causeway, which ascends the plateau from the plains 
and runs alongside the moat. 1 

1 Vide Archaeological Survey of India, 1909-10. 


WHEN the Aryas, after their settlement in the Punjab, 
began to spread themselves in different directions, 
every step of their advance was opposed by the 
non- Aryan tribes. The Rig- Veda is replete with 
allusions to these conflicts between Aryas and Dasyus. 
Hymn VIII, Mandala I. of the Rig- Veda, for instance, 
runs thus : 

" India, bring wealth that gives delight, the victor's ever- 
conquering wealth, 

Most excellent to our aid ; 

By means of which we may repel our foes in battle hand to 

By thee assisted with the car. 

Aided by thee, the thunder-armed, may we lift up the bolt, 

And conquer all our foes in fight. 

And thee, Indra, for ally with missile-darting heroes, may 

We conquer our embattled foes." 1 

Again, in Hymn 11, Mandala II., we read : 

" Hero, assume the might wherewith thou clavest Vritra 
piecemeal, the Danava Aurnavabha, 

1 Kig Veda (Griffith's trans.). 


Thou hast disclosed the light to light the Arya ; on thy left, 

Indra, sank the Dasyu, 
May we gain wealth, subduing with thy succour and with 

the Arya, all our foes, the Dasyus." 1 

In the heroic age of Indian history of which accounts 
are preserved in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, 
the fame of a great warrior was much coveted by 
powerful monarchs, and their ambition was to be 
acknowledged paramount sovereign by the neigh- 
bouring rulers. Jarasandha, King of Magadha, is 
described in the Mahabharata as having, with the 
assistance of Sisupala, King of Chedi, who acted as 
his generalissimo, subjugated almost all the Kings 
of Middle India. He was a wicked man, and so when 
he was preparing to declare himself Emperor, the 
Pandavas were persuaded by the other Kings to 
declare war against him in which Jarasandha was 
killed. 2 Then King Yudhishthira's brothers set out, 
each at the head of a large army, on a Digvijaya, or 
conquest of the four quarters. They succeeded in 
defeating all the brave monarchs of Northern India, 
and compelled them to acknowledge Yudhishthira as 
their paramount sovereign and to pay tribute to him. 
But the acquisition of territory was not that great 
King's object. As the poet Bana Bhatta puts it : 

1 Rig Veda (Griffith's trans.). In the Mahabharata we come across the 
following passage : " War was invented by Indra for the destruction of 
Dasyus, and bows, weapons, and armour were created for the same purpose. 
Therefore, merit is acquired by the destruction of Dasyus." Udyoga Parva, 
Sec. 29, sis. 30-31. 

2 Mahabharata, Sabha Parva, Sec. XV. 


" Not too ambitious, surely, of conquest were the 
ancients, seeing that in a small part of the earth 
there were numerous monarchs, such as Bhagadatta, 
Dantavakra, Kratha, Kama, Kaurava, Sisupala, 
Salva, Jarasandha, and Sindhuraja. King Yudhis- 
thira was easily content, since he endured quite near 
at hand the Kingdom of the Kimpurushas, when 
the conquests of Dhananjaya had made the earth to 
shake." * 

Although righteous warfare was supported and even 
extolled in olden times, the ancient teachers did not 
regard war in general as a profitable business. They 
seem to have clearly realised the fact that war inflicts 
heavy losses on both parties, and that even the 
victorious party does not derive much advantage 
from it. So the Mahabharata advises Kings not to 
engage in wars until all peaceful means of settling 
disputes have failed. 2 In spite of such advice, how- 
ever, aggressive wars became gradually more and 
more frequent. Thus we find Manu offering the King 
a different sort of advice : " When," says Manu, " he 
is thus engaged in conquest, let him subdue all the 
opponents whom he may find by the (four) expedients, 
conciliation and the rest. If they cannot be stopped 
by the first three expedients, then let him, overcoming 

1 Harshacharita, Ch. VII. The translation given here is that of Cowell 
and Thomas. 

2 " Santvena tu pradanena bhedena ca naradhipa 

Yam artham saknuyat praptum tena tusyeta panditah." 
Santi Parva, Sec. 69, si. 24. 


them by force alone, gradually bring them to sub- 
jection." 1 

Chanakya was the great champion of a universal 
monarchy in India, and as such he regarded the 
acquisition of territory by means of conquest as a 
very desirable object. " A conqueror, well versed in 
the science of Politics," says Chanakya, " who 
acquires territory from enemies gains superiority " ; 
and in his opinion any ruler who opposes such an 
attempt was to be crushed, whatever might be the 
cost of the undertaking. 2 

Chanakya's disciple, Chandragupta, was the first 
great conqueror of historical times who subdued all 
the countries of Northern India. His son and grand- 
son were also renowned for their conquering arms. 
Asoka, however, repented of his sins after the con- 
quest of Kalinga, and turned his eyes to conquests 
of a different kind. In the fourth century A.D. we 
hear of the achievements of Samudragupta, who has 
been called by a well-known historian " the Indian 
Napoleon." The Allahabad inscription speaks of him 
as one " who was skilful in engaging in a hundred 
battles of different kinds ; whose only Ally was the 
prowess of the strength of his own arm ; who was 
noted for his prowess ; whose most charming body 

1 Manu, VII. 107-108. He adds : " Among the four expedients concilia- 
tion and the rest, the learned always recommend conciliation and (the 
employment of) force for the prosperity of Kingdoms." VII. 109. 

* Vide Arthasastra, Bk. VII. chs. 10 and 12. 


was covered with all the beauty of the marks of a 
hundred confused wounds, caused by the blows of 
battle-axes, arrows, spears, pikes, barbed darts, 
swords, lances, javelins and whose great good fortune 
was mixed with so as to be increased by the favour 
shown in capturing and then liberating Mahendra of 
Kosala Vyaghraraja of Mahakantara, and all other 
Kings of the South, whose imperious commands 
were fully gratified by giving all taxes and obeying 
orders and coming to perform obeisance by the 
frontier Kings . . . whose tranquil fame, pervading 
the whole world, was generated by establishing (again) 
many royal families fallen and deprived of sove- 
reignty . . . who had no antagonist of equal power 
in the world." l 

King Yasodharman describes himself in his in- 
scriptions as one who conquered countries not enjoyed 
by the Guptas, " before whose chieftains bow down 
Kings from the neighbourhood of Lauhitya (Brahma- 
putra) to Mahendra, and from Himalaya to the 
Western Ocean." 2 Harshavardhana was also a great 
conqueror who, according to the Chinese traveller 
Hiuen Tsiang, went from East to West subduing all the 
Kings of Northern India, and whose victorious armies 
reposed only after thirty years of incessant fighting. 3 

1 Vide Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, Vol. III. Vide also the Eran 
stone Inscription of Samudragupta and the Mathura and Sanchi Inscriptions 
of Chandragupta II. 

2 Mandasor Pillar Inscription of Yasodharman, Corp. Ins. Ind. Vol. III. 

3 Buddhist Records, Bk. V. 


It ought to be noted that the Kings of India, as a 
rule, confined their military activities within the 
borders of India, and Indian history does not record 
many invasions of foreign countries. In the opinion 
of Megasthenes, it was a sense of justice which " pre- 
vented any Indian King from attempting conquest 
beyond the limits of India." The conquests of 
Ceylon, Siam, Cambodia, Java, and Sumatra seem 
to have been exceptions to this rule ; but, really, they 
were in part military achievements and in part 
colonising enterprises. 

In Chanakya's military philosophy warfare was of 
three kinds, namely, open (prakasa), treacherous 
(kuta), and silent (tushmm). " Open warfare consists 
of threatening, assault, creating confusion in the 
enemy's ranks, and divert attack. Treacherous war- 
fare consists in keeping up good relations by gifts, 
etc., and attacking at the same time. Silent warfare 
is the attempt to win over the officers of the enemy." 1 
Enthusiasm, superiority in strength, and skilful 
diplomacy were regarded as the three great requisites 
for success in war, and of these, the second was held 
better than the first and the third the best of all. 
;< The arrow shot by an archer," says Chanakya, 
" may or may not kill one person ; but the skilful 
diplomacy of a wise man kills even those who are 
not yet born." 2 Chanakya advises a would-be con- 
queror to ascertain, before marching to battle, the 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. VII. ch. 6. 2 Ibid. Bk. X. ch. 6. 


comparative strength and weakness of his own army 
and that of his enemy, and to carefully consider the 
advantages and disadvantages likely to result from 
the undertaking, the possibility of the recruitment 
of new soldiers, the expenditure both in men and 
money, the dangers of the undertaking, and the 
probable consequences. The conqueror is also ad- 
vised to commence his march during a favourable 
season of the year, 1 and to leave one-third or one- 
fourth of the army in the capital for protection 
against rearward enemies and wild tribes. 2 If the 
enemy offered battle, he was to be vanquished on 
the battle-field, but should he take shelter in a fort, 
he was to be besieged. The five means of capturing 
an enemy's fort, in the opinion of Kautilya, were : 
intrigue (upajapa), employment of spies (upasarpa), 
winning over the people (vamana), siege (paryupa- 
sana), and carrying by assault (avamarda). 3 

Before the commencement of a battle it seems to 
have been the practice for the King or the Commander- 
in-Chief to address words of encouragement to the 
soldiers. The Mahabharata gives a specimen of 

1 According to Vishnu, Agrahayana and Chaitra were the proper months 
for marching against an enemy. Ch. 3. Vide also Manu, VII. 182-185, and 
Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Sec. 100, si. 11. According to Kautilya, a 
march in the month of Marga-sirsha (November-December) was the best, 
but marches might be commenced during other months, such as Chaitra 
and Jyaishtha. " A conqueror may march against an enemy at any time 
when the latter is in trouble." Bk. IX. ch. 1. 

2 Arthasastra, Bk. IX. ch. 1. 

3 Vide Arthasastra, Bk. XIII. ch. 4. The proper times for commencing 
and for storming a siege were fully discussed in this chapter. 



such a speech, from which we extract the following 
lines : 

" Let us swear to conquer and never to desert one 
another. Let those who are overcome with fear stay 
behind. Let those also stay behind who would cause 
their chiefs to be slain by themselves neglecting to 
act heroically in battle. Let only such men come 
who would never turn back from battle, or cause 
their comrades to be slain. . . . The consequences 
of fleeing away from battle are loss of wealth, infamy 
and reproach. . . . Those that flee from battle are 
wretches among men. They only swell the number 
of human beings on earth, but, for true manhood, 
they are neither here nor hereafter. Victorious foes 
proceed cheerfully in pursuit of retreating combatants, 
while their praises are sung by bards. When enemies 
coming to battle tarnish the fame of a person, the 
misery which he feels is more poignant than the pangs 
of death. Know that victory is the root of religious 
merit and of every kind of happiness. . . . Kesolved 
upon acquiring heaven, we should fight, regardless of 
life or death ; and with this determination to conquer 
or die, attain a blessed end in heaven." l 

Chanakya also advises that before the commence- 
ment of a battle, the Prime Minister and the Eoyal 
Priest should encourage the soldiers with words like 
the following : 

"It is declared in the Vedas that the goal which 

1 Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Sec. 100. sis. 32-41. 


is reached by sacrifices after the performance of 
sacrifices is the very goal which brave men are de- 
stined to attain." 1 In regard to this there are two 
verses : 

" Beyond those places which Brahmanas, seeking 
heaven, attain by performing a number of sacrifices 
or by practising penances, are the places which brave 
men, giving up their lives in righteous battles, reach 

" Let not a new vessel filled with water, conse- 
crated, and covered with darbha grass, be the acqui- 
sition of that man who does not fight in return for 
the subsistence received by him from his master, and 
who is destined to go to hell." 2 

This last verse is also to be found in Bhasa's Pra- 
tima-Nataka, where it is used in encouraging the 
soldiers on the battle-field. 3 As a matter of fact, the 
people of Ancient India were very brave, and an 
appeal to their sense of honour was never made in 
vain. Courage was highly extolled and cowardice 
was strongly condemned in society. The historians of 
Alexander's invasion bear ample testimony to this 
fact. The biographers of Hiuen Tsiang, alluding to 
the customs of the Maharashtra country, say : " He 
(the King) is fond of military affairs, and boasts of 

1 The same is to be found in Parasara-Smriti. " Two classes of persons 
ascend to heaven after passing through the region of the sun. They are 
ascetics who devote themselves to meditation and warriors who die on the 
field of battle." 

2 Arthasastra, Bk. X. ch. 3. 3 Pratijna-Yaugandharayana, Act IV. 


his arms. In this country, the troops and cavalry 
are well equipped and the rules of warfare thoroughly 
understood and observed. Whenever a general is 
despatched on a warlike expedition, although he is 
defeated and his army destroyed, he is not himself 
subjected to bodily punishment, only he has to 
exchange his soldier's dress for that of a woman, 
much to his shame and chagrin. So, many times, 
those men put themselves to death to avoid such 
disgrace." 1 

The laws of war were humane and honourable. 
The Mahabharata says: " A King should never desire 
to subjugate countries by unrighteous means, even 
if such subjugation would make him the sovereign 
of the world." 2 And again : " A Kshatriya who 
destroys righteousness and transgresses all whole- 
some barriers, does not deserve to be reckoned a 
Kshatriya, and should be driven from society." 3 
The Mahabharata further lays down the following 
rules : 

" A warrior whose armour has fallen off, or who begs 
for quarter, saying ' I am thine,' or who has laid 
aside his weapon, may simply be seized, but may 
not be slain. Nor should those be killed who are 
asleep, or thirsty, or fatigued, or whose accoutrements 
have fallen away, nor any person who has set his 
heart on final emancipation, or is fleeing, or is walking 

1 Life of Hiuen Tsiang, Bk. IV. 2 Santi Parva, Sec. 96, si. 2. 

3 Santi Parva, Sec. 96, si. 10. 


along a road, or is engaged in eating or drinking, or 
is mad, or has been wounded mortally, or is exceed- 
ingly weak with wounds, or is staying trustfully, or 
has a task in hand unfinished, or is skilled in a special 
art, or is in grief, or goes out of the camp for forage 
and fodder, nor those who are camp followers or 
who wait at the gates of the King and the ministers, 
or who do menial services." * 

The ancient law-givers also lay down similar rules. 2 
Manu says : ' c When he fights with his foes in battle, 
let him riot strike with weapons concealed, nor with 
(such as are) barbed, poisoned, or the points of which 
are blazing with fire. Let him not strike one who 
(in flight) has climbed on an eminence, nor a eunuch, 
nor one who joins the palms of his hands (in suppli- 
cation), nor one who (flees) with flying hair, nor one 
who sits down, nor one who says, ' I am thine/ nor 
one who is asleep, nor one who has lost his coat-of- 
mail, nor one who is naked, nor one who is disarmed, 
nor one who looks on without taking part in the 
flight, nor one who is fighting with another foe ; 
nor one whose weapons are broken, nor one afflicted 
(with sorrow), nor one who has been grievously 
wounded, nor one who is in fear, nor one who has 

1 Santi Parva, Sec. 96, sis. 27-29. 

2 According to Gautama, the following persons should not be killed in war : 
those who have lost their horses, charioteers, or arms ; those who join their 
hands (in supplication) ; those who flee with flying hair ; those that sit down 
with averted faces ; those who have climbed (in flight) on eminences or trees ; 
those who act as messengers, and those who declare themselves cows and 
Brahmanas. X. 18. 


turned to flight ; (but in all these cases let him) 
remember the duty (of honourable warriors). . . . 
Thus has been declared the blameless primeval law 
for warriors, from this law a Kshatriya must not 
depart, when he strikes his foes in battle." 1 

Such laws were, as a rule, observed in practice ; 
but we find on occasions of exceptional difficulty even 
righteous men like Yudhishthira, Bhima, and Arjuna 
thought it prudent to depart from the rules of righteous 

One thing is worthy of notice in this connection, 
namely, the abstention on the part of the fighters 
from inflicting harm on non-combatants. The in- 
vading soldiers never destroyed the crops, nor devas- 
tated the enemy's country. So far as practicable, 
battle-fields were selected in remote and uninhabited 
parts of the enemy's territory. 2 To this fact Megas- 
thenes bears eloquent testimony. Says he : " Where- 
as among other nations it is usual, in the contests of 
war, to ravage the soil, and then to reduce it to an 
uncultivated waste, among the Indians, on the con- 
trary, by whom husbandmen are regarded as a class 
that is sacred and inviolable, the tillers of the soil, 
even when battle is raging in their neighbourhood, 
are undisturbed by any sense of danger for the com- 
batants on either side in waging the conflict make 

1 Manu, VII. 90-98. The translation is that given by G. Biihler. 

2 Arthasastra, Bk. XIII. ch. 4. But Kautilya adds : "If, however, the 
people be hostile, the conqueror may destroy their crops, stores, granaries, 
and trade." 




carnage of each other, but allow those engaged in 
husbandry to remain quite unmolested. Besides, 
they neither ravage an enemy's land with fire nor 
cut down its trees." 1 

After the conquest of a territory the defeated 
monarch was usually allowed to continue as ruler, 
subject to the suzerain authority of the conqueror ; 
but if he refused to submit or was killed in battle, 
another prince of the royal family was placed on the 
throne. The conqueror, as a rule, adopted a policy 
of conciliation towards the people of the conquered 
country. 2 Vishnu gives the following advice to a 
conqueror : " having conquered the country of his 
foe, let him not abolish (or disregard) the laws of 
that country. ... A King having conquered the 
capital of his foe, should invest there a prince of the 
roya] race of that country with the royal dignity. 
Let him not extirpate the royal race, unless the royal 
race be of ignoble descent." 

Chanakya goes into much greater detail in regard 
to this matter. " A conquered country," says he, 
61 should be given complete security so that the 
people may sleep without fear. If the people rise 
in rebellion, they should be pacified by rewards and 

1 Megasthenes, Fragment I. 

2 " When he has gained victory, let him duly worship the gods and honour 
righteous Brahmanas, let him grant exemptions, and let him cause promises 
of safety to be proclaimed. But having fully ascertained the wishes of all 
the (conquered), let him place there a relative of the (vanquished ruler on 
the throne), and let him impose his conditions." VII. 201-202. 


remissions of taxes." And further : " He (the King) 
should cover up the faults of the enemy by his own 
virtues, and exceed the enemy's virtues by himself 
showing double the amount. He should please the 
people by properly observing his own duties, by 
remitting taxes, and by bestowing on them rewards 
and honours. He should undertake measures which 
contribute to the general welfare and prosperity. . . . 
He should adopt the manners, customs, dress and 
language of the conquered people ; and show respect 
to their national, religious, and social ceremonies, 
and festivals. ... He should hold the sages of the 
country in high esteem, and honour the learned men, 
the renowned orators, the religious leaders, and the 
heroes by gifts of land and wealth, and by remissions 
of taxes. He should release all prisoners, 1 and help 
the needy, the friendless, and the afflicted. . . . After 
prohibiting customs which may appear as unrighteous 
or as injurious to the state revenue or to an efficient 
system of administration, he should establish righteous 
laws and customs." 

The policy pursued by the weaker Kings when they 
were attacked by their more powerful neighbours 
varied with the circumstances of each case. Some- 

1 The custom prevailed in India of liberating all prisoners on happy 
occasions, like the birth of a son to the King, or the coronation of a new 
King, or the inauguration of the Crown Prince, or the conquest of a new 
territory. In the Mudra-Rakshasa we read of the liberation of all prisoners 
by order of Kautilya after Chandragupta's consolidation of his conquests. 
In the Mrichchakatika also we find a reference to this custom. 

