Arthashastra (also Arthasastra) is an ancient treatise on economic, political and military administration of the state. It was written by Chanakya (also Kautilya, Vishnu Gupta).
Arthashastra is the the most authentic and important sources for shaping the history of the Mauryan Empire. There are fifteen sections and hundred and eighty sub-sections in the book which was discovered by Shamasastry in 1909 in as early as in 1909 and translated by him.
The Arthashastra is not a theoretical work. Rather is a manual for the rulers and discusses the main philosophy and the principles of administration. In short, it is a book on political science that deals with the political, economic and military problems generally faced by the government.
Chanakya (Kautilya) was the prime minister of Chandragupta Maurya and wrote this book during the early phase of Mauryan administration. Arthashastra made no references of the Maurya rulers or their administration.
Chanakya was a master creator of the law of polity and the author of much wisdom enumerated in the Nitis. The Arthasastra has discussed in details:
- The autocratic form of government of peace and war,
- The qualities of the king,
- About the Espionage system,
- About anarchy,
- About the woman’s right,
- State officials,
- About the Mantri Parisadas,
- About religion,
- Agriculture, etc.
No aspects of society and administration were left untouched. Chanakya, the Machiavelli of Ancient India, had encompassed every aspects of ancient Indian polity and thus gave us a clear conception about the system that was in vogue in the days of our old ancestors.