Fourfold Division of Knowledge in Ancient India

Ancient India–which was the pinnacle of human civilization–excelled in the field of material advancement as much as it excelled in spiritual and religious glory. The advancement in each of the spheres of life was based on the recognition of the fundamental reality that there can’t be any separation of the religious from material for the development of the human society. The equal importance of religious and material aspects of life is manifested in the division of disciplines of knowledge in Ancient India. Our primary consideration will be the Arthashastra of Aacharya Chanakya while we will also explore different perspectives on fields of knowledge from other ancient texts.

In the first अधिकरण of Arthashastra, Acharya Chanakya names the four disciplines of knowledge as follows:

आन्वीक्षिकी त्रयी वार्त्ता दण्ड.नीतिश् च_इति विद्याः। (01.02.01)
The four disciplines of knowledge are: आन्वीक्षिकी, त्रयी, वार्त्ता and दंडनीति. Before we move further, we need to understand the meaning of the four disciplines of knowledge enumerated by Aacharya Chanakya. आन्वीक्षिकी is a word whose meaning has changed over centuries. During the time when Arthashastra was written, the term आन्वीक्षिकी was roughly equivalent to दर्शनशास्त्र (loosely translated as Philosophy). However, in the later time, the meaning of the term became restricted and it became synonymous with न्याय दर्शन and तर्कशास्त्र. In the same chapter, Aacharya Chanakya considers सांख्य, योग and लोकायत as the constituents of आन्वीक्षिकी. The absence of न्याय or मीमांसा from the list is due to the fact that मीमांसा was still considered to be the part of त्रयी (Three vedas) while the term न्याय came into the use to denote a separate stream of philosophy around first century of the common era. While लोकायत is considered to be equivalent of चार्वाक दर्शन now, it referred to the different streams of materialist philosophy which existed during that time.

Next discipline of knowledge is त्रयी which included the three Vedas viz. Rik, Yajur and Saam. The absence of Atharvaveda in the list shouldn’t surprise us because for a long time, Atharvaveda was considered a separate text from the compendium of the other three Vedas. वार्त्ता is the discipline of knowledge concerned with the fields of commerce, agriculture and cattle rearing. These three activities were typically performed by Vaishya Varna and we can consider that Vaishyas primarily specialized in the knowledge of वार्त्ता. दंडनीति refers to the subject of polity which is the discipline concerned with the theory and practice of governance. The relative importance of the दंडनीति can be understood from the reference in Mahabharata which considers that when polity sinks further, neither the Vedas can be secured nor the Dharma can be preserved as society descends in the state of chaos.

While the existence of four disciplines of knowledge was well recognized, different streams of thoughts had their own ideas about how many of them can be considered as legitimate disciplines of knowledge. Aacharya Chanakya cites the diverging views of followers of three schools: Manu, Shukracharya and Brihaspati. We will explore the views of these three schools on valid disciplines of knowledge. On followers of Manu, Aacharya Chanakya says the following:

त्रयी वार्त्ता दण्ड नीतिश् च_इति मानवाः। (01.02.02)
Followers of Manu consider only three disciplines of knowledge viz. त्रयी, वार्त्ता, and दंडनीति as valid disciplines of knowledge because आन्वीक्षिकी is considered to be a sub-field of त्रयी instead of an independent field of knowledge. Followers of Shukra believe the following:
दण्ड.नीतिर् एका विद्या_इत्य् औशनसाः। (01.02.06)
Followers of Shukracharya considered only polity to be a legitimate field of knowledge which shows that they probably belonged to the stream of materialist philosophy. Shukraniti which is a later text on polity considers the number of disciplines of knowledge to be 32 which demonstrates that the authors changed the count of disciplines of knowledge as it expanded. Followers of Brihaspati consider the following though:
वार्त्ता दण्ड.नीतिश् च_इति बार्हस्पत्याः। (01.02.04)
Followers of Brihaspati considered only वार्त्ता and दंडनीति as valid fields of knowledge which is due to their rejection of Vedas and adoption of an atheistic worldview. Their rejection of आन्वीक्षिकी is probably due to their insistence on reliance on direct perception as the only valid means of knowledge while rejecting others. Aacharya Chanakya considers all four of them to be valid disciplines of knowledge which help in the different spheres of life. Having discussed the field of knowledge mentioned in Arthashastra, we will summarize the fields of knowledge mentioned in other texts concluding our discussion.

In Ramayana, only three disciplines excluding आन्वीक्षिकी have been considered as valid disciplines of knowledge while Mahabharata considers आन्वीक्षिकी to be the fourth discipline of knowledge. Aacharya वात्स्यायन has adopted the same stance as of Mahabharata while कामन्दक in his नीतिसार which is based on Arthashastra of Aacharya Chanakya follows the opinion of Chanakya by accepting all four as valid disciplines of knowledge. The importance of the four fields of knowledge is also reflected in how the deities were identified with them. For example, in Vishnu Purana, Lakshmi has been considered as the goddess in which the four fields of knowledge reside. The classification of fields of knowledge in distinct categories shows that the fields had grown considerably which necessitated the maintenance of categories, but it also reflects the fact that every sphere of human activity be it whether Commerce or Philosophy is necessary for the sustenance of the society.


1. Arthashastra by Aacharya Chanakya (Hindi translation by Pandit Udayveer Shastri)

2. A History of Indian Logic by Satish Chandra Vidyabhusan

3. Banerji, Ambuj Nath. STUDIES IN ECONOMICS OF ANCIENT INDIA. Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, vol. 10, no. 1/2, 1929, pp. 77–113. JSTOR, Accessed 1 July 2020.

Marxism and Culture: The Tale of Antagonism

The relationship between Marxism and existing culture is a puzzling one as people don’t really get the rationale behind Marxism’s opposition to culture despite the fact that Marxism is rooted in materialist conception of history and class conflict is the way forward to achieve the desired ends. To explain this, there are connected yet different concepts which are responsible for their opposition and critique of culture. The first comes from Classical Marxism while the second comes from Frankfurt School of Marxism.

Besides the concept of historical materialism, Marx devised a hypothesis which he called Base-Superstructure Theory (BST). In BST, the society is differentiated into two realms – productive forces and every other aspects of society such as religion, culture, political concepts, social norms etc. According to Marx, the productive forces (economic structure) constitute the base while everything else is superstructure and it’s the base which determines the superstructure. In BST, Marx proudly proclaimed that consciousness is the product of material realities and not vice versa.