Arthasastra, Bk. XIII. ch. 5. 


times they sought the protection of another strong 
ruler ; at other times, they took refuge in forts. 
Not unoften they had to surrender themselves to 
the invaders. 1 Kautilya divides invaders into three 
kinds, viz. virtuous conquerors, demon-like invaders, 
and greedy invaders, and lays down the following 
lines of policy to be pursued in different cases : "A 
virtuous conqueror is satisfied with mere submission ; 
so a weak King should submit to him. A greedy 
invader, fearing his own enemies, is satisfied with 
what he can safely get in land or money ; therefore, 
a weak King should satisfy such an invader with the 
gift of wealth. A demon-like invader not only covets 
the territory and wealth of the weak King, but also 
tries to destroy him ; such an invader should be kept 
at a distance by the offer of land and wealth." 2 

When a weak King found himself obliged to sue 
for peace, he entered into an agreement with the 
conqueror. Such an agreement might be one or 
other of twelve different forms. These different 
forms of agreement are thus described by Kautilya : 

" An Agreement made on the condition that the 
King should (personally) attend with the whole or a 

1 The ancient teachers were divided in their opinion in regard to the 
justice and expediency of the policy of surrender. Bharadvaja says, he 
who surrenders himself to the strong, bows down before Indra. But in 
Visalaksha's opinion a weak should fight with all his resources, because 
bravery overcomes all difficulties, and because this (fighting) is the natural 
duty of a Kshatriya, no matter whether he gains a victory or sustains a 
defeat in battle. Vide Arthasastra, Bk. XII. ch. 1. 

2 Arthasastra, Bk. XII. ch. 1. 


part of his army is called an atmamisha (one's own 
flesh) agreement. 

" When the condition is that the Commander-in- 
Chief and the Crown Prince should attend, it is called 
purushantara-sandhi (peace by offering the services 
of another person) ; such an agreement is conducive 
to self-preservation, for it does not require the per- 
sonal attendance of the King. 

" When the condition is that either the King himself 
or somebody else at the head of the army should be 
present at a particular place, the agreement is termed 
adrishtapurusa (peace with no specified person as 
hostage). This conduces to the safety of the King 
as well as of the chiefs. 

" These are the varieties of the dandopanata agree- 
ment (i.e. one made by offering the army). When 
by the offer of money, the other elements of sove- 
reignty are left free, that peace is called parikraya 
(purchase). When peace is concluded by offering 
such a sum of money as has to be carried on shoulders, 
it is called an upagraha (tribute). When mutual 
trustfulness leads to a union of hearts, it is called 
suvarna-sandhi (golden peace). The reverse of such 
an agreement is kapala (beggar's bowl) which is 
concluded on payment of a large sum of money. 

" These are the different varieties of Koshopanata 

" When by ceding a part of the territory the rest of 
the Kingdom is saved, it is called adishta (ceded). 


" When that part of the territory (not being the 
central part) is ceded which is devoid of all resources, it 
is called uchchhinna-sandhi (agreement involving ruin). 

"When on condition of payment of the produce, the 
lands are set free, the agreement is called apakraya 
(payment of rent). The agreement which is concluded 
by the promise of paying more than the produce of 
land is called paribhushana (abundant supply). These 
are the varieties of desopanata (agreement made on 
condition of ceding territory)." I 

While the rulers of different parts of India fought 
with one another for supremacy, the country remained 
constantly exposed to the danger of foreign invasions. 
The history of these invasions shows us in a clear 
light the weak points of the political system of Ancient 
India. The most important of the early invasions 
if it was not the earliest was that of Alexander the 
Great in 327 B.C. He remained in the country not 
more than twenty months all told, and although 
every step of his advance was stubbornly resisted, 
he succeeded in reducing the greater part of the 
Punjab and the whole of Sindh. Such an achieve- 
ment appears to us all the more surprising when we 
remember that the people were of a martial tempera- 
ment and were well inured to arms. The people, 
indeed, who then inhabited the Indus valley were, 
according to Greek writers, " of so great a stature 
that they were amongst the tallest men in Asia, 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. VII. ch. 3. 


being five cubits in height, or nearly so," and " in 
the art of war they were far superior to the other 
nations by which Asia was at that time inhabited. " 
But neither their martial spirit nor their efficient 
military organisation was of any avail for the pre- 
servation of their national independence, for the 
political condition of the country was eminently 
favourable to Alexander's designs. The Punjab was 
then divided into a number of separate States, and 
instead of presenting a united front to the invader, 
these States, in most instances, fought him singly, 
with the result that they were overcome with com- 
parative ease. Whenever some sort of concerted 
opposition was offered to Alexander's advance, as 
was done by the Malloi and the Kshudrakas, 1 he 
found it extremely difficult to overpower the resist- 
ance. As Mr. McCrindle rightly remarks, " if Alex- 
ander had found India united in arms to withstand 
his aggression, the star of his good fortune would have 
culminated with his passage of the Indus." 2 

But the States were prevented by their mutual 
jealousies and feuds from acting in concert against 
the common enemy, and each of them fell a prey to 
the attack of the Macedonian invader. 3 

1 These two races were composed of widely different elements, and they 
were seldom at peace with each other ; but their mutual hostility was sus- 
pended in view of the common danger which threatened their independence. 

2 McCrindle, Ancient India, p. 4. 

3 Some of the rulers even assisted the Conqueror. Thus, for instance, 
he was hospitably received by Ambhi, King of Taxila, who was at enmity 
with Poros, and Sasiguptas, a deserter, became one of Alexander's generals. 


Although the force of circumstances compelled the 
Indians to submit for a time to Alexander, they did 
not brook for long the burden and reproach of foreign 
thraldom. Even before the Conqueror's departure 
from India, the standard of revolt had been raised 
in many parts of the country, and within a few years 
of his death, the whole of the Punjab threw off the 
foreign yoke. In this work of liberation, the Brah- 
manas played an important part, 1 and it was the 
Brahmana politician, Chanakya, who not only per- 
ceived the necessity for the establishment of a cen- 
tralised administration in India, but actually helped 
Chandragupta to bring the whole of Northern India 
under his imperial sway. The beneficial result of 
this political change became manifest when only a 
few years later, Chandragupta was able to inflict a 
severe defeat on Seleukos, and compelled the Con- 
queror to sue for peace by offering to cede all the 
Greek provinces on the frontier of India, including 
Gedrosia and Arachosia. 

But the imperial system of the Mauryas did not 
last very long, and other invaders appeared on the 
scene. The Sakas established themselves in Sindh, 
and gradually made themselves masters of that 

1 " The philosophers gave him no less trouble than the mercenaries, 
because they reviled the princes who declared for him and encouraged the 
free states to revolt from his authority. On this account he hanged many of 
them." A story is also told by Plutarch which is interesting. When one 
of the philosophers was asked for what reason he had induced Sambhu 
(Sabbas) to revolt, he answered, " Because I wish him to live with honour 
or die with honour." Plutarch, p. 314. 


province and of Gujrat. In the beginning of the 
second century A.D. the Parthians succeeded the 
Sakas as rulers in Sindh, and gradually extended 
their sway as far as Mathura. The Yue-chi and the 
Kushans followed, and founded powerful Kingdoms 
near the north-western frontier and in Kashmir. All 
these invaders settled down in the country, adopted 
the religion and customs and manners of the Aryans, 
and became for all practical purposes the natives of 
the country. Very different from these invasions 
was that of the Huing-nu or Huns, who devastated 
the country wherever they went. They broke up 
the Gupta empire, and although they were several 
times defeated, they succeeded in finding settlements 
in North-western Punjab. 

In the seventh century there were several expedi- 
tions led by the Arabs to the west coast of India, 
but no real attempt to conquer the country was 
made until Mahammad Kasim marched with an army 
along the Persian coast through Mekran into Sindh. 
This invasion, however, proved a failure. Two cen- 
turies later came the invasions of Sabuktagin and of 
his son Sultan Mahmud, and finally, in the closing 
years of the twelfth century, Muhammad Ghori 
defeated Prithviraj and Jayachandra, and firmly 
established Mahomedan Rule in Northern India. 

The political condition of India which made possible 
the foundation of the Mahomedan Empire is thus 
described by Stanley Lane-Poole : " The country was 


split up into numerous Kingdoms, many of which 
were at feud with one another. There were the 
Brahmana Kings of Gandhara on the Indus, the 
Tomaras of Delhi and Kanauj, the Buddhist Palas 
of Magadha, the survivors of the Guptas in Malwa, 
the Kalachuris on the Nerbudda, the Chandillas of 
Mahoba, and many more, who united might have 
stemmed any invasion, but whose jealousies wrought 
their ruin." How true is the remark : " Internal 
division has proved the undoing of India again and 
again, and has sapped the power of mere numbers 
which alone could enable the men of warm plains to 
stand against the hardy mountain tribes ! " 1 

1 Stanley Lane-Poole, Mediaeval India. 



THE construction and preservation of works of public 
utility engaged the attention of the State in India 
from very early times. The chief kinds of such public 
works were cities, public buildings, works of art, 
roads, and canals. 

At the time of Alexander's invasion, an appreciable 
proportion of the population lived in cities. Greek 
writers inform us that Alexander conquered more 
than 2,000 cities in the Punjab. In the extensive 
empire of Chandragupta there was at least one city 
in every district. 1 Most of these cities, however, 
were small, and, as might be expected, it was the 
capital city the seat of sovereign authority that 
received the greatest amount of attention. 2 The 
Ramayana gives a beautiful description of the city of 
Ayodhya. 3 In the Mahabharata we are told that 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 1. 2 Ramayana, Balakanda. 

3 The Manasara says : "In the centre of the kingdom should be the 
capital (raja-nagari) situated on the bank of a river, and inhabited by a 
large number of honest citizens " ; and then goes on to describe in detail 
the structure of the city. Ch. XI. 


Maya, the Danava, who was an expert in architecture, 
constructed a beautiful palace for the Pandavas at 
Khandavaprastha. This city, it is said, was pro- 
tected by a wide moat encircling it all round, above 
which rose a rampart many feet high, intersected by 
gates which were adorned with lofty towers. Within 
the city were fine buildings beautified by lovely flower 
and fruit gardens, artificial lakes, and tanks. 1 Arrian, 
speaking of the Indian cities, says : " It is said that 
the number is so great that it cannot be stated with 
precision, but that such cities as are situated on the 
banks of rivers or on the sea-coast are built of wood, 
for were they built of brick, they would not last 
long so destructive are the rains ; those cities, 
however, which stand on commanding situations and 
lofty eminences are built of brick and mud. The 
greatest city in India is that which is called Palim- 
bothra in the dominions of the Prasians, where the 
streams of Erannoboas and Ganges unite. Megas- 
thenes says further of this city that the inhabited 
part of it stretched on either side to an extreme 
length of eighty stadia (10 miles), and that its breadth 
was fifteen stadia (2 miles), and that a ditch compassed 
it all round, which was six plethra (600 ft.) in breadth 
and thirty cubits in depth, and that the wall was 
crowned with five hundred and seventy towers and 
had four and sixty gates." 2 When Fa Hian and 

1 Vide Adi Parva, Sec. 207, sis. 27-51, and Sabha Parva. 

2 Vide Arrian (McCrindle), Indica, 10, and Megasthenes, Fragment XXVI. 



Hiuen Tsiang visited Pataliputra the town itself was 
in ruins, but the parapets of the walls were still 
standing. 1 

The greater writer, Bana, gives a poetic description 
of the town of Ujjayini as it existed*in the seventh 
century A.D., from which we extract the following 
sentences : " There is a town by name Ujjayini, the 
proudest gem of the three worlds ... It is encom- 
passed by a moat deep as hell . . . and surrounded 
by fences and walls, white with plaster like Kailasa 
... It is adorned with large bazaars, like the oceans 
when their waters were drunk by Agastya, stretching 
far with gold-dust for sand, with conch and oyster 
pearls, corals and emeralds laid bare. The painted 
halls that deck it are filled with gods ... Its cross- 
ways shine with temples like Mandara whitened 
by the milk raised up by the churning stick . . . 
Commons grey with Ketaki pollen, dark with green 
gardens, watered by buckets constantly at work, and 
having wells adorned with brick seats, lend their 
charm. Its groves are darkened by bees vocal with 
honey draughts, its breeze is laden with sweetness 
of creeper flowers, all trembling ... It resounds 
with the cry of peacocks ... It glitters with lakes, 
fair with open blue water-lilies ... It is whitened 

1 Fa Hian, Ch. XXVII., and Life of Hiuen Tsiang, p. 101. The Buddhist 
books speak of Vaisali as an opulent, prosperous town, populous, crowded 
with people, abundant with food ; there were 7,707 storeyed buildings, 
7,707 pinnacled buildings, and 7,707 pleasure grounds (aramas), and 7,707 
lotus ponds. Vinaya Texts (Sacred Books of the East), VIII. 1. 


with ivory turrets on all sides, endowed with plantain 
groves, white as flasks of ambrosial foam ... It 
is girt with the river Sipra, which seems to purify the 
sky with its waves forming a ceaseless frown . . . 
The city seems possessed of rocks with its palaces ; 
it stretches like a suburb with its long houses ; it is 
like the tree that grants desires with its good citizens ; 
it bears in its painted halls the mirror of all forms." 1 
Stripped of poetical embellishments, this seems to 
be a correct description of a capital city of the ancient 
times. And we are confirmed in this opinion by the 
fact that Bana's description agrees in the main with 
that given by Hiuen Tsiang. The Chinese traveller 
says : " The City (Kanyakubja or Kanauj) has a 
ditch round it, with strong and lofty towers facing 
one another. The flowers and woods, the lakes 
and ponds, bright and pure, and shining like mirrors 
(are seen on every side). Valuable merchandise is 
collected here in great quantities. The people are 
well-off and contented, the houses are rich and 
well formed. Flowers and fruits abound in every 
place." 2 

In Hiuen Tsiang's time the city of Kanauj was three 
miles and a half long, and three-quarters of a mile 
broad. At the time of the invasion of Mahmud of 
Ghazni, its magnificence had greatly increased, it 
being then described as a city " which raised its head 

1 Bana's Kadambari (Bidding's trans.), pp. 210-212. 

2 Buddhist Records, Bk. V. 


to the skies, and which in strength and structure 
might justly boast to have no equal." 

The most imposing structure in a capital city 
was, of course, the Royal Palace. It was usually 
built on an eminence, and was well protected by 
walls and bastions, and consisted of numerous apart- 
ments. 1 Near the Eoyal Palace stood the Assembly 
Hall, and on different sides of it were the Royal 
Courts of Justice the Government offices, the places 
of public worship, the School of Industries and Arts, 
the houses of the Ministers and other high officials, 
the armoury, and the soldiers' quarters. Beyond 
these were the houses of the citizens. 

The arrangements of other towns were similar to 
those of the capital city, but on a smaller scale. 
From the treatment of the subject in some of the 
ancient books, such as Chanakya's Arthasastra, the 
Agni Purana, and the Sukraniti, it appears that 
towns, and even villages, were constructed on definite 
plans. 2 The building of cities, mansions, and works 
of art formed the subject of a science known as 
Silpa Sastra. There are many treatises which deal 
with this subject, the most well known of these being 
the Manasara. This work speaks of seven sorts 
of towns, namely, rajadhani, nagara, pura, kheta, 
kharvata, kubjaka, and pattana. It also mentions 

1 Vide Arthasastra, and Sukraniti, Ch. I. sis. 216-217. 

2 Vide Arthasastra, Bk. II. chs. 1-3 ; Agni Purana, Ch. CCXXVII. and 
Sukraniti, Ch. IV. 


eight kinds of villages, namely, Dandaka (that which 
resembles a staff), Sanrato-bhadra (which is good in 
every respect), Nandyavartta (the abode of happi- 
ness), Padmaka (that which has the form of a lotus), 
Svastika (that which resembles a svastika), Prastara 
(built of stone), Karmnka (that which resembles a 
bow), and Chatunnukha (that which has four faces). 1 
Hiuen Tsiang, however, does not evidently think 
much of the ordinary towns and villages. He says : 
" The towns and villages have inner gates, the waDs 
are wide and high ; the streets and lanes are tortuous, 
and the roads winding, the thoroughfares are dirty 
. . . The towers on the waDs are constructed of wood 
or bamboos ; tike houses have balconies and belve- 

Not only public buildings bat even private dwelling- 
houses in the cities and villages were usually con- 
structed in accordance with definite rules. A com- 
paratively modern work on architecture says : ' : Woe 

1 Mi"rrffrr Ch. XL Vide abo Rim Riz, 
of the Hindu.. Rim Raz mentions manj odier books oa Hindn 
tare besides the MInasira. The Tfi~fTirr- consists of about serenty 

etc. ; Hie dilbrent sites to be selected for bal 

of detennining the different points of the compass; thesereral 
of TJBages, towns, trndeHaas, with directions for 1 

of from one to twdre storey* high ; 
poctieoea, gates, doorways, 


to them who dwell in a house not built according to 
the proportions of symmetry. In building an edifice, 
therefore, let all its parts, from the basement to 
the roof, be fully considered." * The builders were 
often men well trained in the scientific principles of 
architecture. They were of four descriptions, namely, 
sthapatis (architects), sutragrahis (those who studied 
the measurements and were skilled in Mathematics), 
takshakas (those who prepared the rough wood), 
and vardhakis (skilled carpenters). 

Architecture began to attract the attention of the 
Hindus from very early times. As Fergusson points 
out, the Hindus " possessed palaces and halls of 
assembly, perhaps even temples, of great magnificence 
and splendour, long anterior to Asoka's accession." 2 
But as these ancient structures were usually con- 
structed of wood, stone being employed only for 
the foundations of buildings or in engineering works, 
no examples of such buildings have survived the 
depredations of time. Stone architecture began to 
be common only from the time of Asoka ; most of 
the ancient monuments, therefore, that are known 
to us, are Buddhistic. Fa Hian, speaking of 
Asoka's palace at Pataliputra, says : " In the middle 
of the city is the royal palace, the different parts of 

1 Manushyalaya Chandrika, quoted by Ram Raz in his Essay on the 
Architecture of the Hindus, p. 15. In regard to mansions, the Sukraniti 
says : "A building with one thousand pillars is good, others are middling 
or inferior." Ch. IV. sec. 4, si. 1. 

2 Indian and Eastern Architecture. 


which he commissioned the genii to construct. The 
massive stones of which the walls are made are 
no human work. The ruins of the palace still exist." 1 
Asoka spent enormous sums of money for the erection 
of buildings in aid of Buddhism. He built a great 
temple at Bodh-Gaya, and enlarged and beautified 
the famous topes at Sanchi. He is also said to have 
erected eighty-four thousand stupas in different 
parts of his vast empire, besides many pillars and 
columns on which his edicts were inscribed. As 
Mr. Vincent Smith remarks : '' The arts in the age 
of Asoka undoubtedly had attained to a high standard 
of excellence." " The royal engineers and archi- 
tects," adds Mr. Smith, " were capable of designing 
and executing spacious and lofty edifices in brick, 
wood, and stone, of constructing massive embank- 
ments equipped with convenient sluices and other 
appliances, of extracting, chiselling and handling 
enormous monoliths, and of excavating commodious 
chambers with burnished interiors in the most re- 
fractory rock. Sculpture was the handmaid of 
architecture, and all buildings of importance were 
lavishly decorated with a profusion of ornamental 
patterns, an infinite variety of spirited bas-reliefs, 
and meritorious statues of men and animals." 2 
Asoka's great work was continued by his successors 
and by other Buddhist rulers. 

1 Fa Hian (Buddhist Records), Ch. XXVII. 
1 V. A. Smith, Asoka, p. 135. 


The objects of the Buddhist art, according to Mr. 
Fergusson, fall under the following five heads : 
(1) Stambhas or Lats, which were always among 1 
the most original, and frequently the most elegant, 
productions of Indian art; (2) Stupas, containing 
either the relics of Buddha or of some Buddhist saint, 
or erected to commemorate some event or mark 
some sacred spot dear to the followers of Buddhism ; 

(3) Kails, which were works of exquisite beauty ; 

(4) Chaityas or Assembly Halls were the Buddhist 
temples of religion, corresponding to the Churches 
of the Christians ; (5) Viharas and Sangharamas, 
or monasteries, which were the residences of monks and 
centres of educational and charitable establishments. 

