From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

The Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya or Cāṇakya (300 B. C.) was a monumental work on political science and allied fields of knowledge. However, its language was rather terse and prosaic. Kāmandaka or Kāmandaki rendered its contents into more elegant poetry elucidating the teachings. He also added didactic tales in it to make it more meaningful. This work is known as Nītisāra or Kāmandakīya Nitisāra. Kāmandaka might have lived any where during the period CE 300 to CE 600.

Content of Kāmandakīya Nitisāra[edit]

The work Nitisāra is in 20 cantos and 36 prakaraṇas. The contents of each cantos have been briefly summarized in each sub sections denoted below. The work has Balinese and Jāvanese versions.

Cantos 1 to 3

  • Discipline and training of the king and the princes
  • Varṇāśrama dharma
  • General rules of conduct

Cantos 4 to 7

  • The Saptāṅgas or the seven elements of the State

Cantos 8 to 12

  • Inter-state relationships
  • Treatises
  • Nature of hostilities
  • Diplomatic counter-moves

Canto 13

  • Envoys
  • Ambassadors
  • Spies

Cantos 14 and 15

  • Glorious results of strenuous actions and initiatives taken on time
  • Vices and their consequent afflictions

Canto 16

  • Enemy aggression
  • Measures to combat enemy aggressions

Cantos 17 to 19

  • Army movements
  • Political expedients
  • Assessment of one’s strength
  • Rectifying one’s weaknesses

Canto 20

  • Deployment of the armed forces in offensive and defensive warfare

Excision in Kāmandakīya Nitisāra[edit]

Kāmandaka openly acknowledges his indebtedness towards Kauṭilya. The significant omissions in Kāmandaka’s work are:

  • Internal administration
  • Theories of taxation
  • Regulation of trade and commerce


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore