Sukracharya and His Work Nitisara
Sukracharya, the author of Nitisara, is known as the founder of Arthasastra school. Although it is difficult to give the exact period of Sukracharya, as also the correct date of his work, Sukra-nitisara, in the absence of authentic historical records, it appears as if he was earlier to Kautilya. Kautilya begins his work, Arthasastra, 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.
Sukra 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 Sukra'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, errecting temples and constructing images, law and judicial procedure, fortifications, and lastly, the army. The appendix (Khiia) 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 Sukra, 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.
Sukra's estimate of the importance of Nitisastra is in keeping with his view of its scope. Other sciences, he observes (I, 4-12), 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. He keenly observes that the knowledge of Grammar, Logic, Mimamsa and Vedanta is not essential for under-
great polvtical thinkers
standing 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. Nitisara,
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 Sukra, 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.
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 wbc eats unwholesome food, the enemies overwhelm a king who is devoid of niti. Nitisara,
according to Sukra's view, 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 prosperity of the king or the state.
The Theory of State and the Art of Government
The theory of state and the art of government form fundamental parts of Sukra's Nitisara. First of all, we take up here Sukra's views on the state law, as *t is considered by him fundamental to a good government and an efficient administration.
Sukra's view on the sources of state law can be gleaned from a number of isolated statements. The king, we read (IV, 528), should investigate suits in the proper order in accordance with Dliarmasastra. We are further told that he (the king) should apply Arthasastra without violation of Dharmasastra. With the above we may compare Sukra's inclusion of the Smriti in a list of the tenfold apparatus (Sadhana) of justice (IV, 559), and his iefinition of Smriti as including an Arthasastra content. We may also compare with the above Sukra's definition of the court of justice as a place where Arthasastra isapplied in accordance with Dharmasastra. In general, he points out that one should not violate the good usages (dharma) of kings, regions, families and relatives, nor should one, though able, violate even in thought the popular usage. Applying the basic principle to the sphere of law and politics, Sukra says (IV, 250-51) that the good king should maintain for the purpose of protection of the kingdom the eternal usages of regions, castes and families as well as the duties laid down by the sages, and the ancient as well as recent usages. The king by maintaining the dharma, Sukra tells us. wins fortune as well as fame. The king, as a part of his duty, should daily scrutinize, in the light of principles derived from the canon and from regional usage, the usages of castes, regions, guilds and families, and thus enforce their respective
duties. The well-established usages of regions, castes and families must be maintained by the king, for otherwise the people would be disaffected. As a matter of fact, Sukra, in the first place, repeats the conception of Yajnavalkya and later Smritis
about the twofold source of the state law comprising the canon and the technical science of policy, the former taking precedence over the latter. In the second place, he, following the still older Smriti
tradition, finds in the canon and in the usages of groups the double source of the state law, and he justifies the inclusion of the latter item on the ground of public policy. Finally he repeats still more emphatically than Brihaspati the principle of absolute authority of regional and traditional usages however heterodox they might be in their character.
In this connection we may consider an important extract (I, 292-312) illustrating the operation of the Arthasastra-Smriti laws in actual practice. This extract describes at great length the type of the edict which the king should constantly issue among his subjects, which should be constantly proclaimed among them by beat of drum, and which should be exhibited in writing at the junction of four roads. The edict forbids, on the pain of severe punishment for its violation, a large number of offences mostly of a private and partly of a public character. These offences comprise abuse and assault of slaves, servants and so forth, falsification of weights and measures, counterfeiting of coins and adulteration of food, accepting bribes, sheltering certain classes of criminals, insulting parents, learned men and others, fomenting quarrels between husband and wife, master and servant and so forth, damaging tanks, gardens etc., ill-treating those with defective limbs, gambling, drinking, bearing weapons as well as trafficking in various animals and immovable things and preparing deeds of purchase, gift and so forth without the king's permission, appropriating buried treasure as well as lost and ownerless property, divulging the king's counsel and talking about the king's faults, adultery, giving false evidence, forgery, theft and violence as well as treason against the king. This extract, while repeating many of the clauses of the old Smriti-Arthasastra penal law, indicates the method of their implementation by the king.
In another place (IV, 781-89), Sukra includes the king's decree (ajna) in a list of eight modes of judicial decision (nirnaya). The king, it is explained, is the authority where there are neither documents, nor witnesses, nor (proof of) possession, nor (reference to) ordeals : he is also the authority in doubtful cases relating to boundaries and so forth, where it is not possible (otherwise) to reach a decision. This is justified by the argument that the king is the lord of all. Sukra, however, is careful to add that the king would incur blame if he were to decide disputes arbitrarily. This extractxepeats along with its argument the dictum of Vyasa and Pitamaha about the conditions limiting the application of the king's judicial decree.
GREAT POLITICAL THINKERS
The Authority of the Ruler
Related to the above discussion comes the question of the authority of the ruler. While discussing the principle of ruler's authority, Sukra follows the precedent of Manu, Yajnavalkya and their successors. The king, Sukra observes, acquires his might and becomes the protector and director as well as the source of delight through his austerities, and he sustains the earth through his deeds done in his previous birth as well as his austerities. Further, the king is the source of prosperity of this world : he is honoured by the aged, and he delights the eyes as the Moon gladdens the sea : should the king fail to be a proper guide, the people would perish like a boat at sea without the helmsman : the people do not abide by their duties without a protector : the people do not observe their duties without the protection of the king, while the king does not flourish without the people. A king though gifted with good qualities, we are told in a passage (I, 93-94), may sometimes be lacking in dominion over the people, but the people, though they might be tainted with all bad qualities, must never be without a king : like the queen of Indra the people must never be without a lord. Sukra brings out the parallelism between the king's functions and those of a group of deities. The king, we are told, takes his own share and thus qualifies himself for their protection : he directs good and bad actions : he induces the performances of dharma and destroys its opposite : he punishes evil deeds : he appropriates his share from all: he nourishes all with his wealth : he delights others with his qualities and his deeds : he carefully guards his revenue. The king is one who constantly exercises seven attributes, namely, those of the father, the mother, the preceptor, the brother, the friend, Kubera and Yama, while otherwise he fails to become such : the king endows his subjects with good qualities, pardons and supports offenders, instructs people in branches of learning for their good, takes his shares according to law, guards women and riches as well as secrets, and bestows wealth and inflicts just punishment. In another context Sukra, after mentioning the various divisions of time based upon the succession of the seasons, the movements of the stars and the standard of usage or custom in vogue among the people, observes that since the king directs the observance of custom, he is the maker of time. Should time be the authority, Sukra asks by way of clinching his doctrine, how could the fruit of duties belong to their performer ? It is through fear of the king's punishment that the people become devoted to their respective duties.
In the above extracts Sukra, in the first place, derives the king's authority from his origin in a sense somewhat different from that of Manu and Bhishma, but agreeing with his own theory of the origin of the social order. The king, it is held, owes the authority of his virtue as well as his past merit, even his multiple divinity being a by-product of this process. Secondly, we are told that the king's office
is the foundation of good life of the individual as well as the stability of the social order. Thirdly and lastly, Sukra observes after the Smriti
pattern that the king by virtue of parity of functions is equivalent to multiple deities, or else to these along with one's own dearest and nearest relations. The king again, says the author in the spirit of Manu and Bhishma, is the maker of his Age and not vice versa
by virtue of his enforcement of the vital law of the social order.
As a corollary of the above ideas of the king's authority, follows in the author's thought the conception of the people's duty towards their ruler. One who approaches the king should salute him like a second Vishnu. He should shun loud laughter and so forth in the king's presence ; he should not imitate the king in dress and speech ; he should constantly wear clothes, ornaments and the like bestowed by the king ; he should not think of injuring the king's favourites. The king, the gods, the preceptors, fire, the ascetics, and those great in character, and learning should be constantly served with an attentive mind. All this shows the people's obligation to honour their ruler it) all possible ways.