The most extensive, and perhaps the most interest- 
ing, group of topes is that known as the Bhilsa topes. 
Of this group the most magnificent is the great tope 
at Sanchi, which has a base 14' ft. high and a dome 
42 ft. high and 106 ft. in diameter. But it is believed 
that there once existed stupas which were far more 
magnificent than these. Fergusson says : " If we 
could now see the topes that once adorned any of the 
great Buddhist sites in the Doab, or in Behar, the 
Bhilsa group might sink into insignificance." 2 Of 

1 With the Buddhists they were employed to bear inscriptions on their 
shafts; with the Jainas they are generally dip-danas, or lamp-bearing 
pillars, but sometimes supporting figures of Jinas ; with the Vaishnavas 
or Saivas, they bore statues or flag-staffs. 

1 Fergusson and Burgess, Indian and Eastern Architecture (1910), Vol. I. 
p. 66. 


Chaityas, some thirty are known still to exist. But 
the most famous, and architecturally the most 
wonderful, are the rock-cut caves in Western India, 
of which not less than twelve hundred are to be 
found. Three hundred of these are of Brahmanical 
or Jaina origin, and the remaining nine hundred are 
Buddhistic. The Karli, the Ajanta, and the Ellora 
caves are the finest specimens of this kind of archi- 
tecture. As Mrs. Manning points out, this form of 
architecture " has the signal advantage of protecting 
the work of architect and sculptor from the threefold 
destruction caused by insects, rain and vegetation." 1 
Sangharamas were innumerable and found in every 
part of India during the Buddhist period. Hiuen 
Tsiang described them in these words : " The San- 
gharamas are constructed with extraordinary skill. 
A three-storeyed tower is erected at each of the four 
angles. The beams and the projecting heads are 
carved with great skill in different shapes. The 
doors, windows, and the low walls are painted pro- 
fusely ; the monks' cells are ornamental on the 
inside and plain on the outside. In the very middle 
of the building is the hall, high and wide. There 
are various s tor eyed chambers and turrets of different 
height and shape, without any fixed rule. The doors 
open towards the east ; the royal throne also faces 
the east." 2 

1 Ancient and Mediaeval India, p. 396. 
8 Buddhist Records, Bk. II. pp. 73-74. 


The Jainas and Hindus also, like the Buddhists, 
excavated cave-dwellings (Bhikshu-grihas) for their 
recluses. Later on, Hindu temples began to be 
constructed in large numbers, many of which are 
still standing. Some of them, specially those of 
Orissa and of South India, possess splendour and 
magnificence in an eminent degree. 

(The more important public buildings, as a rule, 
were constructed by order of the monarchs, but very 
often guilds of merchants and, occasionally, rich 
individuals also constructed works of public utility. 
In the inscriptions we often read of temples and alms- 
houses being constructed by order of guilds. 1 \ 

After the time of Asoka, the most flourishing 
period of Indian architecture was that of the Guptas. 
As Mr. V. A. Smith points out, " in India the establish- 
ment of a vigorous dynasty ruling over wide dominions 
has invariably resulted in the application of a strong 
stimulus to the development of man's intellectual 
and artistic powers. Such a dynasty, exercising its 
administrative duties effectively, fostering commerce, 
maintaining active intercourse, commercial and diplo- 
matic, with foreign states, displaying the pomp of 
a magnificent court, both encourages the desire to do 
great things and provides the material patronage 
without which authors and artists cannot live." 2 

1 Cf. for instance, the Mandasor Inscription of Kumaragupta and Bandhu- 
varman, Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, Vol. III. 

2 Ostasiatische Zeitschrift, 1914, Vol. I. 

xvii PUBLIC WORKS 251 

According to Mr. E. B. Havell, the eighth century 
saw the complete artistic realisation of both the 
Buddhist and the Hindu ideals, and it was also about 
this epoch that the ideals of Indian art and the highest 
culture expressed in that art found their widest 
geographical expansion. 1 

The means of communication received considerable 
attention from the rulers. Koads were constructed 
in all towns and villages. Chanakya says that each 
city should have six main roads three running 
from east to west, and three from north to south. 
Besides these principal roads, which were to be 
32 cubits wide, there were many other roads which 
were less broad. There were also roads which 
connected the different parts of the country with 
the capital and with one another. The main roads 
were called King's ways (Raja-marga), and the other 
roads were known as margas, vithis, or padyas. 2 
Pillars were set up on the main roads to mark distances 
and to show the by-roads. 3 Trees were planted along 
the roads and, for convenience of travellers, rest 
houses (pantha-salas) were erected at suitable places. 4 

1 Ostasiatische Zeitschrift, 1912, Vol. I. 

2 Sukraniti, Ch. I. Strabo, on the authority of Megasthenes, says : " They 
construct roads and at every ten stadia set up a pillar to show the by-roads 
and distances." Fragment XXXIV. The Sukraniti says that these roads 
should be like the back of a tortoise, and there should be drains on both 
sides of a road. The Manasara mentions mandala-vithl, rajapatha, sandhi- 
patha, and maha-kala as the four kinds of roads in a town or village. In the 
Rig- Veda we find mention of ' maha-patha ' (highway). 

3 Megasthenes, Fragment XXXIV. 

4 Vide Edicts of Asoka and Sukraniti, Ch. IV. sec. 4. 


Permanent masonry or wooden bridges were con- 
structed over rivulets and small streams, while bridges 
of boats were placed for the crossing of large 

rivers. 1 

Irrigation was practised in India from very early 
times. In the Big- Veda we find mention of canals. 
In the Mahabharata, Narada, enquiring about the 
state of the kingdom, is made to ask Yudhishthira : 
" Are large tanks and lakes established all over the 
kingdom at proper distances, in order that agriculture 
may not be entirely dependent on the showers of 
heaven ? " 2 So Manu advises the King to build 
tanks, wells, cisterns, and fountains. 3 The larger 
irrigational works were undertaken by the State, 
while the smaller ones were often constructed by 
private enterprise. In order to encourage private 
enterprise in this direction, rents and taxes were 
remitted for a certain number of years for the con- 
struction of new tanks and for the repair of old works. 
The village communities, and sometimes private 
individuals, were held responsible for the keeping 
of irrigational works in repair, and punishments were 
inflicted on people who destroyed them or neglected 
to maintain them. 4 In the Pur anas, the construction 
of irrigation works is regarded as an act of great merit. 

1 The Sukraniti says : " Bridges should be constructed over rivers of 
various sorts and of beautiful structure. There should be boats and other 
conveyances for crossing the rivers." Ch. IV. sec. 4, si. 61. 

2 Sabha Parva, Sec. V. 3 VIII. 248. 
* Arthasastra. 

xvii PUBLIC WORKS 253 

According to the Agni Purana, the merit acquired by 
the gift of water is equal to that acquired by all other 
gifts combined. 1 

There was an important department of government 
which controlled the construction and maintenance 
of canals, lakes and tanks. Megasthenes says : 
" Some Officers-of-State superintend the rivers, 
measure the lands, as is done in Egypt, and inspect 
the sluices by which water is let out from the main 
canals into their branches, so that everyone may 
have an equal supply of it." 2 The Irrigation Officers 
of Chandragupta built a dam at Girnar, and thus 
formed the great Sudarsana lake. And in Asoka's 
reign, his governor of Surashtra constructed canals 
to utilise the waters of this lake. In 150 A.D. this 
dam was rebuilt by Rudradaman, and in the fifth 
century it was repaired by Chakrapalita, Skanda- 
gupta's governor. 3 Sung Yun, speaking of irrigation 
in Kasmir, says : " At the proper time they let the 
streams overflow the land by which the soil is rendered 
soft and fertile." 4 In the Rajatarangini we find a 
detailed account of the irrigational achievements of 

1 Agni Purana, Ch. 64. 2 Fragment XXXIV. 

3 " Having done honour to the Kings, he laboriously built up with a great 
masonry work, properly constructed, the lake Sudarsana, which is renowned 
as not being evil by nature, so that it would last for all eternity." Vide 
Fleet, Gupta Inscriptions. 

4 The Sukraniti says : " Wells, canals, tanks, and lakes should be con- 
structed in abundance so that there may not be any scarcity of water in 
the country. Their breadth should be twice or thrice their depth." Ch. IV. 
sec. 4. 


Suyya, the Minister of Avantivarman, King of Kasmir 
(855-883 A.D.). Some parts of Kasmir were liable 
to be inundated by disastrous floods, and to remain 
submerged during a great part of the year. Suyya 
built dykes to prevent the floods, and drained the 
marshes. He also constructed canals to divert the 
water of the rivers, and thus procured a supply of 
artificial water for villages which had so long been 
dependent on the rainfall. He further arranged on 
a permanent basis for the size and distribution of 
the watercourse for each village, and by this method 
of using the streams for irrigation, embellished all 
regions with an abundance of irrigated fields yielding 
the most excellent produce. Suyya, in the words of 
the Kajatarangini, " made the different streams 
(i.e. Sindhu and Vitas ta) with their waves which are 
(like) the quivering tongues of snakes, move about 
according to his will, just as a conjurer (does with) 
the snakes." x 

It is worthy of note that Hindu architecture and 
art and works of public utility were not confined to 
India. Some wonderful examples of Buddhist as 
well as Brahmanical architecture are still to be found 

1 Rajatarangini (Stein), Bk. V. Referring to Suyya's engineering work, 
Sir Aurel Stein remarks : " It shows alike the large scale and the systematic 
technical basis of Suyya's regulation. The result of the latter was a great 
increase of land available for cultivation, and increased protection against 
disastrous floods which in Kasmir have been the main causes of famine." 
Introduction, p. 98. " The facilities secured for cultivation produced a 
remarkable reduction in the price of rice, the cost of a Khari being alleged 
to have fallen from 200 Dlnnaras to 36 Dlnnaras in consequence." 


in countries where the Hindus founded settlements, 
such as Ceylon, Cambodia, Siam, Java, Bali and Sum- 
atra. The Kings of Ceylon paid great attention to the 
construction of works of public utility. Parakrama 
Bahu, for instance, erected innumerable religious 
edifices and public buildings, and planted beautiful 
parks and gardens. He built a stone wall and 
stopped the course of the Kara-ganga, and turned 
the wide flow of the waters thereof by means of the 
great channel Akasa-ganga. He also built that 
famous lake known as the Sea of Parakrama, and 
constructed the celebrated Jayaganga canal. It is 
said that the many thousands of lakes, tanks, and 
canals were constructed and repaired by this great 
monarch. 1 

Speaking of the ancient public works of Cambodia, 
Mr. Fergusson remarks : " Wonderful as these temples 
and palaces are, the circumstance that, perhaps, after 
all gives the highest idea of the civilisation of these 
ancient Cambodians is the perfection of their roads 
and bridges. One great trunk road seems to have 
stretched for 300 miles across the country from Korat, 
in a south-easterly direction, to the Mekong river. 
It was a raised causeway, paved throughout like a 
Roman road, and every stream that crossed was 
spanned by a bridge, many of which remain perfect 
to the present day. Dr. Bastian describes two of 
them : One 400 feet in length and 50 feet in breadth, 

1 Mahavamsa, Ch. LXXIX. 


richly ornamented by balustrades and cornices, and 
representations of snakes and the snake-king." x 
In Java and Sumatra " for nearly nine centuries 
(A.D. 603 to 1477) foreign (i.e. Indian) colonists had 
persevered in adorning the island with edifices, almost 
unrivalled elsewhere of their class." 2 

1 Fergusson, History of Indian and Eastern Architecture, Vol. II. p. 402. 

2 Ibid. 


AGRICULTURE was in ancient days as it still is 
the most important industry of the people of India. 
And, naturally, it received encouragement at the 
hands of the State in a variety of ways. Credit 
has always been an essential condition of agriculture 
in India, as in all other agricultural countries, and 
the practice of granting loans to needy cultivators 
began from very early times. In the Mahabharata, 
Narada is made to ask Yudhishthira : " Grantest thou 
with kindness loans unto the tillers, taking only a 
fourth in excess ? " * 

The Agricultural Department of the government 
served as a sort of information bureau for the culti- 
vators. It was presided over by a Superintendent, 
whose duty it was to study the conditions of cultiva- 
tion in the different parts of the country and to 
introduce improved methods, wherever possible. He 
collected improved varieties of seeds and distributed 

1 Sabha Parva, Sec. V. 



them among the agriculturists. 1 He was also ex- 
pected to possess a knowledge of the science of 
meteorology so as to be able to make forecasts of 
weather conditions and of agricultural outlook. 2 
It was under the supervision of this department of 
the government that uncultivated tracts were brought 
into cultivation. The Agricultural Department super- 
vised cultivation on State lands and assessed the 
irrigation rate. It was also responsible for making 
suitable provision for pasturage. 

Associated with this department was that of 
dairy-farming. In Kautilya's time, dairy-farming 
was undertaken by the State in one of two ways. 
Either the State farms were directly worked by the 
government department with the help of herdsmen 
employed for wages, or they were leased to herdsmen 
for a share of the produce. Cattle-breeding also 
engaged the attention of the State. 

Another important activity of the State was that 
which related to arboriculture. Forests were mostly 
under government control. The beneficial influence 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 24. In the Mahabharata, one of Narada's 
questions to Yudhishthira when he enquires into the condition of the kingdom 
is : " Do not agriculturists in thy kingdom want either seed or food ? " 

2 Meteorological forecasts used to be made by observing the position and 
motion of the planets. " Rainfall," says Chanakya, " is said to be well- 
distributed, when one-third falls during the first and third months and 
two-thirds in the second month of the rainy season." The local distribution 
of rain was considered normal in different parts of the country when the 
quantity was as follows : Asmaka (Maharashtra), 13 \ dronas ; forest tracts, 
16 ; Avanti, 23 ; more moist parts, 24 ; and immense quantities on the 
Bombay coast and in the Himalayan regions. Arthasastra, Bk. III. ch. 24. 


of forests in respect of rainfall and the general eco- 
nomic condition of the country was fully appreciated, 
and proper steps were taken for the preservation 
of forests. 1 It was the duty of the forest rangers 
to see that no damage was done to forests. One 
reason why forests received such care at the hands of 
the State was that they yielded considerable incomes 
to the State in the shape of rents, which were largely 
augmented by the profits of productive works esta- 
blished in many parts of the forest area. 2 Proper 
measures were also taken for the preservation of 
beasts and birds, and severe penalties were inflicted 
on persons who were found guilty of violating the 
game laws. 

Mining was an industry to which great attention 
was paid in ancient days. The mines supplied a 
large part of the wealth of India, and were the chief 
attractions to foreign merchants. Mining was not 
confined merely to surface diggings, but followed 
the lodes of metalliferous ores to considerable depths. 
It was the duty of the mining department to exploit 

1 Hunters were engaged to guard the forests against robbers and hostile 
persons. These hunters also sent information to the headquarters regarding 
the movements of wild tribes by means of carrier pigeons. Vide Arthasastra. 
Megasthenes also refers to them when he says : " The same persons have 
charge also of huntsmen, and are entrusted with the power of rewarding 
or punishing them according to their deserts. They collect the taxes and 
superintend the occupations connected with the land, as those of the wood- 
cutters, carpenters, the blacksmiths, and the miners." Fragment XXXIV. 

2 The different kinds of things obtained from forests were in Kautilya's 
time : timber, bamboo, cane, fibrous plants, rope- materials, leaves, flowers, 
roots, fruits, medicinal herbs, metals, clay, firewood, fodder, and wild 
animals. Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 17. 


the resources of existing mines in the most economical 
manner, and to carry on exploring operations which 
might lead to the discovery of new mines. The 
principal kinds of ores obtained from mines were 
gold, silver, copper, lead, tin, and trapu. 1 Gold 
was also obtained from rivers. " Gold," says Curtius, 
" is carried down by several rivers, whose loitering 
waters glide with slow and gentle currents." 2 Curtius 
refers to precious stones and pearls, and remarks : 
" Nor has anything contributed more to the opulence 
of the natives, especially since they spread the com- 
munity of evil to foreign nations." Pliny, in the 
latter part of his 37th book, treats of the various 
kinds of precious stones found in India, and his 
ninth book is full of details about pearls. In his 
15th book, Strabo states that India produced precious 
stones, carbuncles, and pearls of various kinds. In 
Ptolemy's Geography and in the Periplus of the 
Erythraean Sea, mention is made of the diamond, 
beryl, onyx, cornelian, hyacinth, and sapphire as 
precious stones obtained in India. The Arthasastra 
and the Yuktikalpataru give full and detailed 
descriptions of the various kinds of gems found in 
India. 3 

Mines were, as a rule, leased to private persons for 
a certain proportion of the output or for a fixed 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 12. 2 McCrindle, Ancient India. 

3 Arthasastra, Bk. VII. ch. 12. The Sukraniti also describes in detail 
the various kinds of gems and precious stones. VI. 2, 40, etc. 


rent. But such mines as could be worked with small 
capital and properly managed by a government 
department were worked direct by the State. 1 
Chanakya complains that the older teachers paid too 
much attention to the mines which yielded valuable 
minerals, to the neglect of the inferior metals, and says 
that, in his opinion, the latter are quite as important 
as the former. 2 

Associated with mining, but under a separate head, 
was the department of metallurgy. The treatment 
and manufacture of metals was centralised and 
conducted under the supervision of the State. There 
was a special officer, under the Superintendent, whose 
duty it was to control the manufacture of articles of 
jewellery by goldsmiths. Another officer was in 
charge of the manufacture of the inferior metals. 

The working of the mines, as Mr. Hewitt points 
out, " required practical mechanical skill as well as 
the scientific aptitude and perseverance necessary to 
discover the proper method of treating the ores so as 
to extract the precious metals." 3 In fact, in metal- 
lurgical skill the ancient Hindus attained to a very 
high state of efficiency. Ample evidence of this is to 
be found in ancient works of industrial art. With 
reference to the iron pillar near the Kutb Minar of 
Delhi, which is 24 feet in height and which was per- 
haps erected in the fifth century A.D., Fergusson says : 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 12. 2 Arthasastra, Bk. VII. ch. 12. 

3 Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. 18. 


" It opens our eyes to an unsuspected state of affairs 
to find the Hindus at that age forging a bar of iron 
larger than any that have been forged even in Europe 
to a very late date, and not frequently even now." 1 

The manufacture of salt and the brewing of liquors 2 
were industries under the direct control of the State. 
Both of them were government monopolies. There 
were many other industrial pursuits which, although 
undertaken by private enterprise, were supervised 
by the State. Of these, weaving was perhaps the 
most important. The State encouraged, by offering 
rewards, spinning and the associated industries, as 
well as the weaving of the better kinds of cotton 
cloths, and the manufacture of woollen and silken 
garments. 3 That there was a great demand for such 
clothes in early times is proved by the testimony of 
the Greek writers. 4 In comparatively modern times, 
Hiuen Tsiang says : " Their garments are made of 
kausheya and of cotton. Kausheya is the product 

1 Fergusson, Eastern Architecture. 

2 According to Chanakya, it was the duty of the Superintendent of Liquors 
to prevent such excessive drinking as might lead to the commission of 
crimes. The intimate relation between alcohol and crime was thus not 
unknown in ancient times. 

3 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 23. 

4 Of the dress of Indians in olden times Curtius says : " They cover their 
persons down to the feet with fine muslin, are shod with sandals, and coil 
round their heads cloths of linen. They hang precious stones as pendants 
from their ears, and persons of high social rank or of great wealth deck 
their wrists and upper arm with bracelets of gold." Arrian quotes a passage 
from Nearchos and says that the Indians " wear an undergarment of cotton 
which reaches below the knee half way down and also an upper garment. 
They wear shoes made of white leather." Ancient India (McCrindle). 


of the wild silk- worm. They have garments also 
of Kshauma which is a sort of hemp ; garments also 
made of kambala which is woven from fine goat-hair ; 
garments also made from karala." 1 The important 
reason for controlling the weaving industry seems to 
have been the necessity for giving employment to 
widows and partially disabled persons. 

