Following the subcontinent's decolonization, India's behavior in the
international community has been quite different, and it is worth scholarly
investigation in terms of foreign policy analysis. During the Cold War, India
joined the Non-Aligned Movement, considered itself a great power, and demanded a
permanent seat in the United Nations.
These policies entice scholars to conduct in-depth analyses of India's post-1947
discourse, which appears to be heavily influenced by Kautilya's philosophy. This
paper will look at the impact of Chanakya Kautailya's philosophy on India's
current foreign policy. Content analysis of six foreign policy techniques from
Kautilya's book Arthashastra was used as a research methodology.
The realism theoretical paradigm is a good fit for understanding this research
phenomenon. Previous research indicates that Kautilya's philosophy has always
had an impact on Indian foreign policy. This paper investigates Kautilya's
various foreign policy philosophies and their application in India's current
Foreign policy is the government's strategy for dealing with other countries. In
other words, exchanges with other nations should follow the government's correct
procedure and guidelines. The government plays an important role in policymaking
because it must be done with extreme caution; a minor error can result in a
massive loss to the nation. Keeping this in mind, I've chosen six aspects of
Chanakya's foreign policy to demonstrate how effectively we can apply them in
The teachings of Chanakya comprised a broad range of subjects such as political
science, economics, and foreign policy whereby he specifies various aspects of
the qualities of rulers, the administration of the state, social pearls of
wisdom, and religion, which, therefore, rendered him as Pandit Kautilya (Goswami,
Chanakya, also known as Kautilya and Vishnugupta, was a famous Indian
philosopher and strategic thinker who was responsible for the fall of the last
ruler of the Nanda Dynasty and the enthronement of Chandragupta Maurya, the
first Indian Emperor known as the Mauryan Empire (Subramanian, 1980).
He belonged to the Brahmin caste and lived between 350 and 275 B.C. Because
there is less information available on Chanakya's biographical history, one must
rely primarily on tradition and Buddhist and Jain texts from later periods.
Similarly, Chanakya's birthplace is debatable. Tika Mahavasma, a Buddhist
worker, mentioned Tashasila (Taxila) as his birthplace, whereas Hemachandra, a
Jain writer, mentioned "Abhidhanachintamani" in his book. Chanakya, Chanaka's
son, was a Dramila, a local.
There is another version where the name is derived from the name of Chanakya his
native land (a place called Chanakya in Punjab). In brief, several places are
mentioned as his birthplace, but a solid show of respect is shown regarding his
birthplace, which other historians agreed on since "the campaigns of Alexander
were predominantly in Punjab and Plutarch records that Alexander had met
Chandragupta in his youth during their campaigns, it would be safer to accept
the Takshsila (Taxila) in Punjab as the hometown of Chanakya, where he and
Chandragupta spent several years together".
So obviously Taxila is more accepted as his birthplace, and also the answer to
the question that many people argued Chanakya is fact or myth? Another answer to
this question is that Chanakya and Kautilya are the same person, as has been
universally accepted by historians. As mentioned above in the Mauryan Empire,
also called the Indian Empire, Chandragupta was the king of this dynasty, and
son of Chanaka was a Dramila, a resident of South India (Subramanian, 1980).
There is another version where the name derived from the name Chanakya his
native land (a place called Chanakya in Punjab). In brief several places
mentioned as his birthplace, but a solid show with respect regarding his
birthplace which other historian agreed on that "since the campaigns of
Alexander were predominantly in Punjab and Plutarch records that Alexander had
met Chandragupta in his youth during their campaigns, it would be safer to
accept the Takshsila (Taxila) in Punjab was the hometown of Chanakya, where he
and Chandragupta spent several years together".
So obviously Taxila is more accepted as his birthplace, and also the answer to
the question that many people argued Chanakya is fact or myth? Another answer to
this question is that Chanakya and Kautilya are the ones and the same person has
been universally accepted by historians. As mentioned above the Mauryan Empire
also called Indian Empire, Chandragupta was the king of this Dynasty and a
Chanakya was his advisor, he also played an imported role in the establishment
of this empire.
