Academic journal article The Journal of Central Asian Studies

SCHOLARSHIP AS HERITAGE: Commonness between India and Central Asia

Academic journal article The Journal of Central Asian Studies

SCHOLARSHIP AS HERITAGE: Commonness between India and Central Asia

Article excerpt

Kautilya at the Source

Kautilya or Chanakya, as he is otherwise known, was an Indian scholar counselor to the kings of his time. As a mastermind of statecrafthe wrote immortal injunctions to run a perfect state. His teachings have outlived the onslaught of time and conquests, sieved through the ages the principles of what a king should do and what he ought not do, while running the state. In Central Asia Mirzo Ulugbek's predecessor, Amir Timur and his successors Babur and Akbar had all must have followed what Kautilya had leftbehind. His famous classic The Arthashastra is a must read for any intellectual and administrator in any age. Given that the Central Asian space along the Oasis stretches of Amu Darya and Syr Darya, had flourished Bactrian, Sogdian, Scynthian and Parthian empires before they were destroyed by Chengiz Khan, the science of statecraftwas apparently very developed along the Kautilyan principles. Kautilya emphasized on ten major principles: 1. Perfect king, 2. A well-organized state, 3. Revenue sources and their judicious spending, 4. Civil services, 5. Branches of the government, 6. Law and justice, 7. Foreign policy and diplomacy, 8.Defence and war, 9. Covert operations and 10. Allied aspects.1 From all these ten broad principles, Kautilya filtered his thoughts to six crucial directions of pursuing foreign relations, which h are an essential manual for a contemporary diplomats. These six principles of foreign relations included:

* Samdhi: Making a treaty, putting therein terms and conditions of war and peace.

* Vigraha: The policy of hostility.

* Asana: The policy of remaining quiet and not planning any march of expedition.

* Yana: The policy of Marching on Expedition.

* Samsarya:The policy of seeking shelter with another king.

* Dvaidhabhaba: Friendship with one king and hostility with another king at the same time. The principle is: Granted that your neighbor is your enemy; your neighbor's neighbor ought to be your friend.2

These principles have transcendental values in time and space. Written some one thousand five hundred years ago during the Nanda and Maurya dynasty, Kautilya's theses on perfect statecraftwas researched and first published in three volumes by a Professor of Bombay University, R.P.Kangle, between 1960 and 1965. They contained: Firstly, a definitive, critically edited text with precise numbering of sutras and verses, Secondly, an English translation with detailed notes which took into account all other prior translations and Thirdly, an exhaustive study. Kautilya was earlier translated by R. Shamasastry of Mysore, which was published 1904 and 1915, first the text and then the English version respectively. Besides, there has been Sanskrit commentaries on Kautilya's work many times in the past, most famous being the commentaries by T. Ganapati Sastri.

Kautilya wrote his theses in Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language, which is considered as mother of other Indo-European and Asian languages. It was primarily in verse form that has been appreciated, adored and translated into English and other languages. A German translation by J.J. Meyer as well as a Russian translation exists apart from many Indian languages. His teachings were as much moral as ethical and defined the code of conduct for the King and his subjects, thereby dealing with many issues of statecraftand good governance.In the particular context of conquests that had happened quite frequently in ancient and Middle Ages, Kautilya had never lost his significance. These principles also were applied to all those expeditions of Timurid and Baburid rulers, who came all the way to India to conquer and rule. What holds today good is the versatile heritage value of these immortal principles.

Kautilya wrote that there was great belief in astrology and similar predictive sciences as well as in the occult sciences of witchcraft, sorcery and black magic. Without the knowledge of Mathematics, such deeds were impossible to practise and it shows clearly that ancient and medieval India was famous for mathematics and related sciences with it contribution "0" to the numerical that revolutionized the entire process of calculations. …

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