The State also regulated the production of goods by 
bringing under its control the guilds of producers. 
There were many such guilds, and according to Prof. 
Khys Davids, in the early Buddhist times they 
included the following : 

(1) Workers in metal who made iron implements, 
including those of husbandry and war, but they 
also did finer work, and gold and silver work of great 
delicacy and beauty ; (2) workers in stone, who did 
rough as well as fine work, e.g. crystal bowl, or 
stone coffer ; (3) weavers, who not only made ordinary 
clothes, but manufactured muslins and costly and 
dainty fabrics ; (4) ivory- workers, who made articles 
for ordinary use and also costly ornaments ; (5) 
jewellers, who made beautiful ornaments of various 
kinds ; (6) leather workers ; (7) potters ; (8) dyers ; 
(9) fishermen ; (10) butchers ; (11) hunters and 
trappers ; (12) cooks and confectioners ; (13) garland 
makers and flower sellers ; (14) sailors ; (15) rush- 
workers and basket-makers ; and (16) painters. 2 

1 Buddhist Records, Bk. II. 

2 Rhys Davids, Buddhist India, pp. 90-95. 


These guilds (sreni, puga) were very useful institu- 
tions in olden times, and it was through them that 
the King summoned the people on important occa- 
sions. They settled disputes between members by 
arbitration, and maintained high standards in pro- 
duction. Their business was conducted in assembly, 
and their Presidents (Nayakas, or Mukhyas) * occupied 
high positions in society. 

Even more important than the Industry Depart- 
ment was the Commerce Department of the State. 
The country owed its prosperity largely to trade and 
commerce ; and as these produced large revenues 
to the State, they received tender care at the hands 
of the government officials. The chief business of 
the Superintendent of Commerce was to facilitate 
the growth of the internal trade as well as of the 
foreign commerce of the country. And with that 
view his first duty was to secure the safety and con- 
venience of the mercantile traffic. As different parts 
of the country produced different sorts of goods, 
there was an active internal trade, and merchants 
conveyed their goods either up and down the rivers 
or right across the country in carts travelling in 
caravans. 2 Chanakya discusses the comparative 
merits and defects of land and water routes. Accord- 
ing to older writers, the water routes were regarded 

1 Inscriptions from Belgaum (1204 A.D), ed. by L. D. Barnett. 

8 From the Jataka stories we learn that caravans of five hundred bullock 
waggons were used by merchants for transporting goods between Benares 
and Pataliputra and the sea-coast. 


as better, being less expensive and troublesome, 
and consequently productive of larger profits. But 
Chanakya points out several difficulties of com- 
munication by water, namely, that it is liable to 
obstruction ; it is not available in all seasons, and 
it is more liable to dangers and less easy to defend. 1 
Trade routes (banik-patha) are divided by Chanakya 
under four heads, namely, those going north towards 
the Himalayas ; those going south beyond the 
Vindhya mountains ; those going west ; and those 
going east. The northern and the southern routes 
were both regarded as very important, for the principal 
products of the north were elephants, horses, fragrant 
substances, ivory, wool, skins, silver, and gold, while 
in the south conches, diamonds, gems, pearls, and 
gold and other metals could be obtained in abun- 
dance. 2 The Buddhist books give us a more detailed 
description of the trade routes. From these we 
know that an important route went from Sravasti 
to Pratishthana, the principal stopping places being 
Mahismati, Ujjayini, Vidisa, Kosambi, and Saketa. 
Another road ran from the north to the south-east 
from Sravasti to Rajagriha, and the stopping places 
were Setavya, Kapilavastu, Kusinagara, Pava, Hasti- 
grama, Bhandagrama, Vaisali, Pataliputra, and 
Nalanda. This road probably went on to Gaya and 
there met another road from the coast of the Bay 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. VII. ch. 2. 

2 Ibid. 


of Bengal. 1 The Greek writers speak of a road 
which went from Pushkalavati (Pesketaotis) near 
Attock through Takshasila, Bukephala, and crossing 
the Hyphasis to Pataliputra. Another road went 
from Pushkalavati to Indraprastha (near modern 
Delhi) and then to Ujjayini. These and many other 
roads connected different parts of the country with 
one another and with the seaports. The Indian 
caravans were perhaps met at border-stations by 
western caravans bound for Persia, Tyre, and Egypt. 
The northern route crossed the Himalayas and went 
to Tibet and China. 

The main waterways were the Indus and its tribu- 
taries in the Punjab, the Jumna and Ganges with 
their tributaries and branches in Middle India, and 
the Brahmaputra in the east. The rivers of the 
Deccan and South India were also useful to some 
extent as waterways. Besides these natural water 
routes, the navigation canals probably afforded some 
facilities of communication in certain parts of the 

The government, however, did not confine their 
attention to inland navigation, for we know that 
merchants sailed along the coasts, and even made 
ocean voyages to Persia, Arabia, Egypt, Burma, the 
islands of the Indian and Pacific oceans, and China. 
Foreign commerce perhaps began before the advent 
of the Aryans in India. It is believed that a large 

1 Vide Rhys Davids, Buddhist India, p. 104. 


maritime trade was carried on between India and 
the Accadian-Semitic Empire of Assyria. Many 
centuries later, Solomon (in the tenth century B.C.) 
and his ally Hiram used to send every three years 
ships of Tarshish to India, and these ships used to 
take back Indian produce. In the Rig- Veda, there 
are several references to sea-voyages undertaken 
by men " eager for gain." 1 The Baudhayana Dharma- 
sutra also mentions maritime navigation (samudra- 
samyana) and taxes levied on maritime commerce 
(samudra-sulka). 2 At the time of Alexander's in- 
vasion, Indians were expert sailors, and it was Indian 
pilots who guided Alexander's vessels. 3 The author 
of the Periplus says : " Native fishermen appointed 
by Government are stationed with well-manned long 
boats called trappaga and kotumba at the entrance 
of the river whence they go out as far as Surastrene 
to meet ships, and pilot them to Barygaza. At the 
head of the gulf, the pilot immediately on taking 
charge of a ship, with the help of his own boat's crew, 
shifts her clear of the shoals, and tows her from one 
fixed station to another." 4 

For the safety and convenience of sea-going vessels, 
harbours were constructed by the governments at 
suitable places. The seaports on the coast of the 

1 Rig- Veda, I. 48, 3, and I. 116, 5. Cf. Atharva-Veda, V. 19, 8, where 
the ruin of a kingdom in which Brahmanas are oppressed is compared to 
the sinking of a ship which is leaking. 

2 1, 1, 20 ; II. 1, 41 ; I. 10, 13. 3 Arrian (McCrindle), p. 163. 

4 Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. 


Arabian Sea attained to positions of considerable 
importance and renown. Bharukachha (Sans. 
Bhrigu-kshetra, Gr. Barygaza, modem Broach) was 
the greatest seat of commerce in Western India. 
Three other important ports were Patala and Bar- 
barikon, near the mouth of the Indus, and Surashtra 
(modern Surat) at the mouth of the Tapti. Ujjayani 
is mentioned in the Periplus as an inland port. From 
this town were " brought down to Barygaza every 
commodity for the supply of the country and for 
export to our own (i.e. Greek) markets onyx-stones, 
porcelain, fine muslins, mallow-coloured muslins, 
and no small quantity of ordinary cottons." * The 
two great seats of commerce in the interior of the 
Deccan (Dakshinapatha) 2 were Pratishthana (Paithana) 
and Tagara-pura (Tangara, identified with Tair, 
now a small village). The seaports on the Malabar 
coast were Nelkunda and Mouziris (Murjari). The 
latter was a city " at the height of prosperity, fre- 
quented by ships from Ariake and Greek ships from 
Egypt." The coast of the Bay of Bengal, on account 
of the usual roughness of the sea, did not offer much 
facility for the construction of harbours and the 
growth of seaports, but there were two towns of 
considerable importance on this coast, namely, Man- 
sala (Masalia, modern Masalipatam) in the Madras 

1 Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, p. 122. 

8 The other inland ports mentioned in the Periplus are Naoura (Onore) 
and Tundis (Tundi). 


Presidency and Gange near the mouth of the Ganges. 1 
At the time of Fa Hian's visit, 2 Tamralipti 3 in Bengal 
was a very important seaport, and had an extensive 
traffic with South India and Ceylon. The prosperity 
of Tamralipti was great in Hiuen Tsiang's time. 
" Wonderful articles of value," says the Chinese 
traveller, " and gems are collected here in abundance, 
and, therefore, the people of the country are in general 
very rich." 4 

The principal exports from India were : topazes, 
sapphires, silk, fine linen, muslin, silk thread, indigo, 
coloured cloths, cotton, rice, oil, cattle, clarified 
butter, and soapstone. Besides these, Pliny speaks 
of the large quantities of gold and silver which were 
taken from the mines on the other side of Mons 
Capitolia (Mount Abu), and he estimates the capital 
expended every year in the purchase of Indian goods 
at fifty million sesterces (a sum equal to about 
500,000) and says that twenty ships passed yearly 
out of the Eed Sea to India. 5 The chief imports were 
Italian, Laodicean and Arabian wines, brass, tin, 
cloths of various kinds, slaves, cloves, honey, coarse 
glass, red sulphuret of antimony, and gold and silver 

1 Periplus, p. 132. 

2 We also read of ' Thina ' as an important port in Burma. 

3 It was from this port that Fa Hian sailed for Ceylon. The vessel in 
which he went carried 200 men, and astern of this great ship was a smaller 

4 Beal, Buddhist Records. I-Tsing also mentions it as a flourishing port. 
6 Pliny, Hist. Nat. VI. 23. 


coins. 1 From China, India imported certain kinds 
of woollen and silk fabrics. 2 

As large numbers of boats were required for the 
transportation of goods, the construction of vessels 
became a very important industry, and this was 
undertaken either by, or under the auspices of, the 
State. 3 Ships and boats (nau) are mentioned in the 
Eig-Veda and the Atharva-Veda. The ships with 
which Alexander was supplied on his return from 
India numbered eighty thirty-oared galleys, but the 
whole fleet did not fall much short of two thousand. 
The author of the Periplus says : ' The ships which 
frequent these parts are of a large size, on account 
of the great amount and bulkiness of the pepper and 
betel of which their lading consists." 4 Chanakya 
speaks of various sorts of boats, and Bhoja in the 
Yukti-kalpataru, mentions twenty-four different 

The Commerce Department of the State, besides 
keeping the means of communication open and safe, 
and collecting the trade dues, performed other impor- 
tant duties. It encouraged the importation of foreign 
merchandise by a remission of taxes in proper cases, 
and it not only protected the foreign merchants but 
secured to them certain special privileges. 5 Megas- 
thenes says : " Among the Indians, officers are 

1 Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. 2 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 11. 

3 Vide Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 16. 

4 Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, p. 136. 5 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 16. 


appointed even for foreigners, whose duty is to see 
that no foreigner is wronged." x The Superintendent 
of this department facilitated the exportation of goods 
not required for home consumption. He acquainted 
himself with the values of goods in different countries, 
and encouraged the production of such goods as 
might be profitably exchanged for foreign goods. 
He also furnished the merchants with information 
relating to such matters as conveyance charges, 
expenses on the road to any foreign country, the 
dangers of the journey, the history of towns, and 
the trade customs of different places. 2 Sometimes, 
merchants formed combinations amongst themselves 
for the purpose of raising prices to an excessive 
extent. 3 In such cases, it was the duty of the Superin- 
tendent to fix the prices of commodities. According 
to Chanakya, prices were to be fixed after determining 
the amount of capital outlay and the total cost of 
production, including such charges as the payment 
of tolls, road-dues and other taxes, the cost of labour, 

1 Fragment I. Megasthenes adds : " Should any of them lose his health, 
they send physicians to attend him, and take care of him otherwise, and if 
he dies, they bury him, and deliver over such property as he leaves to his 
relatives. The Judges also decide cases in which foreigners are concerned 
with the greatest care, and come down sharply on those who take unfair 
advantage of them." 

2 Ibid. 

3 Chanakya says : " The more greedy among the merchants often oppress 
the people by forming combines and making profits of cent, per cent, (pane 
panasatam)." The Nitivakyamrita says : " Merchants left to themselves 
charge high prices for their goods, and, therefore, the King should regulate 
prices." Ch. VIII. 


and the expenses of conveyance. When the prices 
were fixed by the government, a profit of five per cent, 
on local goods and of ten per cent, on imported 
commodities was allowed. 1 In case of an over-supply 
of goods, it was the duty of the Superintendent to 
control the production until the stock was exhausted. 
Balances, weights and measures were manufactured 
and sold by government, and any person using 
false weights, measures or balances was severely 
punished. The State also took steps for preventing 
the adulteration of goods, especially of food articles. 2 
Transactions were carried on, and values estimated, 
in terms of coins of various substances and denomina- 
tions. Gold coins were perhaps rarely used, silver 
and copper coins forming the bulk of the medium of 
exchange. 3 The silver karsha and the copper karshd- 
pana were the coins mostly used. 4 Originally, it 
seems, the coins were guaranteed as to weight and 
fineness by punch marks which were tokens of mer- 
chants, or of guilds, or of the bullion-makers ; but 
later on, coins were struck chiefly by royal authority. 
In Chanakya's time, gold and silver coins were issued 
in abundance from the royal mints. 5 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. IV. ch. 2. 2 Arthasastra, Bk. IV. ch. 2. 

3 Many of the Smriti works mention gold coins. 

4 The silver coins were pana, -pana, J-pana, and |-pana, in Chanakya's 
time. Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 12. 

5 Some of the Smriti works refer to the Karshapana as a silver coin, while 
others regard it as a copper coin. The Sukraniti refers to silver Karshas. 
In Prof. Rhys Davids' opinion, the Kahapana was a copper coin in early 


There was also a considerable use of instruments 
of credit, and promissory notes were not unknown. 1 
We are not exactly aware what banking facilities 
there were in the country, but we know that loans 
were frequently given. 2 Gautama, one of the early 
law-givers, mentions the practice of lending money 
at interest (kuslda). 3 Brihaspati mentions six 
different kinds of interest, viz. Kayika (bodily), 
Kalika (periodical), Chakra-vrddhi (compound in- 
terest), Karita (stipulated interest), Sikhavriddhi 
(hair-increase), and bhogalabha (interest by enjoy- 
ment). 4 This lending of money at interest was 
permitted only to Vaisyas. Usury, however, was 
strongly condemned. Bodhayana quotes the follow- 
ing verse in condemnation of usury : ' Weighed 
in the scales the crime of killing a learned Brahmana 
against (the crime) of usury ; the slayer of the 
Brahmana remained at the top, the usurer (vardhushi) 
sank downwards." 5 Almost all the law-books, there- 
fore, insist on a limitation of the rate of interest. 
According to Gautama and Vasishtha the legal rate 
of interest is lj per cent, per month, or 15 per cent. 

Buddhist times. He says : " Though the Kahapana would be worth, at 
the present value of copper, only five-sixths of a penny, its purchasing 
power then was about equal to the purchasing power of a shilling now." 
Buddhist India, p. 101. 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. II. chs. 12-14. 

2 Prof. Rhys Davids says : " The great merchants in the few large towns 
gave letters of credit on one another." Buddhist India, p. 101. 

3 Gautama, X. 6. * Brihaspati, XI. 55. 

5 Bodhayana, I. 5, 10, 23. This verse is also quoted by Vasishtha, II. 42. 



per annum. Manu and Chanakya also regard this 
as the proper rate. Where, however, no security 
was given, or in cases where no periodical interest 
was taken, or the loan was returned in kind, higher 
rates of interest might be demanded. According 
to some law-givers, the interest demanded from the 
members of the higher castes was to be less than 
from those of the lower. On this point Vasishtha 
quotes the following verse : " Two in the hundred, 
three, four and five, as has been declared in the 
Smriti, he may take as interest by the month according 
to the order of the castes." l Some of the law-books 
also lay it down that interest should cease after a 
time, and that no debtor should ever be compelled 
to pay more than double the amount of capital in 
case of gold and three times in the case of grain. 2 
The fact that usury was strongly condemned must 
have made the lending of money at interest rather 
unusual, and it was perhaps this circumstance which 
prompted Megasthenes to say : " The Indians neither 
put out money at usury, nor know how to borrow. 
It is contrary to established usage for an Indian either 
to do or to suffer a wrong, and therefore, they neither 
make contracts nor require securities." 3 

1 Vasishtha, II. 48. Vasishtha, II. 44. 

3 Megasthenes, Fragment XXVII. 



THE Sanskrit word e dharma ' is usually rendered into 
English by ' religion.' But the two words are not 
exactly the same in meaning. The essence of religion 
is creed ; of dharma, conduct. Thus c dharma ' is 
wider in its signification than religion. It includes 
the ideas of virtue, piety, duty, and law. Somadeva 
Suri, in his Nitivakyamrita, defines ' dharma ' as 
that which promotes the greatest good of society. 1 

In the early Vedic times, no sharp line of dis- 
tinction was drawn between the religious and the 
political activities of the people. Sacrificial meetings 
were often converted into assemblies for the dis- 
cussion of matters of military, civil, and judicial 
interest. Gradually, however, it must have been 

1 Nitivakyamrita, Ch. 1. Prof. Rhys Davids defines * dharma ' as " what 
it behoves a man of right feeling to do or, on the other hand, what a man 
of sense will naturally hold." Buddhist India. The Mitakshara mentions 
the following six kinds of ' dharmas ' or duties: (1) Varna-dharma, or 
duties of castes ; (2) Asrama-dharma, or duties of orders ; (3) Varnasrama- 
dharma, or duties of the orders of particular castes ; (4) Guna-dharma, or 
duties of persons in accordance with their qualities ; (5) Nimitta-dharma, 
or duties on particular occasions ; and (6) Sadharana-dharma, or general 
duties (i.e. those to be observed by all)." 


found necessary to separate the political functions of 
the State from the religious concerns of the people, 
and the rise of the caste-system perhaps helped this 
process of separation. 

The connection of the State with Dharma in the 
Brahmanic period was of a peculiar kind. The 
religious rites and ceremonies, and the ethical rules 
of conduct, were settled and declared by the Brah- 
manas. In these matters the State did not interfere. 
But it was the duty of the King and his officials to 
enforce the observance by the people of their respec- 
tive duties. The King was thus the protector, but 
not the head, of religion. 

After Asoka's conversion to Buddhism, it became 
a sort of state religion in Northern India, and that 
great monarch assumed a position not very far 
removed from the headship of the Buddhist Church. 
He settled disputes between members of the various 
orders, and even arrogated to himself to look after 
their private concerns. In the Kosambi Edict, Asoka 
instructs his high officers in these words : : The way 
of the church must not be quitted. Whosoever shall 
break the unity of the Church, whether monk or 
nun, from this time forth shall be compelled to wear 
white garments and to dwell in a place not reserved 
for the clergy." * He made Dharma a special depart- 
ment of the State, and appointed officials called 
Dharma-mahamatras and Dharma-yutas to have 

1 Vide also the Sarnath Edict and the Sanchi Edict. 

xix RELIGION 277 

charge of that department. 1 In Kock Edict V. 
Asoka says : " Now in all the long time past, officers 
known as the Censors of the Law of Piety never had 
existed, whereas such Censors were created by me 
when I had been consecrated thirteen years." He 
convoked religious assemblies from time to time, and 
one of the Great Buddhist Councils is believed to 
have been held during his reign. His officers of 
religion paid constant visits to different parts of the 
country to instruct the people in ' dharma,' 2 and he 
himself undertook tours of piety (dharma) wherein 
were practised " the visiting of ascetics and Brah- 
manas, with liberality to them, the visiting of Elders, 
with largess of gold, the visiting of the people of the 
country, with instruction in the Law of Piety and 
discussion of the Law of Piety." 3 Asoka, however, 
did not rest content with instructing his own people 
in ' dharma/ but adopted measures for the preaching 
of Buddhism in foreign countries. In Asoka's opinion, 
the chief conquest was the conquest by the Law of 
Piety, and this was won by him not only among such 

1 ' Dharma-mahamatras ' is translated by Mr. V. A. Smith as " superior 
officers charged with the supervision of the Law of Piety." He also accepts 
Mr. Thomas's translation of ' dharma-yutas ' as " subordinate officers of 
religion." Vide Asoka, Rock Edicts, footnotes. 