However, the king, according to Sukra, does not become an autocrat with his personal likes or dislikes. He (the king) is born (as Mahabharata also puts it) for the sake of others, "like the horse or the goat." Hindu kingship is the highest ideal of sacrifice on the part of the individual whose privilege it was to be the king of the Hindus. But his utility was very great. He saw to the transfer of ministers and ministry, and was the co-ordinating spirit in government. Propelled by his high sense of sacrifice and position, he morally stood far higher than the ministers. If people found the actual governors bad, he stilt remained the centre of hope and reform and avoided disruption. Ministers came and went, but the king remained. Even when he was powerless, he was (as Sukra puts it) the symbol of state. He was the standard of sovereignty to rally royalty and hold the realm together. Sukra knew that federal feudalism was the order of the day and that vassals were often employed in high positions under the sovereign. Hence Sukra advocates tighter control (of the king) on feudatories than his predecessors in political theory had contemplated. They must be closely watched and, if they misbehaved, might be deposed or pensioned off. The king, in fact, was the root of the tree of state :
1 Sukranitisara, Vol. 12 :
"King is the root of the tree of state ; the Ministry is its trunk, the military chiefs are branches, the army are the leaves of the tree and the subjects are its flowers, prosperity of the country its fruits, and the whole country the final seed."1
great political thinkers
But, while discussing the king's obligations towards his subjects, Sukra warns the king, against giving way to anger in punishing his subjects. Does the king, he (Sukra) asks sarcastically, deserve to be called a hero by punishing his own subjects ? More solemnly he says that the gods kill and cast down a king who fails in his duty of protection as well as the Brahmana who does not practise austerities
, and the rich man who does not make charities : lordship, he concludes, is the reward of austerities while servitude is the penalty for sin. The author conveys a solemn warning against the evil consequences of the king's abuse of justice through excessive greed : where justice is awarded with the application of excessive desire, anger and greeds the resulting sin overtakes the parties to the suit, the witness, the assessors as well as the king, and therefore the king should cut at its roots and decide the suit after proper deliberation. In the above statements, Sukra evidently reproduces the twofold Smriti
principle of the king's ethico-religious obligation of protection along with its spiritual sanctions and of the king's share of sin for maladministration of justice.
We may consider in this connection a remarkable passage (f, 187) combining Sukra's ideas of the authority and obligation of the king in a strikingly original fashion. The king, he says, was created by Brahma for servitude of the people with his own share as his means of subsistence, as we!l as their lord for the purpose of their constant protection. He conceives the king to be the servant as well as the master of the people by Divine ordination. On the one hand, we are told that the king is divinely charged with the service of the people in return for taxation, and on the other hand, we read that he is divinely entrusted with authority over them for the purpose of their protection.
Principle of the Coercive Authority (Dauda)
Sukra's discussion (VI, 41-59) of the old Arthasastra-Smriti principle of the coercive authority (danda) of the ruler is marked by his characteristic originality. Introducing the discussion, he observes at the outset that danda falls within the competence of the king as he is the lord of all. With this short introduction he proceeds to state clearly what may be called the case for the application of danda. Repeating the words of the Mahabharata text, he says that even the preceptor who is haughty, who is incapable of discriminating between what is proper and improper, and is addicted to evil ways, must be punished. All undertakings of kings, he further observes, depend upon policy accomplished with danda, and danda alone is held to be the grand support of duties. According to the authority of Veda, killing the wicked like killing animals (at sacrifices) is no killing at all. These arguments are sought to be answered in the following lines. What the great sages, we read, have said in these scriptures about the high merit of small gifts and the fruit of inflicting punish-
ment, is intended for the purpose of inducement (towards virtues) and deterrence (from sin). Can the spiritual merit accruing from the performance of Asvamedha
and other sacrifices, the author asks, follow from the mere recitation of the sacred text, and can the merit acquired by forbearance equal that derived from the infliction of danda 1
How can the king secure his good by punishing his own subjects ? Such punishments, in fact, deprive the king of his fame and riches as well as spiritual merit. In the Krita
Age, the author continues, danda
did not exist at a)!, since the kings were wholly virtuous ; in the Treta
exited in full as the people were afflicted with a quarter of the sin : in the Dvapara
was reduced to three-fourths as they were afflicted with one-half of the sin, and in the Kali
Age, it was reduced to one-half as they became impoverished through the wickedness of the king. The king, we are further told, is the maker of his Age by means of his directions relating to virtue and vice, and therefore this lapse from virtue is the fault neither of the Age nor of the people, but of the king. In the above, Sukra begins by repeating the Anhasastra-Smriti
pleas for the king's application of danda.
