Monday, November 14, 2011

Kautilyas (An)arthashastra

Most of us know that Chanakya (370–283 BCE) was a shrewd and brilliant teacher. Indeed he is regarded as great, especially his ideas on spying  theories, law and order etc.. to mention few, but modern social reformers have questioned the foundation of his theories, this is one such view. Ardent Hindu Nationalists declare him super patriotic highlighting his role in formation of Mauryan Empire & citing his work "arthashastra" a political treatise.
Alas it immediately occurs to a person who reads Arthashastra that Chanakya was not a visionary but
·  A blind believer and not advanced of his time. [ citation Arthashastra-5  ]
·  Kautilya snaps freedom of expression from women, shudra and other equivalent class of his time, essentially Kautilyas arthashastra is built upon pillars of Discrimination denial of freedom to so called lower castes. [ Citation  Arthashastra- ]
·  Kautilya framed many property inheritance laws which left Sudra and like classes  economically weak. Kautilya was shrewd enough to know 2000 years ago that  economically weak section cannot raise its voice.  One shall find many laws that impose different fines/punishments based on caste for the same crime committed. Most of the cases Brahmin of his time is exempted or fined a meager penalty for the same crime committed, but a shudra and like class of his time is levied a highest penalty in most of the cases cruel death awards.
Kautilya could have been given a clean chit considering his social ignorance and policy of Equality unknown to India in a true sense until the 20 Century AD; if at all a person named Buddha was not born about 300 years before him. Buddha questioned the false practices in the predominant Hindu religion of his time. Vivekananda in one of the instance declares Buddha as the greatest sage to be born in India.
Kautilya shrewdly ignored the message of Buddha to humanity, also was well aware of Chaturvarna system and its detrimental effect on suppressed people. He consciously framed laws keeping misquoted chaturvarna and ensured suppressed class remains uneducated, economically weak slaves.
Kautilya remains questionable and weak as[himself being an expert in all kinds of educational disciplines of his time chiefly Vedas, astrology, politics and economics] he was unable to emphasize Equality among people at least when he framed laws, forget in reality. Discrimination against women also is a key factor gives an insight that he wanted to build a nation on the basis of Manushastra which was designed to leave the majority  uneducated and slaves.
Did not the Upanishads declare All men are Equal, Did not Buddha reiterate it in his own way. Was not chanakya aware of these... yes, but Chanakya was also shrewd, he had an agenda in his mind that supported caste domination and hence he formulated such cruel laws.
So much of Chanakya is being advertised and popularized by Hindu political parties and their ardent wings in recent past; it shows the sentiments and their deep hidden thoughts about society and their plans.  Do they want to build a nation considering religion as its basis, a theory which is ridiculed by likes of Bhagath Sing, Vivekananda?  Thus he blew the trumpet whose noise suppressed the uneducated section of society. The same noise became music to people who wanted to revive Hinduism by culling Buddhism during post Mauryan period.
One shall find flaws in Kautilya's arthashastra which are detrimental to any  human society that can exist in all times.
Arthasastra citations-discriminating

Caste Based Discrimination |
Legacy Chaturvarna |
Economic Discrimination |
Women Discriminated |
Blind Belief 

was Chanakya really great, chanakya and modern views, social reformer.
Image courtesy uploader.
Reach here with:  chanakya flaws, blind believer, chanakya  caste offender, chanakya caste discrimination, chanakya  manusmriti… , arthshastra,,

Arthasastra citations-discriminate

Caste Based Discrimination |
Legacy Chaturvarna |
Economic Discrimination |
Women Discriminated |
Blind Belief 
<Caste Based Discrimination>
How cruel becomes chanakya here..., for the same crime committed Shudra is burnt alive...
Sudra burnt alive
“A Kshatriya who commits adultery with an unguarded Bráhman woman shall be punished with the highest amercement; a Vaisya doing the same shall be deprived of the whole of his property; and a Súdra shall be burnt alive wound round in mats” [ArthaSahstra]
If at all someone who is Veda parangatha, can he decide such a cruel punishment?
That limb of a Súdra with which he strikes a Bráhman shall be cut off. ” [ArthaSahstra]
Kautilya intelligently with below law ensures Sudra not to be raised to the level of Brahmana
When a Súdra calls himself a Bráhman, or when any person steals the property of gods, conspires against the king, or destroys both the eyes of another, he shall either have his eyes destroyed by the application of poisonous ointment, or pay a fine of 800 panas [ArthaSahstra]
How will caste matter here, sudra receives death punishment, where as Brahmana receives a simpler punishment..... Adultery is adultery...
Adultery is adultery
A man who commits adultery with a woman of low caste shall be banished with prescribed mark branded on his fore-head, or shall be degraded to the same caste. A Súdra or a svapáka who commits adultery with a woman of low caste shall be put to death, while the woman shall have her ears and nose cut off. [ArthaSahstra]
No fresh liquor other than bad liquor shall be sold below its price. Bad liquor may be sold elsewhere or given to slaves or workmen in lieu of wages; or it may form the drink of beasts for draught or the subsistence of hogs [ArthaSahstra].
<Legacy Chaturvarna>

Here Kautilya clearly throws the noble conception of chaturvarna into fire Kautilya probably toughens the stand of Manushastra
Sons begotten by a Súdra on women of higher castes are Ayogava, Kshatta, and Chandála; by a Vaisya, Mágadha, and Vaidehaka; and by aKshatriya, Súta...