2 Before the appointment of the special officers of religion, the ordinary 
State officials had the duty of instructing the people in ' dharma.' In Rock 
Edict IV. we read : " Everywhere in my dominions the subordinate officials 
and the Commissioner, and the District Officer, every five years must proceed 
on circuit, as well for their other business, as for this special purpose, namely, 
to give instruction in the Law of Piety." 

* Rock Edict VIII. 


settlers within his own dominions as the Yonas and 
the Kambojas, among the Nabhapamtis of Nabhaka, 
among the Bhojas and Pitinikas, among the Andhras 
and Pulindas, but also in the realms of the Cholas 
and Pandyas, in Ceylon, and even in such distant 
countries as Egypt, Cyrene, Macedonia, Epirus, and 
Syria. 1 

This missionary work in connection with Buddhism 
was continued after the death of Asoka. Religious 
teachers, proceeding from various centres of religious 
influence, carried a knowledge of the doctrines and 
discipline to different foreign countries. The con- 
version of Kanishka to the Buddhist faith led to the 
still wider diffusion of Buddhism in Central Asia 
and Tibet. From these countries a knowledge of 
Buddhist doctrine spread to China, and, in the first 
century A.D., at the request of the Emperor of China, 
a band of Buddhist missionaries headed by Kasyapa 
Matanga was sent to that country. During the 
following centuries a constant communication was 
kept up between India and China, and Buddhism 
made rapid progress in the latter country. From 
China the religion travelled to Japan, which soon 
became strongly attached to Buddhism. The religion 
of the Buddha continued to spread, till it became the 

1 Rock Edict XIII. (Shahbazgarhi text). With reference to the character 
of this conquest Asoka says : " And again, the conquest thereby won 
everywhere is everywhere a conquest full of delight. Delight is found in 
the conquests made by the Law. That delight, however, is only a small 
matter. His Sacred Majesty regards as bearing much fruit only that which 
concerns the other world." 

xix RELIGION 279 

faith of a greater number of human beings than had 
ever before or have since adopted the creed of any 
single religion. 

After Asoka the position of the head of the church 
was claimed by very few if any monarchs of India. 
Kings, however, in many parts of the country, con- 
tinued to lend their active support to Buddhism by 
constructing Viharas and Sangharamas, 1 by erecting 
images of the Buddha, by endowing Buddhist insti- 
tutions, and by holding Buddhist religious assemblies. 
Under the sanction of Kanishka, the third Buddhist 
Great Council was held, at which the teaching of the 
three Pitakas was arranged according to the doctrines 
of the various schools. King Harshavardhana as- 
sembled every year the Sramanas from all countries, 
and bestowed on them gifts of all kinds. He ordered 
the priests to carry on discussions, and himself judged 
of their arguments, whether they were weak or 
strong. 2 He rewarded the good and punished the 
wicked, degraded the evil and promoted the men of 
talent. He showed great reverence and honour to 
priests who were learned and were distinguished for 
purity of life ; but if any one disregarded the rules 

1 At the time of Hiuen Tsiang's visit, there were 100 Sangharamas and 
10,000 priests in Kanauj, 50 Sangharamas and 10,000 priests in Magadha, 
100 Sangharamas and 20,000 priests in Malava, and 100 Sangharamas and 
5,000 priests in the Maharashtra country. 

* On one such occasion, Hiuen Tsiang " established the standard of right 
doctrine without gainsaying " ; and after this the King persuaded him to 
go on a procession on an elephant attended by the great Ministers of State. 
Bk. IV. 


of morality, him he banished from the country, and 
would neither see him nor listen to him. 1 

Once in every five years, Harshavardhana held the 
great assembly called the Moksa Mahaparishat. 
On such occasions he emptied his treasuries to give 
all away in charity. Hiuen Tsiang witnessed one of 
these assemblies, and he gives a beautiful description 
of it. The kings of twenty countries assembled with 
the Sramanas and Brahmanas, the most distinguished 
of their country, with magistrates and soldiers. The 
ceremonies lasted several days. One day a golden 
statue of Buddha was carried in procession, attended 
on the left by Harshavardhana himself, dressed as 
Sakra and holding a precious canopy, and on the 
right by Kumara-raja, dressed as Brahma and 
waving a white chamara. Each of them had as an 
escort 500 war-elephants clad in armour ; and in 
front and behind the statue of Buddha went 100 
great elephants carrying musicians, who sounded the 
drums and raised their music. King Harsha, as he 
went, scattered on every side pearls and various 
precious substances in honour of the three objects of 
worship. After the feast, the men of learning 
assembled in the hall and discussed, in elegant lan- 
guage, the most abstruse subjects. 2 

From about the fifth century A.D. Buddhism began 
to decline in India. Brahmanism, which had so far 

1 Hiuen Tsiang, Buddnist Records, Bk. V. 

2 Ibid. 

xix RELIGION 281 

flourished side by side and in friendly relations with 
Buddhism, began now to receive greater encourage- 
ment at the hands of the rulers, some of whom even 
went the length of persecuting the more corrupt 
forms of the religion of the Buddha. The tenets of 
Jainism also became gradually more and more popular, 
and helped in a considerable degree to supplant the 
Buddhist doctrines. 

In Ceylon, Buddhism took a firmer root than in 
India, and remained a sort of State Keligion until 
recent years. Many of the Kings of Ceylon claimed 
the headship of the Church. Devanampiya Tissa, 
under whom Buddhism was spread throughout the 
island, assumed the power to regulate the affairs of 
the Church. Another King, Kassapa IV., took upon 
himself the duty of purifying the religion and enforcing 
discipline among the priests by the expulsion of 
immoral men and the appointment of new priests in 
the vacant places. 1 King Parakrama Bahu intro- 
duced unity in the offices of the church. 2 He also 
held a great trial of the priests, and unfrocked those 
who were found guilty of unworthy conduct. Nis- 
samka Malla also introduced many reforms in the 
church organisation. 3 

So much about the credal side of dharma. 4 The 
more important side of e dharma,' as has already been 

1 Mahavamsa, Ch. LII. 2 Ibid. Ch. LXXVII. 

8 Vide Epigraphia Zeylanica. 

4 In Pillar Edict VI. Asoka says : " I devote my attention to all com- 
munities, for all denominations are reverenced by me with various forms of 


remarked, consisted in right conduct. This aspect, 
although present in Brahmanism, became more 
prominent in Buddhism, and was strongly empha- 
sised by Asoka. The true ceremonial, in Asoka's 
opinion, was the ceremonial of Piety which con- 
sisted in purity of mind, gratitude, steadfastness, 
mastery over the senses, truthfulness of speech, 
toleration, liberality, proper treatment of dependents 
and servants, obedience to father and mother, right 
behaviour towards friends, comrades, relations, as- 
cetics, and Brahmanas, and abstention from the 
slaughter of living creatures. 1 It was always con- 
sidered the duty of the State to offer facilities for the 
performance of their duties by the people. And the 
State itself had certain active duties to perform in 
the domain of ( dharma.' One of these was the 
relief of the poor, the helpless, and the afflicted. 
For this purpose there were almsgiving establishments 
and punyasalas. Very often gifts of property and 
grants of revenues were made by the State for the 
support of religious teachers and learned men. With 
regard to such grants, Vishnu says : "He (the King) 
must not suffer any Brahmana in his realm to perish 
through want ; nor any other man leading a pious 

reverence. Nevertheless, personal adherence to one's own creed is the chief 
thing in my opinion." 

1 Vide Rock Edicts IV. and VII. and other Edicts. With reference to 
Asoka's religious work, Prof. Rhys Davids remarks : " But how sane the 
grasp of things most difficult to grasp. How simple, how true, how tolerant, 
his view of conduct of life." 

xix RELIGION 283 

life. Let him bestow landed property upon Brah- 
manas. To those upon whom he has bestowed (land) 
he must give a document destined for the information 
of a future ruler, which must be written upon a piece 
of (cotton) cloth, or a copper plate, and must contain 
the names of his (three) immediate ancestors, a 
declaration of the extent of the land, and an impre- 
cation against him who should appropriate the 
donation to himself, and should be signed with his 
own seal." * 

Asoka appointed many high officers to superintend 
his establishment for the distribution of alms in 
Magadha as well as in the other provinces. 2 He also 
established hospitals and dispensaries, for men as 
well as for animals, throughout his wide dominions. 3 
On the roads he had banyan trees and mango-groves 
planted, and at every mile he caused wells to be dug 
and rest-houses to be erected. 4 From numerous in- 
scriptions we know that this kind of charitable work 
was continued by successive monarchs. The Gadhwa 
Stone Inscription of Chandragupta Gupta II., for 
instance, tells us that that monarch erected a per- 
petual almshouse for the Brahmanas of a certain 

1 Vishnu, III. 79-82. Endowment of lands or taxes granted by one King 
was, as a rule, maintained by his successors. In an inscription of a recent 
date (1204 A. D.) occurs the following passage : " The slayer of a cow or of a 
Brahmana may perchance find atonement in the Ganges and other holy 
places ; but in the case of the appropriation of the possessions and goods 
of Brahmanas, there can be no (atonement) for man." Inscriptions from 
Belgaum B. (ed. by L. D. Barnett). 

* Pillar Edict VII. 3 Rock Edict II. * Pillar Edict VII. 


place. 1 The Sanchi Stone Inscription records the 
gift by the same monarch of the income of a village 
for the support of Bhikshus. In the Bilsad Stone 
Pillar Inscription of Kumaragupta mention is made 
of the dedication of a religious almshouse of large 
dimensions and beautiful structure to the use of those 
who are eminent in respect of virtuous qualities. 2 
According to Hiuen Tsiang, King Harshavardhana 
" in all the highways of the towns and villages through- 
out India created hospices (punyasalas) provided with 
food and drink, and stationed there physicians, with 
medicines for travellers and poor persons round about 
to be given without stint." 3 

Charitable establishments in aid of ' dharma ' were 
erected and maintained not only by the State, but 
also by guilds of merchants and pious individuals. 
In Fa Hian's time, Kings, ministers, and people are 
said to have vied with each other in making gifts to 
the poor and to religious persons. 4 The same benevo- 
lent spirit was observed by Hiuen Tsiang as subsisting 
in the seventh century. At this time the Nalanda 
Monastery was known as the " charity without inter- 
mission " monastery, where myriads of priests were 
entertained, and people from every part hospitably 
received. 5 

1 Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, Vol. III. 

2 Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, Vol. III. 

3 Buddhist Records, Bk. V. * Fa Hian, Ch. XI. 
5 Life of Hiuen Tsiang, p. 110. 

xix RELIGION 285 

Education was another activity connected with 
religion. From very early times, teachers and 
scholars were supported by the State, either by 
periodical allowances or by gifts of lands, incomes of 
villages, and proceeds of taxes. 1 Under the patronage 
of Kings, famous seats of learning grew up in different 
parts of the country to which scholars flocked in 
thousands and tens of thousands. Education re- 
ceived a great impetus after the spread of Buddhism. 
Under Brahmanism education was mainly confined 
to the higher classes of society, but Buddhism pro- 
claimed the equality of all mankind, and Buddhist 
monarchs thought it necessary to make arrangements 
for the instruction of the multitude. 

The congregation of learned men at the seats of 
learning gave rise to Universities. The first im- 
portant university of ancient times was Taksha-sila. 
The Jatakas speak of Taksha-sila as a great centre 
of learning, where the pupils were taught by teachers 
of world- wide fame. 2 At the University of Taksha- 
sila eighteen branches of learning were taught in 
separate schools, each of which was presided over 
by a special professor. The subjects taught there 
included not only philosophy, theology, and litera- 
ture, but also sculpture, painting, and handicrafts. 
Taksha-sila continued to flourish till about the first 
century before Christ. In the early centuries of the 

1 Vide Sukraniti, Ch. II. sis. 122-123. 

2 Vide, for instance, the Bhimasena Jataka, in Cowell's Jataka, Vol. I. 


Christian Era, there grew up in Berar the University 
of Dhanya Kataka. 1 

But the most important of the Indian Universities 
was that of Nalanda. The Nalanda Vihara was, 
according to Hiuen Tsiang, established by a King 
of Central India, and a long succession of Kings 
continued the work of building, using all the skill 
of the sculptor, till the whole is truly marvellous to 
behold." 2 The lands in its possession contained 
more than 200 villages, these having been bestowed 
on the monastery by Kings of many generations. 3 
In this university the teachers were men of con- 
spicuous talent, solid learning, exalted eloquence, 
and illustrious virtue, 4 whose fame had spread through 
distant regions. From morning till night the teachers 
and pupils engaged in continuous discussion. Learned 
men from different cities went there in multitudes to 
settle their doubts, and the streams of wisdom and 
knowledge spread far and wide. Hiuen Tsiang gives 
a detailed description of the course of studies at this 
university, which included both sacred and profane 
subjects. The pupils started with the study of the 
siddha-vastu (or the book of twelve chapters), and 
then they were instructed in the five chief Vidyas, 
namely, Sabda-vidya, or the science of sounds ; Silpa- 
vidya, or the science of mechanics, etc. ; Cikitsa- 
vidya, or the science of medicine ; Hetu-vidya, or 

1 Journal of the Buddhist Text Society, Pt. IV. vol. vii. 

2 Hiuen Tsiang, Bk. X. 3 Takakusu, I-Tsing, p. 65. * Ibid. 



the science of causes ; and Adhyatma-vidya, or 
metaphysics. The Brahmanas also studied the four 
Vedas. 1 

The monastic University of Odantapuri was perhaps 
founded in the fifth or sixth century A.D., but it rose 
to fame during the reigns of the Pala Kings of Bengal. 2 
It had a splendid library, which was destroyed by the 
Mahomedans at the time of their first invasion of 
Bengal. Another University which was established 
under the patronage of the Pala Kings was that of 
Vikrama-sila. It is said that the University was 
composed of six colleges, and employed more than a 
hundred professors. There were numerous religious 
establishments and hostels attached to the University 
for the residence of monks and pupils. Varanasi in 
Northern India and Kanchi in the south also flourished 
as seats of learning for many centuries. 

1 Buddhist Records, Bk. II. 

8 Journal of the Buddhist Text Society, Pt. IV. vol. vii. 


WE know practically nothing of the system of village 
government which existed in India in pre-Aryan 
times. A distinguished scholar has, however, tried 
to establish the following points : 

The Dravidians, when they assumed the govern- 
ment of countries originally peopled by Kolarian 
tribes, retained the village communities established 
by their predecessors, but reformed the village 
system. They made each separate village and each 
province formed by a union of villages more dependent 
on the central authority than they were under the 
Kolarian form of government. Under the Dravidian 
rule, all public offices beginning with the headships of 
villages were filled by nominees appointed by the 
State instead of being elective as among the Kolarians. 
The Dravidians set apart lands appropriated to the 
public service in every village, required the tenants 
to cultivate these public lands, and stored their 
produce in the royal and provincial granaries, this 
being the form in which the earliest taxes were paid. 


They also in the Dravidian villages made every man 
and woman bear his or her share in contributing 
to the efficiency of the government, but this system 
was not followed in the same completeness in the 
Kolarian villages, where the people were riot so ready 
as the Dravidian races to submit to strict discipline, 
to which the Dravidians had been accustomed long 
before they entered India. 1 

A discussion of these points would take us beyond 
the scope of the present work, and we shall therefore 
confine our attention to the Aryan system of village 
administration. In the early Vedic times, the 
villagers themselves managed the simple affairs of 
the village ; 2 but the States being small, there was 
hardly any distinction between the Central and the 
Local Government. In course of time, however, it 
was found necessary to have a separate organisation 
for the management of local affairs ; and as the 
States grew larger and larger in size, the distinction 
between the two kinds of governmental activity 
became more and more marked. 

Originally, it seems, the villages were completely 
self-governing. They were practically free from 
central control. The gramani 3 (headman) and other 
village officials were appointed by the community and 

1 F. J. Hewitt's article in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol XXI. 

2 Prof. Macdonell says : " The village does not appear to have been a 
unit for legal purposes in early days, and it can hardly be said to have been 
a political unit." Vedic Index, I. p. 246. 

8 The word ' gramani,' leader of the village, occurs in the Rig- Veda. 


were accountable to them. 1 But gradually they 
were brought under the control of the King. 2 [By 
the time of Manu, the village officials had become 
government servants, and the Local Government 
system had become subordinate to the Central 
Administration.^ Manu describes this organisation 
in these words : " Let him appoint a lord over (each) 
village, as well as lords of ten villages, lords of twenty, 
lords of a hundred, and lords of a thousand. The 
lord of one village himself shall inform the lord of 
ten villages of the crimes committed in his village, 
and the ruler of ten (shall make his report) to the ruler 
of twenty. But the ruler of twenty shall report all 
such (matters) to the lord of a hundred, and the lord 
of a hundred shall himself give information to the 
lord of a thousand." 3 'Vishnu also speaks of the 
appointment of a headman for each village, and 
of heads of ten villages and of hundred villages, and 
lords of provinces (desadhyakshah).> 

During the rule of the Maurya Emperors, the 
process of centralisation was carried much further. 

1 Prof. Rhys Davids says : " From the fact that the appointment of this 
officer (i.e. the headman) is not claimed by the King until the later law-books 
it is almost certain that in earlier times the appointment was either hereditary 
or was conferred by the village council itself." Buddhist India, p. 48. 

tin Prof. Macdonell's opinion, " the gramani's connexion with the royal 
person seems to point to his having been a nominee of the King rather than 
a popularly elected officer. But the post may have been sometimes heredi- 
tary, and sometimes nominated or elective ; there is no decisive evidence 
available." Vedic Index, I. p. 41.. 

8 Manu, VII. 115-117. 

* Vishnu-Smriti ( Jolly's Sanskrit text), Bk. III. 


Under Chanakya's system, villages were classified 
as of the first, second, or third rank. 1 Each village 
had a headman (gramika, gramadhipa, or gramakuta) 
whose duty it was (1) to delimit the boundaries of the 
village and of the different plots of land within the 
village ; (ii) to divide the village lands into cultivated 
lands, uncultivated lands, plains, wet lands, (flower) 
gardens, vegetable gardens, fenced lands, dwelling- 
houses, assembly halls, temples, irrigation works, 
cremation grounds, charitable houses, places of pil- 
grimage, and pasture lands ; (iii) to enter in his 
books all sales, gifts, charities, and remissions of 
taxes which take place within the village ; (iv) to 
divide houses in the village into revenue-paying and 
non-revenue-paying, mentioning the amount of taxes, 
rates, etc., payable by each ; (v) register the number 
of inhabitants distributed by castes, and following 
different occupations, such as agriculture, pasturage, 
trade, arts, manufactures, manual labour, and menial 
service, together with an account of the conduct 
and character, income and expenditure, of each 
inhabitant. 2 

During the centralised administration of the 
Maurya Emperors, the village assembly lost much 
of its power and prestige. Some local matters, 
however, continued to be decided by this assembly. 

1 The Sukraniti says that a piece of land which is one kros (two miles) 
in area, and which has an income of 1,000 silver karshas, is called a ' grama.* 
A palll is half of a grama, and a half of a palli is a kumbha. I. 193. 

2 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 35. 


It was a popular body consisting of the elders of the 
village (grama-vriddhah). There was no fixed number 
of members, and the attendance varied according to 
the nature of the business that was to be transacted. 
The members were not elected, but chosen by a sort 
of natural selection. They were usually men who, 
by their age, character, and attainments acquired 
the confidence of the villagers, and their opinions 
were supposed to represent the collective wisdom 
of the village. These village elders not only decided 
administrative matters, but formed a court of justice 
for the decision of small civil suits, such as the boun- 
daries of lands, and for the trial of petty criminal 
cases like larceny and assault. They also looked 
after public property, e.g. that of temples, and the 
interests of infants, and attended to the question of 
poor-relief. 1 Decisions of the village assembly were, 
as a rule, unanimous ; but when any difference of 
opinion arose, the matter was decided in accordance 
with the view of the majority, provided the majority 
consisted of honest persons. 2 Disputes about the 
boundaries of two villages were decided by the elders 
of the neighbouring villages. 