These are, first, that danda
is the king's distinctive function by virtue of his sovereign authority, secondly, that the king is entitled to its unlimited application regardless of the offender's rank or status, thirdly, that it is the means of ensuring the fulfilment of individual obligations, and fourthly, that it is justified at the bar of morality by canonical authority. These pleas are rejected by him on dogmatic as well as rational grounds, for, while declaring the canonical injunctions in favour of danda
to be merely moral admonitions, he observes that danda
is inferior to the king's forbearance in the scale of moral values and is, in fact, morally self-condemned. Sukra applies instead Manu's and Bhishma's theory of the king's influence in shaping the Time-spirit so as to derive the origin of danda
primarily from the ruler's sins. This is accompanied by his theory of the proportionate decrease of danda
matching man's increasing taint with the ruler's sin—an evident adaptation of the Smriti
principle of the adjustment of a man's duties in proportion to his diminishing physical and other capacities.
Qualities and Functions of the King
Sukra's theory of state law and of ruler's authority does not exhaust with the above discussion. In a broader sense it also comprises his views of the government. Though his views on government follow the broad lines of the Arthasastra-Smriti tradition, yet they are marked by his usual flashes of originality. Sukra's ideas on government fall under two heads as they relate to the king's office, and that of his ministers and other officials. As regards the first point he, while tracing the importance of Nitisara, observes that kings are able through its knowledge to conquer enemies and gratify their subjects, and that tho;c kings who are adept in good policy always attain success. While the king's highest duty consists in protection of the
great political thinkers
subjects and punishment of the wicked, we are further told, neither can be achieved without policy (niti).
After some further praise of policy and dispraise of impolicy, he says that fortune flows from all sides when policy and strength are joined together. The king, he concludes, should protect all his subjects with the aid of intelligence, strength, valour and policy, for even the lower animals are brought under control by means of valour, policy, stiength and riches. He singles out prowess
, strength, intelligence and heroism as the king's pre-eminent qualities. He who is possessed of these qualities, we read, enjoys the earth full of riches, and such a king becomes lord of the certh, while he who is devoid of these qualities though possessed of others fails to enjoy even a slight dominion and swiftly loses his kingdom. It is not the high-born king but the king gifted with these qualities that is respected, and one is honoured not so much for his high birth as for his qualities of strength, heroism and valour.2
We can further see how Sukra (II, 264-65), approves of the abandonment and deposition even of a high-born king, if he is averse to merit, policy and strength and is unrighteous. As at the beginning so at the end of his work, he singles out policy as the pre-eminent qualification of the king. Those kings, we are told, who through incapacity or greed do not follow policy are unlucky, and they go to hell after death. In another extract, he, after quoting the examples of Rama and Krishna as masters of policy, declares that the reasoning of those versed in policy is conducive to one's complete good. It follows from the above that the qualities of courage, strength, intelligence, heroism and above all policy are the essential qualifications of a ruler, while by contrast birth and riches are of secondary importance. This fits with Sukra's view, explained above, that merit instead of birth is the foundation of social divisions.
All these qualities are necessary for a king for self-control, because without self-discipline and self-control, he (the king), according to Sukra, cannot properly control his sons, his officials, his servants and his subjects. The means of controlling the senses, Sukra explains, lie in gaining control of one's mind. How can one, it is pertinently asked in this connection, who is incapable of controlling his single mind attain the conquest of the earth up to the ocean's
I (1 74-77):
ttftrff mar 'JW^ w^HtFr^r
x ■ ° " x
ttst: frrarTiT f^Sfa- st^nr jr*rra% n (voa)
merge ? Among the objects of the senses, namely, sound, touch, form, taste and smell, one alone is enough to cause destruction. The sense-objects which are like poison cause destruction even singly : how then can all the five in combination fail to do the same ? Sukra proceeds to show with illustrations drawn from the epic tradition how the triad of gambling, women and drink is productive of great evil. He similarly explains how hunting, gambling and drink bring discredit upon kings, and how the king becomes happy or suffers misery according as he does or does not give up the group of six passions, namely, pleasure, anger, forgetfulness, greed, pride and intoxication. At the same time, Sukra tells us that those kings who have not kept themselves away from evil habits and those who have not increased their military strength and have not reduced other kings to the position of tributaries and have not protected their subjects well are like barren sesamum : he is a vile king who causes affliction to the subjects, whose acts are censured by them and who is abandoned by rich and virtuous people. He who is very much addicted to the company of actors, singers, prostitutes, wrestlers, eunuchs and low-born persons is exposed to the mouths of his enemies. In a passage (I, 336), Sukra says that he who fails to punish lying spies is styled a barbarian destroying the lives and property of his subjects. Again, he observes that the king who does not listen to the advice of his ministers relating to his good and evil is a robber in the outward form of a king stealing the property of his subjects.
