Shukracharya

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Shukracharya


Shukracharya ( also Guru Shukra, Acharya Shukra ) was the author of Nitisara and is known as the founder of Arthashastra School of thoughts in India.

Although it is difficult to give the exact period of Sukracharya, as also the correct date of his work, Sukranitisara, in the absence of authentic historical records, it appears as if he was earlier to Kautilya. Kautilya (also Chakakya) begins his work, Arthashastra, with salutation to Sukra and Brihaspati, evidently ranking them as founders of the two greatest schools of Arthasastra. In the body of his work, also, Kautilya quotes several times the views of the schools of Manu, Brihaspati and Usanas (Sukra) as well as Parasara. It is, therefore, not unthinkable that Sukra lived sometime in the period preceding Kautilya and that his work is distinguished from all other earlier and later works on the subject by its originality and independence of thought on a number of important points.

Shukracharya writes his work for the benefit of kings and others. His work, as it is well-known, is divided into four chapters. Of the four chapters of Shukra’s work, the first and the second deal with the duties of the king and the characteristics of the Crown Prince. The third chapter avowedly deals with general Nitisastra which is common to the king and his subjects. The fourth chapter, aptly called the Miscellaneous Section, deals successively with the characteristics of friends, neutrals and enemies, the revenue, the state-territory along with the sciences and the practical arts, the duties of the people along with the arts of planting trees, digging wells, erecting temples and constructing images, law and judicial procedure, fortifications, and lastly, the army. The appendix (Khila) of this last chapter deals with what the author calls the remaining rules of policy relating to the state as well as the community. Nitisastra, thus, according to Shukracharya, is much more than the art of government. It is synonymous with the whole body of general morals and rules of good conduct, of which the art of government is only one, although the most important, component part.

Shukracharya’s estimate of the importance of Nitisastra is in keeping with his view of its scope. Other sciences, he observes enlighten the people on only one aspect of their activities, but Nitisara is the source of subsistence of all classes, and it maintains the established usage of men. The keenly observes that the knowledge of Grammar, Logic, Mimamsa and Vedanta is not essential for understanding their respective subject-matters, and that the intelligence derived from the teaching of these sciences by their respective followers is of no avail to persons engaged in worldly pursuits. Without niti, on the other hand, the maintenance of the established usage of all men is impossible just as that of the body is impossible for creatures without food. Nitisastra, again, fulfils the desire of all men and, as such, is approved by them all. While such is the generic significance of Nitisara, it possesses, according to Shukracharya, a special importance from the standpoint of the king and the state. Through its knowledge, kings and others succeed in conquering their enemies and gratifying their subjects, while constant success attends kings who are adept in good niti.

While Nitisara fulfils the desire of all men and is approved by all, it is especially necessary for the king who is the lord of all. Like diseases overtaking a man who eats unwholesome food, the enemies overwhelm a king who is devoid of niti.

Nitisara, according to Shukracharya’s views, is the fundamental science in the sense that unlike other sciences which have a one-sided and theoretical significance, it fulfils the universal and essential needs of the individual and the community. In the second place, it is explained that Nitisara is the essential means of ensuring the security and property of the king of the state.

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