Sudra need not get alphabetical knowledge?
The duty of the Brahman is study, teaching...
That of a Kshatriya is study, performance of sacrifice.....
That of a Sudra is the serving of twice-born (dvijati), agriculture, cattle-breeding, and trade (varta), the profession of artisans and court-bards (karukusilavakarma) [ArthaSahstra]
Here Kautilya puts a stamp to his previous above mentioned law....and says Shudra must adhere to occupation.
This people (loka) consisting of four castes and four orders of religious life, when governed by the king with his sceptre, will keep to their respective paths, ever devotedly adhering to their respective duties and occupations. ) [ArthaSahstra]
A Vainya becomes a Rathakára, chariot-maker, by profession. Members of this caste shall marry among themselves. Both in customs and avocations they shall follow their ancestors.
They may either become Súdras or embrace any other lower castes excepting Chandálas. [ArthaSahstra]

<Economic Discrimination>

Here Chanakya clearly curtails freedom of speech. With Buddhism being in peak, people were questioning Vedic rituals which were costly and not so meaningful according to Upanishads also.
To avoid such things.. below law  was framed
If among Bráhmans, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, Súdras, and outcastes (antávasáyins), any one of a lower caste abuses the habits of one of a higher caste, the fines imposed shall increase from 3 panas upwards (commencing from the lowest caste). If any one of a higher caste abuses one of a lower caste, fines imposed shall decrease from 2 panas. [ArthaSahstra]

When a person steals or destroys cocks, mangoose, cats, dogs or pigs, of less than 54 panas in value, he shall have the edge of his nose cut off or pay a fine of 54 panas. If these animals belong to either Chandalas or wild tribes half of the above fine shall be mposed. . [ArthaSahstra]
<Women Discriminated>

If a widow marries any man other than of her father-in-law's selection (svasuraprátilo-myenanivishtá), she shall forfeit whatever had been given to her by her father-in-law and her husband.[arthashastra]

Again Male Domination:
If she brings forth only females, he has to wait for twelve years. Then if he is desirous to have sons, he may marry another for twelve years.
If under any other excuse than danger, a woman gets out of her husband's house, she shall be fined 6 panas. If she gets out against the order (of her husband) to the contrary, she shall be fined 12 panas. If she goes beyond her neighboring house (prativesagrihatigatáyah), she shall be fined 6 panas

Where is the freedom for prostitute son here, if he wants liberty he has to pay money. Is not it slavery
A prostitute shall pay 24,000 panas as ransom to regain her liberty; and a prostitute's son 12,000 panas. [ArthaSahstra]
Chanakya supports prostitution in temples, but Gandhi condemns it. Devadasi’s belong to lower castes, thus chanakya approved priests of enjoying women in temple premises which was pre existing. If he was great he could have stopped it…
Prostitutes (devadási) who have ceased to attend temples on service shall be employed to cut wool, fibre, cotton, panicle (túla), hemp, and flax. [ArthaSahstra]
<Blind Belief>
Chanakya blindly believes Karmic philosophy and declares that a shudra can never get elevated because, he can only carry forward sin birth after birth. Thus Kautilya ensures with this tricky law that Sudra is a sinner by birth.
A Súdra witness thus:--„Whatever thy merits are, in thy former birth or after thy death, shall they go to the king and whatever sins the king may have committed, shall they go to thee,if thou utterest falsehood; fines also shall be levied on thee, for facts as they have been heard or seen will certainly be subsequently revealed.?[ArthaSahstra]

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Here i present you two poems by  Giants of Indian Literature Kuvempu and Tagore. Time and again progressive thinkers have questioned the Temple structure and its intentions. Its very clear that social reformers were frustrated about how priests ran the temples by advocating inequality, blind beliefs, false devotion as a result they reduced the temples to a mere set of stone walls.

Expression of both the poems are different but finally they converge at the same point.....

Poem By Tagore [ from Gitanjali]
Leave this chanting and singing and telling of beads!
Whom dost thou worship in this lonely dark corner of a temple with doors all shut?
Open thine eyes and see thy God is not before thee!
He is there where the tiller is tilling the hard ground
and where the pathmaker is breaking stones.
He is with them in sun and in shower,
and his garment is covered with dust.
Put off thy holy mantle and even like him come down on the dusty soil...

