LEADERSHIP AND KAUTILYA
A CAREFUL ANALYSIS OF VITAL LEADERSHIP QUALITIES
REQUIRED FOR TODAY’S MANAGEMENT.
Praveen A Kashyap, Mcom, KSET,
Lecturer in commerce, SCPU, Bangalore.
Research scholar in Karnataka Samskrit University, Bangalore.
Dr. Vinay P, Assistant professor, Karnataka Samskrit University,
Leadership is the soul of any state, a quality and effective leadership will be the key for
the prosperity of any state, Kautilya or Vishnu Gupta a Pioneer in state craft and
renowned economist of mauryan times, and author of Arthashastra (consists of logic,
leadership, ethics and politics) the way of his life is an excellent instance for true
leadership.This great work offers the mountain of knowledge for today’s well settled
managers who wants overcome from unknown and continuous complicated problems in
day to day management and especially connected to human resource management.
Keywords: Adhikarana, Dharma, Varna, Forgiveness, Religion.
One who talks about prosperity of the country should first ensure the prosperity of the
state, to achieve the prosperity with in the state, one must also ensure top level
management of resources and conversion of the same. In simple managing all kinds of
industries and workers becomes very significant. Through kautilya’s Arthasastra, an
effort is made to enhance the leadership quality to generate and developed quality
managers and work force.
To achieve the above said prosperity, it is important to analyses and up hold the great
work Arthashastra written by kautilya around 2000 years ago and manuscript was found
and developed by Rudra Pratap Shyama Sastri (1868-1944). He was a Sanskrit scholar
and librarian at the Oriental Research Institute Mysore. He re discovered and published
the great work of Kautilya’s Arthashastra. Later he transcript, edited and published the
Sanskrit edition in 1909 and English edition in 1915.
Indeed there are lot of renowned authors, management Scholars, management genius of
recent times have identified and accepted important functions of management, namely,
planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling.
The actual problem arises when all the identified functions or being practically
implemented. All the functions of management are applicable to all the functions and
coordination acts as a basic link to all the functions, in order to complete the given task.
The question arises, who is going to perform them? Who is going to take the initiative to
perform those functions identified in the management? The answer is one who takes the
initiative for the management can be called as a leader.
Only a good and eminent leader can be the better manager. If you want to create a good
leader, then he can be prepared by teaching certain given qualities or identifying certain
required qualities for the better leadership in the aspirant.
As I have stated above, many renowned authors and Scholars and pioneers have
prescribed certain agreeable leadership qualities and styles for the modern managers but
this paper is presented to throw some light on leadership for the modern management
with the help of a small shloka of kautilya’s Arthasastra.
1 “सर्वेषामहिंसा सत्यं शौचमनसूयाऽऽनृशंस्यं क्षमा च । स्वधर्मः स्वर्गायानन्त्याय च ।
तस्यातिक्रमे लोकः सङ्करादच्छिद्येत ।“
This shloka says common religions and its belief applicable for 4 Varnas are
Harmlessness truthfulness cleanliness or purity freedom from spite, compassion and
If any religion goes out of their Creed or religion’s belief, in deed the world will be
In other words, according to Kautilya only for varnas are identified and their duties are
dependent on which Verna they belong to.
The point to be considered here is, even in this modern world there are ‘N’ number of
cast and creeds and ‘N’ number of religions and believes exists and followed, In spite of
that, all of them are becoming part of working hub, in simple they are integrated with
working cluster which may hamper their religious belief.
That’s the reason why most of the leaders fail to become balanced leader between
workers and management.
Integration of the essence of this Shloka to modern leadership will entertain both leaders
as well as the followers to achieve productivity. Say for instance, no matter which ever
the religion you belong to, if all the religions are coming under four varnas, there are
general guidelines for all the four varnas and they are harmlessness truthfulness purity
not being jealous compassion and forgiveness.
All the working class must follow this or inculcate this with their religious beliefs. If they
are in a position to inculcate them then the leaders can surly achieve what they intend to
achieve. To continue being a leader you should make use of all your given powers to
Making sure that all your subordinates (they are a mixture of various varnas) are
following certain practices which are mandatory for all the varnas. If they are doing on
their own, then leader’s preliminary work is done.