3 The number of members of (he Ministry or Cabinet is recommended by Manu to be seven or eight. The number eight had become nearly fixed when the Sukraniti was written. Thus Sukra gives the following eight names of ministers: (1) Minister of Finance, (2) Minister of Law, (3) Home Minister, (4) President of the Council, (5) Minister of War, (5) Revenue Minister, (7j Chief Justice, and (8) Representative (Pratinidhl).
Now we come to Sukra's ideas regarding the office of the ministers and other officials. In the second part of his work, he explains the necessity of the king's advisers. He writes that a work, be it never so slight, is difficult of accomplishment by a single man without assistants, what to speak of a highly prosperous kingdom ? The king, though he be skilled in all sciences and versed in good counsel, should never deliberate without the ministers: the king should constantly abide by the advice of his councillors and so forth, and never act according to his own will. According to Sukra, a wise king must always follow the opinion of the members of the Council of Ministers with portfolios3
of the President and subjects. He must never follow his own opinion. When the sovereign becomes independent of his Council, he plans for ruin. In time he loses the state and loses the subjects (II, 2-4). After indicating the danger of a self-willed ruler, Sukra further justifies the appointment of assistants by reference to the intellectual differences of men and their diversity of
great political thinkers
behaviour as well as their greater or less success. As a single man, it is explained, is incapable of finding out all these differences, the king should select qualified assistants for promoting the prosperity of his kingdom. This is followed by a strict warning against the danger of selecting bad assistants.
In fact the king, according to Sukra, could not perform any function without the advice of his ministers. The king had no option to veto a measure decided by the majority of the Council. In an ordinary matter for which the king did not call a general Council and which went through the Ministry only, when it had been discussed and finally signed and sealed as a resolution by the Ministry as Council it really became a resolution of the Council and the king was truly, as the Sukraniti says, aksatna or incapable of criticizing it. The first submission to the king from the ministers in their individual capacity seems to be an opportunity given to the king to discuss the matter and to make his suggestions.
The document became the resolution of the state with the fiat of the king. And in the eye of the constitutional law that document became 'the king'. To quote the language of Sukraniti* : "The document signed and sealed by the king is the king and not the king himself." The officers could not obey any unwritten order of the king. For the signed and sealed order of the king, which as a matter of fact was an order of the Council, being the real king, anyone who obeyed an actual order of the king in flesh and blood was regarded in the eye of the constitutional law as obeying an outsider, or, in the actual language of the Sukraniti, a 'thief obeying a 'thief (II, 291). "A king or an officer who orders or does business of state without a lekhya (official document) are both thieves at all times."
As a written lekhya became really the order of the Ministry on account of the routine, a king who wanted his personal orders to be obeyed or observed must take recourse to oral commands and requests. And when an oral command was issued, the officers had to deal with the command of a thief-in-law, and trouble was a certain consequence to the king. All this means that an upright king cannot take a chance to act according to his own will risking the prosperity of the whole kingdom.
Principles and Policies of Government
As regards Sukra's ideas relating to the principles and policies of government, we find that they also bear the impress of the Artha-sastra-Smriti tradition without being void of interest or originality. He gives a list of the eightfold occupation of the king comprising punishment of the wicked, subjecting other kings to tribute, afflicting the enemies and acquiring large territories along with charity, pro-
4 Sukranitisara, II, 292 :
tection of the subjects, performances of sacrifices and lawful collection of the revenue. Equally important is his statement of the threefold behaviour of the king reminiscent of Manu and still more of Bhishma in the Mahabharata.