The headman was the president of the village 
assembly as well as its executive official. Presumably, 
he was the leader of the village both for civil purposes 
and for military operations. 3 He was also the 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 1. 2 Ibid. Bk. III. ch. 9. 

3 Vedic Index, I. p. 247. 


connecting link between the village administration 
and the central government of the country. The 
headman possessed extensive powers, among them 
being the power to send out of the village thieves and 
adulterers. He was usually a hereditary officer, and 
he either remunerated himself out of the land-revenue 
and other taxes collected from the village, or had 
the use of a plot of land free of rent. It was the 
duty of the villagers to help the headman in the 
discharge of his duties and to pay his expenses. 

The Sukraniti mentions, besides the headman, five 
other officers of a village, namely, the superintendent 
of police (sahasadhipati), the collector of the land- 
revenue, the clerk, the collector of tolls, and the 
watchman (pratihara). The village officials were held 
responsible for the internal security of the villagers. 
If, for instance, a theft occurred in the village, and 
the officers failed to catch the thief, they had to 
compensate the owner for the property stolen. 1 

In their corporate capacity the villagers con- 
structed and maintained works of public utility, and 
undertook measures tending to the improvement of 
the village ; and those who took the lead in such 
matters received honours and rewards from the King. 2 

1 Apastamba, II. 10, 26, 6-8. 

a Arthasastra, Bk. III. ch. 10. Prof. Rhys Davids, alluding to the accounts 
given of village administration in the Buddhist books, says : " Villagers 
are described as uniting of their own accord to build Mote-halls and Rest- 
houses and reservoirs, to mend the roads between their own and adjacent 
villages and even to lay out parks." Prof. Rhys Davids draws a beautiful 
picture of the simple life of the villagers of ancient times. He says : " None 


So far as their domestic affairs were concerned, 


the villagers, it seems, were not subject to vexatious 
interference from the central authorities. But every 
village formed an integral part of the general ad- 
ministrative system of the country. Above the 
village headman was the Circle Officer (Gopa) who 
was in charge of a number of villages, usually from 
five to ten in number, and whose duty it was to 
supervise the work of the headmen. A number of 
Circles formed a Division or District which, according 
to Chanakya, was to comprise one-fourth of the 
province (janapada). 1 The ruler of a Division or 
District (Sthanika) was subordinate to the Governor 
of the Province, who himself was subject to the 
Central Administration. In the Central Government, 
all matters relating to local administration were 
under the immediate control of one of the Ministers. 
Manu says : " The affairs of these (officials), which 
are connected with (their) villages, as well as their 
other affairs, shall be inspected by one Minister of 
the King (who must be) of a cheerful disposition and 
never remiss." 2 Under Chanakya's system, the 
Collector-general was to be in charge of this depart- 
ment. 3 

of the householders could have been what would now be called rich. On 
the other hand, there was sufficiency for their simple needs, there was 
security, there was independence. There were no landlords and no paupers. 
There was little if any crime." Buddhist India, p. 49. 

1 Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 35. 2 Manu, VII. 120. 

Arthasastra, Bk. II. ch. 35. 



Some of the South Indian and Ceylon inscriptions 
throw much light on the system of village government 
in those parts of the country. The Vevalakatiya 
Slab-inscription of Mahinda IV., King of Ceylon 
(1026-1042 A.D.), although comparatively recent, is 
particularly interesting in this respect. From this 
inscription we learn that within the village (of Dasa- 
gama) justice was administered by means of a 
Communal Court composed of headmen and respon- 
sible householders, and the village assembly was 
empowered to carry into effect the laws enacted 
by the King-in-Council and promulgated by his 
Ministers. It investigated all crimes committed 
within the village, exacted the prescribed fines 
from the law-breakers, and inflicted other kinds of 
punishment. But the most interesting points in the 
inscription are those which relate to the collective 
responsibility of the inhabitants of Dasa-gama for 
producing offenders within a limited time, and the 
fines imposed on the whole community in case 
of failure. 1 We give a few extracts from this 
inscription : 

"... Touching the dasa-gama . . . , each headman 
(of these villages), as well as those headmen and 
householders who have given security for Kibi-gama, 
shall ascertain (the facts) when in any spot within 
this (district) murder or robbery with violence has 
been committed. Thereafter they shall sit in session 

1 Vide Epigraphia Zeylanica, Vol. I. No. 21, Editor's Note. 


and enquire of the inhabitants of the dasa-gama (in 
regard to these crimes) . . . 

" If the (offenders) are not detected, the inhabitants 
of the dasa-gama shall find them and have them 
punished within forty -five days. Should they not 
find them, then the dasa-gama shall be made to pay 
(a fine of) 125 Kalandas (weight) of gold to the State. 
"... Holders of villages and of paman lands 
shall divide among themselves in accordance with 
former usage the proceeds of (the . . .) fines and other 
minor (?) fines . . ." l 

The capital city and the larger towns had separate 
organisations of their own for purposes of local 
government. In the Rig- Veda we find mention of 
the Purapati, or lord of the city. Manu says : " And 
in each town let him appoint one superintendent of all 
affairs (sarvartha-cintaka) elevated in rank, formid- 
able, (resembling) a planet among the stars." 2 

This Superintendent was perhaps the President of 
the City Board. From Megasthenes we know that 
the government of the capital city was conducted 
by a Municipal Board consisting of thirty members, 
divided into six Committees of five members each. 
The members of the first Committee looked after 
everything relating to the industrial arts. Those 
of the second attended to the affairs of foreigners. 
The third Committee enquired into births and deaths, 
with the view not only of levying taxes, but also in 

1 Epigraphia Zeylanica, Vol. I. No. 21. * Manu, III. 121. 


order that births and deaths might not escape the 
cognizance of Government. The fourth Committee 
superintended trade and commerce. Its members 
had charge of weights and measures, and it was their 
duty to see that the products in their season were 
sold by public notice. They also issued trade licenses, 
no one being allowed to deal in more than one com- 
modity unless he paid a double tax. The fifth 
body supervised manufactured articles, which were 
to be sold only in public. What was new was to be 
sold separately from what was old, and there was 
a fine for mixing the two together. The sixth Com- 
mittee consisted of members who collected the tenths 
of the prices of the articles sold. Such were the 
functions which these Committees separately dis- 
charged. In their collective capacity they had 
charge, of the general affairs of the city, and looked 
after such things as the keeping of public buildings 
in proper repair, the regulation of prices, the care of 
markets, harbours, and temples. 1 

It is worthy of notice that Chanakya makes no 
mention of the Municipal Board or its Committees. 
Perhaps under his regime the old municipal method 
of administration was superseded by a system in 
which government officials controlled all the affairs 
of the cities. In Chanakya's system, the chief official 
of the city was the Nagaraka. Under him were four 
Sthanikas or Divisional officers, each of whom was in 

1 Megasthenes (McCrindle), Fragment XXXIV. 


charge of a quarter of the city. Under the Sthanikas 
were the Gopas, each of whom attended to the affairs 
of ten, twenty, or forty families. The chief duty 
of the city officials was to see that the householders 
and traders were not in any way disturbed in their 
respective avocations. It was also their business 
to provide medical aid to the sick, to take note of 
persons entering or leaving the city, to take pre- 
cautions against the outbreak of fires, to look to the 
cleanliness of the city, to watch the movements of 
suspicious characters, and to prevent the commission 
of crimes. 1 

1 Bk. II. ch. 36. 



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ABDICATIONS of Kings, 90 <& n. 3 
Abettors of Crime, punishment of, 

Abul Fazl, on Hindu Polity and 

Law, 13 et alibi 
Absolutism in State-sovereignty, 

never attained, 40 
Accounts Department, Officials of, 

121-2, 184-5 
Administration, under Monarchic 

rule, 47-52 
Size of Territory in relation to, 


Administrative Law Courts, 146 
Systems, sources of information 

on, 2 et sqq., passim 
Adulteration, State action as to, 272 
Agni Purana, the, on Politics, 5 et alibi 
Agreements, Invalidation of, 166 
Agriculture, State relations with, 


Superintendents of, 124, 257-8 
Aindra Mahabhisheka sacrifice, 90, 

Ajanta caves, 249 

Paintings in, 86 n. 3 
Ajatasatru, of Magadha, 48, 59, 95 
Ayeen-i-Akbery, of Abul Fazl, on 
Hindu Politics, &c., 13, 

Alexander the Great 
Fleet of, 270 
Indian campaigns of, 7, 31, 44, 45, 

235, 236, 240 

Difficulties met, at Forts, 217 
Historians of, on Indian Poli- 
tics, 7 et alibi 
Political divisions at date of, 

Results on Administration, 47 

Alliances, 190-1 

Treaties making, 192-3 
Almsgiving, State, 282, 283 
Almshouses, establishment of, 282, 


Ambashthaa, the, democracy of, 44 

Functions of, 193 

Interchange of, 186-7 

Qualifications desirable in, 194-5 

Sanctity of Person of, 194 
Ambhi, of Taxila, and Alexander, 

236 n. 2 

_ Kingdom of, 57 
Ananda, 95 
Andra Kingdom, Army of, 196 

Country, and Fortified towns of, 57 

Suzerainty of, 60 
Anga, and Capital, 55 
Angas, the, as Sources of Law/132 
Anus, the, 54, 55??. 
Appeal, Courts of, 145, 149 

Right of, 149, 168 
Arab Invasions, 238 
Arbitrators, functions of, 147-8 
Architecture, Hindu, 246 et sqq. 
Aristocratic Governments, 45 
Aristotle, contemporary with Chana- 

kya, 10 
Arjuna, 230 
Armour, 204, 206 
Armoury, the, 206 

Superintendent of, 123-4 
Armies, see also Military Organisa- 

Best kind, according to Chanakya, 

Sections of, 197 et sqq. 
Subdivisions of, 200-1 

Sizes of, instances of, 166-7 



Arsakas, Country and Capital of, 56 
Arthasastra, the, of Chanakya, on 
Public Administration, 8 
et sqq., et alibi 

Authenticity, origin &c., of, 9 n. I 
Books apparently based on, 12-14 
Meaning of the title, 8-9 
Political doctrines of, 9 et sqq. 
Aryan States, primitive, 38-9 
Increase of, 54 
Sizes of, 30-1 

Aryas, the, Conquest of, and rule in 
India, 2 et sqq., 219-20, 
et alibi 
Social distinctions among, growth 

of, 16, 17 etsqq. 
Tribes of, in Punjab, 15 6- n. 
Aryavarta, Source of Laws, 135 
Asia, Central, Buddhism in, 278 
Asoka, King, Buildings by, 246, 247- 
Conquests of, 222 - 
Dominions of, extent of, 59-60" 
Edicts and Inscriptions of, 49, 84 
nn.2 &3, 222, 247, 276, 
277, 282 n. i 

Foreign relations of, 186-7 
Government by, 40, 49, 50-1 
Irrigation works of, 253 
Ministerial responsibility under, 


Position of the State under, 40 
Provinces of, 49 
Religious ascendancy of, 79 n. 2, 

276-9, 282 
Training of, 89-90 
_ Virtues of, 83-4 
Asrama-dharma System, the, 23 
Assakenoi, the, and other nations 
mentioned by Megas- 
thenes. 57 
Assam, fleet of, 200 
Assemblies (see also Councils, Public 
Assemblies, <S> Village 
Assemblies), 94-7 
Moksa Mahaparishat, described, 


Two kinds of, 95 
Vedas on, 97 

Assyria, maritime trade with, 267 
Asvamedha sacrifice, the, 90, 92-3 
Attack, in Battle, 213-4 

Audit of Public Accounts, 122, 185 
Avanti, and its Capital, 56 
Avantivarman, King of Kasmir, and 

Irrigation work, 254 
Rule of, 87 
Ayodhya, city of, 240 

BALANCE of Power, Chanakya, 
&c., on, 195 

Balances and Weights, State Control 

of, 292 
Superintendent of, 124 

Bali, Hindu architecture in, 255, 

Barbarikon, seaport, 268 

Barygaza, trade of, 268 

Battle- array, various kinds of, 210 
fJ sqq. 

Battle fields, choice of, 209-10, 230 

Benevolences, 179 

Bengal, Pala Kings of, territories 

of, 61 fi> n. 2 
Universities of, 287 

Berar, University in, 286 

Betting, Fines on, 175 

Bharata, first Monarch to_ bring all 
India under Aryan in- 
fluence, 48 

Bhasa, poems of, 6 

Bhaskara, of Nilantha, the, 13 

Bhilsa Topes, the, 248 

Bhima, 230 

Bhoja, King of Dhara, 13.i 

Bimbisara, of Magadha, 59 

Birth, not original ground for Caste- 
grouping, 19 

Births and Deaths, Enquiries into, 

Bodh-Gaya, Asoka's Temple at, 247 

Bows, 204, 205, 207-8 

Brahmana Caste or Brahmanas, 
Architecture of, in extra- 
Indian lands, 254-5 
Ascendancy of, 21 
Duties of, 20 
Exemption of, from Taxation, 

Immunity of, from certain forms 

of Punishment, 171 
Judges generally of, 144, 171-2 



Brahmana Caste 
Kings of, 70 
Origin of, 18 

Religious domination of, 276 
Custom, force of, as Law, 135 
Brahmanism, recrudescence of, 


Right conduct, enforced by, 282 
Brahmavarta, Customs of, as Laws, 


Brewing, State control of, 262 
Bridges, 252 

Cambodian, 255-6 
* Brihaspati Sutra,' the, 11 n. 2 
Broach, seaport, 268 
Bucklers and Shields, 206, 208, 209 
Buddha, the, in praise of Popular 

Assemblies, 95-6 

Buddhism, in Ceylon, 79 n. -2, 278 
Reforms introduced by Various 

Kings, 281 
Decline of, 280-1 
Education encouraged by, 285 
Spread of, by Missionaries, 277-9 
Buddhist Age, attitude to Brah- 
manas during, 23, 282-3 
Chief Tribes at rise of, 44 n. 4 
Forms of Government common 

in, 43 
Religion and the State in, 276 

et sqq. 
Architecture &c., in Ceylon &c., 


Art, objects of, 248 
Great Councils, 277, 279 
Religious books, on Indian Poli- 
tics, 2, 6 

Building-regulations, 245-6 
Buildings, Taxes on, 175 
Bureaucracy, the, Training, Quali- 
fications, &c., 128-9 

CABINET, the, functions &c., of, 

113, 114, 115, 185 
Calingae, the, Capital of, 57 
Cambodia (see also Kamboja), con- 
quest of, 224 
Public Works in, 255 

Roads and Bridges, 255-6 
Camps, Choice of Sites for, 209, 210 

Canals, 252-5 

as Trade-routes, 266 
Capital Cities, descriptions of, 240 

et sqq. 

Local government of, 296-7 
Revenues derived from, 175-6 
Caste Associations, 97 
Caste-privileges, 151, 170-1, 274 
Caste-system, origin of, 16,17 &n. I, 


Political effects of, 69-70, 97, 276 
Castes, duties of, 20 
Cattle-breeding by the State, 258 
Cavalry, 196, 197 
in Action, 208 
Value of, 199 
Cave-dwellings, 250 
Cave-temples, 249, 250 
Censors of the Law of Poetry, 277 
Ceremonial, Asoka's views on, 282 
Cession of Territory, 234-5, 237 

Administration of Justice in, 

146 n. 4, 147 

Buddhism in, 79 n. 2, 278, 281 
Conquests of, Chola, &c., 61, 224 
Councils in, 104, 105 
Inscriptions in, 69 ^.3, 104, 295 

Value of, 8 

Irrigation-works in, 255 
Kings of, as Heads of the Church, 

79 n. 2, 281 
Public Works in, 255 
Queens of, Regnant and Consort, 

69 (S> n. 3 

Village government in, 295 
Chaityas (Buddhist Temples), 248, 


Chakravarti, see Suzerain 
Chalukya Empire, 61 
Chanakya or Kautilya, alternative 

names of, 9 

Famous book by, on politics, 89 
Minister and " maker " of Chan- 
dragupta, 8 n. 3, 10 n. I, 
59, 116, 118, 237 
Political aim of, 222, 237 
Chandragupta Maurya, 7 

Administrative machinery de- 
vised by, 49 
Cavalry of, value of, 199 


Chandragupta Maurya 

Chanakya's relations with, 8 n. 3, 
10 n. i, 59, 116, 118, 

Conquests of, 222, 237 
Empire of, 31, 47, 48, 59 

Cities in, 240 
Financial system under, 175 et 


Greek contemporaries of, 10 
Irrigation-works of, 253 
Megasthenes' Embassy to, 186 
Naval Department of, 200 
Sudra descent of, 70 (S- n. I 
Chandragupta Vikramaditya, Em- 
pire of, 60 

Charges-d'affaires, 193 
Chariots of War, 106, 199 
Men carried by, 204 
Superintendent of, 125 
Charitable Establishments, 284 
Works, of Kings and others, 


Charities, Superintendents of, 125 
Chedis, the, Country of, 56 
Chief Judge, the, 114 

Qualifications of, 144 n. 3 
Chief Justice, the, 142-3 
Chief Superintendents of Public 

Finance, 122, 184-5 
China, Buddhism in, 278 
Imports from, 270 
Relations with, 187 
Chinese Pilgrims' accounts of India, 

7-8 et alibi 
Chola Empire, 61 

Buddhism in, 278 
Circles of States, 189, 195 

of Villages, administration of, 


City officials, in Chanakya's day, 
Titles and Duties of, 
Cities, Chisf Buildings in, 244 

Construction and adornment of, 

240 et sqq. 
Civil and Criminal Cases, how dealt 

with, 145-6, 152, 166-7 
"Civil List," ancient view of, 73, 

179 &> n. 2 
Clan, evolution of, into Tribe, 38 

Clan and Vassal system of Rajput 

Government, 52 
Clans, confederate, 54, 55 
Class Distinctions, absent in Early 

Vedic Times, 16 
Early Aryan, see also Caste 


Evolution of, 18 et sqq. 
Climate as Factor in Conditions of 
States, and Character of 
Peoples, 30-3 
Coastal Trading, 267 
Coinage, 272 

Collective Responsibility of 
Police, 125-6 
Villagers, 27, 252, 292, 293, 

CoUector General, the, 113, 183, 


Salary of, 129 

Colour-line, the, as Basis of Caste- 
system, 17dyw. i 

Commander-in-Chief, the, 114, 202 
Salary of, 129 
Subordinates of, 202-3 
King as, 78 

External, 266 et sqq. 
Internal, 264-6 
Interior centres of, 268 
Principal seaports for, 268-9 
State Department of, 264, 270-2 
Superintendent of, 123 
Commissariat, Department of, 203 
Committees of 
Departments, 127 
Military Affairs, 203 
Municipal Boards, 296-7 
Conduct, Right, chief arm of 

* Dharma,' 275, 282 
Prominence of, in Buddhism, 282 
Conquered Territory 
Acquirement of, 222 
Treatment of, 136 

Laws maintained, 231-2 
Conquerors, Chanakya's advice to, 

50 n. i 
Conquest, delight in, of ancient 

Kings, 220-1 

Conquests, external and internal, 



Corporal Punishment, rarity of, 

Councils, in Ceylon, 104-5 

Domestic, of Rajput Chiefs, 53 
Great, or Royal Assembly, 79. 