The implications of BST is immense considering the way it has been applied. Since it’s the economic structure which determines everything else, if the economic structure is problematic, all the other aspects of the society such as religion, culture etc. are faulty since they’ve emerged out of the faulty economic base. In Marxism, the only correct economic structure is Communism and thus, all the aspects of a non-communist society must be criticised. However, the relationship between base and superstructure is not unidirectional. The superstructure serves the import function of maintaining the base by providing justification and rationalization for the existing base. So, in a capitalist society, the legal system, politics, religion, culture etc. serve the sole purpose of reinforcing the economic structure and if economic structure has to be transformed, the elements of superstructure needs to be weakened too. This is how the Marxist Cultural Studies was born.

The field of Marxist cultural studies took a major turn after the World War II though. USA had emerged as the dominant nation and contrary to the Marx’s prediction, there was no sign of withering away of capitalism in USA. A modification in the theoretical approach was required which was taken by Frankfurt School of Marxism and its most potent thinker Herbert Marcuse. Herbert Marcuse subscribed to the Freudian notion that civilization is inherently repressive of individual desires, and it imposes the cultural and social norms from the top. There is very little scope for individuality. On the other hand, Marcuse didn’t accept the BST of Marx and postulated that culture is not the part of superstructure. It was inevitable since the path of class conflict looked like a thing of past.

Marcuse developed his new approach in the book ‘The One Dimensional Man’. According to Marcuse, an industrialized society such as US is as oppressive and totalitarian as a Soviet Union and the difference lies only in the methods of enforcing the control. He argued that by the use of technology, media, law, culture and politics with economic structure in such unified way in US, the social reality was subsumed with cultural factors. Thus, unlike a two dimensional society in which social reality is opposed by culture, culture enforces the social structure using technological rationality in advanced industrial nations. The culture instead of cultivating the individual aspirations was being driven by capitalism and mass production which determined the choices of the individuals.

In a way, Marcuse accepted that Marxism is inadequate to change the social reality but he considered culture to be a separate reality and even higher than the social reality. What would be the next step? Marxists of Frankfurt School will try their best to change the existing culture by subjecting it to scathing critique while trying their best to introduce their own cultural norms as culture is now an independent entity unlike Marx’s BST. In this way, they’ll be opposing and weakening oppressive social reality. The fields of Cultural Studies and Media Studies were born in USA which undertook the task of criticizing every aspect of culture and introducing new norms. Waves of Feminism, LGBTQ movement, Safe Spaces, Microaggression, Discursive Violence, Implicit Bias, Privilege checking etc. were the outcomes of critique of the existing culture.

In case of India, since Indian culture is rooted in Sanatan Dharma, their goal can never be accomplished until they criticise the very basis which sustains the Indian culture. Every problem in India has to be necessarily linked with Sanatan Dharma and criticized without any further consideration for effecting the new cultural norms which they plan to enforce in every society which has not been conquered by Marxism. In India, the Frankfurt School of Marxism is yet taking its roots and the adherents of BST still remain the most vehement critics of Dharma.

