The_Arthashastra__selected_passages_

He shall ask his ministers for their opinion on a

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He shall ask his ministers for their opinion, on a work similar to the one he has in view, telling them that "this is the work; it happened thus; what is to be done if it will turn out thus"; and he shall do as they decide. If it is done thus, both the ascertainment of opinions and maintenance of secrecy can be attained." “Not so,” says Pisuna , “for ministers, when called for their opinions regarding a distant undertaking, or an accomplished or an unaccomplished work, either approach the subject with indifference or give their opinions half-heartedly. This is a serious defect. Hence he shall consult such persons as are believed to be capable of giving decisive opinion regarding those works about which he seeks for advice. If he consults thus, he can secure good advice as well as secrecy of counsel." "Not so," says Kautilya, "for this (kind of seeking for advice) is infinite and endless. He shall consult three or four ministers. Consultation with a single (minister) may not lead to any definite conclusion in cases of complicated issues. A single minister proceeds willfully and without restraint. In deliberating with two ministers, the king may be overpowered by their combined action, or imperiled by their mutual dissension. But with three or four ministers he will not come to any serious grief, but will arrive at satisfactory results. With ministers more than four in number, he will have to come to a decision after a good deal of trouble; nor will secrecy of counsel be maintained without much trouble. In accordance with the requirements of place, time, and nature of the work in view, he may, as he deems it proper, deliberate with one or two ministers or by himself. Means to carry out works, command of plenty of men and wealth, allotment of time and place, remedies against dangers, and final success are the five constituents of every council-deliberation. The king may ask his ministers for their opinion either individually or collectively, and ascertain their ability by judging over the reasons they assign for their opinions. He shall lose no time when the opportunity waited for arrives; nor shall he sit long at consultation with those whose parties he intends to hurt.
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The school of Manu say that the assembly of ministers ( mantriparishad ) shall be made to consist of twelve members. The school of Brihaspathi say that it shall consist of sixteen members. The school of Usanas say that it shall consist of twenty members. But Kautilya holds that it shall consist of as many members as the needs of his dominion require ( yathásámarthyam ). Those ministers shall have to consider all that concerns the parties of both the king and his enemy. They shall also set themselves to start the work that is not yet begun, to complete what has been begun, to improve what has been accomplished, and to enforce strict obedience to orders ( niyogasampadam ).
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  • Fall '10
  • Sekhar
  • ministers, Kautilya, varta

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