Because of his ideas and strategies, this empire was able to succeed against the
forces of Great Alexander (Singh, 2016). There is an interesting story about the
first meeting of Chanakya with Chanadargupta Maurya mentioned in the book
'Maxims of Kautilya by V. K. Subramanian, this meeting was the cause of their
collaboration and the chapter of power in the Indian history (Subramanian,
One day when Chadargupta was fired from the Nanda army walking through the woods
there was a Brahmin pour sugar syrup into the roots of kusa grass rendered
curious, Chandragupta asked to him the basis of his action, he (Chanakya)
replied "this kusa grass hit my leg, I, therefore, intend to destroy pouring
sugar syrup, I am doing the root of sweet grass. As a result, thousands of ants
will be attracted to him.
These ants chew and destroy the root and grass. As he spoke, ants began to
collecting and an army of ants around the root of the kusa grass which hit the
chanakya leg, grass-finished within few minutes. This the behavior against the
enemies adopted by Kautilya. Chandragupta bowed before him and requested him for
help against Nanda.
He agreed, and because of him, the Maurain Empire raised and became more
powerful. Kautilya was a king advisor, professor, strategic thinker, and writer.
He wrote Arthashastra and this text divided into fifteen books on different
topics like administration, law, and order, taxation, revenue, expenditure,
foreign policy, defense, and war. This paper emphasizes on the foreign policy
mostly founded on books seven, eleven, and twelve.
This research paper focuses on economic aggression by India against Pakistan
using an arms race, impediments to trade, and efforts to restrict infrastructure
development and resource mobilization, which damages Pakistan's economy. This
paper explores the various philosophies of Chanakya regarding foreign policy and
studies their implementation in the current foreign policy of India.
Significance of Chanakya Philosophy:
Chanakya was also called Indian Machiavelli particularly in the 20th century
when India got independence. Jawaharlal Nehru writes in his "Discovery of India"
Chanakya has been called the Indian Machiavelli and to some extent, the
comparison is justified. And it is true because a lot of chanakya's thought
resemblance with the philosophy of realism.
He says "One should save his money against hard times, and save his wife at the
sacrifice of his riches but invariably one should save his soul even at the
sacrifice of his wife and riches" (Davis, 2014). The state is like a soul for
saving her put everything on behinds and just secure it means the state is the
main actor as realism says. And another place he says "There is some
self-interest behind every friendship.
There is no friendship without self-interests. This is a bitter truth' it is
also the same with the key assumption of realism that self-interest when states
interact with each other there is always self-interest behind this action.
Machiavelli, he wrote "Prince " which he described the qualities of ruler and
way of governing, in contrast, Chanakya wrote "Arthashastra" and called by
people kingmaker like Machiavelli (Pillalamarri, 2015).
He says "If the ruler is righteous, people are righteous, if they are sinners,
people are also sinners, as a ruler, like people". Like this his text full of
wisdom and other intellectual quotes. Another thing regarding his strategies
Henry Kissinger refers to the ancient Indian treatise, the Arthashastra, a work
that details the power requirements, which is the dominant reality in politics.
For Kissinger, the Arthashastra contained a realistic view of politics long
before the Prince which Kissinger deems "a combination of Machiavelli and
The purpose of the referencing is that work on Chanakya,s philosophy not done by
just Indians but also adopted by western writers. As mentioned above this paper
will focus on the philosophy of Chanakya regarding foreign policy and its
implementation on current Indian policy. In the era of Chanakya Kautilya when
the Mauryan Empire was on the peak of power, there was created a situation
resemblance of Westphalia like many states situated here and there around the
"Chanakya introduced by seeing the situation a term "rajamandala" its mean
circle of states, according to this term hostile states those that border the
ruler's state, forming a circle around it. In turn, the states surrounding this
set of hostile states form another circle around the circle of hostile states (Jindal,
2019). This second circle of states can be regarded as natural allies of the
ruler's state against the hostile states that lie between them" (Jindal, 2019).
In easy words as Chanakya says "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".
Elements of this logic are found in India's foreign policy today, which sees
states such as Japan and Afghanistan as natural allies against China and
PakistanTheoretical Framework Realism is the most dominant theory in the
discipline of global politics. The main assumption of this theory is that the
system of the states is anarchical with the absence of higher authority to check
and balance, in this case, security and survival of the state is only
responsibility on the state itself (Falode, 2009).