The Planned Soviet Invasion of India and Formation of Communist Party of India

The history of Communism in India and Communist Party of India especially is a fascinating tale which has been concealed from Indians due to Marxists’ dominance in historiography. The fabrication of the fact is manifested in their official version as well since Communist Party of India considers its foundation day as December 26, 1925 while Communist Party of India (M), an offshoot of Communist Party of India considers it to be on October 17, 1920. However, none of these versions provide the actual background of the formation of the Communist Party of India. The actual intent behind the formation of CPI was to ensure the invasion of Soviet Union in India and change the colonial master of India from British to Soviet Union. Before we discuss this aspect, we will deal with Bolsheviks’ policy towards the countries which were under colonial rule.
Lenin, the man who transformed Marxism from a philosophy to a reality had kept an eye on the colonized countries of the East from as early as 1907. Marxism considers the nation to be a bourgeois concept which is a major obstacle in establish a Communist society free from the borders. Yet, as long as countries are under the colonial rule, the hope of a global communist society would remain a figment of imagination. In this context, Lenin reasoned that Bolsheviks must provide support to anti-colonial movements around the world as it will help colonized countries in reaching the stage of democracy from which the next flight for dictatorship of the proletariat will take place. This included support for global Islamic movement as well. Lenin was able to make the concession to support the movement against colonialism even if the movement didn’t have any Communist character. But, not everyone agreed with the thesis of Lenin on how Soviet Communists should take forward the Communist movement in colonies.
The first official viewpoint of Soviet Union viz-a-viz India was elucidated by K M Troyanovasky in 1918 in his Blue Book on relationship between Soviet Union and British India. After highlighting the exploitative character of British rule in India, Troyanovasky reasoned the following:
“Our revolutionary path in the not distant feature will bring forth joy, not only on the plane of struggle for national liberation from foreign domination, but also for the broad principles of the class struggle and for the socialist order.”
Troyanovasky made it clear that their goal in India won’t be limited to support of movements aiming to overthrow the colonial rule, but establishing the communist society would be ultimate aim. However, they didn’t have any contact with Indian revolutionaries with whom they could shape their expectations to the reality. Coincidentally, Hindu-German conspiracy had failed and many Indian revolutionaries residing in Berlin and UK were looking for other forces which can support them. One such revolutionary was M P T Acharya who was in close contact with Mahendra Pratap (President of Provisional Government of India in Kabul) and Virendranath Chattopadhyay. They travelled to Soviet Union in December 1918 to explore if they could gather any support from Bolsheviks but the expedition was largely unsuccessful in its attempt as none of them were ideologically Communist which didn’t make Lenin happy. Mahendra Pratap subsequently decided to not follow the orders of Lenin to go to India for spreading the Communist propaganda. He proceeded to Bukhara to win the support of Khan of Bukhara without any success and met Lenin again in March 1919 for nothing in return. Meanwhile, the First Communist International in March 1919 had declared that Soviet Union will be supporting the anti-colonial movement in India.
In the developing circumstances, emergence of M N Roy in the Communist movement gave a decisive shift to the bid of friendship between Soviet Union and ideologically novice Indian Communists. Roy had travelled to USA for joining Ghadar revolutionaries in 1915 but was indoctrinated in Marxism subsequently and was one of the founders of Mexico Socialist Party in 1918. In 1919, an American Marxist of Russian origin named Michael Borodin moved to Mexico who persuaded Roy to move to Russia to collaborate with Lenin for the success of Soviet ambitions in India. Roy met Lenin in early months of 1920 and impressed him with his ideological clarity. While Lenin was happy with any form of anti-colonial movement, Roy emphasized that the anti-colonial movement must have communist character. He termed Indian independence movement as a reactionary and bourgeoisie movement. There was debate between Lenin and Roy on the issue during 2nd World Congress of Communist International in August 1920. Though Lenin was not convinced with Roy’s argument, he was ready to work with Roy.
There were two outcomes of 2nd World Congress of Comintern with respect to India: 1. Establishment of Central Asiatic Bureau to further the interest of Soviet Union in India and 2. Organization of a conference of Near, Middle and Far East Countries in Baku in 1920. The conference started in September 1920 in which Indian delegation of 14 members were led by Abani Mukherjee which primarily consisted of Muslim soldiers of British Indian Army who had defected while they were posted in Khorasan of Iran. In the conference, a radical proposal was put forward by Abani Mukherjee to establish an armed force controlled by Soviet Union for establishing Communism in India. Interestingly, M N Roy didn’t attend the conference since he believed that it won’t produce anything substantial owing to his differences with Lenin during 2nd World Congress of Comintern. But when Soviet Union agreed for the proposal of raising an army for this purpose, M N Roy was ecstatic.
M N Roy started working on the details of executing the plan in which Afganistan was envisioned to play the central role. Emir Amanullah of Afghanistan had fought war with British India in May 1919 and the relationship of Amanullah with the latter was still strained. M N Roy devised the plan of invasion of India by Soviet Forces in which Soviet Forces will march to India via Afganistan and they will be supported militarily by the Muslims of North West Frontier. Roy expected that they will be able to establish a free Communist state on the borders from where they’ll launch the attack on rest of the India. Roy’s plan was approved by Politburo of Communist Party of Russia subsequently and it was decided that the entire activities will be conducted from Tashkent in Turkestan. Accordingly, two trains carrying arms and ammunitions including disassembled parts of the aircrafts were dispatched from Russia for Tashkent where Roy was supposed to establish a military school. It was in Tashkent where they founded Communist Party of India in October 1920 while planning for the invasion of India.
Once they established their base in Tashkent, they had to take care of some major issues before proceeding forward. These issues were: 1. Bringing the troubled regions of Central Asia under firm Soviet control 2. Training Indian Communists 3. Establishing the dominance of Soviet Union in Chinese Turkestan and 4. Persuading Emir Amanullah of Afghanistan for letting Afghanistan being used for invasion. The works on all the fronts began simultaneously but we will focus on training of Indian Communists. Roy and his comrades found it difficult to recruit Indian freedom fighters for his movement. In another coincidence, about 5000 Muhajirs (a term which means migration of Muslims from the land of Kafirs to the land of believers) were in Tashkent whose goal was to fight against the British empire from the side of Ottoman Empire. Another group was Muslim soldiers of British Indian Army which I already mentioned. Roy started military training for these people immediately and the unholy alliance between Communism and Islam in India was thus born.
Meanwhile, British had kept a keen eye on the development in Tashkent and Afghanistan to take care of any such act of aggression. The situation for Soviet Union was further exacerbated by the fact that their expeditions in Chinese Turkestan had little success after three attempts. Emir Amanullah didn’t cooperate either as he was won over by British in 1921 while Muslims were confused regarding how Soviet Union could help them while Soviet Union was crushing the Muslim rebellions in Central Asia. As a result, Soviet Union abandoned the plan for establishing Communism in India via this approach. We may pause for a moment and reflect on the fact that Indian Communists were serving as nothing but mercenaries for Soviet Union to transfer India from British colonialism to Soviet colonialism. Being the adversary of India has been the basic characteristics of Communists from their very inception.
1. Soviet Russia and Indian Communism by David N Druh

2. Minutes of the Second Congress of the Communist International

Encirclement and Intrigue: Chinese Style of Geopolitics

After suffering humiliating defeat in 1962 Sino-Indian conflict, Indians have applied no efforts in understanding the Chinese psyche and their art of geopolitics which is radically different from Western geopolitical strategy based on Clausewitzian approach. Before the Sino-Indian conflict, Mao summoned his generals in Beijing for giving them historical perspective on why a war with India was necessary to knock sense in India. It was quite unusual as Mao always had nothing but contempt for history. But in the meeting, he told his generals that India and China had fought one and half war so far and a limited war is required if India needs to be kept in check. What were those ‘one and half war’ which Mao mentioned?

In the 7th Century when Tang Dynasty ruled in China, there were close diplomatic and cultural contacts with Harsha Vardhan and Tang Dynasty during which many monks and scholars frequently visited each other’s countries. The most famous one being the travel of Yuan Chwang to India. After the return of Yuann Chwang, Tang dynasty sent a diplomatic mission under the leadership of Wang Xuance but by the time his group reached India, Harsha Vardhan had died and North India was marred in the state of chaos. In the chaos, 30 members of his mission were killed which infuriated Chinese, and with the help of Tibetan king, they probably fought a war with small kingdom in Bihar bordering Nepal emerging victorious. It was not even a war but for Mao, it was a war which Chinese won resulting in better relationship with India and China in the subsequent period.

The ‘Half-war’ which he mentioned was Tamerlane’s invasion of Delhi though Timur was a Mongol. In Mao’s reasoning, as Mongols were the part of broader Chinese civilization, it can be considered as half war. In Mao’s assessment, an amicable relationship between India and China was possible provided there was a limited conflict so that India can’t act as aggressor in near future. The question is not here about Mao’s historical knowledge but of civilizational awareness. Can you expect any Indian prime minister to tell his generals about how Han Chinese were subdued during the Kushana era? Mao was essentially echoing the sentiments which is rooted in China’s unqiue style of geopolitics.

