The Arthaśāstra is an Indian treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy. The author of the Arthashastra refers to himself as ‘Kautilya’, while the last verse mentions the name ‘Vishnupgupta’. Many scholars believe that the former was the gotra of the author, while the latter was his personal name. Most scholars, though not all, also believe that these names refer to Chāṇakya (c. 350–283 BCE), who was a scholar at Takshashila and the teacher and guardian of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of Mauryan Empire. Thus, the Arthasastra is dated 4th century BCE.
Some scholars believe that Arthasastra was written at a later stage. While the doctrines of the ‘Arthaśāstra’ may have been written by Chanakya in the 4th century BCE, the treatise we know today may have been edited or condensed by another author in the 2nd century AD. This would explain, some affinities with smrtis and references in the Arthaśāstra which would be anachronistic for the 4th century BCE. Continue reading