According to this theory states only act on the bases of their interests (MCGLINCHEY,
2017) and this study shows that Indian foreign policy is based on only
selfinterest without any concerned about other countries.
Chanakya's Foreign Policy Methods:
The main analytical part of paper starting now which will be a focus on
chanakyas sixfold foreign policy, ways of war and its implementations on current
Indian foreign policy (Shamasastry, 1995).
Chanakya offered in the "Arthashastra" six ways of foreign policymaking, which
will be discussed in the paper one by one.
Three ways of war:
- Samdhi: peacemaking
- Vigraha: waging war
- Asana: doing nothing
- Yana: preparing for war
- Samsraya: seeking protection
- Dvaidhibhave: dual policy
- Declare war
- Secret war
- Undeclared war Samdhi; Making peace,
According to Chanakya state should enter an agreement with the specific
condition for some time. This method is used when a state is in relative decline
as compared to other states. For example, states fought against Napoleon to
enter various collations with him due to their defeat but this agreement ended
after Waterloo. Kautilya says "the only time a king will make peace is when he
found himself in relative decline compared to his enemy".
This method applied by India when she defeated by China in 1962, she realized
that we cannot defeat China, so she established peace with China". And by
adopting another policy have a good relation with Japan, and Japan is a rival of
China. It means peace with China for a limited time but it's another debate that
this time going on prolongs. This is a clear indication of Kautilya's six-fold
India is still following chanakyaa's policies to safeguard their interest and
defeat their enemies (Khattak, 2011) Vigraha means waging war: This strategy
occurs when a state is more strengthen in power capabilities than another state
and can easily defeat through military, tactics, or internal conditions in the
country of the enemy. Chanakya says "when a king in a superior position as
compared to his enemy, he will attack and wage war" (Shamasastry, 1995). King
should observe the condition of enemy state internally and externally both and
when he realized this state can be easily defeated by my army, he should take
action and wage war.
This kind of behavior seen in India's policy when she tried several times waging
war against Pakistan due to large military strength and other powerful
capabilities. Since the few past decades, India and Pakistan nearly waged war
due to a major crisis of Brass Tacks (Khattak, 2011). India accelerated Brass
tacks exercise, the largest military maneuvers in the history of South Asia. A
tense situation developed across the borders but at last, great powers got
involved and the threat of the nuclear escalation was sidelined.
The terrorist attack on the Indian parliament in 2001, a clear prediction that
both countries may go to war against each other as India claimed that Pakistan
is responsible for this attack and deemed it as a threat to their sovereignty.
As a result, India deployed approximately 8, 00,000 troops, two-strike corps and
heavy arms on its western border but because of the credible nuclear deterrence,
the war did not occur (Bender, 2013) Asana, doing nothing or neutrality, is a
strategy used where there is no benefit either war or peacemaking.
When a state faced this kind of situation she should be isolated or made a peace
agreement. chanakya says "if a king feels that his enemy and he are equal and
neither can harm the other nor ruin the other's undertakings, then he shall
choose to do nothing" (Shamasastry, 1995). It can be a long wait for a state
that when she able to do something? for example in near past decades, the
conflict between Pakistan and India particularly the 1987 Brass tacks and 2001
Mumbai attacks, India realized at this time not possible to win against Pakistan
because of the nuclear deterrence, she decides to do nothing Nehru also a result
of Kautilya's thought.
He said we are not part of any power, because he realized benefit and harm are
equal in this situation he decided to do nothing. Yana, means preparing for war
or marching and is a method about the construction of military capabilities of
the country, and tried to use any sources which lead towards the defeat of the
enemy. If the country not prepared itself for war, the enemy can get the benefit
and destroyed this state. chanakya says "when a king increases his power and has
a special advantage over his enemy" (Proportion, 1995). Increase the power of
state ultimately a fear builds up over the enemies, and enemy state could not
able to attack it.
India's current situation shows this kind of behavior, one can easily evaluate
India following Kautilya's policy today. "It is expected that defense spending
in India to increase as it pursues a modernization process. Currently, it is
estimated that India only spends $46 billion on the military from its budget,
and have desired to become the fourth largest investor in 2020 (Bender, 2013).
It is the largest importer of military products.
India has ballistic missiles with the range capable of reaching all over
Pakistan and almost of China". Although in the history a conflict had been
between China and India, this strategy adopted for Pakistan due to the dominance
of conflicts between the countries. (Khattak, 2011) Samsraya means protection or
alliances. In contrast to preparing war, this policy emphasized that if the
circle of states has a most powerful state, so ally with it for protection of
own security. Chanakya says:
"a king seeking an alliance must ensure that he finds a king more powerful than
the neighboring enemy" (Shamasastry, 1995) India workingactively on this
strategy and making alliances with the powerful state of the world to ensure its
security, due to alliances India save from sides, powerful states and
India had been made alliances in the past with US, Russia, France, Israel, and
Japan, these alliances are not only the bases of signs or pacts she also doing
with these countries arms trade, nuclear deals, and space programs.
The purpose behind it to undermines Pakistan's national security interests in
the region (Khattak, 2011). Dvaidhibhava meaning the dual policy is a strategy
that is used to addresses several states at once, by joining some states
together with the state itself to form an alliance to fight enemy states.
It is making peace with one state while waging war with the other. Kautilya says
"the enemy of my enemy is my friend" (Davis, 2014), after the bad defeat against
China, India stopped the war and make peace with China but also good relation
with Japan who is the rival of China. Chanakya says "Separation from the wife,
disgrace from one's people, and an enemy saved in battle, serservice to a wicked
king, and mismanaged assembly, these all kinds of evil, if afflicting a person
burn him even without fire" (Proportion, 1995). The enemy who survived from the
battle it is a cause of misery for the Indians; they are burning in a fire of
revenge and trying to make possibilities to degrade China.
Another example of this policy India entered in relations with Afghanistan, and
Afghanistan is an old rival of Pakistan, so India makes peace with Afghanistan
and trying to make the critical situation in Pakistan through it.
Kautilya also described the ways of war and noteworthy India almost following
these methods of war. First is "Open War "its mean declared war and attacked
openly, India openly attacked Pakistan in 1965 and onward. The second is" secret
war "which means sudden attack, terrorize from one side and attack from the
other side. India through Afghanistan making the worthless situation for
Pakistan in Fata, Baluchistan and other tribal areas and on the other hand,
making the critical situation on the eastern border, so Pakistan facing threats
from both sides.
The third is "undeclared war" through the agencies, secret services, religious
and women. India's involvement in Baluchistan in Pakistan, supporting Hindu
Tamils in Srilanka, supporting Maoists Separatists in Nepal and supporting
Shanti Bahini in Bangladesh, these are the result of Chanakya,s policies which
are adopting by India. This policy also called the aggressive expansionist
concept which founded on Chanakya's lessons.
These are some policies from Chanakya's work, he also worked on other matters of
the state like administrations, law and order and economy. This paper tried to
examine those policies related to the foreign policy of the state. In this era,
India still follows the philosophy of Chanakya Kautilya as a role model. The
time has been changed, a lot of brilliant philosophers passed away before a few
centuries, they gave new rules and lessons for the generations.
Why India still following him, the answer is simple as every nation has its
historians and philosopher and they want to follow them but this nation has no
power to do that. When India got freedom from the British Empire, she remembered
her forefathers and dedicated freedom to them. After decolonization, India
immediately behaved differently in comparison with PakistanIndians were greatly
inspired by the philosophy and preaching of Kautilya.
With time, India has included Chanakya's philosophy in its domestic and
international policies as per the requirements of the circumstances. His
policies were not only adopted by Indians rather by westerners as well. Henry
Kissinger, Secretary of Treasury during Roosevelt's regime, in his book "World
" made a comparison between Kautilya, Machiavelli, and Clausewitz.
And he pointed out some important theories from the Arthashatra related to new
world order like international system theory, realism, and classical realism. It
is the result of the behavior of India which created curiosity in the mind of
western, they compel into know that which person or philosophy followed by
India. When they came to know about Kautilya, ultimately they started work on
him and pointed out some new knowledge.
Arthashastra and some versions of this book translated into English and Indian
writers also wrote a replica of Kautilya's studies in English. One cannot
criticize Indians why the state is adopting these kinds of policies based on
realistic behavior, every state has the right to adopt any kind of policy which
is good for its interest. Other regional countries should come up with smart
foreign policies to tackle India.
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