Last Updated : Sep 24, 2018 04:51 PM IST | Source:

Moneyshastra with Devdutt Pattanaik: Is Chanakya's Arthashastra about economics?

When economics is translated as Arthashastra, Chanakya comes to our mind. Arthashastra is used casually to mean both economics and politics

Anusua Banerjee @moneycontrolcom

When you actually read the Arthashastra, you realise, he does not really talk about marketing, or sales or business development. He is more interested in kingship and legal issues.

So where did his concept come from? Roughly 2000 years ago, Indian thought is classified as Dharma, Artha and Kama. Dharma is about governance. Artha is about economics. And the Kama is about art and pleasure. And Shastras are written to explain the concepts. So there is Dharma Shastra, Arthashastra and Kamashastra. And Chanakya becomes very famous because he is writing the Arthashastra.

Arthashastra deals more with politics and legal matters than with day to day economics. Now, Chanakya is not the first writer of Arthashastra. When he is writing, he is referring to writers before him. He is referring to Brihaspati, the Guru of the Devas. He is also referring to Shukracharya, the guru of the Asuras.

So Chanakya’s Arthashastra in a way deals not so much with wealth generation. There are a few chapters on that. It is more of wealth distribution. What is the role of a king for example? A king’s role is to create an ecosystem where wealth can be found and generated. He creates an ecosystem where this generated wealth is properly distributed. This is broadly what Arthashastra does. It talks of a king and his sovereignty.

And a good king is someone who enables wealth generation, and who facilitates fair wealth distribution. That is the purpose of a king. So the king is closely tied in with wealth and economics. If a king follows Dharma and is good governance, Lakshmi comes into his kingdom. That is the concept of a good king.
First Published on Jun 28, 2018 03:36 pm
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