Historically, Chinese considered themselves to be a unique civilization, a heaven on this earth which shouldn’t establish equal diplomatic relationship with its neighbours. If anyone is interested in China, they let people have a glimpse of glory of Chinese civilization instead of treating them as equal partner. But there was also the harsh reality of China’s borders being vulnerable and internal conflicts leading to the decay of China. This resulted in a psyche which accepted that complete victory over an enemy leads to extreme bloodshed not conducive even for the side which attains victory. That’s why Sun Tzu asks to avoid military conflict as much as possible and explore alternate ways. Acharya Chanakya has echoed similar principle by saying that an arrow which has been shot can miss the target but intrigue can kill even a baby in womb.

Though China is a Communist country, it has not given up its ancient technique of warfare and geopolitics. Clausewitz considers war to be extension of state’s policy indicating that war is different from other means while Sun Tzu considers war to be part of state policy. As total victory is difficult for them, they have adopted the doctrine of combative coexistence with its adversaries through encirclement. It was the reason that China declared ceasefire in 1962 when it was at advantageous situation ensuring that India can never gain upper hand in negotiations. When you add the inherent imperialism of the Maoism in their geopolitical approach, the level of threat increases by multiple folds for us. We have to be wary about very realistic possibility of limited conflict between India and China since if it has to keep a rising power like India in check, such limited conflict is imminent for them.


1. On China by Henry Kissinger
2. The Art of War by Sun Tzu

Turning the Citizens’ Against Their Own State: Chanakya’s Tactics

For a state, maintaining its sovereignty is paramount considering the fact that every state attempts to secure its sovereignty, resulting in conflict between the different states. The conflict can get manifested in either hostility, strategic alliance, muted hostility or tactical cooperation which is dependent on different dynamics. However, for a state to secure its sovereignty, controlling the actions of people of other states for achieving their own objectives is necessary. This principle was not only recognized by Acharya Chanakya in Arthashastra, but he provided the detailed description of which category of people from enemy state can be utilized for achieving the ends by giving different incentives.
Acharya Chanakya classifies citizens of any state in two categories: कृत्य and अकृत्य, in विनयाधिकरण which is the first subject-matter of Arthashastra. कृत्य refers to the class of people who are not loyal to the state and ruler, and much more susceptible to being used by the enemy state; while अकृत्य refers to the group of people who are completely loyal to the state and ruler. कृत्य can be classified in four different categories:
क्रुद्ध.लुब्ध.भीत.मानिनस् तु परेषां कृत्याः॥” (01.13.22)
In the above verse, Acharya Chanakya delineates four classes of people who are not loyal to the state (कृत्य): क्रुद्ध ( the class of people angry due to the actions of state without committing any wrong); लुब्ध (the class of people who were earlier rich but now impoverished); भीत (the class of people who have been punished by the state for their crimes); and मानि (the class of people who desire a better status and honour). We will see how Aacharya Chanakya classifies कृत्य into these four categories and suggests the ways to use them for fulfilling the state’s objectives in the enemy territory.
In the course of administration, irrespective of how just a state is, it would have definitely angered or punished a group of innocent people either by mistake, or to achieve short-term objectives. Examples given by Chanakya include the ones who have been betrayed by the state after promising something, harassed by courtiers, imprisoned by the state, dismissed of their service by the state, punished secretly etc. If we look it in the current context, I’ll cite the example of Major General (R) Shabeg Singh. Major General Singh was a highly decorated army officer who was instrumental in setting up Mukti Vahini during the 1971 India-Pakistan conflict but later, he was dismissed on the last day of his service due to corruption charges by Army, which later turned out to be frivolous. Since this action by Army instilled the feeling of anger and humiliation in him, he was effectively used by Khalistani terrorists to provide military training to them, giving much required lethality to the Khalistani terrorists creating difficulty for Indian state.
To use क्रुद्ध class of people for our own benefits, they should be told that the ruler has gone rogue who is working against his own citizens, and he can be removed by the help of neighbouring state. Subsequently, assistance should be provided to him once he agrees to the proposal. In the example cited above, Khalistani terrorists were provided arms, ammunition and finances by ISI of Pakistan which is the enemy state for India. Pakistan used one of the people from क्रुद्ध class against India to inflict severe blow on the internal security of India, and destabilised a border state for close to two decades in the last century.
The nature of events in the world is often unforgiving and billionaires lose their wealth within a decade if fortune doesn’t favour them. लुब्ध includes the class of people who owned considerable wealth earlier and lost it later, the ones who have started an ambitious project but don’t have enough wealth to finance it, the ones who are caught in any sort of addiction etc. As this class of people are in dire need of wealth, but knows that gaining wealth via legitimate means is difficult, they’re prone to be manipulated. To use this class of people for a state’s benefits, Chanakya suggests to use psychological manipulation by convincing them that they’ve requisite talents, but the ruler is blind to those. They should take the employment or help of the enemy state to secure their owm interests. In contemporary intelligence world, many intelligence agencies use the fallen businessmen to gather intelligence in the return of sustaining their business on papers.
It refers to the class of people who have been punished for their crimes, their wrongdoings have been brought to public notice, reprimanded for their crimes, harboured enmity against the rulers etc. Since they know that they’ve been punished for their crimes, they don’t have any hope of receiving sympathy while many of them cultivate the feeling of vengeance. To use them, Acharya Chanakya suggests that they should be convinced by saying: As a venomous snake kills the enemy which it fears, the king may kill you one day. It’s better if you migrate to enemy territory of the king and live there. Through this suggestion, Chanakya seeks to achieve two objectives – convincing the person that his life will be secure and giving him the opportunity to work against the state which is his enemy. This tactic can be seen in action when we observe that leaders of almost all the insurgent movements be it whether Khalistani Movement, Naga Movement or ULFA, invariably reside in the territory of other countries to conduct and coordinate their operations.
This class of people refers to the people who are self-sufficient, enterprising, desirous of respect and honour, bereft of any addiction and sharp in their conduct. They’re interesting group of people since they don’t lack anything, but their desire knows no end. The prominent example includes Arun Shourie who was an important intellectual of the Hindu revivalist movement and supported Narendra Modi initially when he came into power in 2014. Probably Shourie was seeking a bigger role in government but when he was not inducted in the cabinet, he turned hostile to not only Modi government, but was seen in the company of secularists and Marxists whom he had opposed throughout his life. For such people, Acharya Chanakya suggests to convince them that if they persist with their own side, they’ll have no benefits; and the only possible way for them to realize their objectives is to change the sides.
As we have seen in the discussion above, Acharya Chanakya suggests different forms of tactics to manipulate the four classes of कृत्य. As अकृत्य people are completely loyal to the government, they can only be manipulated by using दंड and भेद while showing the fault of others. But this method doesn’t have the possibility to yield much dividends, and using कृत्य for achieving the ends is recommended.