The king, we read, should behave like the autumnal sun towards the learned, like the summer sun towards his enemies, and like the vernal sun towards his subjects. Justifying the last point Sukra writes that should the king adopt mild behavour towards those other than Brahmanas, the lowly folk would overpower him, just as an elephant-rider overpowers the elephant. The fullest application of the composite line of policy is found in an extract (IV, 21-39) developing the old Arthasastra
doctrine of the four expedients of public policy. Here Sukra, after asking the king to aggrandize or weaken, as the case may be, his weak or powerful ally, and to divide, weaken, oppress and destroy all his enemies by the use of conciliation and other expedients, observes that friend and foe should be brought under the king's own control by appropriate means just as the serpent
, the elephant and the lion are brought under control by policy. Declaring in the next place that the beings on earth go to heaven and 'split the diamond' through policy, Sukra asks that the king should direct the four expedients of conciliation, dissension, gift and punishment in the light of his own reason, severally towards his allies, relations, wife and son, subjects and enemies. He clarifies his statement with the help of a few illustrations and then observes that the politic king should so act with reference to all the expedients that no ally, neutral or enemy can surpass him. He next arranges the expedients in an order of descending importance so as to assign the first place to conciliation, the second to bribery, the third to division of the enemy, and the fourth to punishment, although elsewhere (IV, 1128) division is somewhat inconsistently declared to be the best of all the expedients. In the above context Sukra proceeds to explain the methods of cumulative application of the four expedients towards the king's enemies and subjects. Towards the enemy the policy should be one of conciliation and gift, of conciliation and dissension, of dissension and punishment and, lastly of punishment alone according as he is very strong or superior or equal to or inferior : towards the friend the policy should be one of conciliation and bribery, and not one of dissension and punishment: to his enemy's subjects the king should apply the policy of dissension and punishment, and to those oppressed by the enemy that of conciliation and bribery : towards his own subjects, Sukra concludes, the king should apply the expedients of conciliation and bribery, but not those of dissension and punishment, for then the kingdom would be ruined, while the king's policy should be such that the subjects do not sink low or wax strong. In these extracts, Sukra repeats the composite lines of the king's behaviour which we can trace back to Kautilya as well as to Manu and to Bhishma in the Mahabharata.
In particular, he stresses the high potency of political expedients and defines their
great political thinkers
objective in terms of Manu's conception of the goal of interstate relations, namely, that of complete external security. He likewise repeats Bhishma's warning against the king's exhibition of undue lenience by using the identical analogy of an elephant being overpowered by its rider (an evident illustration of" the application of mass psychology to politics), while he deals more independently with the technique of application of the old Arthasastra
category of the four political expedients.
It will be quite convenient for us to consider Sukra's lines of State policy under three principal heads, according as they relate to a king's measures of security against his sons, his administration of the finances, and his interstate relations. As regards the first line of policy, Sukra begins by solemnly admonishing the king to keep a constant and a very careful watch over his gifted minor sons, otherwise it is quite likely that he tan be slain by them (his sons) out of greed for his possessions. The king, therefore, should know their minds through his trusted servants and keep them very near his own person. With the help of his ministers and others, he should make them adept in all sciences and practical arts, in good policy and the art of war, capable of endurance heroic and disciplined : he should nurse them with tender care, and make them fit for the office of Crown Prince, for a royal family in which the princes are left without discipline swiftly perishes, and even a very vicious prince cannot be abandoned lest in his affliction he should slay his father in concert with the enemies : when the prince is sinking in vice, the king should afflict him through the agency of the vicious, and he should thus make the vicious prince easily amenable to control in the manner of rogue-elephants : when, however, his kinsmen are very vicious the king may for the sake of prosperity in his kingdom contrive to get them killed by wild animals or by enemies. Differing slightly from the old Arthasastra masters, however, Sukra advocates reform of vicious princes in the king's own interest, although he has no hesitation in recommending slaughter of vicious kinsmen for the security of the state.
