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Last Updated : Nov 18, 2019 02:44 PM IST | Source:

Chanakya's original Arthashastra manuscript could be lost forever if immediate action isn't taken to protect it

"People feel proud when they see it but that's quickly overcome by how it is not properly looked after."

The Arthashastra is a handbook of sorts for running an empire. Written by Kautilya - also known as Chanakya - who then served as the prime minister and chief advisor to Indian Emperor Chandragupta. Today, an original manuscript of Kautilya’s age-old document could be lost forever.

A report by Livemint suggests that the fragile document is decaying due to negligence. The manuscript is locked away in a room in Mysuru’s Oriental Research Institute (ORI) without air-conditioning or a dehumidifier.

S.A. Krishnaiah, a member of the institute’s committee, said as per the report that the manuscript is wrapped in a cloth and kept in a cushioned box. People feel proud when they see it but that's quickly overcome by how it is not properly looked after.


A government grant of $50,000 (Approx. Rs 35,86,000) had been announced in 2012. However, a majority of those funds were utilised for upkeep and to fix the building’s leaking roof. And, while the Ford Foundation donated air-conditioners and dehumidifiers, those are beyond repair. The ORI has since been strapped for cash.

Krishnaiah adds that "without air-conditioning, dehumidifiers and regular coating with citronella oil, the original palm leaves on which the Arthashastra was inscribed will be lost to us".

As per the report, the institute's directors over the years have done many infrastructure improvements but palm leaf documents haven't been appropriately addressed.

The report adds that the institute doesn’t receive sufficient funding to hire adequate experts, manage manuscripts and maintain the building.

Krishnaiah says that palm leaf can survive for over a thousand years, but it needs to be treated to extend its life. He believes the document can be saved from further deterioration if steps are taken immediately.

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First Published on Nov 18, 2019 01:53 pm
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