1. Arthashastra of Chanakya (Hindi Translation by Pandit Udayveer Shastri)

Council of Ministers: The Eyes of a Ruler in Hindu Polity

Hindu Polity since its very inception has been a discipline elucidating every aspect of administration and statecraft having its own model of sovereignty and objectives of governance. Acharya Chanakya calls it दंडनीति as दंड is the instrument through which a ruler executes his orders, upholds Dharma and ensures that society doesn’t plunge into lawlessness (मत्स्यन्याय) in which the stronger one starts devouring the weaker ones. For an efficient administration, it’s imperative that a king has right set of counsellors and executives who are known as ministers in modern statecraft. However, Acharya Chanakya has elucidated the concept of मंत्र and मंत्री while differentiating between the body of counsellors and council of ministers. The counsellors of king who provide him मंत्र are known as ‘mantriṇo’ while the council of ministers are known as ‘mantriparishad’. Before we delve deeper into the distinction, we will explore what does मंत्र mean as explained by Acharya Chanakya in Arthashastra.
In first Adhikaran (subject matter) of Arthashastra named Vinayadhikaran, chapter 15, Acharya Chanakya writes,
कर्मणाम् आरम्भ.उपायः पुरुष.द्रव्य.सम्पद् देश.काल.विभागो विनिपात.प्रतीकारः कार्य.सिद्धिर् इति पञ्च.अङ्गो मन्त्रः ॥” (01.15.42)
In above verse, Acharya Chanakya explains that a Mantra has five aspects:
  1. Ways to undertake an activity
  2. Contemplation on manpower and materials required for the activity
  3. Determination of time and place
  4. Provision for unexpected and emergency circumstances arising out in course of the activity
  5. Execution of activity in righteous way to achieve the desired objective (कार्यसिद्धि)
The above quoted text makes it clear that a मंत्र is not merely an advice tendered by his counsellors to the ruler but a thorough consideration of every aspect of the activity. To undertake any work, the first and foremost is the determination of tentative ways to achieve the objective. If a state wants to annex an enemy territory contagious with its border, it has to find the suitable ways in which the objective can be achieved. It may cover what will the nature of force required, covert or overt action, sabotage or direct confrontation etc. When a मंत्री tenders such important advice to the ruler, it becomes necessity to ensure that the plan has a degree of secrecy lest it becomes a public knowledge even before the plan is determined.
Due to the importance of secrecy in मंत्र, scholars of Hindu polity preceding Acharya Chanakya were quite cautious of what will be the right numbers of counsellors providing मंत्र. Aacharya Bhardwaja made secrecy primary concern and advises the king to not appoint any counsellors but deliberate on मंत्र alone while Acharya Vishalaksha disagrees with the contention of Bhardwaja and suggests that if the king doesn’t seek advice of any counsellor, it’s quite probable that the king will make mistakes. Vishalaksha gives the right counsel priority over secrecy but Chanakya disagrees with his proposition as right advice and secrecy can’t be sacrificed for each other. As a method of compromise, a king should appoint 3-4 counsellors who will provide मंत्र to the king. He advises against appointing 2 counsellors as they may conspire against the king detrimental to the interests of the state. In current time, formation of empowered group of ministers to tender advice on all important matters to the prime minister is an example of Chanakya’s polity of appointing small body of counsellors.
Once the मंत्र has been tendered to the king, the next step is discussion of the action with the council of ministers known as मंत्रिपरिषद. The council of ministers will deliberate upon the nitty-gritty of the policy and the means to implement it with the support from concerned minister as well as the council of ministers as whole. Acharya Chanakya is in favour of large council of ministers as having a larger number of ministers helps in better execution of policy and diversity of talents. The decision in council of ministers will be made as per the majority view and if a minister is unable to attend the discussion, his advice should be obtained via sending letter to him. To substantiate his argument, Acharya Chanakya cites the example of council of ministers of Indra:
इन्द्रस्य हि मन्त्रि.परिषद्.ऋषीणां सहस्रम् ॥ स तच् चक्षुः ॥ तस्माद् इमं द्व्य्.अक्षं सहस्र.अक्षम् आहुः ॥ (01.15.55-57)
Since Indra had thousand of ऋषि in his council of ministers, he is said to have thousand of eyes by the virtue of being endowed with perspective and vision of thousand of learned men. Chanakya didn’t put any restrictions on numbers in council of ministers and advised the ruler to appoint based on his capabilities unlike Acharya Manu who fixes the number of ministers at 12. In modern polity, especially in parliamentary form of government, the size of council of ministers including the state ministers is quite large, yet the important decisions are taken by the Prime Minister in discussion with small group of ministers which are sometimes called as Empowered group of ministers and informally super cabinet.
In the above discussion, the central aspect is pragmatism of Acharya Chanakya in statecraft instead of being fixated with a specific number. For a small state, 12 ministers may have been sufficient but for an extremely large state such as Mauryan state, it’s virtually impossible to govern the state with merely 12 ministers. Considering that Chanakya had direct experience in administration, his views on polity were in accordance with the aspects of polity which are not quite visible to political theorists. The genius of Chankya survives in some other form even after two millennia.


1. Arthashastra by Chanakya (Hindi Translation by Pandit Udayaveer Shastri)

2. Chandragupta Maurya and His Times by R K Mukherjee

Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir: A Strategic Suicide

The issue of Jammu and Kashmir which was essentially a religious issue exacerbated by the lethargic leadership of India’s First Prime Minister continues to pose internal security challenges for India unabated. One of the central aspects of the problem was a complete submission of Nehru before the will of Sheikh Abdullah leading to the aggravation of problem. In the series of debacles, the debacle of creation of Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir–which shouldn’t have had any Constitutional validity within the framework of Indian Constitution–is paramount.