As regards financial policy, Sukra (IV, 117-34), after asking the king to raise revenue in all possible ways for the purpose of maintaining the home and military administration and of performing sacrifices, conveys the warning that while raising the revenue for proper purposes leads to the king's happiness, it causes his unhappiness otherwise. Clarifying this last statement he strongly condemns spending of the revenue only for the king's own enjoyment and for the sake of his family as well as his raising the revenue in unjust ways. Nevertheless, Sukra has no hesitation in granting the king complete immunity from blame for confiscating the entire property of bad men as well as sinners : he further permits the king to seize the wealth of the neighbouring prince by force and fraud and by adopting the behaviour of robbers. He is the best king, he sums up, who increases the revenue
by protecting his subjects after the fashion of the gardener and by exacting tribute from his enemies, he who raises the revenue after the fashion of Vaisyas is mediocre, and he who does it by means of excessive fines and taxation of pilgrim-centres, as well as temples is the worst. The above statements reflect the two conflicting strands of financial policy after the Arthasastra-Smriti
pattern. On the one hand, Sukra repeats the older plea for the politic levy and the lawful expenditure of the revenue, and on the other hand, he condemns the wholesale confiscation of the property of sinners as well as plunder of the enemy outside in the interest of the state.
Policies of Peace and War : Interstate Relations
In the branch of interstate relations, Sukra in the fourth chapter of his work, Sukraniti,
refers to the Arthasastra
category of the constituents of the state system, while he deals exhaustively with the list of six types of foreign policy and especially the policies of peace and war. The king alone, according to Sukra, should think of making war, whose equipment is full, who is numerously supplied with arms and who is versed in the policy relating to the six gitnas,
otherwise he would suffer misery and lose his kingdom. While defining the characteristics of the six gunas
and their principal subtypes, Sukra lays down some important principles regarding the application of the policies of peace and war. When the king being attacked by a powerful enemy and having no other remedy finds himself in great danger, he should seek for a treaty and abide by his time. There is no warrant for fighting against the powerful enemy. But a king, we are next told, should undertake war when, being equipped with the factors of place
, time and strength, he seeks to rescue himself from danger or is attacked by the enemy : when the enemy is very much self-indulgent, and is a robber of his subjects' wealth, and is at variance with his ministers and troops, the king should afflict him from every side. A king very weak in strength should never wage war with a strong and heroic enemy, for in such an event there arises the danger of destruction of men. Further, a king should never wage war without the application of policies of dissension and taking refuge which are the best of the types of the four upayas
and the six gunas
respectively : the king should so contrive that the enemy's generals and his ministers as well as his subjects and their wives turn against one another. When one's life is in danger or when one runs the risk of being robbed of all his property, Sukra sums up, he should wage war after considering the policies of the four upayas
and six gunas
in relation to himself ;'s
well as his enemy. He concludes in favour of the Kshatriya's (or the king's) duty of risking or even facing death in the battle-field. Fighting, according to him (Sukra), is the imperative obligation of the king imposed upon him by the law of his order and the code of his military honour, especially when it is waged in defence of women and Brahmanas and in answer to a challenge.
GREAT POLITICAL THINKERS
On the other hand, the selection of the policy of treaty is only a question of submitting to superior force, and it should always be accompanied with precaution against treachery.
Sukra : Upholder of Arthasastra Principles
We can conclude our discussion of Sukra's political thought with two more pertinent remarks. The first is that Sukra was in favour of territorial expansion. He includes the act of territorial conquest in his list of the eightfold occupation of the king. Emphasizing the king's obligation in this respect, Sukra says inter alia that kings who have not strengthened their forces and made other kings their tributaries are like barren sesamum. He urges the king to seize the kingdom as well as the entire property of those addicted to evil ways, while giving the conquered a subsistence suited to their merits. In short, Sukra makes out (in the spirit of earlier Arthasastra principle) a vigorous plea for the policy of a king's territorial expansion, involving supremacy over some states and annexation of the rest.
Secondly, Sukra was in favour of sacrificing morality for political ends. He inculcates the principle of the king's universal distrust, and he justifies this on the ground of the characteristic greed of human nature. The political justification of this policy is furnished by his reference to the characteristic selfishness of statecraft, while its canonical justification is found in his application of the twofold Smriti principle of the relativity of moral standards and of public opinion as their ultimate criterion to interstate relations. Thus Sukra, while upholding the supremacy of ethics over politics as a general principle, helped in practice to perpetuate the long-standing Arthasastra tradition of a more or less complete divorce of the one from the other.