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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Kaṇtakaśodhana literally means ‘searching and punishing evil persons’.

‘Kaṇṭaka’ literally means a ‘thorn’ and figuratively denotes a ‘harmful person’. A ruler has to organize a set of good spies who can not only find out but also catch the culprits red-handed. These culprits plot against the people and against the nation. Such an act was known as ‘kaṇtakaśodhana’.[1]

Running a kingdom is a challenging task. A king has to look at the management side not only from the positive angle, but also from the negative angle. ‘Kaṇṭaka-śodhana’ belongs to the negative aspect.

The espionage system described and prescribed by Kautilya was quite elaborate and almost fool-proof.

Aspects of Kaṇtakaśodhana[edit]

The items listed under ‘kaṇṭakaśodhana’ by the Arthaśāstra include:

  • Whether the artisans working in the guilds were maintaining the quality of the work and giving the finished articles on time
  • Whether the weights and measures used by the traders were genuine and standard
  • Whether the traders, workers and manufacturers were maintaining the standards set for them for selling unadulterated things
  • Whether the government officers were taking bribes or cheating the State
  • Whether the doctors were treating their patients as per the ethics of medical science


  1. Section 4 of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya 300 B. C.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore