Saarc: a Study in India, S Role

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Shantiparva and Saptanga theory of State by Kautilya

Objectives of the Present Topic are as under:

* To aware students about ancient Hindu political thought. * To make pupil understand how ancient thinkers looked at different ideas of society. * To evaluate how Kautilya Arthashastra provides for welfare state in ancient India. * To know about the elements of state and foreign policy in ancient India as devised by Kautilya in his masterpiece Arthashastra

Brief Summary

Kautaliya's Arthashastra (322-298BC) is a brilliant and comprehensive treatise on all aspects of domestic politics, international relations, intelligence and good governance. This gives a more detailed picture of statecraft. Kautilya was the chief mentor and a minister who helped first emperor of India Chandragupta Maurya to extend his kingdom to whole of India and beyond up to Afghanistan. His political science is often called 'Raj dharma' (Righteousness of the King) and 'Niti Shastra' (Science of Ethics) with ethical course of conduct as hallmark of internal and external policy of the state. The concept of ‘Mandala’ the system of developing and preserving international relation is also covered in Arthashastra for the first time. The theory that immediate neighbour as an enemy and neighbour's neighbour as a friend is also finding its place in Arthashastra. Espionage had developed to the highest point by Kautaliya but he is against extensive use of secret agents.

Complete Text
With the formation of the state, the issue of the governance of the state became a major concern of the society. In the Shantiparva of the Mahabharata, we find a reference to Matsyanyaya, a condition in which small fishes become prey to big fishes. This analogy was given to explain the anarchic condition in a society where no authority exists, people collectively agreed to have a set of laws and to appeal to the god for a king who will maintain laws and order in society. We find references to both divine origin of kingship as well as social contract theory of kingship. However, theological and metaphysical environment had a strong influence in shaping the ancient Indian thinking; various studies on ancient Indian polity suggest the emergence of polity as on independent domain. Whether it was a divine origin of kingship or social contract, we find monarchy as the dominant form of government in the early Indian polity. The seven elements of the state as prescribed in the Shantiparva of the Mahabharata are as follows: Swamin or the sovereign

Amatya or the officials
Janapada or the territory
Durga or the fort
Kosa or the treasury
Danda or the army
Mitra or the allies
All these are considered as the natural constituents of a state. State is visualized as an organic body having seven organs. Swamin or the king is considered as the head of this structure. Next to him is the Amatya or the council of ministers through which the king governs the state. Janapada means territory having agriculture land, mines, forests, etc. Durga or fort suggests the fortification of the capital. Kosa or treasury, the place where collected revenues are kept. Danda refer to the power of law and of authority. Mitra is the friendly state. Looking at this structure of state one finds lot of resemblance with the attributes with the modern state. Arthasastra is a very comprehensive treatise on the governance in a monarchical Vedic state. Kautilya had a rational approach to governance and statecraft. He conceptualized the state and the office of the kingship to be human artifacts. In addition, his model of the human being was very realistic. However, he expected superhuman qualities from a 'human' King. Chandragupta, Bindusar and Ashoka matched this ideal but their successors could not. Clearly the system of checks and balances amongst the king, the associations and the citizens worked well as long as the King wanted it to work. The ideal society of the Arthasastra did last for a...
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