1 Raja Dharma in Kautilya Arthashastra Prof professor V Girish Chandra pp 11
2 “तस्मात्स्वधर्मं भूतानां राजा न व्यभिचारयेत् । स्वधर्मं संदधानो हि प्रेत्य चेह च नन्दति । व्यवस्थितार्यमर्यादः
त्रय्या हि रक्षितो लोकः प्रसीदति न सीदति ॥“
The above mentioned shloka seems to be very appropriate for the above said explanation.
the gist of the above mentioned Shloka is, the king should see that the people with
different varnas must not violet their religious belief and the king who maintains the
purity of their own religion and help people to continue to stay in their own religion will
be happy forever, for the world, when maintained in accordance with injunctions of the
triple Vedas will surely progress but never perish.
3 “Modern leadership is aimed at improvement”.
Leadership transforms meaning into definition, in other words, standardizing the
statements and adheres to rules after the rules are made, using truthfulness tool to create
the principles and rules. Leader concludes after any employee is evaluated through
certain supplementary documents related to his climes, at times the reasons may be
proved false also, if a leader and subordinate follows the concept of truthfulness, then
leader need not distrust and employee need not afraid. The important message conveyed
in this example is using various case studies and techniques to instill the workers to
remain truthful and also the leaders. Kautilya has many shlokas to convince his students
to remain truthful even at many situations.
4 “Modern leadership deals carefully with available resources”
2 Raja Dharma in Kautilya Arthashastra Prof professor V Girish Chandra pp 13
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A manager with more responsibility towards organisation struggles to leave the world
better than he found it, in other words improvement of organisation along with
improvement of the society. This can be achieved with the help of the 3 tools they are
truthfulness, harmlessness and freedom from spite. Encouraging and supporting
suggestion system or initiative taken by an employee in the organisation must be
developed. using the feature of freedom from spite is a better option because, spite it is
the basic and evil quality found in all normal humans, at true leader will show his ability
to overcome this problem and also it is found in employee levels, (varnas) generally this
tool is applicable for all the (varnas) employees, if they use this feature carefully then
confusions and prejudices will be automatically avoided and leads to more productivity.
5 “Modern leadership restraints itself”
Leadership goes in both the directions. At times even employees also led their managers.
A leader with good technical knowledge and subject knowledge may also found having
more egos. This egoistic character may never help the leader to learn and acquire
To overcome from this problem, leader must kill his ego and be merciful and being kind
towards his subordinates in order to acquire new knowledge or information which later
enables him to save substantial time and cost of the organisation.
6 “Leadership is highly Cooperative”
Leadership is based on harmony and harmonious relationship between managers and
workers are the key Fact and it helps to treat workers like partners by overlooking the
concept of subordinates.
Compassionate and forgiveness is the two important qualities that a leader should possess
to achieve the required Cooperation levels.
7 “Leadership follows and respects the system”
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Leadership supports the continuous learning and helps to improve the potential of
workers. When all the four varnas follow their general and common religious beliefs then
it ensures the nonviolence of system or protocol.
It is a tiny attempt to help improving qualities of leaders with the integration of 2000
years old kautilya’s Arthasastra and shlokas given. The frightening point is, most of the
modern leadership techniques are still be able to be modified with the integration of
Kautilya’s one shloka.
Conclusions: currently most of the leaders or managers lean towards modern
management techniques and styles to increase the productivity in an organisation at all
the levels but the achievement levels are not up to the standards which they have fixed
In the name of controlling and directing we may achieve change in environment to
certain extent, still it is not meeting the bench mark. The reasons are too many, the
solution may be cultivation of certain characteristics wholeheartedly they are,
Harmlessness, Truthfulness, Purity in heart and mind along with physical cleanness more
significantly learn to being jealous and being Humble. We do have other highlighting
character for being a good eminent leaders too, they are Physical qualities,
communication skills, intellectual and problem solving abilities, teaching and preaching,
competency, other required skills but any leader or manager is not having the qualities
mention in the shloka is not considered as an eminent even if he has treated as eminent
with undue parameters in reality a leader will be knowing the truth.
- Rajadharma in Kautiliya Arthasastra. Prof. V Grishchandra
- Leadership theory and practice. Peter G nothouse.
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- The mind of the leader, Rasmus Hougaard, Jacqueline Carter.
- The kautiliya Arthasastra by Shyama Sastri, Sanskrit version.
- The kautiliya Arthasastra by Shyama Sastri, English commentary by
- The kautiliya Arthasastra Kudili mata.
- All about leadership. J.P.S Jolly.
- The power of a positive attitude. Roger Fritz.