As things progressed with the beginning of 1947 towards the Independence of India with the caveat of partition of India as demanded by Muslims, it was inevitable that a bloodbath will ensue in the process. The way plan for partition was completed in less than two months coupled with collapse of government authority in border areas, the violence instigated by Islam due to its demand of partition was only to get amplified. Princely states of India had their own understanding of freedom in which they accepted the British view that they were free to sign Instrument of Accession with either India or Pakistan which was accepted view of Muslim League as well. Congress, however contested that the princely states had no power to determine which Dominion they can join since the will of the people was ultimate authority.

In the prevailing state of chaos and confusion, Kashmir was a unique case. Kashmir was ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh which had three distinct geographical regions having distinct demographics. Kashmir valley was Muslim dominated, Hindus and Sikhs formed the majority in Jammu and Laddakh was Buddist majority. Following the arguments of Islam, Muslims of Kashmir always shared a deep resentment for Maharaja Hari Singh as Islam doesn’t consider that Muslims should be ruled by Kafirs. They had shown their intention since 1930s in which their quest was supported by leaders of Communist Party of India such as Mulkraj Anand, BPL Bedi, Durga Prasad Dhar (not an official member of CPI but ideologically communist) etc. Under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah, who was the founder of Islamic Conference and National Conference later, had launched Quit Kashmir movement against the Hindu king of Kashmir to establish the hegemony of Muslims in the valley in 1946. Although the Maharaja managed to quell the violent movement, it emboldened the spirit of Abdullah and raised his stature amongst Kashmiri Muslims. Nehru who was a close friend and associate of Abdullah also became a blind devotee of Abdullah which later turned out to be disastrous for India.

Owing to the difficult circumstances prevailing in Kashmir and Maharaja Hari Singh’s indecisiveness, when India got its freedom on August 15, 1947, the status of Kashmir was in limbo. Maharaja wanted to remain independent but knew that it won’t be sustainable. Pakistan on the other hand recognizing the sentiments of Muslims of Kashmir valley, with the help of Muslims of Kashmir who had migrated to Pakistan during partition and tribal Muslims of the Pakistan decided to occupy the parts of Jammu and Kashmir as soon as possible. They were trained by Pakistani army and later the serving personnel and ex-servicemen of Pakistani army joined the war against India as well. By the time India came to know about Pakistani design in October 1947, a large part of Kashmir was occupied by Pakistan. To save the remaining Kashmir, Hari Singh agreed to sign the instruments of accession with India. However, it was merely the beginning of the hardships which Hindus of Jammu and Kashmir would face due to the actions of Nehru and Abdullah.
When Indian Army intervened in Kashmir valley, Pakistan started diverting its force to the regions of Jammu which were Muslim majority and close to Pakistan. Balraj Madhok, founder of Jammu Praja Parishad and former leader of Bhartiya Janasngh mentions in his book ‘Jeet Mein Haar’ that when large scale massacre of Hindus happened in Meerpur, Rajauri, Punchh and other regions of Jammu in November 1947, Abdullah restrained Indian army from intervening in the region. When the issue was raised before Nehru, Nehru curtly replied that it was Abdullah who was looking into the deployment of the army in the state. Hindus of Jammu were defended by the weakened army of Jammu and Kashmir state and RSS volunteers with utmost courage and bravery. In this period, there was heavy influx of Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan occupied Kashmir who didn’t receive any support from Kashmir government which was now practically run by Abdullah with Hari Singh merely being a figurehead. Simultaneously, refugees from NWFP were given excellent treatment by the government. This caused great angst and humiliation amongst Hindus but they were politically abandoned in the absence of Hindu leadership.
When Indian forces were advancing rapidly in November and December 1947, Nehru unilaterally decided to take the issue to Security Council of United Nations on January 1, 1948, which made an internal issue of India a recognized bilateral issue. Subsequently, UN suggested for the plebiscite in Kashmir provided Pakistan withdrew its from POK and India reduced its number of troops in Kashmir. Pakistan didn’t follow the condition to withdraw it troops from POK but the talk of plebiscite was strongly opposed by Sheikh Abdullah as he believed if people of Kashmir vote against him, his hold on Kashmir will weaken forever. Amidst the talks of plebiscite, Abdullah forced Nehru to ensure the abdication of Maharaja Hari Singh from throne in 1949 and he was exiled from Kashmir. Maharaja Karan Singh was made the regent of the state as nominal executive and the cabinet headed by Sheikh Abdullah became the de facto ruler of Kashmir without facing any election at all.
The question emerges if Instrument of Accession was signed in October 1947 and Kashmir had become part of India, how did the question of Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir come into existence. For this ingenious idea of creating another problem, Gopalaswami Iyenagar Minister of State Affairs, was responsible. He believed that by suggesting the creation of Constituent Assembly, he will fulfill the demand of Sheikh Abdullah to not conduct plebiscite even if Pakistani troops withdrew, while showing to the international community that India was giving an option to Kashmiri people to voice their opinion. Abdullah couldn’t have asked for a better deal to secure his position in Kashmir.
In October 1950, General Council of National Conference passed the mandate for creation of Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly with the primary purpose of ratification of Instrument of Accession. It was a gimmick as Instrument of Accession didn’t require any ratification of such ad-hoc constituent assembly and especially when the instrument of accession had already existed for 3 years. A state government didn’t have any authority to ratify instrument of accession yet Nehru and Iyenagar believed that they were bringing situation in Kashmir under control. In April 1951, the newly appointed Yuvraj issued his concurrence for holding the election for 75 members of Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir. When election happened in September 1951, the election was completely rigged. Nomination of most of the opposition candidates were cancelled and National Conference won all the 75 seats. It was impossible as Hindus of Jammu heavily resented Abdullah due to his hatred towards Hindus. Yet, Nehru and his government let Abdullah proceed with framing the constitution.
As soon as the Constituent Assembly was convened, Abdullah started showing his true colour by pushing for application of extremely limited provisions of Constitution of India to Jammu and Kashmir to carve an independent Islamic state within India having nominal secular polity. Itt was a rare occurrence when a state of Indian union was given authority to frame its own Constitution through a Constituent Assembly whose election was heavily rigged and its creation was authorized by a government which was not a democratic and representative government. Kashmir case is the classic example of how Indian political leadership has submitted itself to the dominant and resolute Muslim leadership under the influence of Secularism and a faulty understanding of Muslims’ psyche. Unfortunately, despite the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A, Hindus of Jammu are still awaiting for justice.