ದೇವರು ಸೆರೆಯಾಳ್ (by kuvempu, in 14-7-1936)God the prisoner
( Kuvempu, simple transliteration by me)
ದೇವರು ಸೆರೆಯಾಳ್, ದೇಗುಲ ಸೆರೆಮನೆ
ಕಾವಲು ಪೂಜಾರಿ

ನೀನಾವಾಗಲು ನನ್ನಯ ಬಳಿಯಿರೆ
ಬಲು ತೊಂದರೆ ಎಂದು
ಗಿರಿಶಿಖರದೊಳತಿದೂರದಿ ಕಟ್ಟಿದೆ
ಗುಡಿಯನು ನಿನಗೊಂದು
ಕಲ್ಲಿನ ಗೋಪುರ, ಕಲ್ಲಿನ ಗೋಡೆ
ದುರ್ಗದವೊಲು ಬಲು ದುರ್ಗಮ ನೋಡೆ!

ಸೆರೆಯನು ತಪ್ಪಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳದ ತೆರದಲಿ
ಅರ್ಚಕ ರಕ್ಷೆಯಿದೆ;
ತೆಂಗಿನ ಕಾಯೊಳೆ ತಲೆಯನು ಬಡಿಯುವ
ಪೂಜೆಯ ಶಿಕ್ಷೆಯಿದೆ

ಪುರಸತ್ತಾದರೆ ಕೆಲಸದೊಳಿಲ್ಲಿ
ಬೇಸರ ಪರಿಹಾರಕೆ ಬಹೆನಲ್ಲಿ
God is the prisoner, temple is the prison
priest is the sentry!

troublesome it is, if thou near to me for ever
So I Built a temple far over the hill

tower made of stone, wall made of stone
looks like an impenetrable fortress

such is the priest's shelter
Thou Cannot escape the confinement
Thou receives an adorable punishment
when thy head smashed with coconut

to be releived of boredom
shall visit there
If found leisure
in here
[ forgive me if the transliteration is poor , send your comments to]

Further reading:

[ images courtesy: uploaders]


In the previous blog i discussed historical and social views about temples. Here i am trying to offer thoughts expressed by Basavanna, kuvempu and Rabindranath Tagore on temples:-
Vachana in English [ Commentary ]In Kannada
ಉಳ್ಳವರು ಶಿವಾಲಯವ ಮಾಡುವರು ನಾನೇನ ಮಾಡಲಿ ಬಡವನಯ್ಯ
ಎನ್ನ ಕಾಲೆ ಕಂಬ ದೇಹವೆ ದೇಗುಲ ಶಿರ ಹೊನ್ನ ಕಳಸವಯ್ಯ
ಕೂಡಲ ಸಂಗಮದೇವ ಕೇಳಯ್ಯ ಸ್ಥಾವರಕ್ಕಳಿವುಂಟು ಜಂಗಮಕ್ಕಳಿವಿಲ್ಲ
Rich build temples to shiva, what can i build ?
A poor man, Lord am I !, My body is the shrine
Its pillars are my legs, The golden pinnacle my head
Hear me, kudala sangama Lord
standstill perishes, which moves alone persists

Vachana by Allamaprabhu
Having built a stone temple,
And chiselled God out of stone,
If you put one stone on another,
Where did your God go ?
He who installs the stone Linga
Goes to hell, O Guheswara !

These vachanas are so crystal clear that they need no further explanation. If there is a temple, it must have priest. Priests of yesteryear ruined the harmony among fellow hindus by tweaking chaturvarna system, shastras and agamas according to their needs and made temples as their means to enjoy the worldly pleasures.
As swami vivekananda puts it ,
"Its not the problem of hinduism but its the problem with the orthodox people in it, its the fault of the priests".

Further reading
Basavanna's Vachana needs to be understood in the backdrop of
1. All along the history we have seen that Temples catered a particular section of people especially financially strong class and suppressed people were denied entry in the name of chaturvarna.
Basavanna who is deeply pained with the behavior of temple priests expresses a great social concern, he says Let us respect the human beings first, so what if you are denied entry to temple, here   we are, the body itself is a temple, our Legs are the pillars, this body is the shrine and Head is the Golden dome.
2. Some Orthodox and traditional hindus argue that, basavanna did not condemn the temple concept but just the ill practices carried out by them.  

 For such, the answer lies in the last line, Basavanna says bluntly, that which is standstill will perish just like those ancient huge fortresses which remain as ruins. So this applies to Church, temples and Masjids also..., if at all mankind is progressing then all such barriers will have to be overcome, such structures will eventually fall as time passes and collective human mind becomes rational.
References: Basaveshar-Ambedkar [ De ja gau ]