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Arthaśāstra (Skt., artha, ‘advantage’ + śāstra, ‘teaching’). A Sanskrit text concerned with artha, worldly advantage, especially the advantage of the prince (rājanya) and universal monarch (cakravartin).

One of the most influential works of political philosophy, it is attributed to Kāuṭilya (or Caṇakya) a minister of Candragupta Māurya.

Kāuṭilya presupposes the traditional S. Asian concept of matsyanyāya, or ‘law of the fishes’, according to which large fish prey upon smaller fish. The role of the king, established through a pact made with the people, is to mitigate this law by providing protection for all bhūtas, all human and non-human beings. Kāuṭilya maintains that warfare or daṇḍanīti is necessary to uphold the sanctity of the pact, the basis of social and cosmic peace. For Kāuṭilya, peace is not the absence of war, but the order maintained through war.