Sunil Khilnani’s ‘Kautilya: The Ring Of Power’ is an important work of non-fiction that does not touch religious and spiritual beliefs in ancient Indian literature but one that deals with the art of governance and statecraft. The book is based on Kautilya’s ‘Arthashastra’, a master is statecraft who enabled Chandragupta Maurya to build an empire after de-throning the Nanda kings in 322 B.C.
In ‘Arthashastra’, one gains an insight into what Sunil Khilnani, director of India Institute at King’s College London, refers to as the “deviousness of the Indian mind”. When the ‘Arthashastra’, a treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy, was first translated into English by Shamashastry in 1905, the entire western world was left aghast.
Max Weber, the proclaimed social theorist from Germany, went to the extent of saying, “the radicalism inherent in this ancient Indian text makes ‘The Prince’, the famous 16th century book by Machiavelli, seem harmless and flat.”
Kautilya and the theories that he has laid out in the treatise evoke such power that it sparked a furious debate recently on Reddit, when one user took on the Pakistani military for resorting to unprovoked cross border firings saying that if Pakistan was indeed thinking about breaking up India into pieces, every Pakistani soldier would first need to learn about Kautilya’s Arthashastra. Needless to say, this sparked off a heated exchange over Reddit platform, with many random Pakistanis joining the debate.
This is what a person from Pakistan had to say immediately to the query –
One person, who uses the name Adarshfiberal for an identity, did not know have much idea about the culinary delicacies of India. His blunder directed many trolls at him –
However, there were some sane voices in the discussion as well –
In the exhaustive Arthashastra, Kautilya lays out rules and objectives of good governance through a vast bureaucracy designed to regulate both economic and social life. Furthermore, Kautilya mentions forty forms of frauds and appropriations in his book and also talked about the various types of corruption that a government might have to face.
The book has been considered the bedrock of economic policy and military strategy down the middle ages and a lot of it is a part of Indian outlook, even today.