Functions, &c., of, 97-100 
of Ministers, see Privy Council 
North Indian, 96 et sqq. 
South Indian, 103-4 
Town, 53 

Village, 53, 96 . 3, 291-2, 295 
Counter-suits, 157 
Courts of Law and Justice 
Administrative, 146 
Appeal, 145, 149 
Chief, 142-3, 145-9 
Local, 145-7 

Movable and Stationary, 141-2 
Principal and Lower, Jurisdiction 

of, 145-7 
Relations between different kinds 

of, 148-9 

Village, 53, 146-7, 292, 295 
Cows, Superintendent of, 124-5 
Credit, essential to Agriculture, 257 

Instruments of, 273 
Criminal cases, 145-6, 152 

Punishments given, 166-7 
Crown Lands, Revenues from, 180 
Crown Princes, Training of, 89-90 
Cultivators, Loans to, 257 
Culture-State level, reached under 

Asoka, 40 

Custom, as Basis of Law, the Sishtas 
as authorities on, 133, 
Validity of, divergent views on, 

Custom (Customary Law), 150, 151 

DAIRY-FARMING, State, 238 
Dasa class, the, 26-7, 170 
Dasaratha, states ruled by, 58 
Dasyus, the, 16 & w.3 

Aryan conflicts with, 219-20 
Death -sentences, rarity of, 166 
Debts, recovery of, 166 
Deccan, struggles for, of Chalukyas 

and Rashtrakutas, 61 
Defence, weapons of, 206, 208 

Defendant, the, in Lawsuits, 156 

et sqq. 

Departmental Officials, 121 et sqq. 
Despotism, foreign to Aryan peoples, 


Devanampiya Tissa, Head of Budd- 
hism in Ceylon, 281 
Dhanya Kataka, University of, 286 
Dharma, definitions of, 275 cS* n. 
Two sides of 

Credal, 275, 276 et sqq. 
Social, 257, 281 et sqq. 
Dharma-sastras, the, dates of, 4<S> n. I 
Meaning of, 9 
Origin of, 134 
Sources of Law, 133 
Dharma-sutras, the, 4, 34 

Dates of, 4 n. I 
Diamonds, 123, 260, 265 
Didda, Queen of Kasmir, 69 
Dilipa, type of a Virtuous King, 

Dipavamsa, the, date and historical 

value of, 6 dv n. i 
Diplomatic Agents, classes and 

powers of, 193-5 

Direction of Military Affairs, organi- 
sation of, 202-3 
Distance- Pillars on roads, 251 
Divine origin of the State, theory of, 

35-6 > nn. 
Division or District, composition of, 


Documentary Evidence, 161 
Domestic Councils of Rajput Chiefs, 

Dravidians, the, \1 &>n,2 

Village government by, 288-9 
Druhyus, the, 54, 55 n. 

EDICTS (see also Epigraphs) of 
Asoka, 49, 276, 277 et 
Royal, Legal force of, 78, 139-40, 


Education, spread of, under Budd- 
hism, 285 

State support of, 285 
Egypt, Buddhism in, 278 

Indian relations with, 186, 187 
Elective Kingship, 64-8 



Elephants, as Kingly mounts, 86 n. 3 
Military use of, 195, 196, 197 
Equipment, 208 
Men carried by, 204 
Value of, 199-200 
Superintendent of, 124-5 
Ellora caves, the, 249 
Engineering, in Asoka's day, 247 
Envoys, 193 
Epics, Hindu, 2, 3 

Dates of, 4 n. i 

Epigraph Records, on Politics, &c., 

8, 84 & nn. 2-4, 105, 146, 

147, 222, 223, 247, 282 

n. i, 283, 284, 295 

Evidence, in Lawsuits, 158-9, 161, 


Excise Duties, 175 
Expenditure, Public, allocation of 

Funds for, 181 
Heads of, 181-2 
Exports, the chief, 269 

FA-HIAN, and other Chinese Pil- 
grims, on Indian Life, 
&c., 7-8 et alibi 
Family, the, 23 

as Basis of State-organisation, 38 
Position in, of 
Father, 24-5 
Other members, 25 
Slaves, 25-6 
as Social unit, 24 
Famine, unknown in India, in 

Megasthenes' day, 32 
Female Guards of Kings, Sin. -2 
Feudalism, and the Rajput system, 


Fighting from Heights, 214 
Finance, Public, Minister of, see 

Treasurer - General 
Authorities on, 5, 173 et sqq. 
Circumstances affecting, 182-3 
Expenditure, heads of, and allo- 
cation of Funds, 181-2 
Officials controlling, 183 et sqq. 
Revenue, sources of, 173 et sqq. 
Fines, Legal, 166, 175 
Fire-arms, 206-7 

Fiscal Minister, see Collector-General 
Fleet of Alexander the Great, 270 

Food Adulteration, State check on, 


Forced Raising of Revenue, 178-9 
Foreign Commerce, 266 et sqq. 
Countries, relations with, 186 et 


Invasions, instances of, 235 et sqq. 
Policy, main consideration in, 190 
Rulers, classification of, by Chana- 

kya, 187-9 

Forest Revenue, the, 177 
Forestry, State control of, 258-9 
Forests, Superintendent of, 123 
Forts, 215 et sqq. 
" Frightfulness '* in War, Elephants 

as Instruments of, 199 
Not imposed on Non-combatants, 


Functions of the State, differentia- 
tion of, 40 

GAMBLING, Fines on, 175 
Game Laws, 259 

Gandhara (Kandahar) and its Capi- 
tal, 56 

Kings of, caste of, 70 
Gangaridae, the, 57 
Army of, 196 

Elephants in, 196, 197 
Gange, seaport, 269 
Gangetic nations, temp. Alexander 

the Great, 57 
Gardens, Groves, and Flowers in 

Cities, 241, 242, 243 
Gautama Buddha, caste of, 23 
Gems found in India, 260, 265 
Gold, Silver, &c., sources of, 260, 

Golden Age, the, and its decline, 


Gopas, City Officials, 298 
Government Officials 

Classes and Duties of, 121 et sqq. 
Pay, 129-30 
Pensions, 130 
Selection, 128 
Supervision, 127-8, 129 
Governmental Systems, 42 et sqq. 
Governors of Provinces, titles of, 49 
Grand Assembly, the, 100 


Grants to Religious Teachers and 

Learned men, 282-5 
Grazing Dues, 177 
Great Buddhist Councils, 277, 279 
Council, or Royal Assembly, 

functions of, 97-100 
Great Council or Royal Assembly, 


Countries, 6th century EC., 55-7 
Greco-Indian Provinces, cession of, 

234-5, 237 
Greece, Political relations with, 186, 


Greek landsaccepting Buddhism, 278 
Monarchs, Ambassadors to and 

from, 186-7 
Travellers, on Indian Politics, 

&c., 7 et alibi 

Group -government of Villages, 290 
Guilds, 97 

Buildings of, 250 

Charitable Establishments of, 


of Producers, State-controUed, 263 
Classes, procedure, and value of, 


Gujrat, Saka conquest of, 238 
Gunpowder, and similar compounds, 

Gupta Empire, rise and fall of,59-60, 


Inscriptions, 8 
Period of Architecture, 250-1 

HAIR-CROPPING,as Legal Punish- 
ment, 167 
Harbours, 267 
Harshavardhana,King, army of, 197 

Conquests of, 223 

Defeat due to Elephants, 199-200 

Empire of, 60-1 

Government as exercised by, 50-1 

Great Assembly, quinquennial, 
held by, 280 

Hospices built by, 284 

Misrule of, 87 

Nomination of, by Ministry, 68 

Support of, to Buddhism, 279-80 

Treaty of, with the King of 
Kamarupa, 191 

Virtues of, 83, 84-5 & nn. 

Headmen of Villages, duties, powers, 
and status of, 53, 289, 
290, 291, 292-3, 295 
Officers over, 294 
Hereditary Kingship, 64, 65 

Departures from, 67-8 
Soldiers, 198 
High and Low Justice, among 

Rajputs, 52-3 
High Priest, see Purohita 
Hill-fort, old, structure of, 217-18 
Hill-tribes, aboriginal, 38 
Hindu Art, at Home and Abroad, 

240 etsqq., 254-6 < 
Temples, splendour, of, 250 
Hiram, trade of, with India, 267 
Historical Literature of India, 6-7 
Hiuen Tsiang, on the bases of 
Indian Monarchical 

Government, 52 
Horse-sacrifice, performed by Kings, 

90, 92-3 

Horses, Superintendents of, 124-5 
Hospitals for Men and Animals, set 
up by Asoka and others, 
283, 284 

Hun Incursions, 60, 90, 238 
Hunters as Forest guards, 259 & n. i 

IMPERIAL Unity, object of and 
difficulties impeding, 47, 
48-9, 62, 236, 239 
Imports, chief, 269-70 
Income of the State, sources of, 173 

et sqq. 
India, Conquests of Kings generally 

limited to, 224 
Indian people, characteristics of, 

171, 172, 227-8 
Individual, the, status of, 19, 20, 39, 41 

Stages in life of, 23 
Indus Valley peoples, temp. Alex- 
ander the Great, 235-6 
Industries, 257 et sqq. 
Infantry, in Action, 208-9 
Classes of, 197-8 
Equipment and weapons, 207-9 
Inland Navigation, 266 
Inscriptions, see also Epigraphs 
Ceylonese, on Councils, 104-5 
Historical value of, 8 



Inspecting Officers, 127-8 

Institutes of the Sacred Law, 132 

Intelligence Department, the, 126-7 

Intercaste Marriages, in early times, 

Interest on Loans, 273-4 

Inter-relations of Government, from 
Village to Central Ad- 
ministration, 294 

Inter-state Jealousies in regard to 
Foreign Invasion, 236, 

Intervention by unauthorized Per- 
sons, in Courts of Law, 

Invaders, Chanakya on, 233 

Invasion, Lessons of, 235 
Policy of the Invaded, 232-3 

Iron Pillar near Delhi, the, 261-2 

Irrigation, 252-5 
Officers of, 253, 254 
Superintendent of, 124 

JAINAS, cave-dwellings of, 250 
Religion of, books of, on Indian 

Politics, 2, 6 
Growth of, 281 
Japan, Buddhism in, 278 
Jarasandha, King of Magadha, con- 

quests of, 220 

Struggles of, for Suzerainty, 48 
Jatakas, the, on Politics, 6 
Java, conquest of, 224 

Hindu architecture in, 255, 256 
Javelins, 208, 209 
Jayaganga Canal, the, 255 
Judgment, delivery of, 165 
Judges, duties of, 162-3, 168 et sqq 
Numbers essential to form a 

Court, 143 

Punishments of, for unrighteous- 
ness, 169-70 

Qualifications of, 144 71.3 
Uprightness of, 171-2 
Usually Brahmanas, 144, 171-2 
Various Classes of, 142 
Kings as, ex officio, 77-8, 81-2, 141, 


of Principal Courts, 145 
the Chief, 114 

Qualifications of, 144 n. 3 

Judicial Functions of Village Assem- 
blies, 295 
Investigation, 164 
Procedure, 5, 149 et sqq. 
System, Vedic and Post-Vedic, 

141 et sqq. 
Jury System, 143-4 

Unofficial interveners, 144 
Justice, administration of, in Vedic 

times, and after, 141 
by Rajputs, 52-3 
by Village Assemblies, 245 
Brahmanas, as roots of, 141 n.z 
Efficiency of, factors of, 171 
Evolution of, 141 
King as fountain of, 141 
Open to all residents, 170 
Justices, Itinerant, 147 

KALIDASA, poems of, 6 
Kalinga, army of, 196 
Asoka's conquest of, 222 
Chola conquest of, 61 
Kamandaki-niti, the, 12 
Kamboja, and its Capital, 56 
Kambojas, Kshatriya clan, occupa- 
tions of, 46 
Kanauj, City of, described, 243-4 

as Suzerain State, 60-1 
Kanchf, University of, 287 
Kanishka, conversion of, to Budd- 
hism, 278, 279 
Kanva Kings, caste of, 70 
Kara-ganga river, altered course of, 


Karli caves, the, 249 
Kashmir, or Kasmir, conquests in, 


Irrigation in, 253-4 
Kings of, history of, 6 
Queens-regnant of, 696-n.2 
Kasis, the, 54 

Country and Capital, 55 
Kassapa IV., of Ceylon, Buddhist 

Reforms of, 288 

Kasyapa Matanga, Buddhist mis- 
sionary to China, 278 
Kautilya, see Chanakya 
Partition between, and the Pan- 
davas, 69 




Keeper of the Royal Seal, the, 114 
Kerala State, South India, Assem- 

blies of, 103-4 
Khandavaprastha, City of, de- 

scribed, 241 
Pandava palace at, 241 
King, the, Actions of, Ministerial 

responsibility for, 116 
Authority of, limitations on, 39, 
40, 48, 50, 103, 104, 113 
Bad, instances of, 87-8 
as Commander-in-Chief , 78 
Conquering, instances of, 220-1 
Daily routine of, 81 et sqq. 
Difficulties of, 87 
Duties of, 3, 5, 63 et sqq. t 102 
Functions of, 77-9, 81 n. 2, 90 et 


Oood, instances of, 83-5 6- nn., 87 
Graded ranks of, 88 
as Head of Society, 79 
Insecurity of, 88/116, 117 
Insignia of State of, 86 & n. 3 
as Judge, 77-8, 81 n.2, 141, 142-3, 


as Legislator, 78, 139-40, 150 
Oaths of, 74, 75 
Qualities desirable in, 79-81 
Relations of, with 
Brahmanas, 22 

Land of the State, 73, 179 &> n. 2 
Ministers, 68, 74, 75, 77, 106 

et sqq., 113, 117-18 
Religion, 39, 78, 79, 276 et sqq. 
Revenues allocated to, con- 
sidered as Payment, 73, 

Succession of, 64-8 

Support given by, to Buddhism, 


Training of, 89-90 
Thing's Court of Justice, Procedure 

of, 142-3 
Jurisdiction of 

Appellate, 145, 149 
Original, 145 
Kingdoms, 54 

Partitions of, 68-9 

Kingly Office, ancient writings on, 
45 et sqq., 63, 64, 70 et 

Kingly Office 

Ceremonies connected with, 90 et 

Origin of, 70 

Legends of, 71 

King-making and deposing by 
Ministers (see also Cha- 
nakya), 68, 116, 117 
Kingship, divine origin ascribed to, 


Distinction between, and the "di- 
vine right of Kings," 72 
Nature of, in India, 72 et sqq. 
Kings of Ceylon, relations with 

Buddhism, 281 

Knowledge, four branches of, 1 
Kolarians, the, 17<S-w.2 

Village government of, 288-9 
Korat-Mekong Road, Cambodia, 

Kosalas, the, 54 

Country and Capital, 55 
State of, rise and fall of, 57 
Krishna as Oligarch, 43 <& n. I 

as Plenipotentiary, 193 
Kshatriya caste, best armies chiefly 

composed of, 198 
Duties of, 20 

Kings usually belonging to, 69 
Occupations of, 46 
Origin of, 18 

Reformers belonging to, 23 
Kshudrakas, the, opposition of, to 

Alexander, 236 
Kukuras, oligarchy of, 46 
Kumarugupta, stone inscription of, 


Kumara-raja, 280 
Kurus, the, alliance with the Pan- 

chalas, 54, 55 

Country and Capital of, 56, 58 
Oligarchy of, 46 
Kushan conquests, 238 
Kutsa, 48 

LABOUR, Payment by, of Taxes, 


Lakes, artificial, 252, 253, 255 
Lalitaditya, achievements of, 87 
Lances, 208, 209 



Land, the, not owned by Kings, 

Land and Water Trade-routes, 264 

et sqq. 

Land-holding, of Villagers, 27 
Land-Taxes, 176 

Importance of, 179 
Lands, Grants of, to 
Officials, 130 

Religious teachers and the 
Learned, 282-3, 285, 286 
Law, above the King, 74 & n.2 
Ancient idea on, 131 
(Beyhar), Abul Fazl's summary 

of, 13 

Civil and Criminal, 5 
Origin ascribed to, 132 
Sources of, Vedas, &c., 132 et 


Sacred, 131, 132, 133, 150, 151 
Secular, 131, 150-1 
Evolution of, 132 
Law-Member of Council, 140 
Lawsuits, Causes giving rise to, 

152-3 &n. 3 
Different kinds of, 153 
Rules concerning, 151-3 
Legal Remedies, 166 
Representation, when allowed, 


Direct, impossible, 131, 137 
Indirect, 137 et sqq. 
Legislative Assemblies, see Pari- 
sh ats 
Power, not owned by early Kings, 


Libraries containing books on 
Chanakya's doctrines, 13 
Lichchavis, the, Country, Confed- 
eracy, and Capital of, 

Oligarchic rule among, 44, 46 
Life, Individual, Stages in, 23 
Lilavati, Queen of Ceylon, 69 

Elected and Deposed by Ministers, 


Slab Inscription of, on her Coun- 
cil, 105 

Loans, Interest and Usury, 273-4 
to Cultivators, 257 

Local Administration, Ministerial 

Control of, 244 
Courts of Justice, 145-7 
Government by 

Central Officials, and Mini- 
ster, 49, 294 
Local Rulers, 50 
Rajput, 52-3 

MACHIAVELLI, comparison of, 

with Chanakya, lln.i 
Madrakas, oligarchy among, 46 
Madras, Chanakya-siitra found at, 13 
Magadha, Empire of 
Army of, 196 
Capitals of, 55 

Rise and fall of, 57, 59, 60, 238 
States included in, 47 
Magical weapons, 206 
Mahabharata, the, date of, 4 n. i 
Cited on Aryan life and Indian 

politics, 3 6- n. 

Duties of each caste, and com- 
mon to all, 20 6- n. 4 
Origin of the State, 34-5 
List given in, of Nations in, or 

near, India, 58-9 
Mahapadma Nanda, of Magadha, 48, 


Sudra caste of, 69-70 
Mahasammata, tradition of, 66 <S*n.4 
Mahavamsa, the, date of, 6 Jft. I 

Value as Chronicles, 6 
Mahmud of Ghazni, invasion of, 243 
Mahmud, Sultan, invasion by, 238 
Mahomedan conquest, political re- 
sults of, 62 

Empire, political conditions ren- 
dering possible, 238-9 
Malava ( Avantfy and its Capital, 5& 
Mallakas, oligarchy of, 46 
Mallas, the, Clans and Country of, 


Malloi, the, and other Democratic 
Tribes of the Punjab, 45 
Country of, 57 

Opposition shown by, to Alex- 
ander, 236 

Man, in relation to Society, as 
organised by Caste, 20 



Mandavya-durga, hill-fort, struc- 
ture of, 217-18 
Manu, Code of (passim), date and 

origin of, 4 n. i 

on Duties of different castes, 26 
on the State as Divine in origin, 36 
Maritime Trade, 266 et sqq. 

Taxes on, 267 

Marriages, Inter-caste, in early 
times, 18-19 nn. * 

Masalipatam, seaport, 268 
Matipura, Sudra King of, 70 
Matsya, country, 56 
Maurya rulers, 7 

Centralisation of authority under, 


Maya, Danava architect, 241 
Mazaga, fortifications of, 217 
Maze array of Kauravas in Battle, 


Megasthenes as Ambassador, 186 
on India affairs, 7, et alibi, 


Mercenary Soldiers, 197, 198 
Merchants, Foreign, privileges ac- 
corded to, 270-1 
Metallurgy, State control of, 261 

Hindu skill in, 261-2 
Metals, &c., Superintendent of, 123 
Meteorology in regard to Agricul- 
ture, 258 <S- w. 2 

Milinda Panha, the, on Politics, 6 
Military Organisation, 196 et sqq. 
Directing Body and Sub-Com- 
mittees, 203-4 

Equipment of Soldiers, 207-9 
Methods of Fighting, 208-9 
Training of Soldiers, 202 
Mlmamsa, as source of Law, 133, 137 
Mines and Mining, revenues derived 

from, 176, 269 
f State control of, 259-60 
^ Superintendent of, 122-3 
Mining, in warfare, 214 
Ministers, Chief and other, Ranks, 
Titles, and Offices of, 111 
et sqq. 