1. My Years with Nehru by B N Mallick

2. Jeet Mein Haar (जीत में हार) by Balraj Madhok

Facebook Posts Archive – December 2017

1. Jealousy – Virtue of Academicians

If you ever aspire to find the most jealous people of the world, the only place where you need to look is the humanities department of different universities. Find the professors there and you can gather plenty of individuals who have made career out of this business of jealousy. Their jealousy towards rich, successful, strong and charming people can easily be seen in their writings. For example, their obsession with the idea of economic inequality despite the fact that people are concerned about their own wellbeing rather than worrying over how much a businessman makes in a free market society, consistent rhetoric of lumping other people with them as helpless fellows being exploited by others perpetually and so on. In reality, people are jealous about their neighbors and relatives, not jealous about the wealth of Bill Gates.

The economic prosperity of businessmen eludes the sense of reasoning of these professors that how could someone make so big who is nowhere ‘knowledgeable’ than them nor they’ve such refined vocabulary. Little do they realise that world also rewards people who don’t read books and write columns in newspapers which are of no worth. If you look at all the communist movements around the world, you’ll find a disproportionate representation of this bourgeois class instead of workers rising out of deep state of slumber to smash capitalism.

Their hatred is not directed towards businessmen only but anyone who doesn’t speak and read like them is also a target. As Trump’s vocabulary is worse than a sixth grade kid, he will naturally receive that jealousy and hatred packaged as some sort of resistance while Obama will be hailed as a hero because he is exactly like them. Modi is not different either he isn’t that sophisticated as per their taste. The world would have been a better place without these individuals who do nothing other than engineering revolution and fooling masses to commit something extremely detrimental.

2. Conundrum of Historicity of Sacred Texts of Dharma

Recently, a documentry about the dating of Rama Setu was aired on Discovery Science channel which generated significant interest among Hindus and many people saw it as an evidence of existence of historical Rama. However, I was the one who could care less about it. Not only that, I see such efforts problematic in the long run. First, Sanatan Dharma doesn’t rest on the historicity of Rama. Whether there has been a historical Rama or not is something which doesn’t decide the validity of Sanatan Dharma. Unlike Judaism, Christianity or Islam, which are based on particular historical claims such as Moses saving Jews, Jesus getting crucified and so on, Sanatan Dharma doesn’t get into the problem of deriving its authority from the existence of either historical Rama or Krishna.

The eagerness of Hindus to prove the historical existence of figures mentioned in Itihasas stems from the inferiority complex has been pushed down on their throat by mainstream discourse which labels all of them as mythology. So, there is a conscious and deeper desire to try something which has never been tried by our ancestors due to its immaterial value. And once we start the leftist narrative of proving the historical evidence of Rama, Krishna or other Puranic figures, we are voluntarily walking in the trap laid out by our adversaries. We can’t give the historical evidence of existence of Jatayu or many other such figures irrespective of how hard we try. Then they will come back to either label us pseudoscientific or turn the problem upside down by neglecting the evidence of few and focussing on the nonexistence of the most.We must not accept the paradigm of proving the historicity of either Rama or Krishna but continue with the traditional paradigm of seeing them as avatars of Vishnu who reside in the heart of every Hindu. They are the ones who constitute the foundation of our cultural consciousness who are immortal through the passage of history to get confined to a particular period.

The linear idea of time and Historicism are the concept of Abrahamic religions which must not be applied to the facets of Sanatan Dharma. Due to the concept of cyclical nature of time, we see the role of Parshuram in Ramayana and Mahabharata too which happened in different yugas. You can’t explain that scientifically but only harm yourself in this pursuit by destroying the essence of eternity beyond the temporal limitation of the traditions. 

3. Ideological Underpinning of University Education

Indian media has now started the precedent of making people aware about the content of question papers of University exams but they didn’t start it with either JNU or DU but chose BHU. Couple of days ago, they created outrage over a question connecting Chanakya and GST while remaining oblivious of contents of Arthashastra. Maybe, they were expecting Marx and Lenin in a subject which dealt with political and social system of ancient and medieval India.

Now, there is a fresh news about another paper in which questions have been asked about triple talaq and Halaala. Indian elites and secularists who have become accustomed of criticising Sanatan Dharma in the harshest possible manner, couldn’t envision that there can be criticism of Islam and its practices too. In their world, criticism of Islam means dividing society along the religious lines even when it’s within the classrooms of a University but criticism of Sanatan Dharma strengthens the secular fabric of India. I hope that the professors of BHU won’t buckle under the furore which communists and liberals will be creating thereafter.

The first introduction which any student reads in class sixth NCERT history book about different religions begins with how Hinduism is only about caste system by the virtue of Vedas and perpetuates discrimination among its adherents while Islam is called an egalitarian religion. We have grown up with writing answers of questions which explicitly asked about the evil facets of Sanatan Dharma and how it promotes social, gender and economic inequality. I hope that atleast certain section of media will be extremely vigilant about the questions which are asked in exams of JNU so that people come to know what’s actually going on.

4. The Minority Rule – Intransigent Minority

If there is one rule whose importance and relevance can’t be overstated, it will be the minority rule formulated by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Minority rule asserts that in a complex system, a tiny intolerant minority will dictate the choice of the whole group. This law is most visible in the domain of religions with Islam being the most intolerant one and dominating the world. In the domain of food with America eating Kosher food despite having tiny Jewish population and India progressively moving towards eating Halaal meat in restaurants atleast, and Indians studying in English medium schools despite having zero native English speakers due to the intolerant British who ruled over us.

I’m extending this rule in the domain of law today. Australian parliament passed the law approving of same sex marriage yesterday. Now, what’s the percentage of homosexuals in any country? I don’t think there is any country having more than 10% homosexuals. If that’s the case then why we are destroying the institution of marriage for these people? As homosexuals have become relentless in their pursuits recently with cultural Marxism aiding them in the endeavour, they’ve managed to get the law changed as per their preference in multiple countries. Majority of the population having contrary opinion couldn’t force the legislators to amend the law in opposite direction.

