Artha Shastra: Art Of Generating Wealth

Artha shastra means the knowledge of how to gain wealth and success. The book was written by Kautilya way back in the fourth century B.C. He was also known as Vishnu Gupt or Chanakya as most of us would recognize this name instantly. Some experts belive that Artha shastra is a combination of many books that were written before. Some say that it was written much later by some other author. Whatever the case maybe the firm belief is that Artha shastra was written by Chanakya himself. He was a philosopher and a strategist of great knowledge and repute.

Artha shastra

Artha shastra

He was the guru of Chandra Gupt Maurya. It was Chandra Gupt who started the Maurya Empire by defeating the very powerful and cruel king of the country. This was possible by Chandra Gupt as he was constantly guided by Chanakya.

The strategies and the techniques that chanakya had adopted to make Chandra Gupt the king of the country is what Artha shastra is all about. Chanakya says that no goal is impossible if you have the correct strategy with you. Well must be true because what he achieved was almost near to impossible. The book Artha shastra answers questions like when should a king spy? How can a king use women and children as spy? What should be the role of a king? When should you kill a spy if required? How should you assassinate your enemy? All these questions and even more that seem very immoral were mentioned and answered in the Artha shastra.

The book is clear on the fact that to win battles and succeed in life you must put in all efforts and strategies. Even if the strategy is wrong and immoral as long as it help you to attain the goal it is worth it. The Artha shastra also talks about economy and wealth management. Chanakya was very clear that if you don’t know how to make wealth you will not be able to succeed as a king. This is exactly why he stressed so much on wealth management. The modern day economists are surprised that how the wealth management techniques and the basic principles of economics as mentioned in the Artha shastra still hold so true.

The Artha shastra mentioned and explained some of the most important principles in economics. It spoke about demand and supply. It also discussed how wealth should be kept for unforeseen situations like a famine. The economy should not be depended only on one industry. There should be a good mix of mining, farming, weaving, cattle breeding, etc. This will ensure that when there is a bad loss in one industry the other industries ensure that the economy is stable. This is a theory that even today holds good and we all should learn from it.

Artha shastra stated that every economy is powerful only when it is self sufficient. It should manufacture and consume all that it produces. Artha shastra clearly states that women are no lesser than men. Perhaps women have a better ability to make strategies and must be at par with men. Chanakya himself had many women trained under him to fight for him. He supported international trade. Even at that time he stressed that gold was the best investment. Anyone who has a lot of gold can never be in distress. It is true even today at times of war gold is the only commodity that’s value never falls.

Interestingly Artha shastra also had a mention of export and import duties. There was a section on tax too. Chanakya clearly stated that these can help the king to raise the fund that he needs to run the kingdom well. Artha shastra stated clearly that the kingdom must have strong finance. Finance is the backbone of any economy. The revenues generated have to be spent in such a way that it doesn’t drain the treasury. The king should decide the tax rates once he analyses well how much revenue he must generate annually to sustain the empire and also keep enough reserves.

The tax must be such that the people of the country can pay comfortably. If the people of the nation are not happy with the king and his policies they will bring down the empire any time and rebel. The good king is one who keeps his people happy. There was mention of labour theory of value in Artha shastra. We always thought Adam Smith (the father of modern economics) was the first to propagate the theory. Perhaps this is not true the same was discussed in Artha shastra much before.

There are many more basics of economics that Artha shastra defines very vividly. In the following articles we will discuss each aspect of Artha shastra in more detail. It is impossible to imagine that a scholar could get into such intricate details of economic so many centuries back. He has almost explained all the theories of modern economics in Artha shastra. Perhaps the economists should still read Artha shastra and get inspired when they make policies.

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