Duties of, 110 
Good and Bad, 119-20 
King's relations with, 68, 74, 75, 
77, 106 et sqq. 


Number of, 110-12 

Powers of, 116-19 

Qualifications desirable in, 106-7 

Responsibility of, 68, 114-15, 117 

Stories illustrating, 115-16 
Usually Brahmanas, 108 
Mints, Royal, 272 

Superintendent of, 123 
Missionary work of Asoka, 277-8 

Later activities in, 278-9 
Mitra and Varuna, legend of, 21-2 
Moksa Mahaparishat Assembly, de- 
scribed, 280 
Monarchy, 45-6 
Constitutional, 51 
Growth of, 46-7 
Limited, nature of, 50-1 
Vedic, Elective, and Hereditary, 

64, 65, 66, 67 

Monasteries, Buddhist, 248 
Architecture of, 249 
Royal support to, 279 
Money-lending, 273-4 
Mount Abu, mines beyond, 269 
Mudra-Rakshasa, the, and other 
books elucidating Poli- 
tics, 6-7 

Muhammad Ghori, conquest by, and 
establishment of Maho- 
medan rule, 238 
Muhammad Kasim's invasion of 

Sindh, 238 

Municipal Boards of Capital cities, 
Duties of Committees of, 
Murjari, seaport, 268 

NAGARAKA, Chief City official, 297 
Nalanda Monastery, honourable 

title of, 284 
University of, 286 

Studies at, 286-7 
Nations, Lists of, at various dates, 

54 et sqq. 
Naval Affairs, Department of, 200, 


Nelkunda, seaport, 268 
Nepal, partition of, 69 



Nitisara, of 

Kamandaki, date, &c., 12 & n. i 
Sukracharya, date, &c., 12 & n. I 
Nitimayukha, the, 13 
Nitiprakasika, the, weapons re- 
ferred to, in, 13 
Nitivakyamrita, the, of Somadevi 

Sfiri, 12, 14 
Itfon-Combatants, uninjured by 

Troops, 230-1 
^Non-tax Revenue, 177-8 
JNyaya, authority on Laws, 133, 137 
Nysa, form of Government at, 43 


Kings, 74, 75 

Witnesses, 161, 163 
Octroi or Tolls, 124, 175-6 
Odantapuri, University of, 287 
Offence, weapons of, 204-5, 206-9 
Officers of the Army, 201 , 202-3 

of Religion, under Asoka, 276, 277 
Official Buildings, 244 
Officials, Families of, Subsistence 
Allowances to, 130 

District, titles of, 49 

Village (see also Headman), 289, 
290, 291, 293 

Principal, see Ministers 

Subordinate, 121 et sqq. 
Oligarchic Governments, 42-6 
Ordeal, the, in Criminal Cases, 163-4 
Ores, the principal, 260, 265 
Orissa, Hindu temples in, 250 
Overseers, or Inspectors, 49 

PAITHANA, commerce of, 268 
Palaces, 244, 246-7 
Pala Bangs of Bengal 
Territories of, 61 & 2 n 
Universities of, 287 
Pali Pitakas, the, list of great 

Countries in, 55-7 

Palimbothra, city of, described, 241 
Panchalas, the, connection of, with 

Kurus, 54, 55 
Country and Capital of, 56 
Oligarchy of, 46 

Panchatantra, the, and other tales, 
elucidating Politics, 7 

Pandavas, battle-arrays of, 210 
City of, 241 
and Jarasandha, 220 
Pandyans or Pandyas, army of, 197 


Buddhism among, 278 
Women-rulers of, 69 n. 3 
Parakrama Bahu, King of Ceylon, 

Buddhist reforms of, 


Public works of, 255 
Parasu-Rama, 21 
Parishats, see also Moka Mahapari- 

Composition and functions of, 133, 

Parthian conquest of Sindh, &c., 


Passports, Superintendent of, 125 
Patala, seaport, 268 

Two-King Rule at, 45-6 
Pataliputra, city of, 24 

Asoka's Palace at, 246-7 
Peace-making ; various forms of 

Agreement, 233-5 
Pearls, 123, 260, 265 
Pensions 130 

Perjury, punishment of, 161 
Persia, political relations with, 107 
Physical surroundings of the State, 

29 et sqq. 
Piety, Law of, Asoka's action and 

views as to, 277-8, 282 
Pigeons, official and military use of, 

201, 259 w.i 
Pilots, 267 
Plaintiffs, share of, in Trials, 155 et 

Plato, possibly contemporaneous 

with Chanakya, 10 
Plenipotentiaries, 193 
Poetical Works, giving light on 

Indian Politics, 6-7 
Police, the, duties of, 125-6 
Efficiency of, 171, 172 
Chief of, Salary of, 129 
Police-State character, of early 

Indian State, 39-40 
Policy of Indian Ruler toward 

Foreign Rulers, Six Sorts 

of, 189-90 et sqq. 



Political Divisions at different 

periods, 54 et sqq. 
Theorists, criticised by Chanakya, 

Politics, as an Art, 1 

Sources of Information on, 2 et 

sqq., passim 
and Religion, gradual separation 

of, 274, 275 

Position in, of Brahmanas, 21 
Science of, origin of, myth on, 


Polity (Rajneet), 13 
Poros, King, 236 n. 2 
Armour of, 206 
Army of, 196 

Disposition in battle, 214 
Kingdom of, 57 
Power, Balance of, 195 
Prasii, the, Megasthenes on, 57 
Pre- Aryan races., origin of, 17 

Status of, at Aryan conquest, 17, 


Prices, State regulation of, 271-2 
Priests, see also Purohita 
Buddhist, relations with 
Ceylonese Kings, 281 
Harshavardhana, 279-80 
Prime Minister, the, powers, duties, 
and responsibilities, 68, 
112-13,117-18, 119 n.2 
Salary of, 129 
Prisoners, liberation of, on great 

occasions, 232 &> n. i 
Privilege, before the Law, according 
to Caste, 151, 170-1, 274 
Prince-ruled States, 42 
Privy Council or Council of Minis- 
ters, 97, 100, 101 n. 2 et 
Members of, Salaries of, 129 

Law member, 140 
Promissory Notes, 273 
Property, restoration of, by the 

Courts, 166 

Provinces, government of, 49 
Public Assemblies, 43 6-71.4, 45 

Decline of, 97 
Public Works, building and care of, 

240 et sqq. 
Revenue derived from, 177 

Publicity of Trials, 151 
Punjab, the, Alexander's successes- 
in, 31, 44, 45, 235, 236, 
Aryas of, tribal division of, 15- 

&>n. i, 54, 55 w.i 
Chief nations of, in Brahmania 

period, 54-5 &>n.i 
Cities of, conquered by Alexander,. 

Climate, soil, and inhabitants,. 

Megasthenes on, 31-2 
Democracies in, 44-5 
Puranas, the, dates of, 4 n. i ,, 

5 &>n. i 

on Politics, 2, 5 
Sources of Law, 132, 133 
Value of, 5 

Purohita, or Chief Priest 

Importance of, 112-13 

Salary of, 129 
Purus, the, 54, 55 n. 

QUEENS, regnant, and consort, 69 1 

6 nn. 2, 3 

RAILS (buildings), 248 
Rainfall, official observation of,. 
258 n. 2 

Forests in relation to, 259 
Raja, title, meaning of, 44 
Rajanyas, see Kshatriyas 
Rajas, local, status of, 50 
Rajasthan, 62 

Raiasuya sacrifice, the, 90-2 
Rajatarangini, the, of Kalhana,. 

historical value of, 6 
Rajendra Chola, conquests of, 61 
Rajput conquests, 61-2 

Mode of Government, 5-23 
Rajyavardhana, assassination of,. 
68, 116 

Prowess of, 90 

Rakshasa, fidelity of, 119 n.2 
Rama, type of a Virtuous King, 83 
Ramayana, the, cited on Aryan life 
and politics, 3 et passim 

Date of, 4 n. i 

Rashtrakuta nation, conflicts of, 61 
Reforms of Buddhist Kings of 
Ceylon, 281 



Regiments, distinctions of, 201 
Religion, 275 et sqq. 

State connection with, 276 et cqq. 

Asoka's officers of, 276, 277 
Religious Associations, 97 
Edifices, Buddhist, 248 

Asoka's, 247 
Institutions, Superintendents of, 


Remedies, legal, 166 
Republics, 42, 43-4 
Reservoirs (Tanks, Lakes, &c.), 252, 

253, 255 

Responsibilites of 
Judges, 168 et sqq. 
Ministers, 68, 116, 117 
Police, 125-6 

Villages, 27, 252, 292, 293, 295-6 
Rest Houses, 251, 283 
Re-trial of Cases (see also Appeals), 

Revenues, sources and administra- 

tion of, 173 et sqq. 
Classification of, by Chanakya, 

175 et sqq. 
Rig- Veda, the, on Aryan Conquest 

and Rule, 2 

Rings, or Combines, of Merchants, 
State interference with, 
Rites (see also Sacrifices), private and 

public, 5 

Rivers as Trade-routes, 266 
Roads, 251 

Cambodian, 255-6 
Rock-cut Caves, 249, 250 
Royal Assembly, see Great Council 
Royal Family, Salaries of, 129 
Royal Progresses, 85 n., 277 
Royal Revenues, regarded as Pay 
for Kingly Duties, 13. 

Ruler of State, evolution of, from 
Head of Family, 38 

Rules of Conduct, two classes of, 
sanction for, 131-2 

SABARCAE and other tribes, De- 

mocracy of, 44 
Sabha form of Assembly, 95 
Sabuktagin, invasion by, 238 

Sacbivatantra system of Govern 

ment, 51 & n. 3 
Sacred Law, the, 131, 132, 133, 150, 


Sacrifices performed by Kings, 90 et 


Saka conquest of Sindh, 237-8 
Sakiyas, government of, 43 & n. 4 
Salaries of various Officials, and of 

Royal and other Persons, 


Salt, Government control of, 262 
Samiti form of Assembly, 95 
Samudragupta, the Conqueror, King 

of Magadha, conquests 

of, 93, 222-3 
Empire of, 60 
Nomination as King, by his 

father, 68 

Sanchi Topes, the, 247, 248 
Sangharamas, see Monasteries 
Sankaravarman, exactions of, 87 
Sanskrit Alphabet, transliteration of, 


Sasiguptas, and Alexander, 236 n. 2 
Sastras, the, as rules for Kings, 51, 


Saurasenas, the, Cities of, 57 
Saurashtras, the, Country and cities 

of, 58 

King of, and his army, 196-7 
Sculpture, Buddhist, 247 
Seamanship, temp. Alexander the 

Great, 267, 270 
Seaports, 267-9 
Secular Law, 131, 150 

Evolution of, 132 
Seleukos Nikator, ambassador of, to 

Chandragupta, 186 
Defeat of, by that King, 31, 237 
Self-help, as Extra-judicial remedy, 

Self-satisfaction, as a Source of 

Law, 133, 136-7 
Sentences, Legal, 165 
Servants, Legal Protection of, 26-7, 


Shipbuilding, 270 
Shipping, Superintendent of, 124 
Siam, Conquest of, 224 
Hindu architecture in, 255 



Siege- warfare, 214-15, 225 
Signalling, military, 201 
Silver, see Gold, Silver, &c. 
Sindh, Conquests andinvasions of, by 
Alexander the Great, 235 
Muhammad Kasim, 238 
Parthian power, 238 
Saka race, 237-8 
Sishtas, the, Sources of Law, 133, 

Size of States, advantages and the 

reverse, of, 31, 46-7 
Slaughter-houses, Superintendent of, 


Slavery, Indian form of, 25-7 
Slings as weapons of war, 209 
Smritis, the, dates of, 4 n. I 
on Politics, 2, 4-5 
Sources of Law, 133-4 
Social environment of the State, 15 

et sqq., 55 n. i 
Life and Customs, authorities on, 

3 et sqq. 
Society, Good of, the aim of * Dhar- 

ma,' 275 

Subordinate to Law, 131 
in Vedic age 
Structure of, 16 

Gradual changes in, 16 
Origin of caste-system, 16-18 

&> nn. 
Soil as affecting 

Character of Peoples, 31-3 
Conditions of States, 31-3 
Solomon, trade of, with India, 267 
South India, Temples of, 250 
Village government in, 295 
Spies, 126-7, 194 
Spirituous Liquors, Superintendent 

of, 125 

Stambhas, 248 
State, the, origin of, various views 

on, 34 et sqq. 

Theocratic organisation of, fre- 
quent, 39 

Activities of, in Right Conduct, 

282 et sqq. 
Character of, 39 
Functions of, 40 
Power of, Extent of, 39, 40 

State, the (cont.) 
Character of 

Rights in, of Individuals, 39, 41 
Seven Limbs or Elements of,. 


Size of, as affecting Administra- 
tion and Strength, 31 * 
cf. 42 et sqq. 
Sphere of action, 39-40 
Sthanikas, or Citv Divisional Offi- 
cers, 294, 297-8 
Stone Architecture, 246-7 
Story- Books, light given by, on 

Politics, 7 
Stupas, 247, 248 
Subjects, duties and rights of, 3 
Relation of, to Kings, 64-8, 172 et 

sqq., passim 

Subordinate Officials, 121 et sqq. 
Subsistence Allowances, 1 30 
Sudarsana (artificial) Lake, 253 
Sudra caste, duties of, 20 
Kings belonging to, 70 
Manu's views on, 26 n. 
Origin of, 18 

Sugandha, Queen of Kasmir, 69 n. z 
Sukraniti, the, 12 
Sumatra, conquest of, 224 

Hindu architecture in, 255, 256 
Sunga Kings, caste of, 70 
Superintendents of Cities, 296 
of Departments, 121 et sqq. 
Salaries of, 129 30 
Supply Services, military, 201 
Surasenas, Country and Capital of r 


Surashtras ; Kshatriya clan ; occu- 
pations of, 46 

Surat (Surashtra), seaport, 268 
Sureties, 167 

Surrender, rules of, 228-30 
Suryamati, Queen, rule of, in Ceylon, 


Suyya, irrigation-works of, 254 
Suzerain rule, 47-9 
Swords, 204, 208, 209 
Syria, Buddhism in, 279 
Relations with, 186, 187 

TAKSHA-SILA, University of, 285 
Tamil works on Politics, 7 



Tamralipti, seaport, importance of, 


Tangara, commerce of, 268 
Tanks, &c., 252, 253, 255 
Tarapida, cruelty of, 87 
Tarikh-i-Hind, of Alberuni, on India 
before Moslem conquest, 
8 et alibi 

Taxes and Taxation, 173 et sqq. 
Classes exempt from, 178 
Principles regulating, 180-1 
Remission of, in furtherance of 

Foreign Trade, 270 
Revenue from, 177 
Territorial expansion 
Causes, 46-7 
Commencement of, and steady 

progress, 59 

Cession of, by the Vanquished, 

234-5, 237 

as Material Basis of the State, 29 
Climate, Size, and Soil, in regard 

to, 30-3 
Views on, of Chanakya, and 

others. 29-31 

Theft, Responsibility as to, of 
Police, 125-6 

Village communities, 292, 293 
Rarity of, 172 
Theocratic character of early States, 


Tibet, Buddhism in, 278 
Titles of Kings, according to grades, 

Tolls Levied on 

Goods entering cities, 124, 175, 

Land-routes, and Water-ways, 


Superintendent of, 124 
Topes, 247, 248 

Tours of Piety, made by Asoka, 277 
Town Councils, 53 
Town-planning, 244-5 
Towns, classes of, 244-5 

Mediums of, 272-4 
Municipal control of, 297 
and Trade-routes, 264 et sqq. 
Trade Unions, 97 

Tradition, as given in the Smritis, as 

Basis of Law, 133-4 
Trans-Hyphasis region, aristocratic 

rule in, 45 
Transliteration of the Sanskrit 

Alphabet, 299 

Transport Service, military, 201 
Trasadasyu, the first Emperor, 48 
Treasurer-General, the, 113-14 
Duties of, 183-4 
Salary of, 129 

Treasury, the, conditions favourable 
to, and the reverse, 182-3 
Superintendent of, 122 

Alliances made by, 192-3 
Nature of, defined by Chanakya, 


of Peace, various forms of, 233-5 
Tree-planting by Roads, 251, 283 
Trench-warfare, 214 
Trials, Publicity of, 151 

Stages in, and procedure, 154 et 


Tribal evolution, 38 
Tribes of the Punjab, in Vedic times, 

54, 55 n. 
Troops, arrangement of, in battle, 

210 et sqq. 
Classes of, 197 
Equipment of, see Weapons 
Sections of, 197 
Turvasas, the, 54, 55 n. 

UJJAYIN1, city of, described, 242-3 
Universities, famous, 285-7 
University and other Libraries, con- 
taining books on Chana- 
kya's doctrine, 13 
Usury, condemnation of, 273-4 

VAISAMPAYANA, the Nitipraka- 

sika attributed to, 13 
Vaisya caste, duties of, 20 

Kings of, 70 

Vaivasvata Manu, the first King, 37 
Vajapeya sacrifice, the, 90, 92 
Vajjians, the, Assemblies of, 95-6 

Country and Clans of, 55 
Varanasi, University of, 287 
Vardhamana Mahavira, caste of, 23 



Vatsa, and its capital, 56 
Vedas, the, dates of, 4 n. I 
Cited, passim, on 

Elective Kingship, 64-5 
Indian Politics, 2-3 
Public Assemblies, 94 
Famous Kings named in, 63 n. i 
as Sources of Law, 132, 133 
Vedic Age, Social structure in, 16 
States, sizes of, 30, 31, 42 
Warfare, organisation of, 204 

Videhas, the, Country, Confederacy 

and Capital of, 55 
Village Assemblies, powers and 
duties of, 53, 96 n. 3, 
291-2 295 

Courts, 53, 146-7, 292, 295 

Aryan, 289 et sqq. 
Ceylonese, 295 
Dravidian, 288-9 
Kolarian, 288-9 
South Indian, 295 
Officials (see also Headman), 289, 

290, 291, 293 
System, 27-8 
Villages, Circles of, administration 

of, 294 

Classification of, 245, 291 
Collective duties of, 27, 252, 292, 


Viharas, 279, 286 
Vikramaditya, King of Sravasti, and 

his Ministers, 115-16 
Vikrama-sila, University of, 287 
Virajas, Ruler of the World, 35 
Vrijji, Country, Clan-Confederacy 

and Capitals of, 55 
Oligarchic rule of, 46 
Vrishnis, the, oligarchic government 
of, 43 

WAGERS, in relation to Lawsuits, 

War, legendary origin of, 220 n. i 

and Peace, Minister for, 114 
Warfare, essentials of Success in, 


Laws of, 228 et sqq. 
Preliminary considerations, 224-5 

Speeches to Soldiers, 225-7 
Three kinds of, Chanakya on, 


Variant views on, 221-2 
Water, provision of, Merit acquired 

by, 252-3, 255, 283 
Water- storage, 252-5 
Waterways, main, 266 
Weapons of War, Authorities on, 13 
Classification and Lists of, 204 et 

Weaving, State Control of, 262-3 

Superintendent of, 124 
Weights and Measures, Superinten- 
dents of, 124 

Wells, provision of, 252, 283 
Witnesses in Law Cases, 159-61 
Women Sovereigns, 69 cS-ww.2,3 
Word of Honour, Treaties made by, 

Works of Mercy, 282 et sqq. 

YADUS, the, 54, 55 n. 

Yasodharman, King of Malava, con- 
quests of, 223 
Empire of, 606-W.2 

Yona, and other settlers in Asoka's 
realm, Buddhism of, 278 

Yudishthira, King, 230, 257 
Abdication of, 90 
Conquests of, 48, 220-1 
Elected by the People, 68 
Grand Assembly held by, 100 
Type of Virtuous King, 83 

Yue-chi conquests, 238 

Yuktikalpataru, the, of King Bhoja, 
date of, 136- w.i 






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R 91963 

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