Earlier, we didn’t let the polygamous people destroy the institution of marriage. I’m very sure that percentage of polygamous people in any society will be far greater than homosexuals but we went for strict monogamous marriage. Similarly, why are we letting homosexuals destroy the institution of marriage? On another note, most of the LGBTQSPA+ people are committed feminists who denounce the institution of marriage as it’s patriarchal creation aimed to enslave the women. Yet, they have campaigned ardently for recognition of same sex marriage which ultimately affirms my assertion that it’s nothing more than an attempt to undermine the institution of marriage. Whatever may be the modern view about homosexual marriage but Sanatan Dharma clearly states that marriage is a union between a man and woman to attain Dharma, Artha, Kaama and Moksha. From Dharmic perspective, the idea of LGBT marriage is incompatible with the tenets of Dharma.

5. Paradox of Tolerance

“Never tolerate the intolerance”. This statement is the essence of Popper’s Paradox of Tolerance defined by Popper in his magnum opus “The Enemies of Open Society.” Whenever Hindus start talking about the virtues of tolerance and try to demonstrate the Hinduism is inherently tolerant towards other system or ideology, there comes a liberal to reprimand the Hindus that if you are tolerant then why can’t you tolerate Islam or Christianity? And if you can’t tolerate these monotheistic cults then you’re intolerant.Popper’s Paradox deals with exactly such kind of tolerance. If a philosophical system or society is tolerant towards every other system then there will be advent of an intolerant system which will establish its roots by invoking tolerance and ultimately decimating the original system as it’s intolerant of any other system. So, for a society to remain tolerant, it must be intolerant of totalitarian ideology to preserve its current form.

In another domain, the champions of freedom of expression say that if they’ve freedom of expression then why can’t they call for destruction of Indian Union. Again, it’s the same argument formulated in different words. Freedom of speech only exists due to the existence of state and it’s the Indian union which gives you the freedom of speech. So, you can’t use the freedom bestowed by Union to argue against the very existence of union. You can’t use democracy to thwart democracy by conducting a plebiscite for removal of democracy.

Communists often assert that if you can’t tolerate communism then you’re inherently intolerant. I’ll invoke the same argument again. As communism is a totalitarian ideology, I must not tolerate communism to ensure that the totalitarian ideology doesn’t demolish every other ideology. When we have the empirical evidence of totalitarian nature of communism, tolerating it will be utter foolishness. In a nutshell, I’m extremely intolerant of intolerance.

6. Denouncing the Enemey – Left’s Weapon

The standard leftist technique in every situation is to defame, discredit and portray you in such a manner that you’ll look like an insensitive and cruel guy who supports sinister things. Some very common examoles are as follows:
 1. When you oppose communism they’ll tell you that you’re against proletariat.
2. When you oppose leftist policies in economics, they’ll tell you that you’re against poor people.
3. When you oppose a scheme which typically aims to help farmers but actually harms them, you’ll be called a person who hates farmers.
4. If you oppose feminism, they’ll call you a misogynist.
5. If you don’t support their methods of dealing with issues of rape, they’ll call you a person who supports rape.
In all the above mentioned cases, you’re against leftists’ diagnosis and treatment but they portray you as if you’re against the patients.

Toxicity of Information

Right from the childhood, I was the kind of guy whose day started with reading newspaper, and the day I didn’t read it I felt like I was missing something major. However, I’ve stopped reading newspaper altogether and it’s probably the best decision which I’ve made. Let me make it very clear though – I haven’t stopped reading newspaper due to the usual left wing bias of the majority of newspapers, but due to the redundancy of it.

Reading newspaper(s) takes considerable amount of time or even reading news online takes considerable amount of time. The barrage of information is so enormous that we seldom get the time to make sense of it. If you carefully analyse then you’ll find that 90% of the news which you read any day will not have an iota of significance one week later. Rest of the 10% can be taken care by reading fortnightly magazines or monthly magazines as per the preference. Time is the greatest and mightiest of the filters, and it filters most of the noise which is sold as information in the information age. It’s not limited to newspaper only but can be applied in any domain in the so called information age.

The downside of reading the newspaper is very less but upside is huge unless your profession depends on it. So, what do I do now? I devote my time in understanding the rules of the system rather than chasing every damn event. I have much more time to read the ideas which fascinate me.

Reading newspaper while not learning the rules of the system(that’s the general precedence) is akin to crossing a crowded road writing down the shape of noses of the people while being unwary of a truck which will knock you down.

This post was first published on author’s Facebook wall on October 24, 2017.

Technology Comes First, Science Later

Since history is usually written by academicians and seldom by practitioners themselves, history of technology suffers from major limitations. If you go and ask hundred people that whether science comes first or technology then 99 of them will answer that science comes first and technology later. However, the reality appears to be diametrically opposite.

Being a manufacturing engineer, I’ll keep my analysis limited to my field. So, foundry technology which is the most basic and versatile manufacturing process, is in clear contrast of the assertion that science comes first and technology later. People of Indus-Saraswati Valley civilization were doing lost wax casting to manufacture idols and other figures in 2500 BC when there was no science of foundry technology. Mesopotamians were doing the casting of metals in the roughly same time period. Until the last decades of 19th century, the scientific understanding of foundry technology was minimal but metal casting had established itself as dominant manufacturing process. Heat treatment process was also employed by blacksmiths to alter the mechanical properties without any understanding of underlying physical metallurgy.

Metalworking technology which includes forging, rolling, extrusion, bending, sheet metal forming etc has seen similar trajectory of development. Forging which is the most basic among those, has been prevalent since 2000 BC atleast but our understanding of forging process isn’t complete even today as it’s extremely difficult to understand the plasticity behaviour of anisotropic material during forming operation. Finite Elements Methods and Analysis has helped considerably in understanding metalworking processes but a lot remains unexplored. So, if one thinks that science comes first and technology later than metalworking processes would have come in existence after 19th century only.

The field of jet engine has almost similar story with Heron’s engine being designed in 1st century BC with little understanding of underlying science. Architecture isn’t different from these fields either as humans were building much complex structures even before Euclidean geometry came.

Technology is driven by trial and error, and small scale tinkering. Scientific understanding does help technology in very positive manner but it’s not an essential precursor of technology.

Happy Engineer’s Day to all the engineers who have made this world a better place for humans!

This post was first published on author’s Facebook